The Dragons are Forced to Hand Over their Beautiful Loved Ones

Round 2 – Group 24:

1.) Hand Over Your Loved Ones:  Wheatus
2.) 0898 Beautiful South:  The Beautiful South
3.) Macalla:  Clannad
4.) Ultra Beatdown:  Dragonforce

Beat Them Down

When Jeff Goldblum was asked about Dragonforce’s brand of hyperspeed metal, he of course famously said, “You were so preocuppied with whether or not you could that you didn’t stop to think if you should”. Ah Jurassic Park, the original and best. You know, I’m not sure whether this quote triggered this dream I had last night but I had one of those epic hollywood-esque dreams, which can best be described as “Jurassic Park in space”. There I was, on a spaceship, with The Rock.
People were using a time machine to come back in time from the future to the present. Myself and The Rock were trying desperately to hold off the Dinosaurs long enough for the time travellers to claim asylum in the present…..
Sorry, went off on a bit of a tangent there didn’t I?

So….. Ultra Beatdown then. Ok, ok there’s a few spurts of sporadic fun (steady) but they

Hyper-speed tedium

are encased amongst some real bland dirge. It’s cheesy, it’s an assault of speed, the drummer sounds likes a blur at times. It’s over the top and it’s way too much for any sane music fan. The Last Journey Home represents Dragonforce at their best (or rather, least worst) although that track itself is only good in a few places, likewise Reasons To Live, which has a passable and rather enjoyable guitar section near the end is only ok-ish, unfortunately that section only shows up after enduring 5 minutes of lacklustre ennui.
Man this album gets tedious. I used to have three Dragonforce albums and the other two remain the only albums, in 20 years of listening to digital music, that I’ve ever actually deleted. And I still have some turd albums by the likes of Stone Sour, Future Of The Left and even Toni Basil on my hard-drive! Oh my days, Dragonforce’s hyper-weary metal has pushed me over the edge and this album is just a slightly less tedious version of those other two album, yet still massively tedius. I’m not sure it’s going to survive my next playlist purge.

I am just a dork but listen, I come from New York

His balls are bigger than a dynamite satchel of pain

Hand Over Your Loved Ones is not tedius at all, it’s playful grunge pop with melodies that cling onto you psyche long after the record stops. This was a dark horse in this group which turned into the clear winner with some excellently put together songs like Anyway, Freak On, American In Amsterdam, The Song That I Wrote When You Dissed Me and of course the rather epic, weird and humorous Dynomite Satchel Of Pain.

The distortion of Wheatus’s Hand Over Your Love Ones is in direct contrast to the clinical, clean lines of Beautiful South and Clannad. With Beautiful South, it’s the crisp clarity of the lead vocals. With Macalla, it’s the purity of the harmonies.
Hand Over Your Loved Ones is a wall of feedback by comparison. Its melodies coming through so strongly are a testament to the strength of the material, because that kind of fuzz can oftentime distract from the compositions themsleves. This is an offering that’s edgy enough to be a collection of relatable high school/university anthems, yet its frolicsome nature disguising a rather maturely contructed set of compositions. A more than solid album.

Bell-Bottomed Tears for Clannad

Macalla feels musically half way between Magical Ring and Sirius. It’s also half way between strong and not so strong, Closer To Your Heart, In a Lifetime (featuring Bono) and Northern Skyline are all good but maybe a few tracks are a little plain by comparison like Buachaill On Eirne, Blackstairs and Journey’s End. It’s a pleasant, if unconvincing listen. Not weak by any means yet probably the weakest Clannad album that I own.

Macalla can’t quite match the cooly dispassionate sound of 0898 Beautiful South by err, Beautiful South. An album that features the excellent piano pop of Bell Bottomed Tear and Old Red Eyes Is Back. The highly metaphorical lyrical imagery confused me as a teenager. Take We Are Eachother whereby Heaton exclaims “Remember we went shopping and we went by piggyback?” or from Something That You Said: “If you walk into your house and she’s cutting up your mother, she’s only trying to tell you that she loves you like no other” It took me a few years to tune into that wavelength.
With the likes of 36D, The Rocking Chair and We’ll Deal With You Later this is a solid collection of songs with no obvious weakness, superior to Macalla.

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