Novembers Doom: Hamartia (The End Records) [Review By Paul]
22 years since their first album, Amid Its Hallowed Mirth, Chicago's death Doom outfit Novembers Doom's tenth album, Hamartia has arrived and it's a beauty. Full of the trademark death growls of original vocalist Paul Kuhr, this release is the first one to feature the same line up as a previous release, in this case 2014's Bled White. Opener Devil's Light is pure death metal, whilst Plague Bird features foreboding clean vocals reminiscent of early Katatonia, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. The melancholy is evident along with powerful riffs from guitarists Lawrence Roberts and Vito Marchesse whose work is haunting throughout. Gary Naples drumming is powerful and prescise, working well with bassist Mike Feldman to give the huge crashing sound.
Ghost has a similar feel to the early work of Anathema, moody, despairing and bathed in gloom. It's not all hand wringing though and the monstrous riffs which cascade throughout are quite immense at times. Ever After ebbs and flows beautifully whilst the title track dips into the gothic style of The Mission with its acoustic feel. The electronica underbelly of Apostay with the Johan Hegg style growls fitting perfectly may we'll be my favourite track, it's pacey, brooding, simple and yet stunningly complex and just ticks every box. This is another album which supports the fact that metal is alive and kicking in 2017. Essential listening for fans of death doom and gothic metal. 8/10
Blackbird Hill: Midday Moonlight (Self Released) [Review By Paul]
Formed in 2012, French duo Blackbird Hill comprise Alexis Dartiguelongue on vocals and guitar and Maxine Conan on vocals and drums. The band sit close to the sound of similar duos such as The White Stripes, along with influences such as Queens Of Stone Age, Robert Johnson and Seasick Steve. They are in parts almost grungy, but in the main stick with dirty delta blues sound. Atmospheric and angst driven, this is a decent foot tapper which is pleasing to the ear. A support with a band like Vintage Trouble or Blackberry Smoke would be ideal for these guys. Keep an eye and ear out for them. 7/10
Maat: Monuments Will Enslave (Aural Attack Records) [Review By Rich]
Monuments Will Enslave is the second album by Egyptian mythology themed death metal band Maat. It's impossible to ignore the comparisons to Nile but despite an unoriginal theme this German band do have a different sound to Nile.
The music on Monuments Will Enslave is very fast and very furious death metal which mixes a perfect blend of brutality and melody. The riffs are razor sharp, the bass provides plenty of low end and the drums blast away. The melodies interspersed throughout the carnage have a very Middle Eastern and Oriental style to them but they are mixed throughout the music that they manage to compliment the brutality and aggression. The vocals by frontman Thot are a guttural roar though with enough clarity that you can decipher the lyrics.
Maat won't win any awards for originality with Monuments Will Enslave but what they have achieved is a brilliant death metal album that although copies Nile in lyrical content and theme musically stands on its own two feet and shows that there is room for more than one band in the camp of Egyptian themed death metal. 7/10