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Showing posts from November, 2016

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 183

Anthrax "This Battle Chose Us!" (2016) VS Megadeth "Last Dying Wish" (2016) VS Metallica "Lords Of Summer" (2016) VS Slayer "Atrocity Vendor" (2015)

"This Battle Chose Us!" may be the only song that was placed correctly in the track order for "For All Kings", because it's that slower, more thoughtful conclusion before the thrash ending where the album blows its wad.  (Okay, two songs were placed correctly.  Spoilers.)  And then in the back half, it becomes the song where the album tries to blow its wad in a mad blast of energy.

"Last Dying Wish" is kind of ham fisted and it takes awhile to get into the choppy rhythm, but I can actually relate to the lyrics.  It's about the need to prove yourself and seize opportunity; the impulse to conquer, to be the best.  I mean, I only remember those drives as phantoms of a foolish youth when I believed such victories were possible, but I do remember them. 

Anyway, now tha…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 182

Anthrax "All Of Them Thieves" (2016) VS Megadeth "Look Who's Talking" (2016) VS Metallica "Spit Out The Bone" (2016) VS Slayer "Piano Wire" (2015)

Definite word nerd points to Anthrax for using "recidivist" in a seamless manor.  The song is more hard-charging than most of "For All Kings" but still seems like it's stuck in fourth gear when it should be up to 5th.  The back half tries to make up for this by randomly having the solo section go full thrash speed, which is a little unearned but at least they try to make the transition smooth.  Overall, not bad.

"Look Who's Talking" is track 8 on the iTunes and Best Buy versions of "Dystopia", so if you have those versions of the album and were wondering where this was, here's your answer.  (Same goes for tomorrow's song "Last Dying Wish", which was track 12 on those editions.)  I like the solo section of this song, but the rest of it…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 181

Anthrax "Defend/Avenge" (2016) VS Megadeth "Foreign Policy" (2016) VS Metallica "Murder One" (2016) VS Slayer "Implode" (2015)

"Defend/Avenge" is weird in how, unlike most songs with a slash in the title, the chorus sings "Defend Avenge!" instead of it being two different songs one after the other.  Though that does play into the theme:  The beginning has a pretty bad-ass riff that seems to be building toward something, and then aw shit there's that stupid march again I talked about in the "Death From Within" blurb.  They do play around with it rhythmically by throwing in subdivisions and changes so it's not unbearable or anything.  And I know, I'm probably the only one out there that has this problem.  I've just...never liked that one beat, and it's used all the time.  Anyway, there are elements besieging the standard song structure, and the chorus girds its loins and fends them off with this squ…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 180

Anthrax "Blood Eagle Wings" (2016) VS Megadeth "The Emperor" (2016) VS Metallica "Am I Savage?" (2016) VS Slayer "Chasing Death" (2015)

Settle in, because this is the longest Anthrax song ever released (clocking in at 7:53).  The song is half time and spacious, letting notes ring rather than clamping down, but then the middle section cranks that shit up into some real thrash.  The ending is far too long though, trailing off for a full 90 seconds without earning the need for such a cool down period.  In a vacuum it drags the song out a bit too long, but on the album it's another misstep in pacing.  All in all not bad, even if it didn't earn its length.

"The Emperor" has some pretty cringeworthy lyrics.  The song would be serviceable with better words, but as it stands, this is a bit of a throwaway.

"Am I Savage?" doesn't fare too much better in the raison d'etre department, but at least it doesn't start with t…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 179

Anthrax "Evil Twin" (2016) VS Megadeth "Lying In State" (2016) VS Metallica "Here Comes Revenge" (2016) VS Slayer "When The Stillness Comes" (2015)

Speaking of the old Anthrax, here they are again.  Thrashing and railing against the ills of the world; in this case extremism.  This song came out less than a month before the attacks in Paris, so much like "Post American World", it was much more unsettling to listen to after than before.

Whelp, there's that gallop beat that I've been take it or leave it on since the first time I heard it in like 1993.  (It's been around much longer than that, but fifth grade is when I got into metal.)  The thing "Lying In State" has going for it though is that Megadeth put some mustard on it.  Mustaine is spitting the words, not just saying them.  There's energy and urgency and even a few nice twists and turns, even if it's built on an uninteresting skeleton.  (I guess if it ai…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 178

Anthrax "Suzerain" (2016) VS Megadeth "Conquer Or Die!" (2016) VS Metallica "ManUNkind" (2016) VS Slayer "Cast The First Stone" (2015)

"Suzerain" is your pentennial reminder that Charlie Bennante don't fuck around.  Definitely the most fiery song on "For All Kings", and probably the closest to the old Anthrax as we're going to get ever again.  Bang your head in reflection.

"Conquer Or Die!" is more old school, though whether that works for or against it is up to you.  It's the three minute instrumental interlude.  This one is...fine.  Honestly, it's better than fine when compared to the song I have to review next, so I shan't complain too loudly.  But it is a song you wouldn't exactly miss if it fell off the face of the planet either.

"ManUNkind" was the point where I stopped giving "Hardwired...To Self-Destruct" the benefit of the doubt and started dreading the fact that I h…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 177

Anthrax "Breathing Out" (2016) VS Megadeth "Poisonous Shadows" (2016) VS Metallica "Confusion" (2016) VS Slayer "Vices" (2015)

So how do Anthrax follow up their breakthrough to 4-point land?  With a...pointless interlude?  Dafuq?  Sure, it sounds purdy, but there is NO reason for this thing to be on the album, much less its own track.  (Oddly enough, the clean nature of it played well as a segue into the Megadeth song I'm about to talk about.  Got that going for it, I guess?)

"Poisonous Shadows" has a nice, dramatic slow build to it, even slightly creepy at points if it catches you in the right setting (i.e.: if you're paying attention).  The orchestra adds atmosphere without becoming overbearing (as they have a tendency to do).  The band kicks things up a notch during the solo while managing not to ruin the vibe, then comes back down to the darkness with a slow pullback of all instrumentation until but the acoustic guitar and Mu…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 176

Anthrax "Breathing Lightning" (2016) VS Megadeth "Post American World" (2016) VS Metallica "Halo On Fire" (2016) VS Slayer "Take Control" (2015)

In spite of being a bit of a touchy-feely song, "Breathing Lightning" is really good.  It's anthemic, it has a soaring chorus and even kicks a little ass along the way.  If this album had dropped "Impaled / You Gotta Believe" in favor of "Soror Irrumator" and put this second, this album would have been better off.  "Breathing Lightning" is a song that, in spite of its major key acoustic passages and lyrics about hearing the angels singing manages to get you pumped up, to inspire you.  You can get behind shit like this and that chorus will get stuck in your head.  And afterward, you'll feel better.

"Post American World", at any other point in our history, would seem like a song title and subject matter full of bluster and a bit far-fetched.  I gotta…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 175

Anthrax "For All Kings" (2016) VS Megadeth "Bullet To The Brain" (2016) VS Metallica "Dream No More" (2016) VS Slayer "Repentless" (2015)

It's at this point that "For All Kings" the album feels like it's decidedly lacking edge.  You're wondering if it'll ever pick up and wondering why these songs that are clearly designed to be thrash metal feel like they're holding back.  "For All Kings" the song, in a vacuum, is a bit better served because it sounds like on any other album it would be the contrast needed in an otherwise chaotic maelstrom.  It's got melody, it's got structure, it's actually not that bad.  But put it in context with the album that bears its name, and you get this feeling of "Is this it?"  This is in context of the song by itself, however, so alone it feels a bit more grand, which is what Anthrax were going for.

It's hard to pull off an unsettling acoustic guitar int…

THE BIG FOR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 174

Anthrax "Monster At The End" (2016) VS Megadeth "Death From Within" (2016) VS Metallica "Moth Into Flame" (2016) VS Slayer "Delusions Of Saviour" (2015)

I gotta give "Monster At The End" ups for getting to the point, especially after "You Gotta Believe" tried to get us to believe it was deep by cramming two different songs together.  I gotta take away a few for naming the song after a book by Grover from Sesame Street, but eh.  And that's all I can really say.  "Eh."  It's not a bad song; it's well put together, but...it doesn't leave much of an impression.  It has energy, but that's not enough to make it interesting.

"Death From Within" has the unfortunate metal trope of the dun du-du-du-du-Dun war drum-inspired thrash march beat (which I've never liked), but they manage to still make a distinct enough song out of it that they are able to overcome this shortcoming.  The lead work and…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 173

Anthrax "You Gotta Believe" (2016) VS Megadeth "Fatal Illusion" (2016) VS Metallica "Now That We're Dead" (2016) VS Slayer "War Ensemble" (Live from Sofia, Bulgaria) (2010)

The refrain of "You Gotta Believe" is more sinister than you realize.  Judging by the chorus, the song should be called "Impaled" (which was the name of the intro track that leads into it) because it's about running people through like mere bags of blood.  Normally when you see a song with the title "You Gotta Believe" you expect it to be inspirational, but in this case it is a command.  "You Gotta Believe in me, or I kill you for being a heretic."  Musically, it's a burner, but it gets interrupted by a quiet middle section that comes out of nowhere and kind of feels unearned.  It's really like they drifted off into a different song; by the time the chorus comes back around you've forgotten where you started.

"Fa…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 172

Anthrax "Impaled" (2016) VS Megadeth "Dystopia" (2016) VS Metallica "Atlas, Rise!" (2016) VS Slayer "Jihad" (Live from Sofia, Bulgaria) (2010)

Unfortunately, Anthrax drew the short straw here, as "Impaled" is a middling intro that, on top of being a bit of a non-song, goes on a hair too long for its own good.

"Dystopia" is a solid, upbeat fist-pumper that was a no-brainer to make the first single off the album of the same name.  It may seem a little milquetoast for the first half, but once the "single" part falls away, it reveals a banger in the back half that makes you remember why you like this stuff in the first place.  It'll take more than one listen to realize how cool this song is, but on play two or three you'll be nodding your head with a pleased scowl on your face.

My first impression of "Atlas, Rise!" was "This is the most average Metallica song ever."  Like if you took all the Met…

THE BIG FOUR SONG CHALLENGE SERIES - Matchup 171

Well, it's been awhile, but all four of The Big Four have put out new albums since the conclusion of The Big Four Song Challenge Series, so it's time for an update!  (Link to the original series here.)

For those that aren't familiar, I decided as a writing exercise/New Year's Resolution in 2013 that I would take the first song off of the first four albums by the Big Four thrash metal bands (being Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax & Slayer) and have a little competition.  The best song gets four points, second place gets three and so on.  I then did that 170 times.  I never thought I would finish the project; hell, I didn't think it would make it two weeks.  But next thing you knew, I had a book-length series of blogs about thrash metal.

And now, here we are again.  Every band in this cadre has released another album, and we are going to explore them four songs at a time to see who emerges the winner!  I will be keeping an update total in addition to the running tota…

THE LAST THIRD OF 1991 WAS NUTS: A Look Back at one of the biggest turning points in music history

Before I talk about 1991, let me define the word "watershed":

wa·ter·shed
ˈwôdərˌSHed,ˈwädərˌSHed/
noun

    1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or     seas.
    synonyms:    divide
        an area or region drained by a river, river system, or other body of water.
    2. an event or period marking a turning point in a course of action or state of affairs.
    "these works mark a watershed in the history of music"
    synonyms:    turning point, milestone, landmark

Yeah.  It's that.

The last third of 1991 saw albums come out, often on the same day, that changed music forever.  Sometimes the change in question was the end of an era and for others it was the beginning of a new one we might not have even guessed at at the time, but there were also several MASSIVE [ahem] watershed albums that altered the course completely by themselves.

And if you look back earlier in the year, it's still pretty clearly the deat…