One of the first things you notice when you listen to this album, especially considering its title, is that it isn't actually that heavy at all. Its hardrock, sure, but they have left the realms of heavy metal. I am not sure if that is a bad move. What I like very much is that vocalist Jeff Martin (always the weak link in this otherwise impeccable band) seems to sing more lower passages. His voice sounds a lot better that way - quite on the contrary to the "like a bucket of ro-ocks" high bits in "Bucket of Rocks" that, frankly, make your toes curl in agony.

As usual with Racer X, you're in for a fair dose of technical ecstasy, what with Paul Gilbert in the ranks and all. He's not mentioned in many people's guitarist top x's, however he is very versatile, can write good songs and knows his chops. "Getting Heavier" has a couple of really good tracks on there, such as "Golden God", the not too progressive but nonetheless cool "Heaven in '74" and "The Siren's Eye". "Empty Man" has some over-the-top vocal harmonies that don't appeal to me, but it's compensated by exquisite guitar work. "Ghost Dance" (a ballad) is my least favourite track, but you can't really miss with Racer X and this is once more a very good album despite a mediocre singer. There's only one instrumental, "Catapult to Extinction", which is a bit of a shame.

The Japanese version - which in fact I couldn't resist to purchase - features a bonus double live CD entitled "Snowball of Doom 2". For about US$ 40 (including shipping outside of Japan) you get some really good sounding live tracks that don't sounds like an 'official bootleg' at all.

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Written March 2003


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