This is a rare and hard to find gem. The very first album by Wino’s post-Spirit Caravan outfit, The Hidden Hand. It was only released on vinyl in Italy via Beard of Stars Records (Meteor City released the CD version in the US). And what a stellar album it is. Obviously fueled by the breakup of his previous band, Wino returned with a sound that was a little less doomy but a bit more hard-charging. The tempos are a bit faster than Spirit Caravan and the Hidden Hand had a much looser feel, driven by the chemistry between Wino and bassist Bruce Falkinburg (who also produced the record). As expected, Wino’s guitar playing is unmatched. “Sunblood,” “Tranquility Base,” “Bellicose Rhetoric,” and the title track are packed full of beefy riffs. Over three albums these guys would keep getting better. Sadly, that was it, as The Hidden Hand broke up after the release of The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote. Thankfully, Wino’s now back with Premonition 13…
To me, this is the album that redefined doom. Other than Sleep’s Dopesmoker, I can’t think of a more massive slab of heaviness than Electric Wizard’s Dopethrone (picking up on the theme here?). Released in 2000 on Lee Dorian’s Rise Above Records label, this was the penultimate album from Electric Wizard’s classic early lineup. Dopethrone was unbeatable in terms of shear heaviness, angst, and that wall of sound. Take Saint Vitus’ songs of self-destruction and make the sound 700 times thicker and drop the despair to a whole new depth. A high water mark that the band wouldn’t hit until ten years later with Black Masses — which is also quite stellar. Unfortunately, this lineup disintegrated in 2002, shortly after the release of Let Us Prey. Still, they left us with Dopethrone, a literal Doom testament.
It’s no surprise that one of the best Swedish Death Metal albums of the new century came from the mind of the guy who was one of the main forces behind the movement in the later ’80s and early ’90s. After all, Nicke Andersson wrote most of the music for all of Entombed’s classic albums. But having walked away from that band after To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth in order to go full time with The Hellacopters, no one ever expected him to come back. And yet, he did and along with his main cohort Robert Pehrsson, he went way back. Death Breath goes pre-Entombed. It’s all Autopsy and Repulsion worship, the bands that really inspired Entombed in the early days. Quite stellar stuff.
I nice rare find this one, as it’s now out of print. It’s a split 7″ released by Southern Lord Records in 2001 featuring The Obsessed and The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight both covering Lynyrd Skynyrd. New Orleans’ own Mystick Krewe churns out a low, lazy, and groovy version of “Cheatin’ Woman” made even better by a guest appearance from Pepper Keenan (COC, Down) on vocals. Wino and crew do a ballsy rendition of “On the Hunt” which is given extra drive by Dale Crover of the Melvins who joins in as a second drummer.
This one is going way back… all the way back to 1980. We’re talking pre-Kerrang! here folks (which didn’t launch until ’81). While there were more professional acts on the scene — Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, Def Leppard, and Diamond Head to name a few — who had all signed to major labels, out of Newcastle came a small label that would become home for a much scrappier group of British heavy metal bands.
Neat Records was responsible for introducing punters to the likes of Raven, Tygers of Pan Tang, Tank, Blitzkrieg, Fist, and most notoriously Venom. For Americans who don’t know, Neat was the precursor to American metal labels like Metal Blade and Megaforce (especially since Brian Slagel cut his teeth reviewing Neat vinyl and John Zazula sold a ton of them). This gem here, procured from a nice chap in the UK via ebay, was the sixth single released by Neat in 1980. Unfortunately for Americans, we only got to see the bad Raven. I’m talking the era where they started wearing BMX motorcycle gear, staged pro-wrestling matches during their shows, and wrote really really really bad songs like “On and On.” The Raven on this single however, was a fantastic band. A great example of punk creeping into Metal to give it a little more energy. Still somewhere between bluesy heavy rock and speed metal, with that great raw and dirty mix. You can’t deny the energy on “Don’t Need Your Money.” Such a fantastic old school riff. “Wiped Out” matches it perfectly. Combined together, 8 minutes of hi-energy old school metal and out.
Give full credit to Sal Canzonieri and the guys from Electric Frankenstein — they took the Misfits’ horror-meets-punk n’ roll ethic and ran with it. Every Electric Frankenstein single, EP, and album is its own collectible. Not only for the music, but for cover art as well, many of them designed by renowned poster and outsider artists. Case in point, the Listen Up, Baby! 10″ EP released by Frank Kozik’s Man’s Ruin label back in 1998. Kozik ran Man’s Ruin as one-half art project, one-half indie label that focused entirely on hard-hitting punk, stoner rock, doom, heavy rock, sludge, psych-rock, and whatever else suited his fancy. In some ways, Kozik and Electric Frankenstein were the perfect match. Maybe that’s why this EP has always been my favorite piece of work from the band. Stellar cover art by Kozik and some of EF’s best songs including the title track, “Neurotic Pleasures,” and “Social Infections.”
Brought to you by the same great label that served up The Mummies and Supercharger, Estrus Records. Found this one at Gimme Gimme Records in the East Village. A bombastic collection of over-the-top punk n’ roll, served up Dictators style. And yet, who thought a bunch of guys in Lucha Libre masks, singing punk songs titled “I Swing” and “Action Slacks” would hail from Newcastle? As far as I can tell, this is the only full-length The Coyote Men released. Estrus doesn’t have it available anymore but you can still find it via a few mailorder sites or eBay.
What can one say about this amazing gem I found at Monster Melodies in Paris. It’s my favorite Entombed track off of my all-time favorite Entombed album. While I understand that purists may disagree, no matter how amazing the first two Entombed albums are (especially Left Hand Path), the death n’ roll style makes Wolverine Blues one of the best heavy metal albums of all time (who gives a crap if it wasn’t pure death metal). The perfect melding of Motörhead, Black Sabbath, and Venom with that incredible chainsaw guitar sound. The “Out of Hand” single also has my two favorite covers by Entombed: a really down-tuned ultra-heavy rendition of Kiss’ “God of Thunder” and a very Swedish death-metal version of Repulsion’s “Black Breath.” I also think this is a stellar cover courtesy of drummer Nicke Andersson, who started jumping away from cliche’d death metal album covers and began creating more iconic designs (something he would continue to do for the Hellacopters and now Death Breath). Here it is in ten minutes of head-crushing heaviness: the birth of death n’ roll.
I found this rare little gem at the awesome Monster Melodies in Paris. Sadly, this is the EP that broke up the classic lineup of Motörhead (Lemmy Kilmister, Fast Eddie Clarke, and Philthy “Animal” Taylor). Apparently, Clarke couldn’t stomach the idea of Lemmy singing a duet of Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man” with Wendy O. Williams and walked out during the recording sessions, leaving the band altogether. It is a shame, especially since this is great 7″ and right in line with Motörhead’s output up until that time. The duet between Lemmy and Wendy O. is of course stellar — hypercharged, bombastic, and great fun. Philthy Taylor drives the song with his drumming while Lemmy and Wendy O. trade off on the verse lines. The b-side version of “No Class,” with Wendy O. singing in Lemmy’s place, is actually quite good as well. Her scratchy, raw vocals fit the song and give it a slightly punkier feel. Despite what I’ve read in various places (including Wikipedia), the Plasmatics and Motörhead do not cover each others songs on the b-sides. Clarke did not play on the recordings (and even bailed on producing the EP). So it is actually a mix of Motörhead and Plasmatics members playing all the songs together — Lemmy on bass, Philthy on drums, Wes Beech on rhythm guitar, and Richie Stotts on lead guitar. If you can find it, this one is worth it for the rendition of “Stand By Your Man” alone.
I have been wanting to post this one for a while now. I originally found this in the East Village during Record Store week back over the summer and still listen to tracks from it pretty regularly. What’s not to love here? It’s an comp of the first acts signed to Stiff Records in the late 70s, with most of the songs having a very raw and punchy feel. Favorites include a nice over-the-top version of “White Line Fever” by Motörhead, a stripped down rendition of “Less Than Zero” by Elvis Costello, and the standout in the group, “I Love My Label” by Nick Lowe (which you can’t help but sing along to).