Category Archives: News

Noise-some Notes – 18th August 2015

2015-08-18 19.41.15

It’s been about three weeks since I last did one of these weekly(ish) posts so let’s get stuck in and take a look at what’s been happening and what I’ve been listening to in the last few weeks.

The big news is the new Maiden song Speed of Light which was… good. Nothing special but latter-day Maiden singles have never been very useful as tasters. It’s better than El Dorado, which I thought was a bit crap until I heard it in the context of the album The Final Frontier, which I ended up enjoying a lot. So if anyone’s not digging the new Maiden track I’d advise them not to give up on the Irons just yet.

In other release news, Avatarium have announced that their second album will be released on October 23rd and titled The Girl with the Raven Mask. It’s a must-buy for me, following their splendid debut album. And I know I rarely mention them here but Saxon (heard of them?) have a new album Battering Ram out on October 16th which I’ve dutifully pre-ordered. There’s a deluxe box version that will have extra live stuff so look out for that one. But apart from those I’ll probably spend my time catching up on releases from earlier in the year like the Obsequiae and Khemmis albums.

And now let’s take a look at the highlights from my recent listening.

Akercocke – Choronzon and Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone

I’ve been enjoying this great British band a lot lately and both these albums are well worth your time: top-notch satanic extreme metal. Both albums are very rewarding listens, the band expertly straddling black and death metal without being either. And there’s a wide range of styles with prog, gothic and electronic flavours thrown into the mix. It’s a huge shame that the band is no longer active but their spirit lives on in…

The Antichrist Imperium – The Antichrist Imperium

This newly released album sees Akercocke’s David Gray and Matt Wilcock reunite to continue in the sexy, satanic vein of Akercocke. And they have done a fantastic job. Even after just a couple of listens this is riding high as a favourite of the year so far. The guitar work is phenomenal, some of the best solos I’ve heard in an age, and there’s a great vocal chemistry between Sam Bean and Sam Loynes.

Voices – London

And continuing the Akercocke vein… here is another act consisting mostly of Akercocke alumni. This album was by far and away the best thing of 2014 and remains the best album in recent metal history, a masterpiece. This is so good I’ve got no idea how they are going to follow it up. I can’t wait to see them (and Winterfylleth) in September. Gig of the year!

Alice Cooper – Alice Cooper Goes to Hell and Zipper Catches Skin

I’ve been catching up on some of the Coop albums that I’m less familiar with. Based on the tracks I knew, Go to Hell and I Never Cry, I expected Alice Cooper Goes to Hell to be better than it is but I was a bit disappointed with it. Zipper Catches Skin was a pleasant surprise though. Not up there with his best but still a fun set of power pop. A lot of it brought Cheap Trick to mind and Coop is on great form vocally and lyrically. I’m looking forward to catching up with some more Coop so expect him to reappear here.

Led Zeppelin – Presence

Led Zep’s difficult seventh album? Boaby Plant and chums do a decent job at a trying time. On the whole it’s all pretty good stuff but there are only really three proper classics here. Achilles Last Stand is the kind of epic cobblers that always wins points from me and Nobody’s Fault But Mine and Tea For One are primo Zep too.

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When – The Black Death (or Svartedauen)

This album is a fascinating, immersive soundscape inspired by the art of Theodore Kittelsen and chronicles the era in Medieval Norwegian history when the Bubonic Plague took hold. Released in 1992, its sombre mood was an influence on the burgeoning black metal scene. I just bought the vinyl reissue of this on the Idealogic Organ label. It’s a gorgeous edition with a beautiful booklet of Kittelsen prints. A great album for parties: this and pArTy-CaNnOn with a wee bit of Wired for Sound and Hit That Perfect Beat thrown in for good measure. I’m available for hire if anyone needs a DJ.

Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction

I’ve been on a MegaDave Megabinge lately. I always found ‘Deth’s fifth album a bit of a let-down after Rust in Peace but I really enjoyed revisiting it recently. There are some classic songs on here but, as a whole, it didn’t reach the heights of the preceding three albums. And, let’s face it, EVERYTHING after Rust in Peace has been bit of a let-down. I don’t even think it’s worth getting out of bed anymore some days.

Gamma Ray – Heading for Tomorrow

Free time! Is one of the things that I like. Free time! Is one of the things I enjoy.” Honestly, this is a pretty good album but that line…ugh. Tell us about some other times you enjoy Gamma Ray! Bath time? Lunch time? Hammer time?

Throw in copious amounts of Scotland’s finest, pArTy-CaNnOn, and that’s the main highlights from my umm… week(ish) of listening. My next post will probably be another Saxon review, so until then, happy listening!

SONG OF THE “WEEK”

It’s the pummeling opening track from the excellent Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone album from Akercocke.

[Akercocke – Verdelet]

When - The Black Death gatefold
When – The Black Death gatefold
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Noise-some Notes – 28th July 2015

pictureWelcome back to another edition of the Noise-some Notes, my weekly(ish) look at what’s been happening in my Metal World.

Not much has been happening news-wise. Paradise Lost have issued a cryptic image and date which fans will recognise as a detail from their Gothic album artwork and 2016 also marks the album’s 25th Anniversary… so maybe an anniversary reissue or performance lined up? And on the subject of anniversaries, Anthrax are lining up a deluxe 30th anniversary edition of Spreading the Disease. Their best album if you ask me. And there’s a box set (vinyl and CD editions) due out of The Faces studio albums. I’ve got my pre-order in for that already! I got rid of my Faces CDs quite a few years ago as remasters were being mooted but they didn’t happen for some reason. But now they’re here and I can’t wait! Can’t beat a bit of Rod.

And now, without further ado, let’s take a look at the highlights from my recent listening:

Macabre Omen – Gods of War – At War

This is my most recent purchase. Macabre Omen are a Greek Black Metal band and this is shaping up to be one of the best releases of the year so far. A lot of bands rely on all sorts of bells and whistles to give their music an “epic” scale but here it’s all in the writing and delivery. Much in the way of albums like Bathory’s Hammerheart and there is a strong Bathory flavour here too. I listened to this on the bus today and felt… stirrings.

Manowar – Gods of War

And speaking of stirrings… here’s Manowar! With more “Gods of War” no less! This is quite a brave album of theirs and one that has grown on me very much since its release. I mentioned bells and whistles earlier. Well, this is slathered in them. Orchestras, choirs, narration… you name it. But it’s all very dramatic and the right atmosphere and epic flavour is captured in the actual Metal too. Listen to the title-track and tell me that isn’t music to row longships to! Stirrings happened.

Uriah Heep – Demons and Wizards

This was a good Sunday night listen to accompany some slovenly couch-potatoing.

Def Leppard – Adrenalize

LeBrain has been doing excellent coverage of the Adrenalize-era Def Leppard singles and his reviews got me digging this album out for another listen. It’s not their best album by any means, but I have a big soft spot for this cheese-laden album. Especially the song Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion), it’s a fantastic track that masterfully tickles me in the Pop parts. And I do love having my Pop parts tickled. It’s a bit like the stirrings but different.

Richard and Linda Thompson – Shoot Out the Lights

I did say last time that there are weekly spins of Richard Thompson music in the HMO compound and I wasn’t lying! And this is one of his (and Linda’s) best. I’m especially enjoying Man In Need these days.

Paradise Lost – The Plague Within

Got to hand it to Paradise Lost. It’s impressive stuff when a band of their vintage is still as creatively switched-on as this. Their latter-day releases have been generally very good (I especially like Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us and In Requiem) but they’ve not sounded this vital for aeons. A very likely candidate for album of the year. And remind me to show you my sexy box-set of this some time.

Judas Priest – Live at Long Beach Arena

Was starting to feel like Priest were one of those bands that I’ve got fed up with. Like I’ve “solved” them. Well you can’t keep a band like Priest down and this excellent live album (the bonus feature of their recent Defenders of the Faith reissue) totally blew me away. It made me feel like I was hearing tracks like Metal Gods and Sinner for the first time. Sublime.

Cream – Those Were the Days (Disc 2)

The second disc of the Cream box set. I stuck this on mainly to hear Badge, my favourite Cream song (and a bass line I wanted to learn). But I always get a chuckle out of Pressed Rat and Warthog and its atonal apples.

These are the standouts anyway. In addition I listened to the usual Saxon albums that I cover elsewhere. There was some Thrash stuff like Testament’s The Legacy (yawn) and Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends (wooargh!) And I also listened to Opeth’s debut album Orchid for the first time in donkey’s! And rather enjoyed it too.

SONG OF THE WEEK

I was going to go for Def Leppard and Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion) but I wasn’t quite sure if you were all ready to have your Pop parts tickled so… I went for the Metal Gods. A brilliant version of a classic tune.

[Judas Priest – Metal Gods Live at Long Beach]

Noise-some Notes – 14th July 2015

Sarcofago, fresh from a stint of Jesus-hating
Sarcofago, fresh from a stint of Jesus-hating

Hail! And welcome to the return of the Noise-some Notes. I hope these will be a fairly regular feature from now on. Weekly or fortnightly depending on my posting schedule. I’ve been focussing on full reviews for a while but there are always albums and music that I’m listening to that I might like to talk about without going in to any great depth. So this is my chance. If you’re familiar with these posts from the past you’ll know the drill but basically these are a collection of my thoughts on selected albums that I’ve been listening to. And in addition to the old format, I’ll also use these posts to mention any news items that have caught my interest.

*****

The main news from the last few days has been the announcement that Def Leppard’s new album will be due in October this year. As usual, it’s scheduled to be “their best since Hysteria” much in the same way as every new KISS album is scheduled to be “their best since Destroyer”. Pinch of salt required there basically, but I got a lot out of their last studio album Songs From The Sparkle Lounge so I’m happy to have them back. As long as they can stay out of the X and Euphoria danger zone then I’m happy.

I also just read that the venerable Scorpions are lining up reissues of Taken By Force and Tokyo Tapes with extra tracks and whatnot. Count me in. Those albums are gold nuggets hewn out of purest Metal. They’re lined up for November. Can’t wait.

And what have I been subjecting my ears to? Here are some highlights:

Satyricon – Satyricon

I felt lukewarm about this album when it came out in 2013 but I’ve grown much more attached to it recently. It’s got a creative oddness about it. Black Metal is usually the stuff of night and darkness but this has the magical effect of soft, warm chinks of daylight running through it.

Richard Thompson – Action Packed: The Best of the Capitol Years

Nary a week goes by where I don’t listen to some RT. This CD is a selection of tunes from his Capitol albums, some of which are firm favourites. It’s a tight comp and it’s got a couple of enticing rarities too for existing fans (songs from the Mock Tudor album which previously only appeared on a vinyl edition).

Yes – The Yes Album

The sad passing of Chris Squire sent me back to this classic album. Not my favourite of theirs but has a special place as my intro to the band. The first Yes album I bought after hearing the opening track Yours Is No Disgrace and being thoroughly blown away by it. It’s still one of my favourite Yes tunes. And while we’re on the topic, check out this excellent list of the Top 10 Yes studio albums over at Vinyl Connection.

Iron Maiden – BBC Archives (Disc 2)

This is from the Eddie’s Archive box set. And I was specifically listening to the 1988 Monsters of Rock segment. I got a bass guitar recently which has resulted in an almost-daily process of marveling at Steve Harris’ right hand! But you know, I’ve been at it for a couple of weeks now and I’ve got a decent gallop going. Reckon I could step in at a moment’s notice if needed. Nae bother.

Midnight – No Mercy for Mayhem

I bought this recently. It’s a definite could-have-been-a-Top-10-album-of-last-year-if-I’d-gotten-round-to-buying-it-sooner album! It’s a refreshingly riotous slab of Venom-y goodness. And you need some of that in your lives. Trust me.

Cathedral – In Memoriam

This was one of my How Tempting picks a wee while back and I finally bought it at the weekend there. It’s top-notch Doom. Like the liner notes say, it’s “more than just a demo”. It’s got an identity of its own in their catalogue. I’ve only listened to the demo tracks so far but it’s crushing, desolate stuff.

Sarcófago – I.N.R.I.

Some facts. This is absolutely essential, raging proto-Black Metal from the mean streets of Belo Horizonte. This band stars Wagner Lamounier who had just left Sepultura because they weren’t extreme enough. They really hate Jesus. No-one seems to be sure if their drummer is a badly-programmed drum machine or not. And they really hate Jesus. If you are a false don’t entry!

UFO – Strangers in the Night

Listening to this one right now. I love UFO. Go and buy this right now before I start laughing at how crap you are for not owning this.

SONG OF THE WEEK

RIP Chris Squire. Superlative musician and songwriter.

[Yes – Yours Is No Disgrace]

*****

And that’s quite enough of my thoughts for one week. Hope you enjoyed the return of the Noise-some Notes. They’ll be back. Happy listening!

How Tempting: Paradise Lost – The Plague Within

This Heavy Metal stuff always gives me a splitting head.
This Heavy Metal stuff always gives me a splitting head.

The excellent releases from Bloodbath and Vallenfyre in 2014 meant that there was plenty of excitement for Paradise Lost fans last year even if the main band was out of action. But now Paradise Lost are back, their new album The Plague Within due for release in the UK on 1st June 2015.

Tantalisingly, we’re promised the reintroduction of Death Metal elements back into the band’s style. But, as you can hear from the opening track No Hope in Sight, there’s a growly edge to it but still plenty of the gothic melody and atmosphere that they are so great at. It’s a strong introduction to the album.

The Plague Within is now available to pre-order. Of course there is the obligatory array of formats. There’s a normal CD and double-vinyl as well as a mediabook CD with an extra track but the must-have edition has got to be the deluxe box set available at their merch site. It has three extra tracks, two of which are totally new and unavailable anywhere else. The deluxe set comes with two CDs and green double-vinyl with both the vinyl and the CD featuring the bonus tracks. And, if the album cover is anything to go by, it promises to be a very beautiful thing indeed.

Normally I prefer being able to choose between vinyl and CD but the deluxe set isn’t as over-priced as these things can often be so I’ve got my pre-order in now. And you should get yours in too. As soon as you can if you want to snap up that tasty deluxe set. If you miss out you’ll end up feeling as miserable as the band sound.

How Tempting: Armored Saint – Win Hands Down

Another round of Go Johnny Go Go Go Go ended in acrimony
Another round of Go Johnny Go Go Go Go ended in acrimony

The return of Armored Saint is one of 2015’s most exciting prospects (along with Paradise Lost’s return if you’re wondering). It’s exciting then to report that the album Win Hands Down now has a release date of 1st June (UK release date) and a promo video of the title track is available too.

It’s great stuff and a welcome taster for the album’s release. John Bush is in his usual impeccable form and it’s a classy track continuing in the style of 2010’s La Raza. It’s confident, atmospheric stuff with some tasty playing and a great sound. If the rest of the album’s this good then it’s going to be an album of the year contender (just like La Raza was 5 years ago). Check it out, let me know what you think. If you like what you hear and haven’t picked up La Raza yet then I strongly suggest you do.

How Tempting: Winterfylleth – The Fathers of Albion (An Anthology 2007 – 2013)

Black Metal landscape gardening for the win!
Winterfylleth: great Black Metal band and keen landscape gardeners

UK Black Metallers Winterfylleth have been making a big name for themselves in recent years. On April 20th 2015 (UK Release date) Candlelight Records are releasing an exciting box set that covers the first six years of the band’s career. The Fathers of Albion: An Anthology 2007 – 2013 includes their first three studio albums: The Ghost of Heritage, The Mercian Sphere and The Threnody of Triumph. It also features the band’s 2007 demo, and some assorted extra songs on a fourth disc.

I already have The Threnody of Triumph and some of the extra songs (the three tracks released on the excellent One & All, Together, For Home compilation) but that leaves two albums and a handful of extra tracks I don’t have. Even better, it’s only due to retail for about £15 so that’s just astounding value for money. It’s a slam dunk buy for me. And one I’d heartily recommend to any Black Metal fans out there that haven’t picked up on this stuff yet. They are a great, accessible band for anyone new to the genre too. Pick up their 2014 offering The Divination of Antiquity while you’re at it and that’s you got the whole, excellent Winterfylleth catalogue.