Various Artists

The Metal Box Set

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There are endless ways that a three-disc box set of heavy metal could be handled to make it interesting. From packing it with classics to trying to gather a collective theme, there are several ways that Kaz Records could have done this differently. As it stands, The Metal Box is three CDs of hit-and-miss metal tracks that range from absolute classics (Motorhead's "Bomber") to the simply hideous (Magnum's "Kingdom of Madness"). The contributions from Black Sabbath and Motorhead are obvious highlights; tracks like "Snowblind" and "Eat the Rich" have always been good and will not age without a fight. Some live tracks from Blue Oyster Cult and Hawkwind are also good, but they are also edited due to time constraints. Nazareth, Magnum, Angel Witch, and even Fleetwood Mac add nothing but filler between the good songs. These songs are not only bad but out of place on a "classics" compilation. More welcome is the oft-forgotten girl group Girlschool, which puts in a few good numbers that manage not to disappoint when compared to the band's contemporaries. But the real treat is hearing Venom alongside these artists; easily the heaviest group featured on the compilation, the band still sounds good after many years. Even old favorites Uriah Heap and Accept enter some respectful tracks. The Metal Box is very uneven, but at least it mixes together some unlikely bands to switch things up a little bit. But fans of metal may not need this compilation for anything else but to complete their collections, and there are better samplers to check out for the uninitiated.

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