ALBUM REVIEW: Altar of Oblivion – In The Cesspit Of Divine Decay


 

Of all the sub-genres journalists tend to get blamed for flourishing, Doom is one of the most easily defined. Its tempo is the most distinguishing feature that separates it from the other metal genres that tend to play at more aggressive speeds. Even Doom has now been divided into other sub-genres, one of these being Traditional  Doom, to which bands like Candlemass, Trouble, and Cathedral are assigned. Continue reading


REISSUE BOXSET REVIEW: Black Sabbath – Anno Domini (1989-1995)


While it’s certainly true that singer Tony Martin‘s time with Birmingham metal pioneers Black Sabbath is not exactly the most revered era in the band’s storied history, it’s also a little unfair to judge that period too harshly. Given the daunting, if not impossible job of following in the footsteps of Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, and even Ian Gillan, Martin also happened to enter the fold when the band were on somewhat of a downward turn. Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: High On Fire – Cometh The Storm


Six years (where did that time go?) after their Grammy award-winning album Electric Messiah, comes High On Fire’s latest effort Cometh The Storm (MNRK heavy). Gone is the ferocious, Thrash-like assault of the last album, replacing it is their trademark sludgy, Stoner Metal, but with a broadened palette. Can this record live up to its revered predecessor? Continue reading


Gibson Celebrate UK Flagship Store Opening with Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, Sir Brian May, and James Bay



Throughout the past month, music icons and emerging artists, music fans, and the team from iconic instrument brand, Gibson, gathered to celebrate the official grand opening of the Gibson Garage London. It is the first-ever Gibson flagship store outside of the U.S. and follows the successful opening of the Gibson Garage Nashville. The opening of the store was celebrated with a live events series, and featured appearances by Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, Sir Brian May, and James Bay. Find out more in the article below.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Therion – Leviathan III


Symphonic Metal master Christofer Johnsson assembles and commands the latest Therion line-up for Leviathan III (Napalm Records), another epic, bombastic concept album that will have fans of this kind of thing rocking in the aisles, or whatever it is opera fans tend to do in similar circumstances (frocking in the aisles?!). 

 Non-aficionados will admire the abundant technical excellence but might find themselves worn down by the too sweet, lightweight method and approach, the continuous faux-classical bombardment and the sometimes awkward melding of scatter-gun references and influences (not least in the lyrics).

 The strategic mix of the metal and the classic, throughout history, can often be problematic, even jarring. But the long-running Therion, following up directly here on Leviathan I and II (2021 and 2022, respectively), succeed in a more-or-less comfortable marriage of the bright fairytale lights and the darker doom, the beauty and the beast. 

Much of the musical glue that holds it all together comes from Johnsson’s keyboards, but it’s the guitars (Christian Vidal) and the main man’s ambition in composition that really shine through.

Vocals range from Viking-style war chants to soaring female operatics (Lori Lewis), with geetar sounds veering from acoustic filigrees (“Ruler Of Tamag”) to electric chugalongs, melodic lead breaks and energetic riff riots (see “An Unsung Lament” and “Ayahuasca”, for example). 

 There’s also pop among the pomp, singalong and chantalong bits with strong hooks as Swede Johnsson sprinkles in echoes of the spectacularly successful, smooth and satisfying Abba-metal of countrymen Ghost as well as more straight-ahead power metal and melodic prog. 

But despite moments of genuine doom and some death growling, Leviathan III can, at times, be too mild and mellow, saccharine and schmaltzy, tunes fit for backing Disney animation rather than proper Wagnerian guts, glory and apocalyptic passion (the images in my head of Elmer Fudd squalling “Kill the wabbit!” in Chuck Jones’ Warner cartoon classic What’s Opera Doc? are surely not what Johnsson had in mind).

 The accompanying lyrics are something of a classical, mythological and religious ragbag, referring to generic chaos, the abyss, Babylon, “children of both wrath and all revenge of the deep”, not to mention brother killing brother, Latin warblings, Bacchus, Freja, Thor and Odin, spiritual revelations and a “nightingale in the shadow of your mind”. Profound or what? 

 The vocals (Thomas Vikström is the lead male singer) that open “Maleficium” recall System Of A Down – echoes of the superior voice of Serj Tankian are cast up several times throughout the album – before mellowing out like most of the rest of the material. “Maleficium”, though, is still one of the album’s signature highlights, along with the aforementioned “Ayahuasca” (the longest track at almost eight minutes). 

 “What Was Lost Shall Be Lost No More” achieves a certain intensity that several of the other songs lack, while “Duende” opens acoustically and atmospherically, the flamenco-style intro a welcome diversion. Then the operatic, neo-classical assault takes over once again.

 Climactic Norse-fest “Twilight Of The Gods” opens with a Tony Iommi-esque droning riff, promising much, but then delivers more of the same formula and a martial, marching beat leads the way to the drum-driven finale (Sami Karppinen on the skins). 

Performed live, with full orchestra and choir, Leviathan III might be a different and more impressive beast, but that remains to be seen, and heard.

 The old Symphonic Metal lark obviously takes some courage, such are the potential pitfalls, not to mention logistical demands, and Johnsson is to be congratulated again for significantly adding to Therion’s already 35-year legacy. If his reach exceeds his grasp, on this evidence, it’s certainly not for want of trying.

Buy the album here:

https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/therion

7 / 10
CALLUM REID


ALBUM REVIEW: Paul Gilbert – The Dio Album


 

There is no love like a labour of love. There is no greater folly than a labour of love. Are those two statements contrary, or can they co-exist “happily”, somehow relating the same truth? Listen to The Dio Album (Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group), and come back to me.

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Ozzy Osbourne and Brandi Carlile Win Big for Rock and Metal at the 65th Grammy Awards, Full List of Winners 


 

The 65th Grammy Awards were held last night and in a mild surprise, Ozzy Osbourne and Brandi Carlile swept most of the Metal and Rock Awards. They won against tough competition such as Idles, Ghost, Megadeth, Muse, Turnstile for metal, and the Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, Beck, Wet Leg, and Spoon for rock awards. Ozzy won for Best Metal Performance, and Best Rock Album for Patient Number 9.  Brandi Carlile’s “Broken Horses” won Best Rock Song, Best rock Performance, and Americana album, and Wet Leg swept The Alternative Rock category.  Also, of interest to metal fans and gamers, composer Stephanie Economou won the first-ever Grammy for a video game score Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok. The award is officially called Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media. The full list of winners for main awards can be seen below and at the Grammy’s website 

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ALBUM REVIEWS: Black Sabbath Reissues – Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules


Photo credit: Mark Weiss with permission

Photo credit: Mark Weiss with permission

When Ronnie James Dio joined metal legends Black Sabbath in 1980 the former Rainbow frontman’s appointment couldn’t have come at a better time. Sabbath were a sinking ship. A drowning vessel from which enigmatic frontman Ozzy Osbourne had been trying to escape for some time. However, even though it was painfully clear that new blood had to be added to halt the band’s alarming deterioration the hostility that greeted Dio from some corners was quite shocking.

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Ozzy Osbourne, Ghost, Megadeth, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse, Turnstile, Beck, Bjork, Idles, Wet Leg, and More are Nominated for Rock and Metal in the 65th Grammy Awards 


 

It’s Grammy Awards season again, and while we don’t pay full attention to popularity awards, it’s always good when a few bands with a little mainstream appeal breakthrough. Major nominations for categories involving hard and heavy music includes Ozzy Osbourne, Idles and Turnstile for Best Rock Performance, Ghost, Megadeth, Muse, Turnstile, and Ozzy + Tony Iommi for Best Metal Performance, the Chili Peppers up against Turnstile and Ozzy’s production team for Best Rock Song, and Idles and Ozzy up against The Black Keys, Beck, Wet Leg, and Spoon for Best Rock Album. Other nominees in categories include Underoath and Danny Elfman. The full lists of these categories can be seen below, or the entire 2023 list can be viewed at the Grammy site 

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ALBUM REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – Patient Number 9


At seventy-three years old, Ozzy Osbourne has virtually nothing left to accomplish and even less to prove. TV personality, singer/songwriter, occasional actor and co-founder of an entire genre of music, if there’s anyone in the world of hard rock and metal who deserves to put their feet up with a pair of comfy slippers and a hot cup of cocoa then it’s the lovable Brummie seemingly incapable of using a television remote control.

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