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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Reviews: The Sword, Caliban, Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik, The Dead Daises (Reviews By Paul)

The Sword: Used Future (Razor & Tie)

The first time I saw Texan’s The Sword as supporting Clutch at the sadly missed TJs in Newport was back in the mid-2000s. The band had not long released Age Of Winters, their Sabbath influenced doom and stoner laden debut which contained sufficient meat to pique the interest. Roll forward 12 years and those initial Sabbath riffs remain an integral part of The Sword’s modern sound, albeit in a much more subtle and understated way. Album number 6, Used Future, is another change in comparison to 2015’s High Country

John D Cronise’s distinctive vocal delivery remains, the band can still draft a tune with the fuzzy riffs of Deadly Nightshade and Twilight Sunrise sitting comfortably alongside the heavy as hell instrumental The Wild Sky. The retro vibe is never far away, and Sea Of Green allows the pace to slow, whilst the Western psychedelia of album closer Brown River and Reprise demonstrate a maturity in a band whose determination to move in their own direction is admirable. Used Future is another quality release from a band whose catalogue is increasingly varied and impressive. 8/10

Caliban: Elements (Century Media)

Ferocious metalcore rarely comes much harder than from these Germans. Album number 10, and this is about as incendiary as you can get. I struggle with this genre more than any other apart from sleaze, with so many of the bands sounding the same. Elements has more bite than many of their counterparts, with the intense This Is War, Ich Blute Für Dich and Delusion all heavy and aggressive. 

However, after 30 minutes you tend to forget which song is which as they blur into each other, the continual double bass kicking, the looping bass and the switch between clean and harsh vocals repetitive. Carry On has shades of Linkin Park which at least adds some variety. Caliban are without doubt one of the leading lights in the metal core scene and if you like this style then it may well be one of the albums of the year. It’s just not my cup of tea. 7/10

Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik - Hugsjá (Norse Music)

Far away from their day jobs, the Norwegian duo of Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved) and Einar Selvik (Wardruna) have followed up on their previous collaboration Skuggsjá with an album which is imposing, interesting and completely different to their usual sounds. Hugsjá means to see with, or within, the mind, and it reflects the idea that one’s mind has the potential to see further than the eyes can reach. With the use of contemporary and traditional musical instruments, the duo explore the distant history and traditions along coastal Norway in an hour of captivating music. 

The tracks vary in pace and duration with the lengthier songs capturing the attention; Ni Døtre av Hav and Nattseglar are enchanting, with Ni Mødre av Sol and Um Heilage Fjell featuring a mixed choir under the management of Stine Kobbeltvedt. Selvik covers lead vocals and a range of traditional instruments including the Kravik-lyre, Taglharpa, goat-horn, Bronze-lure, flute and percussion whilst Bjørnson handles guitars and electronics. If you fancy a change from the norm, then I certainly recommend getting a copy of this album. 7/10

The Dead Daisies: Burn It Down (SPV)

One of the biggest mysteries in my life is why The Dead Daisies are as popular as they are. Their music is routine, overblown and overproduced hard rock littered with cover versions from some of rock’s also rans just doesn’t do it for me. Despite my prejudices, I really tried to give this a fair chance. I failed. Miserably. Opening track Resurrected steals the riff from Sucker Train Blues by Velvet Revolver, whilst the title track is big on production but it’s Doug Aldrich’s wah wah pedal that takes centre stage to the detriment of the song. Judgement Day doesn’t get going, What Goes Around has far too much going on with John Corabi’s Steven Tyler wannabe approach lost in the mix of Marco Mendoza’s bass high in the mix and tangled with Aldrich’s guitar work. 

It’s polished, hard cock rock that appeals to those who like their music without having to think. Listen to Bitch, an absolute dog-shite track which is typical American puff your chest out crap. And I could go on, but the final straw is the horrible cover of the Lennon-McCartney composed Revolution which demonstrates all that is wrong with “new rock” in general and this band in particular. If they were playing in my garden I’d draw the curtains. Thousands love this band. I can’t contain my contempt. I hate it. 3/10

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