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  • Disc Reviews

    by Max Ink Staff Writers


    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
    (2471) 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
    (3180) 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
    (2667) 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
    (2780) 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
    (2982) 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
    (3174) 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
    (2133) 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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