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Friday 14 June 2019

Reviews: Sweet Oblivion, Decimated King, Yung Druid, Moonlight Haze (Matt & Paul H)

Sweet Oblivion: Self Titled (Frontiers Records) [Matt]

Some voices are instantly recognisable, they live long in the memory for any fans of progressive metal one of those voices is that of Geoff Tate, for so long the frontman of American prog metal act Queensryche, he now plays solo shows riffing on his previous bands seminal Operation Mindcrime album. Here he has been snapped up as the vocalist for Sweet Oblivion a conglomerate of Italian musicians led by Simone Mularoni, DGM. Now if you haven't heard DGM they are a melodic progressive metal band that are clearly influenced by Queensryche's heyday, so with the Sweet Oblivion project Mularoni set about writing music specifically suited to Tate's style that would be akin to those classic 80's Queensryche records, with a few flourishes of other styles to flesh it out.

Opening with the driving True Colours this album opens with exactly what you would want, the brilliant vocals of Tate in fine fettle, he is in a class of one really, so with the riff driven song behind him it will get every fanboy bring to mind Jet City Woman etc, the only exception being this has a neat guitar/keyboard solo in the middle. A strong opening them, which is followed by the more anthemic title track which brings the drama of Empire or I Don't Believe In Love to it built around a big bass riff and some choppy guitars, Behind Your Eyes is a little more AOR with a swaggering riff and some of those spoken word refrains Tate is prone to doing. Things go into the symphonic metal territory for Hide Away which has orchestral swells and some pianos along with those spoken words again. The first proper ballad appears at track five and it's the bombastic My Last Story and it's exactly as you'd expect full of passion from Tate. A great backing band with one of metal's best vocalists what more could you want? 8/10  

Decimated King: Dead Air (Self Released) [Paul H]

Although the band’s origins stretch back well over a decade, Dead Air is the debut release from this death metal five piece who hail from Christchurch, New Zealand. Debut EP Ashes surfaced in 2012 but since then numerous line-up changes and several other catastrophes have slowed their progress. Dead Air is interesting. Organic in its feel, this isn’t your typical adrenaline fuelled death metal. Multiple time changes add to a progressive feel; there is some shrill guitar work, with an underlying menace which comes from a tight and brutal rhythm section. These time changes also make the album something of a challenge, as it rarely segues comfortably. Although I’m not enthused with Angus Shaw’s raspy vocal delivery, it works well on tracks such as Barbiturate, the lengthy Despair and the jagged edge of Despair. The duel guitars of Tom McGrath and Benjamin Ellis work well together, trading solos and adding thickness to the riffs. The drums are solid and the bass lines of Brad Lucas link well. Whilst there is some repetition in the style (isn’t there always in death metal) there is certainly enough meat in this hearty meal to get your teeth into. 6/10

Yung Druid: Self Titled (Totem Cat Records) [Matt]

Out of the green fug of London comes stoner band Yung Druid, musically built on the sturdy foundations of lumbering riffs, crunching rhythms and some wild vocals Yung Druid take from the more drug addled style of desert rock mixed with nice slabs of doom such as Underneath The Aching Sky which is the first track that sees Jack Oliver actually sing rather than the ethereal wails he gives to the first two songs on the album. This big hitter is probably my favorite on the record and it;s followed by the groovy Lung which brings back otherworldly vocals style. It sounds a lot like bands such as Weedeater, Bongzilla and Bongripper, as you can see the green leaf features heavily and that continues on Yung Druid with track names such as Take Me To Your Dealer the obvious nods to this bands influence of the Devil's lettuce. Woozy psych numbers such as Went Into A Wooden Room are countered by down tuned riff-fests, perfect for rolling up your favourite herb and just kicking back/ 6/10  

Moonlight Haze: De Rerum Natura (Scarlet Records) [Matt]

Moonlight Haze are the new band formed by vocalist Chiara Tricarico and drummer/keyboardist Giulio Capone after both of them left symphonic metal act Temperance. De Rerum Natura is their debut album and translates to On The Nature Of Things named after the philosophical epic poem written by Lucretius. Musically it doesn't change too much from the Temperance style showing that if it ain't broke don't fix it, Chiara's soaring operatic vocals over the strong symphonic backing of intense riffs from the two guitarists and battering blastbeats. There are nuances though as the synth created scores give every song a huge feel, even on the ballads they can lead it with some delicate piano, but also there are some folk passages here and there that makes it distinctive from the hundreds of bands in this oversaturated genre. Truthfully if you like the first couple of Temperance albums then you'll enjoy the huge choruses and symphonic stylings of Moonlight Haze, if not then there's nothing to change your mind. 7/10

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