New Releases – 21st October 2016

New music is happening. Today! Here’s my selection of the highlights… mostly metal but with some other HMO-approved stuff thrown in for good measure too.

The leopard enjoyed one last walk before being made into an outrageous pair of trousers.

Hanoi Rocks – Strange Boys Box

Five classic Hanoi Rocks albums lovingly reckapaged and reboxed in a CD (or vinyl) set. Not sure whether these are remastered or not and there aren’t any bonus tracks, which would have been nice. Still, looks like a cheap way of getting a batch of the Finns’ albums for a decent price. I’ve got all these albums on vinyl but I would like CD editions so I’m pretty into this. It’s got all the albums from Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes… through to Back to Mystery City and the live album All Those Wasted Years. It’s missing Two Steps From the Move but Rock Candy did a great 2CD set of that recently anyway (with actual bonus tracks!) But basically, anyone that doesn’t have these albums must get involved and get involved NOW.

Hold up! I think I’ve left the oven on.

Khemmis – Hunted

This US doom outfit made a big splash last year with their debut album Absolution. I thought it had real promise (and outrageously good artwork) but I was put off by their inappropriate penchant for shouty “core” vocals. Here they are again with album number two, another awesome album cover and another heap of critical praise. Reckon I’ll give this a listen and just hope they’ve cut out all the drill sergeant stuff.

Now I’m going to jam my thumb up his arse and that’ll REALLY piss him off!

Pantera – The Great Southern Trendkill (20th Anniversary Edition)

20 years, eh? Feel old yet? The Pantera anniversary editions keep coming. This album doesn’t enjoy quite the same reverence as the previous three but it should. A great album with classic tracks like Floods and Drag the Waters and there’s a darker, sludgier edge to this album that I love. Bonus disc comes with a mix of mixes, new mixes, early mixes and Mixy McMixface. Oh, and there’s a couple of live tracks too.

Regular Bob Ross viewers saw it as a cry for help.

Dead Congregation – Sombre Doom EP

For all it’s obsessed with kicking the bucket, death metal has been enjoying rude health in recent years. And these Greeks have been a big part of that with 2014’s excellent Promulgation of the Fall. Their latest release Sombre Doom is out on the band’s own Martyrdoom Productions and, to be honest, I don’t really know much about it or have much to say about it other than “yes please”. It’s certainly not been getting the coverage it deserves. Possibly because EPs aren’t as sexy as albums but then you can’t beat a good death metal EP! Just ask Autopsy.

Stranded in reality. Saddled with debt.
Stranded in reality. Saddled with debt.

Ian Hunter – Stranded in Reality

I read that Ian Hunter’s new box set is not a music industry creation: it was created by fans. That means his fans created a 28CD/2DVD box set that will include about 19 CDs of studio albums and live albums that they probably already own. Because they’re fans. That leaves them 9 CDs and 2 DVDs that they don’t already own, and a nice book. This will cost them £250. Daft buggers! Come back music industry, all is forgiven!

Sulu. Open hailing frequ… fuck it. Fire proton torpedoes!

Mithras – On Strange Loops

Another notable death metal release, from England this time. I’m totally unfamiliar with this band (maybe because this is their first new album in 10 years) but there’s quite a buzz about On Strange Loops so I’ll definitely be checking it out. I say “death metal” but, supposedly, this is genre-defying stuff. Like Morbid Angel in space or something. And I noticed there’s a nice download bundle of their albums (including this one) available on their bandcamp page too.

Yog-Sothoth’s hot temper and unwieldy claws ruined yet another matchstick Church model

Demoncy – Faustian Dawn

Demoncy were one of the original US black metal acts in the early-to-mid nineties, along with the likes of Von. Here’s a reissue of their first album from the label Nuclear War Now! Productions. By all accounts, this album hasn’t been served very well by previous editions so this new one will offer the best sound to date. Remixed and remastered by Ixithra himself. Surely not!

Elsewhere, Gillan’s stellar output from Mr. Universe through to Magic gets a loving vinyl box release in The Vinyl Collection 1979-1982. I’m happy with my CD copies but if you’re a vinyl buff and are new to the band, this is a brilliant run of albums. The great man in peak form with musicians to match. Continuing a good week for death metal fans, there’s also Obituary’s Ten Thousand Ways to Die. Seems like one of those titles that must have been done before: if not by a death metal band then surely by Steven Seagal? This EP has a couple of new tunes and a big batch of live tracks too so plenty for fans to enjoy here. There’s also a big release from Korn today with The Serenity of Suffering and retro glammers can enjoy Kix’s Can’t Stop the Show: The Return of Kix on CD/DVD too. I’ll avoid that because cause I’m worried Body Talk is on it. Last time I heard that tune, it took weeks to get it out my head. Maybe months. “She talks body talk, music I can see. She talks body talk… body talk” Aarrghhh it’s happening again!

And that’s the lot this week. A good, and possibly extremely expensive, day for lovers of box sets and/or death metal. Let me know if I’ve missed anything incredibly awesome and, until next Friday… happy hunting!

Schammasch – Triangle

This review was brought to you by the number "3"
This review was brought to you by the number “3”

Schammasch’s Triangle is high-concept stuff. The Swiss group divide their latest album into stages with three themed CDs (The Process of Dying, Metaflesh and The Supernal Clear Light of the Void). The three discs each run to 33 minutes and all signify a stage of a spiritual journey. The concept is enhanced by the wonderful box set package and its eye-catching, symbolic imagery (by the talented Ester Segarra). It all screams masterpiece! Well, apart from the music. The album has a befittingly grand production but the music of Triangle is a chore. The first disc is a sub-Behemoth slog and the third disc, while it has a pleasant cinematic ambience, goes nowhere fast: five tracks where the final two would have had the same effect. The second disc is more successful. Its Monotheist-style evil, glassy prog and mysterious chants offering up the album’s hookiest passages. But there’s just too much padding throughout. And treating each disc as a separate album doesn’t help either when two of them are such a slog. The scale of the project keeps me returning to it, hoping it will finally click, but after coming away from another listen feeling nothing I have to finally accept that Triangle is just overlong and unrewarding. It looks and sounds incredible but there are not enough engaging moments to justify an hour and 40 minutes of my time.

[Schammasch – Metanoia]

New Releases – 14th October 2016

It’s finally Friday, time to spend all your hard-earned cash… but what on? Well, the HMOverlord is here to help, telling you what’s new and exciting in the world of metal and rock. And I had to tear myself away from the live stream of Banger TV’s “Essential Power Metal Albums” debate to do it too, so I hope you’re grateful. There’s not much doing in the way of reissues this week (the XTC Skylarking set does look nice though) so it’s all new music. And first off, we’ve got one of the most anticipated albums of the year.

Evil in tent
Evil in tent

Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder

With its simplified artwork and the handing of all vocal duties to Nocturno Culto, it looks like it’s all change with Darkthrone’s new release. Advance track Tundra Leech suggested a more misanthropic approach, following the bullet-belted romp of The Underground Resistance. I loved that album but I find the prospect of a less chummy Darkthrone thrilling. I’ve got my orange vinyl edition pre-ordered and I’m hoping for “Album of the Year” material here.

Also available as a Christmas tree decoration

Hobbs’ Angel of Death – Heaven Bled

The Australian metal legend returns to tide all you thrash fans over while you wait for the new Testament and Metallica albums to land. But, if the track Son of God is anything to go by, I might just stick with this. It’s Show No Mercy-era Slayer stylings put a proper smile on my face. If the whole album is like that, this could be a total winner.

Too many eyes
The petting zoo proved more distressing than expected

Anciients – Voice of the Void

I haven’t heard this band at all but Season of Mist have been releasing a lot of great stuff lately and I’ve read some intriguing reviews of this new album. Anciients have got a great proggy sound, like a less-sludgy Mastodon but the song I heard (Ibex Eye) took a wee bit too long to get going. Still, there’s definitely promise here so I’ll be checking this one out. Awesome cover too.

The best Etch-a-Sketch image to date. Don’t shake it!

Blasphemer – Ritual Theophagy

Italians’ Blasphemer return after a six-year absence to rip out some old-school death metal. It’s chaotic and evil but with a blasting, technical edge. It reminds me a bit of the very early Akercocke stuff, actually. And if song titles like Jesus Rapes and Crucifix of Shit are anything to go by, sounds like these guys are Blaphemers by nature as well as by name. Released on Comatose Music.

‘Tis but a scratch!

Sons of Balaur – Tenebris Deos

Another Season of Mist release, here’s the fictional black metal band Sons of Balaur. Fresh from starring in the graphic novel, and soon to be animated movie, ‘Realm of the Damned’. They’ve definitely got a publicity angle at least. It’s all good fun I suppose, but I haven’t been impressed by what I’ve heard so far. And it’s all a bit… silly.

A potentially good album cover… ruined by butterfingers!

The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation

I can pretty much cut-and-paste my coverage of last week’s Meshuggah album here. Just change the names (and all the stuff about breakfast). DEP are a well-regarded band that just never really caught me. But I was pretty impressed by their new track Symptom of Terminal Illness so I’m sure this album will hit the spot with their fans. And they’ll have to make this most of it, since it looks like it might be the band’s last.

Elsewhere, we have the return of Singapore’s Wormrot with Voices, an album that also marks Earache’s return to grindcore. But, in typical grindcore fashion, you wait years for it… and then only get 26 minutes worth.  Anyone cowering in a corner at the mere suggestion of grindcore can take solace in the new Tyketto album Reach. I’m sure that’ll be manna from heaven for AOR fans. And fans of Europe might want to check out their former guitarist Kee Marcello and his new album Scaling Up. Great guitar but sounds like the vocals might be a weak link here. Both those are out on Frontier Records. And rounding things off, we’ve got the DVD/CD set of Extreme’s Pornograffitti Live 25 (kick it Kevin!) and Sonic Syndicate’s Eurovision pomp of Confessions. Not for me!

Not a bad batch of albums today then. A few that I’ll definitely be looking into but, let’s not kid ourselves, this week is all about the unholy Darkthrone! Hope you enjoyed my wee round-up. Let me know what you’re after today, anything crucial I missed? Until next Friday, happy hunting. I’m off to see if I can catch the end of that Power Metal debate…

New Releases – 7th October 2016

Welcome to the first of my weekly new release posts. There are approximately a squillion albums coming out today but here are the most interesting and exciting ones. As chosen by me. First off, we’ve got a band that I don’t talk about all that often…

Part with your cash 'til you puke!
Part with your cash till you puke!

Saxon – Let Me Feel Your Power

I’m currently reviewing my way through the Saxon catalogue. It’s a mighty challenge that just got mightier with this, their 10th official live album. Let Me Feel Your Power captures their recent (and ongoing) Battering Ram tour with a couple of shows and plenty of new tracks making their live album debuts. Available in the usual combinations of CD/DVD/BR/vinyl etc… At my current rate of Saxon coverage, expect a review of this in late 2023.

Cherries on bananas!
Cherries on bananas!

Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason

The big new metal album of the week but a band that I’ve never really bothered with. I couldn’t really remember why that was though so I gave their new song Born in Dissonance a listen on Spotify. It’s OK, there’s some pretty impressive riff moments but… nah. I can see the appeal but I’m just not feeling it personally. It doesn’t put cream in my coffee. Or butter on my biscuit! And when I’m up for breakfast that’s what I need… especially after a violent sleep of reason.

Shouldn't it be "maths" though?
Pure raunch.

Watchtower – Concepts of Math: Book One

Twisty-turny thrashers Watchtower were one of the pioneering techy 80s bands (along with the likes of Coroner and Voivod) that paved the way for bands like Meshuggah. But, for all their influence, they didn’t last long: their last studio album was 1989’s Control and Resistance. But now they’re back with this compilation of some recent digital singles. In the 80s there weren’t too many bands doing the math metal thing but now it’s more prevalent. Interesting to hear how these originators will fare these days. Out on CD and vinyl, it’s not a rush-out-and-buy for me but it’s definitely going on my wishlist.

Give yourself a pat on the back... like this guy!
Give yourself a pat on the back… like this guy!

Gojira – Terra Incognita

Gojira’s early albums have been out of print for quite a while now with copies being offered for eye-watering sums. So if, like me, you could smell the inevitable reissues a mile off and held off, then give yourself a pat on the back! Listenable Records have now reissued the band’s debut album on CD and vinyl. And they’ll be reissuing The Link and The Link Alive in November too… but that’s a story for another week.

Success, excess and Hindu texts. Yes!
Success, excess and Hindu texts. Yes!

Yes – Tales from Topographic Oceans

A lot of love out there for Steven Wilson’s 5.1 mixing jobbies. And here he is again, taking on Yes’ notorious doubler. I reckon there were better Yes albums before and after this but there is great stuff on this. That said, I’m sure most people would agree it was padded out a bit too much, a spot of bloat that provided Rick Wakeman valuable time to snarf down a curry during their gigs. I’ll pass on this cause I’m happy enough with my current copy but it does look like a good value release. Available as 2CD/2DVDA or a 3CD/1BR set. Completists ought to go for the latter as it has extra third disc of bonus tracks including some previously unreleased stuff.

Probably just the rigor mortis
Probably just the rigor mortis

Sarcofago – Die… Hard!

It’s all gone a bit proggy this week so here’s Brazil’s legendary Sarcofago to ruin everything! Greyhaze Records released this excellent demo collection on CD last year and now it finally receives a vinyl pressing. It’s an absolutely smashing archive release and Greyhaze have done a great job with it . I’ll pass cause I’m happy with my CD copy but fans of extreme metal on vinyl should snap this up. The liner notes (from Wagner Antichrist!) are worth the price of entry alone. But if you’re a false… don’t entry.

On the less tempting side we’ve got a remaster of Dave Lee Roth’s Your Filthy Little Mouth. Think this Friday Music remaster has been available before though. But I do like a bit of DLR at this time of the year. And Osmose are reissuing Exciter’s The Dark Command and Blood of Tyrants. Canadian metal! Not terribly exciting but CanCon regulations require me to include them.

And that’s plenty for one week. Some pretty good stuff out there. Quite a few things I’ll probably just pass on though, or at least just put on the backburner. The Saxon is essential, Watchtower is pretty tempting and I’ll probably grab the Gojira cause if it goes out of print again and ends up on eBay for £376 I’ll feel like a right fanny. Happy hunting and I hope you can join me next Friday when the rundown will include one of THE metal releases of the year.

Next Friday: Arctic Thunder!
Next Friday: Arctic Thunder!

The HMO Guide to Akercocke


Akercocke is out of the cage! The reunited satanic extreme metallers’ UK tour is underway at last, with the mighty The King is Blind in support. It’s easily the must-see gig of the year. I can’t wait to see them next week and, because I’m taking EvaOverload along, I decided to put together a beginner’s guide to the Ak on Spotify for her. And now I’ve decided to share it with you. Praise Beelzebub!

Although Spotify playlists have no limits I decided to keep my selection within a CD running time, coming in at 69mins. Akercocke’s debut album The Rape of the Bastard Nazarene is unavailable on Spotify so, sadly, I couldn’t include any of those early tracks. But the upside to that was that it made things a bit easier: even though I was only left with four studio albums to pick from, it was still a pretty tricky endeavour. Some crucial tracks like Horns of Baphomet, Praise the Name of Satan, My Apterous Angel and Seduced couldn’t make the grade. And the often lengthy nature of their songs made it tricky to stick within the time limit too.

So calling this the Best of Akercocke is a little bit of a stretch but I reckon it’s a great introduction for newbies. Even those normally reluctant to dive into such extreme waters will find much to enjoy here. There are flaying shredders like Of Menstrual Blood and Semen and Becoming the Adversary but there is also plenty of melody in tracks like A Skin for Dancing In and Axiom.  The epic, proggy side of Ak is given an airing in the classic Leviathan and the sublime Shelter From the Sand (Rush fans should check that one out). The Dark Inside and Son of the Morning show off the band’s euphoric stylistic range, the power of the riff compels you in Verdelet and Enraptured By Evil is just a flat-out battering. It’s all brilliant, essential stuff.

Here’s the track listing for those without Spotify. Hope you enjoy and please let me know what you think. You’ll be wearing a suit and summoning the Antichrist before you know it. And if you become a convert there’s still time to catch the band on their UK tour. Tell them HMO sent you.

  1. Of Mentrual Blood and Semen
  2. A Skin for Dancing In (from The Goat of Mendes)
  3. Leviathan
  4. Enraptured By Evil
  5. Son of the Morning
  6. Becoming the Adversary (from Choronzon)
  7. Verdelet
  8. Shelter from the Sand
  9. The Penance (from Words That Go Unspoken)
  10. Axiom
  11. The Dark Inside (from Antichrist)

New Releases Update

Can I help you at all? Are you local?
Can I help you at all? Are you local?

I’d normally be posting my list of October’s upcoming New Releases around this time so I thought I better announce that the New Releases posts will now be a weekly fixture instead of monthly.

New albums come out on a Friday in the UK now and that’ll be the day I’ll post on each week. So the first of the new-style posts will be up on October 7th. Hope you’ll join me then! The more frequent posts will hopefully mean I can go a bit wider and deeper with my coverage, including more underground releases, more non-metal stuff, more reissues, more vinyl and more releases that I think might interest you. Even if think they’re mince. I’m hoping it’ll give me more room for chat and ranting too. Just more of everything. Cause more is more! I’m definitely with Yngwie on that.

In the meantime, here’s some stuff I received yesterday. I got the new limited edition of Saint Vitus’ Live Vol. 2 from the Season of Mist Webshop which, in addition to the main album, comes with a bonus digipak CD of Marbles in the Moshpit: a live recording from 1984 with original (and fantastic) vocalist Scott Reagers.

I also had a package arrive from UKEM Records. Containing the impressive new Winterfylleth album The Dark Hereafter and also the recent Tribulation EP Melancholia for a decent price too. And, as if that wasn’t enough goodness, the UKEM loyalty scheme meant I earned a free CD! So Cradle of Filth’s unreleased “Original Sin” version of the Dusk and Her Embrace album is now mine too. So looks like I’ve got a full weekend of proper metal ahead of me.

See you on Friday for my bang-up-to-date coverage of the latest new shit.

Danko Jones – Live at Wacken (CD/DVD)

Wacken Roll
Wacken Roll

I love a good live album and I love “classic” rock but rarely come across magnificent examples of either these days. And a good live classic rock album is even rarer! So I was hoping that Danko Jones’ latest release Live at Wacken would deliver on both accounts. I’ve only ever heard a few songs of his and never been blown away. It’s all a bit too much like a jeans advert. But I hear a lot of people say he (they?) are great live. On the basis of this set I can imagine that’s probably the case but the excitement only partially translates to CD/DVD. It’s got a great sound and jovial atmosphere. The band is loose and frontman Danko is in charming form, clearly enjoying being the loverman rocker at Europe’s Metal Mecca. But for all their self-professed “mean power chords” there’s not much in the way of decent riffs or songs. But the energy, witty raps and cheery vibe are winning and some Misfits-style pop punk numbers like the excellent The Twisting Knife add melodic substance in amongst all the two-chord dating-manual songs. It’s likely to be the only Danko Jones I will ever want or need but it’s enough of a good time to be worth holding on to. Like their festival slot, it’s fun for the afternoon but they’ll need to do better to score any hot night-time action.

[Danko Jones – The Twisting Knife]

… and Classic Rock too!