Secret Illusion: Awake Before The Dawn (Lion Music)
Greek cinematic power metal that features heavy keyboards that are the driving force of the songs, the keyboard riffs and piano passages really add a classical element to the album but not to be outdone the guitar playing comes out of Malmsteen tab book, arpeggios from hell indeed. The vocals are the normal power metal fodder with Vasilis Axiotis taking the higher register throughout. The songs deal with history (Kings And Pawns), adventure and science fiction and most try to speed through as fast as possible twisting and turning with as many progressive touches, synth runs and explosive guitar solos as possible.
It's only falling that really lets the pace drop as an epic baroque ballad, which despite all the keys of Evmenios Poulias and guitars from Filippos Papakyriakou listen to the bass work and you'll see how good this band are with a ballad, a trick also repeated at the beginning of Eerie. When the drummer is allowed to let rip we get the real sound of Secret Illusion. The record only has 10 tracks but with the longer running times you get enough of the band to enjoy, let's hope they don't stay secret for too long as this illusion is pure magic. 8/10
Karma Violens: Serpent God (Growl Records)
Karma Violens bring Hellenic extremity on their third record; they have adapted their sound from a metalcore origins bringing the gloomy relentless darkness of Behemoth, Emperor and fellow countrymen Rotting Christ as well as Blackening to Locust era Machine Head. It’s blackened thrash metal at its most terrifying; possibly led by vocalist Marios’ dabble with the occult in Lucifer’s Child. From the down tuned single chord doom laden passages through to the kick drum led black metal noise Karma Violens let you know they mean serious business.
This record is a conceptual piece dealing with “the transparency of today’s social standards and ideas. Freedom or (the) lack thereof today; man’s tendency to create social ‘musts’ via religion, God and modern society” this concept has clearly led Karma Violens down a pretty aggressive pathway as the music on this record is relentless, tracks such as A Letter To The Worthless Chamber and Blood Aurora just beat you rapidly combining black metal sensibilities with some classic guitar work, it’s on the slower ominous songs such as Radix Malorum and Dark Morel where they can really create an atmosphere of dissonance, regret and melancholy.
Serpent God is the album Catharsis should have been, shorter and more aggressive with no need for self indulgence, it’s a brutal record that has the same rallying cry that Rob Flynn and co attempted on their most recent release but unlike there here it succeeds with a sheer will of force. 8/10
Nightbreed: Beyond Inferno (Witches Brew Records) [Review By Paul]
Following up on their self-titled debut in 2015, Athenian thrash outfit Nightbreed’s sophomore release is a splendid affair, full of old school thrash in the vein of early Slayer, Kreator and the like. It’s ferocious stuff from start to finish, lacerating guitar work, slicing riffs and 100mph drumming all wrapped up in 36 minutes of snarling Satanic themed incineration. Vocalist Nir Beer is astonishing, his delivery perfect for the all-out assault.
Ripped Chains, complete with the delightful line “left to rot … for the rats!” is the standout track, with a couple of neat time changes and explosive acceleration and some Tom G Warrior style grunts. I can’t fault this release in anyway. It may be old school but it’s still contemporary and, in a world where so much of what we hear is recycled, massively comforting. Thrash when done well is a beautiful thing, and Beyond Inferno is just fabulous. 8/10
Rapture: Paroxysm Of Hatred (Memento Mori)
Paroxysm Of Hatred is the second full length from Athens death metal band Rapture, it’s socio-political, horror themed music that draws heavily from the Floridian death metal scene so expect the furious thrash riffage of Death, Atheist, Obituary and Morbid Angel paired with frequent changes of pace and vocal snarls. You’ll get no ballads here just balls to the wall warp speed death metal that has some progressive influences meaning that most of the songs have numerous instrumental breaks from a good circle pit to form.
Only formed in 2012 Rapture have released one full length album, three EP’s and one Split before this record so they clearly have a lot of material and they sound honed through live playing, the drums are furious, the bass almost non-existent making its first appearance on track 3 and the guitars rip you to shreds. It’s not reinventing the wheel but for a quick blast of violence this will get you smashing full force into your friends in no time. 7/10