The Kite Experiment - Atmospherics (Self Released)
Thursday, 5 August 2021
Reviews: Bill Fisher, The Kite Experiment, When Darkness Falls, Sorceress Of Sin (Reviews By Matt Bladen)
The Kite Experiment - Atmospherics (Self Released)
Wednesday, 4 August 2021
Reviews: Troy Redfern, Abdicatrix, Wasteland Coven/Nothing Is Real, Smiling (Reviews By Matt Bladen)
Revered UK slide guitarist Troy Redfern kicks off his latest album The Fire Cosmic, with a piece of surf rock called Scorpio. It's a ballsy slab of hard rocking driven by resonator guitar that moves it into Dick Dale meets desert rock. Following on from numerous recent releases, by which I mean Troy is trying to compete with Joe Bonamassa in the workhorse stakes, releasing five albums in 2020. The Fire Cosmic distills the appeal of Redfern's Appalachian mountain rock, the swagger of Waiting For Your Love which is driven by big riffing and the powerful virtuoso rhythm section of Darby Todd (drums) and Dave Marks (bass), these three men holed up in Rockfield Studios to try and recreate the iconic albums that was recorded there, after which the album was sent to Though Redfern himself has had numerous brushes with rock legends having played with Robert Plant in the past.
Abdicatrix - Melancholia (UKEM Records)
Warning before you press play on Melancholia, the debut album from London based black metal band Abdicatrix, will probably wilt your plants and make the clouds draw in on even the brightest of days. This is a record that draws heavily from the seminal second wave of black metal, with a cauldron of Darkthrone, Immortal and Emperor, the band stylistically are covered in black and white corpse pain, long metal spikes and from their promo pictures hang around in woodland clearings a lot. Of course there's little information about the band, to keep the identities of those involved a mystery (as is the black metal way), but in stark contrast to the genre as a whole Abdicatrix are 3/4's female, not that this is important in a musical sense but in the very male dominated black metal scene it's a rarity.
Wasteland Coven/Nothing Is Real - Turmoil Split (Transylvanian Recordings & Cursed Monk Records)
Turmoil is a split from two US heavy doom bands, taking the first three tracks on this split EP is Toledo, Ohio four piece are very much in the classic doom metal sound of Saint Vitus and Candlemass, the fuzzing basslines of Susan Mitchell are flanked by the crunchy gallops of Bill Anderson and Brandon Collins with a rhythmic drive from drummer Jason Wilcox. They've followed up their April 2020 EP with this split and Wasteland Coven's style remains full of groove as Susan's echoed, Ozzy-like vocals that works well with the D.I.Y stripped back production of the three songs they made for this record.
Smiling - Devour (Rogue Wave Records)
Smiling is the wild, reckless psych rock project from guitarist/vocalist/composer Annie Shaw. She has plied her trade with numerous bands supporting bands like Against Me! Devour is her latest foray into the world of mind expanding, kaleidoscopic rock with a dark pop edge. The recording began in 2016, with Josh Pollock (guitar), Mark Nelson (bass) and Sonny Pearce (drums). The record was laid down on to analogue tape with analogue instrumentation. After the initial sessions the record was overdubbed, for that hazy layered vocal sound of psych rock and the post-punk of bands like Siouxsie And The Banshees.
Tuesday, 3 August 2021
Reviews: Insurgent, Trance, Hunter, Nitrate (Reviews By Zak Skane, Simon Black, Paul Hutchings & Matt Bladen)
Insurgent came about when the foursome met in college to form a unique sounding Metalcore band that will have soaring melodic vocals combined with crushing rhythms. Recently (before COVID) the band have already took their music to the Ukraine and have an up and coming six track E.P coming out on August 6. Listening to this album, I got to say this is a really good addition to the Metalcore sound, Katie's vocal arrangements sound superb especially on songs like Colours Bleed, Counterpart and the closing song My Sentence Awaits. Mike's provides some serious drum grooves adding some serious punch on songs like Colours Bleed, Eclipse and Zero Sum. The guitar work (provided by Joe and Jake) throughout this E.P sound astonishing, you can hear the Jinjer and Tesseract influences in their music but it still has their own originality to it. In conclusion the four piece have a great E.P on their hands, their sound is current to the modern Metalcore formula but it still holds individuality as well sounding diverse allowing band open to explore other genres in the future. If you’re fan of Jinjer, Tesseract and Alter Bridge this an album worth checking out, 8/10
Trance are one of the real granddaddies of Rock and Metal, although not well known here in the UK these contemporaries of the Scorpions have been banging their drum since 1974. They have not had the benefit of a stable or consistent line up in the intervening time however, with several stop and starts meaning that they’ve not maintained the visibility of some of their contemporaries. I have to be honest, in that I’m not at all familiar with their history or back catalogue, so can only judge what I hear in my lugholes right here and now and that’s clearly a very NWOBHM influenced album, but one that has not benefited from the vast improvements in recording and production technology that have happened since they first appeared. That’s a shame really, as the vast experience of the players has meant that this album has some well-written and crafted slabs of Traditional Metal, and a couple of good hook laden anthem foot tappers to boot (of which As Long As I Live is one of the best).
It feels from a quick spin of their history that youthful new singer Nick Holleman has breathed a lot of new life and energy into the band. His voice is distinctive, clear and engaging and he does rather steal the show somewhat. The band are also not afraid to experiment a little, and in amongst the Trad Metal, there’s gems like Deep Dance, which has a positively Tribal rhythm and beat, which gives Holleman a chance to step forward and steal your attention. It’s not all roses though, and there are also a couple of fillers and clunkers in there, of which the title track is the most blatant. If the song writing had stayed consistent and the production was a bit beefier, then this would have raised the bar somewhat, but it does feel that continuing the experimentation may be the way forward for this Teutonic monolith. 6/10
It's not usually we get an AOR album here that isn't on Frontiers Music, but AOR Heaven has been one of the major supporters of the AOR genre for a long while now. Their latest release is from UK melodic roeckers, Nitrate who have almost completely new line up with founding member Nick Hogg joined by Alexander Strandell (Art Nation) on vocals, Dario Nikzad (Hell To Pay) on lead guitar and Alessandro Del Vecchio (yep him again) taking the keys. On this third album there's also rhythm guitar from Tom Martin and keys from James Martin of Vega, both of whom along with Kimber's Mikey Wilson, co-write with Nick Hogg. Now tracks such as Danger Zone and Addicted remind me a lot of American melodic rock legends Mr Big, Strandell's vocals with a similar range to Eric Martin.
Friday, 30 July 2021
Reviews: Underdark, Rebellion, Electric Six, Fetid Zombie (Reviews By Richard Oliver, Matt Bladen, Paul Hutchings & Zak Skane)
Our Bodies Burned Bright On Re-Entry is the debut full length album from Nottingham based post-black metal band Underdark. It follows their debut E.P. Mourning Cloak which was released in 2016 and is also the first release to feature vocalist Abi Vasquez who joined the band in 2019. Underdark fall under the post-black metal bracket meaning they combine elements of atmospheric black metal, post-rock and shoegaze together in a melodic, atmospheric yet furious way but they also incorporate elements of post-hardcore throughout. Furious is definitely a defining factor of the Underdark sound with far more rage, fury and bile spat out in their songs than a lot of post-black metal contemporaries. There are definitely the calmer passages on the album which make t hose moments when the band explode in uncompromising rage and fury all the more effective.
It’s unsurprising that Detroit’s finest have gone down the covers album pathway. It’s a route that many artists have travelled during the past 18 months after all. 2018’s fine Bride Of The Devil saw the band continue to tour relentlessly and the pandemic must have hit the band, whose entire approach is based on the live show, harder than most.
I usually try to avoid reviewing albums that came out more than a month ago, but occasionally you stumble across something that appeals to your taste so much that you have to review it. If not just to get it off your chest how bloody brilliant it is. Paradigm Blue are a prog rock three piece from Raleigh, North Carolina, made up of Juan Mantilla (guitars), Ruben Moreno (vocals, bass & keys) and Steve Laur (drums), now experienced proggers will be able to gather from looking at the line up and that this album is comprised of two multi part suites that the main musical influence here are Canadian Prog icons Rush. Transist is brimming with musical nods to Geddy, Alex and Neil, the rippling keys, exploitative basslines, soaring guitars and expressive drumming all very similar to Rush while vocally Ruben is not up in the higher falsetto of Geddy Lee, he often slips into the lower end, but mostly his voice is very similar to another major soundalike for the band, John Mitchell.
What makes an EP an EP? There is a definitive answer regarding timings but here at MoM Towers we've discussed this at length, Messer's Scoble, Hunter and myself normally, however we've yet to really decide whether there is an credence to the definitive answer. Why am I starting this review like this I bet you're asking (all 12 of you)? Well Polyfrenetics is the debut release from the band of the same name and they state it's an EP. At four songs I guess you could agree however the final track Comfortably Dumb is nearly 12 minutes in long taking the run time somewhere near 30 minutes, in the 80's that's an album. Anyway I digress you're here to hear about this Oslo psych rock outfit so here goes.
Sweet Teeth - Acid Rain (Lövely Records)
Punchy power pop from Sweden as Sweet Teeth unleash their debut EP Acid Rain. Brimming with jangly guitars, fuzzy bass and emotive vocal rawness, Acid Rain conjures the likes of Husker Dü and the early Foo Fighters releases. It's packed with 7 direct punchy rockers, all with sing along ability but a sadness that lays behind. You will have heard something like this before, I can guarantee but Sweet Teeth make properly slick and inviting. The run time is around 15 minutes, which is perfect for these punky, poppy nuggets of 90's alt rock. Nothing on Acid Rain hasn't been done before and if you're a Feeder fan you'll have heard it a 1000 times, but Sweet Teeth is a treat you've sampled many time but keep coming back too. The musical equivalent of a digestive, simple but enjoyable. 6/10
Thursday, 29 July 2021
Flame, Dear Flame - Aegis (Eisenwald)
Aegis is the debut album from Brunswick, Lower Saxony based Epic Doom Metal band Flame, Dear Flame. And put simply it's a fantastic record that sends Flame, Dear Flame straight near the top of the epic doom metal pack. Channelling acts such as Atlantean Kodex, King Witch and the brilliant Avatarium, this record is essentially two tracks split into sections. So the first three are part of the The Millennial Heartbeat suite consisting of the formation of the ocean and the earth itself, primordial and torrid, the three parts crawling from the beginnings of the Earth with a traditional metal foundation taken for a slow, powerful doom laden ride through elongated musical journeys. The deft drumming of Jan Franzen and steady, ground shaking basslines of Martin Skandera keeping the tracks always moving forward carving grooves with every low slung note.
We haven't reviewed Tantric on this blog before and their is probably a reason for that. The Californian alternative/post-grunge band are apparently beloved by their fans. Well they obviously hear something here that I can't. The Sum Of All Things is like every B-List Post Grunge from the early 2000's think Staind, Puddle Of Mudd and Seether level of crunch riffs and low baritone vocals. They had two big hits on 2001, both of which are here on re-recorded form. However it pretty much stays in 2001 musically, the majority of the songs are pretty basic, many range from "meh", to "oh Christ what the fuck is that!?" An example of meh is the instantly forgettable Compound, the faux-country of Ten Years and Walk The Way which has over used electronics. On the other hand you have a song such as Can't Find This which is dreadful, overly emotional crap with terrible lyrics which sounds like a song so saccharine even Nickelback would have left it on the cutting room floor. The shocking lyrics continue on Living With Out You and The Words You Say another awful ballad. I really struggled with this record, nothing appealed in anyway, mostly the fact that it's 14 songs in length, including some re-recorded tracks. I don't think I'll be featuring Tantric again on the back of this eighth (!) album. 3/10
Sense Offender/NIL - Split (Sludgelord Records)
If you're feeling angry, frustrated or even homicidal at any point soon I suggest sticking on the new split EP from Northeast England's blackened hardcore mob Sense Offender and Leeds' masters of the groove laden technical aggression NIL. Both bands have been featured before in these pages and been given quite positive feedback. Sense Offender especially are no strangers to a split album having previously released them with Pupil Slicer and South Wales own They Live We Sleep. You can see this as a continuation of Sense Offenders' goal to bring some of the more underground sounds to a wider audience by both bands getting equal footing, two songs each.
I'm unsure how many albums are actually called Memento Mori but it got to be well into the hundreds. The Latin phrase that means "Remember that you die" has been used by countless bands as a title over the years so have Costa Rican metal band made sure that it takes on another life? I mean in a word no but that doesn't detract from this being a decent power/prog metal record. Formed, as Wings Of Destiny, in 2015, Memento Mori is the bands sixth album, their last was in 2020 and it keeps them plugging away at their Helloween, Rhapsody and Angra influences. Now obviously this album was recorded during a pandemic and although I don't know how the pandemic affected South America, the song Death Wish the protagonist of the song as an anti-lockdown enthusiast, talking about living their life despite against being told to lock down. Hmmm. Thankfully (or perhaps not) the next song is a galloping Stratovarius rip off that is full of Dan Brown level conspiracy talk. Now as enjoyable as the songs are, they do get your foot tapping and the overarching theme of human beings not being immortal or infallible is a noble one. Even if it is a little religious at times. A shame as the music is very generic and the vocals are all over the place. Another album that aims for greatness but falls a little short. 5/10
Reviews: Swallow The Sun, Eastern High, Godeth, Tombstoner (Reviews By Paul Hutchings & Matt Bladen)
Seven albums into their 21-year journey, and Finnish doomsters Swallow The Sun’s first live album arrives almost out of necessity rather than obligation or planning. Recorded in Helsinki just as the world was going to shit around them, 20 Years Of Gloom Beauty And Despair Live In Helsinki is much more than just a ‘live album’. It’s a reminder to those older fans as well as those who fell in love with 2019’s When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light that Swallow The Sun are still alive and kicking. Recorded in February 2020 at the famed Tavastia Club in Helsinki, it is a record of two halves. The first sees the band’s acoustic performance (with a string quartet) of Songs From The North II before the second half draws on a plethora of fan favourites voted online in advance of the gig.
As soon as you hear the opening chords of this 8-track record it's pretty much obvious that Eastern High come from that hotbed of progressive extreme metal Sweden. This Malmö five piece evolved from a thrash band, that brothers Ola (vocals) and Johan Svensson (guitar) were members of, into the more multifaceted act you hear on Halo. The progressive metal band released their debut in 2017, though this was essentially the brothers, on the back of that record they morphed into the fully fledged band that has recorded this follow up. Adding Niklas Cvetkovski (guitar), Fredrik Rosdahl (bass) and Christian Lindström (drums), they now have a much broader and well rounded sound, albeit not one that has been honed in the live scene due to the pandemic.
Life To Flame is the debut EP from Leeds bruisers Godeth, it features their previous released tracks Animal Side and All But One and sees them once again work with producer Jack Murray, who worked on their previous single Burn. This EP sounds huge, perfect for Godeth's heavy groove with progressive edge. It's difficult to pigeonhole the band as for every death metal battering, there's a progressive metal time change or a big alt metal groove ala Korn. Add to this a primarily clean vocal style that sits somewhere between Devin Townsend and Mike Patton, meaning that is stands in opposition to the growls at the beginning of the title track, a song about 16th Century Witch Burnings, where vocalist Eddie shows off his expansive vocal range which is similar to that of Warrel Dane.
Tombstoner - Victims Of Vile Torture (Redefining Darkness Records) [Paul Hutchings]
The Staten Island quartet’s debut EP, Descent To Madness struck the right nerve with me just over 14 months ago when it landed. Muscular chunks of extreme metal combining hardcore, grindcore, thrash and death metal with an underlying groove more infectious than the Delta variant. Well, my wish for a full-length release has been answered with the first full length, Victims Of Vile Torture.
41 minutes of skull pounding metal follows and it continues in the same vein as that impressive EP. Sitting neatly amongst the modern metal groove of Power Trip, sourcing old school from Cannibal Corpse, and dragging a bit of Gatecreeper into the fray, this release continues where Descent to Madness ended.
It’s a savaging of the nastiest kind, the riffs rain down whilst the aggressive, snarled vocals fit perfectly. What Tombstoner do well is to utilise the combination of vocals of Thomas Megill and Jesse Quinones to excellent effect; the pair feed off each other, one taking the higher screams whilst the other adds the gruffer, lower growls. Sledgehammer is aptly named, a real battering to the skull, the driving drumming of Jason Quinones pushing hard, fast and with unerring accuracy. The pace can be slowed though, Fractured Souls case in point as the riffs grind louder and longer, the frenetic blast beats working away beneath monolithic movement.
It’s often hard to source variation in death metal but this album has plenty as the sound switches, responding to the bludgeoning with rapid staccato blasts, searing solos that rip out of nowhere and punishing, always punishing explosive breakdowns. It’s difficult not to engage one’s neck muscles. Thunderous pace isn’t far away on tracks like Grave Dancer, or the blistering Armageddon which provides more doom-laden crushing flavours that unexpectedly meld into a melodic instrumental section before powering back to more bone splitting delivery. Even more surprising, the blasts of sci-fi style classical music that lace together with the demonic speed of closing track Trepidation. An unusual and dramatic conclusion.
Victims Of Vile Torture brings Tombstoner to the forefront of their genre. It’s a visceral, punishing, and brutal debut. An album well worth listening to if you like your music with absolute lashings of the extreme. 8/10
Wednesday, 28 July 2021
Reviews: Ingested, The Five Hundred, Fimir, Moon Reaper (Reviews By Charlie Rogers, Liam True, Simon Black & Paul Scoble)
Not just a remaster, this is a full re-recording of all the material, with their current equipment and their fantastic engineer Nico at Kimera Recordings overseeing all the production. Even the artwork has been updated to include additional detail not present on the first release. This sums up how I feel about the album - clearer, more detail. You’d expect this considering a decade has passed since the original, but the magnitude of how far they’ve come has to be heard to be believed. The riffs are absolutely crushing, with ferocious attack from both Sam and Sean on guitars, underpinned by Lyn’s monstrous drumming. Jay’s vocals are sublime too, showcasing his immense range from seismic gutturals to stratospheric highs.
Ingested pulled no punches when these songs were written - written as a blend of death metal, deathcore, and slam, they leave your face fatigued from the knowing stinkface you’re forced to pull for the full 44 minutes. High tempo, high intensity, high excitement, as we look back at their back catalogue it’s no wonder songs like Kingmaker frequently highlight in their live sets. It’s this consistent commitment to releasing higher and higher quality material that makes Ingested stand out as true nobility in the UK Death Metal scene, and there’s no sign of them stopping any time soon. Pick this record up, and bang your head until it comes off. 9/10
Recent years have witnessed a tsunami of bands flooding the UK tech-metal scene, and the genre is thriving. That said, influx leads to saturation, and the inevitable pressure to distinguish oneself from the slew of over-rans in your midst. The band’s abject refusal to sink and unwavering desire to swim manifested itself artistically via ferocious EPs Winters and The Veil, alongside an innate ability to deliver live performances so resplendent that they border on indecent. Yet somehow, they’ve continued to fly under the proverbial radar evading mainstream attention, until now that is. For any confusion over The Five Hundred‘s absence from the upper echelons of modern metal looks set to be extinguished with AWOF.
Technically proficient and driven by palpable fury underpinned by searing emotion, A World On Fire showcases a collective voice. Opening with some intense flavour and fever, The Five Hundred push moments of emotional clarity through a seemingly perpetual darkness with frontman John Eley using his vocal chops to create worlds of contrast as he veers seamlessly between larynx-shredding growls and sublime clean lines. Employing gang vocals and melodic parts may allude to a penchant for unabashed clichés, but the visceral stampede that spills forth dispels any notion that this is merely paint-by-numbers metalcore.
This statement of intent continues in a similar vein with Our Demise delivering a sprawling cornucopia of slamming riffs alongside a soaring, anthemic chorus. Alternately bludgeoning and intricate, the track paints a troubled vision; chugging, percussive repetition and melancholic textures laying a foundation for those impassioned roars before a huge rhythmic shift mid-track gives way to djent-spliced grooves reminiscent of Obzen-era Meshuggah. There’s little time to pause for breath as the preceding anthemia is swiftly toned down schizophrenic juggernaut Oblivion extinguishes any sparkle with an unsettling blend of delirious melodies and complicated yet compulsive fretwork courtesy of Mark Byrne and Paul Doughty.
With the exception of lacklustre Agony the latter half of AWOF surges further forward delving into the darkest recesses of the psyche. Harnessing anthemic clout and technical proficiency, The Five Hundred may not reinvent the wheel in terms of genre conventions with this full-length demolisher, but A World On Fire remains a convincing statement from a band now brimming with self-belief. 7/10
Fimir – Tomb Of God (Argonauta Records) [Simon Black]
Once upon a time, there was a Finnish Doom Metal band called Church Of Void. After a few years of producing albums and EP’s the band splintered, with drummer Byron heading in one direction and the remainder remoulding, forming Firmir and filling out the vacant slots. They identify themselves in the Doom camp, but I would say that there’s an equal portion of Stoner in their as well, with a healthy dollop of the Psychedelic/Cosmic on top for good measure - creating music that builds mood over time, but does so with a heavy, sonorous and monotonously building beats. This band are not about brevity, with the shortest of the six tracks on this debut racking in at five and a half minutes, and three clocking in at seven, eight and nine minutes respectively. It’s a heady combination of the classic occult Doom sound with the more ambient but achieves this without sounding boring or repetitious.
Lengthy opener One Eyed Beast is well named given the nearly ten minutes it takes to deliver and yet strangely is the weakest of the tracks on here, as although it has plenty of mood it doesn’t quite feel like it achieves its direction. You probably need to come back to this one after the rest have had a chance to reel you in, as the remainder are the complete opposite in terms of ability to engage. The positively punchy by comparison Horde Of Crows benefits from a much stronger structure and a bit of vocal style variety from both Magus Corvus (vocals & guitar) and H.Warlock (Vocals and Bass). Adding the more extreme vocal sounds mixing with the cleaner, haunting doomier ones gives this balance, edge and a way more epic feel. It’s a stark comparison to the opener and that pace and energy continue from hereon in.
The quality and consistency remain from here, which make wonder that perhaps if that overly lengthy opener had either found itself a different spot on the album or lost a minute or so from the arrangement, it would have worked out the better for the record, making it more consistent and hypnotically effective, but nonetheless this is a project with legs, atmosphere and energy. 7/10
Moon Reaper - Descent (Self Released) [Paul Scoble]
Moon Reaper are a Bristolian 4 piece who have been together since 2018. The band is made up of Morgan Cradick on Vocals and Guitar, Aidan Rutter on Bass, Zack Esposito on Drums and Noah Burns on Guitar, in the time Moon Reaper have been a band they have released 2 singles; Torture Chamber in 2019 and Spiralism a year later. Descent is the bands first EP. Nearly all the material on Descent is slow and heavy. The sound has a Blackened feel to it in the dissonance that is all over this EP, and the occasional use of Tremolo Picked riffs, there is also a bit of a Hardcore feel to some of this as well, so there is a definite Sludge sense to the material. The EP opens with Time Warper which, after a soft, clean intro, is huge and very heavy with nasty, harsh vocals, the track is very rhythmic and driving and is a great way to start the nastiness. Former single Spiralism feels a little more expansive than the previous song, it has a very pleasing Tremolo Picked riff layered in with all the slow and heavy riffs.
Tuesday, 27 July 2021
Reviews: Dee Snider, Prosperina, Chaos Over Cosmos, Nik Laidlaw (Reviews By Paul Hutchings & Matt Bladen)
Despite internally committing to the end of his live and recording career in 2019, the change in the world with not only the pandemic but the shift in global and US politics saw Snider change his mind and return to the studio. Leave A Scar is solid album, continuing the heavy feel of its predecessor and crammed with anthems of heavy metal that will soon have you singing along. Snider’s voice is as recognisable as any of his peers and whilst he tripped over the 60 speedo a few years ago (he’s fitter than a butcher’s dog though), Leave A Scar sees him in imperious form. Backed by his band of Charlie Bellmore - guitar & background vocals, Nick Bellmore – drums, Russell Pzütto - bass & background vocals and Nick Petrino - guitar & background vocals. His voice soars and screams, his enunciation as perfect as it’s always been, one of the facts I love about Snider. You can understand every word he says.
From the album opener I Gotta Rock (Again) to the dark, brooding rumblings of The Stand, Snider still has a lot to say about the state of the world. Harnessing his angst into a creative outlet, he’s on fire throughout with his lyrics expressing the anger, unease, and pain he and many have endured over the past year. There are also some fantastic guests, with the power of Time To Kill featuring Cannibal Corpse’s George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher surprisingly fast and good with the echoing guttural roars. All Or Nothing More sees Snider hitting the thrash pit in one of the fastest thrashy tracks he’s every delivered. The backing musicians really hit the tempo and propel the track forward as they do again on the feisty Down But Never Out.
Clearly, there is plenty of life left in Snider yet, and if he continues to produce music of such quality, who are we to argue. It’s a heavy metal album, made by a heavy metal frontman who seems to possess more energy now that he did 20 years ago. 8/10
Prosperina - Flag (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]
A long time in production, Flag is the third album from Swansea prog/alternative/doom/grunge band Prosperina. Their last was in 2014 so it's been a long time in production and they still defy pigeonholing, the album is one of the many casualties of Pledgemusic thus why even though it was recorded in 2018 it has only just been released. As things politically haven't changed much since then (idiots everywhere), the themes of this album remain relevant to this day. Flag so often the signals for obedience or revolution, the uncertainness, fear and general confusion of these times we live in. None so much than Boot a crusher near the middle of the album with the iconic line from George Orwell's 1984, repeated in the chorus of the song.
Gethin Woolcock's vocal a call to the disenfranchised left, the spoken word section coming from George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides. Woolcock and Chris Dean's guitar playing is part-indie rock, part-sci-fi prog with a stoner rock back beat of bassist Liam Scannel and drummer Yotin Walsh. The record brims with Floydian fluidity, A New Cold bringing to mind the darkness of Animals with the swirling groove of Soundgarden. There's also the swagger of Clutch on Art Nouveau but also a wide range of sounds that were key to the experimental nature of this album. From the slow shifting Deep Never we get some heavier the band pushing themselves in the studio. Melding the darker, heavier tones with lighter moments, Drunk On The Blood Of Tokyo brimming with attitude as the title track swirls with psychedelic, Runner In The Maze taking things to a disorientating level across it's long run time. Flag has benefitted from it's delay in the long run as it sounds more vital now than ever. A great album from a band I will be welcoming back with open arms (when we can all hug again of course). 8/10
Chaos Over Cosmos – The Silver Lining Between The Stars (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]Since their formation in 2015, time has rarely stood still for Chaos Over Cosmos. The Polish and Spanish hybrid now include Australia as an outpost with the arrival of their latest vocalist, KC Lyon, who replaces Joshua Ratcliff who in turn had replaced Javier Calderon on the last album, The Ultimate Multiverse. The mainstay of the band remains Rafal Bowman who takes lead on guitar, song writing and programming whilst KC Lyon adds lyrics and song writing as well as the vocals.
The previous two long players clearly touched the right nerves with my fellow reviewers, and I can see why in part. The musicianship is impressive, with Bowman’s technical prowess at times breath taking. His shredding on the ten minute plus Violent Equilibrium is phenomenal, although the programmed drumming is frustrating due to its sheer intensity. At times, the battery is simply unreal and that gives the challenge between reality and artificial. As a showcase of prowess, it’s almost unrivalled.
The middle three tracks on the album are considerably shorter, and KC Lyon’s aggressive and guttural roars add girth to the tracks. The keyboard elements don’t quite work for me, at times rather abrasive in their interplay but this is a minor quibble. If you like technically melodic death metal, you’ll probably enjoy the likes of The Last Man In Orbit, the outer space feel of instrumental Eternal Return or the explosive Control ZD.
But for me, there is something that is lacking within the overall album and I’m not quite sure what it is. The title track which closes the album switches tempo so dramatically from the previous four frenetic pieces of work that I had to check that I hadn’t been given a dud. A gentle, calming intro which is rather out of step with the rest of the album is quickly dispelled by more frantic and familiar aggressive growling, although I like the clean harmonies that echo throughout. This style is repeated and brings a different and more melodic feel to an album that in parts is brilliant but doesn’t quite sit as comfortably as it might. Still, there is plenty to appreciate, and there is no doubting the quality that is on display. 7/10
NIK/Nik Laidlaw Music - Stasis (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]
Nik Laidlaw Music, stylised as NIK, is the solo record from Seed Of Sorrow guitarist Nik Laidlaw. Stasis is his debut solo record. It's influenced heavily by early 2000's metalcore and melodeath, there's lots of groove, solos and melodic flourishes, even some clean vocals on No Control where Nik even sound a little like Rob Halford sneering. However the rest of the album is strongly in the realms of Ascendancy-era Trivium with the traditional metal sound cutting through the metalcore assault the record has Ruin and Point Of Impact reminding me of Lamb Of God as well, the latter having a thick groove. It's a reasonably short record with little time to ease into things, it just hits and hits hard from the first moment. The melodies and breakdowns vary it from the more straight ahead death metal sound of Seed Of Sorrow, but a pretty decent metalcore record. 6/10
Monday, 26 July 2021
Sound-wise it's about as far away from Saxon as you can get, being more like bands such as Royal Blood, Band Of Skulls (Medicine Man), Arctic Monkeys (Faith) and Seb's other band Naked Six, Tom Witts joining his bandmate Seb here as well by playing drums. Now Seb is great singer and guitar player, his grizzled vocals suiting the style well and working in tandem with his father's higher register. Yes both Byfords contribute vocals here though Seb has the majority, Biff also plays bass on the record providing a second lower riff on most of the tracks as Dave Kemp rounds things out with keys on Faith and sax, on Follow This Moment.
Now what's quite good about this record is that there's clear influences shared by father and son, Seb bringing the more modern grunge fuzz of QOTSA and Soundgarden as Biff calls back to the psychedelia of The Beach Boys and riffs of Zep. Somewhere in the middle both of them have out their heads together for grooving numbers like the title track. A little D.I.Y with the recording, preferring it to be just loud and proud without any studio trickery. A decent lockdown effort that is essentially Naked Six plus 2 with a more relaxed vibe. Easy listening from 2 generations of rockers. 7/10
Erdve - Savigaila (Season Of Mist)
Bringing introspective, dissonant, progressive, ear piercing sludge heaviness. Lithuanian trio Erdve have followed a path of experimentalism with their music, never settling on on style as they veer between hardcore battery on songs like Betonas while tracks such as Votis and Pleura are more ambient and atmospheric in their approach. The latter undulating with and industrial bent before those sludge and hardcore influences bring the rage again. I'm not sure if the band find catharsis in this music but the album title translates to "self-pity"the theme of the album, revolving around overcoming the numbness within the great challenges of unsettling reality, and accepting them as they are. These are channeled throughout the 42 minutes of forceful, sometimes unsettling metallic hardcore.
Anakim - The Elysian Void (Self Released)
Now fronted by The Drowning vocalist Matt Small, who has the most ironic name due to him being a brick shithouse, death metal act Anakim have spent their lockdown creating savagery rather than sourdough. The Elysian Void is their second full length album following Monuments To Departed World's from 2017 and this Weymouth five piece have increased the aggression and the progression on this second album. The addition of Small on vocals gives them a more vicious and diverse vocal approach while the second new member, bassist Anthony Ridout, not only gives this album lots of technically proficient basswork but also additional black metal screams.
Science fiction and horror themes combine with furious, technical yet melodic death metal. The sort of music that makes sure a song like Of Starlit Shrines works as an ideal opening shot, building from a slower style before bringing the furious blast beats and down tuned polyrhythms. This shift between light and shade is what Anakim do very well, their progressive nature imbuing every element of this album. Infinite Realities has a bass solo which moves in some explosive lead guitar solos before we get a coda of arpeggios and chorus before the track ends. Auguries Of Virgin Soil brings black metal dissonance and a relentless rhythm section of drummer Ewan Ross, rhythm guitarist Carl Hunting and bassist Ridout allowing Joe Ryan to unleash lots of lead guitar flourishes on this records most progressive and hardest hitting song.
This will be a definite pit starter when they open the Sophie Lancaster stage at BOA on Wednesday this year but there's much more to Anakim's sound than just outright heaviness and death metal, Malformed Cathotic Dreams is very intelligently composed track that has several time changes and a power metal edge as well before Veins Of The Unlight ups the rage quotient again while keeping things progressive. The Elysian Void is stunning follow up to Anakim's debut record, the injection of new talent has made sure that they are at their most vicious and versatile. A fantastic record! 9/10
Formed by ex-Delain members Merel Bechtold (guitar) and Joey Marin de Boer (drums) Dear Mother started to come together when the duo found Russian (UK based) vocalist David Pear. The trio then set about writing music, almost constantly setting out their stall firmly in the style of modern metal bands, taking from alternative metal and metalcore. But with an increased virtuosity and a fireguard for the rules of what these bands 'should' sound like. Using 2020 to crowdfund this album and steadily drip feed their singles in preparation of this album. The album title, Bulletproof, is indicative of the albums theme, that is overcoming struggle dealing with obstacles to become stronger. The thumping Vertigo gets the record moving similar to the Delain albums that Merel and Joey played on, pulsating synths met with djenty riffs as David displays his emotive vocal prowess that shifts between soaring cleans and passionate screams.