Thursday 4 February 2016

Reviews: Dissona, Reaper's Riddle, Redwest

Dissona: Paleopneumatic (Self Released)

USA progressive metal of the most intricate and technically proficient kind. They follow the tradition of Fate's Warning, Symphony X, Shadow Gallery along with youngsters such as Haken and Tesseract. The band are truly progressive with Totality giving the best example of this as it moves from aggressive growl filled modern death/groove metal into a chamber music middle section before coming to an end in a thumping breakdown, this 9 minute track exemplifies exactly what Dissona are about, progressive metal with classical elements, jazz leanings, oriental flourishes on Odium as well as the gamut of metal genres with death, black, thrash all catered for. Having supported Opeth, Cynic, High On Fire, Dark Tranquillity, Leprous you can see how Dissona would fit with any of these bands. The performances on this record are outstanding much of the kudos goes to vocalist David Dubenic who has an unbelievable voice with an expansive vocal range that knocks you off you feet, he can go from guttural growls to soaring highs in an instant, he sings his heart out on The Last Resistance in the melodic first part before the track speeds up into it's power metal final part. Dubenic has sublime backing as Drew Goddard and Craig Hamburger work their asses off in the back room blasting away in the metallic sections of this record and also providing a deft touch on the final track Sunderance which is laced with bongos, percussion, sparse piano and violin to make it a muted outro in direct response to the rapid, furious first song Another Sky which is driven by Matt Motto's excellent guitar work as it twist and turns moving between faster and slower sections, with a middle eight that incorporates some electronics mixing numerous riffs and genres into just one 9 minute song. Paleopneumatic is as its title suggests can be primitive and impactful but also it is a sometimes mind bendingly complicated listen but give it a few spins and it will open up into a rewarding intensely musical listen from a band who are musical maestros but can also write some impressive songs . 8/10

Reapers Riddle: The End Is Nigh (Self Released)

Perth Australia traditional Heavy Metal with gruff vocals and a nod to thrash think Iced Earth and you'll be there, particularly because they have a concept set around the apocalypse on this record and as many of you may know John Schaffer has been adding to his Set Abominae storyline over the last few albums. The scene is set in the intro with news reports telling that the Devil has arrived over Sydney, Disentergrate is the first song proper with a chunky guitar riff leading the proceedings, the first thing I notice is the superb voice of frontman Clayton Mitchell who has a gritty, muscular vocal delivery that gives the songs their chest beating traditional metal sound, added to the excellent vocals of Mitchell are some expressive soloing from Kristen Sanfead who also supplies songs like the title track with the head banging riffs with bassist Jason Edwards, with the stringers supplying the rhythms its up to drummer Andrew Burt to lead the doom-laden Rise Of The Macchina. Welcome To The Wasteland has an 80's metal edge, while Write Of Passage has it's head in thrash. The End Is Nigh is a strong debut record from these Aussies, yes the production is a bit hazy but not so much it detracts from the record itself. If you like tough, masculine metal with a sci-fi edge and great concept then Reapers Riddle will get repeated spins. 7/10

Redwest: Crimson Renegade (Bakerteam Records)

Redwest are a Spaghetti Western themed metal band hailing from the home of cowboys...Italy...(yeah I know right?) If that sounds like it might be travesty then think of it like this imagine if a band like Alestorm or Turisas sang songs about The Old West and Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name rather than about Blackbeard or Vikings. The band have evolved since their first couple of EP's as stylistically the are now more in the Steampunk/Cowpunk region visually, the music too is more grown up although it is still the same mix of distorted metal riffs, down-home harmonicas and songs about heroes, outlaws and as the title suggest renegades. The band have a standard metal set up with two guitarists, bassist and drummer providing the metal licks, while the band have two singers with the frontman singing most of the tracks with his gritty baritone and their backing singer adding some yeehaw cowgirl additions. The songs are metallic with big riffs and grooves but they also have the typical pastiches of Spaghetti Westerns with fierce acoustic guitars and rattlesnake percussion on the title track, they do vary it a little with the Rammstein-like electronics of The Dreamcatcher. As you'll notice I'm not naming the band as they go by pseudonyms with all of them have colourful names like The Lurid, The Harasser, The Foreigner (who presumably wants to know what love is), The Stray, The Shy and The Shady One (Losco). This is a very good debut with just enough rocking songs to put it above a joke, the Western elements are a little strong at times with Ballad Of Ed W and Bullet Rain both sounding like the soundtrack to a barn dance, especially Ballad... sounds a lot like Ghost Riders In The Sky, but hey that's kind of the point. Balancing the metal and the Western theme is done with flair meaning that Redwest could be the next in line to join bands such as Alestorm or Sabaton for silly, grin inducing metal! 7/10  

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