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Friday 14 June 2019

Reviews: Memoriam, Gov't Mule, Nocturnus AD, Voluntas (Paul H, Rich & Matt)

Memoriam: Requiem For The Dead (Nuclear Blast) [Paul H]

You could call Memoriam rather prolific these days, such is their output. Album number 3 in almost as many years and yes, it’s another blistering release. Willets, Whale, Fairfax and Healy have clearly hit a rich vein of form and have struck once more whilst the iron still smoulders. Last year’s The Silent Vigil proved that For The Fallen was no fluke, not that we’d have expected that anyway. Requiem For The Dead is honestly a brutal pounding beast. Opener Shell Shock delivers a salvo of intent, massive riffs, thunderous drumming and the usual Willets growl. Undefeated contains some of the best riffs of the year, a majestic driving track which demands attention. And Memoriam are now frustrated and angry enough to move away from their war themes to focus on the state of the country with Austerity Kills. This track is sobering in its content but bitter in its aggression and bile towards the Government. Willets vocals rage with injustice, “A shameful crisis of morality, as millions live and die, in poverty, Is this the 21st Century? There has to be a better way”, whilst Fairfax riffs away, massive boulders of riffs which crunch and drive bone and sinew apart.

Refuse To Be Led has a massive dose of melody which surges through it whilst it retains all the essential Memoriam criteria. The Veteran examines the fallout which befalls too many of the Country’s servicemen, homeless and suffering from PTSD. This time Memoriam have grabbed the social imbalances in the world and are rightly raging. The thumping title track steers the album towards the end, driving rhythm and chainsaw riffage in typical pulverising form. The blistering Fixed Bayonets steam rollers forward, whilst Willets’ growling vocal recounts the unimaginable horror of going over the top in WWI. The powerful instrumental Interment brings this album to a close. Memoriam are as relevant today as they have ever been, vital in fact. This album sits proudly in their ever-growing catalogue. A work of quality. At times simple, always efficient and quite simply a demonstration of UK death metal at its best. 9/10

Gov't Mule: Bring On The Music – Live at the Capitol Theatre (Mascot Records) [Paul H]

Filmed and recorded at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY in April 2018, Bring On The Music captures the ‘Mule in their natural environment, live on stage where they can jam away to their hearts content. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see the band live, then you’ll know that with over 300 tracks to their name, no two shows are the same. Here, the DVD varies wildly to the set list recorded for the double CD. Bring On The Music, taken from the song of the same name, deals with the loss and the passing of time as well as the band’s relationship with their devoted audience. It’s also the closing track on this gargantuan release which clocks in at over two and a half hours in duration. With the shortest track on the release Little Toy Brain just a little over five minutes, there are multiple extended musical explorations to enjoy.

From the 12 minutes plus Thorazine Shuffle to the title track of 2017’s Revolution Come Revolution Go, this is a release to put on, pull up a chair with a cuppa and just sit back and marvel at the superb quality of musicianship on display. Warren Haynes leads on guitar and vocals, and boy can he shred. Haynes is joined by 1994 alumni Matt Abts on drums, Danny Louis on keyboards (with the Mule since 2002) and 2008’s last change to the line-up, Jorgen Carlsson on bass. Between them they groove, rock, mellow out and generally have a great time in this musical celebration of 25 years as a band. Highlights are plentiful, and the best advice I can give is to get hold of a copy, assume the position and enjoy. 8/10

Nocturnus AD: Paradox (Profound Lore Records) [Rich]

When metal bands do a sequel to a classic album more often than not it is an unmitigated disaster and nearly always an inferior product to the original. Thankfully this is one of those rare occasions where a sequel album meets expectations and is very good. Nocturnus released their debut album The Key way back in 1990 it was categorically ahead of its time being a unique fusion of technical thrash metal, death metal, futuristic sounding keyboards and science fiction themes and whilst overlooked at the time is now seen as a forward thinking and defining album within the history of progressive and technical death metal.  Fast forward 29 years later and we have Nocturnus AD an offshoot from the original band formed by vocalist and drummer Mike Browning who performed on The Key and Thresholds albums. Paradox pretty much picks up from where The Key left off with its old school sound, style and production definitely sounding like an album from the early 1990’s rather than 2019.  Being an old school death metaller this approach pleases me. I far prefer it when death metal sounds dirty rather than clean and processed. Musically this is very much a continuation of The Key with Coroner styled technical thrash metal meeting Floridian death metal with the now retro sounding keyboards prevalent throughout. It’s still a unique sound and still sounds magnificent today with songs such as Seizing The Throne, The Antechamber and Apotheosis drawing me into this science fiction world with furious riffs, blazing solos, pummeling drums, unworldly synths and the harsh vocals of Mike Browning. Paradox whilst not as great an album as The Key still very much does its legacy justice and is a worthy sequel.  If you loved the early Nocturnus albums then this album will very much satisfy your sci fi death metal cravings. 8/10

Voluntas: Walk To Hell (Self Released) [Matt]

Bristol based Voluntas have managed to secure themselves a place in the Bloodstock M2TM Bristol Final on 6th Jul, in preparation for that they have released their debut EP Walk To Hell. It's a mind bending mix of progressive thrash metal with some death metal grinding and grunts. They have influences as eclectic as Death, Pantera and Metallica, you can hear it all over, if I were pinpoint it I'd say Voluntas remind me a lot of Coroner with the edgy riffs, that shift gears without apology. Big heavy grooves drive Price Is Blood on which the production let's you hear the big bassline behind it as the vocals come at a rapid fire pace moving between the aforementioned guttural grunts and raspy almost spoken word delivery. It's a really unique sound but fans of the more experimental side of thrash will lap this up, though the vocals style may alienate some, this band are much better when they're are full death metal style, it doesn't help that they are quite high in the mix either. Musically though they are very good if you prefer your thrash with bit more variation than normal. Let down a little by the mix Walk To Hell is a sturdy foundation for Voluntas to build upon. 7/10 

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