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Saturday, 26 November 2016

Reviews: Maschine, Apollo, Baleful Creed

Maschine: Naturalis (InsideOut)

Pipes, Beards, Real Ale and Spectacles at the ready folks it's prog time and I mean 'proper' prog not this modern stuff, think the jazz influenced-likes of King Crimson, ELP, Genesis (with Gabriel and Hackett) and if you want to be recent Steven Wilson. Luke Machin is the band leader/vocalist and most importantly guitarist of Maschine and much like Robert Fripp in King Crimson, Maschine is his way of expressing himself totally. Machin has guested in other bands but none have been as traditionally progressively minded and defiantly non conformist as Maschine.

Along with the band leader, the rest of the band are all virtuosos at their respective instruments, behind everything changing the pace and playing with a hell of a lot of power but also nuanced spatial awareness that let's the longer songs breathe, is drummer James Stewart. Thickening Machin's guitar sound are the heavy riffs of Elliot Fuller who maintains the groove with bassist Daniel Mashal who's bass work is thick, funky and adds soul to what can sometimes be a stale, cerebral genre, just check out Resistance and Megacyma for a full display of his ability.

Finally rounding out the the band is Marie-Eve de Gaultier who adds the colour to these pieces with her soaring, honeyed vocal matching well with Machin's lower more spoken style as she also provides the keys, organs and flute to really make this record an eclectic piece. Building upon the ideas of their debut record and focusing them into a more cohesive, accessible but still unflinchingly complex unit, with an album dealing with man's devastating encounters with nature (something  actually happening outside of MoM towers at the time of this review). Naturalis is a sublime record and it puts Maschine at the forefront of the new prog resurrection. 9/10

Apollo: Waterdevils (Escape)

Many will be familiar with vocalist Apollo Papathanasio the Swedish (from Greek descent), singer is the current vocalist of Spiritual Beggars and is probably most well known as the frontman of Greek power metal band Firewind, he was the singer during their breakthrough and most successful period from Allegiance onward. Now however he has taken a break from contributing to other peoples music and has focused on creating his own record under his own name.

In what is a sharp contrast to the Firewind days Waterdevils is hard rock album with touches of classic rock and AOR defined by big choruses and chunky riffs, Apollo's vocals take centre stage as he really unleashes his full range emotive and triumphant he is a great singer with a unique delivery. Revolution For The Brave has nods to Spiritual Beggars with organ stabs powering the song, while I Need Rock N Roll wouldn't sound out of place on a KISS album.

There are various influences shining through on this record giving a rock jukebox feel, but the title of the record belays it's nature, Waterdevils are "a weather phenomenon. It's a small, weak whirlwind over water that's (sic) pretty rare. You never know where you'll see it or if you'll see it again" this record acts a tribute to the artists that Apollo has grown up with but also to the musicians from King Diamond, Gamma Ray, Arch Enemy, Grand Magus, MasterPlan, that contribute to the record. Will we see it again? I can't say but for now Waterdevils is a great accompaniment to the rest of Apollo's achievements. 7/10

Baleful Creed: S/T (Self Released)

Straight out of Belfast with fist full of riffs and a belly full of groove Baleful Creed are a band with a sound born in NOLA and created with help Mr Jack Daniels this is fuzzy stoner rock that has some psych vibes, low slung heaviness but also shovel loads of melody from the dual guitar interplay of Fin Finlay and John Allen weaving in and out of each other creating a thick seam of riffage as Stephen Fleming and Mark Stewart are the rock solid backroom driving the title track like a truck rolling down the highway, with nods to Sabbath (Thorazine), some Alice In Chains (Autumn Leaves), Fireball Ministry (especially in the vocals) and even the now finished Black Spiders.

This is guitar heavy stoner rock that relies on huge grooves, some trippy sounds, touches of rumbling doom and desert rock like blissed out passages, Crazy Man is a great demonstration of this with it's slow burning build and chord heavy chorus. I've been dealing with a lot of US and Greek stoner rock recently and happily it's nice see that bands this side of the pond can wade in with a strong collection of stoner rock riffs like this a great full length for those that love their music with double shot of bourbon and tonne of grit. 7/10
   

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