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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Reviews: Manowar, Cradle Of Filth, The Sword

Manowar: The Lord Of Steel (Retail Edition) (Magic Circle Music)

Yet again I review Manowar's new album, this time however it's the 'Retail' edition rather than the edition that came with Metal Hammer magazine. Now as many of you would have read in my previous review I didn't think much of said album mainly because of its hideous disco fuzz bass sound. Now from the opening title track you can hear that it is still present but it has been mixed better meaning that now it fits in with the normal Joey DeMaio soul rattling bass playing. From the sound of this albums production and studio additions I now realise that the 'Hammer Edition' could be seen as a demo version of this album which features the full Manowar production rather than the lack of production that the previous version featured, which meant that the fuzzed bass was the only thing you could hear in most of the songs. Now everything works in conjunction and even on bass heavy Born In A Grave it doesn't overpower the rest of the band. Eric Adam's vocals are still at their meteoric best mainly on uber-ballad Righteous Glory and Karl Logan's guitar brings some chunky riffage and some OTT soloing. The record itself has all been produced so it sounds best when played loud (as all good Manowar albums should be). There are still some of my reservations from the previous review Manowarriors and Hail, Kill And Die still feature some hideous lyrics but the rest of the album is pure Manowar metal with the heroic El Gringo now extended to nearly 7 minutes and the explosive Expendable both bringing a true metal noise, the pulsing Black List is perfect for slo-mo head banging and bonus track The Kingdom Of Steel has all the hallmarks of another live epic. This is what a Manowar album should sound like which begs the question why did they lead me to the depths of despair with the previous edition when they could have just released this much better version in the first place!? 7/10 (Purely for the emotional trauma first time round)

Cradle Of Filth: The Manticore And Other Horrors (Peaceville)

Dani Filth and his not so merry men return with the bands 10th album and they have shedded some of their symphonic skin that had built up on the last few records. The female vocals of Sarah Jezebel Deva are gone as are the 7 minute epics and the cinematic scope. This record seems much more concise and streamlined than previous efforts and it is better for it. The riffage is angular, heavy, melodic and even punky in some respects especially on For Your Vulgar Delectation, the drumming is relentless extreme metal blast beating and Filth's vocals range from scarred singing to guttural roars and banshee like shrieks. Opening track The Abhorrent comes after the intro The Unveiling Of O and while (like with a few of the tracks) it features some orchestration it is not overpowering and you get a sense that COF have returned to sounding like a straight up extreme metal band again with bludgeoning riffage and Filth’s schizophrenic delivery. The lyrical content is a semi-concept as it based upon monsters and horrors with lycanthropes, vampires and Lovecraftian horrors all alluded to with the latter coming in the form of Siding With The Titans. This is a full on blast of extreme metal and is all the better for its concise and more natural sound which makes it sound a far more violent and powerful record much like the COF of old as it aims straight for the throat and doesn't let go. One for old-school fans. 7/10

The Sword: Apocryphon (Razor & Tie)

This is The Sword's fourth album and first to feature new drummer Santiago 'Jimmy' Vela III after founder Trivett Wingo left on the previous tour. After the very retro and technical/progressive/conceptual Warp Riders the Texans have returned to the big, stoner metal vibe seen on their first two albums. Things kick off with the riff-fuelled The Veil Of Isis which gets the head nodding nicely, J.D Cronise's vocals are still unique and his guitar interplay with Kyle Schutt is excellent. Many of these songs are set in the mid-pace but have all the elements of genre leaders Sleep and obviously Sabbath (Hidden Masters). However it's not all back to the drawing word some of the innovation from the previous effort has remained but it has just been made to fit. As this not a 'retro' sounding record like the last one was the production is crisper and more modern and yet despite this this sounds like The Sword in their Age Of Winters phase all big riffage and lyrics straight out of Game Of Thrones, Cloak Of Feathers has more mythical beasts than you can shake a Sorcerer's staff at. Also this is the first The Sword record that doesn’t feature an instrumental. Despite how critically acclaimed Warp Riders was it is not my favourite The Sword record, that will always be their debut, this new record however with its classic sound and some newer ideas tastefully added puts it a close second behind. 8/10

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