Category Archives: Classic Rock

KISS – KISS (Review)

Can you guess which of these guys got someone else to do their makeup?

KISS, the band’s self-titled debut album from 1974, is loaded with more classics than any other studio album they would ever put out. The masked New York rockers were already making a reputation as an explosive live act and when you look at the tracks featured here, Strutter, Firehouse, Cold Gin, Deuce, Black Diamond and 100,000 Years, it’s no wonder few bands dared take them out as support act.

But it’s not all cut from that timeless cloth. The gimmicky single Kissin’ Time and the aimless instrumental Love Theme From KISS detract from the album. And the band were unable to capture the power and excitement of their live shows in the studio. KISS at their best put a spring in your step like no other band but the production and performance here is too tentative to quite achieve that.

KISS would eventually deliver definitive renditions of these songs on their mega-selling 1975 album Alive! But there’s a reason so many of that live album’s songs were drawn from their debut. KISS is a must-hear for fans of street-level, meat and potatoes hard rock. A flawed classic that planted the seeds of success with its pop-savvy mix of Humble Pie boogie, tasty heavy riffs and an array of songs that would become the stuff of legend.

HMO Rating: 4 Out Of 5

[KISS – Deuce]

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Ted Nugent – Ted Nugent (Review)

Ted Nugent – Ted Nugent (1975)

He’s a phenomenally exciting guitar player and intense live performer but there are a disconcerting number of patchy studio albums to wade through in “Terrible Ted” Nugent’s discography. This 1975 album, his solo debut after ditching the Amboy Dukes band moniker, is as close to filler-free studio greatness as he ever got. Outside of a compilation or live album, this is the most classic Nuge songs that you’re going to find in one place.

And what classics! Stranglehold is an audacious and timeless opener: a moody, psychedelic workout that brilliantly showcases the excellent band, Nugent’s guitar chops and that superbly raunchy Gibson Byrdland tone. Motor City Madhouse is a gonzo rager and the stunning hard rockers Just What The Doctor Ordered and Stormtroopin’ are two of my all-time faves. The lesser-known Hey Baby and Snakeskin Cowboys are catchy, swaggering rock n’ rollers that hold their own among the hits.

But the patchy criticism still applies and Ted doesn’t always hit the target here, running out of steam with a brace of comparatively forgettable closing tracks. But this is still the most consistently brilliant studio album of his career and a great place for newbies to start. Like the “murder capital of the world” referenced in Motor City Madhouse, Ted Nugent is loaded with killers.

HMO Rating: 4.5 out of 5

[Ted Nugent – Just What The Doctor Ordered]

Great reissue with quality bonus tracks

New Releases – 20th and 21st April 2018

With today’s new releases and all the Record Store Day stuff tomorrow, there are a gazillion and one albums to talk about today. So I’m going to ignore most of them! Yes, even Stryper!

Dokken – Return To The East Live 2016

A CD/DVD set capturing the classic lineup reunion in Japan. I’ve got a really good feeling about this and I’ve been looking forward to it a lot. I’m sure there will be flaws aplenty but I’m also sure it will be tons of fun. And the tracklisting looks like a slam dunk.

The Who – Live At The Fillmore East 1968

Pete Townshend – Who Came First [Expanded Edition]

I’m a big fan of The Who so both these releases are essential. The Fillmore set (2CD or 3LP) features a fabled pre-Tommy live set with a whopping 33min version of My Generation! Fuck yes. And Who Came First is a much-expanded version of Townshend’s Meher Baba tribute album, a treasure trove of The Who demos and alternate versions. Don’t chuck away your old reissues though as I don’t think all the previous bonus tracks have made it on to this reissue.

Vomitor – Pestilent Death

Australia’s Vomitor are back with their fourth album of ripping black thrash. The kind of stuff that takes you right back to Show No Mercy although not really quite as good. Definitely worth checking out though as the band’s riffing is pretty diabolical. In a good way.

Wiegedood – De Doden Hebben Het Goed III

Well-regarded black metal from Belgium. Their second album was on my radar but fell through the cracks so now might be time for me to catch up. Not finding their new song Parool all that exciting though.

Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik – Hugsjá

Nordic stone-agery from the Enslaved and Wardruna mainmen. Not exactly a priority with so much else going on but I found the title track pretty stirring and deserving of further investigation. Intriguing.

RECORD STORE DAY 2018

I’ll keep this brief cause I’m not feeling enticed by the RSD offerings this year. The Noise picture discs are very tempting but a bit too pricey for EPs. The Def Lep looks very collectible but the tracklisting is a bit meh. There is some tempting non-metal stuff like the live Bowie, Led Zep and some T-Rex stuff but nothing that I feel like queuing up for or really need. Here’s a list of the more HMO-friendly metal releases on the roster but you can get the full list at the UK and US RSD websites. If you’re taking part, hope you have fun!

Celtic Frost – Tragic Serenades, Def Leppard Live At Abbey Road, Europe – Walk The Earth, Kreator – Behind The Mirror, Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained, Motorhead – Heroes, Saxon – Princess Of The Night 7″, Voivod – Too Scared To Scream, Whitesnake – 1987 30th Anniversary Edition

STOP PRESS

Sleep are reportedly surprise-releasing a long-overdue new album The Sciences today (the 4/20 date being appropriate and all that). It’ll be out on Third Man Records… don’t have much details other than that but look out for it anyway cause that’s a must-buy for sure! Big news!

Buying Round-Up: February/March 2018

I’ve been back into doing the weekly New Release posts for a while now so I thought it was time to catch up with some of the stuff I’ve actually been buying. Here’s the music I’ve picked up over the last couple of months.

Primordial – Exile Amongst The Ruins

Napalm Death – Coded Smears And More Uncommon Slurs

I’ll start with this week’s new releases. As predicted a couple of day’s ago, I bought the new Primordial and Napalm Death albums. Both sets look cool, the Primordial CD is a big thick mediabook with bonus rehearsal, demo type stuff and the two songs they did for the One And All, Together, For Home compilation from a few years back. The Napalm Death one is a comp with minging artwork. Just bought them yesterday while I was through in Stirling, so haven’t had a chance to listen yet.

Drudkh – A Furrow Cut Short and They Often See Dreams About The Spring

The new Drudkh album proved to be difficult to find in my usual haunts but EvaOverload kept me amused by kindly buying me their previous album A Furrow Cut Short. Excellent, sweeping black metal. And happily, I finally managed to find a copy of the newest album when I was in Stirling.

Judas Priest – Firepower

This was an inevitable purchase and a surprisingly enjoyable one. I went for the digibook edition with the embossed cover. It’s a way better album than I was expecting from them, a definite end-of-year contender with lot of truly excellent tunes and a fantastic production. If it turns out to be their last hurrah then they’re going out all guns blazing.

Autopsy – Puncturing The Grotesque

This is the newest mini-album from death metal giants Autopsy. I thought their last mini-album Skull Grinder was brilliant so I’ve wanted to get this one since it was released. Like the previous release, this is ace, basement-dwelling filth. No one does mini-albums/EPs like these guys.

Sleep – Dopesmoker

I’ve been wanting to pick up the Southern Lord reissue of Sleep’s Dopesmoker for a while but it’s always been too bloody expensive. For while HMV were pricing the CD at £25! Haha fuck off! And the vinyl has been even more expensive than that. But a few weeks back I saw it in Fopp for £15 and took the bait. I’ve been listening to it ever since… and I’m still waiting for it to finish.

Sacrilege – Within The Prophecy

I’ve been after this since buying the Relapse reissue of their debut album and then reading Darkthrone’s Fenriz recommending this, their second album. Handily, it’s now been reissued by Hammerheart Records with some bonus tracks added. It’s good stuff: weighty, crusty thrash with a big helping of doom and Tam Simpson’s brilliant voice. Anyone that’s been enjoying the recent Memoriam albums should be looking into this.

Skyclad – Reissues

The classic Skyclad albums, newly reissued by Noise Records. No tracks here I don’t have already but fandom, remastering and liner notes were enough for me to want these. But the exciting story is that these albums have been very hard to find for too long and now people have a chance to discover this superb, important and underrated band.

Kreator – Coma Of Souls

Another Noise Records reissue. I bought this a couple of weeks ago. One of Kreator’s classic albums reissued with bonus tracks, remaster and liner notes. There are three later albums that have just received the same treatment too but I decided to just stick with this one and update my old CD copy.

W.A.S.P. – Live Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)

Well, this is the dog’s bollocks. 12″ single with a rare live version of the classic tune taken from the same Long Beach Arena recordings that spawned Live… In The Raw (but not used in the final album). Totally fucking awesome. Wanted this forever so having it in my collection now makes me feel complete.

Bert Jansch – A Man I’d Rather Be (Part 1)

Shirley Collins – The Ballad Of Shirley Collins

Folk overload! Two new(ish) releases from Earth Recordings. The Jansch box set compiles his first three studio albums and the Bert And John album he made with John Renbourn. Got about half of the music here already but it’s phenomenal, seminal stuff and a pleasing sonic upgrade on my old CDs. Would have liked the original album covers in the booklet somewhere though, that seems like a big omission. The Ballad Of Shirley Collins is a joint soundtrack/documentary CD/DVD set with a beautiful booklet. The film is very interesting and moving but I wanted a bit more of Shirley’s story outside of the current album and her adventures in the US with Alan Lomax. But it’s a great doc and highly recommended. Not listened to the soundtrack yet but I’ve read great things and I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into it.

And, throw in the Tribulation album and that’s about my lot for Feb/Mar. Very pleased with this lot and liking how 2018 is shaping up so far. Let me know what you think and tell me what you’ve been buying.

Gamma Ray – Land Of The Free (Review)

Gamma Ray – Land Of The Free (1995)

With vocalist Ralf Scheepers out the band, hell bent on joining Judas Priest, Gamma Ray guitarist (and former Helloween guitarist/lead vocalist) Kai Hansen decided to make a surprise, and welcome, return to the mic. The re-jigged German band found a renewed sense of vitality and their fourth album, 1995’s Land Of The Free, proved to be their best yet. It’s a definitive power metal classic: humungous, anthemic heavy metal goods properly delivered by a band on a mission.

2017 Anniversary Edition with 7 bonus tracks

The opening track Rebellion In Dreamland is metal at its gloriously epic best and tracks like Man On A Mission and All Of The Damned feature precision hooks. The band’s earlier albums often stumbled into silliness but this is a more serious and consistent effort. The only overly jolly moment comes when, yet another former Helloween vocalist, Michael Kiske joins the band for Time To Break Free. But it’s a very minor grumble and, for the most part, this has all the stately riffage, wild soloing, singalong choruses, fairy feller interludes and last-ale balladry you could possibly want. Gamma Ray achieve hero status for persevering with bombastic trad metal at a time when it was totally out of fashion and their musical bravado found the perfect home in Land Of The Free.

HMO Rating: 4.5 Out Of 5

[Gamma Ray – Man On A Mission]

New Releases – 16th March 2018

All hail this week’s new releases. There’s only a few tickling my fancy today… kind of.

Paradise Lost – Host

Normally Paradise Lost equals must-buy but I’m not feeling too enthusiastic about this, a reissue of one of their lesser albums. Originally released in 1999, Host was a controversial progression into melancholic electropop. I like that the band are still behind this, even though they’ve since returned to their extreme metal roots. But, apart from a couple of songs, I was never a fan of this one. Some bonus tracks would sweeten the deal… but there aren’t any. Miserable bastards!

Godthrymm – A Grand Reclamation

This is a debut EP featuring former members of My Dying Bride, Vallenfyre, Solstice and Malediction. Promising stuff, big thick sorrowful riffs, epic vocals… should definitely appeal to fans of the previous bands and fans of Candlemass type stuff. That should be everyone. I’m sure it’ll be available at all the usual places but you can buy direct from the band here.

Saxon – The CD Hoard

This is a reissue of last year’s The Vinyl Hoard box set… but on CD! This has The Eagle Has Landed II and III on it as well as Live At Rock Sound Festival from 2006 (the audio from a show on their DVD To Hell And Back Again). Looks like a nice package, but I’ve got everything on it already. Good value if you don’t though!

And that’s the lot for me. What are you lot buying today? Any fans of melancholic electropop out there?! Reveal all in the comments!

New Releases – 9th March 2018

Honestly, you wait ages for some interesting new releases and then three of them all come at once.

Judas Priest – Firepower

I wasn’t overly fussed about Redeemer Of Souls so I’m taking all the “best since Painkiller” chat I’m hearing about Firepower with a big pinch of salt. And that’s not exactly lofty praise anyway! That said, the advance tracks I’ve heard have been decent enough… definitely a big improvement in the production department. At the end of the day, I could hum and haw until the cows come home. But it’s Priest – might be the last Priest! – and I’ll be buying it.

Pestilence Hadeon

I never got into these Dutch death metallers until a few years back but I’ve only heard their old stuff, none of the music they released since returning in 2008. Now Pestilence head honcho Patrick Mameli is back with a new lineup and an album that reportedly gets back to their more brutal earlier style. Been reading good reviews too… intrigued.

Drudkh – They Often See Dreams About The Spring

I’m hellishly late getting round to this secretive Ukranian black metal band. I checked out their song Nakryta Neba Burym Dakhom and definitely want to hear more. Throw in a rave review in the latest ZT Mag and this looks well worth a spin. Liking that cover too.

And that’s about the lot really, with an honourable mention for Nevermore’s The Complete Collection box set which looks pretty spiffing too. Happy hunting and, as always, please leave a comment and let everyone know what you’re hoping to buy today.