6 - Volcanic
5 - Blistering
4 - Hot
3 - Smoldering
2 - Room Temp.
1 - Fizzled
0 - Extinguished

A: Multiple Listening
B: Deserves Another Spin
C: Once Should Suffice

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NATIVITY IN BLACK II: A Tribute To Black Sabbath
With a few lapsing years since the first
N.I.B. cover compilation, the second one explodes at least equal impact. The dozen cover versions of the band that probably single-handedly lay the foundation for Heavy Metal, all of its derivatives and the bands who pay tribute here, pack a serious wallop. The first N.I.B. was a monster - this one not as much - perhaps because one could argue that the absolute very best tracks were used for the original compilation tribute - but, then Sabbath has so many amazing songs that another couple of these albums will be easy to release. The biggest difference here is also the more “now” generational inclusions. Still, the metal stalwarts like Slayer, Megadeth, Pantera and Max Cavalera’s Soulfly constitute the older guys. The younger generation is represented by the likes of System Of A Down, Hed(pe), Static-X and Godsmack. You can of course, not go wrong with Machine Head, Monster Magnet or Primus (with Ozzy!). A surprisingly uncharacteristic surprise for the closing track has Busta Rhymes taking on the Sabbs. The songs chosen include: Hand Of Doom, Never Say Die, Electric Funeral and Under The Sun. Then you also get Snowblind, Sabbra Cadabra, Behind The Wall Of Sleep and Sweet Leaf. Hole In The Sky, Into The Void, N.I.B. and Iron Man make up the rest. Again the thematic Tarot Card style artwork by Michael Caluta is astonishing. Each band also quotes a paragraph on what Black Sabbath meant to them - and who ever thought not much good comes from the UK? If you don’t recognize any of these songs, then, dear friend, it is education time.
- PB
5 / A

NEW BREED - Various Artists (Witchdoctor Records)
This SA metal compilation proves that local metal is getting better and better. Like its two predecessors, The Death Of Africa and 13, New Breed also covers a wide spectrum of heavy music. The Black Metal sounds of
Mjo"llnir is quite impressive and it's good to know that they also do the whole make-up and corpsepaint thing! Then you have Groinchurn's grinding brilliance (say no more) and the moody, hard edged, ominous driving metal of V. Demacretia opts for an Industrial/Death blend that will shatter any e-bunny's teeth. Crystal Dawn has an interesting blend of Melodic-, Thrash- and Black Metal. Mesadoth might be a little cheesy, but those into old-style thrash with a Christian angle, will dig it. Gra"mlich's Goth/Doom sound is a welcome change, but the vocals need some serious attention. Nocturnal Dominion reminds of Dark Throne, but is a more impressive, though. Gorelock, like P.I.T.T., is cool, catchy, heavy party-style metal, but its cheesy lyrics are a bit too much - but it's probably intentional. Rapture is a very young band, but it doesn't mean they're light in the trousers! Deviate's driving sound will wake anyone up while Morthor creates a blasting wall of sound. The compilation closes with a posthumous track by Retribution Denied and is, ironically, quite possibly the best they've ever done (R.I.P). This compilation deserves a listen by anyone who considers themself a supporter of SA music. You'll be pleasantly shocked and surprised at its high standard.
- PB
4 / B

NINEDAYS - The Madding Crowd
I’m not sure if you still get that genre that used to be known as “college rock”: happy-go-lucky sing-along tunes with young, smiling, guitar strumming white middle class twentysomethings…I think it has morphed into what I’d like to call the USTTVS sound (United States Teen Television Show). The Dawson’s Creek, Party Of Five, Madison type thing. Hey, I’m probably wrong, but if you know what I’m talking about, you’ll understand why
Ninedays would fit squarely in this little pigeonhole. The opening track, So Far Away, takes off mildly and escalates into quite an impressive little rocking number with simple but catchy riffs. Then they put their foot in it (for me, but not the rest of the world who love this track) with a whiney vocal intro “This is the story of a girl…” - oh, please. Then it seems to get worse with those predictable chord progressions and vocal patterns - but at least If I Am has strings thrown in, as you do nowadays. The slowed down acoustic Smells Like Teen Spirit riff no-one seems to be able to shake, makes its presence known with End Up Alone (and others), which does however have a semi-anthemic chorus and dual vocals. All said and done, they just can’t seem to shake those little annoying up & down intro lines before the songs kick in. The track Bob Dylan also boasts this habit, but the Dylan vocals and harmonica thrown into this almost inspirational track elevates it beyond what it could’ve been. The patterns are predictable but effective, each song eventually picking up in a gradual slide of the band’s more assertive union. In the end, most of these songs would make a perfect theme track for a new TV show about an American high school kid who lives next to his life long friend who has fallen for his other best friend yada-yada…
- PB
3 / C

98* - Revelation (Universal)
Remember that near boy-band called
No Mercy with those Spanish guitars thrown in? This tastes a lot like that, surpassing that N*Sync cliché with a bit more substance in the bowels and just a little more maturity in the whole package. Yeah, but they still soften you up (mostly if the male gender gets you hot) with words of supermegalove and faithful affection or begging forgiveness. Cool. For the alternative, check out the new Morbid Angel.
- PB
3 / C

NOTTING HILL - Motion Picture Soundtrack (Universal)
One would expect a nice, feel-good movie’s soundtrack to follow suit. That’s what we have here. The
Elvis Costello hit She has be played everywhere. Then there are superstars like Shania Twain, Texas, Lighthouse Family, Bill Withers and Al Green delivering nice, safe tracks. The boyband sounds of 98 Degrees was necessary, I guess. Spencer Davis Group is a little more gritty while Ronan Keating is the exact opposite. The final two instrumental tracks by composer Trevor Jones is filled with an emotional aim and mature essence, gliding from solitary acoustic guitar into orchestral swells and soft jazzy pop and back again. A nice album for a nice movie.
- PB
3 / C