Lamb of God — “Overlord”

New song from the forthcoming album VII: Sturm und Drang (which means storm and stress, apparently.)

It’s really different from anything they’ve done before. Randy is singing clean vocals for the first time, and Willy has cut his hair.

But do you know what? Unsurprisingly, I really like it. It has a kind of Slipknot/Stone Sour vibe to it. I know there will be those who say that they’ve sold out and gone soft, but I’m glad Lamb of God are mixing things up a little, it makes things interesting.

The new album will be released on Friday 24 July.

Voivod—Killing Technology

 

Last night I drove to Dundee to watch the new Lamb of God documentary ‘As the Palaces Burn‘ I listened to Voivod‘s third album Killing Technology (1986).

Voivod, from Canada, were one of the first metal bands I got into along with Celtic Frost, Metallica and Slayer. Plenty of friends, both then and now, listened to Killing Technology and simply couldn’t understand what I heard in “that noise”.

As I drove north through the cold, dark, wet night beyond St Andrews towards the Tay bridge I was reminded of similar nights as a young teenager growing up in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders trying to make sense of life. This album is now inseparably fused with my memories of those early years. But I suppose it’s not so much sentimentality as thankfulness.

There’s an unpredictability about this album. There’s a boldness and a fragility, that saw me through many an early crisis. This is the music that gave me hope, that no matter how unclear or uncertain I was about how life may turn out it would be an adventure, and that life… LIFE… was bigger and more incredible and wondrous than the small glimpse that I saw as a frightened teenager peering between his fingers in a sleepy Scottish Borders town, wondering if his dad would ever be okay again (he had three brain haemorrhages in 1983), worrying about how his Mum was coping, as well as all the usual teenage stuff (spots, girls, school) and occasionally wishing that he could just escape. And this was one of those albums that helped me do that but remain there at the same time.

I listened to this album in the car last night, in the dark, through the rain and fog, and I remembered listening to it on my personal cassette player back in the late 80s. I remembered walking down Forest Road on a cold and moonless winter’s night, probably having taken our dog Zen for a walk, and I felt thankful. I felt thankful for the love and support that I got from my parents as I grew up. I felt thankful for the group of friends who accepted me as we were trying to figure out how this life thing worked. I felt thankful for the hours of music, on miles of cassette tape, that helped me through it all; music that challenged me, that opened my eyes and ears to ideas beyond my homely little cottage on Forest Road.

I listened to this album in the car last night for the first time in years, and while I acknowledged all of that, that history, I simply marvelled at the genius of this album that I don’t think Voivod ever surpassed on any other album (as brilliant as they also are).

Another bonus is that the production is such that the frequencies don’t get lost amidst the rumble of the road while listening to it in a car!

It’s funny how deeply attached I feel to the third albums of these four bands, my big four:

  • Voivod—Killing Technology (1986)
  • Celtic Frost—Into the Pandemonium (1987)
  • Metallica—Master of Puppets (1986)
  • Slayer—Reign in Blood (1986)

Even now when I listen to it my soul sours, it still makes me smile, it still delights me after all these years, and it still surprises me. This is music that continues to give me life and bring me hope.

For me this is an almost perfect album.

Аркона—Лики бессмертных Богов

This week’s 195 metal CDs offering is by a Russian folk-metal band from Moscow called Arkona (Аркона).

While searching for information about them I discovered this video released in 2010, from their 2009 album Goi, Rode, Goi! (Гой, Роде, Гой!).

It’s a song called ‘Liki Bessmertnykh Bogov’ (‘Лики бессмертных Богов’) which means ‘Faces of immortal gods’. I rather like it.

The song describes a human who has lost his reason for being. With his spirit in vexation, he stands on a crossroad, fearing death and having a wish to flee from the reality. Only the Faith can give him the will to live on.

“With life praying to your native shrines
You are looking into nowhere, in the mist of your dreams
And in this oblivion of the soul, in grey vain life
Will revive in your memory the faces of immortal gods.”

Perhaps one day I’ll finish learning Russian.

Jeff Hanneman (1964-2013) RIP

Jeff Hanneman in rehearsals (Source: Slayer website)
Jeff Hanneman in rehearsals (Photo: Slayer website)

Yesterday was a particularly sad day for me. Not only did I attend a memorial event for our friend and former neighbour Ian McKie (I’ll write more about that at a later date, once I’ve processed the news a bit more), but I also learned of the death of Slayer guitarist and songwriter Jeff Hanneman.

The first time I heard Slayer was in a church basement in Whitley Bay. The album was Reign In Blood, which is still regarded by many as the definitive thrash metal album. The album was released in October 1986 and as I was on a Borders Scripture Union summer camp I guess it must have been 1987.

Slayer was the first metal band I saw in concert, at the Edinburgh Playhouse in 1988, promoting their South of Heaven album; Nuclear Assault were the support act.

Jeff Hanneman suffered a spider bite in 2011, which resulted in a condition called necrotizing fasciitis, a rare and horrible flesh-eating disease which almost immediately put his life at risk. As was reported on the Slayer website recently,

for a couple of days after he went to the ER, things were touch-and-go. There was talk that he might have to have his arm amputated, and we didn’t know if he was going to pull through at all. He was in a medically-induced coma for a few days and had several operations to remove the dead and dying tissue from his arm. So, understand, he was in really, really bad shape. It’s been about a year since he got out of the hospital, and since then, he had to learn to walk again, he’s had several painful skin grafts, he’s been in rehab doing exercises to regain the strength in his arm. (Source)

Despite his rehab reportedly going well, and making an appearance at The Big Four show at Coachella in 2011, Hanneman never rejoined Slayer in a full time capacity. His place in the band was filled on tour by Exodus guitarist Gary Holt.

Sadly, the news broke yesterday that he had died from liver failure, although it was made clear on some reports that as yet there is no clear indication whether this was directly related to the spider bite.

This is the news currently on the Slayer website:

Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11AM this morning [Thursday, May 2] near his Southern California home. Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure. He is survived by his wife Kathy, his sister Kathy and his brothers Michael and Larry, and will be sorely missed. (Source)

He will indeed be sorely missed by many.