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Music Pimping, December 20, 2004: Nightwish and the Toronto Adventure

Nightwish, one of my top-priority bands as far as seeing live (Devin Townsend is all that remains!), was scheduled to play in Toronto back in August. They got delayed by immigration, like Lacuna Coil previously, and rescheduled for Saturday. The Opera House is in a seedy neighborhood, but it's still Canada so it's not dangerous or anything. More on that later. I got there in good time (4 hours with a dinner break) despite rain and the ridiculously early darkness. Pitch black at 5:30 PM = fun! The doors opened at 8, I got there at 8:15 expecting to wait to get in, and I should have left even later because I stood around for over half an hour (like last time). Good thing it was a balmy freezing rather than the ass-cold of today. My thanks to Opera House for a much better sound job than last time.

First act was unknown to everyone, but wound up being a great surprise. Aesma Daeva, who it turns out only found out about the show ten days earlier. They're very much in the same mold as Nightwish, with an operatic female lead backed by metal. The lead singer was VERY HOT~ and also very opposed to the war in Iraq (including the line 'f-ing Americans' during a speech between songs), but in the end her hotness overcame the political disagreement. That and her guitarist with the MUTTON CHOPS~ on his face. Oh baby that's metal. They're in queue for a pimping.

Long break between them and Nightwish, sadly, but the crowd was mostly female and/or nerds so it never got hostile. Nightwish made up for there only being two bands by playing a long set, complete with a three-song encore. They ruled. Tarja's voice is killer, Marco did great in his co-lead role, the set had about 15 songs in total with a nice mix of the albums, and all-in-all they more than lived up to my expectations. Nice surprise (for me) was a cover of Megadeth's Symphony of Destruction while Tarja was doing one of her outfit changes. The songs from their newest album (Once) stood out as the best. I'll have samples of that soon!

After that came the adventure. See, the Opera House doesn't believe in 'parking', and my first time there I got dropped off by friends. I wound up parking on a nearby street that I saw others parked on. I came back to find that my (sister's) car had been towed along with everyone else. Moral: READ THE NO PARKING SIGNS. People at a nearby house party confirmed the towing, and someone there took me in to use the phone. It was occupied, so he took me to the basement to show off their old-school vibrating-fat-belt-thingy non-excersize machine. It felt good on my back after 5 hours of standing, then when I still couldn't use their phone I set off.

None of the nearby businesses were open, so after about half a mile I just used a payphone and called collect. My sister was understandably upset, and told me to try and get info at the concert hall. Indeed this was good advice, as the Opera House people gave me the procedure (call the cops, find where it got towed, taxi there), along with the local PD's number. After another call home (my sister couldn't find her license plate number but I then remembered it), I called the PD. The policewoman I spoke to was very helpful but said she saw no mention of the plate number. It turns out someone wrote a 'U' as a 'V'. She still found where it was, and I took a cab there. $130 Canadian later, I had it back. Then I got to have a 4 hour trip through some harsh snow and eerie deserted highways back to home from 2 to 6 AM. Fun!

A big thanks to the many friendly Canadians I encountered over the course of the evening. A big thanks to Nightwish for ruling.

Music Pimping, September 2, 2004: Complete albums

Any album that you really like will typically have at least a couple standout songs, then some that you like, and maybe a handful that you could do without. To me the sign that a band hit the mark is when everything, start to finish, works. Naturally I could rattle off everything assorted bands that are already pimped, but I like 95% of their songs already so it's not quite the same. I selected one album per band and tried to be diverse in what I selected. So here, in no particular order, are albums that stand out as a whole.

-October Project, "Falling Farther In". Weepy and mildly repetitive, but damn it's some beautiful music. 'Funeral in his Heart' is the song that turned me onto them, but things like the title track are what make this a winner.

-Rusted Root, "When I Woke". Usually something that appeals to hippies turns me off, but in this case it's just so enjoyable. Rusted Root brings so much to the table, with very vibrant, energetic and just plain fun tunes. The singles, 'Ecstasy' and 'Send Me On My Way', are great. Other tracks like 'Martyr' and 'Lost in a Crowd' manage to keep up that same energy and provide memorable choruses and riffs. Some of the tracks don't quite measure up, but they still maintain a base that's much higher than similar bands could.

-Rammstein, "Mutter". The best on this isn't as good as their smash hit "Sehnsucht", but the average quality is up there. They rock in a bunch of ways, rock consistently, and rock from start to finish. If you liked 'Du Hast', be sure to give this a listen.

-Rage, "Black In Mind". One of the most pressing bands I have yet to pimp, Rage has produced an utterly insane amount of good music in our (or at least my) lifetime. Sadly I don't actually own any of the albums yet so I can't comment properly on it, and it's hard to judge exactly which is the top album, but "Black In Mind" probably has the best balance of quantity (over twelve good songs!) and quality (several of my favorites include the title track, 'My Rage' and 'Alive But Dead'). More on that when I pimp them.

-Disturbed, "The Sickness" and "Believe". I don't like what Nu Metal has done to the airwaves, but it's hard to resist these. Well-produced, very consistent, and loaded with goodies that weren't played to death like 'Stupify' or 'Prayer'. 'Shout 2000' and 'Rise' are the best examples of those.

-Stone Temple Pilots, "Purple". Experienced following "Core" but not burned out like their mediocre follow-ups, this album is incredible in its diversity and quality. Hell, the big single ('Interstate Love Song') might be my least favorite of all the songs! There's the really fun ('Unglued' and the hidden finale) to the subdued ('Meatplow', 'Army Ants'). There's great beginnings ('Lounge Fly'). But what makes this a keeper is the drop-dead gorgeous slow songs where Weiland really shows his stuff. 'Kitchenware & Candybars', 'Big Empty' and 'Pretty Penny' are the sort of songs that aren't quite fit for radio but raise the quality of this several notches.

-The Cult, "Beyond Good & Evil". Wow do I ever love this album. Besides Rage this is the top priority to-be-pimped band, and by far this is the top priority to-be-pimped album. I can certainly understand those who have qualms about this; the songs are fairly similar and the riffs can blend together if you don't get into it. What hooked me is when I saw the music video for the KILLER~~~ song, 'Rise'. 'Rise' is so good. It's so... so good. It's as good as you think I'm trying to express and then it's even better. The rest of the album carries on with what makes Rise good- energy, pacing, memorable choruses, and straight-up American rock 'n roll. Where they had been prone to being really cheesy and sub-par in earlier efforts, this sets the bar high and keeps on reaching it. Big-time recommendation that you give it a listen.

Music Pimping, July 19, 2004: Therion's latest

When one of my favorite bands of the last ten years (only behind Opeth) releases two albums, I'd better be on top of it. And I am! The albums themselves are quite similar and quite 'the norm' for Therion, except for one track which I just happen to have provided. As per usual I love every song on the albums.

Music Pimping, June 5, 2004: Three more

Within Temptation- Yet another 'decent metal band with female lead'. Mother Earth is the main album, but they have other songs as well.

Without Face- Very interesting prog metal group. Lots of elements. Lots of METAL~. The album is Astronomicon.

Teramaze- No less than CHRIST METAL~! You know I'm all about that. 'Shadows' is enjoyable no matter what your religion is because it just rules you. Yes, you. Tears To Dust is the album, but only you fortunate few Aussies can even hope to buy it.

Music Pimping, May 29, 2004: Yet more bands

Cemetary- Solid metal band during their brief run. I only really liked their 3rd and 4th albums, Black Vanity and Sundown, but each of those are worthy.

Black Sabbath- But I already covered Ozzy, right? Not quite. I'm referring to their far less important '80s albums, primarily under the leadership of Dio. Heaven & Hell, Mob Rules, Born Again, and Eternal Idol produced a handful of fun '80s rock.

Counterforce- Here's a special find. One guy decided to metal-ize some pop songs. The results are a metric ton of fun. This is one where mp3 downloading is encouraged since he's not able to sell albums.

Music Pimping, Fenruary 26, 2004 part 2: Opeth & Moonspell

There was no site update yesterday due to an early-evening (doors opened at 6!) concert at the Steel Music Hall featuring my favorite active band in the world, Opeth. Steel is pretty much a dive, but the sound system was decent and the crowd was filled with good citizens except for a very large, knowledgeable drunk man who insisted on body flailing and random 'turn in a circle smile creepily at the crowd' sessions.

I wound up missing the first band, Devil Driver (whose lead singer was in Coal Chamber). They were very much into the screaming as opposed to being high-end metal. Oh well, that's why they're the undercard.

Next came Moonspell. They're from Portugal, and thus I screamed "Portugal" at the top of my lungs during one of the lulls. Yay me. They certainly brought the metal, and Fernando (lead singer) has a charisma that perfectly matches the music/lyrics. "Full Moon Madness" and "Alma Matter" are my favorite songs and both got played.

It goes without saying that Opeth blew both bands completely out of the water. They had a mostly new set of songs, including two from Damnation ("Windowpane" and "In My Time of Need"), "Master's Apprentices", "The Moor", and the highlight of the concert for me, "Blackwater Park". I love that song SO much right now, because it has three very distinct parts where the riffs utterly rule.

What stood out to me this time was bassist Martin Mendez, whose fingers move faster than you or I could possibly move ours... let alone for an hour and a half and accurately playing thousands of notes. Unreal.

Opeth is touring North America for the billionth time in the last year. GO! Also look for Nightwish this summer.

Music Pimping, November 26, 2003: Curve

We depart from THE METAL~ for a moment and cross over into '90s alternative rock. As per usual a good female vocalist makes up for 'less intense' music than I'd normally tolerate.

Pubic Fruit- A collection of their early, rare EPs. Sadly it too is rare. The standout song is their best song by a mile, the flat-out awesome "I Speak Your Every Word". Many other good ones too.

Doppelganger- The highlight on this is "Already Yours".

Cuckoo- "Left of Mother", "Superblaster" and "Sweetest Pie" are the standouts.

Come Clean- "Chinese Burn" (which got the most mainstream exposure of their songs) and "Coming Up Roses" are certainly worth listening to.

Gift- "Chainmail" is the star on this album.

Final Thoughts- Curve provides lots of good-but-not-great music, blending together lots of musical elements. Even if you haven't liked a single song I've recommended thus far, give them a chance.

Music Pimping, November 2, 2003: Omissions

Not every worthy album by the artists I've written up has been included. Often it's a matter of me re-listening to an album; in other cases there are new releases. Here's the first set of four albums.

Devin Townsend, "Accelerated Evolution"- This one is solid the whole way through. "Traveller" stands out as the song I enjoy most and the one I think the largest number of you would enjoy.

Opeth, "My Arms Your Hearse"- What was I THINKING to say it's not good? "When" is fantastic, "April Ethereal" and "The Amen Corner" are both really good, and "Demon of the Fall" is their signature song. This is maybe their 'harshest' album in terms of vocals, but once you're used to it... yeah.

Opeth, "Deliverance"- Oh yeah. Ohhhhh yeah. Perhaps the most flat-out ass-kicking metal album they've released. "Wreath" and "By the Pain I See in Others" are really good, "Masters Apprentices" is a level above that, the ending section of the title track is better than THAT, and they top it off with "A Fair Judgment" that's not quite as metal but remains a gorgeous piece of music. This album boosted Opeth to my second favorite band.

Opeth, "Damnation"- And now for something completely different. This is an acoustic album with a much slower pace, shorter songs, and it provides absolute proof that Opeth is one of the most dynamic bands out there. "Windowpane" stands out to me as the best track, though as I've said numerous times about good albums there is no real weak point. Those of you who might have sampled and disliked the death metal Opeth songs should give them another look with this album.

Music Pimping, September 28, 2003: Lacuna Coil in Syracuse

Last night I went to see Lacuna Coil in concert with my "baby" (10 years older than me) sister. Small show, only around 100 people if that. The audio was solid and the crowd was hot, so that helped make up for the size. SMALL stage height was annoying, because if anyone over 6'3" is in front of you, no chance to see the bands. I liked the lack of smoke due to the new ordinance in New York State.

First band was Murder by Death. Crappy name, mediocre band.

Next up, Beyond the Embrace, who were at the Buffalo show in May. More good stuff from them; they could get serious radio play if the singer would cut the screaming. I got to talk with him afterwards, which was nice.

Finally came Lacuna Coil. Being headliners, they played a longer set than they did in May and also did the whole "hold for applause and do an encore" bit. Cristina was HOT, both in the literal and figurative sense. I liked them more this time around, not sure why.

The concert got out about an hour before the others, which was very nice. Not having an aching neck/back/legs/feet probably helped me enjoy the end of the show.

Music Pimping, August 3, 2003: Moonspell

Moonspell is another one of those really odd metal bands that I don't know will appeal to many/any of you. It took me a little while to get into them, but the same was true of Opeth and Opeth is now my 2nd favorite band.

Wolfheart- I like most of the tracks here. "Alma Matter", "An Erotic Alchemy" and "Wolfshade" are the highlights.

Irreligious- Easily my favorite album. The last four tracks rule. "Full Moon Madness", "Mephisto", "Ruin & Misery" are the top recommendations.

Butterfly Effect- I like the first half. "Lustmord" is the highlight.

Final Thoughts- Download "Full Moon Madness" and "Alma Matter". If you don't like those, don't worry about the rest.

Music Pimping, July 16, 2003: Daft Punk

Two French guys with two albums over six years. Not a recipe for super-ultra-mega-stardom. Yet they have a way of making electronica songs that stand out from the crowd in complexity, in quality, and in just plain fun.

Homework- An album with killer highs and painful lows. "Rollin & Scratchin" is AWFUL, as is much of the second half of the album. This is more than made up for by the first 14 minutes (4 tracks) of the album. In particular the song "Da Funk" is a friggin' masterpiece that screams for the stereo to be turned up to ear-bleeding loudness. "Around the World" got the most airplay and is decent. "Da Funk" rules you. Maaan does it rule you.

Discovery- One of the top five electronica albums ever. Period. Great track after great track, some reliant on vocal samples and some reliant on techno, just about every one high-end. The start of "Short Circuit" is ridiculously good, and "Crescendolls" is great the whole way through. The 'floor' is a 6 out of 10, with the average song being around an 8. It's just that good.

Final Thoughts- Download "Da Funk" and "Crescendolls". If you don't like them, move on.

Music Pimping, June 1, 2003: Opeth in Concert... Again

On the 17th I went to see a concert in Buffalo's Showplace Theatre. Now, I was already blown away by Opeth in Toronto to the point of wondering if any concert could ever top it. As it turned out, all I needed was another Opeth show.

First off, just like the Opera House in Toronto, Showplace Theatre is in the seedy part of town. More a 'hardcore white trash' than anything. When I parked on a street, an old lady yelled at me because somehow I was taking up three parking spaces with my car... lengthwise. She even cursed when I didn't back up as far as she liked. Ah, dementia.

Once inside I was glad to find VENTILATION~, as I wasn't subjected to breathing in different kinds of smoke for 5 hours. The floor wasn't too crowded until a small-but-chunky group of guys decided to start moshing at random points. The sound always started bad for each band (some too loud, some too soft) but adjusted nicely by the end.

The first band was The End from Toronto. Not so good. One guitarist had a Booker T thing going on with shaking his short dreads, and the singer's mannerisms were halfway between a chicken and a veloceraptor.

Next up, a REAL band, Beyond the Embrace. What a difference. The crowd seemed surprised by them and got really into it, which the singer happily told us. The singer's main voice is very similar to James Hetfield, and with me that's always a good thing. Then he'd scream at certain points in songs and I had to try and tune him out. Oh, and he's a dead-ringer for Steven Richards. The guitar work was great, and one guitarist had a goatee that was the size of, say, Big Show's hand. I wish my goatee was not so meager. IT'S BEEN TWO AND A HALF YEARS DAMN YOU, GROW! ...anyway, Beyond the Embrace is definitely something to check out if you like Metallica and can stand harsh vocals.

Lacuna Coil finally made it after their INS problems in the winter. And it was good. The band is much more vocal-centered than anything I've seen, but with as much charisma as they have it works. Sadly the songs were mostly off the newer, very repetitive album of Comalies. Still a killer set and I was amazed how well the crowd responded despite most being hardcore death metal fans.

And then Opeth came. Where last time the guitar work was drowned out by bass and I focused on the vocals, this time I was able to really follow the intricate work. Their songs have more riffs than most rock bands have in entire albums... let alone the quality. "A Fair Judgment" never stood out to me before, but it absolutely did here; very few bands ever in existence could pull off such an amazing piece of music. The instrumental closing to "Deliverance" is the best headbanging song ever, and I nearly crushed a small-boned couple behind me from almost falling flat on my back after getting too into it. Crushing small people = metal.

This was the kind of show I don't expect to ever come together outside some sort of major festival. I loved the hell out of the three touring bands, and only paid $20 (plus gas) for the experience.

Lacuna Coil is still in the states, and Opeth will be back in July. Check them out!

Music Pimping, May 7, 2003: Dreams of Sanity

Nightwish fans rejoice! I bring unto thee another example of operatic metal with a female vocalist. While not quite on Nightwish's level of awesomeness (not to mention number of albums), this is well worth looking into for those of you who mentioned Nightwish as the favorite band I've pimped thus far. Like Nightwish, I enjoy every song on the albums, so I'll focus on the highlights.

Komodia- A 4-parter of the same name as the album dominates this. "Blade of Doom" was the song that turned me on to the band and is probably my favorite of the album.

Masquerade- As with Komodia, a multi-part song is the meat of the album. Interesting cover of "Phantom of the Opera". "Within (the Dragon)" is the best song.

The Game- Their final album. The first two tracks and the last two tracks correspond, continuing the 'continuity' aspect. Continuity of continuity, perhaps? "And So (I Walk On)", "The Beginning That Lies", and "Empress Through the Looking Glass" are the highlights.

Final Thoughts- Nothing hits a 10 out of 10, but it's really high-quality music all around. LOOK FOR IT~!

Music Pimping, April 23, 2003: Sentenced

One of the best 'regular' metal bands in existence. Sentenced is very heavy, very dynamic, and I think one of the bands which would appeal to a wide portion of you (unlike Artcutus and Opeth). Sentenced isn't exactly Nightwish, but they're well worth checking out. Warning: the songs are a bit on the 'bleak' side (lots of talk about death), but then, so is almost every early Metallica album.

Down- The band's original vocalist was replaced by Ville Laihiala, and the fourth Sentenced album was a result. It's also their best. "0132" is a departure from their normal style and it's one of the coolest (albeit shortest) instrumentals I've ever heard. "Warrior of Life" is the best normal song, with "Keep My Grave Open" also standing out. The rest of the album is very consistent, and I enjoy all the other songs.

Frozen- Nothing is quite as standout as on Down, but 11 of the 12 songs are great. Once again the consistency is what strikes me so much, because they don't throw in mediocre filler like most bands.

Crimson- 10 of 11 are good. The only real flaw is that tracks on this and Frozen are almost interchangeable due to the extreme similarity.

The Cold White Light- A return to the quality and variety of Down. "Blood and Tears" is so awesome, I'd probably recommend that it be the first song you check out. 11 out of 12 songs are good.

Final Thoughts- Sentenced songs are slightly on the repetitive side, but I'd rather have each song be good in the same way than have a bunch of crap thrown in for the sake of being different. Down and Cold White Light are the albums I'd recommend to those who have never heard them before, while Frozen and Crimson should be saved for if you like what you hear.

Music Pimping, April 13, 2003: KMFDM

Probably the most prolific act in industrial, KMFDM has over a dozen albums to their name and a wide variety of good songs. The earliest albums are spotty; I'm starting in the middle of the pack.

Naive- "Light" is the big (and best) song on the album. "A Hole in a Wall", "A Drug Against War", and "Move On" back it up. Very heavy album that might not be for everyone.

Nihil- "Juke Joint Jezebel" is KMFDM's biggest hit of all, and 8 out of the 10 tracks are quality. Can't ask for more than that! Easily the best album.

Xtort- "Blame" is the best KMFDM song of all. "Power" is pretty good as well.

Symbols- "Megalomaniac" is another one of their big songs. "Waste", "Torture", and "Leid und Elend" are also good.

Adios- "DIY" has such a fantastic intro, even if it's completely out of context for the band. "Today", "Witness", "That's All" and "Bereit" on top of that makes this their second best album.

Attak- A really solid effort; even the stuff that doesn't stand out is worthy. The title track, "Sturm & Drang", "Save Me", "Yohoho", and "Superhero" are the highlights.

Final Thoughts- Nihil is the one I recommend starting with, followed by Adios. From there it's a simple matter of whether you like what you've heard or not.

Music Pimping, March 29, 2003: Arcturus

They're weird, they're eccentric, and they have some of the most uniquely awesome songs out there. Too bad they've only done 3 albums, of which I like 2. Primarily metal but with hints of classical in there to bring out some really great moments.

La Masquerade Infernale- I like every song on this except the title track. "Chaos Path" is THE highlight, as Simen Hestnaes really cuts loose (like from 1:12 to 1:18) and shows off his range. 

Sham Mirrors- A lot less experimental. Of course, it's still VERY experimental, because that's what Arcturus does. "Kinetic" is the highlight, and vocalist Garm is the man, though not quite so much as Simen in "Chaos Path". "For to End Yet Again", "Collapse Generation" and "Star Crossed" are the other good songs.

Final Thoughts- Well, given that the vast majority of you don't even pay attention to this column I'm not sure if a single download will result from this. However, I feel the need to point out that the chances are you won't like Arcturus. It's very much a love-or-hate type of band because they're so unconventional. Try "Chaos Path" anyway.

Music Pimping, March 10, 2003: Testament

Testament, from California, is heavily influenced by Metallica. HEAVILY. While they never quite reached the elite level, they're still way above average. And then they became hardcore death metal. Let's just ignore that part.

Legacy- "The Haunting", "Alone in the Dark". That's about it. Get it cheap.

The New Order- They hit their stride here, as pretty much every song is worthy. "Trial by Fire" is my favorite, though that's probably a bias because of the ultra-cheesy video. BUT IT'S GOOD CHEESE! SO GOOD CHEESE! YOU WANT! Ahem.

Practice What You Preach- Same deal, almost every song is quality.

Souls of Black- Yup. Again.

The Ritual- Now, while Testament was consistently getting songs between a 6 to 8 out of 10, they kept hitting a ceiling because the songs are a bit formulaic and... well, cheesy. But here they *finally* show their full potential and bust out their two best songs of all in "Electric Crown" and "Return to Serenity". This is their best album. Big recommendation.

Low- Lots of stuff that hits the 6-to-8 level, but now in a different way since they changed their style with the end of the '80s. A good follow-up to Ritual.

After that it's death metal, which Ditch fears too much to try. Except Opeth, but they're Opeth and thus defy convention.

Final Thoughts- The first four albums are good for those of you who like standard '80s metal (NOT "hair metal", its bastard cousin). The latter two I think would be enjoyed more universally. Check them out!

Music Pimping, February 28, 2003: The Many Faces of Rob Zombie

This covers some of his early stuff as well...

La Sexorcisto- The first relevant White Zombie album. Features "Thunder Kiss '65", "Starface" and "Soul Crusher". Pick it up cheap.

Astro Creep 2000- The one that made the famous. This thing has really grown on me over the years. "More Human Than Human" is the big hit, but literally every song on the album is worthwhile, especially both parts of "Electric Head". Great driving music.

Hellbilly Deluxe- Into his solo stuff now. "Dragula" and "Superbeast" are the big singles, while "Spookshow Baby", "Return of the Phantom Stranger" and "Meet the Creeper" back them up. Much better production than anything from White Zombie, which has its pro's and con's.

The Sinister Urge- Better than Hellbilly, maybe even better than Astro Creep. There's Edge's theme "Never Gonna Stop", Yoshinari Ogawa's theme "Scum of the Earth" (if you know him, you know how appropriate the song title is), and "Feel So Numb" was used by the WWF at some point. None of those touch the awesomeness of "Bring Her Down (to Crippletown)". Pretty much every other song on the album is Zombie goodness.

Final Thoughts- Rob Zombie is Rob Zombie. There's nothing quite like it. If you like one of the four albums I mentioned here, you'll probably like the others.

Music Pimping, February 17, 2003: Ozzy

Oh, way to go Ditch, like we don't already know!

...no, you probably DON'T know about how many good albums are associated with the Ozzman. The focal point of attention falls on Black Sabbath, where Ozzy helped pioneer metal in all its many forms. As a solo artist he hasn't had quite the success, but musically he still brings the goods.

Blizzard of Ozz- "Crazy Train" and "Mr. Crowley" are the well-known hits. "No Bone Movies" and "I Don't Know" are both good as well.

Diary of a Madman- Realeased the year I was BORN (yipes). "SATO", "Tonight", "Over the Mountain", "You Can't Kill Rock 'n Roll" and the title track are all worthy.

Bark at the Moon- "Centre of Eternity", "Slow Down", and of course the title track.

The Ultimate Sin- "Shot in the Dark" was the main single. The title track, along with "Never", "Never Know Why", "Secret Loser", and "Fool Like You" are the reasons why you get this. 6 out of 9 is damn good for someone who makes as much music as Ozzy.

No Rest for the Wicked- "Miracle Man", "Devil's Daughter", and "Fire in the Sky" are the highlights. Unlike other albums, the other songs don't drop off that much. You can thank Zakk Wylde for that.

No More Tears- The title track is fantastic. So are "Mama I'm Coming Home", "I Don't Want to Change the World", "Time After Time", "Zombie Stomp", "Desire" and "Hellraiser". By FAR the best Ozzy album. You can thank Lemmy of Motorhead for assisting Ozzy on the album.

Ozzmosis- Once again the new Ozzy rises to the top. "Perry Mason", "Tomorrow", "I Just Want You", "Thunder Underground", "My Jekyll Doesn't Hide", and "See You on the other Side" make this another must-have.

Down To Earth- The new one. "Gets Me Through", "Black Illusion", "Facing Hell", "No Easy Way Out", "That I Never Had". There you go.

Final Thoughts- There's at least 3 good songs over the course of 8 albums and 21 years. A testament to a great musician (and his friends).

Music Pimping, December 29, 2002: Lacuna Coil

Yet another female vocalist with a metal band to back things up. Italy brings us Lacuna Coil, and there is much rejoicing. On a side note, they're doing a North American tour along with Opeth and the soon-to-be-covered Paradise Lost. I'll be attending in Toronto and will give a full report. On yet another note, PLEASE give me feedback on any of the bands you've checked out at my request, good or bad; I don't know if this column is reaching anybody!

In a Reverie- Their first relevant album. Really good, but not blow-away good like they would become. "Stately Lover" is an excellent song as well as being... unique. Nothing bad or even mediocre on this = hoorj!

Unleashed Memories/Halflife combo- AWESOMENESS. "Senzafine" is their very best, while "1:19", "When a Dead Man Walks" and "Wave of Anguish" are also incredible. Make sure you get the full 15 track version.

Comalies- Their recent release, and one of the hardest albums I've ever had to review. While it's great musically, the songs lack variety and tend to blend together. I'd put it in last place among their albums; it's still well worth purchasing, but there's plenty of better albums out there to go for first.

Final Thoughts- Lacuna Coil is in the same vein as The Gathering. Look at Gathering first, then if you like them, move on to the Coil.

Music Pimping, December 15, 2002: Nightwish

Hey, I forgot about this column! And what better way to get back than with a REALLY FREAKING AWESOME BAND~! Nightwish is gorgeous music, with a female operatic vocalist backed up by a killer metal band and lots of other goodness. If you like it, you'll love it. If you don't like it, you suck.

Angels Fall First- Gee, every song on this rules; funny thing about how Nightwish tends to do that. What stands out? First off, the title track, which is slow but incredibly stirring. Then there's "Elvenpath", with subtle references to LOTR in addition to the ass-kicking. Last but not least is "Nymphomaniac Fantasia", which is every bit as good as its title.

Oceanborn- Oh, every song on this rules too. Not quite on the awe-inspiring level of their debut album, but still amazing.

Wishmaster- ...every song on THIS rules. Picking things up again, they bring the goods with "Fantasmic", "The Kinslayer" and "Bare Grace Misery".

Over the Hills and Far Away- An EP. Also rules, but not as vital since there's only 4 tracks, one of which was in an earlier album.

Century Child- Released this fall. And, what's that you say? Every song on this album rules. Highlights are "Slaying the Dreamer", "Feel for You" and "Dead to the World". I'd put this at third behind 'Angels Fall First' and 'Wishmaster', but that's like saying that a Benoit vs Guerrero match was only ****1/4; it still owns you.


Music Pimping, September 9, 2002: Therion

I don't know what took me so long to get to Therion; it's THE band that inspired me to do these columns. Only two albums I like, but they're both quite unbelievable.

Theli- Best album of music. Ever. Period. Blending meaty slabs of metal with a full choral arrangement and a synth orchestra (you won't be able to tell it's synth, trust me),  Theli is one of the most amazing start-to-finish works you'll ever hear. There's a slow start, then they just bust out the ass-kicking with "To Mega Therion" and "Cults of the Shadow". Things keep going, then slow down with "Siren in the Woods", which seems to be the end of the album... until "Postludium" starts blasting, giving us a hot finish. I can't possibly recommend this enough.

Deggial- A bit more classical than Theli, and almost as good. This doesn't have quite the flow and balance of Theli, but there's still tons to love. "Enter Vril-Ya" and "The Invincible" are my favorites, while "Seven Secrets of the Sphinx" and "Flesh of Gods" are both worthy in their own right. Once again, my highest recommendation.

Final Thoughts- I have no idea how many of you reading this would enjoy Therion. It's very different from anything you'll ever hear on the radio. At the same time, this is very high-end music, and I bet that if you give each album a couple of listens you'll be hooked.

Music Pimping, August 2, 2002: Econoline Crush

I consider Econoline Crush to be one of the most thoroughly underpromoted rock bands of the last decade. They make quality *albums* and have lots of songs that would make great singles. Yet, I doubt that more than a couple of you have heard of them. I highly recommend checking them out if you like any form of rock.

Affliction- The first four songs are the best, but it doesn't drop off much at any point. "Emotional Stain" is UNIQUE and GOOD and stuff. Nothing here is a 10 out of 10, but nothing is below a 5 out of 10 either.

The Devil You Know- The first album of theirs I ever got. "Home" was the single and is the best song, and "Surefire" is nice as well. Not quite as consistent as 'Affliction', but once again, nothing sucks.

Brand New History- My favorite album and probably the one most of you would enjoy. "Make it Right", "Flamethrower" and "You Don't Know What It's Like" are the top songs, but literally every song is at least a 6 out of 10. Not for those who only like stuff heavy, but there's still plenty of meat to it.

Final Thoughts- I can't stress enough how sad it is that they never got success outside of Canada; to me they're easily the equals of fellow Canucks Nickelback in terms of music quality, and actually could enjoy the same level of sales given the same amount of push. Oh well, at least *you* can still enjoy their goodness.

Music Pimping, July 7, 2002: Opeth

This is the part where things get weird. See, thus far there's been lots of music that at the very least COULD get played on the radio. Opeth, on average, could not. It's death metal, but about a zillion times better than the average death metal (which is just blurringly fast riffs and screaming). Opeth's guitar work is stellar, as is shown clearly on every acoustic song. The lead singer's non-death vocals are great, and even his death vocals can grow on you because they fit the music. Enough rambling.

Orchid: Good, but not great. "In The Mist She Was Standing" is the only good 'death' style song on here, while "Requiem" and "Silhouette" are both solid examples of their non-metal goodness.

Morningrise: Five songs, ranging from 10 to 20 minutes in length. It's like the Japanese wrestling of metal. Each song is complex and incredibly high-end, with "Advent" and "Nectar" being my favorites.

My Arms, Your Hearse: I don't like any of the songs on this album. Next!

Still Life: Probably my favorite Opeth album. "Benighted" is a killer acoustic song, as is "Face of Melinda". "Moonlapse Vertigo", "White Cluster" and "The Moor" all kick ass with the metal.

Blackwater Park: The first three songs on this album are by far the strongest. I'd place this ahead of 'Orchid' for third place out of Opeth's five albums.

Final Thoughts: Opeth isn't for everybody. I mean, it REALLY isn't for everybody. At the same time, I bet that if you enjoy it a little, you're likely to love it in time. There's lots of truly great music in here by any standards.

Music Pimping, June 24, 2002: "Weird" Al Yankovic.

My favorite artist in middle school, and still the foremost parodist in music's history.

Weird Al Yankovic- The self-titled debut. "Another One Rides the Bus" rules ALL, but the originals here are really mediocre.

In 3-D- The one that made him a star, thanks to "Eat It". "I Lost on Jeopardy" is quality as well. The originals pick up a lot here.

Dare to be Stupid- "Yoda" is great, and the title track was on Transformers: The Movie. RIGHT THERE, man, you just can't argue with Transformers.

Polka Party- The title track is his second best polka of the '80s, and the quality of the *music* is above his average. "Christmas at Ground Zero" has solid seasonal appeal.

Even Worse- "Fat" once again shows that Al is at his best when parodying the king of pop. "You Make Me" is a quintessential Al original.

UHF Sountrack- "Hot Rocks Polka" is his BEST polka ever, bar none. "Generic Blues" is an absolute classic. Fans of Al, this is must-have.

Off the Deep End- Al starts the '90s with a bang. Far more solid album from start to finish than he ever managed in the '80s. "Smells Like Nirvana" was the hit, but "You Don't Love Me Anymore" is the cream of this crop.

Alapalooza- "Bohemian Polka" and "Livin' in the Fridge" carry this album, but there's lots o' mediocrity here. "Waffle King"... huh?

Bad Hair Day- UGH! This was a total disappointment. "Amish Paradise" remains one of his best parodies ever, and "Alternative Polka" is good stuff, but there are some tracks on here with no redeeming value at all.

Running with Scissors- Ahhh, a return to greatness. Good parodies, a good polka, but most importantly... the 11 minute gem of an original titled "Albuquerque". Perhaps the best Weird Al album ever.

Final Thoughts- Weird Al ain't for everyone. Some of his songs don't even have a funny premise let alone good execution, but when he's on, he's ON.

Music Pimping, June 2, 2002: The Chemical Brothers

Another one of the truly elite entities in electronica. Lots of high-end, innovative stuff.

Exit Planet Dust- Not great overall, but two really good songs. "Playground for a Wedgeless Firm" is my personal theme song, and "Life is Sweet" is the main draw.

Dig Your Own Hole- One of the top ten albums of the genre, ever, period. Good flow and very enjoyable from start to finish. Includes "Block Rockin' Beats", which is the song most people know them for.

Surrender- More goodness. I don't like the big single, "Let Forever Be", but I do enjoy 8 of the 11 songs on the album, which is MORE than enough to make it strongly recommended. "Got Glint" is soooo good.

Come With Us- Some of it ventures into mediocrity, and only a couple songs are quality. If you really liked 'Surrender', you'll like this.

Final Thoughts: I can't stress this enough, 'Dig Your Own Hole' is an absolute MUST HAVE for fans of electronica.

Music Pimping, April 17, 2002: Devin Townsend

I'd be stunned if more than ten of you had ever heard that name before. This Canadian had most of his commercial success as the driving force behind the band Strapping Young Lad, and has since done a series of unique, high-end metal albums. Yay metal! The albums really defy categorizing other than 'metal'; they're a lot less grating than the Strapping Young Lad stuff, on average. MP3.com is a good place to sample his songs.

Biomech: Sometimes referred to as having come from the band "Ocean Machine", this is really all Devin's doing. 13 songs, and I overtly enjoy 9 of them.

Physicist: I only like "Kingdom" and "Irish Maiden" off this. Least recommended of the four.

Infinity: 6 out of 10 good songs, and the first four are awesome. "Bad Devil" is way fun, and "War" rocks hard. This gets the strongest recommendation.

Terria: 6 out of 11. More Devin goodness.

Final thoughts: Devin Townsend is a great musician, and a fantastically bizarre looking human being.

Music Pimping, March 30, 2002: Alice In Chains

A lot of good stuff came out of the Seattle scene in the '90s, but none of it quite measures up to Alice In Chains. Their stuff, whether "hard-as-it-gets-before-metal" rock or acoustic melody, is always HEAVY and meaningful.

Facelift: Nothing fancy here, just lots of rocking. "Man in the Box" is the big hit, but "Bleed the Freak", "Sunshine", "It Ain't Like That" and "I Know Somethin'" are all quality stuff as well.

Sap: Features my favorite AIC song of all, "Got Me Wrong".

Dirt: This album best shows AIC's raw musical ability. "Rooster" and "Would?" are the hits, but it's really all about "Rain When I Die", "Them Bones", "Down in a Hole" and "Hate to Feel." This is the album I'd say would be liked by the highest percentage of people.

Jar of Flies: They delve more into acoustic, but it's still good. "I Stay Away" and "No Excuses" are the hits, while "Rotten Apple" and "Nutshell" are both incredibly powerful.

Final Thoughts: It's a shame that drugs both inspired and destroyed the band (not that it's the first time that happened). At least they left several great albums behind for us to enjoy.

Music Pimping, March 8, 2002: The Gathering.

The Gathering. What's to say. THEY RULE. At least, as of their third album. Blending great instrumentation with the stirring, beautiful vocals of Anneke Van Giersbergen, they have a sound that blows almost every other band I've ever heard away. Even now, as they've moved towards a slightly less metal sound, it's still great music.

Mandylion: Anneke debuts with a bang. "In Motion" parts 1 and 2 rule. "Strange Machines" rocks on so many levels. The rest of the album is well above average as well.

Nighttime Birds: GET THIS ALBUM RIGHT NOW! Every single song is at least an 8 out of 10 in my opinion. "On Most Surfaces" and "Third Chance" are so awesome. This is one of the most enjoyable albums I've ever encountered in my life. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? BUYYYYY IIIIIIIT!

How To Measure A Planet: Not 'great' but still 'very good.' Fans of the above albums will like it, since the vocals are still stellar. "Travel", "Liberty Bell" and "Red is a Slow Colour" are the highights for me.

If Then Else: Same as 'Measure'. Highlights: "Saturnine", "Colorado Incident", "Analog Park" and "Rollercoaster."

Final Thoughts: The band is so very distinct from anything else you'll hear. Good guitar riffs, great female vocals, generally uplifting melodies. Give me this over the workings of 'artists' like Fred Durst and Mark McGrath any day.

(condensed pimpings)

February 24, 2002: The Crystal Method.

I like electronica. Not "acid" or "drum & bass" or "house", but electronica. It's the difference between indie rock and metal; there's a level of style and professionalism that allows for the best expression of an artist's talent. Crystal Method, to me, is the pinnacle of electronica. Only two albums, but both are great. Vegas is the definitive electronica album I've experienced.

2/16/2002: Metallica

Not everyone will like every Metallica album. However, if you like a couple albums, it's at least worth listening to all of them. Garage, Inc is a must-have for fans of 'good' Metallica, the '80s stuff is still underrated/underplayed, and the non-single stuff from Load and Reload is still well above average for rock these days.