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Friday, 26 September 2014

World Of Metal 18: Craving, Selene, Stonewitch

Craving: At Dawn (Apostasy Records)

I've already reviewed Craving's debut on this blog and was impressed by their blend of black metal and folk. It was good album, a little rough around the edges but overall a nice blast of melodic metal with cookie monster vocals. At Dawn continues in the vein of it's predecessor but has improved sonically with better production meaning that all the instruments are sharp, crisp and obviously loud. Yet again this is a melodic black metal with lots of Celtic and folk influences, see the acoustic minstrel guitar in the middle of opening track Mik as well as on epic sounding Targaryen Wrath which is has a real folk vibe to it and features the guitar prowess of Chris Caffery who adds some solo flourishes on this track. Again the overriding influence on this album would be that of Amon Amarth, the band have your excellent head pummelling blast beat drumming from Maik Schaffstädter, the bass gallop of Leonid Rubinstein, the twin guitar attack of Thorsten Flecken and Ivan Chertov who shred very well at an almost supersonic speed and solo faster! Chertov also provides the multi-lingual gutteral roars, scream and chants, the songs are sung in English Breath After Breath, German; the 8 minute In Die Nacht Hinein and also in Russian with Olga. For the most part as I've said the band are Celtic/Black Metal at their heart but the band do add numerous elements to their sound, from the symphonic touches on Schwarze Flügel through, thrash/death passages and ending with some classic metal rhythms. All in all this is another great metal record from the German mob! 8/10  

Selene: Paradise Over (Self Released)

So with all the symphonic female fronted metal bands around it is always hard to stand out. How then, do Northern Ireland's Selene favour? Well from the first track you can hear that this is more than your usual symphonic metal fayre, the guitars and keys of band leader John Connor are from the Kamelot or Sonata Arctica school of music with powerful, punchy guitar riffs, sublime solos and pulsing keys. First track Facing The Mirror is the best example of this as it opens the album up an moves at a great pace, second track Not Enough is your standard operatic ballad on which Shonagh Lyons really shows off her excellent set of pipes, she sings much like Tara Turnen or Simone Simmons but with a definite Irish lilt which is very appealing and distances her from many of the other female operatic singers. Back to the EP and the title track ramps up the speed and also the orchestral nature as it has the blast beats of Cameron Ashlund-Glass (also of Darkest Era). In fact the last couple of tracks are very rocky indeed before all of that stops at the end with Hourglass Fading which is an overwrought, emotional song that brings to mind Evanescence with it's simple piano backing. A good EP that could be the start of something very good for Selene, a nice little taster of things to come. 7/10

Stonewitch: The Godless (Self Released)

French doomsters Stonewitch play slow, brooding, down-tuned doom metal in the style of old school Sabbath , Cathedral and Saint Vitus. This EP is only 5 songs long but it feels much longer with every song full of big doom riffs. The band are made up of a singer and two guitarists, so where the drumming comes from is anyone guess, the band are good and the vocals are bellowed rather than sung which always helps in doom. However you do get the feeling you've heard all this before, which maybe because you have a fair few times, that's not say it isn't well delivered or indeed bad it just means that it is all a bit samey, its your standard doom fair which does little to reinvent what has come before or indeed what the big hitters of the genre do. Unfortunately this is mid level doom fit for dingy pubs and hardcore heshers only. 6/10

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