Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Throes - "12 Before 9"

The Throes - 12 Before 9
1995, Rode Dog

1. So Controversial
2. Circles of the Wheel
3. It Bothers Me
4. Mess With Me
5. Words
6. 12 Before 9
7. Confidence Man
8. Reckless Feeling
9. We'll Breathe
10. Stunned
11. So Controversial (reprise)
12. - blank track-
13. C Is For Cookie
14. Words (reprise)
15. Bye-bye

I have some pretty vivid memories of this album. I remember it was spring...around Memorial Day, I think. I remember that I was really having problems sleeping during this period in my life. I'd stayed up most of the night playing Super Metroid. Anyway, I remember my impression of this album being... not very great. I remember thinking it didn't really "sound" like The Throes. I don't know why I felt this way. I also remember that I thought "Words" and "C Is For Cookie" were the best songs on here. So what do I think of this today? Well, I do enjoy it a little more than I did then, but it's never going to be as good as the first two albums. I still hold to the opinion that "Words" is the best track. I think the band agrees with me because it's on here twice. "Reckless Feeling" is about sex. I think the band was trying to court a little controversy because of it and the other song, "So Controversial." Though I don't think there was really very much actual controversy. Definitely not my favorite Throes disc by a long shot. Not as terrible as I thought when I was a teen, but not super great either.

Useless Fact: The band shrinks back down to a three-piece band after being a five-piece band for Fall On Your World. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Xandria - "Theater of Dimensions"

Xandria - Theater of Dimensions
2017, Napalm

1. Where the Heart is Home
2. Death to the Holy
3. Forsaken Love
4. Call of Destiny
5. We Are Murderers (We Are)
6. Dark Night of the Soul
7. When the Walls Came Down (Heartache Was Born)
8. Ship of Doom
9. Ceili
10. Song For Sorrow and Woe
11. Burn Me
12. Queen of Hearts Reborn
13. Theater of Dimensions

1. Call of Destiny (Acoustic)
2. Dark Night of the Soul (Acoustic)
3. In Remembrance (Acoustic)
4. Sweet Atonement (Acoustic)
5. Valentine (Acoustic)

Theater of Dimensions wasn't really on my radar when it came out. Mostly because, while I liked Sacrificium okay it didn't really hit the heights of Neverworld's End. In the end, I listened to samples and decided I would check it out. I'm so glad I did! I can honestly say that this album is a contender for favorite album I've heard so far. Yes, equaling or possibly surpassing the mighty Neverworld's End. I think the songs here are far more engaging and exciting than on the previous album. Each has its own character and a great hook to hang your brain on. Dianne's vocals are amazing - switching from operatic Valkyrie to soft and sensitive to rock goddess on a dime. I think this is also the heaviest album I've heard as "We Are Murderers (We Are)" has a couple sections that are almost death metal. They've still retained some of the Celtic influence on tracks like "Death to the Holy," "Ship of Doom," and "Ceili."

I originally thought this was a concept album but as it turns out it's just the title track. It's an epic 13-minute long epic about a young woman, time travel, and an evil overlord. It's pretty good as well. My version is the deluxe edition with a second disc full of acoustic versions of an assortment of tracks. These renditions are beautiful and really show off how great a singer Dianne van Giersbergen is. I wouldn't say they were essential, but they're a great epilogue to a great disc. One of the first great new releases of 2017!

Useless Fact: This album has some guest vocalists: Bjorn Strid of Soilwork, Ross Thompson of Van Canto, Zaher Zorgati of Myrath and Henning Basse of Firewind. Yeah... I've never heard of those bands either. Though I may have to check them out now.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Jet Circus - "No Mercy For the Living Dead" (Demo)

Jet Circus - No Mercy For the Living Dead
1992, Never released

1. Never
2. Motorcycle Mama
3. No Mercy
4. Get In Line or Step Aside
5. Shine
6. Landslide
7. Paradise
8. Honey Pie
9. Delilah
10. Welcome Home

Well, well, well... I finally got it. The mysterious, elusive, REAL second album from Jet Circus. How did I acquire such an animal? Well, it involved a lot of cloak & dagger shenanigans. Overseas accounts. Calls to international diplomats. It was a real 007 operation - but I've got it. And it's.... pretty good, actually! Just hearing Terry singing again filled me with joy. This actually sounds like Jet Circus in a way that Look at Death Now just didn't. I'm still not sure why this wasn't ever released. The rumor mill states that the record company (Wonderland, I believe) was giving them a hard time about it. That's probably because the lyrics on this album are not nearly as overtly religious as Step On It. That's not a problem for me, but back in the day I can see a Christian record exec being a little cagey about lyrics like, "Would you mind if I touched your breast/Kissed your lips and forgot the rest?" (from "Motorcycle Mama"). Granted the song isn't what it might seem just from that line but you can guarantee that people would have gotten their panties all in a twist about it. Also, the sound of this album is just a bit more experimental than the last. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of that deliciously fuzzy guitar and bass. However, there's also a lot more programmed beats and electronic pop noises. Oh, and "Honey Pie" is a straight-up bluegrass song. Love it. Seriously. I want Steam Powered Giraffe to cover it. "Paradise" is the album's lone ballad and it's kind of boring - though there is some sweet bass lines in it. It's also probably the most "Christian" song on the album. I think that if this had come out in '92 or whenever I probably would have loved it. I really wish the guys would get back together and finish this for old time's sake. Definitely worth hearing if you get a chance to!

Useless Fact: I guess there's also a second version of Step On It with three members in the band and live drums. I will have to check that out as well.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Extreme - "Pornograffitti"

Extreme - Pornograffitti
1990/2015, A&M

1. Decadence Dance
2. Li'l Jack Horny
3. When I'm President
4. Get the Funk Out
5. More Than Words
6. Money (In God We Trust)
7. It ('s A Monster)
8. Pornograffitti
9 When I First Kissed You
10. Suzi (Wants Her All Day What?)
11. He-Man Woman Hater
12. Song For Love
13. Hole Hearted

1. More Than Words (Remix)
2. Nice Place To Visit
3. More Than Words (Edit)
4. Decadence Dance (Edit)
5. Money (In God We Trust) (Edit)
6. More Than Words (Non Percussion Version)
7. Get The Funk Out (What the Funk? Mix)
8. More Than Words (A Capella with Congas)
9. Get the Funk Out (12" Remix)
10. Sex N' Love

I wasn't a huge fan of Extreme when they first came out. Not sure why other than I was in that "can only listen to Christian music" phase. However, I got it into my head that I needed to hear this whole album because I really like "Hole Hearted." The rest of the album doesn't quite sound like that... it's a lot heavier for one, but it's just as good. The highlight is the guitar work of Nuno Bettencourt. He is one of those guitar talents that is so comfortable with the instrument that it's impossible for him to do something that's not interesting. There's the main riff, then he dances and fills around it like the crazy virtuoso he is. You've also got Gary Cheron's vocals which are also top notch. I guess what I'm saying is that I was a fool to not listen to this back in the day. It's an excellent example of guitar-centered pop rock from that era.

The album is kind of a loose concept record dealing with finding real love in a sex-obsessed world. This is the 25th anniversary edition of this album with an extra disc and liner notes which detail the conception and recording of the album. There's no lyrics though. Ugh! Oh well...

Useless Fact: According to the extensive liner notes in this reissue, Bettencourt did a lot of his songwriting on the toilet.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

One Bad Pig - "Love You To Death"

One Bad Pig - Love You To Death
2016, Porky's Demise

1. Love You To Death
2. What Does the Fool Say?
3. The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes, and the Pride of Life
4. Get Your Hands Dirty (ft. Les Carlson)
5. Footwashin'
6. Sunday Skool Rawk
7. Teenage Royalty
8. Heads Will Roll
9. It's Not Pig Latin (Itsay Otnay)
10. Judgement Stick
11. Straitjacket
12. Ben Moors
13. Red, White, or Blue (Color Me)
14. Tumbleweed
15. OMG

So you're looking at this probably wondering the same thing I wondered when I say it: Who the heck is Mitch Connell?! Answer: someone with more disposable income than me! But seriously, this was a Kickstarter funded album and one of the rewards was to have the donor's name on the cover. So there it is! Mitch Connell! Question is, of course, after all these years does the pig still have much of an oink left? Yeah... pretty much I'd say. In terms of style it's pretty similar to what the guys were doing in their heyday. Of note is the cover of The 77's "The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes, and the Pride of Life" and the medley of Sunday school tunes - "Sunday Skool Rawk." Also, Les Carlson lends some guest vocals to "Get Your Hands Dirty" and his vocals are always great. Though I confess this one had to grow on me a little and I only really "got it" the other day listening to it at work. Also, I know that another Kickstarter reward was to have a song written for you, but "Ben Moors" is definitely the weakest song here. Other than that I think if you like OBP, you'll like this though I don't think it reaches quite the legendary heights of their past discography.

Useless Fact: Just a heads up, "OMG" stands for On a Mission from God... y'know... in case that was gonna keep you up at night.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

HammerFall - "Built To Last"

HammerFall - Built To Last
2016, Napalm

1. Bring It!
2. Hammer High
3. The Sacred Vow
4. Dethrone and Defy
5. Twilight Princess
6. Stormbreaker
7. Built To Last
8. The Star of Home
9. New Breed
10. Second To None

Hammerfall kind of remind me of a metal version of AC/DC or Enya - performers that know their thing and pretty much stick to it. There is nothing wrong with this, especially if it keeps resulting in good music. Built To Last is straight-up, no nonsense, traditional heavy metal. If you like heavy metal and/or Hammerfall, you'll like this. Though I think I might slightly prefer the previous album over this one.

Useless Fact: Is "Twilight Princess" a Zelda reference? I don't know... I'm going to say it is even though the lyrics don't have anything to do with the game.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Petra - "Beyond Belief"

Petra - Beyond Belief
1990, Word

1. Armed and Dangerous
2. I Am on the Rock
3. Creed
4. Beyond Belief
5. Love
6. Underground
7. Seen and Not Heard
8. Last Daze
9. What's In a Name
10. Prayer

Beyond Belief is, without a doubt, Petra's biggest, most successful album. This was the peak of the John Schlitt years, for sure. It's a monster album and it still holds up today. Heck, even the theology holds up today (except for maybe "Underground"). It's a classic, hard rock masterpiece and there's not much else to say about it. I loved it then, I still love it today.

So I've talked about the Beyond Belief video and poked fun at it for they guy going on the missions trip and it's the best thing ever and blah blah blah. I guess there's a little bit more to the movie than that. The kid's friend gets in a wreck, he has a crisis of faith, resolves it... THEN the missions trip. Anyway, I haven't watched the entire movie in years, this was gleaned from the music videos I pulled up on You Tube one night.

Useless Fact: During this time, drummer Louie Weaver had this thing with Mickey Mouse. It was on his clothes, his drums... he always had something Mickey Mouse around. I have no idea why. Anyone know?