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.
Friday was a big new release day with a few new albums I’ve been looking forward to… so I had a bit of a buying extravaganza!
First up was the new Danzig album Black Laden Crown. I’ve been reading quite a lot of people talking about how “surprisingly good” this one is. Well, given that Deth Red Sabaoth was excellent, I’m one of the few people that thought Skeletons was good fun and… it’s GLENN F. DANZIG(!) I can’t say I’m all that surprised that this is good. The only thing that was causing me any doubt was the rather shite artwork. And even then, I’ve grown mysteriously fond of the fiery John Travolta on the back. Anyway, this is dark, moody and doomy with some killer grooves and riffs. Surprisingly good!
Next up, the new Avatarium album Hurricanes And Halos. This band has become a modern favourite of mine and, although it’s not fully sunk in yet, this album sounds like an interesting progression of their style. They’ve now dropped pretty much all of the Dehumanizer heft of the debut and gone full Uriah Heep, with tons of driving Hammond, heavy psychedelia and eeeasy livin’. Loads of stellar playing topped off with Jennie-Ann Smith’s wonderful voice.
I headed back from the record store happy and then remembered that the new Sólstafir album Berdreyminn was out too. So, I immediately rushed back out to Fopp to pick that up! It’s a lovely box set with umm… trinkets… and (more importantly) bonus tracks. It sounds like it’s going to be another winner from them, although it’ll take a few listens to fully reveal itself. Seems a bit more rocking than Ótta but still sweeping and lush. Not totally grabbing me yet though, more listens required.
While we’re on the subject of new arrivals I had a couple of cool releases delivered just a couple of days ago too. Hear No Evil have put out this new expanded remaster of the last (for now anyway) Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow album Stranger In Us All. This has always been a big gap in the collection so it’s great to finally have a copy.
And I also got this very exciting new Tygers Of Pan Tang box set The MCA Years which features the band’s NWOBHM-era albums (two of which star Thin Lizzy/Whitesnake axe legend John Sykes) and a bonus disc/booklet too. I’ve got a few albums on vinyl already but it’s nice to get the rest of the bands old albums. And there’s plenty of extra tracks and BBC stuff here to sweeten the deal. Caroline and Cherry Red both seem to have had the same idea to box up old NWOBHM albums lately. I heartily approve. Here are all the ones I’ve bought so far (I think this is all of them so far but let me know if I’ve missed any. They seem to be coming thick and fast!)
Well, that’s the lot. This was a great week of buying for me with three albums here that could all realistically appear on my AOTY list. I’m off to do some listening!
Another batch of new releases is with us. Not a lot out today but there’s some good stuff for death metal fans.
Full Of Hell – Trumpeting Ecstasy
I keep hearing great things about this band but the title track from this album is the only song of theirs that I’ve heard so far. It’s a nightmarish grindy noise but with arty vocals and electronic ambience too. It sounds worthy of the rave reviews. Definitely want to hear more.
Hate – Tremendum
This is the tenth album from these Polish veterans. I enjoyed the steady confidence of new track Numinosum a lot so I’m looking forward to hearing more of this. Sounds like good solid stuff from reliable purveyors of satanic death metal.
God Dethroned – The World Ablaze
It’s been seven years since these Dutch death metallers last released an album but now they’re back with this, the third part in their trilogy of WWI-themed albums. I’m not familiar with this band at all… one for fans of Bolt Thrower I’d imagine?
Oranssi Pazuzu – Farmokologinen, Kosmonument, Muukalainen Puhuu (Reissues)
I was introduced to this band by Annie at Blackhaus Art recently. It’s very original, unique stuff. And now here’s some sexy vinyl reissues (from Svart Records and 20 Buck Spin) of some older releases. I think I’ll press on with their newer stuff right now but it’s good to know these are out there! I hate it when you get into a new band just to find out half of their stuff is out-of-print.
And to round things up we’ve also got Swans continuing their run of reissues with a remaster of their 1995 album The Great Annihilator. The 2CD version also comes with Michael Gira’s solo album Drainland, from the same year. And I thought I was actually going to go a whole week without a live album but here’s The Sword with Greetings From… Not that up on this band but I liked the live version of Maiden, Mother and Crone that I heard. Reminded me of Pentagram!
And that’s the lot. Not the kind of stuff I’ll be running out to buy but I’ll certainly be checking out a few of these online. Anything you’ve got your sights on today? Let me know. Until next week… happy hunting!
It’s immediately evident from the Chuck Berry double-stops that kick off Holocaust’s 1981 debut album that this isn’t going to be as totally dark and metallic as the spooky cover and jagged band logo suggests. Only four songs on The Nightcomers fully live up to the nefarious promise of the front sleeve. Second track Death Or Glory has a chunky, stomping riff of evil, gurning magnificence. The title-track and Mavrock are excellent sludgy, doomy affairs with creepy, reverb-laden vocals and guitar lines. And the fourth is the album’s standout track, the metal-worshipping anthem Heavy Metal Mania. If you like metal at all then this song is simply impossible to resist.
Excluding those songs and the lively Nuge/UFO-style heavy boogie of opener Smokin’ Valves, what you’re left with isn’t quite as good… but it doesn’t matter. The riffs and solos are excellent throughout and the Edinburgh band has a knack with a catchy chorus so potentially uneventful tracks like Cryin’ Shame and Push It Around just manage to avoid being total filler (even if they are strangely feel-good next to the album’s heavier tracks). Even the often wobbly vocals of Gary Lettice have a naive charm and intriguingly pre-Hetfield tone and phrasing.
If you’re new to these guys you’re in luck as Metal Nation have just reissued the album on CD with the songs from three 12″ singles as bonus tracks. It’s a great package and superb example of the promising talent, youthful energy and total lack of contrivance that keeps people going back to the NWOBHM bands. Even if it’s not quite a top-tier entry from the genre, it’s not far off. An enjoyable and memorable hard rocker with a batch of tracks that are nothing less than stone-cold metal classics.
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.
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!
Friday is upon us once more. Let us look at today’s new releases and see if they are glorious.
(And thanks to Nick for giving me a heads-up about a couple of these!)
Obituary – Obituary
When an older band releases a self-titled album, it usually suggests a renewed sense of purpose or a big change in style but, having checked out Obituary’s new song Lesson In Vengeance, I’m not sure this album is going to be either. Just sounded like OK meat and potatoes death metal stuff to me. Maybe they just couldn’t think of a title? Anyway, as death metal legends go, Obituary never really caught my interest and this doesn’t seem like it’ll change that. I’ll probably just go back and give Cause of Death another go.
KXM – Scatterbrain
Korn’s Ray Luzier, King’s X’s dUg Pinnick(?) and Lynch Mob’s George Lynch team up to form Korn X Mob! Handily shortened to KXM. Didn’t even know about this band and they’re on their second album already. Fairly intriguing combo of talented musicians so this should be worth checking out. Lynch is the MVP of KXM, as far as I’m concerned. His playing on the title-track is supreme.
Svart Crown – Abreaction
Apologies to European readers as I should have mentioned this one a week or so ago. But it’s out in the US/Canada today so I get to mention it anyway. Better late than never. I was prepared to write this one off as samey but this French band’s latest batch of blackened death is proving naggingly enjoyable. Nothing original but well-crafted and fresh all the same.
Fit for an Autopsy – The Great Collapse
The new album from the prominent deathcore practitioners. Just not a deathcore fan so you’ll have to make your own mind up about this one… don’t let me influence you.
On the vinyl front, Back on Black reissue Raven’s Rock Until You Drop and Live at the Inferno. Normally I’d just buy a CD rather than bother with a Back on Black LP but the Raven stuff’s a bit hard to find so I could be tempted. On the other hand, a lot of NWOBHM stuff has been getting reissued on CD and box sets these days so… I’ll maybe hold off. Proggy instrumentalists Animal As Leaders get two remastered reissues on silver vinyl (Weightless and their S/T) and the dull-as-dishwater Lamb of God get the same treatment for their debut album New American Gospel.
And that’s the lot for another week. No massive must-buys for me today but Svart Crown and KXM sound worthy of further investigation. Next week we’ve got one of the year’s most anticipated releases. Until then… happy hunting.
*NEW FEATURE* – The “best cover” game is now available as a poll! Pick your fave here. (Only the releases with new artwork will be included)