Tag Archives: Live Albums

Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Part II (Review)

Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Part 2 (1996)

With original member Graham Oliver ousted from the band, Saxon had to quickly recruit a new guitarist in time for their tour to support the excellent Dogs Of War album. In stepped Doug Scarratt, ex-David Hasselhoff guitarist(!) and a friend of Saxon drummer Nigel Glockler. Coincidentally, Glockler had made his Saxon album debut on the 1982 live release The Eagle Has Landed and now his pal Doug made his on the sequel The Eagle Has Landed – Part 2. The use of the title evoked the band’s NWOBHM glory days, presumably in an attempt to signify to lapsed fans that the band had returned to metal. But it also bravely invited comparison between the 1996 lineup and the classic Saxon of yore.

But The Eagle Has Landed – Part 2 ducks the comparison by weighing heavily towards the band’s more recent material. In fact, with the exception of five songs, all of the material here is drawn from the band’s early-90s output. It sounds great and the band performs well. Doug Scarratt fits in seamlessly (showing off his chops on a tastefully shredded solo spot) and Biff Byford puts in a powerful, committed vocal performance despite sounding like he’s got a frog in his throat. In fact, he makes it work for him. The sound of him straining and pushing to hit the notes adds a real edge of excitement to tracks like Forever Free.

Although the new lineup acquits itself well, the focus on new tracks drags the album down, especially in the middle section. Ain’t Gonna Take It, Crash Dive and Can’t Stop Rockin’ are decent enough on their respective studio albums but they don’t cut it in a Saxon live set. But the second disc recovers well with Solid Ball Of Rock and Great White Buffalo proving effective live before some oldies-but-goodies see the album out on a high. The only blip in the older tracks is a version of Denim & Leather that’s marred by an overbearing guest spot from Yngwie J. Malmsteen who solos over everything that can possibly be soloed over.

Diehard fans/collectors will find the rare performances and historical value of The Eagle Has Landed – Part 2 make for a worthwhile release. But collectability aside, most listeners will find it a bit uninspiring and, while it certainly has its moments, it’s the least exciting of the Saxon live albums to this point: a solid but unspectacular start to the band’s post-Oliver career. The new lineup would have to impress mightily when they unleashed their next album.

HMO Rating: 2.5 out of 5

[Saxon – Solid Ball Of Rock]

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Paradise Lost – New Releases For 2017

There has been lots of exciting news coming out of the Paradise Lost camp lately with not just one new release on the horizon but two! So I thought I’d be super-efficient and just deal with both in one handy post.

First up is the main event, the band’s new album Medusa. It’ll be out on September 1st and promises to continue the band’s increasingly heavy direction. The cover has a very cool folk-horror vibe and the vinyl single Blood And Chaos (coming out on August 3rd) has great artwork too. Their last album made my yearly Top 10 and I’ll be surprised if Medusa doesn’t end up in this year’s list. It’s an exciting release from a veteran band that’s still in vital form.

And if all that wasn’t awesome enough Music For Nations have lined up a 20th Anniversary reissue of their 1997 album One Second. It was the album that followed the massively successful Draconian Times and, in the words of frontman Nick Holmes, marked “for better or worse the beginning of a very experimental stage for the band.” It’s maybe not what some people think of as classic PL but it was an interesting progression from the band at a point where they could easily have stagnated: a great album with some classic songs.

The new edition will come with the live audio of the 1998 Shepherd’s Bush gig that has previously only been available on the DVD Evolve. This means there are a few B-Sides from the era that are not represented here but the live disc is a value-for-money bonus that makes it worth another punt (not to mention the usual liner notes and all that stuff). You can finally just listen to it without the band’s haircuts putting you off.

It’s all good news for Paradise Lost fans. These two releases, not to mention the blistering Vallenfyre album Fear Those Who Fear Him, should keep all you miserable buggers happy for a while.

New Releases – 28th April 2017

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.

The Day After Record Store Day 2017

Yesterday I said that I was happy to come away from Record Store Day 2017 with a couple of mementos and not go overboard. I also expressed relief at not having to pay £37 for the Cheap Trick Epic Archive set.

Well, it turns out that was UTTER BULLSHIT. Yesterday I visited Glasgow’s Monorail Records and today it occurred to me that I might as well pop over to LoveMusic and see what they had left. I was specifically hoping for the Enslaved Roadburn Live double LP that Monorail didn’t get in stock…

Yippee! I managed to get the Enslaved album… and a very beautiful thing it is. I notice it has an intriguing cover of Zep’s Immigrant Song too. Nice. And then while I was at the counter I found myself saying out loud “you don’t have any of the Cheap Trick left do you?”

He did! The last sealed copy. I couldn’t just leave it there. It was stupidly expensive for a double vinyl though, and I wasn’t lucky enough to get one of the signed inserts. Beh. Truthfully, it’s sets like this that give RSD a bad name but I’m still chuffed to have a copy. Some tracks I already have but also some choice ones that I don’t and the liner notes from Bun E. Carlos look like a good read. Overall, it’s a fine addition to the collection despite my grumblings.

And that is definitely my lot for this year! Definitely.

New Releases – 14th April 2017

Stop what you’re doing, it’s new release day! Here are my picks from today’s release schedule.

Nightbringer – Terra Damnata

If you’ve been feeling like recent weeks have been light on black metal, this album will be like manna from Hades: lush and layered black metal of the majestic and emperial variety. I’ve enjoyed the tracks I’ve heard so far, nothing particularly new but still fresh and exciting. And a cool cover to boot.

Craven Idol – Shackles Of Mammon

More black metal… this time of the thrashy, crusty persuasion. I almost passed this by but an influx of positive reviews caught my attention. It seems like there’s way too many mediocre black thrash bands around these days but after hearing the track A Ripping Strike I’m expecting this album to be a cut above.

Novembers Doom – Hamartia

Always partial to bands that mix death and doom but, despite this being album number ten, this band has passed me by. Based on the track Plague Bird, I’m not sure I’m too excited about this one though. It reminds me a bit of My Dying Bride but not quite grinding or miserable enough for me.

Buckshot Facelift – Ulcer Island

Just found out about this band recently via their singer Will Smith who is also in the excellent Artificial Brain. I’ve not heard any of the new stuff but the band’s older tracks are interesting, twisted grind. I prefer Artificial Brain but this should be worth a listen. Might be this week’s dark horse.

Dimmu Borgir – Forces Of The Northern Night

More black metal! This time it’s the now-obligatory multi-format live package. This time the veteran (and divisive)  black metallers have an orchestra and choir along for the ride. Given the band’s symphonic leanings this had to happen sooner or later… sounds a bit cheesy to me though.

Accept – Accept, I’m A Rebel, Breaker and Restless And Wild

Accept’s first four albums aren’t that easy to get a hold of now and I’ve only got Restless And Wild so these US reissues are pretty welcome. Sadly, the only bonus tracks are from a recent Udo tour which is shite (bonus tracks should be from the relevant era as far as I’m concerned). But I reckon I’ll still grab the whole lot of these if the price is right.

And I reckon that’s about the lot for today. A relatively quiet release day after a few big weeks, but there’s still some good stuff here if you’re itching for some new metal. Let me know if there’s anything you are into that I’ve not included. Until, next Friday… happy hunting!

New Releases – 31st March 2017

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!

New Releases – 24th March 2017

Time for me to rake through today’s new releases. Some great stuff out today!

Memoriam – For the Fallen

There’s a justifiable buzz about this one. The band’s pedigree (Memoriam feature former members of Bolt Thrower, Benediction and Sacrilege) and a couple of excellent demo singles mean the expectations are high for the band’s debut full-length. Old-school death metal with crusty attitude, weapon-grade riffing and a conscience. I’ll be surprised if anyone’s disappointed by this. 

Pallbearer – Heartless

And speaking of buzz… These Arkansas doom-mongers have been enjoying plenty of critical praise in recent years and, judging by the reviews so far, it looks like their critical cache is only going to increase with this, their third album. Fans of extra tracks will want to check out the Japanese edition as it has an extra disc with three bonus tunes on it.

Me and that Man – Songs of Love and Death

And another biggie! Fresh from blowing everyone away with The Satanist, Behemoth’s Nergal is back but, this time, he’s teaming up with guitarist John Porter for this new project. Dark, rootsy music along the lines of Johnny Cash and Nick Cave, I was prepared for this to just not be my cup of tea but I’ve really enjoyed the few songs I’ve heard so far. Intriguing.

Michael Schenker Group – Michael Schenker Fest Live CD/DVD

I was about to knock this into the “elsewhere” category but, on closer inspection, this looks like good fun. It’s a MSG reunion in Tokyo, the Schenk joined by the wonderful Chris Glen/Ted McKenna rhythm section and the trio of vocalists Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley and Gary Barden along coming along for the ride. Can’t argue with a roster like that! And it’s good to see Michael back on form and enjoying himself.

Samson – The Polydor Years

Samson are mostly known for featuring a pre-Maiden Bruce Bruce on vocals but the talented guitarist Paul Samson kept the band going after the Air Raid Siren’s departure. This new package features the two albums (Before the Storm and Don’t Get Even, Get Mad) they made with replacement vocalist Nicky Moore with tons of bonus tracks. Both albums have been hard, if not impossible, to find on CD so this is a very welcome set.

Blood Divisions – Cardinal One EP

This is an all-star digital-only EP led by Chris Jericho with all proceeds going to Rock and Rescue. They get kudos for choosing two Nasty Savage covers as well as UFO’s awesome Hot N’ Ready (and their single had Scorpions’ Top of the Bill on it too which is another brilliant choice) Two new tracks seal the deal. Fun for fans of Jericho/Fozzy… and it’s all for charidee.

Anthrax – For All Kings (7″ Vinyl Box) 

Yet another new edition of Anthrax’s new album, still getting milked to death before people move on. This box has the album divided up into ten singles for… reasons. Does look pretty cool, I suppose.

Elsewhere, Frontiers (who else?) bring out a couple of releases from veteran AOR acts. House of Lords with Saint of the Lost Souls and Night Ranger with Don’t Let Up. There’s another Metal Blade release: Cut Up with their Wherever They May Rot album. It might surprise you to find out that this is a death metal album. Throw in a deluxe, bonus track-strewn 20th Anniversary Edition of Today Is The Day’s Temple of the Morning Star and that’s quite enough for one day! Please note, this isn’t an exhaustive list: just the stuff that stands out for me as being interesting or notable. If there’s anything you are into that’s not covered here then let us all know in the comments. Until next week… happy hunting.

And now you must vote for your FAVOURITE ALBUM COVER OF THE WEEK.