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Friday 6 July 2018

Reviews: Bullet For My Valentine, The Sea Within, High Priestess, Incursion

Bullet For My Valentine: Gravity (Spinefarm)

To say Welsh band Bullet For My Valentine have had ups and downs, members have left, they’ve been equally revered and reviled in the press and their musical output ranges from stellar (The Poison) to absolute crap (Temper Temper). They’ve never full decided on what sort of band they wanted to be veering wildly from thrash/metalcore to almost pop it seemed that with their most recent album Venom they’d discovered their bite and lust for fast aggressive music however their new album Gravity sees them returning to a lighter more radio-friendly approach. I’m not saying it’s lightweight, the heaviness is still there, as is the angst from The Poison but here BFMV have done a BMTH, adding electronics, slower more emotive parts to repetitive breakdowns and arena-baiting choruses.

It’s worked for BMTH taking them from their deathcore roots onto Radio 1 etc but I feel that Bullet don’t need this leap, they are already bonafide arena headliners and often take special guest slots at festivals, so it’s clearly a creative decision by the band rather than one to increase their listenership. This is the first BFMV record not to feature Moose behind the drumkit and is the official recorded debut of Jamie Matthias and it’s also their debut for Spinefarm records but I wanted a continuation of the rediscovered heaviness of Venom occasionally it comes trough on Don’t Need You but mostly I did fine this record a little uninspired, their hardcore fan base will lap it up and I’m sure in concert later this year they’ll be great but Gravity does bring be down to earth with bump. 4/10

The Sea Within: S/T (InsideOut)

The Sea Within are an art rock/prog rock collective formed by Roine Stolt (Transatlantic, The Flower Kings), Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain Of Salvation), Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Karmakanic, The Tangent), Tom Brislin (Renaissance) and Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson). With the membership established they decamped to London and started writing music together while also socialising outside of the studio which Stolt says was important to the project. The Sea Within is prog unashamed gloriously artistic, emotional at times ethereal progressive music, but you see I say music not rock as The Hiding Of Truth is more ambient than rock, the pulsing synergy of all involved taking as many risks as possible. It's a record that's a sum of its parts drawing from The Flower Kings, Pain Of Salvation (Gildenlöw's voice is so distinctive).

Yes also is a influence with the British stalwarts pastoral prog creeping up on The Roaring Silence, outside of prog though the parping sax on Ashes Of Dawn brings jazz and Broken Chord is drenched in hazy Beatlemania but evolves into a sprawling progressive beast. Ronie's guitar playing is majestic throughout soaring to the the stratosphere so many times he must be racking up hundreds of air miles. Minneran's is in his element behind the kit laying down the rhythms with Reingold as Brislin's keys are awash with melody. The band use The Flower King's penchant for multiple vocalists as Gildenlöw gives over the mic to Flying Colors' Casey McPherson for a couple numbers, his lighter touch adds a different perspective too the songs he contributes too. With over 70 minutes of music it's not for the faint of heart but as the Denise has the strength sapping pathos of Pain Of Salvation you have to breathe a sigh and jump back in again, every subsequent play opens up something you didn't hear before. A progressive near masterpiece! 9/10

High Priestess: S/T (Ripple Music)

LA psychedelic doom band High Priestess let the music do the talking, the slow burning jangly start of Firefly builds into waves of distortion and finally the revereb treated vocals chant the lyrics as the sludgy riffs drag you into the Priestess' cosmic void. The membership of the band are Katie Gilchrest (guitars, vocals, organ), Mariana Fiel (bass, vocals) and Megan Mullins (drums, percussion) and they drag the waters of brain melting doom with 6 elongated slabs of kaleidoscopic fuzz. I said at the beginning that they let the music do the talking as many of these tracks have long winding instrumental passages that bring acoustic segues, down tuned riffs, expressive percussion and hypnotic bassline this self titled debut will mess with your mind especially on Despise which brings the gloom and growls of My Dying Bride, as Take The Blame and Mother Forgive Me ramps up the heavy Sabbath fuzz. Ritualistic proto-metal is what the High Priestess is about so kneel at her altar and feel the fuzz. 7/10

Incursion: Scourge (Self Released)

Welsh metal band Incursion have been featured on this blog a fair few times, however we have only ever listened to the band live (usually in the doldrums of Fuel Rock Club) so the chance to review their recently released EP wasn't going to be overlooked (although maybe it's a little late!). So what is their EP like, pitching themselves as a post-apocalyptic metal band, Monument To All Your Sins builds from some cinematics into some heavy riffage that increases in volume and pace as the 2 minutes of the track progresses and the spoken words come back just before Gravemind explodes with an industrial fury, Adam and Robbie obliterating everything with the rhythm section as Jonny provides riffs and screams.

It's a dense wall of sound with biting synths that is influenced by SYL, The Defiled and has the brutality of Devildriver, the electronics that cut through Scourge are well welcomed and it sees Jonny using his entire vocal range from growls and roars to cleans (which are much better on record), it's followed by the atmospheric Tortuous Mentor which has a thick aggressive groove and the EP is rounded out by the The Times And Trials Of Hans Zoller which just screams circle pit. Scourge is a pretty immediate how do you do from these Rhondda ragers, throw down! 7/10  

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