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Michael D. Faraone "MDFaraone" RSS Feed (Mesa, Arizona)

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Curse & Chapter
Curse & Chapter
Price: $14.08
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good As It Gets ! One of the Best Releases of 2013., December 11, 2013
This review is from: Curse & Chapter (Audio CD)
I rarely give 5 star reviews, but this is one of the rare albums that I can find ZERO fault with, ALL the tracks are killer no filler, every track is unique unto itself, no redundancy, superb production by Andy Sneap who is now also a full fledged member, catchy hooks galore, clever lyrics that are also mature social commentary disguised in the "occult" veil , unique and theatrical vocal delivery by the thespian turned frontman David Bower who seems to have slipped even more comfortably into his postion and really delivers the goods on this album. Their re-formed debut a few years back was good but this one is even better, more cohesive, catchier and more concise songwriting. The style is hard to pin down for a description,...most would say NWOBHM, but also speed, thrash, melodic, black, and cinematic metal as well. Vocalist David Bower sounds like a cross between Geddy Lee, King Diamond, and Mike Howe (Metal Church) and really emotes the lyrics in full blown theatrics, his vocals may be an aquired taste for some, but for this music he is a PERFECT fit. There may be other bands in other genres of metal that I like better, ...but in this particular style this is truly as good as it gets.

Dark Wings of Steel (digipak edition)
Dark Wings of Steel (digipak edition)
Price: $16.45
40 used & new from $7.99

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Luca Wins This Battle by a Landslide !, December 9, 2013
What a disappointment ! After the very well recieved debut of Luca Turilli's Rhapsody and the previous two Rhapsody of Fire albums, which in my opinion were some of the best of their career, this new release proves Luca really was the heart and soul of Rhapsody. I was hoping the remaining members could really step up their game and compete and that we might have two great bands bearing some form of the Rhapsody moniker, but alas it was not to be, as this is the most boring, uninspired ,plodding and redundant Rhapsody since Triumph or Agony, and the only thing I can remember about that one is that it was COMPLETELY UNMEMORABLE and this one may be even worse. Rather than bore you with a song by song breakdown,it's a lot easier to convey that they are all basically the same: plodding, mid-tempo numbers that go nowhere. Silver lake of Tears is about the only uptempo one and even that is only average quality. I don't know where the band can go from here, because it seems without Luca they are creatively spent.

Straight Out of Hell: Premium Edition
Straight Out of Hell: Premium Edition
Price: $13.89
43 used & new from $7.49

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good , but not better than "Gambling With the Devil", January 30, 2013
I hate to break up the 5 star party going on here, but here goes: Chances are if you are reading this review you are already familiar with Helloween, a band with a near 30 yr history which I have been following since day one and the four song vinyl "pumpkin cover" EP for those of you old enough to remember that one. Ever since learning their lesson with the near career-ending "Chameleon" Helloween have been putting out fairly solid and consistent metal releases for the last 15 yrs, some better than others , but none of them could be labeled "bad", you may even say they are the most "reliable" metal act out there. "Straight out of Hell" is another good release but not a great one, I think "Gambling with the Devil" was their best release in the last decade, "7 Sinners" was good but had a way overproduced sound to it and overly cheesy lyrics, "Straight out of Hell" is like a medium of the two albums, it has some of the "catchiness" of Gambling yet also suffers from some of the "overproduction" of Sinners. Weikath and Grosskopf , the founding members prove to still have the best songwriting chops, Deris as usual can craft both some of the best and worst tracks on every album, and Gerstner's compostions prove to be a little amateurish. The album starts strong, fades in the middle with three weak tracks (6,7,8),the title track kicks things up gain (9), then It's kind of mediocre auotopilot for the rest of the album (10-14).
The lyrical content still suffers a little too much "cheese", vagueness and redundancy.
Deris's vocals are a love/hate affair, they are starting to show their age and you can hear they are very "studioed up" yet he has been a loyal and consistent bandmember for over twice as long as Kiske was, I just wish he a had a little more talent and range, his ballad singing on here is cringe-inducing.
Bottom line, it's another solid release from Helloween,just not quite worthy of all the 5 star reviews it's been getting. Weikath needs to pen more songs on the next album.

addendum: I just listened to the track "No Eternity" , only available as a bonus track on the Japanese edition, and I must say I am completely perplexed as to why this wasn't included as a main track on the standard edition, it would have been one of the best tracks on the album, signature Helloween sound.

Price: $11.88
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as Good as I Hoped, November 6, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Silverthorn (Audio CD)
I wanted to like this album, I really did, especially after the utter disappointment of the "Poetry.." album, but in all honestly it's only a slight step above it.
I've been a following this band from the beginning,since BEFORE Khan was the vocalist and in my opinion they peaked with the "Epica" album and to a lesser extent musically "the Black Halo" though the latter was a bigger seller, "Ghost Opera" was decent but was the start of the band on "autopilot", and Poetry was a failed experiment in plodding mid-tempo melancholy and electronica, some of which they have carried over to this album and three albums now of "gothic melancholy" is getting a bit tired and redundant both musically and lyrically.
Most of the hoopla over Silverthorn revolves around the departure of Khan and addition of new vocalist Tommy Karevik, but to tell you the truth the vocals are a complete non-issue on this album, Tommy steps in and delivers the goods and feels like a natural fit for the band, the real issues here are twofold and sit squarely on the shoulders of songwriter Thomas Youngblood and producer Sascha Paeth, first the songwriting is getting downright boring, the whole album has a "been there,done that" feel to it and I don't foresee any future "greatest hits" coming off this album. The album lacks any real bite and Youngblood really needs to start putting the "heavy" back into heavy metal, or the "power" back into power metal because those are two elements that are sorely lacking here, there are only three songs on the entire album that could even remotely be construed as uptempo, and those don't hold a candle to prior ass-kickers like "Center of the Universe" or "Lost and Damned".
The second issue is the production, this has a compressed and muted production that really detracts and makes the songs a bit less than they can be, I don't know what is going on with Sascha Paeth whom I used to consider one of the best metal producers, but both this and the last Epica album have had abysmal production, I miss the grandiose, crisp "open" sound on prior albums, even Casey Grillo's double bass drumming on here sounds completely muted and neutered and Grillo is one of the best drummers in the biz today.
Sorry if this review comes across as overly negative but I feel I had to be the voice of objectivity and reason here to counteract the overly enthusiastic fanboy reviews, bottom line is that it is a decent album by one of the best American metal acts in the biz today, it has a few shining moments but is hampered from living up to it's full potential by excessive melancholy and mid-tempo numbers and a lackluster production by Kamelot standards.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2013 10:32 PM PDT

The 2nd Law [Explicit]
The 2nd Law [Explicit]
Price: $9.49

6 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What happened to the Momemtum after "Resisitance" ?, October 9, 2012
This review is from: The 2nd Law [Explicit] (MP3 Music)
I thought "Resistance" was their best album to date for me personally, because it had three things that really appeal to me 1)Queen influences 2)Metal influences 3)managed to be completely unique while combining influences, and let me throw one more important thing in there, it was COHESIVE. This new album just sounds like a hodgepodge of experimental nonsense, lacking in hooky choruses and anthemic melodies,it lacks the cohesion of it's predecessor musically and lyrically, don't get me wrong there are still flashes of brilliance and hints of the old Muse in there, they are just bogged down by experimentation with Dubstep, electronica, and overall boring songwriting.
This album is definitely a letdown and a misfire for Muse , who could have been on a roll after the well recieved "Resistance", the shame is now we will have to wait years to see if they can redeem themselves with the follow-up.

Ascending to Infinity
Ascending to Infinity
Price: $14.60
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Audio-Cinematic Masterpiece, July 10, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ascending to Infinity (Audio CD)
Wow, ever since breaking free of the contractual limbo they were in with Magic Circle Music Rhapsody have been on a tear, three great albums in as many years and now that Rhapsody has split into 2 bands, Luca Turilli's Rhapsody and Rhapsody of Fire, Luca seems even more driven to see his visions come to fruition and prove that he was the real creative genius behind the music ,... and prove that he does on this album.
He calls it Cinematic metal and that is an apt description for the audial journey he wants to take you on is like looking at a DaVinci painting or watching an epic movie, that is the experience he is trying to create for the ears, and for people like myself that eat this stuff up this is an absolute eargasm.
I was worried who could fill the vocal duties since Fabio has stayed on with RoF, but relative unknown Allesandro Conti is an incredible find and slips into the position without missing a beat.
I like the fact that this is not a concept album like the previous efforts and the subject matter spans everything from the ancient to the modern to the spiritual, mixing musical elements of Cinematic Score,Neo-classical metal, melodic metal, Opera and even a dash of Jazz, and it all meshes incredibly well.
Luca has set the bar high with this release and now I am curious what his former bandmates in RoF can come up with to compete. It's sad to think that this band was once managed by Manowar who almost ruined their careers since any single track off this has more musical diversity, melodies and craftsmanship than the ENTIRETY of the new Lord Of Steel album, and that is not an overstatement, it's like comparing a DaVinci masterpiece to a pre-school finger painting.
Bottom Line: If you like Cinemtaic, Neo-Classical, bombastic and epic metal, you will like this, and If you're already a Rhapsody fan it's a no-brainer purchase.

The Lord of Steel (Hammer Edition)
The Lord of Steel (Hammer Edition)

34 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst Manowar album EVER,...EPIC FAIL !, June 25, 2012
First a little backstory, I used to be one of the "die-hard fans" , been following this band for 30 yrs,still have Joey's bass pick that he personally handed to me back in 88' at a club in Bayshore NY after driving 4 hrs to see them. Triumph of Steel was the last really GOOD Manowar album, everything since has been somewhere between disappointing to fair at best, then after another ridiculous 6 yr wait here it is, and wow , I mean WOW! I was fully prepared for disappointment but not the outright slap in the face that this album is.
This is so bad it almost seems like a bad inside joke is being perpetrated on the fans, it seems like more of a spoof than anything put out by spoof bands such as Spinal Tap, Steel panther, or Tenacious D, I am being serious, any album by those bands seems almost "Shakespearean" compared to this.
First, let's address the 800lb gorilla in the room- the HORRENDOUS production, this is not only the worst production on a Manowar album but may go down in the annals of metal history as one of the worst productions ever, even the few good tracks on here, such as the title track, are rendered almost unlistenable by the horrendous annnoying bass buzz that sounds like a blown speaker and permeates every track on the album, why Joey seemed to think this would sound "cool" is beyond me.Then Joey made a big hoopla over the return of drummer Donny Hamzik, yet most tracks sound like programmed drums, and if they aren't programmed then they went out of thier way to make real drums sound like programmed drums. Guitar solos-:lousy, misplaced, and without cohesion. Lyrics: for a band that has been routinely ridiculed for being cheesy over the years, it's almost as if they went out of their way to be "extra cheesy" on this album, seriously, Wisconsin hasn't produced this much cheese in the last 6 yrs.
Even the musical compositions are tired , boring, cliche' and without a single ounce of creativity.
It would be too easy to say that because the band has been around for 30 yrs that they are creatively "spent" , because Accept which has been around even longer has just put out back-to-back the two best albums of their career, and Overkill,Exodus and Riot have also been putting out some of the best material of their careers. Nope, this is just plain INEXCUSABLE folks. Anyone defending this album is like a religious zealot who refuses to believe what his own eyes and ears are telling him. This album is one of the biggest turd sandwiches that a band has ever served to it's fans.

addendum: I just relistened to this several times and played it back to back with "Gods of War", and the much derided GoW seems like an outright masterpiece in comparison, at least they were trying to evolve on that album, it just needed less narration and more balls-out uptempo numbers, LoS on the other hand represents a devolvement and has only ONE truly uptempo track on the whole album,the rest are just plodding mid-tempo numbers and ineffective semi-ballads. If possible, Manowar need to go in and adjust the bass sound on the masters before the hard copy CDs get released, that is truly the most off-putting aspect of this album that renders even the tolerable songs unlistenable, .. even that would only bring this album up to "tolerably mediocre" and 2.5 stars versus the outright atrocity it is in it's current form.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 21, 2013 4:32 AM PST

Pink Bubbles Go Ape
Pink Bubbles Go Ape
Price: $15.45
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is where they went off the rails., May 29, 2012
This review is from: Pink Bubbles Go Ape (Audio CD)
After garnering a huge following and momentum in the 80s and on the verge of a big breakout,.....then nothing, silence for years, the tail end of the "peak" metal years I might add, and then finally this piece of **** emerges, you can tell right away from the cover it looks like the band sold out, and the music confirms those suspicions. This band was like a "trust fund baby" that didn't know what it had until it was gone, like a spoiled brat that blew all their money, Helloween blew all their momentum and reputation from the "Keepers" albums. Kiske may be a "beloved" singer, by the fans, but his anti-metal influence on the sonwriting coupled with BAD,BAD, BAD advice from management and producers,and combined with some of the most silly, absurd, ridiculous lyrics and songtitles ever penned, makes for one of the worst Helloween albums ever, only to be outdone in it's "badness" by the criminally horrendous "Chameleon" that just about put the final nail in the coffin for Helloween. ( see my Chameleon review for that story)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2013 6:31 AM PST

Chameleon (Expanded Edition)
Chameleon (Expanded Edition)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars EPIC FAIL !, May 29, 2012
This is by far the absolute worst album of their career and it was preceeded by the other worst album of their career " Pink Bubbles Go Ape", two back to back atrocities, this one being even worse and not even slightly resembling a metal album. How the band managed to survive this nuclear level catastrophe is a miracle, if it weren't for the strength and solid reputation they garnered on their Kai Hansen era back catalogue, trust me, this would have been the last ever Helloween album. They took the incredible momentum they had garnered on the "Keepers" albums and completely squandered it, this was a band on the verge of a big breakout, could have possibly achieved the success of a Metallic/Anthrax/Megadeth, but alas we will never know, they corrected their problems too late, the "metal" train had left the station, let this be a cautionary tale to other metal bands.

Requiem for the Indifferent
Requiem for the Indifferent
Price: $13.01
71 used & new from $3.97

4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Their Absolute WORST album !, April 23, 2012
Look,I have been a fan of this band since their inception a decade ago and own everything they have done including the classical album, I have tried giving this multiple listens to see of it grows on me, but unlike "Divine Conspiracy" which grew on me to become my favorite album ,this one only gets more aggravating with each successive listen. The songs are all disjointed with no cohesion and no "identity", there are so many time and tempo changes it becomes impossible to get into the "groove" of a song and one must wonder whether Mark Jansen suffers from full blown ADD and is off his meds, ther are LITERALLY 20 time changes within 2 minutes on certain songs, that is not "progressive" it is just downright aggravating.
Simone sings every song the same and sounds tired like she is just dialing in her performance on this one. The lyrics are so sappy and nauseatingly Left wing I was half expecting Jane Fonda to make a guest appearance.
The production is lackluster as well. There is not a truly "heavy" song on the album, as soon as things start to speed up there are tempo changes and slowed down again, it just plods along with choppy mid-tempo numbers and ineffective semi-ballads. The only song I REALLY like on here is "Twin Flames" , which if you knew me you might find ironic since I usually prefer the ultra heavy songs like "Mother of Light" , but Twin Flames ,a bonus track no less, is the only song that has any cohesion and can stand on it's own as a "song" with an identifiable melody, it sounds like a good Broadway number that could have been in "Phantom" or "Les Miserables". for the rest of the album, Epica really needs to get back to the drawing board because this was a complete mess.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 29, 2012 3:11 PM PDT

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