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Saturday 6 July 2019

Reviews: Consecration, Desolate Plains, Old Forest, Kings Winter (Sean, Rich & Paul H)

Consecration: Fragilium (Solitude Productions) [Sean]

I would like to think that I’m a fairly jolly person, an optimist if you will. There’s not much on this big old ball of blue that really bothers me, save for the few odd spells of seasonal melancholy. Happy go lucky on the whole, even if what I listen to doesn’t reflect or affect my overall disposition. In terms of music, I see the miserable and morbid as a chance to reflect, to soothe one's sole with a necessary dose of woe. Others, however, are probably as miserable as the very art they create. Which brings us to Norwich misery wizards, Consecration and their new album, Fragilium. The order of the day is death with a double serving of doom, so let’s not waste any more time and tuck in! In Darkened Slumber is the appetiser, a mournful instrumental of pendulous strumming. A funeral dirge through and through, it’s fairly sparse, relying on repetitious phrases and patterns. Subtle layers are added upon each rotation but it never feels aimless, shifting just enough to hold your attention throughout. It introduces touches of major to offset the minor, conveying an acceptance of the inevitable. Baleful and with a hint bittersweet, it’s a suitably opener for Fragilium . It’s followed up by the next (and main) course, A Sentinel For The Fragile.

The strumming returns, leading down in the main catacombs of Consecration’s dense, deathly doom. Further and further we descend, before Consecration spring to (un)life. The tempo is slow and steady, the vocals are disgustingly guttural and the riffs are as one would imagine; CRUSHINGLY FUCKING SLOW! It’s also pretty raw, drawing more on Autopsy than My Dying Bride, with vocals occasionally reminiscent of early Incantation. It briefly quickens, though soon returns to Consecration’s preferred pace, almost as if it were a moment of fancy. Remember, going fast isn’t doom! In Somnus Ego Morrior (In My Sleep I Die) delves deeper into the dark, traces of a melodic lead rising up from the murk. It’s pretty simple in construction, a series of descending power chords, but it works well. There’s even a some shredding toward the end, showing that Consecration can belt out notes if needs be. An Elegy For The Departed injects even more melody, this time into the rhythm guitars themselves.

This may not seem like much of a revelation but here, it’s a noticeable shift and welcome one indeed. Patience is rewarded with thicker riffage, the stylistic aura gradually shifting, to eventually resemble early Paradise Lost. To Welcome The Grey brings Fragilium to its inevitable conclusion, stripped down and (initially) bereft of aggression, before building into one last anguished gasp. It doesn’t go gently, a fitting death rattle before fading into eternal silence. Christ….that was intense. So…..what’s a (formerly) upbeat dude like myself to say in the face of such crushing oppressiveness? Pretend I wasn’t crippled by under the sheer weight of Consecration’s latest offering? Try to deny the domineering 50 plus minutes of unrelenting despair? No, Fragilium pretty much flattened me and I enjoyed every dreadful second of it. 8/10

Desolate Plains: The Face Of The Earth (Molon Lave Records) [Rich]

The Face Of The Earth is the second album by Greek progressive death metal band Desolate Plains.  Not a band I have heard of previously but Desolate Plains perform an enjoyable mix of death metal and progressive metal with influences from other subgenres of metal such as thrash metal, black metal and doom metal. Desolate Plains manage to juggle these various different influences and produce a cohesive album. The guitars are put to great use throughout the album from the thrash riffage of opener The Movement Of Fear, the  blackened tremolo riffs in A Final Thought  and the tasteful melodic lead guitar playing throughout the duration of the album. Vocalist Aliki Katriou utilises a mix of vocal styles throughout the album from her unique sounding low register clean vocals to blackened screams and guttural growls and her range is quite impressive.

The music ranges from the more thrash and death metal stylings of the aforementioned songs to more atmospheric progressive songs such as Empire and Across The River and the mix of styles keeps this album interesting and entertaining throughout. The Face Of The Earth whilst not a mindblowing album is a very satisfying listen. There is a nice mix of styles throughout and the song structures keep things interesting but the album isn’t wholly memorable. Maybe this is one that takes a multitude of listen to sink in.  However on the whole I did enjoy and Desolate Plains are definitely a band to keep on your radar. 7/10

Old Forest: Black Forests Of Eternal Doom (Dusktone Records) [Paul H]

Initially formed in 1998 UK black metal veterans Old Forest comprise Kobold (James Fogerty) on vocals and keyboards, Kobro (Anders Kobro) on drums and Beleth on guitars and bass. Fogerty and Kobro are both active in numerous other outfits, most notably the magnificent In The Woods. Black Forests Of Eternal Doom is the band’s fourth long player, although their catalogue also boasts several Eps and compilations. Opening with the majestic Subterranean Soul, this is 45 minutes of UK black metal at its best. Frantic tremolo riffing, thundering drumming and snarling vocals which break into clean vocals are the blueprint for this magnificent album. Permeated with thick layers of keyboards that do not detract from the oppressive heaviness at any time.

Old Forest blend melody and harmonies with perfect old school UK style black metal. The atmospheric title track and the beautiful acoustic Shrouds Of My Dream allow Kobold to utilise his vocal range to full effect, whilst the latter adds time for reflection and respite in the centre of a frenetic album. Black Forests Of Eternal Doom is a delight from start to finish, its melancholic, organic feel slowly enveloping the listener as the album develops. The songs are lengthy, all over seven minutes except for the 5:39 Shrouds Of My Dream but that should not distract from what is a varied and absorbing release. Old Forest have once more delivered their own style in a grand manner. 8/10

Kings Winter: Forging The Cataclysm (Self Released) [Paul H]

Kings Winter is the husband and wife duo of Jule and Tobias Dahs. Both seasoned musicians, this is their debut six-track EP. Jule is the voice of the band, whilst Tobias covers all the instruments. With a vocal delivery uncannily like Doro Pesch, it’s difficult to avoid comparisons with the metal queen and Warlock. The EP is 25 minutes of classic heavy metal the opener Time’s Running Out is traditional fare, with a keyboard riff dominating. Their website referred to a sound which resembled UK rock legends Magnum, and The Grand Delusion does indeed sound like Tamworth’s favourite sons. A majestic powerful song, full of drama. The title track’s opening riff is very similar to that of Lost On The Road To Eternity and the Magnum feel is more evident with every song. Forging The Cataclysm is beautifully delivered, and Tobias is clearly a talented musician. I often measure a band by asking myself, if I walked into a tent at a festival and these were playing, would they hook me in? Kings Winter would certainly grab my attention, such is the quality on display. 6/10

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