Mittwoch, 28. März 2018

nocturnus - the key

one of that death metal pearls of the early nineties released from the rich back catalogue of earache records. when i browsed the earache store after i purchased the bolt thrower re-press for "the IVth crusade", i came across a pre-order for "the key" re-issue on white vinyl. the label started a pretty cool re-issue campaign. they start out with a pre-pre-order and when a certain target is reached (200 sold copies), the label would start the manufacturing process.
the first 200 copies will come on clear vinyl and are the limited colour-way of the pressing. when they are sold, earache acknowledges the demand and presses another 800 copies for retail (300 white and 500 black vinyl copies). when i saw the white vinyl still in stock at the earache webshop, it was an offer too tempting to pass on it. the availability and the great album concept of "the key" were convincing enough. the lyrical concept is about a cyborg that travels back in time to destroy christianity and build a modern surveillance state.
musically nocturnus' debut was an outstanding piece of death metal at the time of release in 1990. the death metal genre was going strong but the level of progressivity and especially the use of keyboards were unusual for its time. this re-press stays pretty true to the original release. the only difference is the change from double sided insert to printed dust sleeve with the same layout. 300 copies pressed on this nice white vinyl. only the cover colours came out a bit too dark in my opinion. earache records. 1990/2018.

Freitag, 23. März 2018

as i lay dying - frail words collapse

"frail words collapse" was one of the albums that i waited for a vinyl re-issue real bad. there have been a few in the last months which made the list shrink. records like killswitch engage's "alive or just breathing", whitechapel's "the somatic defilement" or the black dahlia murder's "miasma" were big wants. the industry cashes in on easy to produce re-issues and i couldn't be more happy about it, even if it feels a bit sleazy. metal blade is one of that labels which drop re-press after re-press in multiple colour-ways.
when i saw as i lay dying's masterpiece "frail words collapse" on pre-order at emp mailorder, i was all over it. i grabbed a copy of the most limited colour-way and waited eagerly for it to arrive. when it arrived and i dropped the needle on the vinyl, i was way back in 2004. a friend of mine who also handed me the first two the black dahlia murder albums on cd, borrowed me his cd version and i began to really love this scorcher. so many perfect songs on here. especially "distance is darkness" is perfect.
the chaotic first three quarters of the song with the harsh screams and growls of tim lambesis culminate into the beautiful desperation of the melodic last quarter. top notch! the presentation by metal blade is nice as well. the record comes with a slip sleeve, an insert and a poster of the fantastic cover art by converge's jacob bannon. on top comes this nice clear with cream and yellow splatter vinyl. #110 out of 200 copies. metal blade. 2003/2018.

Donnerstag, 22. März 2018

entombed - left hand path

another classic death metal release. since i bought the first morbid angel release on special grindcrushing splatter coloured vinyl, i entertained the idea of getting all titles of this early nineties re-press series from earache records. i won a copy of napalm death's "from enslavement to obliteration" a few weeks later and am now the very proud owner of the first entombed full length, entitled "left hand path".
entombed was pretty new to me. i never heard any stuff of the guys before just knew that other bands i listen to were often likened to them. now that i know the original i am surprised at how much bands like entrails or deathrite sound like entombed. that speaks for the originators of the death 'n' roll sound. they have this specific guitar tone that the aforementioned bands also used for their sound. "left hand path" is an excellent record all the way through.
i love especially the mood the band creates. the album is heavy and snotty and has the right dosage of doomy melodies. love the opening track in particular with parts included of the soundtrack to the horror movie "phantasm". as i am not the only one who thinks this record rules, original copies are pricey and hard to come by. so does this early re-press from 1991. when i saw a copy popping up on ebay with a reasonable but high starting bid, i set out to get this one.
in the end i had to pay a little more than starting bid but all in all i was satisfied with this purchase. i love the cover art of dan seagrave a lot on this one. the few faces in the woodwork remind me of the morbid angel cover of "altars of madness" also drawn by seagrave. the splatter a.k.a. marble vinyl looks awesome. hope i can get my hands on the remaining titles of this series in the future. earache records. originally released in 1990. re-press from 1991.

Dienstag, 20. März 2018

iron maiden - live after death

there was a time when i was completely despising all live recordings. i thought, why listen to a band play live from record when i could just as well go and really watch them live? this opinion started to morph quite a bit in the bygone year of 2017. i started to buy some live recordings from bands i really hold dear to my heart. converge or between the buried and me to name a few. still i won't buy every new live recording coming out, i prefer the visuals in addition but there are a few exceptions.
one exception is definitely the first official live album by iron maiden, called "live after death". i didn't know much about this sucker but when i saw this copy in the maiden bin at blitz records in kiel, i felt propelled to buy it. i had already bagged the self-titled one of the previous post and had actually burnt all of my monthly budget but the fantastic condition of this copy was too good of a deal to say no. the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.
"live after death" was recorded on the band's massive "world slavery tour" supporting their 1984 output "powerslave". the tour lasted for almost one year and unbelievable 189 gigs. it was the biggest stage show the band performed to this date and they were one of the first big metal acts to take such an enormous stage show on tour through eastern bloc countries. the first three sides of this double vinyl release were recorded during their four shows run at the long beach arena in long beach, california and side four was recorded during another four nights run at the hammersmith odeon, london.
after i took my copy home and wnated to spin it for the first time, i made an odd discovery. i pulled the records out in search for record one. strangely i found on one record a number written in black ball pen. on the flip side another number. when i inspected the other record i recognised that it had the same centre label. two records with labels for side three and side four. at first i panicked in fear of owning two equal records.
when i listened to them i was relieved to find that all the right songs were on the records, just the wrong centre labels on record one. that's why the pre-owner wrote the ball pen numbers on the labels, to distinguish between the different sides. must have been a mix up by the pressing plant. wonder if there is a complete pressing with this flaw or just a few copies (or even one copy) with the wrong centre labels mixed among the right ones. apart from that i just love the whole layout of this record. fantastic cover art, tons of live pictures and a nice booklet with further information. great record. emi records. 1985.

post scriptum: in search for more information about the tour, i came across the fact that one of the long beach shows was recorded on film. i don't know if it was broadcasted on television or if it was especially recorded for a vhs release. in any case, emi re-released the vhs material on dvd in 2008. the complete show on disc one and tons of extras, such as a full lenght documetary about the tour, on a second disc. had to have it!

Mittwoch, 14. März 2018

iron maiden - s/t

in my last iron maiden post i asked myself if i was ready for some non-bruce dickinson stuff. maiden's music and dickinson's voice are so deeply embedded for me, that i had doubts if i could get into the di'anno records. so when there was any maiden vinyl available i stood away from the first two records and rather reached for consequent full lengths. now with the most classic records of the dickinson era in my possession, i had no more excuses.
i visited blitz records store in kiel and my wife found a copy of the sel-titled iron maiden album in the cheapo bin. after a thorough look at the record we both decided that it had too much wear and with a heavy heart i put it back. fortunately the regular maiden section was well stocked and they had another copy in great condition waiting for me. musically i can hang with the record but it won't get me as excited as listening to a classic dickinson-maiden-record.
what i pulled from the racks is a re-press from 1985 on the emi fame series. these were mid-price re-presses to satisfy the demand on iron maiden vinyl. these were issued with a printed dust sleeve advertising other titles of the series. furthermore they come with simple stock centre labels instead of the custom labels of the earlier pressings. despite being over thirty years old, my copy looks fantastic. especially the cover is in pristine condition. emi records. 1980/1985.

Sonntag, 11. März 2018

benediction - subconscious terror

another gem for the early nineties death metal collection. the debut record of england's benediction on nuclear blast. vinyl copies of "subconscious terror" pop up quite regularly on ebay germany and sell for at least thirty five bucks, mostly upwards. coloured copies of the re-press from the same year for even more. discogs is also a pricey area for good condition copies. when i got a notification from discogs telling me there was a very reasonable priced copy from spain available, an idea began to take form.
i have a good friend who is coming from spain. so i asked him if i could get the record sent to his relatives for lower shipping and if he was picking it up when he would visit them. he agreed and a few preperations and weeks later i am now the proud owner of a record in great condition. the cover has seen better days but this fucker is almost thirty years old and it still has the hype sticker attached to it. that's all good in my book.
musically i prefer "the grand leveller" and "transcend the rubicon" but benediction's debut is beaten to second place only by a hair's breadth. grooving death metal with barney greenway's signature voice (he might be more known in combination with the band he joined after the release of this album - napalm death) is always a winner as long as i am concerned. the first album in a fruitful relation ship with nuclear blast records. do not know how many have been made. nuclear blast. 1990.

post scriptum: the cover artwork was used for other purposes as well. one of that purposes was a radio play i have on cassette. nice, little oddity.

Samstag, 10. März 2018

pestilence - spheres

the final chapter in the early pestilence album series is the band's fourth full length, going by the name "spheres". the album was released in 1993 and after the predecessor "testimony of the ancients" was pretty successful, the band set out to release their most ambitious album to that point. the guys ventured into more experimental and progressive spheres (no pun intended) here and it really feels like the next logical step in pestilence's development.
somehow the album wasn't received very fondly by the metal world back then. cannot see why actually because other experimental death metal records like stuff by death or atheist was successful at the time. whatever it was, the band was not stable enough to stand the commercial flop that was "speheres" and split up shortly afterwards. nowadays original copies of that record are pretty collectible and sell for quite a penny - the irony of time.
like with all the pestilence re-issues before, hammerheart did a splendid job here. again, the listener gets the original artwork of the roadrunner cover sleeve with the pestilence lettering and song titles in gold foil print. furthermore the label threw in a poster of the unused extended art of dan seagrave. the vinyl comes on nice clear with red splatter out of 300 copies. i really enjoyed those pestilence re-issues. another early nineties death metal catalogue for my collection. satisfied. hammerheart records. 2017.

Mittwoch, 7. März 2018

pestilence - testimony of the ancients

part three out of four. pestilence and their third full length called "testimony of the ancients" from 1991. this one is the make-it-or-break-it record and one can feel that the band wanted to make it with every fibre of their musical beings. they pushed things forward in terms of song-writing complexity, in terms of musical and lyrical conception, in terms of how to approach death metal in general. former vocalist martin van drunen was kicked out of the band and guitarist/main song writer patrick mameli took his place instead.
furthermore tony choy, bass player in cynic who were about to release the genre classic "focus" two years later, was gained to play the bass tracks. after each song pestilence placed a short interlude in between. all these ingredients made "testimony of the ancients" a novum  and a truly unique piece in the death metal world of 1991. they are always hard on the edge of forcing too much of a good thing but in the end it really works and i love the record. it is not called their crowning achievement for nothing, indeed.
the re-issue of hammerheart records pays righteous homage to this scene classic. they took the original cover art and graced it with a gold foil print for the "pestilence" lettering. the insert is a fold out affair with a collage on one side (taken from the original printed dust sleeve) and a cool collection of old flyers. the inside unveils the lyrics, band member pictures and production infos. the whole layout breathes the nineties. love it. for this pressing hammerheart changed the layout of the back cover. don't know why but it doesn't disturb the overall impression. clear with blue splatter out of 300 copies. hammerheart records. 2017.

Sonntag, 4. März 2018

pestilence - consuming impulse

the second effort of pestilence called "consuming impulse" was the band's breakthrough album. it was initially released in 1989 and is one of the very first real death metal records. the music became more complex, more tempo changes and vocalist martin van drunen (he sang for asphyx and bolt thrower later on) perfected his signature growling. this is truly a milestone for european death metal and with all due caution, i think i can state "consuming impulse" as my favourite pestilence record.
this is the second hammerheart records pressing for this scorcher and for the limited colour variation they cleverly combined the two first press colour-ways. clear and mint green morphed into this lovely clear with mint green splatter vinyl. they did this with all the second press colour copies for the four albums and i think this is a pretty cool idea.
the presentation is top notch again. the record comes in a sturdy slip sleeve with lovely spot gloss print. again the whole centre piece of the cover and the single pictures of the band members on the back are spot gloss printed. an insert with all lyrics on one and a collage on the other side is also included. hammerheart stood very close to the original design, they just altered the printed dust sleeve of the original press to an insert. very good work. 300 copies made. hammerheart records. 2017.

Freitag, 2. März 2018

pestilence - malleus maleficarum

pestilence from the netherlands were one of europe's most renowned death metal acts in the late eighties/early nineties. their name was mentioned in one breath with heavyweights like morbid angel, sepultura or almighty death. their first four records were all released on roadrunner records and original copies in good condition sell for quite a penny. this is the case with most of the classic death metal records from that time and therefore re-issue business is booming nowadays. so it seems like no surprise that hammerheart records from the netherlands re-issued the classic four of pestilence.
they started with their re-issue series at some point in spring last years, i believe. at the time i wasn't really interested. my old school death metal obsession was kickstarted a bit later on that year plus i wasn't really into the band's post reunion stuff. so i let the first re-issue of "malleus maleficarum" pass me by. when the second came out - "consuming impulse" - i was more interested but missed out on the colour vinyl. so other stuff gained my focus. i gave up on "testimony of the ancients" and "spheres" right from the start. when hammerheart announced a second colour press for all four records at the end of 2017, i began to entertain the idea of getting them all in one fell swoop.
now i was knee deep into all classic death metal and thus it was pretty much clear that i was buying all four re-issues. hammerheart did a splendid job here. they stood true to the original roadrunner artwork and layout but graced the cover and back cover with some lavish spot gloss print. it doesn't show too well in the pictures but the whole centre piece on the front and the band shot on the back are printed in this fancy way. musically this a great slab of early death metal. the album was released in 1988 and it can't deny its thrash roots but one can feel where it leads. nice clear with swamp green splatter. 300 copies made. hammerheart records. 2017.