Chris C's blog

Album Review: Ronnie James Dio - This Is Your Life [Tribute Album]

In the annuls of heavy metal, when all is said and done, I continue to believe that Ronnie James Dio will endure as the greatest hard rock and heavy metal singer of all time. From his early days in Rainbow, until his last recordings with Heaven & Hell, there was no denying the force of nature that was Ronnie James Dio. He was everything that was great about metal; a caring, intelligent man who loved nothing more than the power of music. Throughout his illustrious career, Dio's voice became synonymous with metal, his voice the soundtrack of countless lives.

Album Review: Delain - The Human Contradiction

Female-fronted, symphonic metal is one of the few types that can appeal to more than the average metal fan. Whether it's the difference a female voice makes, or the symphonic arrangements tempering the more metallic aspects of the music, the bands of this style have been able to find an audience beyond the usual groups, which is essential, given how their music goes against most everything that modern metal stands for. The roster of bands mining this style is ever increasing, but not nearly as many are able to do it well.

Album Review: Emerson Hart - Beauty In Disrepair

If you're of a certain age, you know Emerson Hart's voice, even if you can't recall the name. As the lead singer of Tonic, he was front and center on a string of hit rock songs, including the most played single on all of radio in 1997. Anyone who turned on a radio back then knows “If You Could Only See”, and ever since he has continued writing great songs, even if the radio landscape has made it hard for an artist like him to get airplay. The pop world is fickle, and as the trends have changed, there isn't much room left for an honest songwriter.

Album Review: Vangough - Between The Madness

The world of progressive metal is pretty insular, so when a band makes a splash, it's hard not to hear about it. Vangough was able to do that with their first two albums, the acclaimed “Manikin Parade” and “Kingdom Of Ruin”, albums I must say I never got around to checking out as fully as I should have. I heard the praise coming from all corners, but for whatever reason, I never managed to hear more than a song or two at a time. Album number three is now upon us, once again attracting a flurry of critical adulation, and this time I'm not going to let the band pass me by again.

Album Review: Sonata Arctica - Pariah's Child

When last we saw Sonata Arctica, the veteran band was in the midst of rebuilding their legacy, after a detour that alienated a large portion of their fan base. That record was a step in the right direction, but not one that was up to the standard that everyone has set for the band. For every great song they wrote, there was a ridiculous attempt at pop stardom, or a banjo-infused number that made little sense. By this point, Sonata Arctica has spent almost as much time rebuilding their credibility as they did establishing it in the first place.

Album Review: ASIA - Gravitas

It brings a smile to my face every time a veteran band puts a new album out, and is genuinely excited to do so. Far too often, the old guard is happy to churn out the hits on an endless loop, putting out albums only when it's required as proof of life, and never with the kind of gusto and energy they showed at the beginning of their career. It's an easy trap to fall into, one that holds a lot of appeal when the later albums you make will have no influence on either your legacy or wallet.

Album Review: Kayser - Read Your Enemy

I often lament the state of current metal, and how so many of us seem to have lost our way over the course of these many years. There was a time when metal bands didn't consider it a sin to write songs that were melodic, hooky, and memorable. If a song caught on with people who weren't the truest of the true, it was a good thing, because it meant more people might start listening. Nowadays, that attitude is all but gone, and anyone who isn't already a metal fan is shunned from entry, due to the retrograde thinking that has taken over metal songwriting.

Album Review: Morbus Chron - Sweven

It's not easy anymore for a band to come out and bend the rules of death metal, creating a sound that is utterly unique to themselves. There isn't much room in the sonic palate for diverse sounds, and the songwriting of death metal is formulaic enough that most bands wind up falling into a very narrow range. It's one of the things death metal fans love about death metal, and one of the things that makes it so hard for me to ever get into that kind of music. At a certain point, when everything sounds the same, there's little incentive to keep trying.

Album Review: Kari Rueslåtten - Time To Tell

One of the more welcome developments in recent years in the corners of rock and metal that we cover is the increased number of women taking up the cause. Whether it's the siren singing in bands like Epica and Nightwish, or the more belting vocals of singers like Anneke Van Giersbergen and Dilana, the number of women whose voices power the albums I hear is a refreshing change of pace. There are times when it is clearly a marketing ploy, but for the most part, a woman's voice is able to bring a new and different feeling to the proceedings.

Album Review: Monsterworks - Universe

When I first heard Monsterworks' unique brand of 'super metal', it was one of the most staggering things I had heard in years. Their music sounded like the aural equivalent of putting pieces from different jigsaw puzzles together, and yet somehow ending up with a beautiful picture when you were done. “Album Of Man” is still one of the more interesting albums I have heard, on an intellectual level, and one that gave me hope that I may have found a band that could both surprise and please me.

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