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Heavy metal legends

Lately the word “legend” seems to be rather liberally applied to all and sundry. However, when you’re talking about heavy metal royalty like King Diamond, the title is richly deserved. There are not many artists who can boast a career spanning in excess of 30 years and fronting two highly influential and iconic acts – Metallica and Ghost.
Korn could retire right now and have their legacy cemented in metal music for decades and decades to come. Lamb of God has stormed full speed ahead, straight for the jugular in their spectacularly heavy ninth studio album.

Dreams of Horror King Diamond

CD color dark colors and scary imagesThe purpose of this record is to expose the impressive 30-year career of King Diamond to potential new fans. It is obvious the band members carefully chose the most fitting songs and the appropriate versions of these songs for this release. Each track has been handpicked by King himself. The songs have all been lovingly remastered and enhanced from the original recordings by King and long-term cohort Andy La Rocque. They have done an amazing job! Every instrument is crystal clear in the mix. You'll hear little touches like a bass run here or a guitar flourish there, I never noticed before, even after years of listening to these songs.

The best of previous albums

The albums are all represented chronologically in this compilation. Opening the show are two tracks from the Fatal Portrait album  “The Candle” and “Dressed In White." We move on to possibly the most well known of his works, the classic album from 1987,  Abigail represented by “The Family Ghost” and the absolutely outstanding “Black Horsemen."

The very welcome inclusion of one of my favorite tracks “Sleepless Nights," is worthy of special mention. As is the guitar solo from La Rocque, which is simply jaw dropping. Indeed, over the course of the two discs it’s easy to see why he is so highly regarded. La Rocque's lead playing and the plethora of great riffs he pulls out of the bag are second to none. Moving on to the second disc, we have two tracks from the Spiders Lullaby and then a further two from The Graveyard releases. Things really heat up with the title track from 1998’s Voodoo, which sounds absolutely MASSIVE! I always felt King hit a bit of a purple patch around this time and the inclusion of “Black Devil” and “Help!!” from the superb House of God album is testament to this. This collection finishes up with a brace of tracks from King‘s most recent release Give Me Your Soul…Please! from 2007. This is the album I am least familiar with, but on the strength of both “Never Ending Hill” and “Shapes of Black” that is something I shall soon address! I thoroughly enjoyed this compilation. Whether you are a new listener, a lapsed devotee or even a hardcore King Diamond fanatic, this double disc set has something to offer you. 

Requiem Korn

CD cover black and white image of fingers crushing doll faceKorn to me should be known as the engineer of Nu-Metal. Nu-Metal was huge in my college days in the mid '90s and< got me through some stressful times.Nu-Metal sound is  hip-hop with heavy bass line riffs and huge guitar shreds. Great for mosh pits. 

Korn could retire right now and have their legacy cemented in metal music for decades and decades to come. They have actively released music throughout the last decade and a lot of it has been very good.

Of course, while they have experimented (we don’t talk about the dubstep phase), the vast majority of their music has been high quality. Despite not seeing the numbers and popularity that Follow the Leader, Issues and their self-titled debut gained, these consistently good albums have cemented Korn’s place as one of the great 21st century metal outfits.

Requiem highlights

In typical Korn fashion, they open the album up pretty heavily, with a pretty big chorus of “Bow down” belted out by  Jonathan Davis. The backing vocals of “ah, ah” during the verse really makes you question… why? But I'm not lying when I say Brian Welch smashed that riff.

Requiem continues where The Nothing  had to stop. The power for new lyrics and music is there, but this album again feels rushed and had to be put out for contract reasons. Signs of fatigue are audible, you feel them in every song – and Korn manage to construct an authentic style element from that. This album will divide the community again. Those who disliked the predecessor will not care for Requiem either. If you liked the course of the last albums, you will definitely like this one. But after all, Korn remain authentic.

Omens Lamb of God

cd cover bird skeletonLamb of God are back and they’re angry, really angry. They're angry at the state of the world and they’re not afraid to scream it in your face.
Having dabbled in experimentation during their last few albums, the veterans returned with their 9th studio album Omens.

Breaking down the songs

"Nevermore" opens the album with guitar riffs and thunderous drums supporting Randy Blythe‘s venomous spoken word introduction before descending into demonic screams. The track is powerful and fast with blistering riffs and a screaming solo. "Vanishing" doesn’t let up from the accelerator as it charges forward with a distant bell tolling in the background of fiery riffs. "To The Grave" is a head-banging, mid-tempo groove whereas "Ditch" is a brutal assault picking up the pace once more.

"Omens" is chant-worthy and aggressive, a classic Lamb of God track but in no way boring or predictable. I guarantee a crowd will scream and head bang in unison during this track. "Gomorrah" is full of trepidation with Blythe screaming “everything is doomed to fail.” It's a sinister track twisting and turning as it bombards you with blistering drums and slamming riffs. "III Designs" is a circle pit inducing performance with soaring solos and insane blast beats.

"Grayscale" begins the final section of the record and continues in the same blistering, blood pumping in your veins as the record surges on. "Denial Mechanism" is the shortest track on the record at just 2 minutes and 37 seconds long. It’s a frenzied attack showcasing the band at their old school best.

Album closer "September Song" is the most surprising track of the record and demonstrates the band’s more creative side. Emotive in nature but just as fiery as the rest of the record. It incorporates keyboards to create an alluring atmosphere, an epic soundscape with bursts of ferocious energy ending on crowd rousing chants and Blythe‘s screams.

Recording the album

The band recorded Omens  the old-fashioned way with all members in the recording studio rather than remote work or file-sharing, which a lot of bands had to accept during the pandemic. This approach really displays the raw energy in the record. Omens incorporates their old school sound with a new lease of life and a few surprises. Lamb of God are still here, still angry and still demolishing the heavy metal world.

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