Thursday, November 06, 2008

Enough Sour Grapes - for now

I need to face it, Barack Obama will be our new president come January 20. I intend to support him as much as I can. I will disagree with many of his policies; however, there is no need for sour grapes and anger. He won, the people have spoken. Let's move on.

If he governs as the centrist he claimed to be during the campaign, we could recover. However, this is no time for big tax increases and cuts in defense spending. What we need is better intelligence (that is guaranteed with Bush gone). Really, we need operatives who can speak Arabic and Chinese. Brave people who can infiltrate the ranks of the enemy abroad, and give us solid data on which to act. The intelligence failure leading up to the Iraq war was unforgivable. Heads should have rolled.

Domestically, Mr. Obama says he can balance the budget, prove it. I hope he can. That would be a good step to restoring the value of the dollar. Bush's economic policies were a disaster. Once Sept 11 hit, he needed to change gears. He didn't. He kept tax revenues down, while increasing spending. He has destroyed the political party I once believed in.

Looking forward, I have little hope for recovery under Obama. I think McCain would have made the necessary changes, without being radical. We'll see. I think all children should have health insurance, but once you are an adult, get off your ass and get it yourself. If the President is going to create a welfare state to make "Peggy the Moocher" happy, we are all in trouble.

This is the last political post I plan to have for some time. It is time to move on with my life and interests.

The top 10 Metal albums of 2000 are coming soon. Perhaps it is an appropriate time for this list as we hope for an economic Resurrection as we enter a Brave New World. Let's hope it is not The Dark Ride I fear it will be.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"So this is how liberty dies...with thunderous applause."

The country wants change, and we will get it. Perhaps Bush's legacy will be that he was perceived to be so bad, that we elected the most extreme political candidate in our history. President elect Obama campaigned as a centrist, but his record is clear, he is no centrist. His voting record is extreme left, and despite his promises and pledges, he will move us in that direction.

Last night, he said the rest of the world was watching. They were, and they were pleased. They love him because whatever will make our nation weak will make them strong. They were rejoicing in the caves of Pakistan, in the halls of the Kremlin and in the palace in Venezuela. His party's record on defense and national security is quite clear. The multiple terror attacks during the Clinton administration should be a clear indicator as to how that party deals with our enemies. Perhaps President Bush kept us too safe. We forgot the real threat of Islamofacism is still there. They never give up, and they are still plotting today.

So, what is the summary? That President Obama will be to the left of Bill Clinton? He will release the terrorists in Gitmo? We will have higher taxes, and perhaps another small terrorist attack or two? We can overcome, right? After all, we have a Congress, we have courts, we have term-limits. It will be bad for sure, but it will end eventually, right?

It can be much worse.

In my book, the Presidency is too important a position to elect someone about whom we know so little. All we really know is that he is a charismatic man, who won his presidency on the emotions of a nation who was tired of an administration they have been told was a failure. While the signs of Bush's administration being a bad one are clear (Harriet Mires for the Supreme Court, a poor economy, an illegal war, fractured alliances, etc.) it is not as bad as the media have portrayed it, and certainly no worse than Jimmy Carter's.

So, in addition to his charisma, and emotional support from a weary nation, he has blind support from the media, and we know how important a fair and free press is. The press is currently free (at least until the Fairness Doctrine comes back), but certainly not fair. In addition, he will have a willing and able Congress to implement any policy. Do we really need "The Fairness Doctrine"? No, but it will be step one in stamping out those who oppose his regime.

I just read the other day that he wants to have a citizen army. It kind of reminds me of the brownshirts. If anyone reading this does not know who the brownshirts are - shame on you. Those ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it. There are many other stories and dystopias like this on the Internet, and I am sure many of them are probably exaggerations; these combined with the above factors are too frightening to ignore.

Remember Hitler, Pol Pot and many other despots were socialists and leftists, and not right-wingers like the media and your teachers would have you believe. I recommend that we study their rises to power. I only have a cursory knowledge of these histories, but so far the similarities with Obama's rise to power are interesting. I plan to learn more history, I plan to watch for the signs, and I plan to buy a gun before it becomes illegal.

We made our choice, and it was the wrong one. There were many celebrations that I watched on TV last night. It reminded me of Natalie Portman's great line in one of the Star Wars movies. She said "so this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause."

I have three young children, and I am very sad for them. They may not grow up in the free society I did. I hope I am wrong. I fear I am not.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Question of the Day

OK here it is. Why is a CEO who makes $13,750,000 per year considered greedy, yet a talk show host who makes 20 times ($275,000,000) that is loved and revered?

Friday, October 24, 2008

1999 - Kiss me coldly and drain this life from my lips

I last did my top 10 on February 12, 2008. The baseball card project failed (too much commitment) and writing about real life is depressing (Obama, the economy, etc.) So, this is a great time to do the top 10 metal CDs of 1999.

10. Primal Fear - Jaws of Death

9. Children of Bodom - Hatebreeder

8. Zanister - Symphonica Millennia

7. Into Eternity - Into Eternity

6. Sculptured - Apollo Ends

5. Opeth - Still Life

4. Iron Savior - Unification

3. Gamma Ray - Powerplant

2. Ark - Ark

1. Agalloch - Pale Folklore

Obviously, I did not post comments after each entry. It's funny, I considered 48 albums for this list. That is more than any year previously. So even though I considered 38 others that did not make the list, my top 10 (top 6 really) includes 2 Kai Hansen albums, and Sculptured and Agalloch are basically the same guys.

So, I guess I like what I like and my lists show a lack of diversity. Too f-ing bad. Limbonic Art and Kovenant can go eat poop, I stand by my list.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Very neat card.

Monday, September 01, 2008

#638 & 637

More dull cards from the 1971 high series. Boring!

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Back to dull again. Boy - there were a lot of dull cards in the 1970's! I like this because it looks like it was shot at Ridell High. I expect to see Travolta prancing around in the background with that guy from Taxi.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


July 24, 1976. Mickey Rivers bunted and Randolph scored on the play. This is a shot of that incident. This is my all time favorite Carlton Fisk card (he has been in some good ones). This may be the best card from 1977. The Spencer (648) was good, and there are a few other neat ones, but this is probably the best.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Orioles hat, Tigers uniform. A head. Skip it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Jose (Coco) Laboy is somewhat of a novelty. Many fans of the late sixties remember him. He was a rookie of the year contender, then he faded away. Kind of like Joe Charboneau. I think he hit the first HR in Expos history on opening day in 1969 against the Mets. Anyway, to me he was one of those players who was already retired when I got into baseball, but I always remember this was one of the many neat cards that my brother had in his collection.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

644 & 643

Back to dullsville. This project makes it clear that a neat card back in the day was something special. Now, most of the cards are action shots, but they are cropped so close that you could see the boogers in the player's nose.

Here Bradley's shades are what made me chose 644 (reminiscent of Lowell Palmer). as for 643, Gibson reminds me of someone who could have been Kevin Costner's stand in when he was shooting Bull Durham.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


April 15, 1972. That appears to be the date of this shot. Again, another paint over job. I love the ridiculously disproportionately large "C" on Bobby Brooks' shirt in the background. I think the batter here is Cesar Tovar, but I cannot be sure.

Monday, August 25, 2008

#647 & #646

A couple of heads. I hate heads, the only thing worse is a no-hat (see 1975 Bruce Ellingsen). Anyway, these heads win because both of these cards look like guys from the Gramercy Riffs. Especially Floyd.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


This is a pretty neat card, and one of the better ones from the 1977 set. The White Sox uniforms of the day were horrible. The picture was take on Sunday, May 30, 1976. How do I know? Well, I know the picture was taken in Oakland on a Sunday, most likely in 1976. Chicago was at Oakland on that day. Also, the box score shows that Bill North ran wild that day. He stole a base and was caught stealing.

Bill North was on the all time "cool" team so having him in the shot is a definite bonus.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I like this shot of Lyle is a Sox uniform. This is about a year before he was traded to the Yankees for Danny Cater. Another reminder of the good old days.

Friday, August 22, 2008


OK - I know this is a controversial pick, because there are a couple of neat 650's, but there is something special about this card. Dick Allen spent little time with the Dodgers, so that in itself is cool. I also like the background of an empty Dodger Stadium. The really cool thing about this card can be found at the bottom left corner. I think that is the photographer's leg! I guess Topps had some real Kwal-i-T photographers in those days. No Felix Unger for sure!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

652 & 651

These are a couple of dull cards, but they win their numbers. The backgrounds look so bucolic. I don't think today's cards ever look like they are taken in an open field.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


1974 Bob Stinson. A journeyman catcher. I always preferred his 1975 card for some reason, but this is the best 653. Be forewarned, the 652 and 651 are not so great either.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I like this card. It reminds me of my childhood. In 1977, I had a soft spot for the Indians. They were lovable losers, but had a lot of cool young players like Rick Manning. Duane Kuiper and Ron Pruitt. Unfortunately for the tribe, other than Eckersley who they gave to the Red Sox for a pack of goons, they had zero pitching. The other thing about this card is it looks like it was taken with a great (for the time) zoom lens. Good stuff.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Another neat card for sure. I wish I had this one when I was a kid because I would have used it in my teams, but I didn't really have access to the 1973 high numbers. I probably had to use the 75. Not a terrible card, but kind of dull.

You see, the only way to collect cards is the traded way and not the say way. I remember looking through the newspaper for the transactions and every spring training buying a magazine with rosters. Ahhh - the good old days. Now, current rosters are available on the Internet, but in the 70's, rosters were printed once a year.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Finally, a neat card. This is a famous Topps paint over. When I was a kid, I hated these, but now I like it. It is great that there is no letters on his uniform at all. It would have looked cheesy if they did (look at the 1973 Graig Nettles). The 1973 set gets a fair amount of criticism from the hobby. What I think makes a good card is not what Dr. Beckett and his minions think makes a good card.

This is one of the only cards I can think of that shows a player arguing with an umpire. A very cool card indeed.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Since many of these higher number cards are not neat, it is difficult to choose certain cards. Here is another strange card. Again, look at the background. I see people sitting in little league style bleachers, and some guy that looks like Huggy Bear walking in front. They are all behind a chain fence like the one in my backyard.

Where did the Expos have their spring training, at a local high school? Personally, I like it. I guess today's ball player requires a modern facility like the Yankees have in Tampa today. God forbid they had to train this close to spectators!

Friday, August 15, 2008


Again, a card chosen more for its background than for the card itself. My apologies to Steve Dunning fans. This is a great shot of the Old Yankee Stadium, where you could see the old façade and the left field bleachers. As I look through old cards, I notice that so many were shot at Yankee stadium. In the coming days, we will see some of these great shots.

It is reminiscent of an era gone by in world of baseball and the hobby of card collecting.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


This card looks strange doesn't it? It is like a strange perspective piece. Where is he looking anyway?

I chose this one for two reasons. First, there was no better 659 and second to go on a rant. This card is what is known in the hobby as a short print. You see, back in the days when card collecting was actually supposed to be fun and not profitable, Topps printed the cards on a huge sheet, and then cut them to put in the packs. Since the sheet was a big rectangle, only so many cards could be on a sheet, so sometimes to make the numbers work, a particular card would be on the same sheet twice. This was known as a double printing because there were twice as many of these cards.

However, in certain years, instead of double printing, they would print some cards only on every other sheet, so there were half as many of these cards printed. These are known as short prints. They did it because they had to, not because they wanted to artificially inflate the value of certain cards like the cretin who buy and sell cards today.

Today, in the Wall Street climate of card collecting, card companies no longer need to print big sheets and cut them. So, there is no need for short prints right? Wrong.

Now, they do it on purpose. They purposely short print rookies and other desired cards, so that collectors need to buy more of what they don't want to get what they want. Due to this forced scarcity, the value of the cards on the secondary market is higher (which is what most collectors want anyway). However, the card manufacturers have to be laughing at these idiots who fork over $2.99 per pack at a chance to get an Evan Longoria short print, only to get their fourth Chone Figgins.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My New Project - The Ultimate 660 - #660

OK - I stole this idea from another blog, but here goes. I will be posting pictures and commentary on the best 660 of the 1970s baseball cards. Here is how I will do it, I will look at one card number and pick the best card that bears that number from 1970-1979. So which is the best #660 from the 1970's? For me it is the 1970 Johnny Bench. Now let me add that I am not all about card value, and what it is worth, etc. But, card 660 was not that great during the 1970s. (Just look at the horrible 1978 Jason Thompson if you don't believe me). Anyway, the best thing about this card is the background. It looks like the Reds used to train on a farm or near a barn. Ahh - the good old days.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I Hate Always Being Right - Part 2

I hate always being right. I mean, it is really difficult to watch stupid people do stupid things and know I am powerless to do anything about it.


Case in point, the 2000 Presidential Election. I had always been a loyal Republican voter. I voted for Bush Sr. twice, though I never really liked him (I guess I liked him in 1988, but by the time 1992 came around I was not too sure). In 1996, I voted for Dole, even though I didn't think he was that great. However, in 2000, I could not submit to the GOP and vote for their candidate.


Why you ask?


Because I knew.


I knew he was not qualified to be president, and I was right. Now I did not vote for Gore either, but looking back, I think we may have been better off if Gore won. I think in the post 9/11 world (yes, it would have happened despite what Michael Moore and Charlie Sheen think) the liberal agenda would have been exposed and Gore would have been defeated in 2004, by someone other than W.


In the eight years since he took office, Bush has been the worst President ever. He increased the size of government during his first term, not once vetoing any pork filled bill the idiots in Congress sent him. Now as his term draws to a close, we find ourselves in the middle of a war that was unnecessary, and possibly criminal. Our economy is choking, gasoline is almost $5 per gallon, and the dollar has no value in the rest of the world. He and the rest of his goons (sorry Condi, but you hitched your wagon to the wrong star) have ruined the Republican Party. Now in 2008, the presidential choices are between an America hating, far left wing liberal nut, and an America loving, far left wing liberal nut. Sorry, but no matter what the mainstream media tell you, McCain is a liberal.


So now, our only hope is that Obama takes office and the liberal agenda get exposed for the smoke and mirrors it really is. We can hope that the Democrats are exposed as the Power hungry nut cases that want to control our lives, and after four more miserable years, a Republican candidate can come along and restore the party to the Reagan era.


However, too many things have to happen for this reality to be realized. The first is that the people need to wake up and see that the liberal agenda is a farce. There is no such thing as man made global warming. Also, no one should be allowed to vote unless they know who Neville Chamberlain is. If they do, and they still believe in Obama, they are mentally disturbed or grossly uninformed.


The next thing is that the Republican Party needs to move its platform back to conservative ideals. Dump the religious right. They are all rich hypocrites. We need to return to a constructionist policy and follow the Constitution. We need to expose the wacko environmentalists. The "War on Terror" is a bunch of nonsense, throw it out, it does not work. The war is on Islamofacisim. Call it what it is.


Finally, find candidates who can communicate to the American people and foreign leaders. Someone who can speak and think at a high level, yet do it clearly and concisely and can be simple to understand.


I don't know if we will ever find another Reagan, but we need to do better than George W. Bush. The only good news is it can't get any worse.


Can it?

Friday, March 07, 2008

I can't help it, I am all sci-fi and stuff

So there is this horrible story of this college student who got shot in North Carolina. She was a beautiful young girl, she was brilliant (Phi Beta Kappa, etc.), she was well liked. So other than the obvious (loser boyfriend) why would she be shot? The CNN article claims it was a "random act of violence". Well the sci-fi fan in me says otherwise. Again, not to make light of a terrible tragedy, the first thing that came into my mind was that time travellers killed this girl.

She obviously became somebody famous and powerful, and the opposition forces travelled back in time and wiped her out.

The only thing that concerns me is, who were these killers? Have the forces of evil struck a blow that will lead to our demise?

I guess time will tell.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Quote of the Day

I'm a man of respect around here. They love me around here. I'm a swell guy. You're a lying sack of shit and everybody knows it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tr00 Metal is Finally Back - NOT!

Well, it's official. Metal is cool again. The Rods have reunited. When bands that went nowhere the first time decide to reunite, that is a sign the genre has truly arrived.

Way back when Walter Mondale was still presidential timber, The Rods were described (by their manager probably) as New York's version of Motorhead. Puhleeze. The Rods couldn't carry Lemmy's jock. These guys were a joke 25 years ago, I can only imagine how they will look and sound today.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Motley Crue Tour - WGAF

I read today that Motley Crue was going to tour this year. A world tour. The question is, does anybody care? I am curious to see what venues they will be playing, and how many people they will be playing in front of. If my suspicion is correct, their numbers will be far less than the numbers for Iron Maiden's tour, which only proves, that eventually, quality does count for something, even to American audiences. Well, at least over a prolonged period of time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yngwie officially jumps the shark

Really, I have not heard anything from Yngwie since 2000's War to End All Wars, but by hiring the Ted McGinley of metal (aka Ripper Owens) he has sealed his fate as a has been.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

1998 - Meadows of frosted sweetness

In the world of metal, 1998 saw the dawn of a new day. Finally, after several years of mediocre thrash and stale, uninspired performances, the metal world was once again ripe with great music. I could have easily done a Top 20 for 1998, as there was many albums worth of discussion. However, in keeping with the theme of my other posts, I have cut it to a Top 10.

10. Death - The Sound of Perseverance

The vocals on this album really bring it down. They are very annoying, but the music is so awesome, that I can overlook even the worst vocals. I think of it as Watchtower on steroids. Great guitar solos and pounding riffs. I cannot recall an album that could sound so heavy, yet so technically competent at the same time.

9. Hammerfall - Legacy of Kings

In 1998, power metal was dominating my CD player, and Hammerfall was one of the big acts doing pure power metal, and doing it quite well. Let the Hammer Fall is one of the best tracks in the history of the genre, and it was not the only great song here. Admittedly, this album is not as consistent as their debut, but it is still an awesome power metal record.

8. Primal Fear - Primal Fear

Well, they do not get any points for originality. When a friend of mine first heard this band, he said that the singer [Ralf Scheepers] sounds more like Halford than Halford. It is true, but in 1998, Primal Fear was better at being Judas Priest than Judas Priest was. In fact many people say that Priest should have hired Scheepers instead of Ted McGinley, and I agree. Anyway, the debut from Primal Fear is a nice mix of power metal and German speed metal, and is a really great sounding album.

7. Blind Guardian - Nightfall in Middle Earth

I have never read a Tolkien novel. Maybe that is why I feel that this record is overrated. Still for me it is an awesome album and deserves its spot in the Top 10, though many feel it is the best power metal album of all time. This concept album based on the writings of the aforementioned author is full of short spoken passages and instrumentals. I personally like these interludes, even if they make little sense to me. They add an atmospheric effect, not found on too many power metal albums. The music itself is great, and I really dig this album. This is probably my favorite Blind Guardian album.

6. Running Wild - The Rivalry

Many critics feel that by this time Running Wild had run out of gas. I disagree, for me this album is a return to form. Certainly, it is not as good as Pile of Skulls, but it is an improvement over the competent but certainly unspectacular Masquerade.

5. Falkenbach - …Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri…

Vratyas Vakyas' second full length album leaves off where the first one ended. This one is a bit more polished. It has less of a black metal feel, and really explores the Norse folk elements. This is pure Viking metal at its best. The Heathenish Foray is one of the most infectious songs ever, and it fits right in to this classic release.

4. Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse

This Opeth album is the bridge between their early material, and the brilliant releases that would follow. I love the mood changes and contrast between the quiet parts and the heavy parts. These changes and transitions would be smoother on subsequent releases, but they still work great here. For those unfamiliar with Opeth, this, to me, is the logical place to start.

3. Iced Earth - Something Wicked This Way Comes

The high water mark for Iced Earth is here. Singer Matt Barlow sounds great, and the production is top notch. But more important than the production, the songs are terrific; especially the "Something Wicked" trilogy that closes the album. If not for some real turkeys (Watching Over Me and Blessed Are You), this album may have scored higher. Other than their brilliant live album, Alive in Athens, that followed, Iced Earth would digress into a parody of themselves, and lose most of the respect they garnered. Of course, the hiring of Ted McGinley as their lead vocalist was a major part of that downfall.

2. Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding

Many regard this as Bruce's finest solo album, and the album responsible for the Iron Maiden reunion. Sure it is a great album, and completely blows away Maiden's Virtual XI, but I really think it is a small step backwards from the brilliant Accident of Birth. Really, I am splitting hairs because both albums are great, and I am glad that Adrian Smith hooked up with Bruce for these two terrific records.

1. Sculptured - The Spear of the Lily is Aureoled

The debut from Washington State's Sculptured is nothing short of remarkable. An eclectic mix of styles is present here, creating an avant-garde sound. Jazz influences are woven with death metal vocals. Spoken passages give a cinematic feel to many of the tracks. Soft piano interludes with dark lyrics to create a wonderfully somber mood. This is really fantastic album, from an unheralded band who deserve far more attention and accolade than they receive.

Monday, January 28, 2008

1997 - Kick the Sand in Satan's Face

1997 was a really good year for heavy music. In fact, it was probably the best year in a long time, and things would only get better. For the first time in several years, there are some pretty good albums that did not crack the top 10.

Power metal was experiencing a renaissance and that is evident in this list that includes several bands of this sub-genre.

10. Children of Bodom – Something Wild

The original album only clocked in at a touch over 30 minutes. This album is at number 10 without the additional bonus tracks, and would be even higher if I included those. Anyway, Children of Bodom provided an original and fresh sound with terrific guitars and keyboards unlike anything I have heard before. A good start for a really good band.

9. Saxon – Unleash the Beast

Saxon’s career has been very up and down and Unleash the Beast is definitely on the upside. This album is fast and heavy and a real return to form. Certainly, it is not at their 1981 level, but this is the best Saxon album since Power and the Glory, and a welcome come back for Biff and the boys.

8. Tad Morose – A Mended Rhyme

The first Urban Breed album from Tad Morose is a real jump from their earlier albums. It isn’t just the vocals though that makes this album so much better. Basically, it is heavier. More guitars and bigger guitars. Less ballads and more power metal. More good things were to come from this band.

7. Jag Panzer – The Fourth Judgment

Colorado’s Jag Panzer had been a pretty average traditional metal band until this point. They released a record in 1984 that was pretty dull, and then 10 years later came out with an even worse record. So, unexpectedly, this 1997 release is stellar. This is real power metal, with superb vocals and guitars. Jag Panzer helped prove that metal was not dead in the USA.

6. In Flames – Whoracle

Like the Jester Race before it, Whoracle is terrific release from Gothenburg’s In Flames. I like Jester Race a little more, but both albums are really good, and probably represent the best pieces of In Flames’ catalog.

5. HamerFall – Glory to the Brave

HammerFall’s first album is one that defines the power metal genre. Speed and power are evident here. Flashy guitar solos and proficient vocals. HammerFall’s star would burn out quickly, but their first couple of records is great.

4. Psycho Motel – Welcome to the World

Fanboy alert. Adrian Smith’s Psycho Motel released two albums. This is by far the better of the two. This record proved what a great songwriter Adrian is, and really the only unfortunate thing about Adrian re-joining Iron Maiden is that Psycho Motel never got to release a follow up to this great album. As a side note, the guitar solo with Dave Murray did show us what had been missing in Iron Maiden’s music since Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.

3. Iron Savior – Iron Savior

This may be a debut from Germany’s Iron Savior, but these guys are not rookies. Really, this was supposed to be a side project, but it seems that Piet and the rest of the band decided they were happy with the results and decided to continue the project. A much underrated band that is often panned by fans and critics, but I will never understand why.

2. Gamma Ray – Somewhere Out in Space

The original power metal band, Gamma Ray was in the middle of a great three album stretch with Somewhere Out in Space. It is difficult to describe this album. Really look at the commentary for the power metal bands above, and multiply their proficiency. Gamma Ray, to me, is the original ad the best power metal band, and this record is further evidence of that.

1. Bruce Dickinson – Accident of Birth

I do not think I can be accused of being a fanboy here. Some people say this is the album that brought traditional metal back. I don’t know if I would go that far, but the reunion of two legends, Dickinson and Smith, along with another great player in Roy Z is remarkable. Skunkworks was a great album, but Bruce reached the top of the mountain with this record.

Monday, January 21, 2008

1996 - Fission Fusion Fission Makes Good Sense

1996 was a pretty cool year in metal. Things were definitely changing for the better as the sub-genres expanded. Glam was dead as disco, and everyone's fascination with bland American thrash faded. That said, better years were ahead, as the amount of quality albums would continue to increase. Really many of these albums listed below are not that great, but it was still a good year nevertheless.

One special note here, I considered including the debut from The Lord Weird Slough Feg, but because the CD that is in print now is really more of a demo with extra tracks, I decided it really was not proper to include here.

10. Iced Earth - The Dark Saga

After Burnt offerings, this was a bit of a let down, but it is still a really good album. I think there is a lot of filler (I hate that term, but here I think it is appropriate) here, and this album could have been better. On the flip side, The Hunter is one of Iced Earth's best and Violate, Slave to the Dark and the title track are all stand outs. Of course Barlow's vocals are great, and the riffage is top notch.

9. Arcturus - Aspera Hiems Symfonia

Arcturus' debut can hardly be called black metal, so I am unsure why it is considered in that genre. They are labeled as "atmospheric" black metal, but really black metal is more of an influence here than a description. It is like calling Trivium NWOBHM because they were influenced by Iron Maiden. This is not my typical music, as it is has a ton of keyboards, but it is well done, and quite enjoyable.

8. Opeth - Morningrise

Opeth - love 'em or loathe 'em. I think this album is overrated in their catalog. Black Rose Immortal is a cool song and all, but at twenty minutes, it is a bit of an earful. Still, their second album lays the foundation for the better albums that would follow, and this itself is worthy of inclusion here.

7. Orphaned Land - El Norra Alila

This is the second album from the kings of Israeli metal. I really enjoy the Middle Eastern elements in Orphaned Land's music. I think it is original, and adds a really cool groove.

6. Motörhead - Overnight Sensation

Really, this is a mid grade 1990's Motörhead album. Not as good as Bastards, but not as bad as March or Die. To me, the change back to one guitar from two meant very little, since Motörhead has never been a guitar band. However, the songs are a bit slower, and do have a tad more of a Bomber feel that its predecessor. Still, there is not much more to add, if you like Motörhead you will like this, if not, Overnight Sensation will not convert you.

5. Falkenbach - …En Their Medh Riki Fara…

The debut from Vratyas Vakyas' Falkenbach is a great start to an interesting "band". Since he is the only member, I do not know if I can call Falkenbach a band, but I digress. Anyway, this album is what I consider the original Viking metal album (his demos date back to the late 1980's so; I think that makes him first - close enough for this reviewer). This album is powerful and melodic, taking the best elements from black metal and Nordic folk.

4. Moonspell - Irreligious

I really do not care for Moonspell, as gothic metal really does not float my boat. I have heard most of their catalog, and this is really the only one of their albums I like a lot. Maybe because the song Opium is one of my all time favorite songs ever, but that is not the only good track here. All of the tracks have their own appeal or hook, keeping the album interesting and fresh. This is a dark record for sure, one I like more now than I did when I first heard it.

3. Rush - Test for Echo

T4E is a step up from Counterparts. To me it is more Rushlike. That said, it is not without its flaws. Virtuality is as dated as old milk, and Dog Years is trite crap. The rest of the album is really good though and despite the two aforementioned clunker, this is probably the best Rush album of the 1990's (I think there were three, and it is not really saying much).

2. In Flames - The Jester Race

I guess any album that defines a genre is worthy of inclusion in a top ten list. It was not the first of its kind, but it was clearly the best, and it has aged quite well, and is not at all dated. It would be easy to digress into how crappy this band is today, so I won’t do that and I will say that The Jester Race really did define the melodic death metal sound, and is the top album of that sub genre.

1. Bruce Dickinson - Skunkworks

Perhaps placing this at number one is proof positive that I am the ultimate Maiden fanboy. Sue me. Bottom line is, that while 1996 had a great blend of albums from old-timers like Rush and Motörhead and from newcomers like Falkenbach and Arcturus, I cannot deny the best singer in metal history. Skunkworks was not praised by the critics; many felt Dickinson was trying to cash in on the Seattle sound so popular in the USA. Horse hockey. There is nothing grunge about Innerspace and Solar Confinement. Besides, this album is all sci-fi and stuff, which is very ungrunge. So, it is not the most metal of Dickinson's solo albums, but it is one of the better ones.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Anybody but Suckabee

Ahh...presidential politics, everyone's favorite topic. The one candidate I really hate is Mike Huckabee. He is a typical neo-con, the likes of W. He is a holy roller, big government stooge. I really see no difference policy-wise between him and Clintobama other than this guy thinks he talks to Jesus. (Hillary talks to Jesus too, be she tells him what to do.)

I gotta tell ya.

If Huckabee gets the nomination, I will boycott the Republicans for the third consecutive presidential election. Only if Gus Hall were still around.....