Tag Archives: Horror

Cradle Of Filth – Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness Of Decay (Review)

Cradle Of Filth are a British institution, one of the most recognisable and successful extreme acts to come from these shores. But, while they are loved and loathed by many, they’ve never made a huge impression on me either way. I’ve bought and enjoyed a fair few albums of theirs over the years but I’ve never had that phase where I’ve obsessed over them, where they were my band. Until now.

Although I was late getting to it, I was thoroughly impressed with 2015’s Hammer Of The Witches, and the band’s latest album continues in that vein. Themed around the Victorian obsession with death, Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness Of Decay is a darkly fabulous romp of hard-hitting gothic metal, delivered with expertise and passion. The overall approach is still the band’s patented blackened Hammer Horror style but there’s a whole wealth of approaches employed. Heartbreak And Seance’s romantic melodrama, thrash fury on Wester Vespertine, You Will Know The Lion By Its Claw’s pitch-black savagery and there are wonderful trad metal gallops and harmonies throughout (most thrillingly in The Seductiveness Of Decay). Best of all, vocalist Dani Filth puts each song over and then some: a spirited and veteran performance of considerable taste, breadth and character.

Hammer Of The Witches reached some peaks of excitement that aren’t quite reached here but its a nano-gripe about a near-flawless album. And, on the flip-side, the latest album has none of the excess that detracted from its predecessor. For all its expansive grandeur, Cryptoriana… is tight and direct. The pedal is to the metal at all times and the band’s cinematic flourishes are weaved and layered skilfully throughout the songs with no boring intros or interludes to be found. The style is familiar but the album is fresh and stakes its own unique place in their canon. An utterly wonderful release from a veteran band at the top of their game. My band.

HMO Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Possession – Exorkizein (Review)

Following an impressive demo and mini-album, I was expecting to be more impressed by Possession’s debut full-length album. The Belgians dish out impressively clear and concise black/death with plenty of evil atmosphere but they never really lift themselves out of the solid zone. Despite some strong riffs, the songs in the first half all blur into one. Exorkizein gradually improves, and is at its best in its closing stages with tracks like In Vain and Take the Oath being standouts. Possession have an appealing Watain-like delivery and catchiness but there’s not enough of that band’s threatening audacity and ambition here. Exorkizein is far from execrable but not exactly exciting either.

Formicarius – Black Mass Ritual (Review)

The last time I encountered the UK’s Formicarius was back in December when they contributed a track Lake of the Dead to the excellent compilation Speed Kills VII. Back then I called them “very promising” and I’m glad to report that, with Black Mass Ritual, they have delivered on that promise and then some.

Formicarius go medievil on your ass with their debut album, dishing out Cradle of Filth-style symphonic metal with power metal exuberance. The whirling atmosphere, rib-cracking riffs and exotic solos sound like Mustaine and Friedman jamming with Emperor, the potent speed metal velocity, galloping bass and catchy choruses bring to mind early Helloween and there’s a folky bent to the riffs and instrumentation that reminds me of the classic Skyclad albums.

All the performances are outstanding, from Lord Saunders’ articulate Abbath-esque croak to Morath’s grand and eloquent keyboard embellishments and solos (check out the excellent outro piano on Overlord, a standout moment). The songwriting is also uniformly excellent. An overly jaunty riff in Abhorrent Feast of Minds is the only thing close to a mis-step and it’s soon forgiven as Master of Past and Present closes the album on a dark, dramatic high.

It’s a fantastic debut: rampaging, grand black metal with a healthy dose of epic tradition and fearless creativity. In a year where I’ve been mainly knocked out by death metal albums, Formicarius have struck a decisive blow for black metal. And they’ve done it with an album that is all kinds of metal fun for all kinds of metal fans. The Black Mass Ritual begins on July 21st, don’t miss out.

HMO Rating: 4 out of 5

New Releases: 21st April 2017 (and RSD17)

This weekend is going to be dominated by Record Store Day (the tenth one!) but there are still some interesting “normal” new releases for you if you can’t be bothered with all that queuing nonsense on Saturday.

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Artificial Brain – Infrared Horizon

“Death metal in space” was a recurring feature in my Top Albums of 2016 and it looks like it might be this year too. It’s only April and here come Artificial Brain with this wonderful album of… you guessed it… death metal in space! An almost-concept album about cyborgs, it’s totally brutal and guttural and also really expressive and creative. A must-buy.

Night Demon – Darkness Remains

Bit of retro trad metal for the oldies! Night Demon have already enjoyed plenty of plaudits for their previous releases but the reviews have went into gush overdrive for this one. I’ve not been blown away by what I’ve heard but I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve heard the whole thing.

Vampire – With Primeval Force

Umm, pretty much the same as I said for Night Demon. Retro (evil death/thrash) with great reviews but I’ve not been convinced by what I’ve heard. Just sounds a bit dull to me. I’ll reserve judgement again but I’m even more skeptical about this one than the Night Demon album. Great cover though!

Rotting Christ – Thy Mighty Contrast

Fresh from me posting about it earlier in the week, here comes Peaceville Records with a plush vinyl reissue. This is missing the excellent bonus tracks that are on my CD copy but it looks like a mighty edition with cool liner notes and all that. It’s also freshly remastered and I believe Peaceville are going to be working through the catalogue so you might as well just hop on here so you can buy the whole bloody lot.

So what about Record Store Day then? I don’t usually bother with it that much but I’m not a pure stick-in-the-mud about it either. That said, it’s a bloody minefield to post about so you’re as well just checking out the RSD websites here and here for full lists and make your own mind up.

I quite fancy the Def Leppard EP (got it on 7inch already but it’s just the plain sleeve version and I fancy this edition), Enslaved’s Roadburn Live disc also looks cool and, if I strike out on those, the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown LP and the Cheap Trick Epic Rarities set would be acceptable booby prizes. As the rest of the metal RSD17 releases go, the Dillinger Escape Plan Instrumentalist single, Kylesa Live At Maida Vale and Katatonia Proscenium all look fairly collectible too, if you’re a fan. I’m gonna head out and try and pick up the Def Leppard EP but reportedly there’s a reissue campaign of early Lep stuff on the way that will probably include the EP tracks (and more hopefully!) so even the EP isn’t totally essential. But it’s all just a bit of fun so I’m going to get up early… not too early… and try my luck.

And that’s about the lot for me this week. Let me know what you’re after today or if there’s any Record Store Day releases that you’ve got your alarm clock set for. Happy hunting!

New Releases – 7th April 2017

Good news! It’s new release day… and there’s a metric shit-ton of amazing stuff out today.

Deep Purple – InFinite

The legendary rockers return with the follow-up to the well-received Now What?! The Purps are one of my favourite bands, but I can’t say I’ve had much use for any of their albums since Purpendicular. That said, I’ve still bought them all so I might as well just keep going. The bonus documentary does look pretty enlightening though so that’s a temptation. There’s also a big box version with the second volume of the Now What Live Tapes and the usual deluxe bits and bobs too. But I reckon I’ll just hold my horses until I can get a cheap copy.

The Obsessed – Sacred

Here’s another legendary band, the Wino-led doom metallers hitting the comeback trail with this exciting new album. This is such a slam-dunk that I didn’t even want to hear any of the songs in advance, just wait till I have the whole album. But then curiosity got the better of me and I had a wee listen to Punk Crusher. I say “wee” because, after 30 seconds I just thought “fuck yes, that’ll do” and switched it off. Looks like the deluxe 2LP vinyl edition is the one to go for, featuring three bonus tunes.

The Doomsday Kingdom – The Doomsday Kingdom

More doom as Candlemass main-dude Leif Edling releases the debut album from his latest project. I was pretty impressed by the previous demo EP so this is another no-brainer. Again, I’ve avoided listening to any advance tracks. I know I’m going to buy this so why spoil the surprise? I’m hoping that this album is going to tickle the epic doom parts that the last few Candlemass releases failed to reach.

Bernie Tormé – Dublin Cowboy

I posted about the pledge of this a while back. If you pledged you’ll already been treated to the full triple album but the tardy among you can now buy the 3CD set the normal way! And you really should. Stonesy, punky, bluesy goodness with Bernie’s inimitable guitar lashing on the first disc, evocative fireside folkiness on the acoustic disc and a live disc too! Should be available at his Bandcamp page too.

Possession – Exorkizein

Here’s this week’s top tip for lovers of proper infernal extreme metal. This Belgian band has already released a demo and a mini-album and both releases were truly exciting, if frustratingly short. There’s been a bit of a personnel shuffle since those earlier releases but, based on what I’ve heard so far, this sounds like it’s going to be a malevolent mix of black, death and doom from a band to watch.

Demon Head – Thunder On The Fields

This band has been a recent discovery for me. I’ve been enjoying their last album Ride The Wilderness a lot and looking forward to this follow-up. Demon Head play humongously catchy occult rock with awesome Danzig-y vocals and a refreshingly clean, vintage sound. Not sure what the distribution is going to be like though so the best bet might be to check out the band’s Bandcamp page.

Royal Thunder – Wick

A lot of fuss was made over this band’s last release Crooked Doors but I wasn’t really feeling it. I really liked one song but when I tried the whole album it just didn’t grab me. Now I’ve checked out their new song April Showers and liked it a lot, brilliant melodies, sound and vocals, so I’m going to give them another go and I hope they click with me this time. I’ll try before I buy though, just in case.

Elsewhere, Ulver release The Assassination Of Julius Caesar. I know lots of folk love this band but I’ve not been all that enamoured with their latter-day stuff. I’m sure this release will be very welcome news to lots of you though. Instrumental post-whatever band Russian Circles release Live at Dunk! Fest 2016. I heard their last studio album playing in Fopp a few times and it sounded pretty decent. I keep meaning to check them out but I doubt I’d start here though. Trad-metallers Trial release Motherless on Metal Blade. Their last album got lots of praise but I don’t really hear the appeal myself, can’t get on with the vocals at all. UK death-metallers Basement Torture Killings’ second album There’s Something About Beryl should definitely appeal to fans of gore, death, grind and serial killers. That’s most people, right? And last, but certainly not least, Ghost Horizon release their new EP The Erotics Of Disgust. Bit wary of post-black metal but this looks fairly intriguing. And as an added bonus it’s got a cool title and an awesome Gustav Dore cover. Well played.

And that’s all the releases that stand out for me. Very varied selection today, there’s surely something here for everyone! Let me know if there’s anything I’ve not mentioned that you have your evil eye on. Until next week… happy hunting.

(I’m not going to be continuing with the weekly album cover polls anymore but, if you were enjoying that, please don’t be alarmed! Just shoot the shit about your favourites in the comments and at the end of the month I’m going to compile the covers that have got the most attention and do a “Best Album Cover of the Month” instead.)

Song of the Week: Nocturnus – Destroying the Manger

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As my Top 10 Albums of the Year proved, “death metal in space” was a big thing in 2016. So let’s travel back in time to 1990 and the album that started it all: Nocturnus’ The Key and this excellent blast of sci-fi horror. Some sort of evil cyborg has invented a time machine and set a course for the date 0 B.C. He has only one goal: kill the baby Jesus!

“Blasting away Father, Mother, and Child/laughing hysterically all of the while” the cyborg proves to be devastatingly successful in his mission. And Destroying the Manger proves devastatingly successful too: a wild shred-fest of riffs and solos that gets down to serious moshing business at 4:10. And check out the prominent keyboards too… Nocturnus going where no death metal band had gone before.

[Nocturnus – Destroying the Manger]

New Releases – 23rd December 2016?

Unsurprisingly, there’s hee haw bugger aw* out today and, even if there was something decent out, you wouldn’t want to be going shopping today would you? I know I wouldn’t.

So I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas! Hope you have a great time and thanks for reading. To get you in the festive spirit, here’s the infernal dark lord of Wales: Shakin’ Stevens. With his folk horror-inspired, occult classic Merry Christmas Everyone.

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