Crimson Glory Strange And Beautiful Critical Thinking

CD Reviews

A
Aarktica – In Sea
Adams, Peter Bradley – Leavetaking
Ahoora – Awkward Diary
Amber Brooke Band – Destructive Behavior
Abigail Williams – Legend
Allen, Mike – Cirrhosis
American Black Lung, The – Sudden Departure Of Vultures
All That Remains – The Fall Of Ideals
Anberlin – Cities
Another Black Day – Another Black Day
A Second From The Surface – The Streets Have Eyes
A Shoreline Dream – Coastal
Asia – Pheonix
Asono – EP
Attackhead – Voices In The Dark
Averch, Ben – Start At The Beginning
Averse Sefira – Advent Parallax

B
Baskervilles – Twilight
Bayside – The Walking Wounded
Behemoth – Chaotica – The Essence Of The Underworld
Behemoth – Sventevith
Believe – Hope To See Another Day
Bella Noir – Premonitions
Beneath The Massacre – Mechanics Of Dysfunction
Bernie Bernie Headflap – Less Like Penguins
Better Left Unsaid – The Silencing
Billy Martini Show, The – Like No Other
Birdflesh – Mongo Musicale
Black Light Burns – Cruel Melody
Black Majesty – Tomorrowland
Blackmore’s Night – The Village Lanterne
Black On Black – A Tribute To Black Flag
Blanc Faces – Blanc Faces
Blessing The Hogs – The Twelve Gauge Solution
Blinded Colony – Bedside Prayers
Blindside – The Great Depression>
Blood Tsunami – Thrash Metal
Blut Aus Nord – Mort
Boat People, The – Chandeliers
Bolin, Tommy – Whips And Roses
Bonneville Soundtrack – Various Artists
Born To Oblivion – Born To Oblivion
Bouchelle, Lisa – Paint Your Dreams
Boys Like Girls – Boys Like Girls
Boys Night Out – Trainwreck
Breathe Carolina – Hello Fascination
Bronx Casket Co, The – Hellectric
Brothers Of The Head Soundtrack – The Bang Bang
Buckcherry – 15
Bullcock – Hog Nuts
Bullets And Octane – In The Mouth Of The Young
Burning Skies – Desolation
Burn In Silence – Angel Maker
Burzum – Anthology
Bushwhack – Bushwhack
By Night – A New Shape Of Desperation
Byrnes, Tommy – Alehouse Insurrections

C
Cactus – V
Caffery, Chris – W.A.R.P.E.D.
Cannae – Gold Becomes Sacrifice
Canvas Solaris – Cortical Tectonics
Canvas Solaris – Penumbra Diffuse
Carlisle, Liz – Big Dreams
Carnal Forge – Testify For My Victims
Cassius – I Am Jim Jones
Category 5 – Off The Ivory Coast
Catley, Bob – Spirit Of Man
Celtic Frost – Monotheist
Centinex – World Declension
Chambers, Sean – Humble Spirits
Children Of Bodom – Blooddrunk
Chimaira – The Infection
Christian, James – Meet The Man
Chthonic – Seediq Bale
Circus Maximus – Isolate
Clark – Two Of A Kind
Coral Sea, The – Firelight
Corruption – Virgin’s Milk
Cosmic Ballroom – Stoned, Broke & Ready To Rumble
Cosmic Ballroom – Your Drug Of Choice
Court Jester – Gina
Crescent Shield – The Last Of My Kind
Crimson Glory – Astronomica
Crimson Glory – Strange And Beautiful
Crionics – Neuthrone
Crucified Barbara – In Distortion We Trust
Crue Believers: A Tribute To Motley Crue – Various Artists
Cursed, The – Room Full Of Sinners

D
DarkBlack – The Barbarian’s Hammer
Dark Funeral – De Profundis Clamavi Ad Te Domine
Dark Funeral – Diabolis Interium
Dark Funeral – The Secrets Of The Black Arts
Dark Funeral – Vobiscum Satanas
Dark Suns – Grave Human Genuine
Darlington – All The Wrong Moves
Darzamat – SemiDevilish
Dawn Of Azazel – Sedition
Day Eleven – Whenever You Say You Love Me
Daylight Dies – Dismantling Devotion
Daylight Dies – Lost To The Living
Daymares – Can’t Get Us All
Dead Girls Ruin Everything – What A Perfect Ending
Dead Man In Reno – Dead Man In Reno
Dead Rabbits – Sin-Eater
Deadstar Assembly – Unsaved
Deaf Pedestrians – Deaf Pedestrians
Dee, Jesse – Bittersweet Batch
Deep Purple – Rapture Of The Deep
Degree Absolute – Degree Absolute
Delicate Noise – Diversion
Demians – Building An Empire
Demiricous – One Sampler
DeNisco, Gigi – Too Close For Comfort
Deranged – The Redlight Murder Case
Desolate – Obscurity Of The Fallen
Desplat, Alexandre – Hostage
Detone, Ray – Guitar Noir
Deviant, The – Ravenous Deathworship
Diet Kong – Diet Kong
Dig Jelly – For Your Inner Angry Child
Dirty Elegance – Finding Beauty In The Wretched
Disincarnate – Dreams Of The Carrion Kind
Disgorge – Parallels Of Infinite Torture
Diskreet – Internal Rise
Dismember – The God That Never Was
DJ Starscream – The New Leader
Dog Faced Gods – Spit In My Eye
Domeshots – Self-Titled
Dominici – O3 A Trilogy Part 3
Doro – All We Are – The Fight
Downtown Singapore – Don’t Let Your Guard Down
Dragonforce – Inhuman Rampage
Drowning Pool – Full Circle
Drugs Of Faith – Drugs Of Faith
Dryline – Reach For The Surface
Dustsucker – Jack Knife Rendezvous

E
Edenbridge – The Chronicles Of Eden
Edgewater – We’re Not Robots
Eidolon – The Parallel Otherworld
Ektomorf – Instinct Club Promo
Elba – Elba
Eldritch – Blackenday
Elvenking – The Winter Wake
Emerald Sun – Escape From Twilight
Emigrate – Emigrate
Engel – Absolute Design
Enochian Crescent – The Black Church Psalmbook
Enslaved – Ruun
Ensoph – Project X-Katon
Enter Chaos – Dreamworker
Epic, Paul – South Of Heaven, North Of Hell
Esoteric, The – Subverter
Eternal Descent – Losing Faith
Europe – Secret Society
Evergrey – Monday Morning Apocalpyse
Every Avenue – Ah!
Evolocity – Evolocity
Excalion – Primal Exhale
Excalion – Waterlines

F
Faces Of Black – The Beckoning
Falaschi, Edu – Almah
Falgiano, Rob – Red
Fall From Grace – Sifting Through The Wreckage
Farlowe, Chris – Hungary For The Blues
Farmakon – Robin
Fatal Force – Fatal Force
Fatal Smile – World Domination
Fat Sam – Fat Sam
Fear Factory – Transgression
Fear Nuttin Band – Yardcore
Fell Far Behind – Reaching The Red Line
Fields Of The Nephilim – Mourning Sun
Fifty Caliber Kiss – Armor Class Invincible
Finger Eleven – Them Vs. You Vs. Me
Fishbone – Still Stuck In Your Throat
Foreshadowing, The – Days Of Nothing
Framing Hanley – The Moment
Freedom Call – Dimensions
Freedom Call – The Circle Of Life
Frontier Brothers, The – Solar Power Struggle
Frontside – …for ours is the king, the power and glory…
Frost – Out In The Cold
Funeral – From These Wounds
Funeral Pyre, The – The Nature Of Betrayal
Funeral Pyre, The – Wounds
Furze – UTD

G
Gaia Epicus – Symphony Of Glory
Gamma Ray – Majestic
Gentleman’s Pistols – Gentleman’s Pistols
Ghost In The Machine – The One Within
Ghost Machinery – Haunting Remains
Giri – Giri
Girl Scout Hand Grenade – The Want You Sedated So You Never See The Truth
Giuntini Project – III
G.L.A.S. – 18
Godsmack – IV
Gojira – From Mars To Sirius
Gorefest – Rise To Ruin
Gorgoroth – Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam
Gorguts – Considered Dead
Gorguts – The Erosion Of Sanity
Grave – Dominion VIII
Grimfist – 10 Steps To Hell
Gross, Andrew – Pick Of Destiny Selections
Guryan, Margo – 16 Words
GWAR – Beyond Hell
Gynger Lynn – Gynger Lynn

H
Hammers Of Misfortune – The Locust Years
Handful Of Hate – Gruesome Splendour
Handshake Murders, The – Usurper
Hanoi Rocks – Another Hostile Takeover
Hanoi Rocks – Street Poetry
Hanoi Rocks – Twelve Shots On The Rocks
Hardingrock – Grimen
Harper – Be…
Harptallica – Harptallica: A Tribute
Harris, Shawn – Temptation
Harvey, Mick – Motion Picture Music ’94-’05
Harvey, Mick – One Man’s Treasure
Harvey, Mick – Two Of Diamonds
Hate Profile – Opus I: The Khaos Hatefile
Hatesphere – Serpent Smile And Killer Eyes
Hatesphere – The Sickness Within
Head – Save Me From Myself
Headhunter – Parasite of Society
Headrush – Headrush
Hearse – In These Veins
Heathen – Victims Of Deception
Hellacopters, The – Rock & Roll Is Dead
Hell-Born – Cursed Infernal Steel

Helloween – Keeper Of The Seven Keys – The Legacy
Helloween – Live In Saulo Paulo
Hemlock – Bleed The Dream
Hermano – …Into The Exam Room
Hevein – Sound Over Matter
Heys, The – Youngbored&broke
Hidden Hand, The – The Resurrection Of Whiskey Foote
Hirax – The New Age Of Terro
Holler, Wild Rose! – Our Little Hymnal
Holy Moses – Agony Of Death
Hollow Corp. – Cloister Of Radiance
Hoodoo Gurus – Stoneage Romeos
Hoot Soundtrack – Various Artists
Horrendous Acts Of Violence, The – The Horrendous Acts Of Violence
Horse The Band – The Mechanical Hand
HourCast – State Of Disgrace
Hughes, Glenn – Music For The Divine

I
Iced Earth – Framing Armageddon
Iced Earth – Overture Of The Wicked
Iced Earth – The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked Part 2)
Ihsahn – The Adversary
Ill Nino – Enigma
Illuminati, The – The Illuminati
Imagika – My Bloodied Wings
In Battle – Kingdom Of Fear
Incantation – Primordial Domination
Incarnated – Pleasure Of Consumption
Infernaeon – A Symphony Of Suffering
Insense – Soothing Torture
Insomnium – Above The Weeping World
Intronaut – Null
Intronaut – Void

J
Jade – Banned In America
Jaine, Nicki – Nicki Jaine Live
Joelle – Pillar Of Stone
John 5 – Songs For Sanity
John Ginty Band – Fireside Live
Johnny Smoke – For A Dollar
Jotunspor – Gleipnirs Smeder
Judas Wake – There Is Only Technology
Jungle Rot – Warzone

K
Kamelot – Ghost Opera
Kamelot – Ghost Opera: The Second Coming
Karate High School – Arcade Rock>
Katatonia – The Great Cold Distance
Keep Of Kalessin – Armada
Keydragon – Dragon Prophecy
Khold – Krek
Khymera – A New Promise
Killing Spree – Deception Betrayal Revenge
King’s X – XV
KMFDM – Tohuvabohu
Knights Of The Abyss – Juggernaut
Kreator – Enemy Of God Revisited

L
L.A. Guns – Tales From The Strip
Lamb, Paul & The Kingsnakes – I’m On A Roll
Lamb Of God – Killadelphia
Landslide – Sink Without Fail
Lane, Lana – Gemini
Lane, Lana – Red Planet Boulevard
Lanfear – Another Golden Rage
Lashes, The – Get It
Last Act, The – No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Last Crack – Burning Time
Last Crack – Sinister Funkhouse #17
Leatherwolf – World Asylum
Let Go – Let Go
Lee, Kevin – Flip The Switch
LeGrand – LeGrand
Level-C – Level-C
Light This City – Facing The Thousand
Ligion – External Affairs
Limbonic Art – Legacy Of Evil
Lipstixx ‘N’ Bulletz – Bang Your Head
Litmus – Planetfall
Loch Vostok – Destruction Time Again
Lord Belial – The Seal Of Belial
Los Dryheavers – Words Of Surrender
Lost Eden – Cycle Repeats
Lullaby Baxter – Garden Cities Of To-morrow
Lux Occulta – The Mother And The Enemy

M
Machinery – The Passing
Mae, Audra – Haunt
Magnum – Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow
Majestic Twelve, The – Schizophrenology
Majesty – Hellforces
Manes – How The World Came To An End
Man From The Moon, The – Rocket Attack
Martriden – Martriden
Martriden – The Unsettling Dark
Masi – 2nd Shape
Masterplan – Aeronautics
Masterplan – MKII
Matadors – Flame The Whisper
McCartney, Paul – Ecce Cor Meum
McGuiness, Malea – True Believer
Medoro, Greg – 14 Sunset Way
Meliah Rage – The Deep And Dreamless Sleep
Memfis – The Wind-Up
Merendine Atomiche – Raw
Messiah’s Kiss – Dragonheart
Metal Church – A Light In The Dark
Metal Church – The Weight Of The World
Metal Church – This Present Wasteland
Me Talk Pretty – Ana
Midnight – Sakada
Miller, Lisa Dawn – Fly Away
Mindgrinder – Riot Detonator
Mithras – Behind The Shadows Lie Madness
Mob, The – The Mob
Mob Rules – Ethnolution A.D.
Mobile Mob Freakshow, The – Ready To Misguide A New Generation
Mojo Rib – In For Sin
Mon Roe – Mon Roe
Monster Magnet – 25 Tab
Monster Magnet – Spine Of God
Moonspell – Memorial
Moonspell – Under Satanae
The Morning Light – The Morning Light
Morning Light, The – The Sounds Of Love
Motley Crue – Carnival Of Sins Live
Motnik, Martin – Bass Invader
Motor – Klunk
Motor – Unhuman
Motorhead – Kiss Of Death
Motorhead – Motorizer
Mountain – Masters Of War
Mouth Of The Architect – The Ties That Blind
Mower – Not For You
Music Is Hope – Various Artists
Mustasch – Latest Version Of The Truth
MXPX – Secret Weapon
My Dying Bride – A Line Of Deathless Kings
My Ruin – The Brutal Language
My Ruin – Throat Full Of Heart
Mystic Prophecy – Satanic Curses
Mystic Prophecy – Savage Souls

N
Nahemah – The Second Philosophy
Naked, Bif – Superbeautifulmonster
Nassiri – Love Sees No Color
Neaime, Therese – Livin’
Nebula – Apollo
Necro – The Pre-Fix For Death
Nefastus Dies – Urban Cancer
Neurosonic – Drama Queen
New Worchester Rats, The – Abusa Power
Next Wave – Various Artists
Nightmare – Genetic Disorder
Nightmare – The Dominion Gate
Nightrage – A New Disease Is Born
Northrup, J.K. – Wired In My Skin

O
Obituary – Xecutioner’s Return
Oblivion – Remixed
Octavia Sperati – Grace Submerged
Of Graves And Gods – Slit Throat Andromeda
O’Hora, Tony – Escape Into The Sun
Omnium Gatherum – Stuck Here On Snakes Way
Onslaught – Killing Peace
Orange Sky – Upstairs
OSI – Free
Otter, Anne Sofie Von – I Let The Music Speak
Our Lady Peace – Healthy In Paranoid Times

P
Pantheon I – The Wanderer And His Shadow
Pariah – A First Rate Education
Parsons, Alan – Eye To Eye – Live In Mardrid, Spain
Pat McGee Band – Save Me
Pathosray – Pathosray
Pathosray – Sunless Skies
PAX – 10,000 Words
Peaceful Warrior, The Soundtrack – Various Artists
Pearl And The Pumpkin – Various Artists
Pell, Axel Rudi – Diamonds Unlocked
Pendragon – Acoustically Challenged
Pennenga – Imagine
People In Planes – As Far As The Eye Can See
Pestilence – Mind Reflections
Pharaoh – Be Gone
Pharoah – The Longest Night
Phoenix Down – Somethin’ Fierce
Pillar – The Reckoning
Pilot Speed – Into The West
Pistol Dawn – Conversation Piece
Place Of Skulls – The Black Is Never Far
Place Vendome – Place Vendome
Plumb – Chaotic Resolve
Portugal The Man – Church Mouth
Powerman 5000 – Destroy What You Enjoy
Pozers, The – Embrace Your Addiction
Pravda – Walking Through Walls
Pride Of Lions – Live In Belgium
Priestess – Hello Master
Primus – They Can’t All Be Zingers
Project Hate, The – Armageddon March Eternal
Prong – Power Of The Damager
Pronto – The Cheetah
Pro-Pain – Age Of Tyranny
Psionic – Demo 2006

Q
Quiet Riot – Rehab
Quill, The – In Triumph

R
Raftree – Raftree
Raging Speedhorn – Before The Sea Was Built
RazorDog – Lucy Fairy’s Club
Realm – Endless War
Realm – Suiciety
Rebellion – Sagas Of Iceland
Recoil – Subhuman
Reeder, Scott – TunnelVision Brilliance
Revery – Avarice & Absolution
Rhapsody of Fire – Triumph Or Agony
Riddle Of Steel – 1985
Ride The Boogie – Ride The Boogie
River Raid, The – The River Raid
Rock, Rob – Holy Hell
Rose Funeral – Crucify Kill Rot
Rurik – Re-Education

S
Sadus – A Vision Of Misery
Sadus – Chemical Exposure
Sadus – Swallowed In Black
Sahg – Sahg I
Saliva – Blood Stained Love Story
Saratan – Cult Of Vermin
Satariel – Hydra
Satellite – A Street Between Sunrise And Sunset
Saxon – Dogs Of War
Saxon – Lionheart
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed III
Saxon – The Inner Sanctum
Schon, Neal – I On U
Scorpions, The – Humanity: Hour 1
Sear Bliss – The Arcane Odyssey
Seasons Of The Wolf – Nocturnal Revelation
Seasons Of The Wolf – Once In A Blue Moon
Secretary Bird – Secretary Bird
Seether – Karma And Effect
Sepultura – Dante XXI
Sepultura – Live In Sao Paulo
Setherial – Death Triumphant
Seventh Key – Live In Atlanta
Seventh Season, The – Liquid Water
Shadow Demon – Grimoire Of Ruin
Shadows Fade – Shadows Fade
Shadows Fall – Retribution
Shakra – Fall
Shaw-Blades – Influence
Shayne, Daize – Live Your Dreams
She Said Destroy – Time Like Vines
Shinedown – Us And Them
Shvdfish – Shvdfish
Silent Civilian – Rebirth Of The Temple
Singhs, The – Supersaturated
Sinister – Afterburner
Six Day Slide – Held Under
Sixx: A.M. – The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack
Skies Of America, The – Shine
Skintilla – Shedding Skin
Skyforger – Kauja Pie Saules
Slave To The System – Slave To The System
Slickfist – Subharmonic Addiction
Slik Helvetika – Krypt Kicker 5
Slough Feg – Hardworlder
Slow Motion Reign – Slow Motion Reign
Smackdown, The – Someone Has To Kill The Headwriter
Society 1 – The Years Of Spiritual Dissent
Sodom – Sodom
Sodom – The Final Sign Of Evil
So I Had To Shoot Him – Alpha Males And Popular Girls
Sonic Syndicate – Eden Fire
SOS – Adult Situations
SOS – A Guide To Better Living
Soto, Jeff Scott – Essential Ballads
Soto, Jeff Scott – Lost In The Translation
Souls Harbor – Writings On The Wall
Soultree – Souled In A Plain Brown Wrapper
Sourvein – Emerald Vulture>
Spheric Universe Experience – Anima
Spiders & Snakes – London Daze
Spider Rockets – Ever After
SpiRitual – Pulse
Spitfire – Self-Help
Spring Awakening Soundtrack – Various Artists
StaggerWigg – Before We Drown
Stanko, Tomasz – Freedom In August
Stanley, Paul – Live To Win
Starkweather – Croatoan
Starr, Judd – Luminescent
Stars Of Track And Field – Centuries Before Love And War
State Of Man – Both Sides Of The Story
States, The – The Path Of Least Resistance
Steel Attack – Diabolic Symphony
Stefy – The Orange Album
Steppin’ Blind – Late Nights At Salamone’s
Stonecreep – Tonight We Ride
Stonegard – Arrows
Strangers Six, The – A Date With Daylight
Stranglehold – Stranglehold
Street Drum Corps – Street Drum Corps
Stride – Imagine
Stubblefield, Jim – Guitarra Exotica
Sunstorm – Sunstorm
Superdude – Pothead Punk
Swampdawamp – Swampdawamp
Sworn Enemy – The Beginning Of The End

T
Teenage Casket Company – Dial It Up
Temple Of Brutality – Lethal Agenda
Tenacious D – The Pick Of Destiny
Tenebre – Heart’s Blood
Ten West – Ten West
Terrorizer – Darker Days Ahead
Testament – Live In London
Thanatoschizo- Zoom Code
Theatre Of Tragedy – Storm
The 11th Hour Soundtrack – Various Artists
The Killer In You – A Tribute To Smashing Pumpkins – Various Artists>
The Matador Soundtrack – Various Artists
The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants Soundtrack – Various Artists
Theta Naught w/ Alex Caldiero – Sound Weave
Three Fantastic – Three Fantastic
Throne Of Katarsis – An Eternal Dark Horizon
Through The Eyes Of The Dead – Malice
Thyrane – Travesty Of Heavenly Essence
Thyrfing – Farsotstider
Tigertailz – Berzerk 2.0
Till We Die – Pressing On
Time Requiem – Optical Illusion
>Timz – Open For Business
Tishamingo – Wear N’ Tear
TNT – All The Way To The Sun
To-Mera – Delusions
To-Mera – Transcendental
Torchbearer – Warnaments
Torman Maxt – The Problem Of Pain: Part 1
Torture – Storm Alert
Totimoshi – Mysterioso
Toxik – Think This
Toxik – World Circus
Trag – 11th House
Transmission0 – Memory Of A Dream
Trendkill – No Longer Buried
Trephine – Trephine
Tristania – Illumination
Trouble – The Skull
Tulus – Biography Obscene
Tunsi – Special Delivery Sampler
Tunsi – Special Delivery
Tunsi – Tunsi Wrap
Turbo – Identity
Turgon, Bruce – Outside Looking In
Twin Method – The Volume Of Self
Twisted Into Form – Then Comes Affliction To Awaken The Dreamer

U
UFO – Showtime
UFO – The Monkey Puzzle
Unchained – Unchained
Under The Flood – Alive In The Fire
Underwater, The – Forces
Unleashed – Midvinterblot
Until June – Until June
Unwritten Law – The Hit List
Urbansnake – Whiteknuckle
Urinal Puck Ministries – Twisted Tales From The Fallopian Tube

V
Vader – Kingdom EP
Vader – Impressions In Blood
Vader – The Art Of War
Vader – The Darkest Age – Live ’93
Valerian – Intimations Of Sorrow
Vaughn, Danny – From The Inside
Venom – Metal Black
Verismo – City Of Kings
Vicious Circle – The Art of Agony
Vile – The New Age Of Chaos
Vixen – Live & Learn
Void, The – Vision Of The Truth
Volt – Rorhat
Voodoo Hill – Wild Seed Of Mother Earth
Vore – Maleficus
V-Project – New Machine
Vreid – I Krig
Vreid – Pitch Black Brigade

W
Wastefall – Self Exile
Wensday – Torch Rock
Wetton, John – Amata
Whitechapel – The Somatic Defilement
Whitesnake – The Definitive Collection
White Willow – Signal To Noise
Widow – Nightlife
Wildphyr – Movement
Willycranes, The – Happy Motoring
Winters – Black Clouds In Twin Galaxies
Wolf – The Black Flame
Wolverine – Still
Wolves In The Throne Room – Diadem Of 12 Stars
Wuthering Heights – The Shadow Cabinet

X
Xentrix – For Whose Advantage
Xentrix – Kin
Xentrix – Shattered Existence
Eric Xodik – Songs Of Samsara
XXX Maniak – Harvesting The Cunt Nectar
XYZ – Forbidden Demos 1985/1991

Y
Yakuza – Samsara
Yakuza – Transmutations
Year Of The White Buffalo – …Year Of The White Buffalo
You May Die In The Desert/Gifts From Enola – Harmonic Motion Volume I
Young, Neil And Crazy Horse – Live At The Fillmore East
Your Highness Electric – The Grand Hooded Phantom

Z
Zero Hour – A Fragile Mind
Zero Hour – Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond
Zombie, Rob – 20th Century Masters
Zwig, Adam – Cast Iron Letters
Zyklon – Disintegrate

1-1000
16 Second Stare – Red Carpet Material
1349 – Revelations Of The Black Flame

Ahh, Strange and Beautiful. One of the more maligned entries in the progressive metal canon, brought forth as yet another example of a formerly-powerful band brought to its knees at the feet of commercialism. It doesn't take much to get metalheads down the "sellout!" rabbit hole, and the album's title does it no favors; the number of times I've heard the "not beautiful, but definitely strange" puns grows ever staggering.

To be sure, the music on Strange and Beautiful bears little resemblance to that of its predecessor, the truly towering achievement of Transcendence. Consequently--let's get this out of the way up front--if you go into this album expecting to hear music in the vein of its predecessors, you're going to emerge quite confused by the experience. I certainly was when I first became a fan of the band--my first pass through this stuff, I found "Deep Inside Your Heart" to be a high-quality power ballad and little else to be worthwhile. Judged as a successor to Transcendence, this album is indeed a miserable failure; the decision to turn away from the landmark powerprog stylings of Crimson Glory's past work still stands as a bad one.

But, like so many albums that fall into the "sellout" black hole, Strange and Beautiful is actually quite misunderstood. For one thing, while there is a huge stylistic shift at play and it suspiciously coincides with the shift to a major label, the shift is not an inauthentic one--it actually, in retrospect, isn't surprising when you consider the band members at the time. Second guitarist Ben Jackson left after Transcendence, and bandleader Jon Drenning apparently seemed content to let Jackson take Crimson Glory's signature dual-lead sound with him, opting to take sole six-string duties here. Drummer Dana Burnell, who only sort of played on Transcendence anyway, also left and was replaced with Ravi Jakhotia, who a) isn't a drum machine and b) has a much different style than that of the parts the Transcendence drum machine (or, on the first album, Burnell himself) was playing. Midnight, for his part, was always more of a folk singer than a metal singer at heart--just look at his subsequent solo output. Take the shift in personnel, throw in the desire to try something a bit new, and you end up getting a mishmash of everyone's ideas that doesn't quite please anyone. In later times, Drenning went on record to say Strange and Beautiful was effectively a Midnight solo album, and Midnight himself didn't even stay in the band long enough to even go on the following tour. Ahh, the dangers of compromise.

So, what results from that compromise? It's actually kind of hard to pin down what Strange and Beautiful is trying to do, which is why we see so much reflexive snickering at the first word of the title or lazy labeling of the music as "glam," just because anyone accused of selling out in 1991 gets lumped in with "glam." I listen to a lot of "glam metal" and don't view the term as a pejorative in the slightest, and so I wouldn't at all mind if that was the style here...but it isn't. Sure, we've got songs called "In The Mood" and "Make You Love Me," and the lyrics of those two songs read as glam, but that's about as far as it goes. Nothing on here is even as glam as Transcendence's "Lonely," though the single, "The Chant," kind of tries. "The Chant" was written by outside writers, which is the one thing about this album that is kind of sellout-y, but whatever overt pop appeal the song has (mostly in the stop-start guitar riffs), Midnight's edgy delivery pulls it out of the glam arena, for better or worse. The man was many things, but there was nothing glam about Midnight.

If this music is not the glam it's accused of being, and it's not the band's previously pioneered powerprog, then what is it? The sound on Strange and Beautiful reaches in several directions--something that is, in its own strange (heh, there it is) way, more "progressive" than the fairly unified, monolithic sound of the prior two discs. In one sense, its more hard rock-oriented sound is a nod backward to the '70s, as if they've traced the famed "In Dark Places" riff all the way back to its roots in Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir." But the record is oddly forward-looking as well, with the hard rock guitars, soft/loud dynamics, and Midnight's aggressive delivery sounding ahead of the alternative curve. If they sold out, they sold out to 1993, not 1988.

Whether the album looks back to the '70s, forward to the mid-'90s, or even touches on the band's metallic past, the one unifier is Midnight's vocals. No, they aren't the crazy wails we got on Crimson Glory or Transcendence, though he's still quite high-pitched at times and overall admirably rangy. Still, even taken out of the mystical realm of power metal, Midnight sounds as otherworldly as ever here. While retrospective focus on Midnight tends to revere him for his role in popularizing high-pitched wails and overall prowess, the man was really never all that much of a technician, just an incredibly emotive folk singer who happened to be able to hit high notes cleanly too. And so that aura of mystery that surrounds the first two albums stubbornly persists here, even though the music below it is considerably more modest in scope and ambition. This has the effect of pulling everything into a vaguely psychedelic mode.

Beyond that, the thing that really saves Strange and Beautiful is that Drenning and Midnight are both great at what they do, and while the overall musical direction here isn't optimal, neither of them has run out of ideas or passion. In a lot of ways, the progressive edge of Crimson Glory is still there, as the song structures are still anything but straightforward in many cases, especially the title track and "Starchamber." There's even some world music influence courtesy of Jakhotia's sometimes tribal-sounding approach to drumming, dovetailing with Midnight's folk instincts. The singer's delivery, as noted before, is impassioned as ever and, due to the nature of the material, even more hypnotic than before. While his highest register is missed somewhat, songs of this nature don't really call for it anyway. Drenning's guitar leads actually sound like guitars on this album, which is nice after the weird, flangy leads on Transcendence, and he gets more room to wield the axe than you might think given the album's reputation. The title track and the excellent "Deep Inside Your Heart" both have great solos. Outside of solos, though, his presence is more subdued; some catchy riffing pops up here and there, but it's devoid of the same inspiration as the band's previous material. Again, this isn't the sort of music that needs five good riffs a song, so if you don't go in looking for the Transcendence sound, you don't feel it as much as you'd think, but it is still a loss nonetheless. Jakhotia's drumming, as noted before, has some world music elements at times; otherwise, he's competent but relatively faceless here. The only other notable thing about his performance is really that his snare is almost obnoxiously loud here, and I say that as somebody who generally likes loud snares. Bassist Jeff Lords, always the band's forgotten member, has his usual tasteful lines that subtly move the songs in positive directions, and he is mixed quite high.

I feel like I've spent the majority of this review fiercely defending Strange and Beautiful, to the point where I may be running the risk of overshooting my target. Make no mistake, it is a big step down. This is music that never aspires to reach the heights of Transcendence, and so it never does, no matter how well-executed it is. The production is better than previous albums, but the instruments still sound frustratingly hazy, but that kind of meshes with Midnight's voice anyway, so maybe it's just as well. "Dance on Fire" is easily the worst thing the band ever did, a song with zero good ideas, a complete lack of flow between sections, and a very pitchy vocal performance. Acoustic ballad "Far Away" is fine but completely unnecessary on an album that already has "Deep Inside Your Heart" and the piano-led "Song For Angels."

Discouraging weaknesses, to be sure. But Dream Theater fans have the luxury to dismiss Falling Into Infinity (a similarly-misunderstood release) because they have twelve (okay, eleven...we'll forget When Dream and Day Unite is a thing) other releases of DT-brand music to enjoy. Given the comparative brevity of Crimson Glory's run, it's wiser here to try to meet this album on its terms, because frankly it was Midnight's swan song when it came to metal or even rock music. If you go in without the burden of the band's past and just want to hear one of prog metal's most legendary vocalists sing good material, the album delivers pretty consistently. Perhaps Drenning's comment is right, then--the album is best appreciated as a Midnight album rather than one that has to carry the burden of the Crimson Glory back catalog on its slumping shoulders. As a Midnight album, it works precisely because it's hard not to get caught up in his trance, whether on the touching ballads, the psychedelia of the extended pieces, or the alternative-prog-glam-pop-metal hybrids. Such awkward genre mashups are indeed a strange place to go from the, er, transcendent achievements of the band's past, but with Midnight at the helm and plenty of good Drenning ideas behind him, Strange and Beautiful lives up to both halves of its title more often than not.

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