Category Archives: Thrash Metal

Buying Round-Up: New Albums, Reissues, Box Sets and Vinyl!

Not done a collection post for a while so I thought I’d share some highlights from the last couple of months’ buying activity.

I might as well start with the most recent purchases. The big new one is Iron Maiden’s latest live album The Book Of Souls – Live Chapter. I love how the packaging matches the deluxe book format of the studio album, the two together make a lovely set. Musically, this is the most excited I’ve been about a Maiden live release for a while too: the cream of their last album, some really well chosen oldies that fit in well with the new stuff and a great job on the production and mixing.

I’m also very pleased to finally have a copy of The Obsessed’s S/T debut album. This is the only one of their albums that I’m missing in my collection so I’m well-chuffed to finally have a copy… and with a ton of ace bonus tracks too. And while I was picking that up I treated myself to Saxon’s 10 Years Of Denim & Leather too. This is a CD/DVD repackaging of the Greatest Hits Live! album and video so nothing new for me here. But it’s a nice package and… it’s Saxon innit.

Got two massively enjoyable box sets recently too. Whitesnake’s 1987 30th Anniversary Edition is superb value, stuffed with goodies, handsome booklets and loads of bonus tracks. The best of which is the 87 Evolutions disc which is worth the price of admission on its own: a fascinating insight into the early versions of each song and the progression from the initial writing sessions to the finished article. The only (minor) let down is the perfunctory DVD doc on the making of the album.

And I also got folk overload from the new Pentangle set The Albums: 1968-1972 which is one of the best things I’ve bought this year. Superb albums from a genuine supergroup, great sound, gazillions of wonderful bonus tracks and a lovely booklet too. I previously had The Time Has Come box set, which is good, but I much prefer hearing the albums as they were and this new set is a revelation. Can’t stop listening to it.

On the extreme metal front, I picked up the very limited CD edition of the new The King Is Blind album We Are The Parasite, We Are The Cancer and got a nice note from the singer Steve Tovey too! He’s a good lad. The new Satyricon album Deep Calleth Upon Deep was a must-buy and is another fine release from the black metal veterans. And, after picking up the recent Holy Terror box set that I posted about recently, I decided to round it off by finally picking up Guardians Of The Netherworld: A Tribute to Keith Deen. This collection of demo and live tracks makes for an excellent archive release and a wonderful memorial to the band’s late vocalist.

I’ve not been buying much vinyl lately but I’m very pleased to have grabbed the new vinyl edition of Paradise Lost’s Live At The Roundhouse. Recorded at the band’s 25th Anniversary show in London, this 2013 live album was originally released through the Abbey Road Live website but was a bit too pricey for my liking. This new live set is much better value and a lovely addition to my PL collection. I’m chuffed to finally have a copy and the set list is awesome!

Hope you enjoyed this look through these new additions to the HMO Vault! All of these releases come with the HMO goodness guarantee. Get involved.

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Holy Terror – Blood Of The Saints (Song)

Here’s some obscure and fantastic 80s thrash for you! A lively and infectious banger from Holy Terror’s 1987 debut album Terror And Submission.

The whole album is superb, a ripping combination of thrash and speed metal. The band already has a unique sound but there are plenty of enjoyable, familiar elements: Megadeth’s fretboard mayhem, Exodus’ violence and the high-speed catchiness of classic Accept and early Helloween.

Terror And Submission has recently been reissued by Dissonance Productions as a standalone vinyl edition or as part of the 4CD/DVD boxset Total Terror which is the version I picked up recently. It’s an essential set that contains every album these overlooked L.A. thrashers ever released (Terror And Submission, 1988’s Mind Wars, 2006’s El Revengo and Live Terror). It also comes with a DVD with the Judas Reward promo vid and live sets from Milwaukee, Chicago and Anaheim. A phenomenally great value set at around £20.

I already had this album and Mind Wars as part of an older double-CD set on Candlelight Records. Unfortunately, that edition had mis-labelled CDs and a mastering glitch on Judas Reward, which put me off spending much time with the albums. So I’m totally delighted with Dissonance Productions’ new, fixed and remastered collection and look forward to finally giving Holy Terror the attention they deserve.

[Holy Terror – Blood Of The Saints]

A MUST-BUY

The King Is Blind – We Are The Parasite, We Are The Cancer (Review)

The King Is Blind’s previous album Our Father was a high-point of 2016 and it’s very pleasing to have them back with a follow-up so soon. And their second album We Are The Parasite, We Are The Cancer doesn’t just follow up their last release, it also follows on the imaginative and thorough God/Satan concept that has ran through all of the band’s music. This time the story brings us up to modern day: the pesky Satan pledging the destruction of mankind and, drawing power from our abuse of sin, sending seven plague princes to generally stir things up and give us all a hard time. Serves us right.

Like its predecessor, WATPWATC blends a bunch of extreme metal approaches – death, black, doom, grind – into a crushing, grooving whole. But this is a more threatening and foreboding outing: the rage and intensity is ramped up and the superb production adds layers of nightmarish, urban ambience. The highlights are many: Patriarch is a furious and discordant opener, Bolt Thrower/Memoriam frontman Karl Willetts lends his wonderful vocal thuggery to the filthily-anthemic Mantra XIII (Plague Avaritia) and Godfrost (Plague Invidia) is just pure carnage. And any album with a hidden Mano-quote is fine by me!

The band is on burly form throughout. Guitars and drums are hit thick and hard and Steve Tovey sells each song with intense and committed vocals. But the album is not without its flaws. I find the Gojira-esque harmonies on Like Gods Departed (Plague Acedia) a bit dull but the track’s awesome Candlemass riffing and its building excitement render that a minor complaint. And, although the increased brutality means that the album doesn’t quite sink its hooks in like Our Father did, the cathartic impact and the almost Floydian atmosphere of tracks like As Vermin Swarm (Plague Ira) and the acoustic-laden The Burden Of Their Scars leave a considerable impression.

With WATPWATC, The King Is Blind continue to impress: honing, intensifying and adding depth to their own brand of monolithic metal. It’s a bold statement of intent and I reckon this promising band still has more to offer. In the meantime, the latest chapter of The King Is Blind’s story will please old fans and attract new ones. And I guarantee a growing legion of devotees will be waiting to see what these British bruisers, and that Satan, get up to next.

HMO Rating: 4 out of 5

**We Are The Parasite, We Are The Cancer will be released on Oct 13th and can be purchased here**

Cradle Of Filth – Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness Of Decay (Review)

Cradle Of Filth are a British institution, one of the most recognisable and successful extreme acts to come from these shores. But, while they are loved and loathed by many, they’ve never made a huge impression on me either way. I’ve bought and enjoyed a fair few albums of theirs over the years but I’ve never had that phase where I’ve obsessed over them, where they were my band. Until now.

Although I was late getting to it, I was thoroughly impressed with 2015’s Hammer Of The Witches, and the band’s latest album continues in that vein. Themed around the Victorian obsession with death, Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness Of Decay is a darkly fabulous romp of hard-hitting gothic metal, delivered with expertise and passion. The overall approach is still the band’s patented blackened Hammer Horror style but there’s a whole wealth of approaches employed. Heartbreak And Seance’s romantic melodrama, thrash fury on Wester Vespertine, You Will Know The Lion By Its Claw’s pitch-black savagery and there are wonderful trad metal gallops and harmonies throughout (most thrillingly in The Seductiveness Of Decay). Best of all, vocalist Dani Filth puts each song over and then some: a spirited and veteran performance of considerable taste, breadth and character.

Hammer Of The Witches reached some peaks of excitement that aren’t quite reached here but its a nano-gripe about a near-flawless album. And, on the flip-side, the latest album has none of the excess that detracted from its predecessor. For all its expansive grandeur, Cryptoriana… is tight and direct. The pedal is to the metal at all times and the band’s cinematic flourishes are weaved and layered skilfully throughout the songs with no boring intros or interludes to be found. The style is familiar but the album is fresh and stakes its own unique place in their canon. An utterly wonderful release from a veteran band at the top of their game. My band.

HMO Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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

Venom Inc. – Avé (Review)

While the actual Venom continue under the leadership of infamous bassist/vocalist Conrad ‘Cronos’ Lant, the return of the band’s classic guitarist Jeff ‘Mantas’ Dunn and drummer Tony ‘Abaddon’ Bray as Venom Inc. has caused quite a stir. Surely two thirds of the band’s massively influential and legendary formation is better than one? And to cap it all off, the band has been rounded out appropriately and authentically with Prime Evil-era bassist/vocalist Tony ‘Demolition Man’ Dolan. It’s an exciting unit and the band has been going down a storm touring a classic Venom set. But playing live oldies is a no-brainer. Now the real test comes as the band offer up their first new material with their debut album Avé.

Venom Inc. perform like heroic metal veterans throughout. Mantas in particularly impressive form, peeling out genuinely thrilling guitar solos like it’s a piece of piss. They’re too seasoned to play with the filthy, bulldozer energy of old but as gutsy, trad metal goes much of this is hard to beat. It’s also hard to stick with. Songs like Avé Satanas and Preacher Man are average songs stretched way beyond their breaking point and, while it works better as an album track than as a single, Dein Fleisch causes a hefty lull at a crucial point.

With those three totally removed Avé could have been easily and massively improved, while coming in at the golden running time of 40min too. Ace biker metal tracks like Forged In Hell and The Evil Dead would get old heads banging again and raging thrashers like Metal We Bleed and Time To Die would give young Venom-worshipping upstarts like Midnight a run for their money too. But, as a complete listening experience, Avé is overlong, uneven and frustrating: the two thirds of Venom Inc. proving that it is possible to ‘ave too much of a good thing.

HMO Rating: 3 out of 5