Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Crash and Burn by Artie Lange (2013) Book Review

A Highly Engaging and Often Disturbing Account of One Man's Journey to the Darkest Depths of Depravity

As a long time fan of the Howard Stern show, I was well aware of Artie Lange's problems with drugs and alcohol even before reading his first book, Too Fat to Fish. I found that book a good read, although I found myself bored with some of Artie's stories that were rehashed from the show. As a knowledgable Stern fan, this book went into greater detail about Artie's mental and emotional state and taught me many things about his personality that I had not known beforehand. I found the behind the scenes stories to be, for the most part, informative and insightful, and sometimes even disgusting. One of the best stories included was his account of an embarrassing night at the playboy mansion, a hilarious tale that reminded me of how talented a story-teller Artie can be.

This book covers the time period from after his first book came out in 2008 to the present day. During that time period, Artie Lange went through a personal hell, cycling through drug binges and withdrawals, constantly trying to dupe and outwit his friends and family so he could continue his destructive habits until it all came to a head in a most disturbing way. Some of this book is very hard to read, especially if you are a fan of Artie and wish to see him well. I actually saw Artie Lange when I went to a book signing for Too Fat to Fish in 2009, and can personally attest to the fact Artie looked totally out of it. At the time I had no idea how bad off he was.

The book is a fantastic and highly emotional account of a man who lost everything due to his own demons, but some parts of the book made me a little frustrated. Even though this was written after his crash and burn, he doesn't seem very regretful for the horrible things he's done to himself and others. Sometimes he regrets his actions, but then a paragraph later he will defend them or even praise his own contentious and irresponsible behavior. In the book he also bashes many celebrities and normal people who, in my opinion, didn't deserve to be ridiculed in such a way. A sarcastic wit is what makes Artie's humor so great, but at some points it seemed to me like he was being too harsh, and that made me sympathize with him less.

That aside, he does say nice things about some of his fellow comedians who have passed away such as Greg Giraldo and Mitch Hedburg, which I found very informative and nicely written. These comedians struggled with addiction and lost their battle. Their passings effected Artie deeply, and that hurt resonates with the reader in a profound way. It was in these passages where I felt he was being the most genuine.

For fans of Artie Lange, this book is a must read. For fans on the outside, as a stand alone book of an addict who descends into an abyss of drugs and booze, the book is still effective. However, it does have a tendency to become redundant as he tells one too many stories of getting high on airplanes and his general disdain for flying. I did find his rituals of scoring drugs while keeping it a secret from his friends and family very intriguing.

Overall, I must say I enjoyed this book more than Too Fat to Fish, and besides a few minor complaints I had a great time reading.

Artie, if you read this, I hope you stay clean man.

American Movie (1999) Review

What makes Mark Borschardt so relatable is that we all know someone like him. He is slightly mad and socially awkward yet assertive and intelligent, a fast talker with a quick wit and a big mouth. He is at some points self-confident and optimistic of the future, and other points hopelessly down in the dumps or drunk out of his already wacked out mind. He is also passionate about his life’s ambition, to fulfill his dream of making a feature horror film inspired by his own favorites Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

In the pursuit to complete the film Mark undergoes a series of hurdles and setbacks that succeed in making bad situations worse, prolonging an already drawn out production and frustrating his family and friends. In order to secure funding for the film, he must coerce his notoriously stringy elderly Uncle Bill to help finance the project, resulting in quite a few scenes of comedy gold. Interviews with Mark’s family are candid and revealing, shedding light on some factors that may have influenced Mark’s obsession with cinema.


The colorful cast of characters is filled out by his long since burnt out friends Mike and Kenny, who have been helping Mark make his films since they were all kids. Mike Schank in particular steals the movie with his slow moving, soft-spoken voice delivering some of the funniest lines in the movie.

American movie is a fantastic documentary that paints a thorough and engaging portrait of a man inspired by passion and driven by obsession. It offers a glimpse into the life and psyche of a flawed yet sympathetic character in both his darkest and brightest moments. If you’d like the learn something about the power of peserverence, I suggest you watch this film.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX (2002) Gameboy Game Review

Since the original NES classic, the Contra franchise has produced many high-quality action shooters characterized by smooth controls, quick action, and a high level of challenge. Contra The Alien Wars was a title originally released on SNES back in its heyday. Konami decided to reissue the game on the Gameboy Advance with great results.

The action playing on the gameboy advance is as fluid as ever. The controls are easy to master as you blast your way through the levels. The first level isn't too hard, but the game cranks up the difficulty real quick. For those who don't know, your character in Contra dies in one hit, die three times you lose one of your three continues. There are two difficulty settings: Normal and Novice, but the only difference is that you get more lives on the lower setting. Some parts are crazy hard, but for the most part it is easy to memorize the patterns of gameplay after a few times playing through. In the end, I consider the intense challenge to be more of a positive than a negative.

The level design of this game is absolutely stunning for the GBA. There is always something interesting going on in the background, and the game always has a new setting ready to throw you for a loop every once in a while. For example one level you're fighting on a train, moving between the inside and outside as you fight off baddies in every direction. It's very exciting and I never get tired of playing it through!

In terms of gameplay, Contra has always kept it simple, and thats one of the reasons I like the franchise so much. What more do you need in a video game besides a muscled up action hero and a new host of evil villains to destroy. Much of this game you'll be fighting boss battles. There may be up to 4 per level! The boss fights are awesomely fun though. The most incredible boss fight in terms of fun factor and visuals would have to be the level 3 boss you see on the cover of the game. He is probably the coolest looking boss I've ever fought, and he's fun to take down as well!

If you're looking for a fast-paced action game that will provide a healthy challenge and keep you constantly interested, then I highly recommend picking up this game. It is a great addition to any gamers collection.

Angela's Ashes Movie Review

I first saw Angela's Ashes when I was a little kid about the same age as Frank in the beginning of the movie. Seeing it at such an early age had a profound effect on my outlook on life. Recently re-watching it as a 21-year old was like reliving an old dream. I couldn't believe I was having the same thoughts and feelings as I did so many years before. I'm not familiar with the book, but watching this film is like an endurance run for your emotions. There are so many devastating moments that by the end, you'd think you'd be numb to it, but there always seems to be another heart-wrenching moment around the corner. Some of the images in this movie have stuck with me for life.

Angela's Ashes put my life into perspective at an early age. I was emotionally invested in the characters, and through their struggles I learned a lot about life. All I could think was how lucky I was that all my family members are alive and we have a roof over our heads. Its easy to take those things for granted, and this movie does a good job of making you appreciate them a whole lot more.

The production value of Angela's Ashes is top-notch. The film does an extraordinary job of taking the viewer on a journey back in time to Limerick, Ireland in the early 40's. It was a time of great hardship, especially for Frank McCourt's family, who suffer greatly throughout the film. I personally love the imagery of old Ireland with its rustic stone structures and foggy weather. The settings are accurate and well-detailed, contributing greatly to the overall realism of the film. The tone of the film is very dark, gray, and mundane, and that dark tone is reflected in the bleak color palette. There are very few vibrant colors to be found, only gray, black and the occasional green. It truly succeeds in painting a bleak portrait of the McCourts life.

The actors in the film are mostly very good. Of course when dealing with child actors you always have to consider the fact that they're, well, children. So there's only so much they can do in a heavily dramatic film like this that requires some serious acting chops to pull off. I think the child actors do a good job in their roles, especially the little kid who plays Frank in the beginning. Like I said earlier, I really identified with his character as a kid, so that makes a good performance in my book.

For some reason this film slipped under the radar both critically and commercially. It was overshadowed by the book and as a result has been mostly forgotten it seems. It's a shame because this is a seriously dramatic film that is one of the most emotionally effective stories I've ever experienced. The scenery is beautiful, the score is absolutely fantastic, and there are moments that will make you laugh and then cry.

It's definitely a movie worth seeing.

Black Sabbath- Master of Reality (1993) Album Review

Sometimes the formation of a band can be compared to the aligning of the stars in heaven. When the members of Black Sabbath came together, it was the beginning of musical history. With their combined musical and songwriting talents, Bill Ward, Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, and Geezer Butler created deep and powerful music that broke new boundaries in terms of musicianship and song-writing, helping open the musical spectrum to a new level of heaviness.

After the success of their first two albums Black Sabbath and Paranoid, the band came back stronger than ever with Master of Reality, an album brimming with classic songs from front to back. There is one heavy riff after another on this record, each one as memorable as the last. Looking at the track listing one can easily recognize many of Sabbath's most well known tunes such as Children of the Grave, Into the Void, and Sweet Leaf. This is an essential addition to any heavy metal fan's music library.

In the early 70's Black Sabbath were at their prime in terms of musicianship and chemistry as a band. Bill Ward is one hell of a heavy and powerful drummer with an incredible feel as jazzy as it is driving. The riffmaster Tony Iommi is at his best here, especially on the masterful track Lord of this World. Ozzy Osbourne is obviously a legend with a highly distinguishable voice that gives the songs a lot of energy and personality.

Master of Reality is one of the greatest rock albums to come out of the 70's. It features some of the greatest performances ever captured on tape, and listening to it provides an experience like no other. Black Sabbath are legends for a reason, and its because of albums like this. Get it already!

Municipal Waste- Hazardous Mutation Album review

This album changed my life. That might seem like an exaggeration, but believe me, it's the absolute truth! Municipal Waste introduced me to the outrageously awesome world of old-school thrash metal. They are the ultimate purveyors of the party vibe that defines a lot of old school thrash, and luckily they are young enough to still be active! Finally, a good heavy metal band my Dad didn't grow up listening to.

The songs are very fast and very catchy. The riffs are quick fire and scientifically designed to drive people crazy. Municipal Waste are notorious for their rabid live shows, and its no wonder considering how unforgivingly manic their music is. From the very beginning the album kicks you in the face and grabs you by the throat with the intro. As the drum rolls thunder into Deathripper, you can't help but start banging your head uncontrollably and banging your arms into anything that might be in your immediate vicinity.

There ar many great songs on the albums that have since become all time favorites of mine. Unleash the Bastards is an obvious highlight as it is probably the band most well known song. Another great track off the album is Mind Eraser and the tongue in cheek numbers Thrashin of the Christ and Terror Shark.

Hazardous Mutation is a very fun record. If you want to kick a party up a notch, put this baby on right as people are starting to get really drunk. I guarantee things will get wild quick!

Crash Bandicoot 2 (1997) Video Game Review

I can't even begin to imagine how many hours I've spent playing Crash Bandicoot 2 throughout my lifetime. Ever since the game came out I've been addicted to it, playing through every level over and over again like a crack fiend trying to smoke every last bit of resin out of their pipe. Truth be told this is one of the funnest games I've ever played. No matter how many times I've beaten the levels, I can never resist popping the disc in a few years later and getting into another phase of Crash madness!

I think one of the reasons I loved Crash Bandicoot so much is that out of all the video game heroes he was the most cartoonish and funny. It was fun as all hell to jump on those cute little animals that wanted to kill you, or to spin attack a pile of boxes into smithereens. The villains in the game are so over-the-top and silly that it becomes a delight to take them down one by one.

In terms of gameplay, Crash 2 gets it right in almost every area. Crash is easy to control and moves at a cool, quick pace. It is easy to take out enemies, but at the same time its easy for them to take you out as well! The levels are consistently challenging without ever being frustrating (well, maybe except for those dang bees!). The graphics are very cartoonish and the level designs are awesome. As a kid I was blown away by the amount of details in some of the levels such as on 'Ruination', where you can see characters moving in the background that are only accessible through an alternate route in the game. Graphics like that are great for a PS1 title.

I could never get tired of playing Crash Bandicoot 2: The Wrath of Cortex. Collecting all of the items was a challenge that took me many years. Eventually I mastered the game and got every crystal and gem. I highly recommend this game to gamers of all ages, but especially to kids. If there's a way to download this game, or even if you want to but it on ps1 and play it on a PS3, I highly recommend doing so.

Blood In, Blood Out (1993) Movie Review

I first discovered Blood In, Blood Out in the bargain bin at Best Buy. It looked like a generic gangster movie without much appeal, but I decided to give it a shot anyway since it was so cheap. I had no idea it would become one of my all-time favorite films. Watching it for the first time was an incredibly epic experience. I found myself completely enamored in the story from the very beginning and my attention did not stray in the entire 3 hour runtime. The film builds and builds into an intense climax that chilled me to the bone.

The film tells the saga of the three men you see on the cover. Miklo is a half-white half-hispanic young man who has been struggling with his racial identity his entire life. He moves back to East L.A and gets involved with his two cousins in local gang turf wars. We follow the stories of these three men across the decades as they face struggles and hardships on their journey through life.

The film is dense with heavy themes of death, pride, sacrifice and redemption. Not only is it entertaining, but also thought-provoking and deals with very controversial subject matter. You will have a lot to think about in the days after watching this film, and believe me it will stay with you that long.

Since this is an Amazon review I won't go into any further detail of the plot or themes of the film. All I can say is that it is a monumental achievement in cinematic story-telling and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Goodfellas or even The Godfather.

Queensryche- Frequency Unknown (2013) Album Review

I won't go into the politics behind this record. I won't dwell on the fact that Geoff Tate has been dragging the Queensryche name through the mud for years, but I will point out that not only is Frequency Unknown a continuation of that tradition, it exceeds all previous efforts by a mile in tarnishing their once-great reputation.

Frequency Unknown is a disaster. From the lousy songwriting and bored performances to the piss-poor production and cover art, the record is an uninspired and contrived piece of garbage not even worthy of the plastic that holds the cd. It lacks any semblance of musical or creative ability, and displays a huge error of judgement on the part of everyone involved from Geoff Tate and the hired guns he passes off for Queensryche, to the record execs too blinded by their own greed to see how big of a mistake releasing this album was.

They rushed through this album in order to give Geoff Tate leverage in court over his former bandmates. they knew that by releasing their album first they would sell more copies, giving Tate a reason to retain rights to the name. This is a shrewd business tactic that resulted an album that sounds thrown together. The production of this album is absolutely horrendous, with the mixing in particular being one of the worst in the history of recorded sound. There are points in the album where the guitars are so loud and distorted it becomes impossible to listen to. Your ears get bombarded with an undecipherable wall of sound intermittedly throughout almost every song. They could have fixed this issue, but they had to rush the album out as quickly as possible. Why would I care to listen to something when the people who made it didn't care about it themselves?

The songs themselves sound cut-and-pasted together. They are structured around Tate's vocal performance, which is unfortunate considering he gives the worst performance on the album. He has absolutely no musical range and lacks any trace of emotion or conviction in his voice. They tried to make up for this fact by piling every effect in the pro tools repertoire onto his vocal track, but in the end it comes out sounding more lifeless than ever. If you still aren't convinced Geoff Tate lost his soul, look no further than the song Weight of the World where Tate sounds like he's singing through the drive-thru microphone at McDonalds. I didn't know if it was Geoff Tate singing or if it was my computer asking me to put it out of its misery. And If you have any faith in Tate as a lyricist, or if you want to have yourself a good laugh, listen to the song Dare.

Geoff Tate deserves most of the blame for this turd of an album, but the musicians attached to it didn't help matters whatsoever. Simon Wright was a horrible choice for a drummer. He plays a more straight-forward, rock n' roll style which he displayed in AC/DC, but that playing style does not fit at ALL with Queensryche, who have traditionally leaned more progressively. Scott Rockenfeld was a great drummer who constantly kept things interesting with his innovative playing, but Wright simply plays the same beat throughout the entire song regardless of what the guitarists are doing (not that they are doing much anyway). This makes for a very disjointed and confusing listening experience that suggests they didn't take enough time to rehearse as a band before going into the studio.

In terms of song structure, this offers absolutely no variety or innovation. A lot of the songs sound like b-sides to Dedicated to Chaos, while the rest sound like a rip off of Jet City Woman. They didn't care about writing good songs for this crap. Don't get me started on the re-recordings, they are just depressing to listen to.

Cleopatra records should be ashamed of themselves for releasing this train wreck. It is an unfinished product. The songs are not mixed properly whatsoever. You'd think they would have some standards of quality, but apparently not considering they released the album even though they knew it wasn't mixed correctly. They knew that fans would be ripped off, which is why they are now offering replacement copies for any fans dissatisfied with the sound. How about getting it right the first time?

In this day and age this behavior from a record company is abhorrent. it is exactly the reason why the record industry is dying, because of the irresponsible people at companies like Cleopatra records who have no problem shoveling this horrible product out to the buying audience. Disgusting.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Warning... This album rules!

Queensryche's debut EP was a stunningly accomplished slab of pure, heard-hitting heavy metal that impressed both fans and critics alike. Metal maniacs the world over were instantly drawn to the precise riffage and complex time changes that define Queensryche's unique sound. The EP also gave fans what is perhaps the greatest performance ever captured from singer Geoff Tate, whose crisp, powerful voice and grandiose style perfectly compliments Queensryche's epic heavy metal assault. The world waited in hot anticipation for the full length debut of this promising new band, but many feared it wouldn't live up to the expectations set by the phenomenal EP.

In 1984 Queensryche finally released The Warning to a hungry public, but the initial reaction was lukewarm. It was viewed as a slight departure from the straight forward, Maiden-esque heavy metal of the EP and into a more progressive sound offering a wider variety of musical styles. The band's progressive tendencies would grow more apparent with each successive album, culminating in the band's magnum opus 'Operation Mindcrime'.

In terms of musicianship, The Warning proves Queensryche were some of the most talented players the heavy metal genre had to offer. Drummer Scott Rockenfeld takes a page out of Neil Peart's book with his complex fills, patterns, and time changes. His brilliant playing adds a whole new dimension to the music, simultaneously keeping it heavy and precise. Eddie Jackson does a great job laying down the hard and stomping baselines that drive the songs forward like a freight train.

Chris DeGarmo was a masterful guitarist and songwriter whose heartfelt music and accomplished ability defined the band's early sound. Some of the best examples of his songwriting can be found on the album, including one of the most epically powerful heavy metal song ever put to tape, the masterfully executed En Force. DeGarmo contributed a lot of material to the album, but an equal amount is credited to the band's other guitarist, Michael Wilton, who wrote another one of my favorites off the album, the fast and heavy hitting Deliverance, the only track I would have expected to find on the debut EP.

Perhaps the most famous quality of Queensryche's music is the phenomenal vocal performance of Geoff Tate. His voice is so unique and iconic that it's hard to imagine Queensryche's music without it. Tate's thought-provoking lyrical concepts,  highly emotional deliveries, and massive banshee screams are the highlights of the album. There was simply no other voice like his in metal. There's really no good way to describe why his voice works so well, all you have to do is listen then you'll know.

This album inspires my imagination like no other. The lyrics are so descriptive and the music so majestic that its hard not to get caught up in the intense emotions coming out of the speakers. The story-telling element is an important component to Queensryche's appeal, and that started on The Warning with experimental songs like NM 156, which was a precursor to the style the band would adopt with their next album, Rage For Order.

Every track on this album is like its own separate adventure. The opening title track features a larger than life riff with thrilling gang vocals. It is an incredibly exciting beginning to the album. After the heavy metal assault of En Force and Deliverance, the band cools down for a slower song named No Sanctuary, which could be equated to Iron Maiden's 'Remember Tomorrow'. NM 156 and Take Hold of the Flame are fan favorites, the latter being the ultimate example of Queensryche's unmatched power and competency as a heavy metal band. Child of Fire is a heavy metal song typical of the galloping style popular at the time, and Roads to Madness serves an an epic closer.

The Warning helped make Queensryche one of the frontrunners of the heavy metal scene and established themselves as some of the best musicians in the genre. The bands fortunes would only grow with Operation Mindcrime and Empire, but for me the classic period of Queensryche will always be the very early days of the EP and The Warning. Back then, Queensryche was a hungry new band waiting to prove themselves worthy of heavy metal stardom. They certainly proved themselves with The Warning, and it remains a classic to this day.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

An Engrossing True Crime Must-have

Zodiac by Robert Graysmith

Fans of true crime books know how to appreciate a creative serial killer, and the Zodiac was most certainly that. The truth proved to be stranger than fiction when the elusive Zodiac killer first started taunting the public with his infamous coded messages intended to inspire confusion and fear. He was a brutal and ruthless yet intelligent killer who remains at large to this day.

This book was written by a man who was in the thick of the Zodiac investigation from the very start. Through his eyes the reader sees the mystery unravel one grisly murder at a time. The descriptions of violence in the book is the stuff of nightmares. It's really incredible when the description in the book effects you more than seeing the murder actually acted out in the film adaptation. The book does a perfect job of combining its investigation story with detailed and vivid descriptions of the Zodiac's various crimes and the many people involved.

I picked this book up at a Goodwill store, and once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. I literally read it in one day, and believe me that makes it something special. I highly recommend any fan of crime novels reality or fiction to check this book out.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Iron Maiden- Killers

I can't think of another album cover that better represents the content of the music than Iron Maiden's Killers. Take one look into the beady eyes of Eddie as he lifts his bloody hatchet for a finishing blow and you'll know you're in for a lethal dose of heavy metal horror. Filled with dark and majestic imagery, Killers delivers just that, but it doesn't end there as Killers also features the best and most consistent musicianship, song-writing, and production of Iron Maiden's long and illustrious career. 

By the time Killers was released in 1981, Iron Maiden had already established themselves as one of the premier NWOBHM bands with their early demo 'The Soundhouse Tapes'. After becoming local heroes, the group then hit a global audience with their debut album, the self-titled masterpiece 'Iron Maiden'. Boasting such classic metal cuts as 'Phantom of the Opera', 'Prowler', and 'Transylvania', the album perfectly captured the raw power and energy of a band on the brink of world domination. However, the album suffered from a cheap production job and, in my opinion, a few tracks that dragged on longer than they should have, 'Remember Tomorrow'  for example.

Touring in support of their first album helped Iron Maiden further develop their sound and grow tighter as musicians. Following the departure of Dennis Stratton, axemaster Adrian Smith was hired as the second guitarist. It turned out to be a wise choice as Smith's heavy and rough-around-the-edges playing style perfectly accentuated Dave Murray's precise and complex riffs and solos. Paul Di'anno serves his duty well enough, delivering a signature raspy, wailing, punk-like performance. His voice fit the tone of the songs perfectly, but its easy to hear that Iron Maiden were progressing past him as musicians. Although this is his final album with the band, the personality he gives the early Maiden songs earn him major credit for their worldwide success. 

Now that we've gotten all that out of the way, let's get down to what really counts- the music. 

Killers hits the ground running with the thundering march of 'The Ides of March', a brilliant and powerful instrumental as heavy as it is beautiful. The track leads into what is perhaps the most well-known song off the album, 'Wrathchild'. Now considered a Maiden classic, Wrathchild is a hard-hitting rocker with a driving bass line and some incredible rhythms from drummer Clive Burr, a bonafide master of the skins. It's worth noting that Killers-era Maiden had the greatest heavy metal rythym section in the genre's history. 

'Murders in the Rue Morgue' embraces a song structure that has proved to be a favorite of the band continuing to the present day, the slow and mellow opening leading to a heavy, crushing song. Although in later years the format would grow tiresome, it works very well on this track. The opening is just the right amount of time, gradually building up in intensity until a barrage of snare fills launches right into the opening verse. The track is frantic yet melodic, a balance that defines Iron maiden's music. 

Perhaps the most musically accomplished track on the album, 'Another Life' begins with a hypnotic cacophony of opposing guitar solos on top of a steady driving beat. Dual guitar harmonies dominate this song, and represent the most addictingly melodic and expertly executed of the band's career. The instrumental 'Genghis Khan' follows as a sort-of sequel to 'Transylvania'. Although not as good as its predecessor, Genghis Khan still contains Maiden's signature galloping  heavy metal style that makes you want to charge into battle.

'Innocent Exile' was an early song in the band's career that makes its debut on this album. It begins with an intense drum fill and doesn't let up from there. It is another quality metal song that displays a mastering of the craft. My personal favorite part is near the end after the guitar solo when there is a pounding break and Di-anno screams 'Lord I'm RUNNNNNNIIIIIIINNNNNNN'!!!!!! YEEEEEAAAAHHH!!!' to an eruption of guitar shreds and cymbal bursts. Now that's metal!

Flipping the album over to the other side gives you the title track 'Killers', which follows a similar format to 'Murders of the Rue Morgue' with a slow-building into that explodes into the main driving riff. The lyrical content is dark as the title suggests, and Di-Anno delivers them perfectly with his rough vocals. The song is very fast once it starts going, and is sometimes referred to as an early influence of thrash metal. After that is 'Twlight Zone', another quality hard-rocking track that has my personal favorite opening riff on the album. This is also perhaps the most melodic song on here, with a very catchy and fun-to-sing-along-to chorus that serves as a precursor to the song-writing that would dominate Maiden's later efforts in the 1980's. It is a great song that proves Paul Di'Anno can actually sing. 

The next one is kind of an oddball. 'Prodigal Son' is a soft, ballad-style song, one of the very few in Maiden's career. Although it can be initially off-putting, there's still plenty here for heavy metal fans to appreciate. Clive Burr hits just as hard here as he does on the other tracks, and the intermittent heavy chords in addition to the acoustic-sounding main riff gives the song a unique dynamic. I believe this song represents Maiden attempting to show their mellow side in a heavier context with shaky results. I personally like the song, but it simply doesn't fit the tone of the record and disrupts the flow. 

Things get back to normal quick enough with the frenzied opening riff of 'Purgatory', another earlier song, previously called 'Floating', reworked for this album. For a long time this was my favorite track on the album. It perfectly combines an exciting, fist-pounding rythym with an infectious vocal melody and brilliant harmonies during the chorus. 

'Drifter' follows 'Purgatory' as an ending to the album, and what an ending it is! From the very beginning it hooks you with a unique bass line and a harmonious guitar part then kicks you in the face with a manic scream from Di-anno on top of some ripping solos from Murray and Smith. It's another hard-hitting rocker (my favorite type of song, in case you haven't guessed by now) that breaks into a dreamy and mesmerizing mid-section that features the most melodious guitar solos yet. For the final run the band goes full force in what definitely feels like a fitting conclusion to such a heavy album. Every member of the band shows their chops in the closing minute of 'Drifter', easily one of the most exciting songs ever recorded. 

With their sophomore album 'Killers', Iron Maiden had fully defined their signature sound , a combination of the bluesy hard rock of Deep Purple, the metal edge of Judas Priest, and the complexity of Prog masters Yes. Killers represents a band at the peak of their creativity and skill set, ready to conquer the world through the power of their music. Needless to say their journey has been a success, and the early albums are very much a part of that. Killers features some of the best album cover, the best songs, and the best line-up in the history of Heavy Metal. It is a masterpiece, and my personal favorite record.