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Saturday, 25 May 2019

Reviews: October Tide, Magnified Eye, After The Burial, Invicta (Liam, Alex & Manus)

October Tide: In Splendor Below (Agonia Records) [Liam]

When a doom metal band from Sweden has a previous member of Katatonia, you know you're in a for a good ride. With their first album in three years, they hold nothing back. Filled to the brim with slow bone-crunching riffs and the demonic gurgles of vocalist Alexander Högborn, this record is a masterpiece front to back. From the deceptively speedy start of I, The Polluter to the funeral march sound of Our Famine you'll be pleasantly surprised with how much you'll enjoy this album, despite it's depressing tone. I'm not a big lover of doom metal as it does nothing for me personally, but October Tide pull it off flawlessly encouraging me to listen more to the genre and find new up and coming doom bands. This record is the focal point of doom for me, massive riffs. Even if it's not your genre, if you listen to this record, you won't be disappointed, only glorified you've stumbled across this diamond in the rough. Fucking brilliantly done. 10/10

Magnified Eye: The Virgin The Whore The Martyr (Osmium Records & Daredevil Records) [Manus]

Magnified Eye haven’t lost their touch, despite not releasing an album before this one since 2005. With album number three, they’ve churned out a slick, professional product in a genre overrun by amateurs. Newer stoner bands, take notes. This is how it’s done. There are killer riffs that don’t just go on forever, instead fitting in to the well-put-together song structures. The production is excellent, the songs sounding heavy and booming, and the vocals sound like a real singer is singing, not just the guy who wanted to be in the band and couldn’t play any instrument and thought vocals would be the easiest thing to do. Trailblazer is a strong track for its speed and invigoration, while Homeless Shelter is full of great hooks. Chimp King is a textbook stoner metal song, though the whole album really fits the mould without needing to add gimmicks. This is a strong return for a band that hasn’t released an album in over a decade. 8/10

After The Burial: Evergreen (Sumerian Records) [Alex]

When it comes to metalcore, I’m fussy. Acts in the genre need to be forceful, while effectively using the values of timing, precision, or even melody when needed. It can also aid to have a rougher production, in service to creating a hostile tone. While I like some of the melodic phrasings on Evergreen a lot, After The Burials sixth studio outing disappoints in a refusal to subvert conventions and bearing an enticing mix. Although far from terrible, there is a mundanity at the core of this work which prevents me from sensing any of the anger on show. Although the opening few seconds of Behold The Crown promises something suspenseful and dramatic, the subsequent charade of guitar shrieking utterly kills the tone. Not until the lead break to we get anything remotely attention-grabbing, when the soloing takes on a dark yet conquering style. We hear the same problem with Exist, Exist – there are some excellent ideas sprinkled in there for sure, yet for the most part, it’s a combination of tired out blast beats and breakdowns, which I’ve heard a million and one metal bands utilize.

For those who want to tell me that I’m judging the album by the sound of the genre it falls into, I implore ask to look to the next track. 11/26, with the exception of the pointless fade out at the end, has enough tempo changes and transitions in order to keep the listener hooked, and even subverts expectations through an acoustic section and impressive musicianship. Regardless, all that experimentation was clearly too much as the next piece is six minutes of the most insufferable repetition and pseudo-aggression I’ve ever heard. So goes the entire record. For every rager which proves changeable and different, there is a moment of tediousness. For the price of the hard-hitting Respire, we get the insipid To Challenge Existence.

Utter proof that, despite its detractors, heavier music is not, in fact, all the same. You can say that inconsistency is preferable to out and out disaster, and you’d be right. Still, when confronted with a mixed record, it makes me mourn for wasted potential. What if After The Burial had focussed on the intriguing, absorbing and captivating aspects of their creation? What if they had done away with many of the conventional elements and created something which was wholeheartedly them? People make a mistake when characterizing music critics in that our chief foe is not misadventure, but mundanity 5/10

Invicta: Halls Of Extinction (Independent) [Manus]

Right from the opening riff of track one, Terminal Brutality, Invicta’s Halls Of Extinction just rips. At only eight songs, it’s straight to the point, and beats the eardrums with thrasher after thrasher. The guitars are a talking point here, with chugging riffs and shred runs incessantly attacking with expert precision, while the vocals are the perfect style for these songs, and have a huge, powerful sound to them. There’s hardly a riff on the entire record that doesn’t call for breakneck headbanging, and what more would you want from a true thrash band? It’s hard to pick highlights on such a thoroughly killer album, but Sacred Scourge and Eye Of Destruction sum up pretty nicely what the album is about. Still, give the whole thing a listen. It’s worth it. 9/10

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