Fireball ($5 SPECIAL)

SKU: 2564-2
Label:
Warner Bros
Category:
Hard Rock
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Cheap price for the domestic pressing of the classic Mk II album.  Has "Strange Kind Of Woman".  How bad can it be?

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  • "Despite what the name might lead you to think, progressive metal is among the most static and boring of all heavy music genres. Half the bands that fall under the moniker exist merely as a vehicle to show off the skills of the players involved, which is fine in small doses, but rarely sustains a creative career. The other half of the bands stick rigidly to the blueprint of one of the fore-bearers of the genre, giving us music that sounds exactly like something we've already heard. Very little of progressive metal is actually interesting, because it is a genre that lacks people dedicated to the art of songwriting. Songs are what makes any band successful, no matter how much sheer musical skill they possess. Dream Theater didn't get to where they are just because they are amazing musicians, they also wrote a slew of great songs and albums. The number of progressive metal bands who have impressed me with their songwriting in recent years is miniscule, but I mention all of this because Ascendia is one of them.As “At The End Of It All” swells into focus with a tribal drum beat and chanted vocals, it's already obvious that this is not going to be prog-by-numbers. The song kicks into gear with a syncopated guitar riff, before the vocals soar over the top of everything, slapping a thick coat of melody atop the sound. There's a quiet section in the middle of the song that feels like a cousin of Killswitch Engage, which is a fresh sound to hear in this kind of music. When it opens back up into the chorus, the song is massive, and it's hard to believe all of that music was contained in five and a half minutes.The songs on the album are more bite-sized than typical progressive metal, but that plays into the band's strengths as songwriters. By keeping the songs lean and tight, they hit harder than if the instrumental sections had been extended by a minute here and there. There is interesting playing going on, but it's all done within the framework of the songs, and never put out front to dominate the spotlight. It's an approach that is smart not just because of how easy it is to get bogged down in instrumental pyrotechnics, but because an album of that sort would never be able to survive the Herculean vocal presence of singer Nick Sakal.With more than a little bit of similarity to the former singer of the aforementioned Killswitch Engage, Howard Jones, Sakal's vocals dominate the album, making you wonder where a voice like that could have come from. His baritone is warm, rich, and not at all what you would expect to hear in a band that isn't playing down-tuned hardcore.But what is most important are the songs, and that's where Ascendia proves themselves as standouts. Whether tackling more modern fare like “Remember Me”, or more traditionally melodic songs like “Moonchild”, there's a phenomenal blend of heavy riffing and soaring melody. I can't tell you how rare it is to hear a progressive metal band that is so in tune with melody, and can write songs that could stand up if they were stripped down to the chord structure and the vocals. We get an example of that with the duet ballad, “The Song That You Deserved”, a largely piano and voice song that is as beautiful as it is heart-breaking. Ascendia's ear for songs is excellent, and that is what makes “The Lion And The Jester” such an engaging listen. Song after song, there's a warm and inviting chorus waiting to wrap its arms around you after you've heard the heavy and intricate moments.This year has been off to a ridiculously great start, with at least half a dozen legitimately great records having already come my way. Add “The Lion And The Jester” to that list, because Ascendia is making progressive metal the way it was always supposed to be. Both challenging and gratifying, intense and cathartic, “The Lion And The Jester” is a phenomenal piece of work that reminds me of the very best progressive metal I've ever heard. This is an album you need to hear.Oh, and how awesome is that cover art? That is one album that will look as good as it sounds in a collection." - Bloody Good Horror
    $10.00
  • The Japanese East Wind label was active in the 70s and into the early 80s.  This was a jazz label that focused on Japanese artists but also covered many popular US players.  While not as overtly audiophile as Three Blind Mice, the East Wind label was always noted for immaculate reference quality production.Universal Japan has released 72 titles from the East Wind catalog in extremely limited editions.  We've cherry picked those titles that we think are of interest to our customer base.Masahiko Togashi is a wheelchair bound percussionist who has had quite a prolific career.  Much of his output would fall into the free jazz/improv category.  Spiritual Nature is a bit different.  While its probably the most "out" recording on East Wind it holds together and is quite a beautiful work.  The album features a large size ensemble of musicians, the most notable being Sadao Watanabe (reeds) and Masahiko Satoh (piano).  You need to think of the album as one continuous organic work.  The music has a definite Japanese feel in sound and lives up to its title - its quite spiritual sounding.  Taken as a whole it has a cosmic, spaced out vibe.  OK some skronking here and there but overall quite powerful.  Definitely a late night listen with the lights out.  Superior recording to boot!  
    $16.00
  • San Francisco's Orchid has been kicking around a bit, jumping around a bunch of small labels.  A buzz has been developing around the band so it was only a matter of time before they stepped up to the big time - they got snatched up by Nuclear Blast.  I would say that NB scored a major coup here.  Orchid's reputation has been built upon a doom metal sound that draws heavily from the early Black Sabbath canon.  Plain and simple.  These guys have the retro sound down pat and the look as well.  If you are into doom its not going to come any better than this.  Highly recommended. 
    $13.00
  • "The story of King Charlemagne, First Holy Roman Emperor, acted and sung by the legendary actor Christopher Lee, one of the most popular and highest grossing actor of all time, with cinematic milestones such as "Lord Of The Rings", "Star Wars", "The Man with the Golden Gun" and "Dracula". The Carandinis, Lee's maternal ancestors, were given the right to bear the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Christopher Lee, directly linked with Charlemagne, has decided for the first time in his life to pay homage to his distinguished ancestor, who is credited as "The Father of Europe". Charlemagne is a concept album with original words and symphonic metal music. Marco Sabiu - best known for his collaborations with Kylie Minogue, Take That, Ennio Morricone - has composed a huge epic canvas of sounds in the form of a movie score, introducing modern metal symphonies for orchestra, choir, two metal bands, and several guest vocalists. The mesmerising lyrics meld with this powerful story, transporting the listener into the Dark Ages and allowing for the imagination to run wild. All these elements bring to life the legend of Charlemagne."
    $15.00
  • "Artistry is never about conformity and straight lines. It’s about taking risks, and then pushing boundaries to a point where the impossible suddenly seems a little more flexible. Such has been the career of Devin Townsend, one of the most uniquely insightful musicians of the 21st Century. And it’s certainly the case with the Retinal Circus.Staged at The Roundhouse in London on October 27, 2012, this was the chance for Townsend to present a performance that summarised his career so far. And he did it with aplomb, style, humour, a sense of blackness and a touch of the bizarre.“My manager and I were looking for a way to sum up 20 years of my music, without making it seem that I was some kind of multi-headed hydra. And over a period of time we came up with the idea of the Retinal Circus.”The concept was to piece together a presentation that was musical, visual and startling. One that reflected Townsend’s own remarkable ability to take up almost any idea, twist it within his own show, thereby adding to the overall impact.“To me it’s like somebody putting a cauldron in the middle of a room, with only a nail in it. Eventually someone comes along and says, ‘That cauldron could do with some potatoes’. And then someone else says, ‘Let’s add some tomatoes’, and before you know it you have a cauldron filled to the brim with all sorts of interesting items. That’s how we approached this concept.”Over a period of eight to 10 months, during which time he was also working on other projects, Townsend assembled all the factors and talents that would eventually help to spit this Circus into something so fascinating that it took The Roundhouse by storm, and is still being spoken about as one of the great triumphs of the live environment over the past decade. While the centrepiece was clearly the music that has helped to propel Townsend to such eminence, it’s very diversity allowed for the introduction of characters who were wild and wacky enough to be the music made flesh and blood – not to mention fire breathing skills, in some cases!“We always knew that it was going to be a one-off performance. It’s not as if we planned to repeat the process. So what you see and hear is captured from the one night when the Retinal Circus will ever be brought to life.”Given the complexity and wide-ranging nature of this production, it’s astonishing to think that there were just one-and-a-half days of rehearsal time prior to the show itself. But it would all prove to be quite extraordinary, as the night in question brought out a kind of collective feral belief from everyone.“To me, it’s like going on a long bicycle ride. You can always give up at any point, but what do get out of that? It’s far more satisfying to keep going, whatever the problems you face, and to know that you’ve made it on your own merit and in your own time.”Since the show itself happened, Townsend has been busy getting together the live release, and ensuring that every aspect reflects the night itself in the best possible sense.“I wanted the sound and musical quality to be of the highest order. I wanted the commentary, the visuals...everything about it to be appealing and comprehensive. And I feel that’s what I’ve now got. This will never happen again, so what I release to the fans has to be of a quality that reflects the original ideals. It was so much fun to do, and had so much passion. I believe you can feel that when you watch and listen.”The Retinal Circus was so extreme, full of depth and intelligence that it should have taken much longer to produce with considerably more financial and manpower back-up. But then the beauty of Townsend is that he made it work on his own terms and in his own times.“It was an absurd project to start. But it was an even more absurd project to finish. But I am proud of what I did. I will always have a special place for the Retinal Circus.”"
    $16.00
  • "Live release from the British modern classic rock band. In 2014, Mostly Autumn released the highly acclaimed Dressed in Voices. They decided, after much consideration, that the concept album Dressed in Voices deserved to be played live in its entirety at every show. It proved to be the right decision and seemed to hold audiences spellbound, so much so that they were overwhelmed with requests for a live recording and here it is! Box of Tears - named after the final track on the album - is a live version of Dressed in Voices recorded during the band's 2014 tour. Winners of Best Live Concert and Best Female Vocalist 2014 in the Classic Rock Society awards, they have earned themselves a name for their outstanding live shows and have been described as 'the best band you have never heard'. The album really comes alive in a concert environment and the emotion shines through - you can hear a pin drop between songs as the audience becomes enthralled in the drama."
    $14.00
  • "It takes a certain talent for bands to satisfy both diehard fans and those seeking something different. In 2008, Stratovarius underwent a transformation after the critically destroyed self-titled release from 2005 and the subsequent "Revolution Renaissance" demo. Then there was the departure of founder/guitarist Timo Tolkki and the series of bizarre events that followed, including the infamous internet letter relinquishing the band and its back catalog to singer Timo Kotipelto, keyboardist Jens Johansson, then bassist Jari Kainulainen, and then drummer Jorg Michael.From the point the band finally regrouped, it sought to quickly reinstate past glory with a vengeance, releasing “Polaris” followed by the stunning “Elysium,” which would prove tough to beat. However, "Nemesis" is a "black diamond" of pristine perfection in every way and the band's best effort since 1997's “Visions."When the new release was announced, the band commented about being more mature in the song writing and the tracks having a “darker and more modern" edge. The guitar sound is noticeably crunchier and the album scores a complete victory in the song writing. To the non-symphonic metal fan, my incessant glorification of the genre may result in the combination of eye rolling and the nondescript "whaa-whaa" of any adult in a Peanuts cartoon. To Stratovarius fans, “Nemesis” is a collection of the band's greatest hits that you never heard until now. The soaring and emotionally charged choruses are more fetching than ever and the guitar work has more hooks than Kim Kardashian’s closets. You have to admire guitarist Matias Kupiainen, who has stepped in, stepped up, and has outshined Timo Tolkki in every aspect (no disrespect to Timo). At the time of “Polaris,” I had no worries about how vocal great Kotipelto or key legend Johansson would fare, but Matias came in and elevated their play to a levels unheard especially with “Nemesis.”The most noticeable difference on this album is Johansson’s brilliant and refreshing key work. The album is filled with keyboard pops and over the top bombastic finger play shown in “One Must Fall,” “Fantasy,” and especially “Halcyon Days.” Many fans have been lulled into the prototypical Stratovarius sound from Johansson over many years, and now he has raised the bar. There is a jolt of excitement to every song, sort of an amalgamation of Olof Morck’s work in Amaranthe and a splash of “Rage for Order” era Queensryche. This shouldn’t scare away any longtime fans of the group, it’s the most upbeat and exciting that I have ever heard the band.Tracks that rise above include the speedy opener “Abandon,” which sets the perfect tone for the entire album, “Unbreakable,” the perfect choice for a first single,” and the three tracks with the most glorious choruses in Stratovarius’ illustrious history: “Out of the Fog,” “Castles In the Air,” and personal favorite “Stand My Ground.” However, these tracks do not overshadow any of the others; there simply is no filler, no boredom, and no mistakes.With effortless delivery, “Nemesis” is markedly superior to “Elysium” and makes the great “Polaris” look like a demo. Stratovarius has stormed out to an early and big lead in the race to the best of the year, one that on paper appears to be filled with so many potential winners. There is little doubt that an album that instantly ranks among this Finnish band’s all-time best should be able to withstand much of the competition.Highs: Simply put, one of the finest releases in the band's history.Lows: Really none, but it may not appeal to non-symphonic metal fans.Bottom line: Stratovarius takes back the throne by evoking the divine goddess of retribution." - Metal Underground
    $11.00
  • Fifth album from this young Dutch trio.  The band seems to be rising in popularity in Europe and Australia.  The band recorded this album in Georgia with producer Mark Neill (Black Keys).  The overall sound is intact - Hammond organ still is the focus - but there is a bluesy Southern vibe injected that reminds a bit to The Black Crowes.
    $24.00
  • Swedish power metal offshoot from Steel Attack. Quite melodic and actually pretty well done. Perhaps a bit similar to recent Nocturnal Rites. A steal!
    $11.00
  • We've had a hell of a time getting our hands on this album but its finally here and more than worthy of your attention.  In fact this is an album that is going to ride high on many 2014 top 10 album lists.This is the first full length release from this six piece band based out of Bergen, Norway.  The core sound of the band is rooted in classic progressive rock.  Think in terms of the aggressive side of Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson.  But there is more at play here.  A strong jazz element is at play as well.  I'm reminded of Jaga Jazzist and perhaps a bit of Frank Zappa and Mr. Bungle.  There is no doubt we are going to hear quite a bit from this band in the future.  BUY OR DIE!"An impressive album of refreshingly unique music that crosses many sub genres, including space-psychedelia, symphonic, heavy prog, avant-jazz and experimental/post metal. Wonderful vocals, very tight interplay among all band members with no one member or instrument really standing above any other--though the presence and performance of the saxophone is highly notable. This is complex music played so tightly. And the astonishing 14- minute epic, "God Left Us for A Black Dressed Woman," must be heard to be believed.1. "Oh My Gravity" (9:49) starts as a jazzy stop-and-start piece that picks up in intensity in the second minute before shifting to a melodic ballad in the vein of the heavier side of FROGG CAFÉ. The male vocalist sounds to me like something between RADIOHEAD's THOM YORKE and TODD RUNDGREN. Around the six minute mark the spiraling, swooning music sounds a lot like some of the louder stuff from MOTORPSYCHO's The Death Defying Unicorn. This feel continues into the seventh minute when organ and horns take turns embellishing the staccato music. The bare-bones, bluesy final 45 seconds is bizarre but so cool! A powerful and surprising opener to this unusual album. Very high marks for compositional prowess and instrumental performance. (9/10)2. "Wind Shears" (6:32) opens in a very psychedelia/spacey 1960s way. Then at the one minute mark it settles into a jazz groove with first sax and then jazzy guitar and Hammond organ filling the lanes over the rhythm section. Clavinet is added for a GentleGiant-like bridge before a polyrhythmic KING CRIMSON "Discipline"-like weave appears to support a brief ghost-like vocal. At 3:20 the sound gets much heavier over the same arpeggiated weave, nearly drowning out the still-soloing sax and organ. This is just like TOBY DRIVER (Kayo Dot/Maudlin of the Well)! At 4:05 things get quiet and sparse again, with the music vacillating from soft and delicate to heavy and abrasive. A very melodic kind of psychedelic big band section plays out for the final minute. Again, bizarre but so cool! (9/10)3. "Eschaton Hero" (8:29) opens with some guitar, keys & sax riffs repeated over latin percussion. At 1:00 everything settles down into another quiet section with a delicate vocal in Stian Økland's upper register. Beautiful chorus/bridge at 1:47 gives way to an unpretentious bass solo before settling back into the delicate vocal music. Same awesome bridge at 2:49 leads into a heavy section into jazzy chaos--all performed over the most simple, calm drum play. At 4:52 it gets even heavier as it plods along for a minute in support of a fuzz guitar solo. Finally the drums start to play--to match the frenzy of the rest of the band--then everything stops so the band can yell "Yay!" Then a variation on the previous frenzy picks back up until 7:05 when everything settles back down into the soft groove of the initial vocal section for a dirty sax solo before letting Stian finish the song out in his high voice. Well conceived and performed, just not my favorite. (7/10)4. "Extraction" (6:34) begins with another odd intro of two or three parts before settling into the vocal support section--which begins heavily before falling into another RADIOHEAD-like bluesy section. At 2:20 a neat Hammond section leads back into the heavy full band section that opened the vocals, then, again, drops off for the beautiful support of a multi-voice- supported section. At 3:45 a very smooth, stripped down electric guitar solos, until there is a full return to explosiveness at 4:20. A bouncy "O Yo Como Va"-like Hammond section at 4:40 gives way to a kind of Latin weave before falling back into the heavier rock weave from the first vocal section to end. (8/10)5. "God Left Us for A Black Dressed Woman" (14:12) opens with another KC "Discipline"-like weave that morphs and flows, polymorphs and grooves for two and a half minutes before decaying into a simplified form for a bluesy ROBERT PLANT-like vocal section. This song's amazing vocal performance could also be compared to some of the finest MATTHEW PARMENTER/DISCIPLINE works. Some incredibly powerful sections in this song--especially the multi-voice vocals in the eleventh minute and the following heavy full-band part. A very DISCIPLINE-like soft section then ensues with a slow build to an awesome crescendo and frizzed finish. The song evolves, shifts, twists and turns and surprises throughout. Again there are several parts that remind me of MOTORPSYCHO's Unicorn. Without question this is one of the best prog "epics" of the year! (10/10)Aside from the above references to Motorpsycho, King Crimson, Radiohead, Toby Driver, Matthew Parmenter/Discipline, the overall impression this album leaves me with is similar to that of DIAGONAL's eponymously titled debut album from 2008. SEVEN IMPALE's City of the Sun is a wonderful collection of masterfully composed, executed and recorded songs.A 4.5 star album that I can't see giving anything less than five in that it is a treasure for the ages!" - Prog Archives
    $14.00
  • In Hoc Signo is the blowtorch debut from this Italian band playing in the "Rock Progressivo Italiano" style.  Its a young band based out of Rome.  Their goal was to use vintage sounds and replicate the sounds of the 70s and they do it in spades.  Mellotron M400, Hammond B3 Organ, Mini Moog Voyager, Electric Piano, Elka Synthex - all the good keyboard stuff that will send chills down your spine.  Killer lead licks on violin and guitar fight for space with the keys.  I'm reminded of Quella Vecchia Locanda, PFM, King Crimson and Le Orme!  If this isn't enough the band added a couple of guests: Anglagard's Mattias Olsson plays on a track and helped with arrangements.  The legendary David Jackson plays sax and flute.  This one kills and it kills and it doesn't stop killing.  BUY OR DIE!
    $16.00
  • "The average underground metal fan seeing Crucified Barbara in the daily news feed probably made the same mistake I did in expecting this Scandinavian all-female rock band to be too upbeat and soft to hold my attention. That turned out to not be the case at all, as “In The Red” has the best of both worlds: an energetic rockin' vibe with more than enough of a metal edge. If you dig metal/rock crossovers like Doro or want a more serious and less humorously misogynistic Steel Panther, “In The Red” is absolutely the album for you.The album opens with the catchy “I Sell My Kids For Rock 'N Roll,” an anthem of rebellion against slowing down the rock just because of age, and then shifts into the slower but harder hitting “To Kill A Man,” which would make a great soundtrack to an “I Spit On Your Grave”-style revenge flick. Third track, “Electric Sky” then splits the difference, being catchy but still heavy.The album as a whole is incredibly cohesive, keeping up a solid and recognizable vibe while slightly altering the formula to switch between punk rock partying and darker themes. There's not much in the way of experimentation or a single stand-out track, but that's actually more of a good thing than you might think, as there's really no filler tracks either.“In The Red” is likely to hold the attention of extreme metal fans better than a good deal of the other rock hybrid groups. Granted it's not brutal or extreme, but so long as you don't head into it expecting Arch Enemy you'll be good to go. These tracks are definitely heavier than say Lita Ford's material, but much more rock focused and less on the extreme end than other all-female groups such as Astarte. This leads to both high powered guitar riffing on tracks like “Lunatic” alongside an old school Blue Oyster Cult feel on “Finders Keepers.”Refusing to give up the fist pumping fun of rock while playing heavy metal, Crucified Barbara's “In The Red” is a must-hear for fans of either genre.Highs: A great meshing of energetic rock with hard hitting metal with essentially no filler material.Lows: If you only dig extreme metal this won't have as much appeal, and there's not much in the way of experimentation or a single stand out track.Bottom line: Rock and metal rarely sound this good together - even if the less heavy end of music doesn't usually appeal to you, give this one a listen anyway." - Metal Underground
    $13.00
  • "It is summer and it's hot in California. For the recording musician it means that air conditioners are causing problems and are generally too loud. So, the musician can either sit on their ass and do nothing or simply switch gears and record an album with sounds that are louder than the air conditioners. This is what Henning Pauly decided to do when he realized that moving on to his rock-opera "Babysteps" was not possible right now. He called up the singer of the new band of his bandmates from Chain, Transmission, in Germany and asked if he was available. Juan Roos immediately said yes to the project, but he only had a two week window and it was two weeks from that phone call. Henning loves deadlines and so he started writing to have the album written and recorded, minus vocals, within two weeks.Henning describes Juan's voice as a perfect blend between Geoff Tate and David Coverdale: "Juan can give you the high stuff, but he can also be really raspy and rocky...his voice just kicks you square in the nuts!"Because of the very limited time frame for the conception and production of "Credit where credit is due" Henning asked his proven writing team to join in when it comes to lyrics and melodies, so Matt Cash is on board again, as are Edward Heppenstall and Jason McSheehy. Several songs on the album loosely deal with the world of rockstars, scandals and getting credit for what one has done. No need, really, to point out here that everyone involved will get credit where credit is due.The music is loud, heavy and realism has been shoved behind production value on the list of priorities. Heavy Industrial Drum sounds are interspersed with acoustic sets. The banjo finds its way into metal again and sometimes you can draw clear parallels to the work of Trent Reznor and Marylin Manson. There's more to it than just that, but the production is clearly more modern than anything Henning is done so far.This CD was about having fun with music and production and it gives Henning a chance to be back in the studio and have fun doing what he loves the most...making music, not talking about it."
    $3.00
  • Realm Of Shadows is the third album from the Dutch masters of symphonic rock. Knight Area creates harder edged progressive rock in the vein of Arena, Marillion, and Dream Theater. This latest effort is a conceptual work about a metaphysical journey that finds their music and themes taking a decidedly darker turn. Knight Area was founded in 2004 after Gerben Klazinga recorded the first album The Sun Also Rises. This album was a project of Gerben, who wrote all the music, with many musicians participating in the recordings of the album. It was a worldwide success and as a consequence Gerben formed a band to play live. Their second album, Under A New Sign, was released in 2007 after the band successfully played European and American stages including a performance at Nearfest. The album was a real band effort receiving superb reviews worldwide. A subsequent tour found the band performing in the UK, Germany, and Canada. The band will support the release of Realm Of Shadows with a European tour including appearances at ProgPower Europe, Prockfest, and the Classic Rock Society Octoberfest.
    $14.00