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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Reviews: Orange Goblin, Evergrey, Eden Circus

Orange Goblin: Back From The Abyss (Candlelight Records)

Britain's premier stoner rockers Orange Goblin are back with their eighth album which come two years after their last (and possibly best) album Eulogy For The Dammed. It was this album that got them big headlining tours and major support tours. Back From The Abyss continues this upward path with another album chock full of massive riffs that beat you into submission, the rhythm section of Chris Turner and Martyn Milard pulverises like a sledgehammer with some skull rattling bass from Milland and some powerful percussion from Turner. This style of big, beefy stoner rock has always been Goblin's forte and Joe Hoare once again is a human riff machine from the (unsurprisingly) Sabbath-like Sabbath Hex to the Motorhead punk metal snarl of The Devil's Whip he peels off riff after riff with ease, getting head banging and fists pumping. The three men provide the perfect musical backing for mountainous roar of Ben Ward who bellows over all of the songs as usual leading this chugging biker rock with his shouts and providing the perfect foghorn for navigating the stoner haze. The great songwriting from the previous records is still there; Demon Blues is a good old possession song, Heavy Lies The Crown is an awesome old school metal track with some nice changes of pace throughout, Into The Arms Of Morpheus is classic Sabbath doom with its slow leviathan riffs and even a cheeky reference to Beyond The Wall Of Sleep. Back From The Abyss is yet another very strong album full of huge rock riffs, stoner metal stomping, see the penultimate track Blood Of Them also a keen ear for mixing melody and aggression. Another cracking release from the Goblin! 8/10

Evergrey: Hymns For The Broken (AFM Records)

Sweden's Evergrey have always been put into the progressive or power metal category and this is due to their melodic songs played with technical virtuosity. With most power metal band their songs are upbeat and cheery, something that Evergrey do not do, their songs are dark, emotive, haunting and most of all very heavy. Much of this comes from Tom S Englund who is the driving force behind the band writing most of the songs as well being providing guitars and his unmistakeable croon meaning that their are few bands that can match Evergrey for sheer musical power. Englund was also the reason why the band have taken a short three year hiatus while he worked through some personal issues but he has done what musicians always do and found solace in music channelling his problems into his song writing. So what of their ninth album does it stand up to previous releases? Well as the intro subsides into the anthemic, Gothic, symphonic King Of Errors you know that Evergrey are back with a vengeance, it is big, ballsy and full of heaviness touched with melody. This turns into the modern sounding A New Dawn which has some great soloing in it. From the heaviness we move into the emotional Make A Change which has an electronic back beat from keyboardist Rikard Zander. He also provides some of the show stopping orchestral tracks on the simply awesome Archaic Rage which has piano, choirs, chunky guitars and Englund's fantastic voice, he really is in a league of his own. The song then ramps up the tempo and it means that Englund and Henrik Danhage can show off their guitar prowess over Johan Niemann's throbbing bass and Jonas Ekdahl's superb drumming. Evergrey have always excelled at concept albums and Hymns For The Broken is a concept album full of songs about rebellion and fighting against tyranny in all its forms however it is so much more than that, they have never been afraid to tackle subjects that are close to them as the album has a real emotional depth as Englund has drawn creativity from the negativity surrounding their hiatus. The songs on here show how talented the band are, from the anthemic guaranteed single Barricades, through the ballad of Black Undertow and the galloping metal of The Fire which is far from conventional with child choirs and electronic backing, before the epoch of the album is the amazing double whammy of The Grand Collapse and The Aftermath which are a suitably phenomenal ending to this monumental record. This ninth album is all of the things Evergrey strive to be, progressive, melodic, modern, emotive and down right brilliant, I've always liked Evergrey a lot for their complex, dark and heavy music, but I can honestly say I am in love with this album, it is probably the best they have ever released, It's technical precise, fiercely melodic, impassioned and pretty much perfect album. 10/10

Eden Circus: Marula (Lifeforce Records)

Eden Circus are Swedish by way of Hamburg, the band were merely a collection musicians setting about with no fixed sound in mind, focussing on creating music not on touring or even releasing anything. Here then four years after the bands inception is their debut and it is something of a revelation, it's a strong confident record that blurs boundaries and genres, the Tool-like Devoid Of Purpose kicks things off with progressive percussion from Michael Reinke, understated but undulating bass of Sebastian Scheewe, jangling guitars from Andreas Höfler and Nils Finkeisen the melodic, half hushed vocals of Siegmar Pohl. The band come from the new school of progressive music with elements similar to Porcupine Tree and frequent collaborators Opeth, see the majestic 5 minute plus Comfort which even has some growls from Pohl. There is also nods to the dark melancholy of Katatonia and Anathema, the jarring quirkiness of Tool and the ambient light and shade of Deftones. As you would think with these sort of influences to their sound, this is not an easy record, it does not give you instant gratification like the Goblin record, it is slow burning grower with only repeated listens revealing every nuance, a guitar riff here, a bass lick there, a drum fill bridging the gap. Steve Wilson's legacy rears it's head on 101 which dabbles with ambience, dynamics and does sound like Porcupine Tree fronted by Maynard James Keenan, which is no bad thing. A rich and diverse album full of sonic experimentation, fantastic song writing, expansive and technical songs. If this is their debut then it bodes well for their career as it is a fantastic piece of music. 9/10            

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