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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