Sergeant Thunderhoof, This Sceptred Veil (Pale Wizard 2022)

British stoner metal band Sergeant Thunderhoof stomp the terra again with This Sceptred Veil.

Sergeant Thunderhoof has been around for nearly ten years, and in that time they have released three previous full-length albums, an EP, and a split. It was that split I heard first, actually, Ripple Music’s Turned to Stone, Chapter 2: Masamune & Muramasa where they shared a side with Howling Giant. I was captivated by the more-than-twenty-minute song and since have sought out more at every opportunity. This Sceptred Veil is the best music they have produced to date, as far as I am concerned.

There are nine tracks on the new album. “You’ve Stolen The Words” is a wakening. The heavy fuzz arrives almost immediately, conveying the distant mercurial voice, ever melodic and punctuated now and then with exceptional exertion. This is desert stoner music but high plains, I must insist, with mountains near enough by to have an influence. I can feel melancholia in the song.

“Devil’s Daughter” comes next, and it is a little more actively probative, and, additionally, oracle-like. The riffs conceal the solemn thunder leeching from the dark grey clouds edging nearer, largely unnoticed atop the foothills in advance of the spiritual lead guitar line. Fantastic. And then with not a moment to gather yourself, “Absolute Blue” surrounds you with its silken folds. The first three songs establish the necessity that the next six songs be heard.

The album is marvelous – a wondrous, heavy fuzz presence that pulses and undulates and lifts you away. “Foreigner” is filled with power and “Woman Call” is extra bluesy. Every song makes important and impressive use of guitar, and still “Show Don’t Tell” stands a bit apart on that front. The final passages are “Avon & Avalon Parts I & II,” together running over eighteen minutes – could be a full album side. These two deserve a separate review unto themselves (but sadly will not receive it here). Coming where they do in the set, the impact is significant as the story emerges and the mysticism unfolds. This album is amazing, and I hope it reaches the ears of all the people of the earth. Highly recommended.

This Sceptred Veil is out on Friday, June 3rd through Pale Wizard Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://sergeantthunderhoof.bandcamp.com/album/this-sceptred-veil

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/sergeantthunderhoof

Pale Wizard Records, https://palewizard.bigcartel.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Sergeant Thunderhoof, This Sceptred Veil (Pale Wizard 2022)

Killer: 50 Years Later – An Alice Cooper Tribute Album (Pale Wizard Records 2021)

Alice Cooper’s absolute classic Killer gets a fond remembrance from contemporary bands.

I don’t have any friends who haven’t heard Killer. As I often report, I am a huge Alice Cooper fan from my earliest music listening days and Killer might be my favorite album of his, if there was any way I could choose a favorite. Coming hard on the heels of the band’s first real radio success with “Is It My Body” and especially “I’m Eighteen” from the Love It To Death album, Killer was the record where the combination of radio hits with horror-themed longer tracks coalesced into what Alice Cooper would be known for from that point on into eternity.

I know every song on this album by heart, so listening to new versions of them is a little weird. But you can feel the respect and appreciation from all the contributing bands. They know how important this music is and they are giving it props. Green Lung has the opening track, “Under My Wheels.” They give it a faithful retelling (no horns), including the vocal inflection that Alice put on it way back when. “Be My Lover” gets a spin by The Grand Mal, and here again we are close to the original. It is an excellent celebration.

“Halo Of Flies” is a big test in the sense that it is an expansive, complex eight-minute track. It also received the most scrutiny from me personally because it is my favorite from the 1971 album. Sergeant Thunderhoof deserves a medal for this one – it is incredible in every way. I want to see them do it live.

Ritual King has “Desperado,” the closest thing to a ballad in the set and they take it off in a very different direction. The other two short songs are delivered beautifully by 1968 for “You Drive Me Nervous” in a groove-doomy reinterpretation and Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight on “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” which they drive to an even deeper dungeon of doom than 1968 did.

And what’s left? “Dead Babies” and “Killer.” Mos Generator gets the former and the title track goes to Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. “Killer” has that snappy jazz in its reincarnation here that it had before but this time it is taken into an alternate universe. Mos Generator’s rendition of “Dead Babies” is closer to the laid lines, although heavier and fuzzier –something that can be said for all the songs, really.

There are four bonus tracks on the CD version: “I’m Eighteen” by Alunah, “Billion Dollar Babies” by Suns of Thunder, “Muscle of Love” by Possessor, and “Sick Things” by Sound of Origin. These are all admirable additions. In fact we could go on and on, couldn’t we. There are tons of other Alice Cooper songs I’d like to see covered, but then that would become a series.

The album at hand is a genuine delight for a long-time fan of Alice Cooper. Surely, followers of the contemporary contributing bands will also be glad to hear these tracks that are new for them. Highly recommended.

Killer: 50 Years Later hits the streets on November 27, 2021 to mark the 50th anniversary of the original album’s release.

Links.

Pale Wizard Records, https://palewizardrecords.bandcamp.com/music

Green Lung, https://greenlung.bandcamp.com/

1968, https://1968band.bandcamp.com/music

Sergeant Thunderhoof, https://sergeantthunderhoof.bandcamp.com/

Mos Generator, https://mosgenerator.bandcamp.com/

Ritual King, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/ritual-king

The Grand Mal, https://thegrandmal.bandcamp.com/album/the-grand-mal

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, https://riseaboverecords.com/artists/riseaboveartists/admiralsircloudesleyshovell/

Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight, https://trippywicked.bandcamp.com/album/three-leaves

Alunah, https://alunah.uk/

Suns of Thunder, https://sunsofthunder.bandcamp.com/

Possessor, https://possessor.bandcamp.com/

Sound of Origin, https://soundoforigin.bandcamp.com/

Killer: 50 Years Later – An Alice Cooper Tribute Album (Pale Wizard Records 2021)