Mad Gods And Englishmen

rating icon 10 / 10

Track listing:

History Of A Time To Come
01. A Cautionary Tale
02. Hosanna In Excelsis
03. Behind the Crooked Cross
04. Horned Is the Hunter
05. I For an Eye
06. For Those Who Died
07. A Dead Man's Robe
08. The Church Bizarre

Dreamweaver: A Reflection Of Our Yesterdays
01. The Beginning of the End (Intro)
02. The Clerical Conspiracy
03. Advent of Insanity
04. Do Dark Horses Dream of Nightmares?
05. The Best of Enemies
06. How Have the Mighty Fallen
07. Wildfire
08. Mythistory
09. Happy Never After (Outro)

Live In East Berlin 1990
01. Intro
02. The Clerical Conspiracy
03. Hosanna In Excelsis
04. Do Dark Horses Dream Of Nightmares?
05. Behind The Crooked Cross
06. I For An Eye
07. Wildfire
08. The Best Of Enemies
09. For Those Who Died
10. A Cautionary Tale
11. The Church Bizarre

BBC Radio 1 Friday Rock Show Session 27th February 1987

01. A Cautionary Tale
02. For Those Who Died
03. The 13th Disciple

If ever there was band deserving of the lavish reissue treatment, it's SABBAT. Although they only existed for six years (first time around, at least),  the British thrash pioneers made a vast contribution to underground metal's musical and lyrical vocabulary, with two peerless studio albums that were utterly unique upon release and that still sound brutally original today. Can you tell I'm a fan?

Following in the wake of glorious box sets from VOIVOD and CELTIC FROST, "Mad Gods And Englishmen" is another seminal delve into the Noise Records vaults. Contained within the smart and sturdy box are both of SABBAT's classic full-length albums, a full live show from 1990 and a vinyl debut for the band's legendary 1987 BBC Radio 1 Rock Show session. Chuck in a DVD of the band's hard-to-find "The End Of The Beginning" live film, a cool poster and a classy book containing all of frontman Martin Walkyier's magnificent lyrics, and this thing sells itself.

For those who have never had the pleasure, it can't be overstated how great SABBAT's first two albums are. "History Of A Time To Come" (1988) was a blistering, imperious first statement. While most other UK thrash bands were in full thrall to the Big Four, SABBAT took an entirely different approach, sounded proudly European and much more vicious and inventive than the standard thrash blueprint would allow. Guitarist Andy Sneap (yes, that guy!) was already a riff machine at the tender age of 18, and Walkyier was literate and ingenious in a manner entirely unfamiliar to the metal scene at the time, while his harsh, barked vocals were definitely heard in various parts of Scandinavia and stored up for the future. Full of steel-plated classics like "Hosanna in Excelsis" and "The Church Bizarre", it's a stone-cold classic and that, my friends, is the end of that. The follow-up, "Dreamweaver" (1989),  is arguably even better. A pagan concept album based on a book by British psychologist Brian Bates (The Way Of Wyrd),  it was darker, more progressive and more sophisticated than its predecessor. From rabid opener "The Clerical Conspiracy" onwards, it remains an uncompromising but thoroughly immersive slab of late-'80s metal magick.

For diehard fans, the real treats here are the live set "Live In East Berlin 1990" and that three-track radio session. The former showcases exactly what a rapacious and commanding live band SABBAT became, and with acceptably strong audio quality to boot, while the latter captures the band three years earlier, hammering through snotty, belligerent takes on "A Cautionary Tale", "For Those Who Died" and hallowed, pre-"Dreamweaver" concoction "The 13th Disciple". And yes, all the discs are on swanky, colored vinyl and every last bit of it sounds fucking great.

Everything about this rules. SABBAT rule. Box sets rule. Thrash rules. Buying "Mad Dogs And Englishmen" should be compulsory.

Author: Dom Lawson
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