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)
Here’s a rousing track from Primordial’s new live album Gods to the Godless (Live at Bang Your Head Festival Germany 2015). I always feel like live shows are defined by the inclusion of new tracks. My memories of live performances usually revolve around the new songs that were played. For better or worse, bands seem to put extra welly into the new stuff: meaning that brilliant new songs make for an unforgettable show but weak ones will likely mar my recollections, no matter how classics-laden the show might have been. The former is definitely the case with Primordial. Four of the eleven songs here are taken from their last album Where Greater Men Have Fallen and here’s an amazing version of the title track: a burly and martial take that surpasses the studio version. Alan Nemtheanga proves himself, once again, the consummate metal frontman, and the band’s chemistry and the skill of their arrangements are even more evident in the live setting: every instrument occupying a unique space to create a massive wall of sound. Primordial, over twenty years into their career, sound like they’re determined to remain impassioned and vital until the bitter end.
[To hear the Song of the Week, click track three on the YouTube screen below. And then listen to the whole thing, you won’t regret it]
No new releases to speak of today so here’s some bonus fun: the HMO Top 5 Songs of 2016. These are the five songs that stood out and stuck in my mind the most, and the ones that I think will most remind me of 2016 when I look back.
Abbath – To War! (from Abbath)
A classic black metal rampage that could have come straight off Immortal’s essential Sons of Northern Darkness album. And the opening riff! Total genius.
Akercocke – Inner Sanctum (from Speed Kills VII)
The return of the legendary Akercocke was proof that 2016 wasn’t all bad. Just classic Ak through and through, raising my excitement for their 2017 comeback album to fever pitch.
Gojira – Stranded (from Magma)
Magma wasn’t a totally consistent release but it made my Top 10 albums on the strength of some especially brilliant songs. And this audaciously simple instant-classic was the best of the lot.
Anaal Nathrakh – Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion (from The Whole of the Law)
The chorus of the year right here. Enjoy it cause the rest of the track is insanely violent. But with a title like that, you can’t say you weren’t warned.
But the HMO Song of the Year 2016 award goes to…
The King is Blind – Mesmeric Furnace (from Our Father)
This is a deep cut and we’re firmly in goosebump territory here. This track just oozes class. Epic, euphoric, monolithic, climatic. THIS is how you close an album.
And that rounds up 2016 for HMO. Thanks for reading and best wishes to you all for 2017!
Fans of 2014’s excellent Promulgation of the Fall would have been hoping for more than just two tracks from these Greek death metallers this year but their new EP Sombre Doom satisfies with quality over quantity. Opening with a howling dead wind of feedback, the first track Redemptive Immolation is grave and doom-laden with a thick, dark atmosphere. After the oppressive opener, the up-tempo battering of Wind’s Bane comes as a relief but is still rich in ghostly gloom and haunting guitar. The songs and riffs aren’t the most original but Sombre Doom is all about the vibe and the execution: this reeks of rain, death, evil and graveyards. Proper death metal if you ask me, and one of the best EPs of the year.
Schammasch’s Triangle is high-concept stuff. The Swiss group divide their latest album into stages with three themed CDs (The Process of Dying, Metaflesh and The Supernal Clear Light of the Void). The three discs each run to 33 minutes and all signify a stage of a spiritual journey. The concept is enhanced by the wonderful box set package and its eye-catching, symbolic imagery (by the talented Ester Segarra). It all screams masterpiece! Well, apart from the music. The album has a befittingly grand production but the music of Triangle is a chore. The first disc is a sub-Behemoth slog and the third disc, while it has a pleasant cinematic ambience, goes nowhere fast: five tracks where the final two would have had the same effect. The second disc is more successful. Its Monotheist-style evil, glassy prog and mysterious chants offering up the album’s hookiest passages. But there’s just too much padding throughout. And treating each disc as a separate album doesn’t help either when two of them are such a slog. The scale of the project keeps me returning to it, hoping it will finally click, but after coming away from another listen feeling nothing I have to finally accept that Triangle is just overlong and unrewarding. It looks and sounds incredible but there are not enough engaging moments to justify an hour and 40 minutes of my time.
It’s finally Friday, time to spend all your hard-earned cash… but what on? Well, the HMOverlord is here to help, telling you what’s new and exciting in the world of metal and rock. And I had to tear myself away from the live stream of Banger TV’s “Essential Power Metal Albums” debate to do it too, so I hope you’re grateful. There’s not much doing in the way of reissues this week (the XTC Skylarking set does look nice though) so it’s all new music. And first off, we’ve got one of the most anticipated albums of the year.
Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder
With its simplified artwork and the handing of all vocal duties to Nocturno Culto, it looks like it’s all change with Darkthrone’s new release. Advance track Tundra Leech suggested a more misanthropic approach, following the bullet-belted romp of The Underground Resistance. I loved that album but I find the prospect of a less chummy Darkthrone thrilling. I’ve got my orange vinyl edition pre-ordered and I’m hoping for “Album of the Year” material here.
Hobbs’ Angel of Death – Heaven Bled
The Australian metal legend returns to tide all you thrash fans over while you wait for the new Testament and Metallica albums to land. But, if the track Son of God is anything to go by, I might just stick with this. It’s Show No Mercy-era Slayer stylings put a proper smile on my face. If the whole album is like that, this could be a total winner.
Anciients – Voice of the Void
I haven’t heard this band at all but Season of Mist have been releasing a lot of great stuff lately and I’ve read some intriguing reviews of this new album. Anciients have got a great proggy sound, like a less-sludgy Mastodon but the song I heard (Ibex Eye) took a wee bit too long to get going. Still, there’s definitely promise here so I’ll be checking this one out. Awesome cover too.
Blasphemer – Ritual Theophagy
Italians’ Blasphemer return after a six-year absence to rip out some old-school death metal. It’s chaotic and evil but with a blasting, technical edge. It reminds me a bit of the very early Akercocke stuff, actually. And if song titles like Jesus Rapes and Crucifix of Shit are anything to go by, sounds like these guys are Blaphemers by nature as well as by name. Released on Comatose Music.
Sons of Balaur – Tenebris Deos
Another Season of Mist release, here’s the fictional black metal band Sons of Balaur. Fresh from starring in the graphic novel, and soon to be animated movie, ‘Realm of the Damned’. They’ve definitely got a publicity angle at least. It’s all good fun I suppose, but I haven’t been impressed by what I’ve heard so far. And it’s all a bit… silly.
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation
I can pretty much cut-and-paste my coverage of last week’s Meshuggah album here. Just change the names (and all the stuff about breakfast). DEP are a well-regarded band that just never really caught me. But I was pretty impressed by their new track Symptom of Terminal Illness so I’m sure this album will hit the spot with their fans. And they’ll have to make this most of it, since it looks like it might be the band’s last.
Elsewhere, we have the return of Singapore’s Wormrot with Voices, an album that also marks Earache’s return to grindcore. But, in typical grindcore fashion, you wait years for it… and then only get 26 minutes worth. Anyone cowering in a corner at the mere suggestion of grindcore can take solace in the new Tyketto album Reach. I’m sure that’ll be manna from heaven for AOR fans. And fans of Europe might want to check out their former guitarist Kee Marcello and his new album Scaling Up. Great guitar but sounds like the vocals might be a weak link here. Both those are out on Frontier Records. And rounding things off, we’ve got the DVD/CD set of Extreme’s Pornograffitti Live 25 (kick it Kevin!) and Sonic Syndicate’s Eurovision pomp of Confessions. Not for me!
Not a bad batch of albums today then. A few that I’ll definitely be looking into but, let’s not kid ourselves, this week is all about the unholy Darkthrone! Hope you enjoyed my wee round-up. Let me know what you’re after today, anything crucial I missed? Until next Friday, happy hunting. I’m off to see if I can catch the end of that Power Metal debate…
I love a good live album and I love “classic” rock but rarely come across magnificent examples of either these days. And a good live classic rock album is even rarer! So I was hoping that Danko Jones’ latest release Live at Wacken would deliver on both accounts. I’ve only ever heard a few songs of his and never been blown away. It’s all a bit too much like a jeans advert. But I hear a lot of people say he (they?) are great live. On the basis of this set I can imagine that’s probably the case but the excitement only partially translates to CD/DVD. It’s got a great sound and jovial atmosphere. The band is loose and frontman Danko is in charming form, clearly enjoying being the loverman rocker at Europe’s Metal Mecca. But for all their self-professed “mean power chords” there’s not much in the way of decent riffs or songs. But the energy, witty raps and cheery vibe are winning and some Misfits-style pop punk numbers like the excellent The Twisting Knife add melodic substance in amongst all the two-chord dating-manual songs. It’s likely to be the only Danko Jones I will ever want or need but it’s enough of a good time to be worth holding on to. Like their festival slot, it’s fun for the afternoon but they’ll need to do better to score any hot night-time action.