Disc Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Black Sabbath - The Rules of Hell (Box Set)

Black Sabbath - The Rules of Hell (Box Set)

Black Sabbath

Album Title: The Rules of Hell (Box Set)
By Jeff Muendel
Posted: Aug 2008
Label: Rhino Records
(2161) Page Views

There’s no denying the Ozzy-era Black Sabbath and that band’s groundbreaking sound. But, it is also undeniable that Ronnie James Dio saved Black Sabbath when he took over as vocalist in 1980. When founding members Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler chose Dio as their new vocalist, the group’s sound matured, and it gave Sabbath another two years of productiveness before the band spiraled into near obscurity as lineup change after lineup change gradually eroded away all identity. Though Dio’s time with the metal pioneers produced only two studio albums and one live release, those years added an unforgettable chapter in Black Sabbath’s history. In 1992, Dio rejoined Black Sabbath after a decade on his own to record an album called Dehumanizer. While the recording doesn’t capture the fire of the earlier releases, it nonetheless offers many fantastic cuts, and produced another tour wherein the older material could be performed again.

Rhino Records has now released a box set that includes all four of these recordings – Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules, Live Evil, and Dehumanizer – all recently remastered for the first time. The set comes packaged in a deluxe black (how much more black could it be?) slipcase with extensive liner notes featuring new interviews with the band members. This five-disc box set sounds great and looks as evil as it should. Heaven and Hell sounds more awesome than ever with the new mastering; Mob Rules retains its status as the most under-appreciated release of the entire Black Sabbath canon; and Live Evil offers up extended jams and alternative arrangements from both albums. If you like Dio or the Dio-era Black Sabbath, this box set is a must-have.

Black Sabbath Online
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My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade

My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade

My Chemical Romance

Album Title: The Black Parade
By Rocky Linderman
Posted: Jun 2008
Label: Warner Brothers
(2091) Page Views

It has become hard to live in America. In a few short years we, the American people, have had to learn how to live with the constant threat of terrorist attacks. We have had to endure the loss of brave men and women who laid down their lives in Iraq. And now more recently we are learning to live with an economy that is on the decline. Things are not looking good. Americans are living in fear. Its everywhere that you look. You can feel it in the very air that you breathe. That is why My Chemical Romance’s third album, “The Black Parade” is so important to our time.

No other album released this year has been able to capture the fear that is so prevalent in our country. Forged from the anguish of mental illness, the loss of loved ones, and the pain of knowing that all living things must die, “The Black Parade” captures the essence of what it means to be a human being. It isn’t just an album it’s a story. It’s a concept album that tells the story of a character, who is simply known as, “The Patient.”

When the story first begins The Patient is informed that he is going to die. The album then examines the things that The Patient has endured throughout his lifetime. The first track on the album, “The End,” is an epic beginning to a stunning record that isn’t afraid to face life head on. Every song is an exploration of a particular fear. The guys of My Chemical Romance take on everything. Whether its the fear of dying, the fear of having to live without someone, the fear of addiction and the enslavement it brings, the fear of living up to your parent’s expectations, the fear of having someone walk out on you, the fear of not being accepted, the fear of a terminal illness and the pain it will cause, or the fear of eternal damnation each is represented on the album.

My Chemical Romance takes every one of these possible terrifying situations and dives right in. It is not an easy record to listen to. My Chemical Romance do not pull their punches, but that is what makes the album so great. They are able to tell their listeners that this is how life is, it is a mortifying, paralyzing experience and it will rip you apart if you let it. But that is the key, if you let it.

Every one of the songs leads up to a grand climax. The message that My Chemical Romance is trying to impart to their listeners is finally made clear, living life is a scary thing and all of these horrible things will happen to you, but you can’t give up. You can’t be afraid to live your life. The final song on “The Black Parade,” entitled, “Famous Last Words,” says it best, “I am not afraid to keep on living. I am not afraid to walk this world alone.”

“The Black Parade” is a truly marvelous album that is unlike anything our generation has seen before. The only record that it is even comparable to is Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and just like Pink Floyd was able to capture the fears of their generation, My Chemical Romance has exposed the fears of a new generation. “The Black Parade” is a towering beacon of hope in a world that desperately needs some good news. You owe it to yourself to listen to this album.

My Chemical Romance Online
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Spiritualized - Songs in A & E

Spiritualized - Songs in A & E

Spiritualized

Album Title: Songs in A & E
By John Noyd
Posted: Jun 2008
Label: Fontana International/Spaceman
(1628) Page Views

Heavenly choirs and late-night lullabies are interspersed among sutured blues and scalding psychedelia as Britian’s Spiritualized re-emerges with another overflowing opus. A modern odyssey reflecting the scary times in which we live; “Songs,” howls, sings and mumbles its way through reverence and misery. Front man, Jason Pierce, continues to explore metaphors for war, love and drugs - stirring together a half-buried blend of blazing guitars, spaced-out harmonics and the occasional pop melody to round out the mix. A tumultuous cavalcade of passion and torment, Spiritualized bravely rises to celebrate, communicate and commiserate through hard-lived logic and clinging hope. Equally adept at portraying the claptrap of an unhinged mind and the purity of a healed heart, “Songs,” rings, rips and resonates - indulging, retracting and sorting through galactic debris.

Spiritualized Online
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Time To Kill - Insanity

Time To Kill - Insanity

Time To Kill

Album Title: Insanity
By Jeff Muendel
Posted: May 2008
Label: Turkey Vulture Records
(2074) Page Views

The band Time To Kill came together at the end of 2006 in Wisconsin Rapids when guitarist K. Monville and drummer Paul Huser joined forces. They then added bass player Chad Nordman and completed the group with lead singer Nicole Williams. The resulting sound is somewhere between the thrash metal of Slayer and the aggressive punk of Suicidal Tendencies. While much of the CD has a fast meter, the group knows when to slow it to a Black Sabbath grind with songs like “Emotionless” and when to take it to the speed limit with cuts like “No Forgiveness.” Time To Kill gets bonus points for having a female front the group while retaining the sort of sound and attitude that usually subsists in all-male factions.

Time To Kill Online
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Kris Delmhorst - Kris Delmhorst

Kris Delmhorst - Kris Delmhorst

Kris Delmhorst

Album Title: Kris Delmhorst
By John Noyd
Posted: May 2008
Label: Signature Sounds
(2079) Page Views

Embellished in voodoo spookiness that creeps and sweeps over open poems embracing life’s jamboree, Delmhorst’s, “Shotgun,” paints panoramas of blue skies and bayous. Playing light and breezy as easily as dark and swampy, her intoxicating voice shines like moonlight as, “Shotgun,” flickers and glows, fluttering between fiery passions, coy temptations and uncertain futures. Creating the record holed up in a cabin communing with her muse, Delmhorst eventually opened up her solo versions to several distinguished musical associates, giving “Shotgun,” a meditative freshness and outgoing friendliness. Skipping from drum machine hippie to solemn and solitary confessor, Delmhorst’s odes of appreciation for the rewards of simple pleasures are resoundingly satisfying. Always a thought-fueled songwriter, her Thoreau intentions produce transcendental results that steadily steal into your very soul.

Kris Delmhorst Online
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In Flames - A Sense of Purpose

In Flames - A Sense of Purpose

In Flames

Album Title: A Sense of Purpose
By Kirin Furst
Posted: Apr 2008
Label: Koch
(2174) Page Views

In 1990, a new genre was forged by these Swedish bands: In Flames, Dark Tranquility and At the Gates. It wasn’t until the later 90’s that melodic death metal caught on and since then In Flames has steadily grown in international popularity. Rejecting from the beginning the trademark brutality of parent genre death metal, they have increasingly moved away from the discussion of more grandiose Lovecraftian themes to those of personal despair, a change some pin to “Reroute to Remain” (2002) or “Soundtrack to Your Escape” (2004). At the same time, In Flames began incorporating influence from bands it had spawned which was a plethora of modern metal genres.

Long-standing In Flames fans express disappointment with the band’s ‘selling out’ to an American market inundated with bad nu-metal and pussified alternative. Those particular fans will shit criticism of the newest release, “A Sense of Purpose” (April 2008). The album sparkles clean with chorus-y layered vocals (a nice touch, but highly unnecessary in such quantity), introspective, angst-sodden lyrics, and the occasional ballad-rock string plucking. Aside from these rather superficial explorations into a more highly produced, epic, yet not necessarily more mature incarnation of In Flames, the best moments often feel regurgitated.

In Flames Online
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Marashino - The Picture of Us All

Marashino - The Picture of Us All

Marashino

Album Title: The Picture of Us All
By Kristen Winiarski
Posted: Apr 2008
Label: Self Released
(1938) Page Views

Deriving their name from a delicious and similar-sounding sundae topper, Milwaukee’s Marashino are no cherries. Since their inception in 2002, the band have performed hundreds of shows from local clubs, county fairs, Summerfest a few times, and even a few jaunts around the country. Having opened for the likes of Crossfade and Shinedown, the band appears ready for a new challenge.

This year welcomes a new release from the band entitled, “The Picture of Us All”. Their self-released album mixes rock with impressive guitar lines as well as unique vocal styling.  Their rockin’ alternative style permeates throughout the entire album. Something really attention-grabbing about the band is the voices. Four out of the five band members sing vocals throughout the album. This exposes the listener to a greater vocal range than otherwise demonstrated by bands with a single dominating lead singer. The power of each voice has its own intensity that is felt through each lyric that is sung. This is especially evident in the song “Dilemna” as the beginning showcases a voice without music. The gravely voice is able to stand out on its own without other musical accompaniment. The listener is able to feel the desperation melt into their own soul. This demands attention to the voice alone until it is joined by the guitar and other instruments. The different periods of silence throughout the song also act to emphasize the different lines of lyric. As you listen to this album, the angst of self-discovery is combined to form a story.
This band proves to be more than just the topper and is a stand-out against others. It is, in fact, the entire sundae.

Marashino Online
Website


Egypt Central - Egypt Central

Egypt Central - Egypt Central

Egypt Central

Album Title: Egypt Central
By Kimberly E. McDaniel
Posted: Apr 2008
Label: East West
(5126) Page Views

I had never heard of Egypt Central, but their self-titled debut is actually very easy on the ears and could find a happy home on modern rock radio stations.  There is something similar to Linkin Park about this band, as they rap a little and in truth, being radio-friendly can be as much a curse as a gift these days. 

Opening tracks “Different,” “You Make Me Sick” and “Taking You Down” are probably the most interesting tracks and are likely to be heard on the radio. Their style is catchy modern rock which is well-played as well as being well-written. If they can get past the hard-rock stigma, they might be able to get somewhere.

The problem that they need to overcome is that they aren’t particularly original sounding.  They remind me of several different bands, and sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it is not. If you like catchy, radio-friendly material, then Egypt Central is worth checking out.

Egypt Central Online
WebsiteWiki


Testament - Demonic

Testament - Demonic

Testament

Album Title: Demonic
By Kimberly E. McDaniel
Posted: Apr 2008
Label: Prosthetic
(1802) Page Views

Testament is undoubtedly one of metal’s hardest working acts, releasing both “Demonic” and “The Gathering” in 2007 alone. The sheer output of this band is quite impressive, and for those who like the super-heavy, crunchy guitar sound and a growling vocal styling, “Demonic” is sure to be a hit.

The first track, “Demonic Refusal,” builds to a wailing frenzy, with guitarist Eric Peterson wrenching sounds from the instrument, which seems slightly tortured.  Drummer Gene Hoglan and bassist Derrick Ramirez keep up with this crazy pace throughout the album. Vocalist Chuck Billy growls menacingly from song to song; with the one exception being “Hatreds Rise,” where he does actually sing a little.

Truthfully, I am not the biggest fan of this sort of metal. However, I did quite like “Hatreds Rise” and there is some fairly impressive guitar work present throughout the entirety of “Demonic.”  Certainly any Testament fan already owns this. Since it seems fairly representative of their work and sound, if you are curious pick up a copy of this and get “Demonic.”

Testament Online
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Repertoire - Moving On

Repertoire - Moving On

Repertoire

Album Title: Moving On
By Kristen Winiarski
Posted: Apr 2008
Label: Self Released
(3450) Page Views

Singing out of the lands of Milwaukee, WI, comes Repertoire. This fusion of the styles of Jack Johnson and Dispatch has recently unleashed their second album, “Moving On”. Just from the title alone, the album is meant to give hope. Through the music, they tell you to “dream on dreamer.”  Whether or not things will get better, they make you think that it will. The album is meant to make you believe and give you hope in the world as well as hope in love.

The band was originally formed in 2001 and released their first album, “Even Sleep” in 2003. Even after the lead singer, bassist, and keyboardist left the band in 2005, songwriter Michael O’Donnell and drummer/vocalist Michael Jaklich, were able to pull back together and assemble a new group of players to release “Moving On” in November, 2007.

The music is also similar to Dashboard Confessional in the themes represented through the music. Throughout the album is the unique mix of vocals, guitar, drums, piano, saxophone, and violin. This mix allows the listener to both relax and identify with the wish to dream or love. The song “Moving On” showcases that violin sound at the beginning as well as throughout the piece. Their style can be described as a mix of Indie, Pop, and Alternative.

You may have already heard their music on Milwaukee radio station, 103.7 KISS FM. Repertoire was chosen as the KISS Superstar of 2008 and their song “Dreamer” has been added to the station’s playlist. If you haven’t heard them yet, give them a listen if you’re looking for something uplifting with a fun mellow beat.

Repertoire Online
Website


Carrie Newcomer - The Geography of Light

Carrie Newcomer - The Geography of Light

Carrie Newcomer

Album Title: The Geography of Light
By John Noyd
Posted: Apr 2008
Label: Rykodisc
(1957) Page Views

A marvel of melody and metaphor, Carrie’s enlightened, “Geography,” quietly advocates the central values of community, casually gathering parallels between nature and the human condition. A soft spoken rebel that dabbles in sophisticated folk and literate country, Newcomer combines questions and conclusions with elegant allusions and persuasive sentiments. Both reverent and relevant, “Geography,” mixes history with poetry and everyday dramas with uncommonly common sense. An old soul with fresh eyes, Newcomer is a rare example of a musical talent serving her virtues with honor and respect while tackling life’s recurring obstacles. As she has on numerous other recordings, Newcomer uses Madison favorites Mary Gaines and Chris Wagoner to flesh out her glorious stories, empowering solid words to deliver musical goodwill, collaborating to craft a masterpiece of hope.

Carrie Newcomer Online
WebsiteWiki


British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?

British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?

British Sea Power

Album Title: Do You Like Rock Music?
By John Noyd
Posted: Mar 2008
Label: Rough Trade
(2007) Page Views

Or more appropriately, do you like grandly ambitious Rock music? A gutsy, atmospheric disc of rumbling panoramas, caressing epics and invigorating inquires, “Do You Like Rock Music?” balances awe with irony for a sublime combination of youthful triumph and revolutionary transcendence. Distilling a turbulent world view into tenacious fables of personal politics, BSP’s edgy eloquence preaches over bristling riffs, bashing guitars, expansive arrangements and vacillating dynamics.  Churning and melodramatic, BSP’s smart mouths, nimble fingers and savvy minds suggests early Radiohead folded around desperately earnest Bowie and socially conscious Pulp. Deliberately forthright and emphatic, BSP’s conniving conundrums of post-modern perspectives makes, “Do You,” a masterful exercise in pushing boundaries while staying the course, making waves guided by the stars. BSP plays Chicago’s Empty Bottle March 24.

British Sea Power Online
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