Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Don't throw away old sweatshirt jackets...


I skipped a few shows lately due to work related exhaustion and other pathetic excuses...


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Orange Goblin A Eulogy For The Damned

Orange Goblin A Eulogy for the Damned

(Candlelight Records)

Review By: Chris Davison

Finally, we see the release of the new Orange Goblin album. It's really no exaggeration to say that Orange Goblin are one of my favourite bands, with a long discography of quality albums, each with a unique flavour and take on their inspirations. Starting out as a desperately mediocre doom band named Our Haunted Kingdom, their first album as Orange Goblin, Frequencies From Planet Ten, was a strange, psychedelic take on doom metal. Time Travelling Blues injected some biker-rock into the mix, and by the time The Big Black hit the shops, Orange Goblin were a heady mix of filthy Motörhead, greasy Black Sabbath, and Lynyrd Skynyrd- esque southern rock.

Coup De Grace saw a slight dip in quality with a more garage rock vibe, while Thieving From The House of God witnessed the return of doom rock. It was on 2007's triumphant Healing Through Fire - a fictionalised historical take on the Great Fire of London, that they finally had the confidence to be comfortable in their own shoes, and penned some stone cold classic tunes.

A Eulogy For The Damned is an amazing album, filled as it is with tracks not only equalling the best of their career, but topping them. “Red Tide Rising” erupts, with Ben Ward sounding like Lemmy, only with more of a swagger. The bruising romp of “Stand For Something” romps out of the speakers next, with a real anthemic vibe bringing to mind the self-assured songwriting of Saxon, only channelled through a stoner filter. “Acid Trial” has an almost progressive feel to it, with intricate spiralling guitar passages that bring to mind post-black metal in places, before settling back into a more familiar stomp. “The Filthy And The Few”, starting with the obligatory pro-hippie/ anti-police soundbite has a free-wheeling gallop to it that brings to mind expansive highways, desert sun and roaring motorcycles. “Save Me From Myself” has a languid southern rock vibe, with a somewhat more than usual introspective character from Orange Goblin. “The Fog” has a sound of crawling menace, as befits the subject title, while “Return To Mars” brings back the slightly crazy feel of their first couple of albums. “Death Of Aquarius” has a bad-ass mid-tempo thrash feel to it, while “Bishop's Wolf” brings the bad-time boogie of ZZ Top to its illogical, heavier-than-thou conclusion. The title track has the most accomplished arrangement of all, at parts being almost Led Zeppelin like, with Rush-ian progressive elements before giving way to the most hand-clapping, foot-stomping chorus of the whole album.

You can't really fault Orange Goblin at any level here Рthe music is better than they've produced before, with the same warm, clear production that their last album held. Moțrhead aren't going to last forever, neither are Black Sabbath. Having seen a lack lustre performance from Lemmy and co. on the last couple of their gigs I went to, I can only compare them to the always triumphant performances of Orange Goblin. This may well be their Ace Of Spades, and this should be their time to ascend to the top of the rock n' roll tree in their native blighty. The Goblin is back, stronger than ever.

Orange Goblin

Monday, February 06, 2012

The House Of Capricorn In The Devil's Days

The House Of Capricorn In The Devil’s Days

(Swamps Of One Tree Hill)

Reviewed By: Strawb

Back in the day when “olderies” (those whose age is progressing, whose body is failing, but whose mind refuses to accept they are no longer eighteen – we are NOT old, just older) obtained all of their information by buying papers and magazines and reading the printed word, rarely a week went by without one of the music papers, or even on occasion one of the vaunted dailies declaring some band or rock-connected individual to be a Devil worshipper. Now back then, that accusation was akin to branding someone a pedophile in the current, politically correct Orwellian nightmare we inhabit. Often it was based on fact – buying Alistair Crowley’s old abode would give a justifiable basis for a bit of mudslinging, but, quite often it was just a manager desiring publicity or an attempt to increase audience figures by hinting at the nudity involved, or the (alleged) highly attended churchyard orgies (I can’t comment as I never attended any of them, despite looking and looking).

And then, religion lost its bite and no one seemed to care anymore. Most bands out there have some form of Satan/ occult /evil in their catalogue, so I had forgotten about the bands who dedicated themselves to occult music until I received two to review together.

The first of these albums is from The House Of Capricorn. Their second album, titled In The Devil’s Days it is a follow up to their 2008 release Sign Of The Cloven Hoof. The House Of Capricorn have released the album on their own label, and this could be by design rather than necessity. Online research does not reveal a great deal about this band, and Auckland isn’t in my neighbourhood, so I can’t pop round; however, running a record label and being amongst the leading lights in the organization of a local festival would appear to be other contributions that they make to the furtherance of Metal and Doom in New Zealand. That said, though, musical philanthropy does not equal musical talent; so, where do I stand on In The Devil’s Days?

This quartet is firmly in the doom camp of metal, with both the style and the subject matter, which as it says on the tin, is occult. If you fancy angst ridden poetic dirge then you have definitely gotten off the bus at the wrong stop. If your beliefs make you anti, then go elsewhere.

The things brought to the forefront of my mind were elements of the classic slow and ponderous Black Sabbath and early Cathedral. That same turgid pace which was so attractive then does seem somewhat overdone on a ten track release, and especially when a couple of those tracks stretch to the ten minute area and one goes on for a coma inducing fourteen minutes. There are elements in each track which provide pleasure, but often in the same way that the sprint finish at the end of a long distance race does – briefly.

There is one noticeable exception, the instrumental track, “Canto IV,” straight onto my five star list and still there, not that I dislike the vocal contributions on this album at all, but this track is the one that does it for me. The title track also impresses, albeit to a lesser degree; the use of the wind and of the bells during the intro drawing one in, and then just enough pace and variation to keep me going to the end.

So, for my tastes, ‘could do better’ may provide the best summary, but I recommend you check them out to see where you stand.

The House Of Capricorn Bandcamp

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Getting the wires crossed...

Every now and then I get my wires crossed at, especially when I'm getting clobbered at work. Oh, well. Here's a quick look at a split originally intended to be examined in the laboratory, but is already assigned to another writer...

Temple Of Baal/ Ritualization The Vision Of Fading Mankind Split

(Agonia Records)

Release Date: November 29th, 2011

French black metal blast machine Temple Of Baal probably need no introduction to most students of the country's scene, but I’ve found Temple Of Baal to generally get better and better with each release. Playing a loud, brutal form of black metal, Temple Of Baal lay on the thickness and the blastbeats with a great deal of fury, but also add some subtle melody to their assault. Contributing nearly an EP’s worth of material to this split with four songs, Temple Of Baal straddle the line between brutality and melody with some good songwriting, a thick production, and, notably, some guitar solos, thereby giving their half of this split a tremendous amount of weight.

Rounding out the split are three songs from Ritualization, another French act with ties to Aosoth and a few others. Contributing two songs and a Mortem cover, Ritualization are much more straightforward as brutal death metal with a sound a bit like that of a raw version of early Suffocation; albeit, without nearly as much intricacy. Although unoriginal, Ritualization blast away with enough competence and enthusiasm to more than hold your interest.

Grade: B

Agonia Records

Dave's Underground Laboratory, January 30th

Dave's Underground Laboratory, February 6th