Archive for June, 2012

June 28, 2012

Album 0060: Dream Theater – Falling Into Infinity Demos 1996-1997

Release Date: 2007
Genre: Progressive Metal

Tracklisting:

DISC ONE

1. Raise The Knife (11:40)
2. Where Are You Now? (07:28)
3. Take Away My Pain (06:49)
4. You Or Me (06:24)
5. Anna Lee (06:36)
6. Burning My Soul (08:58)
7. The Way It Used To Be (07:48)
8. Lines In The Sand (13:33)

DISC TWO

1. Just Let Me Breathe (05:24)
2. Peruvian Skies (06:48)
3. Trial Of Tears

    I. It’s Raining
    II. Deep In Heaven
    III. The Wasteland (12:54)

4. Cover My Eyes (03:23)
5. Hollow Years (06:27)
6. New Millennium (08:20)
7. Speak To Me (06:25)
8. Metropolis Part II (21:25)

Total Length: 02:20:22

Raise The Knife is a fantastic song that the band didn’t get to officially release for a long time. Falling Into Infinity was planned to be a double album based on the sheer number of songs the band had written for it, but the label wouldn’t allow so unfortunately this great progressive song got thrown to the side. It eventually was on a live release though. The lyrics are based on two people the band knew that they had felt left on bad terms. The instrumental section is great.

Where Are You Now? is a softer song with more of a modern take. I’m not really fond of this song, but if it had been tempered and refined during the recording of the album it could have been cool. Take Away My Pain here is a bit more barebones than the finished version, but I like it for that. It seems to have a bit more emotion. You Or Me is the song with the most marked changes compared to the album version, and I much more prefer this version simply because the chorus is tolerable this time around and the solo section is pretty cool.

Anna Lee is still a very pretty song and I think that the toy piano feel actually works a bit better for it. Burning My Soul has 3/4 of Hell’s Kitchen contained in it, which is pretty cool but the transition back into the main song at the end of the instrumental section is kind of jarring. The Way It Used To Be is a kind U2-inspired song. Again like the second track, it has some neat moments but could have used some refinement. Lines In The Sand is mostly the same here, but without the unnecessary guest vocalist.

Just Let Me Breathe also is mostly unchanged and again doesn’t have some vocal effects. Peruvian Skies the same song, just a rougher recording. Trial Of Tears as well, still a great big song. Cover My Eyes is more of a short pop song, it’s a pretty neat experiment. Hollow Years is still a good poppier track. New Millennium is just a bit rougher here. Speak To Me is another softer song that wasn’t put on the album, and it’s pretty nice but goes on a bit long for my taste.

Metropolis Part II is the real highlight of this album. The other non-album tracks had been released on various singles and bonuses before, but Mike Portnoy had said for a long time that this rough version of Metropolis Part II would never be released. It’s not a full demo like the other tracks, just a loose collection of riffs and melodies that the band had written so far and recorded before they went on tour. He didn’t like the sound of this demo, but put it on here for posterity and since everyone had been asking for it for a long time. Almost every bit on here has a counterpart in the finished album, so it’s cool to hear how they were kind of intending to do this as one long, epic, single track.

This demos album is actually, honestly more enjoyable than the finished album. While the production is great and the songs may generally sound better on there, the variety and emotion on here is more engaging. I guess the best way I can say it is that if the songs were changed in whatever way, they were probably better here.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

June 26, 2012

Album 0059: Ásmegin – Arv

Release Date: 2008
Genre: Folk Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Fandens Mælkebøtte (The Devil’s Milk Pail) (04:10)
2. Hiertebrand (Heartburning) (04:09)
3. Generalen Og Troldharen (The General And The Trollhare) (05:27)
4. Arv (Heritage) (05:40)
5. Yndifall (Bereavement) (06:38)
6. Gengaregen (The Apparition) (04:32)
7. Prunkende, Stolt I Jokumsol (Pompously, Proudly In The Sun Of Jokum) (02:41)
8. En Myrmylne (A Boggy Waltz) (09:00)

Total Length: 42:17

Fandens Mælkebøtte has a really cool little intro, and the rest of the song is a great mix of folk stuff with the vocals, and a bit of prog influence in the keyboards. Hiertebrand is much the same, just neat to listen to. Generalen Og Troldharen is a bit more fun but not as interesting overall. Arv is pretty good, and the ending is cool.

Yndifall is actually a bit heavier, but doesn’t work as well as the rest of the songs. Gengaregen has a pretty neat piano-based riff, but drags on a bit. Prunkende, Stolt I Jokumsol is a really fun little change of pace. En Myrmylne is a bit of a bigger song and it’s nice to get lost in. This album overall just sounds nice, is cool to listen to, but for the most part just doesn’t really stick with me.

Final Rating: 8/10

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June 25, 2012

Album 0058: Five Iron Frenzy – Our Newest Album Ever!

Release Date: 1997
Genre: Ska/Punk

Tracklisting:

1. Handbook For The Sellout (03:28)
2. Where Is Micah? (02:55)
3. Superpowers (03:24)
4. Fistful of Sand (04:19)
5. Suckerpunch (03:32)
6. Kitty Doggy (00:42)
7. Blue Comb ’78 (03:05)
8. Banner Year (04:13)
9. Second Season (03:45)
10. Litmus (04:06)
11. Oh, Canada (03:16)
12. Most Likely To Succeed (03:58)
13. Every New Day/Kingdom Of The Dinosaurs (10:14)

Total Length: 50:56

Handbook For The Sellout is a really good song, it’s a great mix of comedy and fun ska. Where Is Micah? has probably the coolest horn riff on the album, and the percussion is fun. Superpowers is just a really solid song, with a cool chorus. Fistful Of Sand has some neat moments in it. Suckerpunch is fairly neat, especially the chorus. Kitty Doggy is a stupid little song.

Blue Comb ’78 is kind of cool, I like the idea behind it. Banner Year is honestly not all that interesting. Second Season is pretty much just ‘okay’, it’s not a bad song but nothing special either. Litmus fares much the same. Oh, Canada is somewhat fun. Most Likely To Succeed has some cool vocal moments.

Every New Day is a pretty good song despite the lyrics. Kingdom Of The Dinosaurs is a bonus track that plays after a few minutes of silence. It’s not very interesting. Overall this album has some fun songs on it, but it’s not one of my favorites to listen through.

Final Rating: 7/10

June 21, 2012

Album 0057: Atheist – Unquestionable Presence

Release Date: 1991
Genre: Death Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Mother Man (04:33)
2. Unquestionable Presence (04:07)
3. Retribution (03:17)
4. Enthralled In Essence (03:37)
5. An Incarnation’s Dream (04:52)
6. The Formative Years (03:31)
7. Brains (03:41)
8. And The Psychic Saw (04:49)
9. Enthralled In Essence (Pre-production Demo 8/90) (03:32)
10. The Formative Years (Pre-production Demo 8/90) (03:29)
11. Unquestionable Presence (Pre-production Demo 8/90) (03:56)
12. An Incarnation’s Dream (Pre-production Demo 8/90) (04:09)
13. Retribution (Pre-production Demo 8/90) (03:19)
14. Brains (Pre-production Demo 8/90) (03:40)
15. Enthralled In Essence (Demo 1990) (03:44)
16. Mother Man (Demo 1990) (04:43)
17. And The Psychic Saw (Demo 1990) (04:37)

Total Length: 01:07:38

Mother Man brings the band’s jazz influences to the forefront, as well as the refined songwriting compared to their first album. Unquestionable Presence is fairly cool. Retribution is an alright track, nothing special. Enthralled In Essence has some neat moments. An Incarnation’s Dream is somewhat cool as well. The Formative Years has some cool riffs.

Brains is alright, nothing notable compared to the other songs. And The Psychic Saw is definitely the best song on here, it’s very cool. Enthralled In Essence starts off the long line of demo tracks. This track is much the same. The Formative Years actually has a little bit better vocal performance than the album track in my opinion. Unquestionable Presence is again very similar.

An Incarnation’s Dream is fairly cool. Retribution is almost a little cooler here in instrumental form. Brains as well is kind of more interesting here. The last three tracks are some earlier demos. Enthralled In Essence is okay. Mother Man if just the rhythm section, which is fairly neat for posterity. And The Psychic Saw is kind of neat here, but the roughness in the recording detracts from it.

Overall, this album is a much stronger showing than the band’s first. It is way more refined and I do like the very interesting brand of metal concocted here. I can’t say it’s one of my favorites, but I do recognize it for what it is.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

June 19, 2012

Album 0056: Atheist – Piece Of Time

Release Date: 1989
Genre: Death Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Piece Of Time (04:33)
2. Unholy War (02:18)
3. Room With A View (04:05)
4. On They Slay (03:38)
5. Beyond (02:59)
6. I Deny (04:00)
7. Why Bother (02:56)
8. Life (03:12)
9. No Truth (04:36)
10. No Truth (Beyond demo) (04:00)
11. On They Slay (Beyond demo) (03:53)
12. Choose Your Death (Beyond demo) (03:20)
13. Brain Damage (Beyond demo) (04:42)
14. Beyond (Beyond demo) (03:16)
15. Hell Hath No Mercy (Hell Hath No Mercy demo) (03:04)
16. On They Slay (On They Slay demo) (04:05)
17. Brain Damage (On They Slay demo) (04:48)
18. Undefiled Wisdom (On They Slay demo) (04:27)

Total Length: 01:07:52

Piece Of Time has a cool intro, and the bulk of the song is pretty good with some cool riffs. Unholy War has some neat moments. Room With A View has never done much for me. On They Slay has some neat riffs but that’s about all I can say. Beyond is a somewhat cool song. I Deny is only ‘alright’ to me. Why Bother fares a little bit better.

Life is very ‘meh’ to me. No Truth is probably the best song on the album. No Truth comes right back again, and it and the next four songs make up the “Beyond” demo. The song is still good here. On They Slay in this rougher form actually feels a bit better to me. Choose Your Death is an alright song. Brain Damage is fairly cool and it’s a shame it never got rerecorded. Beyond caps off this demo and is nothing special.

Hell Hath No Mercy is the only track from its demo on here, it’s decent. On They Slay and the two tracks after it were the band’s second demo. The songs here are much the same as they would become, except the intro of this one is played slower, which gives a different feel. Brain Damage is much the same and still a fairly neat song. Undefiled Wisdom has some alright moments. Basically, I like this band but I am not terribly fond of the early stuff. It just doesn’t feel honed at all.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

June 16, 2012

Album 0055: Tool – Undertow

Release Date: 1993
Genre: Progressive Rock/Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Intolerance (04:53)
2. Prison Sex (04:57)
3. Sober (05:07)
4. Bottom (07:15)
5. Crawl Away (05:30)
6. Swamp Song (05:32)
7. Undertow (05:22)
8. 4° (06:03)
9. Flood (07:46)
10. Disgustipated (15:47)

Total Length: 01:08:10

Intolerance is a fairly cool song, but I am really not fond of the grunge influences on this entire album. For some reason, that feeling and especially those types of guitar and bass tones make me feel queasy and uneasy. It’s also prevalent in the vocals here. Prison Sex has some cool riffs I suppose. Sober does nothing for me in any way. Bottom has an interesting first couple of minutes, but the rest falls flat.

Crawl Away has a few cool parts, especially the chorus and the one section that feels like some form of extreme metal. Swamp Song has a cool chorus. Undertow is fairly good. is kind of average, nothing special. Flood is frankly just alright, and in fact feels a bit pretentious. Disgustipated starts off with some fairly neat repeating rhythms and vocals. This entire track is a hidden track. The second half is just a high frequency tone, with some spoken word near the end.

This whole album kind of grates on me. I want to like some of the songs, but the production really puts me off, and I will admit I’m not a huge fan of the vocals. This is kind of cool for what it is, I suppose.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

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June 15, 2012

Album 0054: Cage The Elephant – Cage The Elephant

Release Date: 2008
Genre: Rock

Tracklisting:

1. In One Ear (04:01)
2. James Brown (03:21)
3. Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked (02:55)
4. Tiny Little Robots (04:11)
5. Lotus (03:17)
6. Back Against The Wall (03:48)
7. Drones In The Valley (02:28)
8. Judas (03:27)
9. Back Stabbin’ Betty (03:39)
10. Sail To The Sun (03:18)
11. Free Love (03:28)

Total Length: 37:52

In One Ear is a pretty great modern track, it’s memorable and has a strong message to boot. This was the song that got me interested in the band. James Brown has a fairly good chorus, but for most part the song doesn’t do much for me. Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked is honestly the only other ‘great’ song on here. It’s a hell of a track though. Tiny Little Robots is a fairly fun song, kind of catchy. The ending is a bit pretentious for this band though.

Lotus is actually kind of nice, and on the softer side during the chorus. Back Against The Wall is alright, it’s also a touch lighter than the first few songs but isn’t very interesting. Drones In The Valley is also not very compelling. Judas is sort of alright, and the ending is kind of neat. Back Stabbin’ Betty tries to be some kind of mix of their brand of rock and blues, but it falls flat on its face.

Sail To The Sun has one or two cool moments. Free Love actually kind of feels like a classic rock song, but it doesn’t do much for me. This album overall kind of falls on its face, and as much as I hate to say it most of the album feels like filler just meant to support the singles.

Final Rating: 5/10

June 14, 2012

Album 0053: Danny Elfman – Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure Original Soundtrack

Release Date: 1985
Genre: Soundtrack

Tracklisting:

1. Main Title/Bike Race (02:54)
2. The Breakfast Machine (02:40)
3. The Bike (01:42)
4. The Park Ride (01:19)
5. The Mall (01:12)
6. Music Shop And Beyond (01:05)
7. Stolen Bike/Lonely Walk (01:42)
8. Francis’ House (00:34)
9. The Bath (01:32)
10. The Basement (02:14)
11. Hitch Hike (00:57)
12. Edsel Over The Edge (01:21)
13. Simone’s Theme (01:37)
14. Dinosaur Dream (00:49)
15. Andy Chase (00:51)
16. Alamo (00:19)
17. Bus Station/Simone (01:04)
18. Clown Dream (02:00)
19. Studio Chase (01:25)
20. Pet Shop (02:11)
21. The Drive-In (02:04)
22. Finale (03:07)
23. Large Marge (00:52)
24. The Fork (00:27)
25. Rain/Fortune (01:39)
26. Andy Chase 2 (00:26)
27. Cowboy Pee-Wee (00:33)
28. Andy And The Bull (00:26)
29. Stolen Bike/Lonely Walk (film version) (01:40)
30. Hitch Hike (film version) (00:58)
31. Simone (film version) (02:09)
32. Dino Dreams (film version) (00:47)
33. Studio Chase (film version) (03:58)

Total Length: 48:33

I’m going to be handling this album a bit differently. Due to the number of tracks, and the amount of themes repeated on them, instead of going through each and every track I’ll simply point out my favorites, and possibly any moments that aren’t so great. Main Title/Bike Race is very fun, setting up the themes for the movie. The Breakfast Machine is just classic, one of Danny Elfman’s most famous pieces. It’s quirky and catchy. The Bike brings back the main theme, but also a healthy dose of cheesy 80s goodness in the remainder of the track. Despite rarely watching this movie as a kid, this part just evokes strong nostalgic memories.

The Park Ride is probably the funniest thing on this album, with Pee-Wee himself singing along with the music, unfortunately the whole track isn’t like that. The Mall and Music Shop And Beyond seem to share similar themes, one being a little more fun than the other. Stolen Bike/Lonely Walk seems to borrow from Psycho in its creepier moments. Hitch Hike is actually fun with its harmonica sound.

The rest of the tracks simply redo the themes already presented, or only offer a slight bit of fun. I lose track most of the way through, but those few opening tracks are pretty classic. This release of it is cool for including pretty much everything that was in the movie, but the repeated amount of material doesn’t make for solid listening on its own.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

June 13, 2012

Album 0052: Rhapsody Of Fire – Triumph Or Agony

Release Date: 2006
Genre: Power Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Dar-Kunor

    I. Echoes From The Woods
    II. Fear Of The Dungeons (03:13)

2. Triumph Or Agony (05:03)
3. Heart Of The Darklands (04:11)
4. Old Age Of Wonders (04:35)
5. The Myth Of The Holy Sword (05:03)
6. Il Canto Del Vento (03:54)
7. Silent Dream (03:51)
8. Bloody Red Dungeons (05:12)
9. Son Of Pain (04:43)
10. The Mystic Prophecy Of The Demonknight
    I. A New Saga Begins
    II. Through The Portals Of Agony
    III. The Black Order
    IV. Nekron’s Bloody Rhymes
    V. Escape From Horror (16:26)

11. Dark Reign Of Fire
    I. Winter Dawn’s Theme (06:26)

12. Defenders Of Gaia (04:35)
13. A New Saga Begins (04:17)
14. Son Of Pain (Italian version) (04:42)
15. Son Of Pain (French version) (04:42)

Total Length: 01:20:53

Dar-Kunor isn’t as inviting as some of the band’s other intros in the first half, but it works well enough as a prelude to the album. Triumph Or Agony has a fantastic chorus, and is fun enough otherwise. Their first songs after the intros are usually great. Heart Of The Darklands is similarly fun, I enjoy it a lot. Old Age Of Wonders is cheesy of course, but its mix of old timey-ness and upbeat sections is neat.

The Myth Of The Holy Sword is fairly good, it feels a bit too subdued for me, but the bridge and solos are neat things. Il Canto Del Vento is a pretty great song, mostly based around vocals and pianos. It manages to be very emotional. Silent Dream is a very basic song, and so it doesn’t do much for me. Bloody Red Dungeons is fairly good, but it kind of loses track of itself and doesn’t do much for me. Son Of Pain is a great softer song, with the emotional heights it reaches being very good.

The Mystic Prophecy Of The Demonknight is the big song for the album, and it holds true to being that. The first section holds its own very well, and the second as well. The spoken word part halfway through gets annoying on repeat listens but does its job for the story of the album. The real fun part starts after that, with an awesome riff and the band’s first foray into harsher vocals. The rest of the song is great as well. Dark Reign Of Fire continues completely from the end of the last song, and it’s a bit over the top, and relates more to the story rather than being a song on its own.

Defenders Of Gaia is a bonus track, and it’s a fun classic song from the band. A New Saga Begins is just the first few minutes of the large track cut into its own piece, as a single. It stands fairly well on its own. Two extra versions of Son Of Pain cap off the album, sung in Italian and French respectively. They retain the emotional feel of the track. This album surprised me the first few times I listened to it. I had considered this band to be cheesy and simple, but their arrangements and melodies are fairly deep, and the cheesiness is at least well thought out.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

June 12, 2012

Album 0051: Rx Bandits – …And The Battle Begun

Release Date: 2006
Genre: Progressive Rock

Tracklisting:

1. Intro (00:46)
2. …And The Battle Begun (04:57)
3. In Her Drawer (05:12)
4. Only For The Night (03:47)
5. On A Lonely Screen (02:45)
6. 1980 (03:03)
7. One Million Miles An Hour, Fast Asleep (02:54)
8. Apparition (03:39)
9. A Mouth Full Of Hollow Threats (03:33)
10. Epoxi-Lips (06:05)
11. Tainted Wheat (03:30)
12. To Our Unborn Daughers (05:14)
13. Crushing Destroyer (05:11)

Total Length: 50:36

The Intro is a cool vocals-only start to the album. …And The Battle Begun is a fantastic opening song, with its own intro being an amazing piece of work, and the rest of the song being cool RxB craziness. Funky and heavy and just plain cool. In Her Drawer is similarly great, I just love this song. Only For The Night seems to draw some influence from the 80s, and just begs you to sing along to it.

For me, it feels like On A Lonely Screen and the few songs after it seem to form a suite of songs rather than individually taken songs. This first one is fairly good, it doesn’t start off well in my opinion. 1980 is fairly emotional, I like it. One Million Miles An Hour, Fast Asleep is obviously meant to be a faster, harder song but I just don’t like the feel of it. Apparition is a softer, laid back song and I enjoy the creepiness of it.

A Mouth Full Of Hollow Threats is a song I’ve never been able to get into much. It has some neat moments, but not enough to hook me. Epoxi-Lips is pretty good for the first half, and the second half is fairly decent but kind of drags. Tainted Wheat has some neat vocal moments but once again I just can’t get into it. To Our Unborn Daughters has some really cool moments, especially in the ending.

Crushing Destroyer is an amazing ending track, one of the best on the album. For whatever reason, I feel like I should love this album but I just don’t. Most of the tracks I know are ‘good’ but unlike other albums from this bands the songs aren’t stuck in my head for weeks. I guess that’s why this album makes me feel weird.

Final Rating: 8/10