Fans of 2014’s excellent Promulgation of the Fall would have been hoping for more than just two tracks from these Greek death metallers this year but their new EP Sombre Doom satisfies with quality over quantity. Opening with a howling dead wind of feedback, the first track Redemptive Immolation is grave and doom-laden with a thick, dark atmosphere. After the oppressive opener, the up-tempo battering of Wind’s Bane comes as a relief but is still rich in ghostly gloom and haunting guitar. The songs and riffs aren’t the most original but Sombre Doom is all about the vibe and the execution: this reeks of rain, death, evil and graveyards. Proper death metal if you ask me, and one of the best EPs of the year.
I loved Blaze Bayley in Wolfsbane but because I didn’t enjoy his stint in Maiden I never really thought of him as a “metal” guy. To me, he was at this best when he was painting the town red and lighting up the night with a little kiss. That was the Blaze I liked. So when his first post-Maiden outing Silicon Messiah proved to be a dark, very-metal affair I just passed on it. Not his forte.
I was wrong. Sixteen years later, spurred on by reading positive reviews and the return of Wolfsbane, I have added Silicon Messiah to my collection. It’s remarkably good. A proper underdog album if ever there was one. It’s downbeat, dystopian drop-D riffing is definitely of its time (think Brutal Planet, Magica etc…) and the opening tracks raise a worry that it’s all going to be a bit samey. But the album soon lightens up. Born as a Stranger, the galloping The Brave and Man on the Edge-esque The Launch are all extremely enjoyable, anthemic power metal tracks. The album just gets better and better as it rolls on and culminates wonderfully in Stare at the Sun: a gripping, goosebump-inducing epic. And, although tracks like The Hunger are chuggier and samier, their slower pace gives Blaze room to emote. He’s massively likeable throughout, delivering a vocal performance full of character and commitment.
So double dumb-ass on me for writing the man off. Turns out he is very-metal after all. He even manages to show Iron Maiden a thing or two with this anthemic and addictive album. It’s thoughtful and well-executed, topped off with a great vocal performance of considerable charm and charisma. That’s the Blaze I like.
Had some time to kill on Monday (missed my bus) so I popped into Glasgow’s Monorail Music for a nosy… and struck gold. Five of the new(ish) Scorpions deluxe editions for just £6 each. Second hand but in mint condition. These have been nagging at me since they came out so I’m thrilled to get them this cheap. They had Animal Magnetism, Blackout, Love at First Sting, World Wide Live and Savage Amusement. That’s about 6 CDs and 4 DVDs worth of metal madness for about £30. Not too shabby at all.
As I’ve only just picked them up I don’t have a whole lot to say about them. But the concert footage on the Blackout DVD is superb. Total spandex energy! And the live album that comes with Love at First Sting is dynamite (groan) too. A bit like that Long Beach stuff that came with Priest’s Defenders of the Faith reissue: it’s a bonus disc that’s better than most bands main albums. Can’t wait to get dug in to the rest of this stuff and I’ll probably have to pick up the three I’m missing sooner rather than later (Taken By Force, Tokyo Tapes and Lovedrive). Shame the series couldn’t have stretched back to the earlier albums though, In Trance and Virgin Killer are the absolute Scorps of choice for me.
And while I’m on the shopping topic, I also picked up these at the weekend. I got the new Gojira album Magma. This is the bundle that you can buy from their website. The album comes with an extra DVD of their Rock in Rio show (from 2015) and a nice hardback book with photies and stuff.
And last, but not least, the new Budgie box set. Three albums of primo Budgie! I have all these albums already but this is a nice set and it was only £8. I’m hoping that there’ll be more sets with their other albums as there just aren’t enough Budgie albums in the HMO Vault. Want more.
The HMOverlord has been doing excellent shopping once again! Without even really meaning to… it just happened.
It started when I popped in to Fopp on my lunch break (as is often my wont). Turns out they have a new Peaceville Records promo on with a whole bunch of the label’s albums for just £5 each. I managed to not go totally wild and came away with just three CDs. I got two My Dying Bride albums: their debut album As the Flower Withers and Trinity which is an EP collection. I also added in Nocturno Culto’s Gift of Gods album Receive. Very pleased with my purchases and there’s other stuff in the sale I could have easily picked up. Future lunch breaks will require restraint(s).
And that would have been a pretty good haul for the day but after work I decided to pop in to Monorail to see if they had any good stuff. And, as is usually the case in Monorail, they sure did. I came away with three cheap and classic Satyricon albums: Dark Medieval Times, The Shadowthrone and Rebel Extravaganza. I already had a couple of these as downloads but I’m happy to finally have them on CD and Rebel Extravaganza is totally new to the HMO Vault. But the total icing on the cake (and possibly the find of the year so far) was the limited edition 2CD version of Primordial’s To the Nameless Dead, a lovely digipack with an extra disc of live stuff. It’s quite hard to get now and I’ve been after a copy for pure ages! So I’m totally chuffed.
But it didn’t stop there. I arrived home to discover post! So to cap off an amazing day of shopping I also now have the new Candlemass box set Behind the Wall of Doom. I’d pre-ordered it from Peaceville Records (them again) a while back and now here it is, all 3CDs and 2DVDs of it. Packaged in a gorgeous coffee-table book with the entire Candlemass story documented within! Massively excited about this and looking forward to getting some serious doom dancing done. Got one of the DVDs on as I type this (their 1988 Dynamo Festival set) and it’s totally awesome.
I’m sure you’ll all agree I did stupendous shopping today. A great haul.
The HMOverlord has been doing excellent shopping. There’s a pop-up record stall called Cornucopia Records that appears in Glasgow on the first Saturday of every month. It’s run by the same chap that does the At War With False Noise label and distro and can be found in the basement of the Offshore Café on Gibson Street. It’s well worth a visit if you’re nearby. I managed to pop along yesterday and came away with three very exciting records. I generally buy CDs but it was curiously satisfying to come home with some weighty vinyl for a change.
First up I got Manilla Road’s The Deluge. I’ve only got a couple of Manilla Road albums and I’m always on the lookout for more. It’s the High Roller reissues I’ve bought up until now so I’m trying to stick to those. You just don’t see them in the shops very often and they can be quite pricey imports. So this was a must-buy at just £13.
Dream Death are a band I’ve only just started getting into. Back from the Dead is a collection of their early demos. And basically, any time I hear the phrase “collection of their early demos” I’m on board. This was released by Svart Records, who really know how to put together a plush vinyl package. This is totally gorgeous. The artwork, design, booklet… all superb.
And last… but most certainly not least… this is the record I was specifically hoping to get when I went along. The vinyl reissue of UK thrashers Hydra Vein’s Better Death than False of Faith! One of the most awesome and legendary “so bad it’s good” album covers of all time and it’s finally here. Reissued by The Crypt, it’s got a sexy gatefold with photos and liner notes and also comes with their demo The Reptiliad as a bonus too. Can’t wait to get stuck into this.
While I work up a couple of new reviews and agonise over my end-of-year lists (yes, it’s nearly that time!) I thought I’d use this Noise-some Notes post to just take a look at some of my recent purchases and some cool stuff due out between now and Christmas.
Avatarium’s The Girl with the Raven Mask was picked up as soon as it hit the shelves. Their debut was a masterpiece so I’ve been looking forward to this immensely. It’s not disappointed me. Satan’s Court in the Act reissue got picked up immediately too. It’s a classic NWOBHM album that has been out-of-print for some time. The lack of bonus tracks is a little disappointing but, since the Listenable label seems to have the rights to all things Satan these days, I hope they have other releases planned. Metal Blade just reissued Riot’s Thundersteel too. I’m not sure it adds anything to previous editions but I didn’t have the album and wanted it so it was a no-brainer purchase.
On the bargain front, I picked up the Visigoth album The Revenant King at HMV for just £4. It’s a bit hit-and-miss but they’re called Visigoth and it’s got a song on it called The Dungeon Master so that’s got to be worth four quid surely? Anathema’s new live set A Sort of Homecoming was a good buy at just £14 for a CD/DVD set too. I just picked it up yesterday and still haven’t watched it yet. Waiting for the right special time to sit down and watch it with EvaOverload. Liverpool Cathedral is a spectacular choice of concert venue so it’s sure to be a feast for the eyes and ears. The Def Leppard Classic Rock fan pack was the ultimate bargain though, as EvaOverload was kind enough to buy it for me. Even if it didn’t turn out to be the best, I still had fun listening to and reviewing it.
The big new album is Danzig’s Skeletons. It’s due out on Nov 27th as the Evil Elvis returns with his long-awaited covers album. I can’t possibly consider a “Best of 2015” without hearing it. It would be unethical. There’s also the new Paradise Lost live album Symphony for the Lost, out on Nov 20th. It looks like a great value package along the same lines as the Anathema release. As you might expect from the title, there’s an orchestra involved.
Fans of straight-up, savage death metal will want to check out the debut album from Obscene Entity, Lamentia. It’s due out on Nov 27th but I’ve been lucky enough to get an advance copy. A review will be up soon but I can tell you now, it is mighty. And December has another big death metal release too, as Horrendous line up Anareta, the follow-up to their acclaimed 2014 release Ecdysis.
But as usual, the main focus as we near the silly season is on reissues and classic acts. I’m most excited by the Queen live album A Night at the Odeon, released on Nov 20th. Last year’s Live at the Rainbow album was stunning and this release is bound to be similarly impressive. I’ll take all of this stuff they’ve got. And in a similarly classic vein there’s the Ritchie Blackmore Story set that I’m very excited about too.
Anthrax fans can dust off their old Bermuda shorts in celebration of the Spreading the Disease deluxe (out Nov 20th) and also a deluxe edition of S.O.D’s Speak English or Die just a week later. Spreading the Disease comes with a bonus disc of live tracks and a set of rhythm tracks so I can get some quality Joey Belladonna karaoke practice in. I don’t have much info on the S.O.D. release but I gather it’s going to come with demos.
And the expanded editions keep on coming. Mayhem’s Live at Leipzig (Nov 27th) is due with extra live recordings from their seminal period with Dead. The Dictators Go Girl Crazy (Dec 11th) celebrates its 40th Anniversary with added alternate takes and remixes. And The Allman Brothers Band’s Idlewild South (Dec 4th) gets the deluxe box set treatment with surround sound mixes, the Live at Ludlow Garage album attached and a smattering of extra tracks.
And that’s about it. As always, let me know if there’s anything exciting due out soon that I might have missed. I’ll be back with some more reviews soon so, until then, happy hunting!
I have to declare my pro PaRtY-CaNnOn bias straight away. Ever since seeing the above poster online, I’ve felt an immense level of pride in these fellow Scots. But with the release of their debut full-length album Bong Hit Hospitalisation, the time has come for me to finally put my love of this band to the ultimate test: actually listening to their music.
It turns out that PaRtY-CaNnOn play ‘Party Slam Death Metal’. They are the greatest (and I’m guessing the only) practitioners of this musical genre. You couldn’t be blamed for thinking this is all some kind of piss-take but the Dunfermline…(ers? Dunfermlonians?) are smart enough to let their sense of fun infuse their music with a sense of personality and liveliness rather than letting it become a comedy record.
The production is fantastic, a great combination of technical and filthy with considerable heft and great separation between the instruments: the noodly bass and biscuit-tin drums are a joy. The band deliver at blasting speed alternated with seismic, lurching riffing and keep the album well-paced, continually catching you unaware with excellent and diverse moments like the cosmic Cynic-style bass solo in There’s a Reason You’re Single and the deft guitar solo that sees out Screech Even Sold His Body to Science. Stony Reddie’s alternately guttural and squealy vocals are powerful, varied and rhythmic enough to carry the songs without requiring any melody. And his delivery is often amusing too, like the pig-snorting climax of Interested Is Not the Word.
The main moments of mirth are kept to the inter-song samples but don’t interfere with or detract from the band’s main business of seriously brutal Death Metal. Quite the opposite: they only add to the sense of chaotic hedonism and even serve a useful function in helping to pace out the record and offer brief breathers from the carnage. And I had no idea you could do that with a grapefruit.
Bong Hit Hospitalisation is one of the most refreshing Extreme Metal albums I’ve heard in a good while. It’s surprisingly catchy and tons of fun, delivered by a band canny and talented enough to ensure there’s some serious substance underneath all the rib-tickling. I love hearing such genuinely extreme music performed with this kind of wit and personality and PaRtY-CaNnOn are one of my most pleasant discoveries of 2015. Them and the grapefruit thing.