Those who know their metal history will remember that an original member of Trauma was Cliff Burton, the now deceased bass player who would go on to taste fame with Metallica. Scratch and Scream was recorded in 1984 after Burton left the band but this reissue is appended with three tracks from '82 that do feature the star in the making: "Such a Shame," the Zeppelin-esque "We're Going Off" and the Kansas-recalling "Woman Be Gone." The bonus cuts may be indebted to the classic rock era but the band's sound had evolved for Scratch and Scream; "The Day All Hell Broke Loose" sounds like Iron Maiden, "Lay Low" tunes into the rhythm that Judas Priest favored in their hit-making days and "Warlock" boogies like Motorhead. Potential new fans shouldn't approach this one as a novelty or just a Burton collectible; Scratch and Scream has been reissued because metal heads have been demanding it for decades.
The Sky There'll Always Be
Iacobini is a virtuoso electric guitarist that fans of players like Joe Satriani will be attracted to and this set of instrumental cuts opens with the very Satriani-esque "The Great Rush." Famed bass man Tony Levin guests on a couple of tracks including the funk-edged "Smoky Club's Blue Light;" also guesting on bass is Billy Sheehan who appears on the airy title track. The album's centerpieces are the very jazzy "A Cup of Shred Wine (Part One)" and "A Cup of Shred Wine (Part Two);" both are fusion pieces that demonstrate a love of groups like Weather Report, with Iacobini veering nearly into Zappa territory on "Part Two." Penultimate cut "Solid Rock" is another funky workout while the downbeat and sax-enhanced closer "Eolain Islands" wraps the album up sublimely.
Days Between Stations
Keyboard player Oscar Fuentes Bills and guitarist Sepand Samzadeh are Days Between Stations and In Extremis is a masterful channeling of the old school prog sound. The album opens with "No Cause For Alarm," an instrumental overture, then moves into the Pink Floyd-ish and also instrumental "In Utero." The guys have some incredible sidemen helping out: Tony Levin, drummer Billy Sherwood, Rick Wakeman, Colin Moulding (XTC) and the late Peter Banks (Yes) are all onboard. Moulding sings on 10-minute cut "Visionary" and again on the much shorter "The Man Who Died Two Times," a poppy cut that would have been a surefire hit at radio back in the '70s prog heyday. The delicate "Waltz in E Minor" is dedicated to Banks, who plays on only two cuts, "Eggshell Man" and the six-part "In Extremis." Between them though those two cuts play out over a delightful 33-minutes, or about half of the album. A definite winner for prog fans.
Devil's in the Details
How can you resist a band whose members are named Speed, Danno, ZZ and Skoot? The hard rockin' foursome has got the chops to go with their stage nicknames too. "Coming Alive" is a Metallica/Rob Zombie mash-up about life after dark but the band shows more of their own sound on the rest of the album. "I Don't Care" is a good example of what these guys do; the song grinds hard enough to satisfy metal heads yet there's enough melody and a hook-filled chorus to make the song a perfect fit for hard rock radio. Closer "Hello" has an acoustic guitar intro and even though the song ultimately busts out the electric guitars it shows that Silvertung doesn't need bombast to sound good.
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