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Friday 15 March 2019

Reviews: BloodBound, Parallel Minds, Perdition, Statement (Manus)

Bloodbound: Rise Of The Dragon Empire (AFM Records)

You have to go into this record without expecting anything too serious. It’s delightfully fun, if a little cartoonish, but boasts some impressive musicianship and sturdy song-writing. These Swedes have taken their fantasy-fused elements to new highs with record number eight, but this time around, the power metal is infused with a strong folk metal influence. The fusion works well, though it must be said that the chorus of Slayer Of Kings sounds more than a little like Alestorm’s Keelhauled. It’s still a great tune, as are most of the songs on this album. There’s some hints classic metal or even NWOBHM style sounds going on throughout the album, but there’s nothing that at all sounds like it doesn’t fit. Bloodbound has successfully fused a few related styles together, but done it without going off in any genre-bending directions. This album may not have anything the world has never heard, but what’s done on it is done very nicely.

The album opens with the title track that does a bang-up job setting the tone for the subsequent 10 songs of sheer over-the-top bliss. Every song has to have the epic, triumphant chorus and the soaring guitar leads, and the record never gives you a minute to breathe between all its singalong-worthy parts. With tunes like Blackwater Bay and Giants Of Heaven coming right back to back, the fast-paced excitement that defines the record simply never dies down until the final track, Reign Of Fire.

For a lot of bands, its easy to rely on older material by the time they are eight albums into their careers. It’s doubtful this will be the case for Bloodbound. They play new material live, for one, and fans should expect to keep hearing songs from Rise Of The Dragon Empire once Bloodbound is onto the next album cycle. They should welcome that idea, too. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable set of songs. If it’s promoted well, it won’t be surprising to see this record earn Bloodbound a few new listeners as well—any fan of their power metal contemporaries should feel comfortable having Rise Of The Dragon Empire sit in a collection alongside Blind Guardian and Wintersun, to name a couple groups. Basically, if you own a collector’s sword, you’ll probably dig this album. 8/10

Parallel Minds: Every Hour Wounds… The Last One Kills (Pitch Black Records)

French thrashers Parallel Minds have cooked up some groovy licks for their sophomore record, Every Hour Wounds… The Last One Kills. The songs are made up of chugging riffs, machine gun-paced drums and a few different vocal styles, some serving the instrumental work better than others. Each track comes together with a mechanical sort of tightness, which is particularly impressive on the shred-filled songs like Amerinds. There are old-school thrash components on this record, but it’s not reminiscent in that it easily sounds like a modern work. Some songs drip with the grooviness of 21st-century heavy metal, like the electrifying I Am C and the jumpy How. Others have echoes of extreme metal like Kolyma and The Last One Kills.

Vocalist Stéphane Fradet has a versatile voice, to say the least. His thrashy yell and full-on growls fit perfectly over the energetic songs. He’s proficient when it comes to cleans too, and they work well on the slower songs like On Your Own and Syria, but not so well on the metalcore-sounding choruses of the faster tracks. Maybe fans who enjoy thrash and metalcore will think differently, but it just seems like two styles that don’t really mix. With so many different sounds to take in on the record, though, this is only a small complaint. Overall, it’s a respectable effort. 7/10.

Perdition: The Arrival (Imminence Records)

Perdition, in the band’s own words, plays symphonic death metal. They’ve been around since 2008 and toured with some fairly big names, but this newest record sounds like it has the potential to carry them into some new territory. The full-on death metal assault is accented by dark classical features that explore the atmosphere and depth that strings and piano parts can bring to the compositions. No brutality is sacrificed for the sake of increased technicality, and vice versa. The riffage and vocals are typical of the modern death metal style, but where Perdition stands out among the scene is with the symphonic aspects. They’re pulled off pretty successfully, at some times even blending in with the cores of the songs rather than sounding like they’ve been placed on top. The Locker contains an instrumental passage wherein the symphonic sound comes right from the guitar work.

Most of the songs sound like they were written as death metal tunes and had symphonic bits added. There’s nothing wrong with this, but Perdition show they’re capable of blending the styles into one, and more of this would further separate them from other modern death metal bands, since there are an awful lot of those out there. While more could be done to further the symphonic aspects, its worth mentioning that Perdition plays death metal very skillfully. From lumbering, chuggy tracks like The Undertow to speedy, mosh-worthy songs like The Pit, nearly everything a modern death metal listener would look for can be found on The Arrival, along with some other things. 7/10

Statement: Force Of Life (Mighty Music/Target DK)

Danish old-timer rockers Statement have reached for new heights on their new record, without breaking from their mould or straying from the path its members have spent their days blazing. While Statement has been around since 2011, most of the guys in the band are veterans of their country’s metal scene, and have support slots for some pretty high-profile groups under their belts. Force Of Life is a punchy, straight-up hard rock record. Where it pounds, it pounds hard, and it’s got some pretty catchy hooks in a few of its songs. Higher Ground has a nice earworm chorus, and a sufficiently ripping solo to complement it.

Not all of the songs are quite so memorable, though. The tracks on Force Of Life seemingly have everything you’d want in rock songs, but they just lack the character that the legends of rock have all possessed. Maybe it’s the smooth production, but the tracks sound like they’re being played by regular guys, with no rock star charisma coming across through them. They’re still well-written songs, and the band obviously plays at a professional level, but a little more personality being captured in the tunes would go a long way. 6/10

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