It’s been about three weeks since I last did one of these weekly(ish) posts so let’s get stuck in and take a look at what’s been happening and what I’ve been listening to in the last few weeks.
The big news is the new Maiden song Speed of Light which was… good. Nothing special but latter-day Maiden singles have never been very useful as tasters. It’s better than El Dorado, which I thought was a bit crap until I heard it in the context of the album The Final Frontier, which I ended up enjoying a lot. So if anyone’s not digging the new Maiden track I’d advise them not to give up on the Irons just yet.
In other release news, Avatarium have announced that their second album will be released on October 23rd and titled The Girl with the Raven Mask. It’s a must-buy for me, following their splendid debut album. And I know I rarely mention them here but Saxon (heard of them?) have a new album Battering Ram out on October 16th which I’ve dutifully pre-ordered. There’s a deluxe box version that will have extra live stuff so look out for that one. But apart from those I’ll probably spend my time catching up on releases from earlier in the year like the Obsequiae and Khemmis albums.
And now let’s take a look at the highlights from my recent listening.
Akercocke – Choronzon and Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone
I’ve been enjoying this great British band a lot lately and both these albums are well worth your time: top-notch satanic extreme metal. Both albums are very rewarding listens, the band expertly straddling black and death metal without being either. And there’s a wide range of styles with prog, gothic and electronic flavours thrown into the mix. It’s a huge shame that the band is no longer active but their spirit lives on in…
The Antichrist Imperium – The Antichrist Imperium
This newly released album sees Akercocke’s David Gray and Matt Wilcock reunite to continue in the sexy, satanic vein of Akercocke. And they have done a fantastic job. Even after just a couple of listens this is riding high as a favourite of the year so far. The guitar work is phenomenal, some of the best solos I’ve heard in an age, and there’s a great vocal chemistry between Sam Bean and Sam Loynes.
Voices – London
And continuing the Akercocke vein… here is another act consisting mostly of Akercocke alumni. This album was by far and away the best thing of 2014 and remains the best album in recent metal history, a masterpiece. This is so good I’ve got no idea how they are going to follow it up. I can’t wait to see them (and Winterfylleth) in September. Gig of the year!
Alice Cooper – Alice Cooper Goes to Hell and Zipper Catches Skin
I’ve been catching up on some of the Coop albums that I’m less familiar with. Based on the tracks I knew, Go to Hell and I Never Cry, I expected Alice Cooper Goes to Hell to be better than it is but I was a bit disappointed with it. Zipper Catches Skin was a pleasant surprise though. Not up there with his best but still a fun set of power pop. A lot of it brought Cheap Trick to mind and Coop is on great form vocally and lyrically. I’m looking forward to catching up with some more Coop so expect him to reappear here.
Led Zeppelin – Presence
Led Zep’s difficult seventh album? Boaby Plant and chums do a decent job at a trying time. On the whole it’s all pretty good stuff but there are only really three proper classics here. Achilles Last Stand is the kind of epic cobblers that always wins points from me and Nobody’s Fault But Mine and Tea For One are primo Zep too.
When – The Black Death (or Svartedauen)
This album is a fascinating, immersive soundscape inspired by the art of Theodore Kittelsen and chronicles the era in Medieval Norwegian history when the Bubonic Plague took hold. Released in 1992, its sombre mood was an influence on the burgeoning black metal scene. I just bought the vinyl reissue of this on the Idealogic Organ label. It’s a gorgeous edition with a beautiful booklet of Kittelsen prints. A great album for parties: this and pArTy-CaNnOn with a wee bit of Wired for Sound and Hit That Perfect Beat thrown in for good measure. I’m available for hire if anyone needs a DJ.
Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction
I’ve been on a MegaDave Megabinge lately. I always found ‘Deth’s fifth album a bit of a let-down after Rust in Peace but I really enjoyed revisiting it recently. There are some classic songs on here but, as a whole, it didn’t reach the heights of the preceding three albums. And, let’s face it, EVERYTHING after Rust in Peace has been bit of a let-down. I don’t even think it’s worth getting out of bed anymore some days.
Gamma Ray – Heading for Tomorrow
“Free time! Is one of the things that I like. Free time! Is one of the things I enjoy.” Honestly, this is a pretty good album but that line…ugh. Tell us about some other times you enjoy Gamma Ray! Bath time? Lunch time? Hammer time?
Throw in copious amounts of Scotland’s finest, pArTy-CaNnOn, and that’s the main highlights from my umm… week(ish) of listening. My next post will probably be another Saxon review, so until then, happy listening!
SONG OF THE “WEEK”
It’s the pummeling opening track from the excellent Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone album from Akercocke.
[Akercocke – Verdelet]