I Went To Go See Corrosion Of Conformity Live Last Night At The Globe In Cardiff On 04/05/2023.

 I went to go see Corrosion Of Conformity live last night at The Globe in Cardiff on 04/05/2023. It was my fourth time seeing the band, who started as a hardcore punk band in the ‘80s before evolving into a sludge/stoner rock/metal band over time. They’ve had a number of different line-up changes over the years, most famously their “classic line-up” of the Deliverance/Wiseblood/America’s Volume Dealer era in the ‘90s/early ‘00s of Pepper Keenan (also of Down fame) on lead vocals/guitar, Woody Weatherman on lead guitar, Mike Dean on bass/backing vocals and Reed Mullin on drums. Although I like all eras of the band, that “classic line-up” is my favourite version. And luckily I got to see them three times after they reunited, including in Manchester Academy in 2015, as well as at Download Festival in mid 2018 and finally with Orange Goblin at Cardiff’s student’s union venue in late 2018.

Unfortunately, Reed Mullin is no-longer with us. This was my first time seeing the band since his death, beloved as he was for his unique off-kilter distinctive and unpredictable drumming style (a true great of the genre). Apparently their new and as-yet-unreleased album will feature drummer Stanton Moore (who is known for Galactic, and played on C.O.C’s doomy In The Arms Of God album in 2005 ) but behind the kit tonight was John Green, who was Reed’s drum tech, and has filled in previously when Reed was absent due to health issues.

I had read rumours online that C.O.C were taking to the stage at 7.30pm and that fans who had showed up late to previous nights on this tour were missing most of C.O.C’s set, so I decided to show up as soon as doors open, however these rumours proved to be untrue, and there was a support band who started at 7.30pm instead, by the name of Plain Ride. They were German, and played an aggressive and very technical form of stoner rock. They had some spacey moments and their song structures were very adventurous, but the core sound was satisfying, head-nodding stoner rock/metal. They reminded me a bit of Dozer at times, but much more complex. There was the occasional funky Clutch-esque moment, but most of it was heavier, more angular and meatier. If you could imagine High On Fire with the technicality of Death and the vocals of Dozer, plus occasional Clutch riffs now and again for variety… that’s the sort of ballpark we are talking here. There were even a few moments on the first and last song that reminded me of Blind-era C.O.C. But obviously, more they were more unique than I’m making it sound. They were definitely that type of stoner/desert subgenre, but had a distinct identity, not clones. The best thing about them was that their guitarist looked like he was having so much fun. I love it when a band look like they’re having a whale of a time.

After that pleasant surprise, it was time for the main event. C.O.C are one of my favourite ever bands. According to LastFM there are only 7 bands I have listened to more in the entire last 12.5 years. I was very excited for this. It was going to be a sing along the entire night, feel it in your bones kind of show. Luckily, because I’d showed up early I was able to be right at the front, second person from the barrier, and basically close enough to lick them if I’d been so inclined  (I’m not by the way, but just to give you a visual).

The band tore through a set of mostly songs from the Deliverance/Wiseblood/America’s Volume Dealer era, plus two from 2005’s In The Arms Of God and one from Blind (no prises for guessing which one, if you are a fan). 13 songs total, (or 14 if you count that as an intro they played part of the closing track off of Wiseblood). Not a single song I would lose, not one dull moment, and it was particuarly nice to see “Born Again For The Last Time” which I hadn’t see them play before. The only question I had about the set list, was could they not have squeezed in at least one song from the newest album, 2018’s No Cross, No Crown (which grows on me more and more over time), however every song they did play tonight was brilliant, an absolutely killer set, so I understand you can’t have everything.

I had never been to The Globe before, but it was a properly sweaty, boiling hot venue, to the point where the band kept stopping and making “stay hydrated” jokes. The sound was fairly good although it took them a few songs to get the mix right. The band’s performance was great, John did a great job on the material – not exactly the same at times, but close enough, Woody and Mike have such great stage presence and memorable stances and movements (Woody in particular has such charisma, it is more like watching wrestler Mick Foley in an arena than a band’s guitarist in a club – its crazy he never ended up a bigger star). As with every time I’ve seen them, dozen’s of people seemed to be shouting out personal messages of love and devotion to singer Pepper Keenan in particular – and he did a superb job tonight singing, riffing, soloing and engaging with the crowd with some amusing stage banter. Just one of my all time favourite musicians at this point (although I think it is weird that so many crowd members single him out and shout specifically at him, rather than to the band as a whole. It must be weird being Mike or Woody up stage, giving it 110% and everyone is yelling “we love you Pepper.”)       

I know in my live reviews I often comment on the spectacle and production of a band, the pyro and costumes and videos etc. However, sometimes the best concert experience you can have is just being in a room with four dudes playing your favourite songs well. When they played the hits like “Albatross” the crowd was almost absurdly enthusiastic and it felt so powerful I want to throw around words like “transcendent” and “out of body experience” and although that’s not quite putting it correctly, it was certainly spellbinding, some of the best entertainment of any format I’ve had years, period. Damn I love this band!

I had a superb evening, I highly recommend you a) listen to this band if you don’t already , b) Get back into the band if you haven’t been listening to them recently and c) catch them live as many times as you can – they sure know how to deliver a killer time.

On the way home, I got talking to some other attendees of the show, and everyone agreed it was one of the best concerts any of us had seen since the pandemic. Everyone left totally satisfied. 

Motörhead Albums Ranked

Hate list features? Feel free to skip this article and others in this series.

Here I’ll be ranking the albums by certain bands in order from Best (actually my subjective favourite) to worst/least good (subjectively, in my opinion). Number 1 is obviously the best. The lowest number is my least favourite.

This week is all about Motörhead, the Rock N’ Roll / Hard Rock / Heavy Metal band from Britain, who rose to prominence in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, fronted by one of the genre’s most iconic front-persons, Lemmy Kilmister.

I have had a mixed relationship with the band over the years, from initially stand-offishly ignoring them in my youth, to begrudging respect but no buying albums, to getting into their most famous stuff but ignoring the rest, to exploring a bit more, to total love. At time of writing, I am probably at my absolute peak of Motörhead fandom. Admittedly, some of these albums I have owned much longer than others, but I have tried to judge them fairly and not go for first-favourite bias, or new-shiny-thing bias, and tried to fairly appraise each one against each other on their own merits.



01. 1916 (1991) – If we were going more off of the public consensus, or historical significance, then of course Ace Of Spades or Overkill would be number one (and look, they are still 2 & 3 respectively here, I am not being awkward on purpose and having them in the middle or bottom of the list). However, I am making a list based on my personal opinion, and when I really sit down and think about it, I think this one is their high-water mark for quality and creativity. They repeat some of their best tropes, they try some new ideas, they strike a good balance between modernity and throwback rock ‘n’ roll.

The title track sounds like it could have come off of Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut album, which is not something you could say about any other Motörhead album, “Angel City” makes saxophone sound like it belongs in a Motörhead song, and the melodic chorus to the otherwise savage “Make My Day” nails the Motörhead-gets-commercial idea that they tried on other albums like Another Perfect Day or Rock ‘N’ Roll more perfectly in one song than on those whole records. You could argue it is maybe their most diverse album to date, but its still packed full of that unmistakable Motörhead formula… and when they do just put their heads down and lean into the signature Motörhead style/direction, they create some of their best ever work in that vein.

You may not all personally agree with me that it is their absolute tip top best ever album and that’s ok… its just my own personal list… but I think most of us would be very hard pressed to argue that it isn’t at least one of their best.     

Best tracks: “R.A.M.O.N.E.S,” “Going To Brazil,” “1916” & “Nightmare/The Dreamtime.”



02. Ace Of Spades (1980) – This is their Master Of Puppets, Reign In Blood, Back In Black or Number Of The Beast equivalent album. The one which gets into all the “Best Ever Albums” lists, the one the critics respect the most, the “if you only own one, own this one” type album. The one they are known for even outside the core fanbase.

With some bands, sometimes those albums seem like a bad / wrong choice, seem overhyped maybe? but in fairness to the court of public opinion, this album seems fairly chosen. It absolutely lives up to and deserves the hype. The title track to this will always be the best known Motörhead song, but there’s more to this record’s popularity than that.

It is incredibly focused, consistent, to the point, and urgent. It is probably their least diverse album to date, but rather than that be a bad thing, it just leaves it sounding tight, supercharged and exciting throughout.

I don’t even want to write more about this – I think enough about this has been said about it over the years, and nothing I can say will add anything worthwhile to the discussion. What else is there to say, its Ace Of Fucking Spades!

Best tracks: “(We Are) The Road Crew,” “The Chase Is Better Than The Catch,” & “Live To Win.”



03. Overkill (1979) – Stylistically speaking, in terms of production, in terms of attitude – this album is ground zero for “the” Motörhead sound. They might have had other singles and an album before this, but Overkill is where they really found themselves.

Generally speaking, if anyone owns more than just one Motörhead record, this is the one people go for next, after Ace Of Spades, and with good reason. I have a framed vinyl copy of this on my wall for decoration. Now; I haven’t done the research / maths to back this up, but it seems like more than any other album in their catalogue, this album contains the largest number of concert favourites, or compilation album staples or songs covered by other artists. Simply put; if you want the most beloved, well known, enduring Motörhead classics, this album has quite a high proportion of them in all one place. If Ace Of Spades can be called their equivalent of Led Zeppelin IV, then this is their Led Zeppelin II in terms of hit ratio.

(I personally am a bit weird and cannot stand “Metropolis” at all, but that’s just personal taste, and I recognise I am very much in the minority there, given that it is on basically every live album and compilation they ever put out and most fans love it. However, even that one “lesser” track in my eyes doesn’t stop this from being one of the most essential Motörhead records ever). As said above, many a fan would have this one in the number-one slot of their list.

Best tracks: “Damage Case,” “No Class,” & “Overkill.”



04 . Bomber (1979) – Quintessential Motörhead. A continuation over everything good about Overkill. They are pretty similar in terms of direction, production and overall content. Overkill just pips it due to having an even higher number of all-time classics, but that is no slight on this record and I’d have them as pretty neck and neck. I wouldn’t recommend getting one and not the other – put it like that! In my mind, the two are kind of a set, its hard to imagine listening to one and not listening to the other in close proximity. They were even released in the same year. I know this is probably a pretty cliched thing to say, but even if I am rating other albums higher, this is still better than most other bands’ best albums. If for some reason you do own a few of the band’s records and haven’t gotten around to Bomber yet, make it your next priority purchase.

Best tracks: “Stone Dead Forever,” Dead Men Tell No Tales“,” & “Bomber.”



05. We Are Motörhead (2000) – I know this might seem like a bit of a surprise choice if you aren’t a massive Motörhead fan yet and have only seen those kind of “best ever albums” lists, but if you are willing to listen to Motörhead albums newer than 1991, (which I wasn’t for several years, as stated above, before finally caving and completing their whole discography over the last few years), then you’ll probably find this to be one of the finest collections of songs in their whole career.

Some of their ‘90s albums were quite heavy, and this album takes the best parts of that but delivers it with the verve and enthusiasm of those 1979/1980 records, creating a brilliant crossover album, and the perfect record for anyone who only likes the early days to use as a gateway into the rest of their discography. Its one of their hardest hitting, liveliest and most entertaining albums ever. It might sound really cheesy, but when the title track states “We are Motörhead… born to kick your ass!” it just makes me want to scream “yeaaaaah!”

Also, although this may not initially sound like a selling point for a band more famous for speed, power and force, but it contains the best ballad they have ever written. I could live without the Sex Pistols cover song, and especially not where it is in the track listing (My preference – save a cover for the final song if you’re going to do one, so its more like a bonus and doesn’t interrupt the flow of your own compositions), but that’s about the only thing on the record that isn’t top tier.   

Best tracks: “We Are Motörhead,” “Stay Out Of Jail,” & “One More Fucking Time.”



06. Motörizer (2008) – Over the years, Motörhead have had several eras. There was the really early days before they found their feet, then the classic period with the most classic albums, then the mid-late 80s which divided opinion a bit more, the much more turbulent earl-mid ‘90s, the post-Wurzel period etc. Motörizer kicks off a new (and unfortunately final) era – when they kind of righted the ship and returned to form (although arguably, they were never really that off form) and delivered music much better than many of their peers from the same era were able to deliver at that age.

Kind of like Testament did on The Formation Of Damnation – its just so much bigger, meaner, and downright better than several of the albums preceding it.  Even if there are no line-up changes and they hadn’t changed subgenre or anything beforehand to facilitate a return to an old style… this album just has the urgency and insistence of a “comeback album.”

Even if there is no tangible reason you can pin on it, Motörizer is fired up, focused, and a real gem in their discography. The guitar solos are more memorable, the bass is chunkier, the vocals are clearer, the drums hit harder… it is just much more notably “fired up” than the band had been for a whole album’s duration in a while.

Best tracks: “Rock Out,” “When The Eagle Screams,” & “The Thousand Names Of God.”



07. Rock ‘N’ Roll (1987) – This album doesn’t necessarily have the best reputation, and many fans would have it much lower in their own personal lists. So, unless you take my opinion particularly seriously, maybe don’t reach for this one as your first Motörhead album… but I don’t know, I just have such a soft spot for this record.

Apart from the track “Blessing” which is just a joke/novelty audio funeral prayer with comedy lyrics delivered by Monty Python’s Michael Palin, there isn’t one bad song on the album for my money. This album delivers everything I like about the band, in spades. Its catchy, its bad-ass, it has music akin to Metal and music that harkens back to early rock ‘n’ roll, it has memorable choruses, thunderous drums and bucketloads of Lemmy attitude.

I know most fans prefer albums with Fast Eddie Clarke on them, and I can see why, but you’ll never convince the guitar work on this record is in any way lacking. The two-guitars Phil Campbell and Wurzel line up is something I am very fond of. (I might be hugely in the minority here, but I also personally prefer the No Sleep At All live album to the No Sleep Til Hammermith live album in part for that reason)

This is a bit shallow, but I also really love the album artwork, its one of the first things I see in my mind’s eye when I think of this band. Such a striking image. Obviously not as iconic or cool as the Overkill artwork, but still pretty great in its own right.  

Best tracks: “Rock ‘N’ Roll,” “Traitor,” & “The Wolf.”



08. Overnight Sensation (1996) – Their best album from the 1990s. This is the first album as the trio that they would be until the end of their career – Phil/Mikkey/Lemmy. Unfortunately, Wurzel was out of the band now. Despite being back to a three-piece line-up however, they didn’t seem to lose too much in terms of scope or style, and what they lost in thickness, they made up for in sheer energy. This album feels a lot faster and more urgent than the previous few, which is always a plus on a Motörhead album. I know its not like they are all about speed, of course they have other strengths as well, but its hard to deny it is their strong suit, and for me – when they do speed right – it is one of the most joyous sounds in music. This is one of their faster albums of the ‘90s and all the better for it.

I don’t know what it is about this album, but Mikky Dee’s drumming in particular sounds better here than on any previous release he was on. It might just be the production, it could be him stepping up to cover the missing second guitarist’s space, or it could be pure coincidence – but it really stands out (how great he is) for some reason.

The very first time I heard this album I liked it, but over time I’ve grown to really love it. It’s the kind of record that gets better with every listen.

Best tracks: “Eat The Gun,” “Love Can’t Buy You Money,” “Civil War,” & “Overnight Sensation.”



09. Iron Fist (1982) – I feel a bit weird having this album so far away from the other late ‘70s/early ‘80s classics, as if it looks like I am calling it lesser. Not really, the fact that this fabulous album is separated from ‘Spades et al is just a measure of how highly I am praising the other albums from number 5-8, so take that as a really high recommendation indeed. It is certainly no slight against Iron Fist.

I know there are a few people out there who don’t like this album for some reason, even though tonnes of fans love it, just as there are a few people who think Heaven & Hell by Black Sabbath isn’t a classic because it doesn’t have Ozzy on it, but most fans would have Heaven & Hell as a bone fide classic.

For a while when I first got into the band it was even my favourite, and I still have fond memories of going for long walks around Manchester with this album on. I wouldn’t go quite as far as “favourite” nowadays, but I think its safe to say I am very much in the “Iron Fist = superb” camp and always will be. No Motörhead fan should be without it.  

Best tracks: “(Don’t Let ‘Em) Grind Ya Down,” “(Don’t Need) Religion,” & “Iron Fist.”



10. The Wörld Is Yours (2010) – Everything I said about Motörizer pretty much applies here too. I feel like the whole run of the final four Motöhead albums is pretty much a sort of set, all of similar style, sound, quality and value. It is hard to kind of rank one over the other, and I am sure if I made this list a different week, maybe they might swap order a bit, as they are all so similarly good.

I almost want to kick myself for ignoring this album when it was new and taking a decade to actually try it out, but I’m glad I did, because it is a total banger. A lot of historic bands were not producing work anywhere near this good in 2010 (probably why I did end up overlooking this at the time maybe?).

If you want all the attitude, charm, and swagger of Motörhead at their best, but with an excellent modern production job and some fresh songs you haven’t already heard a million times already – then you could do a lot worse than this album.

Best tracks: “I Know How To Die,” “Outlaw,” & “Bye Bye Bitch, Bye Bye.”



11. Bad Magic (2015) – This ended up being the last ever Motörhead album, and let me tell you, it is not a bad full-stop on the legacy. There are bands with half as many albums, or who were a band for a decade or two decades less, who weren’t able to release an album this strong after the peak of their popularity.

I don’t know if it really needs the Rolling Stones cover song, but they certainly do a better job with “Sympathy For The Devil” than Guns ‘N’ Roses managed to.

As this is the most recent album from them that I’ve bought, I confess I haven’t maybe listened to it enough times to truly consider its place on the list, so it could end up higher if I ever revisit this list in the future.  

Best tracks: “Victory Or Die,” “Thunder & Lightning,” & “When The Sky Comes Looking For You.”



12. Aftershock (2013) – Sorry if this is getting repetitive, but this is yet another one in that run of four fantastic final albums. It doesn’t have a handy distinguishing fact to write about, like being the first or last album in a particular run, or having an interesting line-up change, so I am not going to pad out this section too much.

Its another strong late career highpoint, but not much of a talking point.

The fact that I am not writing more about it shouldn’t be seen as it not being worthy however – it doesn’t have much of a “story” behind it or particular historical significance – but it does have some brilliant songs, excellent performance and it sounds superb.

Best tracks: “Heartbreaker,” “End Of Time,” & “Going To Mexico.”



13. Another Perfect Day (1983) – On the Stage Fright live album, Lemmy cracks a joke about this being the band’s most unpopular album ever. From what I’ve read in liner notes, online, and in Lemmy’s autobiography, the band certainly suffered a bit of backlash for it, as it was the album directly after Fast Eddie left the band, and featured Thin Lizzy’s guitarist Brian Robertson, who many fans reportedly felt was not a good fit.

History seems to have been a lot kinder, and you always find this in lists of underrated or “better than you remember” type albums. I have seen it quite high in many other people’s Motörhead rankings.   

For me, it’s a more than decent album, I like it a lot. Its not quite my favourite, but its got a lot going on for it. The fact that it is a bit different is actually a selling point as it helps it stand out. The production is a bit lacking in “umph” and there is more melody on it than ever before, so I can see how if you were all about the heaviness, this one might’ve felt weak, but at the end of the day the songs and musicianship are quite good. Its full of brilliant guitar solos and fresh ideas. It might not be the one to reach for first, but equally it is definitely not one to be overlooked either.

Best tracks: “I Got Mine,” “Marching Off To War,” & “Dancing On Your Grave.”



14. Orgasmatron (1986) – Due to Sepultura covering the title track of this album, I always assumed it was one of the best Motörhead albums, but after sitting with it for about 7-8 years (I can’t recall exactly when I first bought it), I have come to regard it as a little bit of a step down from their peak. Of all the albums of the ‘80s, it is the one I reach for the least nowadays.

I really like Saxon, and I really like Motörhead – so the idea of having Pete Gill on drums here seems like a match made in heaven, but I feel like the idea is better in theory than the actual outcome is in practice. It does seem to lack a bit of power behind the kit in a way none of the albums with Phil Taylor or Mikky Dee do.

Another slight flaw with this album is that it opens with its worst song, which creates a bad first impression. Motörhead are usually excellent at selecting openers (in fact, if you look at this list, almost every single entry features the album opener in the list of best songs), so it feels a bit strange that they chose to open this album with “Deaf Forever” which may well be my least favourite track of any Motörhead album up until that point in their discography.

But hey, enough of explaining why it isn’t higher up the list, its also not bottom of the list either, right? That’s because there is a lot to love here too. I mean, its still ‘80s Motörhead for after all, that is a pretty high indicator of quality. There is some really killer and memorable material on this record. For example, the below:

Best tracks: “Dr. Rock,” “Built For Speed,” & “Orgasmatron.”



15. Sacrifice (1995) – Lemmy always liked to say “We are Motörhead…and we play rock ‘n’ roll!” There is truth to this, when you think of the many tracks throughout their career that are a sped up version of early rock ‘n’ roll. Lemmy also liked to deny being a metal band. That is not so true, whether he thought so or not – especially as time went on. It might have been true on their debut, and it is definitely true for songs here and there, but as time went on and especially since Mikky Dee joined the band, they got pretty damn Metal over the years. My biggest rebuttal to the “Motörhead aren’t metal, they just play rock ‘n’ roll fast” thing is the album Sacrifice. This album is unarguably metal through and through (with the exception of one song, which happens to be one of the best), and probably the heaviest, nastiest record they ever made to boot.

Of historical note; This was the final album with the late guitarist, Wurzel, after over a decade in the group.

The production on this one is a lot darker and muddier than its predecessor. Its also got some of the more interesting drum moments of the band’s catalogue. Being objective for a moment, this might be one of their less essential albums overall in the grand scheme of things, but I still think its worth your time if you want to dig a bit deeper into their rather lengthy discography. If you’ve only ever heard the late ‘70s – early ‘80s period, this one would be a bit of an eye opener into how far the band would develop over time.  

Best tracks: “Sacrifice,” “War For War,” & “Don’t Waste Your Time.”



16. Inferno (2004) – Inferno is a bit of a frustrating album, it simultaneously contains one of their best songs ever (“In The Name Of Tragedy”) but also somehow ranks towards the bottom of their discography overall. Its strange that it they could create such a total masterpiece of the song, that the general quality of the record overall wouldn’t be as high. I don’t know if its fair to say it runs out of steam, as it starts strong and ends strong, but it definitely lags in the middle compared to some of their stronger work.  

I think the album’s biggest claim to fame is introducing the acoustic track “Whore House Blues” which is good, but gets a bit too much novelty value commentary, as if they had never done a slow song before. I don’t think its quite as noteworthy as reviews make it out to be. I’m not saying it isn’t something new, but if you were totally surprised and compeltely caught off guard by it, you can’t have been paying that much attention. Its not like all of their material for the last two decades was all as fast and hard as the title track to “Iron Fist” every single time.

Anyway; I definitely imagined beforehand that this album would rank higher considering the strength of its best song, and it does get some points for trying something (somewhat) new with its closer, but there are certainly better Motörhead records you could spend your money on.

Best tracks: “In The Name Of Tragedy,” “Killers,” & “Smiling Like A Killer.”



17. Motörhead (1977) – The band’s debut album is not without its merits, but there is no denying they truly hit their stride with Overkill a couple of years later.

Prior to this album, they had recorded many of these tracks on the On Parole album, but that didn’t actually get released until later on (record company shenanigans). These versions feature Fast Eddie on guitar rather than Larry Wallis who would appear on many of these same songs on On Parole, so this album fits a bit better with the classic run of albums than that one does. Furthermore; Phil hits harder here than on the On Parole versions, and some of the less Motörhead-sounding tracks are removed.

It definitely sounds a bit closer to the Motörhead we know and love, but it also seems a bit apart. Its not quite there yet. Also, regardless of sound, the songs just aren’t as good as the songs on the three albums which followed (or indeed most other albums by the band if you look at the rankings on this list). It is an ok album, but not a great one. Apart from the first two tracks, it is a bit ploddy, a bit lacking in attitude and also a bit lacking in speed. (Not that I am saying Motörhead have to be all speed, all the time, I’ve made that point already above – but…) they have written better mid-paced songs and better slow songs on future albums. There is very little here I would call a personal favourite or all time classic.  

This is a charming display of the building blocks of a band who would later go on to be great, but its not their finest hour.

Frustratingly, their version of the fantastic “Train Kept A-Rollin” isn’t anywhere near as good as Aerosmith or Foghat’s take on it. I adore that song in general, but it isn’t as lively here as you’d imagine when you think of the phrase “Motorhead doing Train Kept A Rollin” – if only they’d saved it a few years and recorded it on the Bomber or Ace Of Spades sessions. Now that would be a treat for the ears!

Best tracks: “Motorhead,” “Vibrator,” & “Keep Us On The Road.”



18. Bastards (1993) – Another album with one of the band’s absolute best ever songs (“Born To Raise Hell”) but where the album as a whole isn’t as strong as its highlight moment. If you asked me to recommend a less obvious Motörhead album for you to expand your collection with, I don’t think this would be one of my first choices- (although nowadays you could certainly buy that one track on its own if you wanted) – that being said I still like it. Even if it isn’t the best thing they ever made, it is miles and miles better than its disappointing predecessor, March ör Die, from just one year prior.  

Maybe its because Mikky Dee was in the band full time now, and the line-up was more comfortable with each other? It definitely has a more “band” feel than March’ did. Maybe its just a better batch of songs? I remember on the Lemmy documentary, the frontman said in an interview that they just make an album, and if people don’t like it he doesn’t care because they just put out another one after that. If you take that idea litterally – it would seem the only difference between any of their records being better than the others just comes purely down to luck, based on what the guys managed to come up with at the time. No masterplan, no forethought, just which songs appeared in that time period.

I like this album a lot more than it looks like, having it this down the list, and with such faint praise written here, but with a discography of this size, some albums are going to not be as strong as others, and no matter how much I like this one, its just not quite as great as the albums above it in this list. Not bad, but they’ve done better.

I really like any/all of the tracks from this that show up on future live albums… so maybe its a wee bit overlong too? A lot of their best records were in the 30-39 minute range, maybe this one just has a bit of filler weighing it down?

Best tracks: “Born To Raise Hell,” “Burner,” & “Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me.”



19. Kiss Of Death (2006) – This album has nothing overtly wrong with it. There are no bad decisions to suddenly make an unexpected late-career Rap Metal song, or give up the classic Motörhead formula to become a lounge jazz act all of a sudden. It doesn’t have a weird production that sounds wrong. It isn’t missing any band member that the album before or after it has. It is kind of exactly what you would want and expect from them. It also isn’t terribly written, embarassing or over the hill. It is perfectly fine.

That being said, its not particularly memorable, exciting or noteworthy. It’s the kind of album that is ok when its on, but you won’t be reaching for over and over again, and if you go a long time between listens then you might forget a lot of the songs. In terms of the catalogue, it is just sort of there, but doesn’t really add anything or have anything unique going for it to set it apart. It also, more crucially perhaps, doesn’t feature strong enough tunes to justify being just more of the same (Eg. that’s all Bad Magic is, but that is done so well it doesn’t matter).  

If you want to get absolutely every Motörhead album, you wouldn’t regret buying this, its solid and dependable, but if you are only interested in the very best, then you could skip this one without feeling too guilty.

Albums like this could potentially be a big reason why some fans might be tempted to skip any later-day Motörhead albums, and that would be a big mistake. Don’t let the averageness of this rob you of the chance to hear gems like Motörizer or We Are Motörhead.

Best tracks: “God Was Never On Your Side,” “Kingdom Of The Worm,” & “One Night Stand.”



20. Hammered (2002) – One of the albums that gets described as “rushed.” I sometimes see this album at the bottom of ranking lists. I don’t think it’s the worst thing they’ve ever done, but it isn’t really an especially strong effort either. Even if people say it is rushed, it doesn’t feel like its just going through the motions. It does have some interesting new ideas, some vocal styles that you wont find on any other Motörhead album, which is a point in its favour. It also feels like a clever reaction to the previous album which was very fast and insistent and this is more slowed down and considered.

However, even if it has interesting ideas, there are just better sets of songs out there. This should be no one’s first, (or even 10th) Motörhead album. In fairness, it does have its moments, but its just a bit forgettable overall. Definitely for completionists only.    

Best tracks: “Walk A Crooked Mile,” “Shut Your Mouth,” & “Dr. Love.”



21. On Parole (Recorded 1975-1986, released 1979) – Much like Concrete was for Fear Factory, On Parole is an earlier version of most of the debut album, but eventually released after it by the record label once the band were more famous. Its mostly the same tracks, played less insistently with worse production. If you already own the self-titled debut, then there isn’t really any reason to also own this other than for historical curiosity, or the fact that a few of the songs are swapped out and you just want to own every song. (Or like me, you bought this first by mistake).

However, even though there are a few tracks on it that are not also on the self-titled album, those tracks sound even less like the classic Motörhead sound, so if you are expecting something that sounds like Ace Of Spades or Overkill you might be very surprised. The record label probably would have been better off just releasing those few different songs as an EP, so there is less repetition with the debut and it would feel more desirable. Even then, they aren’t particularly good songs, you’re mostly getting them for curio value rather than because they’re such good tracks. If I said other records were skippable, this is even more so.

Best tracks: “Fools,” “Leaving Here,” & “On Parole.” (And even then, that’s just because they are different to the debut, not because they are must-have in and of themselves)



22. Snake Bite Love (1998) – I’ve heard this described as a turkey, I’ve heard it called rushed, I’ve heard it called their worst record. I almost want to defend it based on the strength of its opener, but as a whole album expereince it does seem to be a bit lacking in creativity.

The aforementined opener “Love For Sale” is quite good, and creates a strong first impression, makes you think the album might be underrated – but then nothing else on the disc retains the same level of quality. The rest of it seems to just be recycling riffs, drum beats, vocal patterns or lyrical themes from the past few albums.

Don’t get me wrong, its not particularly bad in any specific quotable or offensive way, but it is quite lacking, it does nothing new, it’s a notable step down in song-writing quality from the previous record. If Kiss Of Death is the least interesting album of the ‘00s, this is the least interesting album of the ‘90s.

Because it is Motörhead however, it is not totally without merit, there’s still some good to be found, but its certainly in shorter supply here than on anything in the top 15 of this list. In short – Skippable, but not awful.

Best tracks: “Love For Sale,” “Assassin,” & “Take The Blame.”



23. March ör Die (1992) – I often want to say the sentence “Motörhead have never made a bad album, only some that are better than others,” however that would not entirely be true. While there are some that are skippable, and some that have fewer good tracks on them even if I still think they are by and large good, or at least solid, there is definitely one album which I feel could genuinely be described as downright poor – March ör Die.

The most noteworthy thing about this album is that it has the track “Hellraiser,” which is also on Ozzy’s No More Tears album, and that it has a power ballad with guest guitar from Slash and guest vocals from Ozzy. However; outside of those noteworthy facts, the remainder of the album is a lot, lot poorer than we are used to from Lemmy and crew. There is also a quite underwhelming Ted Nugent cover sequenced as track 2 on the album, not even as an album closer. It just doesn’t flow right. I don’t know about me, but if you just deleted the cover song right off this album, it would actually make the record better, even if it is shorter.

As a record, it feels stiff, disjointed, weak, boring and lacklustre. I am not quite sure why, the band is largely the same as the excellent previous album, 1916 (released just one year prior) which was the top of this whole list, and just one year before Bastards, which features such a huge anthem as “Born To Raise Hell” and is several places higher in the list at least than this career nadir …and yet even being smack bang in the middle of those two, is this, the worst album in their whole career. Bizarre. How could they get it so right one year before, and yet miss the mark so much here?

Perhaps it’s the inconstancy of drummers? Phil only plays on one song, Mikky only plays drums on one. this is the only album where Tommy Alridge plays on and he is only credited as a “guest” so doesn’t feel like part of the band.

I don’t know if its as simple as all that either. Even it had have just been one full time band member playing drums on all tracks, its just a weak set of songs, with lifeless production. Never mind skip; actively avoid this one!   

Best tracks: “Hellraiser,” “I Aint No Nice Guy,” & “You Better Run.”

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Metallica – 72 Seasons Review

I am almost reticent to review Metallica albums. No other band is as singularly important to the genre’s fans, but nor is any so polarising. It is hard to find many honest, thought out and truthful reviews of the band, amidst the tide of “they can do no wrong, they are gods,” “this is the best album since 1990,” “they used to be good but they’ve sucked since they cut their hair” and “they are the worst band ever, so overrated, this is the worst garbage ever.”

Even the most respected and intelligent reviewers, both in print and online, seem to get bogged down in the same Metallica review tropes over and over again – and I don’t know about you, but I am getting very put off by the endless discussion of eyeliner in the ’90s, trashcan snare-drum sound and no-solos on St. Anger, dodgy mixing/mastering on Death Magnetic, calling Lou Reed “Grandpa Simpson” on Lulu, jokes about money/wah-wah pedals/Napster, calling Lars and Kirk bad at their instruments and basically all the same repetitive insults being brought up every time Metallica does anything at all. Don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I think it is absolutely 100% fair to say that they’ve struggled to have a good production sound over the years, that their albums are usually too long for the relative amount of ideas, and they have made some questionable creative decisions that not all of the core fanbase approve of. But the sheer volume and extensive hyperbole blowing things so far out of proportion is getting so tiring that reading about Metallica has become a rather unpleasant experience over the years.

So that all being said and out of the way… 72 Seasons is the new Metallica album from 2023, their eleventh canonical studio album, third with Rob Trujillo on bass, third with Greg Fidelman involved in the production, and second on Blackened Recordings. It is neither their best album, their worst album, or anything else particular useful for a good soundbite. It has its strengths and its weaknesses. The hardest part about listening to, or trying to appreciate, or be objective about any Metallica album since 1990 is the uncanny valley in your own mind between the album you think they should have made, versus the album they actually chose to make, and all the seemingly wasted potential that this thought process highlights.

There are many positives to this album – lots of great little bits that will make you smile, a few songs many fans would probably like to see in the live set, and some strong guitar solos. Even the lyrics seem a little bit improved. However, it is not without some faults. As stated above, it will be no surprise to learn that the album also features a lot of the same flaws as every Metallica album since St. Anger, in as much as the band seem to be poor at self-editing, and don’t always know how/when to end a song and how much is enough repetition of a particular part. The album is 77 minutes long, just as the previous was, and just like its predecessor – it is quite arguable that not all 77 of those minutes are utterly necessary and the overall experience and quality would have been higher had someone taken a more discerning approach to serving the songs. This is just my personal taste – but I feel like if Metallica were given a 55-minute limit, this would make all of their albums better.

However, it is welcome that after so many years of unpalatable creative decisions and production jobs, this album, like its predecessor is well performed, sounds “normal” and follows the stylistic and creative directions Metallica are best at, rather than diverging too far into territories they aren’t as strong at. In short, with the exception of the length – Metallica appear to have written the exact album that all the magazines and websites have been saying they (and by implication we) wanted. I for one am quite pleased about that (even if very frustratingly, all the contrarians online are now having the gall to complain about that very fact and decry a lack of diversity and progression – you just can’t win with some people!).

Stylistically, as with its predecessors Death Magnetic and Hardwired… To Self Destruct, the musical direction incorporates large sections of ‘80s style Thrash Metal, with bits of the more melodic and groovy material they made in the ‘90s, and some of the bounce and unpolished feel they developed on the critically panned St. Anger album (although that particular bit has lessened with each album since then). For the most part we get similar material to the best parts of the last two Metallica records, opener “72 seasons” is a lengthy Thrasher, just as the opener to Death Magnetic was (and the closer to Hardwired was). There is a short, quick nostalgia Thrash tune (just like the title track to Hardwired was, and album closer to Death Magnetic was). There are some mid paced songs, often with rolling floor toms, that evoke bits of The Black Album (in a similar way to “Now That We’re All Dead” and “Here Comes Revenge” were from the previous record, or “Broken, Beaten, Scarred” from Death Magnetic was). A few songs towards the back half of the record have some slightly Load/Reload era vocals, just like “The Day That Never Comes” did, or several songs on the second disc of Hardwired.

I don’t think it would be too unfair to call this album a continuation and natural evolution of what Hardwired was. Hardwired was flawed in that some songs on it really didn’t fit and probably should have been kept off for B-sides, and there was one track which I genuinely dislike and wish was never included at all (“Murder One”) – however the highs were very high, in that tracks like “Spit Out The Bone,” in particular, but also “Moth Into Flame,” “Atlas Rise” and a few others are genuinely some of my favourite Metallica songs, period, no qualification. 72 Seasons differs slightly in that no individual song is quite as magic, memorable or instantaneously “classic quality” as the very best moments of Hardwired, but neither is any song out of place, boring, or poor quality. A much more even listening experience overall. I am not sure what is better; 77 good minutes? or a mixture of 30 great minutes, some good minutes, some ok and some poor minutes?

Highlights for me so far are “Chasing Light” which sounds like a mixture of all the different styles mentioned above, as well as the catchy “Too Far Gone?” (great chorus!) and “Room Of Mirrors” (great guitars!). I also really like the title track in principal for its style, although it could use a bit of a trim in the editing room if I am being honest.  

It does seem like a bit of a grower, and gets better with each listen, but it doesn’t have any moment I would call absolutely essential. It is another Metallica album. A good one, throughout, but not a truly great one. To summarise the whole review: Its exactly the right style, sound and production – it picks up where the last ones left off and gives more of the same, (only more cohesive and consistent throughout, however with less of the magic of the absolute best tracks from them). I doubt in 20 years time it will be many people’s favourite Metallica album, but it won’t go down in history as a mistake either.   

I Went To Go See Sabaton (With Babymetal and Lordi) Live Last Night at the Cardiff International Arena, 16/04/2023.

I went to go see Sabaton (with Babymetal and Lordi) last night at the Cardiff International Arena, 16/04/2023. It was my first time seeing Sabaton, although I’ve been a fan for close to a decade. When I first got into them, I was having a big Power Metal phase, sort of around the same time I first got into bands like Blind Guardian, Edguy, Freedom Call, Hammerfall, Iron Saviour, Angra, etc, which was a few years after I got into Helloween and Gamma Ray, but still in that warm glow of the discovery phase of a new subgenre, (you know… that bit where you get enamoured by a certain style before you bleed all the best artists dry and get down to the C and D list bands). Sabaton always stood apart from the rest of the Power Metal crowd as something related, but slightly different. They are a very unique band. They did play near me before, a few years ago, but I couldn’t get the day off work at the time. So tonight was my first exposure to them as a live act. I’d heard good things over the years about what a big show they put on, so was quite excited when I saw they were playing near me, and it was a nice bonus to find out it was on a day when I would be off work the day of and day after. Always a bonus, I hate being exhausted for work the day after a concert.    

Lordi, the opening act, I have seen in magazines and on news websites for years and years, but had never really heard a full song by them more than once or twice. I have no strong opinions on them either way.

Babymetal, by contrast, I have more of an opinion about. When they first arrived on the scene, about a decade ago, I was very sceptical of them, but over the years (and especially since seeing them live at Download Festival 2018), I got over that initial prejudice and recognised them for the superb entertainers that they are. Thinking back to my much more cynical teenage self, I definitely wouldn’t have ever expected to like a band with such a strong gimmick and with songs about Karate and Chocolate that got popular with viral videos, it all just seemed a bit too Tenacious D to me at first glance, but as an adult I was able to give them the time of day and realise that they are very genuine and very talented. Its quite impressive once you give it a chance. No need for all that gatekeeping.

Anyway, those were my thoughts going in, but how was the show?  

I arrived at the arena a little bit late and by the time I’d got through security and been to the toilet, Lordi were already on stage about three songs deep. They had a big backdrop that looked a bit like a haunted castle, the band were dressed like some kind of updated version of Gwar in big monster costumes and they played quite catchy hard rock / metal with a bit of a synthy sound at times and a slightly European flavour to the song-writing. The frontman had good stage presence and they were definitely one of the more interesting opening acts I’ve seen in a few years. I don’t know if I’d buy an album or anything, but I did feel broadly positive towards them. They’re clearly good at what they do, even if I’m not personally very familiar with them.

After a pleasantly short gap, while songs like “Wasted Years,” “N.I.B” and also surprisngly Metal Church’s “Date With Poverty” played over the speakers, Babymetal were next. I’m not much of a barger, too polite. However; I managed, just through virtue of lots of Lordi fans going to the bar or toilet, to get much closer to the stage without actually needing to move past anyone. Since the pandemic I haven’t really wanted to get into the thick of it, preferring to hang back or get a seat, but when it was just that easy to get up nearer the front, it was too tempting not to. Wish me luck that I don’t get sick!  

Babymetal came on stage, the musicians dressed in Ghost-esque helmets (think nameless ghouls) and the frontwoman Suzuka Nakamoto aka Su-Metal and dancers (Moametal & Momometal) in matching sparkly costumes. It might seem silly if you aren’t used to it – but so might Alice Cooper, or The Catman / Space Ace / Starchild / Daemon. They ripped through a career-spanning setlist, with material from all the different records. The sound was a mixture of At The Gates influenced for heavier songs like “Babymetal Death,” System Of A Down (well, at least the drums) in one of songs: “Pa Pa Ya,” pop music for one of the ones nearer the end of the set (“Monochrome”), and Dragonfroce-esque OTT Power Metal for the set closer “Road Of Resistance.” (Which after the concert I found out was co-written by Dragonforce members, so that explains the sonic similarity!).

The drummer was absolutely savage, hitting so very hard. Very intense. It is interesting when you see the musicians so into it and enthusiastic, as one might initially have been expecting a more tame manufactured experience, but this backing band are clearly absolutely loving it.

The stage show, lighting, visuals and sound were excellent, and it was a very top notch show. The crowd seemed very into it, and overall I came away very impressed. If I said Lordi are good at what they do, its nothing compared to how well Babymetal came off. If I hadn’t already have been converted by the previous live show, this one certainly would’ve done the trick too. Their whole set just radiated joy, enthusiasm and pure raw entertainment factor. If you’ve ever bristled at the idea of them, as I certainly used to, I’d say ignore that instinct – they are a really good band. I really enjoyed their set.  

About half an hour later, it was time for the main event. Starting with an eruption of fireworks, and roadies running on stage to get all the covers off the set, Sabaton took to the stage. The drummer was set up on top of a big battle-tank prop, complete with cannon which gave off smoke and boomed with small explosions. The stage was set up like a trench. There was a big video screens showing shots of the band and crowd, as well as showing lyrics and imagery related to the theme of various lyrics. There were various extras/roadies dressed as soldiers or sailors or the assassin who killed archduke Franz Ferdinand, or even the inventor of mustard gas for the song “Father.” There were also all sorts of props like flame throwers and gas deployers and shotguns for the band or extras to interact with, an absolute boatload of pyro and a strong light show.

They also took that trick bands sometimes do where it “snows” further than anyone else I’ve seen – by having it not only snow on the stage, but also all throughout the audience. I actually got wet and cold during a song about a soldier dying in the snow on the Alps (“Soldier Of Heaven.”) Very atmospheric. Overall, what Amon Amarth do with Norse Mythology meets Iron Maiden camp, Sabaton do with military history. It is big, and cheesy and over the top… and I love it. The highlight for me was during the tune “The Red Baron” a keyboardist came on stage with a little aeroplane-shaped keyboard holder prop. Absolute nonsense but it made me smile so much.

The setlist was great, with some of the best tracks from the new album (“Stormtroopers” being my personal favourite from that particular record), two songs from the debut, a few of my favourite songs from the golden era (they opened with “Ghost Division” which is a real winner as far as I am concerned), and a few songs from the modern era. They also did a cover of Motorhead’s reality-of-war themed “1916”  which was very fitting.

The sound was great, the crowd were enthusiastic and the atmosphere was very fun. There were some absolutely huge audience singalongs, especially for “Swedish Pagans” and “Christmas Truce.” During the nautical themed “Dreadnaught” many of the audience members got down on the floor and did a sort of row-boat action, which is quite visually impressive.

Overall, it was a great show. Three quite theatrical bands each putting on a pretty large spectacle, with great sound and a crowd that were well up for it. What’s not to like? I certainly had a great night. I know I say this basically every time now, but I would highly recommend you check this tour (or future tours from these bands) out if you get the chance. Good times will be had by all.  

Riverside – ID Entity Review

January 2023 saw the magnificent Polish Progressive Rock band Riverside release their eight full-length studio album on InsideOut records, ID Entity. It is their second album since the passing of late guitarist Piotr Grudziński and first with Maciej Meller as an official band member.

Sonically, the album is a delight. The production is superb. Crystal clear, brilliantly balanced, perfectly recorded.

Lyrically, the album seems to either be a concept album or at least heavily themed about modern society in the age of questionable truth in the media, social media enraging the public, and a divided society. The lyrics are very blunt, direct and barbed compared to most previous Riverside albums (not to dissimilar to Pain Of Salvation’s Scarsick album). They could come across as a bit too on the nose if you just read the lyrics, but when you hear it with the vocal delivery and over the excellent music it seems almost profound (eg. “unsubscribe the ones who make us hostile” doesn’t seem particularly epic when written down here, but the part of that song when this lyric gets repeated is absolutely massive!).

Stylistically, the album is varied. There are moments that remind me of the more note dense 70’s prog influenced parts of the previous album Wasteland, mixed with the more ‘80s influenced parts of Love Fear And The Time Machine but it is also in many ways unlike any of the band’s previous material most of the time.

Therein lies the charm. Riverside are the most consistent band in music, and yet never make the same album twice. Constant evolution and change, but unshakable quality-control. A few days ago I tried to make a “Riverside Albums Ranked” list, and I really couldn’t do it, all albums were equal, all joined first… and I don’t mean that hyperbolically. I mean that stone cold literally. In terms of full-length studio albums at least, the band have a perfect discography to date, including this new record).

I usually make a list of standout songs in my reviews, but this album is such a brilliant journey from start to finish, and such a great album experience, that I almost don’t want to mention individual tracks. There is also absolutely no filler. Even the songs themselves have no weak parts. There is nothing skippable on the whole album.

In summary; as if you can’t tell already from all this gushing praise, I wholeheartedly recommend this album (and band if you aren’t into the band yet).

I Went To Go See Gojira Live At Cardiff International Arena On Friday 17th February 2023

I went to go see Gojira live at Cardiff International Arena on Friday 17th February 2023. I have owned Gojira material since about 2012, but never really considered myself a big fan until April 2021, when the French Prog / Extreme Metal band released their absolutely phenomenal Fortitude album and everything just clicked for me, and I ended up buying all the rest of their discography.

I’d been hearing for years in podcast, website and magazine form about what a special live band they were, and so once I had finally gelled with the band and been converted I was incredibly excited to see them live ever since. About a year ago, I saw that they were playing close to me, but the tour date was so close to the birth of my son I couldn’t / wouldn’t go. Luckily for me however, the original dates got rescheduled by a year due to post-pandemic reasons, and I was able to go to the rescheduled date this year (and with a year more Gojira fandom under my belt, I’d be even more able to appreciate it).

Due to work and childcare commitments, I didn’t actually even leave the house until after doors had opened at the arena, and by the time I drove to the city, parked, hoofed it towarsds the arena and had been to the toilet at the arena, I had completely missed both support bands by the time I found my balcony seat (so cannot comment on the quality of the support acts at all). I arrived to witness a screen with a countdown, which was at about 80 seconds. I had just about got my coat off when the show started. Brilliant timing; didn’t miss any Gojira!

The setlist was brilliant for me, focusing mainly on Fortitude (6 songs of the 17-song set) and then some of their more noteworthy tracks from other albums (3 from Magma, 2 from L’Enfant Sauvage, 2 from The Way Of All Flesh, 3 from their From Mars To Sirius album and the one-off new single “Our Time Is Now”). I had a whale of a time, and am glad they took this approach, although I could imagine some longer-standing fans might be disappointed with the lack of early material. That being said, I think they chose the right material for the arena setting, and did well to balance their more heavy and dense material with their most accesible stuff so the show flowed very well without going too far in any one direction.      

Visually, it is one of the most tasteful arena shows I’ve seen in years. Comparable to 10,000 Days-era Tool rather than say something big and theatrical like Rammstein or Alice Cooper. The production was great with all sorts of psychedelic videos, Floydian lasers, and even some sparing steam cannons and confetti whilst still seeming arty and tasteful most of the time. Even the lighting was really clever and well programmed. A treat for the eyes. (The photos don’t really do it any sort of justice at all, because it was all about slow evolving movements of trippy growing/changing imagery and lighting with arty intent, which was all tied and timed cleverly to the music. You know the bit in The Wall movie where the flowers grow during “Empty Spaces”? Like that, but for 2023). 

Conversely, despite how understated and refined the stage-show was, the band’s actual performance was surprisingly fun. I was expecting a dour, serious, and moody afair… but they were fist pumping, headbanging, body swinging performers… the bassist was doing jumping splits and spins like a mixture of Blink 182 meets Van Halen… and despite being one of the most complex and technical drummers I’ve ever seen with my own eyes, Mario is a master showman who swings his arms about, flails and does stick tricks like a mix between Tommy Lee and the “this drummer is at the wrong gig” guy – there was even a fun drum solo with audience participation and which wasn’t boring (how few drum solos can you say that about?).
Singer Joe made some jokes on stage and seemed genuinely concerned when a fan temporarily hurt themself, and there was the sort of song teasing and “hey, hey” bits you’d expect from a huge good time rock act like AC/DC rather than a crushing band who have songs like “Backbone” (stream it if you don’t know what I mean). Overall, they played like it was a party, even if they planned a show like an arthouse movie.

The sound was perfect, clear and brilliantly balanced. You could hear everything to almost album-perfect degrees, but with enough live edge to prevent it going too sterile.

They ended the evening with what has become my favourite song of theirs (“Amazonia”) and the whole thing felt like a massive celebration. Its crazy that a band this proggy, extreme and dense (see “Flying Whales”) get to headline an arena when much more melodic palatable bands like Anthrax and Megadeth can only sub-headline this same venue, and bands that have been all over “normal” radio like The Libertines or The Fratellis are playing smaller shows than this. What a triumph for this band!   

A few days ago, I was kind of dreading the show a bit, because as much as I love Fortitude and Magma, I felt a bit of imposter syndrome about not being a big enough fan… due to being a latecomer, but it was a magnificent show and I’m really glad I went. I know I write this almost every time but I really recommend seeing them live.  

Fates Warning Albums Ranked

Hate list features? Feel free to skip this article and others in this series.

Here I’ll be ranking the albums by certain bands in order from Best (actually my subjective favourite) to worst/least good (subjectively, in my opinion). Number 1 is obviously the best. The lowest number is my least favourite.

This week, I’ll be delving into the American Prog Metal band Fates Warning. I am new to the band this year, but I’ve spent a large portion of the year getting really familiar with them and am too enthusiastic to wait a few years to actually write this.



  1. Parallels (1991) – This album is the one you will see in a lot of the Top-500 Metal Albums Of All Time type lists. It was something of a solidification and attempt at mainstream success, ala Queensryche’s Empire or Rush’s Moving Pictures (except without the actual levels of success).

Every song on the album is intensely memorable, and even within each song, they feel like they have about four choruses, because the verses, the pre-choruses, the choruses and the post choruses or whatever, are usually all as good as the choruses on a normal album.

The vocals are so much better than the previous Ray Alder-era records, the production is perfect for this type of material, the musicianship is still impressive without being too showy or indulgent. There may not be 20 minute songs, extended keyboard solos or album-encompassing conceptual narratives, but it still has depth.

A few John Arch-era fans may decry it as a cynical cash crab, and admittedly it is their most mainstream release ever, but for me, that doesn’t matter because it does just have the best set of songs of any Fates Warning album bar-none. There isn’t one song here I wouldn’t want on a live album, compilation or at a concert. Absolutely no fat, no filler, just sheer perfection for this type of music.

Highlights include: “Eye To Eye,” “Point Of View,” & “Leave The Past Behind.”  



2. Theories Of Flight (2016) – Its not often a band who started in the early 80’s release one of their best albums to date so recently, but that’s what we are dealing with here. This isn’t a “return to form” or some overrated reunion album that isn’t actually as good as people think it is. It doesn’t have a hook. Its not their first ever attempt at something, a radical shift in direction or the entrance of a new band member or start of a new era. This is just “another” Fates Warning album, but which just happens to be one of the best things they’ve ever released. It takes everything that was good about the previous album, goes harder on it, features a more lively performance and better production, and the songs are just better – catchier, more memorable, but more diverse, more instrumentally satisfying and generally just better in every way. It does a very good balance of melody and a bit of heaviness, of complexity and simplicity, of acknowledging the past but looking to the future, and best of all it is concise and it doesn’t outstay its welcome. Highly recommended.

Highlights include: “The Light And Shade Of Things,” “SOS,” & “Seven Stars.”  



3. Disconnected (2000) – This album was quite a stylistic departure from the albums which preceded it (but then most Fates Warning albums are), incorporating more of an industrial and alternative sound in places. Ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore is a full band member on this album (compared to some other albums where he may have guest starred on a track or two). The album ends with 16-minute epic (discounting the oblique outro track) and yet is arguably one of the band’s most concise, focused and most direct albums.

Some fans didn’t like this one as it came out in the Nu Metal era and had a bit of a “modern” sound at the time, which lead to accusations of the band losing their way, but when they do it so much better than everyone else, it really doesn’t matter. For an ‘80s band’s foray into modernisation, this is a heck of a lot better than say, Hear In The Now Frontier. I’d go as far as to say its one of their best albums to date.

Highlights include: “One,” “Pieces Of Me,” & “Still Remains.”  



4. Darkness In A Different Light (2013) – This was their first album since X, after a nearly a decade, and what a fine comeback it was. Guitarist Frank Aresti re-joined the band, after an even longer absence. Stylistically sort of a twin with Theories Of Flight, mentioned above, quality-wise it is almost as good. If you like one, you’re sure to like the other. They feel kind of like a pair, in the same way Parallels and Inside Out do. It features a good blend of ambitious and progressive moments, with direct and catchy moments, some technical bits and lots of simple but memorable bits. Its also another one which ends on a lengthy epic. The production is nice and clear. If there was one criticism to be made, its is a little bit overlong, but when the material is this good that’s a small flaw. I don’t think its their most instantaneous release, but it is rewarding on repeat listens.

Highlights include: “O Chloroform,” “And Yet It Moves,” & “One Thousand Fires”  



5. Inside Out (1994) – Sort of Parallels Part 2 stylistically, but a very worthy follow up. The song-writing, performances and production are all excellent. Its not their most progressive album, and its not their most metallic album, so fans of ‘80s Metal or fans of the more experimental stuff might not love this one, but similar to Parallels, if you just want some brilliant rock songs, then you won’t be disappointed. Its got more quality choruses than some band’s whole careers, and pre-choruses as catchy as the best parts of some band’s greatest hits.

I know it’s the last one in the Top-5, but I’d still say its one of the first albums you should check out as a newcomer.

Highlights include: “The Strand,” “Outside Looking In,” & “Down To The Wire.”  



6. Perfect Symmetry (1989) – This was drummer Mark Zonder (the band’s best drummer in my opinion) ‘s first album, and he makes an impact. Arguably the best feature of the whole record is the very showy drumming. Apart from the drumming, this is a very unique album in the band’s discography. The second album with Ray Alder on vocals, but completely different than the album that preceeded it. There is no Thrash tinge, no ‘80s US Power Metal basis, it’s a radical departure from the early days. The first song is sort of a dark, mechanical, harsh song, ala “Red” by King Crimson, the second song is a catchy stadium rock song like the band would do on their next two albums, there’s also an adventurous instrumental, some tech-y stuff and a semi-ballad.

A very diverse album, unpredictable and very entertaining.

Highlights include: “Through Different Eyes,” “At Fates Hands,” & “Part Of The Machine.”



7. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray (1997) – The first 4 or 5 times I heard this, I didn’t like it at all. At first I thought it was boring, miserable and repetitive, which made it quite hard to get into. I also didn’t like the gimmick of all the tracks not having names but just roman numerals because it made it harder to remember which was which. However, with repeat listens, patience and some background reading, the album eventually won me over, and with further listens it grew and grew until you can see how high up this list it is, whereas had I written this list the same month I bought this record, it would be dead last.

A slow burn concept album with theme-and-variation re-use of musical and lyrical themes, some sound effects, and a general atmosphere of ennui… its not a cheery or simple listen, but it is quite an accomplishment.

Highlights include: “Part XII,” “Part X,” & “Part III.”  



8. No Exit (1988) – This transitional album bridges the band’s quite traditional sounding early sound with original singer John Arch, with the band’s future with singer Ray Alder. Ray’s first album, yet still decidedly ‘80s music, it’s a real one-off moment in time. They also for the one and only time in their career, incorporate a tiny bit of Thrash Metal into the sound. The bulk of the album is quite direct, heavy, very metal songs, and then it ends with their longest ever song to date, a 20-minute song that mixes very quiet, slow parts with high energy metallic parts. Even with a 20 minute song, its arguably one of their least proggy albums to date, but if you like them at their most metallic, this is the one for you.

Highlights include: “Silent Cries,” & “The Ivory Gate Of Dreams.”  



9. Awaken The Guardian (1986) – There is a small, but very vocal subsection of the fans who would have this as number one. It has an incredibly positive reputation and is held very dear in some fan’s hearts. To me, it is the best of the John Arch era, and a good album, but it is not just quite as special to me as to the fans who really adore it. Next to ‘Pleasant Shade it is the album of theirs that took me the longest to “get.” Once I did get into it though, and when I am in the mood for it, I can see a lot of what people seem to love about it. Its also a lot more even and consistent all the way through than No Exit, and on an objective level should probably be above that album in any list, but just for me personally, I don’t much like the sound of Arch’s voice (he is very talented, very skilled, and can sing really well, but I don’t personally enjoy the sound). If it wasn’t for No Exit, you could almost treat the Arch and the Alder eras as two completely different bands. If you like the sound of Arch, consider this one to be much higher up the list. If you like fantasy D&D type lyrics as well, consider this one higher as well. Its very good at what it does. I just prefer what is done on future albums.

Highlights include: “Guardian,” “Fata Morgana,” & “Giant’s Lore (Heart Of Winter).”  



10. X / FWX (2004) – This album is often called the band’s low point, and even more than Disconnected, people who don’t like Alternative or Nu Metal seem to really hate on this one. There’s bits that sound like Tool, bits that sound a bit Grunge, and bits that are quite commercial. People tend to dislike this because of the style, but ignore the fact that most of the songs are pretty god, the musicianship is excellent and the production is superb. Admittedly, they’ve done better, but this is far from a poor showing. Sadly, it was Mark Zonder’s last album with the band before leaving.

Highlights include: “Simple Human,” “Another Perfect Day,” & “Wish.”  




11. The Long Good Night (2020) – At time of writing their latest album. It feels a bit unfocused, there’s a bit of filler, and while it features a similar style to two of their best albums (Darkness’ and Theories’), it doesn’t really live up to what came before it. It’s the first time in their career they’ve stayed in one style for three albums in a row, but it just doesn’t feature songs as good as the other two albums in this direction. I definitely wouldn’t make this my first Fates Warning album if I was you.

There are some good moments, but as a whole it is definitely one of their patchier efforts.

Highlights include: “The Longest Shadow Of The Day,” & “Shuttered World.”  



12. Spectre Within (1985) – Their second album was a huge, huge improvement of the first. It is night and day how much better this one is than the debut. Many people would have this as an all time classic. Its not totally to my tastes, mainly due to the vocals, but I can appreciate the music. Kind of like a mixture between Warning-era Queensryche, Sirens-era Savatage and early Maiden, except the songs aren’t as good as that makes it sound. Good direction, but the execution is just “ok” for me.  

Highlights include: “Epitaph,” & “Traveller In Time.”  




13. Night On Bröcken (1984) – Their debut, and most people just call it an “Iron Maiden clone.” It is quite derivative, it is quite amateurish and while both of those things can be charming and entertaining sometimes, it just doesn’t have much in the way of good songs. Compared to the two albums which followed it, which are objectively good but just with vocals I dislike and songs that don’t stick in my head, this one is actively pretty poor. For completists only.

Also, on a very shallow note – this has got to be one of the least professional album covers from a band that went on to success. I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover, but it does sort of give you a pretty accurate representation of the level we are dealing with in this instance.

Highlights include: “Shadowfax.”

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