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Monday 14 January 2019

Reviews: Corroded, Endolith, Obey, Ithaca (Paul H)

Corroded: Bitter (Despotz Records)

2017’s Defcon Zero from these Swedes was a solid enough affair but there was a background of angst which resulted from a five year wait to release tracks that had been crafted shortly after previous release Exit To Transfer. Having changed labels to Despotz Records, there was obviously some pressure on Corroded. Channelling this into creativity is not easy but Corroded have focused well and produced in Bitter an album that really works. Slicing razor sharp riffs combine with a fat melody and the right amount of passion and power, blood and spit. 

Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Jens Westin’s gravel throated vocals are perfect for the ballsy stomping songs whilst the rest of the band, lead guitarist Tomas Andersson, bassist Bjarne Elvsgård and drummer Per Soläng give it everything. The twin guitar attack provides a thicker assault than might have otherwise been expected and vicious tracks such as Breathing, Testament and Cross all help the sinews to twitch. I think it’s reasonable to compare Corroded’s slightly commercial edge to Godsmack, Sevendust and the like but with an additional layer of depth and brutality usually missing from the lighter weight of the Americans. 7/10

Endolith: Chicxulub - The Fossil Record (Rob Mules Records)

Here we have a concept album based on the extinction of the dinosaurs and the similar position the world finds itself facing today; the imminent arrival of chaos and global change. Balance to this bleak and dark picture is provided by the uplifting strings of the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra who add panache and sophistication throughout the album. The opening piece is purely classical in content, Grazing Herbivores reminiscent of Stravinsky’s The Rite Of Spring in the 1940 Disney movie Fantasia. But don’t worry, this isn’t a takeover by Mickey and Donald, oh no sir; after that gentle opening it’s time to hit the throttle with full firepower locked and loaded. The ferocity of Bloodfiends leaves scars; Nest Scraping Display changes both time and pace at numerous intervals, its scorching speed only enhanced by the harmonies that litter the track. 

This Norwegian trio make a fabulous noise and have a swagger that impresses. Their organic sound noticeable as the album develops. For those who are unaware, Chicxulub is the site in Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, where the asteroid that is thought to have been the cause of mass extinction over 66 million years ago. A neat mixture of both guttural and clean vocals, a thick smothering sound combining numerous styles, varying and unusual meters and the opportunity to craft the strings of the Chamber Orchestra allow each song to stand both alone and knit tightly as part of the overall concept. The cranial splitting Icthyus is juxtaposed with the traumatic Diseasons, before the ten-minute Chicxulub leads to the finale of Earth Lies Screaming, a complete change of style and mood to close. Endolith are Frode Hofsøy (vocals), Erling Malm (guitars) and Roger Tunheim Jakobsen (drums). This is a fine album worthy of a listen. 8/10

Obey: Swallow The Sun (Self Released)

Obey hail from the Midlands and have been plying their thumping progressive doom since 2008. They have an impressive biography, winning 2011's Surface Festival, 2012’s Marshall's Best Guitarist and 2015's Metal To The Masses, playing at The Millenium Dome, The Koko, The Roundhouse, O2 Birmingham, Sziget Festival and Bloodstock. Obey have released 3 full length albums: New Day Rising (2009), Doom Laden (2012), Maelstrom (2016). The current lineup features Steve Pickin, Dan Ryder and Ryan Gillespie. For a three-piece I’m very impressed with their style and sound, layered intricate passages full of depth combined with jagged riffage and unexpected time changes.

Swallow The Sun touches on many things, but overall it is a sonic journey dealing with the cruelty of dementia and the devastation it leaves, melding that together with themes of fantasy and folklore. An interesting take on subject matter that is challenging and emotionally charged. Whilst the band may favour some of the more progressive metal elements (hints of Mastodon and Meshuggah linger) on tracks such as Swallow The Sun the riffs are a lot closer to home, the Sabbath influence plain to hear. There is a burning originality which made listening to this album a real joy. Thundering bass and drumming with reverberating guitar work and vocals that rasp but are also crisp and clean. Oodles of melody underpin but don’t dominate and there is enough brutality here to ensure that the heaviness remains at the heart of all the band deliver. 7/10

Ithaca: The Language Of Injury (Holy Roar Records)

London hardcore newcomers Ithaca roar into 2019 with their debut LP The Language Of Injury. The five-piece were formed in 2012 and share a mutual love of metallic hardcore. I think it’s fair to say that is where our commonality ceases. To be fair to the band, they draw on a huge range of influences, starting with Southern doom to 90s math rock as well as the untethered savagery of early Poison The Well and melodious battery of Oathbreaker. 

They possess grooves that crush you with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer through a brick wall and combine these with shrieking guitar squalls which segue into haunting melodic passages, all with an emotionally raw lyrical content. Powerful, aggressive and angry, hardcore will never win me over as a fan but if you fancy something with enough power to give an elephant a headache then 32 minutes of intensity will probably be an attractive proposition. 6/10

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