Category Archives: NWOBHM

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 – 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.

Saxon – Forever Free

Saxon - Forever Free (1992)
Saxon – Forever Free (1992)

Saxon had enjoyed a return-to-form with 1991’s Solid Ball of Rock and moved fast to keep the momentum going, releasing the follow-up Forever Free just over one year later. As well as hurrying, the band also skimped on costs, recording in Vienna with unknown, cut-price producer Urwin Hersig. It probably comes as no surprise, then, that Forever Free sounded rushed and cheap.

For the most part, Forever Free comes across like a collection of leftovers from Solid Ball of Rock. It continues that album’s mix of Euro-metal and AC/DC raunch but many of the tracks stray too far into forgettable territory. Songs like Cloud Nine, Get Down and Dirty, Grind and the cyber-metal cover of I Just Want to Make Love to You sound like the band are jamming out ideas: working versions rather than the finished product. This isn’t helped by the sound: much of Forever Free sounds like a demo, a decent demo but a demo all the same.

The alternative UK Games Workshop cover... released on Warhammer Records!
The alternative UK Games Workshop cover… released on Warhammer Records!

On the positive side, these weaknesses give the album a sense of charm. The under-cooked tracks have a playfulness about them and the loose, jamming approach throws up some truly inspired playing from the Quinn/Oliver guitar duo (check out the hot solo on Night Hunter). And, while the bungled production wasn’t going to cut it for casual listeners and airplay, it results in the rawest, most metallic album the band had put out in years.

There are only a couple of real keepers though. The title track is the album’s enduring classic, a “wind in your hair” biker anthem that turns the clock right back to the band’s classic NWOBHM days. Iron Wheels is an enchanting folky strum and, if the lyrics sound familiar, it’s because you already heard them on Destiny’s Calm Before the Storm. The blue-collar imagery works much better here in this rustic setting and makes for one of the albums more affecting and creative tracks. The albums best, and most overlooked, deep cut is the stunning Hole in the Sky, with its spellbinding chorus and Ozzy-ish riffing.

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Back cover of 2013 reissue

Forever Free is a mixed bag that only committed Saxon fans will enjoy. It’s not a disaster and, unlike previous Saxon missteps, at least it sticks to the band’s core style. But it is still a misstep and did real damage to the band’s regeneration. Coming off the back of its well-received predecessor, Forever Free sold well but this rough and patchy effort ensured that many of those customers wouldn’t be back for more. Saxon had lost a crucial battle in the war to re-establish themselves but, as their next album would prove, these old dogs weren’t about to surrender any time soon.

[Saxon – Forever Free]