Category Archives: Albums

New Releases – 15th June 2018

Let’s keep this short and satanic. Apart from a few interesting(ish) reissues there’s only one new release that truly matters today.

Blasphamagoatachrist – Black Metal Warfare

Bestial black metal demo from members of Blasphemy, Goatpenis and Antichrist. Absolute metal bombs going off left, right and centre on this one. I love Blasphemy and this stuff is hitting that spot… which makes it essential. Hilarious band name a plus. The fact that it’s only available on tape or streaming a negative. But hopefully there will be more to come. And it’s CanCon so you have to listen to it. It’s the law!

And that really is it for this week. There’s also a reissue of Sepultura’s Arise that I quite fancy but I couldn’t be arsed writing about it and didn’t want to detract from the importance of Blasphamagoatachrist. See you next week!

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Ghost – Prequelle (Review)

Ghost – Prequelle Ltd. Edition with bonus tracks and 3D cover thing

Hard to believe it’s already eight years since Ghost’s debut album Opus Eponymous. Time flies when you’re having satanic fun. And on the plague, death and apocalypse themed Prequelle, Ghost are still all about fun. Like on its excellent predecessor 2015’s Meliora, Ghost’s fourth album is full of blissfully catchy theatrical rock that laces its spiritually uplifting hooks with diabolical twists. But it doesn’t do much that Meliora didn’t already do better. Two flat instrumentals pad out the running time, Pro Memoria is beyond Muppety and the fiendish lyrical slants aren’t as keen or effective (replacing “be with” with “bewitch” isn’t enough to add depth to the ABBA-tastic Danse Macabre). But all gripes are rendered churlish when faced with the excellence of tracks like the glam metal Rats, the passionately defiant See The Light and majestically melodic Witch Image. Prequelle might be a weak facsimile of its predecessor but there’s still enough devilish fun in its diminishing returns to make it worthy of devotion.

HMO Rating: 3.5 Out Of 5

Saxon – Unleash The Beast (Review)

Saxon – Unleash The Beast (1997)

Unleash The Beast, Saxon’s thirteenth studio album and the first to feature the band’s current line-up, finds the band dialling up the kind of heaviness previously hinted at on older tracks like Altar Of The Gods, Battle Cry and Dogs Of War.

As usual for Saxon, this 1997 album’s big classic is the title-track: a brilliant thrasher with a chorus hewn from pure gold. But the harder edge comes at the expense of the band’s usual chemistry and charisma. The serious mood fits songs like the dark, grooving Cut Out The Disease and the moody, slow-burner The Preacher. But songs like Ministry Of Fools and The Thin Red Line fall strangely flat when they should be uplifting. The driving Terminal Velocity, uncannily catchy Circle Of Light and vigorously rowdy All Hell’s Breaking Loose inject much-needed sparks of excitement but can’t quite lift the album into the classic zone.

Its po-faced proficiency makes it one to appreciate rather than love but Saxon’s consistency and focus impresses and this was a crucial album for them. As well as unleashing the beast, they ushered in a new era, finding a style and purpose that would restore their credibility and serve them well for years to come. The story of modern Saxon starts here.

HMO Rating: 3 Out Of 5

[Saxon – Unleash The Beast]

New Releases – 1st June 2018

Haw! Check oot aw the new releases!

Continuing their theme of re-imagining famous movie posters, this one is based on Chevy Chase’s Funny Farm.

Ghost – Prequelle

One of 2018’s biggies and it’s been getting hyped out the arse for a while now, mainly because they replaced lead vocalist Tobias Forge with new vocalist Tobias Forge. I think they might have replaced a bunch of nameless ghouls too, which is fine by me as long as Dave bloody Grohl isn’t hiding in there anymore. I loved their last album Meloria so I’m excited about this one. Want to hear it fresh so I’ve avoided listening to any of it so far.

Def Leppard – Volume One

This is the first of four career-spanning box sets covering the period from Lep’s debut EP to the gazillion-selling Hysteria. There’s not much in here that serious fans won’t have already but I want the remasters of the first two albums, the 3” EP looks cute and the bonus disc of rarities has some stuff I’d like on CD too. Of course there’s a much more expensive vinyl version too if you are that way inclined.

Gruesome – Twisted Prayers

This US band has been releasing albums that follow the musical progression of the mighty Death. They’re on their third album now so this is in the vein of Death’s third album Spiritual Healing. I was particularly excited about their last EP Fragments Of Psyche but then I couldn’t bloody find it anywhere! I think I’m still in too much of a huff to buy this one.

And that’s the lot. Not a lot but some exciting stuff. Let me know what you’re after today and I hope you all have an awesome metaltastic weekend!

Judas Priest – Firepower (Review)

Judas Priest – Firepower (2018)

With Black Sabbath calling it a day in 2017, Judas Priest are now one of the oldest metal bands still on the go. They’re one of the genre’s most definitive, influential and original acts. But they’ve also been dogged by consistency problems for decades, making any new release equal parts exciting and fraught. While dodgy production and some weak songwriting hampered 2014’s Redeemer Of Souls it was promising enough to leave me hopeful that better was yet to come. And so it has proved, these old dudes are sounding pretty potent on their latest album Firepower.

The most obvious improvement is the album’s crisp, classic production, but the band’s performance is more assured too: the solos build excitement and Rob Halford is on commanding vocal form. The excellent opening title track and Lightning Strike immediately give this album the edge over its predecessor.

But the songwriting is still not totally consistent. Being more of a fan of melodic Priest like Desert Plains, I prefer the more anthemic tracks like Rising From Ruins and Never The Heroes and find the more hammering Painkiller-type tracks like Necromancer and Flamethrower too clunky. But all the songs have their moments and the varied tempo and style keeps the album engaging. And the band aren’t too long in the tooth to progress either: the doom-laden Children Of The Sun, malevolent Spectre and the raunchy Lone Wolf adding new flavours to the band’s style.

Firepower doesn’t quite have the audacity or vitality to put it in the top tier of the band’s discography but it is their best and most cohesive release in aeons. At a time when many older acts are bowing out or resting on their laurels, Priest’s impressive dedication to forging ahead keeps them at the forefront of the genre. Still metal gods, still defenders of the faith, still delivering the goods.

HMO Rating: 4 Out Of 5

[Judas Priest – Traitors Gate]

New Releases – 25th May 2018

Treat yourself to some new music. You know you’re worth it.

Rotting Christ – Abyssic Black Metal

Peaceville Records have been gearing up a big vinyl campaign for the Greek band but it seemed to go awry when their last mooted reissue of Passage To Arcturo went AWOL without much of an explanation. Anyway, looks like they’re back on track now with this new release of the band’s early demos. A must-buy. Featuring the infamous early line-up of Necrosauron, Necromayhem, Morbid and… Jim!

Candlemass – House Of Doom EP

Normally, any Candlemass release would be a must-buy but their last release Death Thy Lover was painfully average. So this is one House Of Doom I’ll be entering with caution. It doesn’t look all that cheap as EPs go either. I’ll listen online and see if it’s worth adding to the collection. If it’s not I might call it a day with these guys.

Witchsorrow – Hexenhammer

More doom… this time of the British variety. Fronted by Kerrang! editor Nick Ruskell or ‘Necroskull’ as he likes to be known. He should probably join Rotting Christ with a name like that… or maybe that would be one Necro too many? Anyhoo, I hear that this is along the Cathedral lines which makes it worth checking out and it also gets intrigue points for that ace Paolo Girardi cover.

And that’s about it for me. Let me know what you’re after today and happy hunting!

KISS – KISS (Review)

Can you guess which of these guys got someone else to do their makeup?

KISS, the band’s self-titled debut album from 1974, is loaded with more classics than any other studio album they would ever put out. The masked New York rockers were already making a reputation as an explosive live act and when you look at the tracks featured here, Strutter, Firehouse, Cold Gin, Deuce, Black Diamond and 100,000 Years, it’s no wonder few bands dared take them out as support act.

But it’s not all cut from that timeless cloth. The gimmicky single Kissin’ Time and the aimless instrumental Love Theme From KISS detract from the album. And the band were unable to capture the power and excitement of their live shows in the studio. KISS at their best put a spring in your step like no other band but the production and performance here is too tentative to quite achieve that.

KISS would eventually deliver definitive renditions of these songs on their mega-selling 1975 album Alive! But there’s a reason so many of that live album’s songs were drawn from their debut. KISS is a must-hear for fans of street-level, meat and potatoes hard rock. A flawed classic that planted the seeds of success with its pop-savvy mix of Humble Pie boogie, tasty heavy riffs and an array of songs that would become the stuff of legend.

HMO Rating: 4 Out Of 5

[KISS – Deuce]