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Monday 12 November 2018

Reviews: Allfather, Alastor, The Prodigy, Damn Dice (Paul S, Paul H & Matt N)

Allfather: And All Will Be Desolation (Rotting Throne Records) [Paul S]

Allfather are a 5 piece from Kent, they’ve been going since 2014. And All Will Be Desolation is their second album coming 2 years since their very well received debut Bless The Earth With Fire. Allfather's sound is broadly doomy sludge (or possibly sludgy doom), but with influences from all over the metal spectrum. The album opens with the song Black Triangle, which starts with a clean, brooding guitar riff, before a riff the size mountain kicks in, and we are in massively heavy territory. After a slow pummelling start the track has a more mid-paced feel, but is still insanely heavy. The next track Citadels is faster, it has a similar pace to Crowbar’s faster material. This track has a relentless driving rhythm to it, it pounds the listener into the floor. Lord Betrayer has a slower feel to it, but in a way that is unfaltering and single-minded.

By Sword, By Famine, By Plague has a very slow start, the first half is as powerful and unstoppable as continental drift, and as heavy as a neutron star. Have you picked up on the fact that this is a really heavy album? The second half of the song is much faster, with a huge, headbanging groove to it, and a cracking solo, till the end where it slows down again for one of the heaviest riffs I’ve ever heard. Although Allfather have a very Doomy, Sludgy feel to them, there is a massive hardcore, punky attitude to all the material here. On the track Jackals Night the hardcore feel is brought to the fore for an absolute blast of a track; angry, fast and spitting blood and fire. After the ferocity of Jackals Night, comes the track Inherit The Dust, which has a slower more measured approach, don’t get me wrong, it’s still heavy but in a more tuneful melodic way. The final song Lampedusa is an eleven minute epic doom track which is based around a thundering bass riff, my god this stuff is heavy. And All Will Be Desolation is a fantastic album.

Well written, and with pacing that is nigh on perfect. When Allfather want to be insanely heavy they have the perfect tempo for it. When they want you to headbang, again, they have the perfect tempo, these sort of near perfect dynamics must make them an amazing live band. They have the heaviness of early Electric Wizard, the groove of Carnival Bizarre era Cathedral, the furious anger of Eyehategod and the swagger of Orange Goblin, whilst not actually sounding like any of those bands. Allfather have their own sound, they aren’t trying to anyone but themselves. Don’t be surprised if this album is featured in all the best album of the year lists in about a month, it’s going to be in mine. Did I mention that this album is really heavy? 9/10

Alastor: Slave To The Grave (RidingEasy Records) [Paul S]

This is Stockholm based Alastor’s first album, they released 2 EP’s in 2017. After a short intro, the album kicks off with Your Lives Are Worthless, which starts with a huge Sabbath infused riff. The track has a slight stonery feel to it, a relaxed tempo which induces gentle headbanging in the listener. The track has a real seventies feel to it, which is carried through the whole album. Drawn To The Abyss has just as massive guitar riffs as the first song, but this time we are joined by a hammond organ, increasing the hugeness, whilst also giving the track a bit of a psychedelic feel. NW588 is a much faster song than the first two, with more urgent drumming and great vocals. About halfway through the song slows down and gets more of a hard rock sense to it, with a really nice bluesy solo, and after having the sonic register filled with sound for most of the album, the space left in this section is a nice touch.

Next up we have the biggest curve ball on the album. Gone is a soft, gently strummed acoustic track. It acts as a midpoint to the album, clearing the pallet between the two huge half's of this album. In the last 2 minutes of the track, a drum beat comes in, which gives the song a bit of a jazz feel, a little like a rhythm from a Django Reinhardt song. The title track Slave To The Grave is another massive slab of psychedelic doom. Immense riffs, and a fantastic chorus. Final song The Spider Of My Love is a seventeen minute piece of epic hammond infused doom. An enormous track, slow grinding and in some ways quite menacing. The second half of the song is a huge instrumental, with extremely engaging solo’s and some great hammond work. The song is a great ending to a great album, beautifully musical, while at the same time being achingly heavy. Slave To The Grave is a really enjoyable album, it gets into your head after a while, you’ll be humming these huge riffs for weeks. Highly recommended. 8/10

The Prodigy: No Tourists (BMG Rights Management)

I really enjoyed The Prodigy’s last release, 2015’s The Day Is My Enemy. No Tourists falls significantly below that bar. Weaker, tired, unimaginative and far less stimulating, apart from the odd banger such as Timebomb Zone there is little to get excited about here. Of course, if you want new, innovative music from Liam Hewlett and co then you probably don’t really like The Prodigy. Their strength lies in the live arena, where the sparks can be generated from incendiary performances with the likes of Breath, Firestarter and Omen will still ignite the passions in a way No Tourists is unable to do. 4/10

Damn Dice: Thriller Killer (Self Released) [Matt N]

DAAAMN! This album was described to me as Guns N Roses meets metal but I felt like the lead singer of Damn Dice has more in common with Brian Johnson of AC/DC (higher acclaim in my books). But regardless, what a cool sound that I absolutely… didn’t care about at all. I’m not exactly sure why, my usual complaints about vocals being hidden in the mix don’t apply here, the album is well mixed, the guitars are awesome and heavy as all hell. The drums are interesting, fast paced and add a lot to the music unlike a lot of work I’ve reviewed. The guitar solos are classic rock and badass. And yet, I don’t like this album. Don’t think that means I don’t believe everyone involved in this is unbelievably talented; I fully believe Damn Dice are all incredible. In fact every opening riff immediately grabbed me and threatened to never let go. But when the vocals kick in… I lost interest.

And I suppose that’s the problem. I think the vocals are good; I just don't like the singer’s voice. Which is a horrible and deeply personal thing to say in a review. It almost seems unfair to write this review because the band is clearly incredible. I think I’d feel differently if I heard them live because these guys are unbelievably good. Go listen to this album, hear for yourself what I’m talking about. This album works on almost every level, the lyrics, the melodies, the rhythms, the solos… but I don’t like the vocals as they’ve been recorded. Maybe this is a case where I would prefer the vocals to be lower in the mix, I’m not entirely sure. Or maybe it’s that with this kind of metal/rock hybrid I am so used to hearing screamed vocals and gruffer vocalists that I am just not prepared to listen to Damn Dice at this point in time. That being said the big exception for me was the song Turn Back The Clock that I felt really suited the singer’s vocals, but then contrast that with Leaving With Nothing where I’m pretty sure some of the high notes are awkwardly flat. Still for what is their self proclaimed 'final album' it's a good one. 8/10

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