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Thursday, 8 March 2018

Reviews: The Crown, Templeton Pek, Svartanatt, Greystone Canyon (Reviews By Paul)

The Crown: Cobra Speed Venom (Metal Blade)

Well, this was just brutal from start to finish. Tracks like Necrohammer, Rise In Blood, the thunderous Iron Crown and the blisteringly aggressive title track combined the hardest, foulest stuff that Devildriver can muster with some absolutely cruel death metal to deliver an hour of rib breaking extreme metal. With an interesting and some might say, challenging history behind them, the band’s current line-up stands at Johan Lindstrand on vocals, Magnus Olsfelt on bass, Marko Tervonen and Robin Sörqvist on guitar and drummer Henrik Axelsson. 

Having been around for 27 years in various guises, it’s fair to say that the band don’t need to prove themselves but even so, there is something of a challenge to their peers within this release. The technical display on the instrumental Where My Grave Shall Stand contrasts with the head crushingly heavy raging on many of the other tracks. The Swedes return to Metal Blade Records is supported by a high intensity and motivation. Extreme speed and aggression mixed with classic heavy metal and rock n' roll; what’s not to like? 8/10

Templeton Pek: Watching The World Come Undone (Drakkar Records)

Founded in Birmingham in 2005, Templeton Pek have toured with a range of the big guns in their punk/hardcore pool. These include Bad Religion, Sum 41 and Zebrahead. Against this impressive resume the band has released several albums and EPs. No Association in 2009, established their haunting sound, which suggests hardcore luminaries like Ignite and Rise Against, with their music always featuring a political note. The band released the EP Slow Down For Nothing (2012), albums Scratches And Scars, Signs (2013) and New Horizons (2015). The smouldering rage which rails against the injustices in the world is admirable and with the current world wide political climate ever more complicated, I can’t argue with the whole theme of the album which focuses on the craziness of the Brexit situation. 

Indeed, Neil Mitchell, vocalist and guitarist with the band is clear “Brexit was permanently on our minds when we were writing this album. From the perspective of a touring musician it’s difficult enough as it is just to exist. The potential financial and logistical restrictions that we are about to face are worrying, never mind the other consequences for the whole country.” So, an album crammed full of protest and political statement and about as close to a concept album as you could get. Melodic hardcore is one of my least favourite genres, and I struggle massively to find anything enjoyable in it. 
However, Templeton Pek’s themes for the album did at least pique my interest in the subject matter. Like most of the genre, it appears to be repetitive but Watching The World Come Undone is a mature release which allows full expression. If you like this type of music, I reckon this might be in your albums of the year. 7/10

Svartanatt: Starry Eagle Eye (The Sign Records)

Swedes Svartanatt deliver classic rock in the vein of countrymen Graveyard an numerous other retro outfits who seem to be flooding the scene these days. But it’s not all 1970s classic rock sound with a complete mixture of sounds and influences although it really is full on retro in opener The Children Of Revival. The smoky vocals of Janu Lehtinen immediately catch the attention. There’s a rock ‘n’ roll stomp on Wrong Side Of Town, and a blend of psychedelia and progressive rock with the dense organ sound of Martin Borgh on Duffer. A couple of ballads change the pace with the powerful Wolf Blues particularly impressive. Starry Eagle Eye is an honest, stimulating and thoroughly enjoyable release. 7/10
Greystone Canyon: While The Wheels Still Turn (Rockshots Records)

Australian outfit Greystone Canyon’s name was inspired by the freedom of wide open landscapes, something Australia and America very much have in common. So says vocalist /guitarist Darren Cherry. Recorded in Goatsound Studios in Melbourne, Australia, and then mixed in Canada by Grammy nominated producer Glen Robinson, who had engineered, mixed and produced legendary acts like Annihilator, Queensryche and Voivod. According to the band’s press release they are influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth and King Diamond. 

I find that strange as there is little of any of those artists in Greystone Canyon’s sound. It’s not a bad album, with some decent hard rock tracks but having given it a couple of spins there is little that lingers long in the memory. River Of Fire being the only one due to its smouldering guitar work. Solid harmonies dominate throughout the release and the musicianship is solid. It just doesn’t captivate in a way that would allow it to sit at the feet of the luminaries mentioned above. 6/10

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