St. Paul, Minnesot'as True Metal Record Store (RIP as of Dec. 24, 2015)
My contributions have been scant in the last few weeks. Rest assured, I have fantastic reasons for that you will soon understand.
This blog is mostly a positive affair, but those who know me personally understand how very strict I am with my praise and how hyperbolic I am with my criticism. Attributing this skepticism to age alone would be hugely disingenuous as it is undoubtedly a longstanding habit of mine.
There is physical evidence of this in the massive number of discs in my collection I’ve cast aside or ignored entirely, for whatever reason. Perhaps bad attitude on my part or mediocre music on theirs. These CDs have done nothing but strain my back during moves and collect dust during more sedentary times. I went through them systematically for the first time in ages last night. Many of them shall end up at Into the Void Records, and for that I’m grateful as I know they’ll find appreciative homes.
All of this is to illustrate how little I even cared until very recently to consume “new” music. Being at Into the Void on the regular has helped me rediscover classics, or comebacks by classic acts: FATES WARNING, SATAN and JUDAS PRIEST are just a few. As I may have mentioned before, I’m turning back the clock a bit on understanding the heavy metal genre, which is great for my reawakening my metal mind. Already new pathways are presenting themselves and alternative histories are being revealed.
Even with this pitiful excuse for open-minded listening, I never expected to discover something new and still decidedly METAL. I long gave those hopes up for dead, assuming the rest of my life would be nothing but retreads, clever introduction of non-metal elements and the perfection of classic ideas.
I was wrong. SATAN’S HOST is that band, and By the Hands of the Devil is that album.
I hope you’ve chosen to hit “play” on the embedded link above before reading further — the self-evident greatness should save me quite a few words of awkward praise.
Somehow, this band has been around since 1977. Somehow else, their 1986 debut Metal from Hell, featuring Satanically gifted vocalist Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin (aka Leviathan Thisiren in the early incarnations of this band), has been nearly erased from official memory. This is despite the success of JAG PANZER, RIOT and various other mega-successful acts with whom he has long been aligned.
Stranger still: the manner in which SATAN’S HOST persisted, slowly reinvented themselves, and reunited with The Tyrant over 20 years later to create this monumental album.
Which leaves the greatest mystery: how they’ve perfectly combined strains of classic MERCYFUL FATE, cocksure American power metal, black metal melody and vocal accents (!), tempo changes and blast beats (!!) into this triumphant collage without sounding the least bit a recombination or gimmick.
The opener, the album’s namesake, is a perfect example: something of a death metal riff; soaring voice; BLAST BEATS and tremolo-picked melody; repeat and push even higher; riff that could have come directly from an outtake from Don’t Break the Oath. How did nobody think of this before? These are the most heartfelt and reverential tributes to the Devil heard since King Diamond’s salad days, and I dare say nearly of all time.
If you were listening, it should be obvious by now, depending how slowly you read, that I exaggerate not. O, how I laughed at the typically over-the-top marketing copy from Moribund Records on the sticker: “The darkest METAL album since DIO Holy Diver…The most Evil Power Metal Album EVER.” “Fucking LOL,” I would’ve literally said if I were a complete moron. Well, I’m not laughing anymore. I hope I’ve convinced you of the same.
Besides having By the Hands of the Devil available again shortly (beat you to it fuckers), Into the Void will also have copies of SATAN’S HOST’s more black metal-oriented back catalog. In this spirit, we’ll be enthroning several Albums of the Month beginning in September to bring pleasures such as these to your worthy attention. Look for that soon.
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