Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Sunday 7 July 2019

Reviews: Chernaa, Piston, High Fighter, Highway Hunters (Matt & Sean)

Chernaa: Empyrean Fire (Noizr) [Sean]

Yeah, this is good. I don’t normally start reviews with a positive comment, normally it’s some lengthy preamble and/or an opinion. But gosh darn it, I just could not help myself upon hearing the opening seconds of Chernaa’s excellent Post Black Metal debut, Empyrean Fire. Hailing from the bustling city Czech city of Prague, Chernaa are a brand spank new act with one hell of an opening statement. Shall we? Opener Pink Powder is dense as all hell, thick waves of huge chords and blastbeats propelling it onward. The sound is crips, expansive enough to give everything clarity, even as the torrential downpour guitars hits its zenith. The furious thundering is then silenced, meek strumming of augmented chords filling the now gaping void, accompanied by the ever present wailing of vocalist….uh…..Hedonist The Poisoned…..well, can’t be worse than Insulter Of Jesus Christ (see Nifelheim). Tranquility is soon swept away and the blasting is resumed, further enhanced by melancholic leads. The aptly named Ominous conjures an eeriness befitting its title, suddenly exploding into a furore of more blasting, melodic tremolo rhythms and soaring melodies. Subtle layers of synths bulk out the already weighty wall of sound, the riffing style not too dissimilar to later day Borknagar, particularly during the slower sections. Continuing into the maudlin of Alice Syndrome, the most depressive number thus far, Chernaa continue to shift stances and offer even greater variation throughout its run time. It’s quite something to hear each succeeding song expand in scope, with Chernaa having little difficulty in upping the compositional ante.

As I Succumbed bathes me in swathes of guitar, brightened by the transition into the key of D. Even as it assumes a doom laden stride, the warmth remains, intensifying in feeling with the well placed addition of clean vocals. On it’s own, a good song but as part of an album? It’s a great one and perfectly fits into the overall flow, proving just how malleable Chernaa’s sound really is. Mania dials down the metallics, adopting a quasi post punk approach, though post punk with screechy black metal vocals. The frosty metallics are resumed some ways towards the end, concluding with the dulcet tones of a choir, hideously morphing into harsh noise upon reaching the climax. “Camus” feature a few off kilter chord progressions, moments of major keys against the minor, adding ample amounts of colour to the already stretched dynamic spectrum. The closing act is Discrepency, shades of Drudkh manifesting here and there, neatly fitting into Chernaa’s already large sonic oeuvre. While Chernaa are a young band, their compositional maturity completely belies the youthfulness of their existence. Especially when one takes into account how well executed and cohesive Empyrean Fire is, the end result is an incredibly well rounded and impactful debut. Every track is fully realised, adorned and crafted by skilled hands with imaginative minds to match, and honestly? I can’t think of a single sodding negative things to say about it! Some gutturals to break up the screeching, maybe? Whatever, it’s a great album and one can only wonder what blackened brilliance Chernaa will create next. 9/10

Piston: S/T (Self Released) [Matt]

With four members from The Midlands and a mouth from the South, Piston are a band that are part of that UK rock fraternity that will certainly appeal to the Planet Rock contingent. Their self titled debut album is a mixture of big radio rock tracks and ballads that bring to mind The Cult, Guns N Roses and some Black Crowes too on Carry Us Home which has big open chords and a hint of Country slide. It's one of the few tracks that actually stands out on this record as the rest of it is straight down the middle hard rock that doesn't really challenge you in anyway. It's not bad, in fact the best part is the guitar playing which is pretty tasty at times unfortunately the songs are very middle of the road so they are sparkling diamonds in plastic jewellery. While I was listening to this album four tracks passed by before I even noticed and it was actually not until the U2-like Into The Night that I really took noticed again. If basic hard rock fodder with raspy vocals and I'll admit some good guitar work appeals to you then check out Piston and see them on their co-headline tour with, the in my opinion better, Collateral, other than that I'd say you'd be better with some proper classic rock as there's nothing new here. 6/10

High Fighter: Champain (Argonauta Records) [Matt]

High Fighter are Christian "Shi" Pappas (guitar), Ingwer Boysen (guitar), Constantin Wüst (bass), Thomas Wildelau (drums) and Mona Miluski on vocals. They are characterized as a sludge band and while the massive downtuned, feedback drenched riffs do stick to the sludge sounds of Eyehategod etc but also there is a real nod to the blues and even the dark psych sounds Jefferson Airplane. The reverbed opening notes of Before I Disappear sound like a tolling of a bell, creating a gloomy intro before the doom metal rhythm comes in to vibrate the eardrum furiously, it's a slow opening with Mona's howl coming in early but later on she has a rich, deep, blues styled vocals, it moves into Shine Equal Dark which is a faster number that blazes past.

Dead Gift
has a majority of clean vocals which really suits the more stoner style while Another Cure is more atmospheric but the riffs kick in again with a vengeance. This is the band's second studio album and it sees this Hamburg based band more pissed of than ever before, with crawling doom numbers such as Kozel often break into big thick stoner riffs that get the head moving to Mona's brilliantly unique vocals. To get a feel for the bands over all style check out a track such as When We Suffer which has Anton Lisovoj Downfall Of Gaia adding vocals and it's that similar style of kitchen sink experimentation that makes Champain a diverse and interesting record that brings, soul, sludge, stoner all together in a one marvellous lump of molten metal. 8/10

Highway Hunters: S/T (Self Released) [Matt]

This came as a surprise, imagine Halestorm but with Jon Lord adding some sick Hammond Organ riffs, that's pretty much what you get with trio Highway Hunters. With Yanni (bass/vocals) and Olivier (drums/vocals) bringing the thunder with groove-driven rhythm bottom end, the album though is all about Marine who gives us the organ skills of Keith Emerson and the melodic rock radio friendly vocals of Lzzy Hale. Ain't Got No Mama is the kick off with big organ stabs that have come off  a Wolfmother record, with some highly sexualised, feminist lyricism it's a filthy number, with some blues underpinning it. It's followed by Inside Me which apes Emerson's carnival style of playing on top of a bouncing rocker.

It's great to hear a band that have tried something a little different with the hard rock formula, especially because personally I do love how a Hammond Organ sounds, it's a particularly versatile instrument that lends itself as well to hard rock as it does classical, see the middle section of It's Time. Now I will say as versatile as the Hammond organ is unfortunately the songwriting here is a little basic, lyrically and vocally Marine is above average, but on the keys she's a beast. The best track on the album by far is Firebrand which has some Deep Purple sounds and a radio baiting rhythm, it's different to the rest of the record because it was written Jim Peterik (Co-writer for Eye of the Tiger) and you can tell that a more experienced hand has crafted this, though the Halestorm-like anthem of Down To The River has it's charms. If you think there are too many guitars in rock music then Highway Hunters may give you an insight into another way, classic hard rock but without the six string razors, jump on this highway. 7/10 

No comments:

Post a Comment