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Thursday, 3 November 2016

Reviews: Obituary, Riverside, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Asphyx (Reviews By Paul)

Obituary: Ten Thousand Ways To Die (Relapse)

Two new songs and a slab of live tracks from the Inked In Blood tour make Ten Thousand Ways To Die a pretty neat appetiser for the new studio album incoming next Spring.  The Floridian death metallers have nothing to prove but have slammed in a massive behemoth of a track in Loathe. Colossal riffs pound your skull as pulverise your body into a pulp, not with speed but with sheer power and intensity. Ten Thousand Ways To Die is pacier, dirtier and still dripping with malevolence long associated with Obituary. The live tracks capture the pure energy and electricity which is always present at an Obituary gig, with a plethora of classics like Redneck Stomp and Dying sandwiching more recent tunes from Inked In Blood (Centuries Of Lies). No Obituary show is complete without the epic Slowly We Rot which rounds off a pretty decent offering from the genre's best outfit. 8/10

Riverside: Eye Of The Soundscape (InsideOut)

When Riverside guitarist Piotr Grudziński passed suddenly from a cardiac arrest in February of this year the prog world held its collective breath. The future of the Polish outfit looked unsurprisingly, very uncertain. The band was a sealed unit, with Grudziński an essential part of the machinery. It was selfish but joyous relief that greeted the difficult decision by the band to continue as a trio.

Eye Of The Soundscape is the first, and only, posthumous album to feature Grudziński. It comprises a collection of instrumental experimental tracks which includes four new songs, opener Where The Rivers Flow, Shrine, Sleepwalkers and the title track. Described by Mariusz Duda as a “complementary instrumental album”, Eye sits between the final chapter of the unofficial “The Crowd” trilogy, the quite beautiful Love, Fear And The Time Machine and the next album.

Full of space/trance and progressive electronica, with hints of jazz, Eye Of The Soundscape is a stunning and fitting conclusion to three fantastic albums. It also demonstrates a different sound and influence to a band who have become leaders in their field. A double album comprising the new tracks interspersed with reworkings of songs from Rapid Eye Movement, Shrine Of New Generation Slaves and LFATTM, it is a fitting tribute to a guitarist who was a pivotal part of this much-loved unit. Listen, relax and enjoy something a little different to the norm for rock fans. What the future holds for Riverside is uncertain but their creativity, combined with their multiple talents will allow their journey to continue. 9/10

Tygers Of Pan Tang: Self Titled (Mighty Music)

Back in 1980, Whitley Bay outfit Tygers Of Pan Tang were spearheading the NWOBHM. They crashed into the UK top 40 album charts with their debut Wild Cat hitting no.18 in the days when the charts meant something. My favourite album Spellbound coincided with the arrival of hot shot guitarist John Sykes and former Persian Risk vocalist Jon Deverill. I loved Spellbound. However, hampered by line-up changes and pressure from their record label to record more cover versions following their surprise hit with a cover of the 1959 song Love Potion No.9, the band lurched on for a few more years before fading into memory in 1987. A return was always on the cards and in 1999 the band reformed and have been gigging and recording ever since.

Tygers Of Pan Tang is their 12th album and it’s an honest release, with some killer guitar riffs and solid tracks. Only The Brave, Dust and Never Give In all sit firmly in the 1980s, retaining the sound that made metal so exciting at that time. Original guitarist Robb Weir remains the one constant in the line-up, with the current cohort recording their first album together. The band’s last release Ambush in 2012 and since that time Gavin Gray has arrived on bass and Micky Crystal on guitar to supplement Weir, drummer Craig Ellis and vocalist Jacopo Meille. Unfortunately, the album also contains some average songs which reduce the impact. Glad Rags is a horrible track, Praying For A Miracle ghastly whilst the emotional ballad The Reason Why is stomach churning.

However, when the band rock out, the result is generic but also rather enjoyable. Do It Again hits hard, whilst retaining the stamp of the Tygers of old and The Music In Me is enjoyable even if it does stick closely to the hard rock blue print. The guitar work of Crystal and Weir is tight and Meille’s vocals sit neatly with the Tygers style. This isn’t an album that will create a ripple in the pond of new releases but it is perfectly listenable. With plenty of festivals catering for the old-school rock fan, the Tygers have a few years left yet and this type of rock would be lapped up by those punters who head to Rock Stock, Hard Rock Hell and Steelhouse. 7/10

Asphyx: Incoming Death (Century Media)

Formed in 1987, Asphyx come from Overjessel, Netherlands. Incoming Death is their 8th release, and their first since 2012’s Deathhammer. As death metal goes, it’s pretty solid with some brutal riffs, the harsh death growling vocals you’d expect from longest serving member Martin Van Drunen and the switch between all out thrashers Candiru to the Bolt Thrower sounding It Came From The Skies adding variety.  Massively heavy power chords and destructive guitar work from Paul Baayens add to the enormous stomp that the band amply demonstrate whilst the drumming of Stefan Huskens and bass of Almin Zuur cement the heaviest of foundations. If you like your metal as heavy as it comes, you need to get your aural receptors around this album. It hits hard and it hits heavy. Just don’t look at the cover. 7/10

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