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Monday, 4 April 2016

Reviews: Van Halst, Game Over, Anachronaeon (Reviews By Paul)

Van Halst: World Of Make Believe (Self Released)

We seem to be featuring a number of Canadian artists on MoM recently and Van Halst are yet another. Hailing from Edmonton but now based out of Toronto this four piece led by vocalist Kami Van Halst have recently issued their debut release, World Of Make Believe, a solid piece of quality hard rock. Van Halst don’t stick to one style, with some all-out rockers balanced with a couple of softer pieces. Opener The End combines strong clean vocals with some screaming death growls and a killer riff. Tackling strong subject matter including corruption in politics, prejudice and equality for women, this is a compelling album. Save Me once again combines clean and growling vocals and some powerful drumming from Brett Seaton. It’s difficult to avoid comparing Kami Van Halst’s vocal style with Evanescence’s Amy Lee on a couple of the tracks although Ryan’s Song sees her style veer much more towards Skunk Anansie’s Skin. The Title track contains tinges of the band’s goth influences although it has a Shinedown type hook which is really infectious. Questions is a poignant reflection on the still all too prevalent preconceptions towards rape and female assault. It’s an extremely powerful song. Denying Eyes focuses on similar subject matter, Scott Greene’s gentle acoustic guitar complimenting Van Halst’s vocals before the song increases in tempo and power. The last third of the album doesn’t let up at all. Monster reignites the fire with a crunching riff and delicious hook whilst Put Him Down has a bluesy stomp. Album closer The Perfect Storm is a storming piano led ballad, allowing Van Halst to deliver a powerful performance. World Of Make Believe demonstrates that the world of rock and metal is not all about dungeons, dragons and the Devil. The band (completed by bassist Brendan McMillan) is not afraid to address difficult subject matter and have delivered a thoroughly respectable debut. 8/10

Game Over: Crimes Against Reality (Scarlet Records)

The third full length release from Italian thrash outfit Game Over is a comforting package of Old school thrash and fresh enthusiasm. Chugging riffs, ear piercing solos, rampaging bass lines and hammerhead drumming all meld with excellent clean vocals and chanting choruses to provide a pleasurable listening experience. With All That Is Left provides a window back into the early NWOBHM era, shades of the Tygers of Pan Tang on a track that smoulders without igniting. It's as close to a ballad as Game Over are going to get. More enjoyable are the out and out thrashers such as the opener what Lies Within and the driving Neon Maniacs. For a three piece the band have developed a big sound. Alessandro Sansone's guitar work is high quality and drummer Anthony Danlone doesn't miss a beat. Even more impressive is the vocal work of Renato Chiccoli who combines his frontman duties with a rock steady bass performance. There's a real resurgence in quality thrash at the moment. Game Over are well worth checking out (And I haven’t mentioned Nuclear Assault once!) 7/10

Anachronaeon: The Oracle And The Keyholder (Stygian Crypt Productions)

Yes, it's time for more intricate melodic death from Sweden. The northern lights seem to have an endless conveyor belt of death metal bands and Anachronaeon are yet another product of decent quality. The Oracle And The Keyholder is album number five from the band who formed in 2003 and it follows 2012’s The Ethereral Throne. Complying with all of the genre’s basic requirements, The Oracle And The Keyholder has a slightly more melodic flavour than many of its counterparts. Sure, the death growls are present, as is the blast beats and ferocious double bass drumming but there are more passages which allow guitarist Kenneth Johansson to express himself within the confines of his guitar. And excellent it is too. The other guitarist, Patrik Carlsson also undertakes the vocal duties and delivers a fine performance with a death growl worthy of the great Viking Johan Hegg himself. Combining some elements of fantasy with death metal is an interesting concept which Anachronaeon do very well. Tracks such as On This Final Journey You Will Hold The Wheel and Flowing Like An Ocean Of Grief To Be Framed rampage and batter but also caress and craft their way around. It's pretty good stuff with some sterling drum work from Andreas Akerlind and solid bass work courtesy of Mattias Balk. Think Blind Guardian meets Amon Amarth and you won't be far away. I particularly enjoyed some of the light and shade contained within the album, something which is rare these days especially in death metal. Her Words Pierce My Heart fuses Opeth, Katatonia and early Paradise Lost into a blood curdling ode with slow passages, melancholic themes and some blasting death metal. Lifeline is the standout track on the album, changes in tempo, mood and pace and some demonic duelling guitar work. It’s decent stuff and well worth checking out. 8/10

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