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Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Reviews: Nocturnal Rites, Voltage, Massive Assault, Ardenne Heavy (Reviews By Paul)

Nocturnal Rites: Phoenix (AFM Records)

For a band that started out as a death metal outfit, Nocturnal Rites current sound is about as far removed as you can get. The Swedes ninth release, their first for the best part of ten years is a slick, power metal/AOR flavoured slab which wouldn’t sound out of place at the HRH AOR Festival. Oozing melody and harmonies on the choruses, songs such as Repent My Sins have a deeply melodic feel about them. The band can churn up the waves in a heavy weight style mind, as demonstrated on The Poisonous Seed, What’s Killing Me and the operatic Welcome To The End. Vocalist Jonny Lindqvist leads the line well, his clean vocals containing a harder edge which works superbly on the tracks. There’s even some industrial flavouring which occasionally rears its head, such as the intro to Nothing Can Break Me. A decent amount of chunky guitar adds the heaviness to an album which becomes more impressive on repeated plays. 7/10

Voltage: Around The Bend (Self Released)

So, the South arrives in the Low Countries with Voltage, a four-piece rock ‘n’ roll outfit from Brabant whose sound is modelled exactly on the Southern drawl of Lynyrd Skynyrd and their brethren. One listen to Around The Bend, which is perfectly enjoyable, and there is only one band that you can picture. Georgia’s Blackberry Smoke. Voltage sound so much like them that you’d be forgiven for thinking this was the follow up to 2016’s Like An Arrow. Vocalist Dave Vermeulen is uncannily like Charlie Starr in his delivery whilst the guitar sound of Vermeulen and Gijs Heijnen fits snuggly into the Smoke’s sound. It’s decent stuff, a cross between country, Southern rock and Americana, beautifully performed. You can take your pick from any of the 11 tracks and you won’t be disappointed in the quality. But if I want to listen to Blackberry Smoke, then I’ll listen to Blackberry Smoke. 7/10

Massive Assault: Mortar (F.D.A Records)

Brutal death metal is ten a penny these days it seems and we get huge numbers of releases to review. Massive Assault’s third album Mortar is fast, furious and raging. Themes of death, violence and aggression rarely make for sweet, calming subject matter and it’s the same here. Suffer In Terror, Deranged Humanity and the skull hammering of Empty Shell all explode like a roadside incendiary device, towering riffs, roasting drumming and guttural vocals of Carl Cristian doing the business. The hugely impressive Anger Overdrive maintains an assault which really doesn’t let up, as you’d expect. This is a fine thrashy piece of death metal with riffs that could crush an elephant. Strap in, bang your head and let the explosions hit you. 7/10

Ardenne Heavy: No Nuts No Glory (Self Released)

Not content with pinching the majority of Airbourne’s album title, Belgian thrashers Ardenne Heavy have also managed to obtain one of the worst singers I’ve heard in a long while. Although the band has apparently been together for seven years, vocalist Simon Gaudron sounds like he’s stumbled into the recording studio directly from a heavy session in the pub. His abysmal voice means that any hope of determining what the band’s actual music sounds like is limited. When he has finished his garbled gibberish what you glean is some pretty routine, almost binary thrash which is of extremely limited interest. By the end of track two, the quite stunningly bad Exodus it was time to hit the stop button. Possibly the worst thrash album I’ve ever heard. 2/10

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