Saturday, September 25, 2010

The OTHER Holocaust that cannot be denied...(Part One)

Hot on the heels of Seanford's recent post featuring the NWOBHM band Holocaust, I'm throwing MY cap into the ring by posting up the lesser-known, and mostly unappreciated, LATER Holocaust releases for your delight and delectation. I'll also be doing this in two parts because, well, it's a bit of an EPIC POST.

Okay, soooooooo, brief history lesson - following the release of 'No Man's Land' in 1984 (which I haven't posted because, well, you don't NEED it) the original line-up of Holocaust called it quits.
Don't ask me the ins and outs and the whys, I don't know, they just DID, OKAY?!


After a li'l respite, original guitarist John Mortimer stepped up to the microphone and took over as guitarist/vocalist, along with drummer Steve Cowan and bassist Graham Hall replacing the other original members. I'm GUESSING that Metallica's cover of 'The Small Hours' on the 'Garage Days' EP had a LOT to do with the reformation AND the subsequent change of direction. In 1989, the band released an EP entitled 'The Sound Of Souls' to.....not much attention, but much critical praise.

I was 16 at the time and DEEP into a technical thrash thang, so I bought it entirely based on the fact that one of the reviews I read mentioned 'Voivod' in it.
This is a repeating pattern throughout my life that continues up to this very day, *cough* Vektor *cough*.

'The Sound Of Souls' was markedly more aggressive and experimental than the older Holocaust material - DEFINITE traces of Celtic Frost and Kreator in the more aggressive material, and, well, the sweet stink of Voivod was ALL over the whole darned thing.

In the interests of illustrating the straight-up total AWESOMOSITY of this EP, rather than JUST giving you lucky, lucky people a download of it, I have ALSO included the ENTIRE thing below in the form of YouTube clips. If it doesn't melt your damn face off, well, you are a raging false and will NEVER be allowed to entry.
Sucks to be YOU, Nigel.

Go on, fuck off back to your Isis Live albums.

The whole damn thing just floats my boat in the most colossal way, from beginning to end - The TOTALLY Frosty 'This Annihilation', the WEIRD METAL of 'I Smash the Void', the FURIOUS Kreator/Mustaine snarl of 'Dance Into The Vortex', the arty semi-instrumental 'Curious' and the EPIC WEIRD PROG METAL religious meditation of 'Three Ways To Die'. IT'S AAAAAALL GOOD.

If you disagree, then you 'n' me are gonna have a PROBLEM bucko. Capiche?

Next up, in 1992, Holocaust released a full-length album entitled 'Hypnosis Of Birds'. This was a more measured, introspective record, true, and it DID have a bloody AWFUL sleeve, also true...however, it was chock full of WEIRD PROG METAL.

Now, if I had been asked to come up with a cover design for 'Hypnosis of Birds', I personally would have gone for this -

 it works on TWO levels, both LITERAL and FIGURATIVE - the dude with the wig is LITERALLY hypnotising the bird* in the chair, but ALSO, and here is the clever part, it REPRESENTS the IDEA of 'Hypnosis of Birds' as a concept. Just call me Roger Dean.

No? Pfft. Well, maybe you'd prefer THIS -

.......BASTARDS. There is NO pleasing some people. Here, have a listen to an EPIC track off of 'Hypnosis Of Birds' -

Better? Another?

NOW, I can hear you murmuring 'But Paul, why haven't you given us a download link for 'Hypnosis Of Birds???'. Well, I'll TELL you........because it was actually reissued in 1996 by Neat Records (remember them?) under a different name, with EXTRA tracks - the reissue was entitled 'Spirits Fly' and featured an INFINITELY BETTER cover...

....and YOU can get it HERE, my fine feathered friends.

This record DOES come with a warning, though. For some unknown reason, Holocaust decided to re-record a few classic tracks for this release, including 'The Small Hours'. These versions are...well....not AWFUL, but not as good as the originals. Don't let their slight crappiness spoil your enjoyment of this wonderful slice of WEIRD PROG METAL, 'kay?

'Spirits Fly' (AKA 'Hypnosis Of Birds') is a complex, involved album with a much different feel to the other Holocaust material. I see it referred to as 'gloomy' often, which I guess it IS at times, but I have ALSO seen the acccusation levelled at it that it is lacking in riffs. To THOSE people I say this - FUCK YOU. This is WEIRD PROG METAL, it's not ALL about the RIFFS. Suuuuuure, a killer riff is awesome, but you know, a tasty song need not be a rifforama to be toothsome, yes?

I feel that I've talked at you enough for now, and I worry about overstaying my welcome and wearing you out with AWESOME, so I will bid you adieu until part tieux and leave you with the opening track off of 'Spirits Fly', 'Into Lebanon'.

See ya in Disneyland!

*bird is British slang for 'lady'. So, d'you see what I did there?


Ambassador MAGMA said...

I didn't know Holocaust existed in 1992... let alone were doing prog metal??!! Their early stuff is so great, though, so color me exited

Shelby Cobras said...

Wow, I've never been called a"raging false" before. Nice.

simone said...

Ooh, am excited to hear this when I get home. Paul, you are like my new (old) music messiah!

Also, very awesome pic at the top - and is that a teenage long-haired you I spy slightly further down?

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

I shall adress these comments in the order in which they were posted, THEN revisit one -

Ambassador. Firstly, kudos to you for the AOS avatar thingy, for containing 'Magma' in your handle AND for the pie charts. I like pie, so they are of great interest to me.
Secondly, NO-ONE knew Holocaust existed at this point! I suspect that the band themselves didn't know!
I think leaving a 3 year gap between an EP that flew under the radar and an album that flew in a trench that was dug under the hill that the radar was built on probably didn't help. They seemed to know NOTHING of such things as 'publicity' and 'advertising'. Let alone the concept of 'having a good cover in order to appear enticing'.

Cobras. I'll come back to YOU in a minute, you Nigel.

Simone. Yes, that IS a sixteen year old me with the hair, and if I can help other people appreciate the awesomeosity of some of the bands that I love that got missed out on by most, then I will consider my job a job well done. Even though it's more of a 'vocation' or 'calling' than a job.

Cobras. Are you telling me that you don't dig 'em? Cuz that surprises me. Give 'em a fair chance or forever be branded as a raging Nigel falser.

Shelby Cobras said...

You misinterpret my comment, sir. I mean, you dead chuffed Sally Nigel.

The Thing That Should Not Be said...


SEANFORD said...

thanks thing, enjoing the sound of souls right now.

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

Good man, it's a cracker. I'll put the other three albums up tomorrow.

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

OH! And, for the record, I hadn't noted the date on that old pic of me - I was 20, as it's from 1993. There aren't any pics of me from before that period. I made DAMN sure of it.

Anonymous said...

There's a new concept album due out soon, with a new line up.

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

Thankyew kindly for the heads-up 'Anonymous', I'll keep a beady eye out for it!

Zero said...

Riffs? We're transcending into the vast beyond here, we don't need no riffs!

Seriously, though, Holocaust are very capable of writing riffs when necessary, but I'm really not sure why someone would think that this record needed more riffs. It's like saying that early Candlemass needed more headbanging thrashers.

In any case, to prove that John Mortimer is in fact supernatural, this quote may be of interest:

"Where I live in Edinburgh it's almost like being in the country...there are so many trees around and I'm next to a river. One summer morning (about 4:30am), I was unable to sleep, so I was sitting reading the end of a book by Samuel Beckett called "Malone Dies." I finished the last line and put the book down. Now the birds had been making an incredible amount of noise as they do at dawn but as soon as I had put the book down there was complete sudden silence. I looked out of the window ...there was just complete silence, it was eerie. This silence remained for about 5 minutes. I had been in a very depressed frame of mind for a long time but all of it changed for me during that silence. The birds resumed their singing and I just picked up my guitar and started playing what is now the first 3 minutes of "Hypnosis of Birds"...with the lyrics and vocal melodies as well...straight off the cuff."