Artists - Millenium One : A Dot Artist Sampler, Dotmusic
This is a
compilation with various artists for people with varied tastes. There are twelve
artists/bands on this sampler, all from Norway and Sweden. Some of this can be described
as hard music but the core is not. In fact, Millenium One starts with a dance track by
Acts. Next come the vocal group Albin singing in Swedish only. But this is just several
samples taken from an Albin album taped together. The first heavy contribution comes from
rock band BIG with a pretty good poppy rocksound. A lot softer is former hardrock band
Charizma. Also heavy on this disc are Narnia (melodic metal from the Long Live The King
album), Fueler's heavy poprock and the britpop of Stereofish. For those who like the
mellow material too, soul act New Born Soul is interesting. Also worth checking are the
blues of Himlaväsen en Emilh. This sampler will please the pop fans especially. There are
some great tunes on this disc proving that the Scandinavian countries are a cradle of
creativity and talent.
Artists - Blam SM Sampler 2001 Volume Rock, Sitruunamaailma
The Blam sampler is
a compilation of both secular and Christian hard music and alternative bands. Most of the
bands are punk rock and hardcore related. And Finland related as 16 out of 23 bands are
from that Scandinavian country. Other bands are from the USA, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina
and Italy/Germany. With the hardcore relatedness I don't mean it's the straight ahead
stuff but styles like emocore, metalcore, rapcore and such. And there are other styles as
well. There are too many good cuts to mention them all. And there are too many bands on
this disc to mention them all. What I do want to mention is that the quality of the songs
doesn't let down. In other words, this is an excellent sampler for everyone who's
interested in more than the typical Art For The Ears bands.
Global Warning - Global
Global Warning is an
old school melodic metal band from the USA. This is not the energetic power metal that's
so popular in certain parts of the globe nowadays. What you can hear is the sort of pop
metal sort of stuff that was hot in the late eighties and early nineties. It's not done
badly but I can't really get excited about it either. The playing is fine and the
guitarist knows how to play solos well. But it's not convincing me. The singer lacks the
passionate vocals to grab your attention. This is nice, though not more than that. Only
for the die-hard old schoolers among us.
- End Of The Age, Little Rose
Another Boyzone or
Five. That's what I thought when I saw the band picture inside the CD. Just take a look at
the way they dress and their short hair-cuts. Only singer Michael Majalahti has hair long
enough to touch his shoulders. No, I'm not reviewing haircuts but the photo strikes me as
Hallowed is a band in the melodic metal vein. Historically the bands in this business are
long haired. Anyway, this five-song EP kicks off with the titletrack that has powermetal
leanings. The keyboards also play a role along with the riffs. End Of The Age features a
ballad too to catch a breath. Hallowed is a young band with an enthusiastic collaboration
of its members. It's not top notch quality but nothing to be ashamed of either. Some of
the playing is done very well. Forget about the hair and you'll hear some nice melodic
- Forty Day Tempted, Diverse Recordings/Rowe Productions
With Limp Bizkit's
claim to fame it was a matter of time for others to arise from the underground to pour
from the same musical melting-pot. 40DT is such a band with the same looks and musical
endeavors though I doubt if they're doing it to surf along Limp's slipstream. The first
song sets the tone for the rest of the album. Feel The Funk has funky parts varied by
heavier guitarwork. It's groovy and the rapping vocals fit the music well. Interesting on
the heavier side of this album is There's Something Out There while there's a guest role
for hiphop artist John Reuben on the mellow track Extra Terrestial. The last two songs on
the album and the bonus track are quite out of line. The bonus track for example, is like
an attempt to sound like Stryper. Forty Days Tempted is a very nice debut though the band
should work on their own musical identity.
Jacks Of All
Trades - Liar, Independent
The new EP from the
Finnish rapcore formation is here. The music is quite groovy and heavy with plenty of
scratches thrown in. The production is better than their R U Ready album and the songs
show some growth. The band's getting more of their own color now. With less than nine
minutes this CD is too short to satisfy the hunger for more. So, I say they should give us
some more than this snack. On the other hand, if you want to get to know this band this
might be worth the purchase.
Less - Through The Night, Boot
To Head Records
Here's a melodic
hardcore release that makes me think of Stretch Arm Strong. The vocals are not of that raw
screaming type though. It's clear singing and screaming/calling. Never The Less has a
punky feel to their music which is mainly because of the vocals. Songs like Too Far, 22
Years and the title-song are energetic packages with fast and slower parts. It's an
intense music with a positive vibe. Although Never The Less didn't deliver a flawless
album, they made a nice effort. Funny are some of the spoken samples like the one of a guy
calling a chick for a date.
PHD - The Other Side Of My Divorce, 1340 Records
Sometimes CD's are
so easy to review. Just put the pen on the paper and it'll start writing instantly. In
other cases it might be quite a challenge to describe or categorize the music as displayed
on an album. Somehow I looked up to reviewing this disc as I find it hard to label it.
There's light material on The Other Side Of My Divorce with piano and acoustic guitars.
But there are also heavier rock tracks. The singing is clear and melodic and so is the
music. Even in heavy songs you can hear piano or keyboards playing, sustaining the overall
sound. This is not done in a metal way. So, this is a heavy rock album that sounds new to
me, style-wise. Or is it my lack to label it properly? Anyway, the band plays some fine
music. If you still got no clue how this band is like, check out the album.
Artists - Extreme Music Sampler Volume 3, Cross Rhythms Music
contains 17 tracks from Massacre, Metal Blade, Rowe Productions and Godfather Records
artists and independent releases. It starts real nice with the progressive/melodic metal
of Balance Of Power. The other bands/artists are: Mortification, Tourniquet, Michael
Sweet, Cybergrind, Betrayal, Atomic Opera, Jacob's Dream, Fourth Watch, Eleven Hours Down,
Visionaire, Inversion, Awake, Step Cousin, Antidemon, Uplifted and Noiz. Most of this fits
in with the metal category, ranging from melodic metal to extreme grindcore. There are
gothic influences like the Betrayal contribution. A bit on the lighter side is Visionaire
with interesting atmospheric synthesizer music. The dark vocals give the music a heavy
touch though. The first half is the better half of this disc. Few of the independent bands
are promising. In other words, this disc is a welcome addition to my collection.
Crestfall - Evanescent
The first Crestfall
CD is an EP with four tracks. The first, Frozen Forgiveness, is a thrash tune with raw
vocals in the heavy parts and whispers in acoustic passages. The changes from acoustic to
heavy are sometimes a bit abrupt. Floodland comes next with the clean singing of Remco.
It's a nice melodic metal tune. For all the linguistic freaks the third title was
developed: Indeclinable Prognostications. The song starts acoustically and builds up. The
final song, Presence, is the longest track. This song has some interesting sounds. No song
on this EP is really catchy but the playing is nice and the quality is not bad. It gives a
good impression of the skills of this Dutch band. Given time and inspiration they might
become really interesting.
Artists - Eurochrist SaMMpler One, Sarepta/1340 Records
This compilation is
a collaboration between the American 1340 Records and the Norwegian Sarepta. It contains
music from 13 bands from the United Kingdom, two from Germany, one from Ireland and two
from the USA. This is also the first of a trilogy of compilations. The only two bands I
had heard before were NSC and Wooden Cross. The cover depicts three kids with piercings,
chains and tattoos suggesting a heavy alternative/hardcore album. This is not the case
though. There's even some mellow stuff like Debby Barnes' pop. Quite soporific. Most of
this stuff fits into the broad spectrum of alternative music though the hard music is
rare. Best attempts are Wooden Cross's punk and the metal influenced music of Xegesis.
This does not mean that the softer rest isn't worth checking out. There's some fine
playing to be found on this disc. I just think it could be harder edged. But please don't
judge the book, uh, CD by its cover.
Artists - Lost Lonely Vicious, Boot To Head Records
Lost Lonely Vicious
is a punk rock compilation with 31 bands filling 70 minutes. So, this disc is chock-full
of music. I use the word punk in its widest meaning as the music varies from postcore to
poppunk, from rock 'n roll influenced punk to ska, from female fronted punk to punkabilly.
The essence of all the music can be defined by that one word: Punk. Boot To Head Records
captured the sounds of bands worldwide as there are contributions from Sweden, USA, Canada
and Australia. Somehow it surprises me that there are no bands from the United Kingdom
where punk was invented long ago. Anyway, there are quite some names on this record and
some I knew about name-wise only. It's interesting to get a chance to hear their music.
The overall quality of Lost Lonely Vicious is above average so if you like punk in
whatever form or shape, this disc is your thing for sure.
Scum Of The
Earth - Better Late Than Never, Boot To Head Records
Scum Of The Earth is
a non-existent Aussie band that was started more than 10 years ago as an Oi! band. Better
Late Than Never is a posthumous release with tracks dating from 1990-1998. This is also
the debut-album of this band. The history of the band is outlined by one of the fans
giving some interesting anecdotes. The music can be categorized as punk rock but there's a
variety that makes it difficult to label this band. Some of this stuff is pretty cool,
like a song called Mediocrity. In a day and age when punk seems to be on the upper hand it
surprises me this band never got some more attention. This is not pop-punk though. Scum Of
The Earth stays close to the origins of punk rock. It's a good thing that this material is
on a CD finally. Better late than never, eh?
- How Does This Go?, Boot To Head
The Crux flag was
drawn a few years ago but to look back on this band, Boot To Head Records released this
record. How Does This Go contains 21 tracks. The first seven are from a recording-session
in 1998 shortly before the band called it quits. Those songs contain solid hardcore punk.
The first tracks starts quite fast. It's hard pumping music that must be a wild experience
live. One song on this album was taken from the Cakewalk album recording session in 1997.
Eleven songs are from an 1993 independent demo. And the last two songs were once on a
7" Crux release in 1994. This is no nonsense hardcore punk, plug in and play.
Aggressively but friendly at times.
Artists - Get Your Snack On/The Sally Family 3, Sally Forth Records
There are eleven
bands on this album: Scientific, The Spirit That Guides Us, Magnussen Arrived From
Fjörnebö, Glorybox, Selfmindead, Swiss Transport, Kryptonite Garden, Subatlantic
Starfish, Soapbox, Rollercoaster 23 and The Lionheart Brothers. Just like the previous two
Sally Forth samplers, this one is filled with a remarkable collection of songs. One moment
you might hear something wild and aggressive (Soapbox, Selfmindead), the other something
light or even ambient (Magnussen Arrived From Fjörnebö, Rollercoaster 23). And there are
different shades in between. Get Your Snack On is also exemplifying the
internationalization of a Dutch record label as five of the bands are from abroad. This
compilation gives some quality music. Perhaps it has too much variety to listen to all the
Michael Sweet - Truth, Restless Records
new solo album is out officially. Truth was released as a demo CD two years ago. The
official release contains nine songs from that demo but most of them were totally or
partly re-recorded and rearranged. In most cases those songs were enhanced greatly. There
are also four entirely new songs. Keyword for this album is Variety. It has heavy tunes
and poppier rock stuff. And the heavier stuff varies from grungy (Achilles Heel) to
metallic (Save Me). The poppier stuff varies from radio-friendly midtempo rocksongs (Life
My Head) to musically candid material (Stone). Another keyword is Quality as Truth is the
result of years of brushing up and developing of songs. Cool to hear is Stryper and
SinDizzy guitarist Oz Fox doing a solo on the song The Ever After. This is also one of the
new songs. Michael Sweet is an interesting songwriter with a long reputation in the rock
'n roll world. This is evident on his new album. Truth is, I like it.
Artists - Screams Of Abaddon, Laceration Productions
A short note about
each band. Feast Eternal - Double bass overdosed deathmetal. Not bad though; Israel -
Quality-wise poorly recorded death metal with soaring growls and occasional hisses;
Maximum Pentacost - Brazilian death metal. Nice intro and at times interesting; Goredeath
- Weird combination of harsh gnarling and repetitious singing; Quejidos Del Seol - Death
metal from Panama with Spanish lyrics. So far one of the better contributions; NOIZ - The
German Mortification. Dark and deep grunting with fast and midtempo parts. Good playing
but the recorded quality should be improved in order to enjoy it more; Grim - Atmospheric
black metal, yet without vocals. Monotone; Bedrata Dezum - Poorly recorded deathmetal but
what I can discern is not bad; Clemency - Quality-wise a better recorded grindcore piece.
Musically interesting; Pronounced Dead - Recorded live. Death metal with doomy parts;
Getsemani - Atmospheric black metal with a soprano and deathy vocals. The soprano is
mediocre; Tortured Conscience - 120 mph death metal. Not bad at all; Sculpture - Good
death metal though the sound could have been more fat; Antidemon - Brutal death metal with
deep guttural grunts. Simple but pretty good; Vaakevandring - Atmospheric black metal with
potential; Crimson Thorn - Not bad. Death metal, but I don't like the vocals being mixed
so loud; Salutary - Interesting thrashcore with black metal parts. The overall quality of
Screams Of Abaddon is underground (demo-ish) with a few good exceptions. The second half
is the better half. But it's a good way to get introduced to these underground bands.
Missão - Eu Vou
Morar No Céu, Independent
Missão is a melodic
metalband from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Eu Vou Morar No Céu was recorded in 1998 and 1999.
As you may have guessed, their music is sung in the Portuguese language. Only one song is
English. The music is played fairly well with a variety of acoustic parts, ballads and
heavier songs. But it's not extreme stuff though. The vocals are quite loud in the mix so
you can hear them clearly. The guitars sometimes suffer under it as you can hear in a
track like Missão. But the lead guitars are mixed through better. One of the
better tracks is Ei Você. Missão is not a ground breaking band but the playing is nice
and with a better production more enjoyable. They have potential.
- Desert Land, Nuclear Blast Records
The Swedish rockers
of Narnia are finally presenting their third album. Desert Land was delayed for some time.
On the record are nine songs. It kicks off with the powerful metal track Inner Sanctum.
This song features a well oiled metal engine. It has strength and even Christian
Liljegren's singing sounds a little raw here and there. The guitar playing is superb
again. Carljohann shows he knows how to grind his axe while playing scales, arpeggios,
pivots and other licks and tricks with ease. You can hear some of his skills in the two
instrumentals on this album. Desert Land is an album with variety. Powermetal you can hear
in the song that was clearly inspired by the Narnia novels of CS Lewis: The Witch And The
Lion. There's a ballad called Revolution Of Mother Earth. And Desert Land has some
midtempo and slower rocking cuts. The playing is good though not all songs are as catchy
as could be. Sometimes the singing could be more nasty instead of vibrating notes. Besides
those remarks I have to say this band delivered a very fine piece of quality melodic
metal. Out on February 12th 2001.
- Zao, Solid State Records
The last album in
their contract with Solid State Records is self-titled. Does this mean they perceive this
as a new start? Or were they inspired by other bands that didn't give titles to their
fourth releases (like Led Zeppelin and King's X)? I don't know. What I do know is that the
first track, 5 Years Winter, sounds more metal than this band has ever sounded. But very
heavy with the harsh growling screams of Dan Weyandt and even a short guitar solo. The
second half is quite speedy. The next track, Alive Is Dead, is slow and appears to be
instrumental. And then the third track starts quite mellow. This sound like a new Zao has
arisen with a self-titled marking its new start. But that's not really true. This third
track simply explodes after the intro is over. What you can hear on this release is the
heavy and inventive riffing as we have come to expect from this band. But one thing is
true: The self-titled is all about variety. There's even an acoustic song on it and you
can hear some rapping in another track. The core of Zao, however, is still the amalgam of
metal and hardcore though there's more metal in the mix. The riffing is sometimes
inventive and the structures are not easy digestible, ever riff-shifting. The production
is superb sound-wise though I'm not sure if I like this album yet. I've gotta chew on this
one a little longer....Out on February 27th 2001.
- The Silver Cord Is Severed, Rowe
Productions/Nuclear Blast Records
When I heard the new
song Dead Man Walking on the 10 Years Live Not Dead album, I was afraid Mortification was
heading for a Hammer Of God part II. The Silver Cord Is Severed is in my CD-player now to
proof whether my fear was justified or not. The album also features the drumming of
newcomer Adam Zaffarese. I think the first dozen seconds surprised me. It starts with
processed sounds, dark but not heavy, yet. And after 45 seconds the song simply transforms
into a heavy metal song. What can you expect when the title for that song is Metal
Blessing? But the sounds are groovier than on Hammer Of God. And the new drummer doesn't
let down at all! Vocally Steve Rowe still goes for the raw, raspy shouting. The second
track is a ragged modern thrash tune. It's fast and hard hitting as a sledge-hammer, right
in your face. There's also a great solo from Lincoln Bowen who also wrote this song called
Access Denied. Another cool song is Sensitive Nerve Endings. The album ends with the eight
minutes long titletrack. At the end of this song you'll also hear Steve do some near black
metal type of growling. And there's some cool lead guitar playing here too. The chorus is
slow, doomy, while the verses are midtempo. I think the band succeeded in making fresh
produce. But one thing: Forget about the cover! Available through firstname.lastname@example.org
- Figureheads On The Forefront Of Popculture, Tooth & Nail Records
has a new album out. Figureheads On The Forefront Of Popculture contains twelve punkpop
songs with the fragile yelling sound of Bill Power. The music is not that high-energy,
full speed ahead type-of punk you can hear from so many other bands. What you rather hear
is indie punk rock with nice sound textures like in the song Versatile Solutions For
Modern Living. There's some high speed material (Fort Lewis Gun Club Youth Day) though
this is not prominent on this disc. Figureheads On The Forefront Of Popculture was
produced by Kip Beelman and the band. Result is a good product sound-wise. I start liking
- The Mechanics Of Perilous Times, Independent/Rowe Productions
Ultimatum is a band
that's been active for years. This is their third album I think. So far I only heard one
of their songs; Never, from the 2000 The Second Coming compilation album. This album is
the first time to get really acquainted with Ultimatum's music. The Mechanics Of Perilous
Times is mainly a heavy thrash album combined with a little death. The basis is thrash but
besides howling, biting and snarling vocal performances, there are death growls like in
the song Perilous Times. Shroud Of Science is a speedy track while Muta Mitlu is an
interesting instrumental piece, perhaps my favorite cut with its excellent solos. The
album also contains a cover of the 1988 Vengeance Rising classic Burn. This version stays
close to the original but I still prefer the VR one. The Mechanics Of Perilous Times is a
heavy pounding metal album though I'm not entirely satisfied. The playing is very good and
yet the songs can't always fascinate me. Maybe this thing has to grow with a few dozen
listening sessions. Available through email@example.com
- Break The Curse 1990, Rowe
Productions/Nuclear Blast Records
The 1990 demo
cassette by Mortification that led to their deal with Intense Records is now on CD. It's
cool to hear this historically interesting album. It features the death metal songs that
marked the start of Mortification just after they had abandoned the bandname Lightforce.
Lightforce came out in the mid eighties with their 1987 release of Mystical Thieves which
was heavy metal. Half of that band formed the line-up for Break The Curse: Bassist Steve
who also did the grunts, and guitarist Cameron Hall. The demo also has the excellent
drumming of Jayson Sherlock. Five of the songs were later re-recorded for the self-titled
debut CD of Mortification. The songs on Break The Curse sound great but the versions on
the debut-CD were produced a bit better and are better sound-wise. The other songs are in
the same vein and are must-have tracks for the die-hard fans of old Mortification.
Available through firstname.lastname@example.org
- Easy Come Easy Go, Tooth And Nail
release is a double disc covering the band's history. The first disc gives fifteen songs
taken off of the albums. Those songs lucidly show Starflyer's musical development.
Starting with the heavily buzzing guitar sounds on the first three albums (Silver; Gold;
Americana) and changing into the Beatles inspired rock as played on the albums The Fashion
Focus and Everybody Makes Mistakes. What stayed are Jason Martin's dreamy vocals and
Starflyer's retro sound. Disc two contains twelve songs picked from non-album recordings
like the EP's and seven inches. Furthermore, this disc has eight songs recorded live. The
booklet has a biography written by Edward Keyes, bridging Starflyer's history and
mentioning some interesting anecdotes. You'll get some insight in the struggles of an
artist like Jason Martin. Photos inside speak for themselves. This double-disc is a
tribute to a colorful band.
- Out Of The Fertile Crescent, Grrrrecords
Ballydowse comes out
of the JPUSA community in Chicago. A community widely known for its social concern. That
Ballydowse is a brainchild of JPUSA is clear from the very first second of this release.
It starts with a sample of a reporter asking foreign minister Albright about the Iraq
sanctions. The song that follows it, Weapon Of Mass Destruction, deals with this issue and
the social consequences for the population. Musically the vehicle of this message is
dark and full of Irish/folkish elements. In some parts you can hear violin, concertina and
mandolin. Or the Australian folk instrument: Didgeridoo. There's a heavy rock basis.
Result is an original album. Vocals are mainly handled by Andrew Mandell (formerly of
punkband Crashdog) and Robina Mandell. Personally I prefer the heavier tracks like January
18 1943 and The Channel. Sometimes the guitars could be heavier in the mix to make it a
little more powerful. Nevertheless, this is a good album. For all of you who would like to
hear a Yiddish wedding song, listen to Honga And Freylekhs From Podoloy. It's not a song
with heavy guitars and yet it has energy. It sure will move feet and build a party.
Various cassettes by
Unevil Hopes is a
project from St. Petersburg, Russia. The logo seems to signify an extreme metal band.
However, this is definitely not the truth. The first tape is the Extreme Thoughts promo
cassette, only available for promoters. The other two tapes are available in extremely
limited quantities (100 and 160 copies). One of them is the Pretranscendental demo
containing four tracks. The other is a split-release with Bealiah from Indonesia.
Musically Unevil Hopes is dark, mysterious and hard to understand instrumental piano
music. It's not extreme in terms of speed or power. But it may be conceived as extreme for
its vagueness and mysterious atmosphere though I have to say I'm not into this. Bealiah
also has an extreme logo and I thought it was death metal. But listening to the
split-tape, I only hear ambient synth music. It's dark and brooding but not heavy
stuff most people here would like to get pumped into their ears. Music weirdly different.
Available through: email@example.com