It’s officially summer now but winter darkness reigns eternal in the heart of the HMOverlord so here’s Winterland by Copenhagen’s Demon Head. Taken from their 2015 album Ride the Wilderness, we’re in firmly retro territory here, harking back to the vintage proto-metal of Pentagram or even the heavier bluesy bands like Fleetwood Mac. The band’s sound is refreshingly clean and warm, the heaviness coming from the doom-laden riffs and delivery. And Ferreira Larsen’s excellent Bobby-Liebling-meets-Glenn-Danzig vocals are cultishly addictive. It’s great stuff from a very promising debut album. If you like this, the bands entire digital discography can be acquired very cheaply via Bandcamp and keep an eye out the follow-up album Thunder On The Fields, due out in April 2017.
There couldn’t be any other choice today. Chuck Berry was one of the original rock n’ rollers and an essential innovator in the story of rock. A phenomenally talented writer, performer and guitarist.
But which song to pick? I was thinking Reelin’ and Rockin’ or Guitar Boogie from the One Dozen Berrys album but then I remembered this amazing footage from the Heppest of the Hep Facebook page and decided to go with this. It’s an awesome performance of one of his most legendary tunes: Chuck lets rip with plenty of guitar licks and works through all his iconic stage moves too. The audience are justifiably appreciative at the end. And we should be too… a big round of applause, please, for Chuck Berry.
Savage’s relatively late debut album (1983’s Loose N’ Lethal) might make them seem like one of the few New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands that couldn’t lay a claim to being an influence on the mighty Metallica. But, far from being Johnny-Come-Latelies, Savage had already been around for a while. By 1981 they had already released a demo, a single and made two appearances on a compilation album Scene of the Crime. One of those compilation tracks was the classic Let it Loose and it soon made its way into the hands of, you guessed it, Lars Ulrich. Only appearing in early Metallica live sets and on a demo tape, it’s not one of the more famous or celebrated Metallica NWOBHM covers but there’s a strong whiff of the thrash giants’ early style here. And although ‘tallica didn’t exactly pass it off as one of their own they weren’t in a hurry to draw attention to the fact that it was a cover either. And, if any listeners thought it was one of their own original songs, that was fine by them too. Have a listen to the 1981 Scene of the Crime version of the track here to hear why.
The Swiss power trio Coroner has often been called the “Rush of Thrash” for their progressive bent and formidable performances. And their albums don’t get much more progressive and formidable than their fourth, 1991’s Mental Vortex. Here’s one of my favourite tracks from it, Son of Lilith. It’s still got enough crunch and neck-snapping intensity to please thrashers but this song is more about precision and groove. It’s got an earworm of a chorus and a guitar solo to die for. Total class.
This week has been all about Immolation’s superb new album Atonement. This is the first song I heard from the CD and it’s my current favourite. Destructive Currents is seismic enough to deliver on the promise of its title but it’s also delivered with confident restraint so that the twisting, blackened death metal riffs have maximum impact. There have been fun releases so far this year, like Kreator’s Gods of Violence but this stuff is serious: imposing, controlled and impressive. With Atonement, Immolation has set the bar for extreme metal in 2017.
Tired of crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you and all that? Why not let off some steam with Omen’s Be My Wench? This is top metal cobblers, it’s got a chorus that you’ll never get out of your head and it’s also got the kind of raunchy lyrics that most po-faced modern bands wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. But if you’re going to do Conan metal there needs to be some shagging in there. It’s the barbarian way.
I know most metal fans prefer the Dio-fronted Rainbow but round these parts Joe Lynn Turner rules. So here’s a superb version of the classic Rainbow track I Surrender. It’s taken from the Live in Japan 1984 double live album that was made available recently as bonus discs with the Ritchie Blackmore Story box set. It’s a bonus extra that outstrips the main feature easily. Listening to Ritchie Blackmore reminiscing about his career is one thing: listening to him play is another entirely. And if you’ve never listened to The Man in Black’s live playing, you’ve never really heard him at all. No criticism of his studio output – it’s adorned with legendary guitar work – but this is a man that likens studio recording to “being at the dentists”. Unshackled from the studio, his playing reaches a transcendent level of inspiration and excitement. The whole band is on great form here, especially Joe Lynn Turner who sings with passion and commitment. But Blackmore grabs this great AOR track by the balls, lifting it to another level with one of his ingeniously messy, improvisational and thrilling solos. There’s a tag I use on this site: The World’s Greatest Guitarist. It’s reserved for The Man in Black and performances like this are why.