Candlemass bassist/songwriter Leif Edling has dubbed his latest project “music from the catacombs” as it was a visit to Paris’ bone-ridden underworld that inspired its creation. It’s an apt description. With The Doomsday Kingdom’s debut EP Never Machine, Leif’s music goes deeper and darker than it has for some time. The opening title-track and The Sceptre stick fairly close to Candlemass’ modern style but Niklas Stalvind’s grave and gravelly vocals and Marcus Jidell’s excellent, vintage soloing give the songs a fresh, grittier edge. But it might just have been a decent, unremarkable release if it wasn’t for the more interesting and engaging second-half. Zodiac City is a coiled and creepy serial killer yarn with a great chorus hook and the EP ends on a high with Edling taking the mic for The Whispering, a haunting and ghostly string-laden ballad. Never Machine doesn’t quite reach the inspired heights of Leif’s classic output but it’s a real grower and a definite improvement on last year’s half-(Candlem)assed EP Death Thy Lover. Candlemass might have fallen out of favour but these demos show promising signs that Edling still has what it takes to reign again as a king of doom.
(Here’s my copy. It’s the new edition released by Nuclear Blast. With new artwork, lyric sheet and red vinyl)
I loved Blaze Bayley in Wolfsbane but because I didn’t enjoy his stint in Maiden I never really thought of him as a “metal” guy. To me, he was at this best when he was painting the town red and lighting up the night with a little kiss. That was the Blaze I liked. So when his first post-Maiden outing Silicon Messiah proved to be a dark, very-metal affair I just passed on it. Not his forte.
I was wrong. Sixteen years later, spurred on by reading positive reviews and the return of Wolfsbane, I have added Silicon Messiah to my collection. It’s remarkably good. A proper underdog album if ever there was one. It’s downbeat, dystopian drop-D riffing is definitely of its time (think Brutal Planet, Magica etc…) and the opening tracks raise a worry that it’s all going to be a bit samey. But the album soon lightens up. Born as a Stranger, the galloping The Brave and Man on the Edge-esque The Launch are all extremely enjoyable, anthemic power metal tracks. The album just gets better and better as it rolls on and culminates wonderfully in Stare at the Sun: a gripping, goosebump-inducing epic. And, although tracks like The Hunger are chuggier and samier, their slower pace gives Blaze room to emote. He’s massively likeable throughout, delivering a vocal performance full of character and commitment.
So double dumb-ass on me for writing the man off. Turns out he is very-metal after all. He even manages to show Iron Maiden a thing or two with this anthemic and addictive album. It’s thoughtful and well-executed, topped off with a great vocal performance of considerable charm and charisma. That’s the Blaze I like.
We’re getting to the final release dregs that 2016 has to offer now. There’s nothing particularly crucial today, all compilations or live stuff.
Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas Alive
This new live album/video features a full performance of the totally seminal, essential black metal album. The band is still out there doing this tour but this release captures the debut show in Sweden. Unfortunately, only the audio download is available through the normal channels, if you want the physical CD/DVD or LP/DVD sets you’re going to have to buy it through the band’s own website which means either a hefty shipping charge or waiting to buy it at one of their gigs.
Rush – 2112: 40th Anniversary Edition
I saw this listed on one site as “2112: 40th Re-Release”. Well, not quite, but there has been a few… not quite 40 but maybe 37? At any rate, I think it’s safe to say you have this already. So what does this 40th edition have to offer? Well there’s a CD that’s mostly cover versions (including Dave Grohl so they can fuck right off with that), there’s a few live tracks and a live DVD from 1976. The DVD looks decent but cover versions? Reeaally? Oh yeah, and there’s a super-unnecessary idiot edition for £150 too. Attention all planets of the solar federation, Rush have assumed you have more money than sense.
Uli Jon Roth – Tokyo Tapes Revisited: Live In Japan
Fact: the Scorpions albums with Uli Jon Roth are completely awesome. So good on Uli for revisiting the tremendous songs from that era on this live 2CD/DVD set. Recorded at the same venue as the classic Tokyo Tapes album too and featuring most of the same tracks. Or you could just go and listen to Tokyo Tapes… which is what I’m going to do. There’s also a £100+ version of this too which beggars belief really.
Motörhead – Wake the Dead
This is a three disc set housing the final brace of Motörhead albums. I don’t have any of these albums as I got fed up with this band when Motörizer came out. At just under £30 it’s not exactly “budget” for three albums though. I’m sure the individual albums could be got pretty cheap and those would come with the bonus tracks, DVDs etc… unlike this. But if you’re happy with just the vanilla albums (and Lemmy sketches!) then this is the set for you.
Bon Jovi – This House is Not for Sale: Live at the London Palladium
Looks like this is just going to do what it says on the tin. All new songs but live! I’ve been boycotting the Jovi since a few albums back so I’ll just pass on this. Bring back Alec, that’s what I say.
And that’s us this week. Amazingly, no Darkthrone or Fenriz-related releases this week. What’s that all about?
Schammasch’s Triangle is high-concept stuff. The Swiss group divide their latest album into stages with three themed CDs (The Process of Dying, Metaflesh and The Supernal Clear Light of the Void). The three discs each run to 33 minutes and all signify a stage of a spiritual journey. The concept is enhanced by the wonderful box set package and its eye-catching, symbolic imagery (by the talented Ester Segarra). It all screams masterpiece! Well, apart from the music. The album has a befittingly grand production but the music of Triangle is a chore. The first disc is a sub-Behemoth slog and the third disc, while it has a pleasant cinematic ambience, goes nowhere fast: five tracks where the final two would have had the same effect. The second disc is more successful. Its Monotheist-style evil, glassy prog and mysterious chants offering up the album’s hookiest passages. But there’s just too much padding throughout. And treating each disc as a separate album doesn’t help either when two of them are such a slog. The scale of the project keeps me returning to it, hoping it will finally click, but after coming away from another listen feeling nothing I have to finally accept that Triangle is just overlong and unrewarding. It looks and sounds incredible but there are not enough engaging moments to justify an hour and 40 minutes of my time.
It’s finally Friday, time to spend all your hard-earned cash… but what on? Well, the HMOverlord is here to help, telling you what’s new and exciting in the world of metal and rock. And I had to tear myself away from the live stream of Banger TV’s “Essential Power Metal Albums” debate to do it too, so I hope you’re grateful. There’s not much doing in the way of reissues this week (the XTC Skylarking set does look nice though) so it’s all new music. And first off, we’ve got one of the most anticipated albums of the year.
Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder
With its simplified artwork and the handing of all vocal duties to Nocturno Culto, it looks like it’s all change with Darkthrone’s new release. Advance track Tundra Leech suggested a more misanthropic approach, following the bullet-belted romp of The Underground Resistance. I loved that album but I find the prospect of a less chummy Darkthrone thrilling. I’ve got my orange vinyl edition pre-ordered and I’m hoping for “Album of the Year” material here.
Hobbs’ Angel of Death – Heaven Bled
The Australian metal legend returns to tide all you thrash fans over while you wait for the new Testament and Metallica albums to land. But, if the track Son of God is anything to go by, I might just stick with this. It’s Show No Mercy-era Slayer stylings put a proper smile on my face. If the whole album is like that, this could be a total winner.
Anciients – Voice of the Void
I haven’t heard this band at all but Season of Mist have been releasing a lot of great stuff lately and I’ve read some intriguing reviews of this new album. Anciients have got a great proggy sound, like a less-sludgy Mastodon but the song I heard (Ibex Eye) took a wee bit too long to get going. Still, there’s definitely promise here so I’ll be checking this one out. Awesome cover too.
Blasphemer – Ritual Theophagy
Italians’ Blasphemer return after a six-year absence to rip out some old-school death metal. It’s chaotic and evil but with a blasting, technical edge. It reminds me a bit of the very early Akercocke stuff, actually. And if song titles like Jesus Rapes and Crucifix of Shit are anything to go by, sounds like these guys are Blaphemers by nature as well as by name. Released on Comatose Music.
Sons of Balaur – Tenebris Deos
Another Season of Mist release, here’s the fictional black metal band Sons of Balaur. Fresh from starring in the graphic novel, and soon to be animated movie, ‘Realm of the Damned’. They’ve definitely got a publicity angle at least. It’s all good fun I suppose, but I haven’t been impressed by what I’ve heard so far. And it’s all a bit… silly.
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation
I can pretty much cut-and-paste my coverage of last week’s Meshuggah album here. Just change the names (and all the stuff about breakfast). DEP are a well-regarded band that just never really caught me. But I was pretty impressed by their new track Symptom of Terminal Illness so I’m sure this album will hit the spot with their fans. And they’ll have to make this most of it, since it looks like it might be the band’s last.
Elsewhere, we have the return of Singapore’s Wormrot with Voices, an album that also marks Earache’s return to grindcore. But, in typical grindcore fashion, you wait years for it… and then only get 26 minutes worth. Anyone cowering in a corner at the mere suggestion of grindcore can take solace in the new Tyketto album Reach. I’m sure that’ll be manna from heaven for AOR fans. And fans of Europe might want to check out their former guitarist Kee Marcello and his new album Scaling Up. Great guitar but sounds like the vocals might be a weak link here. Both those are out on Frontier Records. And rounding things off, we’ve got the DVD/CD set of Extreme’s Pornograffitti Live 25 (kick it Kevin!) and Sonic Syndicate’s Eurovision pomp of Confessions. Not for me!
Not a bad batch of albums today then. A few that I’ll definitely be looking into but, let’s not kid ourselves, this week is all about the unholy Darkthrone! Hope you enjoyed my wee round-up. Let me know what you’re after today, anything crucial I missed? Until next Friday, happy hunting. I’m off to see if I can catch the end of that Power Metal debate…
Welcome to the first of my weekly new release posts. There are approximately a squillion albums coming out today but here are the most interesting and exciting ones. As chosen by me. First off, we’ve got a band that I don’t talk about all that often…
Saxon – Let Me Feel Your Power
I’m currently reviewing my way through the Saxon catalogue. It’s a mighty challenge that just got mightier with this, their 10th official live album. Let Me Feel Your Power captures their recent (and ongoing) Battering Ram tour with a couple of shows and plenty of new tracks making their live album debuts. Available in the usual combinations of CD/DVD/BR/vinyl etc… At my current rate of Saxon coverage, expect a review of this in late 2023.
Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason
The big new metal album of the week but a band that I’ve never really bothered with. I couldn’t really remember why that was though so I gave their new song Born in Dissonance a listen on Spotify. It’s OK, there’s some pretty impressive riff moments but… nah. I can see the appeal but I’m just not feeling it personally. It doesn’t put cream in my coffee. Or butter on my biscuit! And when I’m up for breakfast that’s what I need… especially after a violent sleep of reason.
Watchtower – Concepts of Math: Book One
Twisty-turny thrashers Watchtower were one of the pioneering techy 80s bands (along with the likes of Coroner and Voivod) that paved the way for bands like Meshuggah. But, for all their influence, they didn’t last long: their last studio album was 1989’s Control and Resistance. But now they’re back with this compilation of some recent digital singles. In the 80s there weren’t too many bands doing the math metal thing but now it’s more prevalent. Interesting to hear how these originators will fare these days. Out on CD and vinyl, it’s not a rush-out-and-buy for me but it’s definitely going on my wishlist.
Gojira – Terra Incognita
Gojira’s early albums have been out of print for quite a while now with copies being offered for eye-watering sums. So if, like me, you could smell the inevitable reissues a mile off and held off, then give yourself a pat on the back! Listenable Records have now reissued the band’s debut album on CD and vinyl. And they’ll be reissuing The Link and The Link Alive in November too… but that’s a story for another week.
Yes – Tales from Topographic Oceans
A lot of love out there for Steven Wilson’s 5.1 mixing jobbies. And here he is again, taking on Yes’ notorious doubler. I reckon there were better Yes albums before and after this but there is great stuff on this. That said, I’m sure most people would agree it was padded out a bit too much, a spot of bloat that provided Rick Wakeman valuable time to snarf down a curry during their gigs. I’ll pass on this cause I’m happy enough with my current copy but it does look like a good value release. Available as 2CD/2DVDA or a 3CD/1BR set. Completists ought to go for the latter as it has extra third disc of bonus tracks including some previously unreleased stuff.
Sarcofago – Die… Hard!
It’s all gone a bit proggy this week so here’s Brazil’s legendary Sarcofago to ruin everything! Greyhaze Records released this excellent demo collection on CD last year and now it finally receives a vinyl pressing. It’s an absolutely smashing archive release and Greyhaze have done a great job with it . I’ll pass cause I’m happy with my CD copy but fans of extreme metal on vinyl should snap this up. The liner notes (from Wagner Antichrist!) are worth the price of entry alone. But if you’re a false… don’t entry.
On the less tempting side we’ve got a remaster of Dave Lee Roth’s Your Filthy Little Mouth. Think this Friday Music remaster has been available before though. But I do like a bit of DLR at this time of the year. And Osmose are reissuing Exciter’s The Dark Command and Blood of Tyrants. Canadian metal! Not terribly exciting but CanCon regulations require me to include them.
And that’s plenty for one week. Some pretty good stuff out there. Quite a few things I’ll probably just pass on though, or at least just put on the backburner. The Saxon is essential, Watchtower is pretty tempting and I’ll probably grab the Gojira cause if it goes out of print again and ends up on eBay for £376 I’ll feel like a right fanny. Happy hunting and I hope you can join me next Friday when the rundown will include one of THE metal releases of the year.
I love a good live album and I love “classic” rock but rarely come across magnificent examples of either these days. And a good live classic rock album is even rarer! So I was hoping that Danko Jones’ latest release Live at Wacken would deliver on both accounts. I’ve only ever heard a few songs of his and never been blown away. It’s all a bit too much like a jeans advert. But I hear a lot of people say he (they?) are great live. On the basis of this set I can imagine that’s probably the case but the excitement only partially translates to CD/DVD. It’s got a great sound and jovial atmosphere. The band is loose and frontman Danko is in charming form, clearly enjoying being the loverman rocker at Europe’s Metal Mecca. But for all their self-professed “mean power chords” there’s not much in the way of decent riffs or songs. But the energy, witty raps and cheery vibe are winning and some Misfits-style pop punk numbers like the excellent The Twisting Knife add melodic substance in amongst all the two-chord dating-manual songs. It’s likely to be the only Danko Jones I will ever want or need but it’s enough of a good time to be worth holding on to. Like their festival slot, it’s fun for the afternoon but they’ll need to do better to score any hot night-time action.