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Monday, 9 October 2017

Reviews: Ensiferum, Pänzer, Wolves In The Throne Room, Game Over (Reviews By Paul)

Ensiferum: Two Paths (Metal Blade)

I must admit that the Finns folk metal has never really grabbed me that intensely in the past although I’ve always enjoyed their appearances at festivals. Two Paths is album number seven for the band, and the follow up to 2015’s One Man Army. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable listen with the powerful King Of Storms, the gloomy God Is Dead and the accordion led Feast Of The Valkyries encouraging you to get up and jig around the office whilst banging the head. It’s full of chunky riffs and the jolly bouncing sing-a-long stuff you expect from the folk metal crews around these days. This would be even more enjoyable with a few beers on board, a field filled with metal fans and the sun beating down. Technically superb, with Markus Toivonen’s guitar work particularly neat, the band interchange vocals to great effect on tracks like Don’t You Say and the crazy opener For Those About To Fight For Metal. 8/10

Pänzer: The Fatal Command (Nuclear Blast)

Take Schmier of Destruction, ex-Accept drummer Stefan Schwarzmann, Hammerfall guitarist Pontus Norgren and Vo Pulver (ex-Messiah) and what do you get? 53 minutes of pumping testosterone Germanic heavy metal that will hit home with fans of Accept, Destruction, Kreator and the like. This is solid, raging metal which batters from start to finish. Pulsing with high speed drumming, lightning fast guitar work and guttural vocals, The Fatal Command looks at the chaos facing the world in modern times. We Can Not Be Silenced is anthemic and urges rebellion, challenging those in power to listen to their people. With the world going to shit at break neck speed this album hammers home the seriousness we face with the dictators and power hungry fools in charge. Stomping beasts such as The Decline (And The Downfall) make up for any lack of originality in pure power. If you like your metal with a Teutonic tint then this will be a must listen. 8/10

Wolves In The Throne Room: Thrice Woven (Artemisia Recors)

Washington’s Wolves In The Throne Room return with their first record for three years and their first unconnected release since Celestial Lineage. Featuring long-time touring guitarist Kody Keyworth as a full-time member of the band for the first time, Thrice Woven is a quite magnificent piece of aggressive black metal which immerses the listener from start to finish. The pummelling sound that was captured in their earlier records, particularly 2009’s Black Cascade, is evident throughout as are the signature riffs which are such a trademark of the band.

Guest appearances by Swedish vocalist Anna Von Hausswolff on Born From The Serpent’s Eye and Mother Owl, Father Ocean, and Neurosis’ Steve Von Till on The Old One Are With Us enhance the release which features themes of pagan nature throughout. Whilst all tracks are impressive, the atmospheric album closer Fires Roar In The Palace Of The Moon with the climatic waves crashing may take pride of place. Thrice Woven is a mountainous piece of work, one that should really be heard. 9/10

Game Over: Claiming Supremacy (Scarlet Records)

It was about 18 months ago that Crimes Against Reality, the third release from these Italian thrash merchants hit the decks here. I called it ‘a comforting package of old school thrash and fresh enthusiasm’. The band haven’t stopped since then with an EP Blessed Are The Heretics arriving earlier in the year, followed by album number 4. Claiming Supremacy continues in the same pattern of their previous releases. It’s fast, furious and totally old school. With a production sound that is reminiscent of the 1980s, the band deliver 40 minutes of fine thrash which sits comfortably in the early Testament era. Lots of aggressive shouty choruses’ ala Anthrax and the like, with the six minute plus Blessed Are The Heretics probably winning most interesting track on the album. Game Over’s game plan is clearly to maintain the status quo whilst producing piledriving thrash which will appeal to many. 7/10

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