Exodus - Bonded By Blood. CD. (Label: Century Media, Cat.No: 660242)
Fast, aggressive, and damn heavy, this is the early sound of the US thrash metal wave scene. Released in 1985, it was recorded a year earlier. Highlights of their sound include the constantly shouted vocals, the duel guitar attacks and raw production values. Under the shadow of the acts who had released their attempts at thrash a year earlier, Exodus have become slightly forgotten. A highly influential band who perhaps deserve a tad more respect than they have for their role in early thrash new wave.
Abattoir - The Only Safe Place. CD. (Label: Century Media, Cat.No: 660202)
This thrash classic from '86 is know considered by many as one of the best Speed/Thrash metal crossover albums. One of the few of the genre who would happily mix in throaty screams with melody. This "Commercial" (not to my ears) album resulted in fighting within the band and the group eventually splitting up. A mighty dark album that doesn't dissapoint. Ten tracks including: "Back To Hell", "Night Of The Knife", "Bring On The Damned" and "Nothing Sacred."
Metallica endorsed, twenty seven track double CD in tasty slipcase which explores the inspirational tracks and groups behind one of the best selling/loved metal bands. This album is designed to explain Metallica's roots, why they became a group, who inspired them to create their own genre of Thrash Metal back in '83, combining the best metal and NWOBHNM from the UK and their own frenzied style. Features: "Whiskey InThe Jar" by Thin Lizzy, "Overkill" by Motorhead,"Sabbra Cadabra By Black Sabbath "Die Die My Darling" by The Misfits ,"Loverman" by Nick Cave and much more.27 tracks in total.
Orthodox - Gran Poder. CD. (Label: Alone Records, Cat.No: AR014CD)
A fascinating mix of Western metal and prog influences, mixed with South-Spanish religious folklore lay the foundations for this ambitious debut. These guys clearly have a lot to say on their 2006 release, a group clearly aiming for a place alongside the best of this earth's heaviest bands. Expect obsessive repetitions, feedback, distortion, minimalism and endless drones. Citing Black Sabbath, The Melvins and Pink Floyd should give you some sort of reference point to start from in figuring out this highly promising group.
Ministry - Rio Grande Blood. CD. (Label: 13th Planet, Cat.No: THP002CD)
The brand new album from industrial metal mastermind Al Jourgensen's whip-wielding Ministry. Following on from where last albums 'Houses Of The Mole' 'Animositisomina' and 'Dark Side Of The Spoon' (how many of these joke titles can one band produce? Guffaw!!) left off, "Rio Grande Blood" is comprised of 10 brand new (2006-released) in-your-face tracks that 'drive a bulldozer through the White House' or so it sez here. The latest lineup features Killing Joke's Paul Raven, Prong mainman Tommy Victor, and, of course, special guest artist and all-round professional thorn in the arse of conformity, Mr Jello Biafra. There's only one word for it- Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!
Ministry - Rio Grande Blood. LP. (Label: 13th Planet, Cat.No: THP002LP)
The brand new album from industrial metal mastermind Al Jourgensen's whip-wielding Ministry. Following on from where last albums 'Houses Of The Mole' 'Animositisomina' and 'Dark Side Of The Spoon' (how many of these joke titles can one band produce? Guffaw!!) left off, "Rio Grande Blood" is comprised of 10 brand new (2006-released) in-your-face tracks that 'drive a bulldozer through the White House' or so it sez here. The latest lineup features Killing Joke's Paul Raven, Prong mainman Tommy Victor, and, of course, special guest artist and all-round professional thorn in the arse of conformity, Mr Jello Biafra. There's only one word for it- Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!! LP version, does not differ in any way from the CD version.
Helloween - Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 2. Dble CD. (Label: Castle, Cat.No: CMQDD1179)
What does the year 1988 mean exactly to you? Well, to this writer, it meant growing one's mullet, going to school with your Quo t-shirt under your uniform, scrawling 'Saxon are Gods' on the desk in German lessons (and having a running conversation in biro about their relative merits for months with another deskee whose identity still remains unknown), failing to chat up girls because they were all into Bros and their idea of a Metal band was Europe, getting pissed on two cans of Banks's Bitter, and staying up after one's homework to watch repeats of Hammer House Of Mystery And Suspense. Oh, and this album!!! The sequel to the seminal first instalment in the story, and to some ears the band's most accomplished achievement. The definition of melodic, progressive, heavy, shredding Power Metal, sung atop a lofty castle peak as gangs flaxen-haired maidens and brave warriors do merrily revel below. And a record so powerful that it knocked one's mother's aspidestra off the loudspeaker when played at full volume. The classic lineup that appears here- Michael Kiske, Michael Weikath, Kai Hansen, the incredibly-named Markus Grosskopf (that's 'Marcus Bighead' in English) and Ingo Switchtenberg (RIP)- had found their magic formula, and the sheer confidence and melodic ebullience of the songs, underpinned by some of the most razorsharp riffs ever laid down, was unmatched by any other 'extreme' metal act at that time. 'Eagle Fly Free' 'You'll Always Walk Alone' 'March Of Time' and 'I Want Out' are about as anthemic as Metal ever got outside of Priest or Maiden: OK, 'Rise And Fall' and 'Dr Stein' may have almost childishly joke lyrics, but name me a pair of catchier songs written by any hard rock act in 1988 and we'll eat our collective hats. And of course, like its predecessor (which it exceeds in length by nearly twenty minutes) it ends with an epic- 'The Keeper Of The Seven Keys' itself, which with its several sections and guitar duels brings to mind classics such as Heep's 'Magician's Birthday' and Utopia's 'Singring And The Glass Guitar' but is more commercial than either and sums up the band's whole schtick better than anything else they ever recorded. Not to mention being a song which one certain Freak Emporium correspondent and his schoolmates used to sing in its entirety whilst wandering the streets of Bournville!! On the strength of this album, they opened Donington '88 (the infamous one where people died) and were one of Metaaal's hot prospects- but then completely buggered it with the messy followup 'Pink Bubbles Go Ape' (featuring new guitarist Roland Grapow, replacing Hansen who by now was fronting Gamma Ray) which failed to capitalise on their success and sank in the era of Funk Metal. Grunge, and the subsequent departure of Michael Kiske, meant that the band (still a permanent fixture on the Euro Metal circuit, but not in any danger of selling any gold records) never did scale the heights they deserved, but this album- now expanded to a two disc set by the addition of five bonus tracks and several single remixes- is a testament to everything they could have been and still stands up today. Incredible.
Helloween - Keeper Of The Seven Keys Pt 1. CD. (Label: Castle, Cat.No: CMQCD1178)
YEEESSSSS!! One of the two finest Power Metal albums ever recorded (the other being 'Keeper Part 2'), which took the influence of Maiden, Queen, Styx, Priest and of course the Scorpions and melding it into something relevant to the Speed Metal era of the late 80s. Very much a quantum leap from 'Walls Of Jericho' in terms of melody, production, riffs, songwriting and performance, and in no small part due to the addition of vocalist Michael Kiske- whose Dickinsonian, operatic tones added the commercial edge the band had been looking for- 'Keeper. . .' was and still is a milestone in 80s metal. From the opening gallop of 'Initiation/I'm Alive' (one of the most positive songs in the Metal genre, despite its sightly awkward English) through the thrudding 'A Little Time' to the epic 'Twilght Of The Gods' and the heartwrenching balladry of 'A Tale That Wasn't Right' there was not a duff track. Ultimately, though, this was the album that provided them with their first hit single ('Future World') and their career-defining/genre-shredding epic 'Halloween', still very much the high point of the band's live set. Of course, narrow-minded Thrashers with bad acne and no girlfriend thought the band had sold out (Melody? How dare they!!!) but who gives a shit what those people think anyway? Time will move on and in years to come, when we're still listening to this album but nobody can remember who DRI or Anacrusis ever were (not that they were bad bands- just very limited), we can study their fossils. Until that day, however, enjoy this superb expanded edition with four bonus tracks, remixes, edits and alternative versions. Metaaaal!!
Can it really be 21 years (at time of writing) since the release of this debut album by Germany's True Metal Warriors? Bugger me, yes it can. Helloween have come an awfully long way in that time- and this album, despite featuring 'Ride The Sky' which is still sometimes played in the live set, bears no relation to the band that exists now or that would establish itself in the subequent 86-91 period. Here lead vocals are handled by guitarists Michael Weikath and Kai Hansen, neither of whom have the swooping, melodic style subsequent vocalists would be known for, and the material, whilst still thoroughly enjoyable for the Frash Metaaal that is is, is far less sophisticated, with several songs ('Gorgar' and 'Reptile' in particular) bordering on the almost cartoonish. Despite such misgivings, however, the riffs simply SHRED- and with FRASH, that is the principal consideration!! AARG!!! This 2-disc deluxe expanded version includes the 'Judas' mini-album that was released soon afterwards, plus seven additonal tracks of remixes and live versions.
The first album from Ministry's infamous side project (and creators of one of the best cover versions of all time) in more than a decade. Sarcastic, juvenile, immature, repellent and some may even say homoerotic, the nucleus of Al Jourgensen and Chris Connelly are joined this time by a cast of like-minded reprobates: Butthhole Surfers' mainman Gibby Haynes, the great Jello Biafra, ZZ Top axeman Billy Gibbons and the most warped of all, Cheap Trick's Robin Zander and Rick Neilsen- as well as a songwriting contribution from Iggy Pop. With songtitles like 'Ten Million Ways To Die' 'Jack In The Crack' 'Devil Cock' 'Viagra Culture' and 'Pole Grinder' not to mention a cover of Bauhaus' 'Dark Entries', one pretty much knows what to expect. "Middle aged men regaining the juvenile delinquency years" is how the press release describes it, and we think that sums it up perfectly. Swallow the Cock Of Satan!!
Judas Priest - Rocka Rolla/ Sad Wings Of Destiny. Dble CD. (Label: Diesel And Glory, Cat.No: DG001)
Originally released on the Gull label in the early 70's these albums starting with "Rocka Rolla" bear little resemblance to the band that one would come to know as Priest, but the signs are there: the young Rob Halford's banshee wail (slightly bluesier and more Plant/ Gillan-influenced ) and the twin lead guitars of Tipton and Downing, an idea only used up till now by Thin Lizzy and Wishbone Ash. Tracks such as 'Winter' 'Never Satisfied' 'Dying To Meet You' and 'Caviar And Meths' have their roots in the pre-Halford, Al Atkins-fronted lineup (who never cut an album) and Tipton's previous outfit the Flying Hat Band, and their most obvious musical reference point is (of course) fellow Brummies Sabbath: nothing from this album has been played live by Priest for over 26 years, but they are important foundation stones in the history of metal. "Sad Wings", by comparison, showed some of the band's most advanced concepts so far: 'Epitaph' and 'Dreamer Deceiver' are piano- based ballads that owe much to Queen in their construction, while 'Victim Of Changes' with its despairing, brooding lyric, intricate sections and squalling leads, laid the foundations that every European (and occasionally American) metal band of the next two decades would build on. With two songs in particular, 'The Ripper' and 'Island Of Domination' they practically crystallised the essence of the whole genre- the screaming, the chugging riffage, the menace. These albums are classics anyway, but in order to make them just a little more special, here are some mouthwatering extras added: a never before heard version of 'Diamonds And Rust', rare TV footage of the band performing 'Rocka Rolla' and 'Dreamer Deceiver' on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975, the story of the early band as told by original drummer John Hinch and a 24 page booklet crammed full of liner notes and lyrics. In short, something no rock fan should be without..
Those Sepultura chaps just keep on rocking- in ever more inventive and uncompromising ways than before. After all, who else but a band that clearly don't give a shit for commercial considerations would release, on their 20th anniversary as a recording act, a concept album based on Dante's Divine Comedy? Generally, thrash metal and great literature haven't always been bedfellows- but then again, when did the Seps ever adhere to any rules? If they hadn't broken most of 'em, half of what we know as metal in the last fifteen years would never have happened!! Even more accomplished than 2004's superb 'Roorback' , this is the sound of a band who move ever forward.
Witchery - Don't Fear The Reaper. CD. (Label: Century Media, Cat.No: 775052)
No, it's not an album of BOC covers!! After a five year break, Witchery (featuring members of Opeth, Arch Enemy, The Haunted and Mercyful Fate) returned- and smote us all with an album of shredding, screeching, blackened death (or is it deathly black?) metaaal. With songtitles like 'Disturbing The Beast' 'Draw Blood' 'Plague Rider' 'Damned In Hell' 'Immortal Death' and 'Cannonfodder' one knows what to expect- not for the faint hearted.
Soilent Green - Sewn Mouth Secrets/String Of Lies (Deluxe Ed). CD. (Label: Relapse, Cat.No: RR66552)
A classic album of swampy grooves and tempo downshifts, that established the band as innovators and Ben Falgoust as a natural successor to, if not superior to, Phil Anselmo. This deluxe edition comes replete with the crushingly painful 'String Of Lies' mini CD, one of the band's first releases and long deleted until now.