I've been dreading writing this review for a really long time, but I can't dodge it any longer. As much as Iron Maiden is one of the CORE bands of my entire existence, saying that BRITISH LION is anything but mediocre to subpar drivel is impossible. Certainly, the guys from Iron Maiden have done projects outside the band before. Bruce Dickinson's solo career is astoundingly good. Adrian Smith's Psycho Motel albums weren't bad either. But this...ugh. It hurts to write, because more than anything else, Steve Harris basically IS Iron Maiden. He's the maestro of their sound, the creative force behind the band. He's the producer. He's just about everything for Maiden. That said, you have to wonder just why he brought NONE of that skillset to this project that has his name on top of it. BRITISH LION is a dull, drab collection of songs with fairly subpar production value (for which Kevin Shirley should be ashamed for taking a check considering the mix of this turd). Listening to this and even remotely comparing this sound to ANYTHING Iron Maiden has released since, say, 1985 leaves you wondering why Harris didn't just scrap this or put more money into it to make it sound better.
There's been several incarnations of Krokus, at least as I hear it. There's been multiple versions of the band, so much so that I think that there hasn't been a single member that's been along for the entire ride of the band. They have had a metal period, a hard rock period, a hair metal period, and a blues rock (spelled AC/DC) period. While they have had some really bad albums from time to time though, they have never fully lost their edge or their ability to be, ultimately, a solid band. On the heals of their highly successful album HOODOO, Krokus has taken the more blues rock sound from that album and furthered it with their latest, DIRTY DYNAMITE. While certainly not the best thing they've ever done, DIRTY DYNAMITE is a fun, bluesy album chock full of solid songs. While it's almost certainly not going to attract any new audience, it's definitely not going to push anyone that's been following along away.
There's just a feeling of anticipation for the majestic when you hear that a new Saxon release is forthcoming. You know each and every time that these English rockers are going to deliver something that just sounds big, triumphant and awesome. Sure, they have had their albums that weren't that good. But overall, they are one of those bands who's disappointing albums are not so bad that you would ever write them off completely.
THE SAVAGE PLAYGROUND
For 80s metalheads, there are two types of people. There are the type that stand firm by the explosion of Nirvana onto the scene as the moment when all future music stopped being good, and there are those that are always looking for new and exciting music that maintains that melodic, fun spirit that the 80s produced. For me, I fall into the latter category. Any band that's trying to recapture that fun, rockin' spirit that the 80s unleashed on the world will always get my ear. There's good and bad for these newer bands. On the bad side, there's always the old bands that prove that they've hung on too long, or new bands that poorly recreate the look and don't have the music to back it. Then there are some really good bands out there that really capture it without becoming a spoof band like Steel Panther. Crashdiet are one of those bands that get it. While many wrote them off with the death of vocalist Dave Lepard, this band has really put it back together. Their latest, THE SAVAGE PLAYGROUND, is about as solid a classic metal sounding release as you will ever hear.
Soundgarden were one of those grunge bands that really just "got" it. Unlike bands like Nirvana who put their desolate life imagery in front of their music, Soundgarden was always musical first, attitude second. Without question, vocalist Chris Cornell portrayed a lot of pain and passion in his soul, but he also was quickly regarded as one of the best vocalists of the era. While they were always pretty good musically, they were a band though that was erratic at best in the live setting. I saw the band at least 12 times, and I'd say they were 50/50 good to bad live. They played masterfully at the greatest concert of my lifetime (Day On The Green '91 with Faith No More, Queensryche and Metallica), and they played absolutely horribly at times (most notable - Lollapalooza tour). Still, even when they went away, their albums BAD MOTERFINGER. SUPERUNKNOWN and DOWN FROM THE UPSIDE have stayed in fairly recent rotation in my iPod.