Kaleikr: Heart Of Lead (Debemur Morti Productions) [Mark]
Well shit, Kaleikr have done something that I thought was near enough impossible with modern music. That thing? Delivering a healthy dose of shock and surprise. Beheld At Sunrise opens the album with a magnificent intro, almost film score in its atmosphere and build up, added strings are a nice touch, but then the track descends into a din of black metal, a wall of noise, this could turn you away from the rest of the album if you weren’t coming in prepared, the cadence of this track doesn’t really match what’s in store from Heart Of Lead. The liner notes given by the band state that the album becomes “darker and stranger with each following song”, and I thought Kaleikr were just blowing smoke and I was in for another stale and predictable black metal album, I was very wrong. The Descent opens with a riff reminiscent of early Ihsahn solo material, then continues to deliver on progressive trump card after trump card, seemingly one upping itself over and over. Internal Contradiction tops out as my highlight for the entire album, great intro, loads of atmosphere, progressive and cleverly wrought, the vocals seem to fit this track most on the entire album, it feels like a band really finding its form and delivering on what was promised.
The instrumentation is immaculate throughout, every note is in time, on point and well placed, hats off to this two man crew for producing something that sounds like there were five or six different people with creative input working away to create Heart Of Lead. Already mentioning three tracks in this review, it’s really hard to narrow it down to what’s good from what’s great of the other four songs, all of them offering something, some new twist on the delivery of atmosphere and crushing riffs, the only less than stellar track is the opener, but even that grows on you after a few listens. Even though this album only consists of seven tracks, the musical journey seems to take strides above and beyond it’s small track count with big atmosphere, aural landscapes and genre hopping abilities. Kaleikr have delivered a truly epic album with Heart Of Lead, but don’t just listen to this once, go through a few times and you’ll start picking out the intricacies of an album that is much more diverse than wall of noise black metal. 8/10
Crystal Lake: Helix (Sharptone Records) [Liam]
Following up from 2016’s True North, the Japanese metalcore quintet are going in harder and heavier than they have before. Opening with short intro Helix here a robotic voice mutters ‘I am the one above all. Every living thing will spiral into dust. Helix" That intro alone is a sign of things to come. First track Aeon comes at you light a heavy freight train. No messing around here, just straight up, in your face metalcore, and the album doesn’t get any lighter from here. Agony treats you to a little techno intro, but is as hard hitting as Aeon with more of a catchy chorus. +81 is a song that was made to be performed live. You can feel the energy that was put into this song as they envisioned performing it.
A good headbanger song, even with the short techno bridge toward the end, but it adds to the energy nonetheless. Lost In Forever is a little more mellow but doesn’t stray from the albums path of being metalcore as it weaves in and out of being heavy as balls with a more melodic chorus. Outgrow is the slowest song on the album, but while still heavy, doesn’t do it for me and feels like it was just added for filler. Shame really. But it makes up for that with Hail To The Fire. This is by far the best & heaviest track on the album, my personal favourite. The rest of the album is decent but nothing noteworthy, jut your generic metalcore. This band is just getting started. And with a slot at this year's Download festival, they’re one to keep an eye on. 8/10
Far From Refuge: Far From Refuge (Self Released) [Liam]
Founded in 2016, and only recently releasing their self-titled EP, Far From Refuge are giving you a taste of they can give to the current state of metalcore. Opener, righty titled, Emergence is just the tip of the iceberg showing you what they're capable of with a catchy, yet simply repetitive, chorus. Still, it’s a good start from the boys from Cambridge. Second song The Architect is a strong one. The mix of clean/unclean vocals actually fits this song pretty well, some techno breaks fit in well behind the breakdowns, good effort. Second single Circuits is just a beautiful song. The vocals blend so well with each other and the song as a whole is just made with so much energy. First single There Was A Light just brings pure heaviness. With crushing breakdowns and brutal vocals, it’s just the gym song you’ve been looking for if you need inspiration. EP ender Beings is a fitting end to this metalcore quintets first release. If you love prog metal/metalcore, keep an eye on these boys, you won’t be disappointed. 7/10
From Sorrow To Serenity: Reclaim (Long Branch Records) [Liam]
With an EP & full-length studio album under their belts, Glaswegian metalcore group From Sorrow To Serenity return with Reclaim, and they’re firing on all cylinders with this record. Building up the atmosphere with Denounce, it gives you a taster of the next 10 songs to come, and it only gets better. Second song We Are Liberty is a pit starter if I've ever heard one. The chorus is a war anthem and was made to have crowds shout it as loud as they can. Title song Reclaim is a tad on the mellow side musically to start but get back into the groove. Gaz King’s guttural vocals stay the same throughout and just blend with the song perfectly.
Alight sounds a little more technical during the breakdowns, which is always good as it leaves you with a dirty gurn throughout. Personal album favorite Perpetrator, is just an unrelenting metalcore ambush on your senses, and the chorus make the song even better. Solitude is a decent song, nothing to complain about but nothing to take note of. Unity Asunder brings out the bands heavier side as it’s a bit faster and more heavy adding to the diversity of the album. Inside A Soul is slower but still brings the heaviness you’re looking for making a great song. Last three songs Supremacy, 7 & Resurgence are all as technical and heavy as the last making a great end to a great album. If you’re in Japan they’re on tour with Betraying The Martyrs later this year. If not, then keep an eye out. These are not to be missed 8/10
Motorpsycho: The Crucible (Stickman Records) [Liam]
A little disappointed with this album to be honest. When I found out it was prog rock I was all for it, but felt a little deflated after finishing it. With three songs and totaling to just under 40 minutes it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Nothing really stood out to me. The vocals were a bit flat and strained on some parts leaving me slightly disgruntled that they were happy enough to put it out like that. Some parts you can hear were influenced by other prog rock bands, notably Pink Floyd, but it wasn’t enough for me to enjoy it. But I'm just one man. Someone else will love it. Give it a go yourself to test the waters, but it’s not for me unfortunately. It’s not a BAD album by any means. It’s just, boring. 3/10