1.) Amused To Death: Roger Waters
2.) Ultra Beatdown: Dragonforce
3.) New Adventures In Hi-Fi: R.E.M.
4.) Straight Outta Lynwood: Weird Al Yankovic
The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range
Amused To Death could be described as an attempt by Roger Waters to recite, through the medium of rock music, the full contents of a non-fiction libertarianism novel. This conceptual album takes in themes of war, liberty, economics and of course anit-establishment. Musical themes are re-used throughout with the What God Wants theme taking centre stage in numerous places.
Unlike Radio Waves, which sounded like Waters was trying to please other parties with what he committed to record, Amused To Death is pure Waters doing what he wants to do, his way. Yes, it sounds a bit like The Wall in places and at other times you could swear that Gilmour had contributed some of his Floyd solos (it’s actually Jeff Beck) but this is without doubt a highly original and brave record.
Do I Creep You Out?
In a time of YouTube and mass online self-publication, the parody genre offered up by Weird Al Yankovic seems massively diminished and though the production values of Straight Outta Lynwood are relatively high, it remains an album weighed down by a large feel of gimmickry. Lyrically brilliant but musically questionable.
White & Nerdy shows that Weird Al actually has a breathtaking talent for rap, whilst Polkarama is a skilled medley of contemporary pop, weaving in The Killers, Pussycat Dolls, Black Eyed Peas and even 50 Cent ! On the flip side though, Canadian Idiot comes across more insulting than humorous, Virus Alert is annoying and the musical quality drifts below an acceptable level on multiple occassions. Fourth.
Who Ordered the Speed Metal with Extra Cheese ?
It’s not an understatement to say that Dragonforce place a massive emphasis on guitar playing. Why wait for a break in the verse/chorus structure to play the guitar solo when you can just play it non-stop all over the godamn record? It’s like Steve Vai on fast forward. This is proper speed metal with extra cheese.
Ultra Beatdown features breathless time signtaures, total guitar overkill and over the top dramatics. It sounds like AOR on Speed: “Amphetamine Oriented Rock”.
But. Ultra Beatdown is a marked improvement on the first two Dragonforce albums that I listened to: “Inhuman Rampage” and “Valley Of The Damned“.
I know that speed is their USP but can’t help thinking that if they slowed the hell down they might just be able to produce some real quality rock.
The Sidewider sends me to Sleep Tonite
New Adventures In Hi-Fi in sonically close to R.E.M.’s previous effort Monster, which is not surprising considering much of it was recorded on the Monster tour. It sounds as if the band have thrown away the clinical production of Automatic For The People to produce a somewhat cloudy accoustic feel. A few bright rays manage to pierce the murky production such as Electrolite and So Fast, So Numb but overall I think NAIHF is a backwards step and a bit of snore-fest to be honest. R.E.M. are classy, don’t get me wrong, but classy and drab versus fun and fast? Ultra Beatdown edges it !