Sunday, August 6, 2017

Accept- The Rise of Chaos album review

 Accept - The Rise of Chaos
Accept
The Rise of Chaos
Rating: *** 1/2

When Accept reunited with former TT Quick lead singer Mark Tornillo in 2009, many fans didn’t think it would work. Without original singer Udo Dirkscheider, it seemed as if this reunion was pointless.  Accept made those people eat those words in 2010 with the release of Blood of the Nations, the band’s first album with Tornillo. Much to the surprise of many people, Blood of the Nations was a great album and Tornillo was accepted as the band’s lead singer. The band were able to follow this up with 2012’s Stalingrad and 2014’s Blind Rage- both of which received fairly positive reviews as well. The band’s latest album, The Rise of Chaos, is their fourth album with Tornillo. As much as it pains me to say this, The Rise of Chaos is just okay. Don’t get me wrong: the music on here is another brutal onslaught heavy tunes delivered by the German metal band.  Still, it feels like it’s missing something that the three previous albums had. While the weakest of the four Tornillo albums, The Rise of Chaos still manages to have some decent tunes.

While not up to par with the previous openers, “Die by the Sword” is still a decent tune: it has a killer guitar riff and the lyrics are relevant to today- as they question what has become of humanity.  The title track continues the apocalyptic theme (with the focus now on survival) while the hard hitting “No Regrets” features some impressive drumming from Christopher Williams. As far as the weaker songs go, there are two in particular that stick out. The first of them is “Koolaid,” a song that (sadly) isn’t about the flavored drink mix but instead a biographical song about Jim Jones and the 1978 Jonestown massacre. While the story fits with the album’s theme, it’s hard to take seriously when you hear the chorus of “Don’t drink the Koolaid.”  The second clunker is “Analog Man,” an anthem for the generation who can’t buy into today’s technology. The lyrics are extremely cringe-worthy, with Tornillo sings such lyrics as “My cell phone is smart than me” and “Don’t need no Wi-Fi/Just want my Hi-Fi.” The last few songs, however, balance the album out. “Worlds Colliding” is pleasantly melodic while “Carry the Weight” just might be my favorite song from the album lyrically. “Don’t carry the weight of world on your shoulders” warns Tornillo, as he sings about the world as it stands today- with mentions of global warming, bombings and earthquakes.

Overall, The Rise of Chaos is a very average album from Accept. If this review is too short for any reason, it’s because I don’t think there’s anything here to review. It isn’t a bad album but then again, it isn’t a classic. It’s just another album from Accept and that’s all. It’s worth at a listen at least. Personally, I don’t see myself coming back to this album all that much. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Alice Cooper- Paranormal album review

 Alice Cooper - Paranormal
Alice Cooper
Paranormal
Rating: *** 1/2


This review was originally posted on Pop Culture Beast on July 30th, 2017. 

It’s been a while since Alice Cooper has released no frills, non-conceptual hard rock album. Alice’s last two projects, 2015’s Hollywood Vampires and 2011’s Welcome 2 My Nightmare, were both albums with a concept or a theme- with the former being an all star covers album and the latter being a sequel to Alice’s 1975 solo debut. Alice’s latest album, Paranormal, sees the shock rock icon going back to basics. While it isn’t a perfect album, Paranormal still features some kick ass rock music.

            There are twelve new studio tracks on Paranormal. Some of the songs on here are infused with 1970s classic rock. This can be found on songs such as the organ-heavy “Fireball” and the glam rock hooks of “Private Public Breakdown.” The album’s lead single, “Paranoiac Personality,” is also worth noting- as it’s a sinister sounding rock tune with a killer plodding bass line. While Alice is known for writing some down-right scary tunes, the man’s sense of humor must also be acknowledged. Over the years, Alice has written some funny songs. The bluesy “Fallen in Love” can now be added to that list, as Alice exclaims “I’ve fallen in love and I can’t get up!”

            Paranormal isn’t without its weaknesses. While long-time producer Bob Ezrin was at the helm for this album, the production here isn’t the best- which is to be expected with modern day audio mastering. There’s also this religious overtone/theme on a few songs, some of which I think are the weakest tracks on here. This includes the Southern rock influenced “Dynamite Road” and the jazzy “Holy Water.” Still, the album closes out nicely with three new songs featuring the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper band. The band shows off their chops on the guitar heavy rocker “Rats” and the anthem-driven “You And All of Your Friends.” Strangely enough, my favorite of these songs is the R&B/doo-wop inspired “Genuine American Girl.” Not only is it my favorite of the songs featuring the original band but it’s also my favorite song on the album. This is yet another funny song from Alice, as he describes himself in all of his feminine glory. “I’m only 30 out of 50 shades of grey” sings Alice. “What do you say?”

            For what it is, Paranormal is a decent album. It might not be one of his most consistent albums but you have to give Alice credit for trying to go back to basics. The album also comes with six live bonus tracks recorded last year in Columbus, Ohio. Speaking of touring, Alice will be on the road in support of the album. Alice has also stated that he will begin work next year on an all originals second album with the Hollywood Vampires super group.  For time being, fans can listen to Paranormal.