Black Sabbath: The End (Self Released)
"What is this? That stands before me?" with those immortal lines heavy metal was created by the Birmingham band known as Black Sabbath, if you don't know that stop reading and listen to some music, for the rest of you you will know that where as that immortal line was the beginning we are now at the opposite side of the coin with the current Sabbath tour touted as their last, to accompany the tour Sabbath have released a special EP, funnily enough called The End. It contains four unreleased studio tracks from the 13 sessions and four live performances of song from the 13 album, recorded on the 2013-14 13 tour. If you are an avid collector of Sabbath then this will get you as excited as Panda in snowfall, however for those that have more of a casual interest The End is not much of a loss, the live tracks are all poorly recorded and badly edited, as my compatriot Paul pointed out they are akin production wise to 1973's Live At Last, which as many will know is not a good thing.
So it's not worth buying for the live tracks, then what about the unreleased material? I hear you ask (through a written word blog) well that too doesn't cut much mustard, after listening to them you immediately realise why these tracks were left off the previous record they are just a bit...meh. It's Sabbath by numbers I'm afraid, the fodder for a thousand doom metal bands formed in Sabbath's wake, for any of them a couple of these tracks would be the lead singles unfortunately when you are the band that has Paranoid, War Pigs, Snowblind, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, N.I.B, Sweet Leaf, Fairies Wear Boots, Symptom of The Universe, Evil Woman a collection of top notch songs with their other singers and a even some excellent newer material in God Is Dead? then these four songs and this EP in general just smacks of cash in. Do yourself a favour, go and see Sabbath live on these tour dates; one it will probably be your last chance ever, two you'll get all the classics and maybe some rarely played material from the old days and finally you will see legends how they should be experienced, live with the masses gathered together for ta celebration of our favourite music. Just do one thing for me if you are a total completest then buy the The End but if your not then spend your pennies on 13 or any other album from their superb back catalogue as this is the Sabbath you'll want to watch and the songs you'll want to hear! 5/10
Lost Society: Braindead (Nuclear Blast) [Review By Paul]
Finland has more than its fair share of metal outfits, and if a recent meme is correct, about 70% of them are wandering around forests, lost in the snow after typical pouting photoshoots. Lost Society don’t really sit comfortably musically with the majority of their countrymen, who tend to favour the melancholic, but have more in common with the Bay Area of the US, such is the ferocity of their thrash assault. Indeed, the UK will get a chance to see these boys in the flesh when they open for Exodus in March. Braindead is a mature piece of work and their third full release. Opening with I Am The Antidote, a six-minute chug, Lost Society mark their line in the sand immediately. Riot comes next, edges of nu-metal mixing with a Scott Ian influenced stomp. Samy Elbanna’s vocals are pretty standard for the genre, pushing and straining whilst giving 100% The guitar work of Elbanna and Arttu Lesonen feeds off each other, with powerful riffs and some memorable hooks. A more realistic and representative track in the shape of Mad Torture follows, with shades of early Evile and other champions of the new thrash wave.
The American influence looms large, with evidence of such giants as Overkill, Exodus and the mighty Death Angel liberally sprinkled throughout the release. Indeed, Hollow Eyes could be a mixture of the three bands. It’s decent if a little routine thrash, with a solid rhythm section courtesy of Mirko Lehtinen’s bass and drummer Ossi Paananen. Rage Me Up is almost a punk track, full of aggression and adrenaline. The masterpiece of the album is most certainly the Metallica styled Only (My) Death Is Certain. It is a cracking piece, building tempo in the way that all lengthy thrash tracks do before diving into a chugging riff that will get the windmills flying. It continues to build whilst stomping along, pounding drums and duel guitars vying for centre stage. Ironically, the track contains one of the few choruses on the album, and this is almost folk metal in style which brought a raised eyebrow or two. The song segues into the traditional lull before all hell breaks loose. It’s pretty formulaic but it works well.
If there is one criticism that I’d have to level, it’s the quality of the vocals which always seem to be slightly uncontrolled and too shouty. I’ll be interested to see how the band can deliver this live, as I’ve got a sore throat just listening to it. Still, as a fervent fan of decent thrash metal, I’ll certainly be giving up a pint in the nearest hostelry in order to get a view of these guys when they roll into Cardiff on March 11. 7/10
The Slayer King: Sanatana Dharma (Finisterian Dead End) [Review By Paul]
Greek metal? Yeah, we think of Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh Firewind and Nightfall for starters but here at MOM our European contacts are now providing us with a little bit more from a burgeoning scene. The Slayer King, based in Athens and formed in 2013 are now firmly in the sights with their debut release Sanatana Dharma. Combining Doom, Progressive metal, thrash and even some industrial elements, Sanatana Dharma (the Hinduism term for eternal order) is a really interesting and complex release which demands several listens. Whilst the vocals of delivery Efthimis have a curious mix of Rammstein’s Til Lindermann, Monster Magnet’s Dave Wyndorff and Bobby Liebling of Pentagram, their sound often sits much more with the 70s sinister doom of Sabbath, Pentagram and Sleep. Opener She Is My Lazarus mixes crashing riffs with calmer moments, creating a wall of sound, fuzzed up guitar (courtesy of Kosta) solos which mix classic Iommi with Dave Murray.
Completing the line-up is drummer Anna who pounds away, combining with Efthimis’ bass to give the band a really heavy crushing sound. Black Mother Of The Lord Of The Light changes direction with a much more traditional vocal delivery, snarling guttural lyrics and more aggressive riffs, and more than a hint of reverence to their compatriots in Rotting Christ (no bad thing there). It’s good stuff. It gets even more interesting too with We Are The End merging some really different styles; along with the crushing doom I hear the industrial edge of Rammstein and some hooks which would be totally at home on King Of The Dead, the 1984 release from Californian outfit Cirith Ungol. My Lai is an atmospheric piece, almost haunting in places with a sinister undertone. The Man That Never Was contains the heaviest riff on the album, a colossally heavy piece which crushes with its weight. Album closer Southern Gate Of The New Sun builds slowly with a demonic bass line and increasing in strength and power as it develops into a brooding behemoth of a track with almost death metal vocals giving it another change of direction. The Slayer King merge a range of old influences into something quite different and fresh. This is a solid debut with real promise. 8/10