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Wednesday 10 September 2014

World Of Metal 16: Gauntlet, Gory Blister, Seneron, Akb'al

Some more worldwide metal here with Japan, Ireland, Italy and even dear old Wales represented. Lets get too it shall we?

Gauntlet: Birthplace Of The Emperor (Spiritual Beast)

Japan is home to some of the fastest, wildest power metal around, with hyper blast guitar and keyboard runs throughout the bands have always tried to sound like Dragonforce (or indeed visa versa) with endless blastbeats and technical guitarfests. Gauntlet are not ones to deviate from type as their debut album is full of speed/power metal form the beginning to the end, the dual guitars duel throughout, the drums and bass gallop like a horse on speed driving every song along from Beyond The Wall which is speed all the way through before the synth driven In My Life adds a little bit of change but not much. The rest of the album continues in the super fast blitz metal vein with every song merging into one, yes the musicianship is very good but there doesn't seem to be any light and shade or change in style at all. Like Sonata Arctica, Helloween and of course Dragonforce the band go all out to play fast, fluid metal, despite the sameness of their songs their biggest downfall and one that is common with all Japanese bands is that the vocals can get wearing after a few songs, the bands frontman has a powerful voice and can hold the notes but its just the voice does start to grate after a few songs, in fact unless you really love this kind of music as they do in Japan the album will start to grate as all the songs I'm afraid to say sound the same. Still a good albums for fans of Asian power metal, just don't expect any audio experimentation or indeed deviation. 6/10

Gory Blister: The Fifth Fury (Sliptrick Records)

Gory Blister hail from Italy and they play technical death metal, the band have been around since the early 90's but released their first album in 1999, quite obviously The Fifth Fury is their fifth album and it full of some great technical death metal with furious but melodic guitar lines, battering ram drums and lots of guttural roars evoking the spirit of Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Decapitated and  Nile (whose Karl Sanders guested on their previous album). Much like our own Bloodshot Dawn the band merge harsh heavy death metal, blast beat drums from Joe La Viola and bowels of hell vocals with some truly excellent guitar playing with a flurry of off kilter technical riffs and solos coming thick and fast. See Prometheus Scars which moves back and forth through different speeds and time signatures throughout, this continues on (Meet Me) In The Mass Grave. Unusually for technical death metal bands the band are a four piece and only feature on guitar with vocalist Paolo "St John" John being just a vocalist much like Decapitated who have a similar set up, still this doesn't mean that the band have any less power with some truly brutal riffs many of which come from bassist Emi Dattolo who brings the head crushing riffage while Raff Sangiorgio shreds and solos like a madman. The final track is a bit of change in scenery as it almost purely orchestral and as such it so sounds like fellow countrymen Fleshgod Apocalypse and ends the album on a somewhat calmer but still as ominous note than the madness that has proceeded it. If you like your metal fast heavy and full of technical ferocity and demonic vocals then Gory Blister are right up your street. 7/10

Seneron: Parasites And Poets (Self Released)

Seneron are a three piece heavy rocking band from Derry, Ireland. I had the pleasure of reviewing their debut EP and I thought it was a great little taster for this eventual full length I hate to say it but I was right. This debut album builds on the EP and also improves on it, the big, ballsy biker rock element of the EP is still their with the band having  Black Spiders-like leather clad groove with some big riffs on tracks like Talk The Walk but what becomes apparent on this album is that the band have a bigger alternative metal delivery with an overarching nod to Mr Grohl and band, this is at it's most apparent on Breathe which sounds a lot like Everlong, as well as the Foos there are nods to Nirvana and even Seether with their alternative/grunge rock delivery. Yes Seneron are a new wave of alternative/grunge bands that are starting to emerge from the depths of music, a much overlooked genre I always thought it does have it's merits when it's done right, Seneron are doing it right with some catchy songwriting, lots of quiet/loud dynamics, some sledgehammer drumming from John Hamilton, driving bass work from Ivor Ferris and some fierce guitar stabs and a abrasive croon from John Shields. With big hooks on the punky What A Way To Go, an almost nu metal tinge to It All Ends Here, some head banging hard rock on Freak Show and Outbound which ends the album in fine muscular style. Seneron have truly improved on their debut in terms of production, song writing and delivery, this is a sound of a band that know the direction they are heading in and it is most definitely upwards! 8/10   

Akb'al: ...Of Darkness And Light... (Self Released)

"I do not do drugs, I am drugs" this quote from Salvador Dali couldn't be more apt for Welsh psych/prog/everything rockers from Wales. This their debut album is the sound of a mind unravelling, a conciousness altering a dream slowly turning into a nightmare. This album is not one that can be split into separate tracks it has to be heard as one piece of music from the immediacy of Of Darkness which starts with a haze and some schizophrenic vocals before moving into the hypnotic Tool-like bass led rhythm of The Ride which is the first song to show off Thoby Davis' clean vocals over the tabla infused backing and we get a glimpse of Michael Young-Temple's screams on the chorus(?). Akb'al have a very unique sound and delivery with all of the members being top class musicians MIC's drums being equally at home on the metallic  intro riffage of Totally Recalled which changes pace into a almost grunge verse before picking back up again. The guitars of Rob Miles drive everything along nicely swapping from rhythm to lead with ease. Its Young-Temple and Davis that provide the largest of the soundscapes though with YT providing the bass guitar, the aforementioned tabla, djembe, kaos pad and even a didgeridoo; while Davis has some Gilmour-like guitar phrasing, violin, handsonic, singing bowl and udu all of which means the album has musical palate of psychotropic colours. The majestic and mind expanding Equlibrium is a 9 minute show stopper that starts off with a big sound before reducing things down and building them up again with some majestic guitar playing and a heaving load of drums and bass to provide the psychedelic backing. Things don't stop there as I have said this album needs to be heard in it's entirety and as the final three tracks all clock in past 7 minutes with the almost Indian vibe Restless And Waiting is the perfect way to follow the melodic Equilibrium with it's quiet/loud dynamic into the dreamy Pacha Mama and then the 12 minute finale of Light which closes out the album with it's ambient lushness. Akb'al and this album shows that classic progressive rock, modern heavy metal, a 60's infused psychedelia, world wide influence and masterful musicanship can all come together combining technical prowess with a desire to be different from most modern music. As Dali says "Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings" Akb'al are taking off in style 10/10       

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