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Sunday 11 October 2015

Reviews: Molllust, Acrania, Pokerface

Molllust: In Deep Waters (Self Released)

Molllust (yes the three l's are deliberate) style themselves as Opera Metal and they are most definitely that, with eight different members all contributing the band combine the compelling musical emotion of classical/operatic music with the forceful intensity of heavy metal. I would compare this record similarly to those of Trans Siberian Orchestra, Therion, Diablo Swing Orchestra and Mike Batt's forgotten but excellent project The Planets (which similarly had classical instrumentation with fused with electric instruments). In Deep Waters starts off with it's opening overture, as all great operas do, which highlights the classical instruments more so than the electric ones, Janika Groß's pianos are used to great effect with the violins of Sandrine B. and Luisa B, weaving well with Lisa H's cello and everything being underpinned by Frank Schumacher's buzzing electric guitars. This overture moves straight into the first track Unschuld which has a heavy metal base layer of Schumacher's guitar Clemens Frank's drums, Simon Johanning's bass and Carsten Hundt's drumming. For a song ion German you still can understand whats going on due to the atmosphere it creates before it moves on into Evenfall which is a track that could be featured on a Nightwish or Epica album due to Groß's soaring soprano vocals as Schumacher counteracts with his tenor. The band are all sterling musically you can tell they are all intensely dedicated to the instruments and they use them to craft this impressive album that is a fusion of the classical tradition and metal flourishes, from the doom of Paradise Perdu and Voices Of The Dead, through the emotive Paradise On Earth, the rocking Spring and the operatic Number In A Cage. This album features some great songs (15 of them in fact) and it is well played and produced but it is a bit of a slog if you don't 'get' it but for those that love classical metal fusion then Molllust will take you on a journey you will greatly enjoy. 7/10 

Acrania: Fearless (Self Released)

So there are very few times as a reviewer that you come across something totally unique, well Fearless and indeed the band that made it, Mexico's Acrania are unique. The band seamlessly fuse death metal with both progressive and Latin jazz influences. This means that as well as the guttural vocals Luis F. Oropeza R. you also get the death metal-styled super fast riffage and blistering solos from him and César Cortés. However you also get the jazz tone infected bass and drums of Alberto Morales and J.C. Chávez and the furious Latin percussion of Ignacio Gómez Ceja who bongos' like Tito Puente throughout keeping up with Chávez on tracks like Poverty Is In The Soul which has a drum fuelled middle section and a bit of Maiden at the end, as well as Man's Search For Meaning which starts off with throbbing drums and explodes into some parping brass. This all seems reasonably normal yes? Just a bit of Latin music thrown into the mix, making the band have the same percussive drive as Soulfly? Well yes other bands have attempted this and it can be seen as common place, although the real craziness comes when Cortés adds saxophone and Oropeza R. starts blowing on a trumpet and the band take their songs through faster and slower parts getting proggier on every track. From around I Was Never Dead things get more technical and wide ranging culminating in the En El Puerto which has Spanish guitars and leads into the truly insane Hypocritical Conflict. This album is madness but brilliant part Mars Volta, part Soulfly, part Cynic, with heaviness, melodies and fusion galore, if you like things a bit different then checkout Acrania. 8/10

Pokerface: Divide And Rule (Molot Records)

Russia has burgeoning metal scene producing some quality bands of all kinds of genres from black, through death and into rock and straight up metal. Pokerface have taken up the thrash metal gauntlet and it has led them into supporting Sodom, Sister Sin and Sepultura on their Russia and Belarus tours. With some high profile support under their belt you'd expect some good things from the band and you would be right, as All Is Lie kicks in after it's harmonic intro we are straight into the blastbeat heaven of Doctor (the band perform under pseudonyms) with furious riffs coming thick and fast from Nick and Maniac under pinned by Free Ride's bass that is actually quite high in the D.I.Y mix which benefits the band on the groovier tracks like Kingdom Of Hate. Yes this is an album that is pure thrash with songs that blitzkrieg along at a rapid pace, see Existence but they are not just about the speed and no style, in fact quite the opposite they no when to slow down and flesh out the songs, with some drama before speeding back up and unleashing hell, commanded by frontwoman Delirium's deathy vocals, the girl can scream with the best of them roaring and growling with a bratty clean delivery that is sparsely used but overshadowed by the aggressive roars. This is a great debut from the Russian five-piece who show that they know their thrash and play it with tenacity. 7/10     

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