Difficult to Cure: Rainbow

Rating: 65%

Difficult_to_cure1981 and Heavy Metal was exploding in Britain. Newer bands were getting faster and heavier. Vocals were screamingly impressive. Blackmore’s Rainbow was exempt from that movement, staying the path from their previous fourth albums. This time they have two new members. Vocalist Joe Lynn Turner and drummer Bob Rondinelli. 

Musicianship is OK. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore throws out many heavy and faster riffs and threading guitar solos, but then the album seems to keep repeating itself. Another huge part of the music is keyboardist Don Airey who really throws in a lot of weird sounds and solos. Roger Glover’s bass seems to be the only thing that is top notch. Vocalist Joe Lynn Turner, although good, just isn’t standing out from any other vocalists. 

The album starts out decent, then the second song hits and it blows you away. After that, it becomes more poppy adding more of the early 1980’s pop to Rainbow’s classic sound. From there, the album just looses that power and becomes a bit stale and stagnate. There sin’t really anything here that distinguishes the band from all of the other groups. We have nothing more than just a regular average classic rock sounding record. To me, this album doesn’t produced the energy that Rainbow once had. 

Track listing:

Side one
1. “I Surrender”4:01
2. “Spotlight Kid”4:54
3. “No Release” 5:33
4. “Magic” 4:07
5. “Vielleicht Das Nächste Mal (Maybe Next Time)” (instrumental) 3:17
Side two
6. “Can’t Happen Here” 4:57
7. “Freedom Fighter” 4:21
8. “Midtown Tunnel Vision” 4:31
9. “Difficult to Cure (Beethoven’s Ninth)” (instrumental) 5:57

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Down To Earth: Rainbow

Rating: 75%

Down_to_Earth_(Rainbow_album)_coverart.jpg“Down to Earth” released in 1979 is the fourth studio record by Rainbow. This more commercially produced album is the first to feature vocalist Graham Bonnet and the last to feature drummer Cozy Powell. 

Ritchie Blackmore sounds great on the guitar. He throws out some fantastic classic riffs and leads. As far as the rest of the band. Powell’s drumming is decent, bassist Roger Glover sounds good, and keyboardist Don Airey is there, but nothing spectacular. Graham Bonnet’s vocals are OK, he seems to be overselling it a bit on certain songs. 

Musically, this album is hard to describe. One minute it has that classic Dio sound to it like what you would hear on “Rising”. But the more poppy sound to it kind of makes it seem more your typical Classic Rock sounding bands. At times the music seems to be a bit more generic as the band is moving into a tradition period. This is a basic all around Hard Rock album, a product of the 1970’s. Bland at times it is, but, it does deliver and where the music lacks, the musicianship makes up for it.

Track listing:

Side one
1. “All Night Long” 3:53
2. “Eyes of the World” 6:42
3. “No Time to Lose” 3:45
4. “Makin’ Love” 4:38

Side two
5. “Since You Been Gone” 3:25
6. “Love’s No Friend” 4:55
7. “Danger Zone” 4:31
8. “Lost in Hollywood” 4:51

Cold Lake: Celtic Frost

Rating: 60%

CelticFrost_ColdLakeSo 1988, amidst the Glam/Hair/Pop Metal scene, you have the early Black Metal act Celtic Frost releasing a Glam Metal album as their fourth record…or did they? To say, that this album is not a fan favorite which because of that, this album is no longer in print or reissued. This raises some questions. Was it because of the abrupt change in musical style? Was it too experimental? What if the band transitioned more slowly into a new musical direction? And is this REALLY a Glam/Hair Metal album or was it labeled to reach more of the masses who loved Glam’s style?

So, who is the band on this record? Well, you have lead vocalist and guitarist Tom Gabriel Warrior. You also have guitarist Oliver Amberg, bassist Curt Victor Bryant, and drummer Stephen Priestly. So, yes, you have a totally different line up as compared to previous albums. This means newer song writers and newer ideas.

The musicianship is extremely tight among the instrumentation. The vocals, not so much. It almost feels as if Tom Warrior is outside of his comfort zone. So, the vocals are a bit weak and not as growly as in the past. As far as the guitar work. You have some huge guitar riffs that are gritty and crunchy. These riffs are not, and I repeat not what you hear in Glam Metal, but rather traditional Heavy Metal. You also have some great lead work. This is something new to Celtic Frost. The leads are more complex as past records. They actually sound pretty good.  The only song that has a bit of Glam influence is “Cherry Orchards”. This song is a duet with Michelle Villanueva.

So maybe this album takes the best of those Heavy Metal influences of the mid 1980’s and incorporates that into the musical structure. If so, then you have a good decent argument that this is more of a traditional Heavy Metal album vs. a Glam Metal album. The change of musical direction happened very quick. This might be the main reason why many fans hated this album. It’s like Danzig when he went from Danzig4 to Danzig5. The change happened fast. With that change, comes a lot of  experimentation to this album. The songs aren’t as dark and the style of early Black Metal is gone. Would this be a good album if the changes came at a slower pace? Maybe so. The sound itself is a bit more clean and not as raw. So, you tell me! Is this a Glam Metal album in which the record company forced that label onto this band or is this a more traditional style of Heavy Metal? Other than that, I can not say this is a good album nor a bad album. It’s just an album that doesn’t receive a completely failing grade.

Track listing:

Human (Intro) 1:06
Seduce Me Tonight 3:18
Petty Obsession 3:17
(Once) They Were Eagles 3:39
Cherry Orchards 4:19
Juices Like Wine 4:17
Little Velvet 3:40
Blood On Kisses 3:29
Downtown Hanoi 4:15
Dance Sleazy 3:32
Roses Without Thorns 3:26

Stress: Stress

Rating: 90%

stress.jpgSo, the year was 1982 and the country was Brazil, South America. The sound of Heavy Metal would change forever. It would become more aggressive, more violent, and more faster with the release of the debut record by Stress. Stress built upon the sound and style of the NWOBHM by combining it with the Garage and Psychedelic music of the 1970’s. The end result is an album that would be essential to Speed Metal and help with the creation of the Thrash Metal genre. That’s right, this album was released one year before Metallica’s Kill em’ All. So let’s begin breaking this album down.

The band itself is a simple four piece band. It consists of vocalist and bassist Roosevelt “Bala” Cavalcante, guitarist Pedro Lobão, drummer André Lopes Chamon, and keyboardist Leonardo Renda. The musicianship is pretty amazing. The band plays extremely tight. These four guys are creative and skillful which is the key to the originality of their music. They tip their hats to all of the Heavy Metal greats that stood before them and you can hear their influences really shine through the music. the instrumentation is well balanced and solid.

Musically, picture Ted Nugent’s speedy vocals with the tempo of Judas Priest or Venom’s music. Now, throw in some Deep Purple and Motorhead. You now have the band Stress. The tempos are fast. The guitar riffs and solos are great and have this certain classic early 1970’s fuzz. The drums and bass are fantastic and colorful. And yes, the keyboards are a nice touch to the overall sound. Lot’s of interesting melodies and tempos being thrown out. There’s not one shapeless note being played here.

To me, this is a forgotten Heavy Metal band. The overall album is a diamond in the dust. It’s a shame that it’s one of the most forgotten Speed Metal albums out there. This album mixed with what was coming out from Europe paves the way for the creation of Thrash Metal in the early 1980’s.

Track listing:

1. “Sodoma e Gomorra” 4:09
2. “A Chacina” 4:19
3. “2031” 4:17
4. “Oráculo do Judas” 5:53
5. “Stressencefalodrama” 5:33
6. “O Viciado” 4:06
7. “Mate o Réu” 3:54
8. “O Lixo” 4:14
9. “Inferno Nuclear” (Only in CD version) 4:33

Headhunter: Krokus

Rating: 95%

Headhunter_cover.jpgIn 1983, Krokus released probably one their best albums in there entire catalog. So, when I was browsing through the records at the store today and saw this, I had to grab it. I used to have this one on cassette many years ago.

This record here to me was a very good record and for many reasons. But mainly it was because of how tight the band played. They seem to lose that AC/DC hardness and developed their own heaviness musical style. This album has a lot of really good tempos and the instrumentation is well balanced. From start to finish, it’s a pretty solid album.

Marc Storace sounds really good behind that mic. The guitar work just doesn’t quit. This album has a lot of great riffs and plenty of heated solos. You can thank guitarists Fernando von Arb and Mark Kohler for that. The drumming by Steve Pace is also good along with the bass work of Chris von Rohr. It also feature Rob Halford on backing vocals on “Ready To Burn.” 

Track listing:

Side one
“Headhunter”  – 4:30
“Eat the Rich”– 4:14
“Screaming in the Night” – 6:38
“Ready to Burn”  – 3:54

Side two
“Night Wolf” – 4:10
“Stayed Awake All Night” – 4:41
“Stand and Be Counted”– 4:07
“White Din” – 1:50
“Russian Winter” – 3:31

Stormbringer: Deep Purple

Rating: 60%

DeepPurpleStormbringer (1).jpgIn 1974, things were looking pretty grim for Deep Purple and this album shows that. There seems to be a lot of inner fighting within the band itself. You know what? There was and this would be the last album to feature Ritchie Blackmore until 1984’s “Perfect Strangers.” Because of the inner fighting, you don’t a solid record here.

Deep Purple seems to be a little weak and not as progressive in playing style as they could be. There are some very good guitar leads, but I can’t get over the easy listening portion of the melodies. It just isn’t as creative as it could’ve been. Not all is lost, there are a few good songs on here. But, you can hear the band experimenting with Disco, Soul and Funk, loosing that Heavy Metal edge.

Musically, it could be better. The title track on side one is very good. There’s a lot of classic Deep Purple things going on here. The other three songs on side one are to me, not Deep Purple. Side two starts out great. It has the style of classic Deep Purple. Then song number two comes in and I was left scratching my head. “High Ball Shooter”  is another good song on this album. Then the fourth song hits and it looses me. “Soldier of Fortune” is another decent song from the album. 

David Coverdale, sounds good one minute and weak the next. This album is lacking the heavy guitar riffs that Blackmore could produce. Maybe this is why he went on to form Rainbow. The entire rhythm section of keyboardist Jon Lord, bassists/vocalist Glenn Hughes, and drummer Ian Paice produce is also give or take. The band isn’t playing as tight as they normally do.

Track listing:

Side one
1. “Stormbringer” 4:03
2. “Love Don’t Mean a Thing” 4:23
3. “Holy Man” 4:28
4. “Hold On” 5:05

Side two
5. “Lady Double Dealer” 3:19
6. “You Can’t Do It Right (With the One You Love)” 3:24
7. “High Ball Shooter” 4:26
8. “The Gypsy” 4:13
9. “Soldier of Fortune” 3:14

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow: Rainbow

Rating: 90%

Rainbow_-_Ritchie_Blackmore's_Rainbow_(1975)_front_cover.jpgIn 1975, after Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple for a new project forming what would become Rainbow,  with the backing of the band Elf. The minute I heard this record way back then, I was a fan. I loved every aspect of this record from the vocals to the guitar. It’s no wonder why!

The musicianship is outstanding. You have ex-Elf band members front man Ronnie James Dio, drummer Gary Driscoll, bassist Craig Gruber, and keyboardist Micky Lee Soule. Then you have ex-guitarist of Deep Purple Ritchie Blackmore.

Musically, this album is very tasteful. The instrumentation is well balanced. Some areas of the record seem to be very complex, but that doesn’t take away from the outcome of the overall style or sound of the album. It’s pretty tight. You have some very strong vocal work. There is also a good bit guitar work on the riffs and solos.The songs are well written. This is a pretty solid debut. It’s a good blend of Heavy Metal mixed with elements of European Folk music.

Track listing:

1. “Man on the Silver Mountain” 4:42
2. “Self Portrait” 3:17
3. “Black Sheep of the Family” (Quatermass cover) 3:22
4. “Catch the Rainbow” 6:27
5. “Snake Charmer” 4:33
6. “Temple of the King” 4:45
7. “If You Don’t Like Rock ‘n’ Roll” 2:38
8. “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” 3:31
9. “Still I’m Sad” (The Yardbirds cover)  3:51