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Monday 8 August 2016

Reviews: Sinsaenum, Vainaja, Foray Between Ocean [Reviews By Paul]

Sinsaenum: Echoes Of The Tortured (earMusic)

Echoes Of The Tortured is a 21 song debut album from extreme metal outfit Sinsaenum. The band contain a number of iconic members of the metal community including Dragonforce bassist Frédéric Leclercq, who composed all the music and co-wrote the lyrics. Having had these demos since the late 1990s Leclerq eventually founded the band (the name based on the merger of sin and insane) with Loudblast frontman Stéphane Buriez who plays guitar on the album, drummer Joey Jordison, co-vocalists Sean Zatorsky of Dååth and Attila Csihar of Mayhem with bassist Heimoth (Seth) completing the line-up.

It’s a pretty brutal release as you’d expect, with not a love song to be seen. Jordison’s ferocious drumming is as impressive as ever, 110mph throughout whilst the combination of duel vocalists works brilliantly. At times it is just so aggressive you need your seatbelt on and I would not want to put this on the car stereo whilst in a rush on the motorway as I’d lose my licence. Lyrically there are no surprises, with themes of death, Dead Souls, Condemned To Suffer and anti-Christian intent, Excommunicare, Inverted Cross. The album fuses atmospheric interludes with all out extreme metal, the interludes providing some respite between the relentless barrages. For example, the haunting Lullaby allows breath to be regained after Dead Souls and the absolute carnage of Final Curse. Musically it is quite blisteringly good.

If you like extreme metal. If you don’t then what the hell are you doing here? Highlights? Well, the Sepultura tinged Army Of Chaos is immense, Condemned To Suffer merges Vader with Cannibal Corpse and the title track is just plain disgusting. It’s also a grower which gets better with repeated listens. I’m no death metal connoisseur but the demonic vocal delivery of Mayhem’s mouthpiece combine with a true death metal legend in Zatorsky gives the band the cojones. Oh, and the guitar work is superb too. Buy it. Don’t drive to it. That is all. 9/10

Vainaja: Verenvalaja (Svart Records)

Two years ago I was captivated by the atmospheric death doom of Finnish three piece Vainaja and their debut release Kadotetut; a sinister and haunting album based on a folklore tale of an evil cult. Two years have passed but the Finns are back with Verenualja or Blood Caster, six tracks of the most crushing and atmospheric death doom which focus on the first six chapters of a tome, written by the mysterious figure Wilhelm Waenaa, a leading figure in the cult upon which Kadotetut was based.

As with the debut release, the Finns remain stunningly heavy, with massive riffs, ominous vocals and now with the addition of some clean lyrics which enhance and add to the horrific tales. Opener Risti sets the scene before the pace increases with the brutal Sielu, a faster opening soon slows to the more familiar brooding death growl of bassist and vocalist Wilhelm; shades of Emperor and Dark Funeral coming to the fore. The track develops into a full blown monster with pounding drums and a cascade of guttural fretwork from Kristian. However, it is the unsettling vocals of Wilhelm that really unnerve you.

Clocking in at 44 minutes and consisting of a mere six tracks, you quickly realise that these aren’t short three-minute throwaway tracks and come the middle of the album, we hit the ten-minute centrepiece, the terrifying Usua. This brooding piece combines the most frightening death vocals with baleful clean vocals of guest Jarkko Nikkila, incredibly powerful riffs and Aukusti’s percussion fitting perfectly. The song slows halfway through, the addition of strings,0horns and the sound of thunder, flame and just the vocal of Wilhelm echoing some of Tom G Warrior’s most haunting work. This piece is the most powerful on the album and builds to an eerie conclusion with the use of strings and the crows echoing in the background.

The second half of the album continues with chapters 4, 5 and 6 of the book. Valaja maintains the intensity, evil riffs and dark lyrics flowing. Chapter 5, Kultti continues in the same vein, throbbing bass lines crash against foreboding guitar like waves against the rocks whilst Wilhelm’s vocals never cease to frighten with the guttural delivery. Album closer, the seven minute Kehto begins slowly and calmly, tension building as the flow of deathly vocals commences. It doesn’t pick up much in pace but continues to build in sheer weight with merciless doom laden riffs. The use of effects, synths and echoes really adds to the overall imagery with the contrast between Wilhelm’s portentous death vocal and Nikkila’s clean delivery just stunning. Whilst the influences of the band are plain throughout, Verenvalaja has built on their debut and has been worth the wait. With another 11 chapters still to be explored, the Vainaja journey has a good way to go. 10/10

Foray Between Ocean: Depression Neverending (Prime Eon Media Ltd)

Greek metal is becoming a far more regular feature these days and if you like atmospheric symphonic death metal then Foray Between Ocean’s debut release Depression Neverending will be to your tastes. At nearly an hour in length this is good value with twelve tracks that pound relentlessly at you. With a decent production and well-constructed songs, the band mix clean and death vocals well with the traditional blast beats, driving guitars and layered keyboards all in the mix. My immediate comparison was with India’s premier metal outfit Demonic Resurrection, who provide a similar sound. Lost Sky is a complex number, combine light and shade whilst Castaway In Disappointment goes full bore before allowing the band to express themselves a little more outside of the battering ram attack. John Toussas’s vocals are solid with the death growls and clean vocals working well. Themis Ioannau’s guitar work is excellent. The keyboard work of Dion Chistodonlatos really adds to the compositions, simple yet also complex.

In a very competitive field, Foray Between Ocean have served up a high quality release. Tracks such as My Orient and The End Of My Time demonstrate that they can hold their own in the balls out brutality stakes although whether they can stand out ahead of the crowd is difficult to predict and if I have one criticism it’s that all the tracks do tend to merge. If you like your metal full of atmospheric keyboards, blasting drumming and intricate guitar work then this is worth a listen. 7/10

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