Category Archives: Albums

Virgin Steele – Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation (Review)

Virgin Steele – Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation (2015)

I’m not a big fan of the most recent Virgin Steele album Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation but I still occasionally hanker for it. The opener Lucifer’s Hammer is classic chest-beating metal and Persephone is a grand retelling of the Greek myth that ranks up with the band’s best material. And do any of you remember the mysteriously anonymous 80s speed metal band Exorcist? Well, it turns out they were Virgin Steele all along and on this album they finally own up to it, reworking two Exorcist songs Queen Of The Dead and Black Mass in power metal fashion. It’s great stuff and a lot more rifftastic than the preceding VS album The Black Light Bacchanalia. But that album had a romantic, overblown grandiosity that proved fascinating and rewarding and Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation has none of that richness or consistency. The shifts from the Exorcist tracks to piano balladry like Hymns To Damnation to bizarre raunch metal like Demolition Queen and Glamour make for a disjointed listen and the overlong arrangements and dark, moody atmosphere means promising tracks like Delirium and Devilhead come across as dreary. If you’re a Virgin Steele acolyte like me there are just enough bright spots here to make it worth your time but everyone else will find Nocturnes a long, colourless night that will most likely send them to sleep.

HMO Rating: 2 out of 5

[Virgin Steele – Devilhead]

Deluxe Edition with bonus CD
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New Releases – 10th August 2018

Finally, some good new releases! It’s been quite a while since we’ve had as fun-filled a week as this. And it’s mostly all new stuff too, none of your deluxe box thingies and vinyl reissue “remastered” gubbins. Just NEW METAL.

Haunt – Burst Into Flame

Retro-styled true metal has become quite the rage in the last few years but I’m usually unconvinced. The bands always have the sound down but the songwriting often falls short. Having listened to the title track from this album, I reckon this US band might have the goods though. It’s strident, catchy stuff. Definitely worth checking out.

Night Demon – Live Darkness

Speaking of retro metal… Night Demon have become quite the rage in the last few years but they haven’t caught on with the HMOverlord yet. Always feel like I just haven’t given them a fair shake of the stick though so maybe this new live album will finally win me over. Athenar from HMO-favourites Midnight makes an appearance so that’s a promising sign.

The Spirit – Sounds From The Vortex

Here’s some intriguing sounding black/death shenanigans from Nuclear Blast. The tracks I’ve heard remind me of Tribulation stuff or the Vampire record from last year… quite a bit like Dissection too. Got that waltzy thing going on. And with a list of comparisons like that, this has to be a must-hear.

Ill Omen – The Grande Usurper EP

Don’t know much about this band, I believe it’s an Australian one-man black metal act of the murky and cavernous variety. I’m a bit of a hard sell with that kind of stuff but I listened to a track from this at work and got right into it. I’ll grab this one on Bandcamp.

Gloam/Obscure Evil – Split EP

New to me but the cover caught my eye. Only one track from each band but I bet it’s quality over quantity. I heard the Gloam track Black Swords Of Desecration and it thrashed about all over the place. Brilliant. And the other band is called Obscure Evil which means they must be good. Surely?! Another one for Bandcamp.

And that’s about it for me. Anything else you’re looking for today? Anything you’re avoiding like the plague? Let me know in the comments. Happy hunting.

Blue Öyster Cult – Mirrors (Review)

Blue Öyster Cult – Mirrors (1979)

Blue Öyster Cult had hit it big with 1976’s Agents Of Fortune but they were starting to sound like they were going through the motions by the time of 1979’s Mirrors. The slick Tom Werman production and generic songwriting displays little of the band’s usual esoteric adventurousness. The pastiche Moon Crazy should never have seen the light of day and the title-track has some woeful lyrics: “Pretty girls have a love affair/with their eyes and their shining hair”. The AOR approach mostly results in decent but forgettable tracks like Lonely Teardrops but does at least manage to offer up one Cult classic in the wistfully pretty single In Thee. The album is on stronger footing when the band finally starts to sound like the BÖC of old on The Vigil and I Am The Storm, a great cosmic pairing that livens up the second half. Definitely a lesser effort compared to its predecessors but Mirrors has just enough going for it to be worth a look.

HMO Rating: 3 Out Of 5

[Blue Öyster Cult – The Vigil]

Pretty boys have a love affair, with their eyes and their shining… hands?

Now Playing: Batushka – Litourgiya

This excellent debut album was released back in 2015 but I’m only catching up with it now. I bought this new digipak edition a few weeks ago and I’ve been listening to it solidly ever since. It’s superb black metal with a huge, natural sound and grand atmosphere and the secretive Poles weave Gregorian-style chants throughout the music in a wonderful way. Monk-y magic!

[Batushka – Litany V: Holy Entrance]

Mercyful Fate – Mercyful Fate EP (Review)

Released in 1982, Mercyful Fate’s self-titled debut is often referred to as the “Nuns Have No Fun” EP but I reckon even Mother Theresa would be hard-pressed to not get a kick out of this. The Danish band battered out a high-energy update on the pace-shifting, riff-laden approach of bands like Diamond Head and Priest but earned recognition as one of the “first wave” black metal bands by virtue of being extremely, extremely evil. While their style is fairly traditional, Hank Shermann’s riffs and solos are pure malevolence and the unique range of corpse-painted vocalist King Diamond is alternately threatening and ghostly, hitting high notes only Rob Halford can hear on Devil Eyes. A Corpse Without Soul and Doomed By The Living Dead are thrashing, twisting workouts with wonderful vocal hooks. Try not singing along with “I’m a corpse, I’m a corpse, I’m a corpse without soul”. The band’s seminal albums would be more cerebral and progressive occult offerings, but the four songs here have a more boisterous and naïve sense of blasphemy. The graveyard scares, pentagram pants, “fucking angels” and a C-word laden ode to religious sisters make Mercyful Fate a uniquely diabolical, gleeful and headbanging entry in their impressive career. None more fun.

HMO Rating: 5 out of 5

[Mercyful Fate – A Corpse Without Soul]

*Buying Note: This EP is also available in its entirety as part of the compilation The Beginning, which is a must-buy too.

New Releases – 13th July 2018

Quality over quantity today!

Blasphemy – Live Ritual: Friday the 13th and Victory (Son Of The Damned)

Nuclear War Now! Productions offer up two exciting archive reissues from the Canadian bestial black metal terrors Blasphemy. Live Ritual: Friday the 13th was recorded on a mini-disc recorder at a show in 2001 and the recording became the first release from the fledgling NWN! Productions. Following the show, the band were given the mini-disc recorder and put it to good use, recording a basement rehearsal (by placing it on top of then-bassist Bestial Saviour of the Undead Legions’ washing machine). The recordings sounded brilliant and were released as a bonus disc with the live release. Both of these recordings are sought-after rarities and rightly so, they’re a magnificent and unholy racket. Much more in-your-face than the band’s studio albums. Essential stuff for black metal fans. CD and Tape editions were already released back in May but the vinyl editions are released today. Looks like maybe Europe is getting these later. It’s all a bit confusing. Look out for them, anyway!

Imperial Triumphant – Vile Luxury

Don’t know much about this band but I remember their previous album Abyssal Gods getting rave reviews. It’s avant-garde black metal with synths and horns and all that kinda stuff. They’re from New York and supposedly they trying to embody the sound of their city “from top floor luxury to the rotten underground.” Sounds pretty interesting so I’ll be checking this one out.

That’s about the lot for me this week. What will you be buying or checking out today?

Now Playing: Bon Jovi – New Jersey

Bon Jovi – New Jersey (1988)

I always dig out the Jovi when it’s sunny and it has been sunny here for some time now, which means lots of Jovi has been playing. And New Jersey is peak Jovi, the band at the height of their powers. Jon Bon Jovi’s voice is as powerful as it ever got here and Sambora’s guitar is deadly, belting out classic riffs like the drop-D stunner in Lay Your Hands On Me. I like the way the album mixes up Cinderella-style rootsiness with a massive Lep-esque production too. The album gets a bit too drippy at points but songs like Bad Medicine, Blood On Blood and Born To Me Baby are just irresistible.

(This is the deluxe box version which has lots of rare stuff too but I’ve just been listening to the album proper this week)

[Bon Jovi – Lay Your Hands On Me]