Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Oh, Lordi, I've Done it Again: Musing on What Isn't a Guilty Pleasure

As much I as I enjoy Lordi's collective output, To Beast or Not to Beast is yet another record the metal community didn't ask for. Cheesy title and all, there are plenty of reasons why, among those being that the Finish rockers never seem to make a lasting impression, with music a bit too retro for current tastes. Gwar-like in appearance, yet with a sound wedged somewhere between Kiss and AOR rock, Lordi has one foot in the eighties and one foot in the nineties--essentially opposite ends of the spectrum that don't always match up favorably.

Onlookers often judge Lordi's material once they notice their physical appearance and music don't quite fit together, but that's not the point here. In theory, music should take precedence over all, not a bunch of glitzy costumes. But, unfortunately, that isn't always the case because hostility toward Lordi looms large in the metal community, particularly when listeners take the five-piece more seriously than they should. As a general rule of thumb, never take men (and a woman!) in monster suits seriously. In fact, if you're doing that, I reckon you need to take a good look in the mirror and reassess yourself.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Band Everyone Loves to Forget: Def Leppard

Sure, I'll admit it: I like Def Leppard.

There's no questioning that their first three releases are fantastic records--especially High 'n' Dry--that bridged the gap between hard rock and heavy metal. But here's the thing: after those albums, quality dropped a pretty measurable amount, putting Def Leppard among countless generic, poppy rock bands that found success in the eighties.

Many artists grow hungry for money, hence Def Leppard's change in sound. By 1983's Pyromania, the transformation was nearly complete--with the sugar-coated beast emerging from every corner of the band's music--and they would ride the trend until the pinnacle, 1987's Hysteria. Even so, traces of High 'n' Dry were still fairly prominent in the Pyromania's guitar playing, which is something that was sadly missing from the equation once Hysteria hit shelves. And much to hardcore fans' dismay, post Hysteria's good bits, Def Leppard's work isn't worth talking about, unfortunately.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Death Angel - The Dream Calls for Blood (2013)

Bolstering a string of excellent records starting in 2004, Death Angel continues to breathe fire with their latest effort, The Dream Calls for Blood, even after the loss of their original rhythm section. The personnel change has--for the better--introduced a shift in sound, in part due to a fresh drummer and bassist entering the fold. But compared with Killing Season, an album predating the line-up swap, The Dream Calls for Blood feels heavier and inspires confidence for future releases--something hit or miss in the past, particularly in the eighties.

Stylistically, The Dream Calls for Blood is very much in the same vein as Death Angel's previous album, Relentless Retribution: a production-polished, blistering assault focused on distortion-heavy guitar riffing and pounding drums. Even so, something appears to be missing when placed match for match against the record. For instance, while commendable, the quality of a number of guitar riffs seems kicked down a notch, bordering generic, palm-muted chugs, which, for a thrash fan, isn't desirable in the slightest.