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Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Reviews: Waste Of Space Orchestra, Totaled, Glitter Wizard, Marvel (Paul H, Paul S & Alex)

Waste Of Space Orchestra: Syntheosis (Svart Records) [Paul H]

Initially commissioned as an original performance for the 2018 Roadburn Festival in Holland, Syntheosis is the recorded version of the very same 64-minute piece that was performed at the festival. Waste Of Space Orchestra (WOSO) consists of an amalgamation of members of Finnish metallic psychedelicists Oranssi Pazuzu and their Tampere cohorts, Dark Buddha Rising.  Prepared over several months in the lead up to April 2018, Syntheosis was performed on the main stage on the opening day of Roadburn to a rapturous crowd of over 3,000 attendees, complemented with carefully coordinated visual. Syntheosis is a quite incredible piece of work, a studio interpretation of the performance. Recorded and mixed by Julius Mauranen, the album was completed by the ten musicians involved in the project. The album is both challenging and engaging, a psych metal album perhaps, but containing many challenging sections which really defy categorisation. Spanning over an hour and consisting of nine parts, the record recounts a story of three beings and their deep search for knowledge. The Shaman (Vesa Ajomo) who is seeing oppressing visions from the bleak future of mankind. The Seeker (Juho Vanhanen), searching for the truth from unknown dimensions with secret methods and the Possessor (Marko Neuman) who corrupts the other individuals, manipulating them into his own sinister plan.

A ceremony ends up in the opening of a portal, which sucks the three beings into an alien dimensions populated by brain-mutilating color storms and ego-diminishing audio violence. Eventually, the three are forced to reach equilibrium and melt their minds into one collective consciousness. Layered swirling synths add depth to the driving guitar work throughout this release. The performance opens with the space swirling Void Monolith, shimmering percussion and effects leading into a wall of crushing sound, and a heady anticipation. Thunderous drumming opens The Shamanic Vision, repetitive chords echoing as the pulverising drum sound and Ajomo’s bile spewing vocals gush forth in a maelstrom of explosive chaos. Seeker’s Reflection follows, a massive groove orientated riff almost drum and bass in feel, the vocals of Vanhanen remain guttural, with haunting melody and ethereal synths provoking unanswerable questions. All change for Journey To The Centre Of Mass, a funked up bass line combined with mystical flute which not only slows the pace but changes the direction completely. Once more the use of repetition enhances the effect, the steady speed totally synchronised with the overall space psych feel. The first lengthy track on the release, this would have been astonishing to witness live as the kaleidoscope of sounds combine to create a jazz permeated fusion.

As members of the band admitted in a recent interview with Zero Tolerance magazine, it would have been easier to have created a jam-orientated piece but this recording captures what exactly how complex the work is and it must have been an astonishing show. Wake Up The Possessor begins with female vocals adding a new take before the track erupts in a volcano of riffs and blasting carnage, Neuman’s horrific screams adding to the incendiary laced track. Driving bass lines and more colossal drums sounds power the track forward, whilst the space synths envelope the song, twisting and turning in a delicate yet determined manner as the track expands and progresses, it’s development akin to that of a wild horse in its desire to follow its own pathway. Monastic chanting and a slowly building sound open Infinite Gate Opening, the anarchic style of instrumental and percussive sounds clustering to create a soundscape which evokes emotions of impending doom and yet expectation of progression. Vacuum Head shakes everything up, with a battering almost black metal assault, imagine Hawkwind combined with Emperor into an unholy alliance which messes with the head. It’s quite brilliantly different with more than a nod to the double drum approach of King Crimson at times.

The piercing tone that opens The Universal Eye breaks from a single to intermittent tone as the clouds gather, delicate sounds echo as if underwater before a traumatic repetitive alarm suddenly ceases and the movement continues, haunting and enchanting. The title track brings a quite breathtaking release to a close, but this is no ordinary finale, as the 13-minute epic cascades and flows in a freestyle manner which consumes all. Syntheosis is a simply unbelievable piece of work, fluid, organic, free of shackles and any conformity and quite likely to be a contender for the best album of 2019. Waste Of Space Orchestra is: Ajomo – voice of the shaman, guitar, Toni Hietamäki – bass guitar, Niko Lehdontie – guitar, effects, Ville Leppilahti – keyboards, effects, Marko Neuman – voice of the possessor, Jukka Rämänen – drums, Petri Rämänen – deep bass guitar, Jussi Saarivuori – electronics, Jarkko Salo – drums and Juho Vanhanen – voice of the seeker, guitar. 10/10

Totaled: Lament (Profound Lore Records) [Paul S]

Lament is Totaled's first album. The band have been going since 2017, and grew out of the ashes of Acrimony. The bands sound is a mix of Hardcore and black metal, a template that is known as Blackened Hardcore. Totaled's sound is probably closer to black metal than other bands that that have been given the Blackened Hardcore label, like Svalbard or Ken Mode. In fact Totaled’s sound is absolutely filthy, almost at Beherit levels of nastiness and filth. The album starts with a short, quiet intro called Deplete, before first track As Below arrives. If ever there was a song where the term Blast Radius could be used, it’s As Below. The song starts with an insane blast beat and tremolo picked riff that is staggeringly savage. It blasts and batters the audience into submission, before a slightly more melodic section gives us a brief respite.

The song also boasts a fantastic guitar solo, one of many on this album. Next we get Eclipsed, which is more on the Hardcore end of Totaled's sound. The track features some great d-beat blasting, but also has a less blasting, more discordant part with an interesting bit of spoken word vocals, before going back to blasting, and another great solo. Transience again starts with tremolo picked blasting, the song boasts some very angry vocals (or maybe I should say more angry than the very angry vocals that all over this album). This song isn’t all about aggression, there is a section in the second half of the song that is fast, but very tuneful, with a cracking solo. The track is very fast, and flows beautifully.

Hypnosis, starts with a fast, slightly death metaly riff, before blasting off into hardcore heaven. The track has a slow, heavy discordant section, a tuneful solo and some great bass work. Desolate is more simple, flowing punky hardcore. Short, but so much fun. Ominous is a short acoustic instrumental, that brings us to the final track, the nearly 8 minutes long Bereft. Bereft starts slow and tuneful, a little like Lawless Darkness era Watain. The track takes its time building up, before a snare roll announces the return of blast beats and savagery. The blasting does give way to a mid-paced dissonant section that is achingly heavy, but melodic.

The track contains one of the best guitar solos on the album, not rippingly fast, but very tuneful and exactly what the song needed. After this the song goes into a clean, very tuneful section, before the nastiness slowly returns. Lament is a fantastic album. Riding the line between Hardcore and Black Metal, it is a uniquely nasty beast. Savage, unrelenting and aggressive, whilst at the same time tuneful, and very enjoyable. It is fast, ferocious, filthy and fucking wonderful. 9/10

Glitter Wizard: Opera Villains (Heavy Psych Sounds) [Paul S]

Glitter Wizard are a 5 piece hailing from San Froakland, CA (being British I’m not sure if that's a real place or not, the only place I can find a mention of it is on Glitter Wizard’s Facebook page). The band have been going for 10 years and Opera Villains is the bands 4th album of what they refer to as  ‘Wizard Rock’. So, what is Wizard Rock? Well to these ears, Wizard Rock is psychedelic rock, and bloody good psychedelic rock at that. Huge guitar and Hammond Organ riffs, lots of slightly punky elements as well, along with a huge amount of fun. Apparently Julian Cope has described them as being “Unashamedly glamorous hard rock” and who am I to argue with the man who sang World Shut Your Mouth. The album starts with A Spell So Evil, an up-tempo rocker, great riffs from guitar and hammond, and quite a loose feel to the structure. There is a little bit of punk in this track, as well as an interesting slight Voivod feel to how the vocals and riffs hang together. Next we get Toxic Lady which is slower, but with a dramatic feel to it.

The song is interesting rhythmically, and has a very strong chorus which will get stuck in your head. Fear Of The Dark (not a cover of the Iron Maiden Track) is a great little acoustic track. Short, but memorable ballad, that is beautifully sung. Ten Foot Man brings the fast pounding rock back. This is a cracking, fast piece of rock that boasts a fantastic guitar solo, and the ending is just great, hugely energised. March Of The Red Cloaks is a great little instrumental, uptempo, bombastic and fun. Rats is another ballad, mainly just piano. The vocals are emotional, maybe a little affected, but it’s affectation that fits with the song, and is definitely purposeful. The song also has a very tuneful and melodic guitar solo, lovely! Dead Man's Wax is a taught rock track, with a slight punky feel to the riffing. The riffing is very impressive, very rhythmic and choppy. Next up is the fantastic Hall Of The Oyster King. Another dramatic, bombastic track. It’s mid-paced but very tuneful, with great riffs and vocals.

The song also features an instrumental section where we get the main theme from Greig's Hall Of The Mountain King, which is done very well and is great fun. This main theme morphs very nicely into a guitar solo. Prelude To A Duel is a short acoustic instrumental that leads us into the final track Warm Blood. The final track, Warm Blood, is also the longest track on the album, and starts with a soft clean ballady section, before going into a heavy and rhythmic piece of rock. The song is dramatic and measured, with a little bit of synth, as well as the hammond. The track is very strong and powerful, with some great chanted gang vocals, and is a cracking way to end the album. Opera Villains is a fantastic album. Well written, well played, with bags of melody and a huge amount of fun. I know in rock and metal fun is an underrated commodity, but this album reminds me of how important it is. Musically very impressive, but will also put a huge smile on your face. The best Psychedelic Rock album I’ve heard in a very long time. 9/10

Marvel: Guilty Pleasures (The Sign Records) [Alex]

There is nothing to feel guilty about on Marvel’s new album. Not that I believe in guilty pleasures. If you like something, take pride in your fandom and defend it to the death. Still, as opposed to cynical teeny pop, Hair Metal or The Darkness, Marvel plays that raw, scrappy, brand of garage inspires rock n’roll which even the most ardent fans of remarkable time signatures can enjoy, when occupying the right headspace. A cliché yet fun spike of, Chuck Berry-inspired, high pitched guitar noodling’s open All For Glory, setting us off on an energetic note. The King, as our frontman somewhat pretentiously refers to himself, has a soulful and rough vocal delivery, while the musicians behind him are distinguishable and complimentary of the relatively stripped-down style at play. Keep Pushin’ follows, its lead riff feeling lending a unique quality despite its weirdly stunted nature, while the chorus remains quintessentially classic rock.

Ten O’ Clock Postman and Girl Goodbye, bear a little more of that vintage jive, owing a lot to the bounce and playfulness of the late ’50s and early ’60s. Meanwhile, Powertrip and El Camino Real are a little more contemporary in sound, lending their bite to hard rock or perhaps early metal. I guess that the biggest factor working to Marvel’s detriment is that they don’t really have a sound of their own, relying on a number of influences which audiences might find reminiscent. However, unlike some bands playing that same trick, it doesn’t feel insincere here. Everything is where it needs to be, and there is a prevailing sense of honesty present throughout Guilty Pleasures. The players behind the project aren’t just cashing in on a history they have very little knowledge of, but have a genuine passion for their inspirations. Now, I’m personally not sure if I could see myself returning to this band on a regular basis. That said, I would happily listen to future releases and cheer them at a gig. Taken together, these factors justify my reservationist but kind score. 7/10

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