Category Archives: Doom Metal

New Releases – 10th February 2017

Another Friday is upon us and that means… new stuff!

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Cynic – Uroboric Forms: The Complete Demo Collection

Cynic’s 1993 debut album Focus is the stuff of giddy prog tech wonderfulness. But there has always been grumblings of discontent among death metal fans who feel that the debut album was a disappointment compared to the band’s earlier demos. I’ll be able to make my own mind up now, as the pre-Focus demos get this official release. The CD version looks great but the vinyl edition is particularly snazzy, and has the CD and a 7″ with it too, so that’s the one I’ve pre-ordered.

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Overkill – The Grinding Wheel

Following the return of Kreator last week, the thrash good-times continue with the return of New Jersey veterans Overkill. Actually, of the classic thrash acts, Overkill are one of the few that just never caught on with me. So I’ll probably pass on this myself… I’d rather try some older albums again than hop on here. But if you’re up for buying this, the limited edition CD and vinyl versions have a bonus track, Emerald… I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that’s a Lizzy cover?

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Nidingr – The High Heat Licks Against Heaven

I’ve never heard these Norwegian black metallers but I know the name through (their guitarist) Teloch’s involvement with Mayhem and their last album Estoteric Warfare. He was the main writer for that impressive album so if you enjoyed his work with Mayhem, this should be worth looking into. And I love that title.

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Mayhem – Live in Zeitz

Speaking of Mayhem! This old live recording was recently featured as a bonus disc with the Live in Leipzig reissue. But then a version taken from a better source was released very soon afterwards as a standalone vinyl edition with new liner notes and packaging. I was more than a little annoyed at this so I didn’t buy the vinyl. But now this cheaper CD version is hitting the shops so I think I might finally upgrade. No doubt, they’ll find an even better version down the back of the couch next week.

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Sleep – The Clarity

Not strictly a “new” Sleep song as it was available as a free download a couple of years ago on the Adult Swim site. But here it is on 12″ vinyl. I’ve never been a big Sleep fan but this is a great track and it’s well worth getting if you don’t have the song already and/or love vinyl. Just the one side of music here but the B-Side will have a, no doubt suitably cosmic, etching.

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Def Leppard – And There Will Be a Next Time: Live from Detroit

And finally, we’ve got Def Leppard’s new live DVD/BR/CD combo And There Will Be a Next Time: Live from Detroit. I’d normally be a sucker for some live Lep but after Mirrorball and Viva! Hysteria made little impact, not to mention their dicey self-titled album, I can’t work up any enthusiasm for this. Arm no geddon it.

And that’s quite enough for one week, thank you very much! Happy hunting.

Song of the Week: Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen (Live)

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Here’s a rousing track from Primordial’s new live album Gods to the Godless (Live at Bang Your Head Festival Germany 2015). I always feel like live shows are defined by the inclusion of new tracks. My memories of live performances usually revolve around the new songs that were played. For better or worse, bands seem to put extra welly into the new stuff: meaning that brilliant new songs make for an unforgettable show but weak ones will likely mar my recollections, no matter how classics-laden the show might have been. The former is definitely the case with Primordial. Four of the eleven songs here are taken from their last album Where Greater Men Have Fallen and here’s an amazing version of the title track: a burly and martial take that surpasses the studio version. Alan Nemtheanga proves himself, once again, the consummate metal frontman, and the band’s chemistry and the skill of their arrangements are even more evident in the live setting: every instrument occupying a unique space to create a massive wall of sound. Primordial, over twenty years into their career, sound like they’re determined to remain impassioned and vital until the bitter end.

[To hear the Song of the Week, click track three on the YouTube screen below. And then listen to the whole thing, you won’t regret it]

 

The HMO Top 5 Songs of 2016

No new releases to speak of today so here’s some bonus fun: the HMO Top 5 Songs of 2016. These are the five songs that stood out and stuck in my mind the most, and the ones that I think will most remind me of 2016 when I look back.

Abbath – To War! (from Abbath)

A classic black metal rampage that could have come straight off Immortal’s essential Sons of Northern Darkness album. And the opening riff! Total genius.

Akercocke – Inner Sanctum (from Speed Kills VII)

The return of the legendary Akercocke was proof that 2016 wasn’t all bad. Just classic Ak through and through, raising my excitement for their 2017 comeback album to fever pitch.

Gojira – Stranded (from Magma)

Magma wasn’t a totally consistent release but it made my Top 10 albums on the strength of some especially brilliant songs. And this audaciously simple instant-classic was the best of the lot.

Anaal Nathrakh – Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion (from The Whole of the Law)

The chorus of the year right here. Enjoy it cause the rest of the track is insanely violent. But with a title like that, you can’t say you weren’t warned.

But the HMO Song of the Year 2016 award goes to…

The King is Blind – Mesmeric Furnace (from Our Father)

This is a deep cut and we’re firmly in goosebump territory here. This track just oozes class. Epic, euphoric, monolithic, climatic. THIS is how you close an album.

And that rounds up 2016 for HMO. Thanks for reading and best wishes to you all for 2017!

Dead Congregation – Sombre Doom EP

Dead Congregation - Sombre Doom (2016)
Dead Congregation – Sombre Doom (2016)

Fans of 2014’s excellent Promulgation of the Fall would have been hoping for more than just two tracks from these Greek death metallers this year but their new EP Sombre Doom satisfies with quality over quantity. Opening with a howling dead wind of feedback, the first track Redemptive Immolation is grave and doom-laden with a thick, dark atmosphere. After the oppressive opener, the up-tempo battering of Wind’s Bane comes as a relief but is still rich in ghostly gloom and haunting guitar. The songs and riffs aren’t the most original but Sombre Doom is all about the vibe and the execution: this reeks of rain, death, evil and graveyards. Proper death metal if you ask me, and one of the best EPs of the year.

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The HMO Top Albums of 2016

Roll out the red carpet! Let the champagne flow! Yes, it’s time for the HMO Top Albums of 2016.

As always, there were some really good albums that just missed the cut: Marillion’s F.E.A.R. Megadeth’s Dystopia, Winterfylleth’s The Dark Hereafter, Eternal Champion’s The Armor of Ire, Allfather’s Bless the Earth with Fire and Vektor’s Terminal Redux to name just a few. They’re all great albums that are totally worth your time and money.

But… there can be only ten!

THE HMO TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2016

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NUMBER TEN: Gojira – Magma

The French band’s sixth album Magma found them simplifying and streamlining their challenging and hard-hitting tech-groove. Tunes like Silvera and Stranded are memorable and thrilling with genuine crossover appeal. And it’s a grower with an emotional resonance that earned many repeat listens… and a place in the top ten.

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NUMBER NINE: The Wounded Kings – Visions in Bone

The Wounded Kings make their second appearance in the yearly HMO Top 10 with this impressive slab of doom. Sadly, it looks like it will be their last as the band split shortly after its release. But they went out in style. This is a mature and accomplished album with great performances. Massive riffs, classic soloing and chilling vocals from returning vocalist George Birch.

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NUMBER EIGHT: Inquisition – Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith

No surprises on the black metal duo’s seventh album. Just riffs. Layers of riffs. Infinite riffs. Thrashing, icy and breathtaking riffs. And a big long album title! Bloodshed Across the etc… is a transcendent experience: the cosmic maelstrom of riffs and the hypnotic croaking vocals of Dagon producing an immersive, gripping and mystical listening experience. Oh, and did I mention there are riffs?

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NUMBER SEVEN: Blood Incantation – Starspawn

Gloriously old-fashioned death metal right down to the AAD symbol detail on the back cover. This harks right back to the genre’s grimy, primitive glory days: labyrinthine Demilch-style riffing and gonzo Trey Azagthoth soloing. But the band put their own extraterrestrial stamp on the style, giving the cavernous riffing an otherworldly quality through inventive use of effects and interludes. A remarkable debut.

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NUMBER SIX: Abbath – Abbath

Few black metal legends command as much goodwill and affection as the former Immortal frontman. And, based on the quality of his self-titled solo debut, that looks unlikely to change. This is an icy and militant statement of intent from the ousted singer/guitarist. Epic tales of legend and war, served up with his inimitably grim vocals and a veritable battlefield of inventive riffs. An epic triumph and one of the year’s most flat-out entertaining records.

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NUMBER FIVE: Cobalt – Slow Forever

Cobalt pulled off a hat-trick of impressive feats with Slow Forever. They managed to successfully replace a key member (Charlie Fell coming in to replace departed vocalist Phil McSorley), they managed to satisfyingly follow up their faultless, classic 2009 album Gin, and they also managed to release a double-album with no filler on it. Fucking show-offs! Literate, raging, savage black metal with a dusty, sunbaked hint of Americana.

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NUMBER FOUR: The King is Blind – Our Father

Released in January, this impressive and manly melting pot of extreme metal was the album to beat for most of the year. And it managed to secure the number four spot: no mean feat for a debut album in such a strong year as this. Our Father has a thoughtful, esoteric concept served up with a varied and cathartic total metal drubbing. And if their new track Throne of Skulls is anything to go by, there’s still plenty more where this came from.

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NUMBER THREE: Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of the Law

This is a total nightmare merry-go-round of screeching, howling, screaming, mechanistic black metal. It’s a terrifying aural assault, but the impossibly versatile vocalist Dave Hunt (aka V.I.T.R.I.O.L!) serves up melodic hooks to die for on tracks like Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion, In Flagrante Delicto and Extravaganza! The most enjoyable migraine you’ll ever get.

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NUMBER TWO: Mithras – On Strange Loops

Death-metal-in-space! Seems to be a thing this year. But whereas Blood Incantation’s Starspawn went for the primitive old-school approach, On Strange Loops is visionary and progressive. It’s blasting and intense with sublime musicianship, but the real winner here is the writing and arrangement of the album. You just know a ton of thought and care went into this. There’s so much depth, the songs flow together beautifully and… my god… it’s full of hooks!

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NUMBER ONE: Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder

Everyone can blather on about influences, genres, their old style, their new style and so on. But the fact is that whatever Darkthrone do, they sound like Darkthrone. On Arctic Thunder they sound even MORE like Darkthrone. This is raw and vital. A raging thunder of pure, unadulterated metal, blackened by a chill arctic wind of frosty misanthropy. Cohesive, consistent, fucks not given. The best Darkthrone-style band in the world at their best. And there’s nothing better than that.

HMO TOP ALBUMS BY YEAR

2016: Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder

2015: My Dying Bride – Feel the Misery

2014: Voices – London

New Releases – 25th November 2016

It looks like we’re now passing that peak pre-Christmas period of a gazillion releases every week. Because of the Black Friday RSD releases there is still plenty coming out today but, as I’ve already covered those, let’s just take a peek at what’s left. It’s not much and there are only a few releases today that I’m genuinely excited about so let’s just bash through this.

After me everyone! "It's fun to stay at the..."
After me, everyone! “It’s fun to stay at the…”

Primordial – Gods to the Godless (Live at Bang Your Head Festival Germany 2015)

This new live album is a very pleasant surprise and a must-buy. Here’s a band that can pretty much do no wrong and their live performances are devastating. Their Where Greater Men Have Fallen album was one of the best albums of recent years so it’ll be great to have some live recordings of those tracks. I can’t wait to hear this. I’ll probably get all emotional. And it’s just a live album too: just CD or vinyl, no pesky DVDs or Blu Rays. That’s an old-school live album that is! Hope this has credits where they tell you how many guitar strings and tea bags they went through.

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Ask him if he knows the way out of this graveyard. He looks friendly enough.

Darkthrone – Wind of 666 Black Hearts

We’re being spoiled by Darkthrone this year. First their excellent new album Arctic Thunder and now a surprise blast from the past: this new double-vinyl of pre-album rehearsal tracks from 1991-92: their A Blaze in the Northern Sky and Under A Funeral Moon era. It’s a classic period from a vital band and this looks like a very tasty archive release. It’ll come with a gatefold cover, rare photos, lyrics, and liner notes from Fenriz. Amazon reckons this isn’t out until January so buy at the Peaceville store if you need it now. I know I do.

Kick Axe – Vices, Welcome to the Club and Rock the World

Kick Axe! Rock Candy reissues these three albums from the legendary rock kings of CanCon. And, in this case, I definitely can CanCon. I’ve wanted a physical copy of Vices for a while (that cover!) so this is great news. Vices seems to be the only one with a bonus track too (a cover of Humble Pie’s 30 Days in the Hole) Not sure what the verdict is on their other albums though, so I will seek advice. If only I knew some Canucks…

Elsewhere, Czech black metallers Root return (from oblivion) with Kärgeräs – Return From Oblivion. I only have Root’s first album Zjeveni so I think I’d rather catch up with their other older albums than dip in now. Bolzer’s new album Hero is getting a lot of coverage but mixed reviews. I wasn’t even that into them when they were getting rave reviews so I’ll pass on this. The Witchery album In His Infernal Majesty’s Service sounds like it might be worthwhile black thrash but I dunno if I need much more of that. I’ll give it a listen online just in case. D-Beat obsessives Martyrdöd and weirdos Leprous release List and Live At Rockefeller Music Hall respectively. Two bands that I hear about a lot but aren’t really my cuppa.

It’s definitely a case of quality over quantity this week. I’m well up for the Primordial, Darkthrone and Kick Axe so all that Black Friday stuff can just get tae.

And that’s us for this week. Let me know if there’s anything I missed or anything you wish I’d missed. Happy hunting!

New Releases – 18th November 2016

I thought this week would be a bit light on new releases with everyone trying to stay clear of Metallica’s mutant-boogie (?) juggernaut. But I hadn’t really taken the time of year into account… there’s shitloads of stuff coming out today! And from some big bands too. So, take that Metallica! Anyway, there’s tons to get through today so enough of my yakkin’! Let’s mutant-boogie!

"Hit the one in the middle, Rock!" - it's the caption that keeps on giving!
“Hit the one in the middle, Rock!” – it’s the caption that keeps on giving!

Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct

Did I mention Metallica have an album out today? I dare say you know about this already, you’ve listened to some (or all) of it and you’ve made up your mind whether you’re going to buy this or not. Based on the tracks I’ve heard, I’m not overly fussed. Some good moments but not totally convincing. I’ll check more tracks out online before making any decisions. If you’re going to buy this, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t go for a version with the bonus disc: plenty of covers, live tracks and Lords of Summer too.

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Even with the supermoon this close, they still couldn’t get a decent picture of it.

Lamb of God – The Duke EP

Randy Blythe and co. return with new EP featuring two new tracks and three live ditties. The EP is dedicated to a big fan of theirs that died of cancer and I believe there’s going to be bunch of special items being sold (check their website for info) to raise money for charity. Never been a fan of the band but this is all pretty cool. Kudos.

Amazingly, considering their age, Geddy and Alex still preferred to deal with stage invaders themselves
Amazingly, considering their age, Geddy and Alex still preferred to deal with stage invaders themselves

Rush – Time Stand Still

Doesn’t seem that long since the last Rush doc Beyond the Lighted Stage and now here’s another. This one does have the added emotional impact of covering the band’s (presumably) final days but I dunno if I really feel the need for this, I’ll probably just wait and see if it shows up on Netflix. Decent extras might maybe provoke a purchase though.

It was easily the most exciting episode of Countdown since "wankers"
It was easily the most exciting episode of Countdown since “wankers”

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow – Memories in Rock: Live in Germany

The world’s greatest guitarist put down his crumhorn and returned to heavy rock duties earlier this year, performing a batch of live shows under the Rainbow banner. And here’s the inevitable live release documenting one of the shows. Loads of options here: DVD, Blu Ray, Vinyl, CD or combos of those. Not been all that impressed by what I’ve seen so far but I love Blackmore enough that I might buy this by accident.

Sammy Hagar’s post VH work gets compiled in This is Sammy Hagar Volume 1 – When the Party Started. His stuff with The Waboritas was often magnificent but I’ve got those albums already so I can do without this. His live album All Night Long also gets a reissue today from Rock Candy, who have now launched in the US. And they are also reissuing Salty Dog’s Every Dog Has Its Day, Nymphs‘ self-titled album and Tyketto’s Don’t Come Easy today too. Rock Candy does good work with well-chosen albums so this launch should prove to be good news for Stateside classic rockers.

Also on the reissue front we’ve got the latest in Jethro Tull’s ongoing reissue program, Stand Up: The Elevated Edition. Their excellent second album as a 2CD/DVD with remixes, 5.1, live tracks etc…HMO-favourites The Who are up to the Super Deluxe shenanigans with their debut album My Generation. Can’t remember what extra stuff was included but it didn’t look all that exciting. And Soundgarden celebrate the 25th anniversary of Badmotorfinger with a variety of reissue editions. Super Deluxe, not so Super Deluxe, Kinda Deluxe, Not Very Deluxe and… uh… vinyl? I’ve not done my research here, sorry.

Elsewhere, Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell carries on rocking with a new band and new EP Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons. Scottish sludgy, psych doom troupe Headless Kross kick off a trilogy of albums with the first part, Projections I, available from At War With False Noise. Anyone that likes their death metal primitive and thrashy (think Sodom or Possessed) should check out the self-titled, self-released debut from Dead Conspiracy. Primitive and thrashy death metal is the best kind I reckon. Fans of trad and power metal might want to check out (former Accept guitarist) Herman Frank’s new solo album The Devil Rides Out and Freedom Call’s ridiculously happy Master of Light. Almost tooo happy.

And if I was going to be extra thorough I’d mention the new albums from Disturbed, Devilment and Sixx A.M. but let’s not bother eh?

Tons of stuff out this week after all then! But there isn’t a single release here that I’m in a rush to buy. I’ll listen to the new Metallica and see what happens. And I might panic-buy the Rainbow set.

It’s Black Friday next week so, in addition to painting the devil on the wall, it’ll probably be a bit vinyltastic. Lots of coloured-this,  limited-that and overpriced-the-other. Until then, happy hunting!