Lines In Wax

THIRTEEN YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

metal

Black Sabbath – In Moscow (1989/2008)

Sabbath’s short residency in Moscow after the fall of the iron curtain is a fairly famous event in their long and varied history. Touring with Cozy Powell, Neil Murray and Tony Martin, desperately trying to claw back some credibility with a solid lineup and a new album on a new label (for Sabbath), the Moscow shows seemed to come at a good time for the band. The band played both matinee and evening shows for the crowds in Moscow, and whilst the two that were documented (one matinee and one evening show, of which video also exists of varying quality) may have slight differences, the bulk of the set is identical between the two. Interaction between the crowd and the band is especially awkward. I’ve always found Tony Martin, excellent as his voice may be, to be a pretty uninspiring character when it comes to whipping up the crowd, so throw a Russian translator into the mix and things get even more cringy and awkward. Musically, the band were tight as fuck and the quality of the recordings of this set of shows is extremely high. I believe it was intended for this to be an official live release, but for a multitude of reasons the idea fell through. I’m pretty fascinated by this era of the band and have listened to many boots from this era but the Moscow shows are probably your best bet in regards to quality / fidelity – as well as having the accompanying video footage – even if they aren’t personally my favourite recordings from the band.

Devin Townsend Band – Synchestra (2006)

Synchestra was the Devin album that came out around the time I properly became aware of his wider output as a musician (rather than just SYL). At the time, this thing just could not compare to SYL’s Alien and I immediately consigned it to the bin. With more adult ears, I can appreciate about half of this, and the other half unfortunately drags the album down in a soup of breathy synths and meandering guitars. As with any solo DT from this period onwards especially, it seems quality control is out the door, and every single last morsel and idea gets packed into each album, which can be overwhelming – not because it’s too much or too technical or too abstract – but well, because it’s boring. Several individual songs of excellent quality and the gorgeous production job both save this thing from sinking (or is that synching hur hur hur) to the bottom of the shit pile, but repeat listens from me in the future are probably unlikely.

Probot – Probot (2004)

I remember this coming out like it was yesterday, which in hindsight makes me feel real fucking old! Looking at this now, at this insane cast of characters – this fucking STACKED release filled with incredible guest spots – it makes me realise I didn’t have a fucking clue what I was talking about when it came to metal in 2004. I thought I was the bees knees but I didn’t know shit, clearly. Anyway, this fucking rules. The production is fantastic. Proper solid stuff. Fucking shout out to Dave Grohl for playing every single instrument on this thing. I’m not the biggest fan of his bands but props are due where props are due. I could go track by track on this thing but honestly every song slaps. I’m not too fussed on the King Diamond track, the Jack Black track or the Mike Dean track but otherwise every other collab is incredible. A fantastic album.

Sepultura – Kairos (2011)

Kairos is another latter day Sepultura record that whilst being pretty fun and actually very well made / produced, still ultimately falls into just being “OK”. There is nothing about Kairos, for all its excellent musicianship and fantastic vocal performances from Derrick Green, that is particularly bad or even boring. It’s just somehow the album blurs into one gelatinous blob no matter how many times I spin it. Well played, I’ll give it that, but dangerously generic.

Judas Priest – Invincible Shield (2024)

Well, colour me surprised at how fucking good this is. Goddamn! Yes, Firepower and Angel Of Retribution were solid, consistent and more than serviceable, but I was strongly of the opinion that Priest hadn’t done an excellent album since Painkiller. Here comes Invincible Shield them, to knock me off my high horse. Bloody heck! At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about this, because it has the same super slick and modern metal production as the albums I mentioned above. Whilst that kind of production is more than suitable for a bazillion metal bands, the sounds of classic Priest are not something I would associate with such a clean “pro tools” feeling sound. But the songs on this thing are so fucking good that I don’t even mind that it’s overproduced. Everything sounds fantastic, especially Halford, who is putting out incredible work for a man of his age. It’s a shame Tipton isn’t really involved anymore and of course KK hasn’t been around for a while but if Invincible Shield was the final Judas Priest album I wouldn’t even be mad.

Devin Townsend – Ocean Machine: Biomech (1997)

Historically, I’ve had a hot / cold relationship with the solo albums of Devin Townsend. Much to my surprise then, when going back to the very first one from 1997, I found that I truly enjoyed this album. Devin’s “wall of sound” production is in its infancy but still mostly present; sheets of guitars and synths are the backdrop for this collection of compositions, setting the stage for the growing levels of bombast that would unfold on future records. As it stands alone, Ocean Machine is a record comparable as much to shoegaze as it is to prog or even metal. Favourite track: “Bastard”.

Angel Witch – Loser (1981)

Noticeably different from the debut album in both in terms of tonality and general production, the Loser 7” sees Angel Witch adopting a more “fun”, cheeky approach to their dark NWOBHWM sound. Historically, it’s the start of a change that did not pay off for the group, but nevertheless this three track single is an interesting and enjoyable listen. “Dr. Phibes” is arguably the weakest of the three, but the other two are great little pieces of heavy metal.

Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol: Ray Gillen Mix (1986/1987)

These original versions of the tracks that would go on to make up The Eternal Idol are a treat to listen to. It’s not as groundbreaking a reveal as the original sessions for Born Again, but hearing Ray Gillen’s original vocals is a treat for Sabbath fans whichever way you cut the cake. The songs didn’t quite get the full studio polish up in these takes, but the roughness (it’s not exactly black metal haha) is a small price to pay in return for the songs sounding more natural, and then you’ve got the added benefit of Gillen’s voice mixing things up even further.

Angel Witch – Angel Witch / Gorgon (Single) (1980)

Without doing side by side listens it’s hard to really differentiate between these versions and the same tracks from the debut album, but both songs work rather pleasantly together as a 7” single release. Not to mention the art is cool as fuck, so if I ever saw this at a used record store for a decent price I’d probably pick it up because it’s a cool little package.

Angel Witch – Angel Witch (1980)

Legendary, obviously, but drops off for me as the record goes on, generally. I’m talking in a songwriting sense only, because the production on this thing is just absolutely to die for; proper analogue warmth with space and definition between the bass and lead guitars, not to mention the percussion. Really makes tracks like the title-track, “Atlantis” and “White Witch” pop out of the stereo. As I kind of touched on, I love how strong this is at the start but it’s totally front loaded. I wouldn’t say that there’s a gradual decline in quality that tapers off as the record goes on, but the first third of the album is significantly stronger than the rest of it. Despite this, it is still a thoroughly entertaining listen.

Judas Priest – Firepower (2018)

Solid. That much I can say: solid. Definitely one of the strongest records the band have done since 1990 onwards. I’m not super sure if a fat, overproduced modern sound really works for Judas Priest, what with the compression and the scooped mids and what have you, but there’s some bangeroonies here on Firepower. “Flame Thrower” is a bop, as is “Necromancer”, and these are probably my favourite tracks here. Firepower is a pretty long album, but not one that I find overstays its welcome.

Discharge – Shootin’ Up The World (1993)

Manson Child! Manson Child! Manson Child! Fucking hell, honestly… with that “epic” out of the way, Shootin’ Up The World isn’t too bad. Granted, the vocals, as per the two albums before this, are absolute fucking dogshit (with all due respect), but musically this is the strongest of the three Discharge “experiments” of the 80s and 90s. I still wouldn’t recommend checking it out unless you have a strong stomach for monotony.

Judas Priest – Battle Cry (2016)

Judas Priest circa 2015 were a well oiled machine. This live album is tight as fuck. Some of the older classics sound a bit weird at first in such a modern form (I’m so used to them in their warm 70s analogue sound) but once that initial shock is out of the way, Battle Cry is a really fun listen. They went pretty heavy on the Redeemer Of Souls material too, which is a brave move for a band with a festival slot and a bazillion fan faves spanning (at the time) five decades.

Judas Priest – Redeemer Of Souls (2014)

Solid later effort from the legendary Priest. After the safe Angel Of Retribution and the uhhh “brave” (lmao) Nostradamus, Redeemer is a breath of fresh air. Long story short, here Priest stop fucking around and instead focus on doing what they do best. We all miss KK Downing, but honestly, like super honestly, at first I didn’t even notice he was missing. TLDR: not as good as some previous discography highs but a solid album nonetheless.

Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008)

I’ve thought quite long and hard (oo er) about how to rate this one, and half marks seems like the best idea. Musically, of course, Judas Priest are not to be sniffed it. It is however, the misguided energy of which they have thrown themselves into such a massive concept album that is perhaps worthy of criticism. I appreciate the concept, as well as the vision involved, but unfortunately, Nostradamus is a bloated corpse of mostly middling songs that do absolutely nothing for even the most die-hard Priest appreciator. Do not get me wrong, there is a baseline of excellent on which such mediocre ideas are built, but that is not enough to save Nostradamus from being one of the least entertaining records that ever got given the Priest name – nor for that matter is the presence of several tracks which are actually really good; they are drowned out in the sheer mass of everything else. A shame.

Limp Bizkit – Significant Other (1999)

This has aged pretty terribly, like all nu metal, but of course with Limp Bizkit in general. There is no changing however, that I listened to the absolute fuck out of this record when I was a kid. I remember it as if it was yesterday, following along – or at least trying because the lyrics were so small in the booklet. I remember rumours of there being a hidden track with Eminem on it hidden between the tracks on the CD – I guess this spawned because Eminem is mentioned in the booklet (and shows up in the “Break Stuff” video). The truth of the matter is that Durst and Em recorded together, but the song didn’t appear on this album. Anyway, production-wise this is really solid. Terry Date is always a good choice when it comes to nu metal, and whilst he can produce albums that are too homogenous or “safe”, Significant Other still sounds amazing and fresh 25 years later, considering the contents. Some of the musical collabs are a bit wet (the album would be even better without Jon D from Korn, Aaron from Staind and Scott from Stone Temple Pilots crowding it) – you can leave Method Man where he is though, everything is automatically better when Method Man is involved. Oh, and I guess I’ll give this a bonus “half point” (lol) for having “Re-Arranged”, which is hands down the best song the band ever made.

Fear Factory – Archetype (2004)

I was into “Cyber Waste” when this first came out (“nothing you say matters to us”? – matters enough for you to write a whole fucking song and release it as the lead single to this album LOL) but otherwise I mostly snoozed on this album. I was 13 or 14 years old, and wasn’t really THAT into Fear Factory. Now, as a legit old cunt, one can return to the Fear Factory discography in retrospect and see the highs and the lows. For me, Archetype is a high. Oddly, its a record without Dino on it, someone whom I attribute the chuggalugga FF sound to as a personality, but here we are without him and we get one of the best Fear Factory record in ages, chronologically at least. Ray Herrera’s drumming is fucking class too.

Cradle Of Filth – Trouble And Their Double Lives (2023)

“She Is A Fire” sounds great, to be fair. Dani sounds amazing, the current / new version of the band is on the ball, and Martin is a machine on the drums. Regarding the live session, I’ll be honest, when I heard about this release of yet another Cradle live album I rolled my eyes, but I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that the band are tight as fuck right now. Like, the performance here is seriously good from both the new blood as well as Dani. Cradle has always sounded like something of a car crash live, I’ve seen them many times over the years with different members and earlier live albums such as Live Bait For The Dead attest to this, but I was blown away by how good Dani’s voice sounds and how on-point the band is. The sound is fantastic, too. I don’t know how much massaging this has had in post-production but it sounds absolutely fantastic.

Kovenant – S.E.T.I. (2003)

Not sure what happened here, because Animatronic, whilst divisive, appeared to come off as a successful experiment. I guess what SETI does is double down on the style of that previous album, but maybe the band pushed too far with this one. SETI is like, what, 80 minutes long? 80 minutes of mediocre industrial metal is enough to drive anyone to absolute madness, regardless of quality, but SETI fails to deliver the instant satisfaction of Animatronic; none of the songs are remotely as memorable, there are no hooks or passages that stick with you, and the vocals are decidedly toned down too. The guitar and drums give way for the synthesizers to lead the songs, but when every time all they offer is the same formless bubbling techno stepper sounds, this gets old very fast. You could probably shave nearly half of the songs away from this thing and the album would just be stronger for it. Thankfully, the production is enormous (although there’s no saving that snare sound), and the album starts to correct its course from around the half-way point, with tracks like “Acid Theatre”, “The Perfect End”, “Pantomine” and “Industrial Twilight” really shining the most.

Judas Priest – Angel Of Retribution (2005)

Finally, Halford returns to his rightful place at the front of Priest. No shade to Ripper, who had a 50/50 track record with Priest albums, but Halford belongs as the group’s front man and from the off this actually sounds like a Judas Priest album, despite the modern production (which is not a problem, just a little jarring if you think the last time we heard Halford-fronted Priest was the legendary Painkiller, an album that is absolutely fantastic but also dated in its sound and production). I do think however that Priest played it safe with this one. There are no daring choices both musically and during the production of the record. This results in a consistent reunion piece but also one that is a little one dimensional, despite the various song ideas attempted. Some of the songs are great, some are not so great, but they all sound more or less the same, with the uniformity of a single product. Yknow, it’s an album, so fair enough, but still, there’s just something about this record that just isn’t sitting right with me, even after a few listens.

Rainbow – Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975)

A stunning debut from this legendary band. Personally, I think the Rainbow sound was perfected on Rising, but there are some frankly excellent songs on this album, including the now immortal opening track, “Man on the Silver Mountain”. The production, seemingly shared between Blackmore and producer Martin Birch, is organic and flows nicely through the various styles of songs present on the album. (Apparently I enjoy listening to this so much that I reviewed it twice, this time on 15th May 2024) Are Rainbow one of the greatest bands of all time? Off the strength of the first two records alone I don’t think that’s too daft of a statement. This thing is loaded to the gills with absolute rock and roll classics, such as the phenomenal opener “Man On The Silver Mountain” and side B’s “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves”. Granted, there are a few tracks here which are good but aren’t really my kind of thing, such as “Black Sheep Of The Family” or “If You Don’t Like Rock N Roll”, but I can’t let this kind of thing detract too much from what is otherwise a good album. Production wise, things sound as brilliant as you’d expect for 1975; fans of warm analogue production should rejoice.

Realize – Demolition (2017)

Somewhat predictable but immensely satisfying industrial metal that worships almost exclusively it seems at the altar of Godflesh. Expect claustrophobic guitars, punishing programmed drums and robotic vocals. Expect pain, anguish and misery. Expect it to sound a lot like Godflesh!

Sepultura – A-Lex (2009)

I appreciate the experimentation that Sepultura did with A-Lex. Previous album Dante XXI aside, Sepultura ran a very real risk of becoming stale in the years running up to this record. However, A-Lex is a step down from its predecessor in a number of ways. The first is the production is nowhere near as clear. As a musician I would find it infinitely frustrating having found the perfect palette of sonic clarity for my band or project, only to not be able to replicate that on my next record. This means a lot of the more experimental stuff gets lost in the mix, and the album sounds like one unified mush of the same song and over, negating all of their hard work. This also means that the only piece that stands out above the others is the unfortunately awful Beethoven section. Like, what? Why is that even here? I appreciate this review probably makes A-Lex sound like it is complete dogshit. It’s not. In all fairness, it has some very cool moments. It’s just sad to see an album with a bucket full of shortcomings this soon after a record that corrected their course so well.

Slayer – Divine Intervention (1994)

I expected a fairly high drop off of quality after Seasons… so I was pleasantly surprised to find that Divine Intervention has aged quite well. Yeah, there’s more of the “groove” sound here than anything that could be called thrash metal, but we are now firmly entering the phase that I like to call “angry Slayer”. It’s a silly term, I know, because Slayer has always been angry, but from here on out they seem generally more angsty and pissed off with absolutely everything and everyone. There’s a streak of hardcore punk running through this in some of the more chaotic moments, which makes sense with what was to come next in their discography. The biggest downside for me is that Lombardo is gone, but Paul Bostaph holds his own, I’ll give the man his dues.

Deathstars – Termination Bliss (2006)

When I saw the “Cyanide” single on the TV as a teenager I thought it was pretty cool even though it was clearly very cheesy goth music. I wouldn’t usually be super into this sort of stuff, but I was really into The Kovenant’s Animatronic album, after hearing “Mirror’s Paradise” on one of Bam Margera’s CKY dvds (those were the days, eh). Deathstars to me seemed like KovenantLite, and that was OK with me. I quickly and perhaps illegally obtained a copy of the album, and I really started to enjoy the album. Sure, there are a few uninspired songs, and the whole thing is kinda similar in its own way, but I played the absolute fucking life out of this album. Nowadays, looking back, some of the vocals are kinda cringe and I really don’t like the whole whisper/shout fry vocal thing that they have going on, but for the most part this held up way better than I ever could have imagined. The production is fantastic, if not a touch dated, but hey, this is old as balls now. I was filled with an immense sadness listening to this, as it was another one of those albums that took me back to my youth. The thing about the good old days, is that you don’t know they are the goodold days until they are long gone. Anyway – that’s Termination Bliss for you.

Sepultura – Dante XXI (2006)

Dante XXI is the best Sepultura album chronologically in quite some time. There seems to be a fire underneath Dante XXI that has been absent for far too long, despite the band’s best efforts in the interim period. With the metal world crawling out the grip of nu / alternative fads and into some whole other bullshit (metalcore I’m looking at you), Sepultura forged ahead with their own unique sound. The production for Dante XXI, shared between the band and several engineers / producers, is absolutely fucking fantastic. Easily one of the clearest and most well-balanced production jobs I’ve heard in a while (which makes it even more baffling as to a. why there was a 2021 remaster in the first place and b. why said remaster sucks so fucking badly). The drumming on this record in particular is worthy of note. Cavalera shines here, and its worth listening to just for following along with his fills, accents and other interesting personal touches. Really great, just avoid the remaster and go for the original.

Judas Priest – Demolition (2001)

The Jugulator V Demolition argument has raged for several decades now, but I’m here to finally lay it all to rest: this shit fucking blows ass. This is clearly, unequivocally the worst album of the two, and is a stain on the Priest name. There’s probably two good songs on this thing, the rest of them are either inconsequential or sound like bad Rammstein or Fear Factory b-sides. Cyyyybeerrrfaaacccceeee lmao get the fuck out of here! “He is interfaced to Hell” hahahaha my sides, my sides, make it stop.

Midnight – Farewell To Hell (2008)

Calling midnight sloppy does them / him a disservice, but there is a looseness to this EP which gives it a kind of drunken swagger, allowing tracks like “Black Rock N Roll” or “Vomit Queen” to hit that much harder. I don’t want to say farewell to hell, especially if this is what it sounds like. Sounds like Satan smashed on whiskey.

Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones (2010)

Triptykon, whilst perhaps the logical continuation of Tom G Warrior’s sonic journey after the dissolution of Celtic Frost, was a band that I found difficult to get into. Even seeing them live around the release of this record didn’t manage to sell it to me. “Goetia” was massive (especially live), but that was as far as I went with Triptykon until recently. I’m not sure what happened, exactly. All I know now is that Eparistera Daimones (what a mouthful!) finally made sense to me. I still feel that some of the longer tracks (especially the finale) are just simply too long for their own good, but for the first time I’ve started to understand what this album is going for. I’m no stranger to slow or longform music, but Triptykon’s cold, desperately heavy approach I found to be quite impenetrable. I’m glad I finally got there in the end, and the softer tracks towards the back end of the record were a nice surprise.

Pantera – The Great Southern Trendkill (1996)

Is this Pantera’s heaviest album? It certainly goes pretty fuggin’ hard at points. A clean as fuck production job by Terry Date and the lads allows for these heavy hitters (and the softer ones too) to really land. Bonus points for Seth Putnam guesties on track 1, although some of the later lyrics / themes are a bit cringe. Oh, and, the line “Lesbian love is accepted and right” in “Underground In America” is just fucking weird. Taken in and out of context I’m not really sure what Anselmo is on about. I realised something else as well today, whilst spinning this again for the first time in many years: add some quirky keyboards to this and this is exactly what Mushroomhead was trying (and failing) to do with Saviour Sorrow.

Jesu – Why Are We Not Perfect (2008)

The first few tracks here originally appeared one year earlier on the split with Eluvium, only here they come with a few additional alternate takes to fill out the run time. I can’t help but notice the original split art was a photograph of either the Menkaure pyramid at Giza or perhaps one of the smaller satellite pyramids, yet this EP release has a photograph of the much larger and imposing Khafre pyramid. As someone with an interest in the pyramids of Egypt, and I know how many others invest much spiritual and cosmic meaning into these structures, one does wonder why they were chosen for the covers of these releases. Surely there is more to it than “wow, such pyramid, such wonder”? Anyway, I love this little EP from Jesu. It’s a million miles away from the recent full-length release of Conqueror, with dream-like electronics and soaring shoegazey moments. I find this kind of stuff far better fits the palette of Jesu rather than the more guitar-based stuff, but hey, that’s just me. Don’t take my word for this, have a go. This is a great little release and a good entry point into the project.

Jesu – Conqueror (2007)

Y’know, it’s real sad boy hours when one of the lads throws on Conqueror. That’s the end of the party vibes, my friend. But that’s okay, because generally, Jesu is a very good project. Conqueror, despite hailed as Jesu’s masterpiece in some circles, is a transitional record for the band, as Broadrick led the project from the super-heavy style of the debut through to the lighter, more synth-reliant gazey songwriting that would come. This transition does make Conqueror a bit clumsy in places, but it’s more than made up for by classic tracks such as “Old Year” or the excellent “Medicine”.

Fear Factory – Remanufacture (1997)

A surprisingly solid and consistent collection of remixes, from a time period where remix albums are usually a death knell for creativity and are not exactly conducive to a good time during playback either (lol). Remanufacture however, genuinely does rework the original songs into something completely and utterly new. Its well worth giving it a go, unless you have some sort of allergy to 90s electronics. This thing is so 90s that wearing one of the fake looking leather trench coats whilst listening to it should be considered mandatory.

Earth – A Bureaucratic Desire For Extra-Capsular Extraction (2010)

A collection of various early Earth recordings, including the entirety of the Extra-Capsular Extraction EP, as well as I believe the first demo from 1990. As the compilation goes on, into the earliest songs composed under the Earth moniker, there are parallels that can be drawn not only from riffmasters like Iommi but also with early Swans and other such noisesome ilk. An interesting look at this group’s primitive beginnings.

Earth – Extra-Capsular Extraction (1991)

Hard to beat in my eyes, especially because of side B’s monolithic “Ouroboros is Broken”, one of the most powerful, hypnotising and mesmerizing drone tracks of all time IMO. Yes, it has drums, but if I need a “drone” “hit” then nothing really satisfies as much as the repetitive dirge of side B of this EP. One of the first Earth records I ever got on vinyl and it’s remained one of my favourites ever since.

Sextrash – Rape From Hell (2006)

Sextrash – Rape From Hell (2006)

To say that Sextrash fell off would probably be incorrect, because they were never “on” to begin with. The third record by this project however, apparently 14 years after the previous full length all the way forward in 2006, is a shadow of the former sounds of the band. It may be the “modern” production, it may be the shtick is wearing thin, or it (probably) is a combination of both these things. The hideously-titled Rape From Hell then, just about falls onto the wrong side of “bad but still kinda entertaining”. I’d rather just listen to one of the older records then ever listen to this again.

Godflesh – Purge (2023)

Godflesh – Purge (2023)

It took me a while to get my head around Purge. I think it’s because my head really has to be in a certain space to fully embrace a Godflesh record. I can admire the beats and wailing guitars at any time, but to fully allow the absolute claustrophobia of their music to envelope me, well that takes a special kind of headspace, I guess. With all the pieces aligned, I can finally make my way through this entire full length without feeling like I’m suffocating, and I can safely say that it has been worth the wait for another Godflesh full length. The band’s last offering, Post Self, was something of a second wind, revisiting a forgotten era of the band (Us & Them) and perfecting the mission statement once and for all. Post Self was definitely a highlight of the group’s career. Purge on the other hand seems to rise from the smouldering ashes of the dense beatwork of Post Self and instead takes that framework, combining it with the kind of dark, dense heaviness we saw on Decline & Fall and even A World Lit Only By Fire. Honestly, the fact that these guys still release music as Godflesh is such a fucking incredible gift in of itself, I’ll be grateful even for a thousand more dub albums, let alone another full length. But yeah, this shit fucking rules. Long live the new (old?) flesh.

HIM – And Love Said No (2004)

HIM – And Love Said No (2004)

Leeeeheeeheeeeeeeave mmeeeeeeeeeeeee I’ve probably heard this song a hundred thousand times. Since it’s release in 2004, with my friend’s obsession with the CKY / Bam Margera videos and my sister’s obsession with Ville Valo (before the goth kids got into emo music, although HIM is pretty IMO to be honest haha), this thing seemed to be in the CD player at all times. Be it in the car, in our room, or at my mate’s house. This is such a stellar collection of HIM’s earlier tracks that it does render the studio albums irrelevant for the casual fan. There are – of course – some gems in the rough but realisitically, if you want to wear a beanie hat, eye liner (or guy liner) and fingerless gloves and want the credentials to do so, then you’ve got everything you need right here. I’m obviously joking around here, but this is a good CD. The production across all sessions is solid, and whether you like HIM or not, the mass appeal is clearly there. Also, how the fuck is this CD 20 years old? Holy fuck.

God – The Anatomy Of Addiction (1994)

God – The Anatomy Of Addiction (1994)

It would perhaps be slightly derivative of me to compare God to the spacey, dub-style Godflesh tracks that bounced around a lot in the mid 90s, or to the second half of the excellent Vae Solis by Scorn, another project to feature the guitar work of Justin Broadrick. But, without going on a mad trip that would involve shoving a trumpet up my ass and putting a beret on my head to adequately convey the smorgasbord of genres on display here, that is probably the easiest way I can convey the sound of God to you, at least on their second album, The Anatomy Of Addiction. It would also be easy to accuse God of being directionless on this CD, especially with it’s 80 minute runtime (not to mention it’s 18 minute closing track), but I think with it’s fairly treacle-like pace it’s actually easier to just nod along and led God take you where they are going to take you. For as heavy and abstract as this gets, it is often a tribal beat or slowed-down drum and bass loop that holds the tracks together, which helps you just sail along with the racket that the band makes. Personally, I think this might be better when accompanied by a medicinal cigarette, if you are so inclined to partake in such things.

Korn – Here To Stay (2002)

Korn – Here To Stay (2002)

I vividly remember this single dropping. Goddamn, I thought it was the heaviest shit on the fucking planet. I rushed out and got the CD (the version with the blue cover) and played the song to death (ignoring the fucking dreadful remix version also tacked onto the CD). How in the sweet motherfuck did all this happen 22 years ago!?? Where did the time go? Where did my life go? Now I’m just sitting on an internet webbed site shouting into the void about a Korn CD that nobody gives a fuck about. But at least I’m here to stay (lol, we’ll see what happens in the next 22 years, shall we?). Life is short folks, enjoy it! I’m gonna spin this again for old time’s sake.

Judas Priest – Jugulator (1997)

Judas Priest – Jugulator (1997)

In season 2 of HBO’s critically acclaimed series The Wire, dock worker and part-time criminal Thomas “Horseface” Pakusa asks his union boss Frank Sobatka the following question: “Let me ask you something important. You like fake tits? Thus far, I am undecided on fake tits.” – Now, I’m not saying that David Simon’s masterwork on the failure that is the war on drugs could or should have been written in any other way, but if I had been tasked with writing dialogue for Horseface, I would have done it a bit differently. Instead of clutching a titty mag in that grotty little office scene, Horseface would be reading a copy of Kerrang! or Metal Hammer or some such bullshit music rag, and instead he would be asking Frank Sobatka this slightly different question: “Let me ask you something important, Frank. You like Jugulator? Thus far, I am undecided on Jugulator.” – In fact, to round out this pointless preamble to my review, I’ll say that you can safely put “Thus far, I am undecided on Jugulator” on my gravestone. In all seriousness however, I have no idea what to make of this record. Ripper Owens is a formidable replacement for the wayward Halford. The band steps up a bit in heaviness, in an attempt to expand on what they started with Painkiller and to also modernise their sound. The production, seemingly shared between the band and Sean Lynch, is crisp and very well balanced. Why then, does Jugulator feel like a weird side-step into an alternative universe? The lyrics to all of the songs are incredibly goofy. I mean, Halford had some goofy-ass lyrics, but the man made “camp” metal as fuck. Ripper instead seems to wallow in lyrics of teenage quality, but it seems to be the case that other members of the band were filling the lyrical void left by Halford. It may have been better to leave the new vocalist deal with the lyrics. On top of this, we have these very odd samples and intros to various tracks, and like the icing on the bizarre cake is the super fucking zoomed in, pixelated artwork. Like… who the fuck signed off on that? I have no idea how much crack was being smoked during this era of the band. It is the only explanation that I can concoct that explains the results that we have in front of us. It is easy to see that the band are ashamed of this too, with Ripper’s period in the band more or less being wiped from history and never mentioned again (like any Sabbath line-up after Dio). I mean, it’s not even on Spotify like the entirety of the rest of the band’s catalog. TLDR – You like Jugulator? Thus far, I am undecided on Jugulator.

Judas Priest – Ram It Down (1988)

Judas Priest – Ram It Down (1988)

What a U-turn…. LOL Whilst not as “weak” as Turbo, Ram It Down doubles down on the 80s-to-the-max vibes of stadium bands of that time period. BUT – and its a big but – the electronics here have a much more industrial element to them, at least that’s how it seems to me. There’s a coldness to them, a harshness and a heaviness. So instead I find myself welcoming these strange electronic / rhythmic elements into Priest’s otherwise organic rock sound, instead of rejecting the sterility like I did with Turbo. It’s still difficult to see how they took a leap from this to something like Painkiller (a different drummer definitely helped), but for an album I was expecting to generally be pretty “meh”, I found myself enjoying a lot of Ram It Down, despite the fact that it has an odd sound and is a bit of a mixed bag, tracks like “I’m A Rocker”, “Johnny B Goode” and “Monsters Of Rock” make the final third of this thing pretty painful to get through. Thankfully, “Heavy Metal”, “Hard As Iron” and “Blood Red Skies” more than make up for those failures.

Bathory – Twilight Of The Gods (1991)

Bathory – Twilight Of The Gods (1991)

As enjoyable as Twilight Of The Gods is, there is something about that pales in comparison to some of the earlier records in a similar style. It is difficult to put my finger on it, purely because there is nothing “wrong” per se with anything that I am hearing. There is also the fact that TOTG was the first “viking” Bathory album I heard (before I decided to address them chronologically, which was a much better idea). For years I struggled to get into this thing due to the massive 14 minute opening track. I am not adverse to long songs I just found it a bit much for music that essentially “plods”. Does the song really need to be that long? Whether it does or not, it put me off for a very long time. However it is with a new found appreciation for later Bathory records that I still struggle if just only slightly with the entirety of TOTG. On paper though it is still a very solid entry into the band’s varied discography and perhaps the band’s truly final “good” album, in light of those that follow? I’ll leave that up to you.

Killing Joke – Pandemonium (1994)

Killing Joke – Pandemonium (1994)

Make no mistake here, Pandemonium is a punishing listen. Doubling down on the rejuvinated sound of Extremities…, Killing Joke fall further into the world of industrial metal. Their sound is always unmistakably theirs, wherever they take it, but the industrial influences are hard to ignore. Geordie’s riffs are still dissonant, angular and strange, but there’s a repetitive chug to them in leui of the abstract post-punk approach on older records. Pandemonium finds a band which sounds a million miles away from Outside The Gate or …Thousand Suns. Yet, with the absense of a perma-drummer, the line up is only changed here by the prescence of Youth on bass. “Communion” sounds like “Invocation” from Hosannahs but from a forgotten age, and “Whiteout” is a contender for the best song on the album, for sure.

Judas Priest – Turbo (1986)

Judas Priest – Turbo (1986)

Prime rib pussy shit. Goddamn is this a let down compared to the other shit that came out in this era by these guys. How all of a sudden have we transitioned into this artificial boring-ass stadium rock? I mean, JP always has mainstream appeal, let’s not pretend otherwise, but this is like a fucking Kiss record. This is some cornball Alice Cooper shit. Objectively it is a well made album, in regards to production and musical skill. As far as my personal taste goes however, this GTA Vice City sounding-ass piece of cheese belongs in the fucking bin alongside JP’s debut.

Genocide (Repulsion) – Toxic Metal (1984)

Genocide (Repulsion) – Toxic Metal (1984)

Does it sound like complete and utter ass? Yes. Are the instruments a bass guitar, a cheese grater and a cardboard box? Sure as fuck sounds like it. Is it an important rehearsal demo in the history / development of extreme music? You can bet your life it is, so it is worth checking out for that alone. Hearing the proto-version of “Stench Of Burning Death” in the form of “Cracks Of Doom” is so cool.

Rommel – Vol. 1 (1987)

Rommel – Vol. 1 (1987)

Suitably as nonsensical as the band’s promo photos, Rommel come across like a hair metal version of Venom. It’s all good, silly metal fun (which does not match the band name at all), with the charm that comes from old school metal demos that proliferated on the cassette format. Don’t go in expecting the world and you will no doubt have fun.

Judas Priest – Defenders Of The Faith (1984)

Judas Priest – Defenders Of The Faith (1984)

It would probably be pretty obvious to say that Defenders Of The Faith is up there with the best of the Priest albums. Everyone knows this. What I will say however is that this one is loaded to the gills with unforgettable songs. There are very few troughs, instead the whole thing is like one giant peak of incredible songwriting. Couple that with the band firing on all cylinders and the production being perfectly balanced, warm and clear, and you’ve got a winner.

Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance (1982)

Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance (1982)

Bold, magnificant, triumphant – these are just some of the words you could use to describe Judas Priest in this particular era of thier career. “Riding On The Wind” is all of these things, but coupled with a radio-friendly sensibility that no doubt effortlessly added to the band’s interstellar levels of success. My three year old son loves chanting along to the chorus of “Bloodstone” (he thinks the words are “let’s go!” but hey, that’s cool as fuck. My favourite songs are “Electric Eye” and “(Take These) Chains”. My version closes with “Prisoner Of Your Eyes” which I guess is a ballad. That doesn’t really land, in my opinion, but otherwise this is a great effort.

Godflesh – Streetcleaner: Live At Roadburn 2011 (2013)

Godflesh – Streetcleaner: Live At Roadburn 2011 (2013)

I was in attendance for this momentous event; it was not one that I would have missed for the world, having travelled to France the year before for Godflesh’s reformation show (hideously cut short to half hour). Roadburn of course, pulled all their tricks (or is that cash?) out of the bag and thus began a series of performances of Godflesh albums at the 013 in Tilburg. I was not present for the others, but I was there for this one. This 2xLP set (which I picked up the year after, if my memory serves) is an accurate a document that you are going to get of the messy, destructive carnage that was this performance of Streetcleaner. In some ways more brutish than its original recording, in others perhaps more restrictive without that second guitar, but nevertheless a fantastic rendition. I’ve toyed with selling this off many a time, but I’ll probably hold onto it for the sheer memory of it alone. Aurally its not THAT good – I would always pick the actual Streetcleaner album over this. But it’s pretty important to me, as a physical trace of a memory. After all, this was now 12 years ago, which is just fucking insane to me.

Sodom – In The Sign Of Evil (1985)

Sodom – In The Sign Of Evil (1985)

A brutal, blunt thrash attack with hallmarks of the proto-death and black styles abound at the time. Couple that with some iconic art and you’ve got a tough record. The production is robust and the songs pack a hell of a punch. Sodom would go on to change fairly quickly into a different style of metal (whilst retaining their heavy punch), so Sign Of Evil is a special entry into their discography, as well as being a part of metal history.

Harakiri For The Sky – Arson (2018)

Harakiri For The Sky – Arson (2018)

Easily one of the most boring pieces of music I’ve ever had the misfortune of hearing, and I take no pleasure in writing such words out for all to see. The trouble with Harakiri For The Sky, is that they are not a band which immediately strike you as bad. Like a deep, penetrating damp resulting in black mould, it takes a while to unfurl and destroy. It took me a while to realise that, despite everything being in the right place, that Arson was a thoroughly empty and creatively barren record. Oh, and the lyrics are fucking terrible too.

Judas Priest – Unleashed In The East: Live In Japan (1979)

Judas Priest – Unleashed In The East: Live In Japan (1979)

This doesn’t sound like a live album at all. In fact, going in blind, all I could think of was that this was one of those “fake” live albums which are recorded in a studio. It seems I was half-correct, with the vocals being re-recorded at a later date. To be honest, they should have just scrapped the whole thing if it came to this, but whatever, live albums don’t exactly have a history of being transparent and honest with the music consumer. As for the material? Well, it’s classic Priest 70s stuff, of course, captured as the band were finding their stride in more straightforward songwriting. An interesting document of course, especially in light of the whole vocal situation, but one that I could only really recommend to completionists. There is no reason for a new fan of Judas Priest to be listening to this thing.

Tony Martin – Scream (2005)

Tony Martin – Scream (2005)

As nice as it is to explore the back catalog of Tony Martin, one of my favourite Sabbath singers, Scream really just misses the mark. The production is muddy, the songs are mostly mediocre at best, and beyond bad at worst (I’m looking at you, “The Kids Of Today”). It’s really cool that Geoff Nicholls is on this thing too, providing keyboards, and I believe some of the songs were built from Cozy Powell drum tracks, but honestly, this album just isn’t very good, I’m sorry to say.

Tony Martin – Thorns (2022)

Tony Martin – Thorns (2022)

Thorns is the very recent full length album by once-Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin. With Sabbath, and I’m guilty of this myself, his output is often overlooked, which is a shame because albums like Headless Cross have gone on to be my favourites from Black Sabbath. Anyway, let’s talk about Thorns. Thorns has a stacked line-up, and a polished, modern sound. This gives Martin’s rock numbers a shot in the arm, essentially I guess this is Martin’s version of Painkiller (lol). Never thought I’d hear LD.50-era Mudvayne slap bass on a Tony Martin song but hey, life is full of surprises. Most of the songs here are very, very good indeed, and I’m very to happy to see that Tony Martin has such a strong and unique voice, even into his old age. Age is no doubt the enemy of heavy metal vocalists, especially those who have legacies built in hitting the higher notes. I’m not saying that Martin can still belt out the chorus to “Headless Cross”, but he’s still got a fantastic range, and his voice is very balanced. What draws points from Thorns however is some of the most awful songs I have ever heard in my entire life. One of these was on Tony’s last album, Scream, and there is – of course – one here too. I’m talking about “No Shame At All”, with some of the cringiest lyrics I’ve ever had the displeasure of hearing, and on top of that the song itself sounds like something Mushroomhead would have created in 2010, which is uhhh, not great, folks. This album is also front-loaded, with all the best stuff at the front. Oh, and that art. Good heavens above!

Black Sabbath – Reunion (1998)

Black Sabbath – Reunion (1998)

I was a bit young when this came out so I didn’t really get involved with the hype at the time, but I understand how big a deal this was at the time. It is sad in retrospect to see the Tony Martin line-up finally go under for once and for all, but the people wanted Ozzy-Sabbath and the people got what they wanted with this release. Trouble is, I couldn’t give a bloody fuck to hear all of these songs again. As classic as the old shit is, and yeah it will always rank up there at the top for me along with the greatest albums of all time, but Ozzy is by far my least favourite Sabbath vocalist. The set is serviceable, actually pretty fun (better than The End shit that went on recently), It’s also a pleasure to hear Bill Ward playing with Sabbath, as well as hearing Geoff Nicholls performing with the original four (although this was not to last). The two original songs are fucking garbage though let’s be honest.

Black Sabbath – The Manor Tapes (1983/2011)

Black Sabbath – The Manor Tapes (1983/2011)

I need to get myself a copy of this. Born Again is one of the better latter Sabbath albums (fight me), but the mix is a fucking abomination. The Manor Tapes not only clears up the production so that the record is appreciatable in its definitive form, but we also get extended / different version of “Stonehenge” and “Zero The Hero”, and on top of that we also get the unreleased track “The Fallen”. This is THE way to listen to Born Again, and the fact that it was ever released in any other form is absolutely fucking perplexing to me.

Judas Priest – British Steel (1980)

Judas Priest – British Steel (1980)

Perhaps a bit silly, and a bit flimsy on the production end, but damn is this a classic. Stuff like “Living After Midnight” is what I’m referring to here, but there’s a place for that kind of thing (shit rock bars hahaha). I’m joking of course, but I’m more interested in some of the other songs on this record like the amazing “Grinder”, “Metal Gods” or the legendary “Breaking The Law”. My most recent listen of this was in a hired Mazda CX-5 whilst careening down coastal roads in Pembrokeshire. Really good fun. I don’t know what to say about this album that hasn’t been said a thousand times, but if you are looking for an “in road” to Judas Priest this is probably a good a place as any.

Judas Priest – Point Of Entry (1981)

Judas Priest – Point Of Entry (1981)

A bit of a weaker entry into the extensive Judas Priest catalog, but not an album without it’s charms. Supposedly written after Halford relocated to Arizona, Point Of Entry is the perfect driving album. I decided to try that out, and being stuck in traffic on the M4 wasn’t exactly the perfect vision I had in mind, but I could not deny the tunes coming from my car stereo. My biggest complaint with this is that it seems like such a step back from the personality the band were creating for themselves with albums like Killing Machine and British Steel.

Judas Priest – Painkiller (1990)

Judas Priest – Painkiller (1990)

At the time of writing I’ve yet to have the pleasure of hearing every single Priest album, but I’ve heard enough so far to comfortably say that Painkiller is my favourite by a long shot. That isn’t to say that I dislike the other material, but there’s something about Painkiller, like it is some sort of perfect culmunation of the band’s sound up and to that point distilled into one LP. I really wish Halford hadn’t quit and we had more albums in this style (yes I know about Turbo and Ram It Down I just will wonder forever what could have come afterward). This thing is stacked with powerhouse metallic tunage, and whilst I’m not super fussed on the closing trio of songs I honestly don’t think there’s a bad song on this album. Scott Travis feels like an injection of new energy into the band with his double kicks and huge drum sound. I was going to write something about the opening tracks just being banger after banger after banger but let’s be honest, this thing doesn’t relent all the way to the end of track 7, “Between The Hammer & The Anvil”. My three year old son seems to enjoy this too (plus he loves the album cover) so this gets bonus points for that haha.

Judas Priest – Killing Machine (1978)

Judas Priest – Killing Machine (1978)

I find it mad that in the 70s it seemed almost common place for big mainstream acts to drop more than one album in a year. It is the only time Priest do this (I think), and the slight drop in quality perhaps shows, as this was a bit of a rush job? IDK, it’s really not that bad, and quite endearing, even though they would hit the nail on the head with this style much better in British Steel. The most damning thing about this album is that it was released in the same year as Stained Class, and whilst it isn’t necessarily the better album (Killing Machine is far more digestable), Stained Class reeked of individuality. This doesn’t. Either way, “Hell Bent For Leather” is one of my favourite Priest songs. Inversly, “Evil Fantasies” has to be one of the worst songs ever recorded in the history of time.

Black Sabbath – Born In Hell (1983)

Black Sabbath – Born In Hell (1983)

Pretty great boot, which showcases some of the cuts from the Gillan era in a live setting but with good quality sound. It is a shame that this was never officially released, as Gillan was in Sabbath for such a short time. Heck, the entire rest of the band are on Born Again so Gillan’s era is as valid as Dio’s / Heaven And Hell, so even the nay-sayers who quote the Sabbath revolving door lineups as unspeakable years can get fucked. However, by the time this tour was under way, Bev Bevan was behind the kit as Bill Ward had fallen off the wagon again. The best thing about recordings like this live set is that we get to hear Ian Gillan’s take on some of the Sabbath classics like “War Pigs”, “Iron Man”, “Black Sabbath” and “Paranoid” (the latter two are really really good intepretations). Oh, and Sabbath covering “Smoke On The Water” is a real treat.

Slipknot – Mate.Feed.Kill.Repeat. (1996)

Slipknot – Mate.Feed.Kill.Repeat. (1996)

I have a soft spot for this thing, as I do with most of the earlier Slipknot records. When I was in school, I think 13 years old, my friend Ross burned a copy of this thing off the internet for me, as well as a few other tracks from the supposed “Crowz” sessions. Some of us like to look back at the glory days of the internet as if things were actually different back then, but honestly the internet has always been a sea of misinformation. I had no fucking idea what or who I was listening to whilst incorrectly marked as “SlipKnoT”, but hey, the core MFKR album was legit at least. As many others have commented, this is a fucking weird release. I’ve gone on, perhaps unsurprisingly, to become a huge fan of stuff like Mr. Bungle and The Residents, but even now, having plumbed the depths of both musical experimentation as well as musical extremity, MFKR stands unique. Never has death metal so awkwardly mixed with jazz, lounge and fucking rap music. This isn’t Cynic folks – the lines between the genres are not blurred. The music is chunky, awkward and lurching. That being said, earlier versions of tracks that would go on to become Slipknot classics are an absolute treat to listen to here, especially “Gently” (except “Tattered & Torn”, that can get in the fucking bin). Bonus points goes to the excellent bass work on “Confessions”, which is probably my favourite song on this thing. When I was a scruffy kid with my crappy Slipknot biography that I carried everywhere (written by Joel McIver) I always felt that the band did Anders Colsefni dirty, but there is no way in hell that they would have gotten as big as they did with him as a vocalist. Nevertheless, he works well here. Also, how funny is it that the producer is called Sean McMahon. I always imagined him in my head to look like Shane McMahon lol BAAHHH GAWWWDD HE’S BROKEN IN HAALLLF!!!!

Judas Priest – Stained Class (1978)

Judas Priest – Stained Class (1978)

Man O Man is that fuckin’ cover art something, huh? I’m not sure what it is about it exactly that is so endearing to me but I really like it. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about Stained Class, for as brilliant as it is, it fails to strike a chord with me as much as Sin After Sin or Sad Wings… did. Despite this, this is fantastic record with that lovely 70s rock production. It’s so warm and cozy that it comes out of my stereo and wraps around me like a blanket. Stand-out tracks for me are “Exciter” and “Invader”. Also some of the riffs in “Heroes End” are doomy as fuck.

Black Sabbath – Cross Purposes: Live (1995)

Black Sabbath – Cross Purposes: Live (1995)

I have this DVD (bootleg) and it is actually a very good set. Recorded in 1994 and released in 1995, the line-up is Geezer and Tony, with Bobby Rondinelli on drums (I think this is when Cozy Powell was still recovering from accident with the horse). Tony Martin is back on vocals after a brief stint with Dio back in the band for one album. So we get Martin here performing songs by all eras of the band. You get rare performances of him singing recent Dio-era Dehumanizer stuff, as well as stuff from his own albums as well as earlier Dio and Ozzy stuff. It really is a great mix of all of their material. Iommi looks coked off his nut, on some mad tunnel vision thing, and it sucks ass that they made Geoff Nicholls stand off the stage for this tour, but the sound is great. It’s really cool to have Geezer back in the band and despite the fact that Forbidden came not longer after this, I would have been very interested to see what this era of Black Sabbath would have produced had they not reunited with Ozzy and become permanently stuck as a legacy act. Oh well.

Malignant Tumour – In Full Swing (2008)

Malignant Tumour – In Full Swing (2008)

Wait, is that Motorhead? No, it’s long-running and legendary Czech goregrind outfit Malignant Tumour on a bizarre death’n’roll’n’Motorhead’worship trip. Does it work? Well, yes it does. It is very, very well made, if I may say so. But, it is not what I come to Malignant Tumour for, so it’s taken me 15 years to muster up the energy to even write this short paragraph about this album.

Sepultura – Revolusongs (2002)

Sepultura – Revolusongs (2002)

You could argue for days whether the songs here “landed” or not, but one has to respect the effort involved here to cover different songs from all these different genres. It’s mad to listen to “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” and think, damn this is the same band who released Bestial Devastation lol, at least in name. Despite not really liking any of the songs here, I don’t hate Revolusongs (man, what a shit title). I respect the vision and the musicianship of Sepultura to try and pull this off.

Judas Priest – Sin After Sin (1977)

Judas Priest – Sin After Sin (1977)

Sin After Sin, sounding absolutely massive and glorious in all of it’s golden-era analogue production, is another fantastic early offering from the legends that are Judas Priest. Personally, this doesn’t reach the heights of the sheer VIBE that is Sad Wings but I will note the stunning production (as above) as well as Rob’s vocals sounding particularly incredible here, case in point being “Here Come The Tears”, which is just absolutely phenomenal.

Venom – Possessed (1985)

Venom – Possessed (1985)

Not bad by any stretch of your twisted imagination, but definitely falls flat compared to the likes of what came before it. In isolation, Possessed is an enjoyable album, but has its predecessors to live up to and therefore kinda lives in their shadow a little bit, if I’m honest. Production wise, its par for the course for an early Venom album. Musically, the band seem a bit more put together, perhaps after the epic At War With Satan they have honed their instrumentational skill a bit more. Unfortunately, from a songwriting perspective, everything is very similar and this makes the whole album blur into one for me. I find it hard to ascertain any songs that I would consider stand outs.

Discharge – Massacre Divine (1991)

Discharge – Massacre Divine (1991)

Uhhhhhhh OK, then. So. Off the bat, this isn’t anywhere near as bad as Grave New World. In fact, it is, on a sliding scale, probably quite a bit better. The general style of “funk” / groove metal (think the more “fun” end of thrash meeting Faith No More and Helmet style stuff) is a massive improvement on the Motley Crue shite they tried to do on Grave New World. At least you can make it through to the end of this thing without ending up looking like one of those folks out of Event Horizon. Massacre Divine is however, still incredibly bland and monotonous. Even as an example of the style of metal that it plays, it is beyond sub par. Get in the bin.

Judas Priest – Sad Wings Of Destiny (1976)

Judas Priest – Sad Wings Of Destiny (1976)

Chronologically, Sad Wings Of Destiny is infinitely better than it’s predecessor. For a start, it sounds more like the band we all know and love today, and well, if I could make such a bold statement, this feels like the true debut album for Judas Priest.  Production wise, this is absolutely perfect. Perhaps a symptom of the times, but it’s so well put together that it doesn’t matter if it sounds a bit aged now. Production work like this makes me wish I was around back then. Song-wise, I feel Sad Wings… trails off just a little towards the end, but for the most part, is a brilliant album. One that was, perhaps, a little ahead of its time? I know we had Sabbath at this time but we didn’t really have heavy metal like we do today. And for that we can thank bands like Judas Priest. Attribution: linesinwax.com

Sepultura – Roorback (2003)

Sepultura – Roorback (2003)

I’m loathe to rate this lower than a 3/5 because of how inventive it is for what is essentially nu metal. As far as Sepultura goes, this period is definitely a low point in their career, but truly, all elements analysed, this really isn’t that bad. There’s one thing you can do for me, though, and that is to promise to avoid the absolutely fucking godawful remaster of this thing. I don’t know if the engineer was smoking crack or something, but the original is the far, far superior version by country miles. Roorback gets quite punky in parts, which is nice when mixed in with the rather boring groove riffs (sorry) and the tribal sessions. As always, Igor’s drumming is outstanding and for the most part, the songwriting is rather good, give or take the odd uninspired riff. Oh, and “Bullet The Blue Sky” was the first ever Sepultura song I ever heard, when I saw the (awful) video on some music TV channel as a teenager. Today I learned: the guy from Converge drew the album cover. It’s still awful, even though it was done by a good artist lol

Bathory – Hammerheart (199)

Bathory – Hammerheart (199)

Bathory’s ever-changing sonic palette is taking me to places that I never thought I would go. Honestly, when I think of “viking metal” I think of idiots at festivals with their plastic drinking horns and cringe shit like Amon Amarth’s stage shows, but honestly, Bathory are leading a much more genuine charge and I’m fucking here for it. Maybe I’m just forever bitter than Skyrim is infinitely more popular than Morrowind and I will forever hate the appropriation of Nordic cultures into modern day media for that reason (lmao, what a life) but it’s time for me to stop writing about absolute fucking rubbish and actually address the album I’m supposed to be talking about. Hammerheart further cements the decision to step away from thrash / proto-black metal for Bathory and instead focuses on more grandiose songwriting. The production on Hammerheart is still suitably horrible, but that does not stunt the ambition of tracks like “One Rode To Asa Bay” or the album’s opening trifecta of giant mountainous metal epics. The vocals are a bit whackier now that the blackened rasp is gone, but I suppose Quothorn may have still been finding his feet in this style. Either way, this album is fantastic.

Venom – Black Metal (1982)

Venom – Black Metal (1982)

The first time I heard this record I was 15 years old, and drunk on black metal classics like Transilvanian Hunger or Burzum’s first few records. Hungry for more I decided to start at the beginning with Venom’s Black Metal album….only to find a bunch of sloppy thrash with terrible lyrics about shagging your teacher or Satan being your dad. Safe to say, this went straight into a pile and never really got played ever again. But I’m not 15 anymore and of course I’ve revisited Venom many times in the years that have passed. I always thought that I prefered Welcome To Hell to Black Metal but realistically they are both as just as good as each other, if slightly different in production and uh, musicality. Black Metal is (only just) more polished and established than its predecessor, but the same template of cheeky, offensive, Christ-baiting thrash is the order of the day here once again. It is a really enjoyable metal record, but if you are new here, iust don’t expect it to sound like actual black metal lol

Venom – At War With Satan (1984)

Venom – At War With Satan (1984)

I won’t lie to you, I’ve avoided this album for about 15 years, only because Venom doing a 20 minute song has never really been something that has appealed to me. However, the joke’s on me becuase this shit fuckin’ rules. Also, generally, across this whole record, the production is fantastic. The sound isn’t a million miles away from the other earlier albums, but the guitar tone is just so goddamn sick and crunchy. I’m all about that, for sure. “Rip Ride” has gotta be my favourite song here. Aaaaargghh!

Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast (1982)

Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast (1982)

The Number Of The Beast is classic Iron Maiden, don’t get me wrong. There is no contesting that. My issue with this record however is that it is kind of on a bit of a pedastal. The tracklist is something of a classic run, but as a casual Maiden fan only four of these songs really mean anything significant to me. Personal preferences aside, it is impossible to deny that this is a fantastic listen and a classic of the rock and metal worlds. The production is, as always with the original run of Maiden records, absolutely spot on.

Voivod – Kronik (1998)

Voivod – Kronik (1998)

A bit of a mixed bag, but such is the way of compilation albums. The first half – or two thirds – of this thing is fairly solid. Granted, danceable industrial metal is not the reason why most people come and listen to Voivod but if you enjoyed the E-Force albums then this is a natural next step. Some of this is very similar to Godflesh, at least their more drum’n’bass-focussed stuff. The record rounds out with a bunch of filler live tracks that are no doubt of interest to Voivod purists but not much use to basically anyone else on the whole planet (or entire universe).

Heaven Shall Burn – Veto (2013)

Heaven Shall Burn – Veto (2013)

Admittedly, metalcore, deathcore, melodic death metal, all of this stuff – it is not in my wheelhouse. The reason I’ve decided to check out this album is the intriguing album art. It is rather still, serene and beautiful, and not something that I would ever expect to represent something that tries to be so heavy and aggressive as this. Unfortunately, where Veto falls for me is it’s enormously compressed production, which whilst not exactly rendering it unlistenable (it seems to be a very popular album), is just completely unnecessary. This kind of music does not require such a huge, blown-out, “wall of sound” style production. It feels like its being used to hide short-comings and amplify the impact but in fact it’s really just damaging the delivery immeasurably. It’s a shame because there are some excellent drumming and riffing performances in this distorted bowl of treble soup.

Nailbomb – Point Blank (1994)

Nailbomb – Point Blank (1994)

Where has this shit been all my life? Now this is how you do 90s industrial properly! Goddamn. It’s like if someone took Pure / Selfless era Godflesh and turned it into a design document, fed that into the machine from The Fly along with a few Sepultura CDs. Fuckin’ sound on this is perfect – amazing production and balance, which really allows those riffs to hit home hard. It’s a shame this is the only full length record this project produced. Really cool stuff.

State Of Conviction – A Call To Arms (2006)

State Of Conviction – A Call To Arms (2006)

Solid, funk-influenced hardcore from a Cleveland, OH outfit that features some of the dudes from Mushroomhead, namely one-time vocalist Jason Popson and classic-era guitarist John Sekula (known to MRH fans as JJ Righteous). You can tell immediately upon firing this up that Sekula is playing; that dry, super thick guitar tone that immediately reminds me of M3 comes bursting out of the speakers. As far as the funk influences go I think these are held over from the previous outfit containing some of these guys, that being Unified Culture (I’m no expect on the Cleveland music scene so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). This is a solid half hour of heavy music though, with amazing production and brilliant vocals. The band is really tight too. All in all, a great album – wish they did more full lengths.

Sepultura – Nation (2001)

Sepultura – Nation (2001)

Listening to the Sepultura albums chronologically, I was initially surprised by how Against held it’s own – especially after how much I’d read the first transition to a Max-less world (lol) was recieved. Against held its own, allowing the band to continue as a three-piece but also begin flexing their new 4th member. I expected Nation to be more of this, but unfortunately it doesn’t even compare. Nation is just bad nu metal to the absolute core and is the sound of a band at their absolute nadir. That is not to say that there are not some good moments here or there, this is Sepultura after all and I have the most immense respect for Derrick Green. This album though, is exactly what I thought Against would be, but the delayed reaction of that initial release being half decent caught me off guard. This album belongs in 2001, and it needs to stay there, I’m afraid.

Sepultura – Blood Rooted (1997)

Sepultura – Blood Rooted (1997)

Something that I initially wrote off as a pointless odds-and-ends collection does actually turn out to contain some interesting moments. All the cover songs at the beginning are well worth a listen, and for the sheer oddity of it, as are the tracks that guest Mike Patton and even Jonathan Davis from Korn. But that’s it, really. One for the die-hards and completionists.

Soulfly – Soulfly (1998)

Soulfly – Soulfly (1998)

An album that failed to resonate with me on every possible level. I love Max, I love nu metal, I love Ross Robinson, but this just does absolutely nothing for me. It’s hard to decide who was floundering more at this point, Sepultura with Against, or Max and Soulfly with this new project. I respect both artists for continuing in their own direction, but I don’t think either direction really paid off. Against by Sepulutra has probably aged better than this debut Soulfly record, which has some absolutely shocking guest appearances.

Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance (2013)

Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance (2013)

The Underground Resistance was something that I really disliked when it first came out, because I had an mp3 rip of this thing that had the tracks listed backwards, and the opening moments of “Leave No Cross Unturned” that had those King Diamond kinda worshipping vocals immediately had me checking the fuck out of there. Of course, in hindsight, this is hilarious as “Leave No Cross Unturned” is easily the best song on this entire thing, and arguably saves the album for me. The “arse end” of this era of Darkthrone is not exactly awful, but it isn’t really my kind of metal. So this record, along with Circle The Wagons before it, is the closest I come to not really enjoying the music of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto. I don’t find any of these songs particularly exciting, despite several relistens in the run up to writing this to try and wring some sort of positive note from the entire thing (I even ordered a copy of it on CD but it never showed up in the mail and I got a refund from the seller – if that’s not a sign to stop then I don’t know what is). This would get a solid 3 of out 5 if it wasn’t for the closing track, a song that is 13:49 long (is that intentional?). It’s a hell of a trip, and contains some of the best riffs and general moments of the entire album, and of the band’s entire career spent playing this particular style. The record is worth the price of admission alone for “Leave No Cross Unturned”. Otherwise, it has to be one of the weaker Darkthrone albums.

Sepultura – Against (1998)

Sepultura – Against (1998)

1998 was a bad year if you were a die-hard fan of the old Sepultura stuff. In Against, Sepulutra released Roots MK2, but this time with a new vocalist. Disheartened fans may have flocked to Max’s new project Soulfly, only to find Roots MK3 featuring Fred Durst and the guy from Deftones lol. If you were a thrash head in 1998, things were tough. Changing up tack and returning with a new vocalist in the excellent Derrick Green, one can commend Sepultura for marching on after the loss of chief member Max Cavalera, but also it must have been so jarring for such a large majority of the band’s fans. Calls for the band to split or rename themeselves are not unfounded and without merit, but we must always respect the artist’s final decision, whether we like it or not, and Sepultura’s decision was to continue without Max. If you were expecting a move away from the Roots sound due to the new vocalist then you were however very much mistaken. On Against, many nu metal tropes are present, with some tracks coming dangerously close to sounding like Coal Chamber in parts, which is, well, not great. On other tracks this flow more nicely, for example the tribal elements the band tried to mix in on Chaos A.D. and Roots work much better here. The nu metal elements too just work a bit better here than they did on Roots, but that improvement is balanced out by the lack of Max. Derrick brings his A-game, but unfortunately Against will always been an awkward transitional record for the group. It was an interesting time for all involved, but they really tried their best, I think.

Sepultura – Chaos A.D. (1993)

Sepultura – Chaos A.D. (1993)

Man this shit is some groovy fuckin’ metal. Like, damn. I’ve jammed this record about four times over the weekend alone. I love Igor’s drum sound on this. Shit is fucking fat, and shit is fucking tight. Just like the riffs, which are huge, and the bass. The vocals are angry as fuck. I’m not sure what it is about Chaos A.D. that makes Max sound so pissed off with the world, but it works a treat here. The production, on which Andy Wallace once again takes the lead (just look at that man’s back catalog – good grief!), is crystal clear and beyond precise. A fantastic record.

Dio – Holy Diver (1983)

Dio – Holy Diver (1983)

Holy Diver was an excellent way to kick off the “solo” effort of Ronnie James Dio, riding hot off the success of both Sabbath records, Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules. Dio Sabbath isn’t my favourite thing in the world, but I heavily appreciate the work that the group did together with Dio (and not to mentioned, Dehumanizer is awesome and under-rated!). With Vinny Appice being onboard this doesn’t sound a hundred miles away from the Mob Rules stuff, but obviously Jimmy Bain and Vivian Campbell are a completely different stringed section than Butler and Iommi, this goes without saying. The production on this thing is fantastic, the perfect balance for early 80s hard rock / metal. Phenomenal sound. The opening one-two punch of “Stand Up and Shout” and “Holy Diver” is just absolutely timeless. Another favourite of mine is “Rainbow In The Dark” with the addition of what sounds like stringed instruments. The only real dud here is “Don’t Talk To Strangers”, which just sounds really childish and odd, but even this song properly kicks off into a hard rock stomp when it wants to. Excellent stuff.

October Noir – Fate, Wine & Wisteria (2021)

October Noir – Fate, Wine & Wisteria (2021)

Type O Negative is one of my favourite bands of all time, and Peter Steele is one of the most unique artists of all time. Therefore, every bone in my body wanted to like this, for the cover art, for the vibe, for the flat out Type O worship, but alas, it’s just not very good. “Windows” is by far the best track (and its not as good as people are making out) but the further along I get into this the more it just grates on my patience. Life’s too short for Type O clones. Just listen to the real thing. (If you really must listen to Type O clones the “Summertime Sadness” cover on YouTube right now is pretty much on the money – but it wasn’t done by this band)

Sepultura – Arise (1991)

Sepultura – Arise (1991)

I just love that cover art – I’m not even entirely sure what exactly it is supposed to be, but I love it regardless. I’m not sure if it accurately describes the sound of Sepultura on this record, but that’s by the by. Arise is another solid early-career release from the group, obviously with Max still leading the way. Chunky, very well crafted songs meets chunky, very well crafted production techniques from the absolute hero that is Scott Burns (love him or hate him). Stand-out bangers for me include “Dead Embryonic Cells”, “Meaningless Movements” and the cover version of Motorhead’s “Orgasmatron” which should be ridiculous but actually fits in really well. Arise!

Mortiis – Perfectly Defect (2010)

Mortiis – Perfectly Defect (2010)

The 6 year gap between The Grudge and Perfectly Defect had me completely checked out from the world of Mortiis. Granted, through the MySpace days I kept up to date on the hefty touring he was doing with his full band, and I even saw them myself in I think 2005, and they were great. The Grudge wasn’t my favourite thing in the world, but I really enjoyed the remixes on Some Kind Of Heroin. So when Perfectly Defect dropped, after I found out only from randomly checking the man’s website, it felt like a half-arsed, half-finished project, that was well, an afterthought of an album, only being available as a download. CDs came not long after, but these were super limited, at least initially (I’m not sure if that is still the case). I didn’t hate this thing, but the fact that only half the songs had vocals on them, just gave me the impression that the record was unfinished. Instrumental tracks aren’t a problem – this is Mortiis we are talking about – but moreso that the industrial metal style makes it feel like the songs needed vocals and they were just left unfinished. Anyway, I’ve come back to this thing recently with a pair of fresh eyes (and ears) and I’ve enjoyed it more than I did initially. The streaming version has extra songs compared to the initial release, which I remember being much shorter. “Closer To The End” and the excellent “Sensation Of Guilt” are some of the best songs that Mortiis has done in this style / era, that’s for sure. So, in hindsight I definitely feel that this fits nicely into the era 3 of Mortiis, I just wasn’t ready or willing for this at the time, and couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed after the 6 year gap. But, if you love industrial, you really cannot go wrong with this.

Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum (2021)

Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum (2021)

Fear Factory hit quite the stride over the last decade or two. Unsure if you would class it as a second wind as such, but there has definitely been elements of revival and invigoration in the band’s sound. Of course, Burton is now gone, but that’s another story for another time. On Aggression Continuum, things have a very real danger of becoming stale, but despite that threat being ever-present, generally this is pretty solid and an enjoyable listen. Fear Factory sound more djent-y than ever, if I could make such a preposterous statement as I’m sure they’ve given their fair share of influence in forming that genre in the first place. What a strange time to be alive, eh?

Papa Roach – Infest (2000)

Papa Roach – Infest (2000)

I absolutely loved this album when I was a kid. Back then, in the golden year that was 2000, where the world was changing and looking forward to a brand new millenium (what a dissapointment, eh?), 10-year-old me and one of my best friends, Alex, went to the local Woolworths, money burning a hole in our pockets, and we bought our first ever albums. I bought Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory (the first album I ever owned – but the first album I ever heard was either S/T Gorillaz or Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP), and Alex bought Papa Roach’s Infest. “What’s that?” he asked me, looking at my CD in disgust. “That looks terrible. Mine looks class.” I always remember this little exchange because for a long time, Papa Roach faded into obscurity with sub-par albums whilst Linkin Park (not that I remained a fan for long) went on to break through the stratosphere and mature their sound constantly until their untimely end. Anyway, Alex soon got sick of Infest, after listening to “Last Resort” and “Blood Brothers” (because it was on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2) about 50 gazillion times. One day, I borrowed the CD from him to copy it, and, well, I never gave it back. I’ve reached the point in the review where I should probably talk about what the album sounds like. And this is what is really interesting to me: for something that is as over-produced and homogenised as Infest, it really still does have it’s own unique sound. You can tell instantly whilst listening to it, despite a million other bands sounding like this at the time, that you are listening to Papa Roach and you are listening to Infest. Maybe I’m looking at this with rose-tinted glasses, but there are some bangers here. I can unironically listen to this whole album all the way through and not really start to lose interest until “Binge” comes on towards the end. Infest is just loaded with banger after banger after banger. Nu metal classics for the masses, for sure, as well as some deeper cuts like “Revenge” and “Snakes”, which are both so fucking bad that they are downright amazing (“Rememba da gurl, abused wit forks, knives an’ razor blades!”, or “I got a problem wit da snakes that are crawl-in’, thru my area when da darkness has fall-en’” lmao). I dunno, I clearly have a lot of nostaglia for this thing, hence the long, glowing review. Objectively, it’s incredibly well produced, almost as clean as a pop record, and in reality its probably not a very good record, but I enjoy the absolute shit out of this, even today.

Voivod – Voivod (2003)

Voivod – Voivod (2003)

Notable for being the first album of Voivod’s to feature Jason Newsted on bass (who?), and to include the return of original vocalist Snake, after Eric Forrest’s departure. I’m a bit unclear on whether Eric left or whether Voivod 2.0 disbanded, before reforming with Snake and Newsted. Either way, this self-titled record was the product of the new line-up for the new millennium. Despite the incredibly strong staffing on this record, Voivod S/T begins something of a downward trend in Voivod studio albums, at least within the decade of the 00s. I’m sure Piggy’s death contributed massively to this, in many ways. There must be a reason why Voivod S/T (when Piggy was alive) is a solid album, and Katorz and Infini (a similar style of music using Piggy riffs but released / assembled after he had died) are not so good. Anyways, if you love Voivod’s dissonant riffing and interspliced headbanging sessions, but perhaps in a warmer, hard-rock kinda way (like Angel Rat but not as weird or tied to a particular place in time), then there is no reason that you shouldn’t enjoy this. But, you cannot escape from the fact that there are far, far better Voivod records out there.

Voivod – Infini (2009)

Voivod – Infini (2009)

Suffering a similar fate to that of Katorz, Infini falls a bit flat by treading in slightly safer territory than the band’s usual frenetic thrash or prog-metal output. Is Infini bad? Absolutely not – some would have you believe that this era of Voivod needs wiping from the face of the earth, but I am not one of those people. There is, however, a reason why this period of Voivod languishes as the least favourite for most. Is Infini better than Katorz? My answer would probably vary day-to-day. From a technical stand-point thought I will just quickly say that the record is well produced, with a warm and what feels to be analogue sound (but you never know these days). Long live Voivod, either way, and RIP Piggy.

Megadeth – Risk (1999)

Megadeth – Risk (1999)

I’ve heard a lot about how much of a shit show this record is, how that Mustaine gutted the band’s sound is some ridiculous attempt to sell out, and so on and so forth. But honestly, to me, I don’t care enough about Megadeth to give a shit about any of that. From an outsider’s perspective, this is just a boring, less than mediocre album.

Spineshank – The Height Of Callousness (2000)

Spineshank – The Height Of Callousness (2000)

I used to play the hell out of “Synthetic” and “New Disease” when I was a wee lad, but I never played this album all the way through until 2023. Which you’d think, is possibly a travesty, depending on your appetite for Spineshank’s industrial-tinged nu metal. Unfortunately, Spineshank were one of those bands who never really survived the fall of nu metal, and judging by the fact that this album sounds more dated that some albums that are double its age, well, really that speaks volumes.

Voivod – Katorz (2006)

Voivod – Katorz (2006)

It pains me to rank a Voivod album so low (not that 3 is particularly dog-rough). I struggled for years to get into the Newsted-era / final Piggy releases but have returned to them now with a greater appreciation for the wider Voivod discography and history. It is a shame then that I still generally am not that into this era of the band; Katorz is fairly inoffensive and also rather “safe” for Voivod (they’ve had “safe” albums before, like Angel Rat, but even there it radiated with the band’s unique sound and charm). It has a more of a hard rock / metal direction, with a looser, warmer sound, which works for some bands but none of the above things are particularly what I come to a Voivod record for. RIP Denis

Savatage – Hall Of The Mountain King (1987)

Savatage – Hall Of The Mountain King (1987)

A bit camp, a bit silly, but also in a contradictory way very solid and grounded trad rock / heavy metal stuff. Probably, to me, more iconic for its artwork than for its songs, but that might be my own prejudice against this kind of music that is shining through. The production is lovely too, so there’s that.