Regardless of the quality of the output, it is a feat of creativity and ambition to cultivate a fully realized Black Metal theatrical production; a concept story spread over five “scenes” and amassing nearly 100 minutes of occult, evil music to unveil the full “play” that is Coven, or Evil Ways Instead of Love (Hells Headbangers). Continue reading
Sometimes there are things that together simply make the perfect combination; fish and chips, The Chuckle Brothers, and metal music and horror movies. The relationship between these two art forms has been deep-rooted ever since Iommi and company first unleashed those infamous single notes on the world, taking their band name and that song title famously from Spanish 60’s flick Black Sabbath. It’s a relationship that Acid Witch have firmly embraced throughout their existence, and paid homage too on Midnight Movies (Hells Headbangers).
Acid Witch have always shown a little bit of a tongue in cheek side to them but this collection of covers taken from cult horror b-movie soundtracks is still surprisingly cartoonlike. Most of this is down to their shedding of their own doom/death roots, instead choosing to perform true and familiar renditions of the likes of Sorcery and Fastway, with some additional eerie growls. Production wise this has quite a sheen but doesn’t detract from the old-school vibe and keeps its atmosphere; all the while sounding like they are having the time of their lives.
Far from the year’s most important release of course; this is a complete nostalgia trip to some of metal and horror’s campest and animated moments with four covers that stick to the original formula and prove just as grin inducing.
No matter how good they are, “Retro” bands always raise the questions of validity and necessity – when your aim as a band is to reproduce as accurately as possible albums or styles that already exist, it can be difficult to judge you on your own merits. As the album title suggest, Midnight’s biggest musical reference point is Venom, cut with a hefty dose of German Thrash to sharpen the edge.
As you’d expect from a band taking this route, No Mercy For Mayhem (Hell’s Headbangers) doesn’t fuck around – apart from the contractually-obligated acoustic intro, of course. It’s all razor-sharp riffing, hammering beats and caustic shrieks. The playing is much tighter than you’d expect, and the production lends them both weight and power.
Of course, whatever we say here it goes right back to that question – what do Midnight offer that Sodom, Kreator and, most importantly, Venom don’t – and unfortunately there’s no nice answer to that question. What’s allowed Venom to remain both so influential and beloved (as odd a word as that is in this context) despite their sloppy playing, raw sound and their extremity having been long-since eclipsed is the sheer quality of their song-writing. Midnight can write a sharp riff and turn a song-title into a catchy enough chorus, but there’s nothing on here that even comes close to their own Bloodlust, Countess Bathory or Witching Hour, and it’s hard to imagine many of these songs remaining in listener’s minds for longer than a few spins.
There are going to be plenty of people who love No Mercy For Mayhem, and if you’re happy with some tight riffing and sharp hooks you may well be one of them, but if a band like this is to aim for more than easy nostalgia they need a depth of song-writing that Midnight aren’t yet capable of.
The latest offering from Impiety is The Impious Crusade, offered on MCD and MLP. At just 5 tracks and coming in at just under 20 mins, this is your quick-in-quick-and-dirty-for-a-fix type of release. This is everything you know and love about Impiety, live and recorded: the speed, the riffs, the syncopation, the rhythm, the harmonies. It’s outstanding: brutal, harsh, fast, and heavy. And like with all excellent EPs, it’s an exciting taster and just not enough: the way a great album should be. Continue reading