Review: AFM Records – 25 Years Metal Addiction – The Rare and The Unreleased
AFM Records (October 29th)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
AFM Records is celebrating their 25th anniversary by releasing a 2-disk collection of songs that lay unreleased, ended up as region-restricted bonus tracks, or were previously released digitally only, a whopping 30 songs in total! The songs run the gamut of various styles of hard rock/metal and is quite eclectic. I am very familiar with some of the bands on this compilation while others I have only heard about through online sources. I feel the best way to tackle this review is to cover it in three parts: 1) A review of the bands I am familiar with and the reason I would consider buying this collection, 2) A review of a few bands I am not familiar with but was impressed by what I heard, and 3) Songs that did nothing for me because of a dislike for the overall genre and/or songs that are frankly awful.
My interest was peaked to review this collection when I found out that there would be an Evidence One unreleased track on the album. Their 2004 album ‘Tattooed Heart’ is a massively under appreciated masterpiece. ‘Wait Up For More’ sounds very similar to their song ‘Virus In My Veins’, which may explain why it was left in the vaults. A good song nonetheless. Bloodbound are represented with ‘Bloodheads United’, which is a cheesy tribute to their fans. (Side note – Helloween released a similar song recently called ‘Pumpkins United’, is this some new trend?). Lordi, a band I love, showcase ‘Hulking Dynamo’, a Japan bonus track from their album ‘To Best Or Not To Beast’. That album is one of their weaker releases and this song does not improve that album in any way. Brainstorm is a band that runs hot and cold with me, but their song ‘The Kindred Soul’ is a keeper. It’s better than most of the songs I’ve heard from them lately and I’m surprised it was left off of an album. Dynazty’s album ‘Firesign’ is a great album and I’m glad to see the Japan bonus track (‘Prestige’) featured here. Finally, the best song in this collection goes to Shakra. The track ‘I Want It’ was unreleased, but sounds like a bonus track from one of their best albums, ‘Rising’. A kick-ass rocker that has been played numerous times in a row, especially while I was driving. It’s the type of song that needs to be cranked while behind the wheel.
Moving on to bands that I have heard for the first time with this release, Herman Frank’s ‘Forever’ is a moody atmospheric belter with a killer chorus. Metalite is fairly new to the scene and do a great cover of Stratovarius’ ‘Hunting High and Low’. I’ve never heard of the band Emil Bulls and I am not much for singers who scream rather than sing, but the heavy yet melodic chorus in ‘Night Over Disneyland’ works for me and won me over.
Then there is the rest. The Celtic-infused medieval metal bands Elvenking and Dragonland do nothing for me as I am not a fan of this genre. Therefore, it would not be something I could fairly review. I really wanted to like Deaf Rat’s version of Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’ and listened to it several times, but it is just too basic and not particularly well performed. Finally, from the depths of Hell, comes a death metal cover version of Ricky Martin’s ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ from More Principium Est. Why, just…..why???
So the question you need to ask yourself is should you buy a CD with such a variation in styles? For my money, yes. I can’t do a breakdown of all the songs on this release so I wanted to highlight some of the best and worst. That being said, there is at least one disk’s worth of songs worthy of your attention and money. My general buying principle is if there’s only a few good songs on a release just purchase those songs, but if at least half of the album has good songs, then you should buy the whole album. AFM is offering this 2-disk collection at a reduced price, all the more reason to purchase without hesitation.