The Hu, On Thorns I Lay and Psygnosis

Our spotlight on new vinyl is a little bit heavy this time out as we spin titles from The Hu, On Thorns I Lay and Psygnosis.

The Hu - Live at Glastonbury - (Better Noise Music)

Mongolian rock band The Hu (Hu is pronounced "who") made a big impression on fans at the 2023 Glastonbury Festival in England as evidenced by the appreciative roar heard between songs on this live effort. The foursome is often referred to as a folk metal band and they utilize traditional Mongolian instruments like morin khuur (horsehead fiddle), tumur hhuur (jaw harp), tsuur (flute) and tovshuur (lute) in their songs and you can hear some of that here, like the tumur hhuur on the marching "The Gereg," the title cut from the band's 2019 debut release. But this album rocks hard with plenty of guitar and pounding drums so the major hallmark of the band that is noticeable here is throat singing, a guttural type of vocalization that three members are capable of. Lyrics are sung in native Mongolian language and fans can have fun kind of bending the lyrics a bit to sing along, like on the anthemic "Shoog Shoog," also from The Gereg, where no doubt some listening beer drinkers will gleefully change the chant of "shoog shoog" to "chug, chug!" Also included in the set are more cuts from The Gereg and 2022's Rumble of Thunder, including the ominous sounding showcase of throat singing that is "Black Thunder," and in which there's awesome morin khuur riffing going on. The band encourages the crowd to chant "Hu, Hu, Hu!" at the beginning of "Yuve Yuve Yu," a hard rocker with a singsong rhythm, and the show ends with the chugging "This is Mongol;" indeed it is! Record Store Day editions of this platter are available on marbled red and brown vinyl.

On Thorns I Lay - (Self-titled) - (Season of Mist)

If you're not already a fan of On Thorns I Lay you might get the idea that, because this album is self-titled, that it is the band's debut effort. Actually the Greek doom metal band has been around for several decades and On Thorns I Lay is their 10th album. So they really know their stuff, including how to temper the blackness with flourishes of symphonic metal. "Fallen from Grace" begins quietly with music that hints that all hell is likely to break loose shortly and it soon does as singer Peter "Invoker" Miliadis growls ferociously like he's an ogre emerging from a cave, ready to maim, kill and otherwise terrorize. Later in the song there are mellower moments as dueling guitarists and keys man Antonis Ventouris play some symphonic interludes. There's a heavy symphonic melody to "Newborn Skies" as well along with a chugging rhythm and of course menacing vocals from Invoker. The beginning of "Crestfallen" has sounds that hint at the band's Greek heritage, with Invoker gruffly lamenting how tyrants have taken over native lands (we know this thanks to lyrics printed on the album's gatefold jacket.) On Thorns I Lay is sure to please fans from way back and newbies as well, especially if they can score one of the limited edition copies on golden vinyl.

Psygnosis - Mercury - (Season of Mist)

This French metal band has definite progressive leanings, including the fact that one of their members (Raphael Verguin) contributes to the low end (and awesome solo riffing) by playing cello, not bass. The foursome, rounded out by drummer Thomas Cremier and guitarists Elise Masliah and Remi Vanhove, exclusively play instrumentals so non-French speakers do not need to worry about translating lyrics. In fact cuts like "Opik-Dort," moving effortlessly between dramatic bombast and sublime quieter interludes stimulate the mind to operate in a language all its own. "Eclipse" has some distortion that hints at outer space, maybe a problem in outer space, although the bulk of the song moves to a peppy beat that indicates that things are, after all, okay. Those two cuts take up sides A and B of this 2-LP set; three more cuts occupy sides C and D: the appropriately gauzy (and eventually loud) "Sunshine," the thrash-and-prog balance of "Caloris Basin" and the effort-ending and lengthy "Uranometria" which goes through lots of twists and turns and really shows what Psygnosis is capable of. Cool graphics abound on Mercury's gatefold jacket.

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