New Releases – 23rd March 2018

Today’s new releases are brought to you by the letter ‘M’.

Memoriam – The Silent Vigil

Remember how cool it was when your favourite bands used to bang out albums every year? The old dudes in Memoriam certainly do, which is why they’re back already with the follow-up to their 2017 debut album For The Fallen. That was one of last year’s best releases so I’m well excited about this one and from what I’ve heard so far it sounds like they are pumping some extra aggression into their grooving, crusty, doom-laden death metal. And the time-capsule 90s production confirms that this is a band just does everything the way it needs to be done.

Mournful Congregation – The Incubus Of Karma

With very few exceptions I tend to skip on extremely slow doom bands with big long songs. But after hearing great things about these funereal Australians, I checked out one of their new tunes and it was total class. A beautiful wall of morose guitars and way more immediate than any 15 minute song has any right to be.

There are some other fairly notable things out today. Satanic space lords Monster Magnet return with their new album Mindfucker, Led Zep hit the reissue trail again with a new edition of their live album How The West Was Won and Kip Winger treats his fans with The Solo Collection, a sexy package with four solo albums and rarities galore. But there’s no point in me blathering on: Memoriam and Mournful Congregation are the bands I’ll be splashing my cash on today.


Skyclad – The Wayward Sons Of Mother Earth (Review)

Skyclad – The Wayward Sons Of Mother Earth (1991)

The departure of Martin Walkyier from superb UK thrashers Sabbat was a major disappointment but the talented frontman wasted no time, forming a new band Skyclad with members of Satan and Pariah. Their 1991 debut album The Wayward Sons Of Mother Earth had plenty of the Ye Olde thrash Martin was known for but innovated with its incorporation of folk elements. And lo, a new genre – folk metal – started right here.

Martin delivers his caustic rants on social justice and ecological doom with raging charisma, backed by Steve Ramsey’s powerful and deft guitar work. There are huge thrash hooks in songs like The Cradle Will Fall (I am human!) and gothic closer Terminus but the band’s dark, dense Euro thrash does get fatiguing at times and the album is at its creative best during its folkier moments. The Widdershins Jig is a jaunty highlight (with a riff surely inspired by children’s TV show The Riddlers), Moongleam and Meadowsweet is beautifully lush (with gorgeous guest guitar from Sting’s Dominic Miller) and dramatic bursts of violin liven up thrashers like Sky Beneath My Feet and Our Dying Island.

The Wayward Sons Of Mother Earth’s combination of labyrinthine thrash and pagan textures has proved remarkably durable over the years. More notable and eclectic offerings were to come, as Skyclad followed their prolific, fiddle-mad muse to become one of the most unique and influential British metal bands of the 90s. But the debut has a uniquely apocalyptic appeal that still makes it a go-to in the band’s impressive discography. Not a perfect debut but an attention-grabbing and adventurous one.

HMO Rating: 4 out of 5

[Skyclad – The Widdershins Jig]

New Releases – 16th March 2018

All hail this week’s new releases. There’s only a few tickling my fancy today… kind of.

Paradise Lost – Host

Normally Paradise Lost equals must-buy but I’m not feeling too enthusiastic about this, a reissue of one of their lesser albums. Originally released in 1999, Host was a controversial progression into melancholic electropop. I like that the band are still behind this, even though they’ve since returned to their extreme metal roots. But, apart from a couple of songs, I was never a fan of this one. Some bonus tracks would sweeten the deal… but there aren’t any. Miserable bastards!

Godthrymm – A Grand Reclamation

This is a debut EP featuring former members of My Dying Bride, Vallenfyre, Solstice and Malediction. Promising stuff, big thick sorrowful riffs, epic vocals… should definitely appeal to fans of the previous bands and fans of Candlemass type stuff. That should be everyone. I’m sure it’ll be available at all the usual places but you can buy direct from the band here.

Saxon – The CD Hoard

This is a reissue of last year’s The Vinyl Hoard box set… but on CD! This has The Eagle Has Landed II and III on it as well as Live At Rock Sound Festival from 2006 (the audio from a show on their DVD To Hell And Back Again). Looks like a nice package, but I’ve got everything on it already. Good value if you don’t though!

And that’s the lot for me. What are you lot buying today? Any fans of melancholic electropop out there?! Reveal all in the comments!

New Releases – 9th March 2018

Honestly, you wait ages for some interesting new releases and then three of them all come at once.

Judas Priest – Firepower

I wasn’t overly fussed about Redeemer Of Souls so I’m taking all the “best since Painkiller” chat I’m hearing about Firepower with a big pinch of salt. And that’s not exactly lofty praise anyway! That said, the advance tracks I’ve heard have been decent enough… definitely a big improvement in the production department. At the end of the day, I could hum and haw until the cows come home. But it’s Priest – might be the last Priest! – and I’ll be buying it.

Pestilence Hadeon

I never got into these Dutch death metallers until a few years back but I’ve only heard their old stuff, none of the music they released since returning in 2008. Now Pestilence head honcho Patrick Mameli is back with a new lineup and an album that reportedly gets back to their more brutal earlier style. Been reading good reviews too… intrigued.

Drudkh – They Often See Dreams About The Spring

I’m hellishly late getting round to this secretive Ukranian black metal band. I checked out their song Nakryta Neba Burym Dakhom and definitely want to hear more. Throw in a rave review in the latest ZT Mag and this looks well worth a spin. Liking that cover too.

And that’s about the lot really, with an honourable mention for Nevermore’s The Complete Collection box set which looks pretty spiffing too. Happy hunting and, as always, please leave a comment and let everyone know what you’re hoping to buy today.

W.A.S.P. – The Last Command (Review)

W.A.S.P. The Last Command (1985)

Frontman Blackie Lawless might be flying his shock rock flag high on the cover but the only things worth rallying behind on 1985’s The Last Command are a few decent songs and Lawless’ unique howling rasp of a voice. W.A.S.P.’s eponymous debut was a superbly untamed slice of evil filth but on this second album, the band’s songwriting is sliding into the unremarkable. The free-spirited opener Wild Child and the debauched Blind In Texas are the must-hear tracks but for every song like the fun-but-silly Ballcrusher or the mean, moody Widowmaker there’s a banal Jack Action or the humdrum title track. But, while the balance between the filler tracks and the good ones is dangerously unbalanced, the band’s delivery and that voice manage to just lift the album out of the realm of the ordinary. It’s a good enough time if you’re in the right mood, a bore if you’re not. OK for occasional plays but not regular revisits. At the end of final track Sex Drive, Lawless rolls over and asks “tell me that don’t hit the spot”. Well, it was good fun but I’d be lying if I said the earth moved.

HMO Rating: 3 out of 5

[W.A.S.P. – Wild Child]

New Releases – 2nd March 2018

Not a lot going on this week but the release schedule is not totally devoid of intrigue. There is a new album The Banished Heart from gothic doom types Oceans Of Slumber and the new album Resurrection from Michael Schenker Fest. Neither are must-buy slam dunks for me but definitely worth checking out.

And, not a new release as such, but HMO-faves Voices have unveiled a new track entitled Dead Feelings. During the week the band FINALLY announced the details of the follow-up to their colossal 2014 album London. It’ll be out on April 27th and will be called Frightened. You will be.

That’s all the excitements for this week, let me know in the comments if there’s anything you’re all hyped about today. Some big releases next week. See you then.

(Voices – Frightened: Pre-order CD/LP/MC here)

Manowar – Sign Of The Hammer (Review)

Manowar – Sign Of The Hammer (1984)

Finding their label Music For Nations wanting, presumably puny, Manowar used the budget they were given to record their third album, 1984’s Hail to England, but used it sparingly: covertly working up an additional batch of tracks which they then used to win a record deal with Virgin/Ten Records. Sneakiness aside, Manowar achieved a heroic feat. They had recorded two of the very greatest albums in the history of heavy metal… at the same time.

So here’s the second of those peerless works, Sign Of The Hammer. It’s pure heavy metal, but Manowar’s explosive and idiosyncratic idea of what that might be. Joey DeMaio leads from the front with his humungous bass riffs and leads but the whole band is on stellar form. Eric Adams sings with absolute authority and commitment, Ross The Boss’ wild, off-the-cuff guitar solos are impossibly exciting and Scott Columbus pounds out the drum equivalent of shouting “FRESH HORSES” at the top of your voice. The songwriting is also godly, with opening lines like “black clouds on the horizon” and “burning embers of the second death will come in the night” 100% guaranteed to give all but the false true metal stirrings.

The album is near flawless. All Men Play On Ten and Animals kick the album off like KISS-on-steroids. Thor (The Power Head) is as thunderous and warring as its title suggests. Mountains is elemental in its epic scope and the black wind conjured up in The Oath and the Sign Of The Hammer tips the album into sheer aural chaos. There’s only one chink in the armour here and that’s the bass noodling of Thunderpick. It’s extremely skippable but, as always with Manowar, there’s mad genius at work as the workout proves to be an effective overture to the sublime album closer Guyana (Cult Of The Damned). Eric Adams excels here, delivering an account of mass suicide with chilling and heartbreaking sincerity.

This album has hopped around the top spot of my favourite albums of all time for decades now, vying with that other work of genius Hail To England. There are times when I seriously wonder if I’ve wasted my time listening to other music when I could have been listening to this and, listening to it again now, I reckon I probably was.

HMO Rating: (All Men Play On) 10 out of 5

[Manowar – Thor (The Power Head)]

… and classic rock too!