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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

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