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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Reviews: In This Moment, Bloodbound, Celestial Decay

In This Moment: Black Widow (Atlantic Records)

In This Moment are totally unrecognisable from the band they were 7 years ago, gone are the American metalcore, band fronted by a shy female singer with a great voice but who seemed naive in the face of the music industry. As they evolved their sound, getting more melodic elements along with their trademark heaviness, culminating in 2012's Blood which was a industrial flavoured, stomping metal album that melded big metal anthems with melodic sensibilities and frontwoman Maria Brink's newfound confidence and liberation. She became every inch a rock Goddess on that album using her supreme vocals and an almost animalistic sexuality to eat up and spit out any other band that wants to fuck with them. Black Widow has the same producer as Blood (Kevin Churko) and stays in the same vein as the previous effort. There is atmosphere in the intro taking in ITM's (and Brink's especially) penchant for the dramatic before the pulsing electronics kick in as Sex Metal Barbie starts things off in real modern style with the industrial song starting the album with Brink almost speaking her vocals and crooning on the chorus. The music as usual is all the work of Chris Howorth who provides the guitars and is the silent partner to Brink's OTT image. Big Bad Wolf is a little more straight forward maintaining the industrial theme, before Dirty Pretty has to be a lost Marilyn Manson song before things slow down on Sexual Hallucination which features Brent Smith from Shinedown and is a sexually charged duet. Brink's voice is truly unique and she effortlessly switches from singing to screaming like a demon and she is complimented by the bouncy riffs of Howorth and co. All the songs on this album ooze sex, violence and empowerment in equal measure. Since their last album and indeed their last tour (which tried to out prop both Messrs Cooper and Zombie) In This Moment have reinvented themselves as a modern metal tour-de-force providing the missing link between Lady Gaga and Rammstein (in fact that would be a hell of a tour package). 8/10         

Bloodbound: Stormborn (AFM)

I first witnessed Swedes Bloodbound at Bloodstock and their brand of cheesy power metal left me banging my head and smiling like a loon. Their music is very feel good with songs about fantasy and metal (and that's about it) throughout, meaning that they are as cheesy as fondue however when the songs are played by a band with some serious chops you know they are not a joke. Stormborn is the bands sixth album and it kicks off with Satanic Panic (which I will admit brought a snigger) on which the band starts as they mean to go on with rampaging speed/power metal with speedy dual guitars riffs from Tomas and Henrik Olsson, blasting drums from Pelle Åkerlind, the big keys of Fredrik Bergh and vocals from Patrik "Pata" Johansson that are part Halford part Hammerfall, part Sabaton. From here the pace rarely lets up with Iron Throne having chanted gang vocals, Nightmares From The Grave has a swaggering delivery and really emphasises the bands power metal roots until things slow up with the sledgehammer march of the title track which is pure Sabaton with it's huge keyboard stabs throughout, in fact the spirit and sound of their Swedish brethren looms large on this record as fans of there brand of epic power metal will really get a kick out of this album with it's big synths, gang shouts and powerful metallic anthems. Things pick back up on the classic metal styling's of We Raise The Dead before everything goes all Grand Magus on Made Of Steel which has the chorus "Made of metal, made of steel" and gave me a smile a mile wide! Then everything goes super speed again from then on with Blood Of My Blood before Anders Broman's bass drives the brooding When The Kingdom Will Fall. Stormborn is yet another great entry into Bloodbound's power metal legacy. 8/10  

Celestial Decay: Quantum X (The Music Alliance)

More Swedish power metal but this time with an emphasis on the symphonic, Celestial Decay is made up of guitarists' Hobbe Houshmand and Freddy Olofsson and they bring together a group of musicians to create this album of symphonic, progressive, power metal that is part Blind Guardian, part Rhapsody Of Fire, and on Enlightened they have the sugary elctro-pop sound of Amaranthe (who's Andreas Solveström provides the screams). This is a cinematic musical journey playing to all the session players strengths with two drummers sharing the tracks they both have the pacey and powerful style favoured by the genre, the bassists both show their metal anchoring the rhythm so Olofsson and Houshmand can show off with some neo-classical guitar wankery. As I previously mentioned there are screamed vocals but the major vocals come from unmistakeable Aeon Zen front man Andi Kravljaca which means that the band share similarities with the British mob as they blend prog and power effortlessly see tracks like Ashes Of Decay for the faster, heavier side but equally on Power Of Will they show how well they can deal with slower more romantic songs (and also throw in the odd heart stopping epic solo). This album is a real journey and earlier I mentioned that it has a cinematic feel and the metal combined with the orchestral elements topped with Kravljaca's emotive and adaptive vocals, the album also flows like a film building in it's latter half into more complicate compositions including a metallic cover of Total Eclipse Of The Heart which leads into the stunning Final Symphony. Sometimes bands like this can get a little lost in their own virtuosity Celestial Decay don't they write strong songs with passion, melody and incredible skill. 8/10

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