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Friday, 29 March 2013

Reviews: Collapse, Neuronspoiler, Vanadium

Collapse: Arms And The Covenant (Transcend Music)

Collapse have been hotly tipped to be the "next big thing" in British metal and having seen them on the live circuit a few times I can say that personally every time they have impressed me with their stage presence and most of all their songs. So needless to say I was looking forward to hearing their debut album. Things kick off in furiously aggressive style with the full-on heavy as hell riffage of the title track which blends melodic and thrashy guitars lines; with a crushing bottom end and the explosive drumming of Rainer Gronholm & Scott Harris respectively, all of which is topped by the growled vocals of frontman Duncan Wilkinson who doesn't do the normal clean/screamed thing relying purely on the Randy Blythe like roar for the whole album. As far as comparisons go Lamb Of God is a good one, as are tour mates Devildriver (who's Mike Spreitzer handles the mix). Guitarists Andy Ongley and Christian Stevens are excellent peeling off face melting riffs and solos as well as knowing when to slow things down and just hit with a very heavy groove on tracks like The Cursed. The standout tracks on the album are the opening title track, as well as the ferocious Bloodlet, the groove filled Of Iron and the melodic metal assault of Heartwork. Collapse have always impressed me live and their live power is translated perfectly on this album with every track going for the jugular and not letting go until all the life has been drained out of you. This precision metal assault is bolstered by the crisp production which lets every track explode the speakers. My one gripe would be the track list as does seem a little fractured with a few things re-jigged the album would flow better. However this is only a small thing this is a very accomplished debut that more than supports the "next big thing" hyperbole, prime British metal! Play it loud and proud! 8/10

Neuronspoiler: Emergence (Self Release)

This is Neuronspoiler’s debut and unlike the other two bands in this review they peddle classic thrash inspired traditional heavy metal, full of duelling guitars, galloping bass lines, crashing drums and siren-like vocals. Opening track Through Hell We March perfectly distils this sound with the classic metal riffage of David Del Cid and Dave Shirman and the helium fuelled European metal vocals of JR, what follows is 10 tracks of top notch retro metal mixing Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and even some early Van Halen to great effect (especially in the solo's which are breath-taking in some places). The workhorse riffage of Take The Stage is a tribute to the road, Irreverent is a bouncy rocker with a killer solo, and Act Of Defiance brings an instrumental break that leads into the bass-led Invincible Man which is a fist pounding rocker with another superb solo. All of the tracks on this album are made for the live arena and hark back to metals glory days, Neuronspoiler play the same kind of retro- revivalist metal as Enforcer, Grand Magus, Cauldron, Screamer et al. but unlike a lot of the bands in the revival they do it very well by writing some great songs and not sticking rigidly to the genre boundaries meaning they are unafraid to adapt their sound where needed. They even have a ballad in the shape of the 7 minute Dying Worlds which has a change in pace worthy of a Maiden epic. For fans of any traditional metal this is a must however some may be put off by the vocals which can be a little bit overpowering and are sometimes not as strong in the lower register however for me this is great album full of some stunning fret board workouts and horn throwing tunes! 8/10

Vanadium: Heaven's Epithet Of Lives Lost (Self Release)

Vanadium hail from the shores of...Devon...but don't let that fool you into thinking of folky strumming, this is out and out heavy metal. The four piece have delivered an EP (of 8 songs which was a full album back in the day) that is full of some propulsive head smashing heavy metal. Things start off slow with the opening instrumental of Epithet before Nailstorm hits you like a bomb of its name sake, the riffs rip like a buzz saw and the drums hammer with a full on assault (I'll give the DIY puns a break now) The vocals too are very good; growled but audible and clear and sound a lot like the current wave of American metal bands like Machine Head or Lamb of God. The tracks bring thrashy riffs and big metal grooves (see final track Legion Of I) twinned with some Iron Maiden style twin guitar leads and complex progressive song writing. The EP is punctuated by short instrumental interludes which breaks from the relentless riffage (and makes the actual track count 5) but they aren't really needed meaning the album is broken up a bit too much. This is a great EP from a Devon based band that have all the hallmarks of modern American metal, but add some genuinely inspired progression to proceedings. A very good debut EP from these Brit metallers! 7/10

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