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Reviews 2000, part II

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Rob Rock - Rage Of Creation, Massacre Records

Former Impellitteri singer Rob Rock is finally displaying his vocal talents on a solo album. Rage Of Creation was produced by Roy Z who also worked for the latest Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson. Roy played the guitars on this release too. Result is a high quality record featuring eleven heavy metal tracks. It starts with a short instrumental track that goes over into the powermetal song The Sun Will Rise Again. This song is full of energy, uptempo and with Rob's excellent singing. Modern tones can be heard in Judgment Day with Roy's darker guitar noises. Still it has that heavy metal sound many will love. There's an enjoyable variety on Rage Of Creation. You'll hear top notch power metal and melodic metal. There's also a cover of Abba's Eagle and an epic metal tune at the end called Forever. Solos are skillfully played with an abundance of arpeggios and racing over the strings. Two solos were conjured by Jake E Lee (Ozzy Osbourne, Badlands). My favorite song here is Streets Of Madness, a song that can easily match any Iron Maiden hit-song. It has galloping riffs and a chorus you can yell along to. Rage Of Creation is probably my favorite metal album of 2000!  

Living Sacrifice - The Hammering Process, Solid State Records

A highly anticipated release from Solid State, that's what you can say about The Hammering Process. With the release of Reborn, Living Sacrifice's previous album, the band gained lots of new enthusiastic fans and inspired many hard bands worldwide. The Hammering Process features a new line-up as the Truby brothers left the band. They are replaced by three guys. Two of them were part of Eso-Charis. This renewed formation presents ten songs on the new release. The music is filled with heavy metallic grooves, hoarse screams and laboriously plodding guitars. Speed is scarce here. The production of Barry Poynter makes me remind of his work for other bands. Engineering-wise he did an excellent job. The focus is on heavy rhythms but there's space for melody now and then too, like in Altered Life with its clean singing. Striking is the use of percussion (Bloodwork). One of the great songs is Burn The End with huge guitars and even an acoustic intermezzo that has an acoustic guitar solo. This is powerful music though a bit more speed here and there would please my taste more. Nevertheless, this is a first class album. You'll hear an oiled machinery hard at work. Let the process start!

Tinnitus - 2000 years, Independent

This promotion single has two tracks. The first one is the song 2000 Years which is a slow death metal tune. The vocals vary from deep growls to almost black metal style. Musically it's mainly a dark, heavy song. There's also a guitar solo that's played nicely. The guitartones could be more huge though. 2000 Years will be one of the songs on the Metal Rose Collection of Little Rose Productions. The second track is a drum solo recorded in a sauna. The solo ends with a sound reminiscent of a cymbal clash, but this sound lingers. According to the band it's the recorded sound of water being splashed on the owen in the sauna. Finnish culture incorporated, eh?

Dogwood - Building A Better Me, Tooth & Nail Records

Put this CD in your player. Rotate the song Comes Crashing and increase the volume. If you're not convinced by what you're hearing, then this album is not your thing. Wow, I love that song! Dogwood is a melodic punk band from San Diego and Building A Better Me is their fourth album, if I'm correct. It's all high energy and melodic. Quite catchy sounds. The vocals have that sandpaper-throat quality. Besides Comes Crashing there are other cool tunes, like the passionate Mycro and Come Back Down. Dogwood is not a groundbreaking band artistically but the music stands out. A special note on the booklet: It's designed to give it an 'old' look. This means the paper looks aged and there are all kinds of classic looking illustrations accompanying each lyric. The booklet also has a copyright of 1928 (!). Looks real cool.

The O.C. Supertones - Loud And Clear, BEC Recordings

Let me state it clearly: Loud And Clear is loud and clear! The first time listening to it I immediately knew this is a heavier release then last year's Chase The Sun. The Christian influenced lyrics are as clear as ever. The album mixes up ska, punkrock, reggae and mainstream rock. Vocalist Matt Morginsky sounds rapping in Pandora's Box and then sings in Forward To The Future. Not every song is heavy but most of the songs have heavy elements making this a harder edged album. Lift Me Up is a mellow track. Still it's easy digestible and sometimes goofy. Lyrically they have Christian texts full of encouragement. This doesn't take away that the band also likes having fun. This is displayed by the booklet. It contains humorous band pictures like them pictured as members of the chess club with a hunch backed Morginsky wearing broad rimmed glasses and a lousy waistcoat! Real zany. Loud And Clear also has guest roles for Toby McKeehan (DC Talk) and the Gospel Ganstaz. The guitars were played by Ethan Luck. Loud And Clear is a heavier album and I welcome it!

Slechtvalk - Falconry, Fear Dark

Slechtvalk is the Dutch name of a certain falcon. To be precise, the Falco Peregrinus. A book I consulted says "no other bird of prey strikes its victims so much into fear, has such a raging speed and kills in such an advanced and fast manner". So, the Slechtvalk is a bird of extremes. Shamgar, mastermind behind Slechtvalk, was apparently inspired by this bird to name his latest project Slechtvalk. There are similarities as Falconry is an extreme album filled with nine black metal songs. Don't expect nine speedy tracks though. Only three songs have real speedy parts. Especially in the third track In Hell I Burn which is the most extreme song on the disc. A harsh black metal tune with machine gun drumming without apparent keyboard playing in the first half, only piano in the second half. Falconry has a variety of sounds. Most of the songs feature ethereal keyboards, dark guitarriffs and Shamgar's harsh shrieking. There are some real beautiful songs and ideas though more changes in speed here and there couldn't harm. The production is taken care of very well resulting in an enigmatic and yet hard hitting album. Probably the best song is Cries Of The Haunted with everything that can make black metal exiting. Warning: You might    enjoy this album....

Opprobrium - Discerning Forces, Nuclear Blast Records

A short introduction of this band seems to me only appropriate as Opprobrium is not really new to the metal scene. The history of this band goes back to the early eighties when the brothers Moyses and Francis Howard got involved in the metal underground. Their band Incubus eventually brought out two CD releases in 1988 and 1990. Ten years later the brothers are back as Opprobrium (as there's another band claiming the name Incubus). Musically they dish up brutal death metal full of changes in speed and riffing. There's a lot of energy to be felt in those songs. The first track Digitrap sounds almost like Slayer doing death metal. The vocals can be described as screaming growls. Result is a fierce metal album. Listening to Awakening To The Filth I cannot help but being impressed by the playing skills of the brothers. Here you can hear super tight playing while they labor on riff after riff as if it's a routine job.

Test Of Faith - Demo, Independent

If you like the metal sounds of eighties and early nineties, a style that revives in some parts of this world, Test Of Faith may be a band worth to check out. The three songs on this demo CD display a band with powerful melodic metal. Their songs have both heavy parts and acoustic passages. The production is fairly good and the songwriting is done with care showing a band capable of more. Especially the first cut, No More Rainbows, is great. The vocals could be a little more rough though.

The Juliana Theory - Emotion Is Dead, Tooth & Nail Records

As a deejay I've got some titles here to practice first before daring to utter them before the listening audience. What do you think of To The Tune Of 5,000 Screaming Children or If I Told You This Was Killing Me, Would You Stop? And this way reviews can become quite lengthy too! On Emotion Is Dead The Juliana Theory took an even more poppy approach than on Understand This Is A Dream, their Tooth & Nail debut. Still you can hear great guitarrock with catchy vocal lines. There's heaviness in songs such as Understand The Dream Is Over and the bombastic If I Told You This Was Killing Me, Would You Stop? But there are many mellow moments as well. There's a lot of feeling for melody and beauty. What I like about this band is their ability to play the right chord at the right time, to sing the right note at the right time. The outcome is pretty impressive. Just listen to You Always Say Goodnight, Goodnight to get an idea. The lyrics are not always easy to understand and are sometimes almost philosophical: "I hate to think hesitation is a burden. A bittersweet design for a lesson you're learning." (Don't Push Love Away). I'm not surprised by the quality on this disc but even then I have to say this is a real gem.

Squad Five-O - Bombs Over Broadway, Tooth & Nail Records

Glam from the streets, that's perhaps the best description I can give this record. What you hear is raw rock 'n roll with a punky garage sound. And at the same time there's a glamrock twist to it. A song like Renegade has an Alice Cooper feel. The same goes for Restless Youth with its bluesy flavor. Some of the other songs are sleazier like the uptempo Lost Boys which is more in the punkrock vein. Bombs Over Broadway was produced by Duane Baron who also worked for Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper. But the production is not as slicky, overproduced as you might expect. It's quite a raw release that might please both the rock 'n roll fans as those who appreciate punk influenced rock. What more can I say? There are eleven songs on the disc that fill more than forty minutes. Go to the store and find out for yourself.

3rd Root - A Sign Of The Things To Come, Solid State Records/Tooth & Nail Records

The follow-up of their Spirit Of Life EP contains the six songs from the EP re-recorded plus eight new songs. It's not easy to describe their sound as they mix up hardcore and metal. There's a clear Deftones influence which you can hear in Some People and Zion. Let's call it new metal for lack of a better term. Especially the vocals remind me of Chino Moreno. One moment the vocals can be hypnotizing, dreamy vocals, and the other you hear violent shrill screams. But 3rd Root sounds almost bombastic at times, like in Prophet's Eye. The new song My Soul has heavy plodding riffs and heavy chord structures. A Sign Of The Things To Come was a production of Darren Grahn who assisted notable bands like Metallica and Third Eye Blind too. A striking difference to the mentioned bands is 3rd Root's Christian stance which you can read in the lyrics. Take for example the Spanish song Sangre. While listening to this album I have to say the band's sound somehow fascinates me though I'm not real sure if I like them. Somehow their songs have elements that stick fast in my mind. It's like the song Zion which was on the EP. For an obscure reason it got stuck in my musical memory. This may happen with some stuff on this album too. The signs are there.

Fanmail - 2000, Tooth & Nail Records

Are there any Backstreet Boys fans on this site right now? Do you remember their huge chartbuster I Want It That Way? Of course you do! Well, Fanmail covered that song on their latest album. But, if you think that BSB are too sissy, you have a reason too to check this version out as it's rockin' one! Fanmail's music is a fine mix of energy and pop, of punkrock and powerpop, accompanied by scratches and samples in a couple of songs. There's a variety of midtempo and uptempo songs. But sometimes it's like it's all cut from the same wood as the songs all have a lot in common. 2000 is dedicated to the loving memory of Gene Eugene who did engineering on this album but  who passed away earlier this year. The last song entitled The Other Side describes how singer and guitarist Scott Silletta felt about Eugene. This song also has a sample of Hammond organ playing. Gene Eugene was often heard on records playing this instrument. Production of this album is good and the booklet was designed with care. However, musically I'm not entirely satisfied with the outcome. It's good playing but I prefer a bit more diversity and creativity.

Driving West - Power, Kaluboné Records

The history of this band goes back to the early 90's when the core members of Driving West were in the band Sahara Rain that released one album and then disbanded. Driving West was formed in 1999. While listening to Power I hear a clear King's X influence in the harmonic vocals. It's no surprise to see King's X guitarist Ty Tabor listed as executive producer of the recording. A song like Color Blind/Anger sounds a bit too much as an attempt to sound like King's X. But apart from that song Driving West is a different band with its heavy and groovy rock structures and funky elements (as in Must Be Love). The playing is fair, the writing is good and the production is good. However, I don't really get excited about this album but that may be a matter of taste.

Armageddon Holocaust - In Total Destruction, THT Underground

Destruction Metal is what they call it themselves. Armageddon Holocaust appears to be a project of the combined forces of the Dark Doktor (from Bealiah) and the Dark Thriller, both from Indonesia. What they've made is an extreme black metal piece consisting of twelve tracks describing the darker moments of human history yet to come. The production by Jefray Arwadi (from Kekal) is treble-emphasized creating a primitive sound. Along with depressing dark melodies and a cracking vocal style they remind me a bit of the Horde album though this record sounds more aggressive and nasty. On Countdown To Destruction you can hear violent and dark music with distant noises like the noises from a pigsty. One of the better cuts on Into Total Destruction is Seven Bowls Of Destruction. The drums bore me constantly though as they sound like a drummachine at full speed all the time. For those who want it here's some morbid music to scare your friends off.

Eden In Ruins - The Dead Skin Demos, Independent

How would you like the Mona Lisa if a thick veil covered this painting that graces a wall in Les Louvres, Paris? Well, my idea of this recording is that it contains music that's covered by a veil. What a dull sound! The guitars, the drums, they all sound so distant that you can't hear them in all glory. Just like a painting covered by a veil. This is regrettable as the music is interesting and well played. The guitar sounds and solos sometimes make me think of Seventh Angel. The music was written and performed by one person, a guy named Todd Pope. It can be described as old style death metal with deep growling vocals. But it's not fast stuff. Only the song Devastator is fast. Not quite modern stuff but I don't mind as the music should stand on its own, not on trends. Todd does his thing and he does it very well, I only wish it wasn't covered by a veil.

Soapbox - A Divided Man, Sally Forth Records/Structure Records

A Divided Man is the follow-up album of the six-song EP Soapbox released last year. On the new album there are 15 songs plus a bonustrack. Five of the songs were on the EP too, like Guilty. In that song they sang quite appropriately: "I want something more, I want something more to happen". Well, here they are with eleven new songs to happen. Just like on the EP they bring a nice mix of hardcore and punk. It sounds like rock 'n roll turned to hardcore with a punk twist to it. The music is energetic with speedy chops of drummer Andreas and the ferocious screams of Simon while bassist Krister adds melodic singing. The songs are skillfully played with some beautiful guitarwork of Pär. For those who never heard of this band: Soapbox is Sweden's best kept secret. But it wouldn't surprise me when they sign a US deal soon. I guess it's just a matter of time. Thumps up!

Robert Sweet - Love Trash, World Gone Mad

Many of you will know that Robert Sweet used to be drummer for the eighties metalband Stryper, the band that sold its millions. Robert was the driving force of much that happened around the band while his brother Michael wrote the majority of the songs on the six Stryper albums. This solo effort of Robert is the first time to really get to know his songwriting skills. To be honest I had to get used to the music on Love Trash. I had expected something much closer to Stryper's smooth melodic metal sound. Instead I hear a rough hardrock sound. Some of this stuff is powerful. Most of the songs are midtempo. Some tracks have catchy elements like Any Enemy, I'm Screwed and Best Regrets while Sweet Betrayal is a nice acoustic song with rather puzzling lyrics. Beautiful musical textures contains Me Myself And You, a tune that sounds closest to Stryper perhaps. All instruments were played by Robert himself but he plays well. The vocals are taken care of by Larry Worley (formerly of Fear Not).I have to say that Robert's songwriting surprises me and though I'm not crazy about it immediately, I find some good stuff here.

Detonation - Cry It Out, Independent

Detonation is a metalband from the German speaking part of Switzerland. That's why you can see the English lyrics translated into German. Cry It Out contains four songs of which one (Unity) is cut into four parts. The music on the EP can be described as old school heavy metal with thrash and powermetal influences. The vocals are screaming thought they are clean and plain to understand. A song like Louder Than Hell makes me think of the fast stuff of Anaemia. The intro of Unity Part III could have been the intro to an Iron Maiden song. Musically Detonation is somewhere in between those bands with quite some extra energy (but not as brutal as Anaemia). The songs are okay but the quality of the recording could have been better to make the songs more enjoyable as this is not at all a Bill Metoyer production. But I'll keep an eye on this band as there's a potential for more.

Diesel - Misérya, independent

Diesel is a Brazilian band that changed its name to South Diesel recently. Misérya is their two year old demo-EP. There are five songs on it with one sung partly in Portuguese. The music is a combination of metal and hardcore. It can be described as metalcore perhaps, with vocals that vary from singing and clear screaming to rap. A great song is Suburbia with Living Sacrifice influences and a tremolo overdosed guitar solo. Overall, this band knows how to write good songs and though it's not exceptional I can enjoy them. Production is not bad though the sound of the recording could have been better. Sometimes a little more militant. Nevertheless a fine demo release.

Born Blind - One For All, Solid State Records

Born Blind from San Diego is back with a new album, the follow-up of last year's Pressing On. One For All contains old school hardcore, with a little new school, in the vein of No Innocent Victim. No wonder as three of the guys in the band were part of NIV for some time. Like Kurt who was the original drummer of that band. The music on this twelve song record is harder and better in sound then their previous recording. Singer Judd Morgan has an aggressive hoarse screaming sound which also reminds  me of his former band. The current NIV sounds a bit more metallic and aggressive I think. That doesn't take away that Born Blind might be conceived as just another NIV. Whether that's fair to say is for you to decide. One For All undoubtedly contains first class old school material that people will certainly enjoy. Just listen to songs as Dead Hands and Look Into The Soul to hear great tracks.

Extol - Undeceived, Endtime Productions/Solid State Records

Wow, the new Extol is really a step into the right direction with songs easier accessible than before and with mindcatching riffing. With sonic noises that fill a lot of space, down tuned raging guitarwork and adorned with violins a la Believer in three songs. Also in the riffing I sense a Believer influence. All played skillfully, tight and yet melodic. Production is better and more varied with three instrumentals thrown in for you to take a few breaths before the metal onslaught continues. It makes the CD a little easier to survive....Undeceived contains nine heavy and technical death metal songs with vocals varying from harsh growls to almost shrieking, black metal style. But most of the times it's somewhere in between. The black metal influence is not so evident on Undeceived as on Burial, their debut. They cling to their death metal basics. Some of the most beautiful sounds and ideas captured on this disc can be found in Ember with the clean vocal style of Ole Børud coupled with Peter Espevoll's harsh growls and violin playing. Those who want to hear more of Ole's singing style should listen to Renewal where he gets a fair share of the singing. Overall this is a pretty exciting CD that will not disappoint the fans while winning some more.  

Ghoti Hook - Two Years To Never, Tooth & Nail Records

Ghoti Hook hasn't been sitting idle since Banana Man, their second album. As you may know they released a record filled with covers called Songs We Didn't Write. Along the way their sound developed. I remember a review of Banana Man in  a Dutch magazine in which the reviewer tore the album to pieces and literally threw it out of the window (at least he wrote so). Two Years To Never is a different album. Banana Man was mainly a rough played fun punk album while Two Years To Never might be described as heavy rock with punkpop abilities. Just listen to the beautiful song Lullaby with an intro of piano and gentle guitar playing while after 35 seconds a song begins that still has heaviness but with a poppy approach, more than ever. They sound quite serious too. And this goes for the rest of Two Years To Never too. The quality is so much better with production of Sean O'Dwyer who also engineered Enema Of The State by Blink-182. A song that's definitely harder is Chevy Nova with hardcore leanings. The musicianship improved too. I don't know what that Dutch reviewer will write about Two Years To Never but he can't complain about the quality anymore. I think I'm gonna play Lullaby real loud! 

Society's Finest - The Journey...So Far, Solid State Records

Presented to you on this disc is metalcore from Texas. Sometimes the music on The Journey reminds me of Embodyments first album (Embrace The Eternal) though there are hardly fast parts here. Mainly slow and midtempo passages. The music consists of one riff followed by another without much points of recognition throughout the songs. At first it sounds like one big mess. Maybe this band is best described as a cross between old Embodyment and Zao. The vocalist sounds much like the singer on the first Embodyment album, Kris McCaddon. He's in Society's Finest nowadays too but he's not handling the vocals. Singer is Josh Ashworth while Kris is one of the guitarists. The quality of the disc is just splendid but the problem I have with many bands in this genre is that they don't write songs that really stick into my mind. The same I feel about this band. Great band, fantastic ideas, but it appears as just a bunch of freaked out sounds to me. The only song that comes close is Knife Fight.

MxPx - The Ever Passing Moment, A & M Records/Tooth & Nail Records

In my CDplayer: The new MxPx! This album was released by A & M Records in cooperation with Tooth & Nail. On it are fifteen songs that fill exactly forty minutes. Like on previous recordings the band presents quality poppunk material. Over the years the quality became better as these three guys developed and matured further, as musicians. The Ever Passing Moment still has some of the youthful energy as  featured on the first two albums, only the melodies got bigger. Take for instance Buildings Tumble that starts like a song that could have been on their previous stuff, but it develops more poppy. Overall this records has a lot of pop elements like you can hear in Responsibility. Their Christian roots are perhaps displayed best in Foolish and It's Undeniable. This is a pretty cool album again.

Various Artists - New Music Buzz From Tooth & Nail, Tooth & Nail Records

This is a great CD to get to know some current and upcoming material on Tooth & Nail, Solid State Records and BEC Recordings. The compilation starts with Squad Five-0 with the titletrack of their upcoming Bombs Over Broadway album. The other bands buzzing around are Ace Troubleshooter, Ghoti Hook, The Juliana Theory, Slick Shoes, Fanmail, Fine China, 3rd Root, Calibretto 13, Shorthanded, The Deluxtone Rockets, Off The Record, Element 101, The Deadlines, AP2 and Embodyment. There's a lot of good stuff on this disc and therefore it's a must-grab-thing for sure!

Dust Eater Dogs - King Kong Fist, Little Rose Productions/Bullroser Records

Why call a single King Kong Fist when they didn't put the song on the disc? I guess this is the Dust Eater Dogs' style of humor. This Finnish band delivers their follow-up to the Motor album. The single contains one song: Motor! Dust Eater Dogs is a talented band that knows to write great songs with their own distinct sound. There are two versions of Motor. Both are raw rock 'n roll songs with hardcore influences. The Storebror Edit is a little bit lighter, with mouth harp added, and it's sung in Swedish (I think). The original version has the rough screaming vocals of Benny Majabacka. This track is also featured in a video which you can find on the CD as well. It's good to hear DeD again.

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