New Releases – 28th April 2017

I’d like to calm the jets on the spending after my Record Store Day extravaganza but let’s take a look at today’s new releases and see if that’s likely to happen. The answer is: probably not.

Voivod – Rrröööaaarrr, Killing Technology and Dimension Hatross (Reissues)

Wouldn’t normally kick off with reissues but I’m pretty excited about these. And no need to worry about splashing the cash here because I’ve paid for them already via the Pledge campaign (now closed). Don’t worry if you missed out though, because these are now on general sale. Vinyl versions or hugely-expanded deluxe 2CD/DVD sets with bonus tracks and live footage aplenty. Prices look very reasonable for the deluxe versions and all of these have been out-of-print for donkeys so reissues are overdue and welcome.

(And Noise Records have just announced another pledge campaign too. This time for Kreator with reissues of their first four albums Endless Pain, Pleasure To Kill, Extreme Aggression and Terrible Certainty. They aren’t as extras-laden as the Voivod reissues and none of the albums are especially hard to find either but Extreme Aggression and Terrible Certainty come with bonus discs and there’s the obligatory liner notes, vinyl editions and signed copies etc…)

Skyclad – Forward Into The Past

These innovative folk metallers have been a huge, essential part of my musical upbringing but since the split with frontman Martin Walkyier I’ve not really paid much attention to their movements. I did check out their last album In The… All Together and found it was a bit mixed so I’m not hugely excited about this. But they’re still enough of a name for me to at least check it out online. And the return of classic-era guitarist Dave Pugh is appealing too.

Witchfynde – Divine Victims (Box Set)

The reissues keep on coming… There’s been a lot of welcome NWOBHM reissues lately (Samson, Holocaust, Savage all spring to mind) and here’s another. This time Witchfynde get the same box set treatment that Samson enjoyed from Hear No Evil Recordings. I don’t think any of these albums are as difficult to find as the Samson ones were but it’s still a great value set: three albums with bonus tracks and a booklet from NWOBHM expert John Tucker. I’ll be buying this at some point.

Cirith Ungol – King of the Dead (Ultimate Edition)

The guys at Metal Blade follow up last year’s tasty reissue of Paradise Lost with another Cirith Ungol deluxe. This time it’s the band’s second album King Of The Dead, here expanded with live tracks and a live DVD or you can get a vinyl edition if you prefer (although it was reissued on vinyl a while back already). The CD/DVD edition looks like a very cool set though. I approve.

Fates Warning – Awaken the Guardian Live

Prog-metallers Fates Warning release this weeks obligatory live set. Their performances celebrating the 30th anniversary of the classic album getting a release in various formats. The jewel in the crown being the 4CD/DVD/BR set that has their two festival appearances included.

Elsewhere, the River Runs Red line-up of Life Of Agony return with A Place Where There’s No More Pain. Sounds like decent, heavy alternative rock for people that like that kind of thing. There’s more NWOBHM from Cloven Hoof with Who Mourns For The Morning Star. They’re a band I don’t know anything about but the new songs I heard sounded fun! And last, but not least, we have American hardcore terrors Terror with their intriguing new EP The Walls Will Fall.

And that’s about the lot for me. This week is more about the reissues for me but there’s definitely some intrigue among the new albums too. Nothing I’d run out and buy but definitely stuff that I’ll check out online. Let me know what you think about this week’s offerings. Anything you’re excited about that isn’t here? Any startling omissions? Let me know and, until next time… happy hunting.

The Day After Record Store Day 2017

Yesterday I said that I was happy to come away from Record Store Day 2017 with a couple of mementos and not go overboard. I also expressed relief at not having to pay £37 for the Cheap Trick Epic Archive set.

Well, it turns out that was UTTER BULLSHIT. Yesterday I visited Glasgow’s Monorail Records and today it occurred to me that I might as well pop over to LoveMusic and see what they had left. I was specifically hoping for the Enslaved Roadburn Live double LP that Monorail didn’t get in stock…

Yippee! I managed to get the Enslaved album… and a very beautiful thing it is. I notice it has an intriguing cover of Zep’s Immigrant Song too. Nice. And then while I was at the counter I found myself saying out loud “you don’t have any of the Cheap Trick left do you?”

He did! The last sealed copy. I couldn’t just leave it there. It was stupidly expensive for a double vinyl though, and I wasn’t lucky enough to get one of the signed inserts. Beh. Truthfully, it’s sets like this that give RSD a bad name but I’m still chuffed to have a copy. Some tracks I already have but also some choice ones that I don’t and the liner notes from Bun E. Carlos look like a good read. Overall, it’s a fine addition to the collection despite my grumblings.

And that is definitely my lot for this year! Definitely.

HMO at Record Store Day 2017

My old version of the Def Leppard EP. In need of an upgrade!

I’m usually more of a vulture when it comes to Record Store Day, waiting until the fuss dies down and then swooping in for whatever is left. I get to avoid queuing and the shop still gets the cash (not that the record shops in Glasgow have any complaints about me on that front.) But if there’s a release I’m particularly excited about then I can be tempted to join the queue and that was definitely the case today. And the weather was pretty splendid too so that didn’t hurt.

I had a lovely morning bus ride into town listening to the new “barbaric” remix of Virgin Steele’s Visions Of Eden album. It’s excellent. The previous album had a very dense sound but the new version lets the music and the songs breathe and the album is much better for it. That, and a suprisingly agreeable 70p coffee, set me up for the 1.5 hour queue that was to follow.

As I stated in Friday’s New Release post, the must-buy for me was the Def Leppard EP. The cover looks very cool and there’s a neat lyric insert that I wasn’t expecting either. Very nice edition and much better than my old plain-sleeved 7inch reissue.

Thanks to a heads-up from John at 2Loud2oldmusic I decided I also wanted the David Bowie Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles ’74) live set. I had a feeling it might be one of the first to go but I was lucky enough to pick up a copy. Haven’t listened to it yet but the packaging is stunning and I’ve finally got some Luther Vandross in my collection. Bonus!

And that was my lot. Unfortunately, Monorail wasn’t able to get any copies of the Enslaved Roadburn Live and the Cheap Trick Epic Archive 2LP sold out before I reached the counter. Possibly just as well as they were charging a ridiculous £37 for it and it’s out next week on CD anyway. There were other items (Marc Bolan Live, Arthur Brown, Small Faces at the BBC) that I could have easily bought but I’m happy just to have a couple of mementos and not go overboard. I might do the vulture thing tomorrow though and see if any other shops have the Enslaved album!

And that’s us for another year. If you were out today, I hope you got what you were after. Let me know how you got on in the comments. And remember… RSD is just one day a year but Virgin Steele are for LIFE.

New Releases: 21st April 2017 (and RSD17)

This weekend is going to be dominated by Record Store Day (the tenth one!) but there are still some interesting “normal” new releases for you if you can’t be bothered with all that queuing nonsense on Saturday.

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Artificial Brain – Infrared Horizon

“Death metal in space” was a recurring feature in my Top Albums of 2016 and it looks like it might be this year too. It’s only April and here come Artificial Brain with this wonderful album of… you guessed it… death metal in space! An almost-concept album about cyborgs, it’s totally brutal and guttural and also really expressive and creative. A must-buy.

Night Demon – Darkness Remains

Bit of retro trad metal for the oldies! Night Demon have already enjoyed plenty of plaudits for their previous releases but the reviews have went into gush overdrive for this one. I’ve not been blown away by what I’ve heard but I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve heard the whole thing.

Vampire – With Primeval Force

Umm, pretty much the same as I said for Night Demon. Retro (evil death/thrash) with great reviews but I’ve not been convinced by what I’ve heard. Just sounds a bit dull to me. I’ll reserve judgement again but I’m even more skeptical about this one than the Night Demon album. Great cover though!

Rotting Christ – Thy Mighty Contrast

Fresh from me posting about it earlier in the week, here comes Peaceville Records with a plush vinyl reissue. This is missing the excellent bonus tracks that are on my CD copy but it looks like a mighty edition with cool liner notes and all that. It’s also freshly remastered and I believe Peaceville are going to be working through the catalogue so you might as well just hop on here so you can buy the whole bloody lot.

So what about Record Store Day then? I don’t usually bother with it that much but I’m not a pure stick-in-the-mud about it either. That said, it’s a bloody minefield to post about so you’re as well just checking out the RSD websites here and here for full lists and make your own mind up.

I quite fancy the Def Leppard EP (got it on 7inch already but it’s just the plain sleeve version and I fancy this edition), Enslaved’s Roadburn Live disc also looks cool and, if I strike out on those, the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown LP and the Cheap Trick Epic Rarities set would be acceptable booby prizes. As the rest of the metal RSD17 releases go, the Dillinger Escape Plan Instrumentalist single, Kylesa Live At Maida Vale and Katatonia Proscenium all look fairly collectible too, if you’re a fan. I’m gonna head out and try and pick up the Def Leppard EP but reportedly there’s a reissue campaign of early Lep stuff on the way that will probably include the EP tracks (and more hopefully!) so even the EP isn’t totally essential. But it’s all just a bit of fun so I’m going to get up early… not too early… and try my luck.

And that’s about the lot for me this week. Let me know what you’re after today or if there’s any Record Store Day releases that you’ve got your alarm clock set for. Happy hunting!

Rotting Christ – Thy Mighty Contract

Rotting Christ – Thy Mighty Contract (1993)

I’m not sure I could have picked a less Easter-y album to listen to tonight. Then again, I’m fairly sure that vast swathes of my music collection aren’t exactly appropriate for most religious holidays. There’s never a bad time to listen to Thy Mighty Contract though. It’s brilliant early black metal with remarkably restrained and melodic riffs, impassioned warrior shouts and dark force. It’s often pleasingly dreary and gothic in a Paradise Lost/My Dying Bride vein and it has that influential and unique sun-baked atmosphere that Greek black metal has become known for. It’s atmospheric, accessible and totally classic: a great entry point for anyone new to the genre and an eternal favourite for long-time devotees.

[Rotting Christ – The Fourth Knight Of Revelation]

Announcement: HMO Reviews in Zero Tolerance

2017-04-15 12.28.02-2
My copy!

I’m delighted to announce that I am now contributing reviews to Zero Tolerance magazine. I’ve been reading it avidly for years so it’s exciting to see my name in there! The latest issue #78 is on the newsstands so you can pick up a copy now.

I’ve written five reviews for the new issue: the upcoming Artificial Brain album Infrared Horizon, Necroblood’s The Collapse Of The Human Race, Ascended Dead’s Abhorrent Manifestation, Basement Torture Killings There’s Something About Beryl and the 7” self-titled EP from Sangue.

You can check out the magazine’s website here but you’ll have to buy the print edition if you want to read my reviews. Check out ZT’s stockist page if you’re not sure where to find a copy.

[Death – Zero Tolerance]

New Releases – 14th April 2017

Stop what you’re doing, it’s new release day! Here are my picks from today’s release schedule.

Nightbringer – Terra Damnata

If you’ve been feeling like recent weeks have been light on black metal, this album will be like manna from Hades: lush and layered black metal of the majestic and emperial variety. I’ve enjoyed the tracks I’ve heard so far, nothing particularly new but still fresh and exciting. And a cool cover to boot.

Craven Idol – Shackles Of Mammon

More black metal… this time of the thrashy, crusty persuasion. I almost passed this by but an influx of positive reviews caught my attention. It seems like there’s way too many mediocre black thrash bands around these days but after hearing the track A Ripping Strike I’m expecting this album to be a cut above.

Novembers Doom – Hamartia

Always partial to bands that mix death and doom but, despite this being album number ten, this band has passed me by. Based on the track Plague Bird, I’m not sure I’m too excited about this one though. It reminds me a bit of My Dying Bride but not quite grinding or miserable enough for me.

Buckshot Facelift – Ulcer Island

Just found out about this band recently via their singer Will Smith who is also in the excellent Artificial Brain. I’ve not heard any of the new stuff but the band’s older tracks are interesting, twisted grind. I prefer Artificial Brain but this should be worth a listen. Might be this week’s dark horse.

Dimmu Borgir – Forces Of The Northern Night

More black metal! This time it’s the now-obligatory multi-format live package. This time the veteran (and divisive)  black metallers have an orchestra and choir along for the ride. Given the band’s symphonic leanings this had to happen sooner or later… sounds a bit cheesy to me though.

Accept – Accept, I’m A Rebel, Breaker and Restless And Wild

Accept’s first four albums aren’t that easy to get a hold of now and I’ve only got Restless And Wild so these US reissues are pretty welcome. Sadly, the only bonus tracks are from a recent Udo tour which is shite (bonus tracks should be from the relevant era as far as I’m concerned). But I reckon I’ll still grab the whole lot of these if the price is right.

And I reckon that’s about the lot for today. A relatively quiet release day after a few big weeks, but there’s still some good stuff here if you’re itching for some new metal. Let me know if there’s anything you are into that I’ve not included. Until, next Friday… happy hunting!

… and classic rock too!