New Releases – 9th February 2018

New release Friday! Today we’ve got a big release from Metal Blade and an exciting batch of reissued thrash. German thrash… the best kind.

‘Are these my hooves?’

Visigoth – Conqueror’s Oath

While I’m a bit sceptical about the true metal resurgence, Visigoth’s debut album The Revenant King was definitely one of the better albums of the movement. I found it a bit long winded but there was evident promise and talent there. So I’m keen to check out the US band’s follow-up Conqueror’s Oath. A quick glance at running times bodes well and I’m hearing good things about this one. Not sure about that horse on the cover though…

Destruction – Reissues

The excellent High Roller Records are reissuing a batch of classic albums from the German thrash masters Destruction. The reissues come with original artwork, bonus photos, a mini-poster, slip cases and a quality remastering job. The run of albums and EPs here (Sentence Of Death, Infernal Overkill, Eternal Devastation, Mad Butcher, Release From Agony, Live Without Sense and Cracked Brain) is beyond essential. Some of my very favourite thrash albums right there. They’ve been out-of-print on CD for a while so, if you don’t have them, now’s your chance. I’ve got them already but I’ll buy them again! If CDs aren’t your bag the label also put out vinyl versions last year that look awesome too.

That’s the lot for me. Let me know what you’re after today in the comments.


Tribulation – Down Below (Review)

When Sweden’s Tribulation premiered their new single Lady Death in late 2017, it left me expecting a bland, streamlined follow-up album to 2015’s excellent The Children Of The Night. I shouldn’t have worried. Their follow-up Down Below is definitely streamlined but, far from being bland, it hones their horror metal to perfection: simplifying their music and making it more accessible without sacrificing depth. No mean feat.

There are a lot of comparisons to be drawn with other Swedish bands. The melodic horror and direct, memorable riffing is akin to Ghost but tracks like Nightbound and Cities From The Underworld use layers of sinister instrumentation and harmony to add a thick, nocturnal atmosphere of gothic horror. Johannes Andersson maintains his ghoulish, gargled vocals style too. A crucial move that stops things getting too slick, giving the album a gritty, filth that brings to mind In Solitude’s superb Sister. And on the centrepiece track Subterranea the band conjure the kind of evil magick that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Watain album.

The Ltd. Edition version features excellent bonus track Come, Become, To Be

I can’t blame anyone for trying to pick out a single but this is best experienced in its entirety. Tribulation juggles variety and consistency, accessibility and obscurity with accomplished ease. It’s a major statement from a band that has come a staggeringly long way in just four albums and Down Below will cast a long, haunting shadow over the metal scene of 2018.

HMO Rating: 5 Out Of 5

New Releases – 2nd February 2018

There’s a metric shit-ton of stuff out today. Probably. I wouldn’t really know, because all I care about is Saxon! Are there any Saxon albums out today? YOU BET THERE ARE.

Saxon – Thunderbolt

Saxon continue to pump out consistently good to great metal albums these days, with just enough curveballs thrown to keep things from getting stale. Here’s the latest. I listened to the title track precisely once and I’ve avoided any other previews so this will all be exciting and new to me. Various versions as always… the big super cashectomy box has the same songs repeated over and over on different formats along with a bunch of knick-knacks. The main bonus seems to be a live bootleg disc that you can get in the aforementioned box, or via a few of the options on their PledgeMusic page.

And that’s it! The only release that matters today. I’ve got to say, 2018 has got off to a pretty amazing start. Three albums out already (Watain, Tribulation and hopefully Saxon) that are all likely AOTY contenders. Not too shabby.

Let me know what you’re buying today in the comments. Up for some Saxon or is there something else you’ve got yer eye on?

Def Leppard – The Def Leppard EP (Review)

Record Store Day Edition

Def Leppard roared onto the UK metal scene with this self-titled EP. Hard to imagine now, but the squillion-selling stars of Hysteria fame had to release this on their own label Bludgeon Riffola after paying for the recording with borrowed money and recording it with borrowed drummer, Frank Noon. It was the kind of DIY move that became a big factor in the growing New Wave of British Heavy Metal and The Def Leppard EP put the Sheffield band right at the forefront of the movement. Before the term NWOBHM had even been coined!

Released in January 1979 the EP features early versions of Ride Into The Sun, Getcha Rocks Off and The Overture: all songs that would be re-recorded later, with varying results. A later Hysteria-era remake of Ride Into The Sun improved on the original’s clunky vocals but that bouncy riff is still killer here and it’s fun to hear Lep in such naïve form. Getcha Rocks Off and The Overture would appear again on the band’s debut album On Through The Night but these are the definitive takes with their lively hot-of-the-press feel. The Overture in particular is a highlight, top epic-metal cobblers that puts the album version in the shade.


None of this is going to blow you away but it’s a fun, interesting listen and must-have for Lep fans. It’s been released in various vinyl editions that might set you back now but it has just been made available digitally for the first time EVER so there has never been a better time to getcha rocks off with this excellent piece of metal history.

HMO Rating: 4 out of 5

New Releases – 26th January 2018

The wait is finally over! It’s the return of the weekly New Release posts. Every Friday, I’ll be taking a look at the day’s new releases and new reissues. But this will be a new remastered version of the New Release posts. In other words, totally compressed! I’m going to be thoroughly selfish and utterly ruthless, covering only the most interesting (to me) and must-buy (if you’re me) new releases and reissues. Luckily, because I have such great taste, the selection will never be anything less than exemplary.

So what’s out today?

Tribulation – Down Below

One of the big releases of 2018 right here. I’ve got all of Tribulation’s previous albums and I loved their last one The Children Of The Night so this is a slam dunk. Not so sure about the songs I’ve heard so far but I’ve been reading tons of rave reviews and I reckon it’ll all make more sense as a complete album. A must buy. **UPDATE** There is a special mediabook CD edition with a bonus track. And it’s GORGEOUS.

Portal – Ion

Horror metal weirdness from Australia. I’m not a huge fan, only got a couple of older albums, but I’ll definitely give this a listen to see if it’s any good. I’ve heard mixed things so far but they’re that kind of band. And that cover is pretty splendid.

Thor – Electric Eyes

Ye Gods! An unreleased album from the son of Odin himself, Jon Mikl Thor! These previously-unheard recordings were done after his first album Keep The Dogs Away as he was moving from glam to the heavy metal style of the awesome Unchained EP and the Only The Strong album. You can’t have enough of this stuff so… count me in.

And that’s my shopping list for today. Let me know if there are any releases that you are particularly excited about in the comments.

Primordial Announce New Album ‘Exile Amongst The Ruins’

Here’s some exciting news for fans of Primordial. The Irish pagan metallers have announced that their new album Exile Amongst The Ruins will be released on 30th March 2018. And to accompany the announcement they have also released a new song and video entitled Stolen Years.

The album is available to pre-order via Metal Blade in the usual array of formats. Details are a bit sketchy as yet but it looks like the double CD version or the inevitable big deluxe vinyl box thingy are the editions to go for if you want bonus tracks.

As far as the new song goes, it strikes me more like a good deep album cut than a single. It’s a bit of an odd (brave?) choice in that respect and I like the atmosphere and aching quality. And they went all Wanted Dead Or Alive with the video too! It’s the type of song that sounds like it’ll take a few listens but I’m going to hold off from watching or listening any more until the album comes out. I’m looking forward to this album a lot and I like it all to be fresh when I finally get it.

UFO – Phenomenon (Review)

UFO – Phenomenon (1974)

With two studio albums behind them, UFO took off in 1974 with the recruitment of the German mad axeman Michael Schenker and the release of their excellent third album Phenomenon.

The spacey tendencies of the band’s earlier work remain in the cosmic balladry of tracks like Space Child and Crystal Light and vocalist Phil Mogg shines on these mellower tracks. But Schenker shows what he can do on the album’s rockers: peppering opener Oh My with fluid leads,  chugging infectiously on Doctor Doctor and offering up a veritable guitar goldmine on Rock Bottom. Side two is less memorable but contains two highlights in the majestic Queen Of The Deep and Too Young To Know: a great example of the kind of ultra-catchy storytelling rock that would become the band’s speciality.

More accomplished albums would follow and cement UFO’s place as classic rock giants but Phenomenon more than lives up to the promise of its titular billing with its raw and innocent mix of riffy, trippy boogie. It’s a big favourite of mine and has a uniquely proto-metal place in the UFO discography. Essential listening if you enjoy the early outings of Priest, Scorpions and Budgie and want to hear the development of a style that would be heard later, louder and heavier, in the output of NWOBHM bands such as Maiden, Saxon and Diamond Head.

HMO Rating: 4.5 out of 5

[UFO – Queen Of The Deep]

*note that older versions have ‘Oh My’ swap sides with ‘Too Young To Know’ (also occasionally mis-spelled as ‘Too Young To No’!)

… and classic rock too!