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It beats me why Rob Halford left Judas Priest to embark on his own musical journey; Fight’s debut sounded so similar to the Priests’ “Jugulator” that the least likely reason for this separation must have been musical differences. Anyway, I guess the Metal God wanted to give his contribution to the new music trends earlier rather than waiting for several years for these aggro sounds to pass, like what his colleagues most likely thought would occur. Those sounds didn’t pass, but established themselves firmly on the metal field, and the more sagacious artists from the 80’s rose to the challenge and had to shed their skin to fit into the groovy/post-thrashy carnival.
In his quest for modern metal glory, Halford took the drummer Scott Travis with him from the Judas line-up, and later teamed up with two members from the power/thrash metal formation Cyanide who never missed the chance to put their names on the metal map working with the legend. “War of Words” was a perfectly acceptable record, well conformed with the modern power/thrash canon with one eye fixed upon the classic metal canons, and was a headstart for the new/old outfit for whom the future by all means looked bright. However, the band were full of surprises, looking for other territories to explore…
In the context of what was going around at the time, the album reviewed here was a fairly relevant affair in all its entirety. By 1995 the groove had settled in so comfortably into the audience’s consciousness that there were hardly a handful of detractors left to spit at it and its representatives. It’s very unlikely for the retro metal fanbase to have been enormously offended by it, and I’m quite sure that there were more fans who actually liked it than the number of those who hated it with passion. Cause there was not much to hate here if you think of it… “I Am Alive” is a stomping steam-roller with doomy reverberations with Halford sounding attached and emotional enough to propel this number into the “good openers” stratosphere, especially on the more laid-back interludes. The expectations for another intense thrashing inauguration along the lines of “Into the Pit” from the previous effort should be packed and stored somewhere as this would be an entertainment of a different kind, with a focus on the dark, more atmospheric side of the genre. “Mouthpiece” goes heavy on the thick grooves which still sound dynamic and bouncy, and would by all means make the less lethargic jump around in approval.
“Legacy of Hate” carries on with the groovy caravan, adding more post-thrashy drama to it, with Halford pitching it higher to a really positive effect. “Blowout in the Radio Room” is the track that gets the most diatribe from the purists, and indeed it can pass for the filler with its leisurely careless radio-friendly “demeanour”; but right after it comes “Never Again” which almost matches, and also resembles, Megadeth’s “Symphony of Destruction” with its urgent introductory riffs, more aggressive attitude, and the great chorus with Halford leaving his soul behind the mike. The title-track is an excellent alternative metal opus Halford’s synthesized vocals one of the several indicators that this isn’t Retrometalland anymore, in case of someone still had any illusions about that, despite the more intense thrashy riffs springing up here and there. “Gretna Greene” continues in the same lively vein the volcanic rhythm-section marching remorselessly forward, sparing no one along the way which gets balladically quiet for a bit in the middle, but elsewhere this is a vigorous cut bordering on thrash again, a probable leftover from the “War of Words” sessions. “Beneath the Violence” is even sharper with evil gallops disturbing the peace, reaching headbanging proportions later; the sure highlight without any unnecessary stopovers except for the interesting trad doom metal epitaph. “Human Crate” is a superb doom metal semi-ballad following the marvellous path carved by “For All Eternity” from its predecessor, but this one is more sombre and more hammering. “In a World of My Own Making” is now a full-blooded ballad although the heavy riffs dominate the landscape at some stage; watch out for the hidden track “Psycho Suicide” after that, a stunning thrash/crossover anthem that will make even the most cynical critics’ blood boil, and a most assuring finale to this compelling modern metal roller-coaster.
The classic shades from the debut were gone the guys not willing to impede their modernist visions with old school nostalgia, and to these ears they had created something equally as intriguing. The Metal God doesn’t exactly beat his past exploits, but he sounds quite comfortable with the dense groovy approach also experimenting with new gimmicks (the mentioned synthesized lines) that wouldn’t have been appropriate on the Judas albums. The only performer who seemed to not be utilized fully was Travis as the lack of any speedy “excursions” barely gave him any chances to rip the drums like he usually does. Regardless, the whole crew had gelled really well sounding in-vogue although the diehard fanbase had by all means turned their backs on this opus due to the absence of any more aggressive fast-paced “skirmishes”, and the very simplistic, stripped-down execution.
The music world was changing, and Halford had no intentions on putting his head underground like an ostrich, pretending that nothing was going on around him. Fight definitely had more life in them, but the man had other plans about his evolution, and partnered with none other than Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) for the creation of Two, a controversial industrial project which ruined his reputation almost beyond repair. Having reached the bottom, there was nothing left for the fallen God but to rise and go back to what he used to do best, to sing some first-rate classic heavy metal under his own name initially, and to welcome the new millennium with all the retro optimism he could muster leading to the logical reunion with his comrades from Judas Priest. There was a lot of “fighting” through the inhospitable metal “jungle” of the 90’s for him, and this “space” here can surely be considered one of his “small” victories.
Groove metal, that dumbed down version of thrash and traditional heavy metal that took hold of the commercial end of the metal world in the early 90s and paved the way for everything that is considered the scourge of what we know and love in mallcore. Like all alleged innovations, this one started off as a rather intriguing one; basically a slower alternative to the speed and fury of the high era of the Bay Area scene with a few interesting rhythmic devices. But not long afterward it immediately collapsed into a fit of mass pandering and self-parody, as can be gleaned from the stark contrast between “Cowboys From Hell” and “Far Beyond Driven”. Fight’s 2nd album “A Small Deadly Space” essentially followed suit and presented a less intricate, awkward, annoying, dumbed down version of “War Of Words” with the weaknesses highlighted and the strengths downplayed.
While the previous Fight album was a rather interesting mixture of crossover elements and Exhorder style riffs repeated often and varied little, it included a fair amount of variety and a strong vocal performance out of Halford. This just abandons all of the positives of that formula and focuses entirely on simplicity and repetition, while the famed ex-Judas Priest vocalist literally avoids sounding like himself. Rob is still recognizable, but the vast majority of the songs on here features a flat sounding, yelled vocal approach that was present on the last album, but also accompanied by some occasional high ranged scream gymnastics to keep things interesting. “Legacy Of Hate” and “Never Again” are exceptions to rule, the latter being among the better songs on here, but both find the vocals sounding closer to an Axel Rose sound mixed with Layne Staley elements.
From one song to the next, this thing just goes through the motions, banging out the traditional verse/chorus format with the occasional guitar solo and doing so in the most predictable manner possible. There’s very little life to the riff work, the drum work is bare bones simple enough to make Vinnie Paul sound like Neil Peart, and the production sound is so processed and dry that the entire album comes off as a slow marching automaton with the most rudimentary of programming. Even quasi-animated half-thrashers like “Beneath The Violence” and “Gretna Greene” function as slightly faster versions of the better elements of Metallica’s famed 1991 stylistic departure (think “Through The Never” and “Holier Than Thou”) and do little more than inspire an occasional head nod at first listen, before the riffs become played out which surprisingly happens in 2 songs that don’t even hit the 5 minute mark.
In much the same respect as with Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford has generally managed to associate himself with high quality studio work, and this album functions as his “Angry Machines” (we’ll just forget that Two ever happened). This is basically what most of what mainstream metal passed for in the mid 90s, a tired, drawn out set of derivative thrash riffs played at half speed with about half of the feeling, ergo half-assed. And in much the same respect as Machine Head’s “The More Things Change”, Fight actually finds itself taking ideas from Korn (“Mouthpiece” sounds fairly similar to “Blind”, especially that annoying ride cymbal intro). Often groove metal struggles to be good, and at its worst it barely manages to be metal. “A Small Deadly Space” mostly tends towards the former, but every now and then they actually stumble into the latter on here.
I really rarely give less than 40% to an album. Even some early deathcore albums (if you can call it early) get 40% just for trying, but this album exceeds all shitiness in the world, so I'm going to be very short on this one since there's not much to talk about.
It's plain bad. I don't know what Halford was thinking when he recorded this, nor do I know what the other members thought. It's like they desperately tried to sound like "Pantera" or "White Zombie", but they miserably fail. The vocals are crap. I don't know what Rob was thinking about when he turned on all of those unnecessary vocal effects. Was he trying to sound stupid or what? The lyrics are also bad, very bad. No inspiration at all, no motivation, no power...nothing. It's like some retarded version of a mutated Cavalera+Anselmo gay-child wrote them. I rarely trash talk bands, but I do when something really gets on my nerves.
As far as riffage goes, it's totally uninspired. It's bad, not heavy at all, and I don't know what the hell the admins of "The Metal Archives" were thinking when they approved the "thrash/groove metal" classification of this pure shit. The only thing that deserves a score in my album grading system is the drumming, so I give it 20% out of 20%, maximum for a grade and just because everything else sounds like crap.
So all in all, I don't recommend this album to anyone unless you really want to experience the painful and disappointing side of metal (If you can call this metal).
I don't know what was Rob thinking when he decided to do this, but this is the worst record that he has done (Priest made even worse albums, but without him).
Or maybe he was possessed, I don't know. What I know for sure is that this album is pure 90's metal, and while not as complete monkey-feces as Pantera, it still has huge amounts of groove, electronic effects and other stupid influences.
Look at the second track for example, starting with those stupids effects and then the down-tuned guitars (SHIT! No! Please Rob, not you!!) come in playing a very groovy riff and then going start-stop Pantera-like... sorry, but this is non aggresive utter shit. The speed knob was lost during the recording of this album, as all tracks are slow and plodding.
Also the lead playing department must have gone on vacation because there is very little lead work here. And when a lead is done, it is generally too short and aimless... just like most 90's metal (just look at the "solo" in Blowout in the Radio Room...). There are some good moments, like the start of "Legacy of Hate", but then it turns into a stupid groove/electronic effects fest that completely sucks. Even Rob's voice has been modified and doesn't go into the falsetto... I can't believe it. If this wasn't enough, the drums are completely dry and shallow, not exactly the way Scott sounded in Painkiller.
Just look at the line-up, with a guy that later appeared on Marylin Manson's band, you should "get it" and be warned about the content here.
I don't like writing such short reviews, but all these tracks sound exactly the same and you can hardly tell the difference between them.
Luckily Rob realised that this sucks and returned to real metal. But as of 1995, the metal god was dethronned.
So after being a Priest fan, although not a huge fan, for awhile I decided to check out what Halford was doing after Painkiller. What a mistake that was. I was expecting something along the lines of greatness of Painkiller, what I got was generic 90's sludge. The most accurate description is somewhere between Corrosion Of Conformity and Trendkill era Pantera.
Basically everything that makes an album not good is on here. The songs all sound EXACTLY alike. I mean it's hard to tell when one song ends and another begins. This makes it very boring after about two songs. There are basically no lead guitars. This makes for a generic groove feel because, frankly the riffs are nowhere near good enough to stand on their own. 90's influence runs rampamnt here and that is not a good thing. There is a reason metal was dead in the 90's, among other things, 90's metal lost its balls. It became very uncool play fast, have good solos, play more than three riffs, or have anything about the music make the listener have an intense reaction.
Onto Halford's voice. My god man what happened? There are no falsetto screams to be found. Halford was always known for them and that's what made him awsome. He replaced them with very empty sounding cleanish vocals. And to top it off there are irritating "atmospheric" effects put on the vocals.
Everything about this album is just so boring. Nothing jumps out and grabs me. The melodies, be it vocal or guitar, are just there and do nothing interesting. The riffs are generic and not even well played. The drums are a simple as they could be, surprising given who actually plays them. The bass completely follows the rhythm guitar and isn't worth mentioning. So if you like boring as fuck 90's sludge/groove you might like this. If you liek real Heavy Ficking Metal, stay away.