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Thursday 14 January 2016

Reviews: Stone Cold Dead, Chronos Zero, Serpent (2015 Reviews Catch Up)

Stone Cold Dead: Lava Flows (Volcanic Music)

Stone Cold Dead is a collaborative project between a few Greek musicians, the idea is a conceptual album that merges the extreme sides of metal with progressive and more mainstream sub-genres. The main contributors are Ex Rotting Christ and Nightfall man George Bokos who handles vocals, guitars and production and Charis Pazaroulas who adds bass and contrabass (this is what gives the album it's gut punching bottom end). These two are the only ones that play on every track, they have recruited Dimitrios Dorian, Yannis Stavropoulos and most notably Nile man George Kollias as the drummers on this record each one drumming for of the albums three 'parts' (labelled Stone, Cold and Dead). Opening track Climbing The Cage thunders ion with blast beats and Gojira-like groove full of fret slides and low level punching bass as well as roaring vocals from Bokos, the band continue with this no nonsense brutalism on Cyclone Speaking which will have you bouncing in your chair with it's bass-heavy down tuned power and amazing drums as everything gets a bit early LOG, the title track slows things down with a percussive intro that brings elements of Max Cavalera fronting Sabbath. Part 2 starts with the thrashy Death Drive which yet again sounds bit like Soulfly and has Pazaroulas' bass leading everything, this album is great very brutal and aggressive but with a keen ear for melody and some progressive touches throughout, tracks like Hubrisim have elements of Deftoneswhile Deconstructing The Architect has Maiden flavour in it's opening before the final track And The Tree Becomes A Sphere brings everything together in great finale. These Greeks can do muscular metal very well, yes it can blur into one at some points but this style of music is all about feel and Lava Flows will kick your head in and possibly rupture your spleen, which I guess is a feeling! 7/10   

Chronos Zero: Hollowlands (Bakerteam)

Wel well well, what do you get if you cross Symphony X, Amaranthe and Rhapsody? The answer would be something close to the sound of Chronos Zero who hail from Italy and boast a progressive metal sound, a futuristic concept album dealing with science fiction and fact and three vocalists; two male, one female all of whom weave complex vocal melodies together. The band have added the growling vocals of Manuel and the soaring classically trained pipes of Margherita since their debut meaning that the Russell Allen-like throat of Jan Manenti (from Love.Might.Kill) now has two perfect foils to tell the complex story. Luckily he is also aided by the virtuosity of the band who rely on the tried and tested method of having the single guitarist playing with insane skill, a rhythm section that changes the time signature and pace at will fluidly adding twists and turns to the songs and a whole load of keyboards from a dedicated keyboardist as well as the from the guitarist, this means the whole thing is cinematic in scope and like I said the Symphony X looms large but not enough to overpower what the band are trying to do, they have enough individuality to separate them from the pack. As I said the album is a concept and as I haven't read the booklet, or heard the debut album, I can't really tell what it's about but it seems to be set in a futuristic world which means that the prog/power of the band is perfect fit, the album weighs in at 14 songs an none of these are short full of instrumental sections, solos as well as barrages of riffage, especially Shattered which tries to throw in as many as possible with three time changes in the song, so if you are not a fan of prog metal it may be a slog but for those that like their metal clever, vivid, huge in scope and full of technical musicianship then Hollowlands - The Tears Path: Chapter One (to give it it's full title) will be sitting somewhere near the top of your must buy list! Expressive, symphonic metal from this Italian metal mob. 8/10 

Serpent: Nekromant (Transubstants)

Swedish band Serpent have a particular sound and that is spacey doom rock, with Sabbath and particularly The Sword with the same kind of chunky guitar riffs that are placed between NWOBHM and doom metal topped by the keening vocals of frontman/bassist Mattias Ottosson, who sounds very like The Swords J.D Cronise, in fact everything about Serpent sounds like The Sword Demon On Our Side could have come off any of their albums while Hey You creeps, and the swaggering chest beating of Praying For A Curse has another similarity to that of Grand Magus. Serpent are a good band but they do sound an awful lot like The Sword so if you like the Texan fuzz merchants then Serpent will be up your street however many will just slither away and seek out the originals. 5/10

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