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I'm always on the lookout for new bands and I have always considered myself quite into heavy metal so decided my best shot at discovering a whole new band was to procure myself a compilation album to try out a range of styles. I stumbled across "21st Century Media Blitz Vol.2" and decided that sounded like a good bet - I was familiar with the Century Media label and knew they had some good bands on there, the word Blitz sounded all exciting and stuff and the fact this was Vol. 2 suggested a successful Vol. 1 predecessor. 40 songs for less than £6 couldn't be bad, could it?
Before purchasing I had a precursory scroll through the playlist and only recognised a few of the bands (this album was compiled in 2001 so if any of these bands had made it to the big time they must have passed me by), but espied one of my all time favourite bands ever, Lacuna Coil, so decided if they were on this album then I was practically guaranteed to find something on here that I could get into.
The album is divided into two discs each with 20 songs on so you certainly get value for money. The insert sleeve is well worth a gander as you learn a bit about the label itself and get a nice little insight into how the songs were picked for each disc with the first disc as an intercontinental cross-section and the second as a dive into the British underground scene as it was back in 2001.
1. Satellite 19 - Acrimony
2. Brighter Than The Sun - Tiamat
3. Lesion - Stampin' Ground
4. Not Promised Tomorrow - Stuck Mojo
5. Butterfly FX - Moonspell
6. Noah - Skinlab
7. Stab - Sundown
8. Calculated - Rykers
9. Immortal - Arch Enemy
10. Discipline Of Self Loathing - Turmoil
11. Supra Karma - Samael
12. Last Laugh - Iced Earth
13. Can't Escape - Fury Of Five
14. My Wings - Lacuna Coil
15. Sleep The Sleep Of Angels - Rotting Christ
16. Flame To The Surface - Cryptopsy
17. Heart Plea Story - Haste
18. Find My Way - Merauder
19. Depend On Me - BF
20. Died Yesterday - Asphyx
1. This World - Kill II This
2. Off Kilter - Earthtone 9
3. Blue Snow - Orange Goblin
4. Enemy - Tribute To Nothing
5. Super Scud - Raging Speedhorn
6. Sunquake - Hangnail
7. Role Model - King Prawn
8. Castdown - Light Of The Morning
9. Damaged Pride - Entwined
10. Bleed This Illness - Medulla Nocte
11. Eight Miles To The Sun - Shallow
12. Body About To Burst - Freebase
13. Phuelled By Farmaceuticals - Lab Rats
14. North And South Divide - Assert
15. Final Plan - As She Screams
16. Grounded - Screenstar
17. My Choice - Unite
18. Protest And Survive - Solstice
19. Nadja - Akercocke
20. Meal Ticket - Sunlounger
For me, this album seems to have been geared towards showcasing little known or underrated bands to give them recognition, and as a result many of the songs are a little raw and unpolished. The focus, as is implied by the title, is on heavy metal - there are a few songs which break the mould, but the majority of the album is filled with very heavy tracks with full on death metal voices and hardcore guitar riffs.
I can see what the album was trying to do, but unfortunately, and this is purely down to my personal taste, it was just a little too heavy for me and I found a lot of the songs ended up just sounded the same - particularly as I'm not a fan of death metal voices. I guess I'm not into heavy metal as much as I thought I was! But I persisted and played the album repeatedly until my ears bled and my neighbours threatened to get an ASBO out on me as I simply couldn't admit defeat and was determined to find something to like that wasn't just Lacuna Coil.
That persistence just about paid off as there were a few songs which caught my attention and opened up an avenue of new bands to explore, so it wasn't a total waste, but out of the 40 tracks I probably would only willingly listen to 10 or so of them which isn't a great ratio - but again that is solely down to my personal taste. I think if you are really into thrash / death metal then you probably would really love this album, but I just misjudged the genre of the album a little due to my ignorance of the bands.
So, what does Disc One have in store for us?
Well there is a mix on this one - albeit with half of the tracks falling into the hardcore death / thrash metal category which were consequently just swept aside due to my brain asking "Are you trying to kill me?". For the other half of the tracks there were a few stand-out tracks which moved away from the predominant thrash style and ranged from Gothic sounding industrial metal to a fun punk / rap style - and of course my beloved Lacuna Coil. For me, they actually seemed very out of place on this album and were clearly only on there to promote them (as they weren't particularly big at the time).
A couple of the tracks - notably Moonspell and Samael - were very Rammstein-esque with a cool synthesised quality to them which really grab your attention. I particularly loved Samael's Supra Karma which is probably my favourite track off the album - it had a really great tune with a dark industrial metal style which I always found myself unconsciously head swaying to.
I also liked the song by Tamat which could best be described as a pleasant song (along with Lacuna Coil) in comparison to the rest of the album. This song was softened by male/female dual vocals and much slower tempo with much softer guitars. Definitely a stand-out song for me, but may not be one for the death metallists out there.
The other songs which caught my attention were metal with a punk / rap / grunge feel to them which were again of a much slower tempo than the rest of the album and had a completely different attitude. Stuck Mojo's Not Promised Tomorrow was one of two live songs on this disc, and had some excellent guitar riffs and a very punky attitude to it. Likewise, Can't Escape by Fury of 5 had again a slightly punky feel to it and was quite a catchy song. I also really liked Noah by Skinlab which was raw and grungy but again very different from the thrash metal dominating the disc.
So, the rest of the album was all a little samey, with very fast, angry and often thrashy songs, but all with brilliant guitar riffs displaying an enormous amount of skill in the bands, but which were all ruined for me by an unpleasant death metal voice which detracted from the music with undecipherable vocals. But, hey, if you like that sort of thing...
And Disc Two?
There was probably a lot less variation on this disc which was focusing entirely on little known British offerings. More than half of the tracks on this disc fall into the thrash / death metal category so again I found it hard to distinguish these tracks as they all sound the same to me - I find the guitars overpowering and cannot understand a word being sung.
The stand-out songs on this album for me included This World by Kill II This which whilst remaining very heavy, had some great synthesised passages resembling warning sirens, a mixture of strong male vocals with some operatic female vocals and was all in all an incredibly varied song. I also particularly liked Sunquake by Hangnail which had some awesome guitars and reminded me of AC/DC a little and also Damaged Pride by Entwined which was a lot less heavy but still had enough rawness to give it some attitude. Likewise with Grounded by Screenstar, this song had some great punk attitude which really allowed it to stand-out from the crowd.
Apart from these few songs though, all the other songs just faded into thrash metal obscurity, so I would have to say that Disc One had a higher quality of band on it, but I guess since the purpose of Disc Two was to shine a light on little known bands who were still developing this was to be expected.
I don't really know how to fairly rate this one as just because it doesn't entirely suit my personal taste that's more my problem than the album's. I think that the value for money is excellent, and it isn't just the case that any old rubbish was picked, this album was clearly compiled with the aim to showcase new and up and coming talent in the metal world which I think it has achieved very well as well as paying homage to what the label considered to be their best way back in 2001.
I think a little bit more variety (i.e. a few less death metal tracks) would have been welcome to break up each disc where they were perhaps becoming a little monotonous - but if that style is your thing you may disagree with me completely. So, overall I personally would rate it 3 out of 5 as I struggled to get into the majority of the songs yet could recognise that the quality was there, but I reckon it deserves at least 4 out of 5 for those that love this genre as hopefully it will introduce you to some new bands or just give you a chance to rock out completely.
Not recommended to anyone that doesn't enjoy really heavy / thrash metal.