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Saturday, 2 April 2016

Reviews: Killswitch Engage, Sinbreed, Mob Rules (Reviews By Paul)

Killswitch Engage: Incarnate (Roadrunner)

Full of crushing riffs, snarling aggression and soaring vocals, the seventh album from Massachusett metalcore kings KSE kicks hard. From the outset it's brutal, but it can become irritating for an album that is probably overly long at seven minutes’ shy of an hour. I’ve never warmed to KSE and they bored me to tears whenever I’ve seen them live. However, there is no denying that the first couple of tracks on this release, the second since Jesse Leach returned to the fold sees the vocalist on top form with some sterling performances. The expected battery of double bass drumming, harmonies in the choruses and frenetic guitar work are all present and correct.

Opener Alone I Stand is a brutal introduction to the album, sure to incite absolute carnage when played live. Thrashy guitars, guttural vocals and Justin Foley’s powerhouse drumming enhanced by sterling production. Hate By Design continues in the same vein, angry and spikey with some deadly riffs. Cut Me Loose has a typical KSE hook, with more than a nod to the bands that grew up with them, think the Sevendust’s of this world. Incarnate reflects the ongoing frustration in the world with cutting social commentary the theme coursing through the album. The first single Strength Of The Mind batters all in its way, whilst Embrace The Journey … Upraised contains one of the best roars I’ve ever heard, underlying the quality of Leach’s vocal performance on Incarnate with a huge thrash breakdown with some powerful guitar work from Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroestzel.

And then we get to the big difficulty I have with KSE. By mid-way through the album I'm numb with the repetition of it all. Every song, whilst well-crafted and musically incredibly heavy just sounds the same. Roaring vocals, soaring harmonies, monster riffs and battering drums. Yeah, okay, many bands sound exactly the same and I completely accept that. However, with the exception of The Great Deceit which is a beast of a track, I slowly lost interest at the same point during repeated plays. And therein lies my problem with this band. Brutal, with some great songs in the back catalogue (certainly there are a number of real tunes in the Howard Jones era KSE), they just become a little boring. I’m sure that tracks such as the under three-minute attack of Reignite will be huge favourites in the pit but it does little to fire my interest. 7/10

Sinbreed: Master Creator (AFM)

German power metal eh? Who doesn’t love a bit of it. The market is absolutely flooded with bands all playing at break net speed singing about Demons and Wizards whilst racing up and down the fretboards. Glorious harmonies and full band choruses underwritten by luscious melodies and hooks you could catch Moby Dick with. Sometimes though it’s all a bit shit and when done badly comes across as quite ludicrous. Luckily, Sinbreed sit firmly in the high quality power metal camp. Master Creator is the third album from the band who’ve been around since 2005 and is 45 minutes of superb high octane 110mph power metal at its finest. Herbie Langhans’ voice snarls in a style reminiscent of the late David Wayne of Metal Church. Every track features some of the most breath taking drumming although this is not a surprise when your drummer is Frederik Ehmke, best known as the powerhouse backbone of Blind Guardian.

The opening three tracks are just full out gallops; Creation Of Reality and Across The Great Divide just two examples of how good this band is. Moonlight Night allows time for a quick breather before the pace picks up again, with guitarist Flo Laurin flexing his fingers with some fine guitar work. This is a band who also had Marcus Siepen of Blind Guardian as a member for a couple of years until recently and there is some comparison with the incredible speed that both bands play at. The album’s title track is a mighty demonstration of this, a charging intro before furious drumming and bass lines from Alexander Schulz race to the full harmonies of the chorus. Whilst the song construction is pretty formulaic the band do mix it up a bit with the haunting The Riddle reverting to a slightly more standard heavy metal track, powerful riffs complemented by some subtle keyboards. It’s back to the norm for the final two tracks though with album closer On The Run anthemic in its soaring delivery. German power metal eh? Top stuff. 8/10

Mob Rules: Tales From Beyond (SPV)

Back to German power metal again with Mob Rules’ ninth studio release which is basically as close to Iron Maiden as you can get. In fact, Tales From Beyond would pass comfortably for a mid-2000s Maiden album. Opener Dykemaster's Tale is so much like the Irons I had to check I hadn’t put them on by mistake. It’s fast and heavy but oh so clich├ęd. Throw in some 1980s Helloween for good measure on the choruses. At just under nine minutes it gallops along in true power metal style. I believe that I heard some bagpipes on the opening of Somerled which is different but that’s about all that is. This is Helloween. I’m sure of it. It’s well produced, it is well performed but unlike other bands under the power metal banner, it just isn’t that good. In fact, I’m not going to waste any more words on it. 5/10

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