Tag Archives: Classic Albums

KISS – Hotter Than Hell (Review)

KISS – Hotter Than Hell (1974 – with German logo variant!)

The meanest and heaviest album of KISS’ classic era. When their self-titled debut LP wasted no time in sliding out of the charts, KISS headed back into the studio to rush out a replacement, 1974’s Hotter Than Hell. This time ramping up the layers and distortion in an attempt to replicate the power of their live sound. The sludgy, messy end result is oft-criticised but I think the album has a dark, underground edge and the more metallic material here works really well. Songs like the genius riff-fest Parasite and the predatory Watchin’ You sound gritty and nasty. My main gripe is the stupidly slow tempos. Top tunes like Got To Choose, the title-track and Let Me Go Rock N’ Roll just sound like they need a good kick up the arse. But they’re still enjoyable versions if you just get into that blockier, doomier mindset and, best of all, there are no real clunkers here. They won’t show up on greatest hits sets but tracks like Comin’ Home, Goin’ Blind and Strange Ways are all choice deep cuts for the KISS connoisseur. Especially Strange Ways for its phenomenal whacked-out Ace Frehley guitar solo. Total attitude. Not their hottest album then but definitely one of their coolest, a rewarding evocation of KISS’ hungry years.

HMO Rating: 4 Out Of 5

Judas Priest – Sad Wings Of Destiny (Review)

Judas Priest – Sad Wings Of Destiny (1976)

The modern idea of “heavy metal” starts here. Judas Priest’s seminal sophomore album Sad Wings Of Destiny laid down the template for countless others to follow with its evil, slashing riffs, demonic guitar duels and the screaming, theatrical vocals of the one-and-only Rob Halford. This 1976 album contains four peerless classics in the humungous Victim Of Changes, the thrashing Genocide, Tyrant and the malevolent The Ripper. And, while less innovative, the deep cuts like the orchestral Prelude, psychedelic Dreamer Deceiver and the funereal Epitaph give the album a mournful, gothic construction that makes this the Priest to hear if you’re a crucifix-necklaced, flare-wearing, doom metal type. Supposedly the album’s A and B sides were accidentally reversed on initial release so we’ve all been listening to it in the wrong order. But it doesn’t matter. Listen to this any way you like: forwards, backwards, up, down, shuffle. Either way it’s a masterpiece. Actually… maybe avoid listening to it backwards. Just in case.

HMO Rating: 5 Out 5

[Judas Priest – Genocide]

Buying Round-Up: Jun/Jul 2018

I’d normally do a New Release post today but there’s nothing out this week that I can be bothered buying or writing about! So instead, I thought I’d have a quick catch up on some new additions. Been a quiet few weeks so I’ve not been buying a whole lot. Still some good stuff here though, and a couple of AOTY contenders too!

Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods

Blashyrkh’s finest impress mightily with their first Abbath-less album: raging, epic and cold black metal of the most classic variety. At first I thought it was a bit meh but it’s really growing on me with each listen. Reckon this will be a keeper. All black covers are a bummer to photograph though so apologies for the shite photies!

Solstice – White Horse Hill

This is a very nicely done digipak. Looks great! It’s the US version so it’s got a bonus track on it too. This is a immensely stirring epic doom album with brilliant vocals and tons of Bathory/Manowar-style Viking manfeels. Love this kind of stuff.

Rotting Christ – Under Our Black Cult

A superb box set from Peaceville, who are getting jolly good at these things (hoping for a My Dying Bride one next). Five whole discs of albums, demos, live stuff and more! And it also has a signed certificate from RC main-man Sakis Tolis and an excellent photo-packed book.

Autopsy – Critical Madness: The Demo Years

And here’s another excellent Peaceville release. Autopsy’s seminal demos get reissued. Have a lot of this stuff already but this is a brilliant compilation of fat, filthy death metal done right. Love the cover, liner notes and obi-strip… and it was only £8!

Batushka – Litourgiya

A godly black metal album from 2015. This is a new digipak edition. Blabbed a bit about it and posted a track here.

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction

Went easy on my wallet and plumped for the 2CD version and bought some other tracks as downloads. Nice to have, remaster sounds great and it’s got good packaging for the price but I’ve not really been getting much out of this reissue. One of those albums I’m kinda done with (Rocket Queen aside… I always get a kick out of that). Thought this might rekindle my interest but it hasn’t yet.

Yes – Yessongs

An unexpected charity shop find. Got this album already but my current vinyl copy is beyond tatty! This is a later repress but it’s in great nick and has the booklet, which my other copy was missing too. Still going to keep the older copy cause it sounds great but this is a lovely copy of an all-time classic live album.

Bought the new Antichrist Imperium vinyl but it’s not turned up yet, and I bought the new Imperial Triumphant album and the three Thou EPs as downloads on Bandcamp. And that’s about the lot! Some really superb music here and plenty to keep me busy during this fallow patch of new releases. I’ll hopefully get back to those next Friday though… if there are any!

Pestilence – Malleus Maleficarum (Review)

Pestilence are now known as death metal masters but on their 1988 debut album the Dutchmen were still in the process of pushing the Kreator-style thrash of their demos to increasingly aggressive extremes. The crunchy riffs, violent tempos, moshing breakdowns and vocal phrasing are pure thrash but the sickening bludgeon of the delivery and the Schuldiner-esque bark of Martin Van Drunen put the band on a collision course with the emergent death metal of the era. The lyrics aren’t much of a read but obsessions with science, atrocity and surgery also push things deathward (“bifurcation of the tumour”) and provide great vocal hooks for Van Drunen’s authoritative vocals in tracks like Parricide and Chemotherapy. Although they had yet to mature stylistically, Pestilence’s formidable songwriting and precision brutality makes this a must for fans of death and thrash. It’s named after the infamous “Hammer Of The Witches” treatise, yet Malleus Maleficarum is so magical from front to back that you could well suspect this band of sorcery.

HMO Rating: 4.5 Out Of 5

[Pestilence – Chemotherapy]

Now Playing: Blasphemy – Fallen Angel Of Doom

Today’s listening of choice is Blasphemy’s 1990 seminal debut album Fallen Angel Of Doom. This one still gets regular spins at HMO Mission Control. A ferocious and cult mix of grindcore and early black metal like Bathory and Sarcofago, it’s not especially memorable or kind to the ears but it’s totally addictive. And it’s massively influential too. Tons of bestial black metal and/or war metal bands still devotedly follow the template set here.

KISS – KISS (Review)

Can you guess which of these guys got someone else to do their makeup?

KISS, the band’s self-titled debut album from 1974, is loaded with more classics than any other studio album they would ever put out. The masked New York rockers were already making a reputation as an explosive live act and when you look at the tracks featured here, Strutter, Firehouse, Cold Gin, Deuce, Black Diamond and 100,000 Years, it’s no wonder few bands dared take them out as support act.

But it’s not all cut from that timeless cloth. The gimmicky single Kissin’ Time and the aimless instrumental Love Theme From KISS detract from the album. And the band were unable to capture the power and excitement of their live shows in the studio. KISS at their best put a spring in your step like no other band but the production and performance here is too tentative to quite achieve that.

KISS would eventually deliver definitive renditions of these songs on their mega-selling 1975 album Alive! But there’s a reason so many of that live album’s songs were drawn from their debut. KISS is a must-hear for fans of street-level, meat and potatoes hard rock. A flawed classic that planted the seeds of success with its pop-savvy mix of Humble Pie boogie, tasty heavy riffs and an array of songs that would become the stuff of legend.

HMO Rating: 4 Out Of 5

[KISS – Deuce]

Ted Nugent – Ted Nugent (Review)

Ted Nugent – Ted Nugent (1975)

He’s a phenomenally exciting guitar player and intense live performer but there are a disconcerting number of patchy studio albums to wade through in “Terrible Ted” Nugent’s discography. This 1975 album, his solo debut after ditching the Amboy Dukes band moniker, is as close to filler-free studio greatness as he ever got. Outside of a compilation or live album, this is the most classic Nuge songs that you’re going to find in one place.

And what classics! Stranglehold is an audacious and timeless opener: a moody, psychedelic workout that brilliantly showcases the excellent band, Nugent’s guitar chops and that superbly raunchy Gibson Byrdland tone. Motor City Madhouse is a gonzo rager and the stunning hard rockers Just What The Doctor Ordered and Stormtroopin’ are two of my all-time faves. The lesser-known Hey Baby and Snakeskin Cowboys are catchy, swaggering rock n’ rollers that hold their own among the hits.

But the patchy criticism still applies and Ted doesn’t always hit the target here, running out of steam with a brace of comparatively forgettable closing tracks. But this is still the most consistently brilliant studio album of his career and a great place for newbies to start. Like the “murder capital of the world” referenced in Motor City Madhouse, Ted Nugent is loaded with killers.

HMO Rating: 4.5 out of 5

[Ted Nugent – Just What The Doctor Ordered]

Great reissue with quality bonus tracks