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Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
Identity: I Defy
Century Media Records

I listen to a lot of compilation collections. They are a preference of mine, exposing me to a wide variety of bands that are usually at their best. Even so, I've taken it for granted that, on subsequent plays I will program certain skips. Usually a full half of the CD gets by-passed this way and thats fine with me. Comps. are usually cheap so I don't feel that I've been ripped off.

So it is a very RARE and terrific occasion when I find a diamond like IDENTITY FIVE: I DEFY.


The album kicks off with ICED EARTH. A metal band that can actually play music, rhythms, and is NOT afraid to have a singer that lets his voice be heard. There is no trendy undecipherable frog-croaking passing for singing n this on. Their song BURNING TIMES is ripe with hard and heavy musicianship. The vocals match the attitude of the song (Unlike METALLICA's tortured overwrought re-working of Bob Seger's TURN THE PAGE - man was that hideous!). This song is from the band's CD SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES.

SKINLAB weighs in next with SO FAR FROM THE TRUTH. Heavier, cruder, and harder than BURNING TIMES, their gutter growl method of singng never becomes undistinguishable. These are bands that are not afraid to be heard! An outstandingly wild song from their CD: DISEMBODY: The New Flesh.

LACUNA COIL is up next and changes the tempo with an almost folksy feel to the metal. Electric guitars are here, but so are acoustic guitars. Fronted by a woman singer, their song MY WINGS is relentless and real; no Plug and Play Casio drummers here! From their CD: IN A REVERIE.

Wild and out of control, TURMOIL sings LET IT DIE with a feel that screams electricity right through your core! Though a studio recording, this song feels live in every sense! From their CD: THE PROCESS OF . . .

SENTENCED steps up and changes the tempo again (each band here clearly marks their territory. Thanks must go to the A&R team of Robert Kampf, Tom Bejgrowicz, and Marco Barberi for arranging the tracks on the disc.). While the lead singer is very reminiscent of Dave Mustaine of MEGADETH, the rest of the band and music doesn't follow that style. With their song SUICIDER, their influence, in words anyway, is a bit too close to the MEGADETH crew. While this song is good on its own, this band will have to be careful in the future if the rest of their songs sound a little too much like a clone of a good thing.
From their CD: FROZEN.

KATATONIA does DEADHOUSE. This song is not Heavy Metal, despite what the blurbs on the liner notes may say. If you like despair, then this goth band will be more to your liking. Abandon hope all ye . . .

NEVERMORE is firmly entrenched in late 70's early 80's metal when some of the more fearless bands were experimenting with the Who Gives A Shit mentality of Punk. It was an odd mix then as some of the bands came away sounding like THE MOODY BLUES after a nasty bout of ugly divorces. The song POISON GODMACHINE is an excellent Heavy Metal rocker. From the CD: DREAMING NEON BLACK.

OLD MAN'S CHILD follows the more trendy route of nearly unhearable lyrics with rapid fire drumbeats. Add the gothic overtones to the mix and you have a band that is everything that CRADLE OF FILTH wishes they could be, if they only had the talent. OLD MAN'S CHILD does FALL OF MAN from their CD: ILL-NATURED SPIRITUAL INVASION.

Oh man! Talk about your 70's style Heavy Metal! BLIND GUARDIAN must have been inspired by bands like BUDGIE and SAXON. They take it farther and make the sound all their own with INTO THE STORM. Excellent if unusual piece. Note their troubadour singing on the chorus. From their CD: NIGHTFALL IN MIDDLE-EARTH.

the GATHERING comes in with a nearly pop-metal song LIBERTY BELL. Yet this band from Holland slams more real heart into their song than any of the overabundance of Hollywood hairbands from the 80's or trend following anti-Christ-ers of lock step ultra conservative Heavy Metal have the balls (or eggs) to achieve (whew! How's That for a sentence?)! The song is from their CD: HOW TO MEASURE A PLANET?

HASTE takes the time to set up a long intro into their song THE ABSENTEE and turns the song into a rappin' rap. A Rap without ryhme! Full of anger and force, this song headbangs like few still can. From their CD: PURSUIT IN THE FACE OF CONSEQUENCE.

CRYPTOPSY hardly needs an introduction. They roar onto this disk with rapid fire everything in WHITE WORMS. Though following the tired trend of grwoling vocals, they refuse to lose their Death Metal message in the face of potential lawsuit from lousy parents with worse offspring. Mike DeSalvo leads the band to full metal destruction without mercy. From their CD: WHISPER SUPREMACY. Go Here for the full review of this album.

Norway's BORKNAGAR is an incredibly slamming band, inventive and brave against an institution that has long frowned and flamed any attempts at creativity. Their song OCEANS RISE is as multilayered as any Wagnerian opera. From Their CD: THE ARCHAIC COURSE. Wow!

THEATRE OF TRAGEDY gives us a nearly pop rockin' tune with LORELEI. With a name like that, of course they are going to be goth, but this is the best goth I've heard since SISTERS OF MERCY and are worthy successors. Their CD is AEGIS and I am BUYING that sucker! Look to Shadow Music for a future review of this great band!

ANGRA is a band from Brazil with an impeccable pedigree, having been recorded by Chris Tsangrides (BLACK SABBATH, JUDAS PRIEST, HELLOWEEN, THIN LIZZY). You have every right to expect a 70's feel from such a venture and you'd be right, but the song MYSTERY MACHINE sounds like the best of what 70's metal had to offer: Risky and trail blazing. While the lyrics are a bit preachy the song is not destroyed by heavy handed-ness. From their CD: FIREWORKS.

JAG PANZER is yet another 70's sounding band and I'm beginning todetect a pattern here. While this CD features strong turf and identity from the various bands, I have the sneaking suspicious that Century Media's "House Style" follows some aging rocker's idea of what "Real Metal was". The song AGE OF MASTERY is very good without question, but I don't know if I could listen to an entire album of preaching. Let's face it, though the metal of the seventies was quite good, many of the bands were proselytizing all over the place. That's what movies like THIS IS SPINAL TAP were making fun of for crying out loud.

If this album were a piece of meat, then OPETH would be tearing it to shreds with their bare fangs. With their song WHEN, OPETH steps in and finishes off the album in such a decisive way than anything more would be anti-climatic. A great band and a great finish. From their CD: MY ARMS, YOUR HEARSE.

This album had nothing that was mediocre enough to make me want to hit the skip button, even after many repeated playings. It is mixed well even if it is a mixed bag. Plus, for the average street price of about $3.98 for 17 songs at about 76 minutes, how can you go wrong?

This CD deserves everyone of its 5 Perplex Skulls.

Perplex SkullPerplex SkullPerplex SkullPerplex SkullPerplex Skull

This review copyright 1999 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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