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Archive for September 2009

Megadeth – Endgame (2009) – CD Review

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I like Megadeth…really, I love Megadeth.  But I’m no fanboy.  I really stopped listening to them when Countdown To MegadethEndgameExtinction came out.  I even had a little trouble listening to Rust In Peace, but it’s pretty tolerable now.  I’ll also be at the front of the line to say that I prefer Megadeth’s first 3 albums over Metallica’s.  Dave is a riffmaster and I am sure there are a lot of good songs on the albums between Countdown and The World Needs a Hero, but I just can’t care.

Those first 2 are simply incredible.  The perfect combination of power, sweet riffage, great solos, drumming and heroin.  Even So Far So Good has some really high points.

But they whimped out after Rust In Peace.  Other than Friendman’s Dragon’s Kiss album, his playing never did much for me, so I stayed away from his era of ‘Deth.

Then The System Has Failed came out with Chris Poland back in the ban for the album!  I had to hear it…Loved it!  His trademark sound was all over the album.  I got to see Gigantour and finally got to meet Dave.  It was a memorable experience.  That guy is pretty smart and a phenomenal guitarist.   I also like United Abominations a lot.

So here we are in 2009.  Another Megadeth album.  Endgame.  I’m impressed.  Dave has always hired good guitarists and Chris Broderick (Jag Panzer) is a worthy member.  He’s got some great solos on Endgame as does Dave.  It’s pretty easy to tell who is who.  Dave’s style is pretty unique.  I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves as a guitarist, especially as a soloist.

Endgame is pretty good all the way through.  The opening track is an instrumental and it does remind me of Set The World Afire in a few spots, but it doesn’t detract from the great solos.  I’ve listened to this about 6 times now and I think my least favorite track is Bite The Hand.  I was a little nervous when I heard about the ballad, but it’s not bad at all.  My favorite tracks would be This Day We Fight, The Hardest Part of Letting Go, Endgame and 44 Minutes.  Shawn Drover and James Lomenzo do a great job of holding down the rhythm.

Now I do have a few criticisms.  Dave’s vocals have never been great by any stretch of the imagination.  He’s certainly lost a step in his vocals over the last 2 albums.  It’s natural really.  He’s no spring chicken these days.  They’re not bad, but he sounds a little weaker.  That guy used to have one of the greatest wails in metal!  I’ll also make a small complaint about the lyrics.   Sure, metal has always had a bit of silliness and Megadeth sliced their share of the cheese.  But it doesn’t really detract from the record.  The record is good.  Really good.  Very rarely do I buy albums on their release day, but for modern era Megadeth, I make the exception.

Nice work, Dave.  8.5/10.

Sorry, no free download here.  Go buy it, slacker.

http://www.myspace.com/megadeth is streaming it for free right now as well.

Michael Kiske – Twilight of a vocal god

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Like most people, I was introduced to Kiske’s voice via Helloween’s Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 1.  He instantly kiske_michael-770967became one of my favorite singers along with Bruce Dickinson, Dio, Jeff Scott Soto and John Arch.  He had a very unique voice but was constantly compared to Dickinson.  I never got that, but whatever.  To this day I still follow Michael’s albums and have only been disappointed a few times along the way.  Unfortunately I have never seen them live except for the Hell On Wheels Halloween Show they did on MTV, which was awesome.  RIP Ingo!

I just spun Keeper 1 and 2 (NOISE Records 2 CD set) a week or so ago.  Keeper 1 holds up well, good songs, great vocals.  Keeper 2?  Not so much.  That album was pretty goofy when it came out and it’s even more so now.  Other than Eagle Fly Free, Save Us and I Want Out, the album is pretty awful.  When Pink Bubbles Go Ape came out, I was none to thrilled about the title or the album cover.  WTF?  The album is almost a joke save a few songs like Kids of the Century and Number One.  I haven’t spun it in years and not sure when I’ll actually pull it off the shelf again.  All that being said, Kiske still had the pipes and could pretty much reach any note he needed to.  By the time Chameleon came out, I was really apprehensive about it, and with good reason based on the previous 2 albums.  Chameleon is mellow, quiet and was really showing a different side of Helloween…a non-German power metal side.  These guys essentially invented that style and ultimately completely abandoned it.  While Kiske’s vocals were consistent on this one and while it is a better album than Pink Bubbles, it’s not great…but I still reach for it from time to time.  It was a good indicator of what was to come for Kiske.

Kiske left after Chameleon to pursue a solo career.  It’s not very often that new like this makes me happy, but this was one of those cases.

I was very excited when Instant Clarity came out in 1996.  It featured Adrian Smith and Kai Hansen as guest musicians.  The album is fantastic and Adiran’s and Kai’s contributions are certainly noteworthy.

A few years later came Readiness To Sacrifice.  While I like this album, it’s certainly even more mellow than the last.  You can see that Kiske really wanted to get away from hard rock.  And that’s quite alright.

Unfortunately his next project was Supared.  I tried and tried to like this post-alternative album, but it just didn’t connect with me at all.

Michael release 2 other solo albums under the moniker “Kiske”:  Kiske and Past In Different Ways which was basically his acoustic interpretations of some Helloween classics.  It’s not bad at all but the Kiske CD is a bit better.

Then there’s Place Vendome.  I simply love the 2 CDs he did with them.  Place Vendome and Streets of Fire are basically radio friendly slightly hard rock with, of course, great solos and really nice guitar solos.  I highly recommend both of these albums if you like some of the mid-to-latter era Journey works.  This is certainly comparable.  AOR they call it?  Whatever, it’s good stuff.

In summation, I love Kiske’s voice, I always have.  I didn’t care much for the offshoot stuff he did with Avantasia etc, I prefer it when he’s the lead singer of a band.  I’d love to see him whip out one more metal album but it’ll never happen.  I think Place Vendome will be as close as he gets to that stuff ever again.

Written by The Metal Files

September 2, 2009 at 8:39 pm