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Friday, 2 May 2014

Reviews: Anti Mortem, Lesser Key, Gloryful

Anti-Mortem: New Southern (Nuclear Blast)

Oklahomans Anti-Mortem are down home Southern metal filled with swagger and lashings of groove along with some serious aggression. Imagine if you will a mix of Black Stone Cherry, Hellyeah, FFDP and yes (of course) Pantera. The band are all windmilling hair, Dean Razorback's, groove riffage, southern soul and some strong vocals from Larado Romo who is backed by his brother Nevada Romo and Zain Smith both of whom provide the riffage that Dime would be proud off. Corey Henderson and Levi Dickerson on bass and drums respectively anchor the heaviness with some serious hard hitting rhythm. The band are being hailed as BSC with an angry streak and this is true to a point but I think the band are a broad spectrum of influences meaning that yes Pantera will come to mind from the opening of Words Of Wisdom which has thrash like aggression. This is before the more soulful title track goes down like a bottle of Southern Comfort and things get stompy with the groove laden 100% Pure American Rage which show off Romo's snarl. The change in style comes on Black Heartbeat shows off his Romo's clean crooning on a ballad BSC would be proud of before things get back to normal on the chest beating I Get Along With The Devil which is pure Death Punch. A very good album from this Oklahoma mob, some pit inciting metal with serious groove and some killer song writing insure that if you come from the Pantera/FFDP school of Southern Groove metal, then you will love Anti-Mortem its powerful and melodic metal full of Southern grit!! 8/10

Lesser Key: Lesser Key (Sumerian Records)

The Lesser Key is a new project from former Tool bassist Paul D'Amour and in his words "represents an exploration into personal and artistic freedom." This is a bold claim from anyone especially someone coming from an abstract place like Tool, D'amour has rounded up a band in the shape of guitarist Brett Fanger, drummer Justin Hanson and they are rounded off by vocalist Andrew Zamudio. So does this self-titled EP live up to D'Amour's words or is it all just hyperbole? Well yes the album is very free flowing, full of experimentation and shifting dynamics, along with angular guitars, cascading drums and D'Amour's pulsating bass at the forefront. Yes there is a lot of artistic freedom but then D'Amour hasn't come from a band that were narrow minded as a result Lesser Key is not far removed sonically from the Tool mothership, the creeping doom like riffage of Intercession kicks things off nicely showcasing all the elements I have mentioned before you hear Zamudio's emotional vocals. Obviously Tool is not the only reference point the band also have nods to modern progressive champions Tesseract with their ambient-yet-heavy delivery (see In Passing Through and Pale Horse) as well as the more laid back emotive power of Anathema. This album ebbs and flows throughout its six songs, yes there is a similarities between them all but that’s part of the point, much like with Tool, this is all about the feel, it’s all about the pictures painted and visions created by the sonics. A heavy trip of an EP over too soon, not the exploration into artistic freedom mentioned but certainly an exploration into psychedelic modern prog! 8/10

Gloryful: Oceans Blade (Massacre Records)

Coming out of nowhere (well North-Rhine Westphalia) with a critically acclaimed last year (stupidly missed by your reviewer). Power metal troubadours Gloryful have returned with their sophomore album. The title and artwork scream Dragonforce and Gloryhammer style silliness but Gloryful are more restrained in their power metal madness.  The band have a sound not too dissimilar to Grand Magus with some heavy riff based traditional metal. Whereas the debut was swords and sorcery things get nautical this time, bringing to mind Rock N Rolf and Running Wild. Hiring The Dead has the fist pounding riff, melodic lead breaks and solos galore from Vito Papotto and the aptly named Shredmaster J.B. The vocals of Johnny La Bomba are indeed good, he has a grizzled vocal that can go to growls and high croons, similar to Matt Barlow however after 10 songs his vocals can grate a little bit as they are not a varied as Barlow’s. The musicianship however is amazing throughout, check out the drumming on E Mare, E Libertad and you will be floored by the blast beats, as for the rest of the songs they are all suitably trad metal with some scorching riffs, galloping bass lines and big gang choirs, there is no let up until the acoustic Black Legacy which aims at Blind Guardian campfire mistraling. Yes a great album for anyone that likes galloping trad metal, however I feel the vocals let it down a little. 7/10

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