Sacral Rage: Beyond Celestial Echoes (Cruz Del Sur) [Paul S]
Greek four piece Sacral Rage play, according to their Facebook page, Hi-Tech Metal Lunacy. Which is a great label to attach to yourselves. So, what is Hi-Tech Metal Lunacy? Well, to my ears Hi-Tech Metal Lunacy is uptempo power metal that comes close to thrash; riding the line that separates fast power metal from thrash. There is one other factor to add to this, which is apparent to the listener as soon as the first track begins; very stylised vocals. Dimitris K (all the members of the band have sur-initials rather than surnames) has 2 different styles of singing; really high Falsetto, and a slightly lower register voice with a bit of a rasp to it. Or, to put it another way, He sounds just like King Diamond of Mercyful Fate fame. To be honest, it’s a pretty good impression as well, the falsetto isn’t quite as clear and pure as King’s, but he comes close. At times the higher part of his voice is a little like Roger Taylor of Queen as well.
After a short intro the first track Eternal Solstice kicks the album off to a great start, it’s a mid-paced power metal song with a strong melody. Vaguely Decoded is a faster, thrashier track with a great solo. This album has many great solo’s, the standard of musical skill on this album is very high. Suspended Privileges is another fast track, it skips along at quite a pace and feels aggressive. Samsara has a more measured pace to most of the song, it also boasts a great chorus and a has an ending that is close to being a blast beat. Necropia has a neoclassical feel to a lot of the riffing, and has a nice rolling, syncopated beat. The album is brought to a close by the near fifteen minute epic The Glass. The song has a mid-paced thrash feel to it with a soft, almost ambient section in the middle, and is a really great way to end the album. Beyond Celestial Echoes is a great album, I’ve really enjoyed listening to it. Musically, if you like power metal and thrash it should be right up your street, however, I do think that it will be the vocals that could cause people problems. Personally I like them, but I feel that they could be an acquired taste, and might give some listeners a problem. 8/10
SuidAkrA: Cimbric Yarns (AFM Records) [Paul S]
This is SuidAkrA’s 12th album, the band who class themselves as Celtic Metal, have been going since 1994. Over the years the melodic death metal that they originally played has morphed into a fairly aggressive, extreme form of folk metal (the aforementioned Celtic Metal). On Cimbic Yarns however the band have ditched the metal altogether and produced an album of fairly big, cinematic Folk. The album kicks off with an intro called Echtra, which has a clear folk sound but with dynamics that could have come from a film soundtrack, probably a western (a big sweeping John Ford Western). The first track proper is a mid paced folk track with female vocals called Serpentine Origins. It’s is tuneful and melodic, and the layered vocals give it a bit of a choral feel. Ode To Arma is more of a ballad, the song has a flute melody going through most of the song. A Day And Forever is another gentle piece of folk with flute and violin.
The track At Nine Light Night has the addition of big strings, vocal harmonies and an organ. These additional instruments make it one of the biggest tracks on the album, and this brings back that soundtrack feel that a lot of this album has. Birth And Despair is a sad, soft, melancholy song. It has a slightly different feel to the rest of the album, probably the albums most subtle track. The use of flute on this track works really well, tonally it fits the sadder tone of the song. Assault On Urlar is a slow but powerful track, the use of strings and huge layered drums give the song this feel. Again this has a soundtrack feel to it, I can’t help picturing vast plains and ,mountains when I listened to it.
Caoine Cruac brings the album to an end in a soft and gentle way, that feels quite satisfying. I’ve enjoyed listening to this album, if nothing else it’s nice to hear something that isn’t just about brutality and extremity. In some ways this reminds me of Skyclad’s all acoustic album Oui Avant-Garde A Chance. I’m not sure if SuidAkrA fans will like this as it is quite a departure from their usual sound, but I think it is a great piece of work. It also means that metalheads have another album that they can listen to when they are hungover! 7/10
Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy: Smutnice (Redblack Productions) [Sean]
Before I sold my soul for rock and roll, my first musical love was classical (the collective term, not the sub genre) and more importantly, traditional folk music. Fast forward some 20 plus years, it still stuns me how malleable music can be, one genre achieving dynamic synergy with the other. This is most certainly the case with Czech troupe, Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy (try saying that fast), who twist the doom laden electric with ye olde acoustic. Drawing from their own Moravian folklore for inspiration, these two time award winning minstrels return once more with Smutnice, eight new chapters of fantastical wonder and harrowing woe. Now that all is said and done, it’s time for the tale to begin anew. Are you sitting comfortably? The One Who Forged begins our tale, hammer dulcimer and violin establishing the melody before the rest of the band erupt to life.
The approach here is a simple one yet effective, as SSoGE regale us with tales from their motherland. Occasional traces of their doom/death past surface, akin to Paradise Lost though intermingled with Czech folk. Which Of Is Us More quickens the pace, a medium tempo blast driving the song onwards and undoubtedly the heaviest song on the album. Masculine roars married to feminine voices, it is the perfect amalgamation of SSoGE’s style. My Beloved and Quiet Tune are absolutely exceptional, forlorn in their nature but with an air of power and hope. The remainder of the tracks are solid enough, though I feel SSoGE are a stronger folk band than one that straddles between both lanes.
There were occasions where the actual metallic parts felt a touch underwhelming, flat against the gorgeous melodies on display.
So, we reach our journeys end, another musical saga complete for Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy. Eight compositions proudly celebrating Czech folklore and culture, delivered with as much grandeur that the folk metal genre can offer, though Smutnice is not without its shortcomings. The mystique is mildly subverted by overbearing kick drums, drowning some of the subtleties that would elevate a good record into a great record. That’s the thing with folk metal, where the aim is to deftly balance the two contrasting elements in the hopes of achieving artistic majesty. SSoGE largely succeed in doing so, though the riffs are somewhat uninspired and are reduced to just bulking out the folky flavours. Musings aside, this still is a fun outing and another solid entry into SSoGE collection of tales. Embodying might, magic, myth and legend, Smutnice is a fascinating journey into a world beyond. 7/10
Carbon Black: End Of This (Self Reelased) [Paul S]
Carbon Black Hail from Sydney, Australia, End Of This is their first album coming 4 years after an EP. There's no easy way to say this, so I think I’ll just come out with it - Carbon Black are a Nu Metal band. Yes, I thought that unmitigated crap was all over as well. But for some unknown reason this band want to reanimate to corpse of the worst genre ever to blacken the name Metal. We all celebrated Nu Metal’s death, danced around the grave, pissed on the headstone, but this bunch of talentless yahoo’s want to bring it back!
All the stuff you hated about Nu Metal is here in spades. Most of the rhythm guitar parts, in particular on nearly all the verse sections are just 1 chord chugged to a rhythm. This album has very few actual riffs, and when they are there, they are just 2 or 3 chords, and are very simple. The vocals aren’t very good either, Jon Hurley has an ok voice, but he sings in such an over the top way it sounds like an affectation. He also seems to try to sing in a way that is a little grungy as well, he probably thinks he sounds like Chris Cornell, but that fails as well.
It just feel like he is trying to hard. On the second to last song on the album, he attempts to rap. I have no problem with rap, but not in this Nu Metal style, it just sounds like a middle class white person trying to rap, which is just painful. The same song has a guitar solo that is clearly trying to copy the sort of thing that Tom Morello did with Rage Against The Machine, and fails spectacularly, in fact most of the guitar work on this album is pretty dire. The album is full of half arsed Pantera-isms that sound like a copy of a copy of a copy of Pantera. Almost like someone described Dimebag’s guitar style in a text message, and the guitarist has tried to copy that description.
Everything that was unspeakably dreadful about Nu Metal is on this album, deeply over-simplistic music, with horrible vocals. This unmitigated tripe might have had some success 20 years ago when Nu Metal was big, but this probably wouldn’t have been taken seriously even back then. I’m seriously thinking of seeking therapy to help me recover from having to listen to it (maybe a Nu Metal survivors group). I’d like to make a personal plea to this band - Please stop, It’s not big, it’s not clever and no one is impressed by it. 3/10