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Ministry – “Last Tangle In Paris – Live 2012 Defibrilatour”

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Ministry – “Last Tangle In Paris – Live 2012 Defibrilatour” 2CD/DVD/Blu-ray (UDR Records)

If you missed the legend that was Ministry, then here’s one last round to kick it off with Al Jourgensen & the boys – big time! A monster (and certainly befitting the unholy beast of Ministry) package with 21 tracks to remember the man by, this is Ministry’s last will and testament in the form of their final live shows, recorded on their world 2012 DeFiBRilLaTouR. It’s also a fitting tribute to the talent of the late Mike Scaccia, guitarist and personal friend of Al Jourgensen, whose passing signaled the beginning of the emotional end to the band. At times a band that was as unstable as their industrial electro rap rock metal, Ministry got their act together in the end, playing out some of the most extreme, ground breaking and certainly politically charged music that the music scene will ever hear (and some will glad to be rid – Ed) of. “Last Tangle In Paris” captures the essence of that, being of excellent quality and an official recording, rather than some dug out bootleg issued as a cash in – the special bonus digipak version includes a Ministry tour retrospective double audio album with live performances dating back to 2006! The DVD of course includes rare backstage footage and one-on-one interviews and the whole package is available in a dazzling array of formats from 2CD & DVD digipak, BluRay & 2 CD Amaray, 2 x Vinyl Gatefold 160 gram as well as digital audio / video and as a simple CD package. I’m sure it’s far beyond what Al Jourgensen envisaged when his twisted mind first unfolded the nightmare known as Ministry, but as you listen to the brilliant decadence of ‘New World Order’, ‘Psalm 69′ and ‘Khyber Pass’ you will bow in reverence, content in your unrepentance that you appreciated a rare time capsule in music history that will never be repeated.

Goatwhore – “Constricting Rage Of The Merciless”

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Goatwhore – “Constricting Rage Of The Merciless” (Metal Blade Records)

Whoaa – apocalyptic black death mayhem from the bayous of Louisiana! This fearsome band made up of ex Acid Bath guitarist Sammy Pierre Duet and Soilent Green vocalist Ben Falgoust, dredge up the same electric rhythms that made Celtic Frost cult and run it through their own swamp machine to produce a furious, voodoo cursed terror that has ravaged the continental US for the last 2 years on tour! Falgoust’s dextrous vocals mix bestial growls with throat strained rawness whilst Duet is simply on a roll, shredding his possessed axe to pull the best not just from Tom Warrior, but the black frat packs with equal amounts of abrasiveness and syrup thick reverb amidst devilishly cunning melodies. Thanks to the matching savagery of James Harvey (bass) and Zack Simmons (drums) rhythm, Goatwhore cause irresistably catchy mayhem whether hitting the gas or slowing down to sludge levels on the likes of ‘Poisonous Existence in Reawakening’, ‘Heaven’s Crumbling Walls of Pity’ or ‘Cold Earth Consumed in Dying Flesh’. Recorded in analogue with Hate Eternal’s Erik Rutan, this is a beast of an album that masterfully brings the embrace of the extreme to the masses with style and professionalism where other bands would fear to tread.

Grave Digger – “Return Of The Reaper”

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Grave Digger – “Return Of The Reaper” (Napalm Records)

Amazing – some 34 years after they were formed by main man vocalist Chris Boltendahl, Grave Digger are still as potent now as they were back then! Two years on since its predecessor, “Return Of The Reaper” arrives with a vengeance in its more straight up meat n potatoes sound that spells HEAVY metal throughout its 12 songs. Fully charged twin guitars feature prominently in the mix, along with high speed double bass drumming as are Boltendahl’s gravelly rock dog vocals, the perfect element to bind Grave Digger’s mix of catchy galloping speed metal chasers, thundering metal anthems and power to the max ballads. This time round the band have opted out of any concepts or deep themes as on 2012′s Greek mythology themed “Clash Of The Gods”, instead returning back to their heavy metal roots on songs like ‘Wargod’, ‘Road Rage Killer’ and ‘Death Smiles At All Of Us’. Thanks to the superb production, the technology makes their original style now sound like an out of control freight train blaring Judas Priest as it chugs all the way to a fireball wrecking end - something sure to strike home to both old and any new ‘true’ metal fans. To be frank I’ve never heard the band so tight and with so much energy which is great news as I hear they want to continue for another 30 years lol. “Return Of The Reaper” is a great return to fine form by one of the original pioneers of German heavy metal certainly living up to its name in taking me right back to the 80s but with a modern sound in this superb release – Chris Boltendahl, you rule man!

Black Trip – “Goin´ Under”

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Black Trip – “Goin´ Under” (Steamhammer / SPV)

Black Trip is the super group made up of Enforcer and ex Nifelheim members who play NWOBHM inspired heavy metal! Actually conceived in 2003 it took the best part of 11 years before the project was fully realized owing to the members’ other commitments. Finally the whole band got back together and it’s certainly a marked change from the speed metal of Enforcer not to mention Nifelheim‘s screaming black metal frenzy, right down to those classic 80s headbanger looks - man, that’s how I used to look ha ha! Musically, the band have sought to create the equivalent in songs that could’ve been released during that era and listening to the likes of ‘No Tomorrow’, ‘Going Under’ and ‘Voodoo Queen’ they’ve taken inspiration from the late 70s hard rock of Thin Lizzy as well as heaps of early Maiden, with loads of flowing dextrous guitar work incorporating plenty of melodies, twin guitar galloping riffola and plenty of far out soloing. Enforcer’s Joesph Tholl provides the right kind of NWOBHM accredited soulfully highish vocals and the production is authentic too, being a tad muffled making the material indeed sound as if over 3 decades old! Definitely retro worthy, as well as the novelty of being played by guys normally screaming for satan with fire n blood, Black Trip is certainly worth a listen and especially for those into the NWOBHM.

Steel Prophet – “Omniscient”

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Steel Prophet – “Omniscient” (Cruz Del Sur Music)

At last – the return of the US prog power metal kings! Timing was never great with Steel Prophet, releasing their debut at the height of the grunge explosion in 1995, but these guys go against the grain anyway, right from their brand of technical metal, to their complex album concepts usually visualising the mastermind songwriter genius of guitarist Steve Kachinsky Blackmore (yes, he is named after the dark one – Ed). The all knowing “Omniscient” certainly reflects that confidence in its title as well as its stunning music – fluid techno prog melodies graced by virtuoso guitar playing against a hard punching, galloping rhythm courtesy of Body Count bassist Vince Dennis and John Tarascio’s drums – sort’ve a mixture between Maiden and Fates Warning! With fan favorite Rick Mythiasin’s operatically soulful vocals returning to the fold in their first full length album in 10 years, the circle is complete in bringing back technical epics like ‘Chariots Of The Gods’ and ‘Trickery Of The Scourge’ in returning the glory of Steel Prophet back to a forgotten world. Despite all this confidence and undoubted musicianship their cover of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ falls short of the original even though the odds were in their favor to pull off a ripping version, instead coming across as a tad half serious – another quirk in Steel Prophet’s eccentric history – although the ripping ’1984′ definitely hits the mark both for its unashamed no nonsense power as well as its Orwellian subject matter! Speaking of strange, I’ve left the best till last, which is of course the lyrics and these are based on another Steve Kachinsky story, the central character of which - Auriga Alycone - is on a journey to attain all seeing knowledge (hence the album’s title – Ed) based on a code that relates to 12 symbols that just so happen to correlate with the twelve songs and the twelve illustrations on the album – and there I’ll leave it as the full story is on the Cruz Del Sur site and you can indulge yourselves in working out the link between 911, Richard Nixon and aliens!

Desaster – “Live In Bamberg”

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Desaster – “Live In Bamberg” 2CD / DVD (High Roller Records)

‘…we may not be as pretty as Steel Panther, but we have much bigger balls!..’. No kidding, formed over 25 years ago,  Desaster remain one of the lynchpins of Germany’s underground thrash movement. Unsurprisingly, their influences go right back to the days of Venom, Hellhammer and Destruction in an early blackened thrash style defined by hoarse, guttural vocals, ultra raw guitars dishing out evil warbling melodies and possessed pounding drum work on crude chainsawing songs like ‘Divine Blasphemies’, ‘Hellbangers’ and ‘Evil Arschloch’! Don’t be expecting anything refined either in the lyrics or the musicianship – Desaster are hardcore fans themselves who play for their rabid audiences both in Europe as well as far as South America – and it’s reflected in their OTT delivery that delivers to the max live. This package was recorded at a special 25th anniversary show with a handpicked set list taken from all their numerous releases, but moreover chosen so that all their previous members could guest onstage – even old vocalist Okkulto had an online song poll – as a special treat to fans and supporters of the band who came from all over to make merry mayhem with the band. Still with founder member Infernal on ‘Six Silverstrings of Hellish Crossfire’, “Live In Bamberg” is probably the band’s most ambitious project especially in the 2 hour DVD, but Desaster have pulled out all the stops as per their shows in creating an equally matching OTT package graced by an Axel Hermann cover that is fitting testimony to their cult status. If you ever wanted to know about German underground old school thrash then this is the one for you – a sweat drenched bierkeller bomb – from a band that play n live it from the time they were born to their end of days with no regrets or mercy!

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