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Tuesday 22 January 2019

Reviews: Inglorious, The Riven, Hell Fire, Hellnite (Paul H & Matt)

Inglorious: Ride To Nowhere (Frontiers Records) [Paul H]

Let’s face it, Nathan James hasn’t covered himself in glory in recent times. His outburst against former band members, fuelled by his every swelling ego backfired and made him look an absolute tool. With three of the five members having left in 2018, leaving just James and drummer Phil Beaver. Well, regardless of his inability to keep his gob in check, album number 3 with Inglorious MK II is a decent piece of hard rock. It’s full of catchy, well-paced hard rock, and as usual, James’ steals the show with his phenomenal vocals. I dislike him as a person, wasn’t impressed by the band live at Steelhouse a few years ago but there is no denying his voice is amongst the most distinctive and powerful in the hard rock.

The opening duo of Where Are You Now and Freak Show have steel before the medium paced Alter Bridge style Never Alone allows the band to show a more measured and stylish approach. Recorded with old line up Andreas Z Eriksson (now left) handles the lead duties with ease, whilst rhythm guitarist Drew Lowe (now left) and bassist Colin Parkinson (now left) nail down the engine room alongside drummer Phil Beaver (still remains). Sure, at times Ride To Nowhere is a bit classic rock by numbers, with tracks such as Time To Go and the title track leaving little impression; the acoustic closing number Glory Days is a weak finish and I prefer it when the band are rocking out. This album is likely to be lapped up by those who enjoy their rock unchallenging and it won’t change my opinion one jot. I can, however, appreciate that James has one hell of a voice. 7/10

The Riven: S/T (The Sign Records) [Matt]

Debut album from heavy blues band The Riven. Born from the same streets as The Who and The Rolling Stones this is a band that skillfully mix classic blues riffs with desert rock, proggy textures, traditional metal bite, the PR calls the four members musical vagabonds and from the grooves here you'd have to agree taking their sounds from Grand Funk Railroad, Thin Lizzy along with contemporaries like The Blues Pills and No Sinner this is soulful proper rock n roll played without boundaries. If they want some throbbing rhythms and drum fills with psychedelic leanings then they will on Fortune Teller, if they want some proper blues they'll play it on Sweet Child, if they want prog then Far Beyond takes it to the realm of the wizard.

They moved from London to Sweden and you can here that Swedish retroism running through this record it screams of loon pants and paisley shirts, the kind of music made for letting it all hang loose on a Friday night. Musically tight as a gymnasts outfit the holy trinity of guitarist Arnau Diaz, bass player Max Ternebring and drummer Olof Axegärd explore with their instruments giving this album it's eclectic grooves as hell soundscapes while singer Totta Ekebergh has one of those voices with more grit than a John Wayne western, she can croon on I Remember but really let's rip on The Serpent and Leap Of Faith. London's loss is Sweden's gain as only good things can come from immersing yourself in that stew pot of Scandinavian creativity, expect big things from The Riven as this debut is a proper rock record! 9/10

Hell Fire: Mania (RidingEasy Records) [Paul H]

Firmly cocooned within the Bay Area thrash scene, and most notably the 1980s, San Francisco quartet Hell Fire are unashamedly focused on the old school thrash combined with the histrionics of NWOBHM. The band developed when bassist Herman Bandala moved to San Francisco from Tijuana in Mexico and caught the attention of guitarist Tony Campos. With drummer Mike Smith and vocalist/guitarist Jake Nunn completing the line-up. Mania is the band’s third album and it is fast paced with intense drumming, high pitched squeals, galloping guitar picks and soaring harmonies that punch you in the face. Jake Nunn’s vocals are an acquired taste and personally I see them as the weak link.

Whilst the opening track Warpath contains enough grit to power through, the title track which follows exposes the limitations. Otherwise, there is plenty to enjoy here with tracks reminiscent of the days of Angel Witch, Iron Maiden circa 1980 as well as Exodus and Riot and even early ‘Tallica. There are blistering rhythms a plenty, melody and driving hard heavy metal which varies from thrash to more routine metal, with the duel guitar work throughout mirroring early Maiden, especially on Transcending Evil and the closing double of Knights Of The Holy and Masochist. This isn’t going to pull up any trees but it’s enjoyable enough. 6/10

Hellnite: Midnight Terrors (Sliptrick Records) [Paul H]

Opening with a mellow introduction it’s pleasing to report that Hellnite’s debut release then explodes like an oil tanker in a Vin Diesel movie. Solid if uninspiring thrash metal with hell of a story behind it. Born in Mexico and now operating out of Edmonton, Canada, Hellnite released one EP, Manipulator before dissolving. With vocalist and guitarist Paolo Belmar relocating to Canada, he set about sourcing a live band.

With that now a reality, Midnight Terrors arrives as the sole work of Belmar who plays all the instruments. You must admire the drive and determination of Belmar, who has kept his dream alive. Influenced by Death, Kreator and Slayer amongst others, this isn’t groundbreaking by a long stretch, but it is competently delivered, the songs are formulaic and routine but bristling with energy and enthusiasm. 6/10

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