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Friday, 1 December 2017

Reviews: Bloodshot Dawn, Dante Fox, Phidion, Cold Cell (Review By Paul)

Bloodshot Dawn: Reanimation (Hostile Media)

It’s been a while since the melodic death metal of UK outfit Bloodshot Dawn crossed our radars. After the success of their first two albums which culminated in a triumphant opening slot at Bloodstock Festival in 2014, frontman and founding member Josh McMorran took time out to re-evaluate the direction and sound of the band. The entire line-up from Demons departed, except for McMorran and in came Canadian guitarist Morgan Reid, drummer James Stewart (also Vader and Divine Chaos) and bassist Giacomo Gastaladi. For the first time, McMorran reckons that Bloodshot Dawn now “work as a unit instead of separate solo efforts within the band”. Recorded across Europe, including Germany, Czech Republic and Sweden due to the location of the various band members. Featuring a plethora of guests including Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, Nevermore), Ken Sorceron (Abigail Williams, The Faceless) and Mendel Bij De Leij (Aborted) and with an additional ear and eye from Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry added to the final guitar pieces Reanimation is a huge, natural sounding record.

Aside from the usual blistering pace and growling vocals that we’ve come to expect from Bloodshot Dawn, there is now a maturity which can only come from a period of reflection and change. Multiple time changes, well-paced and with huge servings of melody and hooks that have always been a trademark combine with magnificent technical playing. The superb Survival Enthroned is the stand out track for me, although the imperious Upon The Throne Of Fear comes damn close. But there isn’t even a mediocre track on this release with each song containing something unique and interesting. The breakdown in Soul Affliction for example, makes you stop and check that it really happened and the intro to Shackled is immense, with some dynamic drumming from Stewart and riffs so meaty you could feed a family for a week off them. The Battle For The Omniverse ebbs and flows, with some brutal playing and vocals that make your throat sore just listening to it. As I said, Reanimation is a huge record in every sense. With some killer artwork from Chris Kewli gracing not only the cover but throughout the inlays of the CD, Bloodshot Dawn are back in every sense. Brilliant. 9/10

Bloodshot Dawn hit the road in January 2018 and play Fuel on 21 January. Find their dates here:

Dante Fox: Six String Revolver (AOR Boulevard)

I must be honest UK outfit Dante Fox and singer Sue Willetts have passed me by for the past 28 years. Whilst I was aware of their name I’d have failed to tell you anything about them. However, putting that right was easy with their latest album, Six String Revolver, which is a masterful demonstration of female fronted melodic rock. In Willetts the band possess a vocalist whose range impressively mixes Pat Benatar and Ann Wilson. The songs are strong enough to stick in the memory whilst you can’t fail to be drawn to her clean powerful voice. Sure, it’s AOR, so the songs have a certain element of cheese and repetition but with the backing of three technically solid musicians in Tim Manford, Alan Mills and Eric Ragno, there’s sufficient here to separate it from a lot of the other outfits who sit in a crowded field. Stand out track is probably the acoustic version of All That I Need which has some delicate harmonies and showcases the subtle shades that the band can deliver. 8/10

Phidion: The Throws Of Scourge (Self Released)

Formed in 2003, Phidion’s debut album follows several demos and EPs released over the years. A steady line-up which comprises Christos Chatzikonstandinos on guitar, Oliver Palmquist on vocals. Peter Pettersson on drums and bassist Olaf Landin has helped and the Swedes have delivered a ferocious release which takes no prisoners. Strong drumming, cascading riffs and guttural vocals, the mainstays of any self-respecting death metal outfit are all here in abundance but in addition there is a power and pace which is too often missing.

Anthropophagus changes several times, massive chunks of stomping power segueing comfortably into the more frantic assault. Similarly, the haunting tomb of Mother Pestilence batters relentlessly at times whilst slowing to match the tolling bell whilst the brooding Slaves To Eternal Insomnia (aren’t we all) just crushes. Intricate and technical playing enhances the release with the drumming at full throttle and Chatzikonstandinos adding some mean fretwork. Phidion are a decent addition to the already bursting death metal scene. 7/10

Cold Cell: Those (Avantgarde Music)

Formed in Switzerland in 2012, the immediate thought when opening track Growing Girth kicks in is whether Tom G Warrior is involved, such is the Triptykon/Celtic Frost Avant Garde feel. According to the blurb, Cold Cell is ‘the manifest of the individual human being’s prison. The modern new world’. Given that rather stark statement, it’s not surprising that the band’s third album is 54 minutes of hymns to urban desolation. Now I thought that Growing Girth was an ode to middle-age but as the despair flooded out of the speakers I realised that I might have been quite a way wide of the mark. Each track is epic in both construction and delivery, industrial tinges and echoing effects and the overpowering sense of hopelessness and foreboding.

It’s astonishingly heavy, skull crushing in parts, such as Seize The Whole which pulverises from start to finish. There’s bits of Behemoth, Emperor and even echoes of Gojira in the mix but it’s good stuff. With two tracks, Tainted Thoughts and Heritage clocking in at over 20 minutes between them don’t expect this to be a pacey instant number. You must work with it but the rewards are there if you like your metal black with a sense of impending doom, focusing on the hopelessness of man. Just don’t put this on if you want to cheer your granny up this Christmas. 7/10

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