Well, nobody can accuse us of not being Metal enough. Last episode we had nails all over, now we have Hammers, Axes and even Bulldozers. Ready to drill and maim, YEAH!
Behind all the mentioned utilities is a set of quite diverse songs which runs heavier and atmospheric styles such as Doom and Black, more energetic crusty tracks and even manages to revisit some much-loved classics.
We’re keeping this intro short because there’s no time to lose. Press “play” and PLAY IT LOUD! More terrifying stuff is crawling from beyond the grave on May 27th.
Click for show notes and a complete tracklist.
When you talk about Metal, especially of the NWOBHM kind, it’s hard to not think about all the brilliantly looking and endlessly entertaining sci-fi, thriller and horror movies from the glorious Hammer Films London-based studio and how influential they must have been for metal bands springing at that time (hey, even Sir Christopher Lee is still recording his Metal albums). So as a SATAN MADE ME DO IT’s homage we start this episode with a piece from James Bernard for “The Devil Rides Out”, by the great Terence Fisher!
With the Romanticism/Gothic’s atmosphere firmly established, we move on to heavier pasture’s with one of the many projects by the super-influent duo Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, whose brilliance needed just a bit less than two months to give birth to Thorr’s Hammer and put out an album. We chose “Norge”, a great piece of eerie and cavernous stuff with the amazing Runhild Gammelsæter, then a 17 year valkyrie, singing her lungs out in her native Norwegian language. She switches from the most girlish, folkish and almost supernatural chanting to the most brutal guttural in a snap.
It seems we can’t have an episode without playing something inspired by Amebix. We have heard no complaints so far, so we’ll keep pushing our luck. Axegrinder was an unfortunately short lived English band from the late 80s that still managed to release one of the greatest crust albums of all time. It’s basically a more “metallic” version of “Arise!” or “Monolith” with an extra focus on atmosphere. We went with the title track, “Rise of the Serpent Men”, because of the subtle but quite honestly great female vocals. The albums’ cover artwork was created by Jeff Walker of Carcass by the way.
The love for Italian metal runs deep in this here episode. First wave black metal is a personal favorite of ours, and Bulldozer is one of the best examples of that “movement” if we can call it that (we really shouldn’t, but it facilitates the explanation haha). It’s easy to label them as yet another Venom clone, but if you actually do that congratulations! You’re an asshole. Bulldozer developed a unique style from album number one and unleashed some magnificent black-tinged speed metal hell. “Insurrection of the Living Damned” in particular combines highly distorted vocals, with loose, almost groovy riffs and more traditional early-to-mid 80s guitar playing. Everything from the riffing to song structure itself feels different from Venom. The inspiration is obvious, but the most meaningful differences are usually in the little things.
We mentioned earlier the influence of Hammer movies on metal bands back in the 70’s and 80’s. King Diamond and especially Candlemass could be given as examples. King Diamond was a master of horror storytelling through his albums, which almost feel like a music equivalent of the Hammer movies. And Candlemass… just listen to the witchcrafty “Bewitched” (what an amazing riff!) and, even better, watch the official video and tell us it doesn’t feel like something taken from the “Hammer House of Horrors” TV series ( with an added layer of cheesiness by the inimitable and over the top Messiah Marcolin, sure)! Piece of trivia: the official video for “Bewitched” was directed by ex-Bathory’s drummer Jonas Åkerlund, who would later on move to direct videoclips for Roxette, Prodigy, Madonna, Metallica, U2 and Lady Gaga!
Aaand we’re back in Italy! Mortuary Drape’s “Into the Drape” feels very out of place when compared with the black metal that Norway started to produce at about the same time. It’s almost experimental in a way. The guitar is in the back, while the bass is perfectly audible and there really isn’t much in the way of a blast beat. It all sounds like it belongs in the 80s and not in 1992, that’s for sure.
Not a lot of songs in this episode. We didn’t really have any pop length tunes this time around. Anyway, if you don’t know what you are hearing we are jealous of you. Really! We wish we could hear Tormentor for the first time all over again. We don’t want to spoil you guys and gals, so once you’re done with this episode find a way to hear “The Seventh Day of Doom” and “Anno Domini” in their entirety. They’re fucking glorious.
- The Devil Rides Out | James Bernard (UK) | The Hammer Film Music Collection Vol.1, 2000 http://amzn.to/1lsskW3
- Norge | Thorr’s Hammer (USA) | Dommedagsnatt, 2004 http://www.discogs.com/Thorrs-Hammer-Dommedagsnatt/master/13054
- The Rise of the Serpent Men | Axegrinder (UK) | The Rise of the Serpent Men, 1989 http://www.myspace.com/riseoftheserpentmen
- Insurrection of the Living Damned | Bulldozer (ITA) | The Day of Wrath, 1985 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bulldozer/39721039661
- The Jonah| King Diamond (DEN) | Fatal Portrait, 1986 http://www.kingdiamondcoven.com
- Bewitched | Candlemass (SWE) | Nightfall, 1987 http://www.candlemass.se
- Vengeance from Beyond | Mortuary Drape (ITA) | Into the Drape, 1992 http://www.mortuary13drape.com/
- Intro & Tormentor | Tormentor (HUN) | The Seventh Day of Doom, 1987 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tormentor-official/256414164442589