Here at rushonrock we make no secret of the fact that vinyl is a big part of who we are and what we love. You can check out the seven inch hits and misses of the hair metal era at The Vinyl Countdown but here we assess the very latest slabs of heavy duty plastic causing our turntables to wilt.
Yes, with our favourite format well and truly on the comeback trail it’s been a great month for records the way we used to like them. Heavy, hissy, occasionally coloured but always colourful. This time we check out a slew of SPV reissues, Hot Leg’s debut and some vintage Metallica.
Like a bolt out of the blue one of rock and metal’s greatest labels decided to feed every vinyl fiend’s appetite for gatefold sleeves and overblown artwork by declaring it would celebrate 25 years at the top with a raft of mouthwatering LP releases.
Available now are three absolute corkers in the shape of Accept‘s classic Restless & Wild, Iced Earth‘s epic The Crucible Of Man: Something Wicked Part 2 and rushonrock faves Kamelot belting out their magnificent Ghost Opera on vinyl for the first time.
Accept’s Restless… is widely considered to be the best music ever released by Germany’s version of AC/DC and in all its 12 inch gatefold sleeve glory the vision of two flaming Flying V guitars has never looked better. Opener Fast As A Shark still sends shivers down the spine to this day as the unmatched Udo Dirkschneider roars his way through one of the band’s ultimate anthems. Michael Wagener’s mix hinted at greater things to come for the man who would go on to do the same job for Metallica on Master Of Puppets four years later.
The second instalment of Iced Earth’s Something Wicked opus is spread across four sides on two discs and the sound is sensational. Never before available on vinyl, 2008’s ‘coming of age’ album for the Tampa metallers is an exercise in controlled fury and focused aggression. By the time the brilliant The Revealing has brought a close to side one you’re hungry for more and that appetite is more than matched by I Walk Alone, Crucify The King and the superbly titled Divide and Devour.
But the obvious highlight of the first tranch of SPV vinyl specials is the two-disc gatefold edition of Kamelot’s Ghost Opera. Like Iced Earth they hail from Tampa and like their label mates they exude the confidence gained from years of touring well crafted records. In Norwegian vocalist Roy Kahn they boast the frontman capable of making their unique style of symphinic metal accessoble to the masses and tunes like Rule The World, Love You To Death and Silence Of The Darkness deserve to reach a wider audience.
Hot Leg may lack the serious edge of those bands plucked from the SPV roster but Justin Hawkins’ latest band of merry hair metal warriors hark back to an age when vinyl was as much of a marketing tool as MTV video clips and celebrity weddings. In opting to release debut album Red Light Fever on striking red (!) vinyl the Leg have simply served to reinforced their credentials as the saviours of cock rock. It’s got the obligatory gatefold but only one disc – which doesn’t do the sound much good. But check out the sleeve in all of its 12-inch splendour – artwork like that is what vinyl packaging was made for.
And then, of course, we have the four disc issue of Metallica’s …And Justice For All which, we admit, has been dissected with the finest of toothcombs on these very pages before. Nevertheless there’s no harm in lauding true quality for all it’s worth and for the true vinyl afficonado it really doesn’t come much better than this heavyweight collection of thrash classics. Some bands were meant to be heard on slabs of black plastic – others belong to the shiny and unemotive world of the CD. Metallica belong in the former category and let’s just say the prospect of the Black album getting the same treatment before the end of the month is causing us more than a few sleepless nights.