Friday, March 22, 2013

The Best of Noise 1999

No, this is not my listing for "T" because that would be really lame, using "The" when I still have quite a few T albums to work through. This is the opportunity for me to listen to the bonus cd included with Stratovarius's "Chosen One"'s compilation.

Our first offering is "Ring of Fire" by metal legends, Virgin Steele. The vocals are raw, with a razor edge but also a hint of melody. Sounds rather old-school metal, with a definite American edge. Catchy choruses and a touch of keyboards.

Heavenly are a French neo-classical power metal band, but their track "Riding Through Hell" is nothing special. The vocals are raw edged, the instruments fairly repetitive and the structures uncomplicated. There are some nice twiddly guitar bits. This is from their debut album.

"Coming Home" by German band Iron Saviour is equally raw. What is does have, however, is a slightly catchier chorus. It also has Kai Hansen, but he's not doing the vocals -  if he were they would probably sound like Gamma Ray. As it is, they do not stand out stunningly from the preceeding two tracks. Good guitar, of course, cos of Hansen.

Of a faster pace and introducing a more progressive sound, Stigmata IV's "Crusade of Lies". The vocals are uninspiring - raw and rugged. Catchy rhythms and melodies. So far every track has featured a razor-edged tenor vocalist. It must have been a trend of the late 90s. Stigmata IV were a German band that were forced to continuiously change their name and eventually disbanded in 2005.

Kamelot introduce a bit of variety with "Millenium". The fast-paced drums race the keyboards, whilst Roy Khan's voice soars over them. As far as structure and melodies go, it's more akin to speed than the symphonic power metal they are classified under today. This was their first album with Khan, and you can hear the promise of it with the variable vocals and intricate keyboarding. I really must get myself some of the more recent Kamelot.

Introducing a rather more guttural sound - Afterworld bring us "Dark Side of the Mind". Steady pace, galloping drums, harsh vocals. They're a Finnish "power" metal (this ain't power IMO) band that have not even the recognition of a wikipedia page.

Now, here's something with promise - "Shadow Dancer" by Elegy. Vocals are melodic and of variable pitch (ie, he sings both low(ish) and high). Somewhat reminding me of Edguy. It's not extraordinary or original, but it does have appeal and is one of my top picks from this list - partly because the chorus is really catchy. It's colourful and stirring. They were a Dutch band with an unstable line-up. The carnival music at the end is a nice touch.

More raw vocals from German band Symphorce as they are "Retracing the Lines". Again we have unremarkable verses, but a decently anthemic build up to the chorus.

Somewhat dramatic "Thunderstorm" by Iron Fire builds up to the catchy chorus. There's echoes of the 80s reflected in this piece, which reminds me a little of a slower paced Judas Priest. The vocals are slightly lower than most of the other bands in this collection, although he manages something of a crescendo for the chorus. They're from Denmark and this was from their debut cd.

"The Game" begins at a frantic pace, as Headstone Epitaph take their turn. Vocals are more shouted than sung - at least until the chorus, when the backing vocalists display somewhat more vocal versatility than the lead. Uncomplicated, solid with repetitive rifts. I would suspect there are some punk influences here. Formed in 1987, they're from Germany and are still active today - despite only releasing three full length albums.

Bringing in more aggression and making a religious statement, we have Warhead with "The Other Side". This German band have been labelled power metal, but they're more thrash metal with a hint of punk. Despite (or perhaps because of) being very reptitive and mostly uninspiring, this song is annoyingly catchy and will pound through your brain for ages - much as the drums pound through your head while you're listening to it.

Finally we conclude with a rather odd cover by Lefay. Once Morgana Lefay, they dropped the Morgana when they dropped Black Mark. However, it appears Noise wasn't good to them either, because they later returned to BM and reclaimed their full name. The cover they have chosen is "Cocaine" and they have chosen to play it relatively true-to-form - with the solid instruments, slow and steady pacing and relatively low-pitched vocals. Originally performed by JJ Cale, and covered by Eric Clapton, it seems an odd inclusion to the collection, but definitely stands out.

It's not a bad mix, but for a compilation album the songs are all rather similar. There is actually more diversity in Stratovarius' album than there is in this collection of "the best of 1999". It makes for good background noise, and some of the songs are quite catchy, so I'll rank in 6.5/10. The only two bands I am inspired to hear more of are Elegy and Kamelot. Although I am a bit of a fan of Morgana Lefay anyway.

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