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Saturday 1 June 2019

Reviews: Warmrain, Enchantya, Lucifer's Friend, Odinfist (Matt, Paul H & Rich)

Warmrain: Back Above The Clouds (Rain Recordings) [Matt]

You may recognise this band from the EP we reviewed very recently, that was a meant as a precursor to this full length album and featured the bands cover of The Eurythmics Here Comes The Rain Again and three non album tracks. I was impressed by Warmrain having not heard them before this EP, their pastoral, ethereal progressive rock was incredibly musical and emotional, giving every song they write a special feel as the layers of acoustics make tracks such as Flying Dreams really carry weight. Back Above The Clouds is Warmrain's debut album and they've thrown everything at it clocking in at 15 tracks long with an extended version of Here Comes The Rain Again this is a atmospheric prog masterpiece that brings to mind Pink Floyd, Steven Wilson and any of the works of John Mitchell.

It was conceived and written by vocalist Leon J Russell it has been a adapted from a true story and brought to musical fruition by guitarist Matthew Lerwill and bassist Simon Bradshaw along with Russell providing the sweet harmonious, at times heartbreaking vocals as well as guitar and drums. The concept is one that is downcast but it really suits the music which is decidedly melancholic, though hope does glimmer. The album becomes more stripped back as it progresses with the last few songs almost strictly acoustic numbers though final two tracks Luminous Star (More Than A Memory) and Equilibrium as well as tracks such as Alone In Silent Harmony and I Should Be Seeing Stars By Now have those soaring measures Pink Floyd guitar solos that meet the rockier backing tracks of big drum beats, bass thumps and plenty of synths.

Now I gave the EP 7/10 commenting that it was all very Canterbury scene due to it's acoustic based sound but praising it as it is truly 'British' sounding progressive rock. However this debut album is a significant step up in terms of scope from the opening 8 minute Fading Star to the intimate Absent Friends that reprises later on in the record. A stunning record that has replaced the new Lonely Robot album on my stereo when I want some 'proper' prog. Stunning. 9/10

Enchantya: On Light And Wrath (Inverse Records) [Paul H]

Having formed in 2004 and released their first EP Moonlighting the Dreamer the following year, it’s fair to say that Lisbon based gothic metal outfit Enchantya haven’t been the most prolific in output. It took until 2012 for their debut Dark Rising to arrive and now, another seven years since that release we finally get On Light And Wrath. Some of this delay can be attributed to a disruptive change in line-up around 2016 but with a settled band Enchantya are now firing again. On Light And Wrath is an excellent record. Plenty of light and dark soundscapes, shredding guitar and thundering power metal style galloping and with the extraordinary vocal range of Rute Fevereiro spearheading everything that is good, the signs are very promising. Her style merges the operatic bombast of Sharon Den Adel, the gutsy balls out delivery of Cristina Scabbia and the death growl of Angela Gossow back in the day.

49 minutes of gothic metal often spells misery with warbling screeching, a maelstrom of sounds which fit together with all the integrity of a jigsaw bought at a car boot sale [i.e. pieces missing] but Enchantya appear to have discovered the formula in this oh so challenging genre. The battery opening of tracks such as Near Life Experience contrast with the more controlled Last Moon Of March, the introduction of Pedro Antunes keyboards and orchestration adding direction, his layers adding depth and breadth to the band’s sound. Sure, we still have the blistering switch between full out power metal, with the intensity of drummer Bruno Guilherme at the forefront and the shredding elements of guitarists Fernado Campos and Bruno Santos, and the more choreographed style in tracks like Downfall To Power with its nod to the gothic and folklore style. Above all, Fevereiro is one of the most interesting and impressive female vocalists around and her voice continues to fascinate throughout. An album that grows more on every listen, this is one which I was really surprised I enjoyed. Try it for yourself. 8/10

Lucifer's Friend: Black Moon (Cherry Red Records) [Matt]

It could be the easy to review this album, I could just say Black Moon sounds like Uriah Heep, that would be it as Lucifer's Friend was formed by ex Uriah Heep vocalist John Lawton. He fronted The 'Eep between 1976 until 1979 (albeit not for their finest hour) but  he has been at the helm of Lucifer's Friend after decamping to Germany in 1970. This comparison would be lazy and to be honest seeing as Lucifer's Friend are contemporary of Uriah Heep it would be inaccurate as well. So then what can I say about this 10th album from the German progressive proto-metal band? Well I'll say that the opening title track is probably the best song on the album full of big hefty grooves, some funk basslines and killer horns from Chuck Findley.

The musical style here is hard rock with touches of the early heavy metal acts and jazz fusion tracks like the walking beat of Palace Of Fools mix easily with rockier Call The Captain, the organ drenched Passengers and the blusier Little Man. After all these years the original of Lawton's unique vocals, Peter Hesslein's guitars (and keys) and Dieter Horns' bass are still here with some help from Stephan Eggert behind the kit. Lucifer's Friend have been playing this kind of music since the 1970's so there is not going to be any wild differentiation from the rest of their career but if you want a bit of progressive proto-metal in the vein of Uriah Heep and Deep Purple then look out for the Black Moon when it rises. 7/10

Odinfist: Let The Gods Decide (Self Released) [Rich]

Let The Gods Decide is album number five from Canadian heavy metallers Odinfist. Not a band I have heard before and probably not a band I will listen to again as Let The Gods Decide is not a good album. The elephant in the room with Odinfist are the truly dreadful vocals of Tyler “Tex” Anderson who whilst enthusiastic is dreadfully out of tune and his vocals had me wincing in embarrassment for the entire duration of the album. Musically Odinfist are not bad with a sound that takes elements from traditional heavy metal, power metal and thrash metal. The band are perfectly competent though the songwriting is generally rather flat and uninspired and the songs are generally ruined by the aforementioned vocals. The best parts are the instrumental parts. It’s bizarre that the vocalist of a band can be so bad and still in a band after five albums. Odinfist could really do with hiring a competent singer with Tyler remaining in the band in a guitarist and maybe backing singer capacity. This could be a half decent album but the vocals just completely ruined it for me. Sorry Odinfist. 4/10

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