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Diamonds Prt.2

Ein Artikel von gargantouas vom 24.08.2003 (2642 mal gelesen)
This is the second part of the special intending to present you some albums that have been lost through time, while never gained the recognition they deserved. While the first part focused on albums from bands that have been splitted or that remain in anonymity, this special will focus on bands that either have changed their musical direction after their “little diamonds”, or they have just disappointed. Here you may find names that you already know, but don’t have a clue about their past or maybe some of you will agree with me on how bad decision was to change their musical styles. I don’t think that you have to take out the “Indiana Jones” equipment for these albums, but surely you might want to at least listen to them if you haven’t.

ANATHEMA - SERENADES

If you have heard these guys from UK, you might wonder why I choose their first album to present here. This is because “Serenades” is the only heavy metal album that the band released, that could make an impact and be the start of a glorious carrier.


1. Lovelorn Rhapsody
2. Sweet Tears
3. J’ ai Fait Une Promesse
4. They (Will Always) Die
5. Sleepless
6. Sleep In Sanity
7. Scars Of The Old Stream
8. Under A Veil (Of Black Lace)
9. Where Shadows Dance

“Serenades” offer us almost an hour of sweet bitterness. This was the main reason I loved this album from the first moment I listened to it. Very much influenced by the 90’s doom scene of UK, Anathema walked the perfect way the path bands like Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride have shown. Only Anathema did it much better. While Paradise Lost were too aggressive sometimes and My Dying Bride were too slow, Anathema choose the middle way. While remaining sad they have managed to output the energy a death/doom metal album requires.
One could talk hours for an album like this. Anathema become aggressive on “Lovelorn Rhapsody”, “Sweet Tears”, “Under A Veil Of Black Lace” and “Where Shadows Dance” but keeping the sadness at very high standards, with the guitar melodies overcoming everything and remaining on the listener's head from the first listening. “Sleepless” was looking with one eye at the future of this band, where the Pink Floyd influences were quite obvious. “J’ ai Fait Une Promesse” is just making atmosphere with some amazing female vocals, finishing with an amazing slow, torturing rhythm song, that maybe is the best moment of this album. “Sleep In Sanity” is characterized by the very slow and amazing melodies and the brutal vocals. On this song you can hear almost all the metal scene. From Iron Maiden to Candlemass, from Paradise Lost to Death. Not everyday we are able to listen to songs like this one.
After “Serenades”, the band decided to move on to more Pink Floyd roads, and while not being bad at some points, they have lost the opportunity to lead the new death/doom metal scene of Europe. As much as their following records are valued artistically, none of them could touch the sadness and beauty that “Serenades” can offer. If you want to suffer for a little less than an hour, or if you want to listen to a record that will change you as a human being, just listen to it. One is for sure; this album is not only for the Death Metal fans, but for every metal head. 10/10

ROUGH SILK - MEPHISTO

These guys came as quickly as a star and disappeared the same way. Having been out there quite a long time, Rough Silk only became known around 1999 with their masterpiece “Mephisto”.


1. Mystery Bay
2. Recall
3. Mephisto
4. Subway Angels Caravan
5. My Last Farewell
6. Dust To Sand
7. Glissando
8. Stay Gold
9. Far From Home
10. The Day Of The Loner
11. Wheels Of Time

From Germany, Rough Silk gave a new perspective to the heavy metal sound. From the first notes of “Mystery Bay” one can be sure that he is going to listen to some operatic style of metal. And he is not wrong. “Mephisto” is closer to what I could have named as art metal, something that Kamelot play. However, the sounds of the guitars throughout the record are different from the usual metal record, closer to the Nu-Metal sound than to classic metal. However the rest of the rhythm section keep things balanced. And this is where the masterpiece is done.
Catchy tunes, metal melodies combined with some form of very hard Nu-Metal, without the fear of getting really hard sometimes, especially on the title track. From then, this record contains anything you want to listen. Breath taking ballads, progressive metal, classic metal, everything really. And it doesn’t stop there. Lyrics from songs like “The Day Of The Loner” or “My Last Farewell” (which is one of the most powerful lyrically songs I have ever heard) combine the pieces of a very successful puzzle that is called “Mephisto”.
Maybe the only weak moment of the album is “Stay Gold”, but this is just a personal preference. After “Mephisto” (that contains some of the all-time favorites for me) the band showed me two faces. The face of their past that explained how Rough Silk could put out an album like “Mephisto”. Albums like “Walls Of Never” that contains “Missing You” a song that is the best I have heard from the band so far, and “Circle Of Pain”, may not be to the standards of “Mephisto”, but surely are good albums. And the face that appeared when the talented lead vocalist left the band after “Mephisto” which this was probably their biggest mistake. Deeply disappointed, their efforts after “Mephisto” were very much lower than any of their previous attempts. Buy this album, it has no weak points and for sure it will be a gift to yourself to do so. “Mephisto” could have been the start of a glorious carrier for Rough Silk, but unfortunately this didn’t happen.
Masterpieces like “Mephisto” don’t get assessment, just buy the damn album.


WARRANT - DOG EAT DOG

Just before you start throwing tomatoes at me, please read what is to follow. Most of us know Warrant, as the band that released some really “glammy” songs that were very popular in the United States and Europe of course. Having sold millions of copies worldwide, Warrant made their breakthrough immediately on their debut album “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich” and continued the same way with “Cherry Pie”. Although I never had any major problems with glam rock, these two records only contained some good songs and nothing more. As much as difficult, the first signs came with “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” on “Cherry Pie”. Harder and somewhat aggressive, showed some signs of what Warrant could do.


1. Machine Gun
2. Whole In My Wall
3. April 2031
4. Andy Warhol Was Right
5. Bonfire
6. Bitter Pill
7. Hollywood (So Far, So Good)
8. All My Bridges Are Burning
9. Quicksand
10. Let It Rain
11. Inside Out
12. Sad Theresa

But “Dog Eat Dog” caught me by surprise for sure. From the first notes of “Machine Gun” one can understand the direction of the band. Of course, the influences of the previous albums are there, however “Dog Eat Dog” is a pure hard rock album with one eye looking at classic heavy metal, especially some riffs from Twisted Sister. “Machine Gun” starts with a killer and aggressive riff and one can pinpoint the way Jani Lane sings on that one. A whole more aggressive remaining the catchy tunes and melodies that could give them the success once more. “Whole In My Wall” continues the same way, however the big surprise comes from the next one. “April 2031” becomes one of the breath taking songs for that album, really atmospheric, hard with an amazing melody on the chorus. “Andy Warhol Was Right” could have been left out. “Bonfire” comes again with a powerful riff, “Bitter Pill” is a power ballad with amazing chorus, while “Hollywood (So Far, So Good)” is more closer to the previous releases of the band without loosing the aggression that the band establishes with “Dog Eat Dog”. “All My Bridges Are Burning” and “Quicksand” are just masterpieces with great riffs and melodies, almost classic metal tunes that can be heard by any metal head. “Let It Rain” is again a really good powerful ballad. “Inside Out” continues and blows the speakers away with its aggression while “Sad Theresa” closes the album with an amazing sweet taste on the mind.
Summing up, “Dog Eat Dog” was the commercial and financial destruction for Warrant. This could mean a lot. Their next release “Ultraphobic” didn’t mean a lot to me, and maybe this was due to the fact that Jani Lane and his companion were well influenced from their commercial and financial destruction as a band. One thing is for sure, don’t look at “Dog Eat Dog” as an album from a kid’s band , it has nothing to do with glammy situations. It is pure hard rock with many elements of classic metal. I am pretty confident that those of you who will listen to it will find it really interesting at least, as I did. Give it a try; you will have a good companion over the summer, as the music on “Dog Eat Dog” is perfect for summertimes. 8/10


THE GATHERING - MANDYLION

Ok, writing about this album is hard. Let me tell you, that I have 5 albums to say that changed the route of Heavy Metal forever. These were “Master Of Puppets” from Metallica, “Powerslave” from Iron Maiden, “Keeper Of The Seven Keys Prt.2” from Helloween and “Images And Words” from Dream Theater. The fifth would be “Mandylion”.


1. Strange Machines
2. Eleanor
3. In Motion #1
4. Leaves
5. Fear The Sea
6. Mandylion
7. Sand And Mercury
8. In Motion #2


The band from Holland took everyone by surprise with this album and it was the start of the many bands that followed playing the so-called Gothic Metal with female vocals. Without exaggeration, “Mandylion” is perfect on every little aspect or perspective you might want to look at it. Trying to look at the songs themselves, all perfect and each one of them a diamond, build in such a way that could not leave any doubt about anything. The lyrics are so emotional and descriptive that could have easily become poems. The rhythm section so carefully done, without exaggerations and guitar-heroes attitude or any other rock star attitude.
I leave last - but surely not least - the heart of the band, the very sweet Anneke Van Giersbergen, who came as a surprise. Her voice is just the perfect mixture of emotion and heavy metal. I wouldn’t want to say much, but Anneke can easily take the scepter of the best female voice - unfortunately only on this album - of heavy metal. Her voice just suits the songs perfectly and of course she takes the songs many levels upwards.
Which songs are the best ones? I couldn’t tell. When a band comes out with such a masterpiece, it is just unfair to try to get out some songs that are maybe the best. My personal preferences go, however, to “Eleanor” that outputs the best way what the lyrics want to explain. Trapped in a relationship, this song just tries to find a way out from the painful situation and describes the agony that maybe many of us have lived.
The band released “Nighttime Birds” later that was good, but not as good as “Mandylion”, and the first signs of style changing were obvious there. “How To Measure A Planet” left me wondering where the great band of “Mandylion” has gone and disappointed me very much. Gathering decided that they are better off with some kind of alternative music than with the gothic orgy of “Mandylion”. I will not agree until the day that I die. However, they have gained my respect because “Mandylion” is just eons away from what their followers were and are trying to do. No one was ever able to put out an album to the standards of “Mandylion” and I am pretty confident that this will hold for many years to come. All I wish is that Anneke and her companions will decide to return to the style of “Mandylion” and output the second part of their masterpiece.
Assesment? Hehehehe, ok 100/10.

AMORPHIS - TALES FROM THE THOUSAND LAKES


Amorphis are another example of a death metal band that decides to change their style to something I will never understand, walking the steps of Gorefest or Anathema or Paradise Lost or any other band that you might think of. When they released “The Karelian Isthmus”, they didn’t say much to me. And to be really honest, I never believed that this band would be able to make something worth looking and listening to.
The band from Finland came to claim me wrong however. “Tales From The Thousand Lakes”, came to give me something new, something that I had never heard before. Death Metal vocals, mixed with death riffs and classic metal tunes. But the most amazing elements are the oriental scales that the band without fear reproduces throughout the album.


1. Thousand Lakes
2. Into Hiding
3. Castaway
4. First Doom
5. Black Winter Day
6. Drowned Maid
7. In the Beginning
8. Forgotten Sunrise
9. To Father's Cabin
10. Magic and Mayhem


Only the title of the album gets you ready for amazing music. When you get on your hands the vinyl – if you really want to enjoy the album buy it on a vinyl - and see this wonderful painting on the front cover, only then you understand what you have to deal with.
When the intro “Thousand Lakes” starts, you immediately enter the world of imagination. You can catch yourself standing somewhere in the landscape the cover shows and listening to a bard telling the stories that came out of the legendary “Kantele”.
The album goes on this way, exploring places and the lands that were never visited lyrically or musically. All the songs are great, but the personal preference goes to “Into Hiding” that opens the album the best way, traveling you at once to the places Amorphis wanted us to go, “The Castaway” with the amazing oriental riff becomes the most melodic song of the album, while the well known “Black Winter Day”, remains up to now one of the most known riffs on the piano.
“First Doom” is a little bit more aggressive than the rest of the songs, but the band keeps things balanced. The album continues the same way, with interesting riffs and out-of-this-world melodies until the end making you want to listen to it again and again.
If you don’t have the album, buy it. You will gain a lot from it. If you buy it, choose the vinyl version as I have done, for the extraordinary cover of the album. Amorphis, after this masterpiece, decided to eliminate the oriental melodies and the brutal vocals and become alternative too. I don’t say that “Elegy” was bad, but surely not to the magnitude of “Tales From The Thousand Lakes”. The rest were really bad for me.
Once more, if you don’t have it, buy it and let yourself go to the journey of the unreal that this album has to offer.
9.5/10

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