A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


4/5
ALCHEMIST
Organasm
2000
Chatterbox
death progressive
Australias Alchemist hit it big with their debut album Jar of Kingdom back in the early 90ies. However after that the band kinda plunged into obscurity and despite two more records out it remained practically unknown outside the land of the kangaroos. The new CD is bound to change this situation dramatically. Yes, it has all the potential to become a classic and the fans of Cynic, Atheist and later Death should not pass it by. There is not much death metal left in Alchemist nowadays when it only retains in the vocals (the singer growls his ass off all the way, attempting black metal screams only every once in awhile). The music is mid-tempo and very progressive with obvious though not excessive influences of jazz and funk, and the songs are long and constantly evolving. Although no easy a listen Organasm will please those who like it complex and original but for me 50 minutes of this music has just proved a bit too much. The already mentioned Cynic and atheist have always limited their records to 32-37 minutes thus making the experimenting enjoyable to the very end. But nowadays the bands want to give us as much as they can and Ive got a feeling that a couple of tracks in the second part of the CD could have been easily avoided from being cast forever in vinyl. Nonetheless, after a few mediocre tunes Alchemist are getting it right again, and end the record with great instrumental Electric and Escape from the Black Hole probably the fastest song on the disc. This is more than enough to keep me interested and make me eager to hear the follow up of the new gods of progressive death. (Maniac)


3+/5
ASCRAEUS
Disgust
2000
Hammer Musik
slow low-pitched thrash
Much like their colleagues from Fix, Ascraeus believe in the mid-slow-tempo heavy pounding riffs and low-pitching, but this is as far as the similarity between the two goes. Quite good, as they are, Ascraeus are a lot less innovative and prefer the more straightforward way of making an impact on their listenership. Besides, a major drawback is the singer. I don't know where they found this guy, but he can't even outloud the rest of the band, thus sounding pretty pathetic and a lot constipated. At the same time, the release is lively enough not to get you bored throughout its length, the guys are pretty good musicians, so one doesn't really need much more to ask for. This is not a novelty or nothing, but it is real, real, real good shit. This CD is for those who stick with the traditional sound, and are not too keen on experimenting, samples, keyboards, tribal instruments, and all the other things that have been becoming popular with the heavy music in the past few years. (Troll)


5/5
BONEY NEM (site in Russian only)
Ni Be, Ni Me - Ili V Mire Zhivotnykh
2000
Misteriya Zvuka
death cover band
Fucking A, baby! OK, this review requires some sort of a brief explanation, I guess, since most of the non-Russian speaking audience are very unlikely to know anything about this brigade, which, is a goddamn shame. Boney Nem erupted some time back in the early 90ies from a joke grind-coresque crew, entitled Kardanny Val and have been a cover band ever since, death metal cover band, to be precise. Well, this would not have been a novelty really, especially with labels like Dwell Records around, if it was not for one thing - that is, what they are covering. 70-80ies pop hits, period. Yep, youve heard me right, folks, pop hits from the likes of Boney M, Joe Dassin, Afrique Simon, Modern Talking, Dr. Alban, this stuff. And I am not talking some simple sped up, distorted, growling blast-beats either. Being good and experienced musicians, the band manage to preserve the original atmosphere about the songs, making it even more of a fun. Anyhows, now that you are packed with some background knowledge, lets move over to the record itself. This already being the third one for Boney Nem, they have decided to sort of add more diversity to it and make it a bit more complex, which was a pretty good idea after their previous release, that was just a bit too boring and self-repeating, to my liking at least. Boy, I cant even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this. It is just brilliant, this is. Well, I mean, take up the track list alone - Living La Vida Loca, Youre My Heart Youre My Soul, And I love Her (with German lyrics), Were the World, Strangers in the Night, and a bunch of Russian pop tracks that are pretty irrelevant to a foreign ear but are still fabulously funny. Describing the record is really pointless, since youve simply got to hear it, stead of reading about it. Just try to imagine any of the above-mentioned songs refitted with heavy-guitar riffs, occasional blast-beats, and purely excellent growling provided by Monsignor Nemolyaev (I am fucking serious, if we take up growling on the Russian metal scene, this guy is like the only one worth mentioning. In fact, I could have easily compared him to say L.G. Petrov or David Vincent). Another major asset is that all of them are easily recognisable too. Well, to cut a long story short, this album is a killer. If you ever have a chance to find it somewhere outside Russia, buy it by all means, you wont regret it and you can take it to the bank.
P.S. If you are still not convinced, consider this - the very special treat of the record: an acoustic version of Unbreak My Heart Nemolayev did together with a Russian folklore ensemble called White Wind. Harmonicas, balalaikas, and tin whistles plus growling plus folk-choir... you better believe it! (Troll)

3/5
BENUMB
Withering Strands of Hope
Relapse Records
hard-grind-noise-core

When SOD were getting their shit together for the first time back in 1985, little did they know how much inspiration their first CD would produce in the future. Back then doing 25 songs in 30 minutes was big already. But, what do you know, these days its OK to squeeze 32 tracks into something like 25 minutes. Well, at least this is exactly what Benumb here have managed to do. Once again if SOD were ever to become a serious political hard-core act, with luck, they would probably have ended up being Benumb. The quintet smashes you write into the face with an irrevocably brain-disseminating noise-core madness, with cool song titles that support workers trade unions and a dude shooting up his vein against a church background on the cover. Pretty much as in the case with punk rock or gangsta rap this is more about the attitude than music really. At the same time I would not really go as far as to say that this is totally wrong and boring, because... err... well, basically because its not... First, it is too short to really get you there, second, in its own weird way it is a lot of fun to listen to, just trying to picture the persons that would have the balls to do something like that today, when -core/noise is not really going through the best of its times. Besides, not being the rookies in the scene, Benumb make it both true and rather attractive, not going about with one and the same riffntune all around the album. The release definitely has quite a couple of cool moves and a great deal of professionalism, thus establishing itself a bit higher than the usual place for the genre. It is fans-only though, all the risks and damages that might occur to the listener as a result of hearing the album, are taken and accepted as his/her responsibility. And dont say we didnt warn you. (Troll)

5/5
CEMETARY 1213
The Beast Divine
2000
Century Media
doom/death

Once upon a time there was a band called Cemetary. Throughout the history the Swedes played very melodic and stringy doom metal with the only exception of their debut album. Time went on, musical heroes and styles were changing, Cemetary stayed. But in 1997 Mathias Lodmalm (the founder, the voice and the leader of the pack) disbanded Cemetary and somehow transformed it to a new formation he called Sundown after the title of Cemetary's last album. He recruited some new musicians and issued two more albums in 1997 and 1999. These works largely stemmed from the old Cemetary school but with certain insertions of new trendy musical elements. But in the year 2000, no one knows why, Mathias decided to reanimate Cemetary with a number 1213 added to the name. Many reviewers say he did it because 'The Beast Divine' is no longer Cemetary. It's a clone or smth. But opinions tend to be directly proportional to the number of reviewers, and I do have to happen one of my own. Musically its a total mesh of old-type Cemetary works such as 'Silicon Carma' or 'Sunset Grace', Sundown 'Union of Rats', thrash death industrial music such as AntiChrist 3000 and Firewire and even doom with black vocals (Anthem Apocalypse). All in all this CD was like a cure to my wounds 'cause Cemetary was one of the doom bands I really liked a bloody LOT! Five fists and let me die in peace. P.S. Don't forget to listen the CD up to the very last second - there is a hidden track..... (Felix da Katt)



2/5
THE CHASM
Procession to the Underworld
2000
Dwell Records
old-school Swedish death metal

Dwell records are known for their numerous tribute albums, with the most famous being A Call to Irons - A Tribute to Iron Maiden and In Memory of Celtic Frost. Their original material though less abundant has always been of inferior quality. The Chasm are one of their latest acquisitions and were featured on the Gateway to Hell 2 - A Tribute to Slayer, now we have their long-play release. Unfortunately the album is quite boring, all songs are old-school Swedish death metal in the vein of Dismember and early Entombed. I personally dont see any value in this, since it has been done too many times before. Experts like Troll will probably find some black metal harmonies in some parts of the song, but they are to scarce and hard to expose. For die hard Swede death fans and supporters of Dwell Records only. (Maniac)


4/5
COFFIN TEXTS
2000
Gods of Creation, Death & Afterlife
Dwell Records
Old-school death metal

Ok here we go again, Dwell records and a strange band titled 'Coffin Texts'. Does it tell you lads anything? Well maybe yes. Many of us know the record company, yes right, them dudes who issue a bloody lot of tributes. As to the band in question it was formed in 1996 on the deadly remains of the two Californian metal acts Entity and Demolition. Never heard them really. So I had almost no idea of what Coffin Texts might sound like. So what's the deal? The first thing that cathes the eye is the last 2 songs, namely 'Crypts of Eternity' and 'Disturbing the Priest'. Do the titles remind you, headbangers, of something? That'll be my enigma (the answer comes later). Musically the album turns out to be an excellent comeback to the beginning of the 90's. Hopefully all of you remember such cult classics of death metal as Grotesque, At the Gates, Entombed ('Left Hand Path') (Are those classic? Damn, I guess I'm too old for this shit -- the Ed.) and of course Unleashed with my all-times-Swede-school-death-metal-favorite 'Where no Life Dwells'. Well it seems like there were no 10 years or probably the guys were in liturgical sleep. Hey, wake up! It is August, 2K! The musical components are a deadly quintessence of the bands I've mentioned above, growling vocals a-la Unleashed, mid-tempo songs, double-bass, guitars tuned 2 steps down, almost no or quite short solos sounding like buzz-saw - everything that usually stands for Swedish old-school death metal. BUT! Everything is ve-e-e-e-ery well played. The lyrics are usual for this genre and mostly deal with the eternal opposition of death and life. The only thing that really troubled me was the fact that almost every line in the lyrics is sung with a 'WAAAAAGHHHHH' at the end. I'm NOT exaggerating. But well, I guess those are obligatory stylistic requirements, you know and you have to live up to that. And now it's to time for the answers! The first song is of course a Slayer classic from the album 'Hell Awaits' - and is played with so much rotting heart in it :-) I've heard almost all of the Slayer tributes, but this cover stands in the avangard, killing many of the covers made by many well-known metal acts. The second song 'Disturbing the Priest' is a cover of Black Sabbath. I wouldn't repeat myself saying 'it's good & bla-bla-bla'. The song really makes me think that IF Black Sabbath were a Swedish death metal band they would have definitely sounded like 'Coffin Texts' (Thank God, oh, thank God they are not! - the Ed.) I have marked the record with only 4 'cause, you know, it is just 5 - 7 years late. (Felix da Katt)

4/5
COLD COLOURS
Somnium XIII
2000
The Root Of All Evil Records
death/doom

Cold Colours play the combination of styles that is hard to find these days. They mix death/doom structure and atmosphere of early Paradise Lost (circa "Gothic" and "Shades Of God") with progressive death elements that remind me of Death's "Symbolic" and add a touch of modern gothic metal in the vein of faster tracks off Lake Of Tears and Tiamat's "Skeleton Skeletron." The growling vocals are done very well, but there are also clean male parts and female bits and pieces here and there (circular saws rule! ;) -- Ed). The result of such a combination did not become anything outstanding or extremely original, but it is really nice to listen to. Besides, bands that use the same musical patterns as Cold Colours and very rare, and the record doesn't sound typical at all. "Somnium XIII" is definitely not a must have, but those who will get it are not likely to be disappointed. (Maniac)

5/5
FIREBIRD
Firebird
2000
Rise Above Records
blues-rock in the sight of a former death legend

OK, let's play a try-a-wild-guess game here, how many of you out there remember the dude called Bill Steer? Yeah, the guy who was responsible for all them killer riffs in a cult death-metal act called Carcass. Any of you were wondering what he's been up to nowadays? Well, let me tell you what - blues based rock in the vein of Deep Purple and Zep. No bullocks, I am dead serious, it is blues for him nowadays. But, seriously, I mean, if you have been in tune about Steer all the way long, it shouldn't be that much of a surprise for you. When Carcass was disbanded, he and some other dudes from the band formed a gang called Blackstar and if you remember what their "Barb Wire Soul" was like then the self-titled Firebird should not really be a shock. Of course, let's face it Blackstar was still death or at least death-like, but if you listened carefully, you could have just tracked quite a few classic blues-rock influences in the guitar-riffs and, moreover, the mood of that record was pretty rock'n'rollish or something. Anyways, Firebird, folks, the new band. For better or for worse, we've got reality to deal with here and at least one thing should be admitted for starters - Steer is not death metal, anymore. Moreover, he is not really any metal anymore. It's blues, baby, it's cool. In fact, the earlier comparison with the legendary Deep Purple would probably be the best definition for this record. The main difference is that it's got heaps a better sound and mixing (well surprise, baby it's 2000), and quite a bunch of funk elements, like lots of wah-wah, slap bass, and all. Surely, it's pretty hard to imagine that anyone would have undergone such a radical change in style over less than 10 years, this especially concerns those listeners and numerous death-metal fans that still mourn the ill-fortunate abolition of Carcass, but Jesus-fricking-Christ, I can live with that as long as guys like Steer don't quit music altogether and continue making new records. I mean, Bill here, is one helluva guitarist and one helluva composer, so it does not really matter what he plays and records - thrash, blues, AOR or damn country-and-western, he is simply too good to make a bad album. And Firebird just proves this sentence of mine. Despite being very "old school" the record does not smell of naphthalene and is anything but outdated or let alone boring. Quite the opposite, I know loads of younger bands, playing much more modern and popular stuff like, say, black metal, (black metal is popular, face it!) or angry metal (also a trend), but who don't come even close to Firebird, when it comes down to the listenability and vitality. And if you add this to a highly-professional play, very sophisticated and smart melodies, and, yes, quite a deal of musical talent then well, then you just find this record somewhere and check it out for yourself. (Troll)

5/5
FIX
Sterile Noiz Klan
2000
Hammer Musik
thrash/alternative

I'll tell you what, folks, there's nothing like listening to music early on a Saturday morning, when you know you have heaps of stuff to do but even the excessive amounts of caffeine cannot get you quite awaken. This Saturday was exactly such a morning for me when I put the tape into the rack and Fix erupted from the speakers. The devastating heaviness that overwhelmed me was like a real bad punch in the face. And it was not just low tuning either. Low pitching is something for the likes of Korn, who cannot really make music and try to compensate this by not being able to tune their guitars. No bloody way, Fix do have a hand in composing and handling their instruments alike. Musically, the closest comparison for this band would be the British Kill II This, but should I say, they are more creative. You could also compare the band to last year's big shots from Slipknot but then again, Fix are much less chaotic and aggressive. If Slipknot sound like a bunch of world-hating loonies with whom one wouldn't mess just for the reason that no one should mess with loonies, then Fix are pretty self-confident and self-controlled power which basically has to be counted with. Coming up as a number seven release from Hammer Musik, the boys mix classic New York hardcored thrash with the no less classic sound of Seattle that are bridged with samples and techno passages. The voice of the singer is just what I like - big, fat, brutal and pretty f@cking badass, somewhere in between Venom's Cronos and Blood for Blood. All in all, I say Fix has everything what it takes to enter the top ranks along with Machine Head, Kill 2 This, and their ilk. You will not find two similar tracks on SNK and if you are open to musical experiments and unexpected moves, then this album is a must on your shopping list next time you go to the store. (Troll)

3+/5
FLAUROS
Monuments of Total Holocaust (mini CD)
2000
The Twelfth Planet
black
Coming from the darkest pits of eastern Finland's Joensuu, Flauros, by all industry laws, should have been sucked into oblivion and get totally lost among the multitude of other Northern European black metal acts that think that corpse-paint and bullet-belts are just the thing, and record mediocre songs of mediocre producing quality in between. Yeah, they should have. But they haven't, and after listening to them, I can say, thanks grudd, they haven't. Ironically, when I heard the first chords of the first track on the record, I came one zillionth of a second close to turning the deck off and forgetting about the review altogether. Luckily enough, I have not. Initially, it did sound like your average next-door garage black metal teenager, who has shaken out half of his brains at the last gig he'd been to, and the other half was sunk with beer like fries in ketchup. But the second track, compensated for that not exactly impressive first impression, and when I heard, The-Cure-like guitars in the third song, I was gaping like a fish out of water in bemusement. Yes, you have got me right, like The Cure - new wave post-punk band, not some other band called Cure. That's something new, I should say. Certainly there are quite a lot of odd things about today's black metal, especially with the latest releases from Mayhem and Troll, but new-wavish guitars is definitely something totally off the wall in this league. Another oddly point is that, despite being on the more or less true-n-evil side, Flauros are not afraid to spice their blasphemous rampage with a plenitude of keyboards, and, strangely manage to get away with it. The music is still very true and very evil. 3+ for the unconvincing first track and the fact that it is just a mini - too hard to make an impression based on only 20-some minutes. (Troll)

3/5
GUIDANCE OF SIN
6106
2000
Mighty Music
Swedish death
Oh yes, here we go again. Guidance Of Sin is another Swedish death metal band that bases theur music on the so-called Gothenburg sound. Albums like this have become a pain in the ass for almost all the critics around the planet, as they are all done very well, but are extremely repetitive and similar to each other. If you've heard In Flames once or twice, you will certainly notice the similarities, and I seriously doubt that you need to listen to this particular disc in such case. You will, however, found a lot of death'n'roll elements here too (obviously taken from Entombed) and a cool cover of Motorhead's "Killed By Death" at the end of the disc. If it is enough for you, and you are a fan of the Gothenburg sound, go and search for "6106," as it is bound to please you. The others can pass on to the next review. (Maniac)


4/5
HEAVENLY
Coming From The Sky
2000
Noise
100% German speed metal

Heavenly are obviously heading for the big time. With the debut album out on Noise Records and production duties done by Piet Sielck (Iron Saviour), it looks like a very promising start. There are also no questions about what kind of music the band is about to deliver, as the names above say it all. Yes, it is pure German speed metal, invented by a man called Kai Hansen back in the mid-80s and holding strong ever since. Heavenly are very traditional, but their songs are good and catchy, they have a lot of energy, and the band is bound to please the fans of the genre. To top it all off, they invited Kai Hansen himself to play guitar and sing backing vocals on the track called "Time Machine," thus drawing even more attention to the record. Nevertheless, "Coming From The Sky" can hardly impress anyone outside the speed metal fans circle. Some of their songs sound too close to Gamma Ray, others remind of Blind Guardian and there's also a taste of Edguy here and there. Besides, the vocalist is not particularly good at his job, his voice sounds too rough and laboured at times. It seems to me that the band is still looking for their own sound and style, and I am looking forward to hearing the follow-up. "I especially liked that one, let's see what comes next..." (Maniac)

3+/5
HYPNOS
Hypnos
2000
Morbid Records
death

A very strange release, this one. I dunno, why make a 14 minute record, containing only four songs? I ain't kidding, 14 minutes - that's it, no hidden tracks, no bullshit, just these four tracks But, well, who gives an airborne copulation about this really, the record is still good enough, so here comes The Czech all-star trio featuring people from Krabathor and some other band, which I don't remember, kicks it off in Morbid Angel style and, surprisingly, astonishingly, unexplainably and unexpectedly manages to get away with it. That's already a skill, folks. I could have sworn that 50 percent of the riffs were written by Monsegnior Azagthoth and that David Vincent was doing the vocals, had not I known the truth. At the same time, these four tracks do not sound like they were stolen from anyone, and they are definitely anything but boring. Here we have some kickass riffs, nice rhythm breaks, superb growling and very strange seriously-out-of-hand solos that should not really mix with the style, but somehow do. So the only major drawback on this one is its length (or should I say, shortness?) Probably this is an EP though, but I can't be sure since I ain't seen the original CD. Anyways, I'm really looking forward for this project to evolve into something bigger and putting out a normal length LP. Positively, it must be fun. (Troll)



5/5
HYPOCRISY
'Into The Abyss'
2000
Nuclear Blast
Swedish death metal 'a-la HYPOCRISY' :-)

The new totally unexpected blasting release from the legends of Swedish death metal scene - HYPOCRISY. Peter Tagtgren and his hypocrite brothers Mikael Hedlund (bass), Lars Szoke (drums) are back after their last-year self-titled 'Hypocrisy'. Much was said about the forthcoming split of the band but well the CD we have here proves this to be false. Peter sure as hell is a quite a well-known figure on the scene - excellent producer, participant of hell-knows-how-many projects - Pain, Abyss, Lock Up etc, strings master - everything. But for a swarm of headbangers he is primarily the HYPOCRISY leader, voice, axe and keyboards. Hell yeah, after the totally exterminating previous album nobody in the world couldn't even think of 'Into The Abyss'. Here we have 10 tracks with the so-to-say genre's "usual titles" - 'Unleash the Beast', 'Sodomized', 'Blinded', the like, you know what I'm talking about. But hell who said cliched titles were bad!? Lyrically Peter remains the same - the eternal clash of life and death. The sound comprises all sides of what we call 'Swedish death metal', but there are some exceptions - 'Into The Abyss' is a bit more 'blackish' than its predecessors. And what actually came as a surprise to me - almost every song has something from other musical styles - 'Blinded' - is a thrash-death masterpiece, 'Resurrected' has strange, gloomy 'late Tiamatish' oversampled vocals, 'Deathrow' is a very stringy and vicious doom metal with awesome solos all in all making the release a really cool listen. Where the riffologeous side of the album is concerned the bandmembers show their absolute professionalism - I mean some bands specialise in doom, some - in grind core stuff etc. - the Hypocrisy dudes just play comprising all the mastery things they know. Ah! The idea for a comparison has suddenly struck me - (not to worry folks, we've checked on him in hospital the Doc said the strike was not too bad and da Katt was going to live -- Ed.) - the structure of the album can be compared with Edge of Sanity 'Purgatory Afterglow' - almost every track has something out of a different style. Some of the die-hard Hypocrisy fans can view this as a bad side - but hey guys - every band has to develop My absolute favorites are 'Blinded', 'Digital Prophecy', 'Deathrow (No Regrets)'. All-in-all, the album is a total 'hurricane.' Absof@#$glutely five fists. (Felix The Katt)

5/5
OMINOUS
The Spectral Manifest
2000
Holy Records
thrash death black

If somebody out there havent checked out this CD yet, do yourself a real big favour and find the goddamn thing. What do you mean why? Simple, folks, because this is just bloody excellent. It is hard, nouvelle, original, and very professional. The eruption of this musical volcano starts with a low grumbling guitar buzz as if, say, Death have decided to play on the Limp Bizkit-tuned guitars, and no less impressive pounding, which would easily send shivers down the spine of this Yngwie Malmsteem of drums and cymbals, named Davey Lombardo. The album gradually develops into an overwhelming stomp-machine of the most brutal death metal that is spiced with those little bites and slashes of blackish arrangements, typical Nordic harmonies and drudd knows what else. A very special asset of this lovely fetus of the all-too-known Abyss Studios is the vocals, well, growling to be exact. I dont know really, being a growler myself Ive always thought that David Vincent (formerly of Morbid Angel) was like THE man. Well, after hearing Ominous, I just might reconsider that. No, I mean, can you believe this guy? Not only is he low as fuck, this is not a novelty anymore, but he can handle and modify the fathermucker. This is just purely amazing! The record is just a tiny bit boring though (which in no way prevents me from giving it a fiver), but, hell, you just cant be that heavy for 50-some minutes without getting on the listeners nerves, can you? (Troll)


5/5
ORPHANAGE
Inside
2000
Nuclear Blast
doom death

I dont know what is wrong with me but this week really seems to turn out excellent music-wise. Were doing tons of reviews, and most of the bands are quite good or at least above average. As to the Orphanage here - well, these dudes are just awesome. Actually I dont remember last time I enjoyed a record that much. Everything here is build around contrasts thus bringing a totally unexpected and massive impact on the listener. Think about it, the guitar sound and the riffing go more in the direction of Biohazard and Machine Head, although structurally this is 50/50 doom-death metal. The drumming also comes along with this modern thrash style. However, the band takes it much further than that - keyboards that would make Cradle of Filth go pink with envy, death metal growling (and what a growling it is!), and amazingly powerful and clean female vocals delivered by a girl who really knows how to sing. Now that is already something new. Nowadays, when everyone is getting female vocals in their black and blackesque records, regardless of the musical experience of the said vocals proprietor, the fact that some band which plays somewhere in the same parking lot, bothered to find a female singer that can actually handle her voice, is a major bonus. The resulting effect is beyond any verbal description. A highly commendable and recommendable record, a tasteful listener is bound to fall in love with. (Troll)

3/5
SCORPIONS with BERLINER FILARMONIKER
Moment Of Glory
2000
EMI
hard rock meets classics

This German band just keeps amazing me with their experiments. After their heaviest ever record "Face The Heat" (1993) they recorded the balladesque "Pure Instinct" (1996) and then the rock/dancefloor affair "Eye II Eye" (1999). Now they unleash classical versions of their old hits recorded with the Berlin Philarmonic Orchestra. It is not clear to me what is the reason behind such manoeuvres, but it is obvious that in the past few years they have been unsuccessful. Probably the band is trying to chase their fortune by playing what is fashionable at the moment. However by the time their experiments see the light of day, a totally different kind of music is considered cool. It was the case with "Eye II Eye," and "Moment Of Glory" has the same problem. Parallels with Metallica's "S&M" are obvious here, and the general idea of a rock band recording with an orchestra is nothing new or even attractive to the music world. To my opinion, "S&M" was quite boring (I'll be damned if I don't cut his salary twice after that -- Ed), so I did not expect anything good from its copy. And my fears were not in vain. Each time the Scorpions attempt a faster song ("Hurricane 2000", "Big City Nights," etc.) , the orchestration is either somewhere deep in the mix or absolutely unnecessary, and you just can't help wishing it was not there. Ballads sound much better, but it is the same case of the band playing their own thing and the orchestra jamming along. Both Scorpions and Metallica failed to balance the two oppositions, and their efforts are far behind earlier, but less known records of this genre (Rage "XII", Lacrimosa "Elodia" or Therion "Theli"). Another problem on "Moment Of Glory" is guest singers. Zucchero and Ray Wilson did not add anything to the songs, so why invite them at all, when Klaus Meine's vocals is still strong and does not need any support from outsiders? In general, the record makes an impression of a total jam, and you don't generally expect music innovation from jam sessions, right? To top it all off, the two new songs here are plain pop music. "Moment Of Glory" with children's choir throughout the track can be played easily to babies as young as three. And "Here In My Heart" is written by Dianne Warren (famous by Aerosmith's "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" and Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You"), which says it all. Typical, typical, once again typical - how tired am I of that! It seems to me that Scorpions are not one of those bands that benefit from experimenting. They'd better stay themselves and play what they can play best - great hard rock with high-speed rockers and touchy (but not poppish) ballads. I truly see no other way for the band to develop, but Klaus, Rudi and Matthias (yes, there are only three permanent members at present) are probably of another opinion. I wonder what they will record next - probably an acid jazz remix of "Tease Me Please Me" or a black metal rendition of "Under The Same Sun" with Count Grishnakh on backing vocals. Sounds intriguing, isn't it? (Maniac)

4-/5
SILENT FORCE
The Empire Of Future
2000
Massacre Records
progressive
Actually, nobody's gonna think whether to buy this record or not. For the lovers of D.C. Cooper (ex-Royal Hunt) and Alex Beyrodt (ex-Sinner) it's a must-have anyway. And I guess many of them will be quite surprised with the record. "The Empire Of Future" has nothing to do with Sinner and even less with Royal Hunt. Here we get what is called progressive metal - mid-tempo songs, quite complicated, hard to remember, with keyboards in the background and guitars dominating the sound. I was especially shocked to hear D.C.'s voice - it is next to unrecognisable here. As a result, it is very hard for me to rate the album. It is obviously quite good, though there have been much better progressive releases around, but the potential listeners must be expecting totally different material. Think for yourself and don't tell us that you haven't been warned. (Maniac)


4/5
SOPOR AETERNUS & THE ENSEMBLE OF SHADOWS
Dead Lovers Sarabande
2000
Reprise Records
gothic funeral music
Most of this review will be very dark and depressive, so I better start with something funny, see, when a lady-acquaintance of mine first heard the record, she asked me what it was called and when answered she couldnt place it right and went like: What? Stupor Aeternus? And well, indeed it is, if you are emotionally impressive youd better be very careful with this album, for its content just might put one into an eternal lethargic stupor. However luckily or not it takes a bit more than this to take out a Troll, which is largely thanks why you are now able to read this. But, alas, lets shift to the music. Despite all of the above-said I have to admit it without a shadow of hesitation that I have almost fallen in love with this album. I am not a goth or nothing, and moreover, it is quite possible that some of the true goths would have labelled Dead Lovers Sarabande a completely commercial and off-the-wall release that should be outlawed, but hell, who gives a rat about their opinions, when we are talking good music. And truly is it good! No, its not, it is more than good, it is magnificent, it is elegant, it is very depressive and beautiful at the same time. It is the beauty of a broken heart, a beauty of an old grave, a beauty of a faded flower, and a beauty of a, well... dead lover. The performance is done on classical instruments, such as cello, bassoon, oboe, acoustic guitar, and although it is stated that it has an electric guitar there somewhere, I couldnt really put my finger to where it exactly was. If I had to compare this to something the first thing that would have come to mind would surely be a funeral march, a very disturbing one. But it is not even that which really starts pulling all of your strings. There is also a voice - a totally sick voice. Not really possessing the ability to sing in the traditional meaning of the word, or at least doing his (her?) very best to hide this ability, the lead singer puts the emphasis on the emotional impact, thus resulting in a semi-crying, sobbing, monotonous chant that would easily drive a saint crazy. But once again, I just cant do anything about myself, I cant help but admiring this piece of grimly art. Four dead flowers at the cold tombstone of this ancient sepulchre...
P.S. Ah, yeah, Ive forgotten to mention this is supposed to be the continuation of their previous saga, which I am now desperately trying to borrow from someone.
(Troll)


4/5
STAMPIN GROUND
Carved From Empty Words
2000
Century Media
deathrash

AAAARGH-HA-HA-HA-HA! Bands like that are a blessing to the heart of an old-school thrash lover that I happen to be. No, true, I tell ya, it doesnt get any better than this as far as thrash is concerned. Excellent playing technique, creative and structured composing, and a drive of the infamous V-Twin! The problem with modern thrash bands is that they never manage to get all of this complete. I mean, these days, it is either supreme technique or power drive. I dunno, it puzzles me, how come it never occurs to anyone these two elements should be mixed? But, hell, at least one band is different - Stampin Ground. The guitarwork on CFEW falls somewhere in between Slayer (faster parts of it) and Bolt Thrower (the most heavy and slow parts), all of that with an extra touch of early Testament and Exodus. The singer seems to be mere seconds away from screaming his head off in this bloody mayhem. And, of course, the guy behind the drum-kit is just unbelievable. This is the type of an album that is really hard to listen to while sitting, cuz the desire to jump up and start bouncing and banging around the room is simply uncontrollable. Even while typing this review my head is popping beyond me. STAMPIN GROUNDs in the house for the big time. (Troll)

3/5
SUMMON
Baptised by Fire
2000
The Plague
black death...or rather death-black
Do not let the intro misguide you, this is not sympho-black, period. To be honest, I have purposefully checked it on the net from several sources, it actually is a 2000 release (at least all of the sources claim it is), although, I personally, would have never expected anyone would play like that in the wake of the new millennium. Its not that I am saying this is bad or anything, but it is so very late 80-ies that I couldnt help smiling remembering them good ol days of taping and re-taping Morgoth and Autopsy releases to the state when the sound would have been deemed too dirty even by the most stubborn followers of true and evil black metal and that would make early Bathory CDs sound like they were mixed by Sony Music or EMI, or something. But, well, I am getting carried away. Those are reminiscences nice for a drunken night with ones buds - not for a review... so off we go. Actually the comparison with old-school death metal bands has not been out of the way here, since basically Baptised by Fire is this sort of back-to-the-roots album, you know. If you were listening to death metal back in the early 90ies you would know what I am talking about: thrashy hi-velocity guitars, fast and quite professional drums, occasional slow acoustic bit every now and again, you know what Im saying. The only major difference is the vocals, which is more typical of black metal, than classic growling. (Whoa, this is funny, nowadays we can actually refer to growling as something classic?! This is called age, man. Geez, Im growing old, nearly ancient) Drokk it, Im getting carried away again, so where was I? Ah, yes, the album. Not really original as it is, it does contain many a good moves, complex rhythm changes, which certainly do not make a revolution in the world of extreme music, but are just so up-to-the-point that it does not spoil the impression. Of course the mixing and the sound could have been a whole lot better, but once again, this just adds to the vibe... Pretty good... Bands like that should be signed on better labels and given more freedom of move. (Troll)


2/5
THORNSPAWN
Blood of the Holy Taint Thy Steel
2000
The Plague
black... very black
It has just struck me, like in the fifth line of every review were putting this genre attribution of the band in question. Well, I should think the majority of the readers, do know what is creeping behind such terms as black metal, thrash metal, the like. But still, practice shows there are people who are new to this and who in fact would fail to understand what we mean by using these terms. Well, this album is for them then. If you dont know what black metal is, I am telling you, it is Thornspawn. This is like this average statistical release that is used in the music industry for making up genre definitions. Blood of the Holy... is black metal, and likewise, black metal is Blood of the Holy.... Yes, that easy! Bingo! Traditionally such albums are also referred to as fans-only records. In fact, the only aspect that does not make this totally typical is the bands origin. It is not Norway, Thornspawn are from the United States. As to the music, this is not really too long and new a story: blast beats, uncompromising let-ring guitars, screaming, and everything a person who follows the scene would have heard a thousand and one times. They do know how to handle the instruments, which is already a bonus, but when it comes to composing, Thornspawn are definitely not in the premier league. (Troll)

1/5
THY PRIMORDIAL
The Heresy of the Age of Reason
Pulverised Records
sympho black... Sunlight studio...

Honestly, this review could be limited to the top five lines, because there really isnt anything more to say here. Being like THE trend nowadays, sympho-black has become a safe playground for those who want to cut a deal and release something quickly. This is not even a theory anymore - its an axiom, confirmed and proven by musicians, labels, and very sadly by the fans. If you can handle the instruments and have got a hang of writing guitar harmonies, black metal harmonies, for this particular instance, you can consider yourself signed. This is just too confusing, because I dont know where to start really. Say, if Thornspawn, reviewed here about a week ago, could be defined as the average statistical black metal band, then Thy Primordial would be the average statistical sympho black crew. Yes, they do play pretty well, but its not how you play, its about what you play. And when all one gets from a record is just an excessive amount of musical cliches as worn-out as a cheap railway-station hooker, this is when you should start doubting whether it had been worth wasting the time on. Sure, there are pretty cliched albums that are still quite good, just because are done with sense and certain taste. But this... Imagine all the other symho-black acts you have ever heard - this band sounds like all of them put together, and the worst point is you wont be able to remember a single tune even after the third time you listen to it. Take this and wash. These dudes should seriously consider getting a real job. (Troll)

5/5
TROLL
The Last Predators
2000
Head Not Found
black

Becha never thought we would review this album! Ha, surprise, we do! And moreover you would have never even imagined it will be me who will be doing the review! What? You did? Nah, dont lie to me, how would you have known... OK, anyhows, expected or not the album is hear, and like in the case with Deicide, it is surprisingly good. I mean I first heard of Troll, back in early 1997 after hearing their debut Drep de Kristne, and well, should I say it did not strike me as really exciting. Forget the poor quality of the mixing, Drep... was just plain boring. Dark-Thronish guitars, lyrics in Norwegian, and a total absence of creativity. Totally, absolutely, undoubtedly, unquestionably and blatantly boring it was. But well, this year I thought, why not, after all we do have something in common with them. Boy, was I surprised! Well, in fact, I should not have been, since a project comprising the grandpas of the genre (meaning Nagash and Hellhammer) cannot possibly be too bad, but hell, I wouldnt have ever thought the release would hit me like that. Well, if you have already heard the latest Mayhem and the last years Kovenant release, imagine a cross between the two, remove the keyboards, add a bit of rocknroll, death metal, and a fair deal of Exploited-type punk, now that is a bad-ass mixture! Think about it - black/death, black/goth, black/heavy and even black/power releases are not a novelty anymore nowadays. Everyone does that, apart from the extinct remnants of the most stubborn and non-compromising representatives of the Norwegian scene. But mixing black with punk is something totally new. Those of you who know Exploited would surely agree with me - its impossible but its true - I dont know how, probably its the way the guitar is mixed, or the energy, or something else, but it positively is there. The album features 10 tracks (to of them keyboard intro and outro) that close down on you like a machine-gun attack with the steel rain hammering the listener into the ground. Psychotic, fast, brutal, rough, unpolished, this record is a must-have for those to whom black metal means a bit more than corpse-paint and burning a church on a lovely Tuesday night. If Mayhem Declared the War, then Troll and the Last Predators will be the elite special force avantguarde of the legions that will storm the planet. Warning: keep away from children - you dont want to breed another Charles Manson to this world, do you? (Troll)

4/5
UNMOOORED
Kingdoms of Greed
2000
Pulverized Records
mostly death/black

This crew appeared on the metal scene in 1995. After several demos and an album guys encountered a person named Tagtgren (seems like I've heard it somewhere, don't remember :-)) So, they had a material for the new album and the guy helped them release it. Yes, I know the cover story is not exactly necessary for the genre, but I mean, knowing the main figures involved in this or that album might often prove useful or whatever. As for the CD itself it represents a gravy blend of death, black, doom and even gothic. Now let's make everything in course. We have 8 songs. The basis of the album's musical identity lies on the moors (or the unmoors? ;) - ed.) of Swedish death metal with blackish vocal (sometimes reminding of those of Dark Tranquillity from, say, 'The Mind's I'). But don't you lads think that everything just reminds of something else, it's not the case. The music is 'beautiful' if this epithet is in place for death metal. Every song on the record somehow has a different shade of metal itself - some are more death-like ('Self -Invoked'), some are more of black stuff ('Tellurian Crown', 'Torchbearer'), and well things like that, you know. And then it was time for the dessert. After listening to the first 4 tracks, frankly speaking, I was positive that the rest of the CD would be the same (usual for the genre), BUT(t) the fifth song ('Final State, Part II (Last Entry)') fragging fragged my head to frags. An excellent, awesome track with clean vocals that shows the guys are not just a bunch of die-hard noise killers. The song is like a breathing space before the final battle, like a beautiful plain among the wastelands, to be followed by 'Thrown Off the Scent' that almost killed me with a violin & acoustic guitars intro transcending into the most ugly and brutal form of death. A very good record from a band that plays heaps better and diverse music than the likes of 'In Flames' and the above-mentioned 'Dark Tranquillity'. The CD is excellently produced and mixed (though that's normal for Abyss Studios). I'm marking UNMOORED with only 4 'cause although this is very good still it's not really excellent yet, but pretty close to it. (Felix da Katt)

1/5
VARIOUS ARTISTS
Tribute to Kreator (part 1)
2000
Full Moon Productions
Death/Grind
I have never written a negative review. I think I'll manage it. After listening to the CD I've got a feeling that there would always be people who listen to the most lunatic kind of metal - black/death/grind in its worse representation. I can't say that all death/grind acts are disgusting. Take Lock-Up for example - they are fragtastic. I mean of course tastes differ - some people prefer melancholic gothic metal, some - true'n evil black.. OK. It's understandable, but in my opinion there's absolutely no need whatsoever in releasing tributes of metal legends (such as, in this case, Kreator) consisting of a load of bullocks. I'll repeat myself - if you make a cover version you should think how to improve or may be even to perfect the song (or else, on the contrary mutilate it beyond any reasonable recognition). The bands represented on the CD just re-sing the songs from the first albums of Mille & Co., having probably chosen them according to the titles. Now let's have a look at the CD a bit more precisely. Let's name all the 'heroes': Black Witchery, Krisiun, Centinex, Goddess of Desire, Angelcorpse, Pazuzu, Mystifier, Hemlock and Acheron. All of the songs were played something like three times faster than the original ones. If you haven't listened to Kreator before you should never listen to this tribute! Half of the songs are recognizably Kreatorish (Black Witchery 'Tormentor', Goddess of Desire 'Under the Guillotine' etc.), but the rest of it Geez! The only track that I enjoyed was 'Storm of the Beast' made by Mystifier. It IS interesting and catchy - two different vocal types, head-blown-away solos and excellent black metal. It is worthless to describe the rest of the album. One fist and only for the Mystifier guys. (Felix da Katt)

3+/5
VONDUR
The Galactic Rock'n'Roll Empire
2000
Necropolis records
true and evil rock'n'roll?

Ahem, just what in the heck is this supposed to mean? The cover of the album features a blurred Confederate-banner in the background, a burning inverted cross and the name of the album written in the famous Star Wars titles style. All of that topped with a late gothic-charactered logo. Well, you just wait a bloody minute, it is the insides of this beautiful red-blue-yellow package that we're here for. See folks, the album, was in the black/death department when I was buying it Now imagine my sheer surprise when I started browsing through its track-listing (it is worth the space to let you know exactly how it goes): Kill Everyone, You Don't Move Me (I Don't Give a Fuck), Rocka Rolla, Red Hot, Love Me Tender, Panzer Legions of Vondur, and The Raven's Eyes Are As Mirrors on the Bottom of Satan's Black Halls, - now that is surely a treat. After all, the producer of the album explains a fair deal of this - Peter Tagtgren. Ye gods, that's him alright! OK, so what are we in for with them starters - basically a huge phat lump of true and evil black metal with one helluva rock'n'roll attitude, and (hopefully at least) a good deal of irony as well. The LP snaps off with an extremely fast and equally silly song named Kill Everyone, which (in my opinions) was largely inspired by TypeO's Kill All the White People (Then We'll Be Free). This is followed by an up-beat You Don't Move Me, which sounds pretty much as if Darkthrone would have all of a sudden decided to bang down some boogie. Then go the two all time classics from Judas Priest and Motley Crue, only to be continued by the most painful ever version of what is by many considered to be one of the King's best love songs. Oh blimey, this wasn't even funny! It is simply too fast, period. The velocity reaches an extent that puts the song beyond any reasonable recognition. I mean, when I heard Venus played by Holland's Kuntaut Cult, that one was fast too, but still recognisable. Anyhows, luckily enough this musical torture comes to a natural end and so does the CD, that is concluded to what looks to me as a nice parody of Marduk and the infamous long-song-title-makers Bal-Sagoth. All in all, this is the type of the CD, which you either might like or hate, but both a lot. In any case the running time is only about 25 minutes (by my rough estimates) so it will not get you bored. Actually, I think, this is pretty cool. (Troll)


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