Released an improbable seventeen years ago, Once (Nuclear Blast), the fifth album from symphonic metal pioneers Nightwish saw the band catapulted from relative obscurity and into the eyes and ears of a much wider audience. With lead single ‘Nemo’ being given regular airplay on radio and music television channels, everything seemed to be falling into place for the Finnish act.
Having stayed with Black Sabbath until 1983’s unfairly criticised Born Again (Vertigo) album, founding member Geezer Butler returned to the band in the early nineties but with a growing desire to prove himself as a solo artist. After leaving again in ’94, the iconic bass player and moustache enthusiast teamed up with former frontman Ozzy Osbourne for a while before eventually going it alone to form G/Z/R.
Dee Snider is sixty-six years old.
What the hell happened there? When I was a teenager, sexagenarians looked and acted like sexagenarians, damn it. Politicians, gardeners, doctors, Victor Kiam (Google him, kids). The lady down the road who only ever seemed to buy tea bags and cat food, and that embarrassing uncle who used to try and Moonwalk at every family party.
Arriving in 1989 towards the tail end of the thrash metal scene, San Francisco act Mordred may have only been together for five years but showed more invention and innovation in that time than some bands achieved over a much longer period.
In the absence of live shows as we know them, Dutch symphonic metal act Within Temptation have taken the idea of playing a simple online gig and moved it up a level, giving fans the full virtual reality sci-fi treatment. Instead of performing on a stage in an empty room, the band have produced something much more visually stimulating, creating not only a sequence of lavish futuristic sets but a fully functional wraparound storyline detailed ahead of each separate section by the disembodied head of a digitally constructed android.
Okay, so watching streamed performances over the internet isn’t the best way to enjoy live shows. That’s a given. Every one of us would rather be in the middle of a sweaty moshpit, getting drunk with friends while being accidentally kicked in the head by overenthusiastic crowd surfers. Yes you would. Don’t lie.
If you like your power metal sexy, your werewolves German, and your nuns covered in fur then today just might be your lucky day. Under the glow of the full moon, faces painted, and armed with another batch of songs about priests, angels and lustful desires, those lecherous lycanthropes Powerwolf have returned with Call of the Wild (Napalm Records), another batch of saucily sacrilicious earworms (wereworms?).
If you can rely on one thing it’s that legendary Norwegian twosome Darkthrone will continue to not give a flying fig about convention or what people think about them until the day they die. No live shows since 1996, an early decisive leap from death metal to black metal, a total lack of adherence to any kind of rule book, and a succession of albums which basically read as unadulterated love letters dedicated to the music on which they grew up. If you don’t get Darkthrone by now then you never will.
Sometimes, even for grumpy middle-aged metal fans, wishes can come true. So when it was announced in 2017 that former Helloween members Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen were to join the current incarnation of the band there was much, much rejoicing. The Pumpkins United (Nuclear Blast) single which followed swiftly dispelled any initial concerns about musical overcrowding, the band now consisting of seven members including three vocalists plus Hansen adding a third guitar, and the path to Helloween (Nuclear Blast) was clear.
A live-streamed event in support of their latest album Ωmega (Nuclear Blast), Dutch sextet Epica pull out the stops for an explosive return to the stage, their first since the Coronavirus crisis began last year. Presented by Danny Wimmer presents and filmed at AED Studios in Belgium, the band are given a generous performance area to strut their symphonic stuff and they utilise every bit of space in typically bombastic style.