Classic Rock Bottom

There's a few CDs I have that I haven't or hadn't gotten around to listening to yet. Whether they are too "old" or I end up not really having much to say about them, I'm not doing a full on review.

Instead, I'm just putting in a sentence or two about what I thought of them. I'll probably keep updating this thread as I get around to various albums that have been sitting waiting for me to play them.

Joe Bonamassa - Blues of Desperation - While there were a couple of tracks I wasn't all that enamored with, overall this album was another winning blues solo album from Bonamassa.

Boneyard Dog - Bluesbound Train - Another bluesy rock and roll record, this debut album was pretty much kicking my ass each time I listened to it.

U2 - The Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition - Sadly, while I absolutely love the album itself (it is one of my all-time favorites), the anniversary edition isn't much to write home about. Disc 1 is the original album while Disc 2 is a live concert from the Joshua Tree tour. It's not bad, but there's nothing special about it really.

Inglorious - S/T - I was really kind of hyped up about this album but I think the fact I've already sold it off on eBay might give you a hint about my final reaction to the album. Okay, that might be slightly unfair but after listening to the album four times and I couldn't really pick a single memorable song out of it, there's obviously something of a disconnect.

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John Mellencamp - Big Daddy (1989) - Since I had never heard the full Big Daddy album before now, I wasn't familiar with what songs would be on the disc.

When the album kicked off with an incredibly low voltage song like "Big Daddy Of The All", I thought I was going to be in for an album that forgot to provide some rocking music. I was definitely wrong about that.

The album has three songs I recognize as songs that were singles or I've heard on the radio many times over the years. Those were "Martha Say", "Jackie Brown" and "Pop Singer". Each of the tracks is good in their own right and I definitely continued to enjoy them.

Other songs like "Mansions in Heaven", "To Live", "Country Gentleman" and "J.M.'s Question" are fine but don't necessarily get me fired up to hit repeat on them all that much.

As for songs that surprised the hell out of me because I had never heard them before and found I LOVED them were the kickass track "Void In My Heart" and the song "Sometimes A Great Notion". Man I want to hear them a lot more now!

I also liked the hidden 12th track on the album, a cover of The Hombres song "Let It All Hang Out".

Overall, I liked the album though there was a bit more hit and miss material on Big Daddy than on some of Mellencamp's other albums.

HammerFall - Renegade (2000) - When I bought tickets to see the Helloween/Hammerfall "United Forces" tour this year, I knew that I had to make an effort to learn more about HammerFall's back catalog. While I'm sure I had heard some songs that weren't on their Legacy of Kings album (the only one I owned previously), I couldn't tell you for sure.

So I made a trip to the record shop. But I was only able to come away with this album. But that's okay, because with anthemic tracks like "Templars of Steel", "The Way of the Warrior", and "The Champion", HammerFall was firing on all cylinders with this album. Of course, you have their power metal power ballad "Alway Will Be" that was pretty damn good. You can't forget to mention blazing relentlessly uptempo tracks like "Keep The Flame Burning", "Living In Victory", "Destined For Glory" and the killer instrumental "Raise the Hammer" either.

The Renegade album doesn't really have a bad song at all and it shows that I've done myself a criminal injustice by not exploring more of their discography before now.

Dangerous Toys - The R*tist 4*merly Known as Dangerous Toys (1995) - Having just written about the Dangerous Toys album Pissed after hearing (and loving) it for the first time, I decided to check out the band's 4th and as yet final studio album. I kind of regret that decision though.

In the song "Take Me Swiftly" you can hear vocalist Jason McMaster repeatedly intone the lyric "Why do I care?" And for the first half of the album, that lyric pretty much sums up what I felt about the first six songs. I hated the way the vocals were presented on "Share The Kill" and it was all downhill from there. It's like besides the parody album title, the band was trying to parody the whiny self-indulgent sound of bands in 1995 or something. Problem is, it doesn't make for very good music. While the song "The Numb" has more of thump to its sound at the start, it fades down the stretch as did my interest in the song.

However, the song "Words on the Wall" finally gave me a real hard driving and viciously ripping song. The music is heavy and in-your-face while McMaster's vocals are razor sharp. Sadly, the album quickly backslid on the next two tracks until the song "New Anger" started and once again, the more interesting hard rock stylings of the band were back. The song "To Live The Lie" was decent even though it seemed to go on a little too long.

To be perfectly honest, I doubt that I will ever listen to this album ever again and I'm kind of glad none of the songs are in the band's current set list. This was just a WTF were you thinking kind of release.

Power Theory - Force of Will (2019) - While I'd never heard of Power Theory before they were announced as one of the opening acts for U.D.O. at the show I was going to be attending, I wanted to check them out before seeing them live. 

And while the show ended up being postponed until next year, I sure am glad that I did check them out because this is a fantastic album!

Force of Will is the band's latest release and while it is four years old, I was pretty impressed with what I heard. Power Theory features Jim Rutherford on vocals, Rob "BB" Ballinger and Carlos Alvarez on guitars, Alan Angelo on bass and Johnny Sasso on drums.

And man do they lay down some hard and heavy metal music on this album. Many of the songs can be described as fast, heavy and hard-hitting. But don't let that fool you into thinking the 12 songs on the album all sound the same. Power Theory explores a lot of themes in the individual songs and while they lay the hammer down musically speaking on most of the music, there's always something just a bit different to each track to set them aside from the rest.

The instrumental overture "Morior Invictus" that opens up the album serves as a nice table setter for the rest of the album. The band then lays waste to your eardrums with great songs like the title cut, "Draugr", "If Forever Ends Today (definitely a cool title!) and "Mountain of Death".

And then they mix things up with the song "Albion". It's got a much slower and, dare I say, softer delivery at the start. This gives the song a kind of dramatic build-up until after the first lyrical verse where the tempo ramps up for the rest of the song until the outro where the softer sound leads the listener to the very last notes.

The band also has a nice handle on not only giving you a rousing musical score but on a song like "Th13teen" they have the added bonus of a chorus that gives the song an anthemic feel as well.

While the band breaks the speed limit in most of their songs, it was "Spitting Fire" where an undeniably relentless driving attack lets the song live up to its title. And singer Jim Rutherford seems to have an extra touch of grittiness to his vocal performance here that I found quite enjoyable.

While the song "Bringer of Rain" has an uptempo nature, the song does prioritze more of a power feel over speed in terms of delivery. Meanwhile, "Path of Glory" had me thinking it had the same kind of muscular metallic feel you'd find in a Manowar song.

My reaction to "Shadow of Man" in my notes was "FUCKING HEAVY!" And while I don't feel the need to expand on that much, let me just say I might not be doing full justice to how good the song is with that description.

The album closes on the song "The Hill I Die On". It has a slower start but even while the tempo is taking its sweet time, you can feel the song building up like it is getting ready to explode into something far different. And then it does and it works incredibly well.

I feel I have to make a disclosure here. I listened to this album online. I haven't gotten the CD in hand as yet. But I will be doing so ASAP. Because while I may not have heard of Power Theory before now, the Force of Will album shows me just how much I've been missing out on because this is a damn fine example of how to put forth a fully captivating metal album that makes you want to listen over and over again. 

Accept - Breaker (1981) - Despite the fact that Breaker, Accept's 3rd studio album has been out for more than 40 years, it wasn't until I just recently picked up the 2005 reissue of the CD that I'd even heard the album in full.

Yes, when I saw the Dirkschneider tour with Udo Dirkschneider singing an all-Accept set list I did hear the title track and "Can't Stand The Night" but unless I've heard any other songs over the years and just not realized it, Breaker is kind of a brand new experience for me.

And I have to say that it was a great experience! Most of the album is fast tempo with killer guitar riffs, Udo's gripping and growling vocals and a superbly timed sense of melody woven into the mix as well.

The album opens with the songs "Starlight", "Breaker" and "Run If You Can" with each track being pretty fast paced throughout. I loved "Starlight" in particular but each track is good.

There's a bit of a slowdown with "Can't Stand The Night" but it had a cool sound to it that ended up making me enjoy the track a lot. The song "Breaking Up Again" is another slower song, kind of a ballad and features bassist Peter Baltes doing the lead vocal. That was interesting to discover when I read the liner notes.

Songs like "Feelings" and the album closing "Down and Out" keep your blood pumping when they play through too.

The jacked up tempo of "Burning" has the music perfectly fitting to the song title as it sets a blazing pace. I loved "Midnight Highway" as well (Baltes sings the bridge vocal on this one while Udo sings the rest of the track).

The band's command of English curse words gets quite a display on the song "Son of a Bitch". And while you could think that the song wouldn't age very well, it is actually a fantastic song and ended up being one of my favorites on the album.

I'm not surprised that Accept had such a great album like Breaker in their catalog but I was surprised that after taking "forever" for me to actually hear the album for the first time just how much I did end up liking it. This is just a really kick-ass album!

Sabaton - Primo Victoria (2005 / 2011) - This is the first studio album from Sabaton. While it was originally released in 2005, I have the 2011 reissue that comes with 6 bonus tracks. Much like all the albums that would come after this one, moments in the history of warfare dominate the subjects of the songs. The one big exception is the last track of the original album. Entitled "Metal Machine", the lyrics take song titles of other famous songs to pay tribute to heavy metal itself. While you might think it wouldn't work the song is actually quite good.

The title track opens the album and it has an uptempo rhythm to go along with the feel of being a marching song. Singer Joakim Barden sings the opening line a capella before the music kicks in full fire. The song looks at the Normandy invasion and features a gripping chorus.

I pretty much enjoyed everything on the album. Songs like "Stalingrad" have fast moving musical scores while a track like "Purple Heart" has more of a pounding deliberate style to it.

The band really explodes into a relentless attacking style on songs like "Reign of Terror" and "Counterstrike". The song "Into The Fire" is also rather deliciously fast paced as it delves into the use of napalm during the Vietnam War. It's another one of the best tracks on the album.

Two of my personal favorite numbers on Primo Victoria are "Panzer Battalion" which looks at Operation Iraqi Freedom through the eyes of the American armored battalion that led the invasion. Fast moving throughout, the song grabs hold of you right from the get go and when they work the song title into the lyrics they do it in such a manner that it manages to further enhance the song.

The other song I really got into was "Wolfpack". The song itself is about German submarine attacks on ship convoys, but it was how Sabaton employed certain effects at the beginning of the track that set the stage for you as the listener to feel like you were there deep under the sea as everything was happening. The music is uptempo but at the same time has a heavier feel to it as well.

As for the bonus tracks on this edition, the quick instrumental "The March to War" sounds like an overture to open a movie or something and as it turns out, the band uses it to open their concerts according to some Internet research. The bonus tracks are book-ended by another instrumental called "Dead Soldier's Waltz". The odd thing is that it was originally written for a hockey team but the band liked it so much that they have started using it as the song playing after their concerts end.

There's a couple of live tracks including "Into The Fire". The other song is "Rise of Evil", which is about how Hitler came to power in Germany. The funny thing is that while it is on this as a bonus track, the original studio track wasn't recorded until the band's 2nd album Attero Dominatus. Sabaton also covers the Twisted Sister song "The Beast". I love the original album but this is a pretty damn good remake.

The song "Shotgun" is apparently one of the earliest songs that Joakim Broden ever wrote. And since it doesn't have the same historical subject focus as the band's material, it wasn't recorded by the band. But after sitting around for a long long time, it got recorded and used as a bonus track here. Even though it isn't in line with how the band does their songs, as I was listening to it I couldn't help but be blown away by the track's fast moving power and ferocity. Call me crazy, but I really dug this song.

Which pretty much sums up each of the tracks on this album. The term Primo Victoria means Victory First in Latin. Well, that also works in describing Sabaton's Primo Victoria album. It is the band first victory in a string of incredible albums!


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