Iced Earth-"Horror Show"-2001

I`ve only recently become more familiar with Iced Earth; hard to believe, I know! Guess it was because I heard their first couple of releases and wasn`t to enthralled, so I didn`t pay much attention to `em after that. But I have now atoned for my sins! Recently, I picked up some of their more recent albums: "The Dark Saga", "Something Wicked This Way Comes", the excellent double live CD "Alive In Athens", and the newest one, "Horror Show". This last CD utilizes the rather novel concept of building songs around classic horror movie monsters; the result? Lemme put it to you like this; Limp Bizkit & kOrN had better start packing, `cause TRUE American Metal is comin` back in a BIG way! "Wolf", "Damien", "Im-ho-Tep [Pharaoh`s Curse]", the super heavy "Frankenstein", "Jack" [ about The Ripper, natch!], are intelligent, fully realized Metal masterpieces! Absent are the slight progressive overtones that kept me an arms length on their other releases, but the furiously tight song writing, superb musicianship and ballz out heaviness help to ensure Iced Earth`s place at the forefront of the American Metal movement [NOT "Nu-Metal"!!!] "Horror Show" is anything BUT! [The limited edition of this album includes a cover of the old Maiden instrumental "Transylvania", as well as an interview with mainman John Schaffer....]

Iced Earth

Primal Fear-"Nuclear Fire"-2001

JAYZUS!!! This one caught me by surprise! I had heard about these guys for a while, but figured they were from the same cookie-cutter that spawned the new Power Metal movement currently running rampant in Europe; you know the type, Iron Fire, etc [don`t get me wrong, I `d rather listen to these bands than Saliva, Primer 55 and all that other slop being foisted on the American public!] Primal Fear is not a "Classic Metal" [a term I despise] band; they just let their influences hang out, loud `n` proud! Drawing much of their sound from "Painkiller" era Priest, these crazy Germans play Metal, love Metal, and don`t give a rats` ass what anyone thinks! The German Metal Commandos 3rd release, "Nuclear Fire" pretty much continues what they started on the previous albums. Sure, there`s not an original note to be found, but the songs are played with such passion, conviction, and CHUTZ-PAH, you can`t help BUT love it! Guitars rain down in a veritable firestorm of high powered riffage, the drums & bass are razor sharp! And Vocalist Ralf Scheepers? This man puts every ounce of blood, sweat and beers into each and every note he sings! No Prog Rock squealer, our Ralf. And versatile? Check out "Bleed For Me", a quasi-ballad that shows off his vocal talents for all to see. 11 BLAZING cuts make "Nuclear Fire" one of the best Metal albums of 2001. Can`t wait to see what the 2nd half of the year brings!!!

Primal Fear

Exciter-"Blood Of Tyrants"-2000

Down from the frozen North come four warriors ready to lay waste to the land with fire, flame and sword! No, they`re not Vikings, and they probably won`t lay waste to the land with fire, flame and sword, at least not in the "real" world. But they sure came pretty damn close on CD! Actually, the frozen North I`m talking about [depending on your geographic location] is Canada, and the band of warriors is the legendary Exciter! "Blood Of Tyrants" is the 2nd go`round for this incarnation of the band [Founder John Ricci, guitar, Jaques Belanger, vocals, Marc Charron, bass and Rik Charron, drums], and takes up where 1997`s "The Dark Command" left off. And while ".....Tyrants" has some minor production flaws [esp. the drum sound] compared to the previous album, it`s just as viscous! This is the best Exciter line-up, in terms of song writing, musicianship, etc; I always thought their early work, while heavy, was too much high decibel, low IQ. Well, they won`t be giving fellow Canadian Neil Peart any competition as far as high-brow lyrical statements go, but who needs it? Crushing guitars, Sherman tank like rhythms, all wrapped around songs that have been fine tuned and honed to Metal perfection. The addition of Belanger has given the band an extra dimension, vocally, as can be heard on "Metal Crusaders", "Rule With An Iron Fist", "Brutal Warning", and the title track. [there`s also a cool instrumental called "War Cry"]. Poseurs, beware the Fury of the North!!


"Nikolo Kotzev`s Nostradamus"-2001

OK, this review is going to start off a little strange, but bear with me! As most of you know, I`m American, and I must say that I am proud to have been born there, and also [for the most part] of my heritage, etc, and so on..... The reason I made that opening statement is because some of the remarks I`m about to make could incite others to say things like "Hey, if you don`t like it [America], LEAVE!", or words to that effect. My remarks concern some of the bands and music coming from here that the "popular" media sees as representative of the US "scene". Such as? Take Limp Bizkit and Blink 182 [PLEASE!]; these clowns are among the lowest forms of musical life on planet Earth! I can`t believe I`m saying this, but I`d rather listen to Poison and Winger [!!] than that crap! Come on, "Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water"? "Take Off Your Pants And Jacket"? This may have been clever and funny when I was 11 years old, but get real!. Worst of all, this stuff RACES up the charts! They sell in the MILLIONS here! What the F**K?! Meanwhile, an absolutely BRLLIANT masterpiece like Nikolo Kotzevs` "Nostradamus" is virtually ignored in the States, which is a damn shame! This is, without a doubt, the most ambitious, highest quality "Rock Opera" since The Whos` "Tommy". Nearly 3 years in the making, Kotzev, in addition to his usual extraordinary guitar playing, also authored, produced, as well as directed the 35 piece orchestra present here!

The story concerns the life of Michel de Nostradame [Nostradamus], his famed prophecies, and the key events surrounding his life. To bring such an intriguing concept to life, Nikolo enlisted some of the best talent in the business! Like? Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes, Alannah Myles, Goran Edman, Sass Jordan, Jorn Lande, Dougie White, for starters! Each vocalist portrays a different character, in true operatic fashion. The music is not dissimilar to Deep Purple or Rainbow at times; not surprising, given the players involved. No pompous Dream Theater-style noodling, no Dickinson/Dio/Tate squealing, just great songs being played by great musicians. Nothing like this has ever been tried in the Hard Rock arena [don`t you DARE mention "Operation: Mindcrap"!], and pulled off successfully. I haven`t listed any specific tracks here: go to the link below and find out for yourself. Better yet, BUY IT! Yours will be a truly unique experience, listening to an equally unique piece of music that will outlive us all. Cheers to you, Nikolo! Highly, highly, HIGHLY recommended!!!!

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