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Monday 11 March 2019

Reviews: Misery Index, High Reeper, Time Primer, S91 (Rich, Paul H & Matt)

Misery Index: Rituals Of Power (Season Of Mist) [Rich]

Ever since their inception in 2001, Misery Index have been a force to be reckoned with in the world of death metal with several acclaimed albums under their belt.  With the release of their sixth album Rituals Of Power the praise should continue to be heaped on and quite rightly so as it is a fantastic album. Rituals Of Power is a very direct assault on your senses with the sole aim of bludgeoning you to death through sheer sonic force.  Opening song Universal Truths starts off things slowly building and building to boiling point until the pressure is too much and things absolutely explode with Decline And Fall where the band showcase their thrash and grind influenced style of death metal to devastating effect.

Ferocity is the name of the game and it is delivered in spadefuls with songs such as The Choir Invisible, Hammering The Nails, New Salem and the merciless title track hitting with absolute precision and dazzling amounts of carnage. After the more straight death metal of previous album The Killing Gods, Misery Index have reverted to their previous sound with the grind elements taking more prevalence in their sound once again and Rituals Of Power sounds leaner and definitely meaner.  The Misery Index sound has been forged and sharpened to a weapon that is easily capable of slicing your head in two with one blow. A magnificent return to form and an album that can stand toe to toe with their classic (and in my opinion best) album Heirs To Thievery. 8/10

High Reeper: High Reeper (Heavy Psych Sounds) [Paul H]

Formed in 2016, High Reeper is a five-piece stoner/psychedelic outfit who hail from Philadelphia. Apparently, the band started out purely as a studio band but soon progressed to the Philly/DE stoner rock scene in early 2017. Now we have their sophomore release, an album with a sound deeply rooted in modern stoner rock whilst also giving a nod to the earliest Sabbath records. With thick riffs, powerful soaring, screeching vocals and a general fuzziness that all decent stoner bands need, High Reeper deliver in style. Bring The Dead with its thumping drive will get heads moving, and with no track over six minutes, attention remains focused; this is better than some of the awful meandering stuff that other bands produce.

It is heavy, oh yes, it is heavy and with an unexpected dark edge to it. Crushing guitars, thundering drums and haunting songs which change in style whilst sticking to the stoner blueprint. Foggy Drag for example, opens with a Sabbath style bass before the band crash in with some of the most damaging riffs you will hear all year. There is even a ballad, the ethereal Apocalypse Hymn, which slows the pace and allows for breath to be caught. High Reeper is Shane Trimble – bass, Zach Thomas – vocals, Pat Daly – guitar, Andrew Price – guitar and Napz Mosley – drums. The band play Desertfest in London in May and if you are there, I would be recommending that you check in on High Reeper. 7/10

Time Primer: Obstinate (Self Released) [Matt]

Finnish progressive metal five piece Time Primer. Obstinate is their debut EP and it's 20 minutes of progressive heavy metal with changing time signatures, rippling keyboards and melodic guitars throughout, they even try some harsh vocals on with the heavy Passing Milestone and Nautilus, expanding them on 8611, the songs twist and turn through numerous styles, they also have some spoken word extracts added for a bit more of a conceptual nature. Obstinate is an EP that has a bit of Tool, a bit of Opeth along with some Coheed and some Haken as well, the atmospherics are ominous, the guitars go from clean and melodic to down tuned and heavy in an instant. It's an interesting listen  if you like wide ranging progressive metal, nothing special but good enough to prick your ears up. 7/10  

S91: Across The Sacred Path (Rockshots Records)  [Paul H]

The opening of this album leaves you unprepared for the themes that surge through it. Massive riffs, moody keyboards and a crunching start get you nodding your head. Growling vocals add to the anticipation and then you listen to the lyrics. Ah, fuck, it’s an Italian Christian power progressive metal band. And all your dreams crash on the rocks, lured by the sirens of metal who promised a meaty metal work out. Yes, this is the sophomore release by S91, following on from their 2016 debut full length Behold The Mankind, which was a concept release about the history of humanity from the point of view of Christian theology. And herein lies the rub. This is fantastic musically, combining some innovative elements of progressive rock and at times almost thrash. Symphonic elements sit comfortably with savage guitar work, frenzied drumming and thick keyboards. But the lyrical content just doesn’t work for me.

The warm and strong voice of Maria Londino is enticing until you listen a bit harder to the content. Along The Sacred Path is a concept album that traces the history of Christianity, telling the story through the life of some key but lesser known figures. They include Constantine The Great, Pope Gregory I and that old favourite, Godfrey Of Bouillon, (patron saint of vegetable stock). With all the characters of European origin, the album is apparently also a tribute to Europe as a nation. Now, with the dark times that we are facing in the world, I can accept the heartfelt idea behind this. Unfortunately, by the time we get to Pope Gregory I I’m already tiring of the effusive lyrical content whilst the musical direction has all gone a bit Avantasia. Their heart might be in the right place, but I’m afraid anything which glorifies, and praises religion turns me cold. Oh, and it gets worse as it goes on with some of the most appalling backing vocals I’ve ever heard. From a cracking start to a steaming turd in under 15 minutes. 3/10

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