Category: Albums

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    The God Slayer by Otep

    Front cover of The God Slayer album by Otep

    I’ve loved Otep’s music since discovering the album “Sevas Tra” — with that insane album cover being the thing that brought me in.

    Earlier today (yesterday) I listened to the recently-released The God Slayer, made up of half original songs and half covers.

    Loved it, although Sevas Tra has been — and remains — my favourite of Otep’s.

    My favourite songs from my first listen of the album are definitely the covers of Eminem’s “The way I Am” and the Beach Boys’ “California Girls”.

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    Nymphetamine album — Cradle of Filth

    Released in 2004, this is one of my favourite albums from my younger days.

    Thanks to a work mate, my love for this band has been re-ignited. I have been listened to their albums lots over the past couple of weeks, but this one has stood out to me above most.

    Possibly helped along from the nostalgia I feel for this album.

    Stand out songs for me

    • Track 2 — Gilded Cunt
    • Track 3 — Nemesis
    • Track 5 — Nymphetamine overdose

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    Listening to Goblin Greatest Hits

    Profondo Rosso by Goblin

    After watching Deep Red last night, the music of Goblin could be a new obsession for me. 🤪

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    Blue Lips [Lady Wood Phase 2] by Tove Lo

    Lady Wood was one of my favourite albums from last year and still gets regular plays in my headphones. I was excited to say the least when I heard about Tove Lo’s follow-up Blue Lips [Lady Wood Phase 2].

    A continuation of Lady Wood

    This album felt more akin to the sweaty underground night clubs I imagine with her music. The kind of clubs where people are pressed tightly together; almost tasting each other’s sweat. The previous album had these moments but Blue Lips felt like these aesthetics were brought more into the foreground. The album’s intro and following lead single, ‘Disco Tits’, gave me the impression that a more deep bass / drum-driven collection of songs were contained.

    There was a song from Tove Lo’s short film Fairy Dust, specifically the closing scene… that closing scene, that I didn’t recognise at the time. So I loved it when that very song, ‘bitches’,  came punching through my headphones to close off this album’s first half.

    It’s not all boom boom boom

    Although I like a good punchy beat-driven album now and again, I was relieved when I heard ‘Don’t ask don’t tell’, the album’s fifth track. It’s proof that she knows, as she sings on Disco Tits, how to dial it back. ‘Don’t ask don’t tell’ is more focused on her beautiful vocals and the direct message of acceptance she’s delivering to her other half in the song.

    And baby, don’t ask, then don’t tell
    Already know you’re fucked up
    And it’s cool with me
    My past and don’t ask and don’t tell
    No need to share too much
    Come on, let it be, ah (and baby)

    dont ask dont tell – Tove Lo

    This feeling is continued later in the album with the reminiscent ‘9th of October’, which actually started life as a poem that Tove wrote on her Birthday. This, along with the album’s closing track, ‘hey you got drugs?’, are two of my favourite songs from the album.

    NSFW (not safe for work)

    As I’ve come to expect from Tove Lo’s work, there is a high degree of sexual content in these songs. She’s definitely an artist who goes to places that other artists I listen to don’t. She’s not afraid of exposing herself, both physically and mentally, for her art and I respect that. I say that, not as a pervy guy just looking for filth, but as someone in admiration for her honesty and close to the bone approach to music.

    Singers often sing about sadness; happiness; fear; love. But very rarely do they venture into the realms of the sexual. This too is an important part of what it means to be human, so why shouldn’t artists explore these issues too? Tove Lo seems to make up for the more reserved artists by spending a good portion of her album there.

    In Summary

    As great an album as I have come to expect from Tove, following her Lady Wood. Blue Lips is the continuation of her exploration and revelations in her relationships and the emotions they bring. Although I didn’t find this album as accessible initially, I still love to listen to it when the mood hits me right. And don’t take me to mean less accessible as a bad thing – it’s not. I just find Lady Wood a lot easier to listen to at any time, whereas Blue lips has its time and place for me.

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    Made in the Manor by Kano

    When it comes to UK rap music, few are revered in quite the same way as Kano is. Present in the Grime scene from the early days, he has had five studio albums to date. Made in the Manor is his latest and stands up, hands down, as one of the best rap albums I’ve heard.

    This is definitely an album that has grown on me over time. The opening songs grabbed me instantly but the later, more introspective, songs took a bit longer to get their hooks in me. But now that they have, they get better and better with every listen.

    Welcome to the jungle

    The opening of ‘Hail’ – the album’s first song – is sharp, loud and aggressive. This whole song is unrelenting throughout and Kano’s delivery is right up in your face forcing you to stand up and listen. The chainsaw melody that carries us along is later joined by the best sample i’ve heard for a long time. The sample is of Tempz, from his track ‘Next Hype’:

    (CLEAR!) All of your CD rack
    Won’t get none of your CD’s back

    Next Hype, Tempz.

    Some manner of respite comes with the next song, ‘T-shirt Weather in the Manor’, which brings with it a calm piano melody and light drumming. Kano’s vocals are no less commanding on this song with the lighter accompaniment.

    ‘New Banger’ and ‘Three Wheel Ups’ bring that in-your-face energy back in spades with some great featured rappers. Giggs and Wiley both feature on ‘Three Wheel Ups’ and do an excellent job of supporting Kano. Even D Double E can be heard in parts doing his signature “ooooh”.

    Kano and Giggs in the Three Wheel Ups video

    ‘This is England’ was the song that made me first sit up and take a closer look at this album. The various layers and production on this song made me realise that this album was something special. Like Charlie Sloth said in Kano’s 1 extra, this feels like a seminal record.

    All in the family

    There were two songs that stood out to me for just how personal and confessional they sounded. ‘Little Sis’ and ‘Strangers’ feel like personal monologues directed to a sister and brother respectively. Although these songs initially didn’t grab me as his big tunes did, I have since come to enjoy them both in a whole different way.

    When I first got into Kano all I wanted to hear were his big tunes – they are so addictive. But now that I’m in the habit of listening to Made In The Manor front to back, these more personal songs fit perfectly with the overall flow.

    From the family you’re born with to the one you choose : all of the guest features on this album feel like they are done from a place of love. What I mean is, I imagine many rappers feature on other artists’ tracks for the chance of exposure. I could be wrong about that but it does make sense. On Made in the Manor, however, each feature feels like it is Kano and his close friends, who are just making great music together.


    Whether you think you are a fan of rap or not, I urge you to listen to Made In The Manor regardless. There is so much variety in this album that I truly believe there is something for everyone. He delivers the fast-paced heavy hitters with a great level of confidence and Authority. And he delivers the more introspective songs with an honest sincerity.

    Don’t be a statistic blaming ghetto physics for holding you back.

    a great line from the song ‘Seashells in the East’

    Along with others like JME, Akala, and Devlin, Kano is up there as one of my favourite rappers. Like those others, Kano’s sense of humour comes through in both his lyrics and his unique delivery.

    He never rests on his laurels either. He could have easily delivered an hour of quick-witted, fast bars throughout and fans would have been very happy. But with Made in the Manor he has pushed himself further, whilst looking deeper within. As a result, Kano has come out the other end with a true masterpiece of an album. Not just in rap, but in all music.

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    Nocturnal by The Midnight

    The Midnight are a two-piece synthwave band consisting of songwriter Tyler Lyle and producer Tim McEwan. They are from the American deep south and Denmark respectively. However, they now both live in Los Angeles and make some of the coolest music of the past few years.

    They are well respected, often revered, within the Synthwave community. Their music is awash with eighties retro sensibilities and an innate ability to bring back the parts of that era we often see through rose-tinted glasses.

    Nocturnal by The Midnight

    Nocturnal is the third full album release by The Midnight and is as strong an album as I have come to expect from them.

    We open the album with footsteps on a rainy Los Angeles street. The sirens in the background and the initial synth pads that swoon in gave me similar feels to Sarah Connor before ducking into the Tech Noir. I wasn’t to know just how close to the Terminator we were going to come with this album – more on this in a moment. This first song, ‘Shadows’, is a steady beat and synth driven tune that soon showcases singer Tyler Lyle’s awesome, almost vulnerable feeling, vocals. And you best believe there is a little bit of Saxophone sprinkled in there too. This song brings you straight into the era they are shooting for with style.

    It was great to hear Nikki Flores’ return after her previous collaboration with The Midnight on the previous album’s hit ‘Jason’. This time she takes the microphone for ‘Light Years’, her voice pairing perfectly with Tyler’s. Meanwhile on ‘River of Darkness’, we are treating to a different kind of collaboration. Fellow Synthwave artist Timecop1983 helps out in the production of ‘River of Darkness’, creating a stunning mid section to the album.

    Inspired by the greatest

    ‘Crystalline’ is most definitely one of the stand-out songs for me on this album. It was also the first single to be shown off from Nocturnal. The vocals continue with their dreamlike delivery as we are led into what can only be described as a head nod towards Phil Collins. The drum fill that thrusts us into the wailing Saxophone solo, sounds wonderfully inspired by those infamous beats from ‘In The Air Tonight’.

    The title track on this album feels like a love letter to Brad Fiedel – the composer from the Terminator. The song begins so close to one of the most iconic film themes ever written. The iconic theme I speak of is the main theme from the Terminator. Again, as with the Phil Collins flavours on Crystalline, these Terminator-esque beats are merely a jumping off point. The song soon blossoms into its own deep synth bass/beat driven beast. Noctural also featured synthesizer sounds that sounded identical to ones used in the film.

    These inspirations seem to come from a place of deep love and respect for the era and the artists. As opposed to simply being a popular retro vehicle for them to write on. It’s the delicate touches throughout this album that put it in the upper circle.


    Even though Synthwave is one of my favourite musical genres, I don’t tend to write about it that often. This is only due to the fact that I think I’d end up repeating myself with most albums and artists. Most I’ve heard have been great, but there are those special few that warrant the time it takes. FM-84 are one such band, The Midnight are another.

    Not once was I awoken from their retro spell during this album. When listening, you will be transported to an idealistic moment of the eighties – if you allow yourself. A moment pieced together from your own memories of films and tv shows of the time. Those memories then bound together with the beautiful music from Nocturnal by The Midnight.

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    Braver than we are by Meat Loaf

    I am a huge fan of both Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman. Their music, whether separate or in collaboration, has a special place in my heart. From the Bat albums to Welcome to the Neighbourhood; from Bad Attitude to Blind before I stop. Although the Steinman-penned albums are in a league of their own, I still enjoy Meat Loaf in his own right throughout his career.

    Apparently there is a photograph somewhere of me singing along to Bat out of Hell when I was about four years old. In the photo I am seen sporting my own red hanky as seen in the music video. Rocking from an early age!

    I am ashamed to admit that it has taken me a year from its release to actually listen to ‘Braver than we are’ in full. The reason for this is because on first hearing the album’s opener, ‘Who needs the young’, it just didn’t have that unique aesthetic I was expecting. After revisiting Steinman’s only solo album, ‘Bad for Good’ recently, I also decided to give this album another try – and I’m so glad I did. I didn’t give this album the time it deserved right off the bat (no pun intended).

    I now present my thoughts on the album.

    Braver than we are

    Meat Loaf has had full collaboration with Jim Steinman on four of his thirteen albums to date. The first, and most famous was Bat out of Hell from 1977. The album ‘Deadringer’ following in 1981 and is so underrated if you ask me. Then came Bat out of Hell 2 in 1993, which is an album that got me through my years at high school.

    Now, twenty-four years later, I am discovering their fourth collaboration – the unashamedly epic ‘Braver than we are’. As soon as I heard the news that Steinman and Meat Loaf were working together again I got all giddy like a school boy. And although it’s taken some time for me to ‘get it’ I’m now glad that I do.

    The only thing more scary than a literal Bat out of Hell is the ongoing march of time. These two accept time’s weathering effects and embrace it completely in the music that they have created here. They made the conscious decision to not try and imitate what has come before – instead creating something new and fresh. In my opinion they have done this in spades.

    Souvenirs from the past

    Steinman is known for re-imagining and re-recording his music with different artists through the years. This album stays on par with that. However, many of the songs here I hadn’t heard before, as their roots can be traced back to his early musicals that I haven’t heard. Musicals such as The Dream Engine from 1969 and Neverland from 1977.

    Saying that however, you may well recognise many melodies and chord progressions from earlier Meat Loaf albums. ‘Original Sin’ can be heard haunting the song ‘Loving You Is a Dirty Job (But Somebody’s Gotta Do It)’.

    What I find really great about Steinman’s music is how it has stood the test of time, and has adapted through the years. As different artists have interpreted his works it has given the songs new dimensions. Hearing a well known lyric from the Bonnie Tyler song ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ during ‘Skull of your Country’, made me want to throw my fists in the air with joy. Cian Coey, who accompanies Meat Loaf in this song adapted its delivery beautifully and absolutely nailed it.

    Stand out songs

    The album kicked into a more familiar gear for me with the second song: ‘Going All the Way (A Song in 6 Movements)’. This song is absolutely incredible in how it takes you to so many places in its eleven and a half minutes. It is as grand and as symphonic as I’d expected from Jim Steinman’s pen. Like the rest of the album, it gets better with each listen.

    The two featured vocalists on ‘Going All the Way’ are worth mentioning here. Ellen Foley and Karla DeVito both feature, with the voices of both soaring high and wide across the song’s huge canvas. They were both featured on the studio and live versions of the classic ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’, respectively. So it was great for them to come together for this album after so many years have passed.

    Souvenirs touches a lyric from Two out of three aint bad and a musical progression from ‘Left in the Dark’. It’s little touches like these that made the album feel like home on the first listen. And if I wasn’t in love with this album before the song ‘More’, then I definitely was afterwards. This song brought with it an almost John Carpenter accompaniment along with its deep chugging guitar work.

    Braver than we are closes on the gloriously upbeat, rock n roll belter, ‘Train of Love’. Closing the album in true Steinman style: an anthem to those moments when you feel like you’re on the head of a match that’s burning.


    Any fans of the grandiose lyrics and arrangements of Jim Steinman will not be disappointed with this album. Anyone expecting Meat to hit the same high notes as he did in his early days, take heed – he isn’t afraid to embrace his deeper voice in this album, and neither should you.

    Meat Loaf is known for his operatic delivery and larger than life presence on his albums. But on ‘Braver than we are’ he isn’t afraid to reel it in. As he sings on ‘Who needs the Young’, his voice just isn’t what it was. And that’s okay. Even in the lower end of the spectrum he delivers with the same authority that I always remember him having.

    The more I listen to this album, the more it feels like a goodbye from both Steinman and Meat Loaf. The usage of so many themes from earlier material made this album feel like a closing overture to their collaboration. Kind of like how ‘overture’ from The Who’s Tommy touched on that album’s later themes and riffs. ‘Braver than we are’ did this for me but on a grander, career-spanning scale. All of this in the waning era of some of the most powerful, passionate music I have ever had the good fortune to experience.

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    Bad for Good by Jim Steinman

    Bad for Good by Jim Steinman is one of my all time favourite albums. Less is known about his only solo album than his collaborations with Meat Loaf.

    It’s a crime that more people aren’t aware of this album. I absolutely adore every song on here and if I had to choose some desert island discs, this would be on there. Other artists, who have worked with Steinman, have been able to do versions of some of these songs. But for me nothing comes close to this grand, hugely personal collection.

    Bad for Good by Jim Steinman

    Bad for Good, the eponymous opening song, kicks the album off with pure fire. It encapsulates the things that Jim is so great at: intense, energetic musical passages; huge, expertly-woven orchestrations; lyrics that paint epic pictures of passion, power and love. His lyrics read like poetry and are delivered with great conviction and authority. The speed change half way in, with the verse that follows it, is one of my favourite moments on the whole album. The whole song plays like its own self-contained, nine-minute opera.

    Jim Steinman’s pose for the Bad for Good back cover

    ‘Lost Boys and Golden Girls’ is a much calmer piece, which I think is needed after that opener. Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell 2 album used another version of this song in 1993. However, Jim’s version feels much more personal and stripped back to me. I love both versions but something about Jim’s rendition just pips Meat Loaf’s to the post.

    ‘Love And Death And An American Guitar’ is another track that was reused on Bat Out of Hell 2. Again, as with the previous song, this version is a lot more stripped back – with nice synth fills used to dramatic effect. It’s actually a spoken word piece that acts as an intro to the song that follows, ‘Stark Raving Love’.

    ‘Stark Raving Love’ and ‘Out of the Frying Pan (And into the Fire)’ both keep the energy riding high. As does a later song called ‘Dance in my pants’, a fun duet with Karla DeVito in a similar vein to Meat Loaf’s song ‘Dead Ringer For Love’ (also written by steinman).

    Big energy and wide diversity

    Jim Steinman’s music has such energy and diversity to it and Bad For Good is the best possible showcase for those qualities. These songs never fit into a simple groove and just plod along. They are either melting your face off from fifteen different directions or are ripping your heart strings out with their gorgeous melodies and melancholic lyrics.

    ‘Surf’s up’ and ‘Left in the Dark’, two songs that slow the pace somewhat are such beautiful ballads. The latter is a heartbreaking, often angry ballad about a man aware of his lover’s infidelity. These lyrics taken from the song say so much more than I could by describing it to you:

    But don’t tell me now, I don’t need any answers tonight
    I just need some love so turn out the lights
    And I’ll be left in the dark again

    Left in the Dark, Jim Steinman (from Bad for Good – 1981)

    The album closes with the huge-sounding orchestral instrumental, ‘The Storm’. This piece wouldn’t be out of place as an overture for a huge opera production. And it serves further show just how diverse this man’s music is. It’s moments like this that make me wish that Jim Steinman was a prolific film composer. His operatic and, quite frankly, epic visions for music would do cinema so must good.

    A gem of an album

    Bad for Good is a golden nugget of an album. It’s not very well known, even by many rock fans I’ve met, which is a shame. Whilst many may recognise his name from the front of Meat Loaf’s biggest albums, many more may not be aware of this solo album of his. I’m going to go on record and say that I believe this album is a cult classic – it demands to be listened to and appreciated by all.

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    Masseduction by St Vincent

    Masseduction is the fifth album by alternative pop artist St Vincent – real name Annie Clark. It’s a showcase for her varied approaches to creating great music and never fails to deliver the goods.

    I had no prior experience with any of St Vincent’s music before hearing Masseduction. Within the first couple of songs, certainly by the time I heard the eponymous track, I was hooked.

    She displays a diverse range of styles that come through on this album, many of which echoed in my mind back to artists past and present.

    I couldn’t help but get Alanis Morissette vibes from the album’s second song – the energetic ‘Pills’. ‘Pills’ is super catchy and could have settled in that groove for the whole song. But, in what I’ve now come to expect from her, she switches up the tempo and style two thirds in.

    These changes, which happen in a few of her songs, are hugely effective and was really a gateway drug into St Vincent’s music for me.

    Then once the title song ‘Masseduction’ dropped… I just lost my shit.

    ‘Masseduction’ is the album’s third song, and plays like a love letter to Prince. Everything from the song’s title; to the distortion-heavy guitar licks; and through the song’s funky beat. But in no way is it a cheap knock-off. On the contrary – since Prince, and other great heroes of music, have recently passed – we are in dire need of great idiosyncratic artists to stand up for good music. St Vincent is a part of that army.

    The album continues through further belters, ‘Sugarboy’ and ‘Los Ageless’, that keep the energy up high without ever becoming tiresome. The music video for the latter enhances another aspect of St Vincent I find compelling – her visual style through the album’s artwork.

    The artwork for this album seems to further support the sound she is going for. With its glossy, vibrant colours and sharp edges, but with cryptic imagery that conceals a deeper message beneath the shiny plastic.

    The album closes its first half with the stripped back, and welcome, piano ballad ‘Happy Birthday, Johnny’. With the removal of nearly all instruments but for a piano along with her voice, we get up close and personal with her. This departure from the previously up tempo tracks serves to give an extra layer to her message. Here she is pealing back the shiny cover to expose the heart beneath. And the result with this song is a gorgeous ballad that tugs at those heart strings.

    Just when I thought I’d heard her at her most energetic, along came ‘Fear the Future’ – a frantic piece backed by the craziest beats on the album. If I’m honest, the dance music style that is informing this song isn’t a style I would choose to listen to. And while it’s not nearly my favourite song on the album, Annie still makes it work within the context of this gorgeous, neon pick and mix of an album. (I have no idea what neon pick and mix means – I just thought it sounded cool in my head).

    The album’s closing song, ‘Smoking Section’ is definitely my favourite on the whole album. It feels like one of the most personal of the collection too, with some real guts to it. The drum / low-synth fills that hit the song in two places, have such a deep guttural punch to them. These short riffs were reminiscent of something by The White Stripes to my ears. But just as soon as the one-two punches have landed, she switches the song up from melancholic to hopeful with the repeated lyric “It’s not the end”. Her voice fading into the ether as she does.

    While never faltering from her own path, St Vincent manages to dip her toes into a good variety of styles for this album. I am completely mesmerised by every song and probably will be for some time to come. A lot of pop music is much of a muchness to me nowadays but people like St Vincent keep the flag flying for introspective, thought provoking music with hidden depths.

    If you want to increase the overall quality of your music collection, then pick up Masseduction by St. Vincent now.