Album Reviews


PINK FLOYD - THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON


This is usually considered an odd album to put on a very guitar-orientated site, since the album itself is not very guitar-orientated. Many people yell 'Pink Floyd, rock on bro!!' and show the devil horns. These people are usually the posers, the kind of people that heard that Pink Floyd is pretty popular and therefore must be a metal band, and they decided to cash in. The majority of these people are mindless sheep who have never even heard this album, and what a pity it is. While it's been said many times, I'll say it again; this is one of the greatest albums of all time. You'll probably ask why. After all, there's no hard-driving riffs a la Rage Against the Machine, no material that will likely give you whiplash and party all night. But that's the brilliant part about it; this album proves that to be good, it doesn't have to be straightforward, in-your-face rock 'n' roll.

1. Speak to Me/Breathe: Starts out quietly... then you hear the incoming roar of the noise, until you drop into a part that can only be described as light, blissful. Roger Water's vocals pierce through: 'Breathe....breathe in the air...don't be afraid to care...'. It's really beautiful, and haunting at the same time.

2. On the Run: Hurry. That's the message thing song leaves you with. From the speeding keyboard to the airport announcement samples, to the ambient noises, you really feel a little disturbed. But the climatic moment comes in near the end of the song at around 3:00, when the laughter is too much, and you hear a plane fly by, only to crash in the biggest boom you will ever hear in your life. The song slowly fades out to the explosion, and in a way, the quiet sound is almost deafening...

3. Time: One of the greatest songs ever. Words can't describe how well this song is constructed. The fading boom is suddenly torn to shreds by a wall of alarm clocks. Then, a single bass note accompanied by guitar and toms. Then an eerie sequence is played.... the notes are seemingly random, but as you keep listening to it, I swear, the notes begin to make sense, as if you just understood an immensely complex story. The whole line just makes you think. You don't even realize it, but there is a keyboard meandering in between the bass. You only become aware of it when the final keys of the intro are played, like the sorrowful words of a very tragic poem. The song breaks into a kind of realization, one that really gets you thinking: time really does seem to slip away. When the guitar solo comes in, you can imagine yourself aging: the guitar sings in its own fashion, it cries and wails as if it has a soul of its own. After another haunting verse, the song breaks into a the reprise of Breathe. In a way, the only way the moment can be described is a gulp of fresh air, where it just hits you like a bucket of cold water. The song ends on a lingering B note, stretching on and on...

4. The Great Gig in the Sky: The B note hovers for a moment, before one of the greatest piano lines ever floats in. Similar chord playing as in Breathe, just as easy, laid-back... 'I am not frightened of dying, anytime will do. I don't mind, why should I be frightened of dying? You've got to go some time...'. The words linger for a moment... two drum hits, and a wave of sound hits you. It is not possible to say no words at all, but to say so much. Clare Tory just tries to emulate an instrument, mimicking the wailing of a guitar, as the song weaves a complex and beautiful story.

5. Money: Starts with the melodic clinking of cash registers, then one of the most famous bass lines in history, supplied by Roger Waters. The song slips into the amazing verse, and as you try air drumming, you realize that you can't drum to the beat. You listen closer, and it comes to you that the song isn't the usual 4/4 time signature, it's something else! You figure out that the time signature is 7/8, and you wonder who invented such an unorthodox drum beat. The lyrics mock corporate greed and consumerism. The sax solo in this song is brilliant.

6. Us and Them: A very quiet song, with two brilliant saxaphone solos in it. There's a lot of great piano work in here by Rick Wright (R.I.P.), beautiful work. The song construction is very interesting too, with the somewhat rare D minor with a major seventh chord.

7. Any Colour You Like: The song drops in immediately with the keyboards, creating an incredible soundscape. Rick Wright and his keyboards put on an unbelievable performance in this song, creating images of swirling colors, changing endlessly. It's hard to describe, but if you close your eyes and imagine any color, it just seems to fit together. It really is amazing, the color that the song fits together with is different for everyone. For me, the color blue works best. The guitar solo after the keyboards is just as good as the one in Time, but this time, the guitar is happier, more relaxed. It just makes you feel good.

8. Brain Damage: The guitar solo segues into Brain Damage. The song is faint and quiet, and once again, the band somehow manages to encapsulate two feelings at the same time: weariness and a kind of happiness too. The lyrics tell the story about losing your mind. In a way, the story is a kind of epitaph for Syd Barrett, one of the original founding members of Pink Floyd. Sadly, Syd died in 2006 from pancreatic cancer. The song's chorus is moving, too: "And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear...You shout and no one seems to hear...And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes, I'll see you on the dark side of the moon
..."

9. Eclipse: Two words describe this song perfectly: rousing and philosophical. The lyrics are simple, but they make you think. It's quite an end to one of the greatest albums ever.





AC/DC - BLACK ICE

I've read lots of negative reviews about this album on Amazon and on other sites. I simply don't understand. Many people slam this album because it is 'overmixed and it sounds the same as all the other albums.' That is what people don't understand. AC/DC never has not and will not change their way of playing music. When I read reviews online before I actually bought the album, I was a bit apprehensive about several songs on the album, namely Anything Goes and Rock N Roll Dream. Once I heard those songs, I knew I was wrong to believe those reviews. To a tough AC/DC listener (a fan who's been listening to them since the beginning), those songs DO take some time to get used to. It took me a few listens to adjust my preferences to accomodate Anything Goes, because that is one of the more brisk, snappy AC/DC tunes. It's not much more like hard rock, it's more upbeat, more bright sounding. It's a brilliant track nevertheless. As for Rock N Roll Dream, I don't understand at all. AC/DC did take half a step out of their dominated rock territory, but don't all artists do? Any real fan that this is not an AC/DC ballad. If you want to hear a ballad by AC/DC, go listen to their song Love Song. Rock N Roll Dream is inspirational. Brilliant. It shows us that the boys also have a new side to them: it's darker, but still amazing.

I'm going to lay out the tracks one by one now:

1. Rock 'n Roll Train: the first single from the album. Before I heard this song on the 'net, my breath was held up and my head was pounding. Thoughts were churning in my head. I was wondering, what was this song going to be? I mean, this would be the first new AC/DC material after a wait of 8 YEARS. This song did not disappoint. Classic AC/DC chords, an awesome solo, and the classic gang-chorus. Couldn't ask for more.

2. Skies on Fire: Phil is the first to start on this track. Some solid tom work, and then the rest of the band kicks through the door and comes in. Brian's voice is phenomenal on this track. Great lyrics.

3. Big Jack: what can I say about this? Right from the first two notes hit (B5 and E5)you can tell you've got a skull-crushing song ahead of you. The verse is simply astounding. Classic AC/DC lyrics and the Young brothers obviously don't want to take any prisoners. What let me down about this track, though, is the chorus. After the amazing intro and verse, the chorus is a big turn-off. The chorus goes in the style of Anything Goes. But the song is still stupendous.

4. Anything Goes: ah, here we go. This is my least favorite track on the album. It's not really pop style, but more upbeat, more... er... I don't quite know how to put it. It's a pretty good song, but it did take me quite a few listens for it to grow on me.

5. War Machine: starts out with Phil and Cliff, pumping up the audience with a tight bassline and some strong tom beats. Then some oddly-placed chords, then the sheer evil of the song sinks in. What we've got here people, is a real destroyer. It's mean sounding. And the backup vocals up Cliff and Malcolm make the
song just more badass. War-machine!

6. Smash N Grab: this song starts with a kind of more sleazy, dirty, apprehensive sounding intro. Makes me think of driving through the bad part of town, at night, seeing the night residents coming out. Then the verse comes in. The lyrics are inspirational here as well. Telling you the story of how people take advantage of you when you can't defend yourself. Then the chorus. Simply brilliant. "Smash, grab, taaaake it! Aaaaaah, aaaaaaah, aaaaaaaaah!" You've got to hear the song to appreciate the sheer awesomeness.

7. Spoilin' for a Fight: an opening riff reminiscent of a ZZ Top song I can't remember, but still, this is one of my favorites. This is the song to listen to when you need to get pumped up. It gets your blood flowing, it makes you want to go and have a freakin' GANG WAR! Angus's solo on this is one of my favorite of all time.

8. Wheels: I think this song is more reminiscent of the Highway to Hell album. That said, it's left to you to know that this song surely must rock. And rock is what it does. A funky, cool intro riff and then Brian kicks in, telling you the story of a woman that gets you goin'. The chorus is also in the 'gang' style. I'm listening to this track right now.

9. Decibel: oh, wow. Here's what you've got to do. Drive home late at night, when all the lights are on, when the traffic is gone, and you can't see anything outside. Turn this track on. I swear, as soon as you hear Angus playing that intro riff, you know that you'd keep driving all night just to listen over and over to this song. Why does this song rock? It just does. Something about it just makes it amazing.

10. Stormy May Day: ah, something different. That doesn't mean anything. Angus is the highlight of this song, at least in the intro. This song is a standout from ALL OTHER AC/DC songs, because it's just so damn good and because Angus plays slide guitar on it. Apparently, slide guitar can also kick my ass, because it did. Raging lyrics, a greasy, tumbling riff and minor chords? I'm all for it.

11. She Likes Rock N Roll: I agree with everyone on this. This should going to replace 'Girls, Girls, Girls' as the stripper anthem nationwide. A sharp, solid riff serves as the backbone of the song, while slinky classic Angus licks are spread throughout, among the lyrics. Amazing song, a definite standout.

12. Money Made: this song doesn't have a solo. Now that I've notified you of that, I can now safely say that this song flat-out rocks, just like all the others. From the beginning, you automatically start tapping your foot to Malcolm's riff. And once Angus kicks in, you know that we have a winner! Lyrics are really good here, and some great chords in the verse.

13. Rock N Roll Dream: I've already said in the first paragraph what I think of this song, but I'll say it again. It's a really great song, but for some hardened AC/DC listeners like myself, it WILL takes some listens to actually learn to really, really like this song.

14. Rocking all the Way: sounds like it should be a Christmas tune, right? Wrong! This song sounds like it should be from Stiff Upper Lip, because it's really got the feel of the blues in it. Any blues is a-okay with me, because I really like it. This song has some serious pump-up factor. When Brian is screeching that two women is trouble and telling you about a woman comin' your way, you know you've got classic AC/DC on your hands.

15. Black Ice: okay. This song is a bit different from the AC/DC style we've come to love and know, but that doesn't mean this song is bad. This song isn't your classic AC/DC rock 'n roll, but it still manages to be brilliant.  It's a bit intimidating, which makes it good. It's got a really weird riff that sound incredibly cool and easy to play, but at the same time it kind of sets you on edge. Still, it's a great song to close the album.

The lyrics on this album generally don't make sense overall, therefore they're awesome. They fit into the songs perfectly, seamlessly. But then again, when you're listening to gut-busting, skull-crunching, brain-smashing rock 'n' roll like AC/DC, you don't give a damn about the lyrics. What really struck me about this is Brian's voice on this album. In some tracks, Brian screams as loud as you think is possible. You begin to think that that's all he can do. But in other tracks, like Decibel or War Machine, he goes low and deep. This album gets a lot of criticism for Brian having a bad voice. Oh man, people are so wrong on this. His voice is amazing on Black Ice! I don't mean "amazing" as in "good". Brian's voice is like a shrapnel laden limb being thrust through your chest on this album. It's hardly a voice; it's more of a sound, like another instrument. And that's just the way to go with it. Brian's not trying to fool anyone on Black Ice. He's not trying to "sing" per se. Most of those old blues guys didn't either. Brian does what they all did: Growl and spit. He just sounds bad, grizzly-mouthed. You can smell the cigarettes and whiskey on his voice; you can hear the history of rocking out perhaps too hard, like on Flick of the Switch. You hear a man. A primitive, rocking MAN that's squinting and bending over. And he rather implode than not give 100% of his machismo. He totally embraces his ruined voice and uses it for all it's ragged worth. Somehow it just makes the album sound meaner, more kickass. This is the closest Brian ever came to sounding like an underground act. There's no pretense here. There's no nonsense. It's perfect.

Ever since I got the album (I have the Deluxe Edition), I don't even think of Black Ice so much in terms of a collection of songs; it's more like one giant song that keeps kicking your ass. AC/DC prove on Black Ice that just because they're middle-aged, it doesn't mean they'll get all tasteful and change their style. There is almost nothing I don't like about this album, and to specify, it took me some time to get to like anything goes. Apart from that, the entire album is very, very good. If this album was stolen from me, I'd find the mofo that did it and bash his head through the wall. If I lost it, I'd definitely go buy another copy, without a doubt. I'd recommend this album to anyone who appreciates music that incorporates guitar. Black Ice. Ring ring, we have a winner!







RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE - (SELF-TITLED)

How do you explain a band that has incited riots, caused many spine and neck injuries, pissed off both the people and the government, and inspired many people to radically change their political beliefs? It's hard, but one band managed to do it on a massive scale: Rage Against the Machine. Many people are quick to label this band as a rap band, but if you haven't heard them play, then you shouldn't be talking. There is no genre that Rage can be placed in. The crunchy, unshakable riffs of Tom Morello, the tumbling drums of Brad Wilk, the rocky bass lines of Tim Commerford and the pissed-off, militant rapping of Zack de la Rocha make this album something of which you have never heard before. It's a truly unique sound, when you mix rap and hard rock/heavy metal. It's a sound that Rage Against the Machine has defined themselves with.

First time you see the album artwork, you're puzzled. After a bit of research, you see that the artwork makes sense. The guy is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, setting himself on fire in protest of the president's new administration: oppressing the Buddhist religion. In a split second, you know that the artwork actually means something, because this whole album is about protesting against unjust governments and policies, exactly what Thích Quảng Đức is doing on the front of the album.

Let me get this out of the way first: I absolutely hate rap, with every fiber of my being. But then again, his album isn't rap. Sure, Zack de la Rocha is rhyming and delivering aggressive lines, but it's in a completely different spectrum. Zack isn't rapping about nightclubs, or doing drive-bys late at night, etc. He's rapping about the corrupt government. He's rapping about the completely defunct educational system in the United States. He's rapping about imperialism. That's what makes Zack's rapping SO much more different than any other rap I've ever heard.

Of course, a rapper must be articulate with what he is saying, and Zack does not make a single mistake. He is fluid and smooth with his lyrics, as he weaves in and out of the mammoth riffs laid down by the rest of the band. The lyrics are quite interesting to read and understand what they mean, too. Zack's one of the best people I know at creating metaphors.

As Zack says in the opening lines of Take the Power Back, 'Yeah, the movement's in motion with massive militant poetry... ' and that's what it is, massive militant poetry. Every song has some sort of line in it that sticks in your head, and it usually makes you want to go outside and start a mass riot. That's what makes this band so great.

I'll lay this down, song by song:

1.Bombtrack: a somewhat quiet intro riff, and then the rest of the band drops in as hugely as possible. Zack does the lyrics over a bendy riff and the chorus is one big sound explosion.

2.Killing in the Name: everyone knows this song, thanks to the last 16 lines. Really, this song is one of the most intense I've ever heard in my life. It's got some of the greatest breakdowns, and the riff after the breakdown doesn't hold any punches either.

3.Take the Power Back: This song is about the corrupt and defunct educational system in the U.S, so obviously this song strikes a nerve with every pissed-off student in the grand ol' States. A lot of funky bass work by Tim and some sharp, piercing riffs by Tom. Brad does an excellent job on here as well. And who could forget the breakdown: "No more lies, no more lies..."

4.Settle for Nothing: quietest song on the album. Nice cymbal work by Brad, and some really creepy volume swells by Tom. Zack lays down the lyrics over some almost ambient noises by Tom. This song is my least favorite on the album, because the chorus is pretty weird, but it's still an awesome song.

5.Bullet in the Head: the definite highlight of this song is Timmy C., because of his 100% original bass riffs. In most other bands, the bass is just used to lay down some deep sounds for the rest of the bands, but Rage doesn't stick to tradition. Tim's bass magnetizes you to this song, and the first time I heard Tom's solo to this song I had to change my underwear. There's no words for it. Zack's just as solid as ever, as well as Brad.

6.Know Your Enemy: a great, simple intro riff with the killswitch being used in abundance. "Yeah we're coming in with another bombtrack!" Zack proclaims in the beginning, and you see he's absolutely right. Tom punches in with a very metal-like riff and the verse riff is absolutely brilliant. It ascends as Zack delivers his militant rapping. "What? The land of the free? Whoever told you that is your enemy!" Almost every line in this song could be used as the slogan for a revolution. It's also got some vocals from Maynard James Keenan from Tool in the bridge.

7.Wake Up: this song was featured in the end credits of The Matrix, which automatically makes that movie awesome, because this song fits perfectly. Some people say Tom 'stole' the riff from Led Zeppelin's Kashmir, just because the same chord is used. And guess what, another breakdown which makes you want to start a revolution, pronto.

8.Fistful of Steel: 0ne of the more unconvential intro riffs on the album with Tom doing who-knows-what with his guitar, then drops into a slow, rough riff. The whole band is great on here, just like with every other song.

9.Township Rebellion: this drops in immediately with a handful of power chords, launches you through the verse and shoves you into the chorus where the monster resides. This is probably the greatest chorus riff on the album, played on the 6th and 5th strings in Drop-D, and it takes no prisoners. The verse has another awesome bass line and some pretty quick rapping by Zack. Brad's drums stand out on here too, with some cowbell use on the verse. Tom's solo is the most traditional album here too.

10.Freedom: what an end to what an album. The riff explodes and rolls on, destroying everything in its way before stopping temporarily for a different riff and for Zack to deliver some rhymes, then drops back in. After 'Anger is a gift', we get to the solo and another rocking riff. There is absolutely no way you can get through this song without headbanging. Hell, there's no way you can get through this album without headbanging after the first couple seconds!

There are only 2 other studio albums that get remotely close to this album, and they're both by Rage Against the Machine. Since this album was the first of it's genre, there is nothing to compare it to that I know of. For me, I think this album is flawless, but the only thing I didn't like at first was the rapping. Like I've said, I'm not a fan of rap, but after listening to the songs, I've begun to appreciate it. After a while, you realize that there is no other way to deliver the lyrics because of the blazing fast speed of most of the riffs.

There are very few things that take a while to realize about this album. The first things that are apprarent, though, are that Rage Against the Machine as a band has quite successfully encompassed territory which no other band had even dared to take a step on, and this album is a solid slab of rock, metal and rap history, worthy of standing up with the big-time albums of each 3 genres.

Rage Against the Machine has done what no other band has dared to even try, so even if you don't like the album, you still have to commend them, because you can't lie: in the end, you've been thoroughly rocked, and you still want to hear it again.

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