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Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Reviews: Blasphemer, Machinations Of Fate, Frozen Dreams, Aggro (Reviews By Paul Hutchings)

Blasphemer: The Sixth Hour (Candlelight Records)

Not to be confused with the Dewsbury outfit or the many other bands who also use the name, this is album number three from the death metal band from Lombardy. Formed in 1998, the band waited until 2008 for their first release, before following up a mere eight years later with Ritual Theophagy. This is uncompromising death metal very much in the vein of Ex Deo and Kataklysm, with an underlying anthemic quality that is overlaid with traditional brutal approaches. Blistering blast beats, guttural vocals and distorted tremolo riffing are all very much in evidence. Opener Let Him Be Crucified leaves you in no doubt what the band’s subject matter focuses on whilst Hail, King Of The Jews continues the anti-religious themes.

Although only guitarist Simone Brigo remains from the original line-up, Blasphemer are a cohesive unit, who deliver intensity at machine gun speed. There is sufficient interest and quality to satisfy the death metal devote, whilst the basic pattern of style also provides enough interest for those whose palette may require a wider menu. The searing solos in The Robe Of Mockery for example, cut through the wall of sound with a. Clarity rarely heard. The range is narrow, with Blasphemer focusing on their strengths. And that’s okay with me. It’s solid from start to finish. 6/10

Machinations Of Fate: Self-Titled (Redefining Darkness Records)

Formed in 2012, Machinations Of Fate hit hiatus in 2014. The Kentucky outfit had released Tyrannous Skies in 2012 but having reformed in 2019, this release sees Ash Thomas revise the drum sound and blend it with his original vocals, guitars of Jason Pate and lead work of Brian Henn. When it rolls what we get is some ferocious death metal that pounds hard with bludgeoning effect. The album is interspersed with some quieter moments, such as the two-minute instrumental Planetary Chaos (A Dirge For The Cosmos) but it’s where the full-frontal assault commences that the real meat on the bone is revealed. Tracks such as Bedlam in the Far Reaches and the seven-minute The Malformed Archetype are ferocious, punishing and sound fresh from start to finish. Revised, renamed and with a facelift on all fronts, Machinations Of Fate have punched hard and will no doubt appeal to those who dine on Dissection, Kreator and the like. Whether they can make an impact on an ever-shrinking pond of opportunity is debatable but for now, this is a solid thrash/death metal album. 6/10

Frozen Dreams: Awaken The Darkness (751075 Records DK)

Yet another multi instrumentalist who clearly needs to get out a bit more. Frozen Dreams is a project comprising of Weird, or as his mum probably calls him Markus (Sjodahl). Formed in 2017, Awaken The Darkness is the sixth album released since Journey Through The Realms. Badged as atmospheric black metal, with topics including nature and adventure, what the album does have is a slightly different take on a genre which is saturated with average music. If there is one genre that is struggling to provide inspiration at present, then it is this one. Heavily reliant on the synths and effects, Sjodhal brings a lighter touch to his music with some distinctly Eastern sounds, such as on End Of Life where there are alternative percussive approaches. However, there is a repetition in the song writing that leads the listener to drift away and on my first listen the album went round on loop three times before I realised. Self-production often leads to a tinny sound and that is the case here. Whilst Sjodhal has talent in spades, taking time to refine his craft may well be of benefit in the long run. 5/10

Aggro: The Shift Of Balance (Self Released)

Despite only forming in late 2018, Surrey based metal outfit Aggro’s debut five-track EP The Shift Of Balance demonstrates a maturity in writing and a pleasingly solid approach to song structure. Opener Ruins pins the KSE influence up front and central whilst the chug of Your Turn, complete with Dan Gallop’s snarling vocals oozes groove. The band sound tight and together, the interplay of guitarists Phil Williams and Rob Joyce focused and sharp. Whilst Aggro stick closely to a tried and trusted formula, there is plenty to enjoy in this EP. This Burden gallops along, the mix of clean and gruff vocals working well whilst the riffs rain down. Drummer Jon Moore and bassist Ant Rosher keep everything tight in the engine room. The music is short, sharp and in your face. No Fucks Given with its Dan Lilker bass lines is closer to the metal core style I was expecting but with a twist in the delivery. It’s no surprise that the filthy Sambucca bastards Gutlocker are on the bill for the EP launch as there are similarities between both outfits. The Shift Of Balance is completed with Stalemate, a Machine Head/KSE hybrid with enough meat to get any room bouncing. This is a decent release. 6/10

Reviews: Marko Hietala, Konvent, Temperance, Yoth Iria (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Marko Hietala: Pyre Of The Black Heart (Nuclear Blast)

A name that should be familiar to you Marko Hietala is the vocalist/bassist for both Tarot and Nightwish while also being an in demand guest vocalist for acts like Delain and Northern Kings. His distinctive vocals phrasing though has been at it's best when paired against any of the three brilliant lead singers of Nightwish, with Nightwish now at the biggest they have ever been at their career Hietala has turned his focus on creating a solo album, he had a huge backlog of music in conjunction with his writing for Tarot and Nightwish (though most of their material comes from Tuomas Holopainen) that was more personal to him, it's music that wasn't right for Tarot due to it's darker more reflective nature. The dramatic romanticism of I, Dream and Death March For Freedom are very obvious choice with some Dio-era Sabbath and Deep Purple organs creeping in on the latter, while the former is a softly spoken acoustic record.

It's a very atmospheric record and built upon layers of keening acoustics mostly some excellent 12-String playing from Hietala which has Marko bringing some Finnish folk flourishes to a heavy prog sound that he has been able to take in any direction due to the continued success of Nightwish. It means that on The Voice Of My Father is a dark ballad with moody bass and piercing synth showcasing the range of Hietala's voice. The spirit of prog looms large on Pyre Of The Black Heart the songs with Marko stretching his creative muscles aided by Tuomas Wäinölä (guitar) and Vili Ollila (keyboards), who helped compose the album adding the atmosphere to the Floydian For You, the big riffs to Star, Sand And Shadow, the band is rounded out by drummer Anssi Nykänen who shows off on Runner Of The Railways driving it like a nuclear powered locomotive. This is a look into the musical soul of Marko Hietala and it's one that is brimming with creativity, if your only exposure is Nightwish or even Tarot then it's time to expose yourself to the other sides to this Finnish musician. 8/10

Konvent: Puritan Masochism (Napalm Records)

If I were to describe Puritan Masochism in one word it would be terrifying. If this music was a colour it would be Vantablack, unaffected by any sunlight that shines upon it, the Danish band that have created clearly imbued by the moribund spirit of Paradise Lost, Mythic and My Dying Bride. Not what you would expect from a band that come from the birthplace of Lego. Formed in 2015 the band is made up of Heidi Withington Brink (bass), Sara Helena Nørregaard (guitars), Rikke Emilie List (vocals) and Julie Simonsen (drums) and this is their debut album. All I can say is that they must have been in a dark place when they wrote it as it's death/doom at it's spine-tingling best, the guttural vocals of Rikke is jarring but perfectly fits in with the down-tuned morose doom riffs form her bandmates.

Trust is particularly abrasive with the whispers behind the main vocal all the more upsetting when listened to on headphones, while World Of Gone has a repeating riff that forces you to nod along at a slow speed of course, though not as slow as the devastating Bridge which crawls along ripping and tearing towards it's climax. The riffs here range from mountainous to cavernous as it peaks and troughs across nine tracks of which the final two are part of a suite called Ropes which close the album with two songs that are 4 minutes and 7 minutes apiece. A monumental opening gambit from Konvent, they've been called the band that may kickstart the new class of death/doom, it's difficult to argue on the basis of Puritan Masochism. 8/10 

Temperance: Viridian (Napalm Records)

Yet more symphonic metal from Italians Temperance, Viridian is their second album with new vocalists Alessia Scolletti and Michele Guaitoli who serve as the clean vocalists in conjunction with founding guitarist Marco Pastorino's harsh vocals. So yes they sound like Amaranthe, as they merge crunchy metal with bouncy pop and ripples of electronica throughout. Alessia, Michele and Marco's vocals all meld well on numbers such as I Am The Fire and the rampaging My Demons Can't Sleep, it goes full pelt from moment one bringing hook after epic hook, the title track being a prime example of songs written for the live stage, even on more romantic songs like Let It Beat are made to get you bouncing as the three voices trade off though here it mainly the two clean singers, Nanook brings more folk influences to the standard modern symphonic sound. Now I have a problem with bands like Amaranthe is that the songs to tend to blur into one another and I found that with this record as well I was writing this review while listening and what I thought was track 2 was actually track 7. It gets a bit blurry and I find myself losing interest, still it's big business so good luck to them. 6/10

Yoth Iria: Under His Sway (Repulsive Echo)

In the annals of Hellenic Black Metal the name Jim Mutilator is about as revered as they come, a founding member of both Rotting Christ and Varathron he is the one of the originators of the Hellenic black metal sound, his dirty bass sound was so integral to those early RT records. Ferocious and biting in it's frantic fuzz, Under His Sway is a record that harks back to those records while continuing this style of music into another decade. Jim has been joined by some more former RT alum in the shape of Magus Wampyr Daoloth on vocals along with George Emmanuel on guitar. Musically it doesn't stray from the Hellenic Black Metal blueprint as the title track builds up with Emmanuel's guitar showing why he was such a major part of Rotting Christ's sound until recently.

The title track builds up into multi-layered black metal tremolo picking ripping your face off with the mixture of aggressive riffs, swathes of synths, it's heavy hitting and a great opening for the album. The almost-symphonic Sid-Ed-Djinn and has some Greek traditional touches, that are ramped up fully towards the end. At just three tracks it's a sharp shock of Hellenic black metal that is closed out by a cover of Visions Of The Dead Lover from Rotting Christ's Thy Mighty Contract bringing things back full circle. Under His Sway is Hellenic BM from one of it's inventors, play loud and worship Satan! 7/10

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Reviews: Pyogenesis, Orochen, Mr Bison & Spacetrucker, Märvel (Rich & Paul H)

Pyogenesis: A Silent Soul Screams Loud (AFM Records) [Paul Hutchings]

It shows how much music is out there that it’s only now that Stuttgart’s Pyogenesis reach the tomes of this blog. The band, who had a lengthy hiatus between 2002 and 2014, returned with A Century In The Curse Of Time in 2015 and 2017’s A Kingdom To Disappear. As they approach their 30th anniversary, album number eight, A Silent Soul Screams Loud completes the third and last part of their Steampunk trilogy. Originally part of the gothic metal movement, the band toured the UK in 1994 with Anathema and like the Liverpool outfit, have changed their style substantially through the years, morphing into the current melodic melancholic alternative rock that is possibly the best description for them today. A Silent Soul Screams Loud follows on from the two previous parts, dealing with the change of the society in the 19th century. Topics highlighted include Napoleon’s reign, Sigmund Freud, Frankenstein and Karl Marx. Not your usual demons and wizards! Musically, the band’s sound ranges between strong, crushing riffs, wider more melodic rock and even soaring symphonic elements. The album opens explosively, a blistering riff and pounding drums giving way to a more melodic style on the chorus which is upbeat and with a great hook.

This Is Survival Of The Fittest, and a powerful opening song. Clean vocals and high-pitched harmonies give it a more AOR feel than is perhaps warranted Mother Bohemia strays into power metal territory, a high-paced opening giving way to a symphonic middle section before accelerating once more, echoes of Helloween flitting through the memory. Modern Prometheus also featuring a guest appearance from Lords of the Lost singer Chris Harms. With the first seven tracks all short in length, the album spirals toward the closing 14-minute opus, The Capital (A Silent Soul Screams Loud). Constructed in three movements and based on Marx’s Das Kapital. Impressive and challenging subject matter, the song is an interesting piece, gruff singing intertwines with the cleaner style of founder member Flo Schwarz. 

The first movement a galloping power metal race, before things slow right down in a semi-acoustic segment reminiscent of Blind Guardian, the duel guitars and keyboards aided by subtle percussion and more high-pitched harmonies, a crisp guitar solo breaking through. Eventually the song moves to the third movement, building in intensity to reach what I found to be a slightly underwhelming finale. Whether it is a masterpiece or vastly overblown is a matter of opinion. I sit somewhere in the middle, with the pace never recovering and the song losing its direction somewhat. Stan W. Decker’s cover art is impressive, a detailed piece which is worth seeking out. The production is crisp and fresh. Pyogenesis certainly follow their own path, and for that they deserve credit. It is an album that is certainly worth a listen. 6/10

Orochen: Mechanical Eyes EP (Self Released) [Rich Oliver]

Mechanical Eyes is the second EP by Swedish post-rock outfit Orochen.  Comprised of four songs Orochen are kind of a middle ground between post-rock and neofolk with touches of post-metal in their sound as well.  Although influenced by bands such as Neurosis or fellow countrymen Cult Of Luna this is a far more relaxed sound rather than the sonic denseness of the aforementioned bands.  Although there are heavy moments this release relies far more on creating atmosphere and soundscapes.  The folk moments snugly fit in and go hand in hand with the aura created especially on the title track with the wonderful inclusion of banjo. The vocals by Jonas Mattsson are nicely understated yet highly effective being used to stunning emotional effect on Shiny String Of Lies. Mechanical Eyes is a very enjoyable little EP.  Whilst not immediate this is great music to have on in the background and I think the more you listen to this release the more it will grow on you. 7/10

Mr. Bison & Spacetrucker: Turned To Stone Chapter 1 (Ripple Music) [Rich Oliver]

Turned To Stone Chapter 1 is a split release from Italian heavy psych band Mr. Bison and US stoner rockers Spacetrucker released through Ripple Music. Both bands I am wholly unfamiliar with each band has three songs each and both bands whilst in similar musical territories also have notable differences. Starting with the Mr. Bison half, we are offered up some psych rock with a mix of chilled stoner rock vibes and mellow psychedelic passages with some hints of prog rock. There is a part in The Stranger which sounds very Pink Floyd. These songs very much have a warm and organic feel to them and it is surprising to learn after listening that the band are minus a bass player being made up of two guitarists and a drummer. You wouldn’t know unless told as there is plenty of low end on display to make up for the lack of said bass player.

Whilst not a style I am wholly convinced by this was an enjoyable first half of the split although the three songs don’t really stand out from each other. The Spacetrucker half is far more in your face being a far more riff driven affair. Dirty fuzz over pulsating bass and some pounding drums, this is very much 90’s stoner rock worship. Two of the songs are very blunt and straightforward rockers whilst the other is a more loose instrumental. The rockers are the most effective for me though the instrumental Distant Earth does have some sweet moments. This is a very nice split EP with a good bunch of bands from two bands who have similar but also opposing styles. Stoner and psych freaks will 100% enjoy this split. 7/10

Märvel: Märvellous (Sign Records) [Paul Hutchings]

With little information to go on I took a punt on this EP to review. If follows their 2019 album Guilty Pleasures reviewed by Alex in these very pages in April last year. Although there is nothing special about Märvellous, repeated plays do worm their way into the external acoustic meatus, the catchy hooks and pleasing melodies forcing their way in deep. Formed in Sweden in 2002 when John Steen (The King), Ulrik Bostedt (Speedo) and Tony Samuelsson (The Vicar) spent a high school exchange year in Colorado, USA, the band has subsequently released several albums, playing garage rock n’ roll. From what I’ve read, they’ve avoided lawsuits from Marvel comics as a result of a well-placed umlaut.

This EP is drenched with classic 1970s KISS style, from the undulating bass lines, the shiny guitar work and the harmonies on the choruses. Now, as I love early KISS this works well from me. From opener Amaze-O-Digi to the high school stomp of Public School, this is rooted deep in 1975. Following the footsteps of Swedish rockers Turbonegro and the Hellacopters, Märvel bring a sound which when done right is addictive. A mix of hard rock and pop, this EP is enjoyable to say the least, Oh, and apparently, they play in face masks and have stupid names. 6/10

Reviews: Victorius, Pink Cigs, Dies Holocaustum, Hollow Seasons (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Victorius: Space Ninjas From Hell (Napalm Records)

When you were a kid and you used to play with your mates in the school playground, you'd invent all sorts of games to play, most of which would make no sense but would be an amalgamation of various things you'd seen on TV or read about in comics or books all mashed together. I think this is where Victorius have got the theme for their new album Space Ninjas From Hell, it definitely sounds like something I would have played in the playground (not a sporty kid see) as I tried to roundhouse kick my mates head off in slow motion (space you see). If you're expecting galloping power metal then you'd be spot on as this is the fifth album from the German power metal maniacs who have previously written numerous fantasy metal epics and an EP about Sci-Fi Dinosaurs in 2018.

Space Ninjas From Hell is a concept album, similar in theme to those of Gloryhammer but this time about Evil ninjas who team up with a dragon but were banished by a Wu-Shu-wizard-master only to survive in space and return to conquer Earth. Shakespeare it isn't but tracks like Super Sonic Samurai bring a big goofy grin to your face with the mentions of "laser Katana's"as the tracks whizz past in a flurry of blastbeat drumming, twin guitar harmonies and histrionic vocals. Nippon Knights rumbles forth with a shout along hook as Shuriken Showdown ramps up the speed again. There's even a comedy skit before the symphonic heaviness of Wasabi Warmachine, weirdly the heaviest track on the record. It's not supposed to be serious, this is an album about joy, it has that childlike quality about it, for adults the lyrics will make you laugh but you'd easily be able to play it to a load of Primary School kids as it's the aural equivalent of Pixie Sticks. Bouncy power metal with a bonkers concept, switch off your cynic sense as enjoy. 7/10

Pink Cigs: S/T (Harvest Studios)

Pink Cigs are from Sheffield but you'd be forgiven for thinking they were American, especially when they start to kick out the jams on their debut full length album. Pink Cigs are Cris (guitar/vox) Fids (guitar/vox/keys), Babs (bass/vox) and Kyle (drums) and this album has 10 tracks of fuzzy stoner rocking with it's arse in the blues but the volume up to 11, tracks like the slithering Noose and the bouncy Nightstalker bring to mind Orange Goblin, The Sword and Witch Tripper with a potent mixture of classic heavy metal, thundering doom, psychedelic wooziness and a whole heap of grit on numbers like the choppy Low Blow a track with a punk attitude, the sleazy Lazy Lover which morphs into a explosive guitar duel to climax with (clearly not lazy at all). They add a touch of Zeppelin to Whiskey Woman and some barroom boogie on Black Widow making this self titled debut record rammed with riffs that will make you want to party hard, I'd never heard of Pink Cigs before but with this still ringing in my ears I'm desperately looking for gigs near me, sleazy metallic biker metal with some head banging riffage throughout Pink Cigs needs big speakers! 8/10

Dies Holocaustum: Scorched Promised Land (Self Released)

We first laid eyes on Bristol death metal mob Dies Holocaustum at the Bristol M2TM last year. They had been around for a long while mainly as  vehicle for guitarist Jon Alcover but things only started coming together in 2017 with the addition of drummer Will Pearson (Body Harvest) and bassist/vocalist Rob Innell they finishing touch coming in 2019 with K-lum Schmit coming in on guitar. They impressed enough to go to the final of the M2TM competition with their snarling style of old school death metal, though it was K-Lum's other band Voluntas that took the crown. After this they retired to the studio to record this debut full length album, recorded by Alcover, Pearson and Innell this is the sound of Dies Holocaustum distilled over the course of 45 minutes.

11 blistering, face melting slabs of death metal that rarely sees the bpm drop due to Pearson's beastly drumming. Only on Glories Of Hell do things take a bit of a tone down but Pearson still blasts away like the kit has insulted him leaving Innell to keep pace and roar over the top while Alcover shreds with vicious precision and brings nifty Hanneman leads. They build up the drama on Macabre Rebirth before it once again turns into visceral death/thrash, as Funeral Dawn brings some more complexity and Burial Ground dive bombs into more violent death metal. Production wise Innell has left it nice and murky giving it the sound of those early death metal releases, but if you are a devotee of OSDM then you'll want to pick up Scorched Promised Land as it's a brutal display of force from this Bristol metal machine. They are back in M2TM this year and I wouldn't bet against them as for as fierce as they are here, live they are a force to be reckoned with. 7/10 

Hollow Seasons: As Misery Fades (Self Released)

From Tromsø, Troms County Norway, Hollow Seasons are a relatively young band having only formed last year. As Misery Fades is their debut EP and collects the first five songs they have written, it's 30 minutes of progressive/melodic death metal, rammed with technicality, fluidity and aggression it kicks you in the teeth from the opening moments, As Misery Fades has a huge sound despite the band only being a three piece, they bring the progressive feel of Wintersun and Alcest as tracks such as Chains Of Fate has black metal speed, while I Will Not Follow brings some more shoegazing and a death metal grunt. The tracks here are quite progressive despite the short run times they managed to pack a lot of musicality into them which makes it impressive for a debut. They aren't breaking the mold when it comes to this style but they are doing it at a high enough level to gain traction on the scene. 6/10

Monday, 20 January 2020

Reviews: Leeched, Serious Black, Bad Radiator, Diabology (Paul S, Rich & Paul H)

Leeched: To Dull The Blades Of Your Abuse (Prosthetic Records) [Paul Scoble]

Manchester 3 piece Leeched have been making very loud, very nasty noises since 2017. Aside from being one of the most incendiary live acts currently active in the UK, they have also produced 1 EP; Nothing Will Grow From The Rotten Ground in 2017, and an album; You Took The Sun When You Left in 2018. So, just over a year since their first album, are Leeched still one of the most angry, intense hardcore acts going? Well, the short answer is yes, massively. The one overriding feeling that comes from this album is intense anger. However, unlike a lot of Hardcore acts, this is not shown through huge speed. Most of the tracks on this album would come in at mid-paced or slow, that isn’t to say that this is a sludge album, but this is not about blasting as fast as they can. The anger and extremity is expressed through a rather more difficult to quantify quality of Intensity. Even when this album is really slow (For example on the track Let Me Die), the intensity is off the scale. The vocals throughout the album are so aggressive and angry it’s almost frightening. Musically things are very intense as well; the guitar riffs are interspersed with nasty pinch harmonics and feedback, at times it feels like things aren’t controlled at all.

All this violent anger doesn’t feel like anything as lightweight as angst, this is well informed rage at the evils of the world, and my god Leeched’s timing is perfect for that anger. I’m writing this review 4 days into 2020; many countries have descended into fascism, the mutant Umpa Lumpa in the White House is trying to start world War 3, all the while Australia is burning. All these things are reasons to feel angry and helpless, and To Dull The Blades Of Your Abuse is the perfect soundtrack to a world that is collapsing. There isn’t a single moment on this album that is not informed by this rage, but it is also an anger that is driven by depression, and knowledge of the darkness. At times the rage is obvious, in the track Earth And Ashes, one of the few songs that is really fast; approaching Grindcore, the anger is palpable and in your face. The blast beats feel staccato, you feel every snare beat, there is no smoothing out that can sometimes happen with a blast beat. However, the track The Grey Tide isn’t nearly as fast as Earth And Ashes, but the lurching off kilter feel of the song is no less intense.

The album has some parts that feel industrial as well, Now It Ends has a definite industrial sense to it, whilst also not having any aspects that are obviously electronic or traditionally industrial. This is done by those pinched harmonics and feedbacky parts that I mentioned earlier. To Dull The Blades Of Your Abuse is a fantastic album. It’s a very impressive follow up to You Took The Sun When You Left, the songs have more depth and variety whilst still keeping the rage and intensity that was so impressive on the bands debut. If you are looking for a soundtrack for the end of the world, this is it! 9/10

Serious Black: Suite 226 (AFM Records) [Rich Oliver]

Power metal supergroup Serious Black return with their new album Suite 226. Having previously featured power metal figureheads such as Roland Grapow, Alex Holzwarth and Bob Katsionis, Serious Black have drummer Ramy Ali joining singer Urban Breed, guitarist Dominik Sebastian and bassist Mario Lochert for their fourth album. If you haven’t heard Serious Black before they play a style that veers between power metal and melodic heavy metal and this style is continued on Suite 226. Most of the album sticks to a steady pace and this is its downfall. Despite sounding nice and being performed really well (with the vocals by Urban Breed being at the usual exceptional standard) the songs on Suite 226 on the whole just didn’t grab me.

 Things are played way too safe and are generally unremarkable and forgettable. There are songs which stand above the others such as melodic opener Let It Go with its energetic chorus and Castiel and We Still Stand Tall add a bit of much needed urgency and excitement to the album. The rest of the songs such as the flat Heaven Shall Burn and the token slow ballad-esque Come Home failed to inspire much interest. Serious Black have been a good and steady yet slightly unremarkable power metal band with their past releases but this one feels very much like the band going through the motions. Not an awful albi, but not one that I would revisit in a hurry. 5/10

Bad Radiator: V (Crazy Feelgood Music) [Paul Hutchings]

Formed in 2011, Bad Radiator is a reformation of Swedish 80s melodic rock outfit Grace. Their sound sits very much in the 1980s, with keyboards and saccharine coated vocals very much the order of the day. V is the follow up to 2017’s IV, and unsurprisingly is the band’s fifth release in nine years. Now a four-piece, vocals and keyboards are handled by main songwriter Mikael Lundgren, with guitarist Klas Begrall, drummer Roger Hansson and bassist Jal Persson completing the line-up. The band stick to a traditional melodic rock style, short punchy songs which follow a rather routine format. No doubt this will please those who like the AOR style of Toto, Saga and MSG. Plenty of melodies, the odd shining guitar break, sweet harmonies and hooks that will be enjoyed by those that enjoy the lighter side of rock. A bit bland for my tastes, but it is solidly written and performed. 5/10

Diabology: Nobody Believes Me (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

Raw, aggressive and full of youthful enthusiasm, Nobody Believes Me is the debut album from Diabology, a teenage quartet from Los Angeles. 41 minutes of at times quite rough thrash metal which varies in quality and style. The odd ripping lead stands out from a poorly produced release, the muddy mix on tracks such as Deicide and the dire vocals of Jesse Bergen don’t enhance the overall sound. Ember To Ash is particularly dreadful. It’s a bit of a hotchpotch of tracks, sounding more like a compilation of underground bands rather than a cohesive unit. Whilst the musicianship has potential, there is plenty of improvement to be had. 5/10

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Reviews: Defiled, Midnight, Royal Deceit, Atena (Charlie, Claire, Liam & Manus)

Defiled: Infinite Regress (Season Of Mist) [Charlie Rogers]

It’s my first time listening to this band, not being familiar with the Japanese death metal scene I was eager to give something different a listen that I might not stumble upon by chance otherwise. The self proclaimed Samurai have been going since 1992, and are currently on tour with Polish legends Vader - my hopes are high given they’re in such good company. Opening the album is a short intro, with the “Humans are a plague” cutting through the rumbling as a short paragraph is read. Cliche, but it works. The band launches into Divide And Conquer with gusto, setting the scene for the album to come. It’s got a live sort of feel to the production, with the bass booming out of the bottom end, and the guitars alternating between frantic riffing and cutting through the mix. The song itself is quite different to the sort of death metal I’m used to, with frequent tempo changes, bursts of riffage before twisting away to play something else. Clocking in at only 2 minutes and 30 seconds, it’s a short but sweet open to their music. Swiftly moving on, Tragedy opens with more frantic playing, and incorporates some unusual timings into the melodies, typically associated with two-tone and ska. It’s refreshing to hear a variety of influences coming through in new music, however on first listen this style choice is a little jarring. 

It’s less jarring than a sudden BeeGees cover though. Systematic Decomposition treats us to a more traditional death metal style, reminding me of early Pestilence. Thrashy, choppy riffs move the tempo forward, as throaty vocals bark the lyrics at the listener. So Blind has a strange melting vibe to it, where the speed of the track, and it’s fluidity seems to move around, like a wax figure being lit and pieces falling off it. At this point I noted that the tracks are mostly quite short, with only 3 tracks on the album lasting longer than 3 minutes, and one of them by 1 second! It fits the style though, as the tempo is consistently upbeat, and it’s not hard to imagine the band whipping fans up into a frenzy with live performance of these songs. The album takes a turn for the weirder around track 8, where the song writing feels a lot looser. Centuries is a very strange track, which reminded me of jazz improvisation where nobody communicated what they were doing before they started playing. 

Occasionally the playing lines up and we get coherent riffs, but for the most part, it sounds like insanity. The style continues into the next track, Aftermath, which has a plodding, punky feel when not sounding like someone threw a bag of riffs down the stairs. The chaotic writing continues, slowly edging back until the end of the album, where more standardised death metal takes over again, specifically in the track Slaverobot which I particularly enjoyed. Infinite Regress is the final song on the album, and is a solid song that leaves you feeling satisfied with the listen overall, and I would question the need for the short outro tape at the end as the final stomping riffs would close the album very well there. In summary, it’s a strange journey that this band takes you on. I certainly enjoyed the steadier and straightforward compositions than the swirling maelstrom of chaos that some songs brought forth, and would be interested in both checking out some of their earlier releases and seeing the band live if they ever came my way. 6/10.

Midnight: Rebirth By Blasphemy (Metal Blade Records) [Dr Claire Hanley]

Drawing on multiple influences, culminating in a blackened thrash sound with obvious punk rock elements, Midnight throw a middle finger to the norm. This is not a band afraid to take risks. Quite the opposite. And therein lies the appeal. Despite being an outright death metal enthusiast, their unique brand of raucous frivolity had me in a state of ecstasy from start to finish. Anthemic and infectious, Rebirth By Blasphemy is full of passion and purpose: Maximum sleaze with none of the cheese. You're instantly locked in a choke hold, with the opening track igniting the desire for riotous behaviour from the first few bars. Fucking Speed And Darkness is a relentless onslaught of riffs and savage, grizzly vocals. A lesson in fury and anarchy, it firmly establishes that this album takes no prisoners, and you're most certainly in for one hell of a ride. The rest of the album does not disappoint, transcending comprehensible levels of filth and ferocity.

The visual imagery evoked by the lyrics elevates the already sleaze-spattered tracks to dizzying heights of grotesque. It's anything but predictable, offering a dynamic and versatile range of material, underpinned by the bands; signature sound and penchant for the satanic, which bridge this diversity and provide cohesion to ease the transition between tracks. The contrast between the chugging power-pose of Rising Scum, with all its intent and razor sharp precision, against high-octane powerhouse Warning From The Reaper, provides the perfect example of this. As you're greeted with Raw Attack, one of the strongest all-rounders on the record, it evident that there are zero filler tracks and the end of the album is as strong as the start. The intro to “You can drag me through hell is pure electricity and had me vibrating in anticipation as it's viciousness was unleashed, drawing the album to a close. This is an immersive experience of a record; a masterclass in how to push boundaries and excite the listener. 9/10

Royal Deceit: Animus I (Prime Collective) [Liam True]

There’s something about this album that makes me think that i’ve heard it all before, but at the same time it sounds fresh and new to the scene. That’s exactly what we need and the Danish Metal crew have fixated their eyes on taking over the world. And Animus is their first step in doing that. Full of deep growls, high chorus’, ripping guitars and pointing drums the quintuplet make the most destructive noise of the year so far with heavy breakdown after crushing riffs and everything in between. Vocalist Mathias Uldall-Jessen hits the spot for me for one of the best Metalcore vocalists at the moments with his range of highs and lows melting into the instrumentals from the rest of the band as they keep you on your toes. You don’t know what to expect with this album, be it either a catch chorus or a chuggy breakdown. But know this. It’s a glorious album that needs to be toured and appreciated in it’s love setting. 8/10

Atena: Drowning Regret & Lungs Filled With Water (Indie Recordings) [Manus Hopkins]

It’s a little hard to get past the awkward mouthful of a title with this record. The contents are pretty much what should be expected given an album name like this. While Atena’s work isn’t terrible, and is pretty typical by 2010s metalcore standards, it’s not particularly enjoyable, and it’s entirely too forgettable for this band to sit amongst the ranks of the big players in this scene. Guitar chugs, choppy breakdown riffs, screeched verses and melodic choruses make up nearly the entirety of this record (though there is some slightly cringeworthy rapping on Let Them Hang In The Halls), just like any other of its genre. It’s the lack of hooks that makes it fall flat; there’s hardly a catchy chorus or memorable riff on any of the 10 songs. This style isn’t wildly popular among many groups of metalheads, but there are huge bands that dominate the scene, and Atena just isn’t doing enough to be noticed as long as those bands are around. 4/10

Friday, 17 January 2020

A View From The Back Of The Room: Wretched Soul (Live By Matt Bladen)

Wretched Soul, Democratus & King Ibex, The Gryphon

Ah The Gryphon, a 'proper' rock bar, full of regulars that drink the real ale while heavy metal blasts in the background. It's also a place for live music, tucked in a room upstairs the max 50 cap room has had some really big names playing there which sometimes makes it a little claustrophobic when sold out, however usually it's a perfectly good venue to watch some metal music. I was here for a band I've followed for a long time but the bonus of having two Welsh bands in support was a pleasure as well.

First up were King Ibex (7), this Alt rock trio merge punk, blues and radio friendly rocking together in a very exciting brew. They were the odd band out here as they were nowhere near as heavy as the other two bands on the bill but they got the crowd grooving. The duel vocals of Michael Buffery (guitar) and Tom Jayne (bass) are integral to the band's sound as Alistair Morgan (drums) manipulates the pace. They took the fact they weren't the heaviest band their in their stride and made the most of opening the evening with little fuss and lots of riffs.

Next it was Democratus (8) the 2018 M2TM winners have been going from strength to strength since their win, buoyed by the addition of Rich on lead guitar now the band boast load more lead solos as the dead ringer for Dan Spitz peeled them off on top of Democratus' melo-death sound. Democratus excel in a small room, giving things the right amount of intensity to get a crowd moving, frontman Steve prowling the room on BTK adding more theatrics as he stomped around the venue, even venturing downstairs before returning to 'hang' Spoon, Joey and Rich much like Dennis Rader who the song is about. The set was filled with songs from both of their EP's though Damnation made up the bulk. They did mix things up as normal set closer Life For A Life was replaced with The Unworthy which is another big singalong getting all that crowd participation that Steve loves. Democratus took the lion's share of the crowd here, mainly due to their heavy touring schedule, but they showed again why they one of South Wales' best and brightest.

The final act of the night was Cambridge blackened metal act Wretched Soul (8) who are always blistering in the live arena, their heavy take on occult speed metal is one that needs to be seen. An artillery barrage of drumming, carpet bombing bass and laser guided guitar playing bring a traditional metal edge to a mix of black and death metal topped off with Chris' amazing vocal range giving King Diamond himself a run for his money. Playing a mix of songs from both of their albums Veronica and The Ghost Road including The Heretic, Veronica the always destructive (or should that be restorative) Necromancer along with a new song called Sacrificial Kings. Chris was wild eyed and stalked the the room running like mad man around it as Luke Mayell (bass) and Steve Clifford (guitar) stick on the spot but Luke (who had recently flown in from Florida so was horribly jet lagged) pumps out the grooves as Steve shreds on his Flying V, his brother Andy beating the drums. The set ended with the grunting, proggy We Made The Gods closing with the vicious War Wolf. Even with a small crowd Wretched Soul play their set like it's an arena and if like me you love Mercyful Fate, Nevermore and bands of their ilk then I suggest you see Wretched Soul if you can this year.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

The Spotlight: Interview With Bernd ‘Bernemann’ Kost of Bonded By Paul Hutchings)

Interview with Bernd ‘Bernemann’ Kost Of Bonded

If you were asked to list the behemoths of German thrash, alongside Kreator and Destruction stands Sodom. Led by Tom Angelripper, the band has been at the forefront of German metal since the mid 1980s. From 1996 to 2018, the lead guitar and driving riff work was delivered by Bernd ‘Bernemann’ Kost. Alongside Bernemann for a decade sat drummer Markus ‘Makka’ Friedwald. That is until January 2018 when Angelripper decided that he wanted “fresh and hungry” musicians and promptly fired the rest of the band. Undeterred, Bernermann and Makka grabbed the new songs they had not had time to show to Angelripper and headed for Makka’s studio in Dortmund where they formed Bonded. The band is completed by ex-Suicidal Angels guitarist Chris Tsitsis, Marc Hausechild on bass and Assassin vocalist Ingo Bajouczak.

Bernemann was at home in Dortmund, where he was born, when I caught up with him recently, and I started with the more obvious question which was about the split with Angelripper and how difficult it was for him and Makka. “Honestly, it wasn’t that bad for us. Of course, we were disappointed. I always loved Sodom; It was one centre of my life, for sure but in another way what have I lost? I’m still playing with Makka, my new band mates Chris and Mark and our producer Corni (Cornelius Rambadt), who was our drum tech for many years, and we enjoyed our time together very much. We travelled together around the world I don’t know how many times. This was very important. We have a very good relationship and enjoy the time on stage or in the rehearsal room and we like it. Finally, of course I was a little sad because it means a lot to travel around and to meet friends. I have friends in so many countries, I met so many people.

We are at the beginning with Bonded and we’ve played a few small shows and at each show people I know have come. I hope that the people I like and who like me will come to the shows so that makes things a little easier for us.” Bernemann confirmed that those first shows went well. “They were good. A small festival in Bavaria and then a show in Switzerland and about four weeks ago we played a slightly bigger festival with Amorphis and Powerwolf in North Germany. People are seeing what we do, it sounds well, and I have very good musicians in the band. Makka, Chris, they are great on their instruments and Ingo is a great singer so I guess people can see that we are enjoying what we are doing and so far, I cannot expect anything more”.

I wondered if the name Bonded was chosen because of the tightness of the band as a unit. Bernemann laughs, “yes but we only realised it after we had found the name. It was so difficult to find the band’s name, and every time we found one, we would Google and there would be another band already using that name. Finally, we found Bonded and we like it because it ‘s short, it’s a message and finally we said, yeah, this makes sense. But it wasn’t the intention … but it fits!” The band name does fit well and when you listen to Rest in Violence you can hear the tightness of the band as a unit. They also have a smart logo which works well.

Having been in a band for 22 years you may have thought that Bernemann would have wanted some time out to do other things, but this wasn’t the case with Bonded. “We wanted to go back straight, because you know Makka and me, we live about three kilometres from each other, our rehearsal room is in Dortmund, it belongs to Makka, and we were used to meeting there. We had already prepared songs for the new album. I’ve known Makka since he was 16 so we know each other for a very long time and of course, in the same moment when we were fired, we were calling each other and decided quickly to continue. We have everything; we have the best connections; we love to make music together and enough friends who want to play with us. It doesn’t change for us that much. Okay, we are not travelling as Sodom anymore and Tom is not there, but we are doing the same that we’ve done what we’ve done in the last few years. We are doing what we love, and we can listen to the new material and it sounds different because of the vocals, but we continue with the music on the path that we were on”.

For a thrash metal album, there is a lot of variety on Rest in Violence, something that may not have happened if the guys had remained with Sodom. “For me it is very important to have different speeds, to have the variety you are talking about. Sometimes when you are watching a show from a band and you have 45 minutes, maybe an hour, and all the music is one speed, like a train, sometimes it can be boring. We love to make our music a little different and it is only possible because we have a singer who can do this. We have two songs on the new CD which we had never done with Tom together because it was not his style. No Cure For Life and The Outer Rim, I like these songs because they are still hard enough to fit into the set and Ingo was able to sing them and I am happy about that”. This led neatly into the challenges of finding a singer who could carry the band’s sound.

We acknowledged that without a decent singer, it doesn’t matter how good the band is, they will fail, and we know of many bands we review here who fall into that category. “We needed most of the time to find a good singer and it is difficult to find someone with the voice, love of music and personality. I asked some friends and writers from magazines and one friend told me about Ingo and I was listening to Combat Cathedral, Assassin’s latest release (who ironically also have Frank Blackfire, former and current Sodom guitarist), and their bass player Joachim (Kremer) is a good friend of mine so I called him and asked him about Ingo and if he’d be happy for me to meet with Ingo because Assassin is not touring too much. I didn’t want to have any trouble, but Joachim was cool and gave me Ingo’s number. We meet up in the rehearsal rooms and the sound was fantastic. It took a while as Ingo doesn’t have that much time and he was a little shy about saying yes but we’ve found a good solution now”.

When you listen to Rest in Violence, the title track will grab you immediately because there is a distinctive voice on it. Overkill’s Bobby ‘Blitz’ guests on the song along with Christian ‘Speesy’ Giesler (Kreator bassist 1994 – 2019) and it transpires that the legendary frontman and Bernemann go back a long time. “Bobby and I have known each other a long time. The first time we met was probably 1996 when we played a couple of shows together. He knows my family and we meet so often and like each other. When we meet it’s always a few beers, talking shit and enjoying the time. He knows where I live and always calls me when the band are in Germany so he invited me to a gig in Osnabruck, maybe an hour by car and after the show we were having a couple of beers and he asked me about the band and I told him we had a contract with Century Media and I told him that Speesy was playing one song for us and he looked at me and said, “ hey Berne, do you think it would be okay if I sang on the CD?”

And I was so happy, and I agreed to send him the files. I was honoured but didn’t want to push him too much so I said if you want to sing the chorus that would be brilliant. So, I sent him the files and a few days later he went into the studio and was singing the whole song and he changed the lyrics a little. He said, “ah, this is German English”, so he changed it a bit and the arrangement and made suggestions. He really enjoys it. As far as I know he doesn’t do this often and it fits perfectly on the song. For me it is one of the highlights of my career. He’s a real character from the scene with a huge personality. It means a lot, for me and the band”. As an Overkill fan, this makes me happy as this is exactly what I would have expected from Bobby ‘Blitz’.

The last time I saw Sodom play was at 2017’s Damnation Festival where the band ran over such was their enjoyment. I asked Bernemann if he had some standout gigs that stuck in the memory. “There are a few I remember, not only the show but everything around it. There are some great shows. Here in Germany, on the Rock-Hard Festivals, they mean a lot to me. It’s the Ruhr area, we have a special relationship with this area, you know this is where Sodom are from and Kreator are from here, Angel Dust are from here so shows here are very special to us. I had a special show in Switzerland with Kreator and arch Enemy and I asked Michael (Amott) and Sharlee (D’Angelo) to play Blasphemer with us. I said to Jeff Loomis, sorry Jeff, I guess you can’t learn this song. Oh my god!! But he wasn’t angry. That was killer”.

We moved on to talk about the thrash scene and of interest to me was the difference between German thrash and the US thrash which sound totally different. I wondered if Bernemann had thoughts on why this was. “I really don’t know. It’s not only the vocals but of course that is a big part of it. I guess it may be that the older releases may sound a bit rawer. I was influenced by British bands rather than American bands so in the 80s I had different favourites to some of the German bands. I don’t know”. What about the thrash scene at present? How does Bernemann feel about the new thrash bands? “I am not sure if it is a good idea for younger bands to find a sound that has already been done. Of course, each band can do what they want but I prefer it when bands look forward, It is not what I would like to do, looking back in the past and repeat the same. Of course, a lot of people do like it”.

Wrapping up the conversation, we finished up talking about the promotion for the album. Rest in Violence is due out on 17th January. “We will release two more singles. On 13th December we will release Suit Murderer, and then on 17th January when we are playing in Oberhausen, we will release a lyric video. We will hopefully get some festivals to play next summer. I was talking to Ronnie from Rock Hard magazine an hour ago and maybe we can play on the Rock-Hard line-up in May. We’ve also got a licence for Brazil so the CD will be released there and maybe we will get to Brazil to play. We have only released one singe so far so hopefully we can jump on a tour as a support band.” Good luck to any band brave enough to take Bonded on as support because Rest in Violence is a superb slab of thrash which will be hugely received in the metal community. It would be great to see the band hit the UK next year but for now, make sure you catch the album when it drops, you wont be disappointed.

Reviews: Oceans, Frigoris, Elden, Deliver The Galaxy (Liam, Rich & Lee)

Oceans: The Sun And The Cold (Nuclear Blast) [Liam True]

This album is just mind blowing. At one point it feels as though you’re listening to a Black Metal record, then a Metalcore record and then a standard Hard Rock record. Not many bands can pull anything like it off, but Oceans have excelled on their debut album in style. Starting with the title track and then pressing into We Are The Storm, the band pulls no punches with dual vocalist and guitarist Timo Rotten leading the charge with his venomous voice leading you into a false sense of security only to blown you away with his deep gutturals . From start to finish it’s a mix of genres, tempos and a will to not bang your head at this masterpiece. My words do it no justice. Listen to this exceptional record yourselves and be shocked by how good this is for a debut. 10/10

Frigoris: In Stille (Hypnotic Dirge Records) [Lee Burgess]

And so, here we are with Frigoris, and their album In Stille. With so many extreme bands falling into the category of post this that and the other, sounding fairly generic with very few unique or distinctive aspects to their music the trouble is that artists of this ilk often sound as if very little thought has gone into the work other than to make epic tracks with a duration of anything from five to 25 minutes. So, with Frigoris it was really a question of whether the sound was going to be in line with Fen or maybe a little of the old Wolves In The Throne Room. So it is a bit of a pleasant surprise to hear a mixture of different sounds here. The most surprising element here is a huge reference to the European sound of Kroda, giving us the harsh and the heavy mixed with the mystical, magical and folkish. The production and tone of this album is at once gritty and rich.

You can really get a sense that Frigoris are pushing hard for a sound all their own, and they almost get there. It’s fair to say that there are times where there is something missing, or at least unexplored here, but then the music twists itself into something unexpected and often gives us a glimpse of what could be. It almost feels as if the band can’t quite reach the heights, they are worthy of. This doesn’t take away from what is there, as we get brutal blasting metal and more gentle segments that become almost dreamlike. Although not as tight as it could be, Frigoris have made a record that shows plenty of promise that just needs a few teaks to pull it together to give us a fully rounded, more enriched experience. For now we have a perfectly serviceable collection of songs with more than enough talent on offer to wet the appetite. 8/10

Elden: Nostromo (Fuzzorama Records) [Rich Oliver]

Nostromo is the latest album by Swedish band Elden. It’s an album that evokes the sounds and styles of classic rock and metal bands along with modern day progressive bands such as Baroness and Mastodon. The album is chock full of big riffs, big melodies and punchy songs which don’t outstay their welcome. The songs are nicely mixed with plenty of tempo changes and diverges into psychedelic territory and fast aggressive metal territory. The vocals by frontman Alexander Huss are particularly of note with his own melodic yet distinctive style. Nostromo is an album that will definitely appeal to the Mastodon and Baroness fanbase whilst for me it was an enjoyable listen there were too many similarities to the aforementioned bands and it felt like something I had already heard many times before and to be honest there is a bit of an oversaturation of bands already doing this style at the moment. A good listen but nothing essential. 6/10

Deliver The Galaxy: The Journey (Wolf Metal Records) [Rich Oliver]

The Journey is the second album by German sci-fi melodic death metal band Deliver The Galaxy. Deliver The Galaxy perform some fairly generic melodic death metal with some leanings into djent and metalcore territories so whilst there were parts of this album I enjoyed there were elements I did not like at all. I found that the best material was found on the second half of the album with songs such as IlluminatiNew Horizons and Pathfinder being the most appealing to me. The djent and core elements are used here and there throughout the album but really come to the fore in the absolutely dreadful I Declare War which was all that I despise about modern metal incarnate in one song. Deliver The Galaxy do what they do pretty well but The Journey is a very generic take on the melodic death metal genre. I love melodic death metal when it is done right but this album did little for me. 5/10

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Reviews: Haunt, Envy, Weight Bearer, Ryte (Reviews By Matt, Rich & Liam)

Haunt: Mind Freeze (Shadow Kingdom Records) [Matt Bladen]

We've written about Trevor William Church a few times on this blog as he is the leader of both stoner riff machine Beastmaker and trad metal troop Haunt, his vocals and guitar adapt themselves to either genre well and as he's also a prolific writer both bands have an extensive back catalogue releasing material every year. This is Haunt's third album in three years and once again it's steeped in the classic NWOBHM sound of those 80's heroes such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Angel Witch and Tokyo Blade. High top sneakers and bullet belts are the order of the day as are lyrics influenced by horror and fantasy as Church is aided and abetted by the boiler room of Taylor Hollman (bass) and Daniel Wilson (drums) along with his Beastmaker cohort John Tucker who plays lead guitar here but is Beastmaker's bassist.

Now I'm a sucker for traditional heavy metal sound and while a have not been a fan of many of the NWOBHM also-rans who have returned after 20 odd year hiatuses to play again the new wave of bands such as Cauldron, Night Demon and Haunt grab my attention by having that vitality that made the genre so exciting in the first place. A bubbling Vangelis synth begins Light The Beacon and we open with a fist in the air mid-paced rocker before Hearts On Fire brings some speed metal romping. What I like about Haunt's records is that they are quite musically dense, they sound retro but not to their detriment, the production is crisp meaning you can hear the crisp guitar tone on the title track, the buzzing synth on Saviours Of Man or Have No Fear and every single note of the twin guitar harmonies that fill Fight Or Flight. Haunt remain the high water mark for trad metal and they are still deep in a purple patch. 8/10

Envy: The Fallen Crimson (Pelagic Records) [Liam True]

Despite being labelled as a ‘Screamo’ band, the Japanese sextet couldn’t be further away. More along the lines of Post-Hardcore but packed with enough of an old school Punk sound that they keep it fresh on their 7th studio album. Being their first output in 5 years they’ve been working hard on it. And it shows. From start to finish it’s a brutal onslaught of vicious riffs and throat-melting vocals. There’s not a single moment where the band allow you to breathe and take it what’s being shown on the record with their musicianship and song writing. Despite being sung completely in Japanese, there’s still a few times where you’ll find yourself either humming the tune or singing along. The only downside i have to the album is the production. The vocals are, on times, barely audible, the guitars sound distorted beyond belief and it sounds a bit of a mess. But underneath that you’ll find a fantastic album full of surprises. 6/10

Weight Bearer: Watch The Collapse (Self Released) [Rich Oliver]

Watch The Collapse is the debut album by UK band Weight Bearer. Describing themselves as a mixture of metallic and progressive influences into a dynamic and uncompromising sound I was left wondering where the dynamics were in this album as it was uncompromisingly dull and generic. The progressive touches on Watch The Collapse amount to a few atmospheric and melodic moments here and there but the rest of the album is from the school of dull and generic metalcore with not a single riff having any staying power and each song having little to no memorable moments. 

 The vocals are the usual hardcore inspired bark every insipid core band uses and Weight Bearer have two vocalists both doing a similar style and both of them having nothing about them that stands out whatsoever. It’s safe to say I was not a fan of Weight Bearer and found Watch The Collapse a dreadfully dull and depressing listen. Metal is supposed to be passionate and exciting but those two elements were severely lacking in this release. The guys in Weight Bearer can play well so it’s just a shame that what they play is so painfully generic. 2/10

Ryte: Ryte (Heavy Psych Sounds) [Matt Bladen]

Formed by Hannes Ganeider (drums), Arik (guitar/vocals), Shardik (guitar) in Vienna they searched for a bass player and they found Lukas Götzenberger (vocals/bass). Now you can see that two members supply vocals however you don't actually get any vocals until way into the total run time of the record, prefering to keep their heavy psych rock mostly instrumental that shifts between doom and prog with some World Music on Shaking Pyramid in the drummign mainly as the vocals and doom rock feedback comes in at the end. At four tracks in length, you get quite a large chunk of music as the songs are quite long, as they are mainly instrumental they suit an evening with your favourite relaxant and just soak it in. 6/10