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Noah (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Noah (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
DVD ~ Russell Crowe
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9 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars NOAH WRECKED THE ARK, August 2, 2014
It has been called "the most un-biblical Bible movie" and for good reason. It's nearly 90 minutes into the movie before anything of the Bible is recited but even after doing so, "Noah" ignorantly surmises that God has saved them from the flood only to let them die later - dust to dust - and to leave the world to its own natural paradise. Therefore the task that God entrusted to Noah and his family was that they should save the creatures of the world and then afterwards succumb to the same judgment that God delivered upon the rest of mankind: perishing. And thus, "a world without men."

When Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post says "If you liked Braveheart, Gladiator and Titanic, you will love Noah," she could not have been speaking to the faithfulness of the story. When Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times writes that Noah is "one of the most unforgettable biblical epics ever put on film," he is obviously not speaking of the biblical text. Of course they must only have in view the cinematic values found in the movie for you will find little of the Bible there. Evidently all that's required to call a movie "biblical" is to borrow a personality or event from that sacred book.

This movie is epic in scope and the visuals are enormous but it is pure fantasy and it should never have been expected to get the endorsement of Bible-believers. It is not Bible. It is action-fantasy which borrows an event from the text of Scripture but it is as reliable to tell the historical narrative from the Bible as much as we can expect verity from The Transformers or The Hunger Games. Both of these are fiction and they are presented as such. NOAH, however, poses as one thing and produces another. This movie is not meant to tell the pivotal story of Noah and his family. It is meant to capitalize on the action-fantasy genre by drawing in curious Believers, and lovers of epics. It doesn't even come close enough to touch even the respectfulness of classic biblical movies like Cecil B DeMille's Ten Commandments or Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth. Even less does it attempt to reference the work from which it is "derived"- the Bible. (There are more points of disharmony than there is any reflection of the Bible text). Those who suggest that the "additions" to the story were for the want of detailed narrative from the Bible miss the enormity of the Bible text. It is not lacking in story. One reviewer offered that the telling of the biblical account would make for a very short film. Well, the Bible account took 120 years to unfold and there is plenty of story there. (There was after all, the end of the population of the world except for 8 people saved in the ark. There was the deluge on the world from waters that had never dropped from the sky till that point. There was the shifting of land masses and likely the hastened extinction of dinosaurs by it. There were the two lines of people [Seth and Cain] that drove mankind's destiny. There were the three sons of Noah that produced the three main people groups of the world. There was the promise of God never to destroy the world again with a flood which He then indicated by placing the rainbow in the sky. Then there was the ark itself and its sets of creatures by twos and sevens. And there was the man of God in a new world with a new beginning with the struggle still to harness his own sinfulness. So, where, then is the lack of story in the biblical account? I can have an open mind, but shutting the text down is hardly a way to start an opening.)

It is so ridiculously anti-biblical that it is incredible that they even deigned to call it "Noah" in the first place. And I wonder if any involved actually knew or read the biblical account which is found in the Bible in the book of Genesis chapters 6-9. Certainly whenever a director takes "liberties" with a familiar text you can expect divergence. However what "Noah" is is not an example of creative license - it is a story which takes a historical character and places him in an alien world. In which case - as in this case - Noah may as well have been in some alternate universe for that would've gotten him just as close to the Bible as director Darren Aronofsky and Russell Crowe with help from Ari Handel got him in this story.

It is a slow and un-engaging movie at that. Crowe's Gladitor may have been compelling (and it was) but this Noah has no marks of Ridley Scott. It was an idea which had as its purpose a certain demographic. No need to be bothered with details. They could have called this movie anything else and it wouldn't have changed a thing--except its targeted audience.

The movie begins oddly enough with a "creation" story which includes the creation of angels on the second day and their being cast down to earth as fallen angels to be animated in rock and known as the Watchers. These rock creatures eventually help Noah to build the ark. Before they can build the ark Noah must find his grandfather Methuselah. Along the way he encounters the descendants of Cain behind their leader Tubal-Cain. These people are bloody and brutish and consider that one does not become a man until he can kill another man like their ancestor Cain - the first murderer.

As Noah and his family go along into the barren wilderness they come across a devastated colony. They discover a young girl who has an abdominal wound. They rescue the girl and nurse her to health. The eldest son of Noah desires her to become his wife but she will not because she fears that she will remain barren because of the wound. With help from the rock creatures Noah and his family escape the descendants of Cain and find Methuselah. The old man gives Noah a seed and once he plants it it explodes into a forest in the midst of the parched wasteland from which he will gather the timber for the ark. While there isn't a whole lot of attention upon the animals that come into the ark, the ark is flooded with snakes and all kinds of reptilian creatures.

Noah's sons lament that they will have no wives - the youngest is still too young for a wife anyway. The one girl they have found is barren. But when the girl goes out to find her "brother" she happens upon Methuselah who is looking for a wild berry that isn't there. In the process he wishes to bless her and he places his hand upon her abdomen harnessing the power of God or some entity. She leaves Methuselah and finds the boy that she loves and they consummate that love.

Wives are then sought for the remaining brothers from among the people of Cain. The middle son happens upon a girl who needs rescuing. Once the rains start they begin running for the ark. Tubal-Cain gathers his horde to take the ark and to kill Noah. As they are running toward the ark they are behind Noah's son and his found girl. She becomes caught in an animal trap. Noah forces the boy to leave the girl and she is subsequently trampled by Cain's horde. His middle son resents Noah for this.

After the rock creatures stand up and fight for Noah while he gets in the ark, they sacrifice themselves and then their "light" returns to heaven for their service to God. Soon Noah's vengeful son discovers a stowaway: Tubal-Cain who proceeds to eat the creatures gathered on the ark for his own survival (which were taken by twos!) and he plots with the boy how to get justice. Interestingly enough, Tubal-Cain instructs the boy that God created the planet and gave superiority to mankind to be the masters of the planet and of its creatures. It is odd then that the man of God (Noah) is ignorant of God's purpose while evidently the detestable humanist at least possesses a finger on the pulse of man's purpose even if he takes it to ungodly extremes in his own expressions of that purpose - he is after all a man-worshiper. Methuselah then finds the wild berry he has searched for and as he bites into it the floods rage killing all the inhabitants of the world (except those on the ark).

Once they are on the ark Noah is told that the girl is pregnant but Noah becomes irate. The rains stopped when she was found to be pregnant because God stopped the judgment for the coming child. But Noah threatened to kill the child once it is born if it is a girl. His pregnant "daughter" and Noah's eldest son determine to run away even when Noah's wife intercedes with a threat. Noah then destroys their getaway vessel. Twin girls are born on the ark while Noah is led into a trap to be killed by Tubal-Cain. At the point of no return, the ark is heaved upon the mountaintop jutting from the surface of the waters. The vengeful son lures Noah to Tubal-Cain who attacks his father. Eventually Noah is saved by his eldest son and Tubal-Cain is killed but then Noah turns and proceeds to kill the two babies who could have become the wives of his two bride-less sons. And thus the eldest son's "wife" would become the new "Eve" of the earth. In the end, Noah cannot murder his own grandchildren and they are spared.

Finally the water recedes, land is revealed, and Noah's drunkenness ensues for fear that he's failed God. The vengeful son, deprived of a wife because of Noah and the trampling horde, goes off into wandering away from his family just like Tubal-Cain's ancestor Cain and Noah rejoins his family who determines to begin again. (Obviously this leaves the departed son to become the "Tubal-Cain" of the new world.)

If you can accept rock creatures and men with rocket launchers and anti-biblical events and ignore the discrepancies and simply embrace it as an action-fantasy, I'd say it's a mediocre film at best. If you only want the cinematic visuals, then I'd say its visuals are great but not enough to warrant a sit-through. If you love Crowe and like him in these kinds of roles, I'd say a better choice is Gladiator (and even the somewhat-disappointing Robin Hood). If you really must see it but CAN wait, I'd say wait till you can buy it in the $5 bin later. Believe me, you won't miss anything for the wait.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars KISSOLOGY rip-off, July 13, 2014
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This is the same concert offered as one of the bonus discs of KISSOLOGY I. It is from Capitol Centre. It had muffled audio and a squashed picture (to the original). It is only worth having if you can find no other version. It seems to be a rip from the KISSOLOGY disc since it even uses the same graphics on screen.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Re-issues--NOT Re-masters--of a Great Set of Albums, July 6, 2014
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This review is from: Original Album Classics (Audio CD)
Molly Hatchet is one of those bands that is largely underrated likely from the shadow left by the premier Southern Rock band known as Lynyrd Skynyrd. When Lynyrd Skynyrd passed from the scene due to their tragic airplane crash in October 1977, there were few bands set to take the mantle, and rightfully, none could replace Skynyrd. But there were bands of the Southern ilk who forged ahead and among them was Molly Hatchet, worthy of their own place in the pantheon of the Sons of the South.

Like Lynyrd Skynyrd and 38 Special, Hatchet came from Jacksonville, Florida. And Van Zandt and gang were not unaware of this motlier-looking group. In fact before the Skynyrd crash it was Van Zandt who was planned to produce the first album for Hatchet. But whereas 38 Special focused on hit songs around a pop/rock format presenting much less of their Southern heritage, Molly Hatchet – though not as diverse in wearing their Southern influences on their sleeves as Skynyrd did – maintained a straight-ahead rock-styled Southern regard. Because of this seemingly one-dimensional branding, Hatchet was panned as being talentless. But it is untrue. Just to listen through the songs included in this collection serves to validate them in spite of the critics. But it is true that they found a hard time transitioning from their earliest moors to fit an MTV crowd. But Hatchet wasn't made for video. They were rockers. And they, like many other bands of the time who tried to pour themselves into another mold, learned the hard way that whenever you try to be something you're not, you will not only prod your critics to mocking but also lose those in your corner as well. This collection follows them from the honesty of their beginnings through the pigeonhole of their self-imposed image of a street-ready bar band till right before they did the unthinkable: wash the horse manure from their boots and put on nightclub chic.

Included in this set:

The five albums presented here are the best that Hatchet ever offered however, with the exception of FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, these CDs are NOT re-mastered. One reviewer stated that they were but upon listening to them and comparing them with the original issues, they are just that: re-issues of the original releases. FWD here is the re-master from 2001 and it contains four bonus songs along with the original album. The rest of the discs are just as they were when they were first released.

As a matter of clarification one would do well to note that there is a difference between "re-mastered" and "mastered for CD" and "re-issue" or "re-release." Mastered for CD simply means, as far as the consumer is concerned, that the recording has been brought into the digital arena from a source tape, acetate, celluloid or such. Re-mastered means that it has undergone improved mastering techniques or technology since its initial release. Most CDs originally mastered from about 1992 forward have benefited in some way from this improvement. CDs prior to that have a noticeable flatness in their sonic presentation and sound quite sterile. Re-masters, then, are to be preferred. Re-issues or Re-releases are simply the business of re-issuing or re-releasing something that has already been on the market. While cosmetics to the packaging may vary, the discs themselves are identical to previous issues. In some cases this might mean a re-issue of a product only mastered for CD or it might be a re-issue of a disc that was previously re-mastered. The labeling rarely identifies the distinction and usually leaves the consumer to take his chances. And more often than not, as in this case, he will be left frustrated with the result.

Again, the only re-master here is “Flirtin’ With Disaster.” The other four discs are REISSUES. The benefit of this collection is that you get a version of all of these albums for a modest price complete with album jackets and original artwork. If you don't have any of these CDs, then it is worth the money. But if you have any of these, then its merit is substantially less.

As far as re-masters go, the one offered by epic/legacy of FWD – which is identical to the version included here – is a fine master. Hatchet's third album, “Beatin' the Odds”, was expertly re-mastered by Rock Candy Records and features four bonus live tracks. “Take No Prisoners” was re-mastered by BGO a few years back. And BGO also re-mastered “The Deed Is Done.” These masters are legitimate and should be sought out by fans of Molly Hatchet because they are sonically superior to any standard release of their catalog.

“No Guts... No Glory” has been re-mastered by SPV. While it is a better master in some ways than the original Epic release – and the one presented here in this collection – it has too much compression and sounds unpleasant at times. SPV also reissued “Lightning Strikes Twice” with no discernible difference between it and the Capitol Records version. (Neither TDID nor LST is included in this set. Neither is the disappointing “Double Trouble Live” set available here. But, no worries: they’d lost their teeth by this point anyway.)

To my knowledge, the eponymous first album has never been re-mastered by anyone. So until it is brought into the improved sonic arena, we must be content with the flat, lack-luster version that first appeared and is again reissued here.

And as a note to the record company execs who lament the death of the medium by piracy: stop selling to record-buying consumers what we already have. Repackaging is not a warrant for purchase.

And let the buyer beware: all of these Original Album Classics or Original Album Series or Five Classic Albums, et al, are simply RE-ISSUES. Don't be duped.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ALL HAIL THE KING, July 6, 2014
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This review is from: Moonkings (Audio CD)
If anyone wanted a resurrection of the band bearing Adrian Vandenberg’s surname, MOONKINGS will either surprise, shock, or disappoint you. Gone is the spacious reverb that characterized the Vandenberg albums. Also noticeably absent is the ultra-high gain guitar tones. Rather, the mix is tight, clean, and powerful. Adrian opts for a cleaner, overdriven classic sound which is perfect for this band. The lead singer Jan Hoving owns more than his fair share of similarities to Adrian’s friend and old boss David Coverdale (who makes a guest appearance on the limited edition version) and the whole project sounds closer to the Coverdale/Whitesnake Restless Heart disc than to the aforementioned’s Slip of the Tongue.

MOONKINGS is a great disc from top to bottom and will no doubt be in your player for a while before you release it for sanity’s sake. This year (2014) already delivered the return of the remarkable Jake E Lee and his Red Dragon Cartel with a strong album. Further surprises come now with Adrian Vandenberg’s return with Moonkings. And you will be shocked at how powerful the sound is though it is deliberately pared down. The tone is closer to Angus Young than to John Sykes and the songs are readily accessible.

LUST AND LIES is built upon a classic riff along with open chords.
CLOSE TO YOU is a head-rocker with syncopated infection.
GOOD THING is a radio-friendly rocker. A bonafide hit if real bands could get on the radio today.
BREATHING begins with acoustic guitar and strings and though the lyrics run a bit cliché, it is a fine song
with a “modern” vibe.
STEAL AWAY is another head-rocker that will drive you crazy after it embeds itself into your brain in a
good way.
LINE OF FIRE breaks away with some atmospheric guitar tones. The song is also single-ready.
OUT OF REACH begins with acoustic guitar, cello and violins and develops into a great ballad.
FEEL IT sounds a bit U2ish in parts but moves into a great 70s-type vibe.
LEAVE THIS TOWN introduces a change in tone before it returns to the Moonking verve. A great song.
ONE STEP BEHIND brings us to a mandolin and an organ in a familiar way that will bring its own comparisons to
LEECHES has a groove that will take you back to the time when players played.
NOTHING TOUCHES is possibly the odd-ball to the rest since it is upbeat. It is a straight-ahead rocker.
SAILING SHIPS is a bonus track and it sounds a great deal like the original that Whitesnake did 25 years ago with noticeable and
deliberate differences. Coverdale reprises his vocal. A beautiful song and a faithful rendition.

As far as solos are concerned, as much as Vandenberg might remind us of Randy Rhoads on the first two VANDENBERG LPs, his solos here are conservative and restrained and noticeably so at times. It is the strength of a seasoned player to be able to resist the temptation to burn constantly. Thus, he is tastefully reined in to uphold the integrity of the sound of his Moonkings. But that restraint should not be interpreted to mean “disappointing” for it is not. Rather, it is “fitting.”

BOTTOM LINE: It is classic. It is tastefully simple. It is infectious. It is surprisingly satisfying. It will drive you mad after a while, it is so deliberately resonant. And your other CDs will be jealous for a while because they will be ignored. But be forewarned: this is not VANDENBERG and you may be disappointed if you assume so. But if you simply want a worthy album with a tight band and great songs that you can sing afterwards, then VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS is for you. Here’s to looking for Moonkings II.

I'm Not Your Suicide
I'm Not Your Suicide
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A SWEET Surprise, July 6, 2014
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This review is from: I'm Not Your Suicide (Audio CD)
Michael Sweet has been a prolific recording artist since Stryper’s inception. Someone remarked years ago that “Stryper’s sound became Michael Sweet’s sound” and it’s likely true since the older brother Sweet wrote the majority of the songs that the band recorded. And just considering one recent 12-month span, Sweet and company have released three albums (Second Coming, No More Hell to Pay, and this one here) so it’s hard to imagine that there could be any distinction between them. But there is.

SUICIDE is a strong collection of songs and is closer in many ways to Stryper than Sweet’s past solo albums and it’s likely because of the acceptance that he cannot sound but the way he sounds. His first LP (Michael Sweet) was a slick rocker in a less heavy vein. His second (Real) was a total departure from the Stryper sound and his third (Truth) delved into a modern mode at times. In between he released some demo cds and bonus recordings followed by the collection of hymns and spiritual songs called HIM (and an earlier sequencing released as Hims). TOUCHED was a collection of love songs recorded for Sweet’s wife Kyle who was still battling cancer and bore little resemblance to Sweet’s own solo projects, much less to Stryper. Then there were the subsequent releases offered by his recommissioned band: Reborn, Murder By Pride (one of the best Stryper LPs), The Covering (a covers CD), 7 Weeks: Live, Roxx Regime Demos (Stryper before they became “Stryper”), along with the last three Stryper CDs already mentioned. So Michael Sweet has been a busy artist despite the tragedies and triumphs in his life chronicled in his autobiography released in the same 12 month span as these last three recordings.

This new disc begins in a familiar way. In fact, “Taking on the world” could have been on a Stryper LP with no apprehension but thanks to guest vocals by Tony Harnell (the inimitable), the song would also have felt good on a classic TNT recording—truly a classic rocker. But the Stryper sound, for better or worse, is here also in a song like “All that’s left” “The Cause” is a modern and melodic song and one of the best tracks on the disc—the song touches a nerve. Following is the Beatlesque “This time,” a ballad with Kevin Max Smith offering his unique and identifiable vocal contributions—a lovely song (if you’re so inclined to believe, from a rocker like Sweet). The apparent power of the title track and first single is not so apparent until it kicks into the chorus but once there it really makes a statement. (Listen to it with headphones to hear the separated guitar harmony parts that were characteristic of the earlier Stryper CDs.) “Coming home” is an acoustic ballad complete with steel guitar! (This is not so alien as he used steel on his REAL solo CD 20 years ago). It is a great love song that could get airplay on Rock, Pop, or Country radio if they still played real songs. “Miles Away” and “Strong” were both released a decade ago from Michael’s own website. The versions here are re-recordings, and though they sound better sonically on the original recordings, these are virtually identical besides (the tone of the guitars on the original were smoother and this recording was recorded hotter to diminished effect). The former is one of my favorite songs on this disc—simply a stunner. The latter is another acoustic laden rocker that is no slouch. “How to live” features bandmates brother Robert Sweet and Timothy Gaines to produce an un-Stryper-like song based on piano that would have felt at home on Sweet’s second solo record. “Heart of gold” is a cover of Neil Young albeit with high-gain guitar parts (and a 70s organ and steel!). Evidently Sweet has been in a mood of embracing his youth in doing all these covers lately. But I guess that’s nothing new either since Stryper covered “Shining star” 25 years ago. “Anybody else” is perhaps an uneventful rocker except that the amazing Doug Aldrich guests on guitar and Chris Jericho offers his complementary vocals. Finally, “Unsuspecting” closes the standard album as a head rocker with Sweet trade-mark squalls. (Electra Mustaine makes an appearance on the bonus remix of “Heart of gold”).

Coming off of the heels of Stryper’s No More Hell To Pay, this CD is either a surprise or a natural release: either he would need a break and do something different or he would continue the steamrolling of his longtime band. Either of these could have been expected. I’m happy that he chose the former for this is a solid LP and probably his most satisfying solo CD overall. This CD stayed in my player for quite some time (unlike Stryper’s last—which is also good but exhausting at times thanks mostly to the ultra-high gained mid-range crunch of the guitar tone which causes ear fatigue). I love this album and I can honestly say that there really isn’t a track here that could have been excised for better effect.

Red Dragon Cartel
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE DRAGON BREATHES FIRE, February 9, 2014
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This review is from: Red Dragon Cartel (Audio CD)
Honestly, I can't keep this disc out of the player. It rocks right out of the gate. While there are a few different singers on the project, it is not hurt by it. The only real song that I shy away from is "Wasted" which Paul Di' Anno sings (surprisingly, since I loved him with Maiden). Unlike others who criticized the vocals, I think they fit the material.

DECEIVED is a straight-ahead rocker that reminds me of Ozzy in a way, especially in the vocal delivery.

SHOUT IT OUT is an head swinger with an infectious rhythm that reminded me of everything from EZO, to Loudness, to Whitesnake.

FEEDER features Robin Zander and Tom Petersson from Cheap Trick and is a great turn-it-up jam with a scorching solo.

FALL FROM THE SKY provides the first breather on the disc and it is as modern as anything on the radio.

WASTED is interesting enough musically but the growling of Di'Anno--though it may be apropos--is not my favorite. I picture Lemmy and Motorhead more than IM's former vocalist when I hear this. There is a cool slide solo to make up the difference, however. It's not a bad song, though, just not a favorite of mine.

SLAVE reminds me of another great band: TNT. Jake E Lee's use of twangy guitars may surprise some, but they add a counter-color to the bumblebee rhythm.

BIG MOUTH features the vocals of Maria Brink and it reminded me of the rawness of the late Wendy O Williams. The solo is unique and the reappearance of twangy guitars is perfectly welcome here.

WAR MACHINE is perhaps my favorite song on the disc (at the time) and begins with a dirge reminiscent of Sabbath that will not let up once the tempo increases. This is the best song that Oz never sang--even while it will draw comparisons to the black prince and his Sabs.

REDEEM ME essentially closes the RDC assault with a vocalist named Sass Jordan that will bring Janis Joplin to mind: bluesy and full of grit. I have to disclose that her vocals put the underrated Dale Krantz Rossington in my head as well. It's a great song using a well-worn chord progression, but not hurt for the use of it.

EXQUISITE TENDERNESS is a Lee piano composition which will either upset you or surprise you. I can envision such compositions for the next Red Dragon Cartel cd as interludes or preludes to more bombastic features.

All in all, there's not a duck in the record. I love it and it has quickly become one of my favorite discs partly because it's not predictable and partly because it uses subtle shades of metal throughout. Lee never hangs his hat on one particular guitar sound. It's heavy; it's twanging; it's clean and chiming; it's gritty; it's noisy; and sounds at points sloppy and at others very precise. My only regret with the record is that it wasn't longer. The next disc needs 14 songs to make up the slack!

Bottom Line: If you can take a rock disc that does NOT paint-by-numbers, then RED is your color!

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars KISS UNLEASHES A MONSTER, October 9, 2012
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This review is from: Monster (Audio CD)
2009's SONIC BOOM was a good album but it took some listening to really grow on me. 2012's MONSTER, however, is a great album and didn't require any further listening. It is IMMEDIATELY captivating. While the producers and the production methods are largely the same as with SB, MONSTER is really in it's own league. The drums are bigger and tougher; the guitars, like SB, are reminiscent of the LOVE GUN-era; and the bass is full, and at times crushing. It is perhaps the best record that KISS has released since the original four members'albums released in the 70s. It is a modern album which isn't afraid of its roots. It doesn't try to be a retro disc. But it has all of the things that Classic albums have: great songs, catchy hooks, driving rhythms and easy accessibility. There is no filler whatsoever. There are no songs that you will skip while listening. There are no songs that you will not react to. It is simply a monster. You just have to deal with it.

Where Sonic Boom, with the same line-up as MONSTER, felt like a testing-of-the-waters, this present disc is full-throttle without even a hint of apprehension. The vocals are strong and the lead guitar sounds less like Ace and more like Tommy Thayer, which is a plus since Thayer is a great player in his own right. The only downside to this disc is that the American version does not include RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. You'll have to get an import version for that song. Other than that, here are 12 solid songs with monstrous execution.

1-Hell or Hallelujah
This lead-off track, and first single, was played during their recent European tour and on their co-headline tour with Motley Crue. Released last Spring, it was given to set the tone of what was to come. But don't be mistaken, as strong as this cut is, the album does NOT go down hill from here. HOH is a rocking song that definitely takes you back to the first time you heard the Love Gun album, but it doesn't leave you in the 70s. No, it only sets the stage for one heck of a joy ride.

2-Wall of Sound
As a song that would have fit well on KISS' REVENGE album, this track is strong and punchy with a blistering solo.

This anthem to being independent simply rocks with a head-jerking groove that you will not resist.

4-Back to the Stone Age
As you would imagine, this has "Gene" written all over it. From the thrashing tone of the bass to the crushing relentlessness of the drums. This is the sole song on the disc written by all four of the painted faces. It boasts a Neanderthal, primitive slogging rhythm befitting its title.

5-Shout Mercy
This Stanley/Thayer composition has a classic riff with "whoo-hoos" that will not let you listen passively. It is one of the best tracks on the disc, and THAT'S really saying something, since they are all great.

6-Long Way Down
The groove of this song is just irresistible. This is reportedly the second single from this disc. But really, ANY of them could have been. This song, though, is infectious with its great vocals and solo. And it possesses a swagger that is so obvious that it couldn't be more clearly stated if it were accompanied by a sign . Also in some ways, it shows roots of KISS' admiration for Led Zep. Great.

7-Eat Your Heart Out
Beginning with a capella gang vocals, you might get the impression that KISS will go for an out-dated rock interpretation. To be sure, it does have classic components but it is NOT Classic Rock... it's just Classic, all with a blazing wah solo from Thayer.

8-The Devil is Me
This song with a relentless rhythm says that the ONE who causes us the most problems is ourselves. The solo reminds me both of Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page. And the groove, as with all of the songs on MONSTER, simply WILL-NOT let you go.

9-Outta This World
Thayer penned this song about a guy trying to find the "right" girl and it is catchy and crunches from the first note to its last. It is a way better song than Tommy's first vocal song which appears on Sonic Boom. It has a classic guitar tone with great backing vocals and a classic flange finish.

10-All For the Love of Rock & Roll
Eric Singer's vocal offering is a great classic-chord-progression song with a great vocal and guitar performance that will take you back to KISS' earlier Lps.

11-Take Me Down Below
This Simmons/Stanley shared vocal tune has a marching rhythm that will FORCE you to get in step, all while you chant the chorus, almost like the cadence assumed by a troop on the way home after its victory.

12-Last Chance
I read where one reviewer called this song "filler." I don't know what he was listening to. This song has as much pump as any song on the disc. It may be the last song on the disc, but it is not the "LAST IN LINE." This song only makes you wish that there were MORE than 12 songs!

Theoretically KISS could take this album and play all 12 (or 13) of the songs as a centerpiece of their Monster Tour shows. Stick two or three songs on either side of these and voi la, THERE'S a great set list. NONE of these songs are slackers. EVERYONE one of them is concert-ready. But don't take my word for it... . LISTEN TO IT!

BOTTOM LINE: Key words: Classic (but not retro); Solid; Relentless and Forceful; Confident with a whole lot of Swagger.
If you liked SONIC BOOM, you will love MONSTER. If you weren't crazy about SB, you WON'T find a similar disappointment in this cd: It ROCKS and it rocks SOLID!

Train Train: Southern Rock's Best - Live (W/Dvd)
Train Train: Southern Rock's Best - Live (W/Dvd)
Price: $13.99
31 used & new from $7.03

4.0 out of 5 stars Blackfoot without Medlocke?, September 3, 2012
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Upon the first viewing I rejected it BECAUSE Medlocke is not here. I never even bothered to listen to the cd that accompanies the dvd. But two years later I dug it out to give another listen (because I'm having Blackfoot fever anticipating the release of the New blackfoot cd this fall). Once I got past the fact that Rickey Medlocke wasn't present, I realized that the music and performance was solid. It WAS good to hear those classic songs live. I grew up listening to Blackfoot--even more than Skynyrd--and really considered that Medlocke WAS Blackfoot and that without him, well...Blackfoot couldn't exist. But here you have two (Hargrett and Walker) out of the four original members and it is worthy of an honest listen. And to be honest, neither of the guys filling Medlocke's shoes (Johnson and Barth) can replace him, but I don't think that that was the intention. They were simply carrying on with the heritage. And they both do a good job in this regard.

Bottom line: If you can get past the fact that this performance has no Rickey Medlocke, then you'll find it's a great listen. But if you can't get past that, then the solid soundtrack will not subdue that fact.

Sound & Vision Anthology
Sound & Vision Anthology
Price: $12.99
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT LIVE, GOOD COVERS, August 26, 2012
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This collection is not the classic line-up but it is a good effort. The cd, for the most part, is not really a band recording since, reportedly, only TWO people provide the music on it. The first 12 songs on the "audio" portion of the 2-disc set are covers. Five of those 12 are re-records of ARS selections. They are done well and are faithful to the originals. The next seven songs run the gammut from .38 Special to Nazareth to ZZTop. These songs are less impressive. The weakest of these, to me, is their rendition of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town." but the strongest is the JJ Cale "Call Me The Breeze" and Little River Band's "Help Is On the Way." Why they chose to record these songs--a disjointed collection, as it is--I can only surmise is because they loved these songs (or were playing them in their concerts) but ARS fans would have preferred ARS play ARS. This is not a criticism, but covers albums are woefully notorious for missing the mark. If, however, these songs had been played live and offered as such, then I think that the mark would have been closer. But, more than likely, they liked these songs and wanted to play in the studio (since ARS started out as a studio band in the first place).

The remaining five songs on the cd are from the same 2007 show in Kentucky recorded as the "vision" part of this collection. These songs, as well as the dvd, are great. They are satisfying to the listener who has heard these songs a million times, and no less in part to the honorable approaches of the guitarists (and most notably Steve Stone). This is no embarrassment to ARS. And the dvd makes the whole release worth it. Regardless of whether one wants a disc of covers, the live portion is something that ARS fans will want to have. And had this been totally live, or if the cd could have jettisoned other band's covers for their own, then I would have given this FIVE stars. Nonetheless, it's a good buy.

Destroyer- Resurrected
Destroyer- Resurrected
Price: $8.39
73 used & new from $3.69

73 of 82 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unnecessary Revisit, August 25, 2012
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This review is from: Destroyer- Resurrected (Audio CD)
There are alot of negative reviews for this disc which was rumoured to be a double disc event. For a 35th Anniversary reissue, this is not at all worthy of that moniker. It is a disappointing revist to say the least. Bob Ezrin approached KISS about this remix because he wanted to do something for its 35th. But the thing about Ezrin's recording is that so much of it was premixed during the making of it and many of the tracks were recorded "wet" (meaning that there was no way to EVER alter its effects, etc). So, from the get-go, this project had many limitations, as he notes in the cd booklet. There are differences, however. For examples, an omitted background vocal from the archived tape of "Detroit Rock City" makes its debut along with an added effect to the end of the last verse. Also, Ace's stinging feedback intro to "King..." isn't as prominent. The piano is more upfront in "Great Expectations" . And there are other such differences throughout. Then there is "Sweet Pain" with a different solo (I, myself, was hoping that the different solo was going to be an Ace Frehley outtake) and louder harmonized gang vocals folowing the guitar part. Overall, the mix is more present. The piano agumentations on some songs is not as noticable (eg, Detroit...) and in the process it sounds more "band" like because it sounds more like just the four guys. The opposite approach could have produced a KISS Symphony version . The drum sound (as noticed in the beginning of "Shout...") is tighter, with less air.

With all of the differences, however, this release is "nothing new" and the lack of fanfare is most distressing. Diehard fans will notice the differences but those who are just coming to the band will not even be able to appreciate them. So, for a 35th Anniversary, this really is targeted at diehards. If this present disc had been accompanied with a second disc of demos and outtakes, then there would hardly have been any negative reviews. The Remix is great for what it is. The packaging is good (although they SHOULD HAVE altered the color of the back to match the front artwork). The black disc even has a faux record label. There is so much that is good about this issue. But the complaints are valid. The bonus track is the original solo to "Sweet Pain"? THAT doesn't qualify for an Anniversary acknowledgement. KISS has just rejoined Universal Music Group. They have nearly all of KISS' recorded stuff. There is plenty that they could have included. A live DVD or cd would have been SOMETHING. A stripped bonus disc would have been SOMETHING. A symphony remix as a bonus disc would have been SOMETHING. But what they have issued--great as it may be sonically--is unremarkable in value. I have bought this album in several formats numerous times. I don't regret buying this version, either. BUT all of it was unnecessary. Want to revisit something? How about a remix and remaster of Hot In The Shade? Some of the 80s percussive things on that disc, particularly "Read My Body" need an exit. How about a guitar-dominant remix of Unmasked? What if you release a version of The Elder with Ace's guitar parts present? There's a lot that could be remixed and remastered in the KISS World. BUT--and it's a big one--do it with determination. I'm not knocking Ezrin's remix. The disapointment is not with this issue's sonics. It's with its packaging, what it does not do because of what it does not include.

Bottom line is that completists and die hards will buy it. New fans won't appreciate the differences. And most will feel cheated.
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