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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Reviews: Hate Eternal, Alunah, Wrath, Sacrosanct (Reviews By Paul S)

Hate Eternal: Upon Desolate Sands (Season Of Mist)

Upon Desolate Sands is Hate Eternals 7th studio album, coming 3 years after their last album Infurnus. This is the first album to feature new drummer Hannes Grossmann, a drummer who has played on so many classic death metal albums over the years. There aren’t that many drummers that could play with Hate Eternal, due to the staggering level of technicality that is business as usual for this band, but Grossmann is definitely up to the job. In fact, he may well be the best drummer they have had, his performance on Upon Desolate Sands is stunning. In fact all the performances on this album are staggering, but in many ways that's exactly what you would expect from Hate Eternal. The band have become bywords for extreme levels of technical brilliance, and this album is no different.

The track What Lies Beyond has some amazing sweep picked solos, and deeply complex rhythms. All Hope Destroyed's ending is a beautifully realised maelstrom of solos and intricate rhythms. The fast stuff you expect from Hate Eternal are there, but there are slower moments as well, Nothingness Of Being has a far slower, heavy feel to it, which is brought out by Grossmann’s drumming and interesting layered guitars. The track Dark Age Of Ruin is a very interesting beast of a song. The track starts fast and blastbeaty but becomes deeply atonal, with a lurching off kilter rhythm, that is reminiscent of Gorguts more out there material. Title track Upon Desolate Sands is a massively heavy track. The song starts with interesting chanting and melodic riffs, this lulls the audience into a false sense of security before a relentlessly pounding riff comes in to make a song that hammers the listener into the floor. 

Do I need to say the album is really well produced? This is Eric Rutan’s band after all. Of course it’s well produced, in fact it sounds fantastic! This is a really great album, it has a variety of moods, but always sounds like Hate Eternal. The band isn’t repeating themselves, but they haven’t pushed it so far that they are unrecognisable. Hugely accomplished death metal album! 8/10

Alunah: Amber And Gold (Self Released)

Midlands based band Alunah have been making interesting doom/hard rock since 2008. In that time the band has released 4 albums. The last album Sloenial was well received, but this was overshadowed by the departure of original member, and front woman Sophie Day. A lot of bands would have called it a day, but Alunah have recruited new guitarist and vocalist Sian Greenway to fill the void. Amber And Gold is the first release to come from this new lineup. The EP features 4 tracks, 1 short intro, 2 original track and a cover of Chris Isaak’s song Wicked Game. The 2 original tracks (Amber And Gold and Awn) are both great pieces of hard rock infused doom. The songs are heavy but with lots of melody. Greenway's vocals are really good, quite low register and with lots of personality and power. 

There is a very good sense of dynamics with these songs as well, the ebb and flow work really well. The cover of Wicked Games is a fantastic piece of work. It does what all good cover versions do; it retains what was great about the original (stunning chorus and the instantly recognisable melody guitar part), whilst also having its own identity. The band has made the song their own, without loosing what made Wicked Game is a great song. This is a really enjoyable EP. I reacted to it in the way I always react to great EP’s; I wanted more. I’m now really keen for this lineup to do an album, 4 tracks simply isn’t enough! 8/10

Wrath: Rage (Combat Records)

Wrath have been with us since 1982. Rage comes 4 years after their last album Stark Raving Mad, which was their first album since 1990’s Insane Society. The album features 9 originals of fairly Exodus style trash metal, which is also a little reminiscent of early Sacred Reich, and a cover of Ace Of Spades by Motorhead. Most of the material is mid paced, solid trash metal, as you would probably expect it has a decidedly late eighties feel to it. The speed does go up in places. Wrath have an ability to write songs that, although they don’t have a high BPM, they feel like they have a lot of velocity and inertia to them. Probably the best example of this is the song Tension On High which skips along at one hell of a pace. 

Really great, high speed riffs, make this song a standout on this album. The band can also do huge and heavy; What You Crave is a thundering, dense track that pounds you into the ground. They can mix the two as well; My Rage starts in a mid paced way before building relentlessly.The cover of Ace Of Spades is a little odd. It’s played strait, but when about 40,000 other covers of this song exist, what is the point of another? Motorhead have masses of lesser known songs that would have made a far more interesting cover version, maybe something from Orgasmatron. Rage is a good, solid trash album. I’ve enjoyed listening to it. Maybe a few more faster songs and a different cover might have improved things, and made this a great album. As it is this is a very strong album. 7/10

Sacrosanct: Necropolis (Rock Of Angels Records)

This is the first album from Sacrosanct since 1993’s Tragic Intense. The band, originally formed in 1988, have been on hiatus for 25 years, and now only have 1 original member, in guitarist Randy Meinhard. Back in the late eighties and early nineties Sacrosanct were a trash band, they now consider themselves to be progressive metal. But, to my ears what we get on Necropolis is a power metal album. The album is similar in style to Dream Evil, particularly Dream Evil’s album The Book Of Heavy Metal. So that's mid paced, fairly plodding power metal.The pacing on this album is a bit of a problem. Most of the songs have a similar pace to them, a lot of the time I was listening to this album I was hoping the band would push the accelerator a little bit. There are a few places that the speed goes up. The track Grim Sleeper has that faster power metal rhythm, which makes it stand out from the rest of the album. 

As soon as the track starts it has a different feel from the rest of the album. The extra pace make the song sparkle in a way that the rest of the album just doesn’t. Although, at the end of the song that slower plodding pacing is back, and stops the excitement. From a band that used to play thrash, this is a bit disappointing. The songs on this album all feel a bit lacklustre, about 10% faster and the album would be transformed, but the excitement never really arrives. Don’t get me wrong, there are good choruses, interesting solo’s and musically it’s all played with skill. However, the problem with the pacing does spoil the songs, which all tend to be a little on the long side. The album simply doesn’t feel exciting enough, if the band can take the pacing they have used on Grim Sleeper, they might have something, but at the moment they are just a little bit too boring. 6/10

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