Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Iced Earth - "Incorruptible"



Iced Earth - Incorruptible
2017, Century Media

1. Great Heathen Army
2. Black Flag
3. Raven Wing
4. The Veil
5. Seven Headed Whore
6. The Relic (Part 1)
7. Ghost Dance (Awaken the Ancestors)
8. Brothers
9. Defiance
10. Clear the Way (December 13th, 1862)

I've got kind of a weird relationship with Iced Earth. If you'll recall I wasn't wild about their last two albums and only bought them because I was on vacation and bored (though I have re-evaluated Dystopia and really like it now). In fact, I wasn't even going to bother with Incorruptible because I'd figure I'd just get it a year later on whilst on vacation. However, I'd been hearing some really good buzz about this one with some fans saying it was their best since Something Wicked. Which is super high praise. So obviously I didn't wait until I was on vacation and I'm glad I didn't. I don't know what got into Jon Schaeffer and the boys, but man... this album rocks. There's definitely an energy and vibrancy that wasn't there on Plagues of Babylon. Everyone is at the top of their game and not one track could be considered "filler." I especially like the finale, "Clear the Way (December 13th, 1862) - a song about an army in the Civil War. I'm actually considering this as one of my picks for 2017 if that's any indication.

Useless Fact: "Seven Headed Whore" is marked as "explicit"... for the word "whore" I guess because there's no actual vulgarity in the song.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

P.I.D. - "The Chosen Ones"



P.I.D. - The Chosen Ones
1991, Frontline

1. The Chosen Ones (Part 1)
2. Grace
3. Hey Oh
4. The Book
5. Abstruction
6. Authority
7. The Hour of Strong Delusions
8. Victim of the System
9. Yours Truly
10. Get You a Bible (D-Boy Re-mix)
11. Get Under the Blood Stream
12. License 2 Kill
13. 15 Degrees in Detroit
14. Joy Like a River
15. Progression
16. K-Mack the Knife (Soul Fingers)
17. The Chosen Ones (Part 2)
18. Roots
19. 3rd Degree Burns
20. The Chosen Ones (Inst.)

I remember when I originally bought this on tape. I wasn't very impressed. Couldn't tell you why, though. I just didn't like it as much as Back to Back. However, I must report that this is another one of those albums where I just scratch my head and think, "What the heck was wrong with me?!" This album is awesome - better than Back to Back in just about every respect. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this the second time around. The sound on this one is just a touch harder (as with a lot of groups at the time) and a little more mature. They really dig into the social issues on this one. Not that they were every really shy about that, but there's a lot more here about black culture and the struggle African-Americans face in society - definitely messages that need to be heard. I will say the album kind of peters out toward the end with a few instrumental/remix-type tracks (again, quite common for the time). I am so glad I picked this up again!

Useless Fact: The group is now three people with K-Mack who was the DJ, I think. Also, one of the members when to convert to Islam if I didn't say that already.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Minier - "Minier (Retroarchives Edition)"



Minier - Minier (Retroarchives Edition)
1990/2017, Retroactive

1. Do Not Be Deceived
2. The Skeptic
3. Price
4. Killing of the Innocent
5. Prophecy
6. Philosophy of Man
7. The Secret Song
Bonus Tracks:
8. Do Not Be Deceived (Bedroom Demo)
9. Foolish State (Bedroom Demo)
10. Mulligan Barf (Bedroom Demo)
11. Philosophy of Man (Bedroom Demo)
12. Prophecy (Bedroom Demo)
13. Sowing Life (Bedroom Demo)
14. Interview w/ Tempered Steel Radio Show, Part 1
15. Interview w/ Tempered Steel Radio Show, Part 2

I've long wanted a copy of Minier for the vault but it seemed like the original REX edition was too pricey. Especially for only seven songs. Retroactive once again stepped up and released this little gem and gave it a proper reissue. It's got six demo tracks from the bedroom of Greg Minier himself. The quality is rough as is befitting a four-track recording but not unlistenable. They've also included a couple of interviews for posterity's sake. Greg even writes some liner notes to give a little insight into the recording. All in all a pretty good package and definitely recommended if you liked the raw and thrashy original.

Useless Fact: Apparently there was supposed to be a full length "Minier" album, but The Crucified and Applehead both got in the way.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Cooper, Alice - "Paranormal"



Cooper, Alice - Paranormal
2017, Ear Music

DISC ONE:
1. Paranormal
2. Dead Flies
3. Fireball
4. Paranoic Personality
5. Fallen In Love
6. Dynamite Road
7. Private Public Breakdown
8. Holy Water
9. Rats
10. The Sound of A

DISC TWO:
1. Genuine American Girl
2. You and All of Your Friends
3. No More Mr. Nice Guy (Live)
4. Under My Wheels (Live)
5. Billion Dollar Babies (Live)
6. Feed My Frankenstien
7. Only Women Bleed
8. School's Out

I've been wondering when Ol' Alice would put out a new albums. It seems like it's been forever since Welcome 2 My Nightmare. Paranormal is a pretty straightforward album - no concept, no varying styles - just pure rock and roll. It kind of reminds me of Alice's more seventies stuff, especially with the Alice Cooper band. Speaking of which, they reformed and wrote two songs for this album, "Genuine American Girl" and "You and All of Your Friends." It's funny because this record is pretty simple and it's not really taking Alice Cooper to any place he's never been before, but I really love it. The songs are just so catchy and the production is clear and clean so you can really hear the guitar tones. This isn't a groundbreaking release or anything but I'll be danged if I haven't spun it a ton and have plans to spin it some more. Alice has said in interviews that he really tried to get out of his comfort zone on this album. It tickles me that he's said that because it doesn't seem like this album takes many chances. Not that it needs to, mind you. It's amazing how it can risk almost nothing and still be so dang good. The live tracks are pretty cool bonus. The name of the drummer escapes me at the moment but he is absolutely killing it! See "Feed My Frankenstein" for an example of what I mean.

And let's talk about the packaging for a moment. It's a two-disc digipack with a nice fat booklet full of lyrics. The artwork is pretty cool. Definitely an A++ for packaging here.

Useless Fact: This album was produced by Bob Ezrin who's produced a metric butt-ton of Alice Cooper records. I know that's not much of a fact. *sad face*


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dynamic Twins - "No Room 2 Breathe"



Dynamic Twins - No Room 2 Breathe
1993, Brainstorm

1. Get Up, Get Down
2. Words We Speak
3. Tears of a Broken Heart
4. Getting Brighter
5. Can't Stand the Rain
6. Something To Say
7. Psyched By Your Ignorance
8. (Giving Them) No Room 2 Breathe
9. Against the Flow
10. Check Yourself
11. Flee From Babylon
12. Evil of Currency
13. The Family Song

It's no secret that I loved the Dynamic Twins' debut. Not sure why I never picked up their sophomore release. It seems like the kind of thing I would have grabbed post haste. Maybe I was too much into alternative rock and such to go back to the old rap I used to like. Maybe I was just afraid that everything had turned into gangsta rap. Well...whatever the reason, it was stupid and dumb and I robbed myself of twenty-some-odd years of enjoying another rap classic...cause, dang...this is good. They've gone just a tad harder, not full on gangsta by any stretch, but just a smidge harder. The beats are there and the rhymes are stellar. It's definitely follows the style of mid-nineties hip-hop (a la Naughty By Nature maybe...a little House of Pain), but it's probably one of the best examples of that style either secular or Christian. Why, oh why did I wait so long to check this out?

Useless Fact: As far as I know there was never an M.V.P. solo album but by this time she'd married Noel. She also does another guest spot on the album.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

E.T.W. - "Stop! The Wild Hype"



E.T.W. - Stop! The Wild Hype
1991, Forefront

1. This Is What Time It Is (Revelation Generation)
2. Stop! The Wild Hype
3. One Bad Apple
4. God Is
5. This Is The Life
6. Destined To Win
7. La Guerra (War)
8. Yo Mouth (Isyomouf)
9. Paper Money
10. The Balm

The other day a great mania seized me. For some unexplained reason I had to listen to all the old Christian rap I had on my Ipod. For that entire day and a couple after I listened to everything I had…but it wasn’t enough. I needed more. I suddenly remembered that there were a few old albums that I never got around to the first time. E.T.W.’s Stop! The Wild Hype is one of them. Now before I get into this album, I have to say I think I was a little hard on their debut. I suppose it’s not objectively “great” but you know what? I still listen to it and I still enjoy it. So there. Anyway, Stop! The Wild Hype is better. It’s still not in the upper echelons of Christian hip-hop, though. At this point they are still being eclipsed by the likes of S.F.C. and Dynamic Twins. However, as I said, this album shows improvement. It certainly has better instrumentation all around. A lot more female vocals are added into the mix as well to spice things up. “Destined to Win” is an odd bird in that it’s almost techno. Kind of cool if you ask me. Though I can’t shake the feeling that these guys just haven’t found their sound yet. I think that probably happened on the next album. Speaking of which, I’ll probably have to get that one too…

One of the things that struck me as I listened to this album was how urgent it sounds. I mean...in the first track there's talk of geopolitics that would be right at home on a Jack Van Impe broadcast. But that's just how we rolled back then. Everything seemed more urgent. Jesus was coming back TOMORROW so you need to get ready! The New World order will rise up any day! Persecution of Christians in America is rampant! THE WORLD IS GOING TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET AND OTHER TYPES OF BASKETS AS WELL!!! While many people still hold this urgency, I just don't have the energy anymore. At my advanced age it does indeed seem like the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but I think it's always been that way. Civilizations always stand on the edge of a knife and the sovereignty of God decides when they rise and fall. I'm not sure either of us are right. Wow...that got kind of deep. 

Useless Fact: The liner notes indicate that the album is dedicated to D-Boy. Aww... D-Boy. He's been in heaven awhile now. I will certainly expect some sick beats and rhymes from him when (if?) I get there.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sometime Sunday - "Stone"



Sometime Sunday - Stone
1994, Tooth and Nail

1. Lie
2. Crawl
3. Blur
4. Guilty
5. Blue
6. Self
7. Reach
8. Take
9. Rope
10. Sleep
11. Home

You know, we never really got any grunge in the Christian market. Sure we had alternative rock - lots of it. We had punk, post-punk, ska, swing, emo, hardcore... almost all of the music that grew up out of the ashes of the metal scene. But we never really got an honest to goodness grunge band - like a Nirvana or a Pearl Jam. The closest we came was Sometime Sunday which sounded most like Badmotorfinger-era Soundgarden. Vocalist Mikee certainly sounds the part. They've also made sure all their song titles are one word. Very important for a grunge band! The sound and production is gritty and raw. The liner notes state that there were no overdubs or anything used in the recording, so what you hear on the disc is probably what you'd hear live. I never saw them live so I can't say. The lyrics are appropriately dark and tortured, but with just enough optimism to make them viable in the Christian market. While I rib them a bit for being "Christian grunge," I think they do a pretty good job. In fact, I think that if they were on a major label with a bit more publicity they'd could have been pretty popular. I never liked their second album, Drain, but I do recommend Stone as a cool album in its own right.

Useless Fact: The band's official name for their style was "lurch rock." I admit it kind of fits their sound.