Category Archives: Hard 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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New Releases – 18th May 2018

It’s time to turn ze shpotlight on ze new releases! Hello new releasAAHHSSS!!

Amorphis – Queen Of Time

At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself

Both of these bands are from the files of “Really Popular Bands I Never Got Into”. I’ve heard wee bits here and there but I’ve just never felt a compulsion towards either. If I ever feel inclined I’d probably rather start at the beginning and work my way from there. I’ve already got the early Amorphis demos on vinyl so that’s a start, and At The Gates debut was reissued recently too. Call me an old out-of-touch poohead if you like.

Coroner – R.I.P., Punishment For Decadence and No More Color

Wasn’t expecting this. These have been long out-of-print (unless you caught the brief CD reissue run on the band’s own webshop) but now they are reissued and remastered on CD, vinyl and download. If you don’t have these buy them right now, they’re totally essential albums from the Rush of thrash! I’ve got them on CD already but would like the new versions so the vinyl editions are quite tempting. Reissues of Mental Vortex and Grin will follow in June.

Avenger – Blood Sports and Killer Elite

Don’t know much about this band but I’ve been on a right NWOBHM kick lately and buying a lot of the Dissonance Production reissues. This band was relatively late to the NWOBHM party though so I’m not sure if I’m as excited about them as, say, Raven. But ones for the wishlist anyway. Also, there’s a cool looking NWOBHM box set coming out soon so I might dip my toes into that first.

That’s it for me but there’s an Overkill live set too, the Burn The Priest/Lamb Of God covers thing and a new FFDP for anyone that likes that kind of thing. And that’s about it for another week. Happy hunting!

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!

New Releases – 13th April 2018

Goddamn new releases! Coming round here trying to get ma tree fiddy.

Behemoth – Messe Noire

Exciting new live album from the exciting band that brought you 2013’s exciting The Satanist. Choose between CD/DVD, CD/BR and plain old vinyl. This looks like a pretty sexy package and I’m sure it’ll be a massively entertaining show with the exciting The Satanist album getting played in full. Exciting.

At The Gates – Gardens Of Grief

Here’s a CD and vinyl reissue of the renowned Swedes’ debut EP (originally a split with Grotesque) from Dissonance Productions. I never got into these guys so maybe this might be a good place to start for me… at the beginning. I think the more decayed death metal style they had here is possibly more up my street too. And I love the cover.

Lizzy Borden – Love You To Pieces and Menace To Society

A couple of lovely vinyl reissues here. Another band I never really explored although I do have Master Of Disguise and rate it very highly. These are intriguing but if I’m going to dig into this band’s discography I’ll probably opt for the CDs cause they’re a good bit cheaper and have bonus demos and stuff.

I reckon that’s quite enough for me to be getting on with. There’s the reissue of Metallica’s $5.98 EP… too but I’ve already got two versions of that so behhh. But it would be remiss of me not to at least mention it and I wouldn’t want to be accused of being remiss. No way!

As always let me know what new releases are most like to part you with your tree fiddy.

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]