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Monday, 12 December 2016

Reviews: Oni, Solitude, Crown Of Earth (Reviews By Rich)

Oni: Ironshore (Metal Blade)

Canada's Oni set out to impress with their fantastic debut album Ironshore and impress they most certainly do with an album which fuses progressive metal, metalcore and technical death metal in spectacular fashion. The music on Ironshore is amazingly technical but without being self indulgent and is also equal parts brutally heavy and stunningly melodic. The rhythm sections are dizzyingly complex with some absolutely savage guitar riffs and stunning leads performed ably by guitarist Brandon White. The vocals by Jake Oni switch between impressive cleans, guttural death metal growls and high end screams.

The bass playing and drumming must also get huge rounds of applause as they both performed amazingly though special mention must go to xylosynth player Johnny DeAngelis whose fantastic playing gives some of the songs a new dimension (seriously watch the video on YouTube of Johnny DeAngelis playing through Barn Burner - it's glorious!). Opening track Barn Burner gets things off to a stunning start being one of the most death metal leaning songs on the album. The Only Cure is also one of the heaviest songs on the album and also features guest vocals by none other than Randy Blythe of Lamb Of God.

The highlight for me is the eleven minute proggy masterpiece that is The Science. Other highlights include the technical madness of Spawn And Hate and the xylosynth driven Kanvas. Ironshore is an absolutely stunning debut album mixing jaw dropping musicianship and fantastic songwriting. My only tiny criticism can be that one or two of the songs are overshadowed by the rest of the album and are slightly less memorable. If Oni are this good on their debut album then they have an extremely promising future ahead of them. This is one band I shall keeping a very close eye on and already cannot wait to see what they do next. A modern day metal masterpiece. 9/10

Solitude: Reach For The Sky (Spiritual Beast)

Reach For The Sky is the second album by Japanese old school heavy metallers Solitude. This album was originally released last year in Japan but has only now been released globally. I'm gonna start this review by saying that if you are a fan of old school heavy metal then this album is essential listening and probably the best straight up heavy metal album I have heard this year. Solitude take influence from bands such as Accept, Saxon and Motorhead and also mix in some speed and thrash metal influences to create the ripping metal storm that is Reach For The Sky combining tearing riffs, catchy melodies and a thunderous rhythm section.

The vocal style of Akira Sugiuchi might not be to everyone's taste with him employing a gruffer and grittier style quite in the vein of Chris Boltendahl from Grave Digger. The songs on the album range from the speed metal attack of Venom's Angel and Don't Need Mercy to fist pumping yet melodic metal anthems such as Reach For The Sky and Escape For The Crime. All the tracks have a sense of urgency and a ridiculous yet addictive energy about them which will have your head banging whether you like it or not.

Reach For The Sky is an absolutely fantastic album with great songwriting, fantastic performances and ridiculous amounts of energy. It may be in the vein of classic eighties heavy metal but this album feels modern and contemporary rather than a retro release. An essential listen for any self respecting heavy metal fan. 9/10

Crown Of Earth: Crown Of Earth (Cochise Entertainment Inc)

Crown Of Earth are a Philadelphia based band playing classic 1980's style heavy metal and this is their self titled debut album. The music on Crown Of Earth is classic old school heavy metal with crunching riffs and catchy melodies. The guitar playing by Michael Ellis and Christopher Graziola is impressive with crunchy riffs and some impressive leads. The vocals of frontman Danny Knight are both gritty and melodic. The bass playing and drumming is fairly pedestrian but holds everything together.

Crown Of Earth is a band who have a clear love and passion for old school heavy metal especially shining through on tracks such as Frank (The Hellraiser), Born Again Warrior and Into The Night. The band wear their influences on their sleeves and you can hear everyone from Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Manowar and early Queensryche in their sound. The problem with a retro heavy metal band is that they are never going to sound as good as the bands they are imitating but Crown Of Earth is a vastly enjoyable yet somewhat unspectacular debut album. 7/10

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