Category Archives: HMO Challenge 2013

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.

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Buying Round-Up – December 2013

Happy New Year to everyone out there! Hope you all had a triumphantly good time over the holidays.

Before I go on with 2014’s blogging business there’s just the matter of wrapping up the HMO Challenge 2013! Usually in December I tend not to buy very much but this year there were a few exciting new releases late in the year and these put me in the mood to check out some of the new releases I had resisted earlier in 2013. With the challenge goal now spectacularly out of reach I found myself gleefully ignoring December’s £45 budget.

Saxon – Unplugged and Strung Up (2CD Edition)(£13 Amazon)

I love Saxon but this set is a mixed-bag: it’s more of a compilation of various re-recordings than an all-new set which makes it seem a bit superfluous. It’s not even entirely orchestral or acoustic which is also odd! On the other hand, it’s mostly made up of the band’s moodier epics and those are always Saxon’s standout tracks for me. So, overall, as a themed collection I find it hugely enjoyable… and did I tell you I love Saxon? I love Saxon.

Avatarium – Avatarium (£10 HMV Glasgow)

This superb album dominated my listening in December. A new project from Candlemass’ songwriting wizard Leif Edling, it’s a mix of Doom, Psychedelia, Folk and Pop with a strong Opeth flavour to it (some of the songs were initially intended for a project with Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt). Jennie-Ann Smith’s vocals are particularly stunning and this is a promising debut and a band to watch.

Inquisition – Obscure Verses for the Multiverse (Ltd. Edition) (£15 Amazon)

These US Black-Metallers have had a few albums out already but this is my introduction to them and I’m very impressed. It’s very similar to Immortal but has a woozy otherworldliness of its own. And it also comes with a patch. A PATCH.

Entombed – Clandestine (Vinyl) (£16 Monorail Glasgow)

I bought this to accompany the vinyl edition of Left Hand Path I bought earlier in the year but at the time of writing I’ve still not given either of these much listening time. Their third album Wolverine Blues will be getting a similar vinyl treatment in the New Year so I better get my arse in gear.

Accept – Stalingrad (CD/DVD Ltd. Edition) (£10 Amazon Marketplace)

When I wrote last month that I was enjoying Accept’s Blood of the Nations, many of you recommended I should pick this up too. Never let it be said that your recommendations fall on deaf ears! I’ve not listened to it yet. But I will.

Witch Cross – Axe to Grind (£10 Amazon)

These 80s Metallers have hit the comeback trail with this excellent 2013 album, which features stellar vocals from singer (and fellow blogger) Kevin Moore. The guitar work and songwriting is outstanding. It’s hook-laden and the variety of styles ensures that it’s no retro re-tread either. Along with Avatarium, this album was never far from my ears this month.

Ghost – Infestissumam (£6 HMV Glasgow)

Ghost – If You Have Ghost (£6 HMV Glasgow)

I enjoyed Ghost’s debut but I wasn’t entirely sure I needed to hear more from them. I’m glad I held off because here is an unexpected new edition of their second album Infestissumam with bonus tracks and a couple of quid off the price too! I’ve only had a couple of listens but it’s gone down well. Buoyed by the experience I also bought their covers EP but I have to say I prefer their original material to the covers. The downside of these purchases is that the HMO Vault is no longer Dave Grohl-free. I’m not happy about this.

Voices – From the Human Forest Create a Fugue of Imaginary Rain (£12 Amazon)

And the final purchase of the year is this WTF?-titled album. It’s an intense barrage of avant-garde Black Metal and features a couple of members of the highly-rated UK band Akercocke who I’ll need to investigate further because this is impressive stuff.

*****

I’ve blown my budget as usual but this was a very satisfying month of music purchases with four exciting new bands added to my collection.

And so the HMO Challenge ends in defeat. However, all is not lost. It’s been a fantastic year of listening and I’ve learned a lot about my music buying habits which will hopefully help me become a more discerning listener and buyer in 2014. Thanks to everyone who followed the challenge! I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and recommendations and I hope you had as much fun with this as I did. I haven’t planned any challenges or budgets for 2014 but instead, I look forward to sharing another exciting year of music-buying with you.

*****

DECEMBER 2013 TOTALS

Amount spent on purchases: £98

Amount budgeted: £45

Amount over/under budget: £53 Over!

HMO CHALLENGE 2013 TOTALS

Amount spent on purchases: £881

Amount budgeted: £640

Amount over/under budget: £241 Over

How Tempting! – December 2013

So it’s time for the last How Tempting post of 2013 and the final month of the HMO Challenge. I’ve got a £45 budget to aim for this month and, to be honest, most of that budget has already been spent! I found out about a few exciting new albums that slipped under my radar earlier in the year, not appearing in any of my previous How Tempting posts. Just for a change, I’d like to preserve a bit of mystery so I’ll leave you to guess what these might be before revealing them in my final Buying Round-Up of the year later in December.

Outside of these catch-up purchases things are pretty slim on the new release front. There are only a handful of December releases that are likely to tempt me. There’s the “Full Dynamic Range” vinyl reissue of Entombed’s Clandestine. If you remember, I bought the FDR vinyl edition of Entombed’s debut LP Left Hand Path earlier in the year so, although I haven’t listened to that as much as I would have liked, I am keen to buy the follow-up even if it’s not a massive priority.

Deep Purple’s Now What?!, originally released back in May 2013, is given a couple of silly-season reissues in December. There’s the reasonably-priced “Gold Edition” with a couple of bonus studio tracks and a live disc. And there is a Box Set too, which adds about £20 to the price tag and throws in three singles, a T-Shirt and some other knick-knacks. The album has been received well so I ought to want one of these… but I’m not really sure I do.

We also have The Almighty’s Blood, Fire and Love and Live, a cumbersomely-titled repackaging of their Blood, Fire and Love and Blood, Fire and Live albums. See what they did there? Anyway, I was never a huge fan but I did have a few albums back in the day and could be convinced to check this out. I’d probably wait for the price to drop a bit though.

Last, but not least, is the reissue of The Obsessed’s The Church Within. This highly-regarded Doom album has been out of print for some time and will be a must-buy for me within the next couple of months. I’m a big fan of the Doom genre and my appreciation always reaches a peak in the winter months!

So until next time, I hope you all get your hands on some exciting music this month. Please let me know if you think there are any crucial 2013 albums that I might have missed. And if I don’t manage another post before then, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Buying Round-Up – November 2013

Welcome to the penultimate month of the HMO Challenge 2013! Impressively, I managed to resist all but one of November’s new releases (yes that means no Saxon)! Unfortunately, I bought a whole bunch of other stuff instead, catching up on some of the titles I had missed from previous months. It’s a big haul this month so, without further ado, let’s take a look!

Hell – Curse and Chapter (CD/DVD Edition) (£12 – HMV Glasgow)

Bought this fairly late in the month but I’ve enjoyed my initial listens a lot. It feels more immediate and less busy than their debut. The packaging is gorgeous but getting the discs and the booklet out of the thing is a total pain in the arse! The live DVD is worth the excellent value too in case you’re wondering.

Humble Pie – Performance: Rockin’ the Fillmore (The Complete Recordings 4CD Set) (£27 Fopp Glasgow)

A bit of an extravagance but I’m glad I bought it (it seems to be going up in price already too). It sounds amazing, has an interesting booklet and great performances. There are many multiple versions of the same songs here so I’m going to take it slowly, a disc at a time.

In Solitude – Sister (£10 – HMV Glasgow)

I’m absolutely blown away by this album and it may well prove to be the album of the year for me. It’s the sound of a band finding their own unique voice, a dark blend of Goth and Metal. Love the image on the cover too. Reminds me of The Exorcist.

Deep Purple – Perfect Strangers Live (2CD/DVD Set) (£14 – Fopp Glasgow)

I gave the DVD a cursory viewing. It looks like great fun. Even Blackmore seems to be enjoying himself here! Unfortunately, I’m just not in a Purple mood right now so this has been squirrelled away for a rainy day. And these things just aren’t the same without Simon Robinson’s liner notes either!

Primordial – To the Nameless Dead (£6 Amazon)

Primordial – The Gathering Wilderness (£10 Amazon Marketplace)

Primordial – All Empires Fall (2CD/DVD Set) (£14 Amazon)

Ok… went a bit mad for Ireland’s Primordial this month. I’d never heard them before but after loving Twilight of the Gods’ debut (with whom they share vocalist) and an encouraging recommendation from Burning Fist, I decided to check them out. I’m not sorry I did because these are incredible. It’s always exciting to add an amazing band to the library.

Anthrax – The Greater of Two Evils (2CD Version) (£7 – Amazon)

I’ve been on a massive Anthrax kick all November and decided to try this collection of re-recordings of Belladonna-era Anthrax with John Bush on vocals. I love both singers but I don’t usually like albums of re-recordings. Yet, despite my scepticism, it’s actually hugely infectious and John Bush is on great form. Wish I’d bought it sooner. It also has a bonus CD with 3 extra tracks.

Accept – Blood of the Nations (Mexican Edition?) (£8 – eBay)

I’ve never got into these guys but I keep hearing good things about their recent albums and gigs so I decided to listen to this. The Ltd. Digipak edition that featured the bonus track (Time Machine) has got a bit pricey in the UK so I bought an import from a US seller. On its arrival I was disappointed to discover it wasn’t the digi-version. Luckily it not only included Time Machine but also a hidden extra track Land of the Free! Wiki reckons this is a Japanese-only track but Discogs leads me to believe that this is the Mexican edition of the album. But, at any rate, it’s a fine album and justifies the praise.

*****

Phew! Another binge of a month takes me well beyond my monthly target of £40. Traditionally, I tend not to spend much in December but I have to admit that the HMO Challenge goal is now spectacularly out of reach! However, I can’t say I regret any of this month’s purchases and if I stop shopping in December, at least I’ll have plenty to listen to!

NOVEMBER 2013 TOTALS

Amount spent on purchases: £108

Amount budgeted: £40

Amount over/under budget: £68 Over!

HMO CHALLENGE 2013 TOTALS

Amount spent on purchases: £783

Amount budgeted: £595

Amount over/under budget: £188 Over

How Tempting! – November 2013

Only two months of the HMO Challenge to go and, if you’ve been keeping score, you’ll know there’s no way I’m coming in under budget this year. But, budgets aside, the project has been a useful way of helping me single out my preferred purchase each month so let’s keep it going! This month I’m looking to spend no more than £40 if possible.

Helpfully, the release schedule has slowed somewhat after a hectic October. But, unhelpfully, two of November’s releases are from Saxon which means two unavoidable purchases! There’s Unplugged and Strung Up (Nov 18th UK release date), a selection of classics given an acoustic and orchestral makeover (I’d imagine in the same style as the bonus tracks from Sacrifice earlier in the year). The deluxe edition also comes with their Heavy Metal Thunder album as a bonus disc. That’s another set of re-recordings that is already available elsewhere but I don’t have it so that’s a nice bonus! Also, there is an archive live album Live in Germany 1991 (out now) which has a great tracklist from an under-rated period of their history so I’ll be picking that up too for sure.

Three new albums stand out this month. I’m especially excited about Hell’s Curse and Chapter (25th Nov). This reactivated British band brought out a modern classic with 2011’s Human Remains and I’m eager to hear more from them. There is also the debut EP Receive from Nocturno Culto’s Gift of Gods (out now) that sounds well worth a listen. And November’s wild-card is Asa from Falkenbach (4th Nov) because I’m always up for a bit of Norse Metal and I’ve been hearing good things on Twitter. Unfortunately, its price on Amazon is £30 so I doubt I’ll be buying that until I find out why it’s so goddamn expensive…

And continuing the current vogue for CD/DVD/Blu Ray live sets is Black Sabbath with their Live… Gathered in their Masses. It’s a Sabbath release so there’s a certain pull there but I’m on record for not liking 13 so I’ll probably give this a miss.

Outside of the release schedules there’s still plenty tickling my fancy from previous months. After enjoying the Small Faces deluxe so much I’d like some more of theirs and there’s that Humble Pie Rockin’ the Fillmore: Complete Recordings box set too. The recent albums, Sister by In Solitude and White Goddess by Atlantean Kodex are still intriguing me a lot. Although I managed to resist them last month maybe I shouldn’t have!

So there’s a lot I want to hear in November but I have to keep in mind the mountain of music I already have. The Saxon releases are must-buys for me but I’ll possibly try to hold off any further spending until December if only so I can get my money’s worth from what I’ve already bought. As usual, let me know if there’s anything else coming out that I’ve missed or anything here that I should just flat-out avoid.

Buying Round-Up – October 2013

Here we go again! The end of the HMO Challenge 2013 is now firmly in sight and, I have to say, I really lost my resolve of late. I had a £60 spending limit to aim for in October and I already bought a veritable mountain of music in September so I should have been able to lay off this month. Unfortunately, last month’s spending spree seemed to just awaken the kind of bad habits I’ve been trying to fix with the challenge! Let’s see how badly I did…

Nice cover... wonder what the music's like?
Nice cover… wonder what the music’s like?

Paradise Lost – Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities) (£15 Amazon)

I did predict this was a sure-fire purchase but I’m going to be honest here: I haven’t listened to it yet! Turns out I already have a few of the songs on it too which is a bit disappointing.

Do you know I only just twigged why this is called Viva Hysteria? A bit slow.
Do you know I only just twigged why this is called Viva Hysteria? I’m such a Muppet.

Def Leppard – Viva Hysteria! (2CD/DVD Edition) (£15 Fopp Glasgow)

A worthwhile purchase for some of the lesser-heard tracks but I can’t say it’s particularly set my imagination on fire. It’s more worth it for the CDs, the DVD comes across a bit lifeless and a bit X-Factor and the Ded Flatbird sets are much more enjoyable than the Hysteria set.

Possible album of the year?
Possible album of the year?

Twilight of the Gods – Fire on the Mountain (£10 HMV Glasgow)

Purchase of the month! This is the kind of straight-up Heavy Metal that really hits me where I live. Wimps and posers leave the hall etc…

Rod Evans. The Man. The Legend.
Rod Evans. The Man. The Legend.

Deep Purple – Live at Inglewood 1968 (£9 Amazon Marketplace)

Thanks again to LeBrain for inspiring this purchase. An important addition to my live Deep Purple collection although strangely I decided I could do without the recent Perfect Strangers Live set for some reason. I think this scratched the itch.

Unusually nice weather for a Donington.
Unusually nice weather for a Donington.

Thunder – Live at Donington (2CD/DVD Edition) (£13 Amazon)

I’m not a huge fan of this band but I really fancied this. I’ve only watched the DVD so far and it’s a charismatic performance even if some of the fashions are a bit dicey.

Are you all sitty comftybold two-square on your botty?
Are you all sitty comftybold two-square on your botty?

Small Faces – Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake (3CD Deluxe Edition) (£13 Amazon)

My 2nd most listened to purchase of the month. This went down surprisingly well and it’s put me in a mind to get more of these deluxes. The mono versions on disc 1 just sound fantastic.

Morbid Year of the GoatMorbid – Year of the Goat (2CD) (£17 Amazon)

A late purchase of a box set I didn’t even know existed! The existing recordings of Dead’s band prior to him infamously joining Mayhem and killing himself. It looks like a necro treat but it’s not turned up yet so a stock photo will have to do!

*****

And that’s the lot. I overdid it a bit and I have to say it was a bit of uninspiring month for me with a few titles I could probably have lived without. But it was a useful lesson in the benefits of being more discerning so hopefully I can go into November with renewed willpower!

OCTOBER 2013 TOTALS

Amount spent on purchases: £92

Amount budgeted: £60

Amount over/under budget: £32 Over!

HMO CHALLENGE 2013 TOTALS

Amount spent on purchases: £675

Amount budgeted: £555

Amount over/under budget: £120 Over

How Tempting! – October 2013

The end is nigh as we enter the 10th month of the HMO Challenge. I’ve got a nice £60 budget for the month which is probably just as well because I’m feeling my resolve loosening. I just bought a metric shit-ton of music in September so in the interests of actually listening rather than just collecting, I should probably slow things up a bit in October! But this time of the year is always challenging as, with the release schedule heating up at this time of year, there’s temptation aplenty.

The real must-buy of the month is Paradise Lost’s Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities). Paradise Lost is one of the greatest Metal bands of all time and a personal favourite. I was considering buying their old singles for rare tracks so this is timely… and probably cheaper!

CD/DVD box sets of live performances seem to be a popular music industry tactic to part us from our cash as we approach the silly season. In October alone we have Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers Live, Def Leppard’s Viva! Hysteria, the Nuge’s Ultralive Ballisticrock and Europe Live at Sweden Rock (although poor Europe missed the box set memo – the CD and DVD are only available separately for that one). Of the bunch, Deep Purple is a slam-dunk for me and Def Leppard is pretty exciting but maybe not “first-day buyer” exciting.

There are also  couple of appealing live CD box sets coming out on the 28th Oct too: Humble Pie’s complete Rockin’ the Fillmore perfomances and the 3CD of Fleetwood Mac’s (Peter Green era) Boston. Both are firmly up my street but probably more likely as November purchases.

As far as studio album reissues go, there’s Rush’s remixed Vapor Trails which is cheap enough to be a consideration but I’m not in much of a Rush mood lately. Likewise, the deluxe of the Scorpions’ Crazy World with bonus live DVD and promo videos. A box set of Y&T’s early years looks nice but probably not worth replacing my vinyl copies with. Especially when they don’t get many listens as it is.

Of the new albums due for release this month, the most tempting is Ihsahn’s Das Seelenbrechen. It’s getting predictably rave reviews already but I’m not sure I’m in the mood just now for something this cerebral so maybe I can come back to it later. Motörhead release Aftershock as one of those Classic Rock Fanpack thingys. I’m a bit meh about Motörhead these days, Inferno was the last album of theirs that was of any real use, so I could easily do without this. Possible wild-cards might be In Solitude’s Sister (gothic, occult Metal – never heard them before but the reviews have piqued my interest) and Atlantean Kodex’s The White Goddess might be tempting if I’m in an Epic Doom kind of mood. Which I often am! It would probably have to get in line behind last month’s Twilight of the Gods album which is still fairly high on my wish-list.

So, plenty to think about this month! A lot of new releases but not many that are particularly essential or warrant being bought immediately. My primary tactic is to focus on enjoying all the good stuff I’ve already bought but if I get the itch, the priorities for me would be Paradise Lost, Deep Purple and possibly Def Leppard. Outside of the release schedule grind, I’ve got a notion for some Small Faces stuff and last month’s Donington set from Thunder has been tugging at my purse-strings more than I expected. Any other purchases would have to be the kind of bargain you can’t walk away from!

Anyway, that’s how HMO’s October is shaping up. Let me know if there’s anything exciting that I’ve missed or if there’s anything here I should just flat-out avoid.

STOP PRESS! Mike just made me buy this Deep Purple album.