Here are five artists or releases that have been on high rotation this week. Mostly (but not all) heavy metal, and mostly new stuff — and all worth checking out.
Ozzy Osbourne: No More Tears
Someone ought to popularise a single-word term to describe the phenomenon of buying up a legitimate CD, vinyl record or digital version of a copied recording they owned when they were young.
Are you old enough to have owned dubbed cassette tapes (far out, just saying that makes me feel old!)? Or did you play burnt CD-Rs based on low-bitrate MP3s? If you did, chances are some of your most formative music was among those recordings.
You were likely a teenager back then, which is when so many of us discovered the music that shaped a substantial part of our identity — and the reason you burnt or downloaded that music was because, like most teenagers, you probably couldn’t afford much. Which is why nowadays, you acquire your music through legitimate means that support artists, right? Right?
The fact that the zeitgeist of an album or artist may have passed between then and now is a separate discussion. I’ve mentioned numerous times how I believe there is a biological reason why it becomes harder to discover new music as you get older.
So putting that aside for now, I can happily report that I owned a copy of Ozzy Osbourne: No More Tears on dubbed cassette when I was a kid. I’ve now replaced it with this here copy, which I acquired for the princely sum of $1 at an op shop. It was part of a good haul of heavy metal CDs that someone had (shamefully!) gotten rid of.
Can you believe it was 50 per cent off the $2 cover price?
No More Tears didn’t define me as my first Iron Maiden cassette tapes did but it’s still a great place to start for any 10-year-old getting into heavy metal and hard rock. Ozzy Osbourne’s sixth solo-album, released in 1991, this album has some rocking songs and some great riffs — albeit with a strong glam feel to it.
Ozzy Osbourne was ‘only’ 42 years old at the time. Although he was already something of an elder statesman of rock and metal, he wasn’t anywhere near the old-man parody of today. Hence, an Ozzy Osbourne album meant a lot more to ‘the kids’ back then than it would now. Hey, remember what I just said about zeitgeist and cultural significance then and now?
No More Tears has some great Zakk Wylde guitar riffs. The title track, despite clocking in at seven and a half minutes, brings a really cool, weird, progressive side to the music. And Lemmy — yes, that Lemmy — co-wrote several songs. He told Classic Rock magazine: “When I came to America I was broke, I had nothing in the bank… Sharon Osbourne said, “Do you want to write four songs?” and they handed me this lump sum that was more money than I’d ever seen in my life. More money than I’d ever earned with Hawkwind and Motorhead.”
On the more dubious side, No More Tears has some incredibly sappy ballads, among them Mama, I’m Coming Home — which of course became Ozzy’s most successful single.
Either way, it’s not surprising that No More Tears is the second-highest-selling album in the Ozzy Osbourne discography, after his debut, Blizzard Of Oz.
A personal highlight is the track Hellraiser, also co-written by Lemmy (as if a track called Hellraiser wouldn’t be written by Lemmy). Oddly enough, both Ozzy and Motörhead released this track, the Motörhead version appearing on the Hellraiser 3 movie soundtrack.
You may think you’re awesome, but you’ll never be Lemmy-winning-at-cards-against-the-Cenobite-Hellraiser-himself-awesome.
I first came across Xerosun on the Terrorizer magazine Fear Candy #142 compilation CD. I’ve heard just two tracks, yet I can’t quite put my finger on why I keep coming back to them. They’re real growers.
Xerosun are an Irish metal band that play a kind of vaguely groove metal-ish metal, with some good riffs and a vocalist in Martyna Halas who can pull off a neat balance between clean and growled vocals.
For some reason — I really can’t put my finger on it — there’s just something about those riffs combined with her dual voice that brings me back again and again. While I make no secret that I absolutely love female metal vocals, I strongly suspect it’s the Irish accent. Once you hear it, you can’t unhear it.
I think the video is kind of distracting. Listen to the talent at play here.
Because Xerosun are fronted by a woman, and a very attractive one at that, the metal world will of course in many cases judge them (and Martyna Halas especially) way above and beyond what so many male-fronted regular shit metal band would be subjected to. Or should that be shite metal bands?
Hopefully by next century the double standard that is so prevalent in metal will be gone. As I mention below, there need to be more women making this kind of music. That way, twice as many people will show up to your gigs.
Listen to that Oirish accent in that growl. See? Now you can’t unhear it.
Bad Guys: Guynaecology is the recently released album from these London-based rockers. Apart from the ingenious album name, think sleazy, straight-down-the-road, beer-soaked rock in a smoky pub somewhere. If they were Australian, I’d call them Aussie dickhead rock.
When Kevin Stewart-Panko reviewed Bad Guys’ Guynaecology album in Terrorizer he savagely rated it 2 out of 10. “Parts of the album’s second half iron out bits of the bullshit and present some halfway decent, hard rocking stoner sludge, but there’s little beyond a clever title to make this this worth investigating,” he said.
I can see why someone might not like this album. It’ simple rock that is heavily reliant on the vocalist’s personality and storytelling talent. According to the band, they got rejected from Metal Archives for not being metal enough.
After one listen, Bad Guys: Guynaecology didn’t strike me as overly memorable — except for this stand-out track. I said the Bad Guys vocalist is a story-teller, and the track Crime tells how he really, really, really wants… a Tonka truck. This one’s an ear-worm quality and the track kind of just stays with you. You’ll have to listen to it in full to hear the total non-twist at the end.
The also have another song called Prostitutes (Are Making Love In My Garden).
You know, there just aren’t enough women electronic music producers around. You know what would happen if there were more women making electronic music? We’d have twice as many people show up at shows. Which would be great for everyone.
I don’t know much about Lucy Cliche (check out her Soundcloud account), only that she’s from Sydney and is probably a synth-hardware nerd of the best kind.
I saw Lucy Cliche perform as one of the support for Melbourne’s Forces at a recent gig. We watched this solitary performer get on stage, start twiddling knobs and buttons, and get a whole room of people going.
There were four people in our entourage and at least two of them I would consider synth people. According to these synth-nut observers, her setup was entirely from hardware. That is, there were none of those laptops — an impressive feat, I’m told.
Lucy Cliche does not make the kind of electronic music I get into at all. I like my electronic music to be dark and hard and nasty. Listening to this though, there’s just something somewhat entrancing and inviting. I’m not sure what that quality is — maybe it’s simply because she’s a good producer — but I guarantee you I wouldn’t be listening to this if I hadn’t seen here live.
That’s one of the great things about getting off your arse and checking out live shows and their support. It gets you into new music that you wouldn’t normally follow.
Really, really good black metal from the UK. I came across these guys almost at random, when I read a gig report about another group for which Ninkharsag just happened to be the support. The report described Ninkharsag as “one of the UK’s best new black metal bands” — and if their newest album is anything to go by, this may be true.
Ninkharsag are from Liverpool and are signed to Candlelight Records, the same label that has at various times put out releases from the Marduk and Emperor discography.
Their April 2015 album, The Blood Of Celestial Kings, is my only point of reference so far. It’s well-produced black metal, leaning on the more up-tempo side, played kind of straight down the line. It’s neither mind-blowing nor radically different, being neither symphonic or lo-fi or excessively weird or atmospheric. Rather, it might best be described as ‘traditional’ black metal — and it’s done really, really well. Have a listen to any track, in any order.
Also, really cool artwork and band name.
Also, really cool artwork and band name.