Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jason Charles Miller, "Uncountry"

Jason Charles Miller
Reviewed by Rob Acocella
Rating: 5/5

When you think of Jason Miller from Godhead, you probably don't think cowboy hats and Civil War memorabilia. However, as he explains in the album title track "Uncountry" there ain't nothin' uncountry about him. 

I'm not exactly the biggest fan of Country music, so the few bands and albums I do like have to really have that something special to make them stand out to me. Jason's version of Country isn't your Garth Brooks or Honkey-Tink this-or-that. Coming from a much heavier style of music, you are guaranteed it's going to have an edge, and an edge it has. I would liken Uncountry to Zakk Wylde's Pride and Glory. Even though Zakk was known as the monstrous young guitar player for Ozzy Osbourne, most fans were pleasantly surprised to hear what his softer, more, um, twangy song writing was like. The same goes for Jason Miller. You can hear shades of Pride and Glory on Uncountry, as well as moments that really reminded me of Vicious Cycle, which was my personal favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd album. You can hear Jason's signature Goth-Industrial vocals peering through at times, which is reassuring when the album goes a little deeper into the Country vibe.

There are a lot of stand out tracks, and my personal favorites are "Uncountry," "The River," "You Must Have Loved Me A Lot" and the stickiest song on the album, "The Devil." I dare you to listen to "The Devil" and not walk around singing or humming it to yourself all day. Hell, I haven't listened to the album in 2 days and this morning I woke up with it in my head out of nowhere. 

Megadeth, "TH1RT3EN"

Reviewed by Rob Acocella
Rating: 5/5

Megadeth are back, and this time it's BIG. Not only is this their thirteenth studio album, but it's also the return of David Ellefson to the band. David has always been such a huge component of Megadeth's sound that the albums without him really fell slightly flat for me. I may be a bit biased, being a a bass player myself, but without David it just wasn't complete.

That said, it's not just enough to have the correct lineup, you have to also have great songs and there is no shortage of them on this album. "Sudden Death" leads it off, and is a familiar track for anyone who has been keeping up with the world of Megadeth, as it was included in a Guitar Hero installment, as well as getting released as a single back in 2010, and is the first studio recording of Ellefson with the band since 2002. It's not the only song that will sound familiar to die-hard fans of the band. "Black Swan", "Millennium of the Blind", and "New World Order" are also a part of the Megadeth legacy and go back different spans of time in each instance.

"Public Enemy No. 1" is one of my favorite tracks right alongside "New World Order" "Deadly Nightshade" and "Fast Lane". Personally, with all the fast, crushing riffs, and especially the reborn older material that has finally received a proper release to the public, this is one of the most perfect Megadeth albums to date. I'm from the school of people that thought Rust In Peace was their masterpiece, and with TH1RT3EN being released right on the heels of the anniversary of Rust, it's only fitting for it to be such a powerhouse of  a record.

Steve Bello Band, "Go Berzerk"

Steve Bello Band
Go Berzerk!
Reviewed by Rob Acocella
Rating: 5/5

Ibanez-endorsed instrumental guitarist Steve Bello is back with his fifth and most anticipated studio album yet, titled Go Berzerk! (yes, the "z" is intentional)

The album starts off with the very popular lead single "Surfing To Venus" which had a video to accompany it while it was still in demo stages. You can see the video below, or by clicking here.
Following "Surfing" is a a track called "To Be Human Again" which gets you tapping your toes and snapping your fingers to the groovy little funk-infused intro before jumping right into a chunky lead riff that will take most by complete surprise. The title track is one of the strongest on here which not only showcases Steve's incredible lead abilities but bass player Joe Demott really shines through with his intricate bass fills.

On "Sometimes Hidden" we get to hear the softer side of Steve Bello with this warm acoustic track. It goes without saying that just about every instrumental guitarist includes an acoustic track here or there, and Steve is no exception, but this track just has such a nice flow and melody that it avoids feeling cliché. "Throwing Away My Skin" is at the top of my list of favorites on this album with it's Slayer-like groove. The guitar really takes on an almost vocal personality on this track. On "Chomp" we again hear Joe's incredible bass abilities. It's gotta be one of the funkiest Funk-Metal tracks I've ever heard.

I can't give Go Berzerk! album any less than a 5/5. Steve's been working at this for about as long as we've been working at Paragon and every album is better than the last. This is truly a work of art, incorporating so many different flavors without ever sounding out-of-place. It's availabe on or iTunes, and you can get a physical copy if you find him on Facebook and order direct.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rammstein: Made In Germany 1995-2011

Made In Germany 1995-2011 (Deluxe Edition)
Reviewed by Lisa Selvaggio

      For longtime fans or those who are new to the band, this 2-disc best of compilation encompasses highlights from Rammstein’s entire career.  Starting off with “Engel” and including their newest single, “Mein Land,” Disc 1 has a little bit off every album.  From “Du Hast” to “Mein Teil” and “Links 2 3 4,” all the songs the band has become famous for over the last 16 years are on one disc, proving how they’ve been able to keep it hard and heavy, never losing their signature sound.  There are 16 tracks on this disc, so it is packed to the brim with your favorites. 

      Disc 2 is a CD of remixes created by everyone from Laibach (“Ohne Dich”) to Faith No More (“Du Riechst So Gut ‘98”) and Devin Townsend (“Rammlied”), to name a few.  The remixes are innovative and give these classics a brand new twist, as any good remix would.  But if you’re looking for the heaviness the band is known for, the remixes lighten it up, sometimes way up, or even change the songs almost completely.  Townsend’s remix includes a banjo that is completely out of place and annoying.  Westbam’s remix of “Links 2 3 4” could easily be played at a club filled with guidos in Jersey---who would’ve thought you could do that with a Rammstein tune?  “Feuer Frei,” though not on Disc 1, is remixed on Disc 2, and it’s pretty good although it loses the speed and aggression the song is known for.
      You can purchase this release in its standard format, which would give you just the best-of disc with the new single, the Deluxe Edition which has the two discs I’ve just described, or the limited Super Deluxe Edition which has the two discs plus three DVDs and a 240-page booklet.  In any format, it is worth adding this release to your Rammstein collection. 

Rating: 5 out of 5