Catton Park, United kingdom, 14 Aug 2022, Lamb of God performing on the Ronnie James Dio Stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival Credit: Rich Price/Ghost Cult Magazine
Considering most people are already feeling like overcooked baked potatoes wrapped in tin foil, the fact that today is meant to be the hottest day of the festival really isn’t the best news. Still, that certainly doesn’t deter a healthy crowd from shaking off the hangovers and getting on with the business at hand, Baest and Lost Society both grabbing the main stage by the scruff of the neck while Sister Shotgun and Mastiff do the same on the Sophie stage.Continue reading →
Denner/Shermann is the eponymous project of original Merciful Fate guitarists Michael Denner and Hank Shermann, Ex-King Diamond/Merciful Fate Drummer Snowy Shaw returning to the kit. It seems obvious that their latest offering Masters of Evil (Metal Blade) is going to sound a wee bit like Merciful Fate. Masters of Evil follows on from 2012’s Satan’s Tomb and it’s pretty clear that they’re going back to that original dark sound and occult lyrical themes: although possibly a bit too much.
Now with the impressive array of musical talent on show with this album it was never going to sound bad, the guitar work is phenomenal at nearly every turn, impressive crunchy guitar riffs, inspiring Solo’s, everything you’d expect. The powerhouse drums are incredibly solid and hold the whole band together, although considering how long they’ve worked together I can’t imagine it takes a lot. The standout for me has to be the vocals from Sean Peck (also of Cage) which are an absolute tour de force, and fortunately for me much more on the Rob Halford side of high-pitched falsetto screaming vocals than King Diamond.
This is pretty much standard heavy metal territory, you know exactly what you’re going to get from track to track, it does what it does extremely well but expect no surprises. Whilst musically this is brilliant, and bristles with inventiveness that is in sharp contrast to the lyrics. Indeed, they cram so much fretboard gymnastics into each song it almost makes every song bleed into each other: it can’t be overstated that technically this is ridiculously good!
What really lets Master of Evil down for me, is the Hammer House of Horror formulaic Satan inspired lyrics. Even by track 2, the thought that the mention of Satan is starting to wear thin, and almost every single track is about Satan in some way. Even a few songs into the album it starts to give the feel of them trying too hard to recreate the old days and it starts to feel very much the same ideas on repeat.
It’s easy to see why the EP was well received because with fewer tracks to listen to That formulaic feel doesn’t kick in. With the album it does and outstays its welcome. With their attempt clearly to recreate the old days the question can be asked does it fail to deliver on the promise or does it deliver too well? A brilliant EP possibly stretched a bit too thin meaning it’s easy to turn off, and more easily forgotten.
Between 1981 and 1984, Mercyful Fate recorded some of the finest Heavy Metal that has ever been written. This is not open to discussion. The news that classic-era guitarists Michael Denner and Hank Shermannwould be reuniting for an EP of old-school MF-inspired Metal was, therefore, a genuinely exciting one – and also one very vulnerable to disappointment.
One of the first things that strikes you as the opening title-track of Satan’s Tomb (Metal Blade) emerges in a burst of overcharged riffing is that this is absolutely not the watered-down Old Man Nostalgia Metal you might have expected – the guitars are raw and gnarly, the riffs sharp and the melodies appropriately morbid. One of the things that makes early Fate so timeless is the sense of otherworldliness that hangs about it: the stench of the crypt, the touch of sinister magic that makes it more than just raw Rock n’Roll. Satan’s Tomb does a surprisingly good job of capturing this atmosphere – there’s nothing polished or nice about the sound.
If there’s a flaw – and you’ve probably sensed that there is – it’s with the song-writing. There are plenty of great riffs and sharp hooks all over Satan’s Tomb, but that’s the problem – they are ALL OVER it, scattered around with no real sense of purpose or structure. The songs on Melissa (Roadrunner) were often quite disparate in their elements, but they were always assembled with a spirit and character that solidified them into meaningful songs – the four tracks of Satan’s Tomb feel like they’ve been knocked on the floor by an incautious cleaner and reassembled at random, and the effect is that it’s hard to really lose yourself in the material.
There’s a lot to like about Satan’s Tomb – great atmosphere, sharp riffing and a real sense that this a group of veterans who really WANT to party like it’s 1982, rather than simply thinking that there’s some money to be made from it – but loose song-writing holds it back from being quite the achievement that it should be.