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Profile for Z. Stern > Reviews


Z. Stern's Profile

Customer Reviews: 52
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Helpful Votes: 112

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Z. Stern RSS Feed (NJ, USA)

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Cannibal Massacre
Cannibal Massacre
17 used & new from $3.94

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great music, but worth a purchase?, June 12, 2008
This review is from: Cannibal Massacre (Audio CD)
Lair of the Minotaur is a unique band. Image early, "rougher" thrash (ex: Slayer), mixed with Black Sabbath and High on Fire. Shake, stir, and Lair of the Minotaur emerges from its labyrinth of gore, violence, and Greek mythology.

"Cannibal Massacre" is a fun song, simply put. Tons of loud, fuzzy distortion mixed with furious drum work, varied vocals (ranging from thrash style vocals, to black metal-ish, to death metal vocals) and awesome lyrics about giant cannibals from The Odyssey. It doesn't get any more metal than this.
Horns of the Witch is a decent short track, nothing more. If you do buy this, it should be for the "Extended Skin Reaping Mix" of the title track. Not much is added from the normal album version, just about 3 minutes of synths, ambience, and feedback tacked on at the end.

The third item featured on this mini-CD is a music video for "The Wolf", a 5 minute track released on 2004's "Carnage". It's a good song, but if you already have Carnage, it's really pointless to own this as well, when you could simply download it from youtube or something.

Overall, there is nothing wrong with the music on this EP. It's all great stuff, but if you're already a fan who owns LOTM's other releases, then this isn't really necessary. If you're a hardcore fan, buy it. "Cannibal Massacre" was released in a release of only 2000 copies, so it's definitely a collectible. Besides, what hardcore fan can resist 5 minutes of previously unreleased content?

As Heaven Turns to Ash
As Heaven Turns to Ash
11 used & new from $19.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unknown gem, June 9, 2008
This review is from: As Heaven Turns to Ash (Audio CD)
Last week, I was browsing at my local music store for something to spend a store credit on. I went in looking for an album by any one of three bands (Amorphis, Lair of the Minotaur, Wolves in the Throne Room) and found nothing. On my way out, I found this CD, under the wrong artist, with "USED" stickers covering the name of the band. I had never heard of Warhorse before, but my doubts were erased when I looked at the spine at saw 2 very important words in my decision to buy it: "Southern Lord".

To put it simply, Southern Lord is amazing. Not many seem to know it, but for such a small label, they have quite a collection of quality bands on their label. So, immediately interested but not knowing what to expect, I bought "As Heaven Turns To Ash...". The verdict? It was a good decision.

Warhorse was (unfortunately, they see to have disbanded around 2002) easily comparable to an American version of Electric Wizard. They combine crushingly heavy, slow riffs with "tunnely"/"spacey" vocals.

Warhorse takes this proven formula and does it well. Also added in are acoustic passages and several instrumentals.

There's not much else that can be said of "As Heaven Turns to Ash...". If you like doom metal, buy it. If you've never heard it, try it. If you don't like it, try it anyway. It may be your gateway to better music.

Scoring (Pros):
+Proven formula
+Executed well
+At over 50 minutes long, there is plenty to listen to (doesn't end too quickly)

Scoring (Cons):
-Been done before
-For some, tracks may be too lengthy

To Welcome the Fade
To Welcome the Fade
9 used & new from $27.90

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful doom/death metal, May 17, 2008
This review is from: To Welcome the Fade (Audio CD)
Doom/death metal seems to come as an aquired taste. Most don't seem to jump right into it. It usually takes a strong liking for either doom or death metal, and open-mindedness to go further with it. For those fans of the genre, or those willing to go further than the regular doom or death metal, "To Welcome the Fade" is an excellent place to start.

The lyrics are personal and highly emotional, and all in the first person. They are very well done here by vocalist Paul Kuhr. Mostly sung in the traditional death metal growl (there are severl spoken passages), they sound fierce and aggressive, yet easily understandable and full of emotion (other than the usual anger). Added female vocals provided by Cathy Jo Hejna are expertly added to complement Kuhr, and provide background and atmosphere.

The guitars here (provided by Eric Burnley) are great. There are slow, melodic segments, as well as the usual heavy chords. Not many real solos to speak of, but while it's not a necessity, it would have been nice.

Drummer Joe Nunez does good work here, providing the slow build-ups necessary to some segment intros, as well as the usual required of a skilled drummer.

Overall, "To Welcome the Fade" is worth the purchase. It is rare to find a band capable of putting out such an album that demonstrates both agression, and melodic beauty at the same time. The bonus edition is a recommended purchase; it includes Novembers Doom's 1997 EP, "For Every Leaf that Falls", another outstanding release.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 27, 2012 12:25 PM PST

12 used & new from $1.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The happy, drunken side of Black Metal, April 29, 2008
This review is from: Nattfodd (Audio CD)
When someone says "black metal", most people immediately think of a few things. Extremely fast guitars, guttural vocals, maybe a keyboard, and lightning speed drumming. While Finntroll is technically black metal, it only shares a few aspects with the likes of Dimmu Borgir/Mayhem/1349/etc...

Nattfödd is a great album. Combining the harshness of black metal with folk instruments and polka-tunes was an act of genius. What makes it so good is how far it sometimes strays from being "metal", then quickly reverts to brutality. For just one example, there is the track "Grottans Barn". There are segments here (and in others) where BOTH guitar parts (which are so typically extremely prominant in any type of metal release) provide a simple, yet still "heavy", rhythm. Meanwhile, a keyboard, or accordian is brought into the foreground to play a VERY unorthodox, "un-metal" melody.

A big part of Nattfödd and Finntroll is the atmosphere it creates. Some tracks contain "nature" sounds, such as water or birds singing (and acoustic guitar segments). Through these, you can just imagine vast, green Finnish forests. It is also easy to imagine trolls sitting around, getting drunk (which was supposedly how Finntroll was formed).

In the end, Nattfödd is worth it. Excellent muscianship mixed with great atmosphere and pub-worthy folk sections make Nattfödd a fun album to listen to.

Above The Weeping World
Above The Weeping World
31 used & new from $6.62

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Melodic Death Metal, April 25, 2008
This review is from: Above The Weeping World (Audio CD)
"Above the Weeping World" is an amazing album. From the great opener "The Gale" to the conclusion, "In the Groves of Death", every track is a treat to listen to.

Guitarists Ville Friman and Ville Vänni are an outstanding duo. It's really surprising that they (or Insomnium as a whole) aren't more well within their genre, as they really are masters at it. Every song has segments with great melodic riffs complemented by brutally heavy death metal ones. Perfect examples of this are "Mortal Share", and "At the Gates of Sleep".

Niilo Sevänen is a great vocalist for this style, going great with the instruments. It might be a problem for those who either don't like the "death metal vocal" style, or can't understand it well enough. I definitely think this is an acquired taste. When I first heard this style, I hated it, but as I eased in, it became more bearable, and now I've really begun to enjoy it (when done right, as it is on this album).

The bass is also well done; nothing too spectacular, but nothing to detract from the quality of this album.

Drummer Markus Hirvonen does a good job as usual; nothing too noticeable to detract from the other instruments, but nothing too standard either, so that it just blends in. Again, most of the instruments complement each other very well.

"Above the Weeping World" is a must buy. It introduced me to the world of melodic death metal (and later, death metal), so I guess it could be considered a gateway album (and a gateway band), as it will likely lead you to other metal sub-genres. In the meantime though, enjoy this one. It's a great listen, and will be many times over.

Come My Fanatics
Come My Fanatics
Offered by Mad Rush Media
Price: $15.99
9 used & new from $8.78

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Doom..., March 26, 2008
This review is from: Come My Fanatics (Audio CD)
Electric Wizard is an amazing band. My first album by them was Witchcult Today. After I heard that, I was immediately hooked. Electric Wizard combined crushingly heavy, brutally slow riffs, with eerie, hollow vocals. "How could it get better?", I thought.

I had just discovered the "doom" sub-genre of metal, and was ready for more. From Witchcult Today, I purchased another Electric Wizard album, "Come My Fanatics...". I think I'll start by saying this: Come My Fanatics... is better than Witchcult Today, and that is an accomplishment in itself.

Come My Fanatics... is still the same thing. Tuned down guitars, horror themes, and long, slow songs.

I just felt that Come My Fanatics... showcases the style better.
Comment Comment | Permalink

Piece Of Mind [Enhanced]
Piece Of Mind [Enhanced]
Price: $10.99
66 used & new from $5.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New to Iron Maiden? Piece of Mind is a great place to start..., August 1, 2007
The first time I'd heard Iron Maiden was recently, in Guitar Hero II. I played "The Trooper" many times, and it immediately stood out as my favorite (along with "War Pigs"). I knew if I liked this, it would be a good idea to check out more Iron Maiden. So, I did. I purchased Piece of Mind as my first Maiden album, and it did not disappoint.

1. Where Eagles Dare- Great opener, nice drum work in the beginning, and a good guitar riff. 8.5/10

2. Revelations- Sounds like the others in the beginning, but clearly distinguishes itself shortly in with a great riff. 8.5/10

3. Flight of Icarus- Establishes itself early on as different from the others. Another very good one. 8/10

4. Die With Your Boots On- Others liked this one, but I always felt it was decent at best. Slightly different from the previous 3, but not in a good way. Just not as memorable, or classic as the others. 7/10

5. The Trooper- What I consider to be the best on the CD. The Trooper has it all: an amazing guitar part, great vocals, and all the rest. Now that I have the real thing, I realize that this is MUCH better than the terrible Guitar Hero II cover. 10/10

6. Still Life- A bit odd as it starts, with a backwards message occupying the first 11 seconds. It starts off slow (not necessarily a bad thing), and is definitely one of the quieter, slower songs on Piece of Mind. A good one though. 8/10

7. Quest for Fire- In my opinion, one of the more generic songs on here. Still not bad, just not great. 7/10

8. Sun and Steel- One of my favorites, but the shortest on the CD, at 3:26. 9/10

9. To Tame A Land- A nice riff and an overall good song. 8.5/10
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 27, 2008 4:41 AM PDT

Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion - Xbox 360
Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion - Xbox 360
Offered by DAGI SALES
Price: $39.30
130 used & new from $0.25

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where to start?, March 29, 2006
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is definitely one of my favorite games of all time. Period. The storyline is said to take at least 200 hours of playing time, so it will last a while. The graphics are nothing like I've ever seen before. There are more side quests than any of the other Elder Scrolls games. The soundtrack is incredible. The sound effects are incredible. The thing I love about Oblivion (and all the Elder Scrolls games) is the Medieval feel that also reminds me of Lord of the Rings. Its simply much more fun than more futuristic games because although it is fantasy, the enviroment itself is believable.

The options in Oblivion are also huge. There are many species to choose to be your character, such as Orc, Breton, Dark Elf, Nord, Argonian, and Khajiit, just to name a few.

The playable world itself is enormous. Included with the game is a poster sized map. To travel quickly, Oblivion has a fast travel system that works extremely well. Without it, it'd take hours just to reach a nearby city. Another method of quick travel is horses. Horses can be bought (costing anywhere from 500 to 5000 gold coins) and used to travel to places where fast travel isn't enabled, such as locations in the wilderness.

Oblivion also has an extrodinary number of weapons, apparel, magic, skills, and classes. There are swords, hammers, axes, daggers, bows, and magic staffs. For apparel, there is everything to a simple shirt to a set of heavy armor. There are several magic classes, such as Conjuration, Illusion, Destruction, Altertion, Mysticism, Restoration, and Alchemy. In Combat, the classes are Block, Armorer, Heavy Armor, Blunt, Blade, Athletics, and Hand to Hand.

Oblivion has an incredible variety of everything that could ever be wanted in an RPG. The graphics are flawless, the sound is great, the fighting is fun, (as is the simple exploration) and overall, Oblivion is well worth every penny.

Emissaries to Malastare (Star Wars: Ongoing, Volume 3)
Emissaries to Malastare (Star Wars: Ongoing, Volume 3)
by Tom Lyle
Edition: Paperback
30 used & new from $7.66

4.0 out of 5 stars Again and again- an above average TPB, February 26, 2006
Emissaries to Malastare was an above average graphic novel. The binding and artwork were good, but the story had some minor flaws. The story is a conflict is going on between two races and the Jedi Council sends 6 representitives to hold talks for peace. The Council sends Mace Windu, Yaddle, Plo Koon (who finally talks,and what he has to say is cool), Even Piell, Ki-Adi-Mundi, and A'sharad Hett. An immediate flaw is Even Piell. On several pages his name is Evan Piell, and on other he is called Even Piell. This TPB was saved by its ending, however. There is a short at the back of the book about Mace Windu (joined by Depa Billaba) going to Nar Shadda to stop a Hutt smuggling operation at the Circus Horrificus. This graphic novel had excellent references. Quinlan Vos was shown, as was Villie, and Malakili was shown at his job (Malakili was the Rancor-Keeper at Jabba's Palace- Episode 6). Finally, ETM had great binding. Overall, a good buy. Not required, but still very good.

Star Wars: The Hunt For Aurra Sing
Star Wars: The Hunt For Aurra Sing
by Tim Truman
Edition: Paperback
36 used & new from $4.61

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Same ol', same ol', February 21, 2006
The Hunt for Aurra Sing was an excellent graphic novel, but it had some glaring flaws. I'll start with the plot, though. While hunting Aurra Sing in the Coruscant undercity, two Jedi Knights are killed along with a Republic Security Patrol. Escaping her dead Master's fate, the Padawan with them escapes to tell the Jedi Council what had happened. The Council agrees on one thing: Aurra Sing must not escape to kill more Jedi. This TPB had very good art (far better than the rest in the Star Wars Ongoing series- Outlander, Prelude to Rebellion, etc.) but it still wasn't up to the level of the Republic series(or the Clone Wars TPB's). The story was very good, and so was the binding (for once) but the main problem of The Hunt for Aurra Sing was the character development. This graphic novel focuses on Ki-Adi-Mundi, who is usually a very boring character. A'Sharad Hett is as well, as he was trained by Ki and never does ANYTHING interesting. Fortunately, characters like the Dark Woman and Aurra Sing improve the overall quality of the story by adding more variety, instead of just loyal, humble Jedi who are completely by-the-book and uninteresting. Overall, The Hunt for Aurra Sing was a good read, and despite the problems, I'd tell any Star Wars fan to pick it up immediately.

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