Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: Iron Maiden, "Book of Souls"

I often think heavy metal fans are far too enamored with long songs. I’m guilty myself. If all the songs on a record are 8-10 minutes long, then it’s got to be epic, right? Maybe it’s a deep-seated rebellion against the punchy three-minute pop song that makes us think that way, but the epic metal that we expect isn’t always what we get.

When word got out that Iron Maiden’s latest record Book of Souls was a double album with only 11 songs, there were ooohs and aaahs. There was a Maiden-getting-back-to-its-roots sort of feeling for some, since they are the band responsible for a great many of those truly epic long-playing metal songs of the past. After a few listens though, I tend to think of Book of Souls less as a double album than a single disc stretched beyond the capabilities of its content.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Review: Gloryhammer, "Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards"

I have become a great admirer of Scottish musician Christopher Bowes. He has the uncanny ability to take the absurd and turn it into metal gold.

We first met Bowes as the frontman of pirate metal band Alestorm, where his aaarr-filled vocals, folk instrumentation and knack for unforgettable melodies turned what should have been a one-off novelty act into a formidable outfit that’s spawned a number of copycats.

A couple of years ago, Christopher Bowes turned his attention to epic power metal with the formation of the band Gloryhammer. On their 2013 debut Tales from the Kingdom of Fife, the band introduced us to Prince Angus McFife (vocalist Thomas Winkler), who rose after his home of Dundee was destroyed by the evil wizard Zargothrax (Bowes, who plays keys in Gloryhammer) and his army of undead unicorns. Preposterous, right? But so much fun.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Still Spinning: Motley Crue, "Theatre of Pain"

When talking about Motley Crue’s classic 1980s albums, Theatre of Pain usually gets ranked at or near the bottom of the list. Even bassist Nikki Sixx has gone so far as to call it “rubbish.” I was thinking about the record as I was being subjected to an awful country-pop version of “Home Sweet Home” in a restaurant recently and, looking back, I believe it might have gotten short shrift.

Theatre of Pain had a couple of things working against it at the time. First, it came on the heels of two really good albums. The debut Too Fast for Love was glitzy, raunchy, raw and energetic. They followed that up with the more metallic and angry Shout at the Devil — which is for my money, the band’s best outing. Those are a couple of tough acts to follow.