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)
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.
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?
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.
Riot’s history as a band is the stuff of metal legend, thanks to decades of perseverance through bad breaks and tragedy. But musically I’ve been largely unfamiliar with the band’s career beyond the early Guy Speranza-fronted albums of the late 70s/early 80s. With the passing of founding guitarist Mark Reale in 2012 there is now no-one left from those early days. But the US band, respectfully renamed Riot V due to Reale’s passing, have vowed to carry on his good work.
And on their latest album Armor Of Light they do a pretty good job of it. Like a more polished version of 1988’s Thundersteel, it’s upbeat melodic power metal akin to Gamma Ray or Dragonforce. Todd Michael Hall’s soaring Kiske-esque vocals deliver some instantly memorable choruses with high-flying aplomb. Songs like Victory, End Of The World, Heart Of A Lion and Angel’s Thunder, Devil’s Reign sound like the sort of warring, singalong stuff that will go over a storm at festivals. The guitar soloing is superb too: jousting, harmonized Helloween-type stuff.
But there isn’t quite enough killer riffing here, and it all starts to go through the motions in the second half. The band is too content to chug along with the double-kicks, and many potentially interesting parts are drowned out by the relentless drums. But there’s good pure metal fun to be had here. The first side is a blast, I guarantee you a good two or three songs that will instantly embed in your brain and warrant further listens. A solid effort rather than a great one; but if the goal is to uphold the legacy of Reale and Riot then it achieves its aim. I definitely want to catch up and hear more.
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.
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.
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.