New Releases – 24th February 2017

They’re new and they’ve been released. It’s the Friday new releases!

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Immolation – Atonement

New York’s purveyors of consistently excellent and uncompromising death metal are back with their new album… and their old logo! The tracks I’ve heard so far sound phenomenal: instantly engaging, monolithic bludgeon with expert pacing and some blackened strums just to top things off. The limited edition digipak CD looks like the way to go for bonus tracks as it features the re-recorded version of Immolation that appeared on one of Decibel Mag’s flexi-discs a while back. Yes please.

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Sanctuary – Inception

This release is being touted as the prequel to Sanctuary’s 1988 debut album Refuge Denied but it’s basically old demos from 1986. But, either way, we’re lucky to have them as the “lost” tape was recently discovered in a barn(!) It’s excellent thrashy power prog with high-flying vocals that’ll hit fans of Queensryche right where they live. Looks like this’ll be a cool package with all the compulsory memorabilia, liner notes and stuff too.

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Power Trip – Nightmare Logic

Never heard of this band so it was strange to see them pop up in the Guardian this week… how’d they pull that off? Good on them though. Any band that gets Bolt Thrower and Sacrilege into a mainstream paper is fine by me so they deserve a listen just for doing that! Sounds like this’ll be some good retro-thrash fun, although the harsh vocals might take a bit of getting used to for some listeners.

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Sunless – Urraca

This is an intriguing debut release. Might have passed it by but I spotted their guitarist playing a Strat. You hardly ever see extreme metal players playing Strats! So I gave a track a go just on that basis alone and it was very impressive indeed. A dissonant, creative maze of riffs but grounded in solid death metal. Definitely one to check out on Bandcamp.

Elsewhere, we have more death metal veterans, Sinister, back with their new album Syncretism. I’m not all that familiar with this band so it’s overshadowed by the Immolation release. The cover for this is much better though! Amorphis pull an Anthrax with a “Tour Edition” of their last album Under the Red Cloud. Quite a few live tracks so maybe worth another purchase for the diehards but I don’t think these kind of releases should be encouraged. (**UPDATE** If you don’t want to buy the Amorphis album all over again you can download the extra disc An Evening With Friends at Huvila on its own, as MP3/M4A/FLAC here.) And last, but not least, there’s Siberian with Through Ages of Sleep, which sounds like an Isis/Neurosis kind of effort. I love sleeping for ages but I’m not so keen on this vocal style so I’ll pass. Fans of post-metal should give this a bash though.

And that’s the lot for another week. Some good underground releases this week. Immolation is the main must-buy for sure but plenty of other stuff here that warrants further investigation. I’m especially intrigued by Sunless. Let me know what I’ve missed and let me know if there’s anything that is particularly tickling your fancy/getting your goat. Happy hunting!

Song of the Week: Omen – Be My Wench

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Tired of crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you and all that? Why not let off some steam with Omen’s Be My Wench? This is top metal cobblers, it’s got a chorus that you’ll never get out of your head and it’s also got the kind of raunchy lyrics that most po-faced modern bands wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. But if you’re going to do Conan metal there needs to be some shagging in there. It’s the barbarian way.

[Omen – Be My Wench]

Bernie Tormé – ‘Dublin Cowboy’ Available on PledgeMusic

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In addition to yesterday’s New Release round-up here’s one more thing you should spend some money on this weekend. The upcoming Bernie Tormé album Dublin Cowboy is available as a PledgeMusic offer and, with the offer ending on Mon 20th Feb 2017, this weekend is your last chance to get involved.

Bernie is the incredible axe wizard that played on the classic Gillan albums of the early 80s, Mr. Universe, Glory Road and Future Shock, and his playing on the Reading Festival live recordings is some of my very favourite guitar playing ever. It’s incendiary! And, if that wasn’t enough, he also played with Ozzy Osbourne and formed Desperado with Dee Snider and Clive Burr. Not to mention his excellent solo career.

And now he’s back with his latest solo album Dublin Cowboy, which is going to be a triple studio/live/acoustic release. Go to his PledgeMusic page to get your pledge in. There are a ton of options and, even if you only punt for the £12 digital version, you get access to a ton of great stuff. There are brilliant guitar playthrough videos of some awesome Gillan songs and solos. There are rare song downloads, gear breakdowns, and all sorts of memorabilia like tour itineraries and photos of him drinking Guinness and stuff like that. I’m sure the album will still be available later but it’s well worth getting involved at this Pledge stage as Bernie has really gone to town with the extras here.

New Releases – 17th February 2017

There’s not a huge amount of stuff out today so this’ll be short. Some good classic metal reissues out today though.

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Virgin Steele – Visions of Eden

David DeFeis and Co. continue their excellent series of reissues with this deluxe edition of their “Barbaric-Romantic Movie of the Mind”. The 2006 album gets a remix on the first disc and the original album is remastered on disc two. Visions of Eden is a rich, complex album but it never quite reaches the heights of the band’s classic work (apart from the bit where he tells Adam and Eve to eff off). But there’s strong potential for improvement with the remix so I’m intrigued to see how this one works out. And you’ve got to love the pure phallic power of that cover.

Omen – Reissues

Some more classic trad-metal reissues here. Omen’s first three albums on Metal Blade, Battle Cry, Warning of Danger and The Curse, getting newly remastered and repackaged editions on digipak CD and vinyl. The CDs will have some bonus tracks, most notably the Nightmares EP which will be added to The Curse CD, but if you’re buying the vinyl versions you’ll just get the album tracks. The only thing I’m missing here (inc. bonus tracks) is The Curse so I reckon I’ll pick that up cause their other stuff is jolly good. If you like your metal NWOBHM-y and don’t know Omen, now’s your chance… be their wench tonight!

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Benighted – Necrobreed

**UPDATE** Thanks to Nick for the heads-up about this one. Big brutal deathgrind release from France that’s been getting plenty of review praise lately. Not strictly my cup of tea style-wise but I’m intrigued enough to want to hear more, given the praise. And the awesome packaging from Season of Mist doesn’t hurt either. Fans should note that the deluxe box CD version has two bonus cover versions (of Sepultura and Marduk).

Elsewhere we have The Forty Five by black metal combo Cnoc An Tursa. Scenic, folky stuff with tons of Scottishness. Less Trve Kvlt, more Trve Kilt. And if I’m the first person to make that joke surely I deserve some sort of reward. Death metal veterans Morta Skuld return with Wounds Deeper Than Time (one of those bands where I’d rather go back and check them out from the beginning though). And last, and definitely least, Anthrax release the umpteenth version of their “new” album For All Kings. This time it’s the “Tour Edition” with a bonus EP of demos. Don’t encourage them.

Not a particularly stellar week but I’ve been looking forward to the Virgin Steele reissue and I’m up for adding Omen’s The Curse to the collection too so those are my personal picks. Fans of brutal death will want to make a beeline for Benighted though. Until next week, happy hunting!

Song of the Week: Rainbow – I Surrender (Live)

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I know most metal fans prefer the Dio-fronted Rainbow but round these parts Joe Lynn Turner rules. So here’s a superb version of the classic Rainbow track I Surrender. It’s taken from the Live in Japan 1984 double live album that was made available recently as bonus discs with the Ritchie Blackmore Story box set. It’s a bonus extra that outstrips the main feature easily. Listening to Ritchie Blackmore reminiscing about his career is one thing: listening to him play is another entirely. And if you’ve never listened to The Man in Black’s live playing, you’ve never really heard him at all. No criticism of his studio output – it’s adorned with legendary guitar work – but this is a man that likens studio recording to “being at the dentists”. Unshackled from the studio, his playing reaches a transcendent level of inspiration and excitement. The whole band is on great form here, especially Joe Lynn Turner who sings with passion and commitment. But Blackmore grabs this great AOR track by the balls, lifting it to another level with one of his ingeniously messy, improvisational and thrilling solos. There’s a tag I use on this site: The World’s Greatest Guitarist. It’s reserved for The Man in Black and performances like this are why.

[Rainbow – I Surrender (Live)]

New Releases – 10th February 2017

Another Friday is upon us and that means… new stuff!

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Cynic – Uroboric Forms: The Complete Demo Collection

Cynic’s 1993 debut album Focus is the stuff of giddy prog tech wonderfulness. But there has always been grumblings of discontent among death metal fans who feel that the debut album was a disappointment compared to the band’s earlier demos. I’ll be able to make my own mind up now, as the pre-Focus demos get this official release. The CD version looks great but the vinyl edition is particularly snazzy, and has the CD and a 7″ with it too, so that’s the one I’ve pre-ordered.

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Overkill – The Grinding Wheel

Following the return of Kreator last week, the thrash good-times continue with the return of New Jersey veterans Overkill. Actually, of the classic thrash acts, Overkill are one of the few that just never caught on with me. So I’ll probably pass on this myself… I’d rather try some older albums again than hop on here. But if you’re up for buying this, the limited edition CD and vinyl versions have a bonus track, Emerald… I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that’s a Lizzy cover?

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Nidingr – The High Heat Licks Against Heaven

I’ve never heard these Norwegian black metallers but I know the name through (their guitarist) Teloch’s involvement with Mayhem and their last album Estoteric Warfare. He was the main writer for that impressive album so if you enjoyed his work with Mayhem, this should be worth looking into. And I love that title.

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Mayhem – Live in Zeitz

Speaking of Mayhem! This old live recording was recently featured as a bonus disc with the Live in Leipzig reissue. But then a version taken from a better source was released very soon afterwards as a standalone vinyl edition with new liner notes and packaging. I was more than a little annoyed at this so I didn’t buy the vinyl. But now this cheaper CD version is hitting the shops so I think I might finally upgrade. No doubt, they’ll find an even better version down the back of the couch next week.

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Sleep – The Clarity

Not strictly a “new” Sleep song as it was available as a free download a couple of years ago on the Adult Swim site. But here it is on 12″ vinyl. I’ve never been a big Sleep fan but this is a great track and it’s well worth getting if you don’t have the song already and/or love vinyl. Just the one side of music here but the B-Side will have a, no doubt suitably cosmic, etching.

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Def Leppard – And There Will Be a Next Time: Live from Detroit

And finally, we’ve got Def Leppard’s new live DVD/BR/CD combo And There Will Be a Next Time: Live from Detroit. I’d normally be a sucker for some live Lep but after Mirrorball and Viva! Hysteria made little impact, not to mention their dicey self-titled album, I can’t work up any enthusiasm for this. Arm no geddon it.

And that’s quite enough for one week, thank you very much! Happy hunting.

Song of the Week: Nocturnus – Destroying the Manger

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As my Top 10 Albums of the Year proved, “death metal in space” was a big thing in 2016. So let’s travel back in time to 1990 and the album that started it all: Nocturnus’ The Key and this excellent blast of sci-fi horror. Some sort of evil cyborg has invented a time machine and set a course for the date 0 B.C. He has only one goal: kill the baby Jesus!

“Blasting away Father, Mother, and Child/laughing hysterically all of the while” the cyborg proves to be devastatingly successful in his mission. And Destroying the Manger proves devastatingly successful too: a wild shred-fest of riffs and solos that gets down to serious moshing business at 4:10. And check out the prominent keyboards too… Nocturnus going where no death metal band had gone before.

[Nocturnus – Destroying the Manger]

… and classic rock too!