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Saturday 7 September 2013

Reviews: Ashes Of Ares, Western Sand, Chelsea Wolfe

Ashes Of Ares: S/T (Nuclear Blast)

Ashes Of Ares is somewhat of a prog/power metal supergroup as it features ex-Nevermore stickman Van Williams on the skins and THE voice of Iced Earth Matt Barlow, together they are joined by ex-Iced Earth bass man Freddie Vidales who handles all of the strings on this record. So what does the album sound like I hear you ask? Well it's straight up old school metal with some heavy riffage that emulates the mighty Schaffer, pounding drums and Barlow's amazing multi-layered vocals, the man can roar, bellow and scream as well as anyone else but he can do it all at once in some songs. From the slow burning opener of The Messenger which also has some synth bass on it before the main riff kicks in forcing your head to bang, the album then picks up a gear and moves into the speed riffage of Move The Chains. The album moves between the mid-paced and the furious thrash style riffage, bringing to mind both Iced Earth and Nevermore with its use of light and shade bringing in acoustics on On Warrior's Wings and The Answer adding the progressive touches to the album. A good solid album that doesn't break the mould of these men's past bands but does continue in the same vein in fine style. One for any Nevermore/Iced Earth fan. 7/10

Western Sand: S/T (Self Released)

This is Western Sands debut E.P and it features 4 songs of blues influenced hard rock that has a lot in common with Brit rock heroes heaven's Basement and Voodoo Six. The band oozes swagger and sleaze on these 4 tracks that will see them in good stead when they support Black Star Riders at the end of the year. The band have a cool dual guitar attack from Jimmy Bradshaw and Tyler Hains that mixes dirt with some killer slide and a shed load of attitude especially on the guitar wig out on final track Welcome To The Badlands. Hains' smoky whisky soaked vocals providing the perfect voice for the bands hard rock attack. That's not to say the rhythm section of Finlay Hotchkiss and Nathan J Kay don't pull their weight especially on the cool rhythm break on Take It Away. The songs are really sparkle with just the right amount of hard rock riffage and old school blues which is mixed with some soul especially on the acoustic desert rock of Broken Bones which is part Bon Jovi, part Soundgarden. Like I said this is an impressive debut EP that shows a lot of promise for this hard rocking 4-piece and will go down a storm in the live arena. 8/10

Chelsea Wolfe (Sargent House)

Well this isn't really metal, nor is it rock but its dark enough to be included in this blog because it will bring a chill to the heart to the biggest of Manson fans. Yes this is some very dark brooding music filled with eerie synths, pounding drum patterns, rumbling D-bass and some slick-drone like guitar from Ms Wolfe herself. She doesn't stick to any particular genre, switching between brooding goth on the opener Feral Love, heavy industrial rock on House Of Metal which also features some black metal flourishes, as well as some creeping psychedelia and almost folk-trance on The Warden. All of the songs have Wolfe's haunting vocals on them that stir the deepest recesses of your soul and bring them to life with a melancholy that is usually only reserved for Joy Division. Through the album Wolfe and her band take you through a journey of 'idealistic love' that gets more disturbing as the album progresses, from the Muse like electronica of Sick to the percussive Reins and then the dark acoustic folk of They'll Clap When Your Gone before the building cacophony that is The Waves Have Come which adds layer upon layer in its 8 and a half minute run time. This is a real journey through music that brings together many genres all of which collide together to create an excellent album. 8/10   

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