Disc Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


The Eels - Meet The Eels: Essential Eels 1996  2006 Volume 1

The Eels - Meet The Eels: Essential Eels 1996 2006 Volume 1

The Eels

Album title: Meet The Eels: Essential Eels 1996 2006 Volume 1
By John Noyd
Posted: Jan 2008
Label: Geffen
(1949) Page Views

L.A.‘s Eels are eclectic intelligence set to a rockin’ beat - imagine American Bandstand hosted by Hunter S. Thompson. A scatological novel where tragic memoirs are sung without remorse, “Essential,” beautifully ties together ten years of sabotaging formulas and stretching perspectives with Blue Velvet cool. The surreal and ideal congeal as corrosive curlicues of bluesy grooves melt into lyrical chamber pop then blend into literate hip-hop as acid-etched solos run over poetic piano reminiscing in childhood reverie. Sunny sarcasm meets cruel clichés as parables of parasites compete among the casualties of heartbreak, wringing truth and hope from bruised ballads and seething symphonies.  “Meet,” includes a visually stimulating DVD, but collectors should also investigate the companion set, “Useless Trinkets,” a collection of B-sides, soundtracks and rarities.

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Too Pure To Die - Confidence and Consequence

Too Pure To Die - Confidence and Consequence

Too Pure To Die

Album title: Confidence and Consequence
By Justin Beckner
Posted: Jan 2008
Label: Trustkill Records
(2036) Page Views

From the corny fields of Iowa comes a new force in hardcore music. Too Pure To Die has made a brutal entrance onto the scene with their debut album “Confidence and Consequence.” The entire album pulses with pure unfiltered anger, raspy vocals, squealing guitar riffs, and a relentless pounding beat that keeps it both edgy and catchy. The band’s raw talent and rabid hunger for touring will bring a smile to the face of any fan of hard rock.

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Sebastian Bach - Angel Down

Sebastian Bach - Angel Down

Sebastian Bach

Album title: Angel Down
By Kimberly E. McDaniel
Posted: Jan 2008
Label: EMI/Caroline
(2427) Page Views

Sebastian Bach took a bit of a hiatus from rock music to concentrate on other projects after departing from Skid Row, most notably his critically-acclaimed turn on the WB’s “The Gilmore Girls.” It appears he’s back and ready to show the young whippersnappers a thing or two, and he has help from another 80’s icon on “Angel Down,” his first solo album in eight years. Probably the most talked about aspect of the album will be Axl Rose’s guest-starring turn on three tracks, a rocking cover of Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle,” “(Love is a) Bitchslap” and “Stuck Inside.” While this does remind me a little of Skid Row, it’s the heavier Skid Row a la “Slave to the Grind.” Bach clearly hasn’t lost his edge, or his trademark vocal stylings. Where this will fit in today’s alternative world remains to be seen, however, it is a great metal record. Fans of Skid Row and ‘80s metal will love this, and it’s probably the closest thing to a release from Axl Rose that we’re likely to see, well, ever.

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Pachyderm Studio Compilation - So Large We Ran Out Of Room

Pachyderm Studio Compilation - So Large We Ran Out Of Room

Pachyderm Studio Compilation

Album title: So Large We Ran Out Of Room
By Justin Beckner
Posted: Jan 2008
Label: Pachyderm Studio
(2298) Page Views

Pachyderm Studio is one of the true “vintage” studios still in operation today. Located on a 40 acre plot of old growth forest, the magical location is home to a Frank Lloyd Wright styled guest house as well as a separate building that houses the famed studio. The mixing board came from the old Record Plant in New York City which was Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland studios. Everyone from John Lennon to AC/DC has recorded on it. Nirvana recorded their “In Utero” album there as well as Live’s “Throwing Copper.” Pachyderm is also rumored to be haunted, but that’s another story.

The latest release from Pachyderm Studio, “So Large We Ran Out Of Room”” is produced by its new owner, Madison entrepreneur and musician Mattew Mueller, and was recorded by a mix of Pachyderm’s world-class engineer group including Brent Sigmeth and Paul Maino.

“So Large We Ran Out Of Room” features recordings of both Madison and Minneapolis artists and offers a quality look at our diverse Midwest rock scene west of Milwaukee. The best part is that you can experience this great album online while contributing to a great cause, the Pachyderm Preservation Project, an initiative to save the old growth forests surrounding the famed Pachyderm Studios from condo developers. Make at least a $1 donation to preserve these forests for future generations and to maintain the quiet surreal backdrop that has set the stage for so many great albums to be created. And in return, download a DRM free song from “So Large We Ran Out Of Room.” Artists on the compilation include White Light Riot, Gypsy Foot, Snake Beard Jackson, Shades A Grey, Down Lo, Fire the Gun (Donny Bakken’s Bliss under an assumed name doing Key of D), Karie Marie, the New Congress and more. Take a stand against the destruction of our world at the hooves of evil -swine, this may be the best money you’ll ever spend. Go to the web and check it out, www.projectpachyderm.org.

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Slayer, Mastodon, Lamb of God, Children of Bodom, Thine Eyes Bleed - The Unholy Alliance: Preaching to the Perverted

Slayer, Mastodon, Lamb of God, Children of Bodom, Thine Eyes Bleed - The Unholy Alliance: Preaching to the Perverted

Slayer, Mastodon, Lamb of God, Children of Bodom, Thine Eyes Bleed

Album title: The Unholy Alliance: Preaching to the Perverted
By Kimberly E. McDaniel
Posted: Dec 2007
Label: Columbia Music Video/American Recordings
(2303) Page Views

The Unholy Alliance tour was hailed as the “heaviest, darkest tour of the summer,” and with the line-up of Mastodon, Lamb of God , Children of Bodom, Thine Eyes Bleed and metal masters Slayer, it’s hard to imagine anything heavier. Each band is introduced with a short interview and the DVD then jumps to concert footage. Thine Eyes Bleed performs “Dark White,” Lamb of God “Vigil,” Children of Bodom“Angels Don’t Kill” and “In Your Face,” and Mastodon offer live performances of “Capillarian Crest,” “Crystal Skull” and “Blood and Thunder.” The bulk of the performance is, of course, Slayer, who perform ten songs, including “South of Heaven,” “Hell Awaits” and “Angel of Death.” In all, the DVD runs about two hours and is full of metal goodness, as well as behind the scenes interviews. If you missed Slayer on this tour, the DVD will give you an up-close-and-personal look of what you missed. It’s a little like having a front-row seat, so even if you were one of the lucky ones who caught the live show, you’ll likely still see something you missed the first time around. For fans of these bands, it doesn’t get much better.

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The Ramones - Too Tough To Die: A Tribute To Johnny Ramone

The Ramones - Too Tough To Die: A Tribute To Johnny Ramone

The Ramones

Album title: Too Tough To Die: A Tribute To Johnny Ramone
By Jeff Muendel
Posted: Dec 2007
Label: Starz Cinema
(2269) Page Views

In September 2004, several groups put on a show to honor Johnny Ramone as he battled cancer. While this movie revolves around that one-night benefit and tribute, it also serves as an excellent documentary about The Ramones as a band. With Rob Zombie acting as the host, acts including Debbie Harry, The Dickies, X, Eddie Vedder, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Henry Rollins took the stage to pump out Ramones songs. It’s brilliant, fun stuff. The show served to celebrate the Ramones’ 30th anniversary and to raise money for cancer research, but it was primarily a celebration of Johnny, who was the core of the band. Unable to attend because he was so sick, Johnny Ramone had meticulously put the show together. He died two days later, and many speculated that he only held on that long to see this show come off. His last show, if you will. In the weeks before his death, Johnny said of his band, “We knew we were good, we knew we were innovative. Still, I would never have expected that thirty years from then, it would really take off and grow exponentially, and we would be bigger than ever.” The live performances alternate with historical information and footage of The Ramones, which makes for an enjoyable romp between eras. Most of the performances are great, but X steals the show as their trademark sound blends perfectly with The Ramones’ no-nonsense songwriting. The documentary ends with Johnny Ramone’s funeral, and it is a truly touching tribute to his quest for both rock stardom and rock and roll perfection. While the movie is not yet released on DVD, it will be, and until then it can be downloaded at www.starz.com. It’s worth the bandwidth.

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Deering & Down - Break This Record

Deering & Down - Break This Record

Deering & Down

Album title: Break This Record
By Brett Lemke
Posted: Nov 2007
Label: Diamond D
(3002) Page Views

In an unexpectedly fresh change, Deering & Down has sloppy, downtrodden rhythm guitarwork reminiscent of the seediest of bars, and the player, lead singer Lahna Deering sounds like a chain-smoking banshee from rural Gerogia. It borders on urban funk, with popping lead guitar lines courtesy of Rev Neil Down. A rockabilly road through Country that seeps Wanda Jackson and Hank III, Deering & Down is a contemporary answer to the influx of pop music, with sultry Vegas crooning, and the occasional extemporaneous keyboard. Recorded at Yellow brick Studio in Memphis, TN, the players on “Break This Record” sound like they have been playing together since childhood.

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3 Inches Of Blood - Fire Up The Blades

3 Inches Of Blood - Fire Up The Blades

3 Inches Of Blood

Album title: Fire Up The Blades
By Kimberly E. McDaniel
Posted: Nov 2007
Label: Roadrunner
(2472) Page Views

An entry from the “screaming vocals and how fast can we play” crowd, 3 Inches Of Blood have both of these areas covered. Musically, the band is tight and the drummer is working the double bass, but vocally, I have no clue what they are saying. When the singer lets loose with the high pitch wailing, he is slightly reminiscent of Rob Halford, but I still can’t understand him. It appears from the song titles that the band is likely influenced by some type of fantasy literature, although I couldn’t say which authors. “Trial of Champions” talks about a battle between the enslaved and the warlords who did the enslaving. There are a lot of references to killing, battles of great ferocity and feasting in great halls where great deeds are recounted. There are also a couple of instrumentals, “Rejoice in the Fire’s of Man’s Demise” and “Through the Horned Gate.” The CD comes with a booklet, which features the lyrics and drawings of horned demons and a scary guy in armor who has a severed head impaled on his sword. If you are a fan of this type of heavy metal, 3 Inches Of Blood is better than most. If you aren’t into this, listen at your own risk.

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Ellis Hooks - Another Saturday Morning

Ellis Hooks - Another Saturday Morning

Ellis Hooks

Album title: Another Saturday Morning
By Brett Lemke
Posted: Nov 2007
Label: Evidence
(2580) Page Views

Gritty, forceful, and steeped in the tradition of James Brown and Junior Wells, Ellis Hooks has put out a Nashville recording loaded with soul and horns from Memphis, Tennessee. Slinky guitar lines soaked with groove and ballads that cross over into Country are to be expected, as the production focuses on his vocal groove as opposed to his rhythm guitar lines. Wilson Pickett’s producer and guitarist Jon Tiven convinced Hooks to record this record when he was considering moving back to Alabama to work as a preacher. Convinced to record again, “Another Saturday Morning” was put together as an amalgamation of southern sounds, focusing on Hook’s immense vocal presence.

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Him - Venus Doom

Him - Venus Doom

Him

Album title: Venus Doom
By Kimberly E. McDaniel
Posted: Nov 2007
Label: Sire/London/Rhino
(2784) Page Views

Fans of the Finnish band H.I.M. (His Infernal Majesty), might not know what to make of their newest release, “Venus Doom.” Anyone expecting a rehash of their hit “Join Me (In Death)” will be scratching their heads over this heavily guitar-oriented offering. The keyboards are still there, but buried underneath pounds of crunchy guitars and vocalist Ville Valo’s deepest vocals ever. H.I.M. has always claimed influences like Black Sabbath, but this is by far the heaviest album the band has put out. “The Kiss of Dawn” features vocals that are so deep that you feel them in your chest cavity. As Valo growls his way through the verses and guitarist Mikko Lindstrom wails heavy riffs, they create a surprisingly heavy experience. “Passions Killing Floor” was featured in the film “The Transformers” and most fans heard it before the album was released. Other song titles include “Dead Lover’s Lane,” “Love In Cold Blood” and “Sleepwalking Past Death.” Hey, I never said they were happy songs! H.I.M. proves with this release that they are clearly not an “emo” band anymore, if they ever were. On “Venus Doom” the average headbanger should find something to like. Give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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Between The Buried And Me - Colors

Between The Buried And Me - Colors

Between The Buried And Me

Album title: Colors
By Kirin Furst
Posted: Oct 2007
Label: Victory
(2953) Page Views

Between the Buried and Me is shocking upon initial exposure. Although they are regularly called death metal and metal-core, the band themselves prefer classification as progressive metal. From the beginning, BBM experimented with jazz, hardcore, heavy metal and alternative rock.  Each genre is represented in a passage distinctly separate from those preceding and following it. These transitions are often jarring, or disturbingly non-existent. In their first Victory Records album, “The Silent Circus” (2003), this struck me as a symptom of disconnected composition and immaturity. By the 2007 release, “Colors,” they have turned the style into a great medium for showcasing their boundary-shattering talent.

The album, “Colors,” displays a continuation of the refinement obvious in “Alaska” (2006), indulging more than ever in eclectic genre sampling. It shouldn’t work in the least, and yet somehow their music is captivatingly beautiful, always impressive, and impossible to become too familiar with. BBM stands as a fantastic example of how versatile the hardcore movement has become. “Colors” is a fascinating exploration of the possibilities unknowingly possible for death metal, progressive rock, even jazz. Just don’t try to figure out how it ultimately fits together.

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Bongzilla - Stash

Bongzilla - Stash

Bongzilla

Album title: Stash
By Jeff Muendel
Posted: Nov 1999
Label: Relapse
(1891) Page Views

This weed-driven band has garnered international attention for its Black Sabbath stylings and pothead namesake, not to mention the smokey, pro-grass lyrics. Calling Madison, Wisconsin home, this quartet has been cranking out heavy riffs, and probably monster bongloads, since 1996. The new CD has nine thundering tracks, including “Sacred Smoke,” “Budgun/T.H.C.,” and “Harvest.” Scattered throughout the tracks are soundbytes of humorous statements and government statistics concerning marijuana. The CD booklet contains ten beautiful photographs of colorful, sticky buds that you can almost smell, as well as a band “headshot” with each member drawing a large hit off of a large bong. If you don’t smoke pot, after listening to this album you probably will.

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