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Friday, 19 October 2018

Reviews: Scorched, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Birdpen, Binah (Reviews By Sean & Matt)

Scorched: Ecliptic Butchery (20 Buck Spin) [Sean]

In a world where reinventing the wheel is the idiom of the day, death metal falls into one of 3 categories. There are those that seek to redesign the wheel completely, either by adorning their creation with genre bending and/or blistering technicality. The second kind? The wheel is the enemy, proceed smash it to fucking bits, scatter its splinters against a wall and proceed to nuke that wall. The 3rd and final? Unchanged though unnatural. Rot and rust have set in but it remains ageless, strong and certain much like death itself. What of Delaware death dealers Scorched? What wheel does their second album, Ecliptic Butchery resemble? The last and proudly so.

From the moment that Blood Splattered Eclipse kicks in filthy tremolo riffs lead the assault, tumbling and heaving with Matt Kapa’s Pillard-esque roars recount tales of horror and gore. This is more or less the core essence of joyful filth wizardry that is Ecliptic Butchery, each song ebbing and flowing between Incantation like blasting and doom/death stylings of Autopsy. Astral Groove , builds upon this perfect foundation, introducing more haunting leads that wouldn't go amiss in a John Carpenter flick. Bodies Collect is stomping tour de force, a throwback to Altars era Morbid Angel (or Slayer, even!) with churning riffs and wailing dive-bombs aplenty. Mortuary Of Nightmare is straight up mean, introducing a pinch of dissonance among the angular riffing. It jumps from tempo to tempo without batting an eyelid and never losing coherency.

As final track Dissected Humanity brings the murder spree to a close, I’m left feeling immensely satisfied. Scorched have crafted a superb piece of horror, nuanced as it is accessible and done with complete and utter devotion to their craft. Ecliptic Butchery is an ugly monstrosity of lurching riffs, sinister grooves and over the top otherworldly bellows. Wrapped in a crisp yet expansive production, Scorched have finely balanced all of what makes old school death metal so damn satisfying. The strong songwriting, attention to detail and mighty performance ensures that you’ll be staring into the abyss long after that wailing whammy fades into dreadful silence. 9/10

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats: Wasteland (Rise Above Records) [Matt]

Apparently the concept behind the fifth album from stoner cultists Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats is “an post-apocalyptic hellscape where everyone lives isolated in walled cities, the population has had their memories wiped clean. Instead of personal experience, they subsist on the information being force fed to them via glowing propaganda screens” so basically a metaphor for modern life and the onset of technology (the irony isn’t lost on me that this review is on a blog) essentially it’s parts Escape From New York, part They Live and part zombie movie just what you’d expect from these acid dropping proto-metal weirdos.

Driven by the experiences of bandleader Kevin Starrs it’s rumination on detachment, paranoia and the invasion of technology into daily life something he notices at the gigs they play where folks watch the whole set through a phone screen (something that infuriates me). It’s also the most psychedelic record in the discography relying heavily on melodic, trippy sonic experimentalism along with their proto-metal riffs, Bedouin has brass cutting through the fuzz, the atmospheric I See Through You is a track that has a whiff of Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy) by Rob Zombie, while Shockwave City brings the Sabbath worship and No Return takes on some electronic gothica. Wasteland is the most well rounded of all of the Uncle Acid albums it's a tour of a warped mind with pretty good concept behind it, enter the wasteland and get freaky! 8/10

Birdpen: There's Something Wrong With Everything (Self Released) [Matt]

Something a little different now with Southampton based two-piece Birdpen, formed by Dave Pen (also the singer and guitarist in Archive) and Mike Bird (thus the name). The duo play some slinky, electronic alt rock which melds dreamy psychedelic soundscapes with synth-driven Krautrock and progressive rock, a heady brew of Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Can and doom-laden progressive rock. The driving This Is Your Life opens the record with bubbling bottom end driven by bass and old school electronics (something that makes this record sounds out), it's got an edginess to it along with a sense of urgency which transition into the dreamy title track which has shimmering synths, some biting strings and drums that wash over you. The mixture of sounds here makes it a really interesting listen, the indie electronica of Eyes In The Sky with the Easy Life having the heady rhythms of the concert for Bangladesh. The vocals have the breathy emotion of Coldplay's Chris Martin, Star Of The Half-Time Show is the best example of this but with the expressive music behind there's a dark side that makes it a very rewarding listen. 7/10 

Binah: Phobiate (Osmose Productions) [Sean]

If anyone knows anything about me, they know that I have profound love of the Chainsaw. I’m not on about the DIY deforestation tool or the Tobe Hooper flick, but the gnarly godawful tone which roared into existence in early 90’s Stockholm. The Boss Hm-2, everything jacked to 11 and filthy caveman riffs to match. This recipe mostly holds true for Binah though on this, their 3rd release, Phobiate seeks to tweak the formula beyond the “rip and tear” blueprint of yesteryear. Heresy, some may say as the saw is the law! As for me, colour me intrigued! It has on more than one occasion succeeded for acts such as Morbid Chron (RIP) and Horrendous, will it do so for the English death dealers?

The desire for exploration manifests itself the strongest on 2nd track The Silent Static, a 12 minute epic wielding old might and new menace in equal measure. Seamlessly shifting between traditional riffage and blackened influences, it embraces occultic atmosphere to great effect. Make no mistake, this is something far more sinister than simple Dismember worship (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Mind Tap returns to a purer, doom laden sound, though owing more to Finnish filth merchants Convulse and/or Abhorrence. Dream Paralysis is another foray into complexity, with huge power chords ringing out into a gorgeous and expansive production. Consuming Repulse is bestial filth incarnate, whilst closer Bleaching is a dreadful dirge of crawling tremolo before giving way to outro Serum.

Phobiate is a fascinating beast to be sure, equal parts wonderful filth peppered with subtle layers of experimentation. While the bulk of this is contained in The Silent Static, those sinister touches do return from time to time. In the moments where Binah allow that slight gasp for air, a haunting lead or a juxtaposed melody elevating the foundations beyond the simplistic (though pleasing) slaughter of their forebears. Could they wander further into these foreign voids more often? Perhaps, but this in no way diminishes the more “orthodox” compositions and Phobiate showcases Binah as masters of their own craft. Comfortable in its unique malignancy and compositional guile, Phobiate rends thought and flesh alike with ease. 8/10

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: High On Fire & Enslaved (Live Review By Rich)

High On Fire, Enslaved and Krakow at SWX, Bristol

The draw of a co-headlining show from both High On Fire and Enslaved brought a respectably sized crowd to SWX in Bristol on a Sunday night. Kicking things off were Norwegian post-metal act Krakow (7). It took a few songs for the audience to warm to them but there were several nods of approval and cheers by the time Krakow concluded their set of vast, atmospheric and crushing post-metal.

The two headliners have been alternating the order in which they play and tonight it was the turn of Enslaved (9) to take the middle slot. Enslaved have always been a band pushing black metal to its boundaries and are now known for their progressive metal leanings equally as well as their black metal origins. The set tonight was a celebration of their career with a nice mix of new, old and ancient material. Enslaved wasted no time in dropping jaws opening with a flawless rendition of the mesmerizingly epic Roots Of The Mountain off the RIITIIR album. From there on we got treated to the title track off Ruun, Storm Son and Sacred Horse off latest album E and a rousing Havenless

What was a special treat for the old school fans in attendance was the inclusion of Isöders Dronning and Jotunblod off the classic Frost album. To finish things off the band went even further back in their discography closing with the ferocious Allfǫðr Oðinn off the Hordanes Land EP. The band put in a fantastically performance with the wonderful counterbalance between the harsh vocals of frontman Grutle Kjellson and the luscious clean vocals of keyboardist Håkon Vinje. The band were in a jovial mood clearly enjoying themselves on stage with some entertaining interaction with the audience. I was attending the show with some friends who are unfamiliar with Enslaved and it was a joy to see their captivated response to their music. My only disappointment is that there were several albums overlooked in the set but Enslaved have such a long and rich back catalogue that they could have played for several hours and we still had another headlining set to go.

Closing off the evening was the crushing might of High On Fire (8). Despite touring the UK previously on several occasions this was my first time watching High On Fire and as I was expecting it was the musical equivalent of being bludgeoned to death by an anvil. Matt Pike and company wasted no time in unleashing sonic devastation on SWX opening with the instrumental Sons Of Thunder from Blessed Black Wings before diving into the relentless fury of The Black Plot with added animation on the big screen behind the stage. The rest of the set was comprised of material off new album Electric Messiah mixed in with some older material such as Fertile Green, Rumors Of War, Fury Whip and Snakes For The Divine before bringing the set to an absolutely crushing end with the absolutely savage Electric Messiah

 A brave move ending the set with a new song but it’s one which High On Fire fans have already embraced and is an instant classic. Unfortunately nothing was played from the first two albums. The performances were a little bit sloppy in places and the sound was incredibly dense and muddy for High On Fire but this is filthy music and so didn’t affect my enjoyment of the set in fact it strangely complimented it. High On Fire are a band that scream heavy metal and I thoroughly enjoyed my first live experience. All in all a fantastic show which left people with ears ringing and big satisfied grins on their faces. A perfect way to spend a Sunday evening.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Ablated (Live Review By Alyn)

Ablated, Carnivore Diprosopus, Seprevation, Cryptworm & Black Pyre, Fuel Rock Club Cardiff

Now that we're entering the autumnal months the intensity at which Fuel and Cardiff is being laid siege to by Eradication Booking Agency's import of bands is slowing. In what looks to be perhaps the Agency's penultimate show of the year, local death metal band Ablated headline with a strong undercard including Colombian exports Carnivore Diprosopus.

Opening the evening are new black metal band Black Pyre (6) hailing from Cardiff and surrounding areas.  Functioning as a three piece and performing in only their third show as a unit so far, the trio blistered through a brief albeit varied set that draws a lot from the Satyricon vein of black metal with drawn out repeating passages of chordal riffage peppered with chaotic moments of blasting. Their blend only falls short when guitarist and vocalist Asbjorn switches to lead lines, and the absence of a second guitarist to retain the intensity really shows. Closing their set with Summoning, a track with few lyrics bar the title, vocalist Asbjorn emphatically attempts to rouse the crowd into a sing-along, so naturally they began pitting instead.

Definitely the odd ones out on the bill being the only black metal band playing – Black Pyre still used the opportunity well; they also brought a fair contingent of their fans which was not only refreshing to see for an opening act, but hopefully will have positive knock-on for future Eradication shows now that they've been exposed to the calibre of acts routinely brought over.  With more shows under their belt to quell the sometimes somewhat awkward visual and a bit more energy from the front two – there'll be good things on the horizon for Black Pyre.

Another three-piece and the first of a double Bristolian contingent making their way to the Welsh capital, Cryptworm (5) play aggressive grind-tinged brutal death metal. Vocalist, guitarist, and veritable giant Tibor barely fitting on the stage and barking away at the microphone with an incomparable variety of facial expressions with energy in stark contrast to the openers. Songs are brief and bludgeoning, but not necessarily ground breaking or memorable. Being second on stage when there's a short changeover can be hard work as you're left without much of a sound check if any at all and monitor rebalancing is a luxury – it felt like Cryptworm were struggling to assemble their sound and tempo throughout. That said, their energy and show warrants a second viewing later on, perhaps this just wasn't their night for sound.

The second of the Bristol bands paying their way across the bridge to play tonight are stalwarts of the South West death metal scene Seprevation (9). For the uninitiated, Seprevation are all about vintage, thrash-heavy death metal, pummelling you with riff after riff after riff. The experience is evident here with synchronised windmilling, ripping guitar shredding and as tight a show as you'd expect from a band that's done this mileage. Oozing early Sepultura and death vibes, the crowd nears its peak for the evening as they lap up the furious blasting from tracks from new EP Into The Black. The full set is like a surreal trip back to the 90's death metal scene full of the unmistakable groove, energy and shredding that so few bands can hope to emulate. Criticisms? Not enough Seprevation. They're back next year at Eradication 2019 though.  Not seen them yet?  Sort it out.

Columbian veterans Carnivore Diprosopus (8) have been around the block a bit being formed in 2002. Brutal death metal is the order of the day and blast-beats are starter, main course and dessert.  Fresh off the back of UK Slam Festival in Leeds, this rendition of the line-up includes Mr Geoff Metal himself of Atonement fame performing as one of the guitarists and also supplying the English translation of the band-to-crowd banter of “WORDS” and “MORE WORDS” given the somewhat expected language barrier present otherwise. Frontman Oscar presents himself as an unhinged general of a crushingly heavy troupe bringing tried and true gurgling and belching vocals to the fore and whipping the crowd into a pitting frenzy on multiple occasions. Opting for twin guitarists and no bassists for this line-up, the real eye-opener was the quite frankly ludicrous skin-work by the two (correct) drummers used in the set. The first opting heavily towards rapid-fire blast-beats and the second working in a lot more double kick and groove. Nothing necessarily out of the ordinary for the genre, it was still everything you could want from it. To be pummelled face-first into the ground by an overwhelmingly heavy force.

Performing their first headline show, Ablated (9) are more than up for the occasion being comprised of veterans of the extreme South West scene featuring ex-members of Desecration, Necrocest and Thorun and boy they don't mess around. Vocalist Greg channels Corpsegrinder stylistically, barking and roaring over the top of ferocious twinned guitar assaults from Glenn and Stuart, and lumbering bass lines provided by Mark. Ex-Thorun drummer Mike provides a relentless onslaught backing on the drums which couldn't be farther away from his output in his previous band. They're tight, groovy, and chronically heavy throughout their old-school death metal set and despite the crowd starting to thin a little, performed worthy of their billing with the remaining crowd eating up the solid slab of brutality.

My only criticism of Ablated doesn't come from the show itself – moreover the fact that a band of their calibre hasn't achieved what it clearly could be achieving, with all that is currently available of them outside of their infrequent live shows being a single demo on bandcamp. Perhaps its harsh given I'm reviewing their show on the night specifically, but ultimately when you've got a local band that good you want to put them on a pedestal.  It's not for this reviewer or anyone outside of the immediate band itself to know what's holding them back, but they certainly need to get out there and show the rest of the country what they're missing.

As is customary, a thanks to be extended to Eradication Booking for bringing the heavy to the capital with another great line-up and evening, Tim Vincent for great sound throughout.  A further mention to a great turnout as well with plenty of new faces – hopefully there'll be plenty of returning faces for similar shows to come.

Reviews: Northward, OHHMS, Full House Brew Crew, Emersis

Northward: Self Titled (Nuclear Blast)

Northward is an album/project that was always going to appeal to me, I'm in love with the vocals of Floor Jansen from her time in After Forever and Jørn Viggo Lofstad the guitarist of progressive/power metal band Pagan's Mind. With these two heavy hitters on board it could have been the biggest symphonic metal album of the year however what it might be is the best straightforward hard rock album this year. Yep it's euphoric modern hard rock owing as much to Alter Bridge as it does to Led Zeppelin, check out Get What You Give and imagine Myles Kennedy wailing and you'll see what I mean. It doesn't need Kennedy though Floor's versatile vocals are as brilliant as they always are but they show here more pop/rock style, it's also very interesting to hear her purr with some Heart-like sexuality for the Big Boy.

Northward came about after a jam session at Progpower USA 2007 and songs quickly came afterwards, however after Floor became the singer of Nightwish time disappeared and it was only last year they managed to complete this album along with Morty Black (TNT) on bass, Django Nilsen and Stian Kristoffersen (Pagan's Mind) on drums. They've got a few friends along for the ride as Floor debuts with sister Irene (Ayreon) on the thumping Drifting Islands and Ronny Tegner (Pagan's Mind) adding grand piano. As I've mentioned the music here is stripped back, proper rock music driven by incredible vocals and Lofstad's simple but effective guitar riffs and his trademark solo brilliance. There's a myriad of sounds on this debut record tender ballads in the shape of Bridle Passion, heavy pomp rock for While Love Died and glistening AOR for the title track. With no chance of a tour and probably not much of getting another album Northward is this projects defining statement and it was very much worth the wait. 8/10

OHHMS: Exist (Holy Roar Records)

A band like OHHMS thrive on making as much noise as humanly possible their post-metal/sludge music is slow, disconcerting, and most of all oppressively heavy, the Canterbury five piece also are no strangers to experimentation, their debut last year got an 8/10 from rich who complimented the bands ability to make elongated number seem like no time at all and this is a trick they repeat for the follow up, Exist's first track is a 22 minute monolith, with distorted sludge riffs cascading into atmospheric shoegaze at the 8 minute mark giving a dense sound over a enveloping musical backing, before it slows down into a dreamy ambient soundscape with a bit of percussive witchery before the riffs return again.

At the heart of the song are the lyrics, it depicts the existence and death of a monkey in an animal testing facility and if the volume doesn't unseat you the cries of "murder" will. Subjects is the first ode to the bands ideology of pacifism and empathy that they convey through down-tuned sludge riffs. It's not just animals that they are trying to stop aggression towards the last song Lay Down Your Firearms is an indictment of gun culture. With intelligent post-metal/sludge at it's core and clear conviction in their writing Exist is a brilliant follow up from OHHMS, what a lovely noise this is. 8/10    

Full House Brew Crew: Me Against You (Rock Of Angels Records)

Founded in 2009 Greek groove metal troupe Full House Brew Crew (Stylized as Full House B.C) have finally returned with their second album following on from their 2011 debut Bet It All, the reason for the gap is that singer/guitarist Vagelis Karzis is the touring bass player for Rotting Christ. This is a total opposite to the Greek black metal horde, it's thumping power groove metal akin to Pantera, FFDP and Black Label Society, sounding American as possible, from the rip snorting Cannot Be Judged to the bluesy thump of No One's Safe this record has the chest beating aggression of those bands you hear being pumped out of tanks, it's macho heavy metal with a take-no-shit attitude and concrete grooves, vocally Vagelis sounds a lot like Burton C Bell which adds to tracks such as Hard To Tell especially when he's spitting lyrics about mistreatment and the state of our governments like Bring The Chaos, the propulsive Me Against You and the sledgehammer of riff that's on Hollow God. It's nothing new no, but it's got enough aggression to get the blood boiling and the head banging. 7/10 

Emersis: Deadlight (Self Released)

Opening your debut EP with a track about Stephen King's IT is one way of garnering attention, especially when while doing it you eerily sound like Iced Earth during their Horror Show phase, the gruff vocals sounding like low range Barlow when he snarls the lyrics about death, doom and drainage. It's a strong start for this Brighton five piece who don't stick to one sound over the course of these four tracks, coming next is No Longer My Past which is a bit more melodic having a more modern metal vibe of Trivium of BFMV to it due to the razor sharp guitar work as the IE sound returns for A Second Chance but the finale of Not Today gives a strutting beatdown. Deadlight is a little rough around the edges but you can hear the potential. 7/10    

Monday, 15 October 2018

The Spotlight: Interview With Away From Voivod By Paul S

Interview with Michel ‘Away’ Langevin, The Globe, Cardiff

I met Michel ‘Away’ Langevin at The Globe shortly before the gig. When I got to the venue he was talking to fans that had gathered outside. As I found out at the interview, this was pretty typical of the man. After a quick introduction we went up to a tiny room at the very top of The Globe, where I got to ask the only constant member of one of the most influential heavy metal bands of all time, some questions.

MoM: The new album The Wake, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, it’s a great album, just stunning. I realise you’ve done an EP with this lineup, but this was the first album, how was the writing and recording process?

Away: It actually took a lot of time, at first we thought the Post Society songs would end up on the album. But then Century Media asked us to make a whole album from scratch, and Snake said “I would like then, to write a long story”, and then Chewy said “maybe we could do it like Dimension Hatross and we can bring back musical themes but rearranged throughout the album, and so on”. And it turns out it's a lot of work, plus, although Rocky found a way to set up a small studio on the bus and backstage with his computer, so we were able to write on the road and record some demo’s, which was great, because otherwise it would have taken more time, because we have been touring a lot these last few years.

So we started like maybe 3 years ago, to write the album, and we stated recording last fall when we came back from the euro tour, and we finished in the spring. So the whole winter we worked on it, put tons of layers of music, most of the material was composed by Chewy and Rocky, lots of riffs, I came up with quite a few beats, we did some improvisations that we recorded, and we picked the best parts, and Chewy rearranged it into Voivod songs. So, it was a bit of a slow process, but now that we found a formula, I think we’ll be able to release more albums, quicker.

MoM: The response to the new album has been pretty impressive.

Away: Yeah, it’s really amazing, actually.

MoM: Have you been pleased with the response?

Away: Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, cause it’s always a bit of a stress, specially that the album is very intricate, and it’s not that obvious at the first listen, I would say, so the reviews are all like of 9.5 out of ten, and the people that are into Voivod are really digging it, and it hasn’t been out for a while, it’s only been out a short time, but so far the reaction to the first 3 singles, the 3 videos is super amazing, and the reviews in the magazines are fantastic, like we even got a 4 out of 5 in Rolling Stone Magazine so it’s helping us, we are gaining some momentum and the tour has been very well attended, so we are pretty excited.

MoM: I have been on various forums to see what the response has been, I’ve even been onto YouTube and looked at the comments, and I can’t find a single negative comment. In fact, the one comment that kept on coming up was that people were saying it was the best album since Nothingface. I don’t know how you’d feel about that, as you’ve played an all the albums.

Away: I’m proud of every album, but I am aware that people have a preference for Dimension Hatross and Nothingface. There is usually a debate with people into Voivod about whats the best between Dimension Hatross and Nothingface, so the fact that people rank it with these albums is pretty much elating for us. I think that we pushed this prog rock, fusion metal style very far on The Wake, and now the challenge is to push it further, explore other territories and I think we can do it.

MoM: You’ve now been on tour for nearly a month, so, how are you holding up?

Away: I don’t know if it’s 35 years of touring, but I feel great. Of course about twenty years ago, actually exactly twenty years ago, I stopped partying. Cause then I saw Whitesnake with Tommy Aldridge on drums, and he played double kick for ninety minutes, and I was thinking, if I want to do that at his age I better take care of myself. So, I don’t party on the road, and I try to eat well, and sleep a lot, so far so good, I’m kicking!

MoM: Excellent! Are you doing much of the new material from the new album live?

Away: We are doing the 3 singles from The Wake, the rest of it is, let's say, between War And Pain and The Outer Limits, but we also do some Post Society material. We have so many songs that we tend to skip the Eric Forrest and Jason Newsted era for now, but eventually it’s going to come back into the set list.

MoM: So, how are those 3 tracks from the new album going down?

Away: Oh wow, people seem to think that it’s sort of seamless with the other songs, that it fits right in, it’s the same old psychedelic, thrash/ punk in a way, so I think it fits right in.

MOM: Voivod have been going for a very long time, I don’t want to make you feel old….

Away: That's ok, 35 years is a long time.

MoM: Do you have issues with some of your fans in the way that, I think, Iron Maiden or Slayer have, where they only want certain songs in the set list? Or, are Voivod fans a bit more open minded and sophisticated?

Away: We had, eventually, we had to take out a few songs that were classics like Tribal Convictions and Astronomy Domine by Pink Floyd because we had played them too often, we thought that people might be complaining a lot, but no-one is complaining at all. People are just happy that we play songs off Angel Rat, which is sort of, an obscure album. They seem to understand that we have 14 studio albums, with the live albums and compilations we have 21 albums, so they seem to understand that.

MoM: Voivod have always come across as a band that's looking to the future, as to where the human race is going. Has that become more scary and disturbing, as time goes on?

Away: Oh yeah, as a matter of fact, it’s getting a bit harder to predict what is going to happen. It’s such an out of control planet. And like back then we were trying to think about the future, but it’s really happening now, what we talked about in Killing Technology and Dimension Hatross and such, so it’s getting harder to try to talk about whats going to happen 20 years down the road really, and the thing is there is much more information with the internet now, than back then, back then we used to read Discover Magazine and Only Magazine and stuff like that. Now, the internet is like the biggest library ever, but the thing is, there is as much dis-information as information, so it has become a bit of a weird thing really. More information, but lots of Dis-information as well. We do talk about both sides in our songs.

MoM: What are the main changes that you have seen in the music business in the time that Voivod has been going?

Away: I always try to see things in a positive way, there's a lot of adaptation to be done by the industry and the bands as well. Things are moving very fast, we have amazing tools, promotional tools these days because of the internet. Back then we used to send demos to magazines, and then wait 6 weeks for an answer, and then they’d send us a bunch of questions, we’d answer back and ship it, and then 6 weeks later, or 2 months later we’d get a fanzine, so now it’s really instantaneous, and that's really great. We used to send master tapes and art covers and have to ship it to Berlin or LA, now it’s We transfer dot com so things have changed a lot. Of course, in terms of piracy, we used to to tape vinyls a lot from friends because we couldn’t afford all the vinyl and so on, it never really bothers me, so when the downloads came, I was like: well, thats the new era, so be it. And then as soon as there was a proper structure with the legal downloads where it started to be lucrative, and we started to see in the statements that it was equally as lucrative as the physical CD’s or Vinyl. As soon as this was set up the streaming appeared and we have to start all over again, because for 2 or 3 thousand streamings we get 0.0001 cent.

So, it’s really a shame that the industry has to adapt again, to be able to distribute the money between the musicians, also even though there are lots of promotional tools with the internet, there are millions of bands on line, so it’s harder for newer bands to get noticed. But to be honest I don’t really feel that affected by these changes because for us since we reformed in 2008, we have sort of jumped into the classic thrash metal movement, where we can always tour the world and release albums. We cross paths with all of our old friends from the eighties: Destruction, Kreator, Sepultura, Exodus, all around the planet, so it’s sort of like a stable situation for Voivod, if anything we’re gaining momentum, for the last 10 years it’s been going uphill. We see our old friends, over and over, but I must say there are tons of new kids into thrash metal nowadays, and when we cross paths with lets say Testament we discuss that, because people show up at their shows too, young people, it’s really many different generations now, we are discussing with each other like “how come we are still relevant?”, I think it’s because a lot of the thrash metal bands talked a lot about the destruction of the earth which is still relevant, I think.

MoM: I’m going to be a bit self indulgent now, I reviewed your album for Musipedia Of Metal. The album is called The Wake, which has a connection to funerals, and the song titles and lyrics, I won’t say their not positive, but there's a certain seriousness about them. So, I’m going to read you the last few lines of my review “ Even though the album is called The Wake, and considering the tragedy that this band have experienced, this album feels joyful. There is something uplifting and positive about it. I could have got this completely wrong, I might have misinterpreted it, but it makes me feel happy. I can’t think of a better recommendation than that.” Even though I can see the seriousness that you are talking about, it genuinely feels uplifting and joyful, have I got it completely wrong?

Away: No, it’s the truth that the chemistry is really fantastic with this lineup, we are happy fellows, the live show is a happy show. The messages are serious, but it’s still a rock and roll show. We write and record music and play it live to have a good time and enjoy ourselves. So, there is a certain post apocalyptic feel to the lyrics and all that, but it’s still very uplifting music, like Motorhead or punk rock.

MoM: Awesome, so I didn’t get it wrong.

Away: No, you were totally right.

MoM:  Over the last few years I’ve started to hear Voivod in a lot of other bands; obviously there's Vector, or there's a band called Vhol, who released an album called Bigger Than Sky, which I thought was very Voivod.

Away: Oh, Vhol, yeah, I heard that.

MoM: Whats it like to hear that when it’s your band? Are you proud to have influenced so many other bands?

Away: Yeah, for sure. I hear Voivod stuff in bigger bands than we are, but it’s difficult to tell if they are directly or indirectly influenced by Voivod, it might be through other bands or a mutual admiration for Killing Joke. Just before coming here to Europe, we played Heavy Montreal, a big festival with Gojira and I definitely heard some Voivod stuff in their music, they blew me away, it’s crazy how good they were. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the guys listened to some of Piggy’s chords in the past, but again it might be just liking some of the bands that we liked, like Rush or Killing Joke, I don’t know. But I did run into people that really told me that ‘yes, we were heavily influenced by Voivod’, like Fear Factory or Meshuggah, bands like that.

MoM: So there's never a feeling of “Hey! Stop stealing our riffs”!

Away: (Laughs) I think it’s flattering, and if these bands get a lot bigger than we are, because we’ve been underground for 25 years, I don’t take it personally. Mainstream success, it means financial security, but I try not to overthink that stuff, on the contrary, we are very lucky to have been able to tour and record for 35 years, we owe it to what we call ‘The Iron Gang’ it’s the people coming to the shows, and buying the album, they’re super loyal to Voivod. Some of the people we meet, we see some people we met when they were 15 and now they’re like 50 it’s just crazy to see them. It’s just fantastic!

That seemed to be an appropriate point to finish the interview. 2 hours later I was banging (http://musipediaofmetal.blogspot.com/2018/10/a-view-from-back-of-room-voivod-live.html) my head to some progressive, punky thrash. If you want to know how the gig was, read Rich’s review . I really enjoyed meeting Michel ‘Away’ Langevin. He was very friendly, and was exactly how you would want the leader of a legendary band to be; modest, self effacing, incredibly happy to have been able to be in a band for 35 years, and grateful to all of Voivod’s fans for making it possible. I’d just like to say, as a Voivod fan, I’m very happy they’re still going and still producing fresh, vital, inspiring music. Long may they continue to do so!

A View From The Back Of The Room: Evil Scarecrow (Live Review By Neil Lewis)

Evil Scarecrow, Motion, Bristol

The first time I saw Evil Scarecrow (10) was back at Hammerfest in 2012. Since then it has pleased me to see the band’s following (and consequently the venues they play) grow bigger with each passing gig, culminating in a very very packed headline show on board the 450 capacity Thekla in Bristol last year. This is even more remarkable when one considers that the band have little more than word of mouth powering this growth. So it was with much eager anticipation that I once more headed over the bridge to watch them headline the much larger capacity Motion club.

One of the first things that struck me when entering the venue was the actual size of the room, and in particular the stage. Whilst the venue certainly wasn’t sold out, the size of the stage allowed the band to put on a visual, errr, spectacular that was lapped up by those in attendance. A large glowing-eyed effigy of the bands new mascot, Jacob, hung atop the stage above the central prop of a cardboard cut out igloo, which was to serve as the base for the visual effects that were to follow. Hitting the stage to the underrated (in my view) Way To Die from their outstanding new album Chapter IV: Antarctica it took only until second song Skulls Of Our Enemies for the visual accompaniments to start; two lumbering costume-clad sentinel types emerged from behind the igloo to ostensibly provide some percussive back up (a la Slipknot) but actually just served as eye candy.

Third song End Level Boss was followed by a surprisingly early showing for what is probably the ‘Crow’s most popular song about robots, accompanied by two robot-suit clad actors poking out of the windows of the igloo demonstrating to the crowd exactly how to draw that perfect robot square (even though everybody there already knew how to do it). Audience participation being a staple part of an ES live show was proved again tonight with some of the new madness including an attempt to incite a square pit during Robototron, an audience dance battle before and during Red Riding Hood, splitting the audience and getting each half singing alternate syllables of Cosmos Goth Moth Gong and the introduction of one of those wacky inflatable arm flailing tube men and a giant Garganega during the 10 minutes of insanity that was main set closer Antarctica, which I can only describe as “indescribable”. This is all in addition to the regular bouts of audience lunacy that is the Crabulon scuttling, Space Dementia’s zero g moshing and the weeping during Blacken The Everything.

All in all the audience feels as much a part of an Evil Scarecrow live show as the band are, a sentiment seemingly echoed by the bands heartfelt and humble thanks at several points during the show. As mentioned by frontman Dr. Hell sans any kind of record deal the band are self-funded and promoted and it’s a huge testament to the dedication of all those involved that they have gotten to the point they’re at already, although being such superb musicians helps. I for one am happy to have finally seen the band in a venue whose size appears to match the band’s imagination; next time let’s hope they can upgrade again to an even larger one.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Coheed And Cambria (Live Review By Alex)

Coheed And Cambria, Y Plas, Cardiff

Here I am, second time seeing Coheed and Cambria live. While I do not like to distinguish between successful bands and small venue acts, they are now the first major label act I have deliberately seen more than once. What caused me to come back? Well, like I said in my piece on The Unheavenly Creatures, they have quickly ascended to the position of favourite band. Not to over-dramatize matters, there is a certain mythos which surrounds live concerts, and this can be especially said for Coheed. Firstly, there are very few casual followers in the audience, or the entire fanbase for that matter.

Almost everyone has been to more than one show before, there are people taking the opportunity to buy the Amory Wars Comics from the merch stand, and everybody knows all the words to their favourite songs. That said, while dedicated audiences can elicit whiffs of snobbery at times, the respect on show is remarkably inspirational. Remember, these concerts can be the only chance that fans have to meet in person, and every newbie is a new person who we can share the enjoyment with. Who needs elitism when you can have community?

Instrumental act, Chon (7) open the night’s proceedings, and everyone seems impressed to varying degrees. Their smooth Jazz-flavoured style of guitar rock may not be to everyone’s tastes, and considering the main act are a beacon of lyrical weirdness and sentimentality, the lack of singing may not necessarily be to everyone’s tastes. There is no denying their instrumental prowess however, and the crowd try their best to get into the style, by swaying and jiving to the acts impressive complexity and time signatures. Regardless, their appearance ties into Claudio Sanchez’ efforts to help smaller bands gain exposure by taking them on tour. While there is no more renowned support act to pair them with this time around, the band themselves seem humbled to perform for us.

A dark and mysterious prologue, the same one beginning the album, opens the show. Proving tense and alluring within the confines of the record is one thing, yet here it takes on new life, signalling the beginning of another epic concert and adding to the immersive experience already taking hold. ‘Hey! Hey! Hey!’ comes the first of many fist in the air chants as the band walk confidently towards the front of the stage playing Dark Sentencer each member feeding off the excitement in the gloriously intimate, Y Plas venue. Of the back of that sentiment, they plunge straight into Here We Are Juggernaut, the gigantic chorus, forcing concertgoers exhilaration levels and vocal chords to the limit. Receiving the most powerful response however are the classics, by which I mean those anthems owing to the ‘heeds first three albums.

In fact, some of these songs are only fully rediscovered in a live setting, the anthemic Blood Red Summer and In Keeping Secrets becoming massive opportunities for audience participation, fast-paced set list staples Devil In Jersey City, A Favour House Atlantic and The Crowing inspiring raucous moshing only a few feet from the stage, and Wake Up being a tearfully emotional few minutes. Not to say that the new songs don’t hit hard, as they certainly do. Unheavenly Creatures sees Claudio put down his guitar, taking the opportunity to emulate the energy coming from the crowd onstage, and performing a stunt of pretending to choke guitarist, Travis Stever, with his mic chord. The Gutter meanwhile enthrals with its dramatism and Old Flames provides one opportunity for us to join our singing voices in unison, before the main part of the show is over.

Encoring on Welcome Home. There is a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in the room. No way could Coheed perform every song people would love them to, so instead they play the songs we all love with an undying love for their art. True, they do not talk to the audience a lot, yet they don’t need to when fans already respond with such love and unity towards the music. From talking to fellow fans after the gig, I get the clear sense that while this may be some people first, fifth, or fourteenth time seeing Coheed, it almost definitely won’t be anybody’s last (10)

Saturday, 13 October 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Yob & Wiegedood (Live Review By Paul S)

Yob And Wiegedood, The Fleece, Bristol

Due to traffic jams on the M4 the bands were late getting to the venue, so everything was moved back by 30 minutes. However there weren’t any complaints coming from the cue, Yob fans are clearly a patient lot, probably just used the time to meditate. Once into the venue, there was a real sense of anticipation. Both bands on the bill have released excellent albums this year, and have reputations for being amazing live bands. Having both of these acts on the same bill was almost too exciting.

First band Wiegedood (9) hit the stage with very little ceremony. With music as intense as Wiegedood’s, you don’t need any ceremony. The band ripped into their signature brand of savage atmospheric black metal, with huge amounts of energy. There were problems with the sound, the mix was completely missing vocals for the first song. It was quite strange seeing singer Levy Seynaeve screaming into the mic, whilst no vocals came out of the PA. However after the first song the mix was rectified and the sound was great for the rest of the night. Wiegedood’s performance was pretty much faultless. The extreme tremolo picked riffs were ferocious and scything. The quieter passages were delicate and nuanced. Happily this was a gig where the audience respected the bands, no-one talked during the quiet parts, you could have heard a pin drop. Apart from the occasional Shluwp-shluwp of people trying to unstick their feet from the floor, nothing broke the spell. The band played for about 40 minutes, and ended brilliantly with the climactic Prowl, so their set really did end with a band. Wiegedood, were a fantastic opening band they really got the crowd going, and I enjoyed their set massively.

Yob (9) have built a reputation as an incredible live act. They don’t seem to be daunted by that reputation as they came out onto the stage, and went straight into Ablaze, first track from the new album Our Raw Heart. Opening your set with a brand new song is a confident thing to do, but Yob clearly have confidence in themselves and their fans. And with good reason, everyone in the place seemed to know the track as everyone sang and head-banged along. Singer and guitarist Mike Scheidt made lots of effort to get the crowd going, gurning and grinning at the audience and managing to punch the air between chords without missing a note (which shouldn’t really be possible). He is an impressive figure live; part frontman, part shamanic prophet, part ringmaster, part cat-weasel, part raging madman, part blissed out hippy.

At times he seemed to be trying to head-bang his head clean off of his shoulders. The between song banter was kept to a minimum, but was warm and friendly, he explained that as this was the first time they were playing Bristol since the new album came out, there would be a lot of material from that album, as Our Raw Heart is one of the best albums to come out this year, no-one complained.

Second track The Screen is one of the most heavy and angry songs Yob have produced. The main, slightly off kilter riff is devastating on the album, live it’s close to being life-threatening. The crowd went suitably wild, several people were trying to join Sheidt in attempting to remove their own heads. The other 2 members of the band Aaron Rieseberg on bass and Travis Foster on drums must be one of the best rhythm sections in metal. They made the foundations shake, Foster’s drum fills were like being punched in the guts, and Rieseberg’s bass-lines were powerful beyond belief. The interplay between the 3 members of the band was lovely to see as well, the band seemed to be having just as good a time as the audience.

Yob aren’t all about heaviness and power. They can do delicate as well. This was ably demonstrated by the title track from the new album Our Raw Heart. The track is soft and achingly beautiful on the album, live it’s simply exquisite; a cathartic, life affirming answer to all the heaviness and extremity of some of Yobs other material. The night was brought to an end by the track Burning The Altar, a suitably massive way to end Yob’s set. The whole crowd left happy, myself included. Yob are an incredible live act, coupling that with Wiegedood is an inspired piece of booking for this tour. If you get the chance to see either of these bands live, do yourself a favour and go, you won’t be disappointed. A night of beautiful, intense, transcendent metal.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Reviews: Benighted, Idlewar, Bad Touch, The Virginmarys (Reviews By Paul H & Alex)

Benighted: Dogs Always Bite Harder Than Their Master (Season Of Mist)

Well this is a face melting son of a bitch and make no mistake. The French madness which has struck terror for the past 20 years shows no sign of stopping in this fresh album which consists of three new tracks, six live pieces and a rather tasty cover of Slaughter Of The Soul (At The Gates). For those not familiar with Benighted, they are a death grind outfit from France who literally shake foundations of huge buildings. The new tracks are very much in the vein of previous works by the band, full onslaught drumming and colossal riffing as well as the gore-soaked vocals and squeals of Julien Truchan. The six live tracks were recorded in Lyon and feature guests including Ben from Unfathomable Ruin, Niklas from The Shining and Sven from Aborted. Cum With Disgust, the opening salvo of Reptillian and a blood curdling Necrobreed are punishing highlights from a band with no handbrake. Nurse, I need my cheek flesh remoulded to my face please! 7/10

Idlewar: Fractured (Self Released)

James Blake, bass and vocals. Rick Graham, guitar. Pete Pagonis, drums. This is Idlewar, a band that we’ve been following since their early days with their debut EP Dig In. Fractured is the third album from the Orange County trio and builds on the solid foundations of debut album Impulse and last year’s excellent Rite. Once again, the band hit all the right notes, their fuzzy stoner sound a perfect combination With elements of Soundgarden, Zeppelin and Queens of the Stone Age amongst the identifiable riffage, Fractured is their most mature release to date. The power of opener Turn To Six, the stomp of Stab and the dirty, murky sound of Drama all combine to create another impressive album. Blake’s vocals remain impeccable, his range striking whilst the music is tight. Graham’s guitar swings between aggressive rawness and tender delicate tones with ease. Idlewar play Fuel in Cardiff on 24th November. Their live shows are superb. I suggest you get along there to enjoy it. 8/10

Bad Touch: Shake A Leg (Marshall Records)

I was unimpressed by album no.2 by Norfolk’s Bad Touch. Truth Be Told was unimaginative and a let down after the drive and determination of their debut Halfway Home. Two years have passed, and the band are back with album no.3. I say back because they’ve hardly been away, touring constantly and building a media profile which fits neatly in with the current ‘New Wave of British Classic Rock’. Led by the soulful vocals of Stevie Westwood, Shake A Leg has a lot more going on. Full of anthemic rock tunes, such as Hammer Falls, with its sing-along chorus and the AC/DC stomp of Too Many Times, there remains the Zeppelin swagger alongside the ballsy approach of The Answer (where are you guys by the way?). The musicianship remains high class, with the guitar work of Rob Glendinning and David Seekings particularly noticeable.

The introduction of some Hammond style keys on the likes of Dressed To Kill adds depth and layers, the slow-paced I Belong smoulders with emotion and the high tempo Tussle gets the foot tapping. My only issue with the album is the length. It’s 45 minutes and 13 tracks in duration; possibly two or three tracks too long. Still, it’s a return to form, with more confidence and polish. I maintain the band are better in the live arena, where Westwood is captivating, but Shake A Leg is a solid release in a genre which is more saturated than most. 7/10

The Virginmarys: Northern Sun Sessions (Self Released) [Alex]

The Virginmarys are just one power duo in what has become something of a staple in contemporary rock, since the white stripes went on to achieve legendary status, and acts like Death From Above and Royal Blood has impressively carved out their own sphere of influence, avoiding the dreaded hipster label. In my view, duo need strength and power to make up for the lacking in the traditionally 5-piece rock band dynamic, and to stop themselves from slipping over into sloppily mediocre Black Keys territory.

Do Northern Sun Sessions achieve this? Well, yes and no. Make no mistake, there is definitely only two musicians playing here, and songs like All Fall Down and Eye For An Eye do not leave you scratching your head or looking for parts where there are none. Admirably though, rather than let that restrict them, Ally Dickstay and Danny Dolan, seem to revel in their rawness, with moments from Blind Lead The Blind and For The Two Of Us seeing them bash at their drums and meddle with their guitar strings with such ferocity that you barely notice how the guileless setup driving the southern-tinged sound.

Playing with the listener's expectations becomes a staple of the album. Certainly, while there are cases which are tastily fast and loud from start to finish, Lookout for My Brother and Wanna Be Free is definitely some of the most memorable ones by beginning as ditty blues songs before letting loose, satisfying a hunger in both the listener and performer for chaos, distortion and pure, undiluted energy. If you prefer to marvel at the complexity just two musicians can emanate, this may not be to your tastes. Respecting the record for what it is, however, and realizing that there will be a subset of the community who like nothing more to hear the crash of traditional, unfiltered instrumentation, under the hands of musicians with a passion to entertain, undeniably makes it worthy of your respect 6/10

Reviews: Seventh Wonder, Beyond Creation Ramage Inc, Warrell Dane (Reviews By Matt & Paul H)

Seventh Wonder: Tiara (Frontiers Records) [Matt]

Ok I'm going to say something controversial and probably a little snobby. The snobby bit: I have liked Seventh Wonder since the Swedish band put out their debut record, they have always been near the top of the prog metal list for me, now the controversial bit I prefer Tommy Karevik's vocals when he's singing for SW than when he's fronting Kamelot. Here he sounds like himself, able to put every ounce of talent he has into his performance, not having to emulate anyone else's style. He always seems more comfortable at the helm of SW than in Kamelot, so it's fantastic to hear new music from Seventh Wonder especially as their last release was 2010's The Great Escape, while that was a good album their masterpiece is Mercy Falls and I have to say Tiara is nearing that level of brilliance.

It's got the conceptual emotional complexity of Mercy Falls but the straightforward prog/power pomp of The Great Escape and their debut. The album, that has been in production for a long time, opens with a stirring orchestral setting the cinematic scene to this record it's up to The Everones to start the album properly with some punchy prog metal mastery, direct and to the point it's a distilled version of everything that makes Seventh Wonder so good, Johan Liefvendahl's guitar, Andreas Blomqvist's bass, Tommy Karevik's vocals, Andreas Söderin's keyboard and Stefan Norgren's drums bringing back everything I've ever loved about this band. A good start then and it gets better with the euphoric Dream Machine which has a pop streak at odds with the technical musical backing and leads into the brilliant Against The Grain which is progressive and melodic starting with delicate acoustics before bursting to glorious life.

The conceptual element starts with the power metal of Victorious then is taken up by the Farewell trilogy beginning with the synth heavy Tiara's Song, as the piano driven Goodnight takes the middle and it ends with the epic Beyond Today where Tommy is backed by his sister Jenny. This middle suite is classic Seventh Wonder expertly performed, with melodic swathes merging with metallic riffs and strong sentiment at it's core. Founder member Andreas Blomqvist put's it like so "Tiara is everything you have come to expect from Seventh Wonder, but I also hope there are some new flavors in there to keep it interesting" He's got it spot on, you can hear the time this has taken to make and it means the band can be at their most creative, ti's everything you could want from a Seventh Wonder album and while it's not quite got the emotional resonance of Mercy Falls it's certainly their most accomplished record. 9/10

Beyond Creation: Algorythm (Season Of Mist) [Paul H]

The third release from Quebec’s technical death metal maestros Beyond Creation opens with a two-minute intro which builds classically and creates genuine tension and expectation such is the grandeur of the piece. The band then explodes into Entre Suffrage Et Mirage, polyrhythmic patterns, arpeggios dropping all over the place and some brutally tribal drumming all converging into a progressively technical fest of brutality. And that’s pretty much the next 44 minutes described. For those who say that death metal is just a wall of noise, then the demands that Beyond Creation set for themselves on Algorythm should dispel the doubter within minutes.

Hugo Doyon-Karout’s fretless bass riffs take centre stage on Surface’s Echoes, which continues to confuse and delight in equal measure. Blast beats, Simon Girad’s screaming gruff vocals and riffs all combine in a punctuated staccato journey which scorches the earth, such is the heat it produces. The title track is a monstrous beast, the elaborate patterns and time changes demanding the listener pay close attention to appreciate the subtle nuances and some stunningly delicate guitar work in the centre of the track. Intricate, progressive passages expand and develop as each track evolves. With subtle melodies woven into the very fabric of everything that Beyond Creation deliver, there is much to enjoy and discover on an album that is quite simply, brilliant. 8/10

Ramage Inc: Under The Skin (Self Released) [Matt]

Let's get this straight Ramage Inc are not a Metallica tribute, in fact they bare no resemblance to the Californian thrash titans at all. No Scottish act Ramage Inc were formed by singer, guitarist, producer Bryan Ramage who has taken the road less traveled since forming the band in 2015. Under The Skin is their third album and it's yet another experimental metal juggernaut that pays massive debts to Devin Townsend (when he's Hevy Devy) mainly due to Bryan's expressive vocals and the use of down-tuned heavy riffs to bolster the soaring vocal melodies. Blood Is Burning Red segues into Under The Sky which is a powerful start to the record as the thick riffs from Ramage, Hef (guitar) and Marcin (bass) who bring the thunder on tracks such as the Gojira-like Overload which actually is the showcase for the insane drumming of Hammy. The classic fret sliding of the French metal titans appears on the rumbling Rhino as well. This third album is challenging and probably the bands most complex with a defiant prog ethos throughout, however it's one that is filtered through some ambient textures that sit in conjunction with the extreme metal hostility, it's nearly an hour of intricate but hefty music that will appeal to those that like to think while having their skull shattered. 8/10

Warrel Dane: Shadow Work (Century Media) [Matt]

This is the final act of a great man. Shadow Work is the album former Nevermore/Sanctuary vocalist Warrel Dane was working on in São Paulo when he passed away in 2017, it was supposed to be the follow up to his 2008 solo record Praises To The War Machine, all the instrumentation to this record was recorded for what was supposed to be an 80 minute opus however the vocals were never completed fully. So what we have here is a 41 minute tribute album that features fully formed musical backing, from his Brazilian band that ranges from blistering thrash The Hanging Garden, to huge balladry on Rain as well as the progressive heaviness he was known for in Nevermore, shown on the finale of Mother Is The Word For God.

However obviously the vocals are not as good as they should be because Warrel’s vocals were tracked during pre-production and the actual recording sessions but you can hear the intensity and emotional depth of Dane's vocals albeit without the shine of a production. Shadow Work had the potential to be a brilliant release, musically at least it's exactly the sort of thing you'd want from Dane, dark, atmospheric, technical and heavy, it's a tremendous shame he never finished the record and a real tragedy that someone as talented passed away while still at the height of his powers. A fitting tribute as strong as the rest of his body of work. 7/10

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Reviews: Behemoth, Riverside, Coheed & Cambria, MMMD (Reviews By Paul H, Alex & Paul S)

Behemoth: I Loved You At Your Darkest (Nuclear Blast) [Paul H]

It’s been a good year for black metal. The return of the big guns like Immortal and Dimmu Borgir who rolled out massive albums interspersed with hundreds more solid albums added to the ranks. However, if there was a more anticipated release than this one, you were wrong. It’s been four and a half years since the opus that was The Satanist was released. If you’ve read Confessions Of A Heretic, then you’ll know some of the issues that Behemoth and Nergal have faced during that time. If you haven’t read the book, put down your crayons and grab a copy because it is an intriguing read. I Loved You At Your Darkest is a triumph. It is better than The Satanist. There. I’ve typed it out. It is simply fucking astonishing.

From the haunting children chanting on opener Solve and their backing on the venomous God=Dog, the obliterating power of Wolves Ov Siberia, through to the visceral closing track Coagvla, this is a stunning piece of work. Fast paced, with many of the tracks shorter than previous Behemoth releases, it also is much more rock orientated and, in some ways, more accessible. Nergal is quoted as saying that the band don’t consider musical direction but “simply create what comes naturally to us”. And it is demonstrated here. But I Loved You At Your Darkest still contains plenty to excite even the most hardened black metal corpse painted prowler. Nergal’s gravel mixed with glass growling continue to stir the bowels of hell; Orion’s rolling bass rumbles darkly, thunder clouds crashing overhead whilst Inferno’s devastating blast beats are as devilish as ever. Lacerating riffs, vertiginous climbs as tracks rise and fall and ample tremolo picking all thrive, combining to deliver ferocious and brutal tracks which are also laced with melody and changes of style and pace.

Listen to the monstrous Angelvs XIII, the rampant time changes and accelerating aggression soaked with Nergal’s vitriolic hatred of the Christian church. This is an album drenched in imagery and antagonistic blasphemy; from the extremis of the sacrilegious album title, a quote from Christ himself, through to the provocative artwork that sees the band in various positions of religious torture including crucifixion and beheading, this is incredibly religion-driven, and Nergal has admitted, possibly more so than anything the band has done before. Intense, provocative but also graphically artistic, this is as thought provoking as much as it is blisteringly heavy. Using the words of Aleister Crowley’s ritual to evoke the spirit of Mars in a haunting and hypnotic style on Bartzabel sends shivers down the spine. The longest track on the album, Havohej Pantocrator ebbs and flows, penetrating the very soul. Rom 5:8, questions the ‘book of peace’ and the hidden messages which for years were deflected to metal and its music.

The rapid-fire tremolo picking, thunderous drumming and massive riffs all create something magical. You need to hear this album. And then play it again. This is my album of the year. In the face of all competition, the Polish blackened metal of Behemoth sits highest. 10/10

Riverside: Wasteland (InsideOut Records) [Paul H]

It’s taken me a week to get my head around this album. Darker and heavier than previous releases, littered with brooding, haunting melancholic passages, but also interspersed with uplifting sections, Wasteland, to put it simply, is another creative masterpiece from a band who just don’t do average.
Having been in existence since 2001, it appeared that the events of February 2016 would signal the end. It would have been totally understandable. However, taking many deep breaths, Riverside regrouped, reconsidered and closed ranks to cope with their emotional turmoil. Releasing Eye Of The Soundscape in late 2016 was the first step, followed by the Towards The Blue Horizon tour in Spring 2017 when Mariusz Duda, Piotr Kozieradski and Michal Lapaj took their first steps back on stage, accompanied by the excellent Maciej Meller on guitar.

The live release that followed was another step in the lengthy cathartic process that finally allowed the band to return to the studio in December 2017 to begin crafting their eighth studio release. The result is another breathtakingly beautiful album. With Duda handling all guitar parts, one might question why Meller was not welcomed into the recording fold. Well, as Duda noted, 15 years as a unit means that Riverside need time to allow for such a monumental change, and whilst Meller will remain the live guitarist, this wasn’t the time for anything else. Although, as was noted by Duda on the band’s website, “Naturally, to enhance the sound of the album, we left some space for guests”.

Those guests include Meller who plays some delightful solos on four tracks, as well as Mateusz Owczarek, a young and talented guitarist who played with the band during their Warsaw memorial concert for Piotr Grudzinski. Wasteland also features the band’s first violins (a perfect fit on Lament), thanks to Michal Jelonk. Wasteland is certainly darker than 2015’s Love, Fear And The Time Machine, as well as the majority of the band’s excellent back catalogue. Multiple guitar riffs feature, such as the raw and savage Acid Rain, whilst the emotional Vale Of Tears and Guardian Angel build neatly to the majestic Lament which contains haunting mournful melodies which hit deep. This leads to The Struggle For Survival, nine and a half minutes of juxtaposed streams of sound, ranging from almost thrashy riffing to progressive breakdowns, screaming keyboard and guitar solos adding grit and depth before reducing the temperature to a mere simmer with an acoustic break, soaring choral combinations and soothing synths.

The inspiration of the album is based on surviving a post apocalypse world, with influences from the 1983 film The Day After, which bookends the album with The Night Before as well as Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road. However, it’s inevitably also part of the process of saying farewell to Grudzinski, and the whole band’s rawness because of the situation. “The album carries a lot of emotions which reflect everything that has been happening to the band for the past few years. It’s a much darker and heavier face of Riverside” commented drummer Kozieradski. With a drum sound heavier than on previous releases sitting alongside the characteristic driven guitar and bass sound, what is certainly noticeable is how the band once more comfortably ease between dark and light. The title track for example, at eight and a half minutes long, develops through measured acoustic sections, crashing riffs and delicate interplay which weaves and envelops the listener.

For sheer perfection though, The River Down Below takes centre stage, its gentle acoustic meandering climaxing with an unexpected intensity. Ultimately, Wasteland is an album that features segments of nearly every Riverside album. There’s the melody of Love, Fear And The Time Machine, alongside the rawness of Second Life Syndrome and the debut angst of Out Of Myself. Less polished than previous releases, it’s the fresh, honest sound that provides a rawness which the band clearly needed to flesh out. It’s impossible to find a flaw on another magnificent release, which stands proudly alongside their catalogue and Duda’s solo work with Lunatic Soul. If you want a blueprint, this is what you follow. 10/10

Coheed And Cambria: Vaxis Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures (Roadrunner Records) [Alex]

Prefacing this review, I would like to make clear that Coheed & Cambria are my favourite band, and have been for the past four or so years. While I approached Unheavenly Creatures with honesty and an analytical ear, you all now know where I stand, and what perspective I’m coming from. By creating killer hooks and blending them with progressive stylings, while weaving a gargantuan science fiction narrative throughout nearly all their albums and even writing an expansive amount of graphic novels to accompany the lyricism, Coheed has surrounded themselves in an enchanting and sprawling mythos. From the ambitiously post-hardcore touches of Second Stage Turbine Blade and In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 to the experiments in prog and classic rock on the Good Apollo I and II, to the ventures into electronic music and space rock on Year Of The Black Rainbow and The Afterman, they are not afraid to adapt and keep their loyal and dedicated following hooked.

Their last album, the Color Before the Sun, saw them briefly depart from the Amory Wars narrative, in order to offer an experience that was deeply personal and autobiographical without any pretenses of fiction or fantasy. Determined to continue his opus, frontman, project mastermind and afro-perm enthusiast, Claudio Sanchez, has immersed us in a new universe, whereby dead planets are hollowed out and used in service of the Star Supremacy for imprisoning undesirables. Chief among these "planetary prison pits" is the Dark Sentencer, home to our protagonists, Creature and Sister Spider. They must rekindle their love for one another and escape their captors in order to cut out a decent world for their son, in the first in a five-part "pentalogy" of albums, known as Vaxis. Sound daunting? Don’t worry, you do not need to know the story. As always, the music is inspiring and the fantastical elements are laced with introspective, and societal themes, owing to our frontman's testimony that "most writers are recording their thoughts and feelings in an autobiographical way, I’m just recording mine in a different genre"

'Take my Hand, and follow us into the black, so far that we can't get back’ omits the chorus of The Dark Sentencer, alluring the listener and ushering in a new era of the ‘heed as a thudding beat and electrifying instrumentation takes hold and wrenches you into the experience. Proving equally visceral is the Sabbath-esque Black Sunday, crashing in with an evil sounding guitar riff and the lines played out like mocking taunts in a game of life and death, as we climb towards a monumental crescendo. Queen of the Dark is doomy and guttural, thematically introducing us to an overlord, residing in the blackest depths of the prisoness chasm where our story unfolds. Nearly resembling a punk song, True Ugly is incredibly fast-paced and panicked, the words ‘show me your true ugly, the stranger you move the sweeter you become, now show me the good you’ve done’ proving weirdly pensive, yet never failing to send a chill down my spine.

The Gutter is incredibly multifaceted, beginning with a solemn piano and the words ‘over my dead body’ ringing out, before spilling into an maddened verse which in turn strays into an impassioned chorus, a creeping bridge and finally a theatrical closing few minutes, emanating Queen charms. All On Fire meanwhile is as explosive as the name advocates, while It Walks Among Us is strangely danceable in its infectiously confident stomp. Aside from their ability to tie the tense and deranged themes which underpin the Amory Wars narrative into their music, Coheed has also always been able to showcase triumph, victory, and elation, or to take a dire moment in their characters typically hellish trajectories and turn them into pieces of joyous pop. While there are songs which bridge the changeability - Nighttime Walkers being a key example – It is this contradiction which lends so much life and dynamism to their core sound. Unheavenly Creatures sees the band riding a wave of tension and dramatic atmosphere while incorporating spacey synths and an adorably memorable chorus line of ‘I fear my dear, the end is near, so run, run, run, run, run like a son of a gun’.

Another note, Toys dives into Glam stylings with a powerfully crunchy riff, a hook which is every bit as charming and heart-racing as the last one and a glorious solo, courtesy of Travis Stever. Love Protocol and The Pavillion (A Long Way Back) are examples of sci-fi power balladry at their pinnacle, the former being a solid case of pop-rock prowess, and the later proving tearful as the veil of fantasy Sanchez has wrapped his emotions in appears clear enough to see that he is singing about his own anxieties of being a father and watching his own son grow up in a world which is far from perfect. Penultimate song Old Flames is certainly the most exuberant anthem, as we hear of Spider and Creatures ascent from their ‘horrible pit’ and reflect on our own struggles, the bouncy rhythms created between Zach ‘super-duper’ Cooper on bass and Josh Eppard on drums adding to the sentiment, as do the exuberant ‘Na-Na-Na's’, destined to be a raucous singalong at shows.

‘Chasing as we try to compete for each other time, In a world we locked ourselves inside, In a place to keep us safe’ muses the acoustic-led Lucky Stars, proving a beautiful and poignant closer to an album already infatuated with twists and turns. All in all, Unheavenly Creatures is among the best albums in Coheed’s entire discography, bringing back the concept in a way which echoes the style and rising and falling dynamics of a traditional rock opera, while refusing to abandon the prog and alternative stylings they are adored for. Not only that but Vaxis: Act I is only the first part in a long and dramatic journey that stands before us. To Children and the Fence and an assorted group of people who respect and keep up to date with Claudio and co, the response can only be one of enthusiasm and excitement: roll on Act II. 9/10

MMMD Mohammed: Hagazussa A Heathens Curse (Self Records)

I haven’t bothered to do any research into this album, the band haven’t bothered to make any music, so I don’t see any reason to. What we have here is very minimal ambient, a tone fades up from silence, holds for a few minutes, then fades. Some of the tones change slightly as the time goes on (you have to skip the track forward to hear this), a couple of them have slight distortion on them, one of them is just silence. If you are thinking “A tone that hold for a few minutes before fading? Hot Damn, that sounds like a party!!!”, then fair enough, dive in. But to me this is just wasted space on my hard drive; Pointless (which is what it’s going to get I’m afraid). 0/10

A View From The Back Of The Room: Diamond Head (Live Review By Paul H)

Diamond Head, Muni Centre, Pontypridd

I’m really enjoying gigs at the Muni in Ponty. The Sound is superb, there’s enough room to avoid some punter’s armpit in your face and the bar, despite the awful choice, is reasonably priced. What’s more, if you purchase your drink in a can, you can avoid the plastic pint cup – always a win! Ticket sales were obviously quite low for this gig, but the division of the room in half with a simple black curtain provided the intimacy needed for a Diamond Head gig and the 150 or so who had made the effort were richly rewarded with top effort from every band on the bill.

Pontypool’s Traitor’s Gate (6) had reformed in 2016 following a brief period of activity in the latter days of the NWOBHM movement. Original singer Dave McLean was replaced by ex-Mayhem Messiah vocalist Sy Davies in 2017. Whether he is still learning the ropes or whether age is catching up on him I’m not sure, but Davies was totally dependent on the lyric sheets at his feet. Aside from this, his voice, apart from the odd dodgy note worked well with the band’s heavy power metal approach, the sparse crowd reacting positively to a selection of tracks from their recent album Fallen, including Deceiver, Retribution and the interesting Solar Plains. The band are solid with guitarist Andy D’Urso catching the eye with some neat work. Throwing in the ‘classic’ The Devil Takes The High Road from their mid-80s EP, Traitor’s Gate were solid and watchable, and earnt a warm reception from those souls who had arrived early doors.

London based Killit (8) were a completely different proposition, with a slickness and confidence that can only come from continued hard work gigging and working. In their four years as a band, they have played numerous support slots including previous Diamond Head tours, as well as slots at Ramblin’ Man, Hard Rock Hell and Stone Free festivals. The band’s generic hard rock is worth a listen, but their live performance is captivating with drummer Pete Jeans’ powerhouse machine-like drumming astonishing. Vocalist Gaz Twist possesses a fine voice, and commands the stage well, whilst there is plenty to watch with rhythm guitarist Claire Genoud wheeling around the stage, changing places with bassist Ben Smart seemingly every few seconds. Meanwhile guitarist Niro Knox handled all the lead work with aplomb. This is a band who clearly enjoy what they do, smiles galore and a real pleasing feel to their on-stage effort. With a selection of tracks from debut release Shut It Down, the larger crowd responded well. Killit have a big future and are well worth a watch if you like your rock hard.

Having seen Diamond Head (9) twice in the past year already, I knew that we would get 100%. Their headline set in London last December was superb, as was their classics set as main support to Saxon in February at The Great Hall in Cardiff, but tonight the band was bolstered by the return of rhythm guitarist Andy Abberley which bolstered the engine room, provided the band with more depth and increased their heaviness as well as allowing Brian Tatler to do what he does best; shred for fun. With the ever reliable engine room of Karl Wilcox (what a good drummer) and bassist Dean Ashton holding down the beat, front man Rasmus Bom Anderson was able, between swigging beers like only the Danes can do, to do what he does best: cajole and encourage the lively crowd as Diamond Head surged through a 95 minute set that included all the classics we’ve covered before plus a healthy smattering of four tracks from 2016’s Diamond Head.

One of the highlights of the evening was Knight Of The Swords, pulled from the band’s third album Canterbury. As I have written in previous reviews, it’s only when you see the band live that you realise just how many tunes these guys have in their locker. Lightning To The Nations always gets the audience stoked, whilst the covers of Metallica songs of Helpless and The Prince remain punky and a great tribute to the American monsters (That was a joke, by the way). Of course, when Tatler hits that riff, the place always goes mental. Whilst the crowd was small the response throughout the evening was excellent and by the time we got to full vocal on Am I Evil? the place was rocking. Diamond Head, as always, were stunning, cohesive and polished and heavy as hell. I hope the guys continue to return to South Wales, where hopefully they can be rewarded by bigger crowds.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Glenn Hughes (Live Review By Paul H)

Glenn Hughes, Tramshed, Cardiff

When I was younger I never used to like Glenn Hughes. I was always a MK II Deep Purple fan. As a teenager getting seriously stuck into the back catalogue of one of the UK's seminal hard rock outfits, which included Mk III I was regularly frustrated by the way Hughes appeared to scream all over David Coverdale. “Hey” I thought, “you’ve got the bass and you’ve got one of the best singers in the world. Why do YOU need to sing as well?” Then he appeared with the title ‘The Voice Of Rock’. Who coined this phrase? And why are you the voice of rock? Why not Gillan, Plant or so many others? As I matured and my listening expanding, Hughes appeared on countless albums. 14 solo albums, and over 150 albums where he features suggested to me that maybe he’s not the arch-villain that I always painted him as. His 2008 album with Tony Iommi, Fused, is a superb release and his music with Black Country Communion always enjoyable, despite the £105 ticket prices for the rare shows in the UK.

However, when Hughes announced his Classic Deep Purple Live tour, the sceptic in me suggested that this was a rather clever way of cashing in on the current wave of nostalgia which has swept the music industry in general. Pop bands from the 1980s appear all over the place at sold out gigs and the rock world is by no means exempt. I’ve recorded my dislike of tribute bands over new bands before in these pages but from a marketing point, then the strategy is untouchable. The target audience inevitably focuses on those with the most disposable income, hence ticket sales are no challenge. The music transports the audience back to a time when life was much less complicated and messy, where the biggest challenge was where to score the next underage beer and whether you could make the last bus home.

Hughes and his excellent band rolled into Cardiff fresh from a successful headline set at Steelhouse Festival in July and having toured the same set of songs for several months, were as polished as that table in the 1983 Yellow Pages French Polisher advert (‘It’s just possible you may save my life’).

I first saw Laurence Jones (8) support Vintage Trouble in the same venue in June 2017. The Milton Keynes guitarist is another in the prolific line of young blues guitarists on the circuit. Jones has already released six albums and at 26 has already made a big splash in the blues pond. Adding a Hammond organ to his band is inspired, taking some of the pressure of Jones and adding some real girth to his songs. Like all blues guitarists, his music is heartfelt and soulful, but on occasion just a little generic. His seven-song set included one of his earliest songs, Foolin Me, which had more than a nod to Jimmy Page’s Since I’ve Been Loving You riffs, whilst the biggest cheers were unsurprisingly for the admittedly impressive cover of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower (incorrectly credited to Hendrix) and the closing cover of CCR’s Fortunate Son. Two covers in a seven-song set, both songs over 45 years old, and that’s what the crowd loved most. I rest my case. Pleasing enough but a little lazy when you have six albums.

Arriving to a muted fanfare but with his face plastered over the backdrop and the amps in a tie-dye edit, Glenn Hughes (9) and band wasted little time in launching into a blistering Stormbringer. The Tramshed was by now full to bursting and having secured a space on the right of the barrier, the view of guitarist Soren Anderson and drummer Fernado Escobedo was sacrificed for a bit of space, cool air and comfort. Hughes setlist focused on the MK III version in the main, although he moved into Mk IV with a moving, if slightly overlong narrative about the late Tommy Bolin, playing the meandering Gettin Tighter, much to the approval of the old school in the house. Whilst much of my early focus had been on MK II, MK III (That’s Hughes, David Coverdale, Ian Paice, Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore) produced two phenomenal albums in Burn and Stormbringer. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the set was drafted from those two albums.

Might Just Take Your Life and Sail Away followed, and by now it was clear that Hughes has protected those golden pipes magnificently. At 66 years of age, the man sings better than he did in 1974, his range astounding and each note crisp and clear. Those shrieks that once irritated me are integral to the songs, but his lower range was also fabulous, for example on the warming You Keep On Moving, the second track from the 1975 album Come Taste The Band. Hughes’ bass playing is up there with the greats, his intricate patterns and hard riffing fully a part as he commands centre stage. Whilst I could have done without the 1970s bloated and extended You Fool No-One, interspersed with its keyboard solo from Dane Jesper Bo Hansen, Anderson’s guitar solo and Highball Shooter before the reprise, there was no doubting the talent on display.

By now Hughes was in full flow, although his gushing “I love you all” was one of the few things that started to frustrate me. Lectures about peace, love and how ‘music is the healer’ may well resonate in a hot full beered up venue but try telling that to those losing their homes, queuing for food banks or wondering how to make the next rental payment. A mammoth Mistreated included a raucous sing-along before one of the two MK II tracks arrived. Inevitably, Smoke On The Water was belted out, segued with a little of Georgia On My Mind, the track written by Hoagmy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell in the 1930s and associated with Ray Charles along with many others before the band quit the stage. 

The encore was blistering though. An aggressive and fiery Burn got the place jumping before Hughes handed his bass tech his Yamaha and took solo vocals on an extended but totally epic Highway Star to end an impressive if ever so minorly irritating evening. Hughes as a musician is astonishing with his vocals superb and his band tight. I just wish he’d drop some of the narrative. Will his next tour be as full if he plays his own music? Who knows, but I have my doubts.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Reviews: Bad Wolves, Evil Scarecrow, Hammer King, Black Viper (Reviews By Matt, Pippy & Rich)

Bad Wolves: Disobey (Eleven Seven) [Matt]

Sometimes we miss things here at MoM towers and the one record we missed back in May was the debut from American metal supergroup Bad Wolves. Now supergroup is sometimes bandied around willy nilly but if you're a follower of the heavier end of American metal then you'll recognise everyone involved with this project. Bad Wolves is vocalist Tommy Vext (ex-Divine Heresy), drummer John Boecklin (ex-DevilDriver), lead guitarist Doc Coyle (ex-God Forbid), rhythm guitarist Chris Cain (ex-Bury Your Dead) and bassist Kyle Konkiel (ex-In This Moment ex-Scar the Martyr), to add to this they are managed by Zoltan Bathory of Five Finger Death Punch. With the membership the way it is you can probably guess what kind of music is contained within an album called Disobey it's aggressive, defiant, anti-authoritarian and made up of 13 raging, vicious cuts that are made to incite rebellion in the listener.

When you've got members ex members of God Forbid, Divine Heresy you're almost guaranteed the current climate in America to be the major talking point and with titles like the bludgeoning Officer Down which is an indictment of violence in the USA, along with the excellent chorus to No Masters which has Vext shouting about "Beating The Bastards". Musically it's thumping modern American metal with metalcore grooves from Cain, Konkiel and Boecklin getting the blood pumping with some distorted heaviness and thick, juicy riffs that switch between djent, thrash and groove as they let Coyle add some melo-death leads and in the true US metal style they have the harsh/clean dynamic in the vocals having harsh shouts in the verses and top level cleans for the choruses. Disobey is a rather brilliant album, I didn't have high hopes after all the massive press they had but it's all worth it sharp, modern American metal that is much more than just "that" Cranberries cover (which admittedly is superb reworking). 9/10

Evil Scarecrow - Chapter IV: Antartartica (DeadBox) [Pippy]

With lyrics that a surrealist artist would happily depict on to a canvas, Evil Scarecrows 4th studio album; Chapter IV: Antartartic, launches a tantalizing assault onto the awaiting ears of the listening. It is a delight for both new and old fans of the band, with their established strengths gathered from previous albums and live shows being embodied and displayed vastly over course of the 10 tracks. This talented group of musicians and creative minds have created an album that does not, let down the reputation of the band but merely adds to their arsenal of continuous upward movement.

Delightfully enticing song titles such as Cosmos Goth Moth Gong and Hurricanado, littering the album’s course; listeners are delivered dark often sci-fi and fantasy orientated lyrics delivered in a tale like manner with each track carefully building up to and leading onto the next. Such smooth transitioning between tracks, is echoed throughout the entire album in song tempo changes, whereby songs such as: Way To Die switch smoothly between lyrical style changes, complimented and guitar bridges which seal the transitions seamlessly. Antartartica, also beautifully highlights the bands ability to combine styles as it switches smoothly between elements of trash, death and the more laid back sounds of melodic metal (albeit it with a dark eerie sounding edge). This if anything, is testimony to the bands musical talent; as all though Antartartic is both the title and closing track of the album, it is a mighty 10 minutes in length. 

Despite this, through the use of descriptive lyrics and echoing reflective instrumental parts (that would leave many an artist and literary fan alike, scrabbling to decipher the carefully curated imagery), the band still manage to keep the listener's attention for the entire track duration and end the album leaving the listening in anticipation for more. Another key track that stood out from the rest of the album was Hurricanado, situated in the midst of the track listings. This is a song that has had a few outings and taste of public receptions; long before the due album launch and from listening to it you can hear why. With the use of tactful pauses at key moments, the track lyrically builds suspense and with the added use of tempo changes and increase in riff intensity; Hurricanado securely cements itself a spot as one of the albums strongest tracks and rightfully centrally placed to balance the albums progression. 

It is clear to see why fans have welcomed it so wholeheartedly. As albums go, this certainly one worth a listen purely because of it’s use of differing genre elements creating an appeal across the metal genres but also and equally for how well the band execute and deliver each track, creating anticipation for not only future music but what it would be like to hear this album live.  8/10

Hammer King: Poseidon Will Carry Us Home (Cruz Del Sur) [Matt]

Like with one of the best trilogies ever it's time for the Return Of The King. In this case it's Hammer King the power/trad metal band from the Rhineland in Germany. As many of you who read this blog we do like a bit of Teutonic power metal and we especially love a bit of the band lead by Titan Fox V their previous two installments have scored highly with us at Musipedia Of Metal so can this third record be as regarded? Well if your a fan of fantasy, wars, chest beating machismo and of course hammers, with the continuing saga of The Hammer King used as lyrical reference.

From the inception of the title track it's big fist pumping grooves that shifts into flurry of galloping riffs and a breathless rhythm section (7 Days And 7 Kings) and of course the numerous Maidenisms especially on Battle Of Wars which has Gino Wilde and Titan with some dual leads and Warriors Of Angelhill which has K.K Basement thumping those classical sounding bass lines you might recognise from Hallowed Be Thy Name. The classic heavy metal themes are so strong that you'd think this record was released in the heyday of UK and German heavy metal nods to Maiden (as I've said) but also Helloween and Running Wild, especially on Glorious Night Of Glory and the Nautical We Sail Cape Horn. Proper heavy metal once again from Hammer King, Poseidon is clearly with them here! 8/10 

Black Viper: Hellions Of Fire (High Roller Records) [Rich]

In this day and age of multiple sub-genres and genre crossovers it’s refreshing to hear a band playing heavy metal like it’s 1983 which is exactly what Black Viper do. Hailing from Norway and featuring members of Deathhammer and Obliteration, Black Viper play a much overlooked and forgotten style of metal that was called speed metal with a sound that sits somewhere between NWOBHM and thrash metal. Coming after their well received demo in 2016, Hellions Of Fire is the band's debut album released through High Roller Records and is a blinding maelstrom of speed, melody and wild guitar solos. This being speed metal all the songs on Hellions Of Fire are fast with a certain degree of aggression but not on the level of thrash. There are strong melodies and catchy hooks throughout especially in the stunning guitar playing of Arild Myren Torp. The drumming by Cato Stormoen is frantic and intensive throughout whilst the bass playing by Kato Marchant is the glue that binds everything together.

The vocals by Salvador Armijo aren’t particularly great but are serviceable and work with the music throughout. With only seven songs and a running length of just under 48 minutes some of the songs do exceed their necessary length with lots of extended instrumentation but the musicianship on the album is so good that it doesn’t try your patience. The best songs though are the ones which are shorter and to the point such as Metal Blitzkrieg and Storming With Vengeance. The production is purposely raw and retro sounding but it works with the material. Overall Hellions Of Fire is a very promising debut album for Black Viper which should please old school metallers everywhere. 8/10

A View From The Back Of The Room: Voivod (Live Review By Rich)

Voivod & Bio-Cancer at The Globe, Cardiff

Not only did they release one of the finest albums of the year but Voivod are also on tour celebrating their 35th anniversary of existence as a band and so it was off to The Globe for an evening of celebration with the band.

This was just a two band bill with no local support so kicking off the proceedings were Greek thrashers Bio-Cancer (6).  Bio-Cancer are a very high energy band playing lightning fast thrash metal at insane speeds so it was a shame that the sound worked very much against the band with both guitars completely buried underneath a wall of vocals, bass and drums. The band played with plenty of energy and enthusiasm but the poor sound definitely ruined the performance for me.  I’m not overly familiar with Bio-Cancer’s material so I couldn’t tell you what songs they played but there was very little variation between songs with most following the same sort of pattern. Also whilst fine on record the frenzied shrieks of frontman Lefteris can get a bit jarring when experienced live.

After 35 years of existence and a sound that is very uniquely their own I think it’s safe to use the tag legends with headlining band Voivod (9).  Hitting the stage to a rapturous roar of approval from the audience Voivod ploughed through a set of new material, classics and rarities in their first ever appearance in the Welsh capital. The band were clearly having as much fun as the audience with lots of on stage beers, plenty of laughing and joking plus some silly and highly amusing instrumental doodling. It always makes such a difference when you clearly see a band enjoying themselves onstage and for me it really enhances the live experience. As well as providing plenty of fun the band also provided some seriously good music.

New material from The Wake sounded absolutely phenomenal with Obsolete Beings and Iconspiracy getting huge roars of approval from the crowd whilst there was plenty of classics from the band such as Post Society, Technocratic Manipulators, Order Of The Blackguards, Overreaction and live staple Voivod.  The band also dug out some lesser played tunes such as The Prow from Angel Rat and Into My Hypercube from Nothingface. With 35 years of experience the performance was absolutely watertight with drummer Away and bassist Rocky holding down the twisting complexity of the rhythm section and guitarist Chewy positively channeling the spirit of the late great Piggy. Frontman Snake doesn’t have the strongest voice live but his on stage presence and warm demeanour makes you completely ignore any vocal shortcomings. Voivod left the stage to thunderous applause and roars of love and appreciation from the audience and at the end you just wished they could have played for longer. A hugely successful first appearance in Cardiff for the Canadian legends. Let’s just hope they return sometime soon!