New Releases – 3rd March 2017

Last week was a belter with Immolation and Power Trip putting out the best albums of the year so far. So today’s new releases have a hard act to follow.

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The Senseless – The Buried Life

The eclectic solo project of Sam Bean (The Berzerker/Mithras/The Antichrist Imperium) returns for a third album. This actually just came out on the 1st Mar so I’ve already had a couple of listens. It’s a darker and denser effort than the previous album, the joyous The Floating World, but it’s still got that uplifting “heavy mental” mix of insanity and humanity and there are tons of surprises. The CD, available through the band’s website, will have a bonus track and there are digital downloads offered at the usual places too.

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Midnight – Shox of Violence

These masked marauders are one of the most exciting metal acts around at the moment: pure filthy NWOBHM riffery for fans of the ‘heads combined with a black, punky atmosphere for fans of Venom, Bathory and the like. Shox of Violence was released as a vinyl EP last year with four songs and now here’s the CD version with an added… wait for it… 25 bonus tracks! Cover versions, live tracks, tracks from split releases etc… a veritable treasure trove of evil depravity.

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Armored Saint – Carpe Noctum

This live album from the “headbangingest band on the planet” has been available already via a PledgeMusic deal but here it is now for everyone else. I’m half intrigued cause the band has a great catalogue and are, by all accounts, great live. But I’m put off by the fact that their last album Win Hands Down was a bit of a duffer. But they picked the good new songs for this so it might not be too bad. Anyone heard this already? Do they deliver?

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Dread Sovereign – For Doom the Bell Tolls

You’ve got to love that title. Primordial’s Nemtheanga gets his old-school epic doom on with this side-project. This EP is the follow-up to 2014’s All Hell’s Martyrs album. I didn’t really connect much with that but I didn’t spend nearly enough time with it either so I reckon I’ll give that a revisit first and then see what happens.

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Danko Jones – Wild Cat

Like Armored Saint, another band with a good rep as a live act. I’m not all that up on these guys studio output but their last live album was quite good fun. Not especially my cup of tea though so I’d have to read phenomenally good things to drum up enthusiasm.

Slaughter – Strappado and Nocturnal Hell, Surrender or Die

Just realised it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve had any CanCon… am I in trouble? Well, here’s a double dose of primo Canuck thrash metal to get me off the hook. First off, we’ve got High Roller reissuing Slaughter’s classic Strappado with a bonus track and an unedited rough mix of the whole album. And, just to make this week even more exciting for Slaughter fans, Vic Records also release a compilation with an EP and their demos too. You lucky Canucks!

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And I reckon that’s about it! Another very strong week. The Senseless album is my pick of the week and the Midnight and Slaughter albums are must-buys too. And I’m sure I’ll get to Dread Sovereign eventually (probably via Bandcamp). Let me know what you’re after today. Anything I’ve missed? Until next time… happy hunting!

The Doomsday Kingdom – Never Machine Demo EP

Never Machine Demo EP – Original Cover

Candlemass bassist/songwriter Leif Edling has dubbed his latest project “music from the catacombs” as it was a visit to Paris’ bone-ridden underworld that inspired its creation. It’s an apt description. With The Doomsday Kingdom’s debut EP Never Machine, Leif’s music goes deeper and darker than it has for some time. The opening title-track and The Sceptre stick fairly close to Candlemass’ modern style but Niklas Stalvind’s grave and gravelly vocals and Marcus Jidell’s excellent, vintage soloing give the songs a fresh, grittier edge. But it might just have been a decent, unremarkable release if it wasn’t for the more interesting and engaging second-half. Zodiac City is a coiled and creepy serial killer yarn with a great chorus hook and the EP ends on a high with Edling taking the mic for The Whispering, a haunting and ghostly string-laden ballad. Never Machine doesn’t quite reach the inspired heights of Leif’s classic output but it’s a real grower and a definite improvement on last year’s half-(Candlem)assed EP Death Thy Lover. Candlemass might have fallen out of favour but these demos show promising signs that Edling still has what it takes to reign again as a king of doom.

(Here’s my copy. It’s the new edition released by Nuclear Blast. With new artwork, lyric sheet and red vinyl)

Song of the Week: Immolation – Destructive Currents

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.

New Releases – 24th February 2017

They’re new and they’ve been released. It’s the Friday new releases!

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Immolation – Atonement

New York’s purveyors of consistently excellent and uncompromising death metal are back with their new album… and their old logo! The tracks I’ve heard so far sound phenomenal: instantly engaging, monolithic bludgeon with expert pacing and some blackened strums just to top things off. The limited edition digipak CD looks like the way to go for bonus tracks as it features the re-recorded version of Immolation that appeared on one of Decibel Mag’s flexi-discs a while back. Yes please.

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Sanctuary – Inception

This release is being touted as the prequel to Sanctuary’s 1988 debut album Refuge Denied but it’s basically old demos from 1986. But, either way, we’re lucky to have them as the “lost” tape was recently discovered in a barn(!) It’s excellent thrashy power prog with high-flying vocals that’ll hit fans of Queensryche right where they live. Looks like this’ll be a cool package with all the compulsory memorabilia, liner notes and stuff too.

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Power Trip – Nightmare Logic

Never heard of this band so it was strange to see them pop up in the Guardian this week… how’d they pull that off? Good on them though. Any band that gets Bolt Thrower and Sacrilege into a mainstream paper is fine by me so they deserve a listen just for doing that! Sounds like this’ll be some good retro-thrash fun, although the harsh vocals might take a bit of getting used to for some listeners.

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Sunless – Urraca

This is an intriguing debut release. Might have passed it by but I spotted their guitarist playing a Strat. You hardly ever see extreme metal players playing Strats! So I gave a track a go just on that basis alone and it was very impressive indeed. A dissonant, creative maze of riffs but grounded in solid death metal. Definitely one to check out on Bandcamp.

Elsewhere, we have more death metal veterans, Sinister, back with their new album Syncretism. I’m not all that familiar with this band so it’s overshadowed by the Immolation release. The cover for this is much better though! Amorphis pull an Anthrax with a “Tour Edition” of their last album Under the Red Cloud. Quite a few live tracks so maybe worth another purchase for the diehards but I don’t think these kind of releases should be encouraged. (**UPDATE** If you don’t want to buy the Amorphis album all over again you can download the extra disc An Evening With Friends at Huvila on its own, as MP3/M4A/FLAC here.) And last, but not least, there’s Siberian with Through Ages of Sleep, which sounds like an Isis/Neurosis kind of effort. I love sleeping for ages but I’m not so keen on this vocal style so I’ll pass. Fans of post-metal should give this a bash though.

And that’s the lot for another week. Some good underground releases this week. Immolation is the main must-buy for sure but plenty of other stuff here that warrants further investigation. I’m especially intrigued by Sunless. Let me know what I’ve missed and let me know if there’s anything that is particularly tickling your fancy/getting your goat. Happy hunting!

Song of the Week: Omen – Be My Wench

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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.

[Omen – Be My Wench]

Bernie Tormé – ‘Dublin Cowboy’ Available on PledgeMusic

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In addition to yesterday’s New Release round-up here’s one more thing you should spend some money on this weekend. The upcoming Bernie Tormé album Dublin Cowboy is available as a PledgeMusic offer and, with the offer ending on Mon 20th Feb 2017, this weekend is your last chance to get involved.

Bernie is the incredible axe wizard that played on the classic Gillan albums of the early 80s, Mr. Universe, Glory Road and Future Shock, and his playing on the Reading Festival live recordings is some of my very favourite guitar playing ever. It’s incendiary! And, if that wasn’t enough, he also played with Ozzy Osbourne and formed Desperado with Dee Snider and Clive Burr. Not to mention his excellent solo career.

And now he’s back with his latest solo album Dublin Cowboy, which is going to be a triple studio/live/acoustic release. Go to his PledgeMusic page to get your pledge in. There are a ton of options and, even if you only punt for the £12 digital version, you get access to a ton of great stuff. There are brilliant guitar playthrough videos of some awesome Gillan songs and solos. There are rare song downloads, gear breakdowns, and all sorts of memorabilia like tour itineraries and photos of him drinking Guinness and stuff like that. I’m sure the album will still be available later but it’s well worth getting involved at this Pledge stage as Bernie has really gone to town with the extras here.

New Releases – 17th February 2017

There’s not a huge amount of stuff out today so this’ll be short. Some good classic metal reissues out today though.

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Virgin Steele – Visions of Eden

David DeFeis and Co. continue their excellent series of reissues with this deluxe edition of their “Barbaric-Romantic Movie of the Mind”. The 2006 album gets a remix on the first disc and the original album is remastered on disc two. Visions of Eden is a rich, complex album but it never quite reaches the heights of the band’s classic work (apart from the bit where he tells Adam and Eve to eff off). But there’s strong potential for improvement with the remix so I’m intrigued to see how this one works out. And you’ve got to love the pure phallic power of that cover.

Omen – Reissues

Some more classic trad-metal reissues here. Omen’s first three albums on Metal Blade, Battle Cry, Warning of Danger and The Curse, getting newly remastered and repackaged editions on digipak CD and vinyl. The CDs will have some bonus tracks, most notably the Nightmares EP which will be added to The Curse CD, but if you’re buying the vinyl versions you’ll just get the album tracks. The only thing I’m missing here (inc. bonus tracks) is The Curse so I reckon I’ll pick that up cause their other stuff is jolly good. If you like your metal NWOBHM-y and don’t know Omen, now’s your chance… be their wench tonight!

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Benighted – Necrobreed

**UPDATE** Thanks to Nick for the heads-up about this one. Big brutal deathgrind release from France that’s been getting plenty of review praise lately. Not strictly my cup of tea style-wise but I’m intrigued enough to want to hear more, given the praise. And the awesome packaging from Season of Mist doesn’t hurt either. Fans should note that the deluxe box CD version has two bonus cover versions (of Sepultura and Marduk).

Elsewhere we have The Forty Five by black metal combo Cnoc An Tursa. Scenic, folky stuff with tons of Scottishness. Less Trve Kvlt, more Trve Kilt. And if I’m the first person to make that joke surely I deserve some sort of reward. Death metal veterans Morta Skuld return with Wounds Deeper Than Time (one of those bands where I’d rather go back and check them out from the beginning though). And last, and definitely least, Anthrax release the umpteenth version of their “new” album For All Kings. This time it’s the “Tour Edition” with a bonus EP of demos. Don’t encourage them.

Not a particularly stellar week but I’ve been looking forward to the Virgin Steele reissue and I’m up for adding Omen’s The Curse to the collection too so those are my personal picks. Fans of brutal death will want to make a beeline for Benighted though. Until next week, happy hunting!

… and classic rock too!