Tag Archives: HMO Hall of Fame

The HMO Guide to Akercocke

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Akercocke is out of the cage! The reunited satanic extreme metallers’ UK tour is underway at last, with the mighty The King is Blind in support. It’s easily the must-see gig of the year. I can’t wait to see them next week and, because I’m taking EvaOverload along, I decided to put together a beginner’s guide to the Ak on Spotify for her. And now I’ve decided to share it with you. Praise Beelzebub!

Although Spotify playlists have no limits I decided to keep my selection within a CD running time, coming in at 69mins. Akercocke’s debut album The Rape of the Bastard Nazarene is unavailable on Spotify so, sadly, I couldn’t include any of those early tracks. But the upside to that was that it made things a bit easier: even though I was only left with four studio albums to pick from, it was still a pretty tricky endeavour. Some crucial tracks like Horns of Baphomet, Praise the Name of Satan, My Apterous Angel and Seduced couldn’t make the grade. And the often lengthy nature of their songs made it tricky to stick within the time limit too.

So calling this the Best of Akercocke is a little bit of a stretch but I reckon it’s a great introduction for newbies. Even those normally reluctant to dive into such extreme waters will find much to enjoy here. There are flaying shredders like Of Menstrual Blood and Semen and Becoming the Adversary but there is also plenty of melody in tracks like A Skin for Dancing In and Axiom.  The epic, proggy side of Ak is given an airing in the classic Leviathan and the sublime Shelter From the Sand (Rush fans should check that one out). The Dark Inside and Son of the Morning show off the band’s euphoric stylistic range, the power of the riff compels you in Verdelet and Enraptured By Evil is just a flat-out battering. It’s all brilliant, essential stuff.

Here’s the track listing for those without Spotify. Hope you enjoy and please let me know what you think. You’ll be wearing a suit and summoning the Antichrist before you know it. And if you become a convert there’s still time to catch the band on their UK tour. Tell them HMO sent you.

  1. Of Mentrual Blood and Semen
  2. A Skin for Dancing In (from The Goat of Mendes)
  3. Leviathan
  4. Enraptured By Evil
  5. Son of the Morning
  6. Becoming the Adversary (from Choronzon)
  7. Verdelet
  8. Shelter from the Sand
  9. The Penance (from Words That Go Unspoken)
  10. Axiom
  11. The Dark Inside (from Antichrist)

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – The Impossible Dream

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A superb album cover too!

Alex Harvey was not only one of Scotland’s most legendary rockers, he was also steeped in showbiz. This album, his third with SAHB, came out in ’74 but Alex had been around in music and theatre since the late 50s. He formed his “Sensational” band, with members of prog rockers Tear Gas, in the early 70s and often referred to them in terms of movies and the stage: he was their director. And The Impossible Dream is their most theatrical and cinematic album, the culmination of Harvey’s decades of experience.  It’s comparable to Alice Cooper’s School’s Out: an adventurous extravaganza. From the tribal, comic book stomp of Vambo and Man in the Jar‘s gonzo noir to the dancehall Sergeant Fury, the skittery blues of Weights Made of Lead and the riffing pirate yarn Tomahawk Kid this album is a total romp. Yo ho ho! And as Anthem closes the album out, it’s extremely moving too. It’ll make ye greet.

[The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Tomahawk Kid]

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… unless you were in the US, in which case you got this shiter.

Magnum – Wings of Heaven

Magnum - Wings of Heaven (1988)
Magnum – Wings of Heaven (1988)

Chase the Dragon and On a Storyteller’s Night are the sturdier, rockier picks of the Magnum back catalogue but they reached their peak of life-affirming, pop rock joy with Wings of Heaven: one of the most feelgood albums ever created. Tony Clarkin writing simple, catchy AOR rockers par excellence delivered with winning passion and panache by the ever-lovable Bob Cately. Boaby sings like he would take bullets for Magnum. “It’s a flame that keeps burning… everLASTing torrrchhhh!”, “Too old to die young, too big to cry… MAMA!” The guy’s a total hero. As soon as he chimes in on genius opener Days of No Trust (“Pray to the future…”) you are on your feet. The album continues with the vista of Wild Swan and the sublime power pop of Start Talking Love. Classics all. Different Worlds is a mid-album lull but Pray for the Day and the WWI epic Don’t Wake the Lion (Too Old to Die Young) end the album with weight and compassion: breathtaking, heartrending but still triumphant, mighty and melodic. It’s a colossal climax to an excellent album. File this in your collection alongside your Jovi, Lep and Whitesnake and it won’t be long before it steals your heart. A heavenly magnum opus.

[Magnum – Days of No Trust]

Celtic Frost – Monotheist

Two Monotheists... a Duotheist?
Two Monotheists… a Duotheist?

One day a theatre critic had been invited for dinner. He hinted that, having watched a play in which [Klaus] Kinski had a small role, he would mention him as outstanding and extraordinary. At once, Kinski threw two hot potatoes and the cutlery into his face. He jumped up and screamed: I was not outstanding! I was not extraordinary! I was monumental! I was epochal!

– Werner Herzog, My Best Fiend

Every time I think about Monotheist I think about Herzog’s story about the actor Klaus Kinski. Celtic Frost’s 2006 comeback album is not simply outstanding. Or excellent. It is monumental! It is epochal!

It’s also pulverising, esoteric, gothic, grand, terrifying, seductive and totally dark. Monotheist doesn’t let up until its Nuremberg Rally climax in Synagoga Satanae gives way to the beautiful strings of Winter: Requiem.

I’ve been listening to it again as I just bought the new reissue on vinyl. It sounds great and, as an added bonus, it features a different bonus track to my old CD version. The CD had a track called Temple of Depression and this edition replaces that with Incantation Against You. The vinyl version has a better, more varied, flow. Temple of Depression was always a touch samey to me, creating a mid-album lull. But, even then, Monotheist is so monumental etc… that I want every track I can get my hands on from it. It’s the best album released this millennium. You don’t get much more epochal than that.

[Celtic Frost – Ain Elohim]

News: Manowar Announce Farewell Tour

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Saddle your horse, drink your last ale and say FAREWELL to the Kings of Metal! For Manowar have announced that their next tour will be their last.

It’s a sad day and there will be much lamentation. In the 34 years since their classic debut Battle Hymns, the band has become an iconic and legendary presence in the metal genre for their DEATH TO FALSE METAL manifesto, All Men Play on Ten volume and, yes, the mighty loincloths. But their true legacy is their music. Manowar have released some of the best albums and songs you will ever hear.

The best album of all time? Sign of the Hammer.

The greatest song of all time? Bridge of Death.

The greatest guitar solo of all time? Ross the Boss ripping it up on Battle Hymn. Fucking yes.

I could go on. Manowar are my favourite band. They’ve been with me my entire heavy metal life. I sincerely hope that the tour will wing its way near me so I can catch them one last time. I’m going to miss them but, when I march, their sword rides with me.

[Manowar – Bridge of Death]

Ulver – Bergtatt [Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler]

Warning: Trolls
Warning: Trolls

Bergtatt, the title of Ulver’s 1995 debut, doesn’t seem to have an exact translation to English. In the album’s liner notes it’s translated as both “Spellbound” and “Mountain-taken” which is the literal translation*. It’s a Norwegian term for people (usually maidens I imagine) that have been lured into the hills by particularly alluring trolls and other assorted faerie folk, never to return! The music is appropriately seductive, alluring and magical: the album is laden with dreamy acoustic guitars, flutes and soothing Gregorian chant singing. There’s excellent, raw black metal throughout as well but, even then, the orchestrated layers of guitar don’t shatter the dreamy allure: Ulver aiming for a panoramic, classical vibe rather than the usual evil aggression. It’s a debut so fully realised that the band immediately moved on from the style but Bergtatt has proven to be inescapably influential. In 1995 this was a unique album but so many bands have followed in its dreamy, progressive footsteps since that, if it was released today, it would be more relevant than ever. It’s ageless rock n troll.

*In English the full album title is Mountain-taken: A Fairy Tale in 5 Chapters

[Ulver – Capitel I: I Troldskog Faren Vild or Chapter I : Lost in a Forest of Trolls]

A Troll: Alluring and Seductive
A Troll: Alluring and Seductive

Alice Cooper – Killer

Big Killer and Baby Killer (Rhino LP and CD from the Studio Albums box set)
Big Killer and Baby Killer (Rhino LP and CD from the Studio Albums box set)

Trying to catch up with some old favourites so I gave this a spin tonight. One of my all-time favourites and an album that always hits the spot. The original Alice Cooper band released a bunch of brilliant albums but this is the cream of the crop. If I wanted to show someone how incredible and unique this band was, this would be Exhibit A. No slight on the albums that followed but on School’s Out and Billion Dollar Babies you start to get into the whole Boaby Ezrin theatrical production numbers whereas, even at its most far-out, Killer is straight-up garage rock n’ roll all the way. And it’s just awesome: cars, telephones, come-ons, spies, teenagers, a cowboy that’s really Jim Morrison, bad parenting, murder and a watch that turns into a lifeboat. Killer, right enough.

[Alice Cooper – You Drive Me Nervous]