Archive for the Prog Category

Ghost – Meliora

Posted in Classic Metal, Doom, Hard Rock, Prog, Psychedelic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2015 by Badass and Grim


If you’re not familiar with the nameless ghouls by now, Ghost are an act who’s members perform in complete anonymity with the exception of their anti-papal frontman Papa Emeritus. Drawing musical inspiration from the diverse strands of rock and metal’s history and delivering the result through enigmatic and theatrical stage performances:

To put my cards firmly on the table: I’ve always found Ghost a difficult act to get on-board with. A synthesis of Classic Rock, Doom and Satanism looks on paper like something I couldn’t help but love, but I always found exposure to the reality wanting and overly cheesy. With the exception of “Elizabeth” and “Secular Haze” the first two albums amounted to so much “meh”. So with low expectations I hit play, and to my surprise was completely blown away by the following 42 minutes of perfectly executed rock heaven.

The album opens with “Spirit”, queue classic horror choir and theremin, before the guitars drop in and we’re away. In a lot of ways “Spirit” is a microcosm of the album as a whole, moving seamlessly between its psychedelic, proggy, and hard rock elements. We’re treated to a synchronised solo in the best of the classic rock tradition and firmly within Thin Lizzy territory.

“From the Pinnacle To the Pit” lays down the filthiest bass riff before the rest of the crew join in, with much more emphasis on the heavy metal hue of Ghost’s music. The songs middle eight demonstrates the band’s seemingly inexhaustible reservoir of catchy vocal hooks.

“Cirice” is the point where I went from surprised interest to hero worship. The verse is heavy as hell, the chorus is solid gold 80’s rock , and the solo is going to melt your face and pull your heart-strings at the same time.

After the transition of “Spoksonat”, “He Is” opens like a something from the Amelie soundtrack, before morphing into a hymn to Satan. A frankly beautiful hymn to Satan; had it been composed by Simon and Garfunkel. The chorus rings out: “He is, he’s the shining and the light without whom I cannot see; he is insurrection, he is spite, he’s the force that made me be.” These are irresistible vocal harmonies, and feels like flower-power just got svart-dyed. Again, slamming guitar solos that wouldn’t be out of place from Gary Moore.

Of all the tracks on the album “Mummy Dust” is the only one where I found my old objections rise again, with the title and chorus a little over-baked for my taste. That said, I’m a miserable bastard and don’t understand fun, so I’m sure most of you won’t be able to gobble down enough “mummy dust” if you know what I mean…on reflection maybe that was an instruction for it’s successful enjoyment rather than a title track.


“Majesty” chugs away like a Sabbath or Maiden track, but you can tell we’re building to something here, and sure enough we hit a chorus that wouldn’t be out of place on Headspace’s “Anonymous”. This is all progressive melody and uplifting guitar/organ duty.

“Devil Church” is a lengthier abridging track continuing into prog territory, very much in the vein of Focus or Rush. After this the album opens out into “Absolution”, all brooding vocals until the 3 min point when Ghost awaken the synth-lords of old, descending from on-high riding stellar space arpeggiation.

“Deus In Absentia”, the album’s closing track, is a suitable anthem to close with which I’m sure will become a staple of Ghost’s live show and a favourite sing along for the crowd.

This is the perfect execution of what Ghost seems to have been striving towards since their inception, bringing together the best elements of the root genres they draw from and presenting a synthesis which is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Meliora is a hugely positive step change in the quality of Ghost’s song writing, and it’s hard to find anything to fault with this superb album.

I can’t believe I’m about to do this:




B and G Podcast – 2013 Album of the Year

Posted in Badass and Grimness Podcast, Black Metal, Blackened Death Metal, Death Metal, Doom, Folk Metal, Heavy Metal, Pagan Metal, Prog, Viking Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2014 by Murderdeth

Seasons Greetings,

Here we are, twelve months down the line since our First Annual Badass & Grimness: Album of the Year with the next fine instalment The Second Annual Badass & Grimness: Album of the Year!


In this years goodie bag we have: Tyr, Amon Amarth, Fen, Watain, Satyricon, Carcass, Sepultura, Windhand, Orphaned Land, and a few honourable mentions.

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B and G Podcast – Viking Special

Posted in Badass and Grimness Podcast, Black Metal, Blackened Death Metal, Cake, Death Metal, Folk Metal, Heavy Metal, Pagan Metal, Prog, Viking Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2013 by Murderdeth

B and G Podcast – Viking Special

From the Havamal –
Has too often
Been praised by poets.
The longer you drink
The less sense
Your mind makes of things.

That pretty much sums up the following.

It’s been a long, long time coming but here it is in its full, glorious 90 minutes….

“The Badass and Grimness Podcast, Viking Special.”

Featuring: Bathory, Amon Amarth, History Channel’s “Vikings”, Tyr, Wardruna and three progressively drunken idiots!

Not Featuring: Unleashed, Windir, Burzum, Arkenham and many others.

Thanks to JMG for joining us on this one. You can find him on twitter @jmgcreative.

Please remember to subscribe on iTunes and follow on Twitter. Other social networks are available, links can be found below!



Photo on 29-06-2013 at 22.07 #3

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Orphaned Land – All Is One

Posted in Folk Metal, Prog with tags , , , , , , on July 1, 2013 by Badass and Grim


My first encounter with Israeli act Orphaned Land was the truly epic “Never-Ending Way of ORwarriOR”. I was completely hooked by the 78min mix of death, prog and traditional Middle-Eastern music, and have nothing but respect for their aim of using their music to build bridges in their incredibly fraught region of the world. They continue this trajectory on recent release “All Is One”, although shedding the remaining vestiges of their death metal influences, using clean vocals to further increase the clarity of their message. I’d normally get a little wary around this level of politics in metal (Barny Gumble in the back of my head is shouting “Preachy!!! at Green Day”, but in this case the message of “hey guys, we’ve been at this for a few thousand years, do you recon’ we could stop slaughtering each over now” is such an obviously unobjectionable question that I’m 100% behind them.

Planting the flag firmly for the cause of tolerance and peace the album cover is a bold mission statement with the Crucifix, Crescent and Star of David intertwined and radiating, “All Is One”, for myself highlighting the inherent stupidity of three religions which for the most part venerate the same figures and with so much textual overlap fighting each other with such bitterness for so long.

So onto the music. The songs are definitely a lot snappier than the previous release, and the total album length has come down some, but this has only served to distil the quality of these musicians and songwriters. There is a great mix of progressive riffing and the use of folk influences. The latter are definitely stronger than ever, but they don’t overwhelm the fact that this is still a metal act. Songs like “Ya Benaye” do for middle-eastern traditional music what Tyr achieve for scandanavian folk, creating a refreshing mix of new and ancient. The strings in this album are also excellent, performing flawless glissandos throughout, a technique which is incredibly difficult to accomplish on the violin without sounding like a bag full of cats being thrown down the stairs.

Particular favourites include “Brothers”, which focusses on the legendary patriarchs of Arabs and Jews, Ishmael and Isaac respectively. In the biblical tale, Abraham has Ishmael by his second wife / servant Hagar, and when his wife Sarah gives birth to Isaac, she makes Abraham cast Ishmael out into the desert. The track is from the perspective of Isaac asking his brother’s forgiveness and reconciliation “Forsaken like a nomad, deserted in the flood, forgive me brother…from this tiny cornerstone we can build a realm of light”, which has obvious overtones in light of modern events. “Let The Truce Be Known” is also a moving track, and is the story of two boys who grow up together, end up fighting in separate armies, meet during a ceasefire only to kill each other the following night.

Metal is a genre which is often escapist and fantastic, so its incredibly satisfying to listen to a band with something relevant to express in their art, and which is so thoughtfully and beautifully articulated as in this album.



B and G Podcast – Episode 4

Posted in Badass and Grimness Podcast, Heavy Metal, Interview, News, Prog, Viking Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2013 by Murderdeth

B and G Podcast – Episode 4

“Howdy Dicktits!” (Rumple Judas Clungeberry, 2013).

This week features, Get Dead or Die Trying by The Rotted and I Am Anonymous by Headspace as well as the triumphant return of the unsavoury entity we call Rumple.

Please remember to subscribe on iTunes and follow on Twitter. Other social networks are available, links can be found below!




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Monolithe – III

Posted in Doom, Prog with tags , , , , on December 20, 2012 by Badass and Grim


This is the third full length release from French doommongers Monolithe, and the first of which I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Each album comprises a single track, the discography as described by the band themselves is ‘a musical saga that mixes heaviness, mysticism and complex structures tinged with hints of progressive flair. The listener is invited into a world of beauty, horror and nothingness.’ They’re not wrong. This 52 minute epic will reward perseverance and attention, while leaving those who expect instant gratification by the wayside.

This is a journey through cyclopean cathedrals of sound, which draws you inexorably deeper with each passing minute. At times you pass between towering walls of ambience, then are dragged forward through crushing waves of riffs, ebbing and flowing with regular inevitability. The transition from one musical idea to another is seamless, and there are just too many great moments to list them all, you’ll have to explore this cavernous beast for yourself and you’ll find new gems with each successive listen. The opening makes great use of discordant guitar harmonies before subsiding into a a filthy dirge, when around 2:45 you reach a foggy plateau reminiscent of Godspeed You Black Emperor before the cloud disperses and the full grandeur is revealed as those crushing waves of guitar descend once more. It is hard to understate the sensation of motion and of space within this piece, at no point do you linger long enough among the same musical ideas for them to become stale or repetitive, a fresh vista is always on the horizon.

There is a sparing use of vocals here, and when they materialise it is as Charon stepping in to guide our path before we continue through the dark expanse that is III. There is brought to mind nothing so much as cavernous regions comprised of strange angles and a physics that does not obey our laws, this is sonic R’lyeh. I highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the drone end of the spectrum, one of the closest comparisons for me is my first encounter with Sunn O))), with a few friends and myself listening to Black One from start to finish while completely hammered. If you want a real experience from your music, and don’t mind putting some effort in, this is definitely for you.

So wait for dark, sit down, drink liberal amounts of your favourite vice, and explore this truly monolithic work, you won’t be disappointed.



Nazgul Fest – Gig Review

Posted in Black Metal, Folk Metal, Gig, Prog, Thrash with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2012 by Badass and Grim

T’was a grim & frostbitten night in Exeter and I was drunk enough to objectively review some bands. Despite being named like a Lord of the Rings swinger’s party, Nazgul Fest promised to bring together some of the best bands of the South West, topped off with a Brummie garnish in the form of the mighty Anaal Nathrakh headlining. If I’m honest, I would have paid the ticket price to see them alone, but the chance to see some other bands of varying quality while drinking cheap lager was an attractive prospect that could not be passed upon.

If anything, the evening became an exercise in managing my expectations as that old enabler, The Internet, had led me to expect things that simply weren’t true. Cornish opening act Morgawr were a prime example of this, being described as folk/prog/black metal. Consequently, I was expecting some kind of musical shit-pasty filled with pennywhistles, half-arsed paganism and morris dancing. What we actually got was a many-headed metal beast that had taken the best bits of a multitude of genres and then blended them with frozen chords like an orthodox black metal frappucino. While they may seek to achieve too much with their bizarre combination of thrashing/chugging/grinding/tapping and sweep-picking, the band were clearly ecstatic to be playing somewhere outside of the Mighty Kingdom of Cornwall, and their enthusiasm carried their performance. Morgawr have their sights firmly set on the UKBM trail currently being set ablaze by the likes of Winterfylleth & Wodensthrone, and I see no reason why they won’t get there. Closing with their namesake track ‘Morgawr’, they somehow blended grim iciness with the crushing maritime weight and depth of Mastodon’s ‘Leviathan’. Oddly compelling stuff.

With all drinks in the house replenished, Cryostorm took the stage and immediately filled it with flailing hair and synchronised windmilling. As can be inferred from their name, they are techy, shreddy deathy young men, and the guy down the front with the Amorphis back patch loved them. As soon as they did the ‘over the top of the fretboard’ playing thing I wanted to dislike them intensely but goddamn it, I just couldn’t. Frontman James threw himself into the performance with the passion & enthusiasm of a skinny Andrew WK, and the whole band was visibly delirious with excitement to be supporting Anaal Nathrakh. As soon as they started throwing toy penguins out into the crowd as bribery for participation I was won over: Cryostorm do fist-pumping, headbanging, fretboard-melting metal. And make no apologies for it. Just add beer.



Monolithian were the first band of the night I was gleefully anticipating. Once again, I hadn’t heard much of them before but with their lineup consisting simply of 1x drummer & 1x bassist, Mr. Internet had led me to believe this would be a doom drenched riff fest at the pace of a crippled snail meandering through feedback. And it was until that first blast-beat kicked in…and then it was sublime. At their slowest, Monolithian are Electric Wizard on a bad acid trip, at their fastest they touch on Black Breath with utter bleak minimalism hailing Darkthrone. It’s aggressive, heavier than a bodybuilding elephant and at times it gave the headliners a run for their money in terms of sheer unbridled ferocity, especially when frontman Simon decided microphones are for losers and thrashed around howling into empty space. There’s something crushingly beautiful about the tone of one bass run through twin amps, and it’s a definite finger up to some of the other bands of the night who were dicking around with 7 and 8-string guitars to sound heavy. Meanwhile, drummer Shannon mercilessly battered her kit as if she had to destroy it to claim a new one on insurance by the end of the set. Astonishingly, the rage was kicked up a gear for their final song when they were joined onstage by a guest vocalist in the form of a drunk crust-punk gentleman who flailed around as if covered in invisible ants that were also on fire. I have no idea who he was, but after that set I was only just sure of who I was. Highly recommended, go and see them.



One more trip to the bar, and I needed it because Saturnian were on next. At this point, I want to make it clear that I bear them no ill-will and did not go in there prejudiced. You may be aware that Mr. Necrowulf has already reviewed them live for this blog and was not overly impressed: I wished to give them the benefit of the doubt and watch them with an open mind. After all, it seems they have been touring constantly since the summer, and I therefore respect them for their determination & work-ethic. Hell, even though symphonic black metal ain’t my bag, I still have the odd Dimmu album kicking around next to all my expensive leather-bound books. And just because I don’t appreciate something personally doesn’t mean it’s bad, I mean I enjoy Steam Rallies and Bargain Hunt for god’s sake.

However, that’s where my good will ran out. Seeing a bunch of corpse-painted chaps on stage blasting out symphonic black metal while a lovely young lady at the back belted out soprano operatic vocals, I couldn’t help thinking that Cradle of Filth were doing this ten years ago. Almost everything I saw, from the stage costumes & armour to the Nergal signature 7-string guitars, were things I had seen before being done by different people at different times. They’re tight live, they’re determined to get where they’re going and I wish them the best of luck, but they need to do something new and drastic to pull more people in.



After a few stretches & preservation prayers to my heathen gods, it was time for Anaal Nathrakh. There are few bands in the world that can pull off outright fury with such consistency and as predicted I had my ass handed to me. The final curveball of the night however, was that they opened with ‘In the Constellation of the Black Widow’ rather than any of the devastating new tracks from ‘Vanitas’. This seemed an odd choice, and threw a lot of the crowd who were too confused to try and throw each other through the walls/floor/ceiling outright. It was a bit like poking a sleeping tramp with a stick to see what he’ll do before setting him on fire, rather than just dowsing him in petrol and getting on with the BBQ. ‘The Blood Dimmed Tide’ followed immediately after and chaos duly erupted, extorted by the everything-deprecating banter of Mr. Dave Hunt. ‘I would discuss the inspiration behind the music for this next one, but you don’t care about that, do you?’ he lamented half bitterly, ‘You just want to get drunk and punch each other.’

‘Nathrakh may be unfortunate in that they’re caught in a neverending brutality spiral: how do you top the unrestrained aggression of each evening’s performance? They weren’t coasting in Exeter because they care deeply about their music and delivering it to self-imposed high standards, but this wasn’t a festival set in a new continent where they had to raise their game for a new crowd. This was a basement filled with 150 drunks on a rainy Sunday night. It was savage and met expectations, but christ knows where they go from there. If anything, the gig allowed Mr. Hunt to mess with the crowd to some extent, revealing that they were ‘going to play a fast one’ or that they were going to ‘mix things up a bit by playing a song about the failures of the human condition, because we never do that.’ ‘Pandemonic Hyperblast’ was missing from the set, but that’s probably for the best as it meant I didn’t have to go home via the hospital, which was nice. Anyway, for reasonable reasons explained in detail there was no encore and the set thundered to a cataclysmic conclusion, leaving shambling punters stumbling listlessly searching for missing teeth & fingernails before staggering off into the cold wet winter night. A quick chat on the offchance with Mistress stalwart Drunk revealed no plans for any upcoming Fukpig gigs, but watch this space. Nazgul Fest complete.


“Play a fast one”