Type O Negative – Red Water (Christmas Mourning)

This post is cropping up in my recent page stats. Must be the time of year. That said, I’m truly proud of this post and truly a fan of this song, and though it’s sadly more poignant and personal than ever, ‘Red Water’ is a true alternative Christmas anthem.

We Must Obey

Life in Peter Steele and Type O Negative’s world was certainly not the happiest. Throughout their illustrious career, their songs of love, lust, death, rejection and more, mostly along other depressive lines made for some dark, uneasy but ultimately incredible listening that made Type O one of metal’s most unique and interesting bands. Years of alcohol and drug abuse eventually caught up with Steele and despite getting clean, a heart attack took him in April 2010 and robbed the world of any future gloom from the enigmatic frontman.

A good proportion of Type O Negative’s songs dealt with personal themes, and ‘Red Water (Christmas Mourning)’ was no different. It was written about Steele’s dead father at the time, but as we will explore, goes far beyond his personal loss. Songs such as ‘Black No.1’, ‘Christian Woman’ and ‘Everything Dies’ are unquestionably among their greatest anthems but ‘Red Water’ ought to be considered…

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Charles Bradley covers Black Sabbath’s ‘Changes’ – and nails it

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Anyone not familiar with Charles Bradley’s story ought to check it out, whichever musical walk you take. A former James Brown impersonator, Bradley got his big career break at 62, releasing the critically acclaimed ‘No Time for Dreaming‘ in 2011 and going from strength to strength since. You’ve got to see his documentary ‘Soul of America’, chronically his slow and sometimes painful rise. He’s one of the best things happening outside of the world of rock and metal right now, and here he’s given me excellent reason to feature him. Bradley has taken on Black Sabbath’s classic single ‘Changes’, and not only has he (& the Budos Band) done it justice with a stunning cover, he’s made it completely his own as well. This was released for Black Friday in the USA on strictly limited vinyl, and my oh my, would I pay the earth for this in future. Bradley is one of the best damn singers in the world now, operating on the fringes of the poisonous mainstream, and sweeping up all plaudits before him. Check out the song below – you won’t regret it and it’s a phenomenal way for 2013 to reach an end.

Peter Clegg

Groan – Ride the Snake

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Groan
Ride the Snake
Superhot

Fun loving doom rockers Groan return here in time for Chrimbo with a new five track EP, ‘Ride the Snake‘. If you’re familiar with Groan you’ll know what to expect, and for the uninitiated, take a trip back into the late 70s/early 80s, only that you’ve taken the modern day scene through a time machine and you’ve pretty much got this band. Riff wise, ‘Ride the Snakekicks arse. The main riff to the lead single ‘Women of Doom’ is big, chunky and full of raw power, and tracks such as ‘Drug Lord’, with the inclusion of gang vocals at the beginning and a rollicking riff, show the band’s versatility between slow doomy trips and straight-up rock monsters. The guitarists here throw some scintillating solos into the mix and really are the driving force of this band Vocalist Andreas Mazzareth reminds me a little of Ronnie James Dio – nowhere near a master thespian as the late metal god but his delivery has a mix of straight up 70s hell rocker and Dio at his encapsulating, soaring best. The only letdown is that lyrically it’s not very inventive at times – perhaps the only thing here that for me really prevents ‘Ride the Snake‘ as being great, instead of ‘rather good’. Still, you can’t sniff at this – Groan come with a solid reputation, which is strengthening with every release, and they are sure to satisfy their growing army of followers with this swaggering record.

Peter Clegg

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The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell – Blow Up the Xmas Tree

We Must Obey has not had much time to really look for any alternative Christmas stuff this year, and to be honest the well is running a little bit dry. Thankfully, psychedelic rockers The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, in addition to having the most glorious name in rock music right now, have also shown a penchant for parody and indeed something a little unexpected. Hence the potential reasoning behind choosing to record ‘Blow Up the Xmas Tree’, a not-so-faithful cover of infamous crossover legends, Fearless Iranians From Hell’s ‘Blow Up the Embassy’. And it’s not so festive either, declaring ‘I’m going to blow up an elf tonight’ as it kicks into gear. It’s an enjoyable cover and perhaps as aggressive, and indeed comical, as you’ll likely hear the Admirals. It’s limited to 100 vinyl copies, so there’s pretty much nil chance of this being a festive chart-topper, but you can stream it above and rock out with the meagre Christmas spirit you can call upon.

Peter Clegg

Occultist – Death Sigils

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Occultist
Death Sigils
Primitive Ways

Richmond, Virginia, is no stranger to birthing numerous cracking metal bands over the years, from GWAR to Lamb of God to Municipal Waste among many others, and now we can add Occultist to the thriving metal city’s list of awesomeness. Make no mistake, this is a thoroughly monstrous record by a monstrous band, punctuated by numerous riffs of crusty shells, thrash underlayers, and black metal infused incantations. Key to this is vocalist Kerry, who at times is the proverbial daemoness, spewing hell forth and summoning apocalyptic thunder in her vocal delivery, underpinned by impressive guitar work, reckless solo worship and excellently timed shifts in tempo. The band can sail along a loud and malevolent groove comfortably before dropping the warning signal and unleashing a battering turn of speed, evidenced excellently on tracks like ‘Devil’s Breath’ and ‘A Hell for the Innocent’. There’s nothing I don’t love about this release. Yes, the title track is eerily similar to Slayer’s ‘Hell Awaits’ at the beginning, and the riff that carries ‘Path of the Damned’ has a distinct Motörhead/Saxon influence about it, but rather than mark them down for these traits, it’s better to celebrate how they harness them, creating an ultimately dark but violent, malevolent concoction. All these elements together, put simply, leaves you with a banger like ‘Death Sigils‘.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Death Sigils‘ here (name-your-price)
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Live Review: Corrupt Moral Altar @ The Packhorse, Leeds, 16/11/2013

+ DSDNT + Famine + Corinth

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We made our way up the stairs of The Packhorse and edged along sideways into the top room as is necessary if more there’s more than ten people present at the Packhorse. We were already amidst the sounds of the first band Corinth, who contrasted to the blunt aggression and abrasive nature of the other bands. The songs travel through several different sub genres with a subtlety that keeps the sound of the band distinct, Crowbar-esque melodies complete with Windstein-esque vocal strains transcend into something more like the hypnotic rhythm of atmospheric black metal. The theme in the mutation of every sound; through the psychedelic, to the thrash injected, is a backbone of solid leaden doom, which keeps a satisfying power throughout the well crafted songs. Corinth are hefty as they are eloquent, like a terrible crushing river of through a lovely water colour.

After seeking some respite and drink downstairs, it was to our horror we found the bar area entirely ridden with the type of student that thinks it’s funny to dress up as Where’s Wally with a fucking inflatable beach toy wrapped around them. I fought my way past and hoped to God that come some over-priced generic cunt parade like ‘Carnage‘, the poor bastards would be ushered through the most shameless and faceless clubs of Leeds. After being forced into drinking copious amounts of dodgy vodka they would look into the abyss of their own souls, and decide to stop being pricks, or subject themselves to a lifetime of solitude.

There are probably not so many images out there that would set me up so well for the audio grit flinging of Famine, who launch into spats of super violence coming in at around a minute per bout, torn from an unsuspecting three piece. Pissed off as they come, simplicity is the biggest weapon. Bass that sounds like a wasp the size of a truck in a tin can buzzes angrily through the mix and drops into grooves like two gorillas playing swingball with a brick covered in nails. Dismay and frustration-addled vocal barrages are a dual assault tear their own rhythms’ into the grooves fuelling a furnace of complete terror. If we were not so nice or boring, the crowd would be gouging at each other’s eyes and hauling the clientele up from below to attack with our teeth. As it is, we stand subjected to pure fuel for everything great in chaos and stand still sweating for fear of inadvertently tearing the venue apart.

DSDNT are up next with a brand of hardcore soaked negative strained paranoid energy. The four piece churn out groove not too far from Napalm Death with the same style of raged punctuating vocals. This flies by in a dystopian vision; discordant, psychologically damaged jittering that keeps you on your toes whilst shredding in and out of minor abrasion and warped groove. The effect over all is a disturbing and edgy momentum that doesn’t stray too far but successfully obliterates any positive vibe you might be clinging too.

As student loans change hands and people attempt new personas with frightening intensity at the bar downstairs, a different more honest transcendence is ready to take place in the jammed-tight room above. Like the feeling of a thousand trapped nerves Corrupt Moral Altar aren’t something you can ignore; this is something you know whilst stood in front of the band, but it also explains their quickly earned popularity and reputation over the past year that’s also seen two releases. The audio violation is raw energy from the moment the band open up with a tirade of blood vessel popping shrieks and breakneck rhythmic dozing. It would be an easy thing to put CMA within the confines of grind, with the use of frequent barrages of bouncing intensity and relentless vocals, but the omnipotent charge that buzzes from the stage and your gut is created by the effective use of simplicity with creative rhythm. This comes from their homage to the word ‘sludge’, which is something far more local and refreshing than an identity crisis and southern drawl. The crushing Iron Monkey throwdowns are a key theme throughout the set which for made me wish that the gig had a different less confined environment, or that people cared a little less. It’s precisely the kind of thing you should be losing your shit to; as a crawl of malicious notes explode into a snarling, titanic groove. CMA feel like the kind of thing that doesn’t come around too often. Not that they’re doing something unheard of but for the fact it comes off with honesty and a vicious bile that’s good for the soul.

Michael Collins

Jesu – Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came

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Jesu
Everyday I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came
Avalanche Recordings

It was just over two years ago when I was expecting my first children. My wife was in hospital with our newborn twins ready to enter the world. Yet while I was still in work, and still on the long commutes, I was able to escape into another world, owing largely to the music of the time; a sense that seemed to prevent parenthood from fully being realized until the moment they finally arrived. At which point, everything changed. It was like a switch that flicked in my head and all of a sudden a new mentality was also born. Whatever parenthood represents for Justin K. Broadrick, having just become a father himself for the first time while recording the new Jesu album ‘Everyday I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came‘, it seems to have shaped the context of this release, which places less emphasis on riffs and more on atmospherics and emotion than in some of his previous work.

Starting with the post-punk beat of ‘Homesick’, Broadrick’s familiar tone rides atop a mournful melody that begins in some ways with a bit of spring in its step, though not uncharacteristic of Broadrick or Jesu in any form. Following on from this, the haunting sounds of ‘Comforter’ and the title track set the pattern for reflection – rarely does music affect me on an emotional level like Jesu’s does, and rarely better than right here. ‘Comforter’ particularly yanks the heart, without question the most beautiful song I’ve heard all year, the ghostly piano accompanying a reverse drum loop and a riff that builds in such fashion it’s almost overwhelming, such is how good it is. Eventually we reach ‘The Great Leveller’, a 17-minute monolith that thematically charters the life-changing event of parenthood, beginning in slightly more uplifting fashion with a slow marching beat providing the patter behind beautiful string and piano melody, before unleashing an appropriately levelling riff that ranks amongst the heaviest produced over the course of Jesu history. It shifts into chugging territory before hitting a lull around the eight minute mark, soaring again five minutes later and finishing an appropriately lifting climax. Such is Broadrick’s status it’s easy to overlook the contribution of Nicola Manzan, the one-man orchestra here who sets the sorrowful and beautiful stringwork against Broadrick’s towering bass and guitars during ‘The Great Leveller’. Do so at your peril. The two combine perfectly over through its genesis into a near overwhelming cathartic end section. So much so that ‘Grey in the Colour’ feels slightly meagre, but only for being in the shadow of such greatness before it.

I was personally left disappointed by ‘Ascension‘ in 2011, perhaps due to my own expectations, but Jesu in 2013 is arguably Jesu’s best since the days of ‘Conqueror‘, and as the nights get longer and winter draws closer, ‘Everyday…’ will undoubtedly be the soundtrack of the season; challenging yet familiar, a warming and indeed stirring return from Broadrick that has left me hoping that such moments of shining grace await in the future.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘Everyday I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came‘ here
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Plague Rider – Plague Rider

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Plague Rider
Plague Rider

It’s always good to see young shoots grow into mighty oaks, as the saying goes, and its pleasing to report this of Durham/Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based death metal oiks Plague Rider. They released their original demo ‘Genetic Devolution‘ in 2011 which while showing great potential was spoiled a bit by its production values, which even for demo standards was a bit on the loud side and perhaps hid what the band were trying to offer. Now back and with much better production and a slicker overall product, their self-titled, self-released debut album is a tour-de-force and miasmic mix of old school death metal values given a modern, and at times technical flourish. There are some superb moments to behold, be in hammerhead title-track, the complex riffage of tracks such as ‘Subconscious Entrapment’, and the monstrous slow groove they drop into during ‘Universal Suffocation’, as satisfying as when Morbid Angel unloaded ‘Where the Slime Live’ on us. Fans of bands such as Death, Pestilence, and indeed newer tech-death bands like Obscura will find a lot of joy here, and hopefully 2014 will be the year of significant progress for this band, where there’s every chance of them stamping down a marker for their growing reputation within the thriving UK extreme scene.

Peter Clegg

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