Dark Funeral: Where Shadows Forever Reign (Century Media) [Review By Paul]
Black Metal bands from Sweden continue to deliver exceptional releases and one of the seminal bands from the second wave of Black Metal, Dark Funeral have delivered a stunning 6th album which cements them even more deeply into the legendary status. With the suicide of lead singer Blackmoon in 2013, the band recruited Cursed 13’s Heljemadar. Now I’m no expert on the moves or status of many of those in the Scandinavian Black Metal scene but Dark Funeral have provided some of the definitive moments over the past two decades and are rightly revered.
Where Shadows Forever Reign maintains the themes which have underpinned the band’s previous output, anti-Christian, satanic imagery and pure evil. Opener Unchain My Soul is atmospheric and crushing, with the typical trademark blast beats, thunderous riffs and guttural vocals. As One We Shall Conquer maintains the tempo, with a crushing assault combining with slabs of melody. The overall power of a black metal band in full flow is a fantastic thing and Dark Funeral get into top gear extremely quickly. Beast Above Man takes a slightly slower pace at the start, although the inevitable pounding drums never lets up before it opens out full throttle.
The tolling of a bell sets the scene for the doomy As I Ascend which oozes atmosphere, huge riffs and a narrative soliloquy. Eerie guitar work from Lord Ahriman introduces the hypnotic masterpiece Temple Of Ahriman whilst The Eternal Eclipse broods and bruises. The first release from the album, Nail Them To The Cross leaves little to the imagination. The track swells like a huge wave that then crashes down smashing all before it. The title track closes an absolute beast of an album which is very likely to feature in my top 10 come the end of the year. Quite blisteringly brilliant. 9/10
Chevelle: The North Corridor (Epic)
Chicago native Chevelle have been plying their trade in alternative, modern rock music since 1995, since then they have released 8 albums and toured the world many times. In what is unusual for many bands their line up remains relatively unchanged, formed by the three Loeffler brothers, bassist Joe left the band in 2005 and since then his place has been taken by Dean Bernardini who keeps in it in the family being the brother in law to his band mates.
The North Corridor is the bands eighth record and it's as immediate, modern and ambitious as their previous records, relying heavily on the three way interplay of the instrumentation with a groove provided by Bernardini's bass and Sam's drums as Pete adds his technical guitar riffs for what is a distinctly alt rock/post grunge sound, putting them musically on the same plateau as fellow Chicago band (and tour mates) Disturbed as well as Breaking Benjamin, Staind, Seether and also Tool due to the vocals of Pete mixed with the synth infected nu-metal grunt of bands such as Korn on Door To Door Cannibals.
There sound is that of big riffs, a dark tone, thought provoking lyrics and a chest beating bravado on Joyride (Omen) which has Pete add some strained aggression to his vocal which carries through on Rivers. In fact The North Corridor is one of the heaviest albums Chevelle have been involved in, there is a real fury about this record that means the first 6 songs don't relent at all coming in with some impressive guitar playing on top of the sledgehammer backroom.
Young Wicked even has an intricate lead break at the end, after the initial ferocity of the record Warhols' Showbiz slows a little but still has the fierceness that is evident throughout the record with a light and shade dynamic to the swaggering riff. Punchline is where Chevelle's electronic influences comes in with a dark industrial sound offsetting the thumping heavy rock power of the rest of the album.
The North Corridor is great album from a band that have a lot of experience doing what they are doing, they know their sound and can create songs that are interesting, powerful and at times cathartic, packing a punch that many bands can't replicate, it's high quality post-millennial music that brings the genre into the the new decade. 8/10
Trick Or Treat: The Rabbit's Hill Pt.2 (Frontiers Records)
Trick Or Treat started their career as a Helloween tribute act, this isn't obvious at all, in fact yes...it is...it's painfully obvious as Trick Or Treat sound exactly like Helloween, they have the high powered power metal sound of the legendary Germans nailed. Surprisingly the band aren't German at all they hail from the sunnier climes of Italy but the Teutonic power metal sound is the overriding factor to the album. The Rabbit's Hill Pt.2 is their fourth album and it's the sequel to The Rabbi's Hill Pt.1 released in 2012, both the records are concept pieces and are based on the very metal story of...Watership Down, yes the very upsetting book/film about the bunnies that made you weep as child.
Happily the albums are not as traumatic as the famous cartoon adaptation and don't worry folks they have already covered Art Garfunkel's harrowing Bright Eyes on Part 1 so no need to relive those memories, part two continues the tale which was called The Rabbit's Hill in Italian, with the darker tone of taking over the band's usually happy-go-lucky sound, this record like the previous one has guests helping the band with the characterizations.
The calibre of the guests involved has increased due to this being the band's first record for Frontiers, as Tim 'Ripper' Owens adds his devastating screams and growls to the aggressive They Must Die, Sonata Arctica frontman Tony Kakko lends his soaring melodies to the folky United and Sara Squadrani from Ancient Bards on the ballad of Never Say Goodbye. The band are all quality musicians and their standard of power metal is notable, but they can never really get away from the Helloween sound, still fans of happy power metal will love this album. 7/10