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CD Reviews: Megadeth, B. Walton, Dropkick Murphys, K. Loureiro

We let four new CDs spin and give you the lowdown: Dropkick Murphys, Kiko Loureiro, Megadeth, and the Billy Walton Band.

This month, Managing Editor Adam Moore and Senior Editor James Egolf take a look at four new releases, from balls-out metal to some cool jazz fusion from below the equator.

Megadeth  That One Night – Live in Buenos Aires

Don’t cancel that Kerrang! subscription just yet; this live set from Megadeth’s DVD of the same name shows that metal is anything but dead. From the “Air Force One has been shot down!” voice-over on “Jet Intro” to the last strains of “Holy Wars,” Mustaine and company show that the years haven’t taken any of the edge off, but the added maturity does show up in the spotless arrangements and surgically precise dual-guitar interplay of Dave and Glen Drover. Disc one is a blast, but disc two alone is worth the asking price. It might just be time to dig through the hamper for that old “Peace Sells…” t-shirt. - JE

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Billy Walton Band   Billy Walton Band

On the epynonymous debut from the Billy Walton Band, it quickly becomes apparent that the band’s specialty lies in frentic blues jams. Through six remarkably fast-paced tracks, guitarist Billy Walton (who counts effects guru Roger Mayer as a fan) demonstrates his deep knowledge of the fretboard, alternating frequently between bluesy guitar heroics and road-worn vocals. Astute listeners will notice a melange of influences here, but in short, this 20-minute disc finds the band channeling Stevie Ray Vaughan’s most upbeat moments (perhaps with some bluesy John Mayer thrown in for good measure).

While Billy spends his time noodling, bassist William Paris and drummer Marcus Croan never miss a beat. No matter where the music goes, whether it be the firey opening of “Electricity Divides,” the stilted groove of “Octavia America” or the gentle strumming of “Summer Days,” the rhythm section provides a solid foundation for this disc, proving that no bluesman can go it alone. In the end, this disc provides an exciting, if not abbreviated, listen, and fans of solid summertime blues should definitely take notice. -AM

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Dropkick Murphys

Dropkick Murphys  The Meanest Of Times

Family, faith and friends are some of the themes explored on The Meanest Of Times, the latest from the Dropkick Murphys. With a foreshadowing title, the CD starts off darker than usual, covering subjects like job-loss, war, alcoholism, and suicide. It’s guaranteed to make even the most relentlessly chipper a little maudlin. Not that the tunes aren’t good, they just indulge in the time-honored Irish tradition of wallowing in it.

But beginning with track seven, an ass-kicking exploration of faith entitled “Surrender,” they indulge in another Irish tradition – invincibility. From here on, the subject matter no longer feels insurmountable; the demons are now conquerable. This strength continues on the next track, “(F)lannigan’s Ball,” featuring guest vocals by Spider Stacy and Ronnie Drew, with other standouts including an old-school PR ode to redemption called “I’ll Begin Again,” and “Shattered,” a rollicking lament about the good old days, revisited with X-ray vision. The delightful “Loyal To No One,” sounds like nothing quite so much as a vitriolic sea chantey.

The Meanest Of Times finishes hard with the sweet and powerful “Never Forget,” featuring a bagpipe intro and ringing church bells on the fadeout, giving shout-outs to all of life’s unsung heroes, summing up the album as a whole by offering up a consummate and caring look into working class life and aspirations. –JE

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Kiko Loureiro  Universo Inverso

The term “guitar virtuoso” is thrown around a lot these days – often self-proclaimed and often with little to back it up besides lightspeed fretboard calisthentics. Sure, speed is important, but to be a virtuoso, one must have a superior understanding of the instrument, from tone to technique.

With Brazillian guitarist Kiko Loureiro’s second solo release, Universo Inverso, he rightfully claims the virtuoso title over the course of ten generally frentic, always jazzy tracks.

The best way to describe Universo Inverso might be Carlos Santana on speed; the tracks all flow with a high intensity, whether it’s the powerful opener, “Feijão de Corda” or the gorgeously understated “Samba Da Elisa,” and Kiko’s guitar sings throughout with passionate sustain. There’s an unstoppable Brazilian/Latin groove surrounding this album, enough to get your foot tapping, whether you really want to or not (our advice is to not fight it). It’s a speedy trip through the world of jazz fusion, and Kiko Loureiro proves to be a capable guide.

Of course, it’s not all flash and flame; the band stretches its legs with downtempo tracks like “Monday Mourning” and “Realidade Paralela,” allowing the listener’s pulse to return to normal and Kiko’s fingers to cool off. Even at Universo’s slowest points, Kiko – who first rose to prominence with international power metal group, Angra – demonstrates his full grasp of both jazz and subltness. He even showcases his ability to share – something that’s lost on most “virtuosos” – briefly stepping out of the way in each song, allowing the other members of the band to step into the spotlight. It’s enough to give some variety to what might otherwise just be endless riffs tied together, and makes Universo Inverso a hell of a listen. –AM

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