Tag Archives: Debut Albums

The King is Blind – Our Father (Review)

2016-08-27 11.03.37
Am yer Da

The King is Blind’s superb debut album Our Father was released back in January and it’s still the album to beat if anyone out there wants to take the coveted HMO Album of the Year 2016 spot. It’s a smart concept album about Satan, Christ and the devil in mankind given an absolute drubbing by the band’s burly death metal hammering. The King is Blind cleverly avoid all the usual concept album excess though, bashing out their tale in ten songs that are all a riot in their own right. The variation in styles carry the narrative (death, thrashing hardcore, Monotheist-ic doom and black metal atmosphere) and the focus on excellent songwriting and riffs means the concept that can be enjoyed or ignored. If you want to curl up with the lyrics or just enjoy a cathartic extreme metal battering, Our Father works equally well. An impressive and notable debut. I can’t wait to see them live in October.

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In the Woods… – HEart of the Ages (Review)

A Black MEtal CLassic!
A Black MEtal CLassic!

I wish I’d heard HEart of the Ages when it was released. Mixing extreme metal with prog and folk hardly seems all that audacious now but when In the Woods…’ debut album came out in 1995 this was a leap forward for black metal. There were similar attempts from Ulver and Primordial in the same year but, even compared to those great albums, HEart of the Ages sounds more forward-thinking and groundbreaking. 21 years later their style might not seem as startling but the music still has a fresh zing of originality and there’s plenty to love in its combination of Burzumic shrieking, melancholic doom, heathen folk and Floyd/Crimson soundscapes. Latecomers should buy the recent Heart of the Woods box set for a particularly plush version of the album. The Norwegians are also due to return later in 2016 with their reunion album Pure. If like me, you’ve missed out on In the Woods…, now is a great time to get involved.

HMO Rating: 4 out of 5

[In the Woods… – HEart of the Ages]

Plush box set from Debemur Morti Productions
Plush box set from Debemur Morti Productions

Cirith Ungol – Frost and Fire

1765
Could take someone’s eye out with that

Cirith Ungol’s debut is 35 years old now but it’s new to me. After just a couple of listens, though, I can safely say… it sounds a bit like Rush. Mainly due to the piercing vocals of Tim Baker but the music reminds me of Fly By Night/Caress of Steel era Rush in feel, if not in compositional or instrumental niftiness. It rocks more straightforwardly, more garage-y like an American entry in the NWOBHM canon. With the exception of Jerry Fogle’s handy guitar soloing, it’s all pretty meat and potatoes but I find the simplicity inspiring. As I listen I’ve instantly got an idea what they’re doing. If I ended up in the rehearsal room I reckon I’d have a good crack at joining in. It makes me want to play and I can’t give it much more praise than that. Time has proven that the albums that give me the guitar-playing itch tend to be keepers. Oh… and how awesome is that cover?

[Cirith Ungol – I’m Alive]

Primordial – Imrama

Primordial - Imrama (1995) Original Cover
Primordial – Imrama (1995) Original Cover

When Primordial released their debut album Imrama they hadn’t yet discovered the unique and powerful heathen metal approach they’re now revered for. It’s easy to overlook Imrama, then, but you shouldn’t: all the pointers to their future greatness are here. And as a bonus you get to play “spot the influence” too. Always fun. There’s a much more prominent black metal attack on this than on later efforts and also a gothic mournfulness which reminds me of the early Anathema stuff. A.A. Nemtheanga also throws in some neat Martin Walkyier “chaarggee-AH” type vocals too which always wins points from me! And there’s that rolling, strummy folkiness in tracks like Fuil Ársa that would be become the band’s staple in future years. So it’s all here really, just rejigged, refocused, refined and perfected in later releases. An interesting and promising debut from a band headed for greatness. On last night’s train journey from Ayr to Glasgow this went down especially well: the folkiness was ideal for the beautiful sunset view of Arran, and the rough, charging black metal was perfect for drowning out all the drunken revellers heading back home from a day at the races.

[Primordial -Let the Sun Set on Life Forever]

Cover of Metal Blade's sweet reissue
Cover of Metal Blade’s sweet reissue