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Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Reviews: Conan, Vreid, Kadavar, Solus Ex Inferis (Reviews By Paul H & Paul S]

Conan: Existential Void Guardian (Napalm Records) [Paul S]

This is Conan’s fourth album, the first to feature new drummer Johnny King. The main template that we know and love hasn’t changed that much, the band have allowed their sound to evolve without moving it so far that they are unrecognisable. The heavy as anything caveman riffs are still there, Jon Davis’s howl still cuts through the sludgy morass. The sound is maybe a little more drone infused, and there is possibly a little more melody. The first difference that hits you though, is the track Paincantation, which is a 55 second blast beat. This was hinted at on the last Conan album Revengeance, but this could have come straight from a black metal album.

The more listens you give the album, however, the more the less obvious changes come through. Amidst The Infinite has a slow drone quality, that is hypnotically able to get into your psyche. I found I was constantly humming this track, not an obvious standout song when you first listen to the album, but it slow burns it’s way into your mind. Volt Thrower is a more standard Conan track, mid-paced, with a relentless quality that pounds the listener into submission. Eternal Silent Legend brings the album to an end. The track has a softer, brooding verse with a chorus that is as huge as the known universe and heavier than a herd of elephants stepping on your foot all at the same time. 

Existential Void Guardian is a great album. Conan haven’t changed their style too much with this album, but they have refined their sound, making small adjustments so they keep on being Conan, but aren’t repeating themselves, or getting stale. The copy of the album I have also has 4 live tracks on it that are very well recorded and are definitely worth having. All Hail Conan! 8/10

Vreid: Lifehunger (Season Of Mist) [Paul S]

Lifehunger is Vreid’s 8th album, the Norwegian band, which formed from the ashes of the band Windir, after the death of Valfar. Vreid (wrath in Norwegian), have avoided making music that sounds like Windir, giving them an identity of their own. Although the band do not sound like a post black metal band, the music they make has clearly grown out of black metal. Vreid have gone for a more strait metal sound but with parts that indicate their black metal heritage. The sound is heavy but with lots of tunefulness, mainly from a melody lead guitar part that goes over a lot of the rhythm guitar work. Most of the vocals are harsh, but with a few clean sections and a side order of vocal melodies, which gives their work an extra dimension.

An early highlight of the album is the track The Dead White, which has great swaggery black and roll feel to it, it’s a great song, which also has a cracking solo. There's also a bit of a curve ball in the track Hello Darkness. When I first listened to the album, it felt out of place. It’s a softer, brooding track, simply strummed, clean guitar, and clean vocals. The track felt incongruous, at first, but with more listens I started to quite like the song. Although the sound was different, the song seemed to fit in more and more with the feel of the rest of the album. In the end it ended up being my favourite track on Lifehunger. The album is brought to an end with the track Heimatt. The song starts out dark, sombre and heavy, but very tuneful. As the song progresses it becomes more black metal in feel to a huge climactic ending. Lifehunger is a great album, and it fits in perfectly with the very impressive body of work that Vreid have created during their 14 years of making music. Highly recommended! 8/10

Kadavar: Live In Copenhagen (Nuclear Blast) [Paul H]

I’ve never managed to catch Kadavar live. I’ve tried on several occasions, but the gods have always been against me. So, without the benefit of knowing what the live show is actually like, the next best thing it to hear it. With four albums under their belt, the German trio of Christoph Lindermann, Christoph Bartlet and Simon Bouteloup have plenty of material and this 70-minute release recorded at the Pumpehuset in November 2017 covers work from all their albums. 

Whilst heavier on their 2017 release Rough Times, there are also plenty from their 2012 debut as well as a couple from my favourite release, 2015’s Berlin. Kadvar’s occult tinged Stoner rock is something I always have time for, the fuzzy down tuned guitars with their Sabbath style riffs, the thumping bass lines and crashing jazz style drumming always pleasing. Live In Copenhagen captures the Germans in full flow, and the closing 12 minute plus psychedelia of Purple Sage is just the icing on a very decent live album. 8/10

Solus Ex Inferis: Demonic Supremacy (Self Released) [Paul H]

A collaboration of death metal from across the continents. Mix the USA, Australia and India and you get Solus Ex Inferis, featuring non-other than Demonic Resurrection main man Sahil Makhija on brutal vocal duty. This four track EP pulls no punches, with an intensity that is almost too much at times, such is the driving power and pace. Makhija’s vocals are far grislier than you’ll have heard before, as he throws everything into the songs. 

Frenetic guitar riffs, frantic blast beats and an altogether visceral approach combine to pitiless effect. The rest of the band consists of bassist Mat Nemeth, drummer Marco Pitruzzella and guitarists Dave Sevenstrings and Ollie Morgan and display promise although the self-released production is let down by the rather tinny production. 7/10

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