Fractal Universe: Rhizomes of Insanity (Metal Blade Records) [Paul H]
Following on from 2017’s debut album Engram Of Decline, Fractal Universe’s foundations for progression have been helped by appearances at several major European festivals. This is a delicious complex progressive death metal release. As intense intellectually as it is sonically Rhizomes Of Insanity is a concept album based on a thought experiment around the concept of insanity. Opening track Oneiric Realisations starts the album which finished with Chaismus Of The Dammed and throughout the whole album the listener experiences an immersive, multifaceted yet accessible collection rich in melody, invention, and packed with decimating riffs. The use of the word Rhizome is appropriate, with its use in philosophy meaning a highly complex, permanently evolving structure, where everything can influence everything else.
This is certainly the way in which the band’s music evolves over the course of this release; an organic creation which sways naturally between full bludgeoning death metal and melancholic introspection of bands such as Katatonia and Anathema. Clean melodies switch effortlessly with gravel soaked roaring growls, progressive, multiple time changes veer from one direction to another with effortless ease. In Rhizomes Of Insanity, the Frenchmen have brought to the table an album that challenges, consumes and absorbs. If you decide to invest, it is a fully rewarding experience. 8/10
The Southern Revival: Devils Of The South (1031781 Records DK) [Paul H]
Be warned, if you search for The Southern Revival band on Google, you’ll be led to a Southern Christian band who play good wholesome songs about Jeebus. If you add the word metal to your search, you find a five-piece groove oriented metal outfit from Corpus Christi, Texas. Much more like it and much more like it in terms of music. Formed in 2016, this band are intent on putting the metal back into the Corpus metal scene and this album starts with a serious statement of intent. Sound effects of someone digging lead into the bludgeoning of There Will Be Blood. Snapping, jagged guitars, growling vocals from Joe Wilmot and a thunderous rhythm section which sounds like the bastard offspring of a filthy one-night stand between Rob Zombie and Hogjaw in a simmering cauldron which eventually peaks with some dark bluesy guitar work. From here on Devils Of The South is just one raging brew of screaming guitars, high chunky riffs and balls out hard biker style rock. Tracks like Southern Belle, Walker Texas Ranger (remember him anyone?) and Mad King are all designed to kick your ass. Big, ballsy and thoroughly in your face. The Southern Revival is definitively coming! 7/10
Wretch: Man Or Machine (Pure Steel Records) [Pascal]
Wretch is one of those bands who emerged from the underground heavy metal scene in the late Eighties. The group from Cleveland was promised a brilliant future after one of their tracks got noticed on a compilation in 1989 and they almost signed a deal with a major label. As often happens in the music industry the signing did not materialize. The band called it a day and remained dormant until 2004. From what I can gather Man Or Machine is their fourth full length. Wretch navigates between traditional heavy and power metal with some incursions in old school speed metal at times. Ten tracks in total comprising an acoustic tune and an overly ambitious trilogy called the Inquisitor.
Overall the album sometimes give me the feeling of listening to a young Iron Maiden on steroids. This is helped by the fact that Juan Ricardo the talented vocalist sounds often very close to Bruce Dickinson. It's well produced, they are excellent musicians and have a great singer but the songwriting is not overly imaginative and that’s where the problem lays. I feel bad almost because I know there have been countless hours of work put in this but honestly the outcome is far from being ground breaking. It’s pleasant and I like Steeler a title that gets interesting half way through for example. However the entire album gives me the impression of a "deja entendu", a catalogue of songs and guitar work heard a thousand times before from bands nobody remembers the name. It’s a pity because there is a genuine potential coming across. Sorry guys until the next time 5/10
I Prevail: Trauma (Fearless Records) [Liam]
I’m not a huge fan of I Prevail. Everyone was going on about the cover of Blank Space but I didn’t think much of it. And this album is kind of the same. It starts off with metalcore banger Bow Down which gives a bit of hope that the band are going in full force through the record, but alas it’s not that simple is it? Paranoid is a decent song and it has potential for a good metalcore song but misses the opportunities to make that happen. The rest of the album to me is just mediocre. Mostly being on the electronicore spectrum they don’t seem to pull it off very well. Granted the band are getting bigger and getting more of a fan base, but I'm not going to be part of that fan base. Not for me. 5/10