Albums I Enjoyed
I’ve been enjoying albums by Smoulder, Satan, Master Boot Record, Unseelie, Disturbed, Hiromi Uehara, and Steve Hackett lately. Let me tell you about them. This won’t take too long.
- Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring by Smoulder
- Cruel Magic by Satan
- Interrupt Request by Master Boot Record
- Urban Fantasy by Unseelie
- Evolution by Disturbed
- Spectrum by Hiromi
- At the Edge of Light by Steve Hackett
Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring by Smoulder
I know it’s just another power metal band, but most such bands don’t use a quote from Michael Moorcock as the title of their debut LP, or use artwork by Michael Whelan for their debut LP’s cover. And this is the only band I know that has bothered to write a song inspired by one of C. L. Moore’s “Jirel of Joiry” stories, Black God’s Kiss. The opening track is more Moorcock: “Ilian of Garathorm”, from his Hawkmoon saga. “The Sword Woman” is about a woman who rebels against an unwanted marriage, takes up the sword, and lives the life of a mercenary; the lyrics quote from the story by Robert E. Howard.
Really, just about every song on this album is about some badass woman warrior. Just don’t play this at your D&D session; everybody will be too busy rocking out to play the game, because this album is chock full of riffs worthy of Tony Iommi during Black Sabbath’s glory days in the early 1970s.
Cruel Magic by Satan
I know the NWOBHM has come and gone, but there’s something raw and elemental about Satan’s Cruel Magic that I can’t resist. The lyrics are full of neat little turns of phrase, the production sounds clean without being over-polished, and the musicianship is technical without being pretentious.
And the title track may be the only song ever written that deals with hiring techies:
Behold the magus you’ve
Summoned to serve you
Wearing darkness and a swastika smile
Imperious power rests in his hands
Use it wisely; he’s at your command
And a warning to technical managers:
Have no doubt none
Can resist his
Hear me out before
You inflict this cruel magic
Once you invoke it, someone must pay
Interrupt Request by Master Boot Record
Say what you will about synthesizers, but when I need something heavy and instrumental to put on repeat while I concentrate on some work, this album really gets me into the groove. Being a techie who grew up on DOS in the 1980s and 1990s before getting into UNIX, I get all of the little tech references in MBR’s album and track titles.
Urban Fantasy by Unseelie
I picked up this 2015 album a couple of years while visiting Paris with my wife, having ducked into a little record shop in Montparnasse. If you ever wanted a crash course in French existentialism delivered by a talented contralto singing English lyrics backed by a tight band, this album’s worth your time.
Evolution by Disturbed
Spectrum by Hiromi
At the Edge of Light by Steve Hackett
I know it’s a bit of a departure since every other album I’ve discussed has been metal, but I saw Hackett perform live with my father at the end of September, and before I got into metal I would listen to my dad’s old prog records. You know, stuff like King Crimson, Genesis, ELP, etc. I might not have gotten into prog metal otherwise. Hackett still has the chops, his band is tight, and if he wanted to do metal I think there are a shitload of progressive and melodic metal bands that would kill to have him in the line-up.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or constructive comments, please email me. I may reply directly to you, or if I think your message might be of interest to other readers I will answer with a new blog post.