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Monday, 19 May 2014

Reviews: Arch Enemy, Killer Be Killed, Lionize

Arch Enemy: War Eternal (Century Media)

Losing a lead singer is always hard for a band, they tend to be the most personal part of the band it's the voice that we the public relate too. So when Angela Gossow announced that she was stepping down as front-person of Arch Enemy (she continues to be the band's business manager) the metal world was shaken a little. Here was the defining element relinquishing the reins of the band she made her own. However as the death/thrash riffage of Never Forget kicks in all the worries are dispelled as new girl Alissa White-Gluz, formerly of The Agonist, immediately starts roaring and growling like the great Warrior Queen herself. Gluz's vocals are excellent echoing Gossow's banshee like screams but also bringing her own twist to the album, as in her former band she alternates between clean and harsh vocals, so because of this she has a slightly more melodic approach. It is for these reasons why she was handpicked by her predecessor no doubt. As for the other elements of Arch Enemy they are all present and correct, the drums of Daniel Erlandsson are head crushing, blast beat after blast beat laying down a battery of noise, Sharlee D'Angelo bass holds everything together rhythmically and allows founder member Christopher Amott and new boy Nick Cordle to lay down some neck snapping riffs and face melting solos.

This album is relentless with all the band firing on all cylinders every single song, As Pages Burn and No More Regrets are two such songs that just destroy you with their ferocity before the more melodic You Will Know My Name and the instrumental Graveyard Of Dream gives you a respite before the Stolen Life rips your throat out again and things change up with the black metal influenced Time Is Black which even has some orchestral elements to it which brings another dimension to the song giving it more menace than just the straight up anger of the rest of the album. So is there life in Arch Enemy after their matriarch? The definitive answer is yes, this album is excellent it is far better than it's predecessor Khaos Legions it is simultaneously: aggressive, melodic, catchy and bone breakingly violent to listen too, the production job is crystal clear ensuring maximum volume. If you like your music with a side order of whiplash then check out War Eternal. 8/10

Killer Be Killed – Self Titled (Nuclear Blast) [Review By Paul]

The long awaited result of the super group Killer be Killed is well worth the wait. This is a super group of quality musicians led by the formidable Max Cavalera and Greg Puciato from The Dillinger Escape Plan. The line-up is completed by Mastodon’s Troy Sanders and former The Mars Volta stickman Dave Elitch.
The album kicks off at breakneck speed with Wings of Feather and Wax, which is a real fusion of styles from all of the band. And it continues in this vein throughout, Face Down is much more Soulfly in sound with an aggressive vibe, pounding rhythm and Cavalera taking the lead on vocals for one of the few occasions, but with Sanders calmer delivery providing an excellent foil.  Puciato also weighs in throughout the album. The combination of styles really works although for me Sanders vocals are always going to be in the lead. Melting of My Marrow would stand alongside any of Mastodon’s best works; a formidable beast of a track with Puciato and Sanders combining superbly and a sing along chorus that will incite serious action if these guys ever get into the live arena. Snakes of Jehova has a much doomier feel with huge riffs and Puciato duelling with Cavalera before the track kicks into overdrive with Sanders vocals and driving bass lines. Elitch’s drumming is impressive throughout, varying the style on virtually every track. On Snakes of Jehova he delivers a real spread, doom followed by all out thrash with double bass drumming blasting away. Curb Crusher follows, a real driving tour deforce, delivered with a massive hook in the chorus.
The albums features a range of styles from all out thrash, hard core through to punk but all delivered in the way that you would expect from this collaboration. Fire to Your Flag really hits hard, an all-out thrasher which attacks like a drive by shooting whilst IED drips with a combination of hard core, punk and a Sabbath type breakdown with another slab of riff work; Cavalera literally spitting out his delivery. All that is missing is his obligatory AK-47 reference. Album closer Forbidden Fire is a massively trippy doom laden track which builds with Cavalera snarling whilst Sanders provides a more relaxed calming delivery. This is an impressive album which combines the talents of four excellent musicians in a way that really delivers. Well worth a listen. 8/10

Lionize – Jetpack Soundtrack (Weathermaker) [Review By Paul]

Lionize are a three piece outfit from Maryland, the home of Earth Rocker compatriots Clutch. Jetpack Soundtrack, the fifth album by the band, co-produced by Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and producer Machine (Earth Rocker; Blast Tyrant) is an absolute must for anyone who loves the groove and drive of Neil Fallon’s merry men. Indeed the Clutch links are numerous with Lionize; Jetpack Soundtrack is released on the Weathermaker label and they have just supported Clutch on their recent UK tour. Our resident Clutch expert, Anthony Hutchings was so impressed with them that he even bought this CD!
Well, apart from the obvious Clutch influence, the main thing that hits you is the massive Hammond riffs that are littered throughout. Opener Breather is a funkster style race with Chris Brooks’s keys blasting out. A hugely catchy chorus and infectious rhythm complete the package and give you a taster of what to expect. However, similar to Clutch, this album is a mixture of styles. Evolve allows guitarist and vocalist Nate Bergman to his demonstrate lyrical agility ala Mr Fallon, and also contains the brilliant line “I’ll steal your girlfriend … and I’ll eat your lunch”.  Once more the Hammond drives the song forward, and there are obvious comparisons with the style of the late Jon Lord, the ultimate purveyor of the Hammond sound. Jetpack Soundtrack contains some of the album’s most groove laden hooks, and combines some jazz elements with straight forward rock ‘n’ roll and an infectious chorus. Replaced by Machines continues the addictive drive, with another contagious ear worm chorus. This whole album is catchier than impetigo and leaves you nodding along and then suddenly realising that your legs are already cutting some serious shapes. Lazarus Style and Amazing Science Facts have a beautiful amalgamation of some lyrical genius, intricate guitar and keyboards; the latter would snuggle quite comfortably on Blast Tyrant or Robot Hive Exodus. Album closer Sea of Tranquillity is a reggae influenced tune, demonstrating the band’s long standing love for the Jamaican sound.  This is a real peach of an album and well worth a listen. Apparently our resident expert says they are absolutely brilliant live; a fact backed up by regular reader Benjamin Brook who was up earlier than me at Temples where Lionize kicked off Day 3. For a band that has been around for 10 years this demonstrates a continuing development and progression which hopefully will continue for many years to come. Awesome stuff. 9/10

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