METAL HAMMER REVIEW: THERAPY? ‘TROUBLEGUM’ ‘INFERNAL LOVE’

19 05 2014

Today I thought I’d post up a review of the recent ‘Troublegum’/’Infernal Love’ Deluxe Editions that ran in Metal Hammer a few issues back.

Mad one, this. I vividly remember reading the reviews of both records that ran in Hammer 20 years ago (when the LPs first came out), so being asked to look after the verdict of the re-issues (both of which genuinely changed my life) well, it was a pretty cool feeling to say the least.

The piece changed a few times before it went to print due to design/photo issues, so I’m not sure which version ended up in the magazine, but here’s the final draft anyway (I rarely see my writing in print…long story).

 

 

THERAPY?

TROUBLEGUM/INFERNAL LOVE

UMC/MERCURY

While the word seminal may be bandied around much too often these days, when it comes to Troublegum and Infernal Love by NI’s Therapy?, the adjective couldn’t be any more apt. Bursting with twisted lyrics wrapped around metal-infused, punk-imbued barbs, the former remains a much-adored, evergreen classic 20 years on from its release, while the brooding, beguiling latter is a bit like the Robert Downey Jr of the rock world-misunderstood and not quite what we were expecting at first, but now an entity that continues to get more awesome with age. This month they receive the deluxe treatment and the re-mastered re-releases also feature a treasure trove of tasty treats for both collectors and new-comers alike. Stuffed with b-sides, live cuts and remixes from their respective eras, highlights from the triple disc Troublegum set include the stellar, stand-alone single Opal Mantra, ShortSharpShock EP favourite Totally Random Man and of course the indefatigable, game-changing sucker punches Screamager and Nowhere, which still sound fresh and ferocious in equal measure. Not to be outdone, the double CD version of Infernal Love is just as strong thanks to a stark re-imagining of the criminally-ignored Nurse classic Disgracelands and the cow-punk-tastic Our Love Must Die, while the three and a half minute, buzzing mind fuck that is Epilepsy, the anthemic, hook-laden Stories and the gloriously gloomy Me Vs You prove the original record is well worth a revisit. In short, any self-respecting rock fan should own both.[9]

EDWIN McFEE

 





METAL HAMMER ALBUM REVIEW: SKULL FIST

31 03 2014

Here’s a reprint of my review of the ace new Skull Fist album that ran in Metal Hammer.

 

SKULL FIST

CHASING THE DREAM

NOISEART RECORDS

New wave of traditional heavy metal types Skull Fist first introduced themselves in 2011 with the brilliant but boldly titled Heavier Than Metal EP and it’s safe to say that over the last three years the quartet have been doing their very best to challenge Wolverine for the title of “Canada’s most metal export.” This month they unveil their second album Chasing The Dream and it sees the Jackie Slaughter-led band step things up a gear as the nine track effort is rammed with great riffs and Godzilla-sized choruses. Unashamedly indebted to the likes of Skid Row, 80s-era Maiden and Accept, Call Of The Wild, Bad For Good and You’re Gonna Pay are particular highlights thanks to some impossibly high vocals, duelling guitar leads and anthemic hooks and only the meandering instrumental Shred’s Not Dead fails to impress. Fun, fast-paced and fresh (despite the classic influences), Skull Fist’s second album packs a considerable punch and showcases a group at the very peak of their powers and ready to conquer the world. [8]

EDWIN McFEE

 





METAL HAMMER REVIEW: MORNE ‘SHADOWS’

24 09 2013

Here’s a review of the ace Morne record that ran in Metal Hammer.

MORNE

SHADOWS

PROFOUND LORE RECORDS

Shadows is the third album from Boston-based doom merchants Morne and it’s a record which sees them step away from the crust influences of their debut Untold Wait and embrace a bleaker, darker sound. Featuring four tracks (plus one bonus cut), the epic opus packs many moods and ideas into the music (often over the course of a single song) and there’s a wealth of hooks on offer which regularly threaten to embed themselves in your cerebral cortex for an aeon. Drummer Billy Knockenhauer does a sterling job throughout, driving the band onward through the darkness and Milosz Gassan’s impassioned vocals infuse the likes of New Dawn with both menace and melancholy in equal measure. While Morne’s third slab of wax is unquestionably an unashamed and unrelenting doom record, there are also hints of classic rock and 70s prog to be found too (A Distance) as well as a few nods to Disintegration-era Cure (the title track in particular has some of that famous spidery guitar-work) and it’s an engaging listen that delivers in spades. [8]

EDWIN McFEE 





METAL HAMMER ALBUM REVIEW: HAVOK ‘UNNATURAL SELECTION’

9 08 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of the Havok record that ran in Metal Hammer.

HAVOK

UNNATURAL SELECTION

CANDLELIGHT RECORDS

In many ways trying to top their universally lauded second record Time Is Up was always going to be a tricky task for Denver thrashers Havok. However, while some of the material on Unnatural Selection does comes across as plodding when compared to what came before, the four-piece make a good stab of things and their new album sees them put extra focus on dynamics and melodies (Under The Gun) and there’s a real growth in terms of song-writing (Give Me Liberty…Or Give Me Death). New recruit Michael Joseph Leon really makes his presence felt with some wonderful, rumbling basslines and the politicised subject matter makes a refreshing change from the cheesy, novelty-based zomedy lyrics that’s currently in vogue with their modern day thrash contemporaries, adding a real bite to the likes of I Am The State. Yes, we could do without the cover of Sabbath’s Children Of The Grave but for the most part mid-paced brooders such as Living Nightmare prove they’re more than just a one trick pony and point towards a bright future ahead. [7]

EDWIN McFEE 





METAL HAMMER ALBUM REVIEW: DARKANE ‘THE SINISTER SUPREMACY’

11 07 2013

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

DARKANE

THE SINISTER SUPREMACY

MASSACRE RECORDS

Inspired by the part of our psyche which makes good people do bad things, The Sinister Supremacy is the sixth album from Swedish melodic death/progressive thrash five-piece Darkane and it’s a record which sees them in a ferocious frame of mind. Their first new material in five years, the opus also features the return of singer Lawrence Mackrory (who performed on their debut record Rusted Angel) and the presence of their prodigal son has definitely put a fire back in their bellies. Calling to mind a mix of Chuck Billy, Chester Bennington and mid-period James Hetfield, the frontman’s vocal gymnastics adds excitement to the likes of The Decline and Existence Is Just A State Of Mind and strings, mandolins and keyboards all help stretch the band’s sound, creating a darker, heavier atmosphere throughout. The title track is a classic in the making thanks to a super-fast melodic riff which will leave no head un-banged,while the creepy but cool piano and strings-led instrumental Hate Repentance State is an interesting detour and a welcome part of an album that was worth the wait. [8]

EDWIN McFEE





METAL HAMMER REVIEW: HIGH ON FIRE

21 06 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of the new High On Fire live album(s) that ran in Metal Hammer.

HIGH ON FIRE

SPITTING FIRE LIVE VOLUME 1 AND 2

CENTURY MEDIA

While there’s definitely no doubting that stoner legends High On Fire can set alight a recording studio, most people would agree that the trio are at their most incendiary when they’re playing live. At times an unparalleled primal force of nature, the Oakland bruisers are at their best when they’re in your face and the two volume release Spitting Fire Live captures the band warts and all and at the very peak of their powers. Recorded in the Bowery Ballroom, New York (Volume 1) and the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Volume 2), both disks are a must buy for die-hard fans and new-comers alike. Highlights on the former include a hellaciously heavy version of Frost Hammer and a rendition of Fertile Green which betters its recorded counterpart, while the latter boasts the speaker-shaking instrumental Dii and the monstrous live favourite Snakes For The Divine. At times unfathomably powerful and others strikingly pure, Spitting Fire Live perfectly captures the band in all their grizzled glory without any over-dubs or studio trickery and the only thing missing from the experience is a few hundred heaving bodies and a handful of spilled beers. [8]

EDWIN McFEE





METAL HAMMER REVIEW: Finntroll ‘Blodsvept’

30 03 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of the new Finntroll record that ran in Metal Hammer.

FINNTROLL

BLODSVEPT

CENTURY MEDIA

This month, those genre-straddling, loveable lunatics Finntroll return with their sixth full length effort and it’s an opus which sees the Helsinki-based seven-piece eschew a less polished production in favour of a rawer, more visceral approach. A record which sees them continue to skillfully walk that tightrope between playful tongue in cheek nods and winks and downright mad as a bag of hammers insanity, the band’s blend of Finnish folk music, heavy metal and rock ‘n’ troll has never sounded better than is has on the 11 track affair. Opening with the ominous sound of something unearthly walking through woods, the band waste little time delivering batshit crazy sea shanties (Ett Folk Forbannat) and hellacious humppa-infused anthems (Mordinnen) and they even add some dueling banjos, which shred with the best of them, on the awesome Skogsdotter, reaffirming that underneath all the over the top schlock lies a band with real musical chops. While at times Blodsvept can get a little too ambitious (Tva Ormar features a riff that sounds just like the Inspector Gadget theme) the band hit the target more often than miss it and if you embrace the madness from the start then you’re in for a treat. [7]

EDWIN McFEE