Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Music Non Stop: If Only...

...they would have released this as another band.

How many times have you heard that one? The classic "it's not that bad, it's just not a _________ album". Well my friends, I have 3 such albums that any time I listen to them I find myself saying the exact same thing. Heck, when I talk about the albums to anyone I say it.

Testament - Demonic
I'll be honest, I wasn't always a Testament fan. I talked about it years ago, basically how they sounded like a clone of Metallica. Heck after The Black Album came out, Testament released The Ritual. It was basically the same style of mid paced metal that sort of ruled the early 90's. But my collection lacked some Testament so I picked up a greatest hits album. It wasn't anything special until I got to Dog Faced Gods. It was so intense. Chuck Billy had some deeper growls and definitely didn't sound like James Hetfield anymore. It was great. I saw it came off of Low, so I picked it up. Low is probably my favorite Testament album. It is the perfect blend of classic thrash and modern thrash, I might go as far as to say it is the birth of modern thrash.

I decided to check out The Gathering which was released a couple of albums later, skipping over Demonic. I heard Demonic was a death metal album. Well after The Ritual I had to pick it up. And you know what. Demonic is a great death/thrash album, but it isn't a Testament album.

Most of the time Chuck Billy is doing death vocals. He has a great metal voice, so why would he do something that isn't his strength? Maybe Eric Peterson couldn't get a Dragonlord album out so he wrote it for Testament. Demonic is a tough album to categorize because it doesn't have the blast beats for death metal and the vocals certainly aren't thrash. The only songs that have a Testament feel would be John Doe and Hatreds Rise because of the cleaner vocals.

With all that being said, Demonic isn't a bad album, it just isn't a Testament album. If this thing was released now, kids would probably go nuts over Chuck Billy's vocals, but in 1997 it fell kind of flat.

Motley Crue - Motley Crue
Oh Motley Crue. You started off so strong with Too Fast For Love and Shout at the Devil and then you went glam...big time. That's actually ok for me because it gave us Wild Side, Girls Girls Girls, Home Sweet Home, and all of Dr. Feelgood. After Dr. Feelgood I was curious as to what they could do to top it. Their first greatest hits album, Decade of Decadence, had 3 new songs which were all great. Primal Scream is easily one of my top Crue songs. But there was no follow up with the original line up after Decade of Decadence, Vince Neil was gone. Enter John Corabi.

Just changing Vince Neil really changed the look of Motley Crue, gone was the lone blonde member. But the changes were more than physical, John Corabi didn't just sing, he also played guitar. For the first time the Crue had two dedicated guitarists. It really changed the sound of the Crue. Gone was the whole glam sound and what came was probably their most "metal" album since Shout at the Devil.

The guitars were slow and brooding. The drums played with such force that you could almost feel them coming out of the speakers. The music itself? I would probably say it was a more blues influenced metal than rock. Looking at it now, it almost feels like a somewhat lighter version of Metallica's Load albums. Lyrics were not just about partying anymore. It was more serious. Abuse (physical and drugs) and crime replaced those classic Crue lyrics of old. There is still a ballad, but it isn't too cheesy and I would say that was put on because of the record label.

John Corabi couldn't go high like Vince Neil could, so that also changed the whole sound of Motley Crue. His vocals had that classic hard rock sound to them, nothing glam going on there. Corabi was made for a rock/metal band, not glam. Unfortunately for the Crue, the label wanted the glam Crue. This is probably their best album from start to finish, or at least top 3. People throw this away because there is no Vince Neil on it, but it is a great blues-influenced rock/metal album.

Megadeth - Risk
This had to be on here right? Some of you might think it's hypocritical to have Megadeth on here for Risk and yet, not have Metallica on here for the Loads. Honestly, the main problem is that Dave was out talking about how Risk was a "return to Rust in Peace". And I bought it. I mean Cryptic Writings had some great thrash moments and this was going to build on those. What could go wrong?

It starts off with some distorted guitars, which was ok. Then we are hit with almost a techno feel with violins and all. Insomnia isn't a bad song, in fact it's one of the better ones on the album. But you notice the trademark guitar sound that was present since Countdown to Extinction was gone. Prince of Darkness has a super long build up, but once again, once it kicks in...it's a great song. I was pretty pumped here. Then we come to the bad parts. Enter the Arena and Crush Em seem well out of place on a Megadeth album. Up til then, I was still thinking this is a good Megadeth album, not great, but solid. Crush Em lyrics just didn't fit for Megadeth, but whatever, it was written for Bill Goldberg so I could live with it.

Then it hit, Breadline. What is this? A rock song on a Megadeth album? Catchy, yes, but not sounding like Megadeth at all. Ecstasy & Wanderlust were more of the same. Catchy songs, with a standard drum beat and thin sounding guitars. What happened to my Megadeth? Heck Seven could have been on Motley Crue's self-titled album from above. It was just a rock song. There is little to no metal on this album. The two part Time songs round out the album, those are the highlights in terms of metal songs.

So is it a bad album? Not by a long shot. It just isn't Megadeth. The heavy sounding guitars are gone. Super technical and drawn out solos are gone. Thrash? Nope, not here move along. Does that mean it sucks? Nope it means this album would have been great...if it would have been released as something else besides Megadeth. Imagine a radio station saying "here is Megadeth's latest Breadline." wouldn't happen. You don't associate Megadeth with anything but thrash. Dave wrote a good rock album, he should have released it as something else like he did with MD.45.

That's it. I find it funny that some how I managed to mention Metallica in everyone of these albums. Totally not planned, but funny how it worked out that was. Anyway, I kind of like this If Only sub-tag. I might do more of these for all of my tags.

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