July 31, 2017

Various Artists - Sunset Park (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1996)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop, R&B
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© 1996 Elektra Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Although it appears on the surface to be as pedestrian and formulaic as the movie it supports, the soundtrack to Sunset Park shows that it is possible to find something worthwhile within a formula. Like all mid-'90s urban R&B/hip-hop soundtracks, Sunset Park is divided between hardcore hip-hop (2Pac, Ghostface Killah and RZA, Mobb Deep, Onyx), smooth R&B (Aaliyah, Xscape and MC Lyte), and music that falls between the two categories (Adina Howard, Queen Latifah). What makes the album noteworthy is the consistent quality of the material. Although there are only a handful of genuinely outstanding tracks on the record, the whole thing flows from beginning to end and delivers on its promise, even if it never delivers more than it promises.

tags: various artists, sunset park soundtrack, original motion picture soundtrack, 1996, ost, flac,

July 30, 2017

Anthrax - Fistful of Metal (1984)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Thrash Metal
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© 1984-1987 Megaforce Records
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
Anthrax's lineup had not yet solidified when they recorded their debut album, and neither had their style. Fans of the group's peak-period material are likely to find Fistful of Metal off-putting, as the band sounds more like a Judas Priest knockoff with rather silly, stereotypical heavy metal lyrics than the thrash innovators they would become. Bassist Dan Lilker, who subsequently left to form Nuclear Assault, is present for this album, while vocalist Joey Belladonna is not.

tags: anthrax, fistful of metal, 1984,

Anthrax - Spreading The Disease (1985)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Thrash Metal
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© 1985 Megaforce, Island Records
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
Anthrax's first album with vocalist Joey Belladonna is a huge leap forward, featuring strongly rhythmic, pounding riffs and vocals that alternate between hardcore-type shouting and surprising amounts of melody. Two tracks left over from the Dan Lilker days are here as well. The traditional metal lyrical fare is more original, while also introducing a penchant for paying tribute to favorite fictional characters and pop culture artifacts ("Lone Justice" and "Medusa" are prime examples). One of Anthrax's best efforts.

tags: anthrax, spreading the disease, 1985,

Anthrax - Sound of White Noise (2001 Remastered Edition)

*Contains 4 bonus tracks.15 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Thrash Metal
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© 1993-2001 Beyond, Columbia House
AllMusic Review by Dave Connolly
Anthrax replaced longstanding vocalist Joey Belladonna with John Bush (of Armored Saint) and released the surprisingly melodic and predictably pummeling Sound of White Noise. Producer Dave Jerden, who had worked with Bush on the last Armored Saint disc as well as releases for Alice in Chains and Jane's Addiction, helped Anthrax channel its energy into the shape of the post-Seattle metal sound. This ostracized some fans and attracted others, but the change is incidental; the music is relentless, like a brigade of tanks, and chances are you'll be too busy running for your life to worry who's at the wheel. Sound of White Noise cudgels the listener like nothing since Among the Living; Charlie Benante's drums are everywhere they want to be, a hailstorm of thundering blows backed up by Frank Bello's basslines. The guitars of Dan Spitz and Scott Ian forsake their usual showmanship for a sludgier attack that's downright brutal, although some will miss the solos that were often the highlights of their earlier work. And many enjoy the vocals of Bush; he has a lower-register voice than Belladonna, and the result is menacing, premeditated, and sinister. When he sings on "Hy Pro Glo" that "I'll beat you into overload," you know he and the band will carry it through. There are so many good songs on Sound of White Noise that no two fans seem to agree on their favorites. "Only" is the obvious choice, "Invisible" and "Room for One More" are hard to argue with, "Hy Pro Glo" and "1000 Points of Hate" are too hot to contain, and even the cooled-down "Black Lodge" has its admirers. The infusion of melody into their metal gives the material a lot more personality than their last effort, Persistence of Time, though the lyrics are just as dark. True, Sound of White Noise isn't a peerless, groundbreaking album like Among the Living or I'm the Man, but it does return them to the esteemed state of metal masters (alongside Metallica and Megadeth) that is their birthright.

tags: anthrax, sound of white noise, 1993, remastered version, 2001, remaster,

Anthrax - Persistence of Time (1990)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Thrash Metal
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© 1990 Megaforce, Island Records
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
Persistence of Time rivals Among the Living as Anthrax's best album and might even be a clear-cut favorite if some of the songs had been trimmed a bit. The more cartoonish side of the band is missing here, trimmed in favor of a dark, uncompromising examination of society's dirty underbelly -- nearly every song rails against hatred and prejudice, but without an excess of optimism. The standout track is, once again, a cover -- Joe Jackson's "Got the Time" -- but the rest of the album is strong enough to hold its own. This is the album for those who want Anthrax's serious side without any of the pop culture references and tributes; others might miss those elements, particularly since there has always been a sort of clumsiness to some of the more intellectual lyrics. However, Persistence of Time is their most lyrically consistent album, and the music simply rages.

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Anthrax - Stomp 442 (1995)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal
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© 1995 Elektra Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Anthrax continued their downward spiral with Stomp 442, a generic collection of speed metal bombast. Previously, the band had been able to save their weakest material by the sheer force of their personality, but by the time they recorded Stomp 442, they had lost a number of their key members. Instead of recharging the band, the new members make Anthrax seem somewhat unsure of where to go next -- they pull out their old bag of tricks, but none of their blistering riffs, thundering drums, or hip-hop experiments carry any excitement any more. A handful of tracks suggest that the band could save itself, but Stomp 442 is a disheartening experience for the band's dedicated followers.

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Anthrax - State of Euphoria (1988)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Thrash Metal
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© 1988 Island Records
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
The proper follow-up to Among the Living was somewhat disappointing in its inconsistency. While there are some good moments -- "Be All, End All" is one of the band's most melodic moments, and several other tracks catch fire -- the best thing here is a cover of Trust's "Antisocial," and it doesn't bode well when covers outshine original material. The lyrics continue the self-consciously intellectual, PC approach begun on Among the Living, but about half of the album is surprisingly dull.

tags: anthrax, state of euphoria, 1988, flac,

July 29, 2017

Sherlock - Made To Measure (1997)

 
Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1997 Rooftop Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

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La Brigade - Le Testament (1999)

Country: France
Language: French (Le Français)
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1999 Barclay
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: la brigade, le testament, 1999, france,

Good Charlotte - Good Morning Revival (2007)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Pop Rock, Dance Rock
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© 2007 Daylight, Epic Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
When ironies are as delicious as punk-pop quartet Good Charlotte turning into the very thing they parodied on their career-making hit, "Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous," it's hard to resist the temptation to repeat the story, no matter how often it's been said. After all, it is true. Good Charlotte succumbed to every temptation fame has to offer and turned into L.A. scenester frat-rats, which, in turn, turned them into gossip-blog fodder as lead singer Joel Madden dated teen queens and super-skinny celebs whose main claim to fame was being famous. It's a textbook rock & roll cliché, and now that the apex of their popularity is beginning to recede into the past, they've fallen back on another textbook rock & roll cliché for their fourth album, 2007's Good Morning Revival: desperate trend-chasing. True, the group was beginning to stretch out on their first post-fame album, 2004's The Chronicles of Life and Death, but where that found the group getting a little more ambitious, Good Morning Revival -- released a full five years after their breakthrough, The Young and the Hopeless -- demonstrates that they now have real concerns about appearing fashionable, so they've adopted the two main rock trends that surfaced since 2002: dance-punk and '80s fetishism. They've morphed from blink-182 into the Killers, a stylistic makeover that makes Madden's swipes at the "plastic people" of Hollywood on the opening "Misery" ring a little hollow since his sudden pursuit of glam style seems like the epitome of L.A. emptiness. To be sure, the icy synth textures and guitar atmospherics borrowed from the Edge are the foundation of this album, but Good Charlotte aren't content to just restrict themselves to tricks they learned from the Killers; they sample from a wide spectrum of sounds and bands from the last five years. There's the pounding electro-disco of Rapture-lite "Dance Floor Anthem," which feels like it should be ironic, but isn't. There's the Blur/Gorillaz-aping "Keep Your Hands Off My Girl" -- its chanting verse borrowed from "We Got a Line on You," the hook from "Song 2," its beat from the Gorillaz -- and there's the Coldplay-esque shimmer of "Where Would We Be Now," complete with the finishing touch of piano arpeggio. This kind of calculating changeup would have worked better if the band had the hooks or the good sense to embrace their crass pandering so it's good trashy fun; if they signaled that they knew how ridiculous this shift in direction was, it'd be easier to enjoy.

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Various Artists - Top Gun (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1986)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Pop, Hard Rock
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© 1986 Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by Chuck Donkers
One of the best-selling soundtrack albums of all time, Top Gun remains a quintessential artifact of the mid-'80s. The collection's smash hits (including Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" and Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone") still define the bombastic, melodramatic sound that dominated the pop charts of the era.

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Good Charlotte - Good Charlotte (2003 Reissue)

*The 2003 reissue adds the track "The Click" Contains 14 tracks total.

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Punk Rock, Pop Rock
Style: Pop Punk
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© 2000-2003 Daylight, Epic Records
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Punk-ska quintet Good Charlotte often sounds like a cross between Green Day and Smash Mouth on its self-titled debut album, and the band members also show evidence of a familiarity with the Clash. The beats come fast and furious, the simple guitar chords noisily fill the middle range, and the vocals are sung with snotty belligerence. "Little Things," the lead-off track, sets the tone; it's about the petty humiliations an outsider can encounter at high school. Elsewhere, the lyrics speak of musical aspirations in the face of 9-to-5 pressures, condemn absent fathers, and berate ex-girlfriends who would rather date football heroes. This is all standard-issue stuff, and in fact the only odd element here is an occasionally expressed religious interest. The band members all give profuse thanks to God in their acknowledgments in the CD booklet, and God also turns up here and there in the lyrics, such as in "Complicated" ("giving thanks to the lord, and I pray every day") and in the hidden bonus track, apparently titled "Thank You Mom" ("You showed me how to love my god"). Religion can turn up in the strangest places, of course, but such remarks seem incongruous among lyrics that casually employ minor vulgarities and have a generally angry tone, performed by a group that favors tattoos and extensive piercings in its photographs. Good Charlotte can't quite be called a CCM group on the basis of its debut album, but the band's songs definitely send mixed messages. [The compact-disc version of Good Charlotte is a "CD Extra," its multimedia content consisting of a music video for "Little Things" that finds the group cavorting in a high school.]

tags: good charlotte, good charlotte 2003 reissue, reissue, 2000, flac,

Good Charlotte - The Young & The Hopeless (2002)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Pop Rock
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© 2002 Daylight, Epic Records
AllMusic Review by Tom Semioli
Good Charlotte's The Young and the Hopeless is punk-pop déjà vu. Rehashing worn clichés aplenty on each track, cuts such as "The Anthem" emerge exactly as the title overtly implies: a high-velocity, guitar-driven reason to lash out against the usual growing pains inflicted by parental authority and high-school drama. Grafting the widely recognizable drum motif from Iggy Pop's infamous "Lust for Life," "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous" is downright predictable, while offerings including "Boys and Girls," "Day That I Die," and "Moving On" are strictly paint-by-numbers rockers sans personality. However, "Emotionless," a shoegazing ballad with a clever orchestral backdrop, stands as the sole moment of truth. An album title that clearly reflects the content; stick with bands such as Green Day if radio-ready punk-pop is your preference.

tags: good charlotte, the young and the hopeless, 2002,

Good Charlotte - The Chronicles of Life & Death (Death Version) (2004)

*Contains the track "Wounded" exclusive to this release.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Pop Rock, Punk Rock
Style: Pop Punk
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© 2004 Daylight, Epic Records
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus
Good Charlotte's popularity exploded in 2002, when the brash singles "Anthem" and "Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous" catapulted them to the top of the punk-pop heap. Once there they couldn't be stopped, at least in part because they endorsed their pop side as much as their punk-derived image. When naysayers tried pointing out the music's lack of substance, Charlotte's irascible core -- tattooed brothers Benji and Joel Madden -- challenged them with the issue of "Boys and Girls," a vacuous yet irresistibly fizzy new wave-styled goof. The Chronicles of Life and Death, Good Charlotte's first post-fame album, uses that status as a loosely binding concept. The Maddens are unquestionably happy with their celebrity. But they've also realized that money won't always buy happiness, or heal their old scars. After an indulgent string section intro, the title track begins to the beep of a heart-rate monitor. "Money talks/In this world," Joel Madden sings the song's modified power pop strut. "That's what idiots will say/But you'll find out/That this world/Is just an idiot's parade." It's the jaded realization on the other side of "Lifestyles"' stardom-baiting. Whereas their previous effort was, with a few notable exceptions, boisterous punk-pop, Chronicles includes an echoing relationship-woe piano ballad ("The Truth"), the subdued "Ghost of You"'s synthesizers and vocal harmonies, and quirky keyboards and acoustic guitars in the lyrically bitter "The World Is Black" ("I can't live when this world keeps dying..."). Joel Madden has also matured since The Young and the Hopeless -- his newly developed husky tenor suits him well on the more introspective material, but can still belt out the rousing punk-pop choruses of "Walk Away (Maybe)," "Predictable," and "Secrets." The album's best track might be its greatest departure. "I Just Wanna Live" is a punchy blend of power chords, string samples, and disco beats that features Madden rapping in a Nelly-inspired flow. For all their well-crafted ambition on Chronicles, "I Just Wanna Live" feels like Good Charlotte's centerpiece, since it's spiked with rock power, but gets its soul from the pop life they lead. [The Chronicles of Life and Death was issued in "Life" and "Death" versions, each with a unique bonus track.]

tags: good charlotte, the chronicles of life and death, death version, 2004,

Good Charlotte - The Chronicles of Life & Death (Life Version) (2004)

*Contains the track "Falling Away" exclusive to this release.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Pop Rock, Punk Rock
Style: Pop Punk
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© 2004 Daylight, Epic Records
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus
Good Charlotte's popularity exploded in 2002, when the brash singles "Anthem" and "Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous" catapulted them to the top of the punk-pop heap. Once there they couldn't be stopped, at least in part because they endorsed their pop side as much as their punk-derived image. When naysayers tried pointing out the music's lack of substance, Charlotte's irascible core -- tattooed brothers Benji and Joel Madden -- challenged them with the issue of "Boys and Girls," a vacuous yet irresistibly fizzy new wave-styled goof. The Chronicles of Life and Death, Good Charlotte's first post-fame album, uses that status as a loosely binding concept. The Maddens are unquestionably happy with their celebrity. But they've also realized that money won't always buy happiness, or heal their old scars. After an indulgent string section intro, the title track begins to the beep of a heart-rate monitor. "Money talks/In this world," Joel Madden sings the song's modified power pop strut. "That's what idiots will say/But you'll find out/That this world/Is just an idiot's parade." It's the jaded realization on the other side of "Lifestyles"' stardom-baiting. Whereas their previous effort was, with a few notable exceptions, boisterous punk-pop, Chronicles includes an echoing relationship-woe piano ballad ("The Truth"), the subdued "Ghost of You"'s synthesizers and vocal harmonies, and quirky keyboards and acoustic guitars in the lyrically bitter "The World Is Black" ("I can't live when this world keeps dying..."). Joel Madden has also matured since The Young and the Hopeless -- his newly developed husky tenor suits him well on the more introspective material, but can still belt out the rousing punk-pop choruses of "Walk Away (Maybe)," "Predictable," and "Secrets." The album's best track might be its greatest departure. "I Just Wanna Live" is a punchy blend of power chords, string samples, and disco beats that features Madden rapping in a Nelly-inspired flow. For all their well-crafted ambition on Chronicles, "I Just Wanna Live" feels like Good Charlotte's centerpiece, since it's spiked with rock power, but gets its soul from the pop life they lead. [The Chronicles of Life and Death was issued in "Life" and "Death" versions, each with a unique bonus track.]

tags: good charlotte, the chronicles of life and death, life version, 2004,

Good Charlotte - Cardiology (2010)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Pop Rock, Punk Rock
Style: Pop Punk
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© 2010 Capitol Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Ten years on from their debut, Good Charlotte jumped from Epic to Capitol, but more importantly, they decided to largely abandon the dance-punk nonsense of 2007’s Good Morning Revival for a time-honored back-to-basics move. They’ve returned to the bouncy punk-pop of their earliest years; they’re trying hard not to be blinded by the glittery lights of Hollywood; and they’re writing from the heart, hence the name Cardiology. Old habits do die hard, of course, and so do new ones: it doesn’t take long before the brothers Madden are writing fantasies of how “you’re my Bette Davis/I’m your Cary Grant”; by the end of the record, they’ve had an electronic relapse, dabbling chillouts and electronic rhythms. Ultimately, these are minor backslides in an album that revives the hook-happy punky pogo of Good Charlotte’s first albums while adding the new wrinkles, namely a willingness to indulge in pure power ballads and AAA pop, the latter in the form of the rose-tinted “1979,” an ode to the year of the Madden’s birth. “1979” may pander with its laundry list of classic rock albums, but it has the boldest hook here and is the leanest piece of pop, overshadowing the shellacked attempts to hold onto whatever footing at modern rock radio Good Charlotte still has. Maturity doesn’t necessarily suit the band -- there’s a natural, flat whine to Joel Madden’s voice that dooms him to eternal adolescence -- but every step Good Charlotte makes toward a comfortable middle age on Cardiology is a step that succeeds, producing music that resonates louder and longer than the flashy twaddle of Good Morning Revival.

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Scorpions - Crazy World (1990)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1990 Mercury Records
AllMusic Review by Barry Weber
After the release of Savage Amusement in 1988, the Scorpions expressed disdain toward the album, feeling that it was too polished when compared to their other work. Their longtime producer, Dieter Dierks, was replaced with well-known rock producer Keith Olsen, who would produce Crazy Worldand assist in making it one of the Scorpions' greatest recordings. Their music had certainly changed since Savage Amusement, sounding a little bit heavier and less glamorous. But even with the metal sound, the songs remain melodic and catchy. The power ballads on the album, "Wind of Change" and "Send Me an Angel," are arguably two of the band's greatest slow numbers, boasting soothing harmony and lyrics. Crazy World remains the Scorpions' finest '90s album and is sure to please its listeners.

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July 27, 2017

Evanescence - Evanescence (Deluxe Edition) (2011)

*Contains 4 bonus tracks.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Alternative Metal, Gothic Metal
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© 2011 Wind-Up
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Difficult births are no stranger to Evanescence. Nothing ever quite seems to come easy for Amy Lee, yet the five years separating Evanescence’s 2006 sophomore effort The Open Door and its eponymous 2011 album were relatively quiet, the band undergoing some lineup changes -- not to mention a switch of producers, from Steve Lillywhite to Nick Raskulinecz -- but nothing comparable to the messy departure of Ben Moody between the group’s first two albums. Such comparative calm is reflected within the grooves of Evanescence, which is less tortured tonally even if it remains quite dramatic. Lee’s default mode is to sing to the rafters, her operatic bluster sometimes overbearing when her settings are gloomy, but Raskulinecz pulls off a nifty trick of brightening the murk, retaining all of the churning drama but lessening the oppression by brightening the colors and pushing the melody. While there’s hardly a danger of Amy Lee removing her thick mascara, she’s not pouting all the time; there’s some shade and light here, some variety of tempos, enough to give Evanescence the illusion of warmth, not to mention a fair share of crossover hooks. It’s aural candy for aging goths and tortured tweens alike.

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July 26, 2017

Evanescence - The Open Door (2006)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Alternative Metal, Gothic Metal
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© 2006 Wind-Up
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
It seems like a minor miracle that Evanescence released their second album at all, given the behind-the-scenes toil and trouble that surrounded the aftermath of their 2003 debut, Fallen, turning into an unexpected blockbuster. Actually, so much drama followed Evanescence that it's hardly the same band anymore. Certainly, pivotal songwriter/guitarist Ben Moody is no longer with the band, leaving not long after Fallen had become an international success, and sometime after that, they lost their bassist -- leaving behind Amy Lee as the indisputable leader of the band. She always was the face, voice, and spirit of the band anyway -- dominating so that it often seemed that she was named Evanescence and not fronting a band called that -- but by the time the group finally released their long-awaited second album, The Open Door, in October 2006, there was no question that it was her band, and she has learned well from the success of Fallen. Pushed to the background are the Tori-isms that constituted a good chunk of the debut -- they're saved for the brooding affirmation of a closer, "Good Enough," and the churning "Lithium," which most certainly is not a cover of Nirvana's classic (that song never mentioned its title, this repeats it incessantly) -- and in their place is the epic gothic rock (not quite the same thing as goth rock, mind you) that made Lee rock's leading witchy woman of the new millennium. And she doesn't hesitate to dig into the turmoil surrounding the band, since this truly is all about her -- she may artfully avoid the ugliness surrounding the lawsuit against her manager, whom she's alleged of sexual harassment, but she takes a few swipes against Moody, while hitting her semi-famous ex, Shaun Morgan of Seether, directly with "Call Me When You're Sober," as blunt a dismissal as they come. To hear her tell it, she not only doesn't need anybody, she's better on her own. Yet artists aren't always the best judge of their own work, and Lee could use somebody to help sculpt her sound into songs, the way she did when Moody was around. Not that she's flailing about necessarily -- "Call Me When You're Sober" not only has structure, it has hooks and momentum -- but far too often, The Open Door is a muddle of affections. Sonically, however, it captures the Evanescence mythos better and more consistently than the first album -- after all, Lee now has no apologies of being the thinking man's nu-metal chick, now that she's a star.

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Evanescence - Origin (2000)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Alternative Metal
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© 2000 Bigwig Enterprises
*No professional reviews available for this release.

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Madonna - I'm Breathless: Music From & Inspired By The Film Dick Tracy (1990)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Pop, Jazz, Swing
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© 1990 Sire/Warner Bros. Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
A collection of songs featured or inspired by the comic-book-turned-movie Dick Tracy, I'm Breathless is essentially Madonna's take on popular music from the '40s, particularly big-band pop. Although her singing shows a surprising amount of range, the material tends to be nothing more than cutesy novelty numbers, like the double entendre-laden hit "Hanky Panky." I'm Breathless approaches greatness only on "Vogue," a hit single tacked on to the end of the record. Featuring an endlessly deep house groove and an instantly memorable melody, "Vogue" is a detatched, affectionate celebration of transcendent pop and gay culture and stands as Madonna's finest single moment.

tags: madonna, im breathless music from and inspired by the film dick tracy, 1990, i'm, &, dick tracy, flac,

July 25, 2017

Helloween - Straight Out of Hell (Limited Edition) (2013)

*Limited edition. Contains 2 bonus tracks.
Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Heavy Metal, Power Metal
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© 2013 The End Records
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger
The 14th studio album from venerable German power metal outfit Helloween kicks off with the blistering "Nabatea," a typically ambitious, seven-minute epic concerning a kingdom of nomadic, Mediterranean, peace-loving folks swallowed up by the Roman Empire in AD 106. From there, truncated history lessons are put on the back burner in favor of a more traditional, Keeper of the Seven Keys-era Helloween approach, offering up immaculate blasts of impossibly tuneful, power/neo-classical metal with humor ("Asshole"), apocalyptic glee ("World of War"), and an unapologetic love for all things Iron Maiden ("Far from the Stars"). Brighter, broader, and a good deal lighter in tone than 2010's ominous 7 Sinners, Straight Out of Hell (definitely not Compton) finds Helloween resting on its laurels a bit, but should nonetheless please longtime fans with its huge, soaring choruses and reliably strong musicianship. [A version was released with two bonus tracks, "Another Shot of " and "Burning Sun."]

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Helloween - 7 Sinners (2010)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Heavy Metal, Power Metal
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© 2010 The End Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Helloween have always shown an interest in numerology, or at least the number seven, specifically, which they've incorporated in no less than three Keeper of the Seven Keys-related studio albums, and now, on their thirteenth career full-length, 7 Sinners (incidentally marking the band's 25th anniversary), they made sure to include precisely 13 songs, except, no doubt, in Japan, where the mandatory bonus track will trump any numerological strategy. So much for that! Anyhoo, the impact of these numerical concerns upon the band's musical output over the years has been pretty close to zero (Crap! There's another number!), since the German power metal icons have only rarely wavered from the subgenre trappings that they first helped define so long ago, and 7 Sinners, for good and ill, isn't about to change that. This is true even though singer Andi Deris shoulders the bulk of the songwriting load here, rather than founding guitarist Michael Weikath, and so there are numerous seriously infectious, speed-addled head bangers on tap ("Where the Sinners Go," "Long Live the King," "Far in the Future"), alongside several typically cheesy brotherhood anthems ("Are You Metal?," "Raise the Noise" ), the odd, heavy-ass ballad ("The Smile of the Sun"), but not really any major surprises, unless you consider the flute solo on the aforementioned "Raise the Noise" cause for shock. However, if there's anything that consistently distinguishes Helloween from most of their countless followers (and it's not "The Sage, the Fool, the Sinner," which sounds like Blind Guardian), it's the band's frequently quirky turn of lyric and sporadic sense of humor, both of which are still very much intact in the likes of "Who Is Mr. Madman," "You Stupid Mankind," and the sounds-funny-but-it's-not "If a Mountain Could Talk" (ask Frank Zappa, c/o "Billy the Mountain"). But the primary takeaway of this review, if you hadn't guessed as much already, is that 7 Sinners is ultimately yet another extremely solid, occasionally fantastic, but pretty much standard Helloween album. Luckily, Helloween's standard efforts still prove far more interesting than the average power metal release, and that should please their fans and keep the band's career chugging right along into their next studio album. And counting.

tags: helloween, 7 sinners, 2010, flac,

Braintax - Biro Funk (2001)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 2001 Low Life Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: braintax, biro funk, 2001, flac,

Afro Jazz - Afrocalypse (1997) ☠

Country: France
Language: French (Le Français)
Genre: Hip-Hop
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☠: Selected by Sentinel
© 1997 Island Records
*No professional reviews for this release.

tags: afro jazz, afrocalypse, 1997, france, flac,