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Saturday, 15 October 2016

Reviews: Verbal Delirium, Spellbound, Fliptop Box

I've consolidated albums from three Greek bands here, first is a prog rock band Verbal Delirium, second is melodic death metal band Spellbound and third is the modern alt/rock of Fliptop Box.

Verbal Delirium: The Imprisoned Words Of Fear (Bad Elephant Music)

First up then are Verbal Delirium from Piraeus in Athens, they are a progressive rock band that ply their trade with complex melodies, virtuosic musicianship and nods to the classics of Floyd, Jethro Tull, Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson but also more modern acts such as Opeth and Steven Wilson. Words is a piano led haunting opening that sees vocalist Jargon floating above his keys/synths and the piano adding the stabs of emotion underneath.

It is the prelude to Close To You which has the Opeth-like riffs cutting into the pastoral flute of Nikolas Nikolopoulo who also gives s stunning sax performance as the track builds from it's jazz leaning start to the heavier middle section that menaces with crunchy guitars and bass from George 'K' and George 'La Trappe' it's hell of a lot to fit into 6 minutes but they manage to pull it off and make it look easy in the process.

The songs on this record are all very musically dense layering many instruments on top of one another and having the confidence of bands like King Crimson to not be restricted to just one genre. Misleading Path again takes from jazz especially the bass but it also has swirling synths and marries it to the trippy psychedelia of The Beatles especially due to the incredible use of sax once again. Images From A Grey World brings the heavy allowing drummer Stellios 'Primordial' to really blast a bit, this is one for the Dream Theater fans and actually with Jargon's huge organs it could easily appear on Arjen's Ayreon projects with George K soloing like a master.

It's also the last track to be under 10 minutes so strap in folks when you get to this point, as even the sub 10 minute songs are intensely progressive so when The Decayed Reflection (A Verbal Delirium) starts off you expect progressive fireworks and my my  do you get them, taking you through a kaleidoscope of colours and time signature changes relying on the bass and piano which is also contributed by Nikos Terzis, it's an exciting piece in the old school prog tradition.

Fear the record's longest song, kicks off slowly with acoustic guitars and just Jargon's impressive vocal styling along with yet more piano and deft drumming. It's a very relaxed song compared to the rest of the album but after about 6 minutes the guitars kick in and it gets much rockier augmented by an orchestral arrangement, it's a massive piece that may put off some of the less hardcore proggers but stick with it and you will be rewarded it is followed by yet another massive piece in the shape of In Memory which takes a left turn as the album closes by using electronics and samples giving a darker more melancholic tone. The Imprisoned Words Of Fear is a very difficult album in places, it's incredibly progressive and gloriously rewarding after repeated listens. If you like intelligent musically intense prog music then Verbal Delirium rank highly. 9/10      

Spellbound: Among Death's Shadow (Self Released)

Not to be confused with the NINE other Spellbounds that are out there, one of which being from Athens, this Spellbound are from Thessaloniki and play rapid fire melodic black metal that's all about harsh, snarling vocals, machine gun kick drums, speedy keyboard runs and more shredding than a large office Fellows (A type of paper shredder - Admin Ed). Spellbound start as they mean to go on battering your senses with lightning quick guitars and drumming, they slow a bit and stomp for the closing moments of Sleepy Hollow but Hate Embraced speeds everything back up and also has a church organ, which reappeares on the galloping Blood Ain't Last. This is the band's debut record and at times it is a little disjointed as if they are trying to pack a few too many riffs and changes into the songs, the production too is a little sparse but at times it can add to the sound meaning giving you a a Burton-like bass thump but a rather tinny top end. Still it's a promising debut from this Northern Greek five piece. 7/10

Fliptop Box: Catch22 (Self Released)

Athens rockers Fliptop Box play a modern style of hard rock that has touches of prog in it too. They style themselves as a Greek version of Therapy?, Volbeat and on the opening noise of Blast and Promises To Stay you can hear the influence of Andy Cairns with vocalist/guitarist John P. sounding like an amalgamation of Cairns and Michael Poulsen but with a Greek accent. Blast is the start to this aggressive record that brings 8 rallying cries together in one place there's a alt rock sound throughout the record bolstered by touches of grunge and punk metal of bands such as Danzig on the dark and ominous Class Of Underdogs.

Behind John P he has The Cptain Frikis on drums,vocals, Kostas M on bass, Stavros Gulielmo guitars and Christina contributing the backing vocals and all of them add to this record they are the backbone behind tracks such as Borderline which is chunky riff mixed with a solo fest. There is a mid-90's feel to this record it's born out of the grunge and married itself to the post-punk. Catch22 is the sort of album that dresses itself in black and stands in the corner cursing under it's breath, full of attitude, darkness and discord. For fans of grungy alt metal Fliptop Box are a treat. 7/10

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