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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Reviews: Enslaved, With The Dead, Silius, Marvara (Reviews By Paul)

Enslaved: E (Nuclear Blast)

Possibly on of the most astonishingly good albums of the year, the Norwegians latest release combines huge swathes of black metal, which is where their roots lie, with massive progressive elements which echo Floyd, King Crimson and even Steven Wilson. Nowhere is this more apparent than on album closer Hiindsiight, where a rampaging saxophone rages across a heaving power chords and guttural vocals before concluding with echoing Floyd style vocals. Sacred Horse, centrepiece of this quite magnificent album mixes styles to monumental effect, pure black metal segues into an Opeth type jazz fusion before a progressive format. Axis Of The World see the band add layered keys to an addictive hook, gruff vocals balanced with clean harmonies that work superbly. E is a concept album, based on the Nordic rune which means horse. It’s long. Six songs at over 52 minutes requires investment. Do it. It’s worth it for one of the albums of the year. Catch them on tour with Opeth. Forgo that extra pint and treat yourself to a band who are evolving with every release. 9/10

With The Dead: Love From The Dead (Rise Above Records)

The return of Lee Dorrian, the former main man of doom rockers Cathedral is something that will no doubt be celebrated. Joining forces with former band mate Leo Smee on bass and the Electric Wizard duo of drummer Mark Greening and Tim Bugshaw on guitar, Love From the Dead is possibly the heaviest, sludgiest, most doom laden album you’ve heard for a long time. The band have actually been around for three years and this is their sophomore release. Unsurprisingly, given the composition of the band, there is little fast paced action here, with all the emphasis on bone crushingly heavy riffs, behemoth sized tracks crammed with an intensity which could level buildings and Dorrian’s slightly out of tune drawl unnervingly evil in both intent and delivery. From the crashing doom of opening track Isolation, the Eastern flavours of Egyptian Tomb through to the pendulous 18-minute closing track Cv1, there is a suffocating power which is relentless. With the Dead will not be to everyone’s tastes but if you like your skull caved in by pure pressure then this is for you. 8/10

Silius: Hell Awakening (Massacre Records)

No messing about with Austrians Silus, whose debut Hell Awakening starts at full throttle and doesn’t stop. Seven Demons nails both the influences and style of the band, huge chunks of Pantera reach out and grasp you by the throat. Immortalise adds the might of the Bay Area, with Testament and Exodus evident. Whilst this isn’t in any way original it's delivered with huge style and aplomb, guitars shredding viciously at every opportunity and a crunching rhythm section that may down massively heavy foundations. War Planet echoes Cowboys From Hell with Anselmo style vocals to boot and it works. If you need to work out what some of their themes are about then you need help. Message In A Molotov, leaves nothing to the imagination but assaults the aural equipment with thunderous drumming whilst the slower, hauntingly Megadeth hooked delivery of Tools Of Destruction reflects the world today.  Play these guys loud. A very tasty release 8/10

Mavara: Consciousness (Self Released)

Formed in Tehran in 2001, Mavara is a five-piece progressive rock band who play in a style which follows their main influences of Marillion, Pink Floyd, Riverside and Porcupine Tree. Consciousness is the Iranian’s fourth release and it’s a reasonable listen. I’m not over enamoured by Ashkan Hamed’s vocals that stray into the out of tune park a little too often for my liking. The keyboard heavy opening track Invasion (636 Gregorian Calendar) sees Hamed range struggle to manage the numerous time and direction changes. This is repeated throughout the album, for example on the meandering Childhood. However, there is much to commend here. Living The Fast Life has the band rocking out with some meaty riffs, Scott Abene delivering some neat guitar work which is complimented by layered synthesisers although Hamed’s vocals take off some of the shine once again. The title track, a lengthy piece which clocks in at just under ten minutes contains some intricate and delicate interplay. Hamed and Anis Oveisi’s keyboard playing is excellent throughout, such as during Mandatory Hero. Musically, Marana deliver some decent progressive rock. It’s just a shame that the vocals can’t quite put the cherry on the top. 6/10

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