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