Monday, 18 March 2019

Reviews: Nightrage, Mother Of Millions, The Great Discord, Lightfold (Matt]

Nightrage: Wolf To Man (Despotz Records)

Greek/Swedish metal band Nightrage have been in existence since 2000 when friends Marios Iliopoulos and Gus G formed the melodic death metal band. Over the course of 7 albums they’ve had guest shots from vocalists Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates) and Tom S. Englund (Evergrey), guitarist Olof Mörck (Dragonland/Amaranthe) along with many others, each of these albums had a revolving line up with only Marios’ flesh ripping guitar playing the constant.

So after two years they have returned for their eighth album with a new rhythm section in place, remaining from the two previous records is vocalist Ronnie Nyman who has throat shredding screams, growls and barks and guitarist Magnus Söderman whose interplay with Marios is at the heart of this record. Check out a rager like Embrace The Nightrage and you’ll hear why, Francisco Escalona (bass) and Dino George Stamoglou (drums) lay down a blistering thrash beat that lets the two guitarist trade off riffs, leads and solos on one of the strongest tracks on the album.

Melodic death metal will always be seen as Swedish invented genre with the big hitters well known but I’ve always thought Nightrage should be included in that list, they’ve got the technical ability of Arch Enemy or Soilwork, on first single By Darkness Drawn especially, the progression of In Flames and the heaviness of At The Gates (God Forbid) all wrapped up together and as this juggernaut of an album shows they can do it all with flair, never really taking their foot off the gas until the last song, which is the acoustic instrumental. If you worship the HM-2 and love a bit of intricate fret destruction to go with your thrash/death metal then you should really like(an) Wolf To Man. (Sorry for the joke) 8/10

Mother Of Millions: Artifacts (Black Lodge)

From Athens Greece Mother Of Millions blew me away with their second album Sigma, it was modern progressive rock tour-de-force with enough melody and heaviness for anyone’s taste while being bang up to date with the current trends in the genre. After touring the record hard, supporting Textures on their last European tour, sharing the stage with Pain Of Salvation, Devin Townsend, Leprous, Oceans Of Slumber, their new phase is more of the same to be honest as Artifacts picks up where its predecessor left off. Rites starts the record off with building fluid guitar playing that breaks as the dense grooves kick in, then with some drum flair we go back to the atmospheric guitar playing and the emotive vocals begin to drag you in to the album properly.

You could, I suppose make comparisons to the bands that have grown out of the djent scene with Tesseract and even Leprous the major comparisons, especially on second track Soma which is down-tuned, dark track, with open guitar chords jangling over, a purposeful bass and some very good drums, as some synths creep in to take to the track to its key change that brings a touch of catharsis, but there is much more here. Artifacts is, on the whole, a much darker album than Sigma. There is a lot more use of electronics and ambient textures to build a mood, the keys here are very important they take the lead in so many of the songs that they’re impossible to ignore, especially on Nema which is a piano instrumental and sits in the middle of the album as delicate sorrowful piece of beauty that gets disturbing as it climaxes into the juddering riffs of Anchor.

Anchor once again has some hypnotic drum flair and discord before building into a brilliantly brief guitar solo, leaving you prepared for Artefact and 8 minute monster of a song that seems hell bent on taking every last drop of emotion from you with the vocal chant at the beginning then the wistful piano and drum pattern as a woman narrates in Greek, it’s a mercurial track that intensifies as it progresses, adding more layers to the sound before it bursts into cascading riffs. Finally we get to Amber probably the most progressive song on the record as choirs are juxtaposed with fluctuating riffs that remind me of Vola (swoons). Artifacts sees Mother Of Millions still enjoying a very productive and inventive part of their career where they can make albums like this really stand out in a crowded genre. 8/10

The Great Discord: Afterbirth (The Sign Records)

Much like after their debut record Duede once again Swedish prog metal act The Great Discord have released an EP that serves as both a follow up to the previous album and a hint towards the next. That previous album was the excellent The Rabbit Hole a complex dark record that installed The Great Discord as one of the most intriguing vital prog acts for years, a claim bolstered by their brilliant live show, which I have witnessed in both Bristol and at Damnation Festival. Afterbirth is as I’ve said a follow on from their darkest record yet, it is also their lightest musical forays (especially vocally) but you wouldn’t expect anything less from a band that have an obsession with light and dark, the bruising music using vocalist Fia Kempe as the vessel for putting these crafted emotions forward.

The EP consists of two new songs, a remix from The Rabbit Hole and a cover of Bjork’s Army Of Me. So we’ll deal with the four tracks in order Heart starts us of with Fia utilizing her brilliant clean vocals against a straight forward track that pounds away like Lacuna Coil or Within Temptation, a joyous number to kick things off that leads into the punchy, marching beat, title track which I have to describe as Alannah Myles singing over Rammstein, the industrial edge continues on the chugging cover, which I much prefer as Bjork’s vocals do get on my nerves a little, it’s a stunning version full of the technical heaviness The Great Discord are renowned for. The finally is a ghostly version of Neon Dreaming from The Rabbit Hole which ends the EP on a more reflective note. It’s a neat little thing this the new tracks hinting at a newer direction and that cover has to go into their live set, pick it up if you want just that little bit more of these unique Swedes. 7/10

Lightfold: Deathwalkers (Pitch Black Records)

Two of my favourite albums begin with a car crash, a weird sentence to start a review with but hear me out. Both Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence by Dream Theater and Mercy Falls by Seventh Wonder have a car crash at the beginning and deal with the aftermath differently, both telling stories using the medium of progressive metal to do so. Lightfold’s new album also starts with a car crash and is full of progressive power metal, the storyline though deals with the idea of deathwalkers which I believe are: astral beings that “are releasing that which is trapped, moving that which is beyond life, but not yet truly within the clutches of death”.

They do this with changing time signatures, melodic keys and metallic riffs telling the story across the course of this 13 track album where we are introduced to a deathwalker named Julia on the track of the same name. This track really sums up what Lightfold are all about, it’s your normal prog/power style well executed but a little one dimensional. One of the major issues is new vocalist Martin Deathwalker’s voice which I did struggle to enjoy, still for many prog power metal fans this could be added to a playlist. 5/10

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