Friday 28 December 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Sulphur Aeon, "The Scythe of the Cosmic Chaos"

By: Conor O’Dea

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 21/12/2018
Label: Van Records

It is dynamic, transporting, deeply mature and brilliantly executed.  “Scythe of the Cosmic Chaos” easily ranks among the top albums of 2018.

“The Scythe of the Cosmic Chaos” CD//DD//2LP track listing:

1. Cult of Starry Wisdom
2. Yuggothian Spell
3. The Summoning of Nyarlathotep
4. Veneration of the Lunar Orb
5. Sinister Sea Sabbath
6. The Oneironaut - Haunting Visions Within the Starlit Chambers of Seven Gates
7. Lungs Into Gills
8. Thou Shalt Not Speak His Name (The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos)

The Review: 

"... The walls melted away, and I was swept by a black wind through gulfs of fathomless grey with the needle-like pinnacles of unknown mountains miles below me. After a while there was utter blackness, and then the light of myriad stars forming strange, alien constellations."

- H.P. Lovecraft, "The Book"

It is nearly impossible for me to relate how I came to be here, in this state, near mad and plagued by nightmares. A fragment of the cosmos according to Azathoth, a cthonic gospel in eight blasphemous hymns, has fallen into my hands in the course of my pursuit of things hidden and forbidden, and I have listened, listened to the void and have become damnedI am forced into this account because other listeners may well refuse to follow my advice without knowing why. Let me pray that, if I do not survive this review, that my editors may put caution before audacity and see that this music greets no other ear without an awareness of the perils embedded therein. 

Sulphur Aeon are the primus inter pares of the extreme metal heralds that dare to bring us tales of Lovecraft's disordered, nihilistic and meaningless universe. Sulphur Psalms (2010) already bares the tell-tale traces of the mental and emotional scars associated with too many encounters with damned incanabula and unnameable entities, but as witnesses of horrors as opposed to the evangelists of those same abominations. 

“Deep Down They Sleep” (2012) is demonstrative of men who have immersed themselves too long in knowledges best forgotten and a clear tidal mark of having disturbed things best left asleep. It is in this two-track that we first get a true sense of the esoteric conjurings and depth of atmosphere that the band goes on to deepen in their future albums. There is a first warning of the cavernous oceanic depths and bleak cosmic emptiness that marks the sonic landscapes of both the excellent “Swallowed by the Ocean's Tide” (2013) and the brilliant “Gateway to the Antisphere” (2015), which remains one of my favourite metal albums of the last decade and one that I return to listen to regularly. The band has consistently displayed an unerring capacity to capitalize on their strengths in developing winding, hypnotic melodies and absolutely entrancing atmosphere and ambience; there is little doubt you are in the hands of the preachers of the cosmic chaos itself when you take the time to sit and absorb this music. Each iteration brings new depth, new clarity to their vision, and a renewed sense of awe, wonder and horror for the rapt listener. 

“Scythe of the Cosmic Chaos” opens with the eerie “Cult of Starry Wisdom”, a haunting and ominous track that tells the story of the faithful coming to pledge themselves to Great Old Ones and Outer Gods. There is a beautiful, Pink Floyd-reminiscent segue at the end of this track that leads into the utterly furious “Yuggothian Spell”, a menacing, swirling cyclone of unspeakable magics inspired by Lovecraft's Whisperer in Darkness. The Crawling Chaos himself manifests in the “Summoning of Nyarlathotep”, and evokes the sense of a seeker further imperiling both his mortal soul and immortal mind in contacting this terrible being. 

Veneration of the Lunar Orb”, likely a reference to Lovecraft and Barlow's superb The Night Ocean brings us back to the edge of the fathomless sea beneath an unspeaking moon. Sulphur Aeon's sepulchral marine gospel continues as the children of Dagon are referenced both in “Sinister Sea Sabbath” and “Lungs into Gills”, a direct encomium to the infamous Shadow over Innsmouth. Shifting into the strange, ethereal realms of Lovecraft's dream-cycle, The prog-inflected “Oneironaut” moves us from the drowned into the dreamed, the multiversal space in which things not dead may eternally lie. The final fury of closing (and title) track “Scythe of the Cosmic Chaos” raises the spectre of the King in Yellow himself, Hastur the Unspeakable, Lord of Carcosa. This is a dramatic and fitting close to the powerful nightmare journey that this album embodies, with a clean vocal ending that brings to mind the gothic baritone of Fields of the Nephilim's Carl McCoy.  

“Scythe of the Cosmic Chaos” is not yet my favourite Sulphur Aeon album, but it is their best. It is dynamic, transporting, deeply mature and brilliantly executed. Profoundly holistic, greater than the sum of its excellent parts, “Scythe of the Cosmic Chaos” easily ranks among the top albums of 2018. 

"And vast infinities away, past the Gate of Deeper Slumber and the enchanted wood and the garden lands and the Cerenerian Sea and the twilight reaches of Inganok, the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep strode brooding into the onyx castle atop unknown Kadath in the cold waste, and taunted insolently the mild gods of earth whom he had snatched abruptly from their scented revels in the marvellous sunset city. 

- H.P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

“The Scythe of the Cosmic Chaos” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Dawn of Winter, "Pray for Doom"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 30/11/2018
Label: I Hate Records

All songs are great.  All influences are present and correct. All aspects of the album are stellar. The best trad doom release of the year? Have a listen and decide for yourself.

“Pray for Doom” CD//DD track listing:

1. A Dream Within a Dream
2. The Thirteenth of November
3. Woodstock Child
4. The Sweet Taste of Ruin
5. Pray for Doom
6. The Orchestra Bizarre
7. Paralysed by Sleep
8. Father Winter (Sacrifice Pt. 3)

The Review

Germany's greatest and purest doom band return with this monolithic slab of powerful and muscular trad doom. If you've heard “The Peaceful Dead” album, then you know that this band are one of the best in the whole genre.

“Pray for Doom” is a continuation of the lofty heights the band has set themselves via their back catalogue. The sound is immense- the drums are so thick and powerful- the bottom end is as muscular as Dorian Yates back in the mid 90's, the tempos are sluggish, and the songs are well thought out and presented with maximum emotional impact courtesy of the plaintive and ultimate-in-doom voice of Gerrit P. Mutz.

The Opener “Dream Within A Dream” tells you everything you need to know about the album; if you like it, then you will like the rest of the record. If you don't like it, then you don't like doom. End of.  Highlights are genuinely hard to pick out, due to both the quality and the uniform approach of the record. The title track may be an obvious pick as it is a balladlike track, well-crafted and presented. That said, the hard rocking “The Thirteenth of November” might be more up your strasse... Either way, there is just quality all the way through this album.

In times when “doom” is sometimes just two-piece bands playing two chord riffs, Dawn Of Winter represent the best and most real deal available. All elements are doom. All songs are great.  All influences (Vitus etc) are present and correct. All aspects of the album are stellar. The best trad doom release of the year? Have a listen and decide for yourself.

“Pray for Doom” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

Monday 24 December 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Author & Punisher, "Beastland"

By: Elliot Paisley

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 05/10/2018
Label: Relapse Records

The savagery does not dilute in the presence of melody, and instead, it complements the moments of pure mayhem that are indeed present throughout.

“Beastland” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Pharmacide
2. Nihil Strength
3. Ode to Bedlam
4. The Speaker is Systematically Blown

5. Nazarene
6. Apparition
7. Night Terror
8. Beastland

The Review:

There is no artist in the world quite like Author & Punisher. One may accuse such a statement of hyperbole or ignorance, but when one analyses the character of the man and the nature of his work, it is clear such art is being made without relevant precedent. Aesthetically there is influence from Godflesh, Nine Inch Nails and Throbbing Gristle, but even those bands feel entirely distant from what Stone is producing. While the project can be loosely defined as a ‘one-man industrial doom metal band’, when one discovers the story behind it and the music being produced, this feels woefully lacking.

Tristan Stone, the brainchild ofA&P , is not just a musician, but also a mechanical engineer. This may sound like unnecessary trivia, but it is important to bear in mind when listening to this album. The majority of the instrumentation and controllers he uses, affectionally labeled "Dub Machines" and "Drone Machines", are designed and constructed by Shone from raw materials and electronic circuitry. This level of individualism scares off pretenders, who are simply incapable of recreating it. His live performances employ the same tools, and visually it barelen resembles a musical recital.
“Beastland” is his 6th studio album, but it was only on his album “Melk En Honing” when the music world at large appeared to finally take notice. While it is evident that the metal community has been far more welcoming of Author & Punisher than experimental music circles, he is just at home in both. A guest appearance on Cattle Decapitation’s 2015 effort “The Anthropocene Extinction” endeared him and signing to Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records endeared him further to metal fans, to the point where Relapse Records took notice and employed him on their roster 2 years ago. Following up “Melk En Honing” was no easy task, and many feared that A&P, like their influences, was doomed to fall into repetition and not explore the necessary frontiers

However, on this album, perhaps with the confidence that comes with the backing of a cult fanbase, Author & Punisher has strode into even more experimental territory. This is the most wildly diverse album he’s released thus far, and for that reason, it is also his finest achievement. Music of this nature can wear on one’s psyche upon repeated, unrelenting listens. However, “Beastland”, with its refreshing experimentation and unwillingness to compromise, cures this ill. While there are plenty of ‘home comforts’ (for lack of a better term) present here, with such songs as “Pharmacide”, “Nihil Strength” and “Night Terror” providing the unrelenting, atonal bludgeoning fans have grown so dependent on, A&P remains unafraid to explore new horizons. “Apparition” and “The System Has Systematically Blown” sees Stone channelling his inner Trent Reznor, as his will for arcane melody bleeds through to the surface. This is the closest they have come to replicating the style of another band, and it would possibly prove problematic to fans, was it not done to such a marvellous standard. The savagery does not dilute in the presence of melody, and instead, it complements the moments of pure mayhem that are indeed present throughout.

This album is also the most complete work in his discography: never before has he released a collection as all-encompassing with as an impressive a scope as here. From the opening crushing moments of “Pharmacide”, likely to liquidize your teeth if listened to at too unforgiving a volume, to the closing moments of the title track, an angular and alluring finale, the album drags you through a merciless nightmare, meticulously engineered by Stone. In the past, he has shown promise of such accomplished creativity, but all his past works pale in comparison to what has been done here.

Author & Punisher remain one of the most exciting acts in underground music, and it is only a matter of time before the world at large acknowledges the importance of his work. Whether it be in our lifetime or simply in the coming years, let it be known that Tristan Stone will receive the praise he deserves beyond his existing community, and “Beastland” is all the proof necessary.

“Beastland” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Monday 17 December 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Erosion, "Maximum Suffering"

 By: Elliot Paisley

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 19/10/2018
Label: Hydra Head Records


“Maximum Suffering” is a blistering portrayal of tunnel vision brutality and is far more hateful and savage than you could have ever assumed


“Maximum Suffering” DD//LP track listing:

1) Maximum Suffering
2) Everything Is Fucked
3) Need For Death
4) Human Error
5) Serpent Lust
6) The Crone
7) Deep In Hell
8) We Have Failed Us
9) Scorched Earth
10) Black Waves
11) Storm Of Steel
12) Dusted
13) Consumed

The Review:

In 2012, it was reported that Hydra Head would be closing their doors. Founded in 1993 by Aaron Turner, who would eventually go on to form Isis (or Celestial, for all intents and purposes), the label would be home to such heavyweights as Cave In, Xasthur, Jesu and Botch. It was a stamp of approval you could trust; they scarcely put out anything which was less than tremendous, and they provided a haven for those who had fallen out of love with the major-label metal being pedalled at the time – Limp Bizkit were topping the charts and Xasthur was a glorious antidote.

When news spread of the label’s closure in 2012, it was a day of mourning for all fans of underground metal. However, it would eventually prove to have been a slight exaggeration. Turner announced that the label would continue to release and reissue their past releases, and eventually it was decided they would continue to release music on a case-by-case basis. While not quite what we had all hoped for, it was a compromise we could accept.

In this case, the band is Erosion. A ‘supergroup’ of sorts, formed by 3 members of Vancouver’s favourite unsung crusty-hardcore heroes Baptists, with vocals provided by Jamie Hooper, perhaps most famous for at one time providing the harsh-vocals in the sadly-defunct heavy metal revivalists 3 Inches of Blood. On paper, this is a peculiar and curious combination – Baptists are famed for their unforgiving meld of d-beat, crust and hardcore with a black metal bleaching, whereas 3 Inches Of Blood were a triumphant tribute to old-school heavy metal, unflinching in their willingness to recreate the tropes which many mock the genre for adopting.. One would be forgiven for assuming Maximum Suffering” could limp out of the speakers as a crude mess which lacks emulsion.

The resulting album, however, is a blistering portrayal of tunnel vision brutality and is far more hateful and savage than you could have ever assumed. One glimpse at the track-list and one is confronted with a mission statement: “Everything Is Fucked”, “Need For Death”, “Human Error”, “Deep In Hell”, “We Have Failed Us”. It is abundantly clear what the socio-political outlook of this band is, and they remain unapologetic of this stance throughout the 13 tracks.

Musically, the album is more than simply an amalgam of 3 Inches of Blood and Baptists. A wretched combination of Trap Them, Entombed, Brutal Truth, Darkthrone and Infest, the sheer sound of what they produce is totally arresting. The performances on this album are all superb, with Hooper’s vocals finally able to tear in the way they threatened to while in 3 Inches of Blood, now more untamed than ever before. In his old-band, he was sharing vocal duties with Cam Pipes, whose Halford-esque wail providing a startling offset to Hooper’s shriek. Here, he is the sole vocalist, and the pressure is on to capture the audience’s attention and man the mission solo,  and it is a joy to announce he has more than stepped up to the plate and given what is perhaps the most accomplished performance of his career.

 The band is on similarity savage form, with the apocalyptic rhythm section underpinning the chaotic guitar-work. The production accents the attack, the songs aren’t written with a gentle touch, nor are they strokes of genius, but when performed with such conviction, this hardly matters at all.

The only shame of this album is timing, and that’s hardly the band’s fault. 2018, as a year, has proven the most difficult time for hardcore bands, solely due to competition and the ensuing struggle to stand out. Code Orange have popularized the genre and achieved Grammy nods by incorporating elements of IDM, industrial music and 90s alternative metal like that of Type O Negative and Pantera.

Turnstile have become the hottest commodity in the scene with their absolutely astounding sophomore effort “Time & Space”, a joyous amalgam of Trapped Under Ice, Metallica, Helmet and Jane’s Addiction. Outfits such as Employed To Serve, Palm Reader, Jesus Piece and Harm’s Way have all released diverse and critically-acclaimed albums in the last two years and so for many people, the no-frills hardcore presented on “Maximum Suffering” may fall short of the mark. 

Those people are doing themselves a disservice, as this album is one of the finest examples of pure blistering hardcore to be released in some time. By no means are Erosion reinventing the wheel, they are instead fashioning it into a buzz-saw.

If Hydra Head are going to continue being highly selective in their releases, fans are only going to remain loyal to the label if the quality is maintained. With “Maximum Suffering”, it is clear that Turner maintains his keen ear for outstanding, uncompromising music and Erosion ought to be very proud of what they have accomplished here.

“Maximum Suffering” is available HERE

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: Babarian Hermit, "Solitude and Savagery"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 31/10/2018
Label: APF Records

“Solitude and Savagery” deserves serious attention and is undoubtedly one of the breakout releases of this year


“Solitude and Savagery” CD//DD track listing:

1. Enter the Hermitage
2. Black Mass
3. No Sleep
4. Beyond the Wall
5. Lifebreather
6. Reawaken
7. Laniakea

The Review:

Barbarian Hermit hail from Manchester and play crushing stoner/sludge/doom. This is a band that is not afraid to play aggressively- like High on Fire- but also slow; like any doom band worth their salt you can name. The opener, “Enter The Hermitage,” sets it out for you. Straight in, no messing about, just some huge and fuzzy riffs with some maniac (Ed Campbell- who showcases serious versatility elsewhere!) shouting over the top.

There is plenty of variety here, too. There are passages of more thoughtful and melancholy music, both in the first and second track and beyond. There is quite some range on display. Suffice it to say, that by track two (“Black Mass”) I was absolutely sold on this album. This is what is needed in the underground and beyond at the moment- a band sounding not like anyone else, but featuring the best elements of quite a few bands. There is something here for fans of many different bands and sub genres. You like Orange Goblin? Try these guys out. You like High on Fire, ditto. In fact, from Sabbath to The Sword and from Conan to Candlemass: Barbarian Hermit may just appeal to fans of all those bands.

There are shades of the likes of Raging Speedhorn and The Rotted in “No Sleep” (and Motorhead, of course) while the epic might of “Beyond The Wall” is crushingly powerful with a fantastic solo. Nothing outstays its welcome here; there are no short songs and most tracks stretch out over six minutes plus (the closing “Laniaka” is eleven epic minutes!) but it all feels like it flies by at a clip. The band's approach makes this happen; each track is different and brings a slightly different approach, while remaining consistent in vibe and feel. It's no small trick to pull off but the band achieve it with ease. This is a proper album and I think one that might become very influential going forward.

This is not simple two chord/two piece sludge and nor is it just Sleep worship or a cheap copy of any other band. The production, courtesy of the effervescent Chris Fielding at Skyhammer studio is immense and as usual Chris has achieved a crushing drum, guitar and bass sound. The clarity of the mix and the sheer weight adds a good deal of muscle to the album and, having worked with Chris myself, I can hear his audio-stamp of authenticity throughout the record.

The album is just as weighty down the stretch- “Reawaken” features a riff that Iommi would be proud of and some guitar work that Mastodon might find a home for on any of their better work. “Life Breather” before it is versatile and deft in its mood swings. The aforementioned “Laniaka” is eleven minutes of schizophrenic and groovesome riffage. It's a tour de force ending to one of the best albums I have heard in 2018.

Barbarian Hermit have it; that intangible factor that makes this album like lightning in a bottle. “Solitude and Savagery” deserves serious attention and is undoubtedly one of the breakout releases of this year. These guys could really fly the flag for the UK underground and reach the heights of Conan; as a singular band operating in a field of one. They'll spawn imitators, sure, but I know the real deal when I hear it. Superb.

“Solitude and Savagery” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Friday 14 December 2018

VIDEO PREMIERE: Chicago's Of Wolves return with "Heart To Hand"

Hailing from Chicago, Illinois Of Wolves play a raw and heavy blend of punk and metal from stoner sludge to hardcore & post punk. Releasing their debut record “Evolve” in May 2013, it was a caustic, white-knuckle roller-coaster ride, fueled by a righteous fury at the world around them.  An album full of skull crushing riffs and lumbering bass pierced with a load of heavy grinding monster beats and stomping blasts that open up like bursts of machine-gun fire.  This devastatingly intense band write songs to deal with stress, disillusionment, social injustice.

6 years have now passed since their debut and Of Wolves have a new album in the can which is set for release via Cimmerian Shade Recordings next year.  Given the fact that we loved their debut so much, it was a no brainer when we were asked to debut a brand new track  and today at THE SLUDGELORD we’re stoked to be premiere “Heart to Hand” which you can check out below.  More new about their sophomore will be announced when we know more.  In the meantime, turn the volume to 11 and watch your speaker die!!!

Band info: Facebook || Bandcamp

VIDEO PREMIERE: Stockholm's brightest new band The Riven debt "Shadow Man"

Self releasing their debut EP “Black Bird” in April 2017 Stockholm based heavy rock band The Riven will undoubtedly take 2019 by storm with the release of their debut full length set for release via The Sign Records.   Though little is known about their forthcoming album, the band have already started the promotion of the record with the recent release of the track “Fortune Teller” and today what better way to deliver  some Christmas cheer than to debut another kick ass track from arguably one of the brightest new talents in heavy rock.  Check out “Shadow Man” below and read what vocalist Totta has to say about the track

“There he goes into the unknown… The lyrics came to mind as I travelled on a train in Sardinia one warm and hazy afternoon. Representing your inner voice and angst, but also refers to your shadow that follows you wherever you go as long as you let the light shine on you. There was this one time when bass player Max decided to record a phrase on his phone. When I heard this ”oh shadow man” I knew this was the melody and name for the song I’d started writing some time before. The video for "Shadow Man" shows The Riven playing the song live. Roberto, who we worked with, captured us and the energy of a live performance. In Shadow man we wanted to introduce the band to everyone who hasn’t yet put a face on The Riven. Have a look, grab a beer and remember that Shadow man stands and falls with you.”   From Totta, The Riven

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday 11 December 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Bast, “Nanoångstöm”

By: Chris Bull

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 23/11/2018
Label: Black Bow Records


Bast have certainly developed creatively and have released another standout album in the world of heavy music


“Nanoångstöm” CD//DD//2LP track listing:

1. Distant Suns
2. Far Horizons
3. The Beckoning Void
4. Nanoångström
5. A Red Line Through Black
6. The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars

The Review:

When I heard Bast had recorded and released their 2nd album 'Nanoångstöm', I knew I was the right SLUDGELORD to put my name forward for the review.

4 years have passed since the release of 'Spectres', in my opinion, one of the best heavy records to be released this century, so Bast face an uphill struggle to better, let alone match the benchmark they previously set. 'Distant Suns' immediately leaps for the aforementioned benchmark, with the solemn bass intro, like a lonely astronaut floating through space, gathering momentum and hurtling towards the epically heavy 'Far Horizons', where the contrasting vocals of drummer Jon Lee's blackened growl and guitarist Craig Bryant's deep below overlay the Primordial esque folk tinged black metal. The album ebbs and flows seamlessly highlighting Bast's penchant for the epic and enthralling, as 'The Beckoning Void” and the title track deliver moments of brutality, subtle tempo shifts and glorious melodies all wrapped up in progressive and finely crafted song writing.

'A Red Line Through Black' harks back to 'Spectres' building upon Bryant's moody guitar and vocal work, through some heavy prog inspired riffing to create a sonic journey full of the unexpected. By the time  'The Space Between the Stars' opening tremolo laden riff and blast beats slow down to allow the song the room to breathe, the unexpected becomes the ordinary as riffs, licks and screams leap out from all corners, dragging you, towards the black hole they created.

While Bast's influences may be apparent to some, with nods in the direction of a few of black metal's proggiest bands, it's the personal touches and subtle nuances that forge the main body of their sound. Bast have certainly developed creatively and have released another standout album in the world of heavy music. Whether it will leave as lasting an impression as 'Spectres' remains to be seen, but several more spins will go a long way into that decision. Now, where's that repeat button...

“Nanoångstöm” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Friday 7 December 2018

THE SLUDGELORD PREMIERE: Montreal quartet Modern Eyes deliver vicious new video “Hérésie”

“Tragedies Dictate Our Lives” is the first full length by Montreal quartet Modern Eyes and what you get is twelve crashing and gloomy tracks mixing elements of d-beat, crust, post metal, hardcore executed in a very defined and unique way.

Formed in 2015, Modern Eyes have released two EP’s during which they have experimented with their sound and played various showcases and Canadian Festivals.  Lyrically the new record varies from frustrations with modern systems to emotional distress caused by social oppression and every days ordeals.

Produced by Topon Das “Tragedies Dictate our Lives” should undoubtedly serve as the turning point for this Canadian quartet because on this record it achieves the perfect combination of chaotic intensity and melodic soundscapes.  With a release date set for early 2019, today THE SLUDGELORD is exclusively debuting the brand new video for the track “Hérésie” which you can check out below.  Crank this one up and watch your speakers die!!

Band info: facebook

Wednesday 5 December 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Accept, “Symphonic Terror: Live at Wacken 2017”

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 23/11/2018
Label: Nuclear Blast

Taken for what this is, though, I can say that “Symphonic Terror” is immensely enjoyable and entertaining.  The album represents a unique performance and demonstrates a band at the top of their game


“Symphonic Terror: Live at Wacken 2017” CD//DD//LP track listing:

CD 1:
1. Die by the Sword
2. Restless and Wild
3. Koolaid
4. Pandemic
5. Final Journey
6. Night on Bald Mountain
7. Scherzo
8. Romeo and Juliet
9. Pathétique
10. Double Cello Concerto in G Minor
11. Symphony NO. 40 in G Minor

CD 2:

1. Princess of the Dawn
2. Stalingrad
3. Dark Side of My Heart
4. Breaker
5. Shadow Soldiers
6. Dying Breed
7. Fast as a Shark
8. Metal Heart
9. Teutonic Terror
10. Balls to the Wall

The Review:

Accept, as of last week, are now down to one original member- Wolf Hoffman. However, for this unique 2017 concert at Wacken, Peter Baltes was still there on bass- even if Hermann Frank had departed as rhythm guitarist. As has been documented in past reviews, I feel that Mark Tornillo is every bit as good as Udo Dirkschneider and he has now headed up the band for ten years. As the title suggests, this is a full live gig with a difference- the central portion of the performance marries Accept up with a symphony orchestra- which then stays for the latter half of the gig! The first section of the release is a straight ahead metal performance, the middle section features Hoffman with orchestra- utilising his “Headbangers Symphony” solo album as the basis- and the latter half of the record treats the audience to classic Accept songs accompanied by the orchestra.

So, how essential is this? Well, not essential at all. It's a live album with an orchestra attached to two thirds of it. However, that view may be doing this record a disservice. To be sure, the central section is very stirring indeed and is actually successful in combining metal with classical. Its leagues ahead of Metallica'sS & M” effort of nearly 20 (!?) years ago and much more interesting than Deep Purple's misfiring “Concerto for Group and Orchestra”. The latter part of the release is also an interesting experiment- but much more in the vein of Metallica's aforementioned effort.

I could not claim that “Princess of the Dawn” is enhanced by the presence of the orchestra, beyond it being... different and more grandiose. The band wisely chose some of its more theatrical and grand material for the latter half of the gig and it is a thrill to hear “Stalingrad with classical backing. I think the thing here is that if you like Accept, you will like this record.

I love Accept and they are one of the best live bands I have ever seen. Hearing their songs with a new twist is interesting and a diverting listen. Will this take over on regular rotation from the superb “Restless and Live” record from a year or two back? No. While “Symphonic Terror” does boast the chance to hear some of the tracks from “The Rise of Chaos” in a live setting it is too much of an oddity to usurp a straight ahead live record.

Taken for what this is, though, I can say that “Symphonic Terror” is immensely enjoyable and entertaining. The central orchestral section really works and is testament to Hoffman's ability as a writer and player that it sounds so grand and cinematic. The album represents a unique performance and demonstrates a band at the top of their game. Having released a straight ahead live compendium recently, the band can play around with its sound and put out this album- why not? Recommended to all Accept fans and fans of classical music. For those new to the band, start elsewhere.

“Symphonic Terror: Live At Wacken 2017” is available now

Band info: official || facebook