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Monday, 7 November 2016

Reviews: Stick Men, Skewered, Alone With Wolves (Reviews By Rich)

Stick Men: Prog Noir (Iapetus)

Being only a casual listener of prog rock, Stick Men are one of those bands that have completely slipped my radar. After a little reading up on their background I discovered that they are made up of he rhythm section of King Crimson and use a variety of weird and wonderful instruments such as the Chapman Stick (from which the band gets its name) and the touch guitar in place of traditional guitars, bass and keyboards. My interest suitably piqued I headed into their sixth album Prog Noir with no preconceptions of how it was going to sound other than it is definitely going to be interesting.

Only a handful of tracks contain vocals with the majority of the album being instrumental meaning you get some fantastic compositions on here which veer and meander through the virtuostic, atmospheric and avant-garde. This is a very quirky and unusual approach to progressive rock although very enjoyable. As to be expected from members of King Crimson the musicianship is just utterly fantastic. The vocals are fairly unremarkable with an almost spoken word approach taken but they are kept to a minimum. This is recommended to prog fans but this weird approach to the genre will definitely take a few listens to get to grips with. 7/10

Skewered: Deathmethyltryptamine (Stillbirth Records)

With a band name like Skewered you pretty much know what you are in for and that is 40 minutes of viciously brutal death metal which is just what is needed to unwind after a day in the office. Skewered hail from Dublin and the virtually impossible to pronounce Deathmethyltryptamine is their second full length album. Despite some silly song titles such as Organ Donor Kebab, Red Knob Warts and Fucked With A Stump Skewered have produced a very mature sounding and polished piece of death metal.

Emphasis is placed on brutality on this record with a barrage of razor sharp riffs, rumbling bass and devastating drumming with blastbeats and double kick galore. Especially impressive is vocalist Mark Dolan who growls and snarls with impressive range and clarity. Skewered are another in a vast ocean of brutal death metal bands and whilst they are indistinguishable from a lot of their peers it is impossible not to enjoy this album as it is performed with such passion, conviction and a true love for the genre shines throughout. 7/10

Alone With Wolves: Solid Ground (Self Released)

I fully admit that when it comes to my personal taste in metal that I am a bit of a traditionalist and also a bit of an elitist and bar a few exceptions I generally despise modern mainstream metal. One minute into the first song of this album I realised that this was going to be a bit of a struggle but here goes... Alone With Wolves are a five piece band from Hertfordshire and Solid Ground is their debut full length album having previously released a couple of EP's. They play a very generic mainstream metalcore with chuggy groovy guitar riffs, hardcore breakdowns and sickly sweet melodies.

The vocals are standard for this genre with a combination of hardcore barks and melodic singing. It's all played very well and some of the choruses are very ear pleasing but in the end completely forgettable and dispensable. This style has been utterly done to death and unfortunately Alone With Wolves add nothing new to it nor do they have anything about their sound which makes them stand out among of a legion of sound alike bands. When metalcore is done right it can be very good indeed but this sadly is just utterly generic. 2/10

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