Friday, November 30, 2018

Breakin' The Chains

Looking back at when I first started to get into music, I'm amazed at how quickly things progressed. Dokken's Tooth And Nail was one of my favorite albums when I started to discover Heavy Metal in 1984, and yet when I finally went back and picked up the Breaking The Chains cassette, it barely saw any playing time, and by the time Under Lock And Key was released in 1985, I had pretty much left the band in my rearview mirror.

I've been obsessed with records from this time period lately, and it made me go out and grab a download for Dokken's first album to see if it was the clunker that I remembered it as.

After ignoring it for the past 30 plus years, I suddenly found myself obsessed with this album. I couldn't get enough, and had these songs on repeat. I couldn't understand why I struggled with it as a kid, because some of these songs straight up rip...and while I could possibly end up on an FBI watch list for singing songs like Young Girls and Felony, I'm going to have to take that chance because I'm having a blast with this record.

The more I started checking into the history of the record, the more I wanted a copy...and suddenly, an original pressing of this thing was at the top of my immediate want list.

Initially it was released only in Europe back in 1981 as Breakin' The Chains under the name "Don Dokken", before finally seeing a more widespread release for the US in 1983. The '83 release gets a slight change to the record title and cover, features a different mix, with some songs being partially re-recorded, and a different track of course, I needed to own them both.

The US pressing was considerably easier to pick up, and at a fraction of the price the original German pressing goes for.

I haven't done a close side by side test on the audio, but I'm leaning toward the more raw sound of the original pressing. Still, I'm extremely happy to have both in my collection.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Witch's Game

Band reunions aren't a surprise anymore. Seems like all the old school bands are getting together to either play at some big festival or to try and ignite the spark again with some new songs. Sometimes it works out, and other times it falls flat.

Cirith Ungol were a metal band out of California in the 80's, and they had their own distinct kind of sound that people seem to either love or hate. I wasn't too familiar with them back in the day, but over the past couple of years, I've really come to appreciate them. So when I heard that the band was back after a 27 year absence, and planning to release a one song 12 inch this year, I was definitely in to check it out.

As soon as I checked out the band's new song, Witch's Game, I was immediately hooked. Holy shit. I honestly have no idea where the band is going with this. I don't know if this is a prelude of what is to come, or if it was a burst of brilliance and they were done. Whatever the case may be, this song absolutely rules. If this was a full album, and it captured this level of doom perfection for the entire thing, this would be near my top records for 2018.

100 pressed on this nice looking clear dark brown marbled vinyl, and only available from the band.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Atomic Kingpin

One of the greatest crimes of the early 90's hardcore era was seeing the second Kingpin record fail to be released. At the time, there was talk that Redemption Records was going to release it, and after a strong string of records from Encounter, Ressurection and Four Walls Falling, I thought that this label would give Kingpin exposure to a wider audience outside of Boston. Then Redemption Records disappeared, and along with it, Kingpin's second record.

The songs from the recording session of their unreleased record had been shared through the internet for years, but it was great news to hear that Atomic Action was finally making them available with an official record release in 2018.

I was at the final Kingpin show back in '93, which I assume is where the photos on this record are from, so I as disappointed to not find my face in the crowd...although, earlier that night, during one of the other band's sets, I got kicked in the face from a stagediver, knocking me out for a second, giving me a black eye and chipping my front even though I was up front for most of Kingpin's set, I was a bit gun shy, and was probably covering my head and protecting my face when the crowd started to get wild.

300 pressed on both white and red vinyl.

Atomic Action is one of the few labels that will make copies of the test pressings available to buy direct from them. I grabbed their reissue of the Verbal Assault album earlier this year, and did not hesitate to pick up a copy of the Kingpin test as soon as it was available. A steal at $15, and I can't believe that months later, they still have some available in their webstore.

Nice test press cover. Well done and hand numbered.

Atomic Action likes for you know which number you have, and they let you know on the back cover, the label, and the dust sleeve...although, the back cover says it it limited to 25, while the dust sleeve and label stickers show it is numbered out of 20.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Bronze Angel Witch

As we started to close in on the end of 2018, I was a bit bothered that I hadn't made more moves on the ten records from my 2018 Want List. Sure, I'd crossed off four of them, but damn it, that wasn't good enough. I wanted more.

I started off the year with a big obsession over the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands, and I had big plans to chase a bunch of those records for 2018. I did alright, but you know how it is, and soon I was off fighting other battles. I was recently checking my 2018 Want List, and seeing the Angel Witch album on there, I knew that I had to cross off one more NWOBHM record before the end of the year.

As far as NWOBHM debut albums go, Angel Witch is right up there with Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, and's a stone cold classic.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

50 Years Of Lonely Hearts

There is a group of musicians here in Portland that put on an annual show that pays tribute to The Beatles. Last year was the 15th anniversary of this annual event, and the first time that I checked it out. The band covered the entire Revolver album, with a number of other songs in their set, and they nailed it. I had such a blast that I immediately committed to catching them in 2018, and here we are just a few days from the show, and a friend and I were so excited, we bought tickets for two nights...Friday night they cover the Red Album, and then on Saturday we will see them do the Blue Album. It is going to be a blast.

As I'm gearing up for my Beatlemania, I figured that I'd pull one of their records from my stack of new albums that have piled up recently.

I have most of the Beatles albums, in one form or another, but for some reason, I had big hole in my collection where Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band would be. Released in 1967, I loved all the other albums were released around it, but strangely enough, I had never bothered with this one. When the 50th anniversary edition was released at the end of 2017, I figured that maybe it was time to finally dig in...and this past summer, I took the opportunity to grab one.

The packaging on this is great, and replicates the original pressing...complete with the page of punch-out badges and mustache. Well done, and the album sounds great!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Book Of Bad Decisions

The last few Clutch albums have been huge for me. Their music has been infectious as hell, and never failed to put a smile on my face or have me singing along and moving to the music. I've absolutely loved them, so it was obvious that I was going to grab their new album this year.

First of all, let me say that I had pre-ordered so many new records that by the time release day came around for the new Clutch album, I couldn't even remember if I'd ordered one or not. I mean, I was pretty sure that I did, but I couldn't remember where I would have ordered it from, and I was wondering if maybe I skipped the pre-order, and was going to just buy it from the local store. A couple days after the release date, they mystery was solved when the record arrived in the mail.

Apparently, some where along the way, I got word that Interpunk had the coke bottle colored vinyl pressing available, and it was listed as "very limited"...not just "limited", but VERY I grabbed myself a copy. This pressing appears to still be available at Interpunk, five months after I'd placed my order, so either I was one of the few that was interested, or they have a loose definition on the phrase "very limited".

Either way, this is a cool record. It doesn't give me the same level of excitement as Earth Rocker and Psychic Warfare, as this album feels a bit more laid back than those two, but I still really enjoy it...and the song How To Shake Hands is so damn good.

Strange packaging that the song listing isn't anywhere on the album cover, and is just listed on a sticker that was stuck to the shrink wrap, which I had to carefully remove and save.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Skull Crusher

The new 2018 releases keep coming in! Another record, in a long list of new albums that I've been excited for, was the new one from The Skull.

Four years after The Skull released their debut album, they finally give us a follow up...and while it took me a little bit to get into For Those Which Are Asleep, with The Endless Road Turns Dark, I found myself immediately hooked. Eric Wagner's voice harkens back to those albums from Trouble that I love so much, and the doom delivers on this album with plenty of heavy riffs and lots of layers and texture.

I'm not really a fan of the gray and black splatter colored vinyl. I just looks kind of flat and uninspired to me...the music on the other hand is exactly what I'm looking for from this band.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Into The Void

When I was in the Shadow Kingdom webstore, picking up the new Haunt album, I was in the mood to check out some newer metal bands, and possibly add another record to the cart before checking out.

I saw that the label was releasing a new album from a band named Iron Void, and while I'd never heard of this band before, they were listed as a doom metal band for fans of the usual suspects, such as Sabbath, Vitus and Pentagram. I took a quick preview of a couple Iron Void songs on their bandcamp page...I liked what I heard, so I grabbed a copy of the new album.

I was surprised to find that Iron Void have been kicking around for the past 10 years, and Excalibur is their fourth studio album. Damn, they have been flying under the radar, and I'm glad that I checked them out because this is some solid doom. It's funny that I was in the webstore for the new Haunt, but as it turns out, I'm appreciating this Iron Void album much more.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Black Hare

Much to my dismay, I completely missed the boat when it came to the limited clear vinyl pressing of the new Red Hare album when it was released earlier this year. Having picked up both the red and the blue pressings of their last album, Nites Of Midnight, missing out on the clear vinyl for this new record was difficult for me to deal with. I immediately added it to my Discogs want list, prepared to pay top dollar, and I assumed that one would pop up soon. Weeks turned to months and I didn't have a single hit...and here we are almost six months later and I still haven't seen a single copy in the wild.

When Sandwell came over from the UK to visit NYC again, once again we arranged to meet up in Boston for a day of record shopping. The weather was terrible, with wind and driving rain, but we did not let that deter us as we hit up Newbury Comics and Armageddon Shop in Harvard Square. I made out with a pretty good record haul during Mark's trip last Spring, but this time around, surprisingly, I walked away with only a single record that I'd picked up at Newbury's.

While I'd really been holding out for the clear vinyl pressing of Little Acts Of Destruction, seeing the regular press in the clearance bin for only $8.00 made it difficult to walk we were closing in on the end of the year, and I really wanted a copy in my collection before I started putting together my Best Of 2018 list.

While this album didn't have the immediate impact of their first record, I've really warmed up to this album, so it will be interesting to see where it lands at the end of the year.

Just a couple of nerds in Boston!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Haunted Flame

Trevor William Church is a busy man. Not only is he the driving force for Beastmaker, but he also has Haunt going as well. The Haunt EP from earlier this year was pretty solid, so when they released their first album a few months later, I was on board to check it out.

This is some solid heavy metal. It doesn't exactly blow me away, but it is worth a spin.

Shadow Kingdom Records pressed this album on a few different colors, with the black and the silver pressings being more limited, but man, that orange/red split with black splatter looked so damn good that I had to grab one. 1,500 pressed but who cares when it looks this good. Nice addition of a giant poster as well!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Test Trial

A couple years back, I finally added an original copy of Verbal Assault's Trial album to my when Atomic Action reissued the album earlier this year, I found no reason to bother with picking up another one. The original pressing was all that I needed...although, once the label started selling test pressings, it was too much to resist, and I grabbed one.

This is such a great album. I know there are a lot of great hardcore records, but Trial has got to be among the best of the best.

The test press comes with a special cover, which is basically a large piece of paper that is folded over a DJ sleeve cover for the record. This might not be as cool as owning a test of the original Giant Records pressing, but this one certainly looks better!

Hand numbered on the back of the cover, the record label, and on the red DJ sleeve. Pretty cool that I scored number one.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Satan's Cruel Magic

Time for my annual, end of year panic attack, as I've got a ton of new releases that I need to start hammering out here, in order to get them all up on the blog, before the end of the year. Time for me to get to work.

After reforming in 2011, Satan released Life Sentence in 2013 and Atom By Atom in 2015, and both albums shot to the top of my Best Of lists for those years. I was in awe with how great they still sounded, so when I discovered that the band was releasing another new album this year, my expectations were high.

Satan do not disappoint! They continue to crank out solid traditional Heavy Metal albums, and Cruel Magic maintains that fire and excitement they had when they were a part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal scene back in the early 80's. This record will definitely be near the top of my list this year.

Yellow/ochre marbled colored vinyl is limited to 200.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Bad Boys (Of 1980)

I knew that Twisted Sister were around for years before the UK label, Secret Records, gave them a chance to release Under The Blade in 1982. What I didn't know, was that prior to that album, the band had self released a couple of 7 inch records. When I was watching the great documentary We Are Twisted F***ing Sister, I was surprised when they flashed two 7 inch covers on the screen that I had no idea they existed. Immediately I checked Discogs, and added them to my Want List.

The early Twisted Sister 7 inches carry a decent price tag, and are a bit harder to find, so it took me over a year to finally pull the trigger on one of them. The Bad Boys (Of Rock 'n' Roll) was released in 1980, and was Twisted Sister's second 7 inch. Very cool to finally hear the b-side song, Ladys Boy, around 38 years after it's release.

I mean, can you imagine what it would have been like to have been in that scene at the time...seeing this insane band, that was relatively unknown outside of the New York/New Jersey area, watching them play these smaller clubs, and picking up one of their records from the merch table. I don't know. As a quiet kid out of Maine, knowing that shit like this was going on when I didn't even hear of Twisted Sister until around 1984 with MTV and Stay Hungry...history like this continues to blow my mind.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Twelve Inches Of Rock 'N' Roll

While I was picking up a couple of Euro pressings for the first two Twisted Sister albums, I didn't hesitate to also throw a few dollars at the UK single for You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll as well.

This single is a "must have", simply because of the three exclusive songs on the b-side. Every one of they are worth the price of admission.

I'm not typically interested in singles, but man, more and more I'm finding myself drawn to these things. Then, after watching a video from these two dudes in the youtube vinyl community, where they went through their top 50 records from 1983, and they pulled out all the Twisted Sister singles in their collection from that year, and now I really want all of them.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Can't Stop... Won't Stop

When I started this blog around 13 years ago, my very first post was for Twisted Sister's You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll album. Since then, this blog has gone through a name change and layout photos are better, and I'd like to think that my writing has improved. I've covered those years when I was buying multiple copies of every new release, and each new obsession in my musical journey.

When I started this online record journal, no one was paying attention, but things slowly grew and there was a time when I was getting a solid number of hits on this thing daily. We apparently have come full circle, as maybe only a handful of people still pay attention to this blog, and here I am, blogging about Twisted Sister's You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll album.

These days, I'm usually content with one pressing...especially when it comes to my heavy metal records...but when I saw the European pressing of You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll, with the cover that is different than the US pressing that I grew up with, well, I decided to make an exception to the rule. With my current early 80's metal obsession, the $10 price tag was too good to pass up.

I love that the front and back cover are completely different between the Euro and US pressings.

Initially, I had walked out of the store with only the You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll UK pressing, and I left the copy of Under The Blade sitting in the racks. This record was a few more dollars, and therefore I couldn't be bothered...but as the week went on, my mind kept going back to that UK pressing of Twisted Sister's first album. I made a couple of other trips into the city, and each time I'd pop into the store and still see the record sitting there, but I kept leaving the store empty handed. Weeks had gone by, and that record was still on my mind, and it finally got to the point where I said "fuck it", and I just went in and bought the damn thing.

Originally only pressed on Secret Records in the UK, until Twisted Sister made it big and Atlantic finally gave it a US vinyl pressing in '85. It feels good to own a first pressing of this classic.

I decided to take one final photo to capture the differences with the UK and US pressings.