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Nicholas Alla Koholick "anonymousnick2001"

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Orchid
Orchid
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 19.85
4 used & new from CDN$ 14.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Moody, Expansive Music For The Thinker or Poet, March 9 2004
This review is from: Orchid (Audio CD)
I'll keep this short.
If you are one of the many Opeth fans who fell in love with Blackwater Park or Damnation and are looking to get into earlier Opeth, steer clear of this release. This album is a mixture of doom metal, folk passages, classical technique, and cold production. Akerfeldt's growls are terribly raspy and high-pitched, the singing is almost nonexistent, out of tune and soft, and the lyrics are overly ambiguous. The music seems to start and stop, with random passages being glued together to form songs with no real rhyme or reason behind them. A different bassist and drummer were present here as well, so breathy, open bass lines and midtempo, triggered double bass drums appear instead of the subdued natural styles of current players Mendez and Lopez. You have been warned.
However, this album also contains many gorgeous passages in a style that would only return for the next two albums. A certain poignancy is present is was traded in for depression and art-rock. Under A Weeping Moon? The Apostle In Triumph? Wow. That's some evocative imagery there. And the occasional Opethian Gothenburg riff does appear, such as in the first few minutes of "Forest Of October" or "The Twilight Is My Robe."
Also included is a 3-minute piano instrumental performed by the band's drummer, and a short acoustic piece. Little known fact: Part of "Requiem" is actually present on the seventh track as an intro to "The Apostle In Triumph" due to a tracksetting mess-up.
Orchid is Opeth in the beginning, before the recognition, before the masterpieces that were to come. And it's still amazing.
Recommended for experienced Opeth fans, and those that like My Dying Bride, Extol, Agalloch, and early Ulver.

Light Of Day Day Of Darkness
Light Of Day Day Of Darkness
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 11.98
4 used & new from CDN$ 8.95

5.0 out of 5 stars WOW, March 1 2004
After the pleasure of subjecting my ears to this behemoth of an album, I will forever judge music differently. For a while, I thought Dream Theater's Scenes From A Memory was the pinnacle of progressive achievement. I was wrong. Compared to this master piece, that album is an overlong piece of masturbatory twaddle with no depth, a ridiculous plotline, inane lyrics, and weak songwriting. And I still say that's a good album.
Peter Tchort(ex-Emperor) is a genius for orchestrating this. Either that, or crazy(a fine line, is it not?). The scope of this project is epic in every way. An hour-long song. Instruments ranging from a standard metal five-piece to a Gothic chorus, children's choir, sitar, female singer, saxophone, chimes, orchestra, piano, acoustic guitar, a music box, baby breathing, and the monotone singer on top...it's epic. The monotony of the lead singer is a plus, because his voice is solid, but it also manages to blend really well with the background, and is never annoying or fighting for the spotlight. The music ebbs and flows with it, never getting boring, smoothly transitioning from passage to passage, repeating one or two for unity, never becoming chaotic or descending into wankery.
It can be descibed as doom metal, although the pace does pick up once in a while. Calling it classical is a stretch, because it gets pretty crunchy at times. I suppose the term "progressive classical metal" is reserved for albums such as this...
There are a few minor gripes. Patience is required to fully appreciate this work. The wordless female singer at 33 minutes is somewhat annoying, and the riff at 16:20 is so amazing that it should have been much further developed. Other than those few peeves, this album is flawless. Musicians should take chances like this more often.
There's a single edit of this floating around on the Internet somewhere. Give it a whirl, and if you like the 7:00 minutes, you'll appreciate this hour-long...song...much more.

Trapt
Trapt
Price: CDN$ 15.52
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Yikes, Feb. 26 2004
This review is from: Trapt (Audio CD)
This album has been torn to shreds by the metal elite and music critics. Cliché, repetitive, stupid, derivative...I've heard all those used to decribe this. And half-baked witticisms like "Crapt." (Har, har)
What we have here is a pretty talented hard rock(not metal) group that had a catchy lead single that got played to death. Fine. That is in no way grounds to write this band off altogether. More emotional songs such as "The Game" or "Hollowman" were ignored. "Still Frame" received minor airplay, and the new single "Echo" (what a song...wow) is currently getting some spins as well. If you want to really know what this band is about, you should check out those songs.
I rarely, if ever, listen to this CD. But it most decidedly does not suck. 4 stars.

Believe
Believe
Price: CDN$ 9.96
39 used & new from CDN$ 1.58

5.0 out of 5 stars The Exact Opposite of a Sophomore Slump, Feb. 26 2004
This review is from: Believe (Audio CD)
Disturbed made quite a ripple in the music world with The Sickness. It was an album that was a perfect example of "nu-metal." Angry words, downtuned riffs, harsh electronics, and a crazy lead singer on top of it all. What caused this band to stand apart was the fact that their composition and arrangement skills far exceded those of the average teenagers and the idiots in Korn. Their innate ability to take elements of their influences and forge a somewhat new sound rather than imitate completely was equally commendable.
It took two years to use The Sickness as a springboard to create an album on the level of Believe.
All the pasty, 98-pound mallgoths hated this album upon first sight, much less listen. Less-than-subtle religious overtones, a banned 'spiritual' video, and the rumour of an acoustic piece frightened them away rather quickly. And what they feared I was nearly drooling to receive. Almost everything improved from their debut. The riffs increased their diversity, dynamics, and are much more \m/ worthy this time around. The lyrics lost much of the needless profanity. The animal grunting was lost, as was the shameful attempt at rapping. Double bass drums thunder along, guitar leads erupt from nowhere, and emotional, evocative singing soars over the mix courtesy of frontman David Draiman. A few singing lessons transformed his voice into a gorgeous instrument, proven by tracks such as the title track, "Remember," and the chilling acoustic/cello/piano closer "Darkness." That last song sounds like it could have come from the Opeth songbook.
Here, a startlingly mainstream band reveals the fruits of evolution, and proves 'maturity' doesn't always mean flowers in your hair or duets with Sheryl Crow.
If you liked The Sickness for its compositional skills more than its catchy, teen-angst element, I strongly recommend Believe. A metal album proving the future may not be so bleak after all...

Steal This Album
Steal This Album
Price: CDN$ 9.49
26 used & new from CDN$ 2.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Quite Average..., Jan. 24 2004
This review is from: Steal This Album (Audio CD)
System Of A Down were in a pickle around the time this album came out. Their B-side collection, in its raw form, was being passed around the Net like hotcakes on a December morning. Rather than pull a Metallica, and cause trouble for downloaders, SOAD decided to remaster the B-sides and add backup singing, piano, or whatever else was needed to make them sound professional.
And that's what this is. A B-side collection. It seems as though most are half-baked political diatribes, and so the album has a political feel. However, it's just odds and ends. Don't expect another Toxicity. We'll have to wait for that...
"Innervision," "Thetawaves," "Nuguns," "Mr. Jack," "IEAIAIO," and "Roulette" are still pretty good, but the filler keeps this disc out of my player most days.

Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine
Price: CDN$ 10.89
41 used & new from CDN$ 1.23

5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Classic, Jan. 1 2004
In 1992, when the members of the now-defunct Rage Against The Machine(RATM) released their self-titled debut, I doubt they intended to release such a classic album. But, they did. They mixed a myriad of influences from Cypress Hill, to Led Zeppelin, to the MC5, all into a proverbial melting pot. When they were finished, a hybrid of punk energy, metal intensity, hip-hop delivery, and all-out aggression was committed to disc. That in itself is a rare find in today's music world, but RATM took it to the next level.
The mixing of heavy metal and hip-hop was not new in 1992. Aerosmith and Run-DMC had collaborated on a remake of "Walk This Way" back in 1986, and Public Enemy had joined forces with thrash-metallers Anthrax in 1990 for "Bring Da Noize." Other bands, such as New York City's premier hardcore outfit Biohazard, and funk-metal's pioneers Faith No More, had already begun flirting with hip-hop styles and vocals. And rappers such as Run-DMC, The Beastie Boys, and Ice-T were using hard rock backgrounds as beats. The two worlds of music had been slowly merging during the 80's/90's crossover. By '92, the idea was still fresh and innovative, yielding new possibilities. All it needed was a torchbearer. And this is where Rage Against The Machine succeeded as an album.
RATM's debut wasn't as much original as it was influential. Their contribution to the building of a genre was in their delivery. Never before had it been as seamless or as representative of both styles equivocally. Leading man Zach De La Rocha had spitfire rhymes with the polemic fury of Chuck D(Public Enemy) and the nasal whine of B-Real(Cypress Hill). Guitarist Tom Morello seemed to channel the gargantuan riffing style of Jimmy Page, and mixed in his dozens of effect pedals to create new and interesting sounds never heard from a guitar before. Bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk finished the line-up with one of the all-time greatest, rock-hard, rock-solid rhythm sections in rock history.
Not only did they burst the floodgates wide open for rap-metal acts to eventually saturate the hard rock scene, they did it in a way that could never be replicated. They mixed dope rhymes with hard guitars, and introduced new musical textures through weird guitar sounds, creative solos, slap bass, ethnic percussion, turntable noises, and political commentary. That was the icing on the cake. The politics. Few bands, or people in general, have been able to voice an opinion with as much zeal as RATM. Each song on the debut, and future releases as well, contains a kaleidoscope of references to nearly every flaw in American government. The band railed and rallied against injustices in every aspect of the spectrum through lyrics such as,
"Just a victim of the in-house drive-by/They say 'jump,' you say 'how high?'" (Bullet In The Head)
"You know they went after King/When he spoke out on Vietnam/He turned the power to the have-nots/And then came the shot," (Wake Up)
"Brother, did you forget yo' name?/Did ya lose it on the wall/Playin' tic-tac-toe?/Yo, check the diagonal/Three brothers gone/Come on/Doesn't that make it three in a row?" (Freedom)
These powerful words garnered suspicion about the band. People began to fear that the band was decidedly anti-American and some even criticized them for opposing mainstream media, and yet being singed to Sony, a mass-market, mainstream, multimedia record label. Like all political figures, the band underwent scrutiny from their share of detractors, simultaneously encouraging fans of their music to take a deeper look at the world around them.
The opener "Bombtrack" is a shining example of what the album has to offer. A powerful bass/drums intro coupled with a high-octane Zeppelin-esque riff, followed by rapped verses, a catchy chorus of powerful words, and then a beautiful solo followed by a stately closure. Immense diversity is present throughout the album, with funky bass appearing on "Take The Power Back," a melodic guest appearance by the lead singer of Tool on "Know Your Enemy," insane cowbell/woodblock work on "Township Rebellion," and the template of an epic closer being shown in "Freedom." The clever and powerful lyrics noodle around within the songs, with particularly vitriolic words leaping out at the listener every so often.
RATM truly constructed a top-notch listen with Rage Against The Machine, and the compelling cover of a monk burning himself in protest is a fearsome and respectable addition to any music collection, be it hip-hop, metal, or that of a casual listener. Although the band's subsequent releases did not match up to this, and the band is no more(the members splitting to pursue other musical projects), the music remains. Fans of the blockbuster movie The Matrix might even recognize one of the tracks from this album, "Wake Up," as the closing music while Neo flies into the sky. A fitting closure to a movie describing exactly what the band tried to do in their relatively short career. They attempted to make the world around them wake up. And their debut album certainly did just that.

Mr. Bungle
Mr. Bungle
Price: CDN$ 9.43
25 used & new from CDN$ 4.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Complete Aural Insanity On A 5-Inch CD For Your Convenience, July 31 2003
This review is from: Mr. Bungle (Audio CD)
Unlike most people here, I did not pop this CD into my player and instantaneously pass out or begin having fits of ecstasy. I was also far too young and naive back in 1991 to even know this album existed, and therefore investigated it only recently due to glowing reviews and a personal love of Faith No More. I was surprised, to say the least.
See, I expected a collage of nearly unlistenable, profane, garbage pieced together in an experimental, haphazard, or non-traditional manner, hailed as 'progressive' by genuinely weird people looking to be different. Uh, no. Actually, what I found was a VERY listenable, VERY catchy, VERY unique, amalgam of musical styles, samples, and unusual lyrics resulting in an amazing work of musical genius. Boy, was I impressed.
Tracks begin and end in a random manner, usually ending with a sample or something, but not necessarily. Within each, the music might jump from piledriving metal to smooth jazz, to quiet electronica, raucous funk, or upbeat ska. Video game loops and random samples noodle in and out of the mix, as guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, saxophones, bells, whistles, and the manic vocal stylings of Vlad Drac(Mike Patton) burst out over top of it all. He does everything from growling, squealing, rapping, croaking, crooning, talking like a retard, barking like a dog, and more, all in his Real Thing-style vocal prime. Needless to say, this affected FNM to the point that Angel Dust came out a year after this with so much Bungle influence that it was a different style than The Real Thing.
Memorable moments? Look at these:
The keyboard-laden circus-styled riff jumping to laid-back jazz phrase in "Quote Unquote," a song about a man who has nothing but a nose,
The thrash riff and Defecation Man sample in "Slowly Growing Deaf,"
The fast-paced food orgy lyrics in "Squeeze Me Macaroni,"
The awesome ska and "Will WB put this record on the shelf?" lyric switch in "Carousel,"
The low-quality train-boarding sample and philosophical lyrics in "Egg,"
The waltz-to-polka intro in "Stubb (A Dub),"
The 'redundant' line and title of "My Ass Is On Fire," a song about an ass on fire,
The crazy perverted lyrics and music of "Girls Of Porn," a song about porn girls,
The squealing sax and hardcore-shout chorus of "Love Is A Fist,"
And finally, the progressive circus music of "Dead Goon."
A true kaleidoscope of musical insanity and creativity, breaking the rules and making new ones on the way. It's not atonal by any means, with plenty of catchy goodness, sing-a-long passages, and memorable, wacky, and hilarious moments. It might take a few listens to digest, just don't force yourself. You'll come back to it eventually. It's a crowning achievement in music.
The album begins with 30 seconds of silence, and that's all the rest your senses really get...

Morningrise
Morningrise
Price: CDN$ 14.47
15 used & new from CDN$ 7.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Morningrise Returns..., July 31 2003
This review is from: Morningrise (Audio CD)
Much like my other Opeth reviews, I have to say that listening to an album of this caliber and then attempting to convey the feelings it arouses in the form of words is both foolish and futile. Nothing can prepare you for Opeth. Although the band has attracted its share of detractors now, I must say that any music listener with an open mind and long attention span should find hours of perplexing enjoyment here. Those who fail to understand, power to ya, but don't pollute this website with tasteless reviews on why you hate Opeth.
Morningrise is different from every other Opeth album. Each has its own appeal, something you look for as you're listening. With My Arms, Your Hearse it is the aggression and heavy riffs that I search for as I listen. With Still Life I listen for the enchanting vocal performance given by Mikael Akerfeldt. Blackwater Park has everything. Aggression, melody, awesome growling, awesome singing, beautiful acoustics, sweet riffs, and progressive song lengths. On here it is just the riffs. Oh, the riffs. And the twin guitar melodies. Amazing. The lyrics pale in comparison to future albums', although they are still good, and Akerfeldt has a different style of singing here. It's more of a black-metallish high shriek than the deep inhuman growl of late, and his clean vocal performance is less catchy and haunting. Therefore the guitar leads and segues into acoustic dreamland are what I look forward to when sitting back to this eclectic journey of a CD. The mood given by the amazing guitar lines on Morningrise make it my favorite, with Blackwater Park a close second.
Morningrise is also the least 'metal' of all their albums. When compared to MAYH or Deliverance, it is very soft. While those make Pantera and At the Gates sound light, Morningrise is like a heavy thrash album. The riffs do not reverberate in your skull like the opening to "Bleak," or "Godhead's Lament," or "When." They glide soothing over you, flowing in an ambient manner, rather than a percussive one. The song lengths are also unbelievable. There are five songs here, the average length 13 minutes or so, the longest being "Black Rose Immortal," at a Dream Theater-esque 20 minutes! An epic album in all proportions.
"Advent" kicks the album off with a short acoustic beginning and following with a 12-minute rollercoaster of double-bass drums and awesome riff after awesome riff, balanced with the needed, yet arbitrary acoustic interludes spicing up the mix. "The Night and the Silent Water" is a much more laid-back track, with less aggression, clocking at about 11 minutes. "Nectar" is another piledriver, this time with Medieval-sounding riffs similar to In Flames. "Black Rose Immortal" is the epic, which feels 8 minutes long at most. "To Bid You Farewell" is a largely jazzy-acoustic/clean vocals all through piece, with a bit of electric guitar finishing it off.
Opeth are beyond death metal. The incorporation of acoustic guitar is what makes them sound so classical. Many people compare bands like Suffocation or Emperor to the likes of Beethoven and Mozart. That's not accurate. Here's the real statement:
If Beethoven, Mozart, Grieg, and Mahler were transported to the present and were forced to form a rock band together, it would sound something like Opeth's Morningrise.
***This is a reissue, containing the bonus track "Eternal Soul Torture," a rough, poorly produced demo that was later cut up and used for the other songs. It sort of throws off the album's mood, but whatever.

Morningrise
Morningrise
Price: CDN$ 14.47
15 used & new from CDN$ 7.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Morningrise Returns..., July 31 2003
This review is from: Morningrise (Audio CD)
Much like my other Opeth reviews, I have to say that listening to an album of this caliber and then attempting to convey the feelings it arouses in the form of words is both foolish and futile. Nothing can prepare you for Opeth. Although the band has attracted its share of detractors now, I must say that any music listener with an open mind and long attention span should find hours of perplexing enjoyment here. Those who fail to understand, power to ya, but don't pollute this website with tasteless reviews on why you hate Opeth.
Morningrise is different from every other Opeth album. Each has its own appeal, something you look for as you're listening. With My Arms, Your Hearse it is the aggression and heavy riffs that I search for as I listen. With Still Life I listen for the enchanting vocal performance given by Mikael Akerfeldt. Blackwater Park has everything. Aggression, melody, awesome growling, awesome singing, beautiful acoustics, sweet riffs, and progressive song lengths. On here it is just the riffs. Oh, the riffs. And the twin guitar melodies. Amazing. The lyrics pale in comparison to future albums', although they are still good, and Akerfeldt has a different style of singing here. It's more of a black-metallish high shriek than the deep inhuman growl of late, and his clean vocal performance is less catchy and haunting. Therefore the guitar leads and segues into acoustic dreamland are what I look forward to when sitting back to this eclectic journey of a CD. The mood given by the amazing guitar lines on Morningrise make it my favorite, with Blackwater Park a close second.
Morningrise is also the least 'metal' of all their albums. When compared to MAYH or Deliverance, it is very soft. While those make Pantera and At the Gates sound light, Morningrise is like a heavy thrash album. The riffs do not reverberate in your skull like the opening to "Bleak," or "Godhead's Lament," or "When." They glide soothing over you, flowing in an ambient manner, rather than a percussive one. The song lengths are also unbelievable. There are five songs here, the average length 13 minutes or so, the longest being "Black Rose Immortal," at a Dream Theater-esque 20 minutes! An epic album in all proportions.
"Advent" kicks the album off with a short acoustic beginning and following with a 12-minute rollercoaster of double-bass drums and awesome riff after awesome riff, balanced with the needed, yet arbitrary acoustic interludes spicing up the mix. "The Night and the Silent Water" is a much more laid-back track, with less aggression, clocking at about 11 minutes. "Nectar" is another piledriver, this time with Medieval-sounding riffs similar to In Flames. "Black Rose Immortal" is the epic, which feels 8 minutes long at most. "To Bid You Farewell" is a largely jazzy-acoustic/clean vocals all through piece, with a bit of electric guitar finishing it off.
Opeth are beyond death metal. The incorporation of acoustic guitar is what makes them sound so classical. Many people compare bands like Suffocation or Emperor to the likes of Beethoven and Mozart. That's not accurate. Here's the real statement:
If Beethoven, Mozart, Grieg, and Mahler were transported to the present and were forced to form a rock band together, it would sound something like Opeth's Morningrise.
***This is a reissue, containing the bonus track "Eternal Soul Torture," a rough, poorly produced demo that was later cut up and used for the other songs. It sort of throws off the album's mood, but whatever.

A Change of Seasons
A Change of Seasons
Price: CDN$ 15.57
37 used & new from CDN$ 4.19

5.0 out of 5 stars DT Tries Their Hand At An Epic, July 27 2003
This review is from: A Change of Seasons (Audio CD)
"Change Of Seasons" is a fine song. A fine song. An ominous acoustic intro builds up and up as keyboards and bass noodle around it, until it all culminates in a "Pull Me Under"-esque explosion of metal guitar. Four minutes later, the first vocals come in, and the ride really begins. The song moves to a quieter section and then another set of jazzy instrumentals and solos. The high mark is reached at 18:30, when the rockin' guitars come back in to support a crazy keyboard solo that leads into the main riff, and the eventual finale: "I will live on!" Then, the acoustic opening melody closes the song. An epic if there ever was one.
Dream Theater tried this again with "Six degrees Of Inner Turbulence," but that song is divided into 8 sections, each so distinct that that it actually doesn't flow as a song. James LaBrie is in fine form here, singing operatically and emotionally, fitting each of the song's movements as they should be. Derek Shirinian proves here that he was not DT's weakest keyboard player. In fact, I like him better than Jordan Rudess, the new guy. Petrucci and Portnoy are their usual selves, showing off to the point of overplaying, but on this song, each shred solo or double bass volley works and fits, so bravo. John Myung is underrated as usual, as much of the song is driven by his brilliant basswork(see him live, he upstages Petrucci easily).
The lyrics here aren't bad, which is unusual, considering they were written by Portnoy, the weakest lyricist in the band. They deal with an old man coming to terms with mortality and the prospect of his family carrying on without him. He realizes, watching the sunset with his son, that he will live on through his posterity, and his soul finds peace in that.
A truly great effort. Catchy, sprawling, technical, emotional, well-written, well-played, well done.
The live covers are an added bonus. "Big Medley" is good, 'cause it's got Queen, Genesis, and Pink Floyd. For the guys praising LaBrie's amazing vocal range on the deep Purple cover, uh, sorry, but that's actually Bruce Dickinson. He sang all the Purple covers. Shame they couldn't have put "Smoke On The Water" instead, or the Rush and Yes covers with Steve Howe or the Metallica cover with Barney Greenway. Bad choices, but I'll give the benefit of the doubt. Five stars. An excellent accompaniment to Images and Words.

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