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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Reviews: Iris Divine, Karma Rassa, Melkor (Reviews By Paul)

Iris Divine: Karma Sown (Zinkferd)

Iris Divine is a three piece progressive metal outfit from Alexandria, Viriginia. Karma Sown is their second full length release and follows 2011’s Convergence. The band, is Brian Dobbs on bass, Navid Rashid on vocals and guitar and Kris Combs, drums, keyboards and programming. Karma Sown is a powerful release, with a heady mixture of eastern influences combined with epic soaring progressive sounds and some excellent playing. Dobbs' bass is prominent throughout; played more as an additional lead at times with climbing scales and driving rhythms. At times the band provide you with the scent of some of their influences; shades of early Queensryche and Dream Theater with the odd dash of Kings X all present. Rashid provides some stunningly good vocal work with his clean delivery fitting in perfectly with the band’s sound. He is no slouch on the guitar either with some soaring solos which complement the drumming of Combs along with the subtle keyboard work and sympathetic programming. As a huge Rush fan, it would be highly hypocritical of me to criticise the band for using programming to enhance their sound. Well worth a listen 8/10

Karma Rassa: Music Into The Void (Self Released)

Formed in 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia, Karma Rassa’s debut is full of melody, introspection and the atmosphere you’d expect from symphonic and progressive European metal. As well as sweeping melodic keyboard and synth sounds, the band demonstrate a harder edge with some tasty guitar riffs and a crashing rhythm section. The vocals of Nagual are a combination of Jonas Renke and the growling edge of Insomnium’s lead vocalist Niilo Sevänen. In fact, Karma Rassa sit very nicely in the same camp as the Finns, as well as Ghost Brigade, Swallow The Sun and other such bands. The album has a quality balance of light and shade, with tracks such as Apology Of Regress allowing the guitar work of twin guitarists Sigmund and Naar to come to the fore whilst Melaer’s keys are allowed to dominate other pieces, for example during Drawing The Steel. However, the band maintain a heavy edge throughout and the clean vocals are refreshing and also demonstrate Nagual’s vocal prowess. The songs are details and complex with impressive compositions, containing frequent time changes and blasts of real almost death metal at times combining with the sound of Dream Theater and Opeth to provide some delicious contrasts.  Midway point in the album sees the band explore a bit of a psychedelic avenue with Explore Your Own Cosmos, which is a title that needs little explanation. Ice sits nicely in the melodic progressive metal genre and is a powerful track which merges some frantic riffing with delicate piano. This is a pretty decent album from a band who will hopefully get the opportunity to demonstrate their wares live before long.7/10

Melkor: Irlicht (Self Released)

A solo project from German Patrick Baumann, who has been a key member of several other bands, Melkor, named after a character from Tolkien’s middle earth, released this second full length album late in 2014. It is an interesting result, with Baumann delivering all of the music and vocals. With some mighty riffs, powerful drumming and vocals that sound like Cronos with a bad throat, Irlicht is very likely to appeal to the black metal fan. However, there is substantial melody and numerous hooks throughout the album. A variety of tempos and styles provide many complex layers and hidden depths throughout the eight tracks, and although the production isn't crystal clear, it is a solid slab of metal which has enough about it to warrant a listen. 7/10

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