Korn – Follow The Leader (1998)

Nu Metal was seen mostly as a niche genre of heavy metal music. Before the release of this album the genre and band were not taken very seriously by music listeners. This album, Follow The Leader, changed that. It made Korn into superstars.

Does the album live up to the hype? Let’s find out.

We begin with the weird sounding It’s On! which then has a groove based beat and some freaky sounding distorted guitars. We head into Nu Metal territory right here, and it sounds demonic. Jonathan Davis’s ripping vocals enter the scene. The groovy sounding chorus hits you. A good way to start the album. It is totally different to most music out there.

The next song is Freak On A Leash. It’s about being ripped apart by emotions. The drumming here is excellent with rolling snare beats, leaving the rest of the band filling in with the distorted guitars and quiet/loud dynamics. The chorus is strange uplifting for a singer sounding like he is having some personal issues at hand. It’s brilliant though. Catchy too. The drop tuned guitars are fantastic to hear.

Got The Life, another hit single, is very catchy. It sounds like satanic disco, and the interplay between the instruments and singing are top notch. Jonathan Davis sounds like a man full of fear and rage, not many singers can fit that description. It is still a great listen today. It refers to a God that hates oneself. If you are Christian, stay away from this album. It is certain heavy listening.

Dead Bodies Everywhere is a slow start with a toy sounding melody, before bursting into a Nu Metal style danceable tune. That’s right, these guys had a great sense of musical accomplishment at hand. It’s not as strong as the two before it, but it’s a deeply disturbing listen. There is some semi wah-wah guitar sounds in the breakdown too.

The rebellious Children Of The Korn is a rap/metal piece. It sounds better than you’d expect. It’s just different, in a good way. It seems more subtle than what came before. Ice Cube is featured here as the rapper, and does a great job. This sort of song would likely have got some good attention here for Korn.

The next piece, B.B.K. sounds creepy. It’s designed to sound that way. This is almost like Industrial Music in the respect that it sounds rather freaky. But in any case, it still sounds consistent to listen to. The semi rapped jibberish on this one is interesting as well. This album is very heavy indeed.

Pretty is not what you’d expect. It sounds monstrous in the chorus, whilst being quieter in the verses, a good Nirvana style trick. The lyrics are horrific, taking a likely influence from Death Metal or a similar source. Sort of a cross between Nirvana and Slayer. It’s effective though.

All In The Family is a rather disturbing tale of horrific sex. It’s not really worth mentioning in this review as it is rather disturbing lyrical adventure. It’s a good listen if you want to hear some freaky stuff though.

The next song, Reclaim My Place has some more unusual guitars and bass work once again, focuses on personal issues. Strangely enough, this seems to be the case throughout the album. It’s a lesser track on the album but still, it’s okay. It’s about fighting demons from within and without. The repeated screaming of the phrase: “WHAT THE FUCK?!” is epic and brilliant.

Up next is Justin. Surprisingly for a Nu Metal band, these guys can groove too. This is a case in point, this is a heavy, groove based piece. It has some good wah-wah guitar and multi-tracked sound effects and vocals. This makes for a compelling listen. Korn sounding heavier than most forms of music out there, and this is an example of that. This song is rather long though, it could have benefitted from some editing here. Otherwise, it’s okay.

Seed begins with some quiet sounds, before launching into more Nu Metal goodness. It is rather slow to begin with, but once Jonathan Davis begins singing, we are back in Nu Metal territory. It sounds like a plea for help from the singer here. It breaks down into a mid-section with bass guitar and excellent drumming, before beginning to rock hard. It’s a surprising listen all the way through.

Cameltosis begins with some goosebump inducing sounds, sounding like a distorted electric sitar. It then goes into a song asking a woman of fancy what she wants sexually. You could only imagine the restrictions by those who find this album scary towards others, namely parents and authorities. This is not light music at all, it is some of the heaviest music you will hear. The drum loop at the end is awesome.

The next song, My Gift To You starts with, get this, bagpipe style sounds with Nu Metal guitars. It’s certainly different, but better than the last two songs for sure. It’s another great listen from the world of Nu Metal here. It has some down-pitched distorted vocals here too. Great stuff. It certainly sounds warped. The repeated screams about hating someone and feeling the pain are brilliant.

The last piece Earache My Eye starts with a spoken word piece. It seems totally unnecessary to begin with. The last piece here is a nonsensical Nu Metal piece. It finishes off the album quite nicely, and we come to a close here.

Nu Metal rose in popularity after the release of this album. It’s not the best album ever, but it’s not bad still. The only real drawback? Many of the songs here are quite long, some editing of the length of album would have helped. Otherwise, it is a good entry to the world of Nu Metal here.

7/10

Van Halen – 1984 (1984)

Keyboards and Van Halen? Sounds a little odd when put to work. But Van Halen was onto a winner here. It seemed like a perfect fit for the time and was the last album in Van Halen’s original David Lee Roth era.

It’s a great album from start to finish, second only to the self-titled debut album by Van Halen. Let’s check out this album, track by track.

We begin with the introductory 1984. No guitars, just some very 1980’s keyboard sounds. It’s a great way to kick off this album. Soothes the soul well indeed.

Next up is the most popular Van Halen song ever Jump. It features some great keyboard playing by Eddie Van Halen, some subdued guitar playing as well and David Lee Roth’s holler, which is very good. It sounds great. Armin Van Buuren remixed this song recently, which is just as good as the original. A pop classic.

Panama follows and features Eddie Van Halen’s Kramer 5150 guitar, which he built himself in the Kramer factory. It’s a great rock song with some great lyrics: “Model citizen, zero discipline.” It has some great singing from Diamond Dave. An awesome song.

Top Jimmy has some great harmonic based guitar parts, before launching into an interesting song about a rock star. “They love it when he rolls his eyes” indeed. It has some truly great guitar work by Eddie Van Halen here. A good piece to listen to.

Sex aplenty in California arrives with Drop Dead Legs. It’s a strange fetish, but one which is covered well here. This is likely the dirtiest sounding album from Van Halen and certainly shows it off here too. Drop Dead Legs is laugh out loud funny. Keep the feminists away from this one, for sure.

The next song is the classic Hot For Teacher. Yes, you read correctly. It’s a great story without any morals whatsoever. Just listen to it and laugh out loud to the story here. But musically, it’s great too. It is one of the fastest Van Halen songs too but done so well.

I’ll Wait is a keyboard lead song about a creepy pervert. The Van Halen crew obviously lacked morals here, but without that in mind, it sounds like a weird love song. Either way, it’s effective here as well.

Girl Gone Bad continues our tales of lust without love. It’s a good song about a girl who does something along the lines of stripteasing for a profession. It’s an interesting topic, and very macho sounding indeed. The outro is fantastic.

Lastly, House Of Pain talks about S&M more out there than The Velvet Underground ever did. It’s a great song about the topic and ends the album nicely. A great listen.

This album is a classic from start to finish. It truly sounds great in every way, and cemented Van Halen as rock legends. After this, David Lee Roth left and Sammy Hagar joined the group, making a different direction for Van Halen. But despite all that, this is a great album and not a bad song is here.

9/10

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (1970)

This is the first really good album of Pink Floyd’s after Syd Barrett’s departure. Understandably, this was new territory for Pink Floyd and the group was still coming to terms with the loss of Syd. Still, it’s a very good listen, despite the fact it is no Dark Side Of The Moon. It’s essential listening if you like Pink Floyd. It was also their first UK #1 album as well.

It’s likely inspired by recent acts of the time, such as King Crimson. Pink Floyd were art school students, and they treated their work as such. This is a perfect snapshot of the era.

We begin with the 23-minute long title track Atom Heart Mother. It begins with some dark electronic sounds and some trumpets, before emerging into a glorious-sounding piece. It sounds classy, and English. The band then enters the scene, with some nice drum work by Nick Mason. A motorbike speeds off as well. Layered keyboard pieces then arrive, which sound sweet. More instrumentation enters the scene, with beautiful slide guitar to paint the picture. Classical type instrumentation arrives next, and this is just the first five minutes. An era evoking trippy organ and gospel vocals match the piece after that. The gospels vocals are emotional here, proto Dark Side Of The Moon style. The drums then re-emerge into the picture, sounding suitably appropriate. The melody suddenly changes, allowing Roger Waters’s bass and David Gilmour’s guitar playing to really shine here. The latter will touch your soul here, it sounds so beautiful and wonderful. That fades out, leaving us with some chanting and well-mixed melodies. It is a rewarding listen here. We then revisit the trumpets and drum led part, before sliding into a discordant section. It sounds rather creepy. A crash like sound makes the instrumentation fall apart. Much of the previous sections of this song are then revisited, like a retrospective LSD trip. The main section is reintroduced. Violins match the main part, and the slide guitar returns. The crescendo emerges, and we finish with the climax of backing vocals. A great trip indeed.

Following is the song named If. It’s a short and melancholy based piece. It’s a devotion to emotion, and there is some gentle singing along with acoustic guitar and electric slide guitar to boot. It’s a nice little change from what has been before, but all the same, just as emotional, artistic and effective.

Summer ’68 is the last Syd Barrett Pink Floyd song. They simply added some instrumentation to this vocal cut and sounds very emotional. “How do you feel?” asks Syd. Pink Floyd obviously missed Syd’s presence, and it is a nice traditional swan song for his vocals. There is piano and acoustic guitar to match here, a nice song regardless. It nearly stops in the middle of the song but starts again. A good twist.

Fat Old Sun follows with wedding bells, to begin with, and end with, and then emerges into a smooth vocal and acoustic guitar with Roger Waters singing. It’s a rather throwaway piece, but all the same fits the album nicely.

The 13 minute long Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast is a bit of sound effect based trip for a guy who makes breakfast. There is a nice musical interlude in between the delay heavy samples here. Piano and organ enter the scene, and Richard Wright excels here with his playing. Guitar parts also occur. It’s nothing special this, but still a good listen of a guy who is making his own breakfast. The musical interlude comes and goes again. Sounds very laidback. Towards the end, the sounds repeat, like a reoccurring LSD trip. It’s a pleasant listen and ends the album nicely. We end the album feeling satisfied, as Alan leaves the scene and goes on to do other things for the rest of the day.

This is a real art based album. There are many different elements and structure in this recording. If you dig psychedelic/progressive rock and want something unusual to listen to, in a good way, Atom Heart Mother is a good place to start.

8/10

The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963)

The Beatles really launched modern music. Before their arrival, the rock scene was considered a quick fad with no real long term potential. This album and The Beatles changed everything.

It’s not even their best album and it has a load of covers on it. But it is so good compared to most rock music that came before it that it launched Beatlemania and the real 1960s begins here.

Let’s give this a whirl, see how it sounds.

We begin with I Saw Her Standing There. It’s an upbeat pop song, and you can hear how good The Beatles were from the word go. A nice listen about romantic adventures on the dancefloor. A good start.

The follow-up Misery is a downtempo number about losing one’s love. It sounds so much nicer than Coldplay did at their best. It’s a nice little number from The Beatles.

Anna (Go To Him) is about putting a good end on a failed relationship. Hard to believe that this album was very much live, recorded on a four-track recording machine. It blows much of the modern music today away. And yes, this is a good song too.

Chains is a song about being trapped in a love-based situation. It sounds so joyful and uplifting that it makes up for the simplistic lyrics. Even the lesser tracks on this album sound great.

The next song Boys has a good melody and plenty of “bop shoo wop” chanting. It’s about what a woman desires, and there is a great guitar solo here by George Harrison. It sounds really listenable, even though it is fairly 1960s in its approach. However, that is not a bad thing at all.

The next cut Ask Me Why is more romantic stuff. “Ask me why, I’ll say I love you, and I am always thinking of you.” A very nice song and sentiment here. More romantic sentiments like these should exist in pop music of today. It’s a snapshot of an important musical era.

Please Please Me is the title track and the group’s first #1 single. It’s not as good as some of the other singles by The Beatles, but a nice and reassuring song that takes you into The Beatles musical journey. A good song, even if it is not their best.

Love Me Do is a better song. Complete with a chant-like chorus and harmonica to boot, there is an undercurrent of sexual energy and expression in this song. Nonetheless, this is one of the best songs from this album, if not the best.

The next song, P.S. I Love You sounds like a nice letter written. It’s pure romance in a song. The singing here is great, loving and happy. This sort of thing is often ignored in today’s music.

The Burt Bacharach cover Baby It’s You comes next. It’s a slow ballad piece about being hurt in a relationship. It’s about believing the hype about a failed relationship and holding onto love, despite how bad it has gone. There’s a xylophone in it, too.

Do You Want To Know A Secret? is about trust in a loving relationship. It’s a great piece of romanticism and shines bright on this album. Very good.

A Taste Of Honey refers directly to the first kiss being done in person to someone who is more or less a stranger. It’s a lovely sentiment of a song. It’s a good statement from this album.

The next cut There’s A Place is a good upbeat piece, although the lyrics are different in this respect. Indeed, it’s about giving people breathing space in a relationship. A well thought out song.

The final song Twist And Shout shows that John Lennon really could sing, although he had a cold during the recording of this album. It’s a good and danceable piece and finishes the album off nicely.

This album is self-explanatory. The Beatles would go on to do bigger and better things musically. But hey, if you are a music historian, this needs to be heard. A good album, although the best was yet to come.

8/10

Kid Rock – Devil Without A Cause (1998)

Kid Rock seemingly came out of nowhere with this album, but he had spent many years trying to make it. He had three hit and miss albums prior to this landmark release, Devil Without A Cause. He had been arrested and thrown into jail overnight in 1997 upon being signed to his first major label recording deal. However, despite this, this album changed everything.

Bawitdaba begins our journey, and it has some awesome rap like chanting and screaming before bursting into a great rap/rock piece about Kid Rock’s world. It’s got some awesomely humourous and classy lyrics in it. A must listen – and a Kid Rock classic. The guitar riffs are just killer.

Cowboy follows, and is really very funny. It’s got a great chorus and lyrics otherwise. “Riding at night, because I sleep all day.” Cue the hysterical jokes. But that aside, it’s a great musical piece. Kid Rock does well here. Excellent stuff. Laugh out loud funny.

The title track Devil Without A Cause has the most funktastic wah-wah riff introducing us to the said devil himself, Kid Rock. This guy obviously knows how to rock a party, but does it in such a fantastic way that is imitable. The Kid has come of age here, and he would never look back.

The next piece was an early recording re-released for this album. I Am The Bullgod refers to god-knows-what. But it’s a catchy and upbeat piece, and great to listen to. It’s a classic Kid Rock piece, referring to himself as top dog and a pot god. What a legend.

Roving Gangster (Rollin’) is a funky and musically layered and textured piece telling us a little bit about Kid Rock, touring with Ice Cube when he was younger. He also refers to himself as a trucker and various other things. Yep, Kid Rock is self-obsessed but it’s a great listen nonetheless.

Wasting Time is about what Kid Rock likes to do best in his spare time. Believe it or not, the melodies and lyricism stand out well here. It’s not even a standout track but holds up well. “A little bit of love, that’s all I need. A little inspiration, and a bag of weed.” Classy.

The extended Welcome 2 the Party (Ode 2 the Old School) is a great old school rap like piece. It’s got many different sections and different elements to it, and Kid Rock lets loose towards the end. It’s fantastic, proof that Kid Rock was only just beginning in his musical path in life.

The funktastic I Got One for Ya’ is a great song with Kid Rock’s IDGAF attitude prevalent on it. It’s another great pastiche here, with a great outro. How does he do music like this? Only Kid Rock knows, or so we think.

Somebody’s Gotta Feel This is a rock/metal piece that delivers just really well to the listener and sounds rather Black Sabbath-like in its phrasing. It’s mega cool, and Kid Rock sounds inspired here.

Fist Of Rage is a screamer and shows how good Kid Rock is at vocal delivery. It features some well mixed and variable sounds here. It’s almost heavy metal here, except that Kid Rock is delivering it. Well done.

The answer to where Kid Rock gets his inspiration as the Devil Without A Cause is here: Only God Knows Why. It was written as a self-expression type piece starting during that night in jail but becomes a great serious song on its own. It’s self-obsessed as well for sure, but it is really touching as well. Not too bad here.

And after all that, we have a not-so-serious song at all, the rather awful but direct Fuck Off. Yes, that is what it is called. Anyway, it’s got some interesting lyrics. And guess what? An early Eminem part is here at the end, showing Kid Rock’s foresight in terms of recognising future talent. Interesting in that respect. In between this song and the next one, we have some real Kid Rock answering machine messages, which sound brutal. What a devil.

Where U At Rock follows, it’s a relatively catchy piece with Kid Rock showing some attitude here. It’s a little weaker as a song compared to some of the others, but it’s still Kid Rock being himself. Which isn’t a bad thing really, at least on record.

Black Chic, White Guy / I Am The Bullgod is a two-piece track. The first is a messed up true life story about Kid Rock’s life, a bad experience with an ex-girlfriend of his. The latter is a very good rework of I Am The Bullgod, which depending on your view, is either good or unnecessary. But it’s good anyway.

This record went platinum many times over and made Kid Rock famous. It’s a good record full of twists and turns, by a very humourous and selfish person, Kid Rock. Like him or not, he is here to stay in the music world and is no doubt very good at what he does.

8/10

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love (1967)

After the release of Are You Experienced, Jimi Hendrix and his Experience band went to work to deliver the follow-up. It was also released in 1967 and confirmed Jimi Hendrix’s place in history. It’s perhaps not as strong as the first offering by the group but is still a great album. Let’s dive in and have a listen.

We begin with EXP is a blast of science fiction in musical terms. Science fiction was not very popular in movie culture until much later. This proves the forward thinking on the subject of U.F.Os by the group. An interesting intro.

It leads into Up From The Skies, which features a good wah-wah guitar part and some calm vocals by Jimi Hendrix. It proves the ability of the group to create a nice sounding and variable piece musically. It’s just chilled, which is great.

Spanish Castle Magic is a loud, raw and driven piece by the group. It features Jimi Hendrix playing a Mosrite guitar, as opposed to his typical Fender Stratocaster, which is unusual. Still, it works well and sounds great.

Wait Until Tomorrow tells a tale of lost love in an instant. The song is a great story like tale in this respect, but Hendrix sounds so optimistic about it all, it’s forgivable to cover a difficult subject. It’s a good piece by the group.

Next up is Ain’t No Telling. Even though this one is not as strong a piece as the other songs on the album, it sounds just really great. It references Cleopatra too. It’s really short, but good listening.

The next piece is legendary. Little Wing features excellent guitar work by Jimi Hendrix himself with some imaginative lyrics. It has been covered by a lot of artists from all genres, cementing its relevance, even today.

The centrepiece of this album follows. If 6 Was 9 speaks about being independent and doing one’s thing lyrically. It does this in such a Hendrix style way and is such an impressive statement from him. Great stuff from Jimi Hendrix. The instrumentation is just as good as the lyrics, both intertwine in importance. Brilliant.

You Got Me Floatin’ is a great pop piece by Jimi Hendrix. It’s short enough and catchy enough to make it onto the album. Although this album may seem not as impressive to others out there, it’s a solid number, even on its own. It demands listening.

Castles Made Of Sand is another short and sweet piece. It refers to the fact that nothing lasts forever. Despite all this, Jimi Hendrix’s great music is still popular today. It’s such well-done music that one listens to it and feels impressed by what is offered. The outro is superb.

The following song is sung by bassist Noel Redding. She’s So Fine does sound very good indeed, and references the hippies of the time and the strangeness of the lady spoken about. It’s a good piece with some great drumming as well from Mitch Mitchell. Not at all bad.

Back to Hendrix on vocals now arrives One Rainy Wish. It talks about dreaming and the perceptions of such dreams, talking in particular about golden roses. It’s a little weaker, but still a great song by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. This whole album is so consistent, even though it’s not Hendrix’s best. Well done.

Little Miss Lover has some funky like wah-wah guitar parts and a groove to match. It’s a good piece, and very poptastic. Not bad a sonic journey.

Axis: Bold As Love is the final and title track. It refers to an emotion that is often ignored by others. It’s not the most original Hendrix piece, but speaks directly about colours and relating them to emotions. An epic way to finish the album, and what a great listen we have heard.

This recording further cemented Jimi Hendrix’s place in rock history. Although he only made three official records during his short lifetime, his influence has lasted ever since he recorded these superb albums. Do yourself a favour and give this one a good listen. It’s so surreal and imaginative sounding that it is a wake-up call to all music lovers out there.

9/10

Nirvana – In Utero (1993)

Kurt Cobain was not in a good state of mind by 1993. He had struggled to cope with fame and heroin addiction as well. Plus, marrying Courtney Love wasn’t exactly a great move. He still had some great music in him though and unleashed this album in that year.

The album is a step closer to what Kurt Cobain wished to do musically. It’s a rawer and more unapologetic stance in comparison to Nevermind, with help from producer Steve Albini. Indeed, Kurt Cobain disliked Butch Vig’s production on Nevermind intensely and although this album was mixed for a more pop sort of audience, there is no doubt that the music here is a more uncompromising version of Nirvana than Nevermind ever was, especially lyrically. Perhaps the name and artwork of the album referred to his daughter being conceived, quite odd really.

We start off with Serve The Servants and we have Kurt sounding more distressed than ever. The band puts in a great performance here though, and there are plenty of distorted guitars here to boot.

The next song Scentless Apprentice is a heavy and distorted pop Grunge song to boot. It goes from slow to furious in a nanosecond. Dave Grohl really does well here on drums and keeps the groove going well.

Heart-Shaped Box is an indirect stab at Kurt’s wife Courtney Love and has some pretty freaky lyrics. Kurt’s guitar work sounds really good here and is the standout of this song. “Forever in debt to your priceless advice.” Sounds like a man who was not enjoying his life.

Rape Me is notoriously explicit. But it’s a catchy piece at that. Kurt insists he is not the only one who desires this feeling and is rather an odd concept to get your head around. It sounds a lot like Smells Like Teen Spirit in the intro, at least.

The next track Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle is a slower and more melodic song, but still sounds messed up Kurt Cobain style. It sounds not out of place on the album, however.

The following track Dumb is a mainly acoustic and cello piece where Kurt sings about comparing happiness to stupidity. It’s a strange notion, but one that has meaning behind it. A good and more mellow song nonetheless.

Very Ape is a rather throwaway song. Good thing it only lasts a couple of minutes. Interestingly, this song has the riff at the start that was used in The Prodigy’s Voodoo People track. It’s a rather odd Nirvana piece regardless.

Milk It goes from PiL style guitar parts in the quieter section, to a loud noisy roar in the main sections of it. Kurt wasn’t happy with himself at this point, “Look on the bright side is suicide.” and despite the negativity, it is good Grunge pop.

We come across another hit single. Pennyroyal Tea starts off with a mellow acoustic part before Kurt Cobain launches into music that tells the world about some of his various problems. Kurt wanted to lay everything bare here.

It goes deeper on the next piece Radio Friendly Unit Shifter and Kurt Cobain questions the reasons for his problems in life. He repeatedly asks, “What is wrong with me? What do I think? I think.” From a lyrical point of view, we know that Kurt Cobain was losing it mentally, amongst the great music here.

Tourette’s comes next and is a much more pacey punk song about nothing in particular. It has a great chord progression in it, however. It just kicks ass and changes the mood a little bit before the last track.

All Apologies finishes Kurt’s career, for the most part, with a musical suicide note. He questions everything that he stands for and leaves us sadly with this song. It’s a good epitaph for his musical life.

This album sold well, but not as much as Nevermind did. Sadly Kurt was in a state of mental decline at this point. His death by suicide left behind a musical legacy that should have been continued. Still, this album is a great if not dark listen to all rock fans out there. Much like Kurt’s idol Ian Curtis of Joy Division, suicide was seen as acceptable, sadly. It’s best to focus on the music instead, and this album is just awesome.

Nirvana fans should check out the re-releases and extra tracks put onto those remastered re-releases. It’s a great Grunge album for sure regardless.

8/10