Review Rundown: Megadeth, the Birthday Massacre, Roy Orbison, Combichrist, Middle Class Rut

The 30th edition (really? already?) of the Review Rundown features looks at new releases from bands such as Megadeth, the Birthday Massacre, Roy Orbison, Combichrist, and Middle Class Rut.

File Under: Live Destruction
Megadeth – “Rust in Peace: Live” (Shout! Factory): As if Megadeth live wasn’t already a massive, caustic weapon of mass destruction, toss in the fact that the “Rust in Peace: Live” CD is just that, the bands seminal 1990 release, performed live, in full, front start to finish, cover to cover. Yes, finally, two decades after its initial release, this live record offers up material that has long been considered some of the bands best ever. Tracks like ‘Hangar 18,’ ‘Holy Wars…the Punishment Due’ and ‘Tornado of Souls,’ have lost nothing whilst sitting in the vault waiting for their moment in the spotlight. And speaking of, Megadeth sound as well as they ever have here – showing listeners why they are still around in full force as a touring act. Don’t count out the albums bonus materials, which include live performances of other classic cuts like ‘Symphony of Destruction,’ ‘She-Wolf’ and ‘Peace Sells.’ Basically, this album is top notch from start to finish and if you’re a Megadeth fan reading this, yet do not own “Rust in Peace: Live,” you better be reading this on your iPhone or Blackberry while waiting in line at the store to buy this. It’s a must-own, and if you don’t agree with that, it might be about time to revoke your ‘fan’ status. (
Grade: A
Go Download: ‘Hangar 18’

File Under: Layered, Synth Driven Goth
The Birthday Massacre – “Pins and Needles” (Metroplois): Even though the apparent comparisons are there (see Lacuna Coil, We Are the Fallen), the Birthday Massacre truly stand in their own light, in a class all their own. Their grasp of the entire ethereal, synth laden goth rock is eerie, and mostly unparalleled, and their latest, “Pins and Needles” is no better evidence of such. It takes but one track off the record, opening salvo ‘In the Dark,’ to showcase the bands supreme comprehension of all things airy gothic rock, yet at the same time this cut is a beautiful harbinger of things of come on the rest of the effort. It is a wonderful place setter essentially. The album continues a deep and dark decent into all things new wave, firing off one bombastic offering after another, helmed admirably by frontwoman Chibi, whose presence more than likely cannot be duplicated. She is the centrifugal force driving “Pins and Needles,” a brilliant force that combines intrigue and mystery with a heaping dose of beauty, a voice that exudes both confidence and utter clarity. This is a record that demands a start to finish listen (no skipping necessary), though there are more than enough beautiful stops along the way (‘Pale,’ ‘Control,’ ‘Sideways’) to make the journey fulfilling and ultimately gratifying. If you have yet to embrace the Birthday Massacre, “Pins and Needles” is the best diving board you’ll have to do so. (
Grade: A
Go Download: ‘Always’

File Under: Live Nostalgia
Roy Orbison – “The Last Concert” (Eagle): Roy Orbison’s “the Last Concert” is not just a clever album title – it truly is the capturing of the legends last concert on record – December 4, 1988 at Highland Heights in Akron, Ohio. And for those that don’t know, Orbison tragically passed away a mere two days later on December 6 of an apparent heart attack. “The Last Concert” should serve as a celebration of all the lasting gifts Orbison left us with during our time with him, 14 gifts to be exact, of his best work ever penned. Listening to this disc is an experience – you are part of something special here, both due to the music itself and the circumstances of the concert. You will hear classic, timeless works such as ‘Ooby Dooby,’ ‘Crying,’ ‘Leah,’ ‘Mean Woman Blues,’ and of course, ‘Oh, Pretty Woman,’ the decisive track Orbison used to cap off this momentous night. This is a clear and obvious must-own for fans and well- wishers alike, a record that should be viewed as a celebration of the life and contributions of Orbison, a man, and musician, that truly was one-of-a-kind. (
Grade: A
Go Download: ‘Working for the Man’

File Under: Progressive Aggrotech
Combichrist – “Making Monsters” (Metropolis): “Making Monsters,” the fifth full length studio offering from Norway’s Combichrist, aka Andy LaPlegua, takes the listener down a dark and foreboding path, one full of ambient touches and atmospheric sways the likes we have not heard before from the ‘aggrotech’ purveyor. It is a powerful listen from start finish, one that rarely lets up, if at all, through its dozen tracks. It is the type of record that is versatile enough to ignite a full on mosh, or circle, or dance, whatever your preference, pit and a daring club’s dance floor at the same time, a sonic dexterity and musical flexibility you likely won’t find in many other places. The album is a literal potpourri of sound, one that blends macabre and somber, almost threatening overtones (‘Through These Eyes of Pain,’ ‘Making Monsters,’ ‘Today We Are All Demons’) and sweeping moments laden with Nine Inch Nails undertones (‘Reclamation’), with just the right amount of quirk (‘Monster:Murder:Kill’). “Making Monsters” sounds as if Combichrist is finally finding their niche in this industry or ours and essentially coming into their own as an electronic act. Kudos. (
Grade: B
Go Download: ‘Follow the Trail of Blood’

File Under: Rock N’ Roll
Middle Class Rut – “No Name No Color” (Bright Antenna): For the most part, bands consisting of two members mostly serve as a kitschy gimmick (see Tenacious D, the White Stripes), though Middle Class Rut seems destined to break the mold. The band, aka vocalist/guitarist Zack Lopez and drummer/vocalist Sean Stockham, have the innate ability to craft real songs, songs that carry with them a heft and power that make them noticeable and lasting. “No Name No Color” is rife with honesty, an element attained through a combination of frantic melodies and strained hooks full of over-the-top, nervy vocals and jilted, yet angular guitar work, resulting in a finished product reminiscent of something Nirvana or, say Drive A, would be proud of. “No Name No Color” is pretty straight ahead and straight forward – it won’t pull any punches and leaves nothing in reserve, emptying the emotional tank if you will, for songs like ‘Busy Bein’ Born,’ ‘Lifelong Dayshift’ and ‘One Debt Away.’ Though the record has its lulls, and though it seems to disappear at times, the good songs are worth sticking around for. (
Grade: B-
Go Download: ‘Lifelong Dayshift’