Released: 2000, Frontiers / Now & Then
Preamble: I don’t usually review Tributes, Compilations, EP’s, Live releases, Cover tune CD’s or Greatest Hits CD’s. Most of them are a poorly done waste of time and of interest only to fans of that specific band and or label. These types of releases are also hard to review because while they may be very cool and or unique in their own right, let’s face it…nothing kicks ass quite like a new, full-length studio CD, with all new songs by an underground band! In addition a compilation can have so many artists it would take paragraphs to review each track individually! I feel that rating some of these lame contractual obligation CD’s a four or five doesn’t seem quite right, no matter how killer the tunes on the disc. However there are a few exceptions that pop up once in while and deserve a little notice. This is one of them.
Union 3 is one of those exceptions. Frontiers and Now & Then have combined their might to unleash this presumably third in a series of kick ass compilations. To start with this very well presented double CD has nice packaging, which is usually not the case. Often record companies churn out a compilation CD it is usually a cheap cash grab and they keep the costs down by having little or nothing in the way of extras in the package. This is not the case with Union 3! It has a nice booklet with about two dozen photos and interesting and informative track-by-track liner notes for all 31 tracks. Great value!!
However, we all know that you can’t judge a CD. It could be the nicest package in the world but if the tunes suck, the whole thing is a waste! In this case the tunes are excellent in every way! Another bonus is that this compilation has many rare and unreleased tracks… at least 16 by my count! That is worth the price alone. It has some demo tracks, rough mixes and stuff that isn’t available in North America. The bands and artists range from some class-act veterans (David Glen Eisley, Jorn Lande and Jeff Watson) to stalwarts of the melodic metal scene, (Ten, Fair Warning Millenium) to a number of up and coming bright lights. (Hugo, Melodica and Heaven’s Fire) Only Millenium has the honour of having two tracks on the comp.
As I mentioned in my preamble it would be tough to review all 31 tracks (or maybe I’m just too lazy) but suffice it to say these are the best and brightest that melodic hard rock and metal have to offer. Every track is a treasure. This is the CD you give to people who say, “Bands don’t make music like they used to in the good ol’ days… the Eighties”! to which I say, “Stop listening to those crummy Dwell tributes of your favorite bands from the 80’s and listen to this comp and you will discover 30 kick-ass bands!”
Union 3 does not fall in the “cash grab” category but is planted firmly into the “ Good value and treat for the fans and an excellent introduction to our acts” category! It is a refreshing change to see a well-done compilation. To learn more about these excellent labels and their magnificent roster of artists visit them on line at http://www.frontiers.it and http://www.nowandthen.co.uk