A celebration of 20 years of the Milanese based metal outfit Lacuna Coil, The 119 Show was recorded in front of a sold out and extremely passionate audience at the Kentish Town Forum in London on 19th January 2018. It captures the Italians in impressive form and delving into their back catalogue to play a range of older songs that rarely get aired. Whilst the enthusiasm of Andrea Ferro and Christina Scabbia between songs can be a little irritating, there is no doubting that when the band are on form their symphonic pomp can be brilliant. If you love Lacuna Coil, you’ll probably have been at this show. If you like them, then this live release with 27 songs is as complete a collection of their best songs as you’ll ever find. If you don’t like them, this won’t change your mind at all. 8/10
Pete Spiby: Failed Magician (Be Lucky)
The former singer and guitarist of Black Spiders releases his first solo album and it’s a lengthy piece of work. A double CD package with the inevitable sound of the Black Spiders due to Spiby’s distinctive vocal, especially on tracks like Bible Studies which could easily have been a Spiders song. This album is divided into two parts, with CD 1 comprising the harder rockier tunes whilst CD 2 is primarily acoustic in style, melancholic and bluesy. It’s best described as background music, the kind that could play whilst you got on with other stuff although I have no doubt it would work well in a candlelit room with a glass of wine.
It’s neatly written and performed with his guitar work particularly tasty at times (see Friday Night and Wrap Me Round Your Little Finger for examples). Following the life-span of the different stages of making the album, there is certainly some creativity flowing here and whilst the hard rock badge is worn proudly throughout, the variation is one of the main attractions of Failed Magician with the delicate second CD probably just edging the pair. 7/10
Hex A.D: Netherworld Triumphant (Fresh Tea Records)
Opening with a 2:35 minute piano piece called Himmelskare, Hex A.D. return with their third full length release. Originally the brainchild of drummer/singer Rick Hagan and producer Chris Tsangarides who died at the start of the year, this is a doom soaked progressive odyssey that becomes more enjoyable on every listen. The title track is a stunning two-part psychedelic trip with the deepest riffs around, huge swathes of Hammond organ and mellotron and a production that is as big as the song. Hagan now delivering all guitar duties is joined by brother Matt Hagan on drums, Magnus Johansen on Hammond and mellotron and Are With Gotstad on bass.
The Norwegian band list a plethora of classic old school bands including early Floyd and Tull, Candlemass, Sabbath, Grand Magus, Alice Cooper and Electric Wizard amongst their musical influences and it’s easy to see why. The large range of horror movies and classic writers which also feed into the foundation of their sound are also instantly recognisable. Ladders To Fire which concludes the album is a monstrous 13 ½ minutes of crashing riffs which descend slowly but with maximum impact. An album that demands repeated plays to appreciate but worth every minute. 8/10
Crucible Of Hate Dark Metamorphosis (Self Released)
34 minutes of ferocious snarling death metal liberally laced with groove and melody. That’s what you get with Crucible Of Hate, a four-piece hate filled outfit from Lancaster, Ohio. Whilst the ferocity is instantly recognisable, there are several tracks towards the end that move closer to the melodic end of the spectrum with Dan Rivera’s clean vocals a huge contrast to the roaring growls on tracks such as Termination Of The Narcissist. The variation in style, the hammer driven speed and the intensity which propels the band forward make this a reasonable debut. 6/10
Rising: Sword And Scythe (Indisciplinarian)
Hovering around the ten-year anniversary, Denmark five-piece Rising’s latest album is 45 minutes of solid if unspectacular heavy metal. The tracks presented on Sword And Scythe are decent, full of thumping riffs and pounding rhythm sections. There’s little to really ignite the fires, with a couple of lumberingly dull tracks such as Camp Century uninspiring. At the heart of this band is a decent heavy metal band that demonstrates occasional bursts of quality. Overall, just a little too routine and average. 5/10