Category Archives: Hard Rock

New Releases – 24th March 2017

Time for me to rake through today’s new releases. Some great stuff out today!

Memoriam – For the Fallen

There’s a justifiable buzz about this one. The band’s pedigree (Memoriam feature former members of Bolt Thrower, Benediction and Sacrilege) and a couple of excellent demo singles mean the expectations are high for the band’s debut full-length. Old-school death metal with crusty attitude, weapon-grade riffing and a conscience. I’ll be surprised if anyone’s disappointed by this. 

Pallbearer – Heartless

And speaking of buzz… These Arkansas doom-mongers have been enjoying plenty of critical praise in recent years and, judging by the reviews so far, it looks like their critical cache is only going to increase with this, their third album. Fans of extra tracks will want to check out the Japanese edition as it has an extra disc with three bonus tunes on it.

Me and that Man – Songs of Love and Death

And another biggie! Fresh from blowing everyone away with The Satanist, Behemoth’s Nergal is back but, this time, he’s teaming up with guitarist John Porter for this new project. Dark, rootsy music along the lines of Johnny Cash and Nick Cave, I was prepared for this to just not be my cup of tea but I’ve really enjoyed the few songs I’ve heard so far. Intriguing.

Michael Schenker Group – Michael Schenker Fest Live CD/DVD

I was about to knock this into the “elsewhere” category but, on closer inspection, this looks like good fun. It’s a MSG reunion in Tokyo, the Schenk joined by the wonderful Chris Glen/Ted McKenna rhythm section and the trio of vocalists Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley and Gary Barden along coming along for the ride. Can’t argue with a roster like that! And it’s good to see Michael back on form and enjoying himself.

Samson – The Polydor Years

Samson are mostly known for featuring a pre-Maiden Bruce Bruce on vocals but the talented guitarist Paul Samson kept the band going after the Air Raid Siren’s departure. This new package features the two albums (Before the Storm and Don’t Get Even, Get Mad) they made with replacement vocalist Nicky Moore with tons of bonus tracks. Both albums have been hard, if not impossible, to find on CD so this is a very welcome set.

Blood Divisions – Cardinal One EP

This is an all-star digital-only EP led by Chris Jericho with all proceeds going to Rock and Rescue. They get kudos for choosing two Nasty Savage covers as well as UFO’s awesome Hot N’ Ready (and their single had Scorpions’ Top of the Bill on it too which is another brilliant choice) Two new tracks seal the deal. Fun for fans of Jericho/Fozzy… and it’s all for charidee.

Anthrax – For All Kings (7″ Vinyl Box) 

Yet another new edition of Anthrax’s new album, still getting milked to death before people move on. This box has the album divided up into ten singles for… reasons. Does look pretty cool, I suppose.

Elsewhere, Frontiers (who else?) bring out a couple of releases from veteran AOR acts. House of Lords with Saint of the Lost Souls and Night Ranger with Don’t Let Up. There’s another Metal Blade release: Cut Up with their Wherever They May Rot album. It might surprise you to find out that this is a death metal album. Throw in a deluxe, bonus track-strewn 20th Anniversary Edition of Today Is The Day’s Temple of the Morning Star and that’s quite enough for one day! Please note, this isn’t an exhaustive list: just the stuff that stands out for me as being interesting or notable. If there’s anything you are into that’s not covered here then let us all know in the comments. Until next week… happy hunting.

And now you must vote for your FAVOURITE ALBUM COVER OF THE WEEK.

New Releases – 17th March 2017

Friday is upon us once more. Let us look at today’s new releases and see if they are glorious.

(And thanks to Nick for giving me a heads-up about a couple of these!)

Obituary – Obituary

When an older band releases a self-titled album, it usually suggests a renewed sense of purpose or a big change in style but, having checked out Obituary’s new song Lesson In Vengeance, I’m not sure this album is going to be either. Just sounded like OK meat and potatoes death metal stuff to me. Maybe they just couldn’t think of a title? Anyway, as death metal legends go, Obituary never really caught my interest and this doesn’t seem like it’ll change that. I’ll probably just go back and give Cause of Death another go.

KXM – Scatterbrain 

Korn’s Ray Luzier, King’s X’s dUg Pinnick(?) and Lynch Mob’s George Lynch team up to form Korn X Mob! Handily shortened to KXM. Didn’t even know about this band and they’re on their second album already. Fairly intriguing combo of talented musicians so this should be worth checking out. Lynch is the MVP of KXM, as far as I’m concerned. His playing on the title-track is supreme.

Svart Crown – Abreaction

Apologies to European readers as I should have mentioned this one a week or so ago. But it’s out in the US/Canada today so I get to mention it anyway. Better late than never. I was prepared to write this one off as samey but this French band’s latest batch of blackened death is proving naggingly enjoyable. Nothing original but well-crafted and fresh all the same.

Fit for an Autopsy – The Great Collapse 

The new album from the prominent deathcore practitioners. Just not a deathcore fan so you’ll have to make your own mind up about this one… don’t let me influence you.

On the vinyl front, Back on Black reissue Raven’s Rock Until You Drop and Live at the Inferno. Normally I’d just buy a CD rather than bother with a Back on Black LP but the Raven stuff’s a bit hard to find so I could be tempted. On the other hand, a lot of NWOBHM stuff has been getting reissued on CD and box sets these days so… I’ll maybe hold off. Proggy instrumentalists Animal As Leaders get two remastered reissues on silver vinyl (Weightless and their S/T) and the dull-as-dishwater Lamb of God get the same treatment for their debut album New American Gospel.

And that’s the lot for another week. No massive must-buys for me today but Svart Crown and KXM sound worthy of further investigation. Next week we’ve got one of the year’s most anticipated releases. Until then… happy hunting.

*NEW FEATURE* – The “best cover” game is now available as a poll! Pick your fave here. (Only the releases with new artwork will be included)

Song of the Week: Savage – Let it Loose

Savage’s relatively late debut album (1983’s Loose N’ Lethal) might make them seem like one of the few New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands that couldn’t lay a claim to being an influence on the mighty Metallica. But, far from being Johnny-Come-Latelies, Savage had already been around for a while. By 1981 they had already released a demo, a single and made two appearances on a compilation album Scene of the Crime. One of those compilation tracks was the classic Let it Loose and it soon made its way into the hands of, you guessed it, Lars Ulrich. Only appearing in early Metallica live sets and on a demo tape, it’s not one of the more famous or celebrated Metallica NWOBHM covers but there’s a strong whiff of the thrash giants’ early style here. And although ‘tallica didn’t exactly pass it off as one of their own they weren’t in a hurry to draw attention to the fact that it was a cover either. And, if any listeners thought it was one of their own original songs, that was fine by them too. Have a listen to the 1981 Scene of the Crime version of the track here to hear why.

[Savage – Let it Loose]

New Releases – 10th March 2017

It’s Friday! Apologies for the slightly late posting (just back from holiday) so, without further ado, let’s check out my pick of the new releases… and play the “which album has the best cover” game.

Fen – Winter

Just as we start to feel spring in the air, along come Fen with their new album Winter. Typical, miserable black metallers! I’ll let them off though cause this is one of the more exciting new black metal albums in a wee while. It’s going to be a long one with some epic song lengths, rarely a good sign these days, but the advance word is good and what I’ve heard so far sounded fresh and impressive.

Temptation’s Wings – Skulthor Ebonblade

If that cover, album title and song titles like Lair of the Gorgon Queen don’t sell this to you then nothing will. And the music on this concept album is pretty good too. A sludgy take on true metal, this is one for fans of Grand Magus. And if, like me, you’re finding Grand Magus a bit too mild-mannered these days then this fantasy epic will be well up your cobbled street.

Darkest Hour – Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora

Darkest Hour are getting a lot of rave coverage for their latest album and it hits the shelves today. I honestly just can’t stick this stuff myself though so can’t tell you if it’s better, worse or indifferent compared to their other albums or albums of its ilk. It’s just not my style. But if it’s yours then, by all accounts, you’re in for a big treat. Lucky you!

Havok – Conformicide

If the recent Nightmare Logic from Power Trip wasn’t enough to satisfy your retro-thrash lust, here’s Havok with their new album. I’m a hard-sell for this kinda stuff but the new song Intention to Deceive sounded decent and had good vocals. If you’ve wore out all your Death Angel albums you could do worse than look into this.

Chickenfoot – Best + Live

No prizes for guessing what’s on this album then? I’ve never been convinced by this “supergroup” and their new track Divine Termination isn’t winning me over. So I’ll pass. It’s all a bit too stodgy and smug for my liking. I’ll take The Waboritas over this lot any day.

In the elsewhere file there’s a new black metal from Cirith Gorgor who follow up their recent album Visions of Exalted Lucifer with a new EP Bi Den Dode Hant. Not a band that’s grabbed me one way or the other though. And there’s Evocation who I’m not that fussed about either, but I’ve quite liked some new songs of theirs so their latest album The Shadow Archetype might be a dark horse. And I wanted to mention the new Weigedood album De Doden Hebben Het Goed II. It looks to me like it’s out today but might also already be out in some places too… not sure… but I like the sound of it at any rate. Reminds me of why I got into black metal in the first place so, regardless of whether it’s out today or out already, it’s getting checked out.

**UPDATE** Thanks to Bop at Boppin’s Blog for the head’s up about this – Voivod have announced a PledgeMusic offer for the upcoming reissues of Killing Technology, Dimension Hatross & Rrröööaaarrr. There are vinyl versions available and you can also get 2CD/DVD editions which will have loads of extra live tracks, footage and demos. And there’s also a 2CD comp from this era as well as all the fancy stuff like test pressings etc… It’s all part of the exciting Noise Lebt! series I posted about a while back. The prices look very reasonable and include shipping too. Get pledging here.

Not a banner week like some we’ve had recently but still some decent and intriguing stuff for genre fans. As always let me know what I’ve missed and, until next week… happy hunting.

New Releases – 3rd March 2017

Last week was a belter with Immolation and Power Trip putting out the best albums of the year so far. So today’s new releases have a hard act to follow.

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The Senseless – The Buried Life

The eclectic solo project of Sam Bean (The Berzerker/Mithras/The Antichrist Imperium) returns for a third album. This actually just came out on the 1st Mar so I’ve already had a couple of listens. It’s a darker and denser effort than the previous album, the joyous The Floating World, but it’s still got that uplifting “heavy mental” mix of insanity and humanity and there are tons of surprises. The CD, available through the band’s website, will have a bonus track and there are digital downloads offered at the usual places too.

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Midnight – Shox of Violence

These masked marauders are one of the most exciting metal acts around at the moment: pure filthy NWOBHM riffery for fans of the ‘heads combined with a black, punky atmosphere for fans of Venom, Bathory and the like. Shox of Violence was released as a vinyl EP last year with four songs and now here’s the CD version with an added… wait for it… 25 bonus tracks! Cover versions, live tracks, tracks from split releases etc… a veritable treasure trove of evil depravity.

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Armored Saint – Carpe Noctum

This live album from the “headbangingest band on the planet” has been available already via a PledgeMusic deal but here it is now for everyone else. I’m half intrigued cause the band has a great catalogue and are, by all accounts, great live. But I’m put off by the fact that their last album Win Hands Down was a bit of a duffer. But they picked the good new songs for this so it might not be too bad. Anyone heard this already? Do they deliver?

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Dread Sovereign – For Doom the Bell Tolls

You’ve got to love that title. Primordial’s Nemtheanga gets his old-school epic doom on with this side-project. This EP is the follow-up to 2014’s All Hell’s Martyrs album. I didn’t really connect much with that but I didn’t spend nearly enough time with it either so I reckon I’ll give that a revisit first and then see what happens.

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Danko Jones – Wild Cat

Like Armored Saint, another band with a good rep as a live act. I’m not all that up on these guys studio output but their last live album was quite good fun. Not especially my cup of tea though so I’d have to read phenomenally good things to drum up enthusiasm.

Slaughter – Strappado and Nocturnal Hell, Surrender or Die

Just realised it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve had any CanCon… am I in trouble? Well, here’s a double dose of primo Canuck thrash metal to get me off the hook. First off, we’ve got High Roller reissuing Slaughter’s classic Strappado with a bonus track and an unedited rough mix of the whole album. And, just to make this week even more exciting for Slaughter fans, Vic Records also release a compilation with an EP and their demos too. You lucky Canucks!

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And I reckon that’s about it! Another very strong week. The Senseless album is my pick of the week and the Midnight and Slaughter albums are must-buys too. And I’m sure I’ll get to Dread Sovereign eventually (probably via Bandcamp). Let me know what you’re after today. Anything I’ve missed? Until next time… happy hunting!

Song of the Week: Omen – Be My Wench

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Tired of crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you and all that? Why not let off some steam with Omen’s Be My Wench? This is top metal cobblers, it’s got a chorus that you’ll never get out of your head and it’s also got the kind of raunchy lyrics that most po-faced modern bands wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. But if you’re going to do Conan metal there needs to be some shagging in there. It’s the barbarian way.

[Omen – Be My Wench]

Bernie Tormé – ‘Dublin Cowboy’ Available on PledgeMusic

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In addition to yesterday’s New Release round-up here’s one more thing you should spend some money on this weekend. The upcoming Bernie Tormé album Dublin Cowboy is available as a PledgeMusic offer and, with the offer ending on Mon 20th Feb 2017, this weekend is your last chance to get involved.

Bernie is the incredible axe wizard that played on the classic Gillan albums of the early 80s, Mr. Universe, Glory Road and Future Shock, and his playing on the Reading Festival live recordings is some of my very favourite guitar playing ever. It’s incendiary! And, if that wasn’t enough, he also played with Ozzy Osbourne and formed Desperado with Dee Snider and Clive Burr. Not to mention his excellent solo career.

And now he’s back with his latest solo album Dublin Cowboy, which is going to be a triple studio/live/acoustic release. Go to his PledgeMusic page to get your pledge in. There are a ton of options and, even if you only punt for the £12 digital version, you get access to a ton of great stuff. There are brilliant guitar playthrough videos of some awesome Gillan songs and solos. There are rare song downloads, gear breakdowns, and all sorts of memorabilia like tour itineraries and photos of him drinking Guinness and stuff like that. I’m sure the album will still be available later but it’s well worth getting involved at this Pledge stage as Bernie has really gone to town with the extras here.