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Thursday 30 August 2018

Reviews: Krisiun, Bast, Leeched, Rebel Wizard (Reviews By Paul S)

Krisiun: Scourge Of The Enthroned (Century Media)

Krisiun are 2 years short of their 30th anniversary. The Brazilian band, formed in 1990 have been an important and influential death metal act. Black Force Domain (1995), Conquerors Of Armageddon (2000), and Southern Storm (2008) have been landmark, deeply influential albums on the death metal scene. The band has always had a reputation for incredible intensity and ferocity. Over time their sound has become more technical, this culminated with 2015’s Forged In Fury, where this increased technicality maybe went too far, and diluted the bands customary brutality. Scourge Of The Enthroned seems to be a reaction to the bands last album. Although the album is still technical, it’s pointed in a different direction this time. The technicality is used to make the album more brutal, more nasty, more extreme, just MORE. There is a battering, slightly unhinged quality to all of the tracks here.

There is a similarity to some of Origins output, the band are using their amazing musical skills for brutality, rather than for any kind of progressive reasons; this is almost the opposite of progression. Most of the album takes place at breakneck speed, battering the listener into submission. But, even when they slow down, the riffs they use are slightly off kilter, giving a lurching, aggressive, angry feel to slower parts. The track Demonic III, has a rhythm that, although not particularly fast, has a furious, battering feel to it, that makes it one of the most violent tracks on the album. It’s hard to pick any stand out tracks on the album, due to the high quality of all the tracks on offer (although A Thousand Graves is a staggering display of chaos and ferocity, and Whirlwind of immortality are my personal favourites). Scourge Of The Enthroned is a cracking piece of aggressive, brutal, technical death metal. It’s an album that batters the crap out of you in such an enjoyable, pleasing way. Krisiun have blasted back with an album they can be rightly proud of. 8/10

Bast: Nanoångström (Black Bow Records)

London based Bast describe themselves as a ‘3 piece experimental vortex of blackened intensity and forlorn mournful doom’. Which is a pretty accurate description. this is their second album, after 2014’s Spectres. Their sound is a blend of doom and black metal, with maybe a little drone and post black metal thrown in as well. So, blackened doom, or possibly doomy black metal. This is an album that has many different moods and colours. The intro Distant Suns starts with quiet notes that slowly become tremolo picked, in a delicate, post black metal style. This leads us into the first track New Horizons, which starts with a huge doomy riff, and massive bellowing vocals. After this huge beginning, the song slowly morphs from doom to black metal, by the last few of minutes the song is all tremolo picked riffs and blast beats. 

The really clever thing about this album is how well the transitions between different styles are handled. This is a band that really understands dynamics and how to build intensity, but also how to bring a song back down again, the ebb and flow of this album is fantastic. Title track Nanoångström goes in the opposite direction to New Horizons; starting with a section that has an atmospheric black metal feel to it, before slowing down and introducing a post black metal feel, before this then morphs into a slower, almost stoner doom feel, that then has chanted vocals and a melody lead guitar part. All in 1 song, and it all works effortlessly. Each part is a natural progression, this is songwriting at it’s best. All the tracks on offer here have this beautiful shifting of mood and style that works so well, it’s experimental, but it’s an experiment that is insanely successful. Nanoångström is a brilliant doom/black metal album. I liked it the first time I listened to it, and it has grown on me with every listen. It’s beautiful and nuanced, massively heavy, intense and ferocious, all in one album. Highly recommended! 9/10

Leeched: You Took The Sun When You Left (Prosthetic Records)
Mancunian three piece Leeched have been going since early 2017. This is their first album, coming less than a year after an EP called Nothing Will Grow From The Rotten Ground. Leeched sound is mainly hardcore, but with elements of sludge and maybe a little black metal (although the black metal is more in the sound and attitude, rather than in any more obvious way). You Took The Sun When You Left is a 34 minute blast of rage and anger, a massively violent rampage of an album. There are slower parts to this album, but don’t expect any letup from the anger or violence, the slow parts are every bit as heavy and intense as anything Eyehategod have produced. 

The band does seem to be happier to use slower parts than most hardcore bands, but they all fit with the faster material, the slow parts aren’t respite, this isn’t a breathing space. The slow parts batter the listener into submission. The production job on this album is fantastic. In the sense that this is a very aggressive, nasty production job. The guitars sound viscous and the rhythm section is so fucking heavy. In places the production is a little like Dragged Into Sunlight, or Nails. In fact this is one of the most incendiary hardcore albums I’ve heard since Nail’s Abandon All Life. This album has a unique feel to it, the mixing of slow and fast, whilst not loosing any intensity is rare, and these guys pull it off brilliantly. Sublimely viscous, beautifully nasty. 8/10

Rebel Wizard: Voluptuous Worship Of Rapture And Response (Prosthetic Records)

Rebel Wizard is a 1 man project from Australian Bob Nekransov, who also has a hardcore project named after his surname. Rebel Wizard has been a very prolific beast releasing 7 EPs and 2 full length albums since 2015; Voluptuous Worship Of Rapture And Response, being the second album. Rebel Wizard seems to be an attempt to mix black metal and NWOBHM/power metal. Broadly the sound on offer here is musically NWOBHM/power metal, with vocals that are clearly supposed to be black metal in style. Occasionally the intensity and speed of the music increases to reach a sound that is basically messy thrash, possibly an attempt at black thrash. There aren’t any blast-beats or tremolo picking which you would usually expect from black metal. The vocals are harsh and shrill, and are recorded in a way that is supposed to emulate the sound of early low-fi black metal. However, that effect has been achieved by putting a constant hum and white noise on the vocals, so the vocals don’t really sound like early black metal, they just sound crap. 

The other problem with this, is that she same technique has not been used on the music, which has a slightly noisy, modern production to it. This leads to a feeling that the vocals don’t really fit with the music. This album seems to be an attempt at humour. All the songs have ridiculously long names, that give the impression of trying to satirise the black metal scene. To be honest the only one that works is the track Drunk On The Wizdom Of Unicorn Semen, which I will admit to finding amusing. The rest are just long and unwieldy, Mother Nature, Oh My Sweet Mistress, Showed Me The Other Worlds and It Was Just Fallacy, ok it’s very long, but I wouldn’t really call it funny. The vocals don’t really help, as you can’t hear any actual words, so there's no way they can add to the laughs on offer. You just have to find not very good power metal with shit, unintelligible vocals funny, and I don’t. I realise, I’m probably coming across as a poe faced, humourless idiot, who needs to lighten up, and grow a sense of humour.

After all isn’t funny subjective? However, I do think I’m allowed to have an opinion on this for one very important reason. I’m a standup comedian. I gig a lot, and also promote and MC comedy gigs. And in my opinion, this is painfully unfunny. What this reminds me of, is a comedian trying new material at an open mic night. Funny is so subjective, when you write it, you don’t know if it’s actually funny till you’ve tried it out in front of an audience. Sometimes it works, you get big laughs, sometimes you die on your arse. And quite often, you don’t know why some bits work and some bits don’t, you keep doing the bits that work, and dump the ones that don’t. This is material that should be dumped. I’m sure when Bob told his mates down the pub what he was planning they thought it was hilarious. 

Bad power metal with loads of mediocre solos (and there are so many, very generic solos, which are also far too high in the mix), terrible vocals and overlong, not overly funny song titles, probably sounds amazingly funny when you’re pissed down the pub, his friends probably thought the idea was ripping! But this is material that just doesn’t work, and needs to be dropped. The fact that this project has produced 7 EPs and 2 albums in 3 years might be a clue to the lack of quality here. Maybe if Bob had only made one Rebel Wizard album in that time he might have made one good album rather than lots of fairly mediocre music. Then again, maybe he should stick to hardcore. 2/10

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