Category Archives: Genre

Buying Round-Up: Apr/May/Jun 2018

I’m long overdue doing one of these so I’m going to rattle through the key purchases from the last couple of months… and a bit.

Let’s start with the most recent new arrivals. The just-released expanded edition of Sepultura’s Arise follows similar reissues of Chaos A.D. and Roots from last year and like those it’s stuffed with extras! Rough mixes, demos and live tracks galore. Love/Hate’s Wasted In America gets the Rock Candy treatment. It’s an album I’ve wanted for ages but my first listen is a bit disappointing. Prefer the sleaze bludgeon of their debut Blackout In The Red Room. Ah well, might be a grower. I’ve only listened to the first half of Rotting Christ’s 2LP early days comp Abyssic Black Metal but it hit the spot. I’m really into these guys lately.

On the new album front, we’ve got Voices superb and sexy Frightened, Sleep’s The Sciences on CD at last(!) and the deluxe version of Ihsahn’s killer new album Ámr (worth getting for the great bonus track). All three are album of the year contenders. And I also bought Ghost’s Prequelle which… isn’t. Still pretty decent though.

I got a couple of live CD/DVD combos. Dokken’s reunion gigs captured for posterity on the flawed but entertaining Return To The East Live and Behemoth’s Messe Noire which has two gigs on DVD, promo vids and The Satanist album live on CD. It’s not flawed in the slightest, great stuff.

Def Leppard’s CD Collection: Volume 1 next. Very cool set, much along the design lines of the recent Bowie sets but with less text in the book and less rare material. But then it was also about half the price! Bought mainly for the remastered On Through The Night and the CD debut of some early singles and because… Def Leppard.

Also on the box set front there’s Marduk’s Dark Endless 25th Anniversary Edition. Nice reissue of the strong debut album with a neat digipak of the Here’s No Peace EP with demo artwork from deceased Mayhem vocalist Dead. Also has some stickers which doesn’t really seem very black metal to me. Shouldn’t it just have a dead rat in it or something like that?

On the reissue front I bought the “Final Kill” edition of Megadeth’s classic debut Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good! which sounds genuinely amazing! Sadly the CD design is clearly just an impossible-to-read transfer of the vinyl design because CD buyers and their pesky money don’t matter anymore. I’m well chuffed with the deluxe editions of hard rock pioneers Montrose’s S/T debut and Paper Money: great remasters, interesting (and readable!) liner notes and tons of bonus tracks.

I’m a big fan of The Who and got a few great additions to my collection recently. Live At Fillmore East 1968 is a brilliant concert recording: fiery performance, some lesser-heard tracks and an epic My Generation to close it out. Pete Townshend’s Who Came First gets some added rarities and is very nicely packaged for the price. And last, but not least, I bought a vinyl reissue of the comp Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy. An odd one cause there’s nothing on there I don’t have already but it’s a bit of Who history with one of those perfect tracklistings… I had to get it eventually and it’s just fantastic! Classic after classic, it sounds phenomenal and I can’t stop listening to it. Highly recommended!

And I reckon that’s about the lot! I’ll try and do this more regularly so I can get into more detail and put up more photos in future.

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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!

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

New Releases – 8th June 2018

I’m fairly skint (blame Ghost and Def Leppard) so hopefully there’s nothing good out today… fingers crossed!

Various Artists – Contract In Blood: A History Of UK Thrash Metal

Ahh baws. Writer/musician Ian Glasper turns the spotlight on the overlooked UK thrash scene with this exciting box set and companion book. The CD set has five whole discs (separated into various areas of the UK) and it looks like a total blast and great value too. There are always going to be gripes and omissions with this kind of thing but who cares? Both the book and box set are getting bought pronto.

Megadeth – Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good: The Final Kill

Double baws! The incredible, bonkers Megadebut gets reissued (again) with bonus stuff and some sort of re-recorded version of These Boots. Glad I’ve got the original version on LP but I want this too. You can never have too many versions of albums like this! A must(aine) buy.

All that metal thrashing madness leaves me with little interest in the snail’s pace doom of Yob and their new album Our Raw Heart. But it sounds like a good ‘un so I daresay I’ll have to investigate it eventually. Tomb Mold’s Manor Of Infinite Forms, their second album of putrid death metal, sounds more up my alley. And then there’s Zeal & Ardor’s second album Stranger Fruit. Lots of people loving this but I don’t get it. What am I missing?

And that’s the lot. Looks like my wallet isn’t getting a week off after all… ah well…

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]