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Friday 7 June 2019

Reviews: Gloryhammer, Damim, God Shaped Devil, Reveal (Paul H & Matt)

Gloryhammer: Legends From Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex (Napalm Records) [Matt]

Epic metal madmen Gloryhammer have done this trilogy thing the correct way round. If you follow the the Holy Trinity (Star Wars) it's supposed to be like this: Part 1: Establishing Story, Part 2: Baddies Win, Part 3: Starts out bad but goodies win. Gloryhammer have followed this to the letter, as their third album Legends From Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex we see our hero Angus McFife return from the future explored on their previous record to an alternate version of The Kingdom Of Dundee which sees Emperor Zargothrax (Chris Bowes - keys, harsh vocals) now controlling the Kingdom Of Dundee so when Angus McFife (Thomas Winkler - vocals) and his companions Ser Proletius (Paul Templing - guitar), Ralathor (Ben Turk - drums) and Hootsman (James Cartwright -bass) return to try and destroy.

The conceptual story is told by galloping metal tracks such as The Land Of Unicorns, Power Of The Laser Dragon Fire, filled with Bowes' trademark keyboard solos duelling with the solos of Templing while the orchestrations swell more and more making this record pretty cinematic in it's scope. I do love Winkler's vocals he really gets into the bonkers Sci-Fi/Fantasy concept of this record, which gets very loose here mixing Ziltoid with Rhapsody through songs like the brilliant Gloryhammer which is brilliant and had me smiling from ear to ear as McFife builds his forces against Zargothrax ready for the almighty melee on the 12 and a half minute finale The Fires Of Ancient Cosmic Destiny which is the most ambitious song Gloryhammer have ever created. Unlike with Star Wars this third chapter Legends From Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex is most definitely the best entry. Now all I hope is that they don't start a prequel trilogy after this album as we all know how that ends. 8/10

Damim: A Fine Game Of Nil (Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings) [Paul H]

This has been one of the most anticipated albums of the year and I’m pleased to report that the first album from Damim under their revised name is an absolute belter. It’s been 12 years since The Difference Engine was released under the Dam moniker. Although only Nathanael Underwood remains from that brutality, this remains very much the Damim who have devastated Cardiff in their recent appearances. In A Language They Understand opens the album, bursting with huge thrashing riffs, head splitting drumming and Underwood’s ferocious snarl. Descendent Of Amalek possesses an opening groove ridden riff of filthy magnitude before the track expands with intensity, raging guitar work topping the thunderous drumming and dirty bass rumbling. There is little to disappoint on this album, with Underwood on fine form and joined by Flow Toulman on drums, Faust Perez on bass and guitarist Edd Amos. Beyond The Call Of Emptiness is a harrowing, almost melancholic reflection, dark and menacing with an air of malevolence that is truly unsettling whilst Something For The Weakened not only boasts one of my favourite song titles for ages but is also heavy and powerful enough to peel paint from the walls.

Then we arrive at NecroKino. A haunting electro introduction which lurks eerily whilst the tension builds, holds and then explodes into a blistering instrumental. At over six minutes, Body Is Broken is the longest track on the album, and one of the most intense. It bludgeons from start to finish, the tsunami of blast beats, chugging riffs and numerous time changes making it one of the most interesting and impressive tracks on the album. Intriguingly, despite the blackened thrash that dominates, and there is plenty of nasty aggressive thrashing here, A Fine Game Of Nil veers sharply at times, whilst retaining the underpinning principles that you’d expect. Penultimate track Existential Epiphany Within A Waking Dream is case in point; an acoustic melodic piece, which provides an oasis of calm with the maelstrom that rages all around. The peace doesn’t last long though as the battery of the aptly named closing track All I Want To Know Is How It Ends brings a quite stunning album to a fitting close. Damim are incredible live and with this album they’ve achieved that live ferocity. 42 minutes which you should invest in. 9/10

God Shaped Devil: Dark Fields (Self Released) [Matt]

So this album got reviewed on the day one large orange baby entered UK airspace and touched down. Whether he's a God Shaped Devil you'll have to decide however he is American and from the opening fret slides of this debut album you'd be forgiven for thinking God Shaped Devil were too. In fact they aren't, splitting their membership between British and Hungarian the band are based in Manchester and was formed by frontman/lead guitarist Bécy Füzéri (Bex) and bassist/vocalist Lajos Borsi who make up the Hungarian contingent but didn't know each other before meeting at work and forming GSD. They brought on Luke Ellwood on drums and later his cousin Matt Morris on rhythm guitar after their original singer left. Their Creator Of Sodom EP was released in 2015 to high acclaim but this is the first set of recordings to feature the current line up of the band.

Now I mentioned they sounded American and what I mean by that is that they meld pit inciting thrash and head crushing groove in the same way as Machine Head and Lamb Of God do, though it's the MFH influence that looks large from the guitar work to the vocals GSD definitely owe a debt to the Oakland natives. The sharp biting riffs begin Guiding Light which has some delicious pinched harmonics beginning it before the kicks in properly with a technically excellent thrash, the vocals varying between snarls and grunts (Deadly Sign), Drowning Gravity adds a bit more of chunky beatdown, clearly a song made for pits and waves of headbanging. The music on offer is thrash at it's core but with big chunks of metalcore grooves and some a few extreme flavours making it more than just standard stuff. One of the standout tracks for me is Barbed Wire which has a lot of Trivium influence to it with the very melodic style and a tasty solo. Dark Fields is muscular debut album from this British/Hungarian act, they'll no doubt be slaying stages somewhere near you soon so I suggest you pick up Dark Fields in anticipation, play it loud, jump around and air guitar wildly, it's the only way. 8/10    

Reveal: Overlord (Wormholedeath Records) [Paul H]

Put together by Tino Hevia, one of the founders of Darksun and Nörthwind, Reveal’s sophomore album is a combination of power metal and melodic rock. Hevia recruited singer Rob Lundgren (well known on the internet due to his YouTube channel apparently) and several respected Spanish musicians to complete the line-up. Overlord opens brightly with the Egyptian themed The Name Of Ra before the thrashing I’m Elric, an ode to the high king of Melniboné in the Moorcock written saga. However, Master Of Present And Past is bloated, trying to be too clever whilst containing an irritating riff and a sugary chorus. 

Lundgren may well be an internet sensation, and he can certainly hit the notes, but his Jon Bon Jovi style saccharine delivery combined with material that is rather generic power metal in its quality means interest soon wanes. The Crusaders is mediocre, and the album also becomes more lightweight as it progresses. By the time you arrive at Remember My Words, a ghastly effort, the Bon Jovi comparisons are unavoidable and dominant keyboards weaken the release further. I gave this album three spins and it got worse on every listen. If you fancy power metal, stick to Blind Guardian, Rage or Primal Fear (ironically members of each band feature on the band’s debut album!). 5/10

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