Category Archives: Black Metal

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]

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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?

New Releases – 6th July 2018

The new release bonanza continues… this is an even better release week than last week.

Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods

One of 2018’s major releases here. The black metal giants return with their first album since their split with frontman Abbath. And by the sounds of it, I don’t think anyone will miss him. This is vintage black metal with enough glacial riffing to cover the whole of Blashyrkh with an impenetrable and grim permafrost. Or something like that! It’s great basically, that’s what I’m trying to say.

Bundle with bonus single and signed certificate!

Rotting Christ – Under Our Black Cult

Peaceville cover the Hellenic black metal bands’ early days with this 5CD box set. Covers the bands early demos and also contains the Passage To Arcturo mini-album and also has the albums Thy Mighty Contract and Non Serviam. Throw in a 72 page book and a bundle with The Call 7″ and you’ve got a must-buy. I pre-ordered this the moment I found out about it.

Death – Death By Metal DVD

The great Chuck Schuldiner and his seminal band Death get a welcome and long-overdue documentary feature. As well as covering the man and band, the doc also gets into the early days of the death metal scene too. This is such a fascinating genre, guy and career… I don’t see how this could be anything other than essential viewing.

Mortuary Drape – Necromantic Doom Returns

I’ve been wanting to get into this Italian band for years but it’s quite hard to get their stuff on CD or vinyl. So I can’t possibly pass on this compilation of their first demos. Absolute raw demo sound but you know that sound totally fits necro music like this. Reminds me of a gruffer version of the other big Italian band Death SS. Hopefully more reissues of the early albums will follow.

Lucifer – Lucifer II

I checked out this band’s first album because of the link to Cathedral but I found it quite disappointing. But the band has changed a bit for album No. 2. Now Nicke Andersson of Entombed fame has joined and I’m intrigued again. Sounds like better songs this time around but I’m not totally convinced I could go a whole album. Worth checking out though, might be a dark horse.

Y&T – Earthshaker, Black Tiger and Mean Streak

Three classic Y&T albums get the Rock Candy treatment. It doesn’t look like there’s bonus tracks here though, just the label’s usual quality remastering and liner notes. Got these albums on vinyl and CD already so can’t see me being tempted by these. But if you like fun, catchy meat-and-potatoes LA hard rawk then look no further!

And that’s the lot for me, tons of great stuff coming out lately. What are you going to be buying or checking out today?

New Releases – 29th June 2018

Tons of new stuff out today… mostly reissued stuff. I’ll try and be nitpicky but this is going to be a long one I reckon.

The Antichrist Imperium – Volume II: Every Tongue Shall Praise Satan

This is an essential new release from one of the many Akercocke-related bands on the go at the moment. You know I’m nuts for this stuff. Ex-Akercocker Matt Wilcock is joined by current Akercockerers David Gray and Sam Loynes and Sam “I’ve never been in Akercocke” Bean. I loved their 2015 debut and album number two sounds like their upping their game. Ripping, blasting satanic death metal but this time round its blacker, more avant-garde, more eclectic. Pure devilry.

Bruce Dickinson – Scream For Me Sarajevo

It’s not every week you get some Bruce solo action! This is a documentary about the great man’s Balls To Picasso-era solo tour of war-torn Sarajevo. I’m not sure how much live music footage is contained in the movie but it looks fascinating and there is also a soundtrack disc which is pretty cheap. Mainly just a solo best-of, but it does have a Japanese bonus track from the Tyranny Of Souls era that I don’t have. So it will get bought just for that.

Paradise Lost – Believe In Nothing (Remixed/Remastered)

Gloomy northern nihilists Paradise Lost reissue another album from their electro-pop years. This was widely regarded as their worst album by most people, band included. But it’s been remixed, remastered and re-covered and now it’s a lost classic! Yippee. I can’t comment cause this is the only Paradise Lost studio album I’ve never heard. Will probably buy it for that reason alone but I wasn’t a big fan of the preceding album Host and this is in that vein too.

Coroner – Mental Vortex and Grin

Here are two more Coroner reissues to follow the recent Sony reissues of the first three albums. This time it’s Noise doing these though so they’ll probably be done a bit differently. Not sure why different labels are handling these… I got all this stuff already so I reckon I’ll just sit this out. Great albums though. All five will probably get reissued again before you know it. It’s a funny old business.

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction

The classic debut gets a long overdue expanded, remastered reissue. There are many variants, but if you want the maximum audio/video content you’re looking at over £100 to get the super deluxe. The 2CD will do me, might buy some more bonus tracks as downloads. I should be excited about this but instead I just feel like I’m missing out on something.

David Bowie – Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78)

CD edition of the live album that was released earlier in the year on vinyl (as part of 2018’s RSD slate). They did that with the previous RSD live release Cracked Actor too so I saw this one coming and avoided the over-priced RSD version. Kinda bugs me that I’ll have one on vinyl and one on CD though…

Various Artists – Winds Of Time: The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal 1979-1985

New comp of NWOBHM goodies. I’ve been hoping for a big exhaustive box set that would do this era justice and really tell its story. Not sure this is it… but there are a lot of tracks here and it looks like fun. I’ve slept on a few NWOBHM comps over the years and usually regretted it when they’ve went out of print so I really should buy this one. Probably not a priority though.

And that’s about it for me. Like I said, loads being released today so let me know what you’re after.

Now Playing: Blasphemy – Fallen Angel Of Doom

Today’s listening of choice is Blasphemy’s 1990 seminal debut album Fallen Angel Of Doom. This one still gets regular spins at HMO Mission Control. A ferocious and cult mix of grindcore and early black metal like Bathory and Sarcofago, it’s not especially memorable or kind to the ears but it’s totally addictive. And it’s massively influential too. Tons of bestial black metal and/or war metal bands still devotedly follow the template set here.

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.