Hadouken! (Electronic/Indie Rock)
For the Masses (1.5/4)- 2010
Do you like repetitive dance music? Then you’ll love Hadouken! This is an album that tries way too hard to be clever, and it can’t hide the fact that the music is nothing more than a single noise looped throughout each song.
Hasan Salaam (Rap/Hip-Hop)
Paradise Lost (3/4)- 2004
It’s hard to critique an album like “Paradise Lost,” as listening to it often feels like view into the self-therapy of its author. That’s both it’s major flaw and its strength, and your tolerance of overly conscious and personal hip-hop.
Children of God (3.5/4)- 2008
Hasan Salaam is proof that even in the underground, there is no justice in hip-hop. While he’s far too intelligent and lyrical to appeal to radio rap fans, Hasan Salaam deserves to be a household name. He’s one of the best emcees in hip-hop today, both in terms to flow and lyrics. He raps with as much swagger as the best of them, his metaphors are deep, and his rhymes are real. Hasam Salaam is real hip-hop, and Children of God is one of the best rap albums of 2008. If you respect real lyricism and true rap music, then support real hip-hop and get yourself a copy of Children of God. It’s raw, real, and oddly inspiring.
Hate Eternal (Death Metal)
Fury & Flames (3/4)- 2007
Hate Eternal’s Fury and Flames is hardly an essential album, but it is another quality death metal release from Morbid Angel’s Erik Rutan. From a technical stand point, Fury and Flames is typical death metal. It features impressive musicianship, but nothing particularly unique musically or lyrically. However, Hate Eternal has put more into their brutality than most. This is not just a brutal album for the sake of being brutal, but instead an album that uses its brutality to convey emotion. While many death metal albums are an emotionless exercise in technical musicianship and brutality, Hate Eternal blends their brutality with genuine anger to create an experience that is more than just mindless brutality. Pure death metal fans might not notice it, but anyone looking for a more emotional death metal album will find it here.
Heaven Shall Burn (Metalcore/Melodic Death Metal)
Whatever It May Take (3.5/4)- 2002
Whatever It May Take might very well be the most brutal metalcore album ever released. Granted, that isn’t saying much, but Heaven Shall Burn is a legitimately brutal band. They’re style combines Gothenburg-era melodic death metal with true hardcore punk, but they don’t comprise anything in merging the two. Simply put, their sound works, and Whatever It May Take is a damn good metal album.
Iconoclast (3/4)- 2007
Germany’s Heaven Shall Burn has been one of the absolute best metalcore bands for some time now. Iconoclast doesn’t see the band drastically improving their sound, but the album has just enough variation to sound fresh. Heaven Shall Burn is a metalcore band that is good enough to appeal to just about any metalhead, and heavy enough to be appreciated by extreme metal fans. Still, their brand of metal is accessible enough to recommend to fans of more popular hardcore bands. Iconoclast isn’t an essential album, but it’s in a completely different league from just about every other 2008 metalcore album.
(hed) pe (Hard Rock/Rap)
Back to Base X (1/4)- 2006
Base to Base X is an album that tries to be both rap and rock, and ends up failing measurably. This is the kind of album that lacks even the most basic functions of rock or rap, as the group’s MC has absolutely no flow whatsoever and the band behind him has little musical talent or creativity. It’s horrible rap, horrible rock, and horrible music.
Helloween (Power Metal)
Gambling with the Devil (2.5/4)- 2007
Gambling with the Devil isn’t going to change the way power metal is played, but Helloween already did that 20 years ago. Since the glory days of this band, the genre has evolved immensely. Helloween may not have improved their sound much in the last 20 years, but compared to their last few releases, Gambling with the Devil is a classic. It’s not going to replace their early albums that arguably created the modern power metal sound as the most recommendable albums in their discography, but it’s a relief that Gambling with the Devil gets the band back on track. For better or for worse, it’s a solid power metal release, and playing solid power metal is one thing Helloween certainly knows how to do. Whether you’re looking for a quality power metal album or simply a quality Helloween album to add to your collection, Gambling with the Devil is both a solid and safe bet.
High on Fire (Sludge Metal)
Death is This Communion (2.5/4)- 2007
Death is This Communion is a solid album that shouldn’t disappoint fans of High on Fire. It also does very little to advance their sound, and is occasionally tedious as a result. This is a sludge metal band for people who love sludge metal, and while they’re talented enough to be recommended to newcomers to this dark grimy genre, Death is This Communion is really just one for the fans.
Extreme Behavior (1/4)- 2005
Extreme Behavior is simply one of the worst and most offensive albums my ears have ever had to endure. Thankfully, it’s derivative enough to remind one of the only marginally bad bands that Hinder rip-off, serving as a much needed distraction from the awful lyrics and painfully off-key singing. I listened to this album so you don’t have to. Please, avoid this at all costs.
The Hives (Alternative Rock)
Veni Vidi Vicious (3.5/4)- 2000
Veni Vidi Vicious is a brief, but ridiculously fun album that is guaranteed to get caught in your head. Amidst all of the boring pop rock out there, it’s a shame that a group like The Hives are often overlooked. When they’re at their best, such as on Veni Vidi Vicious, The Hives are far catchier than any pop punk band, as well as more original and more energized. I won’t defend it as high art, but it’s also not trying to be. For what it is, Veni Vidi Vicious is outstanding, and a thoroughly entertaining listen.
The Hold Steady (Indie Rock)
Stay Positive (4/4)- 2008
Simply, The Hold Steady’s Stay Positive is a masterpiece in every respect. The album as a whole is a masterful collection of stories that come together to paint a beautiful picture of life. On their own, each song is a masterpiece, as each contains a poetic story full of vibrant characters dealing with genuine issues, but the concept that the stories make is even better. Stay Positive is an album that anyone can relate to, and it’s unique musically as well. The lyrics are deep and poetic, and it’s easy to get lost in thought interpreting the stories and metaphors. This is an album for music lovers, poetry lovers, and intelligent listeners, and anyone who fits into one or more of those categories should give it a listen.
Hurt (Hard Rock)
Vol. II (3/4)- 2007
Hurt is one of the few modern radio rock bands worth supporting. Just like their first album, Vol. II is more ambitious than the typical modern hard rock album, and although it doesn’t succeed at everything it tries, it makes more for an interesting listen. Anyone who purchased Vol. I should add Vol. II to their collection without hesitation, as the band as shown a good amount of improvement and evolution in the last year. Anyone who has heard and liked the single “Ten Ton Brick” should also consider Vol. II, and even those just looking for something unique and ambitious in a genre that has become tired and generic would probably enjoy what Hurt has done on this record. Hurt hasn’t put it all together yet, but Vol. II still has enough going for it to warrant a high recommendation for modern and/or mainstream rock fans. This is a band with a very promising career ahead of them.