Classic Rock’s New Release Round-Up
This week’s batch includes a solo album from an ex-Emperor man, a Testament reissue, the latest Overkill offering – and an Iranian band!
Words: Malcolm Dome
He might have made his name with black metal uberlords Emperor, but vocalist Ihsahn is definitely getting all progressive on our asses these days. After (Candlelight) is a calm, confident spree of complex and intricate music, plus thoughtful lyrics. However, there is the occasional bark to remind us of the past.
Heathen were always one of the more intelligent thrash bands. They were playing progressive metal long before that phrase caught fire. The Evolution Of Chaos (Candlelight) proves the point. It’s got some belting riffage, slippery and intricate arrangements, vast quantities of acidic melody and… well, it’s what Metallica might have come up with if they’d followed the Master Of Puppets path. But one song, A Hero’s Welcome, is just a little bit too into the whole ‘America Home Of The Brave’ attitude for comfort.
The reissue of the debut, self-titled album from Mind Funk (Iron Bird) is a timely reminder of the band’s huge potential in 1991. Never quite grunge, nor stoner, the band displayed elements of both styles on a selection of songs that proved they could be alternative rock idols. Shame it never happened. But the music’s still powerful and solid.
Overkill come roaring back with Ironbound (Nuclear Blast). It’s the band’s 15th album, and is unreconstructed, never-say-die, full-on thrash. No gimmicks, no attempts to introduce other styles and genres, this is pure thrashing madness. And there’s nothing wrong with a spot of that!
Testament‘s The Formation Of Damnation (Nuclear Blast) was one of the great albums of 2008. Now, it’s being re-released with a bonus DVD disc, featuring loads of live stuff. Yes, it’s cunning marketing stunt as we await a new record, but worth using up those Xmas gift vouchers to get hold of… hang on, do they still have Xmas gift vouchers?!
Finally, there’s the Iranian crew Ahoora. Yes, Iran. That country’s not exactly blessed with an overabundance of metal heritage. But this lot show some very nice touches on Awkward Diary. Imagine Muse and Tool getting all cosy around Iced Earth and you’ve got the drift here. The musicianship is accomplished, the songs concise and focused, and the band are clearly battling against the Islamic odds to be heard. They’re not on a label right now, but go to www.ahoora-band.com. It’s worth the effort.