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Tuesday 9 July 2019

Reviews: Mirror, Bloody Hammers, Crypt Sermon, Nodafreth (Matt, Paul H & Scott)

Mirror: Pyramid Of Terror (Bad Omen Records) [Matt Bladen]

The self proclaimed "Cypriot denizens of darkness" Mirror return with their second full length album, their first was released in 2015. Once again is the sound of 1980 distilled into one record. It's the that special year where the big rock monsters like Deep Purple, Rainbow and Led Zeppelin were giving way to the burgeoning NWOBHM movement that gave birth to Maiden and Priest. Formed by former Electric Wizard amd Satan's Wrath bassist Tas Danazoglou, it's his rhythm work that steers this record along with the drum work of producer Jaime Gomez Arellano, though live he has been replaced by Danny Koullis Georgiou Conway. On top of that Constantinos C. Bynd and Nikolas Spirits Moutafis weave in and out with some slick dual guitar riffage, yes folks it's twin axe heaven here with a lot of great soloing.

In fact musically this album is a bit more mature than their debut, the title track pairs classic sounds with modern flair but it's a godsend that vocalist Jimmy Mavromatis returns with his powerful pipes, especially on the raw I Am The Freak where he really lets rip as the staccato riffs make way for soaring solos. There is a real flair to this record, Tas has seriously studied the influences to bring the sounds of battle metal to Secrets Of Time, the doom-laden Master Of The Deep as well as the more cinematic Black Magic Tower and Running From The Law which has the punky aggression of Di'Anno fronted Iron Maiden. Pyramid Of Terror is a perfect follow up to their self titled debut as it adds an extra dimension to their sound broadening their musical style a little but still retaining that balance of melody and heaviness. Since returning to Cyprus and moving on to an independent label (their debut was released on Metal Blade) it's almost as if Tas has been able to experiment a little, taking his time to craft an ideal album for fans of Scorpions, UFO, Iron Maiden and Rainbow. 9/10 

Bloody Hammers: The Summoning (Napalm Records) [Paul Hutchings]

It’s album number five for Bloody Hammers, the band founded by Anders Magna in 2010 in Transylvania County, North Carolina. Of course, Magna is the writer, producer, singer and musician behind the band along with organ player Devallia, whilst he is reliant on touring musicians to bring Bloody Hammers to the live stage. This is a brilliant album which opens strongly with the Hammer House Horror of Let Sleeping Corpses Lie and Now The Screaming Starts, both fabulously heavy with the psychedelic doomy undertones we’ve come to expect. The gothic style is in full flow on the title track, a punchy number with a driving almost industrial riff and thick 1980s style layered keyboards.

The haunting The Beast Is Coming Out provides simplistic yet impressive organ as the main instrument of focus whilst the gothic stomp of Welcome To Darkness has a retro yet fresh sound. Magna’s compositions are epic, containing a dark brooding feeling that merges psychedelia, metal, doom and gothic styles to create music that just demands attention. Tales That Witness Madness takes an almost Godsmack approach, chunky riffs and a melody which infects like maggots on a rotting corpse. Condemned, The Prisoner, opens with a Johnny Cash style country feel before opening into a macabre funeral march, Magna’s excellent vocals complimented by echoing backing tracks whilst a Sabbath style riff enters in crushing style. Sombre, doom laden and impressive, The Summoning is another fine release in an already notable discography. 8/10

Crypt Sermon: The Ruins Of The Fading Light (Dark Descent Records) [Matt Bladen]

This for me is a highly anticipated record, I really enjoyed the debut album from these Philly epic doomsters so when I received this album it wen immediately on the decks of doom. Unfortunately the rest of you will have to wait until September for it's official release but hopefully this review will be enough to whet your appetite. Owing their biggest debt to Candlemass, Crypt Sermon's second record has  choral opening before The Ninth Temple (Black Candle Flame) starts things off with some heavy chugging riffs as the echoed vocals and repetition of it's hook give that Candlemass feel, as it rumbles past the doom creeps in on Key Of Solomon a slow moving sludgy number with some added gong for good measure. 

The lyrical inspiration of this album and in fact their previous album is clear and simple "We're doomed", which is pretty apt for a doom band. With some sorrowful chants on Our Reverend's Grave we get a nod to Sabbath while Epochal Vestiges is a folky intermezzo built around theatrical synths and even some flute before the gothic overtones of Christ Is Dead bring horror and the slowest riff of the record, this is a properly nasty doom song with flailing drums, melodic guitars, fuzzy bass and the best vocals of the whole record as it explodes into a cracking solo too. With three short existential instrumentals, the aforementioned Epochal Vestiges along with Oath To Exile and Enslave The Heathens you get chances to move away from the heavy but then they come back and beat you around the head with a track such as Beneath The Torchfire Glare or the epic tile track that closes the album. Brilliant epicus doomicus metallicus from the USA, in the fading light of the autumn this album will really shine. 8/10     

Nodafreth: Days Of Fading Light (Self Released) [Scott Price]

The Switzerland based deathcore outfit Nodafreth are finally back from a lengthy 5 year wait from their self-titled EP. Being a pretty big fan of this Swiss band, I was quite excited to listen to this album and give it some time so I can get a good grasp of this installment. And I’m going to be completely honest, I am very happy to say that I was actually surprised by this LP. This album kick fires with the track The Old Dead Tree. It is almost like a page out of Lamb Of God's book of madness. Winding riffs, pumping drums and fucking brutal vocals. But obviously what sets this band apart from the others is the almost alien like guitar passages all over this LP. Almost like a nod towards Rings Of Saturn. But before you get too comfy, the staccato breakdowns hit you like a hell bent anarchist with a baseball bat. Only the baseball bat is made of fire and hate and you are on a twisting road down to hell. 

This album always keeps you guessing, no song is like each other. Others are more deathcore/death metal inspired but the next thing you know, you have these soaring guitars and beautiful guitar passages that are just awesome. This isn’t one of those bands that you could listen to one song and all of a sudden you’ve listened to all of their songs. This isn’t one of those albums. One small gripe I have with this album, is in fact some of the breakdowns are a bit predictable, all have the same kind of flow, and they are in pretty much in all of the tracks. They all kind of sound the same. It’s like they wrote one break down and said “Fuck yeah, put that in allllll the songs”. But honestly it’s just one gripe out of an excellent album. Overall, love this album, love this band, check it out or I’ll find you and make you listen to it. Hell yeah. 9/10

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