Fates Warning: Theories Of Flight (InsideOut) [Review By Paul]
Having stuck to their path since formation in 1982, progressive metallers Fates Warning’s 12th album Theories Of Flight is a real grower of an album which is crammed full of technical quality, light and shade and damn heavy in places too. The Americans have lived in the shadow of the behemoth that is Dream Theater throughout their career, their early power metal gaining attention across the pond in Europe but it was always their big brothers who gained the spotlight as the progressive champions. This is apparently the first album for 12 years that has been recorded as a four piece with long time guitarist credited with only two solos on From The Rooftops and White Flag.
For a four piece Fates Warning make a handsome sound. It took a few listens to get fully engaged but it was worth the effort. Two lengthy ten minute plus tracks, The Light and Shade Of Things and The Ghosts Of Home nestle comfortably alongside much shorter songs which demonstrate the technical prowess of the band whilst retaining enough hooks and riffage to pique interest from across the metal fanbase. Opener From The Rooftops ebbs and flows whilst Seven Stars and SOS contain elements of power metal, AOR and even a bit of thrash as well as huge servings of the progressive style the band are so well known for.
Long serving vocalist Ray Adler’s superb vocals are crisp and clean aided by the excellent production. White Flag is a stunner, with solos form Aresti and Mike Abdow adding to the powerful sound. The engine room of Bobby Jarzombek’s double bass drumming and Joey Vera (bass) provide a solid foundation throughout, allowing Jim Matheos’ quite exceptional guitar work to take centre stage with his more delicate work to be found on the title track which brings the album to a close. I’d have to say that this album gets better on every listen. If you like your technical progressive metal, it’s well worth an hour of your time. 9/10
Ghoul: Dungeon Bastards (Tankcrimes Records)
Coming from Creepsylvania in Romania Digestor, Cremator, Fermenter and Dissector are a four piece death/thrash/grindcore band that have a morbid sense of humour, with a diverse set of characters that appear on all of their records by way of their songs, all of the records revolve around their home of Creepsylvania and the 'adventures' horror stories about the four masked mutants that make up the band. This of course if all bollocks (the band are from Oakland California) but their GWAR-esque backstory and live appearance (Jason Voorhees style blood drenched sacks) are all part of their impact and mean that they are little more interesting to investigate than your average thrash/death metal band.
When faced with an album of what is a very visual band the songs have to match the performance and due to the band's penchant for light-speed riffs, crunching thrash breakdowns and a three way vocal delivery that move between screams, guttural roars and thrash gang vocals the tracks on this record do the visuals justice. Imagine a mix of Death, Napalm Death and Venom tracks played by a band with the reckless abandon of Municipal Waste then you get a record that at 34 minutes is pure old school Californian thrash/death metal a maelstrom of shredding guitars and blast-beats. Dungeon Bastards and it's creators don't claim to be big or clever, but this record and the band themselves clearly don't give a shit they just plug in and cause chaos. 8/10
The Devil’s Music: The Devil’s Music (Coffee Jingle Records) [Review By Paul]
Devilment, the outfit who ended up with Cradle Of Filth’s Dani Filth as frontman was actually a band founded by Daniel J Finch. When Finch left Devilment in late 2014 he had a large number of songs already written for the next release. So what to do? Go ahead and produce them on an album with a variety of vocalists from across the metal underground. The result is a damn heavy album which offers diversity and intensity with dark lyrical themes and styles from nu-metal to old school balls out heavy metal with a dash of the darkness of CoF as well. Crushing aggression on Can You Hear Me with Collapse The Sky’s Lee Margaillan contrasts with the Korn influenced Break Through (Ian Messenger of Scream Serenity delivering a fine Jonathan Davies-esque performance) whilst Phoenix moves towards a heavy fusion of Linkin Park and Faith No More with a Mike Shinoda/Mike Patton provided by Scream Serenity's Jordan Fennell. It’s eclectic stuff and really interesting to boot. Closer Hate moves to the industrial feel of Rammstein/Nine Inch Nails to complete a really fine album that deserves to get some real exposure. 8/10