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Sunday, 4 August 2013

Reviews: Karnivool, Powerwolf, Axxion

Karnivool: Asymmetry (Cymatic Records)

Australian's Karnivool have returned after a five year absence with an absolute stormer of a record, the nu metal influences of Themata are all but gone and the Tool-like progressive soundscapes of Sound Awake are back but they have been pushed right to the limit. The album reminds me of Tesseract's magnificent new album, the band have guitars that instantly switch from clean melodic lines to heavy metallic riffage, some punching drums and low rumbling lead bass but mix it with evocative electronics. There is a heavy Tool influence on this record which is evident from the dark Nachash which follows the electronic instrumental Aum, the influence continues throughout the album with bass heavy riffs, time changes and Ian Kenny's, Maynard style injured wail vocal before turning into Dream Theater on A.M War, this album is an intriguing, challenging but ultimately rewarding listen, the songs are complex but accessible however this is not a band that deal in radio play the songs are all key to the flow of the album. The band work through many styles in this album as well as the ones previously mentioned the bands bring The Mars Volta style oddness to The Refusal, a hypnotic repeating melody on the title track, before some Porcupine Tree style reflective, acoustic based prog follows in the shape of Eidolon and Sky Machine. This is a majestic album that has the right amount of light and shade to mean that it never gets boring or repetitive just an almost perfect progressive rock album that stays with you long after it stops spinning. 9/10       

Powerwolf: Preachers Of The Night (Napalm Records)

German Werewolf metal returns with a vengeance and bucket loads of OTT fury! This is Powerwolf's fifth album and it's more of the same schlock-horror, power metal with the organs of Falk Maria Schlegel at the forefront pounding with the all of the Gothic bluster of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, albeit one performed by Iron Maiden, straight from the opening track Amen & Attack. The fantastic dual guitars Matthew and Charles Greywolf (who also handles the bass) power all of the tracks along at full tilt in true NWOBHM style and mixed with the pulsing keys along with the sound of Attila Dorn's powerful vocals the band are reminiscent of a Gothic Sabaton (As I've said before). From the thrash of the opening to the jack boot metal stomp of Kreuzfeuer which is very Rammstein-like to the chanting finale of Last Of The Living Dead which has all the occultism of Swedes Ghost (B.C). Again the lyrical content focuses Paganism and the Occult although with tongues planted firmly in cheeks on tracks like Cardinal Sin and Lust For Blood still they manage to deliver some seriously strong metal, full of clich├ęs, yes but still it will make you want to raise your fist in the air and yell at the top of your voice. This is the band that Iron Knights (formally Stuka Squadron) should be. However that would mean that Powerwolf would not exist which would be a massive shame. So disengage your brain (or give it to a local voodoo priest), turn up the volume embrace the beast within. 8/10

Axxion: Wild Racer (High Roller Records)

Axxion are a retro-metal band from Canada and like Swedes Enforcer (who started their career on High Roller) they play riff heavy NWOBHM style metal full of dual guitars and helium filled vocals. The album kicks off with the title track which is all choppy riffs/opening scream of the Dirty D Kerr, the lead off solo from Sir Shred, along with the galloping bass of Chris Riley and the one-two pounding of the aptly named drummer Alison Thunderland (former drumme rof fellow Canucks Skull Fist, who brings some much needed glamour to this band of hairy Herbert's). The pace rarely lets up from here with every track full of the same retro riffs and high pitched shrieks, however they do fall upon a problem, they are in a very saturated genre where you need to be special to stand out and unfortunately Axxion are not special they are consistent but that is not enough, yes the riffs are strong and the vocals are glass shattering but they are just another retro metal band looking backwards without moving forwards and even with my love of retro metal this is just a bit too samey for me. 6/10


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