Farseer: Fall Before The Dawn (Self Released)
Farseer, sounds a bit World Of Warcraft doesn't it? Well you win a coconut! (Figuratively we're not made of coconuts) it is a bit World Of Warcraft, Farseer play the speedy type of European power metal favoured by Helloween, Blind Guardian, Freedom Call, Heaven's Gate and Mob Rules, so naturally with a sound akin to those just mentioned you'd guess they were German, especially when you hear the soaring, ear piercing vocals of Dave Bisset, however you'd be wrong (coconut revoked) as Farseer come from that power metal haven...Glasgow...yes the one in Scotland, but happily they can more than play the Germanic power metal bands at their own game (of thrones) with galloping rhythm section from bassist Stu Clark and drummer Craig Rooney, lightning fast 7-string guitar talent from David Conolly and Jon Stewart and the inhuman vocals from the previously mentioned Dave Bisset, who is a dead ringer for Eric Adams. As the album starts off with a little intro track the first three tracks proper Luck Of The Joker, Way Of The World and Drag Down The Sinners start as they mean to go on with some intense power metal riffs, technical widdly solos and epic songwriting.
Farseer started out as a much darker prospect with throaty roars and a more melo-death sound however they moved towards to the sound they have now by Bisset moving from bass to behind the mic and what a find he is, his vocals are remarkable, up there with the best in the business in terms of scope and power. Echo in Time is the band at their heaviest while Nightmares Collide is more classically influenced, as the album progresses each track adds more warp-speed shredding and ear splitting vocals but with all the technicality you'd be forgiven to think that they might be in the early Dragonforce years of style over substance but Farseer is more than that they merge the virtuoso performances with melody and great songwriting meaning every track has variation keeping your attention. Second Strike is Maiden style epic, while Blindeye is more Manowar. Everytime slows the pace with a ballad Iced Earth would be proud of and as Chthonic Visions and the title track finish the album in muscular style. Fall Before The Dawn is Farseer's debut record and it's one that shows that they have a real professionalism about them it's an accomplished debut, that grabs you from the off, for power metal fans this might be one of the albums of the year. 9/10
Subliminal Fear: Escape From Leviathan (Inverse Records)
Well what do we have here? These were the first thoughts I had when I saw the cover of Subliminal Fear's third album, the artwork is instantly recognisable as a piece by Septicflesh frontman, Seth Spiro Anton, using his usual dark biomechanical Giger-esque style. The cover reflects the music inside, this is heavy metal machine music but not in the Lou Reed sense imagine more Fear Factory, meeting Enter Shikari with Septicflesh and Tesseract pitching in too. The band play industrial metal that relies as much upon the speedy riffs, djent palm muted breakdowns (Dark Star Renaissance) and blast beats as it does on the synths, samples and processed beats, All Meanings They're Torn is an early example of this driven by the pulsing EDM synths that fuse well with the metallic base layer, allowing the dual clean/growl vocals to do their work, with the clean vocals being particularly of interest as they have the same electronic treatment as FF's Burton C Bell but when they are allowed to go 'naked' as it were they croon majestically bringing to mind Jayce Lewis/Protafield, it also means that they are in sharp contrast to the harsher screams and growls but when used together they compliment each other and the music very well indeed, the band also use some guest vocalists in the shape of Guillaume Bideau from Mnemic, Jon Howard of Threat Signal and Lawrence Mackrory from Darkane who add their stamp to the record.
After the two great opening tracks Nexus is a bit of a filler track if I'm honest but it gives way to the superb cinematic title track and the relentless barrage of riffage that is Evilution, before a curveball of a cover of Talk Talk's Living In Another World which is given an industrial metal reboot which means that it is familiar but differs enough from the original to make it worthy of inclusion. These Italians give their all on this album and play very good industrially-tinged, melodic-death metal, they manage to merge the two styles effortlessly creating balance between the metal sounds and the electronic ones. After the slower tracks in the middle it regains it's heaving stride in the last third of the record leaving begging for breath as the final chord of the haunting closing statement The Disease Is Human Emotion completing this records damning condemnation of human beings and almost welcoming the rise of the machines. All I can say is after this record you will want to side with the machines, resistance is futile. 8/10
Sinnery: Feast Of Fools (Pitch Black Records)
Israeli thrashers Sinnery explode out of your stereo from the word go, grabbing you by the throat and shaking you to the core, this group of youngsters play classic thrash metal that has the aggressive assault of Slayer, Exodus and Kreator with scything riffage, some throat scarring vocals, relentless percussive barrages and also a keen ear for melody. These guys have had one hell of a metal education as they throw everything at every song, almost like they are trying fit as many riffs into a song as possible bringing to mind cult act Sabbat in the process. The two opening tracks Built To Kill and Magic Bullet show the spectrum of the bands sound with the former speeding along at a machine gun pace while the latter slows a little but adds crushing doom laden riffs to the chorus, Showing Teeth adds some drama with it's orchestral opening again letting the heart (and neck) rest before starting the battery once again.
The band are a four piece like most great thrash bands with a dedicated rhythm guitarist and lead guitarist meaning that they never lose any of the technical proficiency or violent aggression in the solo sections, their sound too is bolstered by the production which makes everything just pop which along with the dexterity of the playing makes you forget that this is Sinnery's debut album as they sound like a much older, more accomplished band. Feast Of Fools is everything you could want in a thrash metal album with surf-style speed metal on Mad Dog, the old school thrash sound on Black Widow, before the final part of the album brings in some progressive themes, especially on Symphony Of Sorrow which takes it's cues from Metallica's Fade To Black etc. If you remember a time when thrash was young, fresh and full of ideas then you will love Feast Of Fools and more importantly you will have to check out Sinnery as they a brimming with promise. 8/10