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Saturday, 4 April 2015

Reviews: Enforcer, Kyrbgrinder, Caelestia

Enforcer: From Beyond (Nuclear Blast)

Swedes Enforcer have been doing the rounds for ten years and their leather and spandex clad retro metal has improved with every album, now usually the bands in this NWOTHM they take from Maiden, Priest, Saxon etc and this can get a bit samey after a while so that is why Enforcer have always appealed to me as they take their sound from the more underground bands in the original NWOBHM; I'm talking about Raven, Tokyo Blade and Angel Witch and yes their sound is very NWOBHM with a lot of speed metal influences of Exciter, Manilla Road and Helstar to name a few. The blistering speed of Destroyer is a testament to their speed metal bothering as it's 3 minute run time seems half that. In fact this song could be a metaphor for the whole album as the 10 tracks seem to fly by with the title track being the most melodic track on the album filled with the occult lyricism that goes through the album wholesale through the shortest track One With Fire and the Mercyful Fate baiting Below The Slumber which shows off Olof Wikstrand's glass shattering vocals. The album is split by the obligatory instrumental Hungry They Will Come and the final tracks whizz by in a furious, metallic mid 80's rage with Farewell being the only cut on the album that slows things down at the beginning before revving things back up again at the end. Enforcer have always been a byword for quality, consistent metal and once again they have produced an album that makes you did out your bullet belt and bang your head!! 8/10  

Kyrbgrinder: Chronicles Of A Dark Machine (Cherry Red)

Kyrbgrinder's last album Cold War Technology is a firm favourite of mine, I played that record to death, because of it's funky metal delivery and passionate songwriting. The band is a three piece formed by Johanne James the drummer of British prog metal legends Threshold (think a Brit Dream Theater if you don't know them), now Threshold happen to be a favourite of mine so when I saw Johanne had another band I quickly looked them up and fell in love with them. Now Johanne handles the drumming on this record with Dave Lugay on bass and Aaron Waddington on guitar, but more importantly than his immensely impressive drumming he also has a voice that is smooth as silk, think Benji Webbe mixed with crooner Seal, the fact that he can do both of these live shows that Johanne is more than just a drummer (eat your heart out Phil Collins). Now when I heard they were releasing their third album my excitement peaked here was another chance to hear a unique band that very rarely tour near me. Once again they have come up trumps with some top quality alternative styled metal see the Seether-like Oxygen, with nearly all the band's lyrics fuelled by political rallying against injustice and hardship that befall a lot of the world's population. Slipping Away is the James feeling like he is on the outside looking in at the modern world, the bouncy Taking Control is very Disturbed like with James rapid fire lyrics and the big groove guitar playing from Lugay and Waddington and has the band lamenting the distance of the planet from what's actually happening, the biggest amount of bile though is saved for those over the pond with Captain America really touching a nerve. With this mix of clever lyricism and dexterous musicianship Kyrbgrinder have their own little niche and are all the better for it, with a melting pot of influences combining to create a great album for fans of metal that is more alternative and carries a stronger message than a lot bands around. 8/10      

Caelestia: Beneath Abyss (Inverse)

Despite the strong religious belief in Greece, the country does seem to produce some of the most extreme metal and indeed dark metal, with lyricism that rallies against religion and brings in horror imagery to create dark soundscapes filled with harsh guitar work and vocals. Bands like Rotting Christ and SepticFlesh (who's bassist/vocalist Spiros designs the artwork for this album) lead this crusade but Caelestia have now burst on to the scene to throw their hat into the ring. The band come from the Mark Jansen school of song-writing with After Forever/Epica and MaYaN all coming to mind. Front woman Dimitra's operatic vocals soar above the wall of noise from the double kick drums, furious shredding and are in direct opposition to Nikos' black metal screams, the two of them work well together to create light and shade. Characterised as melodic death metal, I would also add a strong progressive influence to this with the chugging Gate Of Shadows, changing time signatures throughout, the album is split by two haunting instrumentals the first of which The Grand Sublimation is the perfect warm up for the pure death metal of Blessing Of Tragedy which features Soilwork's Bjorn 'Speed' Strid unmistakeable vocals, before the orchestral and electronic elements come back on the furious Behemoth baiting Beneath The Abyss, you get your head kicked in with the brutal Secret Rite before Lake Of Decay is a great modern metal track with some electronic flourishes and some great guitar work. A huge melting pot of influences Caelestia's sound needs a bit of refining and the production needs to be a bit cleaner but this is a strong debut from these Athenians that will appeal to those who like their metal more extreme. 7/10    

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