Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose
The much-derided but extremely wealthy Mr Loaf returns, with the heavyweight power-ballad-writing team of Jim Steinman and Desmond Child in support. Hell III sees some new-metal crunch added to the familiar histrionic epics, but this team knows not to mess with a winning formula. The bloated bogan operatics recall the 70s heyday of heavy rock, as do the leather clad Fabios on the fantasy-art cover. Cosmically awesome, woefully out-of-touch, or all a big joke: who knows?
The bar has been set very high on local hiphop releases in the last few years, and while Ill Semantic’s second LP is an admirable effort, it doesn’t match the best on offer. The r’n’b jams, single ‘On & On’ and the two Aradhina guest spots, are more successful than the slightly patchy straight hiphop material. But the best track is DJ CXL’s awesome scratch workout ‘Xtra Large’, which features shoutouts from Jazzy J and Q-Bert.
The title of his debut album points to Cyphanetik’s tough approach, and on the manifesto ‘My Style’ he jokes about being told by an industry executive to ‘get a girl on that shit and
maybe you’ll make a single’. But if he’s uncompromising, it’s not at the expense of self-awareness or humour. Witness the self-effacing reality check of ‘Simple Nobody’, the wit and bounce of ‘Blaze Em’. The productions are diverse, and always on point. All good.
Beck’s immediately recognisable style is a dense amalgam of genres, which only rarely descends into genre pastiche. On first listen, the latest dose of his casual, schizoid genius will sound a little bitsy, but as you let it soak in, it begins to make complete sense. Tracks like the wistful, noncommittal ‘I Think I’m In Love’, the almost disco ‘Cellphone’s Dead’, and the Exile-era Stones homage ‘Strange Apparition’, make this a classic Beck LP. Beautifully packaged, too.