Sunday, October 19, 2008

AC/DC - Black Ice

Black Ice
Columbia Records

Face it, critics and fans can be real hard on bands that have been around for a while. Non-stop publicity engines raise expectations for everyone in the equation. So with a break of eight years between studio platters, the stakes are high for seminal Aussie rockers AC/DC.

At this point in the band's career, a dull record could be a make-or-break proposition. Older fans have moved on with their lives in the years since "Back In Black" hit the racks in 1980, ushering in the Brian Johnson-era of the band. Younger listeners are jaded from an endless supply of artists of all styles heavy. All in all, the odds are already against AC/DC finding success with "Black Ice." Add in the factor of age and this album could have easily been expected to be an outright failure.

Amazingly, it's not.

In fact, "Black Ice" every bit rivals the Johnson-era debut in almost every aspect. The Youngs have teamed up to write a blistering pack of rockers, with the hard rocking first single, "Rock N' Roll Train" leading the way.

When you hear the jamming hook of "Anything Goes" or the fist-pumping title track, you'll understand just why the group took so long to bang out this record.

Each and every track on this album is well-suited to be played at maximum volume in strip clubs and hole-in-the-wall bars and that's exactly what fans needed to hear from this legendary band.

Written By: Puss Whiskey


Unleash The Fury
Spitfire Records

Few that have ever picked up an electric guitar can do the things with it that Yngwie Malmsteen can. To label the six string shredder as a virtuoso is an understatement and his penchant for creating a variety of metal sounds stands as mightily as ever on his latest opus “Unleash The Fury.” 

Followers who reveled in the shred master’s “Trilogy” and “Odyssey” records will find that a similar fluid continuity runs deeply through this album. As much as this ripping lead player can burn up a fret board, he is also wizened in the tactics of getting the utmost emotion from but a handful of notes. Malmsteen emphasizes dramatic overtones and accents urgent rhythms with captivatingly masterful shifts in scalar patterns, all the while retaining a mystical sound that displays a disciplined metal character like none other.

During “Crown Of Thorns,” the guitarist is at his finest, tearing off slashing licks and amazingly blistering runs effortlessly. Vocalist Dougie White croons in a quite similar fashion to past singer Jeff Scott Soto on the medieval natured “Winds Of War (Invasion)”, while pulling off an interestingly sleazy snarl on the at times funky “The Boogieman”, a track which brings a bass heavy thump along for the hook.  

Anyone who is a true metal guitar aficionado is going to be pleasantly surprised at Malmsteen’s ability to morph through varied metal phrasings. During the staccato plucking of Cherokee Warrior, Malmsteen offers classically inspired tones that are embedded inside a wild spirit, while “The Hunt” offers razor-edged precision accompanied by a staunchly theatrical undertone.

At times, a man’s works may justify a strong ego, and the music on this album can be considered as nothing except being masterful. Yngwie J. Malmsteen is the man who brought classical compositional theory to the fore with “Rising Force” and on “Unleash The Fury”, the adept player shows that he can create songs that are as respectfully tuneful yet astoundingly performed as well as ever, making this album yet another of the many highlights in the tenure of a player that will surely stand as legend to aspiring guitarists for decades to come

Written By: Puss Whiskey

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

BREAKING POINT - Beautiful Disorder

Beautiful Disorder
Wind Up Records

As Breaking Point masterfully emits a combination of energy, melody and strong songwriting the success of Beautiful Disorder is virtually guaranteed. Stylistically, the group is certain to appeal to fans of mid-tempo, high energy rock like Puddle Of Mudd and AlterBridge, as Breaking Point proves to be definite contenders for the rock throne in 2005 with this moving assemblage of high quality hard rock.

Songs such as “Show Me A Sign” show a sensibility in their execution that resides somewhere in between the sounds of Crossfade and Collective Soul, while Breaking Point retain their own identity amidst the fray. Smooth vocal harmonies drop hints of Nu Metal at times, with the structuring of the vocal lines reminding one of a more focused Linkin Park or a grown up Good Charlotte.

Nevertheless, hard rock is fueling the heart of this group’s music and their ability to deliver a solid, commercial rock tune is evidenced by the wonderfully arranged “Don’t Let Go.” A track that has hit written all over it, “All Messed Up” finds Breaking Point tackling a traditional power ballad with bold measure of flair.

Lyrically, Beautiful Disorder is focused on relationships, with the wide majority of the songs on the album perfectly represented by the record’s cover in spirit. “Goodbye To You” finds the group at their best, shining through artistically with a track that is not only intensely ear-catching, but highly memorable as well.

Listeners will be hard pressed to find something not to like about this music. Although the style is often a familiar one, Breaking Point never fails to give it a touch of flavor, making for music that is edgy and exciting.

The “From-out-of-nowhere” surprise of the year, Breaking Point appears destined for nothing less than complete stardom with this superb effort.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

STAIND - Chapter V

Chapter V
Atlantic Records

Certainly, if Limp Bizkit vocalist Fred Durst had never witnessed Staind’s impressive live set opening for the LB back in 1997 and subsequently landed the band a recording deal, someone, at some point, would have stumbled upon this band anyway. Being both rock-solid songwriters as well as highly emotive performers, Staind were destined to be put in front of the public eye. It is that public that embraced the band’s auspicious debut; Dysfunctional and that have stuck by this highly listenable group through stellar albums like Break The Cycle and 14 Shades Of Grey.

Digging into Chapter V is an intensely rewarding experience, with each track on the album revealing a wizened songcrafting sensibility. Spacious hooks seal the deal for lead off cut Run Away, as Aaron Lewis leads the band through a brilliantly orchestrated exercise in benchmark modern rock.

His voice remains as resounding as ever, and his poetry as subtly luminous. Those that enjoy the brooding, mid-paced aura which betrays both feelings of depression and desperate hope that has become the signature sound of Staind will revel in the lushly textured Right Here, as Staind offer a more visceral eminence than the majority of their comparably accessible peers. As Schizophrenic Conversations fades in softly, the band’s dynamic presence builds to an intensely dramatic crescendo. Here, Lewis’ vocals radiate with a familiar warmth and ultimately are the deciding factor in the song’s profoundly memorable nature.

Still not afraid to inject touches of metal riffing into their sonic palette, the axes cut sharply on Devil, while the beckoning Please incorporates both a swift beat and a colossal hook.

To be critical, Staind play by the rules on this well produced record, but when a band does it this well, it’s difficult not to enjoy it; however it would be nice to see the group taking a few more chances. That said, Chapter V is a benchmark example of vital rock that finds the group making deep strides in delivering top quality music as well as exhilaratingly adept performances during a time when their career is thriving. Bearing all of the hallmarks of a diamond selling album, the music of Staind resounds magnificently on this stellar effort.