Category Archives: Progressive Rock

New Releases – 29th June 2018

Tons of new stuff out today… mostly reissued stuff. I’ll try and be nitpicky but this is going to be a long one I reckon.

The Antichrist Imperium – Volume II: Every Tongue Shall Praise Satan

This is an essential new release from one of the many Akercocke-related bands on the go at the moment. You know I’m nuts for this stuff. Ex-Akercocker Matt Wilcock is joined by current Akercockerers David Gray and Sam Loynes and Sam “I’ve never been in Akercocke” Bean. I loved their 2015 debut and album number two sounds like their upping their game. Ripping, blasting satanic death metal but this time round its blacker, more avant-garde, more eclectic. Pure devilry.

Bruce Dickinson – Scream For Me Sarajevo

It’s not every week you get some Bruce solo action! This is a documentary about the great man’s Balls To Picasso-era solo tour of war-torn Sarajevo. I’m not sure how much live music footage is contained in the movie but it looks fascinating and there is also a soundtrack disc which is pretty cheap. Mainly just a solo best-of, but it does have a Japanese bonus track from the Tyranny Of Souls era that I don’t have. So it will get bought just for that.

Paradise Lost – Believe In Nothing (Remixed/Remastered)

Gloomy northern nihilists Paradise Lost reissue another album from their electro-pop years. This was widely regarded as their worst album by most people, band included. But it’s been remixed, remastered and re-covered and now it’s a lost classic! Yippee. I can’t comment cause this is the only Paradise Lost studio album I’ve never heard. Will probably buy it for that reason alone but I wasn’t a big fan of the preceding album Host and this is in that vein too.

Coroner – Mental Vortex and Grin

Here are two more Coroner reissues to follow the recent Sony reissues of the first three albums. This time it’s Noise doing these though so they’ll probably be done a bit differently. Not sure why different labels are handling these… I got all this stuff already so I reckon I’ll just sit this out. Great albums though. All five will probably get reissued again before you know it. It’s a funny old business.

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction

The classic debut gets a long overdue expanded, remastered reissue. There are many variants, but if you want the maximum audio/video content you’re looking at over £100 to get the super deluxe. The 2CD will do me, might buy some more bonus tracks as downloads. I should be excited about this but instead I just feel like I’m missing out on something.

David Bowie – Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78)

CD edition of the live album that was released earlier in the year on vinyl (as part of 2018’s RSD slate). They did that with the previous RSD live release Cracked Actor too so I saw this one coming and avoided the over-priced RSD version. Kinda bugs me that I’ll have one on vinyl and one on CD though…

Various Artists – Winds Of Time: The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal 1979-1985

New comp of NWOBHM goodies. I’ve been hoping for a big exhaustive box set that would do this era justice and really tell its story. Not sure this is it… but there are a lot of tracks here and it looks like fun. I’ve slept on a few NWOBHM comps over the years and usually regretted it when they’ve went out of print so I really should buy this one. Probably not a priority though.

And that’s about it for me. Like I said, loads being released today so let me know what you’re after.

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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!

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 – 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.

The HMO Top Albums of 2017

Twelve whole months of your human time have passed. An entire year of metal releases that have all been building up to one thing: The HMO Top Albums of 2017!

And what a year it was. I reckon the overall standard in this year’s list is the highest since I started doing these, with albums in the lower reaches that would have ranked higher in a less competitive year. Consequently, there was also a bunch of very deserving albums that just missed the cut:

Formicarius – Black Mass Ritual, Contaminated – Final Man, Power Trip – Nightmare Logic, Full Of Hell – Trumpeting Ecstasy, Vampire – With Primeval Force, Demon Head – Thunder In The Fields, Spectral Voice – Eroded Corridors of Unbeing

All of these were favourites of mine that would very likely have made the list any other year and I’d heartily recommend all of them. But there can be only ten…

NUMBER TEN: Satyricon – Deep Calleth Upon Deep

The black metal duo returned with this powerful and deceptively simple set of cold, bleak, groovy and progressive black metal hymns. Following frontman Satyr’s recovery from illness, the album was heralded as “day one of a new chapter”. But it’s no reinvention, just the sound of a band knuckling down with fresh dedication and commitment.

NUMBER NINE: The Obsessed – Sacred

Doom icon Wino returns with a new lineup of his old band The Obsessed and an album that lives up to their classics of old. Hefty biker doom riffs with ace songwriting, soulful maturity and vintage musicianship. Wino’s voice and guitar slinging are as badass as ever. He sings “I was born with my heart on my sleeve” and, 56 years later, he’s still wearing it well.

NUMBER EIGHT: Artificial Brain – Infrared Horizon

No AOTY list would be complete without some death metal in space and this year’s guttural cosmic travellers are Long Island’s Artificial Brain. Post-humanity, cyborgs ponder life and their predecessors and the wonderfully ambient blend of tech death, beautiful dissonance and filthy vocals suits the theme perfectly. Also… might be the only album in my collection that features the word “urinals”.

NUMBER SEVEN: The King Is Blind – We Are The Parasite, We Are The Cancer

The King Is Blind make the HMO Top Ten for the second year in a row. No mean feat. This sequel to their debut album Our Father, brings that album’s biblical tale into the modern day with harrowing results. The UK headbangers bash out an intelligent, raging and monolithic slab of metal that fuses a whole bunch of styles into a crushing, grooving whole that grows in stature with each listen.

NUMBER SIX: Immolation – Atonement

No big back-story, concept or narrative to talk about here. Just straight-up quality death metal from a veteran act that’s still hungry. As with other releases this year, it’s definitely got a whiff of the end-times about it. But instead of dishing out the political rage, Immolation deal out a restrained, ominous and dark indictment of our times. Crushing, twisted, authoritative and destructive from beginning to end.

NUMBER FIVE: Midnight – Sweet Death And Ecstasy

Hooded demon Athenar returns with his third full-length album of black thrash hooliganism. No zeitgeist-y vibes here: just Satan, shagging and Venom-worship. But there’s a lot of creativity crammed into this album’s short running time and its bookended by two epics that push the band’s stylistic (long)boat out: swashbuckling, scything mid-tempo metal that invokes the legends of old… the legends of Ye Olde Bathory and Manowar. It’s that good.

NUMBER FOUR: Cradle Of Filth – Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness Of Decay

The loved-or-loathed British institution continues a late-career renaissance that finds them tipping the balance firmly in the loved direction. Themed around the Victorian obsession with death, Cryptoriana… is a darkly fabulous romp of hard-hitting gothic metal delivered with expertise and passion. It’s atmospheric, cinematic, galloptastic and just tons of fun with a vocal turn from Dani Filth that cements his place as the veritable metal legend that he is.

NUMBER THREE: Memoriam – For The Fallen

Featuring ex-members of Bolt Thrower and Benediction, Memoriam were formed as a tribute to Bolt Thrower’s late drummer Martin ‘Kiddie’ Kearns and what a tribute it is: crusty, primitive old-school death metal with a sense of tragedy and loss. But it’s not a total downer, there’s enough carnage here to please Bolt Thrower fans. Vocalist Karl Willetts performs with charisma and heart while the band unleashes the kind of filthy, strafing riffage that’s guaranteed to have you running for cover.

NUMBER TWO: Paradise Lost – Medusa

2015’s The Plague Within was a welcome return to growlier death/doom fare but I don’t think anyone could have expected Paradise Lost to dredge the depths of misery like they have with this near-flawless album of gothic gloom. Anthemic hooks, crusty riffing, mournful harmonies and a fearless vocal performance from Nick Holmes put Medusa right up there with the band’s best work. No small feat, considering the number of innovative and essential albums that make up this legendary band’s discography.

NUMBER ONE: Akercocke – Renaissance In Extremis

The great comeback of 2017 was the return of these much-missed British Satanists with their most progressive, personal and accessible album to date. But the blackened malevolence of old remains and the fact that this album could well lure fans of more classic fare into a more extreme musical realm suggests these suave Londoners are still doing the devil’s work. The eclectic variety, complex structures and dreamy introspection make for a fascinating, rewarding listen and the intense, dynamic, neck-snapping skill of the band’s performance is the stuff of metal gods.

HMO TOP ALBUMS BY YEAR

2017: Akercocke – Renaissance In Extremis

2016: Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder

2015: My Dying Bride – Feel the Misery

2014: Voices – London

UPCOMING ALBUMS: Cradle Of Filth, Enslaved, Samael and more

It’s time for another nosey through the release schedule. Here’s a selection of some upcoming albums that are taking my fancy.

Cradle Of Filth – Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness Of Decay

I’m properly out of touch with Cradle Of Filth’s career but their newer material has been getting a lot of praise and I’m in a Filth-y mood lately so it’s about time I got bally well caught up. Good timing too as their latest album is due on September 22nd 2017 and their new track Heartbreak And Séance is an insanely likeable taster. I wasn’t expecting to be looking forward to this one so much.

Enslaved – E

New Enslaved albums are always noteable but I’ve not been totally diverted by any of their albums since Vertebrae (which I totally love). I’ve bought all the subsequent releases but I tend not to get much more out of them than a couple of good tracks. I hope that Es are indeed good and this album bucks that trend but, on the basis of new track Storm Son, I’m not expecting much.

Samael – Hegemony

I’m new to this band and I’ve only heard their (superb) earlier material. I gather their style has come a long way since then so wasn’t sure what to expect from their current stuff. The new track Angel Of Wrath has got me right onboard though. A bit like modern Satyricon, it seems uninteresting initially and then BAM. I’m hooked. And the more I hear it the more I like it.

Fleurety – The White Death

The avant-garde Norweirdos return with their first album in an age. Fleurety feature former members of Mayhem and Dødheimsgard while Czral-Michael Eide of Virus/Aura Noir is now in the band too. If that’s not enough to get your attention, check out new song Lament Of The Optimist. Compelling, eccentric, addictive stuff. Release date: 27th October.

Spectral Voice – Eroded Corridors Of Unbeing

Unfamiliar with this band’s music but know their name from their connection with Blood Incantation, whose album Starspawn made my Top 10 last year. And it seems like Spectral Voice’s debut album (released on 13th October) might be this year’s equivalent: filthy, guttural, otherworldy death metal. My kind of thing.

Europe – Walk The Earth

The Swedes are one of a dwindling number of classic rock acts that I still give a fuck about. The last album War Of Kings was a pretty sterling effort with a few monster tunes. And the new single has the epic feel of that album’s best stuff so I’m up for this. It’s out on 20th October and the digibook features a bonus documentary on DVD.

And that’s quite enough for one post. There are other exciting albums due but I’ll hold off on those until there are songs available to sample.

Akercocke – Renaissance In Extremis (Review)

It’s been ten long years since Akercocke’s reign of progressive death metal terror reached a thrilling and diabolical climax with Antichrist. Although the band has lain dormant for much of the intervening decade, a vibrant scene has grown in their wake: superb “ex-Akercocke” bands like Voices, The Antichrist Imperium and Shrines forming a growing family tree that has been the source of much of my favourite music of recent years. But despite my huge love of the related bands, I’ve had a growing longing for an Ak comeback and here they are with their new album Renaissance In Extremis, the most highly-anticipated and exciting release of 2017.

Given that they reached peak Satan-worship on Antichrist, it is unsurprising that the ever-evolving British band has taken up new themes. This is a more personal and emotional Akercocke that combines topics of depression, grief and suicide with rampaging positivity and self-improvement. Complex structures and varied moods evoke the subject matter. The shimmering and colourful guitar textures would make Queensrÿche and Rush proud and it’s all given an energetic kick up the arse with an array of wonderful tech thrash riffing in tracks like Disappear and Insentience. And tracks like Unbound By Sin and First To Leave The Funeral find the band’s black/death malevolence of old is still intact.

Band photos by Tina Korhonen © 2017, all rights reserved.

The whole band performs with distinction, sounding sophisticated and polished but also raw and live. The riffs and guitar solos are sublime throughout: the guitar duo of Jason Mendonça and Paul Scanlan combine old and new metal styles with wonderful flair. It’s also especially good to hear Mendonça’s uniquely charismatic and varied vocals again. A couple of wobbly-pitched moments only add to the crazed, natural feel and Jason leads from the front like few extreme metal frontmen can.

There’s very little to quibble about here and this is a superb comeback album overflowing with originality and creativity. Progressive in the proper sense of the word, Akercocke have created another unique album to add to their discography. And one that has enough variety and maturity that many fans of classic metal fare may find it a gateway into a more extreme musical world. For those of us that already reside in that world, Akercocke’s Renaissance In Extremis is a joyous and welcome return, wholly deserving of the most diabolical and infernal praise.

HMO Rating – 4.5 out of 5