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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Reviews: Byzantine, Tribulation, Dopethrone (Review By Paul)

Byzantine: To Release Is To Resolve (PledgeMusic)

Byzantine are a progressive thrash outfit from West Virginia, comprising of Chris “OJ” Ojeda on vocals and rhythm guitar, Brian Henderson on lead guitar and rhythm section Sean Sydnor on bass and Matt Wolfe (drums). Having formed in 2000, very much part of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, the band split in 2010 only to reform by 2012. To Release Is To Resolve is their fifth album and it is a really solid release. Byzantine combine a number of different styles in their sound which makes them an interesting listen. The guitar work of Henderson is excellent with solos thrown out with almost careless abandon, whilst the compositions contain elements of light and shade; some really heavy parts on a par with Pantera and Lamb Of God segue with some much quieter balanced segments; for example on track two Justinian Code where the tempo changes from all-out assault to a much calmer pace. Ojeda’s vocals cover a wide range, from brutal metal core style through to almost Myles Kennedy in places although I think I’d mention Ivan Moody from 5FDP as a similar peer. The technical aspect of Byzantine has been compared to Meshuggah and I can hear that, although I’d throw Xerath into the mix in terms of quality technical playing as well. Underpinning the whole album which lasts an old school 43 minutes and eight tracks is a massive slab of groove, unsurprising given their heritage but sufficient to get the head moving and the foot tapping. This is a stomping and brutal album which is well worth a listen. 8/10

Tribulation: The Children Of The Night (Century Media)

Another death metal outfit from Sweden, this time Tribulation from Arvika who have released their third long player. Formed in 2005, the band play pretty no-nonsense death metal with a real punk rock feel combined with the faster elements of Dimmu Borgir and the like. The Children Of The Night contains solid playing and a less familiar death metal style; indeed some of the tracks are positively slow by comparison though still retaining a very dark and sinister approach. Tracks such as Melancholia probably don’t need much of a description but suffice to say there is a black atmosphere whilst the vocals of Johannes Andersson who also plays bass are traditional death growls which fit nicely with the rest of the band. The guitar work is haunting at times, with Adam Zaars and Jonathan Hultén giving the tracks some meaty riffage as well as a more balanced and introspective feel. All of the tracks on this generous serving (just under an hour) are well paced following a reasonably standard formula, but if it isn't broken, keep with it. In The Dreams Of The Dead clocks in at just under six minutes and is a killer track, with several time changes and some evil death vocals to support the frantic soloing of the guitarists. Many of the tracks have a rather epic feel about them, with huge build ups ultimately climaxing in a fireball of death metal gloom. This is an album you can put on to listen to when you want to really annoy the neighbours. It’s noisy, it has death growls and a massive feel to it. If you like the doom style vocal work of Shagrath and Satyr then get involved. But be warned, it’s not going to cheer you up! 7/10

Dopethrone: Hochelaga (Totem Cat Records)

Canadian sludge/doom metal outfit Dopethrone’s third album does exactly what you would expect. Dirty, no, change that to filthy crushing riffs, smashing heavy bass and guitar and putrid vocals are all present and correct as this visceral outfit deliver seven tracks of pure slime. Each track has a spoken introduction before the distortion kicks in; Chameleon Witch for example, which possesses some of the darkest riffs since Electric Wizard spewed out the classic stoner/sludge based Dopethrone in 2000. Now I'm not a fan of this grinding heavy onslaught by any means, and I would rarely put the Montreal outfit, or Electric Wizard on for a spot of easy listening. However, I can appreciate that in the stoner/sludge scene this is top drawer. If you like your metal slow, powerful and as mucky as Caroline Street (notable Cardiff tourist era - Ed) at 2am on a Sunday morning, grab yourself a listen to Hochelaga. It’ll burn a hole in your mind. 7/10

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