MY METAL HAMMER TOP 20 LPs OF 2015

30 12 2015

…And now, the end is near…….

Here’s my top 20 metal/rock albums of 2015 which I submitted for the annual critics’ poll in the Crimbo Metal Hammer. Great to see the Maiden album declared the overall winner. Up the fucking Irons!

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Albums of 2015 (Edwin McFee)

Iron Maiden ‘The Book Of Souls’

Therapy? ‘Disquiet’

Mutoid Man ‘Bleeder’

Kylesa ‘Exhausting Fire’

Goatsnake ‘Black Age Blues’

Teenage Time Killers ‘Greatest Hits Vol. 1’

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes ‘Blossom’

Gallows ‘Desolation Sounds’

Radkey ‘Dark Black Makeup’

Faith No More ‘Sol Invictus’

Man The Machetes ‘Av Nag’

The Sword ‘High Country’

Monster Magnet ‘Cobras & Fire (The Mastermind Redux)’

Clutch ‘Psychic Warfare’

Sabbath Assembly ‘Sabbath Assembly’

High On Fire ‘Luminiferous’

KEN Mode ‘Success’

Agnostic Front ‘The American Dream Died’

And So I Watch You From Afar ‘Heirs’

Poison Idea ‘Confuse & Conquer’

 





METAL HAMMER REVIEW: MONSTER MAGNET

16 11 2015

Here’s a reprint of my review of the new Monster Magnet opus that ran in Metal Hammer.

MONSTER MAGNET

COBRAS AND FIRE (THE MASTERMIND REDUX)

NAPALM RECORDS

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Inspired by the creative success of their reboot of Last Patrol (which they re-named Milking The Stars: A Re-Imagining Of Last Patrol) Monster Magnet have decided to give 2010’s Mastermind a makeover too. Now dubbed Cobras And Fire (The Mastermind Redux) Dave Wyndorf and Co. have transformed the original music, often beyond all recognition, focusing on isolated themes and fragments to create a much more expansive and ultimately enjoyable listening experience. A darker and dirtier record compared to its classic rock-flavoured predecessor, sitars and organs augment the Space Lord’s riffs, adding energy and excitement to the likes of Watch Me Fade (which is one of the band’s catchiest efforts to date). Hallucination Bomb is a particular highlight and the cinematic, string-swathed offering is now like a soundtrack from a cosmic spaghetti western, while old school fans will love their fuzzed up cover of the Temptations’ Ball Of Confusion which tips its cap to Blue Cheer’s version of Summertime Blues and features backing vocals from Monster Magnet co-founder/Rib Eye Bros. frontman Tim Cronin. [7]

EDWIN McFEE





METAL HAMMER REVIEW

3 09 2015

Here’s a reprint of my review of the awesome new Kylesa album that ran in Metal Hammer.

KYLESA

EXHAUSTING FIRE

SEASON OF MIST

Savannah sludge merchants Kylesa dive further down the rabbit hole for their seventh record Exhausting Fire. Adopting the theme of rebuilding after a particularly gruelling tour drained their batteries, the opus marks another bold stride forward sonically, whilst also nodding to their past. Continuing the trend started with 2013’s Ultraviolet, guitarist Laura Pleasants does most of the heavy lifting in terms of vocals and it’s their most layered and melodic offering yet which explores and expands upon their 80’s goth, space rock and psych influences yet still remaining thunderously heavy. The aptly named Crusher kicks things off with a bang marrying a chugging, doom-laden riff with hypnotic vocals and from there the bass-driven, Banshees-steeped Falling, the mesmerizing, mainstream-bothering, shoegaze informed Moving Day and the anthemic Lost And Confused,which features a badass riff and otherworldly backing vox, all impress. Though it is slightly front-loaded, Exhausting Fire is an incendiary album full of just the right amount of old school thrills (Shaping The Southern Sky) and experimentation (Night Drive) to delight and excite fans old and new. [8]

EDWIN McFEE





METAL HAMMER REVIEW: Mutoid Man ‘Bleeder’

31 07 2015

First off, yep, I suck balls at updating my blog these days.There are only so many hours in the day, unfortunately. I’ll try and change that though from August onwards.

Anywho, here’s a reprint of my review of the awesome new Mutoid Man album that ran in Metal Hammer.They’re playing Ireland and the UK this autumn.You should go and see ’em.

MUTOID MAN

BLEEDER

SARGENT HOUSE

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Continuing the increasingly incestuous relationship between Converge and Cave In, Mutoid Man is the brainchild of drummer Ben Koller from the former and guitarist/vocalist Stephen Brodsky from the latter. Economical in length (around 30minutes) but certainly not in ideas, their 10 track debut builds on the promise of their 2013 released EP Helium Head, adding more bite, a new bassist (Nick Cageao) and beefier production to their thrash, punk, prog and NWOBHM informed sonic assaults. Crammed with old school Tom Araya screams, unusual rhythms inspired by eight bit video games, bluesy grooves and lightning quick riffs, Bleeder is an instantly infectious slab of heavy metal thunder. Book-ended by the glorious, galloping sludge-fest Bridgeburner and the Dio-era Sabbath indebted doom-laden title track, the likes of Soft Spot In My Skull and the pummelling 1000 Mile Stare prove that their debut is much more than a vanity project for Mutoid Man and it’s as thrilling as anything they’ve put their names to in the past. Step aside Avengers, there’s a new super group in town. [8]

EDWIN McFEE





METAL HAMMER ALBUM REVIEW: BELPHEGOR

8 10 2014

*Reprint*Reprint*Reprint*

BELPHEGOR

CONJURING THE DEAD

NUCLEAR BLAST

It’s been a soul-destroying few years for blackened death metal bruisers Belphegor. In late 2011, their leader Helmuth contracted a life-threatening lung infection and endured multiple surgeries which put the band’s touring and recording plans in limbo. After a gruelling period of extensive rehab though, he returns this month with tenth LP Conjuring The Dead and the opus proves that what doesn’t kill you, really does make you stronger. Recorded in Florida, the influence of the Sunshine State’s death metal scene can be heard on the rabid Gasmask Terror and the intense, incendiary Legions Of Destruction (which boasts Deicide’s Glen Benton and Mayhem’s Attila on guest vocals) and it’s a faster, more extreme offering compared to 2011’s Blood Magick Necromance. Bursting with blood-curdling shrieks, blasphemous lyrics, shredding guitar solos, strange chants and tritone intervals, Belphegor’s tenth opus sees the Austrian’s stitch together elements of both the European and American metal scenes, creating a new, exciting monster. Though the drum sound does let the record down in places (In Death) and there’s some filler (The Eyes), overall the band have came back fighting on Conjuring The Dead and it’s a ferocious return to form. [7]

EDWIN McFEE





METAL HAMMER ALBUM REVIEW: PORTRAIT

25 05 2014

Here’s a review of the ace Portrait album that ran in Metal Hammer a couple of issues back.

PORTRAIT

CROSSROADS

METAL BLADE

After being forced to reshuffle their line-up in the wake of the exit of guitarist/songwriter Richard Lagergren, heavy metal purists Portrait return with their tellingly-titled third record Crossroads and anyone who doubted that the Swedes were incapable of carrying on should reach for the ketchup now as the eight track offering will make them eat their words. Opening with the acoustic intro Liberation, the five-piece treat us to a plethora of timeless riffs and Halford-like high-pitched shrieks over 42 minutes and those in the thrall of Maiden,Mercyful Fate and Priest will find much to enjoy on the album. While the Spartan production lets the likes of In Time down (especially when it comes to Per Lengstedt’s vocals) the album provides plenty of old school thrills and Ageless Rites and the epic Lily are as sharp as their bullet belts. Black Easter mixes things up a little with a dance-indebted drum-beat during the main section and although they only just get away with it, it’s encouraging to see them push the boundaries of their traditional sound. [7]

EDWIN McFEE

 





METAL HAMMER ALBUM REVIEW: SABBATH ASSEMBLY

23 05 2014

Here’s a reprint of a review of the Sabbath Assembly album that ran in Metal Hammer.

 

SABBATH ASSEMBLY

QUATERNITY

SVART RECORDS

Album number three from Sabbath Assembly sees the Texan twosome once again explore the theology of the Process Church of the Final Judgment (a sect that worship both Christ and Satan), only this time around instead of adapting Processian hymns, they have added mostly original lyrics to the acoustic-based music. Comprising of six tracks, the self-declared sacred folk metal act’s opus can be a little hammy in places, especially for the unenlightened, but there’s much to your teeth into regardless. A heavy offering in terms of lyrical content, musically Quarternity is reminiscent of the softer parts of Jeff Wayne’s epic The War Of The Worlds soundtrack and only the doom-y electric guitar led I, Satan offers anything traditionally metallic despite the record featuring appearances from members of Sunn 0))) and Gorguts. The eerie, string-laden Jehovah On Death is a stand-out on the album, but 18minute long The Four Horsemen isn’t nearly as engaging as the band thinks it is and it’s a disjointed, at times boring track which lets proceedings down considerably. [6]

EDWIN McFEE