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Monday 29 July 2019

Reviews: Lagerstein, The Oklahoma Kid, Morbid Cross, Frozen Dreams (Liam & Val)

Lagerstein: 25/7 (Kegstand Records) [Liam True]

I first heard of Lagerstein a few years back when they toured with Alestorm, a fellow pirate metal band. And I've been following them since. With 25/7 however, it's their best work to date. The entire album is one big singalong with glorious riffs, air drum moments and massive stadium chorus'. I've always loved this genre of music, but this has pushed the boundaries with elements of Glam Metal, Stadium Rock and also some Country elements in the instrumental side. From beginning to end, the glorious voice of Captain Gregarggh keeps you enthralled on this epic quest of burying treasure, finding a hidden island in the Bahamas & finding the ancient Aqua Bong.

Also adding to the album, it seems it's a concept album. On a quest to find the Sun's long-lost beer bong to gain another hour a day for more partying. With stops at a Pina Colada Paradise (Hands down the BEST song on the album) some help with Party Parrot and with aid of the almighty Midnight Moonshine! It's captivating and so fucking cheesy, but it's one of my favorite releases this year. If you're a fan of Alestorm or other pirate/party bands, these guys are right up your street! You'll also find the crew touring the UK later this year. Get to those shows and experience the atmosphere. And buy this album. You won't regret it. 10/10

The Oklahoma Kid: Solarray (Arising Empire) [Liam True]

Some destructive Metalcore from Germany. And when I say destructive, I mean it. With bludgeoning breakdowns, instrumentals heavier than dark matter, throat ripping vocals and soaring cleans. Although the music side is pretty generic, they do it differently enough to sound new and fresh, and with the duel vocal duties of Tomm Brümmer it brings a new life to the genre. The star of the show comes from the beat man David Burtscher behind the kit. With punishing drums keeping the heavy riff in line with the highs it's a match made in Metalcore heaven throughout the record, which makes it pretty sad when it's all over and to an end. It's not a groundbreaking album at all, not by any means, but it looks like the band are joining the resurgence that Metalcore had a few years back, and helping to bring it back to the fore front of the Metal genre. And with this album, it proves that the German Metal crew are here to stay. Just hope they keep this momentum and tour this record down our throats. Brilliantly done. 8/10

Morbid Cross: Disciples Of The Goat (Self Released) [Val D'Arcy]

New Jersey based and (surprisingly) yet unsigned thrash act Morbid Cross present Disciples Of The Goat, a full length album with all the trademarks of good thrash album. Tight, technical, raspy and a lot of fun, Disciples Of The Goat displays all the qualities of its Bay Area forefathers. There is a lot more to this album than Exodus worship however, with a number of other influences on display. From the groove inspired riffs in the title track to the blackened overtones in Bow The Knee, reminiscent of early Sodom and the like. The vocals are somewhere between Phil Anselmo and Alexi Laiho if you can imagine that, it's a fitting sound that works really well both for the frantic outbursts as well as the groovier rolling sections. For the most part, this record is a riot with enough fast riffs and drum triplets to keep your head banging, as it should to any decent thrash album.

The production does let it down in parts; the levels are off in places and the overall mix isn't great. Furthermore there are a few oddities on this album that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Amongst those, And The Angels Wept; a minute long intermission comprising of some semi acoustic guitar didn't really do it for me. Then there's the drum solo at the start of the final track, Choked With Insanity; a ten minute opus which sounds like a thrash cover of a WASP song, very odd. Drum solos are bad enough live, they definitely have no place on studio recordings. But before I get too carried away with the negatives, I would say that this a really fun, headbanger of a record which ultimately is the primary objective of any thrash album, so on that basis it's a thumbs up from me. 7/10

Frozen Dreams: Rising From The Ashes (751075 Records DK) [Val D'Arcy]

Rising From The Ashes by Frozen Dreams is a new one for me. Having a mooch at their social media I see a lot of signposts for Atmospheric Black Metal which I think is a bit of a stretch. What we essentially have here is just shy of an hour of blackened melodeath. I do try not to get too drawn into the nth layer of derivative when it comes to categorisation of sub genres, but in this case I feel the distinction is both valid and warranted. Rewind back to 2004-6 and bands like this were popping up one a week from Finland (and to a lesser extent in Sweden, the home of this particular band), their popularity fuelled largely by the growing success of bands like Children Of Bodom, Norther and Ensiferum to name a few. If you weren't one of these founding few then you probably had two things in common: instant appeal and a short life span.

Their upbeat melodies, clean production and accessible simplicity made them the perfect gateway bands for the next generation of black metal and melodeth fans. Those same fans were probably responsible for the aforementioned short life when they ultimately grew out of them in search of something a bit more involved. This album is strongly reminiscent of that sound. Lots of downtuned heavy, distorted riffing, harmonic lead guitars with staccato keys carrying the melody. Although this all makes for very pleasant tunes there's just not enough texture. Ride The Endless Star does well to create some atmosphere; well constructed solos and audible bass line adds some depth. But across the board most of the melodies are linear, they progress in as much a by-numbers consecutive fashion as the broader construct of the songs, which does little to enhance what is a very flat soundscape.

Life Beyond Death has a more genuine old school atmospheric black metal sound, at least initially but soon slumps back into its comfort territory and ultimately falls short of breaking the somewhat unimaginative mould. The drumming, much like the other instruments are fairly uniform throughout consisting of prolonged periods of rolling double bass and although this style does well to carry the melodies at pace, it never really arrives anywhere particularly exciting. 6/10

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