January 31, 2018

Limp Bizkit - The Unquestionable Truth, Part 1 (2005)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Nü-Metal
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© 2005 Geffen Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
First things first: of course it's better than Results May Vary. How could it not be? But let's not get ahead of ourselves -- Charmbracelet is better than Glitter, Generation Swine is better than that pseudo-industrial Mötley Crüe album without Vince Neil, but that doesn't mean you'd want to listen to any of them. But The Unquestionable Truth, Pt. 1 -- whose title threatens a sequel and suggests a concept album -- is certainly a comeback of sorts for Limp Bizkit. Surely, the return of prodigal guitarist Wes Borland to the fold has something to do with it, since this isn't just harder and heavier than Results May Vary, it has actual riffs, which were in short supply on that 2003 debacle. But this isn't quite the party-hearty violence of Significant Other, either: this is a deadly somber, bitter, angry record, one that intentionally shuns fun. Not that Limp Bizkit have ever been all that fun to listen to in the first place; there's something about their plodding, jerky rhythms, hook-deficient riffs, and Fred Durst's rage-addled, chipmunk squeak that seems contemptuous of the very notion of a good time, even if Significant Other provided the soundtrack to many frat keggers at the turn of the century. That was a long time ago, though, and those 20-year-old kids are in their mid-twenties, not quite ready to revisit the adolescent angst that fueled the first two Bizkit albums. Never to fear -- Durst has grown up, too. He's now 34 and a new father and he's finally discovered the outside world, keeping the "you did this to me" rants and "what a bitch fame is" laments to a minimum. Instead, he's writing about corruption in the church (nice timing, considering this was released just a couple weeks after the election of Pope Benedict XVI), the quest for truth, and the evils of mass media, particularly E! True Hollywood Story. Some might say that there are bigger problems in 2005 than the tyranny of E!, but it's a start. Similarly, the music is a step in the right direction -- it's more ambitious, dramatic, and aggressive, built on pummeling verses and stop-start choruses. It's kind of like a stab at neo-prog alt-metal, only not nearly as bizarre and interesting as that would suggest, because this is, after all, Limp Bizkit, who are hidebound by their awkward, sluggish, thuggish attack. And, lest you forget, they're also held back by Durst, still the most singularly unpleasant, absurd frontman in rock. Not for nothing has his name become a synonym for "worst" in the blogosphere: Durst doesn't seem to have any sense of perspective or sense of self. He opens "The Priest," his song about the church, with the immortal line, "It could be the absinthe talking," and then wallows in weird moral relativism: "I see priests molesting children/I see terrorists blowing up buildings/I see someone in rage killing Dimebag on-stage." He rails against radio and entertainment TV, blissfully ignorant of the fact that those are the tools that gave him his fame. He quotes Aldo Nova, and not ironically. He writes bewildering lines like "the hipsters that don't hip anymore." He claims that he "don't like the whores that try to f*ck you for your game," just weeks after his home sex tape, recorded on his cell phone, spread all over the Internets. He does this and much, much more in the span of 29:43. So at least he doesn't overstay his welcome. And truth be told, there is a certain fascination in hearing Durst flail about, particularly now that the music is somewhat better -- never has someone been so earnest and well-intentioned in his utterly clueless idiocy. But the man himself puts it best: "You hate that I'm a tic/A motherf*cking tic you're finding hard to forget!!" Yes, Fred, it's hard to forget you, but that still doesn't erase the fact that you're still Durst in every possible sense of the word.

tags: limp bizkit, the unquestionable truth, part 1, 2005, flac,

Limp Bizkit - Results May Vary (2003)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Nü-Metal
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© 2003 Interscope Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
It took a long, long time for Limp Bizkit to get their follow-up to Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water into the stores. First, guitarist Wes Borland, generally regarded as the band's musical force, up and left the band, and it took a long, long time to find a replacement guitarist. After a national talent search performed at Guitar Center stores, where candidates had to sign contracts that gave up their rights to anything original they played at their audition, Limp Bizkit settled on former Snot guitarist Mike Smith and recorded an album. Then scrapped it. Then they recorded another album. Then scrapped it. They were going through album titles, too -- it was called Bipolar then, charmingly, Panty Sniffer. Finally, all the sessions and the turmoil was whittled down into one very long, very bad album called Results May Vary. Part of its weakness stems from two perennial Limp Bizkit problems: for a metal band they sound, well, limp, and in Fred Durst they have the worst frontman in the history of rock. These two things plagued even their hits, but Borland at least gave the band some ideas. Without him, the band is left to flounder, and Durst, who already dominated the band's personality, not only has to provide the bravado, but he has to give it direction -- which is likely why it took so long for this mess to get released. Durst doesn't come up with any new musical ideas, apart from slight hints of Staind and emo on the ballads, but the album doesn't suffer from recycled musical ideas, since they were already doing that on Chocolate Starfish. No, it suffers from an utter lack of form and direction, from the riffs to the rhythms, and a surplus of stolen ideas. "The Only One" cops the opening of Steve Miller's "Take the Money and Run," "Gimme the Mic" plagiarizes the Beastie Boys' "Pass the Mic" down to rhyming "y'all" with "y'all" (but Durst adds a whole lotta "motherf*ckers"), while "Phenomenon" borrows from several rap songs, highlighted by Durst getting lyrics wrong. And this points out the biggest problem of Results May Vary -- Durst is running amuck, flattening down the production into a grey sludge, then writing inane lyrics that are shocking in their banality. Since Durst has ingratiated himself with Hollywood, inexplicably getting Thora Birch to concede to being berated to in the video for "Eat You Alive" and French kissing Halle Berry in the video for "Behind Blue Eyes," maybe he's not such a bad guy in person, but on record he's a mean, vindictive, hateful idiot, spewing undirected bile at undeserving targets. Here, a prominent target seems to be Britney Spears, who unceremoniously dumped the dude after an affair that lasted less than a week, since she wasn't all that thrilled that he revealed her pubic hair grooming on the Howard Stern show (what a guy!). Now, he's hurt and ranting about how she broke his heart, unaware of his own culpability in the affair. But that's par for the course for Durst, who stumbles through life without realizing the consequences of his actions, then whines about how nobody understands him. Here, he complains about being picked on in high school, not realizing that his blustering aggression makes him a bully (and that's not even accounting for how he unwittingly incited violence and destruction at Woodstock '99). Then, he complains several times about radio and MTV playing the same old bands, willfully ignoring that he's whored himself out to MTV numerous times and that his band received their radio breakthrough by paying to get their songs played. He invokes icons callously -- "ease your pain/like a melody from Kurt Cobain" -- most notably on a boneheaded cover of the Who's "Behind Blue Eyes," turning it into a Staind song with a Speak & Spell on the bridge ("B-I-Z-K-I-T. Say it") and adding insult to injury by misspelling Pete Townshend's name in the credits. And this isn't even counting the embarrassing Apple plug in the liner notes, or the Fight Club reference in the artwork, the obviousness of which suggests that Durst would be one of the brainwashed legions chanting "his name is Robert Paulson" instead of thinking for himself. Like before, some of this could have been palatable if the music had a fraction of his anger (no matter how misguided it is) or had some energy to it instead of just being murky emoting. But since the music has no melody, hooks, or energy, all attention is focused on the clown jumping up and down and screaming in front, and long before the record is over, you're left wondering, how the hell did he ever get to put this mess out?

tags: limp bizkit, results may vary, 2003, flac,

Innersoul - The Theory (1996)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1996 Mix-It-Up-Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: innersoul, inner soul, the theory, 1996, flac,

Heavy D. - Waterbed Hev (1997)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre:Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
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© 1997 Uptown Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
By the mid-1990s, Heavy D wasn't considered as cutting-edge as he was in the 1980s, but the MC was still recording worthwhile and satisfying albums that appealed to both R&B/urban audiences (who liked his "nice guy" image and groove-oriented tendencies) and rap's hardcore (which couldn't deny the fact that he could flow with the best of them). Though Waterbed Hev (a disc that soared to the top of Billboard's R&B albums chart) is at times a bit harder than he'd been on his early albums, there's no mistaking the fact that this is a Heavy D album through and through. The Overweight Lover's smooth R&B leanings and melodic inclinations had remained strong, and he continued to favor a slick production style. Cuts like "Can You Handle It" (which features Tha Dogg Pound) and "Wanna Be a Player" are definitely harder-edged than one expects Heavy to be, but he's still a long way from being as hardcore as Ice-T or Too Short. Not extraordinary but always entertaining, Waterbed is a nice example of an artist evolving without being untrue to himself.

tags: heavy d, waterbed hev, water bed, 1997, flac,

Heavy D. - Heavy (1999)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
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© 1999 Universal Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Heavy D always favored laid-back grooves, championing their easy flow during the days when the Bomb Squad ruled. Ten years later, when gangstas all roll to moked-out beats, Hev sounds as fresh as he ever has with his seventh album, Heavy. There really isn't anything new here, apart from the occasional production flourish (such as "You Know," with its glorious skittering rap and rhythm), but the legions of producers (including Heavy himself, the Ummah and Erick Sermon) have given the album an appealing modern sheen which guarantees that it sounds like 1999 instead of 1989. On top of it all, Heavy D continues to prove that he has an original, graceful delivery -- he makes it all seem easy, and that's why his music is still appealing. True, Heavy isn't a startling record, but it is a solid, entertaining listen from one of the most reliable artists in hip-hop.

tags: heavy d, heavy, heavy album, flac, 1999,

Despeche Mode - Songs of Faith & Devotion (1993)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Synth Pop, Rock
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© 1993 Sire, Reprise Records
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
In between Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion, a lot happened: Nirvana rewrote the ideas of what "alternative" was supposed to be, while Nine Inch Nails hit the airwaves as the most clearly Depeche-influenced new hit band around. In the meantime, the band went through some high-profile arguing as David Gahan turned into a long-haired, leather-clad rocker and pushed for a more guitar-oriented sound. Yet the odd thing about Songs of Faith and Devotion is that it sounds pretty much like a Depeche Mode album, only with some new sonic tricks courtesy of Alan Wilder and co-producer Flood. Perhaps even odder is the fact that it works incredibly well all the same. "I Feel You," opening with a screech of feedback, works its live drums well, but when the heavy synth bass kicks in with the wailing backing vocals, even most rockers might find it hard to compete. Martin Gore's lyrical bent, as per the title, ponders relationships through distinctly religious imagery; while the gambit is hardly new, on songs like the centerpiece "In Your Room," the combination of personal and spiritual love blends perfectly. Outside musicians appear for the first time, including female backing singers on a couple of tracks, most notably the gospel-flavored "Condemnation" and the uilleann pipes on "Judas," providing a lovely intro to the underrated song (later covered by Tricky). "Rush" is the biggest misstep, a too obvious sign that Nine Inch Nails was a recording-session favorite to unwind to. But with other numbers such as "Walking in My Shoes" and "The Mercy in You" to recommend it, Songs of Faith and Devotion continues the Depeche Mode winning streak.

tags: depeche mode, songs of faith and devotion, 1993, flac,

Depeche Mode - Ultra (1997)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Electronic, Rock
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© 1997 Reprise/Mute Records
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
When news surfaced in 1995 that Alan Wilder had departed Depeche Mode to concentrate on his solo project Recoil, the immediate concern among fans was whether the band would be able to hit past heights again. Though Wilder's profile was always much lesser than that of Martin Gore and David Gahan -- and almost even that of Andy Fletcher, whose nonperformance live has always been a running joke in the fan community and who freely admits to generally being around merely to maintain a vibe with his childhood friend Gore -- his capability at arranging the songs over the years gave the band its increasingly distinct, unique edge. Combined with Gahan's near suicide and lengthy recovery from drugs, things looked bleak. Happily, Ultra turned out a winner; hooking up with Tim Simenon, longtime U.K. dance maven and producer of arty fare such as Gavin Friday's Adam 'n' Eve, Depeche delivered a strong album as a rejuvenated band. The most immediate change was Gahan's singing; for the first time ever, he took singing lessons beforehand, and his new control and projection simply shines, especially on the marvelous "It's No Good," a pulsing, tense, yet beautiful song with another deeply romantic Gore lyric. Opener "Barrel of a Gun" continues in the vein of arena-level stompers like "Never Let Me Down Again" and "I Feel You," with huge drum slams and scratching to boot, but Ultra mostly covers subtler territory, such as the slightly creepy "Sister of Night" and the gentle "The Love Thieves." Gore sings two winners: the orchestral, slow dance groove "Home" and "The Bottom Line," featuring steel guitar and Can's Jaki Liebezeit on drums, distinctly different territory for Depeche. Closing with "Insight," a quite lovely, building ballad, Ultra showed Depeche wasn't ready to quit by any means.

tags: despeche mode, ultra, flac, 1997,

Depeche Mode - Exiter (2001)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Electronic, Synth Pop
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© 2001 Reprise/Mute Records
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
It's rare to find bands capable of keeping their own best qualities to the fore while trying something new each time out, but Depeche Mode demonstrate that balance in full on the marvelous Exciter. Arguably the first album made by the group as a cohesive unit since Violator (and bearing some resemblance to that record in overall title and song names -- compare "The Sweetest Condition" with "The Sweetest Perfection"), Exciter finds the trio again balancing pop catchiness with experimental depths. As with Ultra, an outside producer helps focus the end results in new, intriguing directions -- in this case, said producer is Mark Bell, known for his work with Björk but also as part of Warp Records' flagship act LFO, which always acknowledged their own debut to Depeche. Bell's ear for minimal, crisp beats and quick, subtle arrangements and changes suit Martin Gore's songs beautifully. If there are few storming arena-shaking numbers this time out, the exquisite delicacy throughout is addicting, with Gore's guitar providing slippery and stinging leads to the smoky, romantic flow of Exciter. "When the Body Speaks" is a particular winner, his gentle work and a backing string section combining just right. David Gahan's voice, already audibly benefiting from lessons on Ultra, is even more supple and passionate than before, ranging from the fuller delivery on the snaky charm of "Shine" to the haunting album-closer, "Goodnight Lovers," a romantic lullaby with perfect counterpoint backing vocals. Gore's own singing remains equally fine, as does his lyrical obsessions on, well, obsession -- "Breathe," which quotes more Bible names per verse than most preachers, makes for a good example on both fronts. When the band fully crank it up, the results work there too -- "The Dead of Night" makes for a far superior nod to Gore's glam roots and Depeche's own industrial dance descendants than Songs of Faith and Devotion's "Rush" did.

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Overkill - Bloodletting (2000)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Thrash Metal
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© 2000 Metal-is Records
AllMusic Review by Gary Hill
This disc is a great fairly mainstream metal disc that should please any fans of the genre. The material has a lot of dynamic range, and there are really no weak cuts.

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Overkill - Killbox 13 (2003)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Thrash Metal
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© 2003 Spitfire Records
AllMusic Review by John Serba
The New York/New Jersey wrecking crew known as Overkill continues to squeeze one tasty sausage out of the machine after the other, no frills, no baloney, no screwing around, no denying it. Kill Box 13 finds Overkill still stubbornly refusing to shed its thrash roots -- and refusing to write a throwaway tune, for that matter. The combination of the band's stellar riffs and rock-solid arrangements with Colin Richardson's thick, beefy production is a big, juicy steak waiting to be devoured by any self-respecting carnivore metalhead. Singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth (That mild stroke he suffered on stage in 2002? Didn't stop him) bleats as if he's backed into a corner, spittle spraying as he screams and yowls through particularly bitter opening potboilers "Devil by the Tail" and "Damned," hair, bile, and blood flying as he wields a torch to stave off the rats plaguing his soul. More bleak melody is dished out on bruisers "No Lights" and "The One," both memorable cuts thanks to gangland-shout choruses and the stellar guitar work of Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer (anyone else notice founding members Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni's innate ability to consistently recruit top-notch six-stringers?). As usual, the band's balance of in-the-pocket groove-consciousness ("Crystal Clear") and technical musicianship -- the tempo changes and guitar solos are present, but not indulgent -- give Overkill the undeniable blue-collar street cred that's smart and steely, and deflects any criticism with yet another backcracking riff off the top ropes. Granted, the second half of Kill Box 13 isn't as immediate or effective as the first five cuts (except maybe for closing ripper "I Rise"), but using the adjective "inconsistent" when describing anything the band has ever put its stamp on is wildly off-base, and anyone disagreeing with them is subject to a few kidney shots. Overkill's overall message here? Get the hell out of the way or get squished, no elaboration necessary.

tags: overkill, killbox 13, kill box, 2003, flac,

Overkill - ReliXIV (2005)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Thrash Metal
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© 2005 Spitfire Records
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
The phrase 'You either love 'em or you hate 'em' could be used to describe several rock bands, but it seems custom-made for thrash veterans Overkill. Few bands throughout the history of heavy metal have thrashed as intensely or possessed a singer like Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth (whose vocals give 'piercing' a whole new meaning). But the band (or more succinctly, mainstays Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni) admirably stuck to their guns through it all. Whereas many metal veterans could be spotted donning flannel shirts in the early '90s or trying out their rap skills around the turn of the century, Overkill has turned a blind eye to trends. And while they never infiltrated the mainstream like Anthrax or Megadeth, their perseverance has paid off, as they retain a strong following to this day, and continue to crank out albums, such as 2005's ReliXIV. That said, each new Overkill release is not unlike each new AC/DC release -- you know exactly what you're going to get. Variety may be at a minimum here, but by now, it's clear that that's how Overkill and their fans like it, as evidenced by such dense n' intense tracks as "Within Your Eyes," the Spinal Tap-like titled "Bats in the Belfry," and the rapid-fire riffs of "A Pound of Flesh." Expectedly, ReliXIV won't win over any nu-metallists, but it will definitely please the long-ago converted.

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Overkill - Immortalis (2007)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Thrash Metal
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© 2007 Bodog Music
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
Unlike other veteran metal acts whose dedication to the genre peters out as the years rack up, Overkill remain dedicated to continuing on in their original direction, as evidenced by their 15th album overall, 2007's Immortalis. Trends may come and go, but you know that Overkill are always good for supplying some good old-fashioned crunchy thrash metal, and that's something you've got to respect. And all these years later, singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth can still screech with the best of them. For old-school thrash metal, Immortalis is a true exhibition, as evidenced by such hard-hitters as the album-opening "Devils in the Mist" as well as "Shadow of a Doubt" and "Skull and Bones," the latter of which features Lamb of God's Randy Blythe guesting on vocals (who does his best drill instructor impersonation). All these years later, you still know what's in store each time you pick up a new release by Overkill. And that's just the way their fans like it -- Immortalis is no different.

tags: overkill, immortalis, 2007, flac,

January 30, 2018

Visage - Visage (1980)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave, Synth Pop
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© 1980-1983 Polydor Records
AllMusic Review by Dan LeRoy
With apologies to Spandau Ballet, Ultravox, and even Duran Duran, this is the music that best represents the short-lived but always underrated new romantic movement. That's fitting, because Visage's frontman, Steve Strange, was the colorfully painted face of the movement, just as this album was its sound. Warming up Kraftwerk's icy Teutonic electronics with a Bowie-esque flair for fashion, Strange and the new romantics created a clubland oasis far removed from the drabness of England's early-'80s reality -- and the brutality of the punk response to it. And no one conjured up that Eurodisco fantasyland better than Visage, whose "Fade to Grey" became the anthem of the outlandishly decked-out Blitz Kids congregated at Strange's club nights. With its evocative French female vocals, distant sirens and pulsing layers of synthesizers, "Fade to Grey" is genuinely haunting, the definite high point for Visage and their followers. But the band's self-titled debut is a consistently fine creation, alternating between tunes that share the eerie ambience of "Fade to Grey" ("Mind of a Toy," "Blocks on Blocks") and others that show off a more muscular brand of dance-rock (the title track, filled with thundering electronic tom-tom fills, and the sax-packed instrumental "The Dancer"). Strange and drummer/nightclub partner Rusty Egan had wisely surrounded themselves with top-level talent, primarily drawn from the bands Ultravox and Magazine, and the excellent playing of contributors like guitarists Midge Ure and John McGeoch, bassist Barry Adamson, synthesist Dave Formula, and, especially, electric violinist Billy Currie, all of whom give the album a depth unmatched by most contemporaneous techno-pop. And despite the group's frequently dramatic pose, Strange and his bandmates were hardly humorless; the first single, "Tar," is a witty anti-smoking advertisement, while the Eastwood homage "Malpaso Man" adds some incongruous cowboy twang to the dance beats. Only the closing track, the instrumental "The Steps," is inconsequential -- the rest of Visage proves the new romantics left a legacy that transcends their costumes and makeup. [Note to collectors: The 1997 One Way reissue of the album adds a bonus track, the longer (and far superior) dance mix of "Fade to Grey." Opening with the tune's arresting synth-bass riff, and featuring a extended fade marked by exploding backbeats, it heightens the song's moody atmosphere, and is the way this club classic was meant to be heard.]

tags: visage, visage album, 1980, flac,

Sepultura - Kairos (Deluxe Edition) (2011)

*Contains 2 bonus tracks. 17 tracks total.
Country: Brazil
Language: English
Genre: Groove Metal, Thrash Metal
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© 2011 Nuclear Blast Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
It's a good barometer of Sepultura's steadily muddled career prospects that the once hallowed Brazilian metal band's new albums are typically met with less curiosity and excitement than trepidation and outright dread, even by their most understanding and loyal fans. Already discredited by the loss of both Cavaleras (now reunited part-time in the Cavalera Conspiracy), whose family name, most observers would agree, still feels fundamentally inseparable from the Sepultura brand, the remaining lineup of their two replacements, vocalist Derrick Greene and drummer Jean Dolabella, plus founding bassist Paulo Jr. and longtime lead guitarist Andreas Kisser, has also been creatively wayward for several years now. None of which would have been a problem had 2006's Divine Comedy-inspired Dante XXI or 2009's A Clockwork Orange-based A-Lex backed up their highbrow literary aspirations with equally inventive music, but their general mediocrity only stoked the fires of fan discontent and these won't likely be extinguished by 2011's notably heavier Kairos. Never mind this album's own overly self-involved concept -- based on the ancient Greek term applied to crucial moments in time that affect unfolding events -- because what history, in all of its remorselessly selective judgment, will ultimately recall of Sepultura's twelfth studio album may be its game but mostly futile attempt at recovering the raw, thrash-based musical aggression of the band's middle years. Let's be clear now: technically speaking, this goal was achieved, but it's basically a hollow victory since there are still no songs worth mentioning in the same breath as glories past here, unless one rates them based solely on the fact that many -- "Relentless", "Seethe," certainly "Born Strong" -- could very well pass for Roots outtakes. But, beyond that, Sepultura mostly musters a seemingly endless parade of average, deliberate groove vehicles ("Spectrum," "Mask," "Dialog," which sounds like a sleepy Prong), a forgettable thrashing outbreak in "No One Will Stand," and a faithful cover of Ministry's "Just One Fix." Another semi-industrial, partly tribal mash-up called "Structure Violence (Azzes)" crosses the line of Roots parody one too many times, and a closing reworking of the Prodigy's "Firestarter," mysteriously renamed "4648," just adds to the confusion. Ironically, Kisser's guitar solos might constitute the album's best, consistent highlights, but that's no way to carry the day, nor attempt to maintain a legacy as important as Sepultura's still is, in spite of the many controversies and gradual musical dilution that followed Max Cavalera's exit in 1997. Again, it hasn't been for lack of trying on the revised band's part, nor patience or goodwill on the part of their fans -- just a lack of great songs -- and this is why Kairos invariably disappoints, and why only one outcome can truly restore the band's reputation, whether the four stubborn individuals involved can yet admit to it. Until then, Sepultura albums are bound to feel like speed-bumps in the road to salvation.

tags: sepultura, kairos, deluxe edition, 2011, flac,

Sepultura - Nation (Limited Edition) (2001)

*Contains 5 bonus tracks. 20 tracks total.
Country: Brazil
Language: English
Genre: Groove Metal, Thrash Metal
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© 2001 Roadrunner Records
AllMusic Review by Kerry L. Smith
A quote from the Dalia Lama, "Peace on earth depends on the peace in the people's hearts," and wise words from Mother Teresa, Ghandi, and Albert Einstein grace the album booklet of Sepultura's 2001 release, Nation. When Sepultura's vocalist Derrick Green screams long and hard enough, you bet your sweet, tender eardrums that he's got something important to say. On its 2001 release, Nation, the Brazilian quartet is infuriated -- and with good reason. As Green scrapes the lining of his vocal chords through the brash, impassioned tracks, he's singing about more than just "one nation, Sepulnation"; he's suggesting something bigger, something worth shouting about and fighting for. Nation was created to epitomize Sepultura's concept of creating a new nation built upon the foundations of unity and a utopian society that thrives without violence or guns. In interviews, Green has said, "Every song will be related to the idea of building this nation. We will have our own flags, our own anthem." Leave it to Sepultura to break down the walls and build something beautiful out of the rubble. Indeed, each song meets these expectations in a series of hard-rockin', tight tunes. Drummer Igor Cavalera's timing and tempo couldn't be more perfect as the adrenaline heightens until the album's intensity burns right through the speakers. Die-hard Sepultura fans will likely salivate over skull-crushing tracks like "Who Must Die?," and when Green sings "you are our livestock/we make you love it" on the creepy anticorruption song "Politricks," Sepultura virgins will be speechless. The album explodes with the final track, "Valtio," an instrumental piece (complete with violins) that sounds more like the score to a war movie, with the innocent lying in waste in the dust. Trust that Nation is far more real and way scarier than when your mean older brother used to lock you in the closet and play Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," but it's well worth the ride.

tags: sepultura, nation, limited edition, 2001, flac,

Sepultura - Dante XXI (2006)

Country: Brazil
Language: English
Genre: Groove Metal, Thrash Metal
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© 2006 SPV, Steamhammer Records
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
When Max Cavalera left Sepultura in 1997, fans figured that some of the group's metallic fury would be lost. But this certainly proved not to be the case, as the "Derrick Green version" of the group continued to churn out such angst-filled releases as Against, Nation, and Roorback. On their fourth studio set with Green, 2006's Dante XXI, the group continues to bring the rage. While it's not the same groundbreaking work as their last few albums with Cavalera were -- Chaos A.D. and Roots -- much of the elements that made Sepultura stand out from the metal pack are still present. Andreas Kisser's penchant for penning rubbery/elastic riffs is still a main focus for the group (why Kisser remains one of metal's most overlooked guitarists remains a mystery), as evidenced by such tracks as "False" and "Buried Words," while Sepultura's desire to visit new musical avenues is evident by "Ostia," which introduces strings to the group's sound. And from a lyrical standpoint, Sepultura continues to be one of the more challenging metal bands on the scene, as Green has looked to The Divine Comedy by Italian poet/philosopher Dante Alighieri for inspiration. Overall, Dante XXI is easily one of Sepultura's strongest releases to feature Green on vocals.

tags: sepultura, dante xxi, 2006, flac,

Sepultura - Roots (1996) ☠

Country: Brazil
Language: English
Genre: Groove Metal, Thrash Metal
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1996 Roadrunner Records
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
Listeners intrigued by the rhythmic innovations and Brazilian influences of Chaos A.D. will be quite pleased by Sepultura's sprawling, frequently brilliant follow-up. True to its title, Roots wholeheartedly embraces Sepultura's native Brazilian rhythms, augmenting their music with field recordings of the Xavantes Indians, vocalist/percussionist Carlinhos Brown, and expanded percussion sections. The guitarists create an array of noisy, textural effects, so their technique and riff writing are not as impressive for fans of old-school thrash, but that's more due to the growing influence of alternative metal on the band, with Korn being a particular touchstone (vocalist Jonathan Davis even guests on one track). The songs sacrifice the tight structure of Chaos A.D. for extended percussion jams, plus some acoustic instrumental work. At 72 minutes, Roots inevitably loses focus in spots, but when the music connects (and it does so often), it carries tremendous visceral impact. Roots consolidates Sepultura's position as perhaps the most distinctive, original heavy metal band of the 1990s.

tags: sepultura, roots, 1996, flac,

Sepultura - Chaos A.D. (1993)

Country: Brazil
Language: English
Genre: Thrash Metal, Groove Metal
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© 1993 Roadrunner Records
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
Chaos A.D. was the record where everything came together for Sepultura, when they graduated from being an excellent, if derivative, band into one of metal's most unique voices. Their strident political dissidence is more focused than ever, referring explicitly to injustices in their native Brazil. The band's thick, chunky guitars, busy percussion, and hoarsely shouted vocals may be rooted in death metal, but it was often hard to call Sepultura a true death metal band, even if they flirted heavily with the style by way of Slayer; Chaos A.D. is rooted just as much in hardcore punk in its lean, stripped-down assault, featuring a cover of New Model Army's "The Hunt" and a collaboration with Jello Biafra on "Biotech Is Godzilla." At a time when '80s thrash giants like Metallica and Megadeth were streamlining their music for greater accessibility, Sepultura's aggression actually increased along with their tightened focus, borrowing from hardcore arguably more effectively than any other true metal band. Additionally, Sepultura began to draw upon the influences of their native Brazil, audible in the acoustic instrumental "Kaiowas" and in the way the band's complex rhythms move and breathe, to offer a much wider range than any of their contemporaries seemed willing to pursue. The band's songwriting became almost airtight, giving up the breakneck speed and long progressive passages borrowed from mid-'80s Metallica, and concentrating instead on creating texture and dissonance. But really, it's the unbelievably powerful rhythmic base provided by Igor Cavalera that gives Chaos A.D. its knockout punch. Endlessly playable (there isn't a wasted or unnecessary note on the album), passionately performed, and a sign that a new metal underground was finally bearing artistic fruit, Chaos A.D. ranks as one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time. It's a remarkable achievement not only in its concentrated power and originality, but also in the degree to which Sepultura eclipsed their idols in offering a vision of heavy metal's future -- a vision that would only grow more compelling with their next release.

tags: sepultura, chaos ad, a.d., 1993, flac,

Sepultura - A-Lex (2009)

Country: Brazil
Language: English
Genre: Groove Metal, Thrash Metal
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© 2009 SPV, Steamhammer Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Never let it be said that Sepultura are not ambitious. A-Lex is a concept album whose lyrics were inspired by Anthony Burgess' book A Clockwork Orange, which was the basis for the Stanley Kubrick film. And the impressive thing is that Sepultura pull this off without sounding either geeky or pretentious. For all its intellect, this early-2009 release doesn't sacrifice anything when it comes to intensity; this is a vicious, loud sledgehammer of an album, and the kids in the mosh pit will have no problem connecting with alternative metal scorchers like "Filthy Rot," "The Treatment," "Paradox," and "Forceful Behavior" on a gut level. The Clockwork Orange angle is intriguing if one has either read Burgess' book or seen Kubrick's 1971 film, but for metalheads, the bottom line is that Sepultura have no problem bringing the noise -- and Derrick Green's angry lead vocals are an important part of A-Lex's intensity. There was a time when the idea of Sepultura recording without Max Cavalera (their former lead singer) seemed unthinkable; Cavalera played a vital role on pre-Green albums such as 1991's Arise and 1993's Chaos A.D. But the incendiary Green turned out to be a fine replacement after Cavalera left Sepultura to form Soulfly in 1996, and he certainly helps bassist Paulo Jr., guitarist Andreas Kisser, and drummer Jean Dolabella get the job done nicely on A-Lex. Paulo, it should be noted, is the only remaining member of Sepultura's original 1984 lineup. Personnel changes can have a very negative effect on a band, but Sepultura have maintained their vitality all these years -- and that vitality is alive and well on the superb A-Lex.

tags: sepultura, a lex, a-lex, 2009, flac,

January 29, 2018

Monster Magnet - Superjudge (1993)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Space Rock, Psychedelic Rock
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© 1993 A&M Records
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
Having already shown that the world of drug-damaged early heavy metal-meets-space rock was well within their capability, Wyndorf and company took things to an even crazier level with Monster Magnet's major-label debut, Superjudge. Anyone taking anything on this album seriously, as some sort of satanic plot or anything like that, needs to just give up and go home -- the song titles alone are crazily ridiculous enough: "Cyclops Revolution," "Elephant Bell," "Dinosaur Vacume," and the baldly but perfectly named "Stadium." A couple of nods to musical roots surface -- the Willie Dixon-written classic "Evil (Is Going On)" kicks reasonable butt, but it's the storm through early Hawkwind standout "Brainstorm" that's the real signpost. There's more than a little of that British band throughout, only arguably even more strung out and insane, a celebration of a stoner culture that had persisted for years and looks set to always be around. Only the Dixon cover and "Black Balloon" stay at three minutes in length; everything else takes a little or a lot more time to satisfyingly sprawl, like the steady stomp of the title track or the monstrous "Cage Around the Sun." Wyndorf's ear for composition, production, and playing is evident throughout -- everything is scaled for the biggest arena in the universe, while his voice positively compares with Ozzy Osbourne's early wailing, yet with a scraggly, rougher edge. Occasional acoustic guitar and sitar parts (with appropriate flanging) help in adding variety and more psychedelia to the proceedings, "Black Balloon" in particular ending Superjudge on a subtle, mysterious note. The spiraling riff explosions and solos of "Twin Earth" and "Dinosaur Vacume" are matched with strong rhythms (due credit to the team of Calandra and Kleiman, who never sound lazy), while any band with lyrics like "I cut off my own head/I don't need it where I'm going to go!" clearly knows how to get in touch with the unapologetic rawk fan out there.

tags: monster magnet, super judge, superjudge, 1993, flac,

Monster Magnet - Dopes To Infinity (1995)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Space Rock, Psychedelic Rock
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© 1995 A&M Records
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
Expecting Monster Magnet to change from art-sludge-psych monsters into sweet cuddlebunnies from album to album clearly demonstrates a loss of reason. Wyndorf himself doesn't need to worry about losing his reason in particular, given how psychotically entertaining his band already is, and Dopes to Infinity is about as far apart from Superjudge as the original Siamese twins were to each other. Maybe "Dopeheads to Infinity" would have been the better title, but as the title track fires up into another rampage of excessively flanged guitar, storming lead riff, and steady drum stomp, all criticisms get left behind along with any sort of sanity. Wyndorf's singing is a touch crisper in the mix this time out, while the guitar playing is even more powerfully direct and epic amidst all the space-out swirl and rockets to the moon. It's the secret weapon of the album as a whole, turning Monster Magnet's gift for the large scale into something that's almost uplifting, often connecting with a listener instead of dominating one. That Mellotron ("Look to the Orb for the Warning") and strings (the acoustic guitar-led "Blow 'Em Off") are evident along with the sitars, folky strums, and similar acid quease of past albums only makes sense as a result. Then again, songs like "Ego, the Living Planet" and "Theme From 'Masterburner'" do a great job at sounding like Thor battling Galacticus for control of the universe -- no puny humans allowed. Lead single "Negasonic Teenage Warhead" became a minor hit, all the more surprising given how the band's idea of a commercial single features more processed guitar backing Wyndorf on the verses than the law normally allows. The catchy chug and scream of the chorus helps nail it, though, showing that Wyndorf can find the balance between his extreme and less-so sides when desired.

tags: monster magnet, dopes to infinity, 1995, flac,

Monster Magnet - God Says No (2000)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Space Rock, Psychedelic Rock
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© 2000 A&M Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Like other bands credited with pioneering the stoner metal scene in the early '90s, Monster Magnet continue to drift further and further from the trademark sonic characteristics (distortion, psychedelics, space rock) of the genre they helped create. And after stripping down their sound to a no-frills, streamlined attack on 1998's breakthrough album Powertrip, band leader Dave Wyndorf refused to sit on his laurels when it came time to devise Magnet's fifth album, God Says No. Instead, in a display of massive creative "cojones" and/or utter commercial suicide, Wyndorf leads the group into unexplored territory, and even seems to be having a little fun with it along the way (his sex-drenched lyrical acid-trip fantasies remain as entertaining as ever). The result being that while Powertrip's single-minded urgency and unbridled power seemed to trap the listener behind the wheel of a drag racer on the verge of flaming out, God Says No is arguably the band's mellowest set yet, and certainly their most diverse. With their laid-back grooves and unexpected use of triggered electronic drumbeats, the title track and "Queen of You" are the best examples of this turn of events. And even when they do pick up the pace a bit, tracks like "Silver Future" (also featured on the previous year's Heavy Metal 2000 soundtrack) and the amphetamine surf rock of "Kiss of the Scorpion" never quite lose control on the scale of Powertrip's Stooges-fueled recklessness. Elsewhere, bizarre experiments like "Take It" (featuring synthetic melodies set to karaoke-like drum machine rhythms) and "Gravity Well" (a distorted piece of Delta blues slide guitar topped with Wyndorf's lascivious innuendoes) push the band's creative envelope to the bursting point. Older fans and recent converts alike may prefer the album's second half, where at least some of Magnet's lo-fi, fuzzed-out past and Powertrip's raw, unyielding sonic attack finally surface on tracks like "My Little Friend" and "Medicine" (originally featured on the band's Spine of God album, re-recorded here). But new converts will get to savor all the band's flavors, including space rock anthems like "Melt" and "Cry," which hearken back to 1995's Dopes to Infinity with their familiar-sounding hypnotic riffs. In the end, some may be disappointed by God Says No's all-around sense of restraint, but open-minded fans will have to acknowledge Wyndorf's courageous insistence on breaking new ground with his continually inspired songwriting.

tags: monster magnet, god says no, 2000, flac,