Tag Archives: Stirrings

Saxon – Dogs Of War

Saxon – Dogs Of War (1995)

Saxon tried to learn their lesson from the rushed and patchy Forever Free album. They took a bit more time over the follow-up and headed back to Germany’s Karo Studio and the production team that proved so successful with Solid Ball Of Rock back in 1991. That album was a return to hard rocking form for the band but still found them moving forward, albeit in a fan-friendly fashion. While Solid Ball Of Rock was mostly full of good time AC/DC-style stompers, 1995’s Dogs Of War was an edgier affair and much more redolent of the band’s older style. But, for one member of the band, this album would be the last.

Fans of Saxon’s warrior epics like Power And The Glory and Battle Cry will delight in the opening title-track. It’s a total belter with a chunky, ballsy sound and an explosively thrilling chorus. It’s the albums best track and the only enduring classic here but the rest of the album is far from disappointing. If you know anything about Saxon you’ll know that when they start singing about vehicles it’s game on! And Burning Wheels and Big Twin Rolling (Coming Home) are loud and dirty transport rockers that take you right back to classic albums like Wheels Of Steel. And as well as recalling the classic days, Saxon also keep things fresh with some tastefully incorporated contemporary elements too: The Great White Buffalo is a moody, swampy epic and Don’t Worry has a rootsy, almost-grungy feel but climaxes with mesmerising guitar work that is pure, classic Saxon.

It’s impressive stuff but the album isn’t without its wobbles. Walking Through Tokyo is a blundering low point and a couple of enjoyable but essentially forgettable closing tracks find the album running out of steam. But it’s a minor quibble when there are so many great tracks here. Even Hold On, a potential mis-step with it’s Jovi-esque feel and Tommy & Gina lyrics, ends up being feelgood fun with a killer arena-ready chorus.

In a challenging era when British metal bands were generally falling by the wayside or falling apart, Saxon had rediscovered their fighting form, releasing their strongest, grittiest, most traditionally metal album since their glory days. But, as well as taking on the world, they were also squabbling among themselves. The relationship between frontman Biff Byford and guitarist Graham Oliver was faltering and some of the guitarist’s work on Dogs Of War had reportedly been re-recorded by a session guitarist. And when an unauthorised release of the band’s first Donington set was traced back to the guitarist, he was dismissed from the band. The loss of this talented musician and charismatic performer in such acrimonious circumstances was a blow to fans but they could take heart in the fact that – with this excellent, overlooked metal banger – Saxon were finally sounding like their old selves again.

[Saxon – Dogs Of War]

HMO at Record Store Day 2017

My old version of the Def Leppard EP. In need of an upgrade!

I’m usually more of a vulture when it comes to Record Store Day, waiting until the fuss dies down and then swooping in for whatever is left. I get to avoid queuing and the shop still gets the cash (not that the record shops in Glasgow have any complaints about me on that front.) But if there’s a release I’m particularly excited about then I can be tempted to join the queue and that was definitely the case today. And the weather was pretty splendid too so that didn’t hurt.

I had a lovely morning bus ride into town listening to the new “barbaric” remix of Virgin Steele’s Visions Of Eden album. It’s excellent. The previous album had a very dense sound but the new version lets the music and the songs breathe and the album is much better for it. That, and a suprisingly agreeable 70p coffee, set me up for the 1.5 hour queue that was to follow.

As I stated in Friday’s New Release post, the must-buy for me was the Def Leppard EP. The cover looks very cool and there’s a neat lyric insert that I wasn’t expecting either. Very nice edition and much better than my old plain-sleeved 7inch reissue.

Thanks to a heads-up from John at 2Loud2oldmusic I decided I also wanted the David Bowie Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles ’74) live set. I had a feeling it might be one of the first to go but I was lucky enough to pick up a copy. Haven’t listened to it yet but the packaging is stunning and I’ve finally got some Luther Vandross in my collection. Bonus!

And that was my lot. Unfortunately, Monorail wasn’t able to get any copies of the Enslaved Roadburn Live and the Cheap Trick Epic Archive 2LP sold out before I reached the counter. Possibly just as well as they were charging a ridiculous £37 for it and it’s out next week on CD anyway. There were other items (Marc Bolan Live, Arthur Brown, Small Faces at the BBC) that I could have easily bought but I’m happy just to have a couple of mementos and not go overboard. I might do the vulture thing tomorrow though and see if any other shops have the Enslaved album!

And that’s us for another year. If you were out today, I hope you got what you were after. Let me know how you got on in the comments. And remember… RSD is just one day a year but Virgin Steele are for LIFE.

Rotting Christ – Thy Mighty Contract

Rotting Christ – Thy Mighty Contract (1993)

I’m not sure I could have picked a less Easter-y album to listen to tonight. Then again, I’m fairly sure that vast swathes of my music collection aren’t exactly appropriate for most religious holidays. There’s never a bad time to listen to Thy Mighty Contract though. It’s brilliant early black metal with remarkably restrained and melodic riffs, impassioned warrior shouts and dark force. It’s often pleasingly dreary and gothic in a Paradise Lost/My Dying Bride vein and it has that influential and unique sun-baked atmosphere that Greek black metal has become known for. It’s atmospheric, accessible and totally classic: a great entry point for anyone new to the genre and an eternal favourite for long-time devotees.

[Rotting Christ – The Fourth Knight Of Revelation]

Song of the Week: Dokken – When Heaven Comes Down

Been on a proper Dokken kick lately so here’s the ace moody rokker When Heaven Comes Down, taken from their classic second album Tooth And Nail. Don’t really need to say much about this one do I? It’s all there: epic Kashmir-esque drama, big riffs, classy and tasteful vocals from Don Dokken and a guitar solo from George Lynch that is equally classy and tasteful too (with a smidgen of widdly thrown in for good measure). Shokkenly good.

[Dokken – When Heaven Comes Down]

Song of the Week: Chuck Berry – Roll Over Beethoven (Live)

Chuck Berry (1926 – 2017)

There couldn’t be any other choice today. Chuck Berry was one of the original rock n’ rollers and an essential innovator in the story of rock. A phenomenally talented writer, performer and guitarist.

But which song to pick? I was thinking Reelin’ and Rockin’ or Guitar Boogie from the One Dozen Berrys album but then I remembered this amazing footage from the Heppest of the Hep Facebook page and decided to go with this. It’s an awesome performance of one of his most legendary tunes: Chuck lets rip with plenty of guitar licks and works through all his iconic stage moves too. The audience are justifiably appreciative at the end. And we should be too… a big round of applause, please, for Chuck Berry.

 

Song of the Week: Immolation – Destructive Currents

This week has been all about Immolation’s superb new album Atonement. This is the first song I heard from the CD and it’s my current favourite. Destructive Currents is seismic enough to deliver on the promise of its title but it’s also delivered with confident restraint so that the twisting, blackened death metal riffs have maximum impact. There have been fun releases so far this year, like Kreator’s Gods of Violence but this stuff is serious: imposing, controlled and impressive. With Atonement, Immolation has set the bar for extreme metal in 2017.

Song of the Week: Omen – Be My Wench

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Tired of crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you and all that? Why not let off some steam with Omen’s Be My Wench? This is top metal cobblers, it’s got a chorus that you’ll never get out of your head and it’s also got the kind of raunchy lyrics that most po-faced modern bands wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. But if you’re going to do Conan metal there needs to be some shagging in there. It’s the barbarian way.

[Omen – Be My Wench]