Deathvalves: Dark Stories From The Past (New Dream Records) (2016)
I was informed that Thessaly band Deathvalves were an alternative metal band but my how wrong that was this is sublime heavy metal/hard rock with groove and thrashy sounds influencing the record. As the Intro commences we get a Morricone flavoured Western Theme with the sounds that made those Leone movies so iconic.
The Morricone sounds make their way into Vengeance that pairs thunderous drumming with layered wall-of-sound riffs that stop and start like Gojira's. Dark Stories... is the band's third record and it is a strong third shot the songs have good mix of fuzzy distorted guitars, heavy echoing basslines, especially on Pantera which has Dimebag-esque tapping solo, along with vocals that fit the music well, they are gritty and raw perfect for the heavyweight instrumentals. Like I said this isn't 'alternative' metal there are too many other components with stoner and doom on So Much To Kill and some grunge filtering through meaning it's a cerebral but aggressive record. Burn The Sun could be the missing Mastodon song such are the atmospherics and incredible drumming while Into This Ocean has an insistent riffing from the tech metal scene.
The record culminates with The Emperor which uses brass and synths as part of the very evil triumphant feel, it would sit comfortably on a Behemoth record and even the vocals get harsher on this song with many of the black metal trappings. Dark Stories From The Past is a superior metal release using a plethora of influences to make sure it doesn't become stale. For a record that will tide you over until the next Mastodon or Gojira release Deathvalves third record could be the worthy alternative. 9/10
Debackliner: Debackliner (Pitch Black Records) (2016)
Pandora the song that kicks off this debut record record has a dirty riff, withs some melodic leads over the top of it, there is a power metal tinge to the song with Maiden-like galloping and some muscular expressive vocals. It's a good start to the record merging power metal style soloing and orchestrations with heavy groove passages much like Nevermore with a hint of latter Metallica thrown in. On Rise Of The Angel the vocals become deeper and more resonant even adding in some growls to the mixture of a song with numerous time signature changes and a stomping middle eight. There is a lot going on on this record a fusion so styles mean that all of the songs twist and turn, the one curve-ball is Jolly Roger which is the sort of Pirate-themed madness Rockin' Rolf would write, but the song speaks volumes about the rest of the record, it's all over the shop with many schizophrenic changes of pace in throughout the songs on this record, some are needed some less so, despite strong performances from the Marseille group, especially the guitars, in parts it loses its way. With a little bit of streamlining on the next record they are well on their way to something quite good. 7/10
Jonas Lindberg & The Others: Pathfinder (2016)
The debut full length album from the Swedish progressive group, formed by band leader/bassist/keyboardist and namesake Jonas Lindberg, he has a very audible obsession with the more pastoral, melodic style of prog favoured by Spock's Beard, Enchant, The Flower Kings, Marillion and Genesis. It's the intensely progressive but well structured, accessible music that makes this band so appealing to someone like me.
His bass playing really underpins the rest of the music on this record having the delicate, jazz infused playing style of Pete Trewavas, his band on this record are all as equally talented as Lindberg, Calle Stålenbring provides the guitar playing adding heaviness to the jazz fusion styled Zenith and Square One but also putting in the more acoustic textures to Closer To The Sun before giving the record one of it's most beautiful solos (live Nicklas Thelin has joined to flesh out the Gilmour meets Ronnie Stolt six stringing)
In the back room Johnathan Lundberg takes the drums and while Maria Olsson takes the percussion meaning that rhythm-wise the record is very dense with both doing more than just keeping time, they are the ones that change time signatures and back Lindberg's bass. As with Spock's Beard the music is very keyboard heavy, Michael Ottosson is the main provider of synth and keys and he does a mighty fine job his keys are thick and melodic fleshing out the tracks with swathes of majestic melodies on Peace Of Mind, giving the darker sounds to Lost and the electronic beats to Zenith.
With so much musical proficiency on show you need a vocalist with the sweep of Neal Morse, Steve Hogarth and even Phil Collins and Jonas Sundqvist definitely fits the bill his emotive handling of the lyrics shines through and he blends effortlessly with Jenny Sandgren who reinforces the vocal melodies. Pathfinder is a superior record with some outstanding performances throughout, it's a fantastic progressive rock album and I urge you to seek it out asap. 9/10