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Thursday, 19 June 2014

World Of Metal 11: Psycrene, Sylvatica, Skyconqueror

Psycrene: A Frail Deception (Steel Gallery Records)

Progressive metal is one of my major passions; I do love it, the technicality, the songwriting, the sheer madness of it sometimes. So when I found about Psyrene I was slightly excited a Greek progressive metal band that play 7-string guitars and cite Dream Theater, Symphony X, Nevermore and Pink Floyd as influences, with Hold Close The Flame sounding like a Queensryche offcut. So they claim to "combine the aggressiveness and heavy sound of 7 string guitars with melody and atmosphere" but do they succeed? Well the Symphony X similarities are huge on A Losing Game which has a classical piano intro before the heavyweight riffage kicks in, with double kick drums and some technical playing abound. Yes folks so far so very good, the 7 string guitars come from Michael Aggelos and Kimon Zeliotis and they are excellent, technical, precision and heavy, they are backed by the tight, downtuned heavy rhythms of Thomas Kouris' finger flying bass and Timoleon's expert drumming, the man is like a machine gun, they are rounded out by vocalist Takis Nikolakakis who is a dead ringer for Bruce Dickinson. I know that prog may conjure up images of 25 minute guitar solos but not here, yes there are guitar solos, lots of them, all of them very technical for the six (seven) string lovers but none outstay their welcome and the same can be said of the songs they are all concise, tempo shifting, mature songs full of virtuosity but also melody meaning that there is none of the silliness that is rife in progressive metal/rock. Mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Soilwork, Symphony X, Paradise Lost etc.) This is an album that will appeal to fans of any of the bands influences as any that know Borealis, Above Symmetry and Mutiny Within. This is such a strong album for a debut and it shows on tracks like Subconscious Eyes, Mortal Decay, Incsiced Path which has some killer riffage in itand the nearly eight minute Reflection. If you like your progressive metal with a bit of muscle to it check out these Athenians you will not be disappointed! 9/10

Sylvatica: Evil Seeds (Self Released)

the waves crash, the piano kicks in and the ears prick up, these are the synths of power metal with lots of layering that builds into the blast beats and dual guitar riffage of opening track Psychopatica. As soon as the death metal roars kicked in it all came together, Sylvatica share many things with Amon Amarth, the death metal drums ably smashed to fucking pieces by Pelle Buch, the melodic power metal like guitars and heavy roars, both coming from Jardén Schlesinger, and when all this is mixed with  the folk flourishes it means their songs swing and sway like the best Viking Metal band but then being from Denmark they have more claim to that title than most. Despite the similarities the songs are not solely Viking based, they actually draw more from black metal with lots of Satan and evil imagery albeit with intensely melodic guitars from Schlesinger. The pinched harmonic filled Winds Of Decay conjures images of the seven seas however with its big backing vocals and mead hungry rhythm. All the songs on this debut are the songs are heavy, melodic, technically proficient and also progressive with many twists and turns likening them to both Bloodshot Dawn and the masters of folk/death metal Wintersun. The guitar playing is excellent from both Schlesinger and bassist Thomas Haxen who steals the show with his immense drumming, the man is like a demon behind the kit! (See the title track for proof). Now usually I'm quite picky with my death/black/Viking metal but Sylvantica tick all the right boxes for me. The drumming is insane, the guitars shred your face off the vocals are perfect, This band will slay the pits!! I intend to play the album very loudly in my car for the foreseeable future! Get to the UK now! 9/10    

Skyconqueror: Under The Pentagram (Self Released)

Germany and heavy metal the two things just go together from the legacy left by Helloween and more importantly for Skyconqueror Accept. Yes it's more NWOBHM (or should that be NWOGHM?) folks and with the rampaging riffage of Jan Tappert, the galloping basslines of Mirko Jankord, the metronomic drumming of Carsten Stiens and the powerful vocals of Daniel Hiller who has a great battle horde leading roar not the normal shriek that is part and parcel of the trad metal vocalist. This is a retro styled record with The Sanctuary Of '83 is a homage to this as Skyconqueror's riffage and songwriting is straight from the year when denim and leather was firmly bringing us all together. With Enforcer, Cauldron, Holy Grail, White Wizzard and Monument all doing their bit for the NWOBHM cause Skyconqueror are a great addition to these bands purely due to the great riffs, smashing drums, wide ranging vocals and lots of light and shade see the melodic, emotion filled The Dusk which will get everyone nodding their heads in rhythmic unison. The band have the Accept style Teutonic metal prevalent in all German trad metal bands but they also have a heaving slab of Saxon thrown in especially on Frozen Rainbow Warrior which is supreme Saxon territory. This is a great debut album from the Germans showing that it's not just us Brits or indeed the Swedes that do trad metal full of dragons, warriors and jolly good rocking!!! 8/10

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