Tag Archives: Debut Albums

Reverend Bizarre – Burn In Hell!

“An apostle of all misery”

Gather and give praise at the Holy Parish of True Doom. Here’s Reverend Bizarre and Burn In Hell!, the opening track from their 2002 debut In The Rectory Of The Bizarre Reverend. This is doom at its most pious and humongous: pushing the style to its saturnine and elephantine limits while staying true to the traditional form and vibe of genre pioneers like Saint Vitus and Pentagram. The eight-minute song only has about three riffs but a shift in mood from minor to phrygian keeps things evil and interesting and Albert Witchfinder’s operatic, admonishing croon and the grim Conan-esque atmosphere imbue the song with all the atmosphere and emotion necessary in a timeless doom classic. Which Burn In Hell! absolutely is.

Europe – In The Future To Come

“I’ll cover my pain, or I’ll go insane”

This kind of stately Euro metal should be right up my street but In The Future To Come, the track that kicked off Europe’s career in 1983, doesn’t quite cut it for me. The regal riffing and ripping solo are impressive and it’s very melodic and listenable. But for all its proficiency, it’s just a bit too na├»ve and mild-mannered for my liking. When I listen to this kind of stuff I want blood and thunder. FIRE! Yowww. In The Future To Come doesn’t rouse enough of that manly passion for me to rate it as anything other than mildly pleasing.

Love/Hate – She’s An Angel

“They’ll lock you away”

They think she’s insane but Love/Hate, experts in all different types of ladies (from the cuddly wuddly wuddly ones to the nymphomaniacs… in black), know better: She’s An Angel. Taken from the band’s thumping and debauched 1990 debut album Blackout In The Red Room, She’s An Angel stands out as a refreshingly romantic, windswept change of pace from the rest of the album’s party-hearty race to the bottom. But there’s still plenty of that going on in She’s An Angel too, with its drug-taking protaganist, relentless yeah yeah yeah yeah yeahs, and its breathless, driving intensity. I always get a total charge from this exhilarating sleaze metal gem. It’s a guaranteed good time, even during the bad times.

Opeth – The Twilight Is My Robe

“You are the embodiment of pure freedom”

The lengthy, linear songs, relentless changes and a lack of repetition make Opeth’s debut album Orchid a tough nut to crack but it’s well worth the effort. Here’s one of the album’s best and most accessible tracks, The Twilight Is My Robe. It’s brilliant questing stuff that gallops across rolling Maidenesque hills, ventures through bleak forests of gothic doom and rests its weary head in a dingly dell of acoustic enchantment. It’s astonishing to think this band hadn’t been in a proper studio before they recorded this. It’s audacious, ambitious stuff from an adventurous band that was clearly going places.

Testament – Burnt Offerings

“Making the legacy known”

Evil feelings in the air? Then it’s time for some thrash. Taken from the first (and my favourite) Testament album The Legacy, Burnt Offerings is timeless, definitive moshing right down to its half-note riffs, shifting pace and Chuck Billy’s ballsy vocals. I love the black magic vibe of a lot of these early Testament tracks and Burnt Offerings has got that in spades. It’s like a moshed-up Mercyful Fate song with its seances, tarot cards, spooky intro and creepy-crawly verses. It’s an infernal thrash classic that… won’t die!

Thin Lizzy – Thin Lizzy (Review)

Thin Lizzy – Thin Lizzy (1971)

They’d go on to be one of the most definitive, life-affirming rock acts of the 70s but on their 1971 debut, Thin Lizzy seemed more nostalgic for the 60s. Lizzy mainstays Phil Lynott and Brian Downey together with original guitarist Eric Bell formed a power trio in the mould of Hendrix, Cream and The Jeff Beck Group and played an eclectic mix of folky, funky and soulful hippy rock. Honesty Is No Excuse is a sophisticated string-laden ballad, Look What The Wind Blew In has a carefree chorus and wonderful stuttering riff, Eire is a beautiful Celtic ode and Return Of The Farmer’s Son has hints of future glories in its jousting guitar and rolling drums. But many of the songs here, like the endless Diddy Levine, prove forgettable and even the album’s rockiest moments have a maudlin, nostalgic mood. All this makes Thin Lizzy a decent choice for hungover Sunday afternoons. But you know what Lizzy albums you were listening to on the Saturday and this wasn’t one of them.

Emperor – I Am The Black Wizards: EP Version

“Before a mighty Emperor thereupon came”

The narrator of I Am The Black Wizards has been a ruler for eternities and is so mighty that the souls and spirits of numerous obedient wizards now belong to him. Or something like that. Whatever is going on, it’s metal as fuck. And it’s black metal 101 too, an essential track from a mandatory band. Taken from their debut 1993 EP Emperor, this is absolutely caustic stuff with an unforgettable guitar melody snaking through the furnace of noise. I Am The Black Wizards was recorded again for Emperor’s debut album In The Nightside Eclipse and that version is even better than this. But this version came first so it has a special importance and its cavernous cacophony has an appeal of its own.

Raven – Rock Until You Drop (Review)

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Raven – Rock Until You Drop (1981)

Despite being dubbed “athletic rock”, Newcastle’s Raven were slow off the starting blocks. Their 1980 single Don’t Need Your Money was well-received but there was a big wait for their debut album to finally appear in October 1981. Not sure what took so long because Rock Until You Drop sounds like the power trio just rocked up to the studio and banged out their live set in one go. This is just one corker after another, crackling with raw energy and infectious enthusiasm (just check out John Gallagher’s crazed yelp at the end of Hell Patrol). And it’s loaded with classics too: from gonzo hard rockers Hard Ride, Over The Top and Don’t Need Your Money to superb Priest slashers like For The Future. I could do without the pair of Sweet covers though. They’re fun and add to the live gig vibe but I’d rather have had another Raven original or two. But it’s a minor gripe as Raven then proceed to wreck the place with the proto-thrash Lambs To The Slaughter and the mighty epic Tyrant Of The Airways. Raven might not need your money but you should fling some their way because you need this over-the-top NWOBHM madness in your life.

Abbath – To War!

“Hear the roar of battle-horn”

The HMO Vault starts here! If we’re going alphabetically from A to ZZ Top, the first album in my collection is the self-titled album by Abbath. And that means Abbath‘s opening track To War! is the first song. A perfect song title to kick things off! And, serendipitously, it has a particularly magnificent beginning: a repeated single-note riff of martial boldness that builds up tension and excitement for what’s to follow. The rest of the song is the kind of strong, charging black metal blizzard you’d expect from the ex-Immortal frontman even if it’s never quite as attention-grabbing as that amazing intro. Still, To War! is a great way to kick off an album. And a collection.

Montrose – Montrose (Review)

Montrose – Montrose (2017 Deluxe Edition)

Sammy Hagar has always been a divisive figure, not least for being the interloper who dared replace Dave Lee Roth in Van Halen. But when Hagar supporters find themselves unable to convince anyone of Van Hagar’s merits or the quality of his various other outings, they can always rely on one thing: the 1973 debut album from Montrose. It’s an unassailable classic of 70s man rock and one of the earliest examples of party-hearty American metal. Other 70s hard rockers would enjoy more fame and rewards but Montrose‘s cult influence would be heard everywhere from the clubs of the LA glam scene to the garages of the NWOBHM.

So kudos to Sammy for his charismatic vocals and songwriting contribution (“I gave love a chance and it shit back in my face”). But the real star of the show is the band’s guitarist and founder Ronnie Montrose. His superior playing and hot rod riffing is timeless and, in tandem with producer Ted Templeman, he colours the band’s meat and potatoes simplicity with a deceptively rich range of tones. From the spacey, hard-charging Zep chug of Space Station #5 and the revved up intro to Bad Motor Scooter to the monster-plod bludgeon of Rock Candy, Montrose is a treasure-trove of stealable guitar parts and sounds. The old-timey Good Rocking Tonight and One Thing On My Mind lean towards filler but both are served up with charm and stop the album from getting too po-faced.

Unfortunately, Montrose couldn’t make it last. One more (underrated) album later, Sammy would be fired. And he wouldn’t be involved with anything quite this good again. But it can be 1973 forever. Just take your top off, stick on Montrose and rock the nation.