Dendera: Part One - Blood Red Sky (Metalbox)
I reviewed Dendera's second album very highly in 2015 and we first caught the band live they were supporting Queensryche in Bristol a month after the review. They arrived on the stage with so much passion that it was extremely hard not to bang your head immediately, they play chunky modern British heavy metal that owes as much to Maiden as it doesn't Metallica. This records is an EP intended to release new material but without having to bring out a whole album, the fact that it's called Part 1 indicates that we may see a second part soon.
This will hopefully be after frontman Ashley Edison (who has a magnificent voice) has retured from his new position fronting British Power metal band Power Quest. Part One opens with galloping modern thrash instrumental The Awakening the heaviness continues on Final Warning where the counterpoint of Edison's high vocals and the rifftastic instrumental section are done very well, the title track speeds things up with yet more nods to Trivium, Machine Head or even BFMV, infact this is probably the heaviest material Dendera have produced owing more to the NWOAHM and bands such as Iced Earth and Pyramaze than the normal NWOBHM influences that are rampant in the scene.
Dendera are a band that need to be heard, this EP is a good place to start but i urge you to go back and pick up their two full length albums as well, it's excellent heavy metal that they can replicate live (Check out Paul's Bloodstock review for details). 8/10
The Virginmarys: Sitting Ducks EP (Self Released)
The Virginmarys' debut record was very well reviewed by myself shortly after it's release in 2016, the record and subsequent tour were widely critically acclaimed, after a long tour the band reconvened to record this EP of four tracks to bring some new music to their live set. The Sitting Ducks EP opens with the stuttering title track which brings the band's trademark loud-quiet dynamics with some funky disco synths. It's a strong opener that is a trade off between The Black Keys and QOTSA, it leads into the percussive is Sweet Loretta which is a previous Classic Rock Magazine 'Tracks Of the Week' winner, it's evident that this is the track that deserves the radio play, it's catch, build on the hand-clap percussion meeting with Danny Dolan's drumming.
The Virginmarys have always been a band difficult to categorize, they are a little to rock for and indie band and too indie for hard rock but with their garage influences abound they have made themselves a very vital part of the British rock scene. Frontman/guitarist Ally Dicktay says that the matra for this EP is 'Peace, Love, Truth, Music' and that rings true from the opening notes. Sitting Ducks provides a reminder about what makes this band so unique in their field, it's an ideal introduction to new fans and a worthy addition for fans. 8/10
Pretty Little Enemy: Second Load (Self Released)
Any band that call themselves Metal ABBA can only go one of two ways and happily Somerset rockers Pretty Little Enemy are a band that can live up to their reputation, see a song such as Collide which is power pop at it's best but with some fat riffs backing up. The four piece are made up of a two blokes and two birds the rhythm section is Jason Coles (bass) Ben Dean (drums), while Georgina Bell plays a mean guitar and Louise Body sings her heart out.
The band have a real knack for crafting hook driven songs that have bite Play By The Rules has a crunchy groove to it while It's All Just A Show ramps up the heavy on a song that could easily have come from Paramore before the breakdown. Pretty Little Enemy are know for having an explosive live show and they try to channel as much of their fun-loving attitude into these four tracks as possible. Second Load has been put out to add to the bands live show and nothing here is particularly cerebral, it's just fun party pop metal. 7/10
Sepulchre: Great South Western Depression (Self Released)
Swansea three piece Sepulchre play an extreme form of metal that moves itself between the chaotic thrash noise of Slayer (Move Or Die) through the death metal mastery of Morbid Angel and the blistering Carcass (Bed Bound). Aimee Coppola thunders behind the drums as Chris Zoah Williams' bass leads Ignored's proto-grind, for a self produced EP the production here is good, nice and nasty but all the instruments are perfectly clear which means you can hear every distorted riff and growled vocals from Darren Evans. Having seen the band live I can vouch for their talent and it's writ large all over this EP, 6 tracks of death metal fury that whizz by in a flash making you want to do it all again. 7/10