New Releases – September 2016

We’re getting into that pre-Christmas zone now where the release schedules start clogging up. As a result, there’s a veritable shit-ton of stuff coming out in September. So I’m going to be ruthless: this is just the stuff that interests me here. If there’s anything coming out that you’re excited about, tell us all in the comments. First person to mention Opeth wins a biscuit!

Sarcófago – Rotting (CD/DVD – 2nd Sep 2016)

Greyhaze Records’ reissue of the Brazilian’s 1989 mini-album. Rotting is great stuff, Sarcófago starting to get into a thrashier, more complex style here. This reissue comes with fancy packaging and a tasty bonus DVD of their set supporting Morbid Angel in 1991. Not something I’ll be running out to buy but certainly one for the wishlist. I’d request it as a Christmas present but… fuck you Jesus! I hate you!

Faith No More – King For a Day… Fool For a Lifetime (2CD and 2LP – 9th Sep)

Faith No More – Album of the Year (2CD and 2LP – 9th Sep)

More deluxe editions from Faith No More. The other recent FNM reissues have all been excellent so these are a no-brainer. You’re going to buy these. Don’t say you’re not because you are.

Warfather – The Grey Eminence (CD – 16th Sep)

Another Greyhaze release. The second album from Steve Tucker’s  Warfather. Was chuffed to get a digital promo of this, they’ve built up a right head of steam on this one. It’s produced by Tucker’s old Morbid Angel buddy Erik Rutan and it’s state-of-the-art death metal ferocity with depth and atmosphere. Highly recommended. Steve is now back in Morbid Angel so anyone still freaking out about  Illud Divinum Insanus will find this immensely reassuring.

Led Zeppelin – Complete BBC Sessions (3CD and 5LP and Box Set – 16th Sep)

Didn’t expect this to be included as part of Zep’s reissue campaign but here it is. Now with an extra disc including unreleased BBC recordings including a “lost” session and rare track Sunshine Woman. No idea why it was a lost session. Did they forget to broadcast it? Was no-one listening? Did it sound too much like Spirit? Answers on a postcard please.

In the Woods – Pure (CD and 2LP – 16th Sep)

The highly-anticipated return of the Norwegian dark-metallers. I’ve been enjoying discovering their back-catalogue recently so this is welcome and timely. Recent years have seen lots of great comeback albums like Surgical Steel and, from what I’m hearing and reading, this could be in that class. It’s pure gettin’ bought.

Enslaved – Vikingligr Veldi (LP – 23rd Sep)

A very beautiful-looking vinyl reissue of Enslaved’s debut album, released to kick off the band’s 25th Anniversary celebrations. I’ll take all of this that they’ve got. I’d love albums like this and Eld on vinyl. Love love love.

David Bowie – Who Can I Be Now? [1974 – 1976] (CD and LP Box Sets – 23rd Sep)

I properly enjoyed the last Bowie box set Five Years [1969 – 1973] so been looking forward to this. Apart from Diamond Dogs I’m not really as familiar with this era of Bowie though so it’s quite intriguing if a little less tempting. Hard to see me shelling out £100 for this though when there’s so much other stuff coming out. But I’m sure I’ll pick it up at some point.

Coroner – Autopsy (3DVD/1CD and 3BR/1LP Box – 23rd Sep)

Holy crap. THIS. Documentary, interviews, live footage, compilation album. YES. This band are big favourites round these parts and this set looks magnificent. Neck-snapping prog thrash genius.

Charred Walls of the Damned – Creatures Watching Over the Dead (CD and LP – 23rd Sep)

I wasn’t expecting this one at all. It’s been five years since their last album Cold Winds on Timeless Days and I had assumed they’d packed it in. But maybe they were just taking ages to think up another title with a C.W.O.T.D. acronym? Genuine talent in this band (Ripper Owens, Richard Christy, Steve DiGiorgio and Jason Suecof) so I hope they won’t take so long to release another album. Just call it Crazy Wombats on the Dancefloor and get on with it guys.

Winterfylleth – The Dark Hereafter (CD and LP – 30 Sep)

Saved the most exciting for last. I denied Winterfylleth’s last album The Divination of Antiquity entry into my hallowed Top Albums of 2014… but then it went and grew on me didn’t it? Still gets regular plays and I still enjoy it more every bloody time. My bad. Feel like there’s greatness brewing with this one. Just a hunch. But it’s an HMO hunch and that’s a hunch you can trust.

And that’s the lot. Thanks for reading and… happy hunting!

The King is Blind – Our Father

2016-08-27 11.03.37
Am yer Da

The King is Blind’s superb debut album Our Father was released back in January and it’s still the album to beat if anyone out there wants to take the coveted HMO Album of the Year 2016 spot. It’s a smart concept album about Satan, Christ and the devil in mankind given an absolute drubbing by the band’s burly death metal hammering. The King is Blind cleverly avoid all the usual concept album excess though, bashing out their tale in ten songs that are all a riot in their own right. The variation in styles carry the narrative (death, thrashing hardcore, Monotheist-ic doom and black metal atmosphere) and the focus on excellent songwriting and riffs means the concept that can be enjoyed or ignored. If you want to curl up with the lyrics or just enjoy a cathartic extreme metal battering, Our Father works equally well. An impressive and notable debut. I can’t wait to see them live in October.

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – The Impossible Dream

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A superb album cover too!

Alex Harvey was not only one of Scotland’s most legendary rockers, he was also steeped in showbiz. This album, his third with SAHB, came out in ’74 but Alex had been around in music and theatre since the late 50s. He formed his “Sensational” band, with members of prog rockers Tear Gas, in the early 70s and often referred to them in terms of movies and the stage: he was their director. And The Impossible Dream is their most theatrical and cinematic album, the culmination of Harvey’s decades of experience.  It’s comparable to Alice Cooper’s School’s Out: an adventurous extravaganza. From the tribal, comic book stomp of Vambo and Man in the Jar‘s gonzo noir to the dancehall Sergeant Fury, the skittery blues of Weights Made of Lead and the riffing pirate yarn Tomahawk Kid this album is a total romp. Yo ho ho! And as Anthem closes the album out, it’s extremely moving too. It’ll make ye greet.

[The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Tomahawk Kid]

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… unless you were in the US, in which case you got this shiter.

Grand Magus – Sword Songs

You failed your luck roll. The eagle fucks off with your sword.
You failed your luck roll. The eagle fucks off with your sword.

Much as I enjoyed it, I was frustrated by how polite Grand Magus’ last album Triumph and Power was. Their brand of strutting, Manowar-ish, mid-tempo trad metal was charming, hooky and personable but it was too nice. I wanted them to get more bloodthirsty. I’m pleased to report that their latest album Sword Songs is a definite improvement. The drumming is forceful, the riffs are more earth-shaking and the guitar solos are bolder. But the sense of urbanity remains: mainly due to the persistent mid-tempos and JB’s vocal delivery. He’s got a soulful voice full of grit and character but I really want to hear him bust his lungs for the cause. It’s more a frustration than a criticism. If they gave it up more this band would be godly. And I want that for them. Sword Songs is a decisive manoeuvre but it’s not the stuff of legend. You don’t get into Valhalla without cracking a few skulls.

New Releases – August 2016

Here’s my selection of August’s upcoming new releases and reissues.

Atheist- Piece of Time (CD/DVD – 5th Aug)

Reissue of the classic progressive metal album. Unquestionable Presence and Elements have already had the deluxe CD/DVD treatment and this one seems to have been a bit delayed. Glad it’s finally here.

Gov’t Mule – Tel-Star Sessions (CD/Vinyl – 5th Aug)

This is a collection of early demos and recordings and features alternate versions of songs that would eventually appear on the band’s S/T debut and its follow-up Dose. This was the best era of The Mule for me so it’ll be good to hear more music from this point in the band’s career.

Hellhammer – Blood Insanity (7″ Single – 19th August)

Here’s a very collectable 7″ from one of extreme metal’s pioneering bands. This is a single that the pre-Celtic Frost band intended to release back in the 80s but it never saw the light of the day. Supposedly this recording is sourced from better masters than the versions that are already available the Demon Entrails set so this should be a treat for the ears as well as the eyes.

Faith No More – We Care a Lot Deluxe (CD/Vinyl – 19th August)

Faith No More’s debut album with Chuck Mosley on vocals, spruced up and featuring bonus tracks. I love FNM but I have to confess to complete ignorance of their pre-Patton releases. Time for me to get caught up. Doesn’t look as expanded as the last couple of FNM deluxes but it’s an exciting band-approved reissue nonetheless.

Tribulation – The Horror (Vinyl – 19th August)

If, like me, your introduction to this band was last years The Children of the Night you’ll welcome the opportunity to check out the band’s earlier releases. This is their debut album, a deathier/trashier affair than their current style. Looks like this is going to be a very snazzy vinyl edition so it’s pretty tempting.

Inquisition – Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith (Box Set/CD/Vinyl – 26th August)

Got to love Inquisition and their ridiculously long album titles. Try asking for this one in HMV! This album is coming hotly-tipped and that doesn’t surprise me a bit: their last album Obscure Verses for the Multiverse was top-notch cosmic black metal. Bloodshed Across the etc… should be one of the crucial releases of the year. Go for the box if you want the bonus track.

The Wounded Kings – Visions in Bone (CD – 26th August)

This band made my Top 10 Albums of 2014 list with Consolamentum and now, on their fifth album, they’re back together with their original vocalist. Heavy, slow, grinding occult doom done right. I’ve got high hopes for this one.

How We Live – Dry Land (CD – 26th August)

Reissue of one of Steve Hogarth’s pre-Marillion albums. The title track of this later ended up on Marillion’s Holidays in Eden album. It’s one of my favourite Marillion albums and Dry Land is a great track so I’m pretty intrigued to finally hear this. Has two bonus tracks too. 

KISS – KISS Rocks Vegas (DVD/BR/2CD Set – 26th August)

KISS live set with bonus acoustic disc. Can’t say I’m that fussed about this but anything could happen. It’s KISS… and for me that invariably means “please take all my money”.

That’s yer lot. As always, let me know if I’ve missed anything exciting and… happy shopping.

In the Woods… – HEart of the Ages

A Black MEtal CLassic!
A Black MEtal CLassic!

I wish I’d heard HEart of the Ages when it was released. Mixing extreme metal with prog and folk hardly seems all that audacious now but when In the Woods…’ debut album came out in 1995 this was a leap forward for black metal. There were similar attempts from Ulver and Primordial in the same year but, even compared to those great albums, HEart of the Ages sounds more forward-thinking and groundbreaking. 21 years later their style might not seem as startling but the music still has a fresh zing of originality and there’s plenty to love in its combination of Burzumic shrieking, melancholic doom, heathen folk and Floyd/Crimson soundscapes. Latecomers should buy the recent Heart of the Woods box set for a particularly plush version of the album. The Norwegians are also due to return later in 2016 with their reunion album Pure. If like me, you’ve missed out on In the Woods…, now is a great time to get involved.

[In the Woods… – HEart of the Ages]

Plush box set from Debemur Morti Productions
Plush box set from Debemur Morti Productions

Magnum – Wings of Heaven

Magnum - Wings of Heaven (1988)
Magnum – Wings of Heaven (1988)

Chase the Dragon and On a Storyteller’s Night are the sturdier, rockier picks of the Magnum back catalogue but they reached their peak of life-affirming, pop rock joy with Wings of Heaven: one of the most feelgood albums ever created. Tony Clarkin writing simple, catchy AOR rockers par excellence delivered with winning passion and panache by the ever-lovable Bob Cately. Boaby sings like he would take bullets for Magnum. “It’s a flame that keeps burning… everLASTing torrrchhhh!”, “Too old to die young, too big to cry… MAMA!” The guy’s a total hero. As soon as he chimes in on genius opener Days of No Trust (“Pray to the future…”) you are on your feet. The album continues with the vista of Wild Swan and the sublime power pop of Start Talking Love. Classics all. Different Worlds is a mid-album lull but Pray for the Day and the WWI epic Don’t Wake the Lion (Too Old to Die Young) end the album with weight and compassion: breathtaking, heartrending but still triumphant, mighty and melodic. It’s a colossal climax to an excellent album. File this in your collection alongside your Jovi, Lep and Whitesnake and it won’t be long before it steals your heart. A heavenly magnum opus.

[Magnum – Days of No Trust]

… and Classic Rock too!

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