Thursday, October 11, 2018

Band Maid - "World Domination"

Band Maid - World Domination
2018, JPUD40

1. I Can't Live Without You
2. Play
3. One and Only
4. Domination
5. Fate
6. Spirit!!
7. Rock in Me
8. Clang
9. Turn Me On
10. Carry On Living
11. Daydreaming
12. Anemone
13. Alive-Or-Dead
14. Dice
15. (Title is in Japanese. I don't know what it is.)

After loving Just Bring It I had to get their newest, World Domination. For some reason this one was kind of a grower. I just wasn't as much into it at first. I don't really know why as the instrumentation and songs are just as good if not better than the previous album. I did get more into it after several listens. "Anemone" is one of my favorite tracks and it's one of the quieter ones. I don't have too much more to say. It's good. If you like the band, you'll like this one - hopefully it will take less listens than you to get into it.

Useless Fact: Not really a fact...but...the liner notes fold out into one of those giant welcome mat sized posters. I really hate that. Give me a book. They are easier for me to deal with.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Crystavox - "II: The Bottom Line"

Crystavox - II: The Bottom Line
1992/2018, Roxx Productions

1. The Big Picture
2. Break Down the Wall
3. Rise Up
4. Snakes in the Grass
5. Stick To Your Guns
6. Paradise
7. Cry Out
8. Shame
9. Rockin' in a Hard Place
10. No Boundaries
Bonus Tracks:
11. Stick to You Guns (20 Year Mix Version)
12. No Boundaries (20 Year Mix Version)

Now, this one I did not miss out on. I bought it on cassette when it originally came out. I did not really like it that much except for a track here or there. I have no idea why this is - especially listening back now. What was wrong with me? II: The Bottom Line is a bit dirtier, more raw, less commercial. Even the cover art is more low key. This was a common thing back in the day - first album was shiny, slick, and commercial, then the sophomore album was a bit more gritty (see: Ransom, The Brave, etc). This totally works for them though as I think this one is a bit better than the debut. Their look is even a bit more down-to-earth, trading in the mile-high hair and spandex for leather jackets. This is seriously an underrated album. Still kind of reeling about how wrong I was about this album when I was young.

Useless Fact: Two more tracks from the 20 Year Mix. I'm starting to think I might need this album too, just to complete the collection. Y'know... for research purposes. Yeah...that's it...

Monday, September 24, 2018

Crystavox - "Crystavox"

Cyrstavox - Crystavox
1990/2018, Roxx Productions

1. Sacrifice
2. Power Games
3. Wear It Out
4. Turn It On
5. Home Again
6. All the Way
7. It's All Right (To Rock and Roll)
8. All Around the World
9. Never Give In
10. Tough Boys
Bonus Tracks:
11. Home Again (20 Year Mix Version)
12. Power Games (20 Year Mix Version)

Just look at that cover art, eh? Pretty gorgeous. I saw this on tape way back in the day. I stared at it and tried to figure out if it was metal or not. The logo certainly seemed metal, but while gorgeous, the cover art led me to mistakenly think it could be some Dino-esque piano music. No, I didn't listen to the demo at the store for some reason. I definitely made a mistake that day because Crystavox's debut album is good. Surprisingly good. It's commercial 80's hard rock/heavy metal and listening to it is like going back in time... in a good way. I'm not sure why I'm surprised as to how much I ended up enjoying this. I guess because sometimes I hear these albums now and they just don't do anything for me like the might have way back when. Crystavox is full of big, catchy choruses and anthemic tracks with a lot of power and passion. The recording quality is also much better than I expected. "Sacrifice" and "Home Again" were the big "hits" off this album. At least those are the songs I saw on CCM's charts every month. If you were part of the scene and missed out the first time, you need to check this out. It's good stuff that kind of got lost in the shuffle and I'm glad Roxx reissued it.

Useless Fact: So The 20 Year Mix is sort of a "best of" that's been remastered, remixed, and rerecorded in some places. I haven't heard it but now that I have the originals I don't know if I need it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tribe of Dan - "Shook Up Shook Up"

Tribe of Dan - Shook Up Shook Up
1992, Blonde Vinyl

1. Shook Up Shook Up
2. Like You
3. Missin' You
4. I Just Want
5. Be My Friend
6. River Song
7. Barking Dog
8. Blind Lead the Blind
9. Empires
10. Real Heart
11. Beast of Lust
12. Blue I'm Blue
13. Your Hand

I vividly remember the mockery I received when I told my schoolmates about this album. Of course, I was the only one in my class that listened to any kind of Christian music (except for a few other friends). What's funny is I didn't really like this record except for a few tracks here and there - mostly the title track and "Barking Dog." And...well... I still don't really like it that much, so not much has changed. Though this is one of those instances where I think that this is a disc that's just not for me rather than it being bad. Definitely not bad. Indeed, the guitar work is gritty and raw as are Dan Donovan's vocals. The songs have plenty of energy. It fits into that sort of punk/alt rock/hard rock genre that wasn't really a big thing in general in 1992. I don't know... it just never did anything for me and it still doesn't. I'm putting it up here because it's definitely obscure and I don't think there's much info on it. They only released one other album, The Bootus Red, in 1998. I think maybe if this had come out a little bit later, say '94 or '95 it might have gotten some more traction. Though Blonde Vinyl was always kind of ahead of the curve in terms of genre busting music. I definitely recommend checking this out as I think a lot of people would really dig it even though it isn't for me.

Useless Fact: Who is Dan Donovan? Did he front any other bands? He sort of came out of the blue and went right back up into it. That is to say, I don't have much in the way of interesting informational nuggets.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Resurrection Band - "Reach of Love"

Resurrection Band - Reach of Love
1994, Grrr

1. Heart's Desire
2. If Your Love Grows Cold
3. Numbers
4. Sunrise
5. Dead to the World
6. Reach of Love
7. Land of Stolen Breath
8. Mannequin's Dream
9. Empty Hearts
10. Thought I'd Never Love Again
11. White Lies
12. On My Dyin' Bed
13. Heart's Desire (reprise)

I remember buying this the first time at Kingdom Bound. When we got home there was Tornado watches and stuff that I was scared of because back then I was scared of that stuff. Forget the fact that where we lived tornadoes were pretty uncommon. What does that have to do with Reach of Love? Nothing - but this is my blog and I'll do what I like. AND YOU'LL LIKE IT!

Ahem... anyway... Reach of Love is the fourth album in the band's hard rock/metal reinvention that began with Silence Screams. In this case it leans more toward the "hard rock" side than the "metal" side. It's still really good though. Not much more to say, really. If you liked the preceding albums, then you'll like this one. Glenn and Wendy Kaiser were (and still are) pretty talented people so the stuff they do is pretty consistently good. Unfortunately, I had to settle for the MP3's from Amazon because I can't find the official CD anywhere. I can't find any of those albums anywhere. Hey, if someone wants to sell their Silence Screams through Lament albums I can find you a buyer real quick!

Useless Fact: I don't actually have a fact for this one. Like.... I legit know nothing other than the obvious. Hey, that happens sometimes.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Snider, Dee - "For the Love of Metal"

Snider, Dee - For the Love of Metal
2018, Napalm

1. Lies Are a Business
2. Tomorrow's No Concern
3. I Am the Hurricane
4. American Made
5. Roll Over You
6. I'm Ready
7. Running Mazes
8. Mask
9. Become the Storm
10. The Hardest Way
11. Dead Hearts (Love Thy Enemy)
12. For the Love of Metal

I've never been a huge fan of Twisted Sister. Not for any particular reason, mind you - just never really listened intently to their stuff. I did barrow Come Out and Play a millennium ago and really liked "Be Crool To Your Schuel" and of course I like "We're Not Gonna Take It." So as you can imagine a solo album by Dee Snider didn't really have much appeal to me.

Until I heard it. Oh. My. Word.

I don't know what you're expecting but this is METAL. Like, for real, traditional heavy metal. And man does it sound good. And Dee! His voice is perfect for this album. He's never been the top tier of vocalists but his voice fits perfectly. It's a good example of a time when age has helped a vocalist. He delivers a rough, powerful voice with just enough melody to work. I'm shocked... SHOCKED I tell you - at how good his vocals are here. The guitars are heavy and crunchy. The songs are full of hooks. Kind of a dark horse for me but I'm glad I took a chance on it. Snider himself didn't write all the music, it was some guy named Jamey Jasta who I am not familiar. This really reminded me of the Judas Priest's Firepower in the fact that is quality traditional heavy metal with modern production. If you liked Priest's album - this is right up your alley.

Useless Fact: Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage) lends some vocals on "The Hardest Way." Alissa White-Gluz sings on "Dead Hearts (Love Thy Enemy)."

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Bride - "Snake Eyes"

Bride - Snake Eyes
2018, Retroactive

1. Intro
2. Fake News
3. Famous When I'm Dead
4. John the Baptist
5. Think I'll Build the Bomb
6. The Real Jesus
7. Lost Within a Song
8. The Laughter of It All
9. The Painter
10. Call Out His Name
11. Other Side of Suicide
12. There's Always Tomorrow

Wow... so...Bride really wants you to associate this album with Snakes in the Playground. To the point that the intro is literally a recap of that album. It was made specifically to recall that time period - something they said while they were crowdfunding the recording. They've even dug up the old Kinetic Faith logo (which I always liked). Of course, the problem with that is you're not just trying to recapture a sound. You're have to capture the feeling of an era. I remember seeing Bride at Kingdom Bound in '92 just before Playground was to come out. They put on an amazing show. They were a band at their peak and they knew it. It was electric. We eagerly anticipated that release and when it came it remained in heavy rotation throughout my youth group. Snakes in the Playground remains a classic to this day. That zeitgeist is part of the magic of that time and it's almost a fool's errand to try and recapture it. Honestly, when that opening riff to "Fake News" kicked in I thought, "Dang...maybe they've done it." But alas...

The previous paragraph probably leads you to suspect that I don't like this album. That is not the case. I really enjoy this album and I want others to enjoy it too. I just want to manage whatever expectations people may have. No, it doesn't match Playground, but it's still a dang fine hard rock album and certainly the best since their heyday. Dale can't quite do the unrestrained screams of yesteryear, but he still sounds great and there's a lot of variety in his delivery (he does do a few screams here and there). Troy's riffs are infectious and heavy. I mentioned the opening of "Fake News" and there's a lot of that old fire here. While Playground remains the primary influence, there's also a good bit of Scarecrow Messiah. More than I expected. Heck, in a couple songs ("There's Always Tomorrow" being the best example) the band reaches way back, dipping into Live to Die-era. It's fleeting but it's there. The band has said this is their final release. If it has to be the end, this is a good one to go out on. Snake Eyes might not be the sequel to Snakes in the Playground that everyone wanted, but it's a good and fitting celebration of the band's career.

Useless Fact: I guess Dale lives in New Zealand now? Anyway, I pre-ordered and got an album cover sticker signed by Dale and Troy.