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

Grade Scale adopted at Troll's Independent (starting from the lowest)

1 - Plop
2 - Hand-grenade
3 - Heavy-duty Shell
4 - Nuclear Explosion
5 - Troll-fart!!!

5/5
AEROSMITH
Just Push Play
2000
Columbia
glam/rock'n'roll

Man, has it been a while since we last heard from Steven Tyler and Co., these tyrannosauruses of the US glam-rock. What was it 1997? Just about right, four years of long wait for the army of their fans all around the world. So wassup with 'Just Push Play', apart from the pinkish cover featuring a fantasy picture by the all-too-known and popular Saroyama and the fact that it is the first ever Aerosmith record to be produced by the band member, namely Tyler and Perry. Well, those of you who'd already had a chance to check out the hot 'Jaded' video should know pretty much what they're in for. Aerosmith are Aerosmith, and their fresh album is no exception. What always amazed me about the band is their ability not to record bad songs, they aren't necessarily all hits (although those have always been abundant, and, again, on this record too) but they simply don't have bad songs. Ever. And although, it is hard to top their infamous 1992 'Get a Grip' album (and, frankly speaking, I doubt they will ever manage to), 'Just Push Play' entirely stands the chance of becoming second-best to it, for it just has about everything you'd expect and wish to see and hear from the band - beautiful ballads 'Fly Away From Here' and 'Luv Lies', the funky 'Outta Your Head', and the groovy road-blues hotshots 'Just Push Play' and 'Trip-Hoppin'.' It's got the flava, it's got great hooks, it's got a feeling about it, it's got great melodies and riffs, and of course, the wise-ass lyrics, Monsignor Tyler is so famous for, are also there. Satan does not have all the best tunes - Aerosmith stole'em from the bugger. (Troll)

5/5
AMORPHIS
Am Universum
2001
Nuclear Blast
rock
OK, let's make one thing clear from the very beginning, this album is not metal and has not really got anything to do with what is generally referred to extreme music, no way. Call it what you will - pop-metal, gothic-rock or whatever is the definition that would seem most appropriate to you personally, it doesn't matter really. What did surprise me with 'Am Universum' however, and that's what I'd been hearing from most of the people who heard the album, is its instant recognisibleness (whatever you spell it ;) as an Amorphis album. I mean I haven't heard anything by this band since 'Elegy' (and that was bloody 1996) and I still wouldn't have mixed it with any other band. Amazingly, while having completely changed their stylistic and genre preferences and accents, the Finns have managed to stay themselves, maintaining their own unique identity, which made them their name on their breakthrough release 'Tales from a 1,000 Lakes.' Another thing, which startled me about this new record, is that seeming poppishness aside, it is still pretty heavy - I mean there's lots of distorted guitars and good riffs, there's the groove to each (or almost each) of the songs, and the vocals, although not growling certainly, are still definitely metal. In fact it does remind a lot of the already mentioned 'Elegy' album, with its trademark keyboards and melodic harmonies. The best tracks, imho, are the opening 'Alone,' 'Goddess (of the Sad Man),' and the beautiful and melancholic 'Veil of Sin,' although, I have to say, the whole album is excellent. (Troll)

5/5
AMORPHIS
Am Universum
2001
Nuclear Blast
gothic rock/metal
Everything changes in the world of heavy music and it only takes a few years for a once-brutal and roaring death metal band to evolve into a mellow gothic rock outfit with clean vocals. This is not a bad thing by itself, but such transformation does not necessarily mean musical progress. Finland's Amorphis are a good example of that. I have been a great fan of Amorphis since their 1994's masterpiece "Tales From The Thousand Lakes" and would rate each of their following albums at five fists, but not this one. I just don't see any progress in "Am Universum" if compared to its predecessor "Tuonela". It's the same mellow and gloomy gothic rock/metal with melancholic lyrics and singing. This combination worked great on "Tuonela", but this particular release sounds a bit tired an repetitive, and electronic background and some structures bring out similarities with Paradise Lost's "Believe In Nothing". Of course, the band didn't do it intentionally, as the two records were released in only a month's interval, but the similarities are still apparent. "Am Universum" is still a good record that is worth buying, and some songs are killer - check out "Alone", "Veil Of Sin" and "Captured State" - but this is not a groundbreaking release I was expecting from Amorphis. (Maniac)

5/5
APOCALYPTICA
Cult
2000
Mercury Records
music of mad cellos
"Really you can't play a cello like this, it's unnatural," some would say. Natural or not, the four cellist created a great record that cannot be classified as anything else but heavy metal. Using no guitars, basses or keyboards, only cellos and occasional orchestra and percussion, Apocalyptica play heavier and more aggressive than most "true" metal bands do. Don't mistake their compositions for a wall of assorted noises, it is music, and moreover, well structured and melodic one. I was expecting the CD with a lot of nervousness, as the Finns suddenly turned from rearranging covers of Metallica and other metal stars to writing their own songs. I liked what they composed on the previous CD "Inquisition Symphony," but the whole album of original material seemed too much for me. Guess what? I enjoyed it even more than Apocalyptica's previous two albums for it has less cello shrieks, which sometimes appeared on the quartet's earlier works, and more music. And fans of cover versions will get their piece of pie listening to the three final tracks on "Cult" - Edward Grieg's "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" and (of course!) Metallica's "Until It Sleeps" and "Fight Fire With Fire". As to original compositions, my favourite are slow tunes "Romance" and "Koma", as well as bonecrushers "Path" and "Hyperventilation". "Cult" is one of the very few records that can appeal to fans of all types of heavy music ranging from AOR to grindcore. Check it out everybody. (Maniac)

5/5
AVANTASIA
Avantasia
2001
AFM Records

epic power metal
After one of the worst disappointments of my life that Edguy's "Theater Of Salvation" had given me, I wasn't expecting much from Tobias Sammet. Nevertheless, this wunderkind of German power metal surprised everyone once again with his first solo effort - nothing less than a metal opera performed by the world's leading singers and instrumentalists in the genres of power and heavy metal. The list of performers alone (Kai Hansen, Markus Grosskopf, Andre Matos, David DeFeis: enough?) makes the album worthy of five fists, but the music that these guys created makes almost any other concept album fade into oblivion. Symphonic and acoustic interludes aside, "Avantasia" consists of all-out power metal hymns of the highest class possible and if you're into heavy or power this is a definite must. The only record that Tobias failed to overcome and the one with which it will be compared the most is Ayreon's mighty debut "The Final Experiment". What makes Ayreon a height not yet reached by Tobias is the variety of vocal styles which made every singer recognisable, and that's what Avantasia lacks - you can't really tell Ernie (this is none else that Michael Kiske) from Tobias and several other singers without the lyrics sheet. But who cares, after all - this record would have kicked ass even if it was sung by Sammet alone. With the songs like "Reach Out For The Light" and "Avantasia" on your CD, you can't really go wrong. A masterpiece and definitely one of the highlights of 2001. (Maniac)

5-/5
CATHARSIS
Dea
2001
Irond Records
neoclassic power

I was waiting for this CD to be released with great anticipation, and when it was finally out there was no stopping me from going to the CD store and buying it. It took one of Russian metal's brightest hopes 1.5 years to release the follow-up to their 20-minute masterpiece "Febris Erotica", and I was really expecting something to blow me away. However when I found out that the disc lasts only 37 minutes and that the band's been playing live three out of seven tracks featured on "Dea" for all these 1.5 years, I felt that something was not right. The feeling became stronger as I listened to the first track off the CD, "Igni At Ferro", for it was very similar to what I heard on "Febris Erotica". Nevertheless, with the beginning of the second track, the beautiful instrumental "Trip Into Elysium", I forgot about everything. Great music, unforgettable melodies, powerful hi-pitched vocals, tons of keyboards - neoclassic power metal at its best. Following tunes were even better and by the end of the record I was just sitting there thinking 'How the hell did they do it?' Lengthy or not, new or not, it is a great record that everyone should check out. It's really a pity that Catharsis are only famous in the Russian metal underground, for they deserve international recognition. Definitely one of the best Russian metal albums this year. (Maniac)
P.S. Still half a point out for the album's short duration - we want more!!!

5/5
DELIRIUM TREMENS
Violent Mosh Ground
2000
demo
ol' school thrash
Hot out of the vast plains of Germany this sick-ass quartet is a sure treat for all those who still remember what thrash metal actually stands for. The undoubted musical professionalism combined with a fair deal of self-irony makes this demo one of the best 2K debuts in the department, at least of what I've heard that is. It's all about turbo-powered riffage, hysterical but yet aggressive screams in the vein of early Destruction, and the drum-work that makes the likes of Dave Lombardo look like first-year straight-E students. The madman double-kicks the living begeezuz out of his kit to the point when one starts wondering whether he actually knows how to play without the break-beats. I mean he looks like the idea of playing slower simply never occurred to him. ;) Like what for? Speed is what these guys are good at, and they know it pretty damn well and put the best out of it. All of the 13 tracks gathered on this CD are absolute hits, and you'd have a real hard time to find any standouts. Besides, I mean not actually creating something unprecedented music-wise these guys play the way no one else plays nowadays. Move over wimp-ass poser fakes, the Goths are coming over and they are about to take care of business in their own way! Killer! (Troll)
P.S. Check out the last two tracks - I lost the count of pieces from other bands I heard there - I am positive there was some Slayer, S.O.D., and probably Metallica, but it might be more. Check'em out!

4/5
EXCITER
Blood Of Tyrants
2000
Osmose Productions
US-style speed
What's intriguing about Exciter is that you never know what to expect from them. Their music does not change, but the quality of their records varies immensely. Their classic albums of the 80s never particularly appealed to me. Then came 1992's "Kill After Kill" which almost smashed me against the wall with pure energy and aggression. "The Dark Command" issued five years later was critically acclaimed, but I thought it was very monotonous and the vocals did not fit into the music at all. Let me say at once that "Blood Of Tyrants" is much better than that. The first thing that surprised me is militarised lyrics. Just check out song titles - "Martial Law", "Weapons Of Mass Destruction", "Intruders". Unlike many younger bands, Exciter don't look like novices in this sphere and their lyrics are much wiser than those of trigger-happy teenagers playing so-called "war metal." As to the music, it is heavier than ever. Full-speed Armageddon comes to your house as soon as you hear the first song on this CD, my personal favourite "Metal Crusaders". Some songs are mid-tempo, but no less heavy. Mind you, however, that we are talking US-style speed metal, which means that melodies are not always welcome here. Fans of Helloween and Hammerfall may be gravely disappointed by this record, saying Exciter sacrifice music for heaviness. Despite that, I had a great time listening to "Blood of Tyrants". Melodies? Who needs melodies? Just bang your head cuz metal crusaders are in town. (Maniac)

3-/5
FEAR FACTORY
Digimortal
2001
Roadrunner Records
electronic nu-metal
Check it out, Beavis, that's pretty cool. These guys, like, err got this pretty cool riff and stuff and it like rocks and they like been playing this riff since 1995 huh-huh-huh they are like pretty tough or something I said tough, cool huh-huh. Yes, I know, imitating Beavis and Butthead in a heavy music review shows a simple lack of creativeness, but, whoever said everyone's gotta be creative? Well, if somebody did, it surely were not the Fear Factory guys. Like, why worry? Everyone's gonna eat this up anyway, so what's the point in working one's anus off? It's not that I am saying this is bad, it's got a vibe to it, and a groove, and this is one hell of a record from any point of view, aside from the fact that it is just a little too old. They say, that usually it is the third album which cranks things up, well, funny you should mention it though, 'cause should we forget the technical approach and follow the logic this is their third CD. Let me elaborate, the debut 'Soul of a New Machine' (my favourite by this band, by the way) was done in a different key, than all of its followers, cause it had much less industrial and samples to it, which means we can scratch it off. It's like Pantera's 'Power Metal' - everyone knows about it, but it doesn't count anyway. So, this leaves us with four LPs. Then, take out 'Remanufacture', because it has just been a bunch of remixes and alternative versions, and what your left with makes 'Digimortal' the third album. Now, with that in mind my forecast is pretty bad, though - these dudes gotta do something about their music, because this might actually be their very last chance to grab the stick and pull themselves out of the swamp they have so effectively dived into. Or else Dino Cazares will soon become an extinct Dinocasaurus, once a famous guitarist and porn star ;) and now just a guitar looser who was simply too lazy to come up with something new. Three minus - I know they can do lots better than this. (Troll)


5/5
FINNTROLL
Jaktens Tid
2001
Spinefarm
folk metal/humppa black
Howdyz! The hairy long-eared big-nosed bastards un-bury the hatchet again to show them pathetic two-legged leaches who is the true master of this planet. Argh, dammit, you, humans, just don't know who this planet belongs to, do you?! You think yerself the cream of the crop, the golden section, the masterpiece of gudd's creativity. Well, the Finnish milk-lover squad is just about to show you where you're wrong. When they first erupted from the dark and thick woods of Suomi-land back in 1999 no one could have actually foreseen how fast these dudes would progress in all aspects. True, their debut was real good, damn good to be honest, but however, to me it sounded just a little bit unfinished. There was a certain lack of consistency to it, save for all the killer melodies and a smash-shit-up attitude. With their new spawn now unleashed, Finntroll leave you no second chance really. The boiling beer- (and, no doubt, milk) fueled energy of their bouncey-bouncey tunes is so unbelievably sincere and fabulously funny, that one simply cannot resist the tickling urge to start hopping along with the record. Not being that particularly evil or aggressive in any respect, these Finns are somehow extremely convincing in what they are doing, and their enormous potential both as performers and composers alike really makes them one of the best things to have appeared in-between the centuries. Their unique combination of somewhat boogie-like distorted guitars and traditional harmonicas and other folk instruments is nothing but amazing, making this CD an truly enjoyable and fun listen. And Says what? hey, what do you mean, I overplay in my praises?! Those are my homies after all, eh?! ;)
P.S. Most recommendable tunes: Fodosagan, Slaget vid Blodsalv, Jaktens Tid and, surely, Kyrkovisan - die, humies, die! :) (Troll)

4/5
THE FORSAKEN
Manifest of Hate
2001
Century Media
death
Surprisingly good, this one is. At least surprisingly good for being Swedish school of death metal, which Ive never particularly enjoyed, and even more surprisingly good for a Tommy-Tagtgren-produced record. Thanks (not) to their unprecedented and no less inexplicable popularity among the bands and label managers the Tagtgren brothers have already become a cause of a headache for many a review writer, I spose, largely because most of their albums sound so identical sif theyd been recorded by one and the same band. Not really that bad, the bulk of them is simply so alike that one cannot really put your finger to where to start from, and the temptation to cut the review down to a laconic another Tagtgren-made piece of Swedish death metal brutality is nearly irresistible. Well, luckily the album were talking about at the moment is a nice (not) exception out of this sad axiom. While being on the one hand, a totally Swedish death metal record, with all of them textbook moves and traits, like melodic yet heavy guitar riffs, screamish growling, and all the other, on the other hand, Manifest of Hate has quite enough guts to make it a standout. First and foremost, it is very groovy and rhythmic (a side more typical to American bands rather than European), it has a lot of thrash metal to it too, it has the aggression and power (undoubtedly) and is in general one hell of a good album. It does not have any hits either, but thats a second matter already. Yet, all of the tracks are really high-quality, catchy, and often boast an influence of such legendary Florida acts as Death, Deicide, and Morbid Angel. The solo-work of axe-men Stefan Holm and Patrik Persson makes the record very diverse and interesting to dig into, while the solid drum-and-bass beat, makes it an easy and pleasing (not) listen. Extremely recommendable work. (Troll)

5/5
FREEDOM CALL
Crystal Empire
2001
Steamhammer
power/speed
Looking for a rising power metal star? Look no further! With the line-up featuring Daniel Zimmerman (Gamma Ray) and Chris Bay (Moon'Doc) and the music being a combination of Gamma Ray and Rhapsody, Freedom Call are bound for success. The band's first effort, "Stairway To Fairyland", was quite typical for a German power band, but their sophomore record turns out to be much more interesting. Keeping all the ingredients of their debut, Freedom Call managed to make a huge step forward on the way to the power metal throne, and if they continue like this, their next release may turn them into a new Edguy or Rhapsody. Power metal at its best with tonnes of classic riffs and melodies, Dan Zimmermann's trademark drums, occasional epic keyboards and high-quality vocals. Lyrically-wise, it's the continuation of a fantasy saga started on the first record, and even though I'm not a fan of all that fantasy stuff, I cannot but note that the lyrics are written in good English - in a time when very few bands pay real attention to what they are singing it is an extra bonus for Freedom Call. Just check out the tunes like "Freedom Call", "Quest", "The Wanderer" and, damn it, the rest of the record. It's well worth everything you've paid for it.(Maniac)

5/5
HAVAYOTH
His Creation Reversed
2000
Hammerheart
gothic rock

Well, well, Troll's favourite death metal label Hammerheart goes beyond its regular repertoire limits. Havayoth has nothing to do with death, it's something very different. With Vintersorg, Mad Morgan (Naglfar) and Vargher (Bewitched) in the line-up, you would rather expect Havayoth to go black or retro thrash, but what they play is gothic rock. And a great gothic rock that is! This guy Vintersorg just keeps surprising me. He has an incredible number of projects (at least four), and all of them are superb and each is different from the rest. Havayoth's music is deeply rooted in gothic rock but it is much more atmospheric than what monsters of the genre, say, Sisters of Mercy, are doing. Their songs are long and melancholic, but not at all depressing, and the overall mood is rather light than heavy. This music makes me thing of distant galaxies, bottomless depths of outer space, superhuman intellect watching the mankind and other things beyond my understanding. I guess the closest analogue here would be Pink Floyd's classic "Wish You Were Here", though "His Creation Reversed" is much heavier and darker. Programmed drums fit the band's compositions nicely, and the same is true for the almost synth-pop chorus in "The Watcher", my favourite tune on the record. A melancholic gothic rock masterpiece, no less than that. (Maniac)


4/5
MARDUK
La Grande Danse Macabre
2000
Regain Records/Blooddawn Productions
black death
Unexpectedly listenable and surprisingly good this one turned out to be, I have to say. This already being a well, whatever album of the god-raping Swedes, I didn't really anticipate to find anything out of the ordinary on 'La Grande Danse Macabre.' But it's nice to be mistaken every once in a while, and it is even more encouraging to find a band which has the guts to change its style (although it is hardly a drastic change, to be frank, but nonetheless) and come up with something new, for them at least. For me the name Marduk has always been associated with uncompromising narrow-paved true-and-evil black metal, professionally performed but totally useless from the aesthetic point. Many of my, probably, more far-sighted colleagues did find some allegedly strong influences of death metal yet on their 'Nightwing' album, which was a few yeas ago, but I couldn't have put my finger to what exactly they referred after listening to that release twice in a row. But, seasons change, and now I can hear death metal blistering through the band's music even with my stony ears. Well, the two major changes which surface immediately are the slowdown in speed and a more distinctive mixing, which, has naturally benefited the album, sharpening its already pretty heavy blade. No keyboards, no symphonic bullshit, no clean vocals - just 50 minutes of the most brutal and aggressive metal to appear this side of the oblivion. My absolute personal best on the album would most probably be the title-track 'La Grande Danse Macabre', although I do have to admit that it's all bloody worth it. Well, finally these dudes have understood that you can have both a neat mix of your music and still remain pretty fucking heavy and true. (Troll)

4/5
LABYRINTH
Sons Of Thunder
2000
Metal Blade
Italian-style power meta
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With "Sons Of Thunder", Labyrinth's third record, Olaf Thorsen, Rob Tyrant and company proved once again that they belong to the elite of Italian power metal. Though not as symphonic and bombastic as Rhapsdoy, Labyrinth are heavier and no less epic, and their compositions sometimes border on progressive metal ("Behind The Mask" is a good example). Rob Tyrant's voice is as strong and impressive as it was on the band's previous CD, "Return To Heaven Denied", and the guitarists are also great. I've heard many people slagging off the album's sound quality, but I don't see any troubles with it, except for the fact that the vocals are somewhat in the background. Anyway, if you are not a hi-fi addict, you'll have no problems enjoying the record. In addition to raging power metal attacks, there is even a ballad, and a rather unusual one, called "Love". Labyrinth's only problem is that they cannot beat their debut record "No Limits". A good CD, power metal freaks will certainly enjoy it, but not a classic. (Maniac)
P.S.The album features a cover version of Italian pop band Matia Bazar, a track named "I Feel You", but you will never be able to identify it as a cover if you don't know in advance.

1/5
LEAKH
The Wreckoming
2000
Prophecy Prods.
dark folk
A totally rotten record. I can certainly understand that the vocalist is having a very bad time, but what's worse is that he tries to make the listeners feel the same by torturing their ears with what he calls singing, but what sound rather like a one long moan. Yes, I know, dark folk is not a happy kind of music, but I don't think there is much music in "The Wreckoming". Don't compare it with Sopor Aeturnus, for Anna Varney's songs are not about torture of the soul in the first place, they are about the unknown and mystical. Leakh have mysticism whatsoever and listening to their effort is as nice as looking at a cat being hit by a car. If you are fond of such morbidity, you may dig this record, but let me question your sanity in this case. There is one thing in which the makers of "The Wreckoming" succeeded and that is making the listener feel the way they do. An impressive, but unlistenable achievement. (Maniac)

4/5
NOCTURNAL RITES
Afterlife
2000
Century Media
power metal

Getting heavier has become a trend among power metal bands nowadays. You see, critics tend to slag off power metal for its alleged poppishness and you just have to do something to get away from cliches of the genre. In order to distance themselves from hordes of Hammerfall-wannabes, Nocturnal Rites went as far as kicking off their singer saying his voice was unfit for their new heavier direction. Well, Johnny Lindkvist is the new man behind the mike, and his voice is probably more powerful than that of his predecessor, but I don't really feel that this change was needed. I loved Nocturnal Rites for what I heard on their previous two releases, and "The Secret Talisman", the band's 1998 release, is still my favourite. The new album is good, but its heavier riffs succeed in killing a fair share of melodies, and even though more than a half of the record's ten tracks are obvious hits, it is still a bit weaker than "Secret Talisman". Of course, if Hammerfall's your most hated band you're gonna like "Afterlife" much more than anything that Nocturnal Rites did before, but fans of AOR and melodic hard rock should be cautious to buy this CD. (Maniac)

4/5
OFFSPRING
Want You Bad
(single)
2001
Sony Music
punk
This is an example of how singles should be made. No crappy remixes, outtakes or demo versions that are so close to the original that even musicians themselves fail to differentiate between the two. "Want You Bad" contains the title track taken from Offspring's latest album "Conspiracy Of One", a live rendition of "All I Want" which is quite different from the "Ixnay On The Hombre" version, slower and without backing vocals, as well as two brand new cover versions of punk rock classics - "80 Times" by TSOL and "Autonomous" by Buzzcocks. The title track is in all the charts around the world at the moment, so I don't think I need to provide its detailed description here. As to other tunes, they are high quality Californian punk, very upbeat, very melodic - great, after all. If you expect musical innovations from Offspring you must be crazy. But if you want energy, melodies and lots of fun - this tiny single is just the right thing to give you what you're looking for. 10 minutes of superb punk rock drive and a possibility to get acquainted with obscure punk classics as a bonus. Why four fists? Offspring's got a huge catalogue of similar entertainers, and "Want You Bad" is just one of the crowd. (Maniac)

4/5
ONKEL TOM ANGELRIPPER (fansite)
Ich glaub' nicht an den Weihnachtsmann
2001
Drakkar Records
metal covers of famous Xmas songs
Strange but some German bands have a sort of idee fixe - they're really fond of making covers of folksy Xmas songs. Capricorn and Die Toten Hosen have already made their contribution releasing such albums as "Rockin' around the X-mas tree" and "Warten auf's Christkind". The next in line was Onkel Tom or Tom Angelripper (the former Sodom vocalist). Mr. Angelripper has succeeded greatly covering German beer-songs. Thanks to him the fans all over the world now have a taste of what German "folk" music is. In his latest release Onkel Tom has wandered from the point and tried on the costume of Santa Claus. The composition of the album is rather standard: principally these are German and American New Year and Christmas songs, a couple of tracks composed by Onkel Tom himself and, of course, a medley (a trademark of all the musician's albums). This record has certainly absorbed all the best from the previous Xmas records mentioned above - raw energy, aggressive vocals and a good portion of (German???) humor. The only thing in the album that lets down is that it really could have been a bit more varied. After such a great release as "Ein Strauss bunter Melodien" the new record sounds a little monotonous. The next point that some people (I'm sure there are only few of that kind) may find disappointing is that you still need quite a dose of booze to define all the values of the album. ;) (Big Daddy)

4/5
PARADISE LOST
Believe In Nothing
2001
EMI Records
synth pop/gothic metal
If not for their "Mouth" single put out earlier this year, I would have forgotten that this band still exists. Not because they have not released anything for ages, but because their previous record "Host" was kinda bleak and uncatchy. This one's something different. With "Believe In Nothing" the band returns to a more metal feel in their music, so welcome back heavy guitars and live drumming. At the same time, the electronics remains in its place and Nick Holmes' vocals have become a bit softer and even more deppressing than ever. The result sounds very close to "One Second," Paradise Lost's 1997 groundbreaking record. The only problem is that "One Second" had plenty of hits, while "Believe In Nothing" only contains a few - "Fader", "Sell It To The World" and "Look At Me Now". The rest are very good too, but not hits, and the record gets a bit tiresome after a while. However don't hurry up to bury Paradise Lost, for I believe they still can achieve a lot. Nobody knows what will eventually come out of their experimentation. (Maniac)

5/5
RAVENOUS
Assembled in Blasphemy
2000
Hammerheart Records
death
Ooooooh, baby, do I just love this shit! Hammerheart is definitely becoming like the main death metal label around, and with this latest release of the trends finest Ravenous I am positive they are in for the big hit. I mean, just take a look at the line-up: Chris Reifert (ex-Death, -Autopsy), Killjoy (Necrophagia, Eibon) and Danny Lilker (ex-Anthrax, S.O.D., and Brutal Truth) - these names should say it all. And, hell, they do. The mind-twisting sickness and inhuman spite of this album is just unbelievable. Yet, you better believe it, for it never gets any more real than this. Since the days of its filthy inception somewhere in the sun-blazing heat of USs Florida, death metal has never been that brutal and heavy. I dont mean to say, that this record is unique or even interesting music-wise, quite the opposite, most of the compositions are very simplistic and what they usually refer to as basic, but the vibe of primitive aggression and blood-freezing violence compensates for it all the way through the album. Its like this the nastier the better thing, know what Im saying. The opening Dead, Cut Up, and Ready to Fuck, the title-track Assembled in Blasphemy, and Anointing the Worms are the most genuine representation of what I would describe as the ideological stamina of the genre. Kewl. (Troll)
P.S. Please note, that the mark given to the album above is assigned only and solely for its vibe and the feeling it produces, it is CRAP when it comes to music. ;)

3-/5
SEPULTURA
Nation
2001
Roadrunner Records
triblish nu-metal
Well, here we go - the first candidate for Disappointment 2001 has arrived at the gates, and what a bore he is, man! Whatever in hell has anyone including myself has expected from this album is not there. It's not that this is really that bad a record, after all everything depends on an individual point of view. In fact, this release would have done an enormous credit to any other band, but not the Brazilian quartet, that's for sure. To cut it right through, and save the time for everyone - has any of you out there heard 'Against'? Well, 'Nation' here is the second revision of that one, and it is just exactly as much worse as any secondary product should be as opposed to the original. No nonsense, this one has got some killer tunes popping up every once in a while, like the opening 'Nation' or the bleak and painful 'One Man Army', but when you take a closer look, you realise this band is stuck in self-repetitiveness like a boot in a pile of horse-shit. Same riffs, same patterns, same everything we'd all been hearing for the past several years. And please don't tell me it would have been different had not Max left, it's pointless. Two wrongs do not make a right, reality check, baby. I just don't see what these dudes are trying to aim at. Sad, simply sad, mates, I'd hate to see this shite happen to what once used to be a good band. In fact I'm pretty tired of hearing two talented bands (Soulfly and Sepultura, that is) compete with each other. Does no good to any of them. The way it goes, oh, he's got 'tribe' - let's get bigger, let's make a 'nation'. He's got Tom Araya - let's get Jello Biafra. _So_ _bloody_ _what_ ? Wanna impress me? Forget about each other and concentrate on the music. Fullstop. (Troll)

4/5
SCRUFF
Leben
2000
self-produced
Rammstein meets death metal
The debut album from Germany's Scruff brings forth a fascinating mixture of Rammstein-like vocals and song structures and death-metallish guitar sound. This combination may seem bound to fall into pieces to those who haven't heard the CD, but I was really surprised by the band's ability to mix such different styles smoothly. Despite obvious similarities with Till Liedermann and his combo, especially intensified by German lyrics, Scruff definitely have their own approach to music, and I would even go as far as calling Scruff an original band. Unfortunately, the eight songs on "Leben" are not very different from each other, with the exception of one track in English ("Sign Of The Sun"), but the album's short length (32 minutes) compensates for this shortcoming - the record actually ends earlier than it gets boring. A very promising start. (Maniac)

3-/5
SHALLOW
16 Sunsets In 24 Hours
2000
Rise Above Records
stoner
I still remember how excited I was when I first heard Cathedral's "Soul Sacrifice" EP some six years ago. Not that I fell fan of the record at once, but I could not help noticing that this was something new and fresh, the cornerstone of a new dimension in heavy music. Who would have known that this new dimension would turn out so one-dimensional? Most of present-day stoner bands are almost identical and even experienced listeners are having hard time differentiating between them, and reviewers are forced to wreck their brains to figure out how to describe a new band without using the words he/she has just used in describing the previous band of the genre. As to evaluating this particular band, I guess it's the matter of liking or not liking the whole style. Fans of stoner will definitely dig Shallow, for "16 Sunsets In 24 Hours" has everything that a stoner rock record is required to have. Others are likely to be bewildered and a bit bored. The record is apparently very good, but it is so typical I can't listen to it. 'Well, what do you want from a CD released via Rise Above, the label owned by Cathedral's Lee Dorrian?" A question that's not easy to answer. However I can easily tell you what I don't want from this record and that is another 60 minutes of ordinary music. Warning! This CD is strictly for the fans! (Maniac)

5/5
THE SIGN
Signs Of Life
2000
Frontiers
AOR/progressive
The record label advertises the record as “one of the highlights of the year”. A high hope, given that Frontiers Records takes care of the bands like Praying Mantis and Ten, and fully justified this time. The Sign is a project that features five AOR/hard rock stars that formerly played in Kansas, Zebra and Rainbow, so high-quality producing and playing is guaranteed. No questions about the style either – people like that are hardly expected to go black metal or hip hop. What they are doing is classic AOR, but they mix it with astonishing progressive elements, something I have never heard before. And the songs are great too – keyboardist Michael Mangold’s compositions once found their way in the repertoire of Michael Bolton and even Cher, and what he has written for “Signs of Life” is beyond any criticism. Just check out “Aryon”, “I’m Alive”, “Signs of Life” and, of course, “Nuthin’ But A Heartache”, my favourite and the most upbeat tune of the record. “Signs Of Life” is a must for those who are into hard rock, melodic rock and AOR, but even if you are not melodic rock’s No.1 fan in town, it’s still worth checking out. After all, you don’t get original (and I insist on the band’s originality) AOR records every day, do you? (Maniac)

3/5
THEATRE OF TRAGEDY
Inperspective
2000
Massacre Records
techno
Last time I reviewed a Theatre Of Tragedy record it was pop. Now they unearth a collection of remixes that can only be described as techno. How low can you go, I'm just wondering. OK, what we have here is two tracks earlier available as bonuses on various limited editions of 1998's "Aegis", a remix of "Lorelei", the original also from "Aegis", and three more remixes of the band's earlier songs. The bonus tracks are really nice but then what we hear is pure techno, with almost no growling parts and occasional touches of Liv Kristin's vocals. I have nothing against techno or against mixing metal and electronics but I just feel that Theatre Of Tragedy are doing it the wrong way. Actually I wouldn't call it mixing, it's just abandoning metal and going pop or techno, whatever you call it. "Inperspective" is quite listenable and even a bit better than Theatre of Tragedy's previous effort "Musique", but I really doubt a possibility of ever reviewing their new records. And don't tell me this CD was made to fulfil contract obligations with the band's earlier record company, just listen to what Cradle of Filth did on "Vempire" and compare the quality of the two discs. Contract obligations don't excuse the release of records like "Inperspective" to me. (Maniac)

5/5
THYRANE
The Spirit of Rebellion
2000
Spinefarm
black
God is dead. This blatant manifestation, which was once made by a mad philosopher and which has been exploited by everyone concerned or not ever since, is definitely a perfect opening for this CD - 37+ minutes of highly technical heretical chaos. At first sight, Finland's Thyrane would seem typical representatives of the so-called black metal nouveau, the after-Mayhem decade of identical clones, playing in the vein of today's biggest hype-shots Children of Bodom. This first impression, however, couldn't be further from the truth. I mean, I bought the album only on my second visit to the store, and only after the shopkeeper nearly made me take it, giving his personal guarantees the CD was like nothing I'd heard before. Man, was he right, for the disk has not been really leaving my rack in the past couple of weeks. The conclave of true attitude and superior musicianship found on the 'Spirit of Rebellion' makes this record one of the best black metal releases of the past year. I mean, just exactly how many riffs can one fit into one track? Well, a lot, a bloody lot, as it turns out - death-metal-like rhythm shifts, thrashy bits, heavyish harmionies, nu-metal groove, classic black buzzes and hell-knows what else Add this up to very well timed and placed keyboard parts and the drum-work, which is as exact as a surgeon's scalpel cutting through the cerebral vein letting out a neat stream of blood right into the eyes of the listener, and you'll get the basic idea. It's really hard to point to any standout tracks, but if I was to pick one I'd most likely go for 'Crushing Defeat of the Triune Godhead' a mid-tempo black metal boogie somewhere in between Dissection and AC/DC, with a totally off-the-wall keyboard part. A true masterpiece this is. God is dead. Full-stop. (Troll)

5/5
VINTERSORG
Cosmic Genesis
2000
Napalm Records
viking metal
This record should have been titled “Cosmic Genius”, for it makes obvious that Vintersorg is a true genius and the music he makes is worth outliving even the earth itself, to say nothing of its dwellers. I wonder how the man manages to carry on with his main band Otyg and simultaneously make solo albums of the highest quality you can think of. “Cosmic Genesis” is a true solo thing, it was entirely written by Vintersorg (with the exception of “Rainbow Demon”, a cover version of Uriah Heep) and almost entirely recorded by Vintersorg, with only Matthias Marklund helping on guitars. I was rather surprised by the first couple of tracks, for they are heavier than the previous Vintersorg record “Odermarkens Son”, and black metal screams are more than abundant there. But as the CD played on, the music started to soften a little, just to the extent that I like, and killer tunes kept on coming. “Cosmic Genesis” is Vintersorg’s best album so far and one of the best viking metal releases ever, there’s no doubt about that. Every song is worth attention, but the best are the title track and the above-mentioned Uriah Heep cover. A must! (Maniac)

4/5
WARMEN
Unknown Soldier
2000
Spinefarm
keyboard wizard's benefit
A solo record may be a masterpiece that its author's bandmates somehow neglected. Or it may be a piece of crap that its author's bandmates were too ashamed to perform. "Unknown Soldier" stands somewhere in between. Far from being a masterpiece, it is still worth checking out, for you don't hear such great keyboard playing everyday. Janne Warman is in charge of synthesisers in Children of Bodom, and those who are familiar with their works should know his outstanding abilities. For this record, he asked help from several not-so-well known Finnish musicians, and a plethora of guest stars, including bassist Jari Kainulainen (Stratovarius) and guitarist Roope Latvala (Waltari, Sinergy). Kimberly Goss (Sinergy) did female vocals on two tracks leaving the rest for Janne and his synths. This team produced a speed metal record which reminds me of a cross between Bodom and faster tunes of Stratovarius. Janne plays at the lighting speed and "Unknown Soldier" is worth buying to hear him alone. Unfortunately, such records as easily appreciated as they are forgettable, for the best word to describe this CD would be 'nice'. Not great, not astonishing, not groundbreaking, just nice. However I would like to mention the two tracks that impressed me the most - opening tune "The Evil That Warmen Do" and epic "Warcry Of Salieri". So even if you do not feel like rushing to the store and buying this CD after reading this review, do yourself a favour and check it out somewhere, it deserves attention. (Maniac)

4/5
WHITE SKULL
Public Glory, Secret Agony
2000
Breaker Records
power metal

I've read a lot about this band and when I finally got to listening to it I kinda knew what to expect. The Italian origin pretty much guarantees quality for a power metal band, and White Skull are no exception. They play a traditional, but not very typical for Italians, brand of heavy/power metal with major influences from Warlock in both music and vocals. Representatives of this sub-genre are quite rare on the current metal scene and you don't hear a girl doing high-quality vocals every day either. Federica De Boni has a good voice and she knows how to use it in both raging power metal songs and in ballads. Her musicians are in place either and their competence in handling instruments deserves respect. Everything is good here if not for one problem - the lyrics. Not that they are stupid or something, "Public Glory, Secret Agony" is pretty much a concept record about the fall of the Roman Empire (it is natural for an Italian band to sing of their motherland's history), but they are written in very poor English with lots of grammar mistakes. And the accent - oh my god, why cannot anyone tell this pretty girl that "jackal" is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable and "protector" with the stress on the second one? C'mon, guys, this is your fourth record, it's time to learn some English or hire someone to correct your lyrics. For this matter, only four points so far. (Maniac)

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