There has been lots of exciting news coming out of the Paradise Lost camp lately with not just one new release on the horizon but two! So I thought I’d be super-efficient and just deal with both in one handy post.
First up is the main event, the band’s new album Medusa. It’ll be out on September 1st and promises to continue the band’s increasingly heavy direction. The cover has a very cool folk-horror vibe and the vinyl single Blood And Chaos (coming out on August 3rd) has great artwork too. Their last album made my yearly Top 10 and I’ll be surprised if Medusa doesn’t end up in this year’s list. It’s an exciting release from a veteran band that’s still in vital form.
And if all that wasn’t awesome enough Music For Nations have lined up a 20th Anniversary reissue of their 1997 album One Second. It was the album that followed the massively successful Draconian Times and, in the words of frontman Nick Holmes, marked “for better or worse the beginning of a very experimental stage for the band.” It’s maybe not what some people think of as classic PL but it was an interesting progression from the band at a point where they could easily have stagnated: a great album with some classic songs.
The new edition will come with the live audio of the 1998 Shepherd’s Bush gig that has previously only been available on the DVD Evolve. This means there are a few B-Sides from the era that are not represented here but the live disc is a value-for-money bonus that makes it worth another punt (not to mention the usual liner notes and all that stuff). You can finally just listen to it without the band’s haircuts putting you off.
It’s all good news for Paradise Lost fans. These two releases, not to mention the blistering Vallenfyre album Fear Those Who Fear Him, should keep all you miserable buggers happy for a while.
It’s immediately evident from the Chuck Berry double-stops that kick off Holocaust’s 1981 debut album that this isn’t going to be as totally dark and metallic as the spooky cover and jagged band logo suggests. Only four songs on The Nightcomers fully live up to the nefarious promise of the front sleeve. Second track Death Or Glory has a chunky, stomping riff of evil, gurning magnificence. The title-track and Mavrock are excellent sludgy, doomy affairs with creepy, reverb-laden vocals and guitar lines. And the fourth is the album’s standout track, the metal-worshipping anthem Heavy Metal Mania. If you like metal at all then this song is simply impossible to resist.
Excluding those songs and the lively Nuge/UFO-style heavy boogie of opener Smokin’ Valves, what you’re left with isn’t quite as good… but it doesn’t matter. The riffs and solos are excellent throughout and the Edinburgh band has a knack with a catchy chorus so potentially uneventful tracks like Cryin’ Shame and Push It Around just manage to avoid being total filler (even if they are strangely feel-good next to the album’s heavier tracks). Even the often wobbly vocals of Gary Lettice have a naive charm and intriguingly pre-Hetfield tone and phrasing.
If you’re new to these guys you’re in luck as Metal Nation have just reissued the album on CD with the songs from three 12″ singles as bonus tracks. It’s a great package and superb example of the promising talent, youthful energy and total lack of contrivance that keeps people going back to the NWOBHM bands. Even if it’s not quite a top-tier entry from the genre, it’s not far off. An enjoyable and memorable hard rocker with a batch of tracks that are nothing less than stone-cold metal classics.
I’m not sure I could have picked a less Easter-y album to listen to tonight. Then again, I’m fairly sure that vast swathes of my music collection aren’t exactly appropriate for most religious holidays. There’s never a bad time to listen to Thy Mighty Contract though. It’s brilliant early black metal with remarkably restrained and melodic riffs, impassioned warrior shouts and dark force. It’s often pleasingly dreary and gothic in a Paradise Lost/My Dying Bride vein and it has that influential and unique sun-baked atmosphere that Greek black metal has become known for. It’s atmospheric, accessible and totally classic: a great entry point for anyone new to the genre and an eternal favourite for long-time devotees.
[Rotting Christ – The Fourth Knight Of Revelation]
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.
There’s not a huge amount of stuff out today so this’ll be short. Some good classic metal reissues out today though.
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!
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!
February already, eh? Soon be Christmas! Let’s have a gawp at the latest releases…
Judas Priest – Turbo 30
First off, we’ve got the 30th anniversary reissue of the controversial Priest album. Available as a remastered album-only 180g vinyl or you can buy the 3CD edition that adds a double-CD live set from 1986. It’s hardly the full selection of Turbo-era rarities that you would have been hoping for, and the live disc is very similar to Priest Live!, but this still looks like a decent reissue. Live Priest is always worth a punt, though.
Deep Purple – Time for Bedlam EP
The veteran rockers drop an EP to tide you over while you wait on the new album inFinite, which is due out on April. Collectors will mainly want this for the non-album track Paradise Bar and there’s also an instrumental version of Uncommon Man and a rehearsal version a new track Hip Boots too. I’m sure Purps fans will dig all this stuff but… I’m bowing out. I just can’t be arsed with their modern style anymore.
Master – Master
Hammerheart Records are releasing various editions of this proto-death classic. Choose from the single CD, a frankly beautiful vinyl edition, and a 2CD deluxe with a bunch of bonus stuff: including a different “triggered” mix of the album (wat?), some unreleased rehearsals and the “unreleased” 1985 album (which has been “released” a few times now!) Looks like this could be the definitive version of a cracking album.
The Mist – Phantasmagoria
Greyhaze Records reissues another Brazilian gem from the Cogumelo roster on CD/Vinyl/Tape. This time it’s The Mist’s Phantasmagoria from 1989. This one will suit fans of old Coroner, Kreator and Destruction. It’s quite slick and accomplished by Cogumelo standards but still rough enough to keep the falses out! I don’t think this album is quite the “lost classic” it’s being pumped up to be but it’s an enjoyable genre entry. If you’re a thrash addict that “mist” out on it when it was released, this is well worth investigating.
Soen – Lykaia
Third album of prog-metal from ex-Opeth drummer Martin Lopez and friends. I’ve always gave them a bye cause of the Opeth/Tool comparison but their new track Lucidity sounded pretty decent. Decent enough for me to want to hear more.
In a less HMO-friendly vein, there’s also Iron Reagan with Crossover Ministry and Black Star Riders with Heavy Fire. I’m not enough of a crossover fan to bother with Iron Reagan (do like that name though). And I just can’t get into Black Star Riders at all. Kudos to them for doing their own thing and throwing off the Lizzy tag but I’ve not heard anything from them that makes me want to care.
Of today’s lot, I’ll definitely be wanting the Master, Priest and The Mist releases. In that order of preference. And I’ll give the Soen album a listen online too and see if it floats my boat. And that’s it for another week. As usual, let me know what I’ve missed and if there’s anything here that you just gotta have. Happy hunting!
I thought this week would be a bit light on new releases with everyone trying to stay clear of Metallica’s mutant-boogie (?) juggernaut. But I hadn’t really taken the time of year into account… there’s shitloads of stuff coming out today! And from some big bands too. So, take that Metallica! Anyway, there’s tons to get through today so enough of my yakkin’! Let’s mutant-boogie!
Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct
Did I mention Metallica have an album out today? I dare say you know about this already, you’ve listened to some (or all) of it and you’ve made up your mind whether you’re going to buy this or not. Based on the tracks I’ve heard, I’m not overly fussed. Some good moments but not totally convincing. I’ll check more tracks out online before making any decisions. If you’re going to buy this, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t go for a version with the bonus disc: plenty of covers, live tracks and Lords of Summer too.
Lamb of God – The Duke EP
Randy Blythe and co. return with new EP featuring two new tracks and three live ditties. The EP is dedicated to a big fan of theirs that died of cancer and I believe there’s going to be bunch of special items being sold (check their website for info) to raise money for charity. Never been a fan of the band but this is all pretty cool. Kudos.
Rush – Time Stand Still
Doesn’t seem that long since the last Rush doc Beyond the Lighted Stage and now here’s another. This one does have the added emotional impact of covering the band’s (presumably) final days but I dunno if I really feel the need for this, I’ll probably just wait and see if it shows up on Netflix. Decent extras might maybe provoke a purchase though.
Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow – Memories in Rock: Live in Germany
The world’s greatest guitarist put down his crumhorn and returned to heavy rock duties earlier this year, performing a batch of live shows under the Rainbow banner. And here’s the inevitable live release documenting one of the shows. Loads of options here: DVD, Blu Ray, Vinyl, CD or combos of those. Not been all that impressed by what I’ve seen so far but I love Blackmore enough that I might buy this by accident.
Sammy Hagar’s post VH work gets compiled in This is Sammy Hagar Volume 1 – When the Party Started. His stuff with The Waboritas was often magnificent but I’ve got those albums already so I can do without this. His live album All Night Long also gets a reissue today from Rock Candy, who have now launched in the US. And they are also reissuing Salty Dog’s Every Dog Has Its Day, Nymphs‘ self-titled album and Tyketto’s Don’t Come Easy today too. Rock Candy does good work with well-chosen albums so this launch should prove to be good news for Stateside classic rockers.
Also on the reissue front we’ve got the latest in Jethro Tull’s ongoing reissue program, Stand Up: The Elevated Edition. Their excellent second album as a 2CD/DVD with remixes, 5.1, live tracks etc…HMO-favourites The Who are up to the Super Deluxe shenanigans with their debut album My Generation. Can’t remember what extra stuff was included but it didn’t look all that exciting. And Soundgarden celebrate the 25th anniversary of Badmotorfinger with a variety of reissue editions. Super Deluxe, not so Super Deluxe, Kinda Deluxe, Not Very Deluxe and… uh… vinyl? I’ve not done my research here, sorry.
Elsewhere, Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell carries on rocking with a new band and new EP Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons. Scottish sludgy, psych doom troupe Headless Kross kick off a trilogy of albums with the first part, Projections I, available from At War With False Noise. Anyone that likes their death metal primitive and thrashy (think Sodom or Possessed) should check out the self-titled, self-released debut from Dead Conspiracy. Primitive and thrashy death metal is the best kind I reckon. Fans of trad and power metal might want to check out (former Accept guitarist) Herman Frank’s new solo album The Devil Rides Out and Freedom Call’s ridiculously happy Master of Light. Almost tooo happy.
And if I was going to be extra thorough I’d mention the new albums from Disturbed, Devilment and Sixx A.M. but let’s not bother eh?
Tons of stuff out this week after all then! But there isn’t a single release here that I’m in a rush to buy. I’ll listen to the new Metallica and see what happens. And I might panic-buy the Rainbow set.
It’s Black Friday next week so, in addition to painting the devil on the wall, it’ll probably be a bit vinyltastic. Lots of coloured-this, limited-that and overpriced-the-other. Until then, happy hunting!