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Saturday, 11 May 2019

Reviews: Archivist, Riot City, Bright Curse, Amulet (Paul S, Sean, Paul H & Matt)

Archivist: Triumvirate (Alerta Antifascista Records) [Paul S]

Archivist are a European six piece, I use the term European as the band is made up of Hannes (Bass), Steff (Drums), Gerfried (Guitar) and Matthias (Guitar and Keyboards) who are all from Austria. They are joined by German vocalist Anna, and English vocalist and artist Alex CF. The band have produced 2 albums before Triumvirate; 2015’s self titled debut, and 2017’s Construct. Triumvirate is the final part of a trilogy, a trilogy that tells a story about the end of the human race. The bands Facebook page has the whole story written in prose (it’s well worth a look, especially if you are into Science Fiction, as I am. It reminded me of intelligent sci-fi like Ursula Le Guin, Stanislaw Lem or Philip K Dick), but there is also a heavily abridged version of the story: “……which follows the unwitting survivor of a massive ecological disaster. The last human alive, yet in relative safety aboard the only remaining ark jettisoned from a dying Earth, she begins to record her memories of the world left in turmoil by humanity's short sightedness and greed”.

The album starts with a sample of someone saying “My god, it’s full of stars”, which is the sample that the album that precedes this one (Construct) ends. The 3 albums are very clearly a complete piece of work, Triumvirate being the final third. Opening track Deus Ex Machina features tremolo picked riffs, with blast beats, but they feel a little relaxed, maybe a little like Deafheaven. Most of the time the riffs are layered, so the main tremolo picked riff might be harsh and minor in key, but there will always be a riff that goes over the top that feels uplifting and more major than the other riffs. This means that on a lot of the material on this album, although it may be heavy and aggressive, there is always an uplifting, positive element. The band refer to themselves as ‘Ethereal Metal’ which is a title that fits very well with this sound. Second track The Endurance, has a slow doomy start, before going into discordant tremolo picked riffs. This track feels more brooding, and maybe a little bit more sinister. The song comes to an end with clean riffs and vocals that feel a little bit New Wave.

The Proposition is a softer track. The start has a soft Post Black metal feel to it, maybe even Post Rock. As the song goes on, it gets faster and more purposeful, driving forward. This track does have some very melodic and tuneful sections which reminded me of Alcest. Next we get 3 tracks that are titles Iteration One, Iteration Two, Iteration Three. Iteration One: Messianic Synthetic starts with blast beats and tremolo picked riffs, but melodic and not that aggressive, the track sounds huge, lots of layers and a pacing that is almost perfect. There is a very quiet part about two thirds of the way through, before the track gets heavy, heavy but uplifting, till the end. Iteration Two: Infernal Automaton starts very heavy, but it’s that uplifting heavy, that Archivist are so good at. The opening blast beat feels aggressive, but then the band layer in loads of other guitar lines and we are in that cathartic, heavy, fast and aggressive, but also positive sense. This track feels expansive, huge in all the best ways. The song comes to an end with clean vocals added to the already huge mix, and it is so good. Iteration three: Anopheli starts with a massive heavy bass line. This bass riff leads us into a very heavy section, very doomy. The doomy riffs then morph into very fast aggressive blast beats and tremolo picked riffs, probably the harshest on the album. This extreme section them transitions into a softer, but brooding part, that has a little of that new wave feel to it. The track moves to an end with more blasting, but in a more positive way than before.

Ancestor Descendant starts with a simple distorted riff, before going into a very Gothic part, which is similar to some of the New Wave material, but darker in tone. The track gets heavier and nastier as it goes along. This is signalled by the clean vocals being joined by harsh vocals. The track is melodic, but it’s a darker melody than anything else on this album, beautiful but dark. Ouroboros brings the album to an end. The song is doomy and slow, with a dreamy, relaxed tempo. As the song goes on it gets heavier and heavier, until a blast beat and tremolo picked riff comes in and slowly the positivity returns. This track has the expansive, huge feel to it that is all over this album. The track comes to an end very quietly, and beautifully. As an album in its own right, Triumvirate is a fantastic piece of work. As the final part of a trilogy, it is stunning. The album feels huge, and uplifting. I’ve got the other albums in this trilogy, and Triumvirate fits the other 2 albums perfectly, you can listen to them as a 3 and a bit hour long album (I have, it’s amazing). This is so detailed, so many layers, so much thought has gone into producing this album, it’s nearly unbelievable. The album is a mix of Post Black Metal, Atmospheric Black Metal, Doom, New Wave, Gothic, and just about anything else they felt like including, and it all fits together so well. Highly enjoyable, highly detailed, highly intelligent, and highly recommended. 9/10

Riot City: Burn The Night (No Remorse Records) [Sean]

Bloody hell, look at the fucking cover! It’s glorious! When there’s an eagle (or hellion) with a FUCKING LAZER EYE welded to its skull, chances are this isn’t going to be a soft rock album. Cooler still is that logo, resplendent in both font and flavour. This is the sheer radness that is Canada’s own Riot City, rejecting all moderns trends in the sole pursuit of pure Eighties speed. I mean shit, looking at that name, you should know what to expect. Big riffs, big vocals and all the break-neck blitzkrieg (now there’s a song title) tempos you could ever ask for! Worshipping from a throne made of thunder steel (hurr) and arriving with the subtly of an atom bomb is their debut, Burn The Night. So strap yourself in, put on some aviators and mash the large button marked “turbo”. Yah know, that one that Captain told you never to press during flight training. Ready? ENGINES ENGAGED! YOU HAVE BOOST POWER! GOOOO!

Right of the bat, Warrior Of Time comes exploding out of the gate. It’s all here, chunky traditional metal riffing, galloping drums and all the metal wailing one could ask for. Guitarist/ lead vocalist, Cale Savy, screams Halford like battle cry after battlecry, with rest of Riot City hurtling along in his wake. And then the shredding starts, already upping the ridiculous amounts of energy exploding form my speakers in a torrent sparks, lasers and PURE FUCKING METAL! Kickass start, quickly followed up by title track, Burn The Night. Upping the pace, Riot City blast off at warp speed, riffs coming thick and fast with the rest of the band providing some truly meaty choruses. In The Dark fools us into a false sense of security via a conveniently placed acoustic intro, before slamming down the accelerator and resuming their usual mach speed. Man, those solos bro! Fretboards are blazed and all is reduced to dust, as it bloody well should be!

Still reeking of scorched denim and leather, Living Fast does exactly what is says on the tin, giving it all the chunky business with gangs shouts to boot. STEEEEEEEL is exactly what the The Hunter brings, which I can only assume is about the mecha-eagle plastered on the cover. Even if it’s not, it should be as much bottom is kicked. It’s short interlude grants us some respite, until we’re treated to dual guitar harmonies and the inevitable return of the SPEED! Fuck, I wanna watch old Gundam now. Or Silverhawks. Anyhoo! Steel Rider takes the tempo to the max, channeling every inch of Riot in an awesome conflagration of riffs and EVEN MORE SHREDDING! Oh Riot City, you really do spoil us. 329 is a straightforward number, though no less formidable and packing as much punch as everything that came before it. It ends with Halloween At Midnight, the band bringing their full technical prowess to the bear, before firing all thrusters and blasting off into the night. Fuck yeah.

In the words of WWF’s Animal, “EEEEEEEEEUUUGH WHAT A RUSH!!!” Which is exactly what Burn The Night is. Riot City should be damned proud of themselves, as they’ve managed to distill EVERYTHING killer about 80’s speed/heavy metal, everything you love about those classic bands (you know who they are) and into a veritable explosion of metallic brilliance. From it’s tight, authentic songwriting to it’s stunningly accurate production (it’s fucking gorgeous), Burn The Night simply fucking rules, slaying wimp and poser alike. So once more, but with feeling! *ahem* STEEEEEEEEEEEEL!!!! 9/10

Bright Curse: Time Of The Healer (Ripple Music) [Matt]

Formed in London in 2012 Bright Curse released their debut full length Before The Shore in 2016, they have followed it up 3 years later with this five track release that clocks in at 40 minutes of doomy, psych rock which shifts between all three with ease the voice anguished as the low slung riffs drag their knuckles across the floor occasionally giving way to some flute (from vocalist/guitarist Romain on Smoke Of The Past or trumpet from jazz player Dylan Jones like they do on Laura and the title track. It starts out slowly Smoke Of The Past building and building with Romain Daut, Sammy Deveille (bass), Mark Buckwell (drums) and Tommy Foster (guitars) all locked in unison for this atmospheric beginning to this sophomore record, before it freaks out into a screaming guitar solo. It's a fog that doesn't lift for the reminder of the album, hanging like a brain fug as these songs slither into your ears heightening your consciousness with every note, Shadows especially features some droning spoken word over the doomy bass driven vibes. Time Of The Healer is a psychedelic trip through Bright Curse's collective psyche, it's a long slow trip of music that is primal and esoteric. 7/10

Amulet: The Inevitable War (Dissonance Productions) [Paul H]

One listen to the opening tracks on this album, The Satanist and Shockwave, would be enough to convince anyone that this was a band who’d disappeared without trace in the 1980s only to decide to reform on the wave of nostalgia for NWOBHM bands. But no, whilst the NWOBHM influence is clearly the style that the band are after throughout this competent release, Amulet surprisingly only formed in 2010. With their cleverly titled The First debut album released in 2014, the follow up once again harks back to those halcyon days where metal was metal, cut off denim and leather was essential, and the mullet ruled. Lead singer Frederico Mazza does his best to sound like Bruce Dickinson circa 1985 but even the delightful acoustic interlude La Noche de las Graviotas fails to save it. The Inevitable War poses only one question. Why would you want to sound like that? Competent it may be, but there is nothing here to get excited about whatsoever. 4/10

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