Heir Apparent: The View From Below (No Remorse Records)
Formed in Seattle by guitarist Terry Gorle in 1983 Heir Apparent are a band who suffered a fate similar to many at that time by breaking up/going on hiatus until around 2000. The line up that appears on this record have been in place since 2015 with Gorle on guitar as usual with Will Shaw (vocals), Derek Peace (bass), Ray Schwartz (drums) and Op Sakiya (keyboards). The View From Below is has been picked up by Greek label No Remorse Records and it's the bands third full length record and if you're a fan of progressively tinged classic metal then this will be right up your alley. They have always been compared to their fellow Washington state compatriots Queensryche who I will admit they sound a lot like although I'd also add in that on The Door they sound like early (first two albums) Dream Theater when they had a lot of grit, mainly due to Shaw's vocals.
It's got that swirling keyboard and heavy riff that made the Kevin Moore/John Petrucci partnership, these touches re-appear on the brooding Synthetic Lies. There's not often when bands have such an extended break and come back better but Heir Apparent have bucked this trend, they're progressive tinged heavy metal is confident, assured with a lot of effort having been put into write this record with time taken to add some experimentation bringing in Eastern influences for The Road To Palestine. You've probably overlooked Heir Apparent but I'd urge you pick this album up if you like progressive heavy metal. 8/10
Bearfist: Smile You Son Of Bitch (Self Released)
Smile You Son Of A Bitch is the third EP from Chelmsford heavy's Bearfist, after winning the London M2TM's they have played Bloodstock Festival 2016, HRH Metal 2017 and Hammerfest 2018 you can see why they have a 'ones to watch' buzz about them from the songs this EP, big ballsy riffage combines with aggressive screams to really get the pulse racing with canal deep riffs right from the first second. Built on a bedrock of rage tracks like Death's Emissary and Bleed The Wrong Way are pit-starters of the highest order and across the four tracks the pace never drops below that of absolute carnage. Drawing influence from the NWOAHM there's the brutality of LOG and Devildriver but with the complexity of Brit ragers like Sikth (it's produced by Justin Hill) or Architects, jump out of your seat and show your teeth Bearfist are here to bring the noise! 7/10
Void Titan: Harbinger (Self Released)
Having seen Bristol based doom crew Void Titan a couple of times, I had been wondering when they were going to make some recorded tunes and as if by magic here is Harbinger the EP literally heralds the arrival of the nastiest, most epic doom this side of London. Monstrous riffs are paired with barking death metal vocals, clean melodic leads and elongated tracks that weave, contort and twist as the rhythm section of Fionn Moore (drums) and Nick Lowry (bass) set a uncompromising precedence on opener Void Titan that is kept up across the remaining two tracks. Starting out with Phil Wadley's clean, atmospheric lead guitar, Void Titan then blasts into down tuned and thunderous riffage with Moore, Lowry and Rob Cooper blasting away as Cooper also barks down the microphone with guttural vocals, things shift back to ambience before your head is smashed in again rounding out the track with solo.
Second track Harbinger brings the doom (just as you'd expect) with a faster riff making this the shortest track on the album adding the grooves of Bolt Thrower. The band self recorded this album with Richard Parsons aiding with the engineer and it being a D.I.Y record, the production is a little rustic however the band wanted this EP to sound as similar to their live show as possible and they've pulled it off giving the EP an old school sound. Rounding out the EP is the impressive March Of Astartes (based on the Warhammer 40K universe) which chugs away like a a doom-laden trooping of the colour. A band who impress live also manage to capture their sound in the studio, don't ignore the warnings the Void Titan is coming. 7/10
The Outlaw Orchestra: The Devil Made Me Do It (Self Released)
Not a tribute to Thunder's song of the same name The Outlaw Orchestra are a Southern/Country rock band who hail not from the swamps of Georgia or the Bayou but the Deep South, that lawless city known as...Southampton. Having got in touch with us recently they sent us their three track EP that serves a precursor to a debut album that will (hopefully) released next year. The last track on this record is Back To Georgia which apparently is a a true story of "guitar player Dave getting a flat tyre on the car as he and girlfriend drove from Birmingham Alabama to Atlanta Georgia. After half an hour of cussing he suggested she do something useful like 'use your sweet ass to hitch them a ride back to Georgia'....hence the song was born"
Well if it works do it I say, especially if it makes a good song. The Outlaw Orchestra aren't a tribute or a pastiche they've got real Southern swagger in their blood boasting an upright bass and a banjo, the three tracks on here, it means that there are touches of bluegrass, country, flamenco, cajun and Southern rock. They've played all over the country with acts such as King King. The Dead Daisies, Dan Baird and Kris Barras gaining quite a reputation for themselves in the live arena, they've already been approached by our mate Rob Stampede and Toby Jepson so it looks like they're making the right people sit up and listen. If the devil made them do it then that contract was worth it. 7/10