June 26, 2017

Godsmack - Godsmack (1998)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Alternative Rock, Hard Rock
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© 1998 Republic, Universal Records
AllMusic Review by Roxanne Blanford
Boston's Godsmack confidently brought nu-metal rock into the technological age by seamlessly incorporating noisy hooks into a tight framework of pulsing beats, processed vocals, and a slew of programmed samples, edits, and voiceovers. Singer/producer Sully Erna unloads a barrage of in-your-face verbal assaults, lambasting the often bumpy road of love relationships. These songs are caustic and unapologetic, with ear-splitting guitars and energetic drumming. Both "Moonbaby" and "Timebomb" are fraught with explosive guitar riffs, while "Voodoo" does an about-face and confronts the theme of obsessive love with full-bodied percussion. Godsmack's innovative use of sample mixing may lead to the erroneous conclusion that this reissued release sought to capitalize on sounds made fashionable by the likes of Prodigy and Monster Magnet. But one listen to Sully Erna's achingly brittle vocals is all that's needed to fully convince anyone that Godsmack makes serious hard rock.

tags: godsmack, album, 1998,

Godsmack - Awake (2000)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Alternative Rock, Hard Rock
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© 2000 Republic, Universal Records
AllMusic Review by Christina Fuoco
Godsmack recorded its self-titled debut for $1,500 and served up a triple-platinum helping of meaty, cleverly written, pure metal -- led by one of 2000's best singles, the tribal "Voodoo." Unfortunately, the group's sophomore effort, Awake, doesn't live up to its predecessor. The first three songs -- "Sick of Life," "Awake," and "Greed" -- blend together unanimously into a swirl of Tony Rombola's jackhammer guitar riffs. It's the deeper cuts that are the standout tracks. The dirgy, slow groove in "Mistakes" is hook laden. One common thread between Godsmack and Awake is lead singer Sully Erna's angst-ridden lyrics. "Oh God, I'm makin' the same mistakes," he cries in "Mistakes," as Rombola's guitars encircle him. Drummer Tommy Stewart, on "Trippin'," aptly pronounces Erna's anger in "Face down/I walk away/Every time I think I do the right thing/You turn your back on me." The album opens with the pronouncement, "I'm gonna do it again." Probably not.

tags: godsmack, awake, 2000,

Godsmack - Faceless (2003)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Alternative Rock, Hard Rock
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© 2003 Republic, Universal Records
AllMusic Review by Wade Kergan
Godsmack's first, slow-burning success -- the self-titled debut from 1998 -- spent two years climbing charts and selling records as the witchy minstrels of alternative metal wound their way across the country on two consecutive Ozzfest tours. The sound was familiar enough, recalling Alice in Chains in both vocalist Sully Erna's tortured howls and their very name, taken from that band's excellent 1992 release, Dirt. And while it initially failed to impress critics, fans quickly picked up on the band's industrial touch to the post-grunge sound. Likewise, 2001's Awake was regarded by some as a sophomore slump, with only half of the sales of Godsmack's debut, but "slump" in this case equaled double-platinum. And though the sales did validate the band's effort to some extent, Awake was full of growing pains, as they tried in vain to shed their influences and ended up with a record that had successful moments, but its reliance on stop-start rhythms often left it sounding sorely underwritten. Faceless, Godsmack's third full-length, grooves more fluidly than Awake, but the band still hasn't managed to locate the pop hooks that made their debut a success. And while concentrating on texture can be just as interesting as hooks, lyrics as misanthropic as Erna's only sink Faceless further into the mire.

tags: godsmack, faceless, 2003,

A+ - Hempstead High (1999)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
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© 1999 Universal Records
AllMusic Review by Matt Conaway
A+ exhibited enough potential on his debut album Latch Key Kid for many to consider him as being one of hip-hop's most promising future lyrical assassins. After all you do not hear many 14-year-old shorties rocking the mic as profusely as he did on his debut. However after a two-year layoff in between LP's, A+ has moved on to more adult topic matter and seems eager to present himself as hip-hop's version of Usher. But not only has A+ lost his innocence, he has also lost any sense of originality. One of A+'s major drawbacks is he tends to mimic the flow of whomever he is teamed up with, whether it be Canibus, or Psycho Drama. He waters down this recording with blatant crossover reaches like "Don't Make Me Wait" and "Price of Fame." "What Da Deal" f/ Cardan is especially disheartening, as both MCs trade woeful verses and Cardan sounds like a carbon copy of Mase or Cam'ron. The few gems on this album stick out like a sore thumb, since they're few and far between. A+ brings guaranteed action with cuts like the heavily mix-tape circulated "Boy II Men" featuring Lost Boyz & Canibus, and a surprisingly tight collaboration "Watcha Weigh Me" featuring MJG. When A+ sticks to simple, yet effective beats and rhymes, he reaps the benefits, as on "Parkside Garden." A+ desperately needs to find his own unique identity and style. "Hempstead High" is aptly titled as it is a high schoolish effort at best; hopefully, with his next LP A+ will mature mentally, instead of physically, and come into his own.

tags: a+, hempstead high, 1999, a plus,

O.C. - Word...Life (2007 Reissue)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file. Contains 5 bonus tracks.

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1994-2007 Musicshine Inc./Next Mill Entertainment
AllMusic Review by M.F. DiBella
O.C.'s auspicious debut announced the arrival of one of modern rap's more gifted storytelling lyricists. The artist dropped his thesis on "Time's Up" a '90s rap benchmark track that served to separate rap's true school from its ever-expanding species of frauds. On that track, O.C. takes umbrage with money-grubbing fake MC's over a combined droning bass guitar and well-plucked sample from Slick Rick's "Hey Young World." The album is drenched in classic, hard-core East Coast B-boyism, but O.C. puts the boasts on the shelf to take up more existential subject matter. On "Born to Live" he spins wistful fables from his childhood in order to discuss life's bittersweet fragility: "born to live/a life to die/life's so damn short and I wonder why." The soulful composition lifts a tasteful snippet from Keni Burke's "Keep Rising to the Top." O.C.'s connections to Organized Konfusion shine through on his debut, showcasing a thought-provoking intellectual diversity rarely seen on rap albums. Organized's Pharaoh Monche sits in on the album, as do producers Buckwild and Lord Finesse. Word...Life saw little commercial success due, in part, to the drained coffers of the failed endeavor that was Wild Pitch Records, but one would be hard-pressed to find a hard-core hip-hop fan without this recording somewhere in their collection.

tags: oc, o.c., word life, word... life, 1994, 2007, reissue,

N.W.A. - Niggaz4Life (1991)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap
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© 1991 Ruthless Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
Like 100 Miles and Runnin' (1990), the five-track EP that preceded it, N.W.A's third full-length album, Niggaz4life, courts controversy in every imaginable way, from its title (printed backward on the cover, as a mirror image) down to its mercilessly misogynistic second half, and it remains shocking years later, no matter how many times the controversial aspects of the album have been exploited again and again by others. Unfortunately, the shocking rhetoric -- which, to a degree unprecedented at the time of the album's release, revels in relentless obscenity, graphic sex, and extreme violence -- tends to overshadow the remarkable production work of Dr. Dre here. Similar in practice to the concurrent production work of the Bomb Squad, Dr. Dre and co-producer DJ Yella densely layer soul-funk samples from the 1970s over hard-hitting beats. As he had on his previous productions, Dr. Dre mines the Parliament-Funkadelic back catalog in particular for sample material: for instance, two Eazy-E solo showcases, "Automobile" and "I'd Rather Fuck You," are satirical interpolations of Parliament's "My Automobile" and Bootsy Collins' "I'd Rather Be with You," respectively, while the skits "Don't Drink That Wine" and "1-900-2-Compton" are likewise homage to George Clinton and company -- and, if you're keeping tabs, "Niggaz 4 Life" borrows an elastic bassline from Parliament's "Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk." The album-opening "Real Niggaz Don't Die" is one of the most remarkable productions, comprised of multiple samples, most evidently Rare Earth's "I Just Want to Celebrate," a joyous song whose sampled hook is in great juxtaposition to the overriding dire tone of the production, best characterized by one of the other songs sampled on the track, the Last Poets' "Die Nigger!!!" In terms of rapping, Niggaz4life suffers for the absence of Ice Cube, even as the D.O.C. assumes his position as the in-house ghostwriter. There's a lot of Eazy-E to be heard throughout the album, for better and for worse, as his sense of humorous menace is amusing as well as unsettling. In the end, it's easy to understand why N.W.A unraveled shortly after Niggaz4life: on the one hand, the group had become a vehicle for exploiting the taboos of gangsta rap, to significant commercial success (this was a chart-topping album, after all), while on the other hand, it had become less about the production talent of Dr. Dre, whose work was being sorely overshadowed by all the controversy.

tags: nwa, n.w.a., niggaz 4 life, niggas 4 life, niggaz4life, 1991,

Nas - I Am... (1999)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
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© 1999 Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by M.F. DiBella
I Am... is the third album and fourth stage in the evolution of Queensbridge's living legend Nasir Jones, from Nasty Nas to Nas to Nas Escobar to Nastradamus, the soothsaying mega-thug poet. This third installment is an introspective work from one of hip-hop's made men. Always billed as a hip-hop messiah, Nas rose through the ranks of hip-hop on the strength of powerful poetry. Contrary to the album's title, the scope of the work extends beyond the autobiography as Nas takes on politics, the state of hip-hop, Y2K, race, and religion with his own unique perspective. While Illmatic was Nas at his rawest and It Was Written was Nas' attempt to reconcile his underground leanings with his newfound fame, acclaim, and wealth, the Nas of I Am... is honest about his elevated status yet still feels the tension of no longer being ravenous on the mic. Musically, I Am is somewhat unimaginative by Nas' stratospheric standards. Tried and true producers, the Trackmasters stamp the album with their signature catchy grooves and samples, but some of these tracks lack the sonic depth to do justice to the prophecies of the pharaoh, Nas. Superproducer Premier comes to save the day on two outstanding tracks: "NY State of Mind, Pt. II" and "Nas Is Like." These two cuts are nothing short of Illmatic perfection. "Nas Is Like"'s symphonic composition is the perfect complement for an MC of Nas' supreme vocal quality and precise lyrics. Despite some of the blandness on the production end, Nas still shines as the old soul storyteller and crime rhyme chronicler on cuts like "We Will Survive," a dirge for fallen rappers. Nas also experiments stylistically on "Big Things," sporting a Midwest cadence, and on "You Won't See Me Tonight," a Timbaland-produced duet with R&B songstress Aaliyah.

tags: nas, i am, i am..., 1999,

June 25, 2017

Children of Bodom - Hatebreeder (1999)

Country: Finland
Language: English
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Melodic Death Metal
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© 1999 Nuclear Blast Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson
Hatebreeder, the second release from Finland's Children of Bodom, is a louder, faster, and positively heavier release than the group's debut. Under normal circumstances, this type of evolution is a guaranteed upgrade for a metal band, but not all of Hatebreeder's elements are improvements on the blueprint established during Something Wild. Most noticeably, Alexi Laiho's black metal scream is more menacing and consistent, but this is a disputed topic among Scandinavian metal enthusiasts. Many listeners enjoy the music, but could do without the bloodcurdling vocal excess, while others consider it a critical element of any real metal statement. The value of so much throat splitting is subjective, but Laiho's refinement of the approach isn't. Along with the shouting, the entire sound of Hatebreeder is improved. The guitars and keyboards are massive and more frantic, and Jaska Raatikainen's drums are unreal. In the history of metal, it is difficult to recall many displays of pure speed that top Children of Bodom. The rest of the band definitely keeps up with Raatikainen's machine-gun delivery. Guitarists Laiho and Alexander Kuoppala also deserve credit for the thick-sounding rhythms and quick lead playing. As long as these activities aren't technically enhanced, the band deserves credit for the physical accomplishment.

tags: children of bodom,

Children of Bodom - Follow The Reaper (2000)

Country: Finland
Language: English
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Melodic Death Metal
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© 2000 Spinefarm Release
AllMusic Review by Brian O'Neill
Black metal with the happiest keyboards the genre has ever seen, yet still uncompromisingly brutal. "Children of Decadence" could be Emerson, Lake & Palmer, for the love of Beelzebub; such is the level of complexity and prominence of synthesizers. The frightening Finnish fivesome does a nice job of mixing up tempos on this, the band's third studio disc, and manages to keep up the intensity in spite of (or maybe because of) the aural auditory mood swings. You won't even recognize the bonus track cover "Hellion," and it doesn't even matter.

tags: children of bodom,

Children of Bodom - Hate Crew Deathroll (2003) ☠

Country: Finland
Language: English
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Melodic Death Metal
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 2003 Century Media
AllMusic Review by John Serba
Four albums in and still whacked on speed, Finnish five-piece Children of Bodom continue with its highly entertaining, giddy, pogo-stick metal on Hate Crew Deathroll. Attitude-wise, CoB has become the Manowar of melodic death metal, willfully leaping off the cliff of over-the-top metaldom (not unlike Swedish supergroup Witchery) -- which is refreshing, considering the poker-faced seriousness of most acts in the genre, and here, main Bodom-ite Alexi "Wildchild" Laiho keeps his tongue firmly in cheek while tearing through squirrelly cuts such as "Triple Corpse Hammerblow" and "Lil' Bloodred Ridin' Hood." Like its predecessor, Follow the Reaper, Hate Crew finds Laiho firing off frantic speed metal riffs and technical, shred-heavy solos alongside humorously irritating prog/horror movie keyboards; this time, however, he has tightened up the arrangements (most songs clock in under four minutes) and significantly improved the enunciation of his vocal screech, making for a lean, mean, and infectious listen. The album races to the finish of its 36-minute running time, only slowing down for deathly ballad "Angels Don't Kill" and highlight "Sixpounder," which trades busy fretwork for hackle-raising mid-tempo riff chuggery and a monstrous, sweeping, anthemic chorus. Adding to the album's effectiveness is its crisp, crystal-clear, sharp, and mechanical production (Megadeth's stellar Countdown to Extinction is a reference point), which perfectly suits CoB's slice'n'dice songwriting ethic. Hate Crew Deathroll is easily the band's most accomplished, well-rounded, and enjoyable album, thanks to Laiho's playful, frisky approach to metal's clichés; placing Children of Bodom next to comparable European metal acts gives the overtly serious sensibilities of the genre a well-deserved deflating.

tags: children of bodom,

Children of Bodom - Are You Dead Yet? (2005)

Country: Finland
Language: English
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Melodic Death Metal
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© 2005 Spinefarm Records
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
With the presence of brutal riffs and keyboards, Finland's Children of Bodom sounds at times like Fear Factory fronted by a hardcore screamer, especially on their 2005 release, Are You Dead Yet? The group's fifth studio album (which was co-produced by Children of Bodom and Mikko Karmila, the chap who produced their previous outing, 2003's Hate Crew Deathroll) shows the quintet plowing full steam ahead, as the venom continues to bubble to the surface throughout. But the group also has an unmistakable prog metal edge to boot, as the tricky interplay between guitarist Alexi Wildchild Laiho (who also doubles as vocalist) and keyboardist Janne Warmen on "Punch Me I Bleed" certainly brings to mind Dream Theater. And since it's nearly impossible to hear any new European metal band from the mid-'90s onward and not hear an unmistakable Iron Maiden influence, the guitar work between Laiho and Roope Latvala in "Bastards of Bodom" certainly brings to mind Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. Although they may often be lumped in with the majority of other European "extreme metal" bands, there is definitely a progressive air that surrounds Children of Bodom.

tags: children of bodom,

June 24, 2017

Tony D - Pound For Pound (1997)

*U.S. release.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Instrumental
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© 1997 Grand Central Records
AllMusic Review by John Bush
Tony D.'s first full-length for Grand Central (though he had been producing singles for the label for several years) is that rare work of instrumental hip-hop -- an album of unvaried mid-tempo beats and stoned grooves which actually succeeds despite the lack of rapping. The addition of beatmeisters Spikey T, Mr. Scruff, and Buffy Brox make Pound for Pound a satisfying success.

tags: tony d, tony d., pound for pound, 1997,

Nirvana - Nevermind (1991) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Grunge
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1991 DGC Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Nevermind was never meant to change the world, but you can never predict when the Zeitgeist will hit, and Nirvana's second album turned out to be the place where alternative rock crashed into the mainstream. This wasn't entirely an accident, either, since Nirvana did sign with a major label, and they did release a record with a shiny surface, no matter how humongous the guitars sounded. And, yes, Nevermind is probably a little shinier than it should be, positively glistening with echo and fuzzbox distortion, especially when compared with the black-and-white murk of Bleach. This doesn't discount the record, since it's not only much harder than any mainstream rock of 1991, its character isn't on the surface, it's in the exhilaratingly raw music and haunting songs. Kurt Cobain's personal problems and subsequent suicide naturally deepen the dark undercurrents, but no matter how much anguish there is on Nevermind, it's bracing because he exorcizes those demons through his evocative wordplay and mangled screams -- and because the band has a tremendous, unbridled power that transcends the pain, turning into pure catharsis. And that's as key to the record's success as Cobain's songwriting, since Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl help turn this into music that is gripping, powerful, and even fun (and, really, there's no other way to characterize "Territorial Pissings" or the surging "Breed"). In retrospect, Nevermind may seem a little too unassuming for its mythic status -- it's simply a great modern punk record -- but even though it may no longer seem life-changing, it is certainly life-affirming, which may just be better.

Limp Bizkit - Three Dollar Bill, Yall$ (1997)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Nü-Metal
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© 1997 Interscope Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
With their major-label debut, Three Dollar Bill Y'All, Limp Bizkit quickly rose to the top of the alt-metal subgenre known as "rapcore." Part of the reason the band stood out from their peers was their kinetic, frenzied energy. They might not have many original ideas -- they are largely an outgrowth of Korn, Faith No More, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers -- but they do the sound well. They have a powerful rhythm section and memorable hooks, most of which make up for the uneven songwriting. Then again, you're not looking for perfection on a debut -- you're looking for a promising sound, and on that front, Limp Bizkit deliver.

tags: limp bizkit, three dollar bill yall, ya'll, $, 1997, 3 dollar,

Limp Bizkit - Significant Other (Special Edition) (1999)

*Contains a bonus disc with 3 live tracks.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Nü-Metal, Rapcore
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© 1999 Flip/Interscope Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Limp Bizkit made their reputation through hard work, touring the hell out of their debut album Three Dollar Bill Y'All and thereby elevating themselves to the popularity status of their similarly rap-inflected, alt-metal mentors Korn. With their second album, Significant Other, they come close to reaching Korn's artistic level; at the very least, it's considerably more ambitious and multi-dimensional than Three Dollar Bill. Limp Bizkit, of course, hasn't abandoned their testosterone-overloaded signature sound, they've just built around it. There are flourishes of neo-psychedelia on pummeling metal numbers and there are swirls of strings, even crooning, at the most unexpected background. All of it simply enhances the force of their rap-metal attack, which can get a little tedious if it's unadorned. Not so coincidentally, the enlarged sonic palette also serves as emotional coloring for Fred Durst's lyrics. He broke up with his longtime girlfriend -- his Significant Other, if you will -- during the writing of the album, and his anguish is apparent throughout the record, as almost every song is infused with the guilt, anger, and regret that was churned up in the wake of separation. That, however, gives the impression that this is an alt-metal Blood on the Tracks. It's not. Nevertheless, it does have more emotional weight than Three Dollar Bill, along with more effective, adventurous music. More importantly, it balances these new concerns with trace elements of their juvenile humor along with the overpowering aggro rap-metal that is their stock in trade. Which makes it a rare artistic leap forward that will still please audiences that just want more of the same.

tags: limp bizkit, significant other, special edition, 1999,

Limp Bizkit - Chocolate Starfish & The Hot Dog Flavored Water (2000) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Nu-Metal, Rapcore
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© 2000 Flip/Interscope Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Let's start with the title, not only the winner for the Billy Corgan award for ludicrous monikers, but a title, like Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, that's a winking acknowledgement that the group knows what its stereotype is. Smashing Pumpkins knew everybody thought they were tragic romantics; Limp Bizkit know everybody believes they're juvenile vulgarians, so they're ready to prove 'em right. And how do they do that? With a title that's defiantly vulgar but, more revealingly, embarrassingly awkward. The scatological meaning of Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water is obvious to anyone who's graduated junior high, but it stumbles over its punch line, winding up as more bewildering than funny or offensive. But it doesn't stop there, or with the sickly cover art, since hot dogs and chocolate starfishes become lyrical themes on the album. Clearly, Limp leader Fred Durst takes some pride in his ass and dick joke, since he repeatedly uses it to illustrate the one theme of the album, namely how nobody understands him, especially in Limp Bizkit's year of success after 1999's Significant Other. He may occasionally attempt to frame his rage as us versus them, as on "My Generation," but he winds up bringing everything around to himself. Envision a Use Your Illusion where Axl Rose felt compelled to rewrite "Get in the Ring" for every song, just to make sure that you, dear fan, realize that he's persecuted and thank the lord above that you're there to understand him. And that's it. There's nothing else to the record. If the band supported him with sheets of noise, terrifying guitars, monstrous rhythms, or even a hook every now and then, Durst's narcissism may have been palatable, but the group pretty much churns out the same colorless heavy plod for each song. Combined, Durst's self-pitying and the monotonous music give away that the band bashed Chocolate Starfish out very quickly -- it's the sound of a band determined to deliver a sequel in a finite amount of time. Since Bizkit have never relied on song or studiocraft, it shouldn't come as a surprise that neither is in evidence here, but the problem is they're fishing in a shallow pool. Previously, they had pent-up rage on their side, but here, the music sounds rote -- when it gets louder, it signifies nothing, it just gets louder -- and Durst can see no farther than his past year. That past year may have been a whirlwind of success and fame, but that doesn't stop him from dwelling on the people that have said bad things about him, nearly ignoring those who (somewhat justifiably) argued that he helped stoke the fires as Woodstock '99 in favor of the "critics that don't get it," which includes a whole song sniping at labelmate Trent Reznor. Now, undoubtedly, there are some fans that will empathize with Durst, but the question is, will it really resonate with them? After all, everyone feels rage after being dumped by their significant other, but does everyone live in a world where they feel like they're attacked on all sides? Come to think of it, they do, but Durst's vision on Chocolate Starfish is so insular, it's hard for anyone else, even his bandmates, to come inside. [Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water was also released in a "clean" version containing no profanities. This basically guts the record, especially "Hot Dog" where "f*cking up" is used upward of 50 times, but parents should be reassured that there's this option on the market. But they should consider this -- not one profanity is used sexually, it's all an expression of rage or slang. After a while, the cursing isn't even noticeable, since it's so omnipresent it winds up signifying nothing. It's just part of the midrange hum, like the drums and droning guitars.]

tags: limp bizkit, chocolate starfish and the hot dog flavored water, &, 2000,

Questionmark Asylum - Questionmark Asylum: The Album (1995)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1995 RCA Records
AllMusic Review by Bret Love
Nine out of ten rap fans surveyed could not tell Questionmark Asylum from the Pharcyde in a blind taste test. After all, the D.C.-based quartet possesses mad dance skills, has a uniquely tripped-out rhyme style, and sticks to a primarily positive alt-rap approach. Thankfully, all four MCs have their own unique lyrical flows, and The Album ultimately defies easy comparisons. On "Curse of the Q," which laments the loss of their original major-label record deal, they reveal distinct personalities that make the catchy hook and freaky vocal melody even more memorable, with Mistafiss and Digge Dom assuming drum and keyboard duties, respectively, as sidemen Kevin "KC" Campbell and Jesse "Twin" Blanks add guitar and bass to the ultra-funky mix. On "Love, Peace, Soul," go-go music legend Chuck Brown adds distinctive flavor to the acid jazzy mix, while "Get With You" samples Bootsy Collins' classic "I'd Rather Be With You" for a funky reinvention. An impressive debut from unfairly overlooked hip-hop shoulda-beens.

tags: questionmark asylum, question mark, the album, 1995,

Mic' Geronimo - Long Road Back (2003)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 2003 Warlock Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: mic geronimo, long road back, 2003, mic',

Beyond - Comparison (2001 Reissue)

*Reissued in 2001 by Rhymesayers Entertainment. Track list remains the same at 18 total.

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1996-2001 Rhymesayers Entertainment
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: beyond, comparison, 1996, reissue,

June 21, 2017

Black Sabbath - Headless Cross (1989)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
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© 1989 I.R.S. Metal
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
By the late '80s everyone had pretty much given up on Black Sabbath...and why not? After all, guitarist Tony Iommi was the only remaining original member, and the band had seen an outrageous number of musicians -- particularly lead singers -- crash through its battered ranks since Ozzy Osbourne's late-'70s sacking. So it was actually quite a shock to anyone still paying attention when no-name vocalist Tony Martin outperformed a string of higher-profile predecessors with his contributions to Sabbath's unexpected 1987 return to form, The Eternal Idol, then pulled off the even more remarkable feat of being invited back for a second go-round via 1989's equally satisfying Headless Cross. Arguably the finest Black Sabbath album sans Ozzy or Dio, Headless Cross also featured one of Black Sabbath's most formidable lineups ever: matching the two Tonys with veteran bassist Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Gary Moore, etc.) and experienced journeyman Cozy Powell (too many associations to list) -- one of the few drummers in possession of an instantly recognizable sound. It's Powell, in fact, who leads the Sabs back out to the battlefield when he detonates the reverie of atmospheric intro "The Gates of Hell" with his echoing, pounding war drums, but naturally everything on offer is ultimately bound to, and dependent upon, Iommi's almighty riffs -- from whence all rivers flow. This includes morbid monster-pieces such as "Kill in the Spirit World" and "Call of the Wild," which quake with simply massive power chords yet still manage to flow seamlessly into slightly more upbeat radio-friendly numbers like "Devil and Daughter" and "Black Moon." Likewise, whereas "When Death Calls" is surely one of Iommi's most spine-chilling compositions ever in terms of sheer malevolent force, the equally bewitching "Nightwing" flips the coin entirely with its delicate acoustic guitars and (dare it be said) highly romantic lyrics. In short, for those wise enough to appreciate Black Sabbath's discography beyond the Osbourne and Dio essentials, there can be no better place to start than Headless Cross or its worthy predecessor, The Eternal Idol.