Man of the Hour—Destroy the Machines of Slaughter (2007)

Man of the Hour—Destroy the Machines of Slaughter (2007)

Man of the Hour—Destroy the Machines of Slaughter (2007)

Details

Produced by Man of the Hour and Mike Brown. Engineered by Mike Brown. Recorded at Seagate Studios, Dundee in April 2006. Mastered by Jeff Waters at Watersound Studios.

Band

  • Tommy Concrete—Vocals and lycanthropic enemy of the cyborgs, second guitar solo of “Spores of the black unicorn”
  • Stevie Power—Lead guitar, reefers and backing vocals on “I only give a shit…”
  • Matt Justice—Lead guitar and steel
  • Soo C Diamond—Bass, bongs, bombs, bucky and erm… bumming (?!)
  • Bud—Drums and vocals on “The troll king”

Tracks

  1. The whirlpools of Hades
  2. I only give a shit…
  3. Destroy the machines of slaughter
  4. Werewolf lover
  5. Red nails
  6. The hideous mummified corpse
  7. The final battle
  8. We’ll show you the way to the wolves
  9. Stealing from the dealer
  10. Spores of the black unicorn
  11. Fang bearing brother
  12. Beware of the gnomes

Review

The difficult second album. That familiar psychological barrier that grips many a band following a successful first opus doesn’t appear to have phased Man of the Hour in the slightest. Like Iron Maiden before them album number two appears to be even more focused, even strong than their debut.

For outing number two Man of the Hour seem to have embraced their doom roots with a bit more vigour but also taken things a little gothic. There is more than a little Danzig in there. Particularly on tracks like the title track “Destroy the machines of slaughter” (track 3) which could have been lifted from pretty much any of the Evil Elvis’s post-millennium albums.

This is a strong album. While Skull Orchard (2004) was good, it did feel a times like Man of the Hour were really pushing things to the limit in terms of tongue-in-cheek homages to the genre. But like a pupil who has been coasting through class and has suddenly become aware of their potential, here they’ve knuckled down and delivered the album of their lives.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. The lyrics are still pure metal nonsense. Take “Red nails” (track 5), a track inspired by a story by Robert E Howard.

Axes. Sledgehammers. Conan the destroyer.

Red nails! Red nails! Red nails!

And the album cover and booklet aren’t great. The artwork has no continuity, there’s an annoying variety of often illegible fonts superimposed over confused photographs.

Conclusion

But do you know what? None of that matters. because the music is great! It’s uplifting. It’s heavy. It’s melodic. It’s delivered with passion and self-belief.

This is a Scottish band that I can be proud of. The only thing is… where are you? Your hour may have come and gone… but what an hour!

And who can argue with a band whose final recorded track is called “Beware of the gnomes”?

Review score: 97%

Man of the Hour—Skull Orchard (2004)

Man of the Hour—Skull Orchard (2004)

Man of the Hour—Skull Orchard (2004)

Details

Produced by Matt Justice and Man of the Hour. Engineered by Matt Maguire. Recorded at Studio 24, Edinburgh in sporadic bursts from April to July 2004.

Encyclopaedia Metallum

Band

  • Tommy Concrete—Vocals
  • Stevie Power—Lead guitar
  • Matt Justice—Lead guitar
  • Soo C Diamond—Bass
  • Engine—Drums

Tracks

  1. Friendship through steel
  2. Hey baby
  3. Enter the drug fuelled domain
  4. They’re never gonna take away our voice
  5. The crawling chaos suite part 1 — skull orchard
  6. The crawling chaos suite part 2 — beware the unseen
  7. The crawling chaos suite part 3 — quest for the unknown
  8. Spinal pressure
  9. Terminate / dominate
  10. Whip of fire (come lash me)
  11. The death throws (of choice)
  12. We all hail

Review

Judging by the “R.I.P.” on their MySpace page it’s probably safe to say that Edinburgh heavy metal band Man of the Hour’s hour has come and gone. Their legacy consists of two full length albums, this one and Destroy the Machines of Slaughter (2007), which I’ll review next week.

Man of the Hour is a band that knows their heavy metal heritage: crushing riffs, screaming Rob Halford-style vocals, and lyrical tales of drinking, sex and fantastic mediaeval battles.

Many of the lyrics are very much tongue-in-cheek, from the Spinal Tap-esque innuendo of “Hey baby” (track 2) and the Carry On style “We all hail” (track 12). But they are clearly written with a great deal of respect and love for the genre.

Metallum Encyclopaedia categorises Man of the Hour as “Doom/stoner metal”. They certainly have a bass-heavy, sludgy sound but there is huge dollop of new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM). Think Judas Priest meets Saxon meets Manowar meets Black Label Society meets Down.

Derivative it may be, but it’s written and played very well. They were clearly having a great deal of fun while writing and recording this.

Conclusion

This is the kind of old school heavy metal album that requires you to always write ‘heavy metal’ rather than just ‘metal’. It generates visions of grown men banging their head in sweaty clubs, adorned in denim and leather, singing suggestive songs of conquests (either romantic or against dragons and castles).

It’s the epitome of what many people think they understand heavy metal to be. They’re wrong. But it’s certainly a small part of it. And in this small corner of the heavy metal kingdom Man of the Hour have a self-prophesying name.

Review score: 70%

Lairig Ghru—Thermopylae (2005)

Lairig Ghru—Thermopylae (2005)

Lairig Ghru—Thermopylae (2005)

Details

Recorded mid-2004 in Glasgow, Scotland. Released on Heathen Clan Records, 2005.

Encyclopaedia Metallum

Band

  • John Howard—Vocals
  • John Howard—Guitars
  • John Howard—Bass
  • John Howard—Drums

Tracks

  1. Thermopylae
  2. A storm on the horizon
  3. Bridge the chasm of sanity

Review

[Another late review… sorry. It’s been a hectic few weeks.]

According to Encyclopaedia Metallum, “Lairig Ghru is named after a mountain pass in the Cairngorm range in north-east Scotland which according to folklore is cursed and haunted.”

I really wanted to like this EP. I really wanted to be able to support something Scottish. To hold this CD aloft and declare in polite company that this was a splendid example of fine, home-crafted metallic music. But I can’t.

Let’s get the production out of the way first. It’s pretty bad, but I can forgive that. Small budgets don’t allow for Andy Sneap-quality recordings or mixes. It sounds like it was recorded in the room next door. But not in a good way. Not in a the control room is next door, kind of way. The drums lack punch (or volume). The rhythm guitars sound like they are being overdriven by a vacuum cleaner; the lead guitar is too prominent in the mix, and sounds like a bagpipe. But it’s not that. It’s… not just that.

That can only really be classed as a black metal album, I guess, due to the lyrical content. It sounds more NWOBHM than black metal. It sounds like the rehearsal bootleg of a band who’d immersed themselves in early Iron Maiden and Diamond Head. But with croaky vocals.

 

Conclusion

The EP is deceptively long. The first and last songs clock in around 6’30”, the middle one is about a minute shorter. But they seem to go on for ever… trudging and disappointingly plodding.

Eventually it just fades out, off over the bridge of the chasm of sanity, through the fog of confusion, and into the history books of obscurity.

It could have been… but it would had required to be something completely other.

Sorry…

Review score: 20%

Haar—Haar EP (2010)

Haar—2010 EP (2010)

Haar—2010 EP (2010)

Details

Recorded at Arcadia Audio, Edinburgh in March 2010. Self-released EP.

http://haar.bandcamp.com/

Band

  • Gareth—Vocals
  • Chris Blom—Guitars
  • Guillaume Martin—Guitars
  • Steve—Bass
  • Hamish MacKintosh—Drums

(Band line-up according to Encyclopedia Metallum. No information on the EP itself.)

Tracks

  1. Whisper serenities eve
  2. To forgive an enemy
  3. Without form or void

Review

After two or three listens to this EP, I chose instead to listen to Guns N’ Roses—Chinese Democracy (2008). I guess that has to tell you something about my experience of listening to this album.

I really wanted to like this album. They are Scottish, for a start; hailing from Edinburgh, the city of my birth. Their lead singer is called Gareth. Their name is ‘Haar’, which is an east-coast Scots and Northern English word for coastal fog. What could possibly go wrong?!

I just didn’t connect with this album. I listened to it first a couple of months ago: popped it into a CD player, lay back on my bed in the dark and… suffered. Actually, that’s a bit harsh, but I didn’t give it a second listen until this week.

To be fair, it wasn’t as bad as I had remembered. (That’s not a glowing review really, is it?)

Let’s get one thing out of the way, to begin with: the production on this EP isn’t great. But then I wouldn’t really expect it to be on what I assume is a self-financed, independent release. The drums and vocals in particular sound… distant. It sounds like it was recorded in a hurry, in a church hall. I can accept that. I wouldn’t mark it down on that, to be honest. It is what it is, and it’s still better quality than many of the tape-of-a-tape-of-a-tape hand-me-downs of metal albums that I listened to back in the mid- to late-80s.

The artwork I really like. You can tell immediately that this band has a foot in the black metal camp because the band logo is veering towards unreadable. That seems to be an obligatory requirement of black metal bands. But then the progressive element claws it back towards readable. The EP cover has a mysterious, creepy, smokey/dare I say ‘haar-y’ feel to it. It’s black and white and simple all over. I like it.

So… the music. I described an album a couple of weeks ago as being perfect as background noise. I found this to be similar, but mainly because it didn’t hold my attention for long enough. The three songs on this EP are long (all over seven minutes, two over nine), and atmospheric with meandering twists and turns. I suspect that they are too long, though. “Without form…”, indeed.

This is impressionist metal, without clarity or detail. I can appreciate why some people might like it. Sadly, though it just didn’t move me. It never captured my imagination. Didn’t get my heart racing, or my mind engaged with…

Sorry, I just got distracted there checking my email. It was a bit like that really.

Conclusion

I really wanted to like it, being a home team and all. I do appreciate what they were trying to do. It just didn’t connect with me. Sorry guys!

Review score: 40%