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Wednesday 18 July 2018

Reviews: Devildriver, Golgatha, Beyond The Katakomb, Barkasth (Reviews By Paul H)

Devildriver: Outlaws ‘Til The End Vol 1 (Napalm Records)

Album number eight from groove metal monsters Devildriver and it’s a brutal affair. What’s unusual with this monstrous offering is that it contains 12 covers of outlaw country music, albeit with a ruthless reworking which never lets up on the aggression from the start. It features a plethora of punk and metal stars who add their own energy to an already incendiary release. There’s the unmistakable presence of Fear Factory’s Burton C Bell on Dad’s Gonna Kill Me, originally recorded by Richard Thompson, the snarling of Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe on Willie Nelson’s Whiskey River and the country legend Ghost Riders In the Sky, which is probably the most recognisable song on the album, as well as 36 Crazy Fists main man Brock Lindow on Steve Earle’s Copper Head Road. I’ve not been a fan of Dez Fafara and co since Pray For Villains in 2010 and this release, as thunderously heavy as it is, does little to change my view. Fafara’s screeching delivery continues to sound like nails down a chalk board, and whilst the riffs flow freely, the drums are blisteringly and there is sufficient here to satisfy their army of fans, it fails to ignite any kind of passion within me. If you like Devildriver, then this will be another to get your teeth into. If not, like me you are likely to avoid their set at Bloodstock this year in search of something a little more creative. 6/10

Golgatha: The Ascendant (Self Released)

This is the debut album from the progressive rockers who hail from Denton, Texas. The band comprises Zach Goodenough on vocals and brother Alex on guitar and Hunter Kyle on guitar and vocals. With a blend of rock, blues and a range of progressive influences, The Ascendant moves from the Djent style of Indigo to the pop rock of Unity. Heavy sections with growling almost death metal vocals seem somewhat out of place at times but fit snugly into the blistering Sons Of Fire and Muse. Well-crafted and developed songs with intricate guitar breaks intermingling with heavy synth sections make it hard to stick one label on this release, which is probably a good thing. A solid range of alt-rock with a heavy edge make this album one of the year’s more interesting releases. 7/10

Beyond The Katakomb: Beyond The Katakomb (Black Lodge Records)

Beyond The Katakomb is the melodic epic metal solo project of Swedish vocalist LG Persson, main mover behind power metal outfit Storyteller. Produced by Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry, and with inspiration drawn from gothic mysticism and the underworld, Beyond The Katakomb is 55 minutes of anthemic, soaring power and melodic metal which comprises everything from death growls to full Europe style radio friendly songs. Like so many of the bands that deliver this type of music (and of course, you could argue the same about any genre), it follows a well-worn blueprint.

Underpinned by swathes of deep rich keyboards, courtesy of Matt Guillory (James LaBrie), the 12 track album certainly contains sufficient to interest most metal fans, especially those who veer towards the majesty of Blind Guardian, Firewind Freedom Call etc. Alongside Persson and Guillory, the slick guitar work of Daniel Palmqvist, solid bass lines of veteran Johan Niemann (Evergrey, Therion to name but two) and skin pounding of Scar Symmetry’s Henrik Ohlsson who also provides the excellent death growls. We Rule The Night has the hook of Arch Enemy with the hook of Malmsteen whilst Sin Healer is supercharged rock. There is plenty of potential in this band and it would be great to see them in the live arena at some point in the future. 7/10

Barkasth: Decaying (Svarga Music)

There’s been a real surge in quality metal from the Balkan states in recent years and whilst Ukraine isn’t technically within that group of countries, they have also been amongst the front runners in the contributions. Decaying is the debut album by black metal four-piece Barkasth, who have been developing their sound since 2015, and for a first outing it certainly is no slouch. With each track punching way above the five-minute mark, four hitting over six minutes, there isn’t any throw away sub three-minute songs here. With themes of anti-religion dominating, it’s easy to summon the storm clouds, rain and ice and huddle in misery as the band blast beat their way. 

Begging By Freaks opens the album in dramatic fashion, with atmospheric effects enhancing your introductions. Alone is a more structured and composed affair, slowing the barrage and whilst still moving at a pace that most mainstream metal bands can’t cope with; some neat guitar work from Arkonth who also works with guitarist Goreon on the demonic black metal growls as the track meanders its way forward. The album loses a little direction on Blood & Flesh, which is a rather mundane track but my attention was restored fully with Soul Away, a mighty beast of a track, with imperious time changes, bizarre vocals, classic tremelo picking and blast beats a plenty. The remaining tracks are solid, impressive and in the case of Shepherd, outstanding. 

Plenty of hand clawing potential, some visceral riffage throughout closed by the sinister and malevolent …Where Was The Son Of God. This is an impressive piece of work which demands repeated plays. 8/10

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