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Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Reviews: King Company, Born To Murder The World, Sinsaenum, Gravewards (Reviews By Paul S, Stief & Sean)

King Company: Queen Of Hearts (Frontiers) [Stief]

Some more melodic rock from Finland here. King Company have been around for 4 years, and this is the 2nd album since 2016's One For The Road. This is also vocalist Leonard F. Guillian's first recorded performance, and it's a great debut for him. As soon as the opening title track kicks in, you can hear his voice is perfect for the band's style, just that bit melodic with an edge of gruffness. The sound itself comes in two flavours throughout the album; Fast paced and frenetic with a hint of synth (Queen Of Hearts, Living In A Hurricane), and the ballad (Living The Dream, Never Say Goodbye). Both styles seem to work perfectly for the band, with Antti Wirman's guitar work gelling perfectly with Time Schleifer's bass. Jari Pailamo's keyboards can be soulful and emotion one song, then energetic the next. The same goes for Mirka Rantanen's drumming. If you're looking for some new rock to listen, and want a bit of kick with it, then pick up Queen Of Hearts. 7/10

Born To Murder The World: The Infinite Mirror Of Millennial Narcissism (Extrinsic Recordings) [Paul S]

Born To Murder the World is a side project of Mick Kenny (Anaal Nathrakh, Mistress, Monkeys are Machine Guns), Shane Embury (Napalm Death, Venomous Concept, and so many other side projects) and Drunk (Duncan Wilkins of Fukpig, Mistress). Considering the bands that the members of BTMTW make their living with, it isn’t really a surprise that this is a rather extreme project. BTMTW play Grindcore, and a fairly apocalyptic brand of Grindcore it is too. The albums 12 tracks come in at just 16 minutes in length, 4 of the tracks are under a minute in length, and the longest track is 2 minutes 34 seconds long.  So, should the listener feel short changed at such a short run time? No, not at all. This album absolutely rages! There is more anger, more wrath, more aggression than on five or six normal metal albums. The riffs are razor sharp, the drums blast and batter the listener and the vocals are staggeringly raw, in your face and so, so angry. In fact the vocals need a special mention as they are extremely good, and really make this album stand out. 

Duncan Wilkins (Drunk) screams, bellows, snorts, snarls and pig squeals and makes every kind of sound that it is possible for a human to make, and by god it sounds great! Musically, you can tell which bands the members are from. There is a touch of Anaal Nathrakh about the production job, and the sound on offer here. There is also a certain Napalm Deathness to the structure and form of the songs. But, well, I can’t criticise them for sounding like themselves.The Infinite Mirror Of Millennial Narcissism is an incandescent scream of rage, an a staggeringly angry, dark piece of work. Ok, it’s over really quickly, but then, so was Nail’s Abandon All Life, and that was one of the best Grindcore albums ever made, and the fact that I can compare the 2 albums says a lot for BTMTW’s quality. Fantastic piece of Grindcore! 8/10

Sinsaenum: Repulsion For Humanity (earMusic) [Sean]

Ee gads! Looking at this bands resume, one can be easily forgiven for assuming that Sinsaneum would’ve been a confused musical endeavour. Each member spans multiple genres, at times inhabiting polar opposites of the metallic spectrum. *deep breath* We have a supergroup formed by Frédéric Leclercq (bass, guitar) of Dragonforce, drummed by Joey Jordison (Slipknot), Stéphane Buriez (guitar) of Loudblast, Heimoth (bass) of Seth, Sean Zatrsoky on vocals (Daath) and Mayhem’s Attila Csihar providing backing vocals and lyrics. Whew! I haven’t even begun to mention who the members have already played for! Ridiculous CV aside, Frederik really has assembled an impressive army of seasoned musicians in sole pursuit of crafting something heavier than his day job. Answering this call, Sinsaenum was carved into existence. Having (mostly) silenced the doubters and the confused on their debut in 2016, the international horde returns with their latest offering Repulsion For Humanity.

The opening title track sets the bar fairly high, all whammy bars and blast beats aplenty. I’m immediately struck at how 90’s the guitars sounds, with its missing mids a throwback to the golden days of Roadrunner Records and Scott Burns. This translates to the music too, the riffage conjuring memories of Deicide, Death, a whiff of Domination era Morbid Angel and Black Metal for good measure. Final Resolve slows things down with a hefty dose of groove, slithering into the blackened chug Sworn To Hell. Both are strong enough tracks, if a bit predictable. I Stand Alone (c’mon guys, really?) briefly confuses me, adopting a borderline Pantera (or even Godsmack) approach with its “tough guy” chorus. Begrudgingly it works, though the lyrics are cringe inducing (sorry Attila). 

My Swan Song, however, really grabs my attention for the first time. The muscular march builds towards a powerful chorus and Sinsaenum really do conjure a genuine sense of menace. Perhaps it’s the more measured pace, downplaying the somewhat generic riffing or that all elements are allowed to breathe here. It continues with Nuit Noire, boasting some truly otherworldly solos. Forsaken, the album closer, is another highlight and showcases what can happen when the styles of each member mesh seamlessly. There’s far more of an emphasis on the epic, the synths really filling out the dynamic space to great effect. 

On the whole, Repulsion For Humanity is a solid album crafted by individuals at the top of their game, but it is not without its flaws. For all the belligerence and bravado, the straight up Death Metal elements come across as somewhat tepid and a touch uninspired. The stylistic transitions between each song occasionally feel a bit jarring, as if the band hasn’t really settled on a cohesive vision. It’s only when Sinsaenum move beyond those constraints, beyond the textbook do they transcend .They become far more than just another extreme metal supergroup, displaying what a unified approach can truly achieve. Sinsaenum have yet to reach their peak but there’s no reason why you shouldn't shouldn't give this a spin, it’s quite fun when it gets it right. For that and the highlights alone, Sinsaenum still deserve your attention.7/10

Gravewards: Ruinous Ensoulment (Unspeakable Axe Records ) [Paul S]

Gravewards are a 3 piece Death Metal Band from Athens. They’ve been going since 2015 and Ruinous Ensoulment is the bands first album. Gravewards play a fairly old school style of Death Metal, there's no technical or progressive elements on the album. The band all have single word names (Fotis, Vasillis and Nikos), that fits in with the early nineties feel of the the album. This is not messing about Death Metal, although a lot of the album is fairly mid paced they do blast as well, Destruction Of Logic is a good example of this, fast and unrelenting, and starts with a slightly off kilter drumming rhythm that batters the listener into submission. Ruinous Ensoulment could have come out in 1992, the song structures, the song and album titles which sound like the band definitely own a thesaurus (incidentally, why is there only one word for thesaurus?). 

This is the band's first album, and it sounds like it. Although, it’s well written and played, it does sound like a whole load of other bands. In the last few months, I’ve listened to quite a few albums whose sound is pretty much indistinguishable from this album. It’s a good album, but the band need to find their own sound, so they will stand out. They can clearly play, but they need an identity of their own if they are to have a future. I don’t want to be too harsh on this album. It’s a good, solid piece of work, well written and played. If Gravewards are going to have a future they need to have a bit of uniqueness about them. Ruinous Ensoulment is a good first album, but there are too many other bands out there doing the same thing. If they can take what they’ve done here and build on it, they might be on to something. Solid, if unremarkable debut album. 7/10

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