I’m not a big fan of the most recent Virgin Steele album Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation but I still occasionally hanker for it. The opener Lucifer’s Hammer is classic chest-beating metal and Persephone is a grand retelling of the Greek myth that ranks up with the band’s best material. And do any of you remember the mysteriously anonymous 80s speed metal band Exorcist? Well, it turns out they were Virgin Steele all along and on this album they finally own up to it, reworking two Exorcist songs Queen Of The Dead and Black Mass in power metal fashion. It’s great stuff and a lot more rifftastic than the preceding VS album The Black Light Bacchanalia. But that album had a romantic, overblown grandiosity that proved fascinating and rewarding and Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation has none of that richness or consistency. The shifts from the Exorcist tracks to piano balladry like Hymns To Damnation to bizarre raunch metal like Demolition Queen and Glamour make for a disjointed listen and the overlong arrangements and dark, moody atmosphere means promising tracks like Delirium and Devilhead come across as dreary. If you’re a Virgin Steele acolyte like me there are just enough bright spots here to make it worth your time but everyone else will find Nocturnes a long, colourless night that will most likely send them to sleep.
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!
Tons of new stuff out today… mostly reissued stuff. I’ll try and be nitpicky but this is going to be a long one I reckon.
The Antichrist Imperium – Volume II: Every Tongue Shall Praise Satan
This is an essential new release from one of the many Akercocke-related bands on the go at the moment. You know I’m nuts for this stuff. Ex-Akercocker Matt Wilcock is joined by current Akercockerers David Gray and Sam Loynes and Sam “I’ve never been in Akercocke” Bean. I loved their 2015 debut and album number two sounds like their upping their game. Ripping, blasting satanic death metal but this time round its blacker, more avant-garde, more eclectic. Pure devilry.
Bruce Dickinson – Scream For Me Sarajevo
It’s not every week you get some Bruce solo action! This is a documentary about the great man’s Balls To Picasso-era solo tour of war-torn Sarajevo. I’m not sure how much live music footage is contained in the movie but it looks fascinating and there is also a soundtrack disc which is pretty cheap. Mainly just a solo best-of, but it does have a Japanese bonus track from the Tyranny Of Souls era that I don’t have. So it will get bought just for that.
Paradise Lost – Believe In Nothing (Remixed/Remastered)
Gloomy northern nihilists Paradise Lost reissue another album from their electro-pop years. This was widely regarded as their worst album by most people, band included. But it’s been remixed, remastered and re-covered and now it’s a lost classic! Yippee. I can’t comment cause this is the only Paradise Lost studio album I’ve never heard. Will probably buy it for that reason alone but I wasn’t a big fan of the preceding album Host and this is in that vein too.
Coroner – Mental Vortex and Grin
Here are two more Coroner reissues to follow the recent Sony reissues of the first three albums. This time it’s Noise doing these though so they’ll probably be done a bit differently. Not sure why different labels are handling these… I got all this stuff already so I reckon I’ll just sit this out. Great albums though. All five will probably get reissued again before you know it. It’s a funny old business.
Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction
The classic debut gets a long overdue expanded, remastered reissue. There are many variants, but if you want the maximum audio/video content you’re looking at over £100 to get the super deluxe. The 2CD will do me, might buy some more bonus tracks as downloads. I should be excited about this but instead I just feel like I’m missing out on something.
David Bowie – Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78)
CD edition of the live album that was released earlier in the year on vinyl (as part of 2018’s RSD slate). They did that with the previous RSD live release Cracked Actor too so I saw this one coming and avoided the over-priced RSD version. Kinda bugs me that I’ll have one on vinyl and one on CD though…
Various Artists – Winds Of Time: The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal 1979-1985
New comp of NWOBHM goodies. I’ve been hoping for a big exhaustive box set that would do this era justice and really tell its story. Not sure this is it… but there are a lot of tracks here and it looks like fun. I’ve slept on a few NWOBHM comps over the years and usually regretted it when they’ve went out of print so I really should buy this one. Probably not a priority though.
And that’s about it for me. Like I said, loads being released today so let me know what you’re after.
I’m long overdue doing one of these so I’m going to rattle through the key purchases from the last couple of months… and a bit.
Let’s start with the most recent new arrivals. The just-released expanded edition of Sepultura’s Arise follows similar reissues of Chaos A.D. and Roots from last year and like those it’s stuffed with extras! Rough mixes, demos and live tracks galore. Love/Hate’s Wasted In America gets the Rock Candy treatment. It’s an album I’ve wanted for ages but my first listen is a bit disappointing. Prefer the sleaze bludgeon of their debut Blackout In The Red Room. Ah well, might be a grower. I’ve only listened to the first half of Rotting Christ’s 2LP early days comp Abyssic Black Metal but it hit the spot. I’m really into these guys lately.
On the new album front, we’ve got Voices superb and sexy Frightened, Sleep’s The Sciences on CD at last(!) and the deluxe version of Ihsahn’s killer new album Ámr (worth getting for the great bonus track). All three are album of the year contenders. And I also bought Ghost’s Prequelle which… isn’t. Still pretty decent though.
I got a couple of live CD/DVD combos. Dokken’s reunion gigs captured for posterity on the flawed but entertaining Return To The East Live and Behemoth’s Messe Noire which has two gigs on DVD, promo vids and The Satanist album live on CD. It’s not flawed in the slightest, great stuff.
Def Leppard’s CD Collection: Volume 1 next. Very cool set, much along the design lines of the recent Bowie sets but with less text in the book and less rare material. But then it was also about half the price! Bought mainly for the remastered On Through The Night and the CD debut of some early singles and because… Def Leppard.
Also on the box set front there’s Marduk’s Dark Endless 25th Anniversary Edition. Nice reissue of the strong debut album with a neat digipak of the Here’s No Peace EP with demo artwork from deceased Mayhem vocalist Dead. Also has some stickers which doesn’t really seem very black metal to me. Shouldn’t it just have a dead rat in it or something like that?
On the reissue front I bought the “Final Kill” edition of Megadeth’s classic debut Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good! which sounds genuinely amazing! Sadly the CD design is clearly just an impossible-to-read transfer of the vinyl design because CD buyers and their pesky money don’t matter anymore. I’m well chuffed with the deluxe editions of hard rock pioneers Montrose’s S/T debut and Paper Money: great remasters, interesting (and readable!) liner notes and tons of bonus tracks.
I’m a big fan of The Who and got a few great additions to my collection recently. Live At Fillmore East 1968 is a brilliant concert recording: fiery performance, some lesser-heard tracks and an epic My Generation to close it out. Pete Townshend’s Who Came First gets some added rarities and is very nicely packaged for the price. And last, but not least, I bought a vinyl reissue of the comp Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy. An odd one cause there’s nothing on there I don’t have already but it’s a bit of Who history with one of those perfect tracklistings… I had to get it eventually and it’s just fantastic! Classic after classic, it sounds phenomenal and I can’t stop listening to it. Highly recommended!
And I reckon that’s about the lot! I’ll try and do this more regularly so I can get into more detail and put up more photos in future.
I’m fairly skint (blame Ghost and Def Leppard) so hopefully there’s nothing good out today… fingers crossed!
Various Artists – Contract In Blood: A History Of UK Thrash Metal
Ahh baws. Writer/musician Ian Glasper turns the spotlight on the overlooked UK thrash scene with this exciting box set and companion book. The CD set has five whole discs (separated into various areas of the UK) and it looks like a total blast and great value too. There are always going to be gripes and omissions with this kind of thing but who cares? Both the book and box set are getting bought pronto.
Megadeth – Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good: The Final Kill
Double baws! The incredible, bonkers Megadebut gets reissued (again) with bonus stuff and some sort of re-recorded version of These Boots. Glad I’ve got the original version on LP but I want this too. You can never have too many versions of albums like this! A must(aine) buy.
All that metal thrashing madness leaves me with little interest in the snail’s pace doom of Yob and their new album Our Raw Heart. But it sounds like a good ‘un so I daresay I’ll have to investigate it eventually. Tomb Mold’s Manor Of Infinite Forms, their second album of putrid death metal, sounds more up my alley. And then there’s Zeal & Ardor’s second album Stranger Fruit. Lots of people loving this but I don’t get it. What am I missing?
And that’s the lot. Looks like my wallet isn’t getting a week off after all… ah well…
All hail this week’s new releases. There’s only a few tickling my fancy today… kind of.
Paradise Lost – Host
Normally Paradise Lost equals must-buy but I’m not feeling too enthusiastic about this, a reissue of one of their lesser albums. Originally released in 1999, Host was a controversial progression into melancholic electropop. I like that the band are still behind this, even though they’ve since returned to their extreme metal roots. But, apart from a couple of songs, I was never a fan of this one. Some bonus tracks would sweeten the deal… but there aren’t any. Miserable bastards!
Godthrymm – A Grand Reclamation
This is a debut EP featuring former members of My Dying Bride, Vallenfyre, Solstice and Malediction. Promising stuff, big thick sorrowful riffs, epic vocals… should definitely appeal to fans of the previous bands and fans of Candlemass type stuff. That should be everyone. I’m sure it’ll be available at all the usual places but you can buy direct from the band here.
Saxon – The CD Hoard
This is a reissue of last year’s The Vinyl Hoard box set… but on CD! This has The Eagle Has Landed II and III on it as well as Live At Rock Sound Festival from 2006 (the audio from a show on their DVD To Hell And Back Again). Looks like a nice package, but I’ve got everything on it already. Good value if you don’t though!
And that’s the lot for me. What are you lot buying today? Any fans of melancholic electropop out there?! Reveal all in the comments!
It’s time for my intensely selective look at the day’s new releases. I’m all about the reissues today but, before we get to those…
Solstice – White Horse Hill (Download)
Not technically one of today’s “new releases” but it did only just appear on Bandcamp a couple of days ago. And, as this is an extremely exciting and long-awaited release, I thought I might just include it anyway! Anyone desperate for a shot of epic doom folklore (and that’s really everyone, right?) should definitely check this out. The UK band have put out some splendid releases in the past and it’s been twenty(!) years since their last full length*. CDs and vinyl will be released soon but I have no exact release date at the moment.
Kreator – Coma Of Souls (2CD), Renewal, Cause For Conflict and Outcast (2CD)
Noise Records continue their busy, and excellent, reissue program with this second batch of Kreator albums. I thoroughly enjoyed the last batch so I’m well up for these. There’s a good bunch of bonus tracks to be had here and a couple of albums I haven’t heard before too. Might not buy them all in one swoop but I’ll definitely buy them all eventually.
Venom Prison – Animus (Deluxe Edition)
This British death metal band made big waves with this debut album back in 2016. Now it gets an expanded reissue with bonus live tracks. I couldn’t quite bring myself to buy it first time round. Almost did a couple of times but, even when it was only £8 in HMV, I couldn’t quite commit. Dunno why. Glad I didn’t now.
And that’s the lot. Anything you’re interested in today? Let me know in the comments.
*I originally wrote 5 years but I forgot their last release was an EP, not an album.