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Saturday, 28 January 2017

Reviews: Armored Saint, Borealis, Mortanius

Armored Saint: Carpe Noctum - Live 2015 (Metal Blade) [Review By Paul]

This pledge music release crept out under the radar towards the end of last year. A paltry eight tracks, recorded mainly at Wacken in 2015 but a damn fine eight tracks from an underrated outfit. Armored Saint can’t be accused of being prolific, with only seven albums in their many years but quality is always better than quantity. Carpe Noctum covers a broad spectrum of the Armored Saint catalogue, with tracks from five albums featured. Opener Win Hands Down, the title track from their excellent 2015 release is pumping, fresh and feisty.

As you’d expect and as you would know if you happened to catch them at Wacken or Bloodstock, this was a fine set. March Of The Saint retains all the power and enthusiasm which first arrived in 1984 with Stricken By Fate the other track from the 1984 debut. Armored Saint are a cohesive unit, with a stable line-up combining effectively. The star of the show is John Bush, his powerful vocals as strong now as they were when their star first climbed. He is ably supported by brothers Gonzo (drums) and Phil (guitar) Sandoval, bassist Joey Vera and guitarist Jeff Duncan.

Last Train Home from Symbol Of Salvation is just epic, whilst closer Reign Of Fire from the same album is a fitting closing song. In between you get Mess from Win Hands Down, a stomping Aftermath from Delirious Nomad and the superb Left Hook From Right Field from 2010’s La Raza. Carpe Noctum is a decent snapshot of a band who ooze quality and who I’d love to see on these shores again. 8/10

Borealis: World Of Silence MMXVII (AFM)

World Of Silence was Canadian progressive metal band Borealis' debut record, released in 2008 it was put out without a label and was definitely a D.I.Y effort but the songwriting on the record was enough to get the band a contract with AFM. Now after two well received (especially by us) records on AFM 8 years after it's original release they have re-recorded and remixed the record in it's entirety meaning that the songs that featured on the record are finally given the sonic treatment they deserve.

Since their debut Borealis have evolved into (in my opinion) one of the top bands in the progressive/power metal scene, they are on fire on this record Trevor McBride and Sean Dowell's rhythm section power through tracks such as Midnight City while Sean Werlick's keys are there to augment not over power, although that's not to say they are relegated to a backing role, see the beautiful piano's on From The Fading Screams, it's also a showcase for the exquisite vocals of Matt Marinelli who doubles up on the virtuoso guitar playing.

This re-recorded version of World Of Silence is an interesting record as the songs were written at a time when Borealis were still trying to establish themselves as a band and as such the songs on this record are perhaps not as progressive as they would become but it still shows that even on their debut they were looking at bigger and better things. Nevermind that the album has a song called Forget The Past (which is a chunky metallic rocker) this record is proof that Borealis shouldn't forget their past as their debut in it's re-recorded stands up well and reinforces that Borealis deserve the praise they get. 8/10

Mortanius: A Voice From Beyond (Self Released) [Review By Paul]

The third EP from Pennsylvania trio Mortanius is one of the most bizarre I’ve heard. Whilst the two original tracks on the release, the 11 minute title track and eight minute Falling fail to hold the attention with some horribly tinny keyboards which sound like a children’s music box, the inclusion of two absolutely dire covers, the Anime theme I Want To Shout To You “I Love You” (From Slam Dunk - Anime Ed) and Aqua’s Barbie Girl (seriously, I shit you not!) make this an EP well worth avoiding. 2/10

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