2017 is coming to a close, which means that the “album of the year” lists are on their way. Today the good people at Decibel Magazine have shared their list online, and it’s pretty damn solid. Continue reading
For the record, I’m not a huge fan of the first person approach when it comes to reviews or metal writing, but as this is a personal run down, and seeing as it’s you lot, I’ll break that particular fourth wall just this once… Continue reading
The 2016 Epiphone Revolver Music Awards happened last night at Webster Hall in New York City, and now the winners have been revealed. Continue reading
1. Ghost – ‘Meliora’ (Spinefarm)
Released on 21st August, Ghost Cult’s Album of the Month for September and now our official Album of the Year, managed, even in a year in which Slayer released a divisive selection and Iron Maiden unveiled a 90 minute double album after a five year hiatus, to dominate conversations, causing arguments and endless discussions about it’s place in their canon and Ghost‘s status in the world of rock and metal.
For a “new” act to take on the established acts for column inches and internet debate is testament to how successful the Satanic vision of the original Nameless Ghoul has been.
The band formed in 2008 with a simple mission to spread the word of Satan through the medium of retrospective rock with the devil’s harmonies carrying and subverting the masses.
“This is the album where Ghost have consolidated the tricks and tropes that drew us into their strange vaudevillian universe to begin with and the album that will hold us there for some time more. Meloria sees Ghost honing all their tricks into one accessible and often infectious package.”
Much as dream follows day, Infestissumam saw a definite evolution and movement on from Opus Eponymous, and so Meliora is a further celebration of the Ghost sound, of their continued exploration of a musical niche, adding rock opera tendencies, even, at times, grinding War Of The Worlds into the feted gristle flowing through their distinctive Satanic mills as 70’s synths flutter, guitar solo sing, and holding it all together into memorable hook-filled hymns is Papa Emeritus III.
You can throw superlatives, or analyse things to the nth degree, or you can enjoy that most special of things – an album filled from top to bottom with great songs.
And more than anything, THAT is why Meliora is the Album of 2015.
Ghost Cult Top 50:
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Part four of the Ghost Cult Album of the Year countdown for 2015.
One staff team. Over 550 albums covered by Ghost Cult over the last twelve months. One epic race to be crowned Album of the Year.
Read on to dive into the Ghost Cult Top 20…
20. Soilwork – ‘The Ride Majestic’ (Nuclear Blast)
“The Ride Majestic continues the slow and subtle evolution of the Soilwork sound; sounding fuller, richer and shinier than all that have gone before. In a career of great albums, the aptly named The Ride Majestic is truly outstanding.”
19. Parkway Drive – ‘Ire’ (Resist/Epitaph)
“While the main focus is still here in the now frontier, by opening the floodgates, Parkway have allowed themselves to write a batch of great metal songs that reference classic rock, traditional metal, 90’s groove metal and metalcore while still sounding resolutely and proudly Parkway.”
18. Dragged Into Sunlight / Gnaw Their Tongues – ‘N.V.’ (Prosthetic)
“A genuinely effective whole, the Noise elements are relatively subtly played, often used to accentuate and highlight the Metal rather than entomb them. Whether judged as a collaboration between two artists with similar aesthetic goals or as an album in its own right, N.V. is an unrestrained success”
17. Bring Me The Horizon – ‘That’s The Spirit’ (RCA/Columbia)
“That’s The Spirit is Horizon maturing into a fine young adult, confident, strong and secure in themselves and the knowledge that they are now master craftsmen. Successfully combining every good aspect of alternative rock and metal of the last fifteen years, That’s The Spirit is Bring Me The Horizon’s ‘Black Album’ moment.”
16. Elder – ‘Lore’ (Armageddon Shop / Stickman)
Exemplary progressive stoner metal, with meticulous dynamics and depth, breadth, power, restraint, and mountainous music that builds to an almighty epic of a crescendo
15. Between The Buried And Me – ‘Coma Ecliptic’ (Metal Blade)
Ghost Cult Album of the Month – October “The record that they were always promising to make but you weren’t sure was possible, on Coma Ecliptic, Between the Buried and Me have exceeded all expectations and delivered not only the album of their careers but one of the most monumental ambitious rock concept pieces this side of Operation Mindcrime.”
14. Gloryhammer – ‘Space 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards’ (Napalm)
“Gloryhammer are ridiculously entertaining. If you somehow manage to listen to new album Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards without grinning like an idiot all the way through it, then quite simply, you’re getting Metal wrong.”
13. A Forest Of Stars – ‘Beware The Sword You Cannot See’ (Lupus Lounge/Prophecy)
“Enthralling storytelling and atmosphere, as well as explorations into psychedelic territory and pastoral folk amid the crushing black metal dynamics; fourth effort Beware the Sword You Cannot See is an unabashed masterpiece.”
12. Goatsnake – ‘Black Age Blues’ (Southern Lord)
“Clear, soulful tones elevate the songs above the rest of their stoner/doom brethren and vocal lines will lodge in your head for days after. An excellent comeback album from a band that has been away for far too long. Let’s hope they decide to keep this motor running for a little longer this time around.”
11. Royal Thunder – ‘Crooked Doors’ (Relapse)
“There are no throw away songs on this album, and every track rewards repeated listens. Crooked Doors is the sound of pressure cooking sand into glass and then into diamonds, all with an alchemy fuelled by magic and loss.”
Part three of the Ghost Cult Magazine countdown to our Album of 2015.
And now the end is near, and so we face 2015’s final curtain, and once more the Ghost Cult army got together to vote for their favourites. The results? Over 20 writers pitched and voted on over 220 albums ranging from indie pop to the most horrific savage tentacle laden death metal showing the depth, breadth and class of the official Ghost Cult Album of the Year for 2015.
The countdown (to extinction) continues…
“The Children of the Night, save for snarled vocals and horror themed lyrics, is a classic heavy metal record, far more interested in melody and catchy songs than aggression and violence; a brave record from an exceedingly talented set of musicians who are just that more subtle when it comes to what style of darkness works best.”
“…something has happened here; an unsettling event or rite of passage, propelling this captivating outfit to the stars without drastically changing their identity. In doing so it has enabled the band to create its most sombre, hypnotic, emotive and supreme piece of work.”
“Where The Raven… was mysterious and downright grave emotionally, the new album is poignant and uplifting almost all the way through. Even in somber moments, the songs have an underlying feeling of hopefulness that defies the melancholy. Wilson is a master delivering the unbridled beast of a song in a beautiful package.”
“Seething with a fulminating ire, yet showing unexpected versatility; if you’re pissed off with parents and / or bullies, but don’t want an ignominious revenge to stick you on the front pages, exercise your frustration with these guys instead.”
“Like all great Drudkh releases, this is an album that reveals more with every listen, a rousing yell of defiance backed by a passionate beating heart. Tenth full-length release A Furrow Cut Short is one of their finest efforts to date.”
“Writing this review is a bit like trying to make conversation with a devastatingly attractive woman – all I could initially think of to write about each song was “Fucking Brilliant”. In summary, Deliverance is a stunning piece of work that can only be criticised for coming to an end. More of this please lads.”
“Death jams like ‘In the Name of Amun’ and ‘Age of Famine’ give way to breadth and dizzying tempo changes, the kind of searing death metal that recalls prime Morbid Angel. If the prog fans and metal elitists can get past the death grunts and learn to love the blast beat they may just find a band fawn over other than Dream Theater.”
“A sprawling mini-opus, one that tells us much of where this band can really go musically in the future. While not as groundbreaking or original as Sunbather, which any band would be challenged to follow, New Bermuda hits you in all the right G-spots musically and emotionally for one of 2015’s undoubtedly finest releases.”
“Despite the overwhelming misanthropy that is conveyed, the seamless flow and rousing melodies are emotive and enriching. It’s an album crafted with passion and dedication, which is overtly evident in their music. Mgła have honed a pioneering sound that is now getting the recognition it so very much deserves.”
Ghost Cult Album of the Month – June “The boys have put out one monster of a record. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, get yourself a gallon of Pike Juice instead and keep an eye out for an upcoming tour date near you.”
Part two of the Ghost Cult Magazine countdown to our Album of 2015.
And now the end is near, and so we face 2015’s final curtain, and once more the Ghost Cult army got together to vote for their favourites. The results? Over 20 writers pitched and voted on over 220 albums ranging from indie pop to the most horrific savage tentacle laden death metal showing the depth and breadth of the official Ghost Cult Album of the Year for 2015.
The countdown (to extinction) continues…
“Once again every track has its own theme and spirit – the “carnivalesque” sound that has been part of their image since LMI is still present… but in terms of musical excellence and thematic power it matches or even exceeds that classic album. Whether or not you’ve ever engaged with Arcturus before, do so now.”
“Throw (it) on at the end of a long day and just let fuzz consume your mind…The Night Creeper is an album worthy of a place in your doom collection. It’s got all of the darkness and foreboding of regular doom but without putting you (me) to sleep.”
A swirling, enchanting brew of post-rock with touches of blackened metal and psychedelic swirls, as melancholia most vivid is wrapped in progressive motions and dreamy epics and delivered to the sub-conscious in swathes.
“Qliphoth is a snapshot of a ferociously dedicated and hardworking band continuing to carve out their own unique sense of what Grindcore can be. Cloud Rat have offered something both rare and interesting, and have made themselves genuinely the best new Grindcore band in years in the process.”
A cocktail of stoner, progressive and doom metal, unafraid to stretch it’s mighty wings to allow an epic to pound and unfold, and proud to worship at the altar of The Riff.
“If ‘Ethnic Metal’ is a poor fit for Melechesh’s music, Black Metal is almost as inappropriate. The snarled vocals and trebly guitars put it superficially in that style, but the song-writing owes more to classic Thrash and Heavy Metal, filtered through the ever-present Mediterranean voice.”
Album of the Month – November “Puscifer delivers money shot after money shot in the form of aural enjoyment. So, instead of pounding away at your keyboard on social media bitching about the next Tool album, maybe you should hit up YouTube and try out Puscifer.”
“Produced by Kurt Ballou, the album crawls, kicks, stamps, and screams abuse into your face, pulverizing you in a variety of different ways; never dull with the slower parts merely serving to accentuate the chaotic flurries of speed and aggression when they do arrive.”
“Hammer Of The Witches is a competent enough album by a band who know exactly what they’re doing, and fans of their most recent material will find something worth listening to here, but those still waiting for a return to former glories may need to decide whether we’re happy to settle for the next best thing”
“Nightwish, the rulers of symphonic metal have returned and are ready to take over the world with their new album Endless Forms Most Beautiful. Trying to pick out highlights from this album is like trying to pick needles out of a stack of predominantly needles – there is not a strand of hay in sight.”
And now the end is near, and so we face 2015’s final curtain, and once more the Ghost Cult army got together to vote for their favourites. The results? More than 20 writers pitched and voted on over 220 albums ranging from indie pop to the most horrific savage tentacle laden death metal showing the depth, breadth of the official Ghost Cult Album of the Year for 2015.
The votes have been cast, the dust has settled… let the countdown commence…
“Despite what you may have heard, The Ark Work is neither the ultimate transformation of stupid music into art nor the final betrayal of Metal’s values by the poser hordes. It is, however, one of the boldest, most distinctive and utterly unflinching Metal albums you’ll hear all year”
“A startling, spellbinding piece of work. Having given us Sabbath, Napalm Death, Godflesh, and Anaal Nathrakh, Birmingham – and Khost – has just provided Metal’s latest evolution.”
“A strong, distinctive album with its own character and some genuinely excellent songwriting and works well as both an introduction to one of the most genuinely interesting metal bands of the last twenty years and an album in its own right.”
47. Rivers of Nihil – ‘Monarchy’ (Metal Blade)
“Rather than fifty minutes of a constant snare and uninspiring distorted low tuned guitars, Rivers of Nihil have really focused on expanding, adding more atmosphere and a dynamic to keep a hold.”
“Now that they can’t be pigeonholed to djent or the “Sumerian sound” it leaves Periphery open to be viewed for what they truly are, a brilliant metal band. ”
45. Publicist UK – ‘Forgive Yourself’ (Relapse)
“When I cranked this album on my laptop the last thing I expected was the musical equivalent of Joy Division on a collision course with Cave In, but what a lovely wreck it turned out to be.”
“Complete with Gorod’s signature Bossa Nova-infused jazzy riffs and complex arrangements, A Maze of Recycled Creeds stands not only as Gorod’s crowning achievement, but also that of 2015.”
‘Monotony Fields’ adds a touch of light to the overwhelming darkness of Funeral Doom yet, far from trivialising it, only increases its power to move and intrigue. This is as refreshing as it is heartfelt and affecting.”
42. Bell Witch – ‘Four Phantoms’ (Profound Lore)
“Bell Witch continue to confound, enthral, terrify and move in equal measure; and in creating a second album of such weight and emotion prove themselves peerless.”
“Armed with 12 new ditties toasting humanity’s self-destruction, the new Slayer album is a complex one. Overall Repentless is an enjoyable, fierce album that sounds essentially like a Slayer album should.”
“Welcome home” is the opening lyric of for Heart Of A Coward‘s monstrous new album (my pick for Album of the Year, by the way), Deliverance (Century Media). And it’s properly apt for tonight’s gig at The Fighting Cocks in Kingston. Seeing bands of tonight’s calibre in a space smaller than many toilets redefines the concept of an intimate gig. The close quarters with the bands coupled with virtually flawless sound have made this place my new favourite venue.
Starting tonight’s proceedings are a hardcore crew from Dublin by the name of Red Enemy, and very nice they are too. Space limitations in the open cupboard that passes for a stage exiled vocalist Kevin “Lefty” Letford to the pit, a state of affairs that can intimidate some frontmen, but this fellow was more than up to the task, spitting his venom directly into the faces of an eager crowd. Classic hardcore.
Next up was (for me) the surprise of the evening, a group of Scouse djentlemen going by the name of Carcer City. With a rare mix of endearing humility and huge sackfuls of charisma, these chaps delivered a headline-worthy set of precise, atmospheric and above all meaty djent metalcore played with delightful abandon. Comfortably one of the best support acts I’ve ever seen, these guys are ideal tour buddies for HOAC, being similar enough to sell to the same crowd, yet different enough to stand alongside rather than in the shadow. Their 2011 album – The Road Diaries – is available on their website for free. Get it, love it and buy merch.
Changeover consolidated the sense of intimacy, with band members threading back and forth through the crowd (backstage is effectively outside, and no space for a crew of roadies) that let them get about it, rather than hassling for selfies. This didn’t feel like a roomful of punters watching transcendent idols – it had the community spirit of a tight group of local bands playing in a room full of their mates.
All comparisons with “local bands” are off, however, once HOAC take the stage. Opening with a pitch-perfect rendition of ‘Hollow’, the headliners delivered a world-class performance that equals anything I’ve seen from the likes of Lamb of God, Devildriver, Machine Head or Killswitch et al.
Jamie Graham‘s vocals are absolutely (almost Randy Blythe levels of) brutal live. His growls are throatier than on record, losing no power through the course of the hour-long set, whilst his clean and semi-clean notes were on the money and lost none of their expression and impact. The frankly astonishing PA preserved more sound clarity of Carl & Steve‘s guitars than is decent, whilst Vishal‘s bass sound must’ve been felt in Surbiton. By rights, Chris‘ drums should have sounded like biscuit tins with the kit being in what’s effectively a sound box, but it seems The Fighting Cocks sourced their PA in Daigon Alley, as there was no sound engineering going on this evening – this was pure sonic sorcery.
A titanic Deliverance-heavy set (‘Turmoil’ I & II, ‘Anti-Life’, ‘Mouth of Madness’ and ‘Skeletal I’ all made an appearance) left an ecstatic crowd stunned, sweaty and in no doubt they’d seen one of the best gigs of their lives. It certainly was one of mine.
Go and see all three of these bands as soon and as often as possible.
WORDS BY PHILIP PAGE
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People love a great comeback story. Anything that shows a triumph against some kind of adversity, especially if you created it yourself, they will lap that up all day long. Some musical acts leave at the top of their game, while others split just in time before fizzing out creatively. When it came to Faith No More’s acrimonious split in the late 90s, it felt like it might have been coming for a while. The band certainly did not burn out their creative spark, nor did they wear out their welcome with fans. They were so prolific, so versatile, and so smart, you knew there would never be another act quite like them. When they came back in 2009 as a live act, they opened their shows with ‘Reunited’, the soft R&B song from 70’s duo Peaches and Herb, as a nod to the fans. After testing the waters with each other, the band decided they could stick together and make new music. Well the long wait is over and Sol Invictus (Reclamation Recordings/Ipecac) is here to put to rest any doubts you may have had about their comeback.
Opening with the title track, the band picks up basically where they left off with 1997’s Album of The Year (Slash). The track sounds right at home with their past, yet has some interesting elements on its own. Gradually easing in like a foot in a fuzzy slipper, it’s an “ah yes…” moment you get to have with yourself as the track envelopes you. Recurring lyrical themes on the album about regeneration, reinvention and that other “re” word we spoke of already begin popping up here too. ‘Superhero’ reminds one that despite being remembered for big commercial hits, at their most accessible they were never a true singles band that was pappy and easily digestible. ‘Sunny Side Up’ is an angsty ballad with great lyrical grist. Most of the tracks have a sonic kinship of the beloved King For A Day…Fool For A Lifetime (Slash) album too: hidden meanings, lyrical twists, massive piano and bass driven songs as a foil for Mike Patton’s emotive soulfulness and rubbery larynx.
‘Separation Anxiety’ is the heaviest track on Sol Invictus and certainly if you are the type of person that pines for the first three FNM albums, this is the song that will resonate with you the most. ‘Cone of Shame’ is wildly dynamic and strange, but also driving and melodious. Patton shows off the most of his insane vocal ability here too. The perfect blend of all of the rollicking elements of the band you want in one track.
Although Billy Gould, who produced the album (except for Patton’s vocals) is always seen as a driving force of the band and definitive mouthpiece, Roddy Bottum’s keyboards dominate this album. All of his weird 80s synth-pop craziness, mixed with his deft jazzbo piano stylings are ever-present in songs such as the torchy ‘Rise of the Fall’, the sinister yet beautiful ‘Matador’, and elsewhere.
‘Black Friday’ is a vampy Cramps-style number, complete with slapback guitars and whipping beats. This is also the track where guitar stands out the most, lending to the idea that without being the heavy guitar driven band of their youth, there is room for all of the parts of the monster to flourish properly. ‘Motherfucker’ is a conundrum of a song. You intrinsically laugh at the notion of a clever pop song as a massive ‘fuck you’ to those in power. Mike Patton as a new-age politicized Beat Poet? Why not! However, the song is undeniably subversive and smart, as is all the best material this band has put out. The build up to the chorus is glorious, Patton’s notes held like the vibrato of a well-bowed cello, hitting you where you live.
‘Back From the Dead’ may sound like a 60s slice of pop, right down to its jangly guitar and churchy “ahs” and “oohs” backing vocals. However the sentiment of “Welcome home my friend…’ in the lyrics could totally be a very meta, and self-referencing. After all; resurrection may be for those who got it wrong the first time, but the same cannot be said of Faith No More whose return is a welcome and worthy one. Let’s hope it lasts as long as it can.