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Monday, 13 February 2017

Reviews: Moon Duo, Departed, Final Drive, Animator

Moon Duo: Occult Architecture Vol 1 (Sacred Bones) [Review By Paul]

Described as a two part psychedelic opus, Occult Architecture Vol 1 is the first of two releases this year from the Portland, Oregon outfit. I have to be honest, much of the psychedelic scene is alien to me, but when I taste it I usually enjoy what I've nibbled on. This is no exception and whilst the trip is certainly steeped in the more traditional psychedelic sounds, if such a thing exists, there is plenty more going on to engage the listener.

If you can move past some of the blurb, what you experience is a diverse and incredibly clever album which uses repetition in a hugely positive way. With elements of trance, space rock, electronica and the occasional dip into the Gothic, the fourth album from the band, now using regular touring drummer John Jeffery as part of the recording team evolves, changing shapes and sound around you, the repetitive beats are utilised to propel the music forward.

Guitarist and vocalist Ripley Johnson is part of the drone sound and although this is evident on occasion those influences and direction are cleverly hidden and disguised. The synth pop reverb of Will of Evil, which despite its metal sounding name leans much more towards the Gothic sounds of Sister of Mercy and early Cult.

A simple repeated riff and drum beat with synths that wrap themselves around you brings a heavier track in Cult Of Moloch. Traces of Hawkwind, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode along with many others intertwine on this artist’s palette, bringing a canvas of intriguing and evolving sounds. This may well turn into on of my albums of the year. Essential listening. 9/10

Departed: Departed (Self Released)

Here's one we missed from last year that it's been a pleasure to come back and visit. Departed are a hard rocking band formed by ex-Treatment guitarist Ben Brookland and Empire Of Fools vocalist/bassist Mark Pascall after Brookland left The Treatment, for the initial start of the band Mark took the bass duties with Howie Spring behind the drum stool (after the recording of this EP Howie now plays bass and his brother Connor takes drums).

The record features Ben, Mark and Chris Rivers (formerly Heavens Basement) on drums, but much of the creative input comes from Ben and Mark, and it's that fire fuelled passion that infects this record and also translates to their live show which has been bolstered high profile supports of Status Quo, Graham Bonnet and appearances at Frankfest and Hard Rock Hell.

The EP was originally released in June of last year and on the back their star has risen massively, so the EP serves as a testament to that rise with seven tracks of ballsy, hard rock served up with swagger, with some guitar playing that moves between louche clean lines and crunching riffs from Brookland and soulful classic hard rock vocals from Pascall the songs on this record expertly blend the modern and retro sounds with the upbeat Pretty Little Thing being an excellent example of the bands ear for radio hooks. As a prelude to a live show Departed does the job, full length please fella's. 8/10

Final Drive: Dig Deeper (Self Released)

Fancy some southern groove thrashy metal? Well look no further than the fifth opus from St Louis’ outfit Final Drive. Dig Deeper combines the groove of Lamb of god, the grind of Pantera and the harmony choruses of bands such as Killswitch Engage and the UK’s While She Sleeps. Ten tracks, mostly similar in pattern but with some killer riffs, brutal solos and the odd breathing space in between the pounding assault.

Tracks such as The Last Time have KSE written all over it. It isn't thrash as I would define thrash, but it has the edge. In fact, most of the tracks verge more towards the metal core approach, shouty vocals mixing with cleaner sounds, angry choruses prevalent throughout.I'm confused by the band’s self proclaimed Clutch comparisons although the punk infused Six Feet Down distantly echoes the Bakersfield outfit’s mid 1990s approach. The tracks are short, snappy and get the feet tapping. 7/10

Animator: The Venom Within (Self Released)

Waterford thrashers Animator, not to be confused with the recently reactivated Re-Animator, play a similar to kind of thrash to countrymen Gamma Bomb, its furious thrash metal with bite like a rabid wolverine. This EP comes a few years after their debut but it retains the same style heard on Blacklisted with the four piece playing no frills metal, the four tracks whizz by at breakneck speed, moving between shredding and stomping. It's 20 minutes of adrenaline pumping that has been honed by a long touring schedule between the full length and this EP. 6/10

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