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Thursday 31 January 2013

The View From The Back Of The Room: Orange Goblin

Orange Goblin, Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell, The Earls Of Mars & Lifer: Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, 30/01/2013


Into the Clwb we go for another night of metal. Heavy Welsh metallers were first with a sound not to dissimilar to the headliners along with lots of Sabbath and Pantera doom/groove. The last couple of times I've seen them they have been impressive but haven't really fulfilled their potential. This time however this time they were far better. They had lots of groove and mixed it up with big chugging breakdowns and some thrashy riffage. The last few times there have been sound problems but everything here was nice and loud showing off the vocals and shredding guitars. The local boys drew a big crowd from the off and were the perfect powerful opener for Goblin. The local boys impressed this time. 7/10

The Earls Of Mars

Next were the excellently named Earls Of Mars who peddle Avant-guard eerie-keyboard filled doom rock and a storming upright bass. Imagine Hawkwind if they were covering Sleep songs with some jazz thrown in just for added weirdness. They had a delightfully mad singer/keyboardist who had a schizophrenic delivery which made for a trippy mind expanding noise based upon the jangly guitars, pulsing bass and jazz drumming. With only a few songs these were drawn out into expanding progressive, dreamy, doomy madness. The Earls Of Mars have a very good first impression from a young band that managed to both slow the pace and keep the crowd. 7/10

Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell

ASCS picked up the pace again with some Cockney, mutton chopped, retro rock. The power trio bring the Groundhogs/Budgie style proto-metal assault full of fuzzed up guitars and rough and ready vocals. They have all of the 60's meat and potatoes hallmarks in place running through their album with songs such as Mark Of The Beast, Devil's Island and the trippy Red Admiral, Black Sunrise all being warmly received by the now packed and raucous crowd. This was a good first showing for the Admiral who managed to give a strong showing to a partisan crowd and win a lot of them over (based on merch sales alone!) ASCS are a fast and furious freak out machine for the lovers of metal, beer and 'medicine' worth catching. 8/10

Orange Goblin

So finally it was time for the main event with Orange Goblin hitting the stage. The headliners had chosen some strong support so they had to deliver the goods and deliver they did! The London destroyers mixed new and old with a full spectrum of their discography from the psych of their first two albums to the balls out riff age of their last three and everything in between. Things kicked off with a short intro song before launching into one of the new albums best songs The Filthy & The Few before going back to The Big Black which was followed by Acid Trial and the not often played Made Of Rats before creeping doom of The Fog. The sound from the venue was spot on meaning you could hear every single booming note from Mad Man Mountain Ben who was at his best conjuring head banging and shout-alongs. The rhythm section was locked in tight to every groove and guitarist Joe Hoare was so versatile that he could do the job of four men never mind two (as he does on the early tracks). With the main set ending with the Zombie loving They Come Back (Harvest Of Skulls) and the classic Quincy The Pig Boy. A brief pause and rest bite for the baying throng before the encore of the Sabbath alike Blue Snow new album opener Red Tide Rising and the old school belter Scorpionica which sent the crowd home, very happy (and very inebriated by this point). Still one of the best live bands on the circuit it's nice to see them in this kind of close environment in a crowd full of the faithful. Very good start to the year! 10/10

Reviews: Coheed & Cambria, Miss May I

Coheed & Cambria: The Afterman: Ascension (Hundred Handed/Everything Evil)

So the story of Armory Wars continues on this the first part of a double album from prog rockers Coheed & Cambria. While I've never actually followed the story itself I've always found C&C music very interesting as they have always merged pop and prog together much like one of my favourite bands 3. The comparisons between the two are numerous from Claudio Sanchez's vocals being similar to Joey Eppard's, the prog/pop formula both bands have, this is accentuated by the fact that both bands have a familial connection with Josh Eppard, C&C's drummer on this album (returning for his first album since From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness) being Joey's brother. This is also the first album to feature new bassist Zach Cooper. The album ranges from heavy rockers like the tracks Key Entity Extraction Part I to IV, U2 like histrionics on The Afterman and the very Queen-like Goodnight, Fair Lady. This is another top quality album from Coheed who seem to have firmly established themselves as one of the leading modern prog-rock bands around today in terms of musicality and scope. 7/10

Coheed & Cambria: The Afterman: Descension (Hundred Handed/Everything Evil)

Part two of the ambitious continuing concept follows on in terms of style from Subtraction the final track of Ascension by starting with two acoustically driven tracks with the haunting mandolin based Pretelethal and Key Entity Extraction: Sentry The Defiant opening the proceedings in a very introspective and downbeat way. Whether this was a conscious decision is up to the band however when Key Entity... bursts into its heavy metal glory the band show that they are trying to expand their musical palate, Number City has a dancey rock-pop style and sounds a bit like Fallout Boy or Phil Collins! Descension is slightly less heavy than the first part of this double album which is by no means a bad thing but it is a bit more commercial sounding adding lots of processed electronics and modern pop sensibilities and yes it does drop off at towards the end album and the overall tone maintains an introspective tone. This second part is also good however like with many double albums released on two discs there can be songs that would have been better not making the cut so it would make a more concise single album but it is still a good album. 6/10

Miss May I: At Heart (Rise Records)

This is the Ohio natives’ third album and it apparently is more mature than their previous efforts. Having never heard their first two albums I can't make that comparison however what I can say is that is a heavy as hell slab of American metalcore that dabbles in Whitechapel, Parkway Drive and bands of their ilk. The band have some pretty technical guitar parts with some intricate riffage as seen on Hey Mister as well as some heavy as hell breakdowns on tracks like Leech and Second To None. The dual vocals also work well with (although normally I'm not a fan) with singer Levi Benton giving his most mighty roar and bassist Ryan Neff providing the melodic clean vocals that mix well. The songs themselves are well constructed and played with the right amount of electronics to create atmosphere that builds into some of the songs. With mixture of spiky metal and hardcore throw down’s Miss May I have definitely incorporated everything that that makes Metalcore so appealing to many, with shout-along choruses and some very brutal breakdowns. While I don't always see I to I with Metalcore when a band show me something special I can appreciate them. Miss May I have something special about them, perhaps it’s the fact that they have some very strong song writing behind them, but whatever it is they do what they do very well and this album has put them very firmly near the top of the pile of new American metal. 8/10

Sunday 27 January 2013

Reviews: ZZ Top, In Solitude, Aeon Zen

ZZ Top - La Futura (American Recordings)

So 'The Little Ol' Band from Texas' return fresh with a new beard in the form of Super-producer Rick Rubin, and the man with the Midas Touch has done it again bringing ZZ Top back as a pressing concern rather than a nostalgia act. So Billy, Dusty and Frank have returned with their strongest material since Eliminator mixing their boogie blues past with modern production and electronics. The opening track I Gotsta Gets Paid shows this mix as it is bluesy cover of a Hip Hop track called 25 Lighters which has lots of funky guitars as well as a thumping drum beat from Frank Beard. The quality is strong for the entire album with Chartreuse full of ass swinging boogie (and a riff similar to Rainbow's Long Live Rock & Roll); Consumption is prime Eliminator territory with its off-kilter rhythm and phazered guitars. This all leads to the big ballad of Over You which is a triumphant desert break up song. Age has not mellowed the 'Top with an album full of dirty women, drinking and partying. Billy gives his classic half whispered, grizzled vocal performance as well as his great guitar playing, which is excellent throughout especially when it duels with James Harman's harmonica on Heartache In Blue. Beards drums keep the engine ploughing along and Dusty's bass lays on the funk thick with both his bass and backing vocals aiding long time buddy in their blues-rock domination (I noticed too that Dusty's voice is almost a dead ringer for Outlaw Country singer David Allen Coe). This is an album that ZZ Top have been threatening to make since their 80's re-insurgence, its bluesy, its rocking, it's got all the hallmarks of ZZ Top's musical career and most of all it makes you want get up have a party and shake your bones! 8/10

In Solitude - In Solitude (Season Of The Mist)

So the fact that I'm reviewing Swedes In Solitude's debut album 2 years after their second album was released shows how weird the music industry has become. This is the re-mastered and expanded version of their debut but it features the same Mercyful Fate meets classic Maiden sound of their second album and a sound similar to compatriots Ghost but with more galloping bass. Things kick off with the one-two punch of In The Darkness and Witches Darkness which has some changing time signatures and shows of frontman Pelle Ahman's expansive vocals which range from slight growling to falsetto screams much like King Diamond but with much more mid-range singing than the King's OTT shrieking. The guitars duel throughout both weaving their metal magic backed by a bass gallop. The album features lyrics of the occult increasing the Mercyful Fate and Angel Witch comparisons, but In Solitude manage to stop themselves from becoming a pastiche or a comedy act through good hard rocking songs and some obvious passion. If some people have the original copy what may make them part with more money is the inclusion of two bonus tracks and that the whole album has been re-mastered. This is a money spinning exercise of course but it will also bridge the gap until they release their third album by keeping their name in the music press. All in all a very good retro-occult metal album that showed how In Solitude began. 7/10

Aeon Zen - Enigma (Nightmare Records)

Multi-instrumentalist Richard Hinks returns with his third album from his band Aeon Zen and this time he reduces how much he contributes, only providing the writing, production, guitars and bass. This is because he now has a fully formed band with the keys, drums and extra guitars handled by other musician, this album also features a full time vocalist with the previous albums having a revolving line up of famous vocalists like Pagan's Mind's Nils K Rue, Spock's Beard's Nick D'Virgilio. Andi Kravljaca holds his own against these men bringing a powerful European style vocal to the progressive metal soundscapes Hinks produces. The whole album has elements of Symphony X, Pagan's Mind as well as some of the more modern  However Hinks also has some guests in the form of Atle Peterson from Prog-metallers Above Symmetry. Djent bands like Tesseract. This can be seen on Divinity which has some thrash riffs, blast beat drums, Gojira-like fret slides and some growled vocals from Hinks who is a capable vocalist in his own right and also on the down-tuned, palm muted Still Human This is a great album that in places reminds me of Devin see Turned To Ash and in others more prog rock with the piano based Eternal Snow being a showcase of this before it turns into a Machine Head song! This is an album that spans various genres and in places is heavy, progressive and majestic (sometimes all at the same time) and takes a few listens to unlock its mysteries however after a few spins you see that this is a great album that will please any fan of contemporary metal. 8/10

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Reviews: Hatebreed, Beholder, Immortal Guardian

Hatebreed: The Divinity Of Purpose (Nuclear Blast)

Described by frontman Jamey Jasta as "all pit, no shit" the sixth Hatebreed album had to live up to this proclamation. Happily the Connecticut ragers duly oblige with twelve tracks of explosive, aggressive and incendiary crossover metal made for live mosh pits. Thrash mixed with hardcore punk and metalcore are the order of the day with every track featuring some nitro fuelled riffage and skull smashing drums. The album is evenly split between the quicker more punk/thrash tracks like Indivisible as well as some head banging down-tuned metalcore anthems like Honor (sic) Never Dies. All of the tracks are brutal and devastating with most of the lyrical content being up lifting and anti-authoritarian like Own Your World which has a fist in the air chorus and some razorblade riffage with lots of bouncy breaks ala FFDP. You always feel that Hatebreed release albums to have more songs to pay live and with this release they have added some frenetic neck breakers like The Language which will incite circle pits galore as well as some tracks with heavy breakdowns which will cause jumping en masse. Every track is accented by the unmistakeable roar of Jamey Jasta who has to be a shoe-in for most intimidating frontman and with the crisp modern production Hatebreed have created another album of relentless uncompromising metal. 7/10

Beholder: The Order Of Chaos (Razorline Records)

Yet another flyer of the British Metal flag return with their second album, following on from their 2009 debut Beholder have become so much more mature and refined on this second album. Gone are the songs about Spartans and in comes the politcal and social lyricism and a much more aggressive aural assault. Things kick off with the pulverising Pantera-like of riffage of Black Flag which is a tirade against the greed of governments and is a bit of a change from the trad/power metal of their debut. The pace picks up on Profit Of The Lie which has a modern thrash assault of LOG but without Randy Blythe's roar before Here I Stand brings back the classic metal roots but with lashings of attitude. The entire album is a modern thrash assault with shredding riffage and some big low slung grooves. The guitars of Scott Taylor and Martyn Blackwell peel off razor sharp riffs and tight explosive solos, the rhythm section of Si Felding and Chris Bentley pummel and pulverise and all of this metallic noise is topped by the aggressive croon of Simon Hall who is one of the best vocalists on the British metal circuit with a voice similar to Exhorder's Kyle Thomas (a band they have much in common with) as well as the melodic croon that brings to mind Iced Earth's Matt Barlow. This is a great album that shows how Beholder have grown as songwriters and found their own sound by merging classic metal with modern American thrash metal and some progressive songwriting all of which comes together to deliver some high-quality aggressive British metal. For evidence of their songwriting credentials see Killing Machine and the fantastic Liar which will destroy in the live arena with its shout along chorus. The maturity can also be seen in the slower songs like Morphine Serenity which have power as well as gravitas. Beholder have definatly got both the chops and the songwriting prowess to become a much bigger musical force with this excellent album combined with their great live show will win people over then they will just ascend up the ladder on their own terms! 8/10

Immortal Guardian: Super Metal (Self/Released)

Hailing from San Antonio Texas, Immortal Guardian are a band that play the same kind of extreme Power Metal that British mentalists Dragonforce do but with more progressive touches. The band is the brainchild of guitarist/keyboardist Gabriel Guardian who has the uncanny knack of playing both simultaneously and is aided in the six string department by Jyro Alejo and this double team brings the speed riffage and ludicrous solos to this E.P. The bass and drums too run at a rate of knots although the drums do sound slightly light and tinny however this maybe because of the independent production but it does not detract from the technical display Cody Gilliland gives. The band have a good vocalist in Wesley McCool (now replaced) who ranges from soaring clean vocals and guttural roars. If you are fan of extremely well played, technical metal then you will love Immortal Guardian as they do everything Dragonforce do but without the overt silliness of the Brits, fans of air guitar will lap this up, others may see just rampant fret wankery. 7/10

Sunday 13 January 2013

Reviews: Enslaved, Holy Grail, Mutiny Within

Enslaved: RIITIIR (Nuclear Blast)

Norwegian Black Metal is one of those genres that divides opinion with a lot of criticism aimed at how much of it is generic but with Enslaved that is not a problem, they have always been a far more progressive prospect. RIITIIR is their twelfth album and it is not short of time signature changes, with every track having an ebb and flow between light and shade. Every track is an expansive heavy and also very intricate, from the acoustic outro of Death In The Eyes Of The Dawn which seeps into the almost classic rock of Veilburner. The band take their cues from the epic Viking metal of Amon Amarth, the sparse black metal of Behemoth seen in the blast beats in Roots Of The Mountain and the title track. The influence that is the most over-riding on this album is that of Opeth which is especially prevalent in the clean vocals of Grulte Kjellson. This is a great album that melds genres with virtuoso musicianship however I can't help thinking that Enslaved are trying to do what Opeth were doing a few years ago, I know that Enslaved have been doing this for about as long as Opeth themselves but as the Swedes have moved on to new sounds these Norwegians have stuck resolutely to this prog/black/death metal sound, and to be honest when it's done this well who can blame them. 7/10

Holy Grail: Ride The Void (Nuclear Blast)

California retro metal masters Holy Grail blast back with their second album and Ride The Void has all the hallmarks of their debut and that of the bands that influenced them. With shredding dual guitars, speed metal riffage, galloping bass and helium vocals. A short intro gives way to Bestia Triumphans which has all those things but also has a dark progressive modern metal feel showing that they have expanded their sound a little bit. Things become classic again with Dark Passenger which has the Priest-like thrash down to a tee. James Paul Luna still has an excellent voice and the dual guitars of Tyler Mount and Alex Lee are perfectly in sync shredding with ferocity and soloing at hyper-speed. This is a very fun album full of raise your fist and yell anthems, shout along choruses and lots of OTT metal fun. However as I mentioned earlier in the review they have expanded their sound adding some big choirs, some modern thrash to add to the retro and also many of the tracks have a darker feel with many of the tracks focusing on horror and fantasy themes which is a departure from the battle and war based lyrics of their debut. This yet another strong album that will explode in the live setting making those of the denim vest persuasion will love it (as will everyone else)! 8/10

Mutiny Within: Mutiny Within II: Synchronicity (Self Released)

After a three year hiatus since their debut, American progressive metal band Mutiny Within return with their second self-released album. English vocalist Chris Clancy returned for this album despite leaving the band after the first Roadrunner released, album failed to sell due to major piracy. I however thought that their debut was an excellent modern metal tour-de-force and I was looking forward to a follow up since 2010. Things start off with the very Exit Ten sounding Embers which showcases Mutiny Within's mix of technical virtuosity and a keen sense of melody. It also shows off Clancy's vocals, he is very expansive in his delivery moving easily from screams to soaring clean vocals. In My Veins shows of his growls and screams early on with the clean chorus having a very metalcore edge albeit with a lot more soloing from Guitarists Daniel Badge and Brandon Jacobs that brings to mind modern Sylosis. What I found after the first three songs is that I personally miss the heavy use of keys that were present on the debut without them the band do sound more a kin to Trivium or Sylosis. The album gets heavier on the fourth track Falls To Pieces and maintains this through Machines (which is one of best tracks on the album) with Balance also bringing the heavy. This is another great album from a young band that have returned from almost extinction after a stumble at the starting block, however they have returned with a vengeance and another excellent album that should (hopefully) act as a springboard to better things. 8/10

Friday 11 January 2013

Reviews: Wintersun, Phillip H. Anselmo & Warbeast, Vanlade

Wintersun: Time I (Nuclear Blast)

Jari Maenpaa formed Wintersun in 2003 as a side project away from his band Ensiferum and swiftly released a debut album comprising of him on every instrument and vocals except for the drums which were handled by Kai Hahto. After being fired by Ensiferum he then spent his time with Wintersun, this second album has been in digestion since 2006 and is a concept album released in two parts. This is Time Part I with Part II due in 2013. Now a fully formed band Maenpaa handles vocals, guitars and keys with Hahto still on sticks and an extra guitarist and bassist. Despite the small four piece band the arrangements on this album are extremely complex which is evident from the Japanese influence on the instrumental intro track When Time Fades Away which is stirring, rousing and a fantastic start to the album that opens things up in fine style before the blast beats of second track Sons Of Winter And Stars kick things off properly, as the orchestra and choir kick in the track gathers pace before Maenpaa's black metal growl before a time change signals a change in vocals to a strong booming clean delivery becomes blended with the harsher vocals and brings to mind Warlord Nygard from Turisas. The instrumentation on just this track alone is phenomenal mixing death/black vocals, riffage and drums with the symphonic tendencies of Kamelot and some big keyboards thrown in. The track then breaks into an acoustic middle section that almost waltz's into the screams again. From this one track you can see exactly why this album has taken so long as it is the album that Turisas, Finntroll and Ensiferum would kill to make. This is set to be a genre classic but enough hyperbole back to the music, after the nearly 14 minute Sons Of Winter And Stars comes to a fittingly epic conclusion, next comes the eight minute Land Of Sorrow And Snow which starts with another slow building riff into a folky acoustic ballad before a gap with electronically folk of Darkness and Frost before the album comes to a fantastic end with the epic Time. This album is fantastic and was defiantly worth the wait, truly awesome. 10/10

Phillip H. Anselmo & Warbeast: War Of The Gargantuans (Housecore Records)

Down frontman Phillip Anselmo has always gone to the underground on his dalliances outside of his main bands, from the dark violent thrash of Superjoint Ritual to the hardcore punk of Arson Anthem this split album again goes to the underground with thrash band Warbeast providing a sneak peek at his soon to be released solo album. Two tracks come from Anselmo and his band the Illegals and two come from Texan thrashers Warbeast. The first track Conflict is an Anselmo solo track full of wall of sound breakneck riffage and some very heavy drumming with Anselmo giving his trademark no compromise vocals. Warbeast come next with old-school thrash noise in Birth Of A Psycho complete with tinny production and some souped-up shredding and some raw vocals from Bruce Corbitt give the band the sound of some early Kreator or even Slayer. Then it's Anselmo's turn again with another full on heavy track that does bode well for the solo album, there are elements of Pantera on Family 'Friends' And Associates as well as other influences from hardcore to grind and has Anselmo screaming, growling and roaring changing his vocal style throughout. Finally it's up to Warbeast to finish the EP and they do with the militaristic and solo filled IT which ends the album well. This a no compromise release from both artists and is a brief look at what to expect from them on their full lengths. 7/10

Vanlade: Iron Age (Stormspell Records)

Vanlade are a trad/power metal band from the Kansas USA and despite being a country not being normally known for this kind of metal (Manowar excluded) these Americans play fast furious and ferocious traditional metal full of speedy riffage and helium fuelled vocals. The band play songs about fantasy, history and very fast cars (on Screaming Metal Deathtrap) all of them seem extremely skilled in executing the traditional retro metal. Brett Scott's very good vocals have the hallmarks Halford and Eric Adams they bring a little bit of OTT silliness to proceedings but he is a good mimic having the low range snarl and the high range shriek of The Metal God and the voice of the Manowarriors. With tracks like the propulsive title track, Blood Eagle which shows off Nick Poffinbargers fleet fingered and the bouncy Life By The Blade the band play very well constructed if a little generic metal in the vein of Stormwarrior, Steelwing or Enforcer. This album does not relent with not a single slow track present but the version I have is apparently the un-mastered version which means that the drums of Cody Campbell can overpower things slightly but this little bit of harshness adds to the authentic classic metal feel. A very good, fun and possibly a little generic album from a young band full of potential (and of course hero worship) 7/10

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Reviews: Katatonia, Cannibal Corpse, The Algorithm

Katatonia: Dead End Kings (Peaceville)

Swedish doomsters Katatonia come back with the follow up to their world beating 2009 Night Is New Day which brought Katatonia out of their Doom metal roots into the more progressive metal genre while still having the depressive doom riffage with added electronics and synths. This experimentation is still present on this album with the album opener The Parting which has all the hallmarks of fellow Swedes Opeth but Jonas Henke's vocals have almost an element of Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil. The tracks are depressive, melancholic but mostly they are hauntingly beautiful and extremely well written balancing the metallic heaviness in tracks like Buildings, which has Gojira-like fret slides, with great progressive melodies on songs like Ambitions. The fantastic The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here is a tender duet with The Gatherings Silije Wergeland and over the following eleven tracks the album does not dip in quality at all. Henke's vocals are fantastic as usual and are really the main part of Katatonia's sound. However the other members of the band are also excellent with other founder member Anders Nystrom providing both the heavy riffs and solos (Lethean) as well as contributing the restrained clean playing on tracks like Leech. The unsung hero however is keyboardist Frank Default who provides some brilliant electronics and really adds an extra layer to the band’s sound. Katatonia have released another potential classic and while they will never be a summer party band, on a cold winter night this is the perfect companion. 9/10

Cannibal Corpse: Torture (Metal Blade)

The purveyors of ultimate gore-metal once again are ready to rip off your head and eat the entrails. It seems as if Cannibal Corpse have looked back on their career and taken the best parts of it for this their twelfth album, the horror themed tracks are back with such lovely and fluffy titles like As Deep As The Knife Will Go, Followed Home Then Killed and Encased In Concrete. The uncensored gore album covers are back two with lots of chains and blood shown in every horrible detail. On the music end it's Cannibal Corpses' signature take no prisoners high ferocity riffage with Pat O'Brien and Rob Barret bringing the six string pain with Paul Mazurkiewicz and Alex Webster providing the skull crushing rhythm section, all of this is topped by the unmistakeable guttural roar of George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher. This yet another chapter in the history of Cannibal Corpses audio homicide but it seems like they have found their feet (and their knives) with this new album, some will call this type of music torture but if you take it for what it is Torture is very fun indeed. 7/10

The Algorithm: The Polymorphic Code (Basick Records)

The Algorithm is Remi Gallego an electronic musician from Toulouse France who specialises in genre melding. The Polymorphic Code is an album that blends, Jean-Michel Jarre electronics with ambient, prog and mathcore, think a modern Muse, fronted by Deadmau5 playing songs by Mesuggah sans guitars and you won't be far off. The album blasts off with the explosive, progressive Handshake (complete with mid-song laser effects!) and it moves on from there into some of the most uncharted Djent style music I've ever heard. Second track Bouncing Dot kicks off with a Rammstein style intro before the beat breaks into euro trance crescendo. I will admit that I had my doubts when I heard the words 'electronic Djent' but Gallego has created something that is intensely musical with his electronics creating some very well created music and by the time the final track Panic kicks in with its massive bass drop you have sat through a real musical journey. However what he shows if anything is how much of the Djent genre is similar and that with the right electronic equipment you can programme all of the blast beats, and palm muted guitars you would ever need, despite this Remi Gallego has managed to make this album both interesting and varied in its delivery. 7/10


Saturday 5 January 2013

Reviews: Kreator, Babylon Fire, Walking Papers

Kreator: Phantom Antichrist (Nuclear Blast)

Teutonic Thrashers Kreator return with their 13th album and true to form it is an unrelenting explosion of violent neck snapping heavy metal. The slow building atmospheric intro of Mars Mantra breaks into the excellent title track which is full of the speed driven metal with the unmistakable snarling vocals of Mille Petrozza who is the last remaining original member, the album then moves onto the progressive Death To The World which has a lot of light and shade before From Flood Into Fire brings the head banging with its Amon Amarth style melodic metal assault before exploding into some sublime soloing. This album is full of the metal Kreator have become the top of their game in the trio of Teutonic thrash with a small break towards the end of the album with the anthemic United In Hate and The Few, The Proud, The Broken before Victory Will Come picks the pace back up again. This is classic Kreator album but with a lot of modern metal influences that have grown into thrown in which is bolstered by the crisp modern production from Jens Bogren. 8/10

Babylon Fire:Dark Horizons (Rocksector Records)

Babylon Fire are from Manchester and mix classic metal of Maiden with lots of modern thrash and groove of Five Finger Death Punch or Machine Head. This leads to a very heavy and modern sounding record with lots of light and shade. Riffage is tight, precise with some storming soloing from Rishi Mehta which is backed by Trivium-like drumming from Marc Cooper (on Cycle Of Addiction). The key to Babylon Fire's sound are the dual vocal assault with Mark Dunfords clean Blaze Bayley-esque croon and the guttural roars of bassist Ryk Swillo this brings another level to the bands metal ferocity meaning that they can explode with full metal riff-fests like The Clarion Call, Rise Of Addiction, Shattered Crown and Darkness Draws Me In, through to the more groove based Demonocracy, Stripped Away and even with the acoustic flourishes thrown in throughout Babylon Fire produce a solid modern metal attack that is not to dissimilar to Panic Cell or Beholder with its chunky metal riffage, powerful vocals good songs. 7/10

Walking Papers: Walking Papers (The Boredom Killing Business)

Walking Papers are a super group of sorts; however it is really the project of Jeff Angell of The Missionary Position who handles vocals and guitars and Barrett Martin of Screaming Trees on drums. From the off you can see that this album is something special as it kicks off with the percussive chant of Already Dead before the walking man blues of The Whole Words Watching shows off Angell's great guitars and his rough and ready vocal delivery as much as the opening track shows off Martin's subtle but powerful drumming. From these two tracks you get a whole host of emotion, power, melody and most of all passion. This album exudes passion from the two main men who are aided and abetted by Benjamin Anderson on keys, who is at his best on Your Secrets Safe With Me and Duff McKagan on bass, who sits back and lets the other men have their fun, Seattle son Mike McCready provides extra guitar duties. The sheer scope of this album is immense bringing together rock, blues, folk with lashings of grunge and punk and some extra touches of the horn section on Red Envelopes, the Springsteen-like acoustic story telling of Leave Me In The Dark and the dark carnival melodies of The Butcher. I could go on about how good this album is but I'm sure any fan of rock will find something that they like on this subtle, rocking, superbly written and most of all simply stunning album. 10/10