Funnily enough, after reading an article about Anthrax’s Scott Ian (reportedly) behaving like an arsehole, I ended up going on a big Anthrax kick and buying another copy of their last album For All Kings. Goes to show all publicity is good publicity!
I wasn’t all that impressed by For All Kings when it was released back in 2016 but after hearing some of the songs live on the recent Kings Among Scotland release, I felt like revisiting it. And ended up not only listening to it again but enjoying it enough to add the ‘Tour Edition’ to my collection (for its extra disc of demo versions). Some great tracks here like You Gotta Believe, Suzerain, Evil Twin and the title track. I’d prefer the sound to have more attack and I find songs like Breathing Lightning and This Battle Chose Us a bit too slick for comfort but, judged on its own merits as a We’ve Come For You All kinda album, it’s a solid and memorable release. Just don’t ask Scott Ian to sign it for you.
Finally, some good new releases! It’s been quite a while since we’ve had as fun-filled a week as this. And it’s mostly all new stuff too, none of your deluxe box thingies and vinyl reissue “remastered” gubbins. Just NEW METAL.
Haunt – Burst Into Flame
Retro-styled true metal has become quite the rage in the last few years but I’m usually unconvinced. The bands always have the sound down but the songwriting often falls short. Having listened to the title track from this album, I reckon this US band might have the goods though. It’s strident, catchy stuff. Definitely worth checking out.
Night Demon – Live Darkness
Speaking of retro metal… Night Demon have become quite the rage in the last few years but they haven’t caught on with the HMOverlord yet. Always feel like I just haven’t given them a fair shake of the stick though so maybe this new live album will finally win me over. Athenar from HMO-favourites Midnight makes an appearance so that’s a promising sign.
The Spirit – Sounds From The Vortex
Here’s some intriguing sounding black/death shenanigans from Nuclear Blast. The tracks I’ve heard remind me of Tribulation stuff or the Vampire record from last year… quite a bit like Dissection too. Got that waltzy thing going on. And with a list of comparisons like that, this has to be a must-hear.
Ill Omen – The Grande Usurper EP
Don’t know much about this band, I believe it’s an Australian one-man black metal act of the murky and cavernous variety. I’m a bit of a hard sell with that kind of stuff but I listened to a track from this at work and got right into it. I’ll grab this one on Bandcamp.
Gloam/Obscure Evil – Split EP
New to me but the cover caught my eye. Only one track from each band but I bet it’s quality over quantity. I heard the Gloam track Black Swords Of Desecration and it thrashed about all over the place. Brilliant. And the other band is called Obscure Evil which means they must be good. Surely?! Another one for Bandcamp.
And that’s about it for me. Anything else you’re looking for today? Anything you’re avoiding like the plague? Let me know in the comments. Happy hunting.
The new release bonanza continues… this is an even better release week than last week.
Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
One of 2018’s major releases here. The black metal giants return with their first album since their split with frontman Abbath. And by the sounds of it, I don’t think anyone will miss him. This is vintage black metal with enough glacial riffing to cover the whole of Blashyrkh with an impenetrable and grim permafrost. Or something like that! It’s great basically, that’s what I’m trying to say.
Rotting Christ – Under Our Black Cult
Peaceville cover the Hellenic black metal bands’ early days with this 5CD box set. Covers the bands early demos and also contains the Passage To Arcturo mini-album and also has the albums Thy Mighty Contract and Non Serviam. Throw in a 72 page book and a bundle with The Call 7″ and you’ve got a must-buy. I pre-ordered this the moment I found out about it.
Death – Death By Metal DVD
The great Chuck Schuldiner and his seminal band Death get a welcome and long-overdue documentary feature. As well as covering the man and band, the doc also gets into the early days of the death metal scene too. This is such a fascinating genre, guy and career… I don’t see how this could be anything other than essential viewing.
Mortuary Drape – Necromantic Doom Returns
I’ve been wanting to get into this Italian band for years but it’s quite hard to get their stuff on CD or vinyl. So I can’t possibly pass on this compilation of their first demos. Absolute raw demo sound but you know that sound totally fits necro music like this. Reminds me of a gruffer version of the other big Italian band Death SS. Hopefully more reissues of the early albums will follow.
Lucifer – Lucifer II
I checked out this band’s first album because of the link to Cathedral but I found it quite disappointing. But the band has changed a bit for album No. 2. Now Nicke Andersson of Entombed fame has joined and I’m intrigued again. Sounds like better songs this time around but I’m not totally convinced I could go a whole album. Worth checking out though, might be a dark horse.
Y&T – Earthshaker, Black Tiger and Mean Streak
Three classic Y&T albums get the Rock Candy treatment. It doesn’t look like there’s bonus tracks here though, just the label’s usual quality remastering and liner notes. Got these albums on vinyl and CD already so can’t see me being tempted by these. But if you like fun, catchy meat-and-potatoes LA hard rawk then look no further!
And that’s the lot for me, tons of great stuff coming out lately. What are you going to be buying or checking out today?
Riot’s history as a band is the stuff of metal legend, thanks to decades of perseverance through bad breaks and tragedy. But musically I’ve been largely unfamiliar with the band’s career beyond the early Guy Speranza-fronted albums of the late 70s/early 80s. With the passing of founding guitarist Mark Reale in 2012 there is now no-one left from those early days. But the US band, respectfully renamed Riot V due to Reale’s passing, have vowed to carry on his good work.
And on their latest album Armor Of Light they do a pretty good job of it. Like a more polished version of 1988’s Thundersteel, it’s upbeat melodic power metal akin to Gamma Ray or Dragonforce. Todd Michael Hall’s soaring Kiske-esque vocals deliver some instantly memorable choruses with high-flying aplomb. Songs like Victory, End Of The World, Heart Of A Lion and Angel’s Thunder, Devil’s Reign sound like the sort of warring, singalong stuff that will go over a storm at festivals. The guitar soloing is superb too: jousting, harmonized Helloween-type stuff.
But there isn’t quite enough killer riffing here, and it all starts to go through the motions in the second half. The band is too content to chug along with the double-kicks, and many potentially interesting parts are drowned out by the relentless drums. But there’s good pure metal fun to be had here. The first side is a blast, I guarantee you a good two or three songs that will instantly embed in your brain and warrant further listens. A solid effort rather than a great one; but if the goal is to uphold the legacy of Reale and Riot then it achieves its aim. I definitely want to catch up and hear more.
It’s time to turn ze shpotlight on ze new releases! Hello new releasAAHHSSS!!
Amorphis – Queen Of Time
At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
Both of these bands are from the files of “Really Popular Bands I Never Got Into”. I’ve heard wee bits here and there but I’ve just never felt a compulsion towards either. If I ever feel inclined I’d probably rather start at the beginning and work my way from there. I’ve already got the early Amorphis demos on vinyl so that’s a start, and At The Gates debut was reissued recently too. Call me an old out-of-touch poohead if you like.
Coroner – R.I.P., Punishment For Decadence and No More Color
Wasn’t expecting this. These have been long out-of-print (unless you caught the brief CD reissue run on the band’s own webshop) but now they are reissued and remastered on CD, vinyl and download. If you don’t have these buy them right now, they’re totally essential albums from the Rush of thrash! I’ve got them on CD already but would like the new versions so the vinyl editions are quite tempting. Reissues of Mental Vortex and Grin will follow in June.
Avenger – Blood Sports and Killer Elite
Don’t know much about this band but I’ve been on a right NWOBHM kick lately and buying a lot of the Dissonance Production reissues. This band was relatively late to the NWOBHM party though so I’m not sure if I’m as excited about them as, say, Raven. But ones for the wishlist anyway. Also, there’s a cool looking NWOBHM box set coming out soon so I might dip my toes into that first.
That’s it for me but there’s an Overkill live set too, the Burn The Priest/Lamb Of God covers thing and a new FFDP for anyone that likes that kind of thing. And that’s about it for another week. Happy hunting!
Not a huge amount out today, compared to last week’s madness anyway, but there are a couple of important new releases at least!
Voices – Frightened
This is the one I’ve been waiting for. Comprised mostly of ex and current Akercocke members (with links to other great bands like Shrines and The Antichrist Imperium), Voices’ previous album London was a masterpiece and a very tough act to follow. But the two singles released since, Petrograph and Dead Feelings, were top dollar and bode well for a satisfying and different follow-up.
Aura Noir – Aura Noire
Another great band, one of the key black thrash bands, back with a much-anticipated new album. The three guys here have been in a wealth of great bands like Virus, Immortal and Mayhem (as well as a gazillion others) so there’s a lot of talent here. I’m a big fan of 2008’s Hades Rise and it’s been a good six or so years since previous album Out To Die so it’s exciting to have them back.
Anthrax – Kings Among Scotland
Glasgow crowds always goes totally ape-shit for Anthrax so recording a live show here was a good call. I reckon I’m done with these guys now though. I know their last couple of studio albums were well-received but they didn’t do much for me and I’ve got enough live Anthrax stuff to live without this. Usual bunch of formats available… take your pick.
Count Raven – Storm Warning and Destruction Of The Void
Couple of early-90s doom reissues here from Metal Blade. Only available on digital or vinyl so I’ll probably pass. The vinyl editions do look pretty sexy though.
And I think that’s as far as I’ll go, nothing else on my radar today. Let me know what’s on your shopping list today.
Today’s new releases are brought to you by the letter ‘M’.
Memoriam – The Silent Vigil
Remember how cool it was when your favourite bands used to bang out albums every year? The old dudes in Memoriam certainly do, which is why they’re back already with the follow-up to their 2017 debut album For The Fallen. That was one of last year’s best releases so I’m well excited about this one and from what I’ve heard so far it sounds like they are pumping some extra aggression into their grooving, crusty, doom-laden death metal. And the time-capsule 90s production confirms that this is a band just does everything the way it needs to be done.
Mournful Congregation – The Incubus Of Karma
With very few exceptions I tend to skip on extremely slow doom bands with big long songs. But after hearing great things about these funereal Australians, I checked out one of their new tunes and it was total class. A beautiful wall of morose guitars and way more immediate than any 15 minute song has any right to be.
There are some other fairly notable things out today. Satanic space lords Monster Magnet return with their new album Mindfucker, Led Zep hit the reissue trail again with a new edition of their live album How The West Was Won and Kip Winger treats his fans with The Solo Collection, a sexy package with four solo albums and rarities galore. But there’s no point in me blathering on: Memoriam and Mournful Congregation are the bands I’ll be splashing my cash on today.