Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: King Giant, "Southern Darkness"

King Giant may hail from Virginia, but the sludge they dish out on Southern Darkness sounds like something raked up from the bottom of a muddy Louisiana swamp. The sound is dense, like a dark, menacing beast that pays tribute to metal legends like Black Sabbath, walks hand-in-hand with sludge contemporaries like Down and Crowbar and even incorporates the influences of outlaw country and Southern rock – all things that I love.

Though I like just about everything on the record, the band is at its best when it gets the right balance of those elements.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blast Beats: Iron Maiden, A7X, Kingdom of Sorrow

Sometimes I find myself with many more records than I have time to review, so I have to pick and choose my reviews based on what I like better or what my fellow writers at other outlets are doing. Sometimes, though, I’d still like to say a little something about those records, so I’m going to try a new feature out and see how it works. From time to time, I’ll collect three or four of these records and just give a quick paragraph or two take on them. Here are the first three.

Review: Jamey Johnson, "The Guitar Song"

I know that many of my fellow underground country music fans consider Jamey Johnson something of a shill to the Nashville establishment, an artist to stick between a couple of glitzy pop songs every now and then to appease fans looking for real country music. I’m not up enough on the Nashville scene to make a judgment on that, but what I can judge is what I hear on Johnson’s latest double album, “The Guitar Song.” And what I hear is a lot of honesty, conviction and dedication to the roots of country music. No, it’s not perfect, nor does it deliver much that country music fans haven’t heard before, but it’s a solid record rooted in the brand of country delivered by the likes of David Allan Coe, Hank Jr. and Waylon Jennings.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review: Blind Guardian, "At the Edge of Time"

I remember when I used to get excited about a new Blind Guardian release, but since their 1998 masterpiece Nightfall in Middle Earth, everything they’ve released has been somewhat disappointing. That, unfortunately, doesn’t change much with their latest, At the Edge of Time.

For me, this record is often maddeningly frustrating as it offers short blasts of the Blind Guardian I love only to settle back into the boring, middle of the road stuff found on 2006’s A Twist in the Myth. The opening track “Sacred Worlds,” which clocks in at 9:20, pretty much encapsulates the whole record.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review: Accept, "Blood of the Nations"

For those familiar with my musical tastes, it might come as a bit of a surprise that I was never a big fan of Accept. Oh, I’ve got a copy of Restless and Wild and Balls to the Wall, but for some reason I never really connected with the band. When it was announced that they had found a new singer and were recording a new album, it barely made a blip on my radar. That is, until I got Blood of the Nations in my hands.

This record rocks, plain and simple. The sound will be very familiar to fans of Accept’s classic material, yet it doesn’t sound dated or hokey. It’s everything that I want in a traditional metal album – heavy, melodic and catchy as hell.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Formative 15

A couple of weeks ago, there was a thread going around Facebook asking people to name 15 albums that were important in their lives in 15 minutes or less. I wanted to add my own, but I couldn’t do it. Rather than list the first 15 records that I really liked off the top of my head, I wanted to take some time to really think about it and get it right. Yeah, I know the spontaneity was kind of the point, but it’s just how I’m built when it comes to talking about music.

Note that this list does not represent my 15 “favorite” records. While a few of these would certainly make that list, there are a few here that I haven’t listened to in their entirety for years. These are records that, in some way, shaped my musical tastes and led me to being the hack music writer that I am today.

The Formative 15 part 2: The Best of the Rest

So, like I said in my post on The Formative 15, I started out with about 100 records on my list, but when I had pared it down to 15, there were still some that I really wanted to mention. Since I can never do what I set out to do and just leave it be, I’ll leave those that care with a few more that were close, but didn’t quite make the cut. Amazon links also provided, where possible.

Charlie Daniels Band, “Fire on the Mountain” (1974). Released before the peak of his popularity, this record contains some true classic CDB tunes, including my favorite “Long-Haired Country Boy.” I immediately latched on to the message of that song, and took it on as a kind of personal anthem. Though my long hair has been gone for a while, the idea behind the song still rings true.