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Friday 28 September 2018

Reviews: Revocation, Leah, Helion Prime, Hank Erix (Reviews By Paul H & Stief)

Revocation: The Outer Ones (Seasons Of Mist) [Paul H]

It’s always pleasing to get to grips with a meaty, heavy bastard and the latest album from the four-piece extreme metal outfit out of Boston, Massachusetts is exactly that. Building impressively on 2016’s Great Is Our Sin, the technicality remains as detailed and intense as before with the polyrhythmic interplay between David Davidson and Dan Gargiulo superb. Davidson’s angry snarl remains full of vitriolic hate but once more you can hear the words as he spits them out. Whilst Great Is Our Sin was largely based on historic themes, Davidson has now moved away from that, and based the title track on H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horror in his self-created universe. Opening track Of Unworldly Origin throws pleasing melody and harmonies which doesn’t often appear in the world of extremis but retains an abrasive heaviness that could still crush you with ease.

Fathomless Catacombs is a lesson in perfect melodic death metal, and with a clean production none of the intricate guitar work is lost. But it’s not all about the guitar work, and drummer Ash Pearson’s performance suggests he must have eight arms at times, such is the dexterity and power he displays. His opening salvo on the title track for example, is incredible. With Brett Bamberger comfortably in situ since 2012, the devil’s bass lines are assured, and he links with Pearson to anchor the album with military precision. With time changes aplenty, progressive passages and textures adding to the complexity of the band’s sound, The Outer Ones is an organic progression for a band who have continued to develop and experiment since that debut release Empire Of The Obscene in 2008. This release propels the band forward and with the unit now totally in synch, there is not a reason in the world why Revocation cannot make massive strides with this stunning release. If you happen to catch them on their brief visit to the UK in December, then you are in for a treat that Santa won’t get anywhere near. 9/10

Leah: The Quest (Inner Wound Recordings) [Stief]

With a backing group consisting of members of Nightwish, Blind Guardian, Delain and Orphaned Land, with production by Oliver Philipps, who produced for Delain and Serenity, along with mixing by Jacob Hansen, who has worked with bands such as Volbeat, Amaranthe and Evergrey, it’s obvious that Leah’s pulling out all the stops for her third full album. Before I even start on a lineup that can only be described as a symphonic metal fan’s wet dream, I should focus on the lady herself. Leah’s vocals have retained that wonderful, borderline-ethereal sound from 3 years ago and she shows a wide range from start to finish. This shows especially well when listening to songs such as Labyrinth and the beautiful album closer, The Water Is Wide, an almost otherworldly piece that lifts you with Enya-like serenity.

The mixture of instruments from around the world add to this otherworldly feeling, with Nightwish’s Troy Donockley playing the pipes and flutes alongside Orphaned Land’s Chen Balbus on the Saz and Oud. I could write all I want about what each member brings to the album as a whole, but personally, I feel this is definitely an album people have to experience themselves. Leah is definitely making a strong steady path to the top of the symphonic metal food chain, and if she keeps it going like this, there won’t be any stopping her. 9/10

Helion Prime: Terror Of The Cybernetic Space Monster (AFM Records) [Stief]

Opening with Failed Hypothesis, a hauntingly beautiful techno/new wave feeling song laced with a wonderful piano track which builds up into a bombastic organ piece replete with heavy guitars, Helion Prime then rip into A King Is Born, which boasts some pretty decent breakdowns throughout. The band seem to play around with their tempos from song to song. There are the slower, heavy songs, such as the aforementioned A King Is Born, along with most of Atlas Obscura and Spectrum. Then you get the fast paced Dragonforce-esque songs, which fire a salvo of guitars and drums directly into your ears. Both styles equally as good and neither lacking in regards to the attention given by the band.

Top marks go to the band for the album closer, which gives a mixture of all the styles, and clocks in at an impressive 17 minutes and 16 seconds! Having replaced vocalist Kayla Dixon, who herself replaced the debut album’s Heather Smith, it’s pretty obvious to anyone who had listened to their debut that Sozos Michael’s voice differs from the previous members. Sozos seems born for this role, his voice fitting perfectly with the frenetic sounds the rest of the band pump out. Other newcomers include guitarist Chad Anderson and drummer Alex Bosson. Great power metal from start to finish, with a little bit of extra heaviness sprinkled throughout. 8/10

Hank Erix: Nothing But Trouble (Livewire/Cargo Records UK) [Stief]

Having reviewed Hank Erix's band Houston just under a year ago, I was looking forward to another slice of delicious AOR pie, and boy I wasn’t disappointed. Right from the outset, Erix's first foray into solo work is a tunnel straight to the 80’s; the guitars, the synth, the emotional vocals. Erix's vocals are perfect for AOR, never pushing beyond his limits, and hitting all the emotional marks. QFT’s Linnea Vikström lends her voice to Affair Of The Heart, and works great with Erix's. Although overall, the whole band sound great, major props have to go to Michael Palace for his guitar work, with excellent riffage and solos, and also to Micke Jansson’s keyboard and synth work, giving the whole album that brilliantly cheesy AOR feel, which in places sounds like it wouldn’t sound out of place in an 80’s film soundtrack. I have to give a special shoutout to my standout lyrics of the album, taken from Electricity: "Her hair is soft and it's curly/It makes me think of sunlight and the beach." Just great AOR cheese from start to finish. 9/10

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