Monday, November 29, 2010

Iron Maiden-Fear of the Dark

This is one of the better Maiden albums. Fear of the Dark was the last studio album released before several years of touring and the release of numerous live albums such as A Real Live One, A Real Dead One, and Live at Donnington. This is also the first Iron Maiden album cover not to be designed by Derek Riggs, who did the covers for all of their previous albums. Fear of the Dark is the second bestselling Maiden album, the first being The Number of the Beast. I bought this album a couple of years ago due to a recommendation of a friend and an extra $5 I found in the back pocket of one of my pairs of jeans. I haven't listened to it all that much, so I decided I would seriously listen to it and review it. I am mainly writing this review upon request, so I will do the best I can to make this sound good.

Fear of the Dark is one of Iron Maiden's more progressive and complicated albums. The album mainly consists of faster, more driving songs, and ballads. I have owned this CD for quite some time now, and I haven't listened to it very many times, so this was my first time actually sitting down and completely soaking in the music. And I will say that I am greatly impressed with this treat to the ears known widely as Fear of the Dark. I didn't notice any technical drumming or guitars during the record. Most of the instrumentations were quite simple, but still moderately creative. This is not an album that I would listen to while driving or while on the go, this is an album that I have to sit down and listen to. In other words, this album doesn't make the best background music. The lineup that Iron Maiden had at this time (which I think was also the same general lineup for Seventh Son and No Prayer for the Dying) is my personal favorite. I would consider Seventh Son, No Prayer, and Fear of the Dark to be Iron Maiden's ultimate zenith period. I have had a lot of disagreement regarding that so I thought I would try and get my opinion heard by all of you that are reading my review. The lyrical themes on this album seem to be mainly about the life of someone who is homeless, always on the run, and is paranoid about being attacked. About when the album was more than half over, I suddenly realized that the bassist was one minute playing along the same general notes that the guitars were playing, and the next he was literally all over the place going crazy. After that he would go right back in place with the guitars, it was quite an astonishing thing mainly because he did such a good job with it!

At first, the album kicks off with Be Quick or be Dead, a very short-tempered, fast song that is an explosion of technicality and heavy melodies. This song reminds me of a lot of King Diamond and HammerFall songs. For some reason it seems to surprise a lot of people that someone of my age listens to a lot of the old classic metal such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, King Diamond, Dio, Accept, Led Zeppelin, and Twisted Sister. I have been listening to heavy metal ever since I dug up Led Zeppelin's self-titled CD when I was in third grade. Back to the album, the second song is quite a delectable one. Not as fast as the first, From Here to Eternity is my favorite song off the album. Mainly because this song contains one of the most astonishingly mind-blowing guitar solos I have ever heard in my life. It's something that I call PURE ART (I RARELY call something that). Afraid to Shoot Strangers is the first ballad on this record, and it's not something that I am a huge fan of. Iron Maiden does some pretty wicked ballads, but this one is one of the more mediocre ones, there is a guitar solo in it, and the beginning of it just doesn't seem to fit the song at all, but I will give them credit for creativity and experimentation. The Fugitive is my second favorite song off the album. Although it lacks some in length, it makes up greatly in creativity and melody. I like how they mix distorted guitars with really smooth sounding guitars.

Overall, I am quite glad that I agreed to sit down and listen to this record after a couple of years of not listening to it. One thing that I love is feedback. I love it when people post comments on my reviews giving me feedback and telling me other stuff. I mainly talked about the songs that stuck out to me the most, but that doesn't mean that the rest of the album isn't worth listening to. I would recommend this to just about everyone! I would give this album 16/20.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Attention Maiden Fans!!

This is a message to all fans of Iron Maiden. I will be writing a series of reviews each being on iron maiden albums. I will at least be writing a review on Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Powerslave, Fear of the Dark, and The Final Frontier

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Keep of Kalessin-Reptilian

I have had this album ever since it was released. Having been quite impressed with their debut album, it wasn’t much of a surprise to me that Reptilian was astonishing. I recently saw them live as an opening act for Nile, along with Ex Deo, Pathology, Psycroptic, and Phlegethon. And I was astonished beyond belief. I actually managed to easily get up on the stage and stage dive. On top of that I touched the vocalist’s hair sometime during the beginning of their set. Some time after they got off stage, I got a chance to meet the band at their merchandise table. I learned that three of the members are Satanists, and the fourth being an atheist. They were all very nice and I bought Reptilian on CD and got it autographed by the whole band. After that I decided that Keep of Kalessin is one of my favorite black metal bands of all time. My favorite thing about them is that they aren’t PURE BLACK METAL. They are progressive and experimental, which is a good band to show people who are new to black metal. So if you want to introduce someone to black metal, this should definitely be one of the bands that you show them.

The thing about Keep of Kalessin that I think everyone should know is that they are one of the tightest metal bands I’ve ever heard. This is expressed the most in the intro of The Awakening. The drummer’s blast beats are traditional, but he always adds something small to them, the thing that he adds is different each song and it really makes listening to the drums interesting. The distortion of the guitars is very clean, which means that you can listen to it very loud without experiencing discomfort or damaging your ears. The vocalist isn’t the best at the traditional black metal vocal style, which is probably why he doesn’t do it that often. When he screams, it sounds like he’s straining himself a little bit which could probably mean he is doing it incorrectly, or that he smokes. The one thing that he’s really good at is growling. His growl is very deep, has a powerful sound, and has been practiced a lot. Something that Keep of Kalessin did that I think is unique is that they created a small choir that was used in a few of the songs to give them a really gothic sound at times. One thing that could use a little work is the guitars. The guitars are a little too simple and can be very repetitive at times.

I think that the song that was practiced the most would be The Awakening. The intro is so tight that it seems almost impossible that a band could do that. At first I thought that they edited it in the studio, but they did the exact same thing live and metal bands usually don’t cheat when they play live. The Divine Land is one of the more melodic songs, having a really mystical and gothic sound due to the melodic guitars and large amount of singing. Judgement is an interesting song. It starts out slower, with no vocals, very melodic too. And then the whole song speeds up completely, but still stays extremely melodic and pretty. I guess now I’ll talk about my favorite song from this album (which they played live!), The Dragontower. This song is filled with creativity and color. The notes that are sung in the chorus fit the song perfectly. The Dragontower is the most diverse and abstract song from the album. I would highly recommend this album to black metal newbies, and hardcore black metal fans. This gets 19/20.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Darkthrone-Panzerfaust

This right here is Darkthrone at their best. This is currently one of my favorite black metal albums of all time. My friend bought me this CD when I was in seventh grade, and I literally played it until the player was unable to read the disc. This was the album that introduced me to the wonders of Norwegian black metal. Many of my friends from where I live aren’t really fond of black metal mainly they think that all or most of the blast beat drumming that the drummers do all sound the same. I think that that statement is true in several cases, but there are quite a few black metal bands that have astonishingly creative drummers. Some of those bands include Darkthrone, Keep of Kalessin, Immortal, Dark Funeral, and Ceremonial Castings (although they aren’t pure black metal). Darkthrone has been around for such a long time, and have been so successful that they have become one of the most famous and loved black metal bands of all time, and hopefully their name will be remembered for decades to come.

My favorite thing about most black metal music is that the recording and sound quality is very low profile, raw, and almost (if not) completely unedited. Darkthrone is the best example of that. I cannot imagine Darkthrone’s music in a high quality sound. In this album, there are fewer songs about Satanism, Christian blasphemy, and evil, and there are more songs focusing on the wonders of nature, and forests. The vocals are quite distorted to match the guitars. I love the fact that nothing is too high pitched because I am generally sensitive to high frequencies that are very loud, so I prefer that recordings don’t have too much of anything (especially treble, but a lot of bass is good). Panzerfaust is the first Darkthrone album that uses a lot of simple guitar chords within the songs. Because in albums such as Transilvanian Hunger, and Under a Funeral Moon, the guitar chords are more sophisticated and juicy, which sounds very yummy. I would personally like the vocals to be a tad bit higher pitched because it sounds better to me if black metal vocals are more of a high pitched sound rather than a nasty yelling sound. But I will say that I’m not a person that thinks that all bands of a certain genre should have all of the same qualities; I actually love variety and experimentation within the bands.

I can’t find any songs on this album that I dislike, but I will note a couple of songs that could use some improvement. The guitar part in Quintessence is very boring and repetitive, the only thing about it that changes is the key every once in a while. My favorite song off of this album is definitely Triumphant Gleam. The speed of the song changes in various places which makes me confused on how this song should be making me feel and what emotions this song should give me. The lyrics in this song are actually very powerful if you study them a little, because at first they just seem like a compilation of random notes written down at different times. En Vind Av Sorg is Norwegian for A Wind of Sorrow. This song is very pretty and melodic which really distracts the mind from most of the other punkish, heavier songs. I would highly recommend this to all fans of black metal, and to people who are interested in discovering the astonishingly unique sound of raw black metal. This scores 19.5/20.