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Thursday, 1 November 2018

Reviews: Disturbed, Fifth Angel, Aonia, Enemy Inside (Paul H & Stief)

Disturbed: Evolution (Reprise Records) [Paul H]

I’ve never understood the hype about Disturbed. Flag bearers of the Nu-metal scene, there’s little doubt that their early releases contained some impressive stuff. The Sickness, released in 2000 held some really meaty tunes and their subsequent releases Believe and Ten Thousand Fists cemented their style. David Draiman’s distinctive vocal delivery, Dan Donegan’s lower than normal guitar range which allows for a heavier sound and their almost pop style hard rock understandably appealed to the masses. Their hiatus in 2011 was not much of a loss in my view, but the hysteria that greeted their return in 2015 was beyond my tiny mind’s comprehension.

The number of people posting the band’s cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound Of Silence as a masterpiece of modern rock was bewildering. The band has done some ropey covers in the past, think Land Of Confusion for starters, but this was just astonishing. Evolution is their seventh album and whilst the purists will no doubt challenge that this marks a departure in their style and sound, hence the title, there isn’t much change from their admittedly winning formula as far as I can hear. There is plenty of heaviness on Evolution to appeal to the main stream metal fan, the harmonies and melody combining with the thumping chug appear in enough tracks.

Draiman’s distinctive vocal style isn’t going to change and the band continue with their programming which has been a trademark of their sound for so long. The opening two tracks Are You Ready and No More are reasonable tub thumpers whilst the industrial tinge of In Another Time is standard fare. Whether anyone wants to listen to the plethora of acoustic tracks is another matter though, with the second single Reason To Live, Watch You Burn, Already Gone and the ghastly Hold On To The Memories all slow emotion filled ballads which add little. I can appreciate the sentiment that they are attempting; the band have raised their torches to the memory of recently departed friends such as Chester Bennington and Vinnie Paul, and I have no issue with that.

These guys go way back and there are pressures and strains in the business that we can't understand. With a darkness in the lyrical content which reflects the chaos of the world, there is certainly an appropriateness underpinning the whole release, although Evolution won’t change my opinion on the Illinois outfit one iota. It’s an album which will sell by the bucket load. It’s not rubbish by any means; it’s just average. And whatever you do, avoid the deluxe edition with the live version of The Sound Of Silence featuring Myles Kennedy. It is an abomination. 5/10

Fifth Angel: The Third Secret (Nuclear Blast) [Paul H]

Initially formed in Seattle in 1983, Heavy metal outfit Fifth Angel split in 1990 after releasing two albums, their eponymous debut and the sophomore Time Will Tell. After various flirtations, 2017 saw the band get back together and The Third Secret is the result. With original members Ed Archer (guitar) and Ken Mary (drums) joined by long term members John Macko on bass and guitarist Kendall Bechtel who also handles the vocal duties, this is basically the Fifth Angel line-up which released those two albums 30+ years ago. What immediately jumped out at me when I gave The Third Secret its first blast was Bechtel’s voice. It is astonishingly like that of Ronnie James Dio. His range, mannerisms and overall delivery spookily reminiscent of the late Heaven And Hell singer. Sticking to a tried and trusted formula, Fifth Angel deliver a solid album filled with classic style heavy metal songs which range from the power metal approach of This Is War, the slower lighters aloft Can You Hear Me and the traditional We Will Rise. The musicianship here is of high quality, and with a polished production this is certainly a very listenable album. 7/10

Aonia: The Seven (Self Released) [Stief]

Anybody who has read my reviews, years apart as they are, have probably noticed my penchant for the symphonic and operatic side of metal. Suffice to say, I want to like this album, I really do. It’s obvious that the band are very talented, having won the 2018 Sheffield leg of the Metal To The Masses competition, which earned them a place on the New Blood stage at Bloodstock, which is why I find myself a little underwhelmed. While Melissa and Joanne definitely have the operatic chops to front this kind of band, and the rest of the band clearly have some definite talent, with some excellent riffage from James and Slick, there doesn’t seem to be the ‘oomph’ that symphonic metal should have. A lot of the album feels flat, with little to no production.

This might have been a conscious choice from the band, letting the music do the talking without any bells or whistles, or it might not have been. There are a few moments where Tim is allowed to take the forefront on keys, as well as a few great solos from the guitarists, but these moments feel few and far between. There's a bombastic element to Symphonic metal that Aonia seem to be reaching towards, but are just missing. At the end of the day, this is just a sole person’s opinion, and as I said before, there’s definite talent there from every single member, and I hope to see more from Aonia in the future 7/10

Enemy Inside: Phoenix (Rock Of Angels Records) [Stief]

This is the debut album from the German quintet, and right from the beginning, they’re holding no prisoners, with some heavy basswork, full bodied drumming, vicious riffage and a siren-esque voice from band founder Nastassja Giulia. The band have a definite dark-rock sound, which often dips into pure heavy metal, with the band rarely letting down with the meaty riffs, pounding drums and brilliant harmonies. However, this heaviness doesn’t overpower the obvious melodic elements of the band, with guitars and keys working in tandem along with Nastassja’s vocals, which fit their style to a tee. One song that stood out was Dark Skies, starting as a soft, piano-backed song which gradually builds into an emotional crescendo. Another great moment is a surprising cover of Texas’ Summer Son, which seems to have been written for the band’s almost gothic sound. With such a confident debut, I won’t be surprised if Enemy Inside are on everyone’s lips before long. 9/10

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