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Friday 18 January 2019

Reviews: Outright Resistance, Althea, Bus, Devilfire

Outright Resistance: Cargo Cult (Self Released)

We were first exposed to the aggression of Outright Resistance at Bloodstock 2016 where they stormed the Jagermeister stage, after this Stief gave their debut EP a 10/10 so four years later will their debut full length receive such a monumental score? Well if you like some modern heavy metal akin to Slipknot and Parkway Drive then Cargo Cult will be playing at full volume for most of your year, however metalcore (or whatever core) is a genre I've never been particularly fond of so I approached this album with hesitation but an open mind. Since the EP there has been a change in the ranks as James Jest takes mic for this album. Cargo Cult opens with the thunderous Gently as rapid guitar leads are met chunky rhythms and explosive drums while Jest barks and roars like a rabid dog.

One of the feature tracks of the album is Fang & Bone which apparently reflects on social media and the role it has played in shaping the landscape of the internet today, songwise though it doesn't really differ from the previous two tracks (it's the third song on the record) as thick beatdowns are met with guttural roars, as Wretched Ones and Lone Wolf both the propulsive percussion concussion of Iowa's masked sons. The debut from this Stevenage group is ideal if you like out and out noise and it will see them climbing further up the bill, but other than that there's not much to convert someone like me who has always struggled with the genre. Stief may have like the EP but this album in the longer format just tends mean all the songs blur into one long breakdown for me I'm afraid. 6/10

Althea: The Art Of Trees (Sliptrick Records)

Coming from Milan Italy Althea is the culmination of an idea from guitarist Dario Bortot and bassist Fabrizio Zilio they started the band with as a way of developing a free-of-schemes progressive metal/rock. So in layman's terms they are an experimental progressive rock band who dip into the art rock and neo-prog styles. They added bassist Andrea Trapani, drummer Sergio Sampietro and Alessio Accardo on vocals, The Art Of Trees is their second full length album following on from their debut concept piece Memories Have No Name, the music on this second record doesn't rely heavily on long sprawling songs, in fact most of the album is quite contrite, what is more evident is that Althea prefer to make their songs more layered pieces with ambient textures mixing well with melodic rock passages and heavier metal riffage.

It reminds me a lot of the middle section of Porcupine Tree's career with tracks such as Deformed To Frame and the shimmering Evelyn having Steven Wilsonisms all over them. One More Time ramps up the heaviness with down tuned instrumental riffs that swim into thick floating psychedelic lyrical sections, it's experimental yes but never strays into self indulgence, Today has some Dream Theater moments with a Dickinson-like vocals, there's also a little Rush here and there and the guests such as Michele Guaitoli (Visions Of Atlantis, Temperance, Kaledon) adding their own talents to the beautifully crafted songs such as the wonderful The Shade which has a saxophone solo reminiscent of the best Floyd songs. The Art Of Trees is a brilliant record, magically progressive with huge amounts of musical talent on display. There looks to be a lot of prog coming this year but Althea could be very well be one of the best. 9/10

Bus: Never Decide (RidingEasy Records)

Greek riffsters Bus The Unknown Secretary (Bus for short) return with their third full length album, their first on RidingEasy Records. An amalgamation of many types of sound where they mainly make their mark is with music that is unashamedly stuck in a time before metal, they play music that was the precursor to what we call heavy metal from a time when bands such as Blue Cheer, The MC5, Uriah Heep, Alice Cooper Band, Atomic Rooster and Steppenwolf brought the distortion and woozy vocals establishing the chord heavy sounds of doom before it was a thing. Bus sit along with newer acts like Uncle Acid, Ghost, Electric Wizard and the much missed Bigelf here, especially on The Hunt, the sharmaic I Buried Paul and the thundering doom of Lucifer which slides into the manic First Life Suicide before the acid pop-laced Moonchild. Never Decide was recorded in just 5 days in February 2018 by John Vulgaris at Electric Highway Studios in Athens, Greece, you can hear that live urgency on this record, every track is a jam that sounds organic, but after the initial 5 days the album was pieced together by Vulgaris to give it the multi-tracked, stereo effect. Never Decide is a riff driven transportation into the collective psyche of Bus, fly your freak flag high and crank it up loud! 8/10

Devilfire: Out Of The Dark (Self Released)

Out Of The Dark is a fan only release from Birmingham rock band that consists of 4 songs not featured on their debut Dark Manoeuvres. They were released only for those who subscribed to their newsletter after many were asking for a new album, the four songs are reworked, recorded and remixed in house by the band before being drip fed to the audience. There's very little to change to the sound established on the debut, from the opening fire of Bones Don't Break, through the anthemic Act Of God into the heavy percussive Breathe Deep and ending with Lifeless & Vain which has a radio rock feel and some nifty guitar work. Devilfire are Alex Cooper (vocals), Baz Blackett (guitar), Lars Wickett (drums), Jay Downes (bass) & Kieran Topp (guitar) and while you we wait for their follow up full length this EP is a pretty decent way to pass the time. 7/10

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