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Thursday 18 July 2019

Reviews: Derelict Dream, Insanity Cult, Fahran, The Doom Police (Sean, Rich, Steve & Val)

Derelict Dream: Human (Spinonthat Records) [Sean Morgan]

Ambition is a neat thing to have, especially when one plies their musical trade in all things metallic. Some strive for tonal and technical perfection, whilst other plummet deeper into the depths of musical depravity. Some just want to sing dragons’n’shit, not that there’s anything wrong with that. What matters is drive, dedication and as we stated earlier, ambition. Brighton based act, Derelict Dream, certainly posses ambition on their latest release, Human. Spanning multiple genres and an even greater number of ideas, is Human a fully realised vision of musical cohesion? Does it deliver on it’s ambition? Yeah, it does! Birth begins the proggy shenanigans, clean guitars drenched in lush reverb with synths lurking in the deep.

Drums hasten the ascent, the strings heightening the sense of anticipation in this cinematic opener. Layered clean vocals fill out the space, presumably rambling about science or something to that effect. Chunky 7/8 strings chugs finally get us going, melodic leads soaring above the low gauged rumbling. It’s quite a nice collection of sounds, the lush synth pads neatly complimenting the djenty metallic bits. It’s like watching a David Attenborough ocean documentary, albeit with a lot more chugging in the background. Blood Dance properly kicks things off, palm muting away with reckless abandon. Roaring vocals fill in the space, against the backdrop of quasi atonal thickness. Derelict Dream continue to abuse the bottom string, hammering out more 0’s than really necessary, until the chorus completely changes the entire dynamic.

It becomes cinematic once more, orchestral even as the clean vocals drive Blood Dance ever upward. PHAT riffs become more frequent, even as both the masculine and emotive elements coalesce into a solid first track. Drain is a somewhat similar beast, utilising similar elements, though there’s an undeniable change in mood. Whatever traces of hopeful whimsy are displaced with, with Drain favouring a gloomier and almost nebulous atmosphere. There’s bit of shredding in there too, though the constant palm muting begins to grate after a while. Nevertheless, it’s a strong enough base that fleshes out the more fanciful parts. Hearts is a good, scratch that, great song, with Derelict Dream in full prog mode. Keys are introduced to the mix, with each element simultaneously complimenting each other. And that chorus! Those riffs! It all comes together, flowing from one section to the next with graceful precision. At last, I feel like I’ve witnessed the true nature of Derelict Dream and I like it.

I like it a lot! Burn The Hills changes time signature, the melo death riffs sitting neatly into the already vast expanse that is Derelict Dream’s sonic spectrum. It’s a mammoth of a track, a sizeable 10 minutes of wanton technicality and imagination. BLASTBEATS! YES! There’s even some cheeky blackened parts, which is also nice. It closes on Ascension , which is pure musical bliss to this reviewers ears. Imma say start with a negative. I really, REALLY don’t care for that much chugging. It only serves to fill space where a PHAT, hooky riff could occupy it and Derelict Dream are MORE than capable of this. Shit, Derelict Dream are extremely capable! When not falling back on those pesky palms (you really don’t need that many, guys), Derelict Dream’s creative drive is fully unleashed and an absolute joy to listen to. 8/10

Insanity Cult: All Shall Return To Chaos (Ogmios Underground) [Rich Oliver]

Greece has always been a hotspot for quality black metal and it is still the case as proven with the third release by Insanity Cult. Insanity Cult are not a band I have previously come across but with All Shall Return To Chaos they prove themselves to be a worthy asset to the Hellenic black metal scene. Insanity Cult play a style of black metal that not only has the unbridled fury associated with the genre but there is plenty of melody throughout and a general melancholic feel. This album rips and tears when it needs to but also isn’t afraid to slow the pace and add a moment of atmosphere when needed. 

The guitar work from Έκπτωτος is great throughout with the aforementioned melancholic and morose melodies very prevalent as well as plenty of tremolo riffing. The drumming is frantic but manages to keep things interesting in the slower sections as well. The bass is there as the backbone and holds everything together. The vocals are a bit in the love or hate camp being very intense and pained. Frontman Sacrilegious doesn’t hold back in his performance and thought it aided rather than abetted the music. All Shall Return To Chaos is a great piece of black metal which remains interesting throughout with a mix of ferocity, melody and atmosphere. 8/10

Fahran: Vapours (Self Released) [Steve Haines]

I’m sorry if the following metaphor makes anyone uncomfortable, but it’s the best way I can make sense of this album. Imagine, if you will, that 80s glam metallers Ratt had a baby with prog rockers Dream Theater. Weird, right? And if that baby showed signs of taking after both parents? It leads to an incongruous mix of higher range almost screech style vocals over a rich tapestry of pounding riffs and well defined drum lines. Musically, the album is very good but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that the voice was just wrong. Some songs are better than others. State Of Mind is probably the best of the faster songs but the place where the balance is best is in the ballads so Already Gone and I’m Still Me are the standout tracks for the simple reason that Fahran all sound like one band. I can’t help feeling that with a singer with deeper and more resonating range, the whole album would be lifted further and similarly if the songs were somewhat lighter in structure and dynamics, the incongruousness would dissipate. Overall, because the album is so solid musically and the singing is not necessarily bad – just to my ear a poor fit, I’m left feeling what might have been about a band that seemingly don’t quite know what to be. 6/10

The Doom Police: Sands Of Time (Dani Vampi Records) [Val D'Arcy]

Sands Of Time is the latest output from Dani Vampi (prolific artist from Australia, as his Bandcamp page introduces him) under The Doom Police moniker. The brief introduction goes on to list the diverse range of musical styles you can expect to find amongst the artist's 12 strong discography. I must admit the first thing that came to mind was that album Steven Seagal released some years ago on which he claimed to cover most genres of music. That association probably had a positive effect in lowering my overall expectation for this record. Now the first thing to make quite clear here, is that contrary to how this album is advertised on aforementioned Bandcamp page, is not Atmospheric Black Metal. It may indeed be many things, but that it is not. In fact the only aspect of this album that might slip through what is even on the best of days, a somewhat subjective net, is the incoherent screaming (there are no lyrics as far as I can tell). The tracks are imaginatively titled i-vii; it's difficult after all to give name to a song that consists entirely of digitally tampered wailing, albeit Ghost Bath manage.

Musically, in metal terms, it's about as generic as you can get. If my childhood Casio keyboard had a Metal sample button, I'd probably expect it to play this. Or perhaps a video game soundtrack, it's sufficiently mundane and repetitive to loop nicely as background noise. As the record progresses I find myself pulling confused faces, as if confronted by a bad smelling, poorly constructed argument. But I do wonder if I'm being overly critical of this simply because I'm so outraged at the inappropriate self-categorisation of this album. Perhaps if Dani Vampi had left (Atmospheric Black Metal) off the title I may have approached this with a more open mind. That's as good as maybe, the point here is the artist did so, and in explicitly sign-posting the listener the fact that he's set out to create something specific, it in turn deserves to be judged on that merit. 3/10

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