Quickies less of a review and more of spur of the moment thoughts.
Nightrage - Descent Into Chaos
Nightrage is a bunch of Greek guys playing a mix of In Flames circa Jester Race, At The Gates circa Slaughter of the Soul and what ever other melodeath bands you might want to throw in the mix. While I wouldn't say that this band is as worth your time as The Absence, anyone who is into the melodic death metal would enjoy this. I pick up trace elements of Carcass as well as Arch Enemy before they released their past few melodic nu-death albums. Burning Bridges and Stigmata turn up here as well. While I found most of the tracks boring and generic, the title track and Phantasma did leave me feeling warmly. In general, I enjoyed the lead sections more than any other part of the track though with Gus G and Marios Iliopoulos on the album, thats not surprising. Tomas Lindberg's (I mentioned At The Gates didn't I?) vocal attack on the album is sub par. I like his more maniacal and tortured vocals on Red In The Sky Is Ours and With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness. He gives none of that performance here.
Candlemass - The Black Heart Of Candlemass
This compendum of rarities is worth a listen for anyone trying to understand where the doom genre has come from, been to, and plans to go. Candlemass really embody almost all aspects of the genre and have from the very beginning. With the first disc containing old songs from the Pre-Candlemass era, you are giving a historic journey through what led to the classic Candlemass years with Messiah and Tomas. It would be difficult to imagine the Genre without the influence of albums like Nightfall and Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. With songs like Demon's Gate and Black Stone Wielder from the earliest periods of the life of such a legendary band, and practically unheard tracks from even earlier in mastermind Leif Edling's career as a doom warlock, this first disc is the real "metal and potatoes" of the release. Second disc contains more recent material covering the period all the way up to 1999 and the 13'th Sun era. This disc still gives interesting insight into where bands like Sahg got their influences from but it isn't as metal as disc one. Die hard fans of Candlemass and doom should pick this up if they can. It will surely tickle their black sacks.
Tristania - Widows Tour VHS
I will not be listening to any more Tristania, ever again.
The quality of the DVD is excellent, multiple cameras, a lot of good footage and an excellent sound quality. The sad thing that really gets me is that I know Tristania paid out their asses to produce the thing. As a band, they really are not at all worth all the attention they are giving themselves - the guitar work is uneventful and decisively bland. The songs are the same. The band as a whole is boring to watch as well - they try to hide this fact by incorporating some video footage for "Evenfall" but by this late in the video, I was already wavering in and out of sleep.
The one thing that I enjoyed was watching Vibeke Stene waver around and flap her cloak and make silly goth poses and dance moves. I had to laugh out loud at moments while she did her best "I am a spooky ghost searching for my soul" arm movements. Hilarious.
Don't watch this if you like yourself sane.
Iron Maiden - Powerslave
I've listened to this album since before I was in high school. Every single time I listen to it, the exact same things really hit me and though it could be a sense of nostalgia, I tend to think its really just because the album has legendary moments scattered throughout. 2 Minutes To Midnight's solo section screams classic metal, Back In The Village's chorus, supported by the lead that took me forever to hear still gives me shivers. Rime of the Ancient Mariner is hands down, the best of their longer songs. Perfect closing. Even the middle tracks, Flash of The Blade and The Duellists kick ass. I could still do without Losfer Worlds. I do find myself enjoying Powerslave (the song) more now than when I first got the album. This is one I should pick up on vinyl.
Black Sabbath - Headless Cross
Of all the "forgotten" Sabbath albums, this is the only one that I feel really stands up to their early work. Though the absence of Geezer and Bill will always knock it down a few notches. "Headless Cross" opens the album in classic Sabbath tradition with heavy riffs and a driving rhythm section. Tony Martin's vocals on the album are superb. Lyrically, the album is fantastic too. I've only noticed this recently though; neglecting the lyrics of basically all the stuff I listen to until the past year. I know, it's ashame too. "When Death Calls" is still my favorite track. Though "Devil and Daughter" definitely crept up into my blind-spot on the few listens I gave the album. It will pass into first place soon.