"The art of acting consists of keeping people from coughing."
Sir Ralph Richardson
MUSIC REVIEWS: EPS AND CD-SINGLES
by Richard Karsmakers
ST NEWS has a document buffer limit of 55 Kb, which is the
reason why this time the EPs and CD-singles had to be put in a
separate review article. No need to spend too much time on this
fact, so just go down and see if there is perhaps some stuff that
you would like to check out some day soon.
And don't wait too long, because EPs and CD-singles have the
nasty tendency not to be available anymore after a couple of
months (barring the Iron Maiden stuff, which is put on 10 special
limited edition CDs at the end of the eighties and then, five
years later, re-released as bonus tracks on the CDs to which they
belonged, costing the collecting fans rather a wagonload of
AT THE GATES - GARDENS OF GRIEF (BLACK SUN)
In February 1991, current Swedish pretenders to the Death/Thrash
Metal Throne of At The Gates recorded their legendary EP debut,
"Gardens of Grief". Only available on vinyl so far and
distributed only by Dolores Records of Göteborg, Sweden, it has
now finally been released on CD by Black Sun Records (also of
For those who like At The Gates' frantic style and virtuosic
playing, this EP is a definite must. Tomas' vocals are still a
bit more in a death metal vein, and maybe that even makes this EP
more accessible. Songs on this EP are "Souls of the Evil
Departed", "At The Gates", the excellent "All Life Ends" (of
which a live rendition could be found on their "Terminal Spirit
Disease") and "City of Screaming Statues". The latter song makes
atmospheric use of keyboards.
I was pleasantly surprised by this album. It is actually more
innovative than their first full-length CD, "The Red in the Sky
is Ours". A very interesting release.
DESTRUCTION - DESTRUCTION
Back in the mid eighties there were three big names in German
thrash metal. These were Sodom, Kreator and Destruction. They
combined heavy metal outfits with aggressive music and, yes,
quite a bit of "the occult" as it were. Sodom were excellent but
sucked musically. Kreator were lightning fast and as subtle as a
planet in your face. And Destruction were technically most
gifted, combined this with extreme aggression. Destruction were
my favourites, of course, though I liked the other two, too.
Kreator and Sodom went on after Destruction entered a kind of
impasse. Sodom's Frank Blackfire went to Kreator in 1990,
rendering Sodom forever the least talented. Kreator did some
amazing stuff and never really relinquished its number one
Then, suddenly, Destruction were heard of again. Claiming they'd
never really stopped, they released a self-titled EP and a
promise of a follow-up to come soon. Thinking bank to their past
glory with evergreen (everblack) albums like "Infernal Overkill"
and "Eternal Devastation", I decided to give them the benefit of
the doubt. I ordered the EP.
Twenty-one minutes of new Destruction with old members Mike
Sifringer (guitar) and Oliver Kaiser (drums) and new members
Christian Engler (bass), Michael Piranio (guitar) and Thomas
Rosenmerkel (vocals). The new band is technically quite capable
and their music evolved considerably. Gone are the death metal
influences, and embraced now is a firm thrash style. However,
what they have now become...well, they sound like Overdose with
the South American percussion taken out. The songs are OK and
"Decisions" has some fleeting moments of brilliance. The EP as a
whole is without a doubt better than "Cracked Brain" (the album
made after the departure of bassist/vocalist Schmier), but
they're not quite their old self.
I miss Schmier (sob!).
Oh yeah. The fifth (bonus) track sucks big time. It's not even a
song as such, actually.
DREAM THEATER - A CHANGE OF SEASONS (WARNER)
With almost an hour of music you can hardly call this an EP, but
the most important thing is that it's priced as one. So don't
pass this one by when you see it.
Most prominent on this album is the 23'06" epic song "A Change
of Seasons", taking up almost half of the total playing length.
For those of you who have heard me raving on about this song in
earlier issues of ST NEWS (as well as this time's "Concert
Reviews" and a bootleg CD review a bit further down), you will
find it easy to understand that I've been looking forward to this
EP quite a lot.
"A Change of Seasons" was originally written in 1989 and to be
included on "Images and Words". It didn't make it on there. The
song has since been played live a few times during the "Images
and Words" tour, during which it soon got cult status. Every real
Dream Theater fan has the "The Dance of Eternity" version of the
song, available on several different bootleg as well as the
"Subconscious" collection CD made by people of the Internet
"Ytsejam" mailing list. In May this year the band spent some time
rewriting and rehearsing, then finally did what many of the
dedicated fans had wanted them to do all the time: Record the
song on an official CD.
"A Change of Seasons", well, is the best song Dream Theater have
ever written. However, the version on the EP is rather different
from the live one. For starters it's a bit slower. The vocals are
a lot less passionate, which is probably the biggest con I can
mention about this version (they even threw out the vocal climax
of the "The Dance of Eternity" version, the "PLEASE DON'T GO!").
A big pro is the fact that some of the segments are so heavy you
can flatten unflattenable objects with it. I would preferred them
to have recorded the song in one go and then add the acoustic
guitar bits, for the production seems pretty inconsistent. The
heaviness is sometimes lost considerably.
And new keyboardists Derek Sherinian? He plays his organ
Hammond-style most of the song, Deep Purple style, but at the end
of the song really lets it rip in a style more similar to
previous keyboardist Kevin Moore. But I have to say Kevin was a
f*@king genius and I really miss the subtle and very emotional
layer under the song, especially during the last bits of the
"Another World" segment.
So "A Change of Seasons", though a worthy carrier of the flame
on this EP, is not quite what I'd expected and hoped it would be.
For those who have never heard the bootleg version I guess it's
an excellent song, but for me it just seems a bit sacriligeous
that they changed a few bits rather too much, that James LaBrie
doesn't scream his lungs out where he should, and that they
didn't, well, convince Kevin to come back for a stint.
I for one am intensely glad I have both versions. The emotion-
laden one on "The Dance of Eternity", and this more refined one.
But let's not forget the rest of the EP, containing cover songs
that Dream Theater recorded in January at the intimate Ronnie
Scott's Jazz Club in London. Songs featured on the EP are
"Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding" (an Elton John song,
which is pretty OK but definitely unusual), "Perfect Strangers"
(from Deep Purple; quite a dazzling version that rumour has it
will be released on a single with Rush' "Tears" and Metallica's
"Damaged Justice" (with Napalm Death's Barney Greenway on vocals)
as bonus tracks), "The Rover / Achilles Last Stand / The Song
Remains The Same" (interesting Led Zeppelin stuff, though I
personally miss an imitation of John Bonham's manic drum fills)
and "The Big Medley" (including Floyd's "In The Flesh?", Kansas'
"Carry on Wayward Son", Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", Journey's
"Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin" and Genesis' "Turn It On Again"; which
is an interesting medley, too, though I would have preferred
As to the somewhat weak-ish production here and there: A CD
player with DSP settings set to "Jazz Club" makes it sound ever
so much better...
Check out the "Music News" section for more info!
A second impression after listening to it quite a bit more.
I don't know how it happened, but "A Change of Seasons" has
grown on me to such extent that I feel I should write something
more here. The EP version has taken on, in my mind, a new world
of appreciation entirely of its own. It has grown on me
considerably and it is truly the best song Dream Theater bothered
to lay down (live or in the studio). It's a shame that the studio
production is a bit meagre, especially the drum sound. And James
does bring passion into the song, even though he sometimes
doesn't do it at the spots where the live "The Dance of Eternity"
version had it.
With a song of such magnitude I think it is best to list some of
the pros and cons of the song in chronological order.
Stuff I really like:
1'39" (mega powerful riff)
2'38" (another mega riff)
7'01" (underlying narration)
8'05" (narration, a poem by Robert Herrick; I recognised it
from "Dead Poets Society")
9'47" (good drumming piece)
10'09" (the best killer riff on the whole song, and I believe
there's a really odd key signature under this)
10'40" (a riff fighting with the previous one for supreme
12'19" (another great riff with bass, guitar and keys doing
drool-invoking stuff, though I liked the rather higher
tempo of the live version a bit more)
13'00 (the most beautiful sequence of chords ever recorded,
though James's "ooooohhh" is sorely missed here)
13'58" (a bit of lyric that sounds a lot like "the light
fantastic", which is the title of a Terry Pratchett
15'39" (on top of the most beautiful chord sequence ever that
is repeated, is now a rather simple but very sensitive
and beautiful guitar solo)
18'36" (wowsers, another superbly heavy riff followed by...)
18'50" (Derek Sherinian's best keyboard solo, which is a lot
like Kevin Moore's style, i.e. guitar style)
Stuff I like rather less:
5'01" (a sing-along)
6'35" (another sing-along)
7'38" ("ticking away" instead of "tears in my eyes" such as
they were in the previous lyrics)
9'15" (no "aaaaeeeehhhhhh" that brought a lot of passion into
the live version)
10'08" (no "PLEASE DON'T GO"!) <pouting lips>
10'54" (a shitty keyboard solo, way to Jon Lord-ish)
12'50" (odd keyboard bit, though quite freaky in a positive
14'48" (I don't really like this "chorus"-like thing)
16'34" (I sorely miss Kevin Moore's sortof sad-sounding
keyboard lines here)
20'13" (this bit, although it has the same arrangement more or
less, was a lot better-sounding before)
Stuff I like least of all:
23'06" (the song ends) :-)
As a whole, Derek Sherinian should play his keyboards more like
a guitarist (like Kevin Moore did before him, and like Jens
Johansson - formerly of Yngwie Malmsteen - could have done).
This was probably an incohesive and rather bad review. Sorry. I
NAPALM DEATH - GREED KILLING (EARACHE)
One day before the deadline of this issue of ST NEWS I found the
new Napalm Death EP, "Greed Killing", at the local CD shop. Of
course I thought of how it was my duty to inform you all, dear
readers, of the release of this EP and what it was like.
Of course I am only able to give you a rather superficial
impression. Usually I listen to a CD or CD single quite a few
times before I write down my "judgement", but this time it was a
mere two times before I wrote this.
"Greed Killing" features 20 minutes of new Napalm Death. Two of
the tracks will also appear on the forthcoming "Diatribes" album
(release date January 22nd), one of the tracks is a live version
of an older song "Plague Rages" and the remaining four will
hopefully not make it on any other Napalm Death CDs yet to be
The music is typically Napalm Death but so far failed to get a
kind of chemistry going in me. Compositions seem simpler, on one
track Barney actually sings and, well, the production sounds a
bit dulled. The live track has Barney sounding really tired, and
when you listen closely you notice that Napalm Death only
approximates the studio versions when on a stage.
All in all it's not too excellent an EP, but it might be sold
out some day soon and in that case it might be hard to get the
tracks if you're a Napalm Death fan such as I. At the price of a
CD single I guess it's actually quite good, but I do have my
reservations about the "Diatribes" album.
PARADISE LOST - FOREVER FAILURE (MUSIC FOR NATIONS)
"Forever Failure" is the second CD single off "Draconian Times".
Designed in the tasteful fashion that these guys have made their
own in the last couple of years, it comes in a digipack. The disc
contains four tracks. The first is a tastefully orchestrated
version of "Forever Failure", quite superior to the original
(which wasn't too bad to start with), following by two non-album
tracks, "Another Desire" and "Fear". These are rather ordinary
tracks, bothing (i.e. "both nothing") too spectacular though
unmissable material for the more ardent Paradise Lost fan.
"Fear", the last track, clocks at 9'38", but really consists of
3'10" of music followed by 2 minutes of silence and a bonus
track. The bonus track is quite a little gem, and I won't
spoil...what the heck, I will...it's the extended orchestra-only
version of the title song. Quite excellent. What with these
tracks not appearing on the extended "Draconian Times" version
(see review below), you shouldn't think twice about getting this
I just want to say that the "silence and then another track"
thing is not my idea of excellence. No need for the pause,
really. Anathema also did it on "Pentecost III" (before the
masterpiece bonus track "666"), and all in all I think quite a
few other bands did it, too (remember Nirvana's "Nevermind"?). I
don't part with my well-earned money to get 2 minutes of silence
that I have to manually skip on the CD player...
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.