Category Archives: Hard Rock

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.

W.A.S.P. – The Last Command (Review)

W.A.S.P. The Last Command (1985)

Frontman Blackie Lawless might be flying his shock rock flag high on the cover but the only things worth rallying behind on 1985’s The Last Command are a few decent songs and Lawless’ unique howling rasp of a voice. W.A.S.P.’s eponymous debut was a superbly untamed slice of evil filth but on this second album, the band’s songwriting is sliding into the unremarkable. The free-spirited opener Wild Child and the debauched Blind In Texas are the must-hear tracks but for every song like the fun-but-silly Ballcrusher or the mean, moody Widowmaker there’s a banal Jack Action or the humdrum title track. But, while the balance between the filler tracks and the good ones is dangerously unbalanced, the band’s delivery and that voice manage to just lift the album out of the realm of the ordinary. It’s a good enough time if you’re in the right mood, a bore if you’re not. OK for occasional plays but not regular revisits. At the end of final track Sex Drive, Lawless rolls over and asks “tell me that don’t hit the spot”. Well, it was good fun but I’d be lying if I said the earth moved.

HMO Rating: 3 out of 5

[W.A.S.P. – Wild Child]

New Releases – 2nd March 2018

Not a lot going on this week but the release schedule is not totally devoid of intrigue. There is a new album The Banished Heart from gothic doom types Oceans Of Slumber and the new album Resurrection from Michael Schenker Fest. Neither are must-buy slam dunks for me but definitely worth checking out.

And, not a new release as such, but HMO-faves Voices have unveiled a new track entitled Dead Feelings. During the week the band FINALLY announced the details of the follow-up to their colossal 2014 album London. It’ll be out on April 27th and will be called Frightened. You will be.

That’s all the excitements for this week, let me know in the comments if there’s anything you’re all hyped about today. Some big releases next week. See you then.

(Voices – Frightened: Pre-order CD/LP/MC here)

Def Leppard – The Def Leppard EP (Review)

Record Store Day Edition

Def Leppard roared onto the UK metal scene with this self-titled EP. Hard to imagine now, but the squillion-selling stars of Hysteria fame had to release this on their own label Bludgeon Riffola after paying for the recording with borrowed money and recording it with borrowed drummer, Frank Noon. It was the kind of DIY move that became a big factor in the growing New Wave of British Heavy Metal and The Def Leppard EP put the Sheffield band right at the forefront of the movement. Before the term NWOBHM had even been coined!

Released in January 1979 the EP features early versions of Ride Into The Sun, Getcha Rocks Off and The Overture: all songs that would be re-recorded later, with varying results. A later Hysteria-era remake of Ride Into The Sun improved on the original’s clunky vocals but that bouncy riff is still killer here and it’s fun to hear Lep in such naïve form. Getcha Rocks Off and The Overture would appear again on the band’s debut album On Through The Night but these are the definitive takes with their lively hot-of-the-press feel. The Overture in particular is a highlight, top epic-metal cobblers that puts the album version in the shade.


None of this is going to blow you away but it’s a fun, interesting listen and must-have for Lep fans. It’s been released in various vinyl editions that might set you back now but it has just been made available digitally for the first time EVER so there has never been a better time to getcha rocks off with this excellent piece of metal history.

HMO Rating: 4 out of 5

New Releases – 26th January 2018

The wait is finally over! It’s the return of the weekly New Release posts. Every Friday, I’ll be taking a look at the day’s new releases and new reissues. But this will be a new remastered version of the New Release posts. In other words, totally compressed! I’m going to be thoroughly selfish and utterly ruthless, covering only the most interesting (to me) and must-buy (if you’re me) new releases and reissues. Luckily, because I have such great taste, the selection will never be anything less than exemplary.

So what’s out today?

Tribulation – Down Below

One of the big releases of 2018 right here. I’ve got all of Tribulation’s previous albums and I loved their last one The Children Of The Night so this is a slam dunk. Not so sure about the songs I’ve heard so far but I’ve been reading tons of rave reviews and I reckon it’ll all make more sense as a complete album. A must buy. **UPDATE** There is a special mediabook CD edition with a bonus track. And it’s GORGEOUS.

Portal – Ion

Horror metal weirdness from Australia. I’m not a huge fan, only got a couple of older albums, but I’ll definitely give this a listen to see if it’s any good. I’ve heard mixed things so far but they’re that kind of band. And that cover is pretty splendid.

Thor – Electric Eyes

Ye Gods! An unreleased album from the son of Odin himself, Jon Mikl Thor! These previously-unheard recordings were done after his first album Keep The Dogs Away as he was moving from glam to the heavy metal style of the awesome Unchained EP and the Only The Strong album. You can’t have enough of this stuff so… count me in.

And that’s my shopping list for today. Let me know if there are any releases that you are particularly excited about in the comments.

UFO – Phenomenon (Review)

UFO – Phenomenon (1974)

With two studio albums behind them, UFO took off in 1974 with the recruitment of the German mad axeman Michael Schenker and the release of their excellent third album Phenomenon.

The spacey tendencies of the band’s earlier work remain in the cosmic balladry of tracks like Space Child and Crystal Light and vocalist Phil Mogg shines on these mellower tracks. But Schenker shows what he can do on the album’s rockers: peppering opener Oh My with fluid leads,  chugging infectiously on Doctor Doctor and offering up a veritable guitar goldmine on Rock Bottom. Side two is less memorable but contains two highlights in the majestic Queen Of The Deep and Too Young To Know: a great example of the kind of ultra-catchy storytelling rock that would become the band’s speciality.

More accomplished albums would follow and cement UFO’s place as classic rock giants but Phenomenon more than lives up to the promise of its titular billing with its raw and innocent mix of riffy, trippy boogie. It’s a big favourite of mine and has a uniquely proto-metal place in the UFO discography. Essential listening if you enjoy the early outings of Priest, Scorpions and Budgie and want to hear the development of a style that would be heard later, louder and heavier, in the output of NWOBHM bands such as Maiden, Saxon and Diamond Head.

HMO Rating: 4.5 out of 5

[UFO – Queen Of The Deep]

*note that older versions have ‘Oh My’ swap sides with ‘Too Young To Know’ (also occasionally mis-spelled as ‘Too Young To No’!)