A double-whammy of release news from the excellent Swedish band Tribulation. January 26th 2018 will see the release of a new full-length album entitled Down Below. And, if you just can’t wait that long for new Tribulation music, then they will be releasing a brand new 7” EP on December 22nd 2017 called Lady Death.
The EP, their first release with new drummer Oscar Leander, will include album track Lady Death and also a B-Side track called Skärselden. The artwork is also from Tribulation’s guitarist Jonathan Hultén and is pretty nifty. You can pre-order the usual rainbow varieties of vinyl colours from the label website here or the band’s own merch site here.
The band’s last album TheChildren Of The Night was one of the better, more durable releases of recent years so it’s exciting to have the band back. My only question is… I’ve seen a few bands do this recently… since when did one A-Side track and one B-Side track constitute an EP? Answers in the comments please.
I don’t normally get all that excited about covers EPs (Danzig excepted) but Thus Defiled’s A Return To The Shadows is a total riot. The release marks the UK black metallers’ 25th year in action and sadly, also their last. The quality-over-quantity band hasn’t exactly been prolific during that quarter century so the chance to hear some new recordings is hugely welcome.
The main attraction is the new track Armagedda In Rapture and it’s a scorcher. The impressive production is simultaneously clinical and savage. It’s pure riff destruction with fantastic demonic vocals and it’s easily the best black metal track I’ve heard this year so far. The kind of song that’s so awesome it just makes you laugh the first time you hear it.
The rest of A Return To The Shadows is taken up by cover versions and, interestingly, the band opted to only cover non-black metal material. It turns out to be a great call as the band are able to put their own spin on a batch of songs that less daring souls would consider unfuckwithable.
They scythe and scream their way through Death’s Evil Dead and Metallica’s Creeping Death. Impossible to top such classic tracks but they inject so much energy and spark into them that the effect is like hearing the songs for the first time. You can’t ask for more than that.
Next up is a bewitching version of Morbid Angel’s Demon Seed and as an extra bonus they’ve got Morbid Angel/Nocturnus legend Mike Browning adding superb ominous and cultish vocals to another belter of a track. The cover of W.A.S.P’s Hellion that closes is the weakest here, a shade lost under the windy howls of vocalist Paul C, but with repeat listens it starts to make more and more sense. The riffs are undeniable and a black metal band that covers W.A.S.P. deserves instant HMO bonus points.
It’s a brilliant EP. Tons of fun and if it wasn’t digital I’d have probably worn it out by now. Fans of extreme metal should not miss out on this download-only release (available here). All the band ask is that you donate anything you can spare to the Chuck Schuldiner-approved musician’s charity Sweet Relief. It’s a great gesture and, with the band deciding to call it day and slink off into the shadows, a great way for them to close out an impressive career of evil.
I’d like to calm the jets on the spending after my Record Store Day extravaganza but let’s take a look at today’s new releases and see if that’s likely to happen. The answer is: probably not.
Voivod – Rrröööaaarrr, Killing Technology and Dimension Hatross (Reissues)
Wouldn’t normally kick off with reissues but I’m pretty excited about these. And no need to worry about splashing the cash here because I’ve paid for them already via the Pledge campaign (now closed). Don’t worry if you missed out though, because these are now on general sale. Vinyl versions or hugely-expanded deluxe 2CD/DVD sets with bonus tracks and live footage aplenty. Prices look very reasonable for the deluxe versions and all of these have been out-of-print for donkeys so reissues are overdue and welcome.
(And Noise Records have just announced another pledge campaign too. This time for Kreator with reissues of their first four albums Endless Pain, Pleasure To Kill, Extreme Aggression and Terrible Certainty. They aren’t as extras-laden as the Voivod reissues and none of the albums are especially hard to find either but Extreme Aggression and Terrible Certainty come with bonus discs and there’s the obligatory liner notes, vinyl editions and signed copies etc…)
Skyclad – Forward Into The Past
These innovative folk metallers have been a huge, essential part of my musical upbringing but since the split with frontman Martin Walkyier I’ve not really paid much attention to their movements. I did check out their last album In The… All Together and found it was a bit mixed so I’m not hugely excited about this. But they’re still enough of a name for me to at least check it out online. And the return of classic-era guitarist Dave Pugh is appealing too.
Witchfynde – Divine Victims (Box Set)
The reissues keep on coming… There’s been a lot of welcome NWOBHM reissues lately (Samson, Holocaust, Savage all spring to mind) and here’s another. This time Witchfynde get the same box set treatment that Samson enjoyed from Hear No Evil Recordings. I don’t think any of these albums are as difficult to find as the Samson ones were but it’s still a great value set: three albums with bonus tracks and a booklet from NWOBHM expert John Tucker. I’ll be buying this at some point.
Cirith Ungol – King of the Dead (Ultimate Edition)
The guys at Metal Blade follow up last year’s tasty reissue of Paradise Lost with another Cirith Ungol deluxe. This time it’s the band’s second album King Of The Dead, here expanded with live tracks and a live DVD or you can get a vinyl edition if you prefer (although it was reissued on vinyl a while back already). The CD/DVD edition looks like a very cool set though. I approve.
Fates Warning – Awaken the Guardian Live
Prog-metallers Fates Warning release this weeks obligatory live set. Their performances celebrating the 30th anniversary of the classic album getting a release in various formats. The jewel in the crown being the 4CD/DVD/BR set that has their two festival appearances included.
Elsewhere, the River Runs Red line-up of Life Of Agony return with A Place Where There’s No More Pain. Sounds like decent, heavy alternative rock for people that like that kind of thing. There’s more NWOBHM from Cloven Hoof with Who Mourns For The Morning Star. They’re a band I don’t know anything about but the new songs I heard sounded fun! And last, but not least, we have American hardcore terrors Terror with their intriguing new EP The Walls Will Fall.
And that’s about the lot for me. This week is more about the reissues for me but there’s definitely some intrigue among the new albums too. Nothing I’d run out and buy but definitely stuff that I’ll check out online. Let me know what you think about this week’s offerings. Anything you’re excited about that isn’t here? Any startling omissions? Let me know and, until next time… happy hunting.
Apologies for the slightly late posting but it’s still Friday, and you know what that means… new releases! And quite a bit of them so I’m just going to fire through these.
Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand
Obviously a big release but, cards on the table, I’ve not been a fan of the last couple of Mastodon releases. I was initially intrigued by the return of producer Brendan O’Brien and the return to the Crack The Skye-style concept. But the three tracks I’ve heard haven’t really got me going. I liked Sultan’s Curse but the other two just reminded me of The Hunter. If you’re still a Mastodon fan though, you’ll be excited about this… and rightly so! No particular format variances but I think I saw some vinyl editions that came with a colouring-in set? Genius!
Gruesome – Fragments Of Psyche EP
Gruesome continue their musical homages to the late, great Chuck Schuldiner. On the title track of this EP it looks like the might be moving away from the Leprosy-worship to take a crack at the Human-era. And they’ve even recruited ex-Death/Cynic drummer Sean Reinert to help them out too. Throw in a Death cover and a bunch of old demos and you’ve got the makings of a pretty worthwhile and fun EP. My pick of the week for sure.
Voivod – Build Your Weapons: The Very Best Of The Noise Years
A good chunk of the band’s Noise output assembled across two discs and a decent taster if you just fancy dipping your toes into their early catalogue. I’m more excited about the upcoming reissues but I might just grab this anyway just to get into the spirit. And I want to encourage more of these Noise reissues… there’s a back catalogue to die for there so vote with your cash to get the kind of releases you want and deserve!
Necroblood – The Collapse Of The Human Race
Evil death metal debut album from France. Hearing very good things about this one and, if the cover’s anything to go by, this should be terrifying enough to appeal to black metal fans too. It’s all about Be’elzebub so it doesn’t get much blacker than that, eh? Sounds like it’ll be right up my diabolical street.
Other big(ish) releases today include Arch Enemy’s live at Wacken set As The Stages Burn! which seems to be either a CD/DVD, 2LP/DVD or a CD/DVD/BR/POPUPBOOK. Metal. I had no idea Demon Hunter were so popular, so their latest album Outlive should be good news to someone. Do like the art but the music’s a bit too nu-metal for me. And there’s also some topical rap-metal on offer today, as IceT returns with Body Count’s Bloodlust, an album he claims will be the best of 2017 across all musical genres. Should be a must-buy then… unless he’s just talking out of his arse. Go buy it and then let me know would you?
If you’ve been enjoying the recent rethrash album from Power Trip and Havok and want to keep moshing, you might want to try Warbringer’s Woe To The Vanquished. I wasn’t too fussed about the new track Remain Violent though, apart from the excellent solos. The now-defunct Isis release Live VII. I know a lot of folk love them but I’m not into them enough to know if a seventh live album is all that exciting a prospect, or even necessary? Fans of the colour yellow will want it just for the cover though. In case Necroblood wasn’t fucking evil enough for you, there’s also a new EP from Polish band Medico Peste, the excellently-titled Herzogian Darkness. And last, but not least, Saturn release Beyond Spectra, their second album of retro 70s, spacey, heavy rawk on Rise Above Records.
And that’s the lot for this week. If there’s anything you fancy that I’ve not covered, let us all know about it in the comments. Before you all rush out the shops there’s only one thing left to…
Vote for your favourite cover of the week! Only takes a moment and low voter turnouts are bad for democracy. Do your duty!
Last week was a belter with Immolation and Power Trip putting out the best albums of the year so far. So today’s new releases have a hard act to follow.
The Senseless – The Buried Life
The eclectic solo project of Sam Bean (The Berzerker/Mithras/The Antichrist Imperium) returns for a third album. This actually just came out on the 1st Mar so I’ve already had a couple of listens. It’s a darker and denser effort than the previous album, the joyous TheFloatingWorld, but it’s still got that uplifting “heavy mental” mix of insanity and humanity and there are tons of surprises. The CD, available through the band’s website, will have a bonus track and there are digital downloads offered at the usual places too.
Midnight – Shox of Violence
These masked marauders are one of the most exciting metal acts around at the moment: pure filthy NWOBHM riffery for fans of the ‘heads combined with a black, punky atmosphere for fans of Venom, Bathory and the like. Shox of Violence was released as a vinyl EP last year with four songs and now here’s the CD version with an added… wait for it… 25 bonus tracks! Cover versions, live tracks, tracks from split releases etc… a veritable treasure trove of evil depravity.
Armored Saint – Carpe Noctum
This live album from the “headbangingest band on the planet” has been available already via a PledgeMusic deal but here it is now for everyone else. I’m half intrigued cause the band has a great catalogue and are, by all accounts, great live. But I’m put off by the fact that their last album Win Hands Down was a bit of a duffer. But they picked the good new songs for this so it might not be too bad. Anyone heard this already? Do they deliver?
Dread Sovereign – For Doom the Bell Tolls
You’ve got to love that title. Primordial’s Nemtheanga gets his old-school epic doom on with this side-project. This EP is the follow-up to 2014’s All Hell’s Martyrs album. I didn’t really connect much with that but I didn’t spend nearly enough time with it either so I reckon I’ll give that a revisit first and then see what happens.
Danko Jones – Wild Cat
Like Armored Saint, another band with a good rep as a live act. I’m not all that up on these guys studio output but their last live album was quite good fun. Not especially my cup of tea though so I’d have to read phenomenally good things to drum up enthusiasm.
Slaughter – Strappado and Nocturnal Hell, Surrender or Die
Just realised it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve had any CanCon… am I in trouble? Well, here’s a double dose of primo Canuck thrash metal to get me off the hook. First off, we’ve got High Roller reissuing Slaughter’s classic Strappado with a bonus track and an unedited rough mix of the whole album. And, just to make this week even more exciting for Slaughter fans, Vic Records also release a compilation with an EP and their demos too. You lucky Canucks!
And I reckon that’s about it! Another very strong week. The Senseless album is my pick of the week and the Midnight and Slaughter albums are must-buys too. And I’m sure I’ll get to Dread Sovereign eventually (probably via Bandcamp). Let me know what you’re after today. Anything I’ve missed? Until next time… happy hunting!
Candlemass bassist/songwriter Leif Edling has dubbed his latest project “music from the catacombs” as it was a visit to Paris’ bone-ridden underworld that inspired its creation. It’s an apt description. With The Doomsday Kingdom’s debut EP Never Machine, Leif’s music goes deeper and darker than it has for some time. The opening title-track and The Sceptre stick fairly close to Candlemass’ modern style but Niklas Stalvind’s grave and gravelly vocals and Marcus Jidell’s excellent, vintage soloing give the songs a fresh, grittier edge. But it might just have been a decent, unremarkable release if it wasn’t for the more interesting and engaging second-half. Zodiac City is a coiled and creepy serial killer yarn with a great chorus hook and the EP ends on a high with Edling taking the mic for The Whispering, a haunting and ghostly string-laden ballad. Never Machine doesn’t quite reach the inspired heights of Leif’s classic output but it’s a real grower and a definite improvement on last year’s half-(Candlem)assed EP Death Thy Lover. Candlemass might have fallen out of favour but these demos show promising signs that Edling still has what it takes to reign again as a king of doom.
HMO Rating: 4 out of 5
(Here’s my copy. It’s the new edition released by Nuclear Blast. With new artwork, lyric sheet and red vinyl)
Here’s my personal pick of the new metal releases coming out today. There’s only a few that stand out but we are starting to get into the first properly tempting releases of the year now.
Memoriam – The Hellfire Demos II
Following the sad death of their drummer Martin “Kiddie” Kearns, the legendary Bolt Thrower called it a day in 2016. But their vocalist Karl Willetts has formed Memoriam along with old BT pal Andy Whale and members of Benediction and Sacrilege for added supergroupness. Their debut single The Hellfire Demos was one of 2016’s best singles and now they’re back with the follow-up: one unheard track Drone Strike and Surrounded (By Death) which was previously only available on a Decibel mag flexi. This will be available on vinyl (through Nuclear Blast’s webshop) and you can download it from the usual places. It’s the first real must-buy of the year so get involved!
Emptiness – Not For Music
Time flies. I was meaning to check out Emptiness’ Nothing But the Whole since it was released in 2014 and I still haven’t got round it. Now they’re back with a new album! I had a listen to a new song Your Skin Won’t Hide You and was thoroughly impressed by its black, unsettling atmosphere. It’s an exciting track, I’ve been reading good things and I love the cover too so this is looking like another must-buy. And as an added bonus, they’re Belgian. I can finally add some Belgian metal to the HMO Vault!
Ashenspire – Speak Not Of The Laudanum Quandary
Here’s a promising debut from a Glaswegian avant-garde metal band. It’s an intriguing concept album about the dark realities of British imperialism: something Glasgwegians should know plenty about, with its history of tobacco lords, slave trade and all that. It’s an interesting topic, I like the atmosphere, deranged vocals and the violin but the songs I’ve heard have went a bit over my head. More listens required to see if it connects with me but if you like the weirder strains of metal you should definitely give this a go.
And that’s the lot for this week. To play us out, I thought you might enjoy a wee visual jaunt around Glasgow (it is HMO’s neck of the woods, after all) so here’s the lyric video for Ashenspire’s Restless Giants.