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Saturday 25 March 2017

Reviews: Alunah, Cryonic Temple, Impavidus

Alunah: Solennial (Svart Records)

Solennial is the fourth record from East Midlands Doom troupe Alunah, led by the bewitching vocals and feedback drenched guitar of front woman Sophie Day, the band have been playing atmospheric, mystical, pagan folklore influenced doom metal for a while now and they have really made a name for themselves on the UK scene building their following and their maturity as a band with every album cycle. This record is their most accomplished with every song having the distinct fuzzy guitars of Sophie, David Day adds the melodious Iommi worshipping leads most recognisable on The Reckoning Of Time and the potent Fire Of Thornborough Henge.

It's doom how it should be done with massive rhythm section as the very low end of Daniel Burchmore fits like glove with drummer Jake Mason both giving a great account of themselves on the ominous Petrichor and in direct opposition to the haunting vocals of Sophie. Alunah have always been able to tell a story in a short time not relying on the mammoth playback times of many of their peers they do more in four minutes than some bands do with twelve.

Lugh's Assembly is the album's longest song at 7+ minutes and is followed by a cover of The Cure's A Forest where the band make the song their own. Solennial is a superior doom album showing that there just seems to be something about it raining all Spring and Summer that makes British bands so good at doom and it's the rich heritage of the country that Alunah's so damn satisfying. 8/10

Cryonic Temple: Into Glorious Battle (Scarlet Records)

Into Glorious Battle that is a title that leaves nothing to the imagination, Swedes Cryonic Temple are power metal through and through, every single note they play has leather, sweat and caress of steel pumping through it from Micke Dahlkvist's frenzied double kick drum pairing so well with Roland Westbom's deep bass licks. Their powerful rhythm section drive speedier tracks such as All The Kingsmen and the storming Prepare For War setting the foundation for the dual guitar harmonies of Markus Grundström and Esa Ahonen to really impress.

Like all good guitar pairings their axes are in perfect sync giving these tracks solos and lead breaks Dragonforce would be proud of. In fact Cryonic Temple sound more like Dragonforce than they do say fellow Templar loving Swedes Hammerfall. If Herman Li is listening to this album he may want to ask for some writers credits as this record sits very comfortably in Dragonforce's extreme power metal bracket. Much of this comparison is due to the synths and orchestrations of the unknown keyboardist called Miss U on the band's Facebook.

Cryonic Temple had their formation back in 1996 but this is their first album since 2008 and their first with the powerful pipes of Mattias L, his gritty vocals add gravitas to slower numbers like Heroes Of The Day (a song that has touches of Metallica's Unforgiven) which also features Karin Fechner bolstering the backing choirs. At 14 tracks and over an hour this album could be real slog but track after track Cryonic Temple deliver quality power metal in spades, it peaks and troughs well with every three or four hell (bent) for leather songs there are slower, cinematic pieces that serve as records stopgaps from the heroic battle metal that populates the rest of the record.

 Into Glorious Battle is everything you could want in a power metal album, it even has a track called Mean Streak which despite not being a Y&T cover contains more Meniketti-isms than is decent, I suppose to be critical I could say that the production is not as sharp as it could be but that's not important, most of the time you are too busy getting your face melted off to care. A magnificent album, pretty much perfect, buy it, grab broadsword and ride into battle with Crom in your heart! 9/10

Impavidus: Eradication Of Mankind (Self Released)

Manchester groove mob return with their second EP hot on the heels of their first in 2016, starting with thunderous drumming the EP kicks off in fine style, due to the production the bass and guitars are low in the mix but you can hear them clearly. The impressive drumming of Chris O'Rouke is unfortunately a second place in terms of what grabs your attention as that award goes too vocalist Michelle Adamson who has some of the finest dual vocals I've heard, guttural vocals that come from the depths of hell but also keening almost operatic clean vocals. Eradication Of Mankind has four excellent death/groove metal tracks, thick, fat riffs, bludgeoning drumming and binary vocals that are both angel and demon in one voice. Keep an eye out for Impavidus they may just become a serious contender. 7/10

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