MINI REVIEWS – December 11, 2020

  • 8.4/10
    AC/DC - PWR UP - 8.4/10
  • 7.5/10
    AWAKEN - Out of the Shadows - 7.5/10
  • 7.9/10
    DIAMOND HEAD - Lightning to the Nations - 7.9/10
  • 9/10
    ELLEFSON - No Cover - 9/10

Columbia Records [BUY] [Facebook]

There’s an old saying that goes if you’ve heard one AC/DC album then you’ve heard them all.  That may be true, but fans wouldn’t expect it any other way.  Let’s face it, AC/DC’s last two studio albums, Black Ice and Rock or Bust were boring, albeit for a song or two.  It would have been terrible for AC/DC to call it a day and have Rock or Bust be their final note.  PWR UP is anything but boring.  It captures a reenergized band that cuts out the bullshit and gets to the heart about what their fans love about them.

Songs like “Realize” and “Rejection” deliver pure Rock and Roll in its truest sense.  “Shot in the Dark” takes things a step further by injecting the Aussie’s signature Blues riffs.  “Kick You When Your Down” will have you chanting along.  “Through the Mists of Time” is a terrible title , but has quite the melodic chorus.  The main riff of “Demon Fire” is similar to “Safe in New York City,” but it is still a killer track.  Is PWR UP AC/DC’s best album?  No.  Will they license a song or two from this album to commercials and movies?  Yes.  Will any of these songs be played 20 years from now?  No, but PWR UP is still a fun ride and a great album for AC/DC to ride off into the sunset to.  8.4/10

AWAKEN – Out of the Shadows
Pure Steel Records [Facebook]

It’s pretty ambitious to release a double album as your sophomore effort, but the Progressive/Symphonic Metal act Awaken took a gamble with Out of the Shadows and it pays off.  Awaken is very reminiscent of early Dream Theater, but with darker tones and no indulgent keyboard solos.  Although Out of the Shadows seems like its a concept album, it is more of a collection of stories and vocalist Glenn Dagrossa is the consummate storyteller.

Awaken find a way to keep the music diverse while still maintaining a signature sound.  “Black From Blue” has elements of Middle Eastern music, “Drowning Pool” mixes dark riffs with brassy keys.  “My Heart of Darkness” could have come out in the ’80s, while “Only Your Eyes to Weep” has an eerie ’70s feel to it. “Nine Circles” is an epic tale told in three parts that contains ‘shades’ of a Fates Warning influence.  Out of the Shadows clocks in at 90 minutes.  Most tracks are 5 minutes or longer, with “Dachau Be My Destiny” being over 13 minutes.  Yet, Out of the Shadows haunting melodies and hook-laden choruses never gets old. 7.5/10

DIAMOND HEAD – Lightning to the Nations 2020
Silver Lining Music [BUY] [Facebook]

It can be a hard pill to swallow when your favorite band re-records a classic album you fell in love with.  Diamond Head decided for their 40th anniversary they were going to redo their self-funded 1980 debut Lightning to the Nations.  Of course, the members of Diamond Head aren’t all the same members as they were in 1980.  Lightning to the Nations 2020 is the best representation of Diamond Head today as well as the best representation of how they sound live.

Over the course of 40 years and thousands of shows, the music takes on new life;  a longer solo here, a little heavier distortion there.  Lightning to Nations 2020 sounds more modern than the original, and current Diamond Head vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen sure does have some chops.  You are sure to bang you head with the revamped versions of “Sucking My Love, “Am I Evil,” and “It’s Electric.”  As an added bonus you get 4 covers by the bands that inspired Diamond Head, including a cover of Metallica’s “No Remorse.” As guitarist Brian Tatler said during his Metal Express Radio interview; since Metallica has performed so many songs off of their first album, he wanted to return the favor.  7.9/10 [Interview]

Combat Records [Facebook]

What started out as a new studio album got diverted into a double covers album.  David Ellefson and Thom Hazaert are the masterminds behind Ellefson and they decided to include their brothers and sisters in Heavy Metal to jam along with them.  The bands Ellefson chose to cover are mostly a mix of classic ’70s and ’80s Glam and Metal bands.  Not wanting to tread familiar ground, the gang didn’t make obvious choices for most of the song selections.  They decided upon fan favorites, lesser known songs, and in some instances hit singles.

Stand out tracks include “Love Me Like a Reptile” with Doro, “Riff Raff” with Jason McMaster, Dave Lombardo, and Bumblefoot, “Eat the Rich” with McMaster and Dave Sharp, “Over the Mountain” with Andrew Freeman, and “Sweet F.A.” with Todd Kerns.  You have to give a nod to Hazaert for going out of his comfort zone for his version of “Beth.”  Look for past Megadeth members sprinkled throughout.  If you’re a fan of the era, you’re going to be familiar with the songs.  No Cover delivers the music you grew up with, only heavier.  9/10 [Interview]


  • George Dionne

    George was a contributor here at Metal Express Radio, reviewing albums and conducting interviews, out of Massachusetts, USA. George has contributed to numerous music related websites and blogs, and even managed his own from 2004-2009. George's first assignment was covering a live show by the mighty GWAR. By contrast his later assignments featured Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. George was also the front man for the South Eastern Massachusetts cover band Sound Tower from 2009-2015.  Sound Tower played 300+ shows across MA and had two original songs on the Cape Cod radio station PIXY 103. George enjoys a good whiskey, scotch, and/or bourbon and fights crime in his spare time.

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