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Monday 3 June 2019

Reviews: Black Whiskey, Funeral Storm, Mammoth Storm, Next Year (Matt & Alex)

Black Whiskey: Dry Bones (Heavy Star Records)

After releasing their debut album Heavy Train in 2015 Londoner's Black Whiskey wen through the mill a little particularly guitarist Kevin Ingles who was diagnosed with Cancer shortly after the release. This has meant changes to the bands touring and recording schedule as he is still undergoing chemotherapy. So Dry Bones is an album about struggle and serves as a triumph over the adversity that is the so called Big C. It's full of big ballsy blues riffs right from the outset Ingles still cranking out things with style and finesse complimented by new bassist Craig Nabbs and underscored by drummer Rich Bannister.

You could easily lump this band with the tonnes of acts that use the template of Free and Zeppelin but they also bleed into NWOBHM styles that bring to mind UFO and latter period Lizzy, there is a bedrock of blues amped up by the distorted riffs and grooves which sees them as a modern rock act. So then what does this second album hold, well despite the turmoil surrounding it's recording it's got 11 big, ballsy tracks that show you that Black Whiskey return to where they left off. The crunchy title track opens, into the grooving King Of The Blind, Here To Stay has a noodling opening before the heavy kicks back in while the big ballad is Timebomb which shows off Simon Gordon's soulful vocals. Dry Bones is a heavy rocking record that has enough melody and heaviness to combat the large number of US bands doing this style. 7/10

Funeral Storm: Arcane Mysteries (Hells Headbangers Records)

If I were to say the bands Varathon and Rotting Christ then you would probably say Hellenic Black Metal as these two bands are probably at the forefront of that entire genre. Riding their God-denying coattails are Funeral Storm, previously known as Raven Throne and a one man project of Wampyrion Markhor Necrowolf (bass, drum programming and previously vocals). After a few name changes the band became Funeral Storm and after some line up shuffling and a change of style to the classic 90's sound of Greek black metal. Varathon frontman Stefan Necroabyssious took up the unholy altar behind the mic and Arcania was added as the main guitarist.

Arcane Mysteries is their debut full length album and it really encapsulates those early Hellenic black metal sounds as ferocious guitars intertwine, on top of the programmed drums, which I've never been too keen on. However they have brought atmosphere with the synth driven Wandering Through The Abyss building things up into Necromancer a song in two parts that has big Gothic overtones, Funeral Storm is a storming (sorry) piece of old school black metal. There's symphonic touches throughout this record really flesh out the songs. Yes you can draw comparisons to Varathon throughout, this obviously due to the vocals, but they even go as far as covering Flowers Of My Youth, that's not a criticism, quite the opposite actually as Arcane Mysteries is a trve black metal album. 8/10

Mammoth Storm: Alruna (Argonauta Records)

Kids do you like really slow, lumbering doom metal? Well then it may be worth picking up a copy of Mammoth Storm's second full length album Alruna, named after the fictional planet Mandragora it's a direct sequel to their debut album Fornjot. Consisting of just five tracks this is a weighty record of spacetripping doom metal with some of the lowest riff troughs you will have heard this year. Take for example the title track a near 8 minute dirge backed by tremolo picking as the vocals croak out of the record. This is one of the shorter tracks though as Raven Void is a 9 and a half minute monolith that is like being punched in the face repeatedly but very slowly. Mammoth Storm is Daniel Arvidsson (of Draconian) on bass and vocals, Emil Ahlman on drum/organs and guitarist Christer Ström and these three men make an unruly racket for this entire record. If you don't like doom then I wouldn't recommend this album but if you love a riff that's as fat as a typical American male then Alruna should be played loud. 7/10

Next Year: Waterfalls EP (Standby Records) [Alex]

Pop-Punk, for better or worse, has become a saturated genre. With so much to choose from though, the questions of which acts stand out the most, become prominent. Waterfalls lean more towards the pop, mid-tempo orientated side of the genre than I tend to prefer. Even by their own criteria, much like their lack of online presence, Next Year make up less than a blip in a crowded market. Aliens and Pyramids opens, the juxtapositions of low vs. high freq. guitar melodies, not nearly exciting enough to keep my attention for longer than a few seconds. The vocals are very inconsequential and emotionless, even by pop standards. Meanwhile, the rhythm section retains its non-contribution - a mistake nearly every pop-punk act commits at some point (*cough* Green Day’s Uno! Dos! and Tre! *cough*) but one which few actually start their career making.

Each of the songs on this six-track EP charts out a plodding course, until as if by magic, Remember Me ends on a clomping, metal-infused riff, temporarily pulling the record out of a creative slump. Whatsmore, the next track, Marquette, keeps the momentum running, picking up in pace and seeing the singing actually take on an attitude. These moments make me wonder how and why these ideas were not utilized in a more full and encompassing setting. Next Year definitely needs to work on identifying and expanding the unique aspects of their sound. Otherwise, their name will continue to be lost in a sea of search results, pertaining to the band This Time Next Year and actual Waterfalls, both of which are infinitely more intriguing. 3/10

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