Monday, October 26, 2015

Iron Maiden - "The Book of Souls"

Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls
2015, BMG

1. If Eternity Should Fail
2. Speed of Light
3. The Great Unknown
4. The Red and the Black
5. When the River Runs Deep
6. The Book of Souls

1. Death or Glory
2. Shadows of the Valley
3. Tears of a Clown
4. The Man of Sorrows
5. Empire in the Clouds

I didn't really know too much about The Book of Souls other than that I'd seen it around for sale. Naturally, I bought it one day while getting groceries. I mean, it's friggin' Iron Maiden. How bad could it be? Seemed like a pretty low-risk investment. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a double album with some truly epic tracks. Quite a few here are over the ten-minute mark, not to mention "Empire of the Clouds" which is a whopping eighteen minute opus. I'm pretty impressed that a band that has been around as long as these guys can sound so alive and energetic. You could group this album in with Number of the Beast or Powerslave and no one would be the wiser. Bottom line, if you like Iron Maiden, you will dig these discs.

I do have a couple of complaints though. First, the production seems a little dated here. When I said you put this next to those other albums I meant it... unfortunately that seems to include some dated production. I also think a couple of tracks could have been trimmed a bit. I love the rollicking "The Red and the Black" but there's an extended galloping session near the end that I think could have been trimmed a bit. Also, Bruce Dickinson seems a big strained here. Though, considering he was battling cancer at the time I think I can give him a pass. That's how tough that man is. "Oh, I've got cancer? Let's record a double album! What do you think about that, cancer?!" As of this writing, he did beat that cancer.

Useless Fact: "Tears of a Clown" is a tribute to Robin Williams and I understand "The Man of Sorrows" is about Aleister Crowley.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Nash, Leigh - "The State I'm In"

Nash, Leigh - The State I'm In
2015, One Son

1. Spider and the Moth
2. Cruel Heart
3. Chicago
4. Mountain
5. What's Behind Me
6. Somebody's Yesterday
7. The Promise Break
8. Dreaming Out Loud
9. The State I'm In
10. High Is Better
11. Tell Me Now Tennessee
12. Doing It Wrong

I pretty much hate country music. Let's get that out of the way right now. Especially the insipid "Bro Country" which mostly involves girls, beer, and trucks... and rap somehow. Anyway, Leigh Nash's little country album caught my attention because, being a longtime Sixpence fan, I've known she's wanted to do country stuff for a long time. Like... she was talking about it in interviews for This Beautiful Mess... i.e. a LONG time. So this isn't some cash-in-desperate-grab-at-fame record. Nope, this is an album she's wanted to do. And... I like it. Quite a lot actually. I guess it helps that it's less Florida-Georgia Line and more Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard. I was raised on country - Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Alabama, The Oak Ridge Boys... my parents would take rides through the hills of upstate New York and those folks were the soundtrack to many of those rides. Despite my intense dislike for country, there were a lot of songs by those artists that I liked. I think that's why I like The State I'm In because it definitely reminds me of those songs. This may surprise you but some of my favorite tracks here are the more honky-tonk ones like the title track, "High is Better" and "Doing It Wrong." I also like "Mountain" and "What's Behind Me" - both tracks could have been Sixpence tracks (though a little more countrified Sixpence).

I do have some small gripes about this album. First, I don't like the song "Chicago." Part of it is that it's the third slower paced song and by that point I think the album's momentum would have done better with a peppier song. I also don't care for the lyrics which is just the singer pining over some dude, begging him to tell her more about Chicago. I just don't like it. Second, the packaging is really flimsy - it's a thin cardboard digipack that's easily damaged. It does come with liner notes with lyrics, though, so that's good. Despite these minor gripes I enjoyed The State I'm In way more than I thought I would. It's definitely worth checking out even if you don't like country.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Spock's Beard - "The Oblivion Particle"

Spock's Beard - The Oblivion Particle
2015, Inside Out

1. Tides of Time
2. Minion
3. Hell's Not Enough
4. Bennett Built a Time Machine
5. Get Out While You Can
6. A Better Way to Fly
7. The Center Line
8. To Be Free Again
9. Disappear
Bonus Track:
10. Iron Man

The You Tube robot plopped the "Bennett Built a Time Machine" lyric video in my feed awhile back. I was instantly hooked. I love that song. In fact, it's probably one of my favorite progressive songs of all time. No I'm not lying. The rest of the album is good too. I like how the band mixes plenty of progressive virtuoso playing with good hooks and melodies. This is especially apparent on songs like "The Center Line" and "Disappear." The latter is another song I love to death. I'm not sure if this is a concept album or not because the liner notes feature a story about "Bennett" in... the one who built the time machine, but the other songs don't seem to make reference to it, so I don't know. It's a good album and I may have to get into more Spock's Beard in the future.

Useless Fact: Um... Neal Morse was in this band? Yeah, I know everyone knows that but I don't know the band well enough for a really good fact.