Genre: Heavy/ Doom Metal
Label: Metal Blade Records
Satanic heavy metallers In Solitude gained much praise for their sophomore effort “The World, The Flesh, The Devil”, a blend of Merciful Fate riffs, twin guitar majesty and early Danzig drama. “Sister” takes all those aspects into darker territory with further atmospherics and gothic influences making for a rich and compelling release.
“He Comes” is a fantastic acoustic number, as foreboding as it is restrained, with Pelle Åhman’s wounded howl evoking dark spirits and desolate lands and “Pallid Hands” combines melodic fretwork with a power that would make Beelzebub proud.Indeed this release is littered with subtle touches, which enrich the songs within it. The eerie glockenspiel outro on “A Buried Sun” and subtle vocal effects and acoustics bring to mind Bauhaus or the Sisters Of Mercy covering early Maiden only they have been kidnapped and locked in a Swedish barn in the middle of nowhere with only whisky for company.
There is no denying the accessibility of songs like “Lavender” with the twin guitars of Niklas Lindström and Henrik Palm almost hypnotic at times. The change the band has undergone between their last record and this is quite remarkable. The gothic paranoia is omnipresent yet so are some infectious melodies that should see In Solitude outgrow their “cult” status in a hurry.
Witchery and wickedness with a more seductive voice than most “Sister” is a dish worth savouring.
Ghost – Infestissumam
Originally posted on Ghost Cult Magazine’s website on 20/04/2013
Since their Opus Eponymous debut dropped three years ago the nameless ghouls have enticed the greats of rock into their diabolical trap with a combination of a lavish stage show and the catchiest tunes Old Nick has given us in years. Yet by 2013 surely we’ve all gone back to our King Diamond and Blue Öyster Cult albums and cooled off. Not likely!
Beginning in triumphant fashion with their dark choir underpinned by lush classic rock riffing Papa Emeritus II and company have risen to deliver a sermon bolder and more dramatic than the first. ‘Per Aspera Ad Inferi’ stomps along with an almost military drumbeat leading to a triumphant expansive chorus. ‘Infestissumam’ see’s the Swedes expanding their horizons and further incorporate church organ, choral vocals and occasionally eastern melodies while remaining resolutely satanic.
Eschewing the more pop orientated song structures of the debut was a bold approach, certainly while this may be their major label debut the band have pushed themselves into bold new territory delivering an album full of quirks and killer melodies. The psychotic waltz of ‘Secular Haze’ is not the only stylistic departure with ‘Ghuleh/Zombie Queen’ beginning with stark piano and Papa’s chilling “From the darkness/ comes a succubus” refrain before the sinister organ builds the song to a powerful crescendo. The presence of big name producer Nick Raskulinecz has only encouraged the band to unfurl their greater potential, gleefully incorporating classic rock hooks with their blasphemous agenda in even more theatrical and bombastic fashion than before.
Having won fans such as Phil Anselmo and Dave Grohl (The later appearing behind the drumkit drumming on their cover of ABBA’s “I’m A Marionette”) it’s clear that Satan’s minions have the tunes to match their exquisite presentation. The finale of ‘Monstrance Clock’ with its infectious “Come together” refrain will haunt you insidiously for hours after its last airing.
Infestissumam may be Latin for “Most hostile” but this is a graceful and grandiose affair which further pushes their esoteric agenda together with sweeping and timeless melodies. A deliciously tuneful black-hearted affair this sophomore effort shall see Ghost welcome many new parishioners to join their faithful congregation.
Megadeth – Super Collider
Originally posted on Ghost Cult Magazine’s website on 02/06/2013
“Burn baby burn cos it feels so good/burn baby burn like I knew it would” no these are not lyrics from a seventies disco hit but the chorus of the third track on the new Megadeth release “imaginatively” entitled ‘Burn!’ It’s a worrying entry which will again have both fans and detractors casting aspersions regarding the sanity of one Mr Mustaine.
Such god awful lyrics may be expected from a tired old has been of the glam metal era but when they are delivered by the voice of thrash metal’s most politically astute, polarizing and thought provoking artists then something has gone horribly wrong.
Cringeworthy and questionable lyrics aside, there is a lack of technicality with many a generic mid paced riff underpinning songs like Off The Edge’. Perhaps the lack of technicality can be attributed to drummer Shawn Drover whose kit work, while solid, still feels like that of a hard rock player rather than an out and out heavy metal percussionist.
‘The Blackest Crow’ pulls another curveball with the addition of banjo yet, while it’s a brave experiment, it sounds like a Volbeat cast off at best. Touted as a crackpot and conspiracy obsessed nutter, Mustaine has carved a career from controversy and while recent albums have been strong since the return of bassist Dave Ellefson to the line up, Super Collider sounds like the wheels may be coming off. ‘Dance In The Rain’ rails against “the dead end 9-5” and the “big brother” surveillance society we find ourselves in yet his intentions are questionable. Considering his own controversial views on issues like gay marriage, one wonders how much Mr. Mustaine would fight to protect certain people’s civil liberties.
The later track even features a back up vocal from Disturbed mouthpiece David Draiman whose contributions are thankfully difficult to detect. Attempting to shy away from the controversy and focus on making great music Mustaine has written the most watered down and disappointing album since Risk He is apparently content to fit comfortably into mediocrity which is especially disappointing considering how strong the last couple of Megadeth albums were.
Undeniably one of the greatest guitarists in metal with a C.V. of hits acts of today would sell their first born children for, the distinct lack of hooks and memorable riffs seriously wounds Super Collider. The odd break of fret wizardry cannot save what is unquestionably one of this year’s most disappointing albums.
Originally posted on Ghost Cult Magazine’s website 21/10/2013
Commemorating a quarter century with a collection of outtakes and b-sides often delivers mixed results but West Yorkshire’s gloomiest act have never been afraid to take chances. Encompassing outtakes from the last couple of studio releases plus a couple of cover versions and two re-workings of old favourites, ultimately, Tragic Illusion 25 (Century Media) by Paradise Lost will appeal mostly to collectors and existing fans but when you acknowledge this as five guys having fun in the studio in between albums, it becomes a far more enjoyable affair than many stopgap efforts. Albums of this nature have a tendency to lack a cohesive flow but while this is true, there are a couple of gems to be had here.
Tragic Idol era opener ‘Loneliness Remains’ is typical of their recent output. Sabbathian dirge meets funereal bleakness and the orchestral reworking of ‘Faith Divides Us (Death Unites Us)’ is certainly a highlight but the re-workings of the older numbers do not differ enough from their original form to merit more than a cursory glance.
‘Gothic 2013′ feels a bit pointless as the only real difference is the slightly cleaner vocal and while it has been apparent for some time that Nick Holmes prefers to use his more melodic range, it makes you wonder why Greg Macintosh’s gruff backing vocals are not put to further use. Considering the strength of his death vocals in side project Vallenfyre, it makes you wonder why Paradise Lost have not utilised his considerable skills when performing older compositions live.
Holmes himself manages to snarl impressively through ‘Our Saviour’ which could perhaps be a sign the band may break out some of the Lost Paradise material live, something which fans have long hoped for. The mishmash of styles the band have employed throughout their career have polarised opinion yet PL’s influence on a generation of acts can never be denied.
Of the covers Spear Of Destiny number ‘Never Take Me Alive’ is interesting but Everything But The Girl’s ‘Missing’ harks back to the ill advised Depeche Mode light flavour of their Host era. Likewise, the ill-fitting instrumental Godless will be avoided by even the most devoted of fans. Perhaps a live album with these extras as a bonus disk would have been a more fitting manner to celebrate 25 years of the band’s dark art.