There are so many things that could be said about Prince, it’s almost impossible to put anything into words. The man was a firecracker of creativity; one of the most prolific artists the world has ever seen. He was an enigma. He was a man whom, in live performance, never seemed to do the same thing twice. Love Prince, or hate him, he was unique. Here was one of the world’s last true untouchable megastars whom, even in the twilight of his career, never played it safe or by the rules. It made him infuriating; it made him bizarrely entertaining, but above all, it made him so different.
The 2013 debut album from Rage of Angels featured an impressive roll-call of guest vocalists. Tyketto’s Danny Vaughn, Impera‘s Matti Alfonzetti and the legendary Harry Hess were among those helping to bring ex-Ten keysman Ged Rylands’s larger than life project to fruition. It takes more than impressive vocals to create a classic, of course, and rather regrettably, Ged managed to fill ‘Dreamworld’ with bloated arrangements. Most of the tracks outstayed their welcome by at least two minutes and that meant, that when heard one after the other, the album just became rather dull.
In the summer of 2015, German experimental black metal trio Zeit dropped their third EP ‘Trümmer’. The bulk of its material was cold, uncompromising but rather interesting, putting the DIY band firmly among the heavy hitters with regard to truly challenging metal sounds. Less than a year on, their fourth release, ‘Gram’ sets out to thrill, frighten and confront – almost in equal measure.
Belgian sludge/doom combo A Thousand Sufferings could never be accused to doing things half-heartedly. Sludge has always taken the nuts and bolts of Black Sabbath and slowed it and heavied it’s very essence to it’s logical extreme. A Thousand Sufferings, at first, seem to go one better, as even ‘Once In A Blue Moon’, a spoken intro, appears to adopt the sludge/doom ethos, as the band take what would have been a brief sample from TV drama ‘The Americans’, but play it back at half speed. The effect of hearing synth music, the sounds of helicopters and human voices played back at a much slower speed can be unsettling. The fact that one of the characters is halfway through a monologue regarding the chain of nature and mortality makes it all the more disquieting. It makes for a very slow and potentially quite grim three minutes. With this intro, the band builds tension in a really obtuse manner and the three proper tracks which follow – sprawling across over half an hour – are just as oppressive.
In the late 80s, thrash metal was king. Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax and (slightly later) Sepultura ruled the scene, but there were literally hundreds of other bands languishing in the second division whom churned out records that have stood the test of time: Testament, Kreator. The UK’s Metallica obsessed Xentrix, Annihilator…the list goes on. With a great musical blueprint, thrash never seemed to get old…and then at some point in the early 90s, as far as the likes of Metal Hammer were concerned, it kind of burned itself out.