Sergeant Thunderhoof – Album Review

Sergeant Thunderhoof – This Sceptred Veil

Pale Wizard Records

Release date: 03/06/2022

Running time: 69 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

OK: so for once, I’m kinda stuck for words.  How do I tackle this album, the new offering from Sergeant Thunderhoof?  I mean, we can go through a song-by-song overview; try to describe the listening experience for the reader, make comparisons to other bands in a lame attempt to get the message across.  But what I really need – or want – to do, is SELL it.  Because I care about you, Ever Metal readers, and I don’t want you to miss out.  “This Sceptred Veil” is a fantastic record.

Our opening song ‘You’ve Stolen the Words’ lays Sergeant Thunderhoof’s wares out on the table from the off.  A mammoth, heavy riff erupts from the speakers and drags the listener along like a tin can in a hurricane.  This is a big sound.  Mark Sayers guitars are momentous, epic on a biblical scale.  Comparisons to Soundgarden are obvious but apt, particularly considering the Olympian vocals of Daniel Flitcroft, soaring on every song.

If I was gonna make more lazy comparisons, there’s a hint of spacey Monster Magnet raunch on ‘King Beyond the Gates’ and maybe even some Maiden gallop on ‘Show Don’t Tell’.  Both tracks testify that the rhythm section – Jim Camp on bass and Darren Ashman on drums – have the skills to rev the engine as well as groove along on the more cerebral tracks.

Speaking of the cerebral, it’s the lengthy prog work outs that differentiate Thunderhoof from other similar artists.  As much as I love the rockin’ numbers (shout out too for ‘Devil’s Daughter’), these guys are extremely comfortable wandering into the realms where Mastodon rule.  Witness ‘Avon and Avalon’ Parts I and II: two tracks that, whilst not exactly mellow, certainly take their time to explore and build a musical soundscape.  It’s thrilling.

Running at around the 69-minute mark, there is a lot to discover here.  You’re going to need to devote some time to this baby, but don’t fret – you’ll be massively rewarded if you do.  So please forgive the hard sell.  I only mention similar bands in an attempt to reach out to fans who I know will dig this, too.  Sergeant Thunderhoof have created a superb album in “This Sceptred Veil” – one of the best of the year, so far.  Don’t miss it.   

Check out Sergeant Thunderhoof on Facebook, Bandcamp and Instagram.

You can find Pale Wizard Records on Facebook, Bandcamp and their interwebs page.

This review has been brought to you by Ever Metal and Platinum Al.

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #12

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

The Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 30th June 2017

A warm welcome back to Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, at the Queens Head pub in Mold, North Wales.  It’s been a while since the last event, so I had plenty of ideas for what to play.  Events would alter those plans somewhat, however…

To recap, Bring Your Own Vinyl Night is exactly what it says on the tin: you bring along some records, and get a fifteen minutes slot to play whatever you like.

I’d originally planned an entirely different set list, but following the tragic news of Chris Cornell’s passing, I developed a tribute set instead.  As one of my favourite ever musicians, it wouldn’t have been right not to.

My set went as follows:

Temple of the Dog – Hunger Strike

Mother Love Bone were primed to be next big thing in rock; sadly the death of their singer Andrew Wood from a heroin overdose put an end to that.  The Temple of the Dog album came about as a tribute to Wood, from his band mates Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, and his friend Chris Cornell.  Joining them were Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and guitarist Mike McCready.  The music showcased a different aspect of Cornell’s writing, and provided a heartfelt tribute.  On this song, vocalist Eddie Vedder makes his debut, sharing the vocal spot with Cornell on a superb performance.  Of course, many of those names would go on to form Pearl Jam.  This album has tons of memories for me and features some amazing music, Hunger Strike being a highlight.

Soundgarden – The Day I Tried To Live

I was a huge Soundgarden fan; trying to select just a couple of songs was immensely difficult.  I chose this song as it showcases Chris’ amazing voice to great effect, plus the composition is superb: the song builds brilliantly to the massive chorus.  The effect is a song that sounds exactly like carpe diem gone wrong, thwarted by a frustration that is captured brilliantly in the vocal.  Taken from the completely essential “Superunknown” album, which is crammed full of absolute gold.  A record I played non-stop in my younger days, and still return to regularly.

Soundgarden – Burden In My Hand

“Down on the Upside” was the follow up to “Superunknown”, though to me it never reached the heights of it’s predecessor.  This song was one of the best on that set, written by Cornell and again featuring that incredible voice.  A fairly jaunty number to, so I wasn’t ending on too much of a downer.  I’ve re-visited “Down on the Upside” recently and it’s far better than I remembered it.  However making this selection was very difficult, as it meant nothing from the wonderful “Badmotorfinger” record would get a look in. 

So there you have it, my tribute set to the late, great Chris Cornell.  A fantastic musician, singer and song writer – and someone who has written music that has been a massive part of my life, through the ups and the downs.

A great night with some awesome sets, including from my buddies Adam and Graham.  Not to mention Kev playing a lethal track by Electric Wizard, which I didn’t expect!  Here’s hoping there will be another Bring Your Own Vinyl Night soon.

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

The VOD music website is here.

R.I.P. Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell

20.07.1964 – 18.05.2017

Writing this memorial piece is a hard thing to do.  I was a massive fan of Chris Cornell and had been for many, many years.  I was left stunned, then in disbelief, and finally great sorrow when I stumbled on news of his death early that morning.

I had discovered Soundgarden with their “Louder Than Love” album back around 1990.  Music back then was shifting; I’d been listening to what would become “alternative rock” for some time and Soundgarden fitted right in with my tastes.  Along with other bands of the time like Jane’s Addiction and Mudhoney, I liked these bands that were able to meld classic heavy rock with a punk approach.  Bands like Soundgarden threw influences across the musical landscape into one pot.

When “Badmotorfinger” was released, I became a full on Soundgarden devotee.  The band soundtracked the ups and downs of my student life, the good times and bad.  The excellent “Superunknown” album cemented this noise in my affections even further.

Their sound evolved as Soundgarden explored and developed.  The riffs could still be inhumanly heavy, but there other sounds filtering through – from the whimsical to the psychedelic.  Listening to those albums was an experience that took the listener on a journey through different sounds and textures, feelings and emotions.

And of course, there was that amazing voice.  Chris Cornell could croon soothingly or wail like a tormented banshee – an awe inspiring ability that added yet more colour to the band’s sound.

Following Soundgarden’s split, I followed Chris’s musical journey through his solo endeavours and work with Audioslave.  I also loved his Bond theme – “You Know My Name” from Casino Royale.  I’ve played that many times to psyche myself up before a challenging situation, I can tell you.

I’ve tried to edit these recollections down, but revisiting some of the touch points in my life – where the music of Chris Cornell (and band mates) has been integral – goes some way to understanding the respect I have for the man and his legacy.

Sadly, now he’s gone.  I never saw Chris Cornell live (I went to Reading festival in 1994 but Soundgarden pulled out at the last minute) and I’d been looking forward to more music in the future.

It’s heart breaking to know that Chris is gone, and there’s no more music.  We’ve reached the end of that journey.  But what a legacy he’s left.  I’ll revisit those records again and again.  Though full of reminiscences of my past, those songs and performances are immortal.

I won’t speculate on the nature of Chris’s death, it’s not my place.  There are dark places that the human soul can go to.  It’s just incredibly sad.

Thanks for the music, Chris Cornell.  An exceptional musician who has left an indelible mark on millions of us.

“Heaven send
Hell away
No one sings
Like you anymore”