Tag Archives: heavy metal

Chinese Democracy – Album Review

GNR

15 years after their 1993 album “The Spaghetti Incident?”, which was comprised solely of cover songs, the Guns N’ Roses minus everyone except Axl Rose finally put together a new album. Many years in the making, Chinese Democracy was highly anticipated to say the least, even without Slash, Duff McKagan and the gang involved.

Some loved it, others hated it.

But was this big comeback really worth it?

A boldly simple riff leads the way in a kickass opening title track which most definitely sounds like the Guns N’ Roses. You’ve got some great guitar work in there, a top chorus, it’s short and sweet: the album couldn’t have started any better.

Axl goes low for second track “Shackler’s Revenge”, before slowly building to his usual highs. Expect a chaotic guitar hook mixed in with quite a lot of electronic sounds and a solo which is all over the place. The bridge is a bit weak and doesn’t quite fit but luckily the chorus works. It’s a very metal, very experimental track you’ll either have fun with or dismiss altogether as just too messy.

“Better” is a rather modern track for the band as it doesn’t exactly have that nostalgic retro feel to it. Which is not to say it’s not good, it’s got a very unique melody to it which builds really well with some heavier bits thrown in plus a respectable Slash-esque solo. Axl’s voice sounds weirdly different in this one I should point out but it remains a cool song.

A piano solo opens “Street Of Dreams” which goes for a “November Rain”-style ballad. Going back to Axl Rose’s voice, it sounds great when high but a little odd when low here. The song itself is appropriately grand and ambitious and boasts a strong melody despite not being quite as memorable as it probably wanted to be.

“If The World” is next and that one has more of a hip hop beat with something of a Middle Eastern vibe in places. Its pace speeds up and slows down in random places so, while it’s another good song, it’s also another experimental song which might sound a little off here and there. The next track, “There Was A Time”, has a a really strong melody but the chorus ruins it a bit by being so off-key somehow. It settles more later with an atmospheric solo and a solid build-up to the end but early on it’s frankly a bit too distracting.

“Catcher In The Rye” definitely has its moments, especially its solo and the main hook which help structure the song well throughout. You never know where this one’s going but it holds up really well even if it’s not the most memorable track on the album. It’s the nifty little touches here and there which make this one as likeable as it is. “Scraped” is a faster-paced track and, again, there’s a good hook and a cool solo in there. Unfortunately the key changes don’t really fit the vocals which makes it sound like two people are singing two different songs at the same time.

Another track with some weird key changes is “Riad N’ The Bedouins”, a song which, otherwise, is musically sound and which definitely has a lot going for it. “Sorry” is next and it’s a slower track with more of an R&B vibe. It’s a great ballad that works perfectly overall: chorus, bridge, it’s all steeped in attitude and regret. Easily one of Chinese Democracy’s best even if it rarely sounds like the Guns N’ Roses.

The next song, “I.R.S.”, is a fun track with a good melody and lots of energy. Could have definitely heard a song like it on Appetite For Destruction back in the day. It is followed by “Madagascar”, a more political track with more of an emphasis on mood and lyrics. Think of it a bit like a callback to classic GNR song “Civil War”. The track opens with a mini-orchestra (in synth form) giving it an appropriately grand, almost epic quality. Axl sounds like an old soul/blues singer here, in a good way!

There’s a beautiful piano-led melody throughout heartfelt ballad “This I Love” and an admittedly very pretty bridge also. The track grows and grows towards the best, longest guitar solo on the entire album. One of this new Guns N’ Roses’ best and most underrated songs. The album ends on “Prostitute”, a song about… exactly what it says it’s about! The pace is much too up and down in this bizarre ode which is surprisingly pretty but also unfortunately never allowed to fully take-off.

What to make of Chinese Democracy, then?

The fact that Axl Rose finally delivered this album which was such a long time coming and never felt like it would ever exist is in itself something of a miracle. While it’s certainly uneven, with some of its songs jumping from key to key or rhythm to rhythm sometimes with very little rhyme or reason and Axl’s voice sounding nearly completely different depending on where he is in the album or in a song, fans of what used to be the world’s biggest band should still find plenty to enjoy here.

The lack of some key band members means that this isn’t really the Guns N’ Roses, of course, but what we can learn from some of this album’s best moments is that the Roses without the Guns are still worth something.

That’s 3 Drunk Hatters out of 5 for Chinese Democracy. I’ll happily add an extra Hatter but only when Axl releases a brand new album which should be…

Any decade now.

SlashersSlashersSlashers

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Hey Stoopid – Song Of The Day

Hey Stoopid

The title track from Alice Cooper‘s 1991 album Hey Stoopid certainly has a lot going for it: a silly, instantly memorable title, cameo appearances by Slash and Ozzy Osbourne, who provides some backing vocals on the song, but also a reliably absurd and fun video. It was the most successful single on the album and it’s easy to see why.

Check it out, stoopid.

Fear Of The Dark – Song Of The Day

Fear Of The Dark

The title track from Iron Maiden‘s 9th album, “Fear Of The Dark” was the last song on the album and a live version of it was released as a single back in 1992. It’s an appropriately darker song (duh!) and it doesn’t truly kick off until after a very good build-up. Fun track.

Big Bottom – Song Of The Day

Spinal Tap

One of the many memorable musical masterpieces to come out of classic mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap was “Big Bottom” by the iconic pseudo hard rock band Spinal Tap. The performance in the film sees guitars slapping Christopher Guest‘s butt, Harry Shearer rocking a double neck guitar and Michael McKean excelling at singing about rear ends like no-one else.

This is, indeed, Spinal Tap.

Gimme Chocolate!! – Song Of The Day

Babymetal

Babymetal is no ordinary metal band, that’s for sure. For one thing, its three singers are under 18, and the music is kind of a weird mix between heavy metal and teen-friendly J-pop. “Gimme Chocolate!!” is the third song from the band’s first self-titled album and while it is a genuinely pretty awesome song, one has to watch the live performance to really get the full experience. Expect flashing lights, loads of red, bizarre lyrics, unexpectedly upbeat choruses and some of the best dance choreography EVER.

Ready?

Ok then.

Devil Soldier – Album Review

Loudness

The first Japanese heavy metal band to be signed by a major record label in the U.S., Loudness was formed in the early 80’s and has since enjoyed a lasting career with a huge range of albums to their name.

It’s a shame the band isn’t as well known in the UK because they really do have a lot of good stuff in their discography.

Case and point: Devil Soldier.

The second album to be released by Loudness, Devil Soldier was a short one but definitely helped cement the band as one to look out for. It even won the Best Heavy Metal Album award in Japan back in 1982.

With all that in mind, let’s have a listen.

The first song, “Lonely Player”, kicks off the album Judas Priest-style with a whole lotta energy. It shows off singer Minoru Niihara’s range and develops in an eclectic, unexpected way that, somehow, kinda works like a weirdly improvisational, jazzy take on metal. The second song, “Angel Dust”, has more of a KISS-esque beat to it and starts off strong before delivering a fun, catchy chorus.

Good stuff so far.

“After Illusion” follows and slows things down a little after an explosive start by bringing in a rather beautiful, softer melody and slowly building back up to something heavier and more grand. It’s easily one of the best songs on the album (my personal favourite) and single-handedly should make you fall in love with Loudness’ creativity and melodic flair. It’s definitely a hard one to follow.

The fourth song on the album is “Girl” and, although it’s a fun, rhythmically rich tune with an annoyingly catchy repeating riff, it’s also a bit ineffectual and messy. It’s more of a transition track, really. It’s followed by “Hard Workin'”, an energetic, Iron Maiden-style ride with terrific, complex vocal work and a thoroughly entertaining vibe all the way through. A good time.

“Loving Maid” is next and, although its build-up is a tad forgettable, whenever the song speeds up, it gets genuinely really good. It’s a perfect concert song which should drive those lucky enough to party down in a Loudness mosh pit completely nuts. Not bad. “Rock The Nation” is a very cool song with catchy verses and a memorable anthem-like chorus. It could have done with a little more of a punch to it but it still works and gets the job done.

Finally, we have the title song, “Devil Soldier”, a seven minute-long experimental track which opens with a fab galloping rhythm packed with attitude and, after a short break, changes completely, becoming a different song altogether. You never know where this one’s going, calling back to the jazzy madness of “Lonely Player”, but it does brilliantly to keep your attention throughout. Eventually, the song changes once more to become a slower, sexier Led Zeppelin-style ballad with solos and the odd moan but it soon builds back up to a thrilling, epic finale.

That last song is all over the place but Loudness make it work remarkably… somehow.

Overall, while the band has much more to offer than Devil Soldier, it’s still a very solid outing for Loudness and, if you’re interested in finding out about this madcap Japanese 80’s metal band then it’s a pretty good place to start.

I give it 4 Drunk Hatters out of 5.

Check it out 🙂

SlashersSlashersSlashers

Paranoid – Song Of The Day

Paranoid

Easily one of Black Sabbath‘s most recognisable tracks, “Paranoid” was the title song for the album of the same name. The driving guitar and bass rhythm taking you through a nervous, hypnotic journey and good old Ozzy acting as that little voice in your head making you all sort of, well, paranoid. It’s a great, unforgettable song with a lot of bite which certainly started off the 70’s with a bang.