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Intriguing Concept, Failed Execution - 75%

Erdrickgr, August 4th, 2009

The concept of an album with only bass, drums and vocals, and no electric or acoustic guitars, is an interesting concept, and I believe that it has a lot of potential. However, that potential is not fully realised on this album. The musicianship is present, and the concept is in place, they just didn't execute well enough.

This album is somewhat schizophrenic, like the artists couldn't determine exactly what they were aiming for. There's hard rock, melodic hard rock, metal, and melodic metal here, with dashes of funk, groove, power metal, and hair metal sprinkled in. It's a mish-mash that never really comes together in a coherent whole. I guess that's the trick to making a record: you have to make the songs different enough from each other that they don't run together, but similar enough to each other so nothing feels out of place on the album. It can be a hard balancing act, and unfortunately these guys just didn't pull it off. I have a feeling that one of the problems is that there may have been too many musicians involved with this project (almost two dozen).

I did enjoy a handful of songs, thus the fairly positive score I'm giving this album. I definitely prefer the metal songs to the melodic hard rock songs presented here. Unfortunately, I must admit that half the songs fell in the middle for me, being ok material but nothing too special. But thankfully only two songs on the album were poor: 'The Asshole Song' and 'To Hell and Back Again'

The solos are played well, but are largely forgettable. They at least add some speed and aggression to many songs. But the only one that I like enough to single out is the one by Billy Sheehan on 'Romance in Black'. There's more melody present than some might expect, though that's thanks in part to the vocals on many songs. The interplay between multiple basses is not as apparent on many songs as you'd hope for with a project like this. There is some aggression coming from the bass guitar work here and there on this album, such as in 'Armageddon' and 'Dead From the Eyes Down'. There weren't a lot of riffs worthy of singling out, though the riffs at the beginning and in the middle of 'Godless Gods' are pretty good. The riff on 'The Asshole Song' sounds like the intro riff from Budgie's 'Breadfan'.

The vocalists are generally capable, but not always exactly enjoyable. Or put another way, there's nothing terrible, but there's definitely some merely average performances. The lyrics were often fairly awkward or silly. Here is an example from the otherwise strong song 'Armageddon':

Armageddon--as yet you have no fear
Collision warning will spoil your day my dear
Armageddon--realize the end is near
Act of desperation won't save your ass you queer!

And here's an example from abysmal song 'The Asshole Song':

Asshole, asshole, asshole, it doesn't take one to know one
Asshole, asshole, asshole, well everbody's got one
Asshole, asshole, asshole, it doesn't take one to know one
Asshole, asshole, asshole

In the end, 59:40 is just far too much music for this project. It would have been better had they picked just 'Armageddon' (5:15), 'Godless Gods' (4:36), 'Far Too Late' (4:35), 'Dead From the Eyes Down' (3:17), and 'Razorblade Romance' (4:23) and released the project as an EP. It would have been a twenty-two minute EP that would have hit it out of the park, and left the listener wanting more. I'd recommend this one to people curious about a project that focuses on bass guitars--it's not a bad album, just one that doesn't reach it's potential.

Obliterated Potential - 45%

Flamos, September 30th, 2008

Many bass players out there believe that the bass guitar is constantly overlooked and deserves more appreciation. In my opinion the bass guitar is the backbone of most metal bands. So, Markus Grasskopf has decided to assemble an amazing cast of bass players to create the band known as Bassinvaders. This should be interesting, right?

Well sadly, no. This is a great idea on paper that in reality just doesn’t work. Bass guitars are of course evident; drums are also in place here with some vocals. The blueprint of just bass guitars doing the work of guitars is a cool concept, but sadly, the writing here isn’t exactly original. The lyrics themselves aren’t interesting and the singing is below average. Even legendary singers like Tom Angelripper from Sodom can’t save this. It’s just too boring. With the legendary cast of performers, this should’ve been great and a unique listen. This just doesn’t deliver.

Luckily there are a few tracks that are good. “Dead From the Eyes Down” is a thrash track with great vocals and the absence of guitars is hard to notice. The Helloween cover of “Eagle Fly Free” is ok but the vocals drag it down a bit.

Unfortunately, those are the only two songs I feel like mentioning, because the rest is uninspired and bland. This could’ve been something remarkable and unique, but all that comes out is a bass overload with bland songwriting. I hope they try this again someday, and actually deliver the package we all want.

Raped By A Bass - 31%

GuntherTheUndying, August 2nd, 2008

Trying new ideas can sometimes result in golden rewards or an embarrassing episode like shitting your pants in public, which probably explains why an overwhelming chunk of metal bands will never dare what Markus Grosskopf’s Bassinvaders have attempted: power metal with four bass guitars, a drum kit, and nothing else. Sounds pretty strange, huh? Well, that’s nothing compared to who joins his screwy conception: Tom Angelripper of Sodom, Schmier from Destruction, Rage’s Peter Wagner, and a varied cocktail of guest musicians that are also legendary. Anyone want bass-driven power metal featuring several great artists of unlikely origins? You know, that wouldn’t sound bad, so YES PLEASE!

Well, Bassinvaders looks pretty sweet at hindsight, yet actually hearing their debut destroys all beginning charms; indeed, the effort dies right away. In blunt terms, Grosskopf’s process exploits every wrongdoing you’d expect when previewing a bass-only release. Of course, today’s instrument comes off in all forms, which surprisingly works well during speedy tunes and soloing, but those characteristics only help a handful of numbers. The rest, however, reveals unsatisfying strings layered over generic percussion, and doing so limits Bassinvaders to an album stuck with muddy foundations. Quite clearly, the use of bass in all registers lifts select tunes like “Armageddon” rather blissfully, yet its utter dominance plagues much more than it could primordially rescue, or even aid remotely. Once realizing how neat “Hellbassbeaters” appears, you’ll shortly discover how bland it is; surely, no point has been made.

Likewise, the record’s remaining stability begins devouring itself once the faction’s invisible pittances submit equal value on a musical measure. Essentially, each track borrows a verse-chorus pattern that literally copies the identities from descending and ascending productions. From these one-dimensional steps, we are left with the following: constant repetition, horrible singing on everyone’s behalf, predictable structures, little change between songs, and backing vocals worth a bag of rotten apples. I mean just witnessing awful transitions and poor choruses on “Godless Gods” or “Romance in Black” proves there is no seriousness behind this project, except the egotistical demonstration of bass thumping without intelligence. Make it end, Odin!

Through countless instances of clunking, clanking, chugging, and chopping; Bassinvaders shows us how an all-bass circus can manufacture, and more importantly, why the projection hasn’t occurred very often. Now it’s quite evident Markus Grosskopf and friends couldn’t assemble these bass-orientated numbers like clockwork, and “Hellbassbeaters” unsurprisingly fails overall from reasons too obvious for simple analysis. It is quite disappointing, because a bass-only CD honestly sounds interesting, but it was crafted by wrong minds, which led to bad ideas, and then this album. Really, I suggest spending your money on something else, but feel free to check out a few tunes if that four-stringed instrument controls your damn mind.

This review was written for:

Bassinvaders - Hellbassbeaters - 60%

Radagast, April 1st, 2008

Markus Grosskopf - the man with the big hair and the bigger smile – has been a bit of an unsung hero in heavy metal for the past 25 years. The only true founding member left in Helloween (going all the way back to the Gentry days), but happy to stay in the shadow of self-appointed band leader Michael Weikath following Kai Hansen's departure, he was essentially the man in the middle of the warring factions that nearly tore the legendary power metal band apart in the early 90s. Following Helloween's resurgence, he has gradually grown as a songwriter, going from the guy responsible for the b-sides, to writing or co-writing some of the best songs on the band's more recent CDs.

With a brief flirtation as a guitarist in his previous side-project, Shockmachine, in 1999, Grosskopf's new venture as primary songwriter comes in the rather unique shape of Bassinvaders – a heavy metal project featuring no 6-string guitars whatsoever.

Recruiting 3 legendary German singing bass players (and several other associates) he has recorded 'Hellbassbeaters', a CD where every song features several bass guitars providing all the lead, rhythm and, of course, low-end, by themselves. A variety of other bassists from across the globe have provided bass solos on every song – with everyone from more 'earthy' players like Nibbs Carter of Saxon, through power metal luminaries like Dirk Schlächter and right the way up to the apparently 20-fingered Billy Sheehan getting in on the act.

It is easy to tell from the variety of styles across the CD that it has been done as a bit of light-hearted fun with no great concept in place. The 3 main associates Grosskopf has recruited to help write and record the CD also contribute heavily to the varied styles. Peavy Wagner of Rage is maybe a predictable presence alongside another power metal mainstay, but Schmier and Tom Angelripper, of the seminal thrash bands Destruction and Sodom, respectively, are more surprising. Each stays close to what they know and there are, as a result, as many thrash-inspired songs as there are more traditional metal ones. If that sounds like a little too much of a screamed vocal-fest for you, it should be noted that Firewind's current vocalist Apollo Papathanasio is on hand to contribute some more melodic vocals from time to time.

The end result is something of a mixed bag, with some songs standing out and others fading into the background. A couple of songs merely seem to be choruses strung together with some admittedly impressive, but ultimately aimless bass sections. However, the only real rotten track is "The asshole song", which is as stupid as it sounds and is sung in a sub-Lemmy drawl by D-A-D's Jesper Binzer in his only contribution to the CD. A far more successful Motorhead-inspired track is the Angelripper-penned album highlight, "Dead from the eyes down", a rampaging speed/thrash song where the lack of guitar is barely noticeable. Despite the juvenile lyrics, Schmier's "Armageddon" is an excellent addition as well, and the monstrous growl of the collected bass guitars really help in making it sound sufficiently evil.

The overall success of a bass-only CD will be a subjective thing for each listener, but I'd wager it would only be a once-in-a-while listen for all but the most ardent 4-string lovers, with all that clunking and clanging eventually becoming a little grating. The recreation of Helloween's classic "Eagle fly free" (right down to the solos) at the end of 'Hellbassbeaters' serves as a pretty good summation of the CD compared to the more conventional approach – it's certainly interesting, it's good fun to listen to from time to time, but in the end it's never going to be as good as the original. 'Hellbassbeaters' is definitely worth a few listens, but its primary function will probably never be more than that of an amusing diversion.

(Originally written for