It’s Christmas! Well not really, but you’d think it was for all the Christmas albums clogging up the new release schedule today. But I’m going to assume that you’re not feeling overly festive yet, so let’s take a gawp at today’s rock and metal highlights instead. Less Santa, more Satan.
Vader – The Empire
We had Testament last week and, once more, today’s big metal release is a thrasher. Albeit a growly deathy one. Vader are a Polish institution but I’m honestly not overly familiar with their career. This album was preceded by an EP Iron Times earlier in 2016 and I thought that was good fun with great riffs so I’ll definitely be looking into this. And I noticed there’s a 2CD version of The Empire on the band’s website with the Iron Times disc as a bonus. So that’s a cheap way to get both if you haven’t picked the EP up already.
Dark Tranquility – Atoma
Another long-running band that I’ve never got into. I have sampled their stuff but I’ve just never heard anything of theirs that floated my boat. A listen to their new track Forward Momentum didn’t change my mind either. Obviously, if you love this band and the Swedish melodeath thing then just ignore grumpy old me. There’s a deluxe edition of this with an extra disc and extra songs so go for that one and get yer money’s worth.
Queen – Queen on Air: The Complete BBC Sessions
Very welcome set of Queen’s Beeb performances. Lots of the good, good early stuff in here which makes this as metal as any other album out this week. Fucking Ogre Battle! There’s a 2CD set and a 3LP set but if you’re a complete saddo there’s also a 6CD set which has another disc of live tracks (including HMO favourite Father to Son) and three CDs of archival interviews. THREE WHOLE CDs! That’s a bit much really but… I’m a complete saddo. I pre-ordered this ages ago.
Cirith Ungol – Paradise Lost
An exciting day for Cirith Ungol devotees. The trad metallers’ long-lost fourth album is back: the masters have been found and given a spit and polish by good old Metal Blade. The album has a reputation as being a bit ropey, but we are assured that it deserves a reappraisal. Well, if you fancy giving this some reappraisal…ing then now is the time. Got to be worth having for that Elric cover alone, surely?
Glenn Hughes – Resonate
I used to be all about Glenn Hughes’ solo work but I started to drift away around the time where he started doing Black Country Communion and never really got back on board after that. But now he’s solo again I’m a wee bit curious to hear what he’s up to. I’ve probably got enough Hughes albums to scratch this particular itch but new track Too Long Gone was pretty decent so I’ll give this a few listens on Spotify and see if it… uhh… resonates.
HammerFall – Built to Last
Unlike their beloved cheese, HammerFall are built to last: ten albums and nearly twenty years under their leather belts. Given that I lean firmly Manowar-d I should probably like HammerFall but it’s all a bit too by-the-numbers for my liking.
Elsewhere, we have the return of poor Bon Jovi with This House is Not for Sale. The band still rudderless without their spiritual leader, Alec John Such. I managed to kick my problematic Jovi addiction a few albums back and I doubt this new album will change that. Bring back Alec! And there’s even more classic rawk from the Graham Bonnet Band with The Book and Motley Crue, who are giving themselves a grand send off with the live DVD/CD The End. Bye bye. And to round things off, the Nuclear War Now! label release Evil Shall Prevail, a plush collection of Black Witchery’s brutal black metal demos and early releases. The press release promises that listeners will find themselves “completely surrounded by the molten sea of the apocalypse.” Ah, so I did manage to fit in something Christmassy after all! I’m off for a Gingerbread muffin then. See you next week.