Mutoid Man – War Moans: Where Cave In and Motörhead converge to get ripped to the tits on wild psychotronics, that’s where you’ll find Mutoid Man’s War Moans snorting rails in the back. You think, by the end of “Melt Your Mind”, that this might be a great record. By the time the ashes of the album-closing sort-of-ballad “Bandages” have finished smoldering, you’re sure that it is.
Unleash the Archers – Apex: Yup. Again.
Ten – Gothica: Sure, the last few albums had bodacious Celtic war-babes or pirate wenches on the covers, and check-out-that-hot-babe-in-stockings horniness has maintained a fairly consistent percentage of Ten’s songwriting down the decades. But there’s something about dropping “In My Dreams” — a rolling name-drop of fictional pop culture babes young Gary Hughes either did have wet dreams about or could have had wet dreams about — between an epic historical song about Henry VIII (“Man for All Seasons”) and one which surprisingly captures some of the melodic mid-80s King Diamond chug (“The Last King of Winter”) which feels like a far-too-revealing cry for help. That’s not the only song on here worth digging into on those terms… nor really even the only one which makes you wince like Gothica is melodic rock’s very own answer to Pinkerton. Gonna be interesting spending more time with this over the weeks to come.
Life of Agony – A Place Where There’s No More Pain: It’s their best album since Soul Searching Sun, at the very least. Considering the long road Life of Agony’s walked over the last twenty years, that’s actually saying quite a lot.
Brother Firetribe – Sunbound: So many iconic rock figures died in 2016, even throwback-AOR guys like Brother Firetribe are writing songs commemorating their lives and legacies.
Night Ranger – Don’t Let Up: Some of this is a really good album… and some of this is an album I’d be quite happy not to hear again. Which side will win out over time? Stay tuned, maybe. Who knows.
One Desire – One Desire: This week it became very clear that if you reworked a couple of lyrics, and had a bunch of plucky, focus-grouped teenagers performing it instead of hairy Finnish dudes, One Desire could be making mad fucking bank as a Radio Disney pop band. Just listen to “Love Injection” and tell me I’m wrong.
Nightingale – I: The third album in the Breathing Shadow story cycle, a prequel to the first two albums, and — oddly enough — the one from the early going about which I have the least opinion. It’s… good. If you like hard rock, if you like prog rock, if you like AOR, or if you like Dan Swanö, you should seek it out. But I heard this thing two times in a row one day and I swear the only thing I really remember about it is the organ groove on “Remorse & Regret”… and that probably ’cause I took time out to mention it on Facebook.
Anathema – The Optimist: An interesting phenomenon: I paid out for the deluxe hardback limited edition version of The Optimist, right? Turns out, I actually like the various demos and live versions of the songs which come on that exclusive bonus more than their full album counterparts. Songs which leave no impression at all on the album seem larger and more resonant in those scaled-back forms. Gonna keep listening to try and figure this out, ’cause this is not my usual listening experience.
I’ve been spending a lot of money on CDs and Bandcamp downloads lately, and that’s a lot of new-to-me music to parse and process. As a result, this week’s grid, next week’s grid, and who knows how many more grids in a row might be more eccentric and irregular when it comes to what’s getting played.