KISS – Bang Bang You (Song Review)

“You know the rules and you’re gonna play”

If I was going to do an “all KISS songs ranked” type post, I reckon I’d have Bang Bang You higher on the list than most. There are a few reasons for this… One: It’s an endearingly dumb rock song about shagging. Two: I’m a sucker for 80s KISS (Paul Stanley’s voice is great and Bruce Kulick’s guitar work is always tasty). Three: It’s a song I love more since learning how to play it. I have a real thing about rock songs that use capos and Paul Stanley is a regular capo user. He uses one here, on the 2nd fret, and I love playing it. Four: it’s become my go-to song for testing out music gear down at the guitar shop. If I don’t enjoy playing Bang Bang You on a guitar or amp it doesn’t get bought. Simple as that. That’s the main reasons anyway, but I could probably reel off another… I dunno… five, six, seven, eight.

 

Helloween – Why? (Song Review)

“In these lonely days I need your answer”

On 1994’s Master Of The Rings, Helloween got their power metal mojo back big time. With two new members on board, drummer Uli Kutsch and vocalist Andi Deris, the German band sounded fresh and vital. And it’s these new guys that particularly shine on Why? Kutsch excites with his hard-hitting, gear-shifting groove and, not only are his vocals breathtaking (especially on the soaring, emotional chorus) but Deris displayed considerable songwriting chops here too. The lyrics challenge a non-interventional God but Why? is so good I can’t help feeling like the big man had Helloween’s back.

Stratovarius – Hunting High And Low (Song Review)

“Through the clouds shines a ray of the Sun”

This is the furthest I have ventured into the realm of proper rainbow unicorn power metal. So far, anyway. I was provoked into buying Stratovarius’ Infinite after a short live clip of them playing Hunting High And Low on the Metal Evolution series planted the song’s chorus in my head forever. The band pump out a fairly typical Euro-metal backdrop that refrains from showboating enough to let the insanely catchy tune and Timo Kotipelto’s soaring voice take centre stage. It all evokes warm feelings of old Europe and Goran Edman era Yngwie. The kind of song that gives you a high, even when you’re feeling low.

Thin Lizzy – Thin Lizzy (Review)

Thin Lizzy – Thin Lizzy (1971)

They’d go on to be one of the most definitive, life-affirming rock acts of the 70s but on their 1971 debut, Thin Lizzy seemed more nostalgic for the 60s. Lizzy mainstays Phil Lynott and Brian Downey together with original guitarist Eric Bell formed a power trio in the mould of Hendrix, Cream and The Jeff Beck Group and played an eclectic mix of folky, funky and soulful hippy rock. Honesty Is No Excuse is a sophisticated string-laden ballad, Look What The Wind Blew In has a carefree chorus and wonderful stuttering riff, Eire is a beautiful Celtic ode and Return Of The Farmer’s Son has hints of future glories in its jousting guitar and rolling drums. But many of the songs here, like the endless Diddy Levine, prove forgettable and even the album’s rockiest moments have a maudlin, nostalgic mood. All this makes Thin Lizzy a decent choice for hungover Sunday afternoons. But you know what Lizzy albums you were listening to on the Saturday and this wasn’t one of them.

HMO Digest – 10th July 2022

I closed out the previous digest with a question: were KISS genuinely boring when they played Donington in 1996 or was I just too sunburned to enjoy them properly? Well, I’ve listened to the Off The Soundboard recording of the show now. It’s a bit sluggish and takes a few songs to get going but, in the comfort of my own darkened living room, it’s way more fun than I remember! I’m getting the classic KISS vibes. Verdict: too sunburned.

Recent Posts

Hell – Darkhangel (Song Review)

One of the best songs of the ’10s but sadly Hell haven’t released anything since. Last I saw of them was supporting Saxon at what can only be described as a very farty Glasgow gig. At least I got some fresh air at Donington.

Running Wild – Final Gates (Song Review)

Don’t walk the plank, spank it! It’s all about the bass on this insanely catchy instrumental.

Fist – Throwing In The Towel (Song Review)

Apollo Creed’s least favourite NWOBHM song.

Shrines – Ghost Notes (EP Review)

I never got a press release for this so I’m not sure what the pitch is. A wee music theory joke for you there.

HMO Salutes

Original Nazareth guitarist Manny Charlton has died aged 80. Brilliant musician, songwriter and producer on some of my favourite albums. Listen here for a great interview with the man himself, where he discusses his classic Nazareth albums and his involvement with Guns N’ Roses. Warning: Fife accent.

Artist Ken Kelly, the creator of some of my favourite album covers, has passed away aged 76. A framed poster of Love Gun graced my living room wall for many years. And where would Manowar be without his muscular and boobular artwork?

My long-running campaign to “BRING BACK ALEC” has come to a sad end with the death of ex-Bon Jovi bassist Alec John Such, aged 70. The campaign did at least achieve some closure when he reunited with the band at their 2018 Hall Of Fame induction.

New Stuff

My most exciting purchases from the last month were the new Kreator album Hate Über Alles which is really good (definitely better than advance reviews led me to believe) and Porcupine Tree’s Closure/Continuation (album of the year so far). On the reissue front, I got the Thin Lizzy package that pairs up the expanded Sydney show with the doc Songs For While I’m Away, which is essential viewing for Lynott fans. And I finally got the anniversary box set of Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas which I’ve been looking forward to since pre-ordering it back in November 2021. It was worth the wait.

What I Was Listening To While I Wrote This Post

Enuff Z’Nuff’s 1985. It’s a strange one… a 1994 release that was technically their fourth album but is actually their 1985 demo recordings. I don’t really know the full story here. It’s sounds way too good to be a demo and sounds incredible for 1985 even. Re-recorded or touched up old material? Whatever it is, it’s brill and infectious glam rock.

Coming Up

I’m looking forward to the reissue of UFO’s High Stakes & Dangerous Men paired with Lights Out In Tokyo. Supposedly not the best era for the band but I’ve not heard either album before so I’ll judge for myself. Also Whiplash’s The Roadrunner Years set is an exciting prospect, I’ve wanted that stuff for ages but it’s always been too pricey.

On the review side I’ve got quite a mix coming up soon on the blog: thrash, power metal, black metal and classic prog. Stay tuned and expect no mercy!

Shrines – Ghost Notes (Review)

Shrines – Ghost Notes (2021)

Given that their frontman Sam Loynes also keeps busy with Akercocke, The Antichrist Imperium, and Voices I can’t blame Shrines for taking six years to follow up their 2015 debut album with a four-song EP. But it helps that the EP, 2021’s Ghost Notes, is good: angular, dissonant progressive metal with pristine guitar tones, killer riffs and Loynes’ unique, melancholic voice and harmonies. While I miss the eclectic creativity and plaintive atmosphere of the debut, its good to have Shrines back and they sound like they have found a strong direction and purpose with Ghost Notes. Hopefully they won’t take so long to make their next move this time. Of all the bands in Loynes’ impressive CV this is the one I’d most like to hear more of.

Fist – Throwing In The Towel (Song Review)

“Speed gone, reflex missing”

Neat Records’ 1981 release Lead Weight was one of the best NWOBHM compilations, featuring a whole bunch of songs you couldn’t hear anywhere else. My favourite of the bunch is Fist’s Throwing In The Towel. It tells the tale of an ageing boxer lured into the ring for a comeback bout… only to realise his thunder-crapping days are behind him. It’s got a wonderfully downtrodden chorus and there’s real tension in the verses as the staccato vocals punch and jab. It’s brilliant, inventive stuff that holds its own amongst the compilation’s heavy-hitters like Raven and Venom. Unfortunately, Throwing In The Towel was the last song this lineup of Fist released which is a shame… they could have been contenders.

Running Wild – Final Gates (Song Review)

I can’t think of many metal instrumentals I would pick out as album highlights but here’s one: Final Gates, from Running Wild’s 1988 pirate metal classic Port Royal. Written by, and showcasing, Running Wild’s new bassist Jens Becker, Final Gates is a cut above: avoiding the usual pitfalls of skippable atmospheric scene-setting or virtuoso showboating. Instead, it’s a track that stands on its own: creative and restrained with wonderful guitar solos and Becker going all Geddy Lee on some infuriatingly catchy bass lines. It’s a wonderful, funky odd-man-out amidst a bounty of power metal swashbuckling.

Hell – Darkhangel (Song Review)

“Read the rites, cast the spell, call the chaos lords of Hell”

I loved Hell’s 2013 album Curse & Chapter but Darkhangel cast a particularly strong spell over me. It reminds me of two of my favourite British bands, combining Sabbat’s medieval thrash with Cradle Of Filth’s theatrical horror. And it shifts from goosebumps catchy (“from thy kingdom will come”) to esoteric tongue-twisting (“whose might unmarred the maker’s mind unmade”) with intense flair. Best of all, when vocalist David Bower performed Darkhangel live he did it dressed as a 12ft-tall horned Pan on stilts while twirling a firework-spouting trident like a catherine wheel. He knew that a song this good deserves mad props.

[And the live version]

HMO Digest: 1st June 2022

Extra! Extra! Read all about it.

May was a very black metal month here at HMO, with strong new releases from Watain and Devil Master. I also listened to the Abbath album… a lot. And three of my four reviews on the blog were of that nefarious ilk.

Athenar of Midnight

Recent Posts

Midnight – Lust Filth And Sleaze (Song Review)

I’m fairly aggrieved that the phrase “put their log in the fiery place” has gone unnoticed.

Emperor – I Am The Black Wizards (Song Review)

In the comments, Kingcrimsonprog brought up the fun topic of mis-spellings on album sleeves. Any favourites typos out there? It wasn’t on a sleeve but my fave is in the Paul Stanley ad above. Can you spot it? It’s a belter.

Abbath – Dread Reaver (Review)

Epic blandness that stretches out before you like a featureless tundra.

Whitesnake – All In The Name Of Love (Song Review)

Soulful rock goodness from the perennial HMO man crush.

HMO Salutes

Alan White, Yes drummer, who has passed away aged 72. Wonderful drummer from the ultimate prog band.

Vangelis, Greek musician/composer, who has died aged 79. Best known round these parts for The Four Horsemen by Aphrodite’s Child. Top. Tune.

Record Store Day 2022

I wasn’t able to participate on the day on account of a shitey cold. But I still managed to grab what I wanted later in the week.

What I Was Listening To While I Wrote This Post

The Boston S/T. I might be in the minority in preferring the second album Don’t Look Back but the debut is awesome too. Brad Delp is one of the best singers that ever sang and I should be sick of More Than A Feeling by now. But I’m not.

The Month Ahead

I’m looking forward to the new Artificial Brain and Kreator albums and finally getting my hands on the much-delayed Mayhem De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas box set. There’s also the latest in the KISS Off The Soundboard series, a recording of their Donington ’96 show. I was there but now I can finally find out… were they genuinely boring or was I just too sunburned to appreciate them properly? Find out next time!

… and classic rock too!