Kill Ritual: Karma Machine (Scarlet Records)
Karma Machine sees the third offering from Californian thrashers Kill Ritual, and despite undergoing a major line-up change, this smasher of a record proves there’s no letting up from the rocking quartet. Clean vocals come thick and fast, but do well to not detract from the grit laid down by what is, at times, technical guitar work. However, it is the melodic riffs that echo power metal and guitarist Andrew Rice’s frequent, yet perfectly placed, leads on guitar that make this offering something special. A powering intro provided by Just A Cut sets a very much fast-paced buzz, that rhythmic offerings such as Just A Cut and The Enemy Inside do nothing to dispel. A curve ball comes in the form of The Key, deceptively beginning as the album’s greatest attempt at a softer ballad; before utilising some clever guitar work to tear into another up-tempo corker. The title track Karma Machine is, however, by no means the greatest contribution, falling a little short of creating a real hook, whilst the inclusion of carnival-esque sound effects at song’s end adds nothing. Overall, it’s easy to see why Kill Ritual are gaining notoriety for their contemporary twist on thrash, Karma Machine once again breathing life into the genre and setting them apart from more traditionally associated acts such as Metallica and Slayer; whilst still rocking hard. 8/10
Stereo Nasty: Nasty By Nature (Independently signed)
Squeeze into the spandex, don the denim cut and quiff up your bouffant; as slick 80’s throwback metal band Stereo Nasty are blasting us to the past, and if the Irish four-piece are attempting to prove something with this debut; then prove something they sure do. Nasty By Nature manages quite a feat; by utilising gravelly vocals that echo Mark Tornillo or Biff Byford; and combining them with good few heaps of stellar riffage; without sounding like a sub-par knockoff revival band. Whilst it’s hard to pick stand out tracks on an all-killer album, Death Machine notably utilises a steady hook to build anticipation before catapulting in with tearing vocals; and relishes a rapid pace before dropping a solo worthy of your slickest air guitar. Classic metal appreciation comes from In The Blood, with the choral declaration of ‘I've got that heavy metal blood running through my veins’; providing the perfect ingredient for a roaring metal-head anthem. The final three tracks of the album Under Her Spell, The Warrior and Demon Halo, all appeared on their initial demo; but their given revamp leads them effortlessly in and adds to this banger of nostalgic charm. Overall, this album leaves me with a feeling I believe every good metal album should, a need to see this band live ASAP! 8/10
Neck Deep: Life’s Not Out To Get You (Hopeless Records)
If pop-punk is your thing, and lets be honest we have all been known to at least hum along to a catchy teenage pop-punk anthem (I implore you to think Sum41 here); chances are; you may already know Neck Deep. Formed in 2012 in Wrexham, Neck Deep are hailed by peers as being at the forefront of the new wave of the genre; having scooped a few notable accolades under their relatively-young belts, including Kerrang’s 2014 ‘Best British Newcomer’. Life’s Not Out to Get You drops straight into Citizens Of Earth’s youthful riff that wouldn't find itself out of place starting up an early Blink 182 album; before being met with a vocal approach by Ben Barlow that begs influence from Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynold’s anguished raps. Interestingly, this is where these vocal similarities end; as they are seemingly and confusingly dropped for the remainder of the album, being replaced with the a-typical Americanised nasal drawl synonymous with the genre. Overall, LNOTGY follows the typical formula for an album attempting to musically recreate the emotional rollercoaster of teen life. You've got your raised-tempo; middle finger up in Serpents, your acoustic attempt at a reflective ballad in December and there’s no denying all are delivered by an energy akin to that produced in a Mentos and Coke experiment. But to me, it’s all been done a thousand times before, with a thousand different faces and there are only so many ways you can moan about teenage girls that have broken your heart, on one album.