Once in awhile, a band comes along and just BLOWS yer doors in, so to speak. Finlands` Nightwish is just such a band!! Without a doubt, one of the most original, highest quality acts to appear on the scene EVER! In existence for only 4 years, Nightwish have achieved on this,their 3rd album, what most bands never do in 20 years. Released in late May, "Wishmaster" has already made #1 on the Finnish charts, and it ain`t hard to see WHY! The 11 tracks on this CD are like NOTHING you`ve heard before. And despite the grandoise production, operatic vocals and choral arrangements, you can`t tag this "Progressive Metal", as such labels are a disservice. Nightwish is FAR more accessable to the average listener [if radio here in the States were run properly, several tunes on this disc could be #1 hits; no joke!] than ,say, Dream Theater or all that other boring crap. Said simply, Nightwish`s style is.... Nightwish! The absolutely mind blowing vocals of Tarja Turunen [a trained opera singer!], coupled with keyboardist, lyricist, main songwriter Toumas Holopainen, are a perfect match for the crunching guitars of Emppu Vuorinen, as is the massive rhythm section of Jukka Nevalainen [drums], and Sami Vanska, bass. Best of all, Nightwish are HEAVY as HELL, and they ROCK! Unlike other bands mining similar territory, this band has their feet in the street! I`ve listened to this a DOZEN times since I got it, and STILL can`t single out a particular favorite, `cause they`re ALL great; you`ll just have to find out for yourself! Trust me, you WILL believe........

Blaze Bayley-"Silicon Messiah"-2000

I`d like to get something off my chest. Ever since Blaze Bayley & Iron Maiden parted ways [amicably, it seems], some people have made some unfair remarks regarding Mr. Bayley`s tenure with the band. While it IS true that "X Factor" & "Virtual XI" didn`t quite measure up to, say, "Piece Of Mind" or "Power Slave", why should Blaze shoulder all the blame? Weren`t there OTHER names besides his next to the song writer credits? And why do Maiden STILL play "The Clansman" live? Oh,well, onward... Haven`t heard the new Maiden yet, but after listening to "Silicon Messiah", `arry & company are gonna have to work REAL hard to impress me! Blaze`s first solo outing is at once a throwback to his Wolfsbane days,and a very modern statement which proves to all those doubting Thomases that he can stand quite well on his own,thank you very much. One of THE great Hard Rock/Metal frontmen, Blaze has never sounded better! And he has assembled a band MORE than able to bring his musical visions to life. Featuring Steve Wray & John Slater on Guitars, Jeff Singer on Drums, and Rob Naylor on Bass. Blaze chose his partners well;they sound like they`ve been playing together forever! Choice cuts; "Ghost In The Machine", the Heavy-as-HELL "Evolution", the moody "Born As A Sranger", MY favorite, "Identity", and the epic,"Stare At The Sun". When 2000 comes to a close, "Silicon Messiah" is sure to be in the top 10 Metal releases of the year; hey, it`s already in MY Top 5! To paraphrase the late, great [?] Howard Cossell, "Oi-un May-den, yoove got cherself some COM-petition"! Two Thumbs WAYYYYY up!

Planet Blaze

Alice Cooper-"Brutal Planet"-2000

The 3 constants in this life are Death, Taxes and Alice Cooper! Ol` Vince Furnier has been putting out albums since `69 [the late Frank Zappa helped get the Alice Cooper Band signed to their first record deal], and while he`s had just as many misses as hits, Alice has NEVER failed to entertain us! Heavy Metals` premier showman [King Diamond,Ozzy, and Marilyn Mansion stole MORE than a little from Cooper] has run the gamut of musical styles over the years, from Blusey Hard Rock to Ballads to [ugh!] New Wave to late `80s` Pop Metal. Now Alice has reinvented imself for the 21st century with "Brutal Planet". Co-produced by Bob Ezrin [long-time Cooper associate and producer of just about everybody!], the CD teams Alice with a variety of respected musicians [drummer Eric Singer among them]. This is a very modern sounding album, but far from being an insincere attempt at being "hip"; Alice makes nods to the current Metal scene, while keeping his trademark macabre humor intact. Alice comments on our ultra-violent society in "Wicked Young Man", serial killers in "Pick Up The Bones", as well as giving us a great ballad in "Take It Like A Woman" [shades of "Only Women Bleed"!], something Alice is a MASTER at. My favorite, "Cold Machines", is Coopers take on the modern, micro chip run, fiber optically connected world we`ve found ourselves in. It ROCKS HARD, and has a great vocal hook, as well. Long Live the Coop!!!

Alice Cooper


For those who found Venoms`s excellent "Cast In Stone" a little TOO produced, this album should be more to your liking! Yes,the original Unholy Triumvirate is no more! Drummer Abbadon left to do who-the-hell-knows-what, leaving behind Cronos and Mantas, who wrote all the songs anyway! Now, I`ve always felt the only weak link in the Venom chain was in the drum dept.; No more! New skin pounder Antton has all the power, speed, and fury that Venom need to propell them far ahead of their many imitators. The result is Resurrection", the TRUE "comeback" album for the band! Revelling in their new percussive power, Cronos & Mantas have unleashed a viscious, hellbent musical assault that REEKS of Evil! The song titles tell the tale: "Vengeance", "War Against Christ", "Loaded", "Black Flame [Of Satan]","Leviathan". This is the album the band was destined to make! "The Gates Of Hell have opened! All Hail the Mighty Venom!!!"

Dokken-"Live from The Sun [Best of the West]"-2000

Recorded live in Anaheim, CA in 1999, this is Dokken`s 3rd live CD, and probably the best of the lot. Unlike 1988`s "Beast From The East", which was pretty much a studio creation disguised as a Live album, this is as live as it gets! All the Dokken classics are here; "In My Dreams", "Alone Again", "Into The Fire", "Breaking The Chains". Plus newer tunes from the bands excellent `99 release "Erase The Slate";"Maddest Hatter", "Erase The Slate",etc. Jeff Pilson & Wild Mick Brown never sounded tighter, and Reb Beach MORE than proves himself worthy of the 6-string spot vacated by what`s-his-name! Unfortunately, Don Dokkens vocals don`t always hold up here; his voice seems to pack it in halfway through. But then again,it IS a live album, and as such, an honest representation of the band without the obvious overdubs that marred "Beast..". And that sort of bare bones honesty is what Rock `N` Roll USED to be about, right?

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