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Saturday, 16 June 2018

Reviews: Trillium, Refuge, Cryonic Temple, Fire Down Below

Trillium: Tectonic (Frontiers)

Since the first Trillium Amanda Somerville has been involved in numerous projects including Kiske/Somerville, Exit Eden, Serenity, Avantasia (Live) and of course motherhood. So to say there's been a lot on her plate is to underestimate the size of plates, but now she's back with her second 'metal' album the Trillium project is another side to Somerville's amazingly wide vocal range as she leads a heavy metal band formed of Andre Borgman (drums), Erik van Ittersum (keys) and husband Sanders Gommans (guitar/bass), (except track 3 has bass by Mark Burnash & 2nd guitar solo by Paul Owsinski, track 11 guitars by Paul Owsinski).

When I say heavy metal there's a bit of AOR and some of the symphonic stylings of her other projects, but Tectonic is a tough metal release with galloping riffs, chunky breakdowns, some theatrical touches and Amanda's brilliant vocals linking it all together. The digestion period of this album has been about 7 years and it means that this album has moments like the industrial and sultry Hit Me, the symphonic Shards, the theatrical Cliche Freak Show with the the beautiful Eternal Spring closing out the album, you get a sense of all of the soundscapes Somerville can turn her hand to although it never strays to far from a distorted metal crunch. No earthquakes here but it will get your house shaking when played at full volume. 7/10  

Refuge: Solitary Men (Frontiers)

Peavy Wagner, Manni Schmidt & Christos Efthimiadis are probably best known to metal fans as most successful version of longstanding German metal band Rage. In the current incarnation of that band only Wagner remains but in 2014 the three reunited under the banner of Tres Hombres to play songs from that era of Rage (Noise Records 1986-1994). From there Refuge evolved into another offshoot of Rage running concurrently with the current more symphonic version of the band. Wagner states that this is not a professional project as the members all have day jobs, so Refuge is a “hobby band” that has become real band writing their own material.

Whatever it is when you press play you can’t deny that the magic is still there, taking their name from a song on Rage’s 1993 release The Missing Link Refuge are a return to the balls out classic German metal of those early albums but with a brilliant modern bite. Wagner’s bass gallops and booming vocals are instantly memorable as Schmidt riffs and solos his way through the tracks effortlessly away sending your fists high, to the beat of Efthimiadis laying down a barrage of battery from track one that never really seems to retreat.

Just sounding like Rage would be too easy so for every power metal anthem like The Man In The Ivory Tower, there’s a propulsive hard rocker like We Owe Life To Death, a rip snorting thrasher like From The Ashes or a thundering doom lick like Living On The Edge Of Time. It’s a cascade of these three men’s best creative juices flowing freely, whether Refuge stays as a hobby project or continues as a full band Solitary Men is up there with some of the best material ever written by this trio! 8/10

Cryonic Temple: Deliverance (Scarlet Records)

The sixth album from the Swedish power metal band Cryonic Temple has a striffing symphonic opening but where on familar territory as Rise Eternally Beyond has thundering blastbeats, melodic fast paced riffs and more solos that you can ever need. Deliverance continues the concept, started on their previous record which means that between many of the songs there are cinematic pieces splitting the record and propelling the storyline.

For anyone who are not familiar Cryonic Temple and I'll admit that I wasn't until their previous release, they are on the heavier style of power metal having a lot of Hammerfall and Iron Fire influences but with the keys and synths fleshing out the sound a little, where Cryonic Temple also shine are the powerful vocals of Mattias who has a tough lower register but goes to squealing highs on the title track. Deliverance is a little long at 14 tracks but other than that it's a strong power metal record from these Swedish veterans. 7/10

Fire Down Below: Hymn Of The Cosmic Man (Ripple Music)

We come across a lot of stoner rock here, with varying results, more often than that not though the bands are exactly the kind of fuzzy, riff worshipping music we like here at MoM Towers. One such band are Belgian rockers Fire Down Below who are really interesting, the four piece are a cosmically aligned riff heavy band who play a very good style of twisting desert rock, made up of Sam Nuytens (drums), Jeroen Van Troyen (rhythm guitar/vocals), Kevin Gernaey (lead guitar), Bert Wynsberghe (bass).

The record moves from shoegazing haziness on Nebula to the kaleidoscopic Ascension, the heavy riffing of Ignition/Space Cruiser which strats the album off and the epic 11 minute finale of Adrift In A Sea Of Stars. If the more ethereal desert rock style is what excites you then turn down the lights, crank up Hymn For The Cosmic Man a drift away on the sonic seas of stoner brilliance. 7/10

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