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Saturday, 2 June 2018

Reviews: Burn The Priest, Kataklysm, The Fierce & The Dead, Blind River (Reviews By Paul H)

Burn The Priest: Legion XX (Nuclear Blast)

A blast from the past as Lamb Of God return in ferocious form, ten tracks under the old school moniker off Burn The Priest and an album off covers from their 1980s punk and hardcore heroes. Cover albums are a bit hit and miss at times but LOG have celebrated their 20th anniversary with a blistering look back at those bands that provided the foundation for their sound today. Kicking off at full speed with a cover of The Accused’s Inherit The Earth, this is a fabulous introduction to those whose knowledge of bands such as Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags is limited. The Melvins’ Honey Bucket is thunderously heavy, a massive riff underpinning the song, Randy Blythe is on fine form with his guttural roar superb.

A welcome addition is the speed blast of S.O.D’s Kill Yourself whilst Richmond punk locals Sliang Laos also feature with the cover of their song Axis Rot. As a long time LOG fan this release doesn’t feel like a stop gap, but a really well crafted homage to some of the main influences of the band. The inclusion of Ministry’s Jesus Built My Hotrod is brilliant and the version is spot on. In fact, there isn’t anything I dislike about this, and Chris Adler once again demonstrates what an absolute demon drummer he is. Go buy it. 9/10

Kataklysm: Mediations (Nuclear Blast)

Having blasted their powerful brand of death metal through the world for over a quarter of a century, Kataklysm show no sign of slowing up. Since their formation in 1991, they have taken influence in everything from ancient human history to the basic instincts surrounding human emotion. Their latest album maintains their focus and delivery, saturated with visceral riffs, pounding drumming and the guttural vocal delivery of Maurizio Iacono. Kataklysm took a different approach in terms of the recording process this time around with guitarist JF Dagenais, who has always been involved in the band’s recording, setting out to do the entirety of Meditations with the band’s newest member, drummer Oli Beaudoin, by his side. Dagenais and Beaudoin recorded the album in the depths of the Canadian forest at the studio the band built specifically for JF’s recordings. The production process was also taken in an entirely different direction this time with the hiring of fellow Canadian Jay Ruston who more commonly works with bands like Stone Sour and Anthrax. “It’s a risk when you’re in a very tunnel vision industry,” said Iacono.

“We wanted something out there, with a different kind of production [and] we were very impressed with his sound.” With Iacono feeling that after 25 years, the band was due time to immerse themselves in their early origins. “We’ve never really belonged to one thing, we were never really a follower of one style of music; we were a hybrid. It confused people a little bit, I think… we were an outsider band regarding that... not part of anything.” There is certainly a feel of uniqueness with this album, with the mechanical riffing on tracks like Bend The Arc, Cut The Chord and In Limbic Resonance giving tracks an almost industrial feel, whilst tracks such as the Devildriver style The Last Breath I’ll Take is Yours and the groove laden Outsider cross genres and add a more melodic sound whilst holding the death metal feel close at all times. Meditations is a refreshing representation of both the roots and foundations of a band that remain important in today’s death metal circles. 8/10

The Fierce & The Dead: The Euphoric (Bad Elephant Music)

The Fierce & The Dead are based in London UK and apparently formed from a recording experiment that was initially intended for guitarist Matt Steven’s second solo album. The four-piece, which comprises Stevens, guitar, synth and piano, Kev Feazey on bass, programming, synth and percussion, Steve Cleaton on guitar and piano and drummer and percussionist Stuart Marshall, have now delivered their third full release on Bad Elephant music. Fully instrumental, the music captures a range of fresh approaches, with elements of indie and alt-rock outfits; there’s even a bit of Edge style guitar work on opener Truck, which builds into a tasty four-minute tune.

As the album progresses there is plenty to captivate the listener. Electronica, krautrock, jazz fusion and psychedelic tones all compete for space. Each track builds into fireworks of riffs and interesting time changes. There is plenty for the progressive fan to admire as well, such as the title track with its shades of Steven Wilson and Muse. As guitarist Matt Stevens says, “We’ve spent the last few years gigging heavily and The Euphoric reflects that. We can’t wait for everyone to hear it.” It may not float everyone’s vessel, but it is certainly well worth devoting time to give it a spin. 7/10

Blind River: Self-Titled (Self Released)

At long last, it’s here. Yep, the filthy, greasy and totally infectious debut from Guildford based outfit Blind River. Containing members of Pig Iron, The Earls Of Mars and Godsized, Blind River blew us away at Hard Rock Hell in November 2017 with one of the performances of the weekend. To say that this album has been a long time coming it one of the understatements of the year. From opening song Going Nowhere, to the groove laden Can’t Sleep Sober all the way until concluding track Sunset Of Miles finally shuts down, this is hard rock at its finest.

Mucky, soiled riffs, a dirty beat which gets more legs tapping than a St Vitus Dance hopping contest and one of the finest voices in rock, Harry Armstrong, who gives a masterpiece of a performance with his gritty, throaty and soul-filled roar; check out Freedom Dealer if you don’t believe me. With every track liable to infest your brain with the catchy hooks, what more can I say but get hold of a copy now and enjoy the ride. Blind River have delivered a slab of blues rock ‘n’ roll which just oozes quality. 9/10

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