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Sunday, 7 October 2018

Reviews: In The Woods..., Sadist, Commonwealth, City Of Thieves (By Rich, Paul H & Alex)

In The Woods…: Cease The Day (Debemur Morti Productions) [Rich]

Coming two years after their stunning 2016 comeback album Pure, In The Woods… are back with their stunning fifth album Cease The Day. The band have been through a turbulent couple of years having come close to disbanding once again but with the addition of new members the band have forged on pouring all their anxieties and negativity of the past two years into the music you hear on Cease The Day. The result is a spellbinding and majestic piece of work that matches and in places surpasses their previous masterpiece Pure.The band have gone back to their black metal origins with a bit more aggression in the music this time round but black metal is just the foundation on which their sound is built with influences from progressive metal and doom metal at the forefront as well. 

As well as aggression there is a distinct somber, contemplative and melancholic feel throughout the album. Opening track Empty Streets immediately sets the scene and mood for the album and like its predecessor Pure needs to be listened to as a whole rather than on a track by track basis though Cloud Seeder and Still Yearning particularly appealed to this reviewers ears. In The Woods… have surpassed themselves with Cease The Day with an album that sits in both light and darkness and all the shades in between the two. There were several moments throughout where my arms hairs were standing on end which is always a sign that I’m listening to something special. 9/10

Sadist: Spellbound (Scarlet Records) [Paul H]

Back in 2015 I reviewed Hyena, seventh album from Genoese technical progressive death metallers Sadist. I enjoyed it, giving the album a solid 7/10. Three years later and the Italians make a welcome return with their mix of complexity once more providing very interesting. This time the band has taken the unprecedented step of devoting Spellbound to the life and work of filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. Each of the 11 tracks traces a plot of one of Hitchcock’s movies; hence we get The Birds, Notorious and Frenzy to name but three. 

With intricate time changes, layers of synths adding to the complexity as well as crushingly heavy passages, death growls galore and some blood-curdling moments, Spellbound is eclectic yet never dull. The jazz freestyle formation of Frenzy, for example, changes shape more often that 633 squadron ever did with its haunting piano. Bloody Bates pays homage to Psycho, a film that still gives me the willies all these years later and the eerie sinister intro paves way to some thunderous drumming If you like Scar Symmetry and Soilwork I would wager that you’d enjoy the progressive and technical nature of this album. 7/10

Commonwealth: Everyone Around Me (Nuclear Blast) [Alex]

Commonwealth writes Sentimental Indy songs with the emotionality of an act like the Wonder Years, combining this with instrumentation is more closely matched by the stripped-down nature of Car Seat Headrest or Remo Drive. True, these are hardly original, yet there is a certain charming amateurishness to the idea which reflects ordinary suburban life while remaining unafraid to tackle its harsh realities. Fear opens the theme social anxiousness, beginning with muted instrumentation and creeping rather than leaping into moments of exuberance, it does a decent job of setting the tone. ‘Welcome home to the rest of your life, you live paralyzed inside of your mind’ Tyler sings on Lost, with the music again taking a jagged approach, reverberating and reaching unpredictable highs and lows as if to give noise to anxiety. 

Playing to a similar idea, Neglect and Wilt feel nervous and distant, proving unforgivingly chilling, and bringing the serious concepts of isolation and seclusion to the forefront. Just as emotion has its peaks and chasms, however, so does the music on Everyone Around Me. Runaway and Happy liven matters, taking a remarkably hopeful tone, with the guitars soaring, and the bass and drums aiding in the ascent towards gigantic choruses. ‘The world is a better/bitter place’ contrast the choruses on the latter, creating a sentiment that while there is undoubtedly lots of morbidities to be found on this debut, it has positive underpinnings and messages. Overall, while I would argue that Commonwealth's first studio outing does not do precisely enough to define a unique identity for themselves, or to set that apart from contemporaries in pop punk and Indy, there is clearly an honesty and enthusiasm encircling this project. I, for one, will still be paying attention in the years to come 7/10

City Of Thieves: Beast Reality (Frontiers Records) [Paul H]

Another band that first came to our attention back in 2015 with their Incineration EP, the London three-piece is back with their debut album. Nothing much has changed, except that the swagger which was prevalent back then has taken a big step forward, and the music is significantly tighter. It’s dirty, it’s down, and it’s filthy gutter crawling rock n’ roll which draws greatly on the blues style of AC/DC, the sleaze of Aerosmith and of course, the downright raucous energy of Airborne. 

Tracks such as the foot stomping opener Reality Bites, the hyper paced Buzzed Up City and the smouldering Lay Me To Waste all please the aural senses. Bassist and vocalist Jamie Lailey has upped his smoky vocal delivery and he’s clearly been gargling with a bit of glass at times too. His booming bass lines hook neatly with Will Richards solid drumming which just leaves the savage riffs of Ben Auswick who clearly doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘restraint’, such is the expression with which he lets loose. This is an album that sits neatly in the ‘put on, drive faster’ category. It’s a beast alright. 8/10

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