Over the years Muse have become the masters of reinvention, seemingly able to transform between albums and constantly keeping their fan base guessing as to what direction they would go next. Even with this fluctuating history, their eighth studio output Simulation Theory (Warner Bros.) was a high-stakes gamble, even for Muse. Continue reading
Disturbed’s quest to “Secure a legacy that will never die”, remorselessly exclaimed during the title track of their sixth album, has, surely, already been achieved over a fifteen year recording career that has seen them outsell all but a handful of their contemporaries, and with a stellar canon under their belt. But as they “feed on domination”, they’re back to prove that, despite a hiatus of five years, they’re still the top dogs.
No mistake is being made here: Immortalized (Warners/Reprise) further cements their status as pack masters of mainstream metal. There are few surprises, a tweaking and refinement here and there, an absence of “Wah-ah-ah-oh”’s, but Disturbed are back at bat and swinging for the fences with the same World Series winning technique and bluster they’ve always had, armed with a consistent and strong collection of anthems, an assembly that serves to showcase the best of everything they’ve had to offer throughout their career.
As cock-of-the-walk with inflated chest puffed out, assured, this is a release that shows strength in depth by having a tail that wags as strong as the top order hits and there is an excellence in simplistic execution prevalent throughout. Songs are punctuated by unashamed chugged fist-pump and head-bang inducing riffs, syncopated verses are rhythmically and melodically strong, bridges lift and escalate songs to powerfully delivered choruses that open out to epic anthems as, in a lot of ways, Disturbed call to mind Manowar in terms of style and structure. Tracks are based around the succinct pounding rhythmic guitaring of Dan Donegan with great vocals (and vocal lines) raising each track to the rafters. While the rhythm section may dependably underpin, once again, David Draiman is the star, his distinctive tones and melodies firing this album up.
Whereas Asylum and especially Indestructible (both Reprise) had a tendency at times to sound a bit rote and by numbers, when the melodious ‘The Light’ rolls in, ‘Open Your Eyes’ – a festival anthem in the making, crafted for a sea of voices to join in as (ten thousand) fists fill the air – stirs, the dark metallic ‘Save Our Last Goodbye’ powers by, ‘What You Waiting For’ lurches and bounces, ‘Never Wrong’ gets down with The Sickness (Giant/Reprise) and the piano-led inspired cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence’ brings gravitas and a change of emotion, all under the controlling voice of Draiman, this is an album with depth, angles and shades at each turn, all while remaining undeniably and unashamedly Disturbed.
And that’s without taking account of the more straight-forward stadium metal belters of ‘Who’, ‘The Vengeful One’ or the title track…
If they do indeed feed on domination, then there should be some full and sated bellies.
Sometimes, you really are better off not knowing. Now, I understand millions of German speaking Rammstein fans haven’t been kept in the dark like I have as to the lyrics and subjects intoned in that most Teutonic and distinctive of near barks belonging to Til Lindemann, but for myself, the fact his debut solo album Skills In Pills (Warners) is in English means my blissful ignorance of subject matter is shattered, and, much like finding out the contents of your late night kebab actually is rat and dog, I’d rather have not been enlightened.
For Skills In Pills is a forty-five minute juvenile lesson in puerility that makes you wonder as to the mental state of 52 year old Lindemann as his album makes Steel Panther seem erudite and poetic. While the opening title track is childish twaddle about different drugs doing different things, the downhill descent begins quickly with the immature ‘Ladyboy’, before the inane combo of ‘Fat’ and ‘Fish On’, respectively featuring the lines “When I break open your king-size bra, your giant boobs are wunderbar” and “It smells like fish, My rod is stiff” plumb new depths. ‘Golden Shower’ is an excuse to gleefully drop the C-bomb with the relish of a child who has first learnt it in a song that is the polar opposite of subtlety, let alone the crassness of lead single ‘Praise Abort’.
This isn’t a complaint from a position of prudishness, but even my 14-year-old self playing ‘Get In The Ring’ at parent-offending volumes would have dismissed this fatuous nonsense. The biggest shame comes from the fact that Lindemann, musically, ticks every box you’d want from a collaboration of Mr Rammstein and Pain/Hypocrisy’s Peter Tägtgren, and really could be a new Rammstein album, it’s just the lyrics really clash with, and irretrievable detract from, the music.
Had this been a Steel Panther parody, fine, but the fact is there are some epic, powerful musical motions throughout, especially the aforementioned ‘Fat’, with big, dark, symphonic catchy motifs, and grooving guitars. Tägtgren has defended the album, saying it is a “Party album” and the lyrics are ironic and as a result of Lindemann’s poor English, a statement that’s nearly as full of crap as this wasted album.
Eight years on from their Eurovision Song Contest triumph, Lordi are on their seventh album, Scare Force One (Warners) and you’d think the joke would be stretching thinner than the invisible point of Death’s scythe by now. Yet, more than 20 years after Mr Lordi first assembled a troupe of monsters to try and take over the world, no one seems to have told the band.
And a bloody good job that is, too, because Scare Force One is a surprisingly good album. Not surprisingly good as in “ah, it’s a bit shit, but, y’know…”, but surprisingly good, as in it is packed with Alice Cooper meets King Diamond anthems, and spurts fun, stomping hard rocking metal Glasgow-kissed by a splatter of Twisted Sister.
Lordi, for those who, probably quite rightly, pay little or no attention to the Eurovision Song Contest announced themselves by decimating the competition and winning it with their ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’s and rubber-monster outfits (I have to confess to loving Eurovision – there’s something about a plethora of cheesy EuroPop mixed with a dross of wannabe Nightwish ballads interspersed by patronising stereotypes, national folk outfits and sorely dated ditties) in 2006 with the biggest ever points total and largest winning margin. They are, fact fiends, still the only Rock band to win the contest.
Mr Lordi, with gravelled tones instantly recognisable and reminiscent of Taneli Jarva in his Sentenced days, knows how to write a catchy, hooky pop-metal song, with choruses that dig their claws into your brain and, like Critters, gnaw their way through the cerebral cortex and implant their earworming gnashers into your memory sacks.
With uptempo zombie stomps deep down the order, with only ‘The United Rocking Dead’ taking it’s mammoth foot off the pedal of quality, Scare Force One is littered with bangers that prove Lordi are much more than just a PG-13 version of GWAR, with the riotous ‘Hell Sent In The Clowns and more-infectious-than-ebola ‘She’s A Demon’ vying with ‘House of Ghosts’, a track which could easily have Lordi-ed it up (sorry) on Alice’s Trash (Epic), as pick of a deadly bunch.
Lorks a-Lordi, I can’t believe how enjoyable this is!