Permission To Land – Darkness

This is a massive album. When the Darkness pounced onto the scene it was hilariously camp, 80s and rock. This small band from Ipswitch (?) made it big with their cheeky falsetto metal. But, what they did was make those sounds fashionable again. Of course I bought the album. I even went to see them play at Wembley Arena and for most of the gig the band seemed amazed that they were playing Wembley Arena.

I like the opening song “Black Shuck”. There’s one of those crappy mythical stories about a massive black dog roaming around the countryside of Anglia. As far as I know Anglia is that bit that sticks out to the north east of London. If you draw a line from Dartford Bridge to the Wash everything to the east of that is Anglia, I think. The big black dog is called the Black Shuck. It’s a really good shout out to the stories of my homeland.

Then you get “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” which, apart from the consent issues within that statement, is a great song. You haven’t heard the word motherfucker sung in a more beautiful way. If “your woman” has consented to have another person touch them then I am afraid there’s nothing you can or should do about it. She isn’t “your woman” she’s a person and if that’s what she wants to do then good for her. It’s probably time for you to have a discussion about your expectations of the relationship.

“I Believe In A Thing Called Love” is tremendous. Well worth the listen and a very well constructed song. It’s got some of my favourite types of song structures including lines with just the rhythm section playing – I do like that. That sound is a bit like why I like Dokken live, the bass and drummer belting out the riff while the solo goes on in the background.

The rest of the album is good and strikes a cheeky AC/DC vibe with the theatrics of Queen in the videos. It’s good holiday music I think. Not to be taken seriously but written with the style and panache of a grown up rock band who are having fun and making music that they enjoy. It’s a happy album.

During my visit to Washington DC in 2013 Rich and I listened to this album as we drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Great tracks for a great day.

Peace Sells . . . But Who’s Buying? – Megadeth

This is a monster of an album.

Vic Rattlehead

A long time ago there was a documentary on BBC2 called “Heavy Metal”. In it they tried to explain heavy metal music. They had a clip of the comical Napalm Death along with some clips of Motorhead and, I seem to remember, a clip of Megadeth playing “Peace Sells But Who’s Buying” open air in Northern Ireland [at a time when there definitely wasn’t peace]. For a long while that opening riff stuck in my head and one day I bit the bullet and bought the vinyl album.

My initial reaction was one of disappointment. I loved the pop-like qualities of the title song but the opening made me think “oh, this is another thrash band”. How wrong I was.

After a few listens the genius of this album started to creep out and grab hold of me. It’s a gorgeous complete piece of art [although “I ain’t superstitious” is a bit shit].

If you know me then you know that I consider “Wake Up Dead” to be the best song ever. It contains THREE of the best metal riffs ever and they occur in the last half of the song. Being in the pit with this playing and the whole crowd bouncing in time with the riffs is an amazing memory.

This album was written while Mustaine was heavily into drugs and you can tell. It’s probably why it’s so good. He got cleaned up at some time later and found religion. Mind you, religion is a part of the 12 step process, and just to point out that AA or even NA is only ONE way of getting clean and the evidence shows it’s not the best way of doing it. Because one of the Daves found religion he refuses to play THE CONJURING live any more. Which is a fucking shame because it’s a great song.

The above video shows Nick Menza [just one of Megadeth’s many drummers] playing his part of The Conjuring during the same tour when I first saw Megadeth. It was the Clash Of The Titans tour. Amazing.

The title song of this album is amazing.

Devil’s Island rocks with its fast riffs and high paced beats.

Good Mourning/Black Friday – more classic Megadeth with proper fast complex riffs. Clearly showing why they are better than Metallica.

Bad Omens – sends shivers down my spine. These songs are so well crafted.

[I Ain’t Superstitious – terrible song] every band gets one free pass on every album as far as I’m concerned. With this album it’s this song. It’s shit.

My Last Words – weren’t the last words of the Daves and the next album is an almost complete and perfect selection but the raw power and speed of this album is amazing. You can feel the anger, the rage, the fighting. It speaks volumes, if you want to listen.

Passion and Warfare – Steve Vai

Steve Vai? He’s a metal guitarist isn’t he? I’m pretty sure he played with Whitesnake and then some others. I should get this album. I think that was my thought process a long time ago when I bought this album on music cassette.

By Source, Fair use, Link

This album had problems with the record on the music cassette. I liked it, even though it was instrumental all the way, but the tape had some problems. When I finally got this on download or CD the sound was so much better. I didn’t take the tape to be replaced at the shop because that would require human interaction and I don’t enjoy that at all. This album and Back In Black both had problems which I never resolved.

I’d definitely recommend streaming this album. I know I’ve enjoyed it but I think the mood has to be correct. Give it a go yourself.

I grew up in the cross over age between analogue and digital recordings. My early memories of music was either vinyl or music cassette. At home there was a record player and I have owned two in my time. There was also a small “portable” music cassette player which was my mum’s and she had ABBA albums mostly to play on that. I do remember my dad having Oxygene by Jean Michele Jarre on tape but I don’t ever really remember them playing and enjoying the music. Strange that.

My first album was bought on vinyl. It was a big decision and my mum was quite insistent that I really wanted that album. The Ghostbusters OST is still considered a classic by those who grew up in the 80s. I don’t recall what my first music cassette was, it’s been a long time. I do know that the “purist” in me preferred vinyl to cassette and I would buy on vinyl and then self record the music to cassette for portability.

By ThegreenjOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Both vinyl and cassette have issues with reproduction of sound. When Phillips and Sony announced the standards for the Compact Disk it seemed an exciting world. To me it seemed strange that we would soon have to adopt new music systems and spend more money. I think I often fall into the trap of thinking that the current life we lead should be static and things shouldn’t change, but change they do. Music reproduction had been improving for all the time music had existed and the five-track had been and died, the phonograph was being improved, digital was on the way.

There were digital tapes and mini-disks but the CD has proven to be true to time and works well. I can remember watching Tomorrow’s World when they described a CD and played one in the studio. I can remember thinking that the sound quality wouldn’t work over the analogue broadcast just before the presenter said that us at home wouldn’t be able to tell the difference because of the analogue transmission system.

Television is now digital and 5.1 sound is transmitted on many channels. Sound quality is improving all the time. New standards are developed and the march forwards continues. I doubt the file sizes can get any smaller because there’s a lower limit on compression of information but I do think that we are now heading the other way and some people will start moaning that all music should be stored at a lossless CD quality.

When I was a teenager my pocket device carried ninety minutes of music. My current device carries over six thousand songs and I’m not even halfway full of the capacity. It’s quite remarkable.

Pandemonium – Killing Joke

Killing Joke? They wrote “The Wait” didn’t they? That song from Garage Days Re-Revisited by Metallica. Yes they did.

I’m still not sure about Killing Joke. Some of their stuff is amazing and some of it leaves me cold. There’s something about the wishy-washy guitar sound that doesn’t always work. Perhaps they inhabit the mysterious wastelands between metal and indie?

This album though is five stars [out of five]. The guitar work is heavy and decent, possibly grungy, while the song structures along with style all make this feel like a decent album. I played this over and over when I first discovered it. The songs have a dreamy, calming feel, leading to relaxation and enjoyment.

This album comes recommended to all.

Out Of Exile – Audioslave

This is one of three albums by Audioslave that I own. I can’t tell you specifically about this particular album but I can tell you that all three are good and were played very regularly around fourteen years ago.

I’m not sure how I discovered Audioslave, I think I have these on CD so I had to physically buy them at some point. When I started listening to the band I don’t think I was aware of their pedigree. I did notice that some of the guitar work is quite innovative and the solos seemed out of place compared to the easy rock listening of the rest of the songs.

Audioslave is:

  • Chris Cornell [Soundgarden]
  • Tom Morello [Rage Against The Machine]
  • Tim Commerford [Rage Against The Machine]
  • Brad Wilk [Rage Against The Machine]

This band is a fusion of the Seattle sound and L.A. influences and it shows. It’s well worth getting. But, here’s the rub: I haven’t listened to this album for a long time so I can’t do a list of which songs are best and which ones make me shiver but I do know that I enjoy listening to every Audioslave album. Maybe I’ll write more about the Revelations album when I get there.

This is the last “O” album in the current round of album reviews.

Origin Of Symmetry – Muse

I have tried Muse. I’ve tried really hard. The problem is I hate it. About eight years ago I borrowed three albums from a student at work. I listened to them and I tried really hard to like it. I wanted to like it. I can hear it and appreciate the cleverness and the writing, I can see why people love them, I know they are a very technological wary band – they produced a VR music video. I’ve had it explained to me that the shows are amazing. But you know what?

I still hate it.

I think it’s his voice. It could be the melody. I don’t know. It leaves me cold. Almost sick.

Open Up And Say Ahh! – Poison

I was in the sixth form at school when my metal and rock awakening truly happened. I saw Iron Maiden in December 1988 during that academic year. I’d spent a few years learning my stuff. Metallica played regularly in the common room and pretty much the whole sixth form liked its metal. There wasn’t really any other type of music played as far as I can remember – but this could be just confirmation bias. We had study booths and in and around them we decorated them with pictures of bands and singers.

Brett Michaels is the singer in the band Poison, his picture was up on the wall. I found this picture confusing. I wasn’t sure if it was a man or a woman. It amused me the idea that this hard, heavy, macho, sexist genre of music produced so many stars who were sexually dubious. When someone told me it was Brett Michaels I was very much, “Oh, ok then”. Whether a man or a woman wore make-up didn’t bother me either way. Do what you want was in my mind. I don’t think it was a rule to be explained to people as it is now but it was there in my conscious.

Brett Michaels

These days I feel I have to explain to the world that people can do what they want [within the realms of the current socially-liberal laws] that makes them happy as long as it’s consensual. Two men, two women, four men, any combination, dress how you want, wear make up, do whatever. As long as it is consensual then feel free. I reckon that poster of Brett Michaels helped me start to build my ideas of society and its rules. Another time was the first Red Nose Day when I wore make up around the school for a laugh, I liked it.

I should probably talk about the music as that what these communications are about. I have had the album playing while I’ve been working at the computer and also writing this. I’m four songs in and haven’t had a bad song yet. It’s all good natured lovely rock songs. Brilliant stuff. Now to skip the songs a little to jog my memory.

Look But Can’t Touch has an amazing opening riff and I reckon it would make an amazing thrash song or even some decent aggrotech. I wonder if I can make the other half of my art collektiv give this a working over?

  • Love On The Rocks
  • Nothin’ But A Good Time
  • Back To The Rocking Horse
  • Good Love
  • Tearin’ Down The Walls
  • Look But You Can’t Touch
  • Fallen Angel
  • Every Rose Has Its Thorn
  • Your Mama Don’t Dance
  • Livin’ For The Minute

I’m going to put my neck out and state that Your Mama Don’t Dance is the weakest song with it’s bullshit rock ‘n’ roll riff. It’s a popular song but it misses the mark as far as I am concerned. Then there’s “Every Rose”; It’s an amazing song but I think it’s been over done in my head, slightly over cooked, it’s too big, it’s so well known. “Rose” is a great song, it’s just too much now.

Every song on this album is excellent and it’s a very good BBQ summer, outdoors album where no one would dare be offended. I do love my 80s cock-rock and I love this album.

Once More ‘Round The Sun – Mastodon

I got this album because I went to see Mastodon play at the Brixton Academy. I was quite impressed with the album, it’s complex and has a unique style. I don’t think I’ve really listened to it since I went to the gig though.

A strange thing popped out of this for me, I think the drummer sounds a lot like Nicko McBrain when he drums. I’m not wordy enough to be able to explain but there’s something in the complexity of the fills and rolling beats that reminds me of Iron Maiden.

This album is worth listening to. I’m not sure I’d buy any more from this band though.

On Through The Night – Def Leppard

I had this album copied on music cassette at first. I can’t quite remember who I got it from but it was possibly the chap who I had planned to see Def Leppard with in 1988. There were two of us at school who liked the band and I was meant to go and see them play at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Hysteria tour. I didn’t go to that in the end as I secured a place on the Cyprus camp and that seemed more worthwhile.

This is the first album by this band. IT is a monster album musically. I don’t know if it was a numerical success [checks Wikipedia], it did OK for a debut. I reckon it did well ultimately because fans went back and bought the back catalogue. I know that Def Leppard were disappointed at being lumped in with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal which was a mostly London thing. Def Leppard were from [checks Wikipedia, wants to write Sheffield] Sheffield and didn’t really like all that London stuff.

I love this album.

What gets me most is how well all the songs are crafted so well for such a young band. You could swap this and their second album and it would make more sense. In my mid to late teens I found High n Dry a little too-samey and this, the first album, was interesting all the way through. I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in that early 80s sound of rolling bass lines and proper sounding guitars.

So, the singer has a classic high voice, but that was a part of its time. The bass is lovely and loud, the guitars work together in harmony and each song has tempo breaks and fits together in a Coca Cola contour-bottle shaped audio-scape [that last metaphor is either amazing or bullshit].

When writing these reviews I tend to have that album on in the background, jogging my memory as I write. The sounds for this album have made me stop and listen a number of times. This is a good thing, I normally don’t pay attention to the music, or at times I don’t have the songs playing as it is an album I know intimately.

  • Rock Brigade – lovely
  • Hello America – a little bit bullshitty
  • Sorrow Is A Woman – great guitars, lovely lyrics, good riff
  • It Could Be You – look, all these songs are
  • Satellite – really good, except for the “ooh yeah”s in this one
  • When The Walls Come Tumbling Down – a post apocalyptic wonder
  • Wasted – Excellent opening riff, the beat keeps going, excellent
  • Rocks Off – classic high speed riffage (possibly live but I think the crowd sounds were a post production issue
  • It Don’t Matter – Lovely
  • Answer To The Master – to be said with an American accent, also has a classic starty-stop solo section with some awesome bass work [I guess the guitars are good too]
  • Overture – this is an amazing piece of writing that still shakes me

Look metal fans. Go and buy this. Listen and enjoy. Play it to your family telling them it’s one of the best. They won’t understand.