Posts Tagged ‘Black Sabbath’
HOLY DIVER/LAST IN LINE/SACRED HEART – Dio
The last time I saw Ronnie James Dio he had just come off stage after performing a visceral show with Heaven and Hell at the Gods of Metal Milan. ”Makowski, you WANKAH!!”, he bounded over and gave me a huge hug. Full of energy, eyes beaming, there was nothing there to suggest his tragic demise less than a year later.
Larger than life itself with a voice that launched a thousand fantasy themed melodic rock bands; Dio was an artist who carried his heart and convictions on his sleeve, which is why even when some of his songs and lyrics went beyond the realm of musical parody his fans (including myself) would salute his efforts with ‘devils horns’ two prong salute.
I have followed Ronnie’s career first hand since watching him supporting Deep Purple with Elf. Already you could see his talents and ambitions were bigger and bolder than his bandmates and I was not all suprised when the uber talented axe genius Ritchie Blackmore gazumped for his solo project Rainbow. A classic band with a classic line up with three classic albums and one classic live album-they could have reached heady Zeppelin-esque heights but unfortunately imploded.
I have to admit with the exception of the rather marvellous Heaven & Hell my dalliance with RJD became patchy and felt that his solo efforts were overshadowed by Rainbow and H&H. How wrong could I be. These three remastered/expanded with bells, cloven hoofs and whistles reissues demonstrate while both Rainbow and Sabbath seemed to lose direction in the mid Eighties Dio remained solid and focussed throughout producing a body in music that still sounds potent and vital (let’s forget about the visuals). While a lot of this has to do with to do with Dio’s instantly recognisable gargantuan vocal range, it’s also his choice of musicians which include former Ozzy cohort Jake E Lee and up and coming emerald guitar slinger Vivian Campbell.
Endorsed by Ronnie’s Widow, Wendy, each album features a bonus CD and booklets annotated by the very ‘eavy, very ‘umble Malcolm Dome.
Apart from the three classic albums highlights include King Biscuit sessions featuring a rather robust rendition of Children of the Sea, a searing slice of Stargazer from the Pink Pop Festival and a lacerating lashing of Long Live Rock’n'Roll. Not forgetting the meaty mega morsel known as Man of the Silver Mountain.
Altogether an excellent tribute to one of Heavy Rocks premier vocalists and all round nice guys.
God Bless Ronnie James Dio……
Peter Makowski says….
For more info on these releases click HERE.
There’s a small degree of scepticism that is implicit with tracklistings stating the guest stars on the back sleeve. It’s a mild concern that having to prostitute whoever has been roped in could question the marketability of the album in its own right. Such is the case with Black Widow whose return after forty years comes with the sterling recommendation of Tony Martin (he of the highly forgettable Tyr and Forbidden Black Sabbath eras. You know, the one with Ice-T on it. Exactly).
As a result, opener Hail Satan doesn’t receive the credence it probably deserves. Sounding for all the world like Down Under by the lamentable Men at Work, it’s a particularly flaccid start, and one not even retrievable by the presence of Martin. That’s When Evil Touched Me, contrary to its abysmal title, begins with a surprisingly solid organ riff before driving towards a painfully inevitable chorus that lacks anything remotely approaching lyrical ambiguity. Not even with a half decent Ozzy impression thrown in for good measure.
Unashamedly wearing their influences on their sleeve, the overriding impression is that any form of cynicism should be handed in at the door. Lyrically, it’s everything you’d expect from a band whose live selling point used to be mock execution, and the music, whilst undoubtedly competent does absolutely nothing to warrant secondary listens. The return of previous member Kay Garret on Even the Devil Gets the Blues is especially fetid; an horrific attempt to slight the contemporary music industry completely falling on deaf ears, backed by a cut-out-and-keep blues jam that even seems bored with itself.
Despite any of this, there’s more than likely a slew of fans out there salivating over the prospective release of Sleeping With Demons, and there is no doubting any of the enthusiasm of those involved. However, the question stands as to how relevant the band remain with a veritable sacrificial altar’s worth of modern bands doing the Satanic schlock with infinitely more conviction. Tongue may well be firmly in cheek, but alas that is where it should remain.
Matt Crane says….
For more info on Black Widow you can check out their website HERE.
If Jamie Ramsey, Delia Lawson or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall-Worrall-Thompson were to knock up a “New Favourite Band recipe” it might resemble the following;
Start with some rowdy punk
Add a splash of rock ‘n’ roll
Spice with some black metal
Leave to stew in some classic rock.
Get Jon Baizley from Baroness to design an eye catching album cover and serve with vocals screamed in Norwegian washed down with a cheeky flagon of mead and enough Norse mythology to give a Thor a headache.
Nobody wants to proclaim the second coming, only to be duly revealed as gobbing off about the newest Stiltskin. So it can be difficult to approach a review for one of the bands of the moment without some cynicism. All that went out of the window though by the time opener Ulvetid had successfully cut and shut four reasonably distinct musical genres. Hefty production values served a crunchy metallic punk that seemingly is not intense enough, demanding instead a step up to the next level through a nifty blast of black metal fury. A comedown is then required and is given of sorts via some rowdy 12 bar blues (yes think Status Quo off their tits on Dragon juice at a Lordi house party) that leads into a post rock outro that almost blissfully gives the listener a chance to collect their thoughts and check their bollocks. All this after only three and a half minutes.
What impresses most is despite the cacophany there has been some thought and consideration put into the song craft here. Having three guitarists can seem for bands a missed opportunity but there is some harmonising and winding riffery, see Offernatt in particular. (Norwegian for Off Her Nut…possibly.) What also impresses is the ready made T-Shirt slogan of track seven...Sultans of Satan…nuff said methinks.
The standout tracks though are the closing two. Ordsmedar Av Rang sees Kvelertak build to powerful yet melodic hooks and Utryd dei Svake swirls with threatening feedback and percussive bludgeon before chugging off and leaving us with a chirpy outro worthy of The Wildhearts.
It’s a tricky subject, genre labeling. Bands hate it, but it’s a necessary evil for a review site. But think Entombed, think Converge, think Black Sabbath, think the Stooges, think ABBA (kidding), think having a bastard good time of it and you may understand the spectrum of influence at work here.
Seemingly though, Kvelertak are so unfashionable and so unconcerned with being so that cycles being cycles means they are taking music forward. Pleasingly, it’s one of the most uplifting albums you’ll hear as a result. Just ask Dave Grohl, he’s had them out supporting the Foos.
New Favourite Band…Done.