"some music was meant to stay underground..."

"Metal Invasion 2" (Promo CD)

Black Widow - "Metal Invasion 2" Promo CD cover image

"Metal Invasion 2" track listing:

1. When The Angels Cry - Black Widow (6:26)
2. One Man's Cry - Fischel's Beast (7:08)
3. 1000 Years - Holy Knight (2:28)
4. Don't Tell - Synthetic Prophecy (3:16)

Reviewed by on September 15, 2009

"'Though I don’t want to say that the bands represented by Metal Doll Records and showcased on 'Metal Invasion 2' aren’t any good, I can’t honestly recommend the album for serious music fans.'"

Metal Doll Records is a small label that has managed to release a couple sampler CDs for the handful of bands that they represent. They seem to focus on heavy thrash bands, so for those who like rough around the edges underground sounds, "Metal Invasion 2" could have been a good choice, if it weren’t plagued by such poor production quality.

Small labels have a tough time competing with the big names in the industry, but there’s still a certain level of quality expected by listeners. Sound quality is something most listeners expect to give up, but Metal Doll’s end product is much more amateur than most.

First is the packaging. Sure, it may be highbrow of me to expect the CD jacket to be professionally printed rather than two sheets of photo paper glued together. But really, if you want to be taken seriously, sometimes you have to fork out some dough.

Then there’s the fact that neither the jacket nor the CD actually names the tracks and artists in order. I found it took listening through to the choruses to figure out which band I was sampling.

As for the music, the first two tracks are pretty good considering. The opener, "When The Angels Cry," is by a female fronted old school thrash act called Black Widow. There’s some nice chuggy bass and decent drumming that provide the backdrop for mid-range vocals that aren’t really any threat to most metal maidens, but still get the job done. There’s also a nice little interlude where the guitar mellows to a nearly ballad sound, which offers a nice variance. If this song is any indication, Black Widow may be a band worth keeping an eye on.

Next up is "One Man’s Cry" by Fischel’s Beast. Sure, odd name, but it fits with this band that sounds enough like AC/DC to please fans of classic metal. Even the vocals sound a bit like Ozzy’s, though they are strained. There’s some good growling going on in the background too, and the repetitive riffs lead to a breakdown that has great pit potential. Since this group is based out of Brooklyn, I’d highly recommend that those in the tri-state area check them out live if you get the opportunity.

Unfortunately, everything goes downhill quickly after this. Even though I worked in college radio and still appreciate a lot of the over amped, heavy on the distortion sounds that seem to make up the tunes played on most college airwaves, "1000 Years" by Holy Knight is college radio music at its absolute worst. You can’t hear or understand any of the lyrics, and the guitar is cranked so loud that all you get is a bunch of feedback. The drums consist of an incessant tap tap tap on the rim throughout the entire tune, and the only nice thing I can say about this one is, thankfully it’s only a little over two minutes.

The closer, "Don’t Tell" by Synthetic Prophecy, had me wondering if Holy Knight blew out the studio’s only amp, because unfortunately everything is so muffled you can’t hear what sounded like a song with some potential. The vocals aren’t bad, if you could hear them, and fortunately it’s a huge improvement over the last track you endured. But again, it comes back to production quality. "Don’t Tell" ends the CD with a few moments of dead air at the beginning, and a full 45 seconds of it at the end.

Though I don’t want to say that the bands represented by Metal Doll Records and showcased on "Metal Invasion 2" aren’t any good, I can’t honestly recommend the album for serious music fans. Its low quality and poor production compared to even the average music label is like comparing an amateur video made with a cell phone to a foreign film.

The only good thing about this release is that it introduces Black Widow and Fischel’s Beast, two thrash bands that would be worth hearing more from.

Highs: The first two tracks are pretty good, and warrant further listening to their respective bands.

Lows: Holy Knight’s tune "1000 Years" is nearly the worst two minutes you may spend in your life.

Bottom line: An amateur attempt at a label promotion, but a couple of the bands featured are gems in the rough.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)