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Friday, 17 May 2019

Reviews: Rammstein, Lamb Of God, Firespawn, Morass Of Molasses (Paul H)

Rammstein: Untitled (Spinefarm)

It’s been ten years since Rammstein released Liebe Ist Für Alle Da. Such is the profile of the Germans with several festival appearances and solo projects since 2009 that it doesn’t feel like that at all. Never ones to be dictated by fads, fashion or pressure, only Rammstein decided when the next album would arrive. And now its here, has it been worth the wait? Well, in a word, Yes. The backbone of the band is reassuringly familiar. The chopping guitars and clinically delivered drum sound assured and consistent. Till Lindemann’s sinister vocals are as intimidating as ever. But it’s noticeable within minutes that Flake Lorenz’s synths are much more prominent throughout the album. From second single Radio onwards, Lorenz takes the lead on many of the tracks. First up is single Deutschland, the tongue in cheek incongruous history of Germany, which was accompanied by the ten-minute video that appeared as if by magic in March. 20 million views in four days tells you everything.

Although it is assumed this is self-titled, the aura of mystery once again remains with the band refusing all interviews prior to release day. Whilst the core of this album resides in expected territory, Rammstein have tweaked the formula substantially. The heavy remains; Zeig Dich reminiscent of the rapid fire of Zwitter, but with a soaring chorus which allows Lindemann to flex the pipes. As usual, the use of their native tongue adds implication by intonation. Lindemann may be singing about escaping into music in Radio, travelling around the globe in Ausländer or abusing a doll in Puppe but does it really matter. He could be reading out his shopping list and it would still intimidate. Ausländer is borderline pop; if this arrived as an entry in this weekend’s Eurovision Final it would fit in like a glove.

The industrial drive is still present but with an abstract slant which separates it. Sex, with the Depeche Mode bass line and Lindemann’s Teutonic delivery is a track Manson would kill for. Was Ich Liebe (What I Love) crawls and slides with a malevolent undertone, the gentle guitars Richard Z Kruspe and Oliver Riedel on Diamant drifts far away from the metallic stomp, allowing Lindemann space to emotionally deliver. Tattoo returns to more familiar territory, containing elements of those anthems Links 234 and Du Hast, Riedel’s pumping bass lines driving the song towards its conclusion but not before an unexpected diversion after about three minutes; swirling synths intercepting and choreographing the song to another destination completely. Darkness returns on the finale, Hallomann. Slabs of comfortable arena anthems remain, but throughout the Germans have followed their own pathway and produced an album which may not hit the heights of their opening three releases but is both intriguing and enjoyable. 8/10

Lamb Of God: Ashes Of The Wake 15th Anniversary Release (Music For Nations)

It’s been 15 years since Richmond’s finest Lamb of god unleashed this seminal release. A re-release to celebrate may not be welcomed by all but it’s still a lesson in brutality. Exploding through the underground scene with debut New American Gospel and the sophomore As The Palaces Burn in 2003, Ashes Of The Wake was LOG’s first release for a major label rightly propelled them towards their current high global standing. There isn’t a weak track on this album in my opinion, and it has a battery of brutality to open. The opening trio comprises the infectious stomp of Laid To Rest, the bludgeon of Hourglass and the snarling Now You’ve Got Something To Die For. All three remain staples in the band’s live set.

The chainsaw guitar work of Willie Adler and Mark Morton, the controlled engine room tightness of Chris Alder and John Campbell and Randy Blythe’s distinctive snarling delivery, compelling you to circle pit at every opportunity. This remains explosive and dangerous. The Faded Line and the massive Omerta follow, intensity and power exploding. The latter’s heavier calculated approach as devastating today as it was in 2004. Further beasts lurk within, the frantic pace of Blood Of The Scribe, the visceral Break You amongst the other gems. Although Sacrament which followed in 2006 was the album that pushed LOG forward, Ashes Of The Wake more than matches it. This release includes three demos and B-side Another Nail For Your Coffin one of the most mainstream breakdowns ever written by the band. This album should be in every metal collection. 10/10

Firespawn: Abominate (Century Media Records)

Album number four from the death metal supergroup and once again it’s a scorchingly hot beast with so many sharp edges it’s impossible to hold. Lacerations aplenty here, as LG Petrov, guitarists Victor Brandt and Fredrik Folkare, bassist Alex ‘Impaler’ Friberg, and drummer Matte Modin obliterate for 41 minutes of sublime death metal. After 2015’s impressive Shadow Realms the follow up Reprobate earnt a 9/10 from me and I’m pleased to report that Abominate picks up where its predecessor finished, with some of the old school classic heavy metal and added into the melting furnace for some really fiery and brutal tracks. The Gallows End opens with the sounds of a man’s last minutes, the crowd’s expectant noise and the heavy breathing of the victim as the gaol door clangs open before a groove ridden bass line leads into a sprawling track; raking guitar work and LG Petrov’s instantly recognisable vocal roar but there’s more than just brutal death metal here. The solos focus more on older heavy metal styles, there’s more melody and less bludgeoning.

With all the band involved in the writing process in a way which hasn’t happened before there is understandably more range and variation across this album. The drums of Matte Modin follow a more detailed and intricate pathway whilst the guitar work of Brandt and Folkare feed off each other in a more organic manner than on previous albums. The title track has a slower stomp to it, the shredding Gojira like shrieks and the punishing heavy rhythm underpinning a monster song. The Great One soars and roars, blistering drumming and chainsaw guitar work complementing Petrov’s quite visceral delivery. Don’t for one-minute think this isn’t heavy because it is an absolute monster of an album and there is substantial death metal in the mix. Firespawn has evolved and with it their style. It remains as fierce as before; The penultimate songs The Undertaker and Black Wings Of The Apocalypse are reassurance of that, but everything needs to change and Firespawn has managed that without losing any of their edge or ruthless impact. This is a stunning album. 9/10

Morass Of Molasses: The Ties That Bind (Wasted State)

Heavy stoner doom from deepest Berkshire as MOM return with their follow up to 2017’s These Paths We Tread. Not a huge opus at 38 minutes in length, but that’s enough to dose up on the stoner aspects of this powerful release. I’d not heard much about the band for a while, so it was good to hear that they were still punching hard. Opening tracks Woe Betide and Death Of All fused the punk anger with their traditional stoner approach before the blues intro to six-minute Estranger takes the band back to familiar territory. Bones The Beard’s vocals are as raw as ever, whilst his thunderous bass lines continue to cause the earth to wobble on its axis. Guitarist Phil the Mountain throws down thunderbolts of shredding whilst new(ish) drummer Raj the Guru can hit stuff hard. Legend Of The Five Sons deviates into psychedelic territory, whilst the 1:34 instrumental title track is just far out with its haunting flute and acoustic guitar. Persona Non Grata resumes normal service, the bowel shattering riffs and fuzzed up bass distorting the lower end. Heavy stoner rock at its most filthy. 7/10

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