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Monday, 8 July 2019

Reviews: Pijn & Conjurer, Skelator, Itheist, E-an-na (Matt, Rich & Paul H)

Pijn & Conjurer: Curse These Metal Hands (Holy Roar Records) [Matt]

Take two of the best new bands around, both of whom are on one of the best record labels around Holy Roar Records, and smash them together like toast and avocado for one of the most organic, mesmerising and downright heavy EP's of the year. At just four tracks you do certainly get value for money with long swathes of atmospheric guitars that lead into the substantial riffs that both bands, Pijn and Conjurer are known for but with this collaboration there is a lot of amalgamation as Pijn's post-rock soundscapes are melded with the abrasive heaviness of Conjurer. Opening track High Spirits is both euphoric and forlorn, but as it progresses through it's long runtime we get melodic up beat guitars juxtaposed with the low end power. That low end is courtesy of Pijn's Nick Watmough (drums/vocals) and Luke Rees (bass/vocals), emphatically driving the tracks so that Pijn's Joe Clayton along with Conjurer's Brady Deeprose and Dan Nightingale blend lighter melodic harmonics, deafening down tuned misery and pastoral acoustics with their guitars while also providing vocals.

At just four tracks you will obviously see that these songs are all mini epics except for Endeavour which is just over 2 minutes but is probably the loudest heaviest track on the album more aligned to the Conjurer style of musical abuse. There has been a deliberate upbeat approach to this record and that shines through that no matter how extreme it gets these four songs are positive influenced by all of the joys the band members have, it has been advertised by the band almost exclusively by memes, most aimed at being better than the new Baroness record. Though these are jokes, it's certainly more grandiose than Gold & Grey with a celebratory attitude. A song such as Sunday is a literally one of the finest songs I've heard this year. The band formed at ArcTanGent festival last year and will perform again this year, do not miss them, but before that you must pick up this EP if you want to hear the most positive and musically dense albums you will here in 2019 guaranteed. 9/10 

Skelator: Cyber Metal  (Gates Of Hell Records) [Rich]

Traditional heavy metal is very much alive and well in 2019 and is even gaining a resurgence thanks to the aptly titled NWOTHM (New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal) scene of which US band Skelator are very much a part of and are ably aiding the cause with their tremendous new album Cyber Metal which is the fifth full length release by the band. As with the majority of traditional heavy metal resurgence acts their influences are very clear and on display so you can expect to hear touches of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Diamond Head, Accept and Manowar amongst others but done in a way not to mimic these legendary bands but to pay homage to these metal gods of yesteryear. There’s also a clear influence from thrash and speed metal with some dizzying speeds especially on Akira which sounds like it is about to take off. It’s this fantastic mix of intensity and anthemic that makes Cyber Metal such an enjoyable listen.

 If you love old school heavy metal then songs such as Cast Iron, Highlander and Psychic Silver Wheels will prove an irresistible listen. The musicianship throughout is commendable with some very tasty guitar work, pummeling bass lines and intensive drumming. The vocals are the only weak point of the album. Frontman Jason Conde-Houston doesn’t have the best voice in the world but nor is it the worst and whilst he sounds a little strained at times he doesn’t really push his voice too far beyond its limitations. His voice may be off putting for some listeners but it didn’t really affect my enjoyment. Cyber Metal is a fantastic album and wholeheartedly recommended to those like me who still can’t get enough of 80’s metal. It is wholly unoriginal but done so well that I couldn’t care less. Long live the old school. 8/10

Itheist: S/T (Self Released) [Paul H]

In the current summer heat, how about some blackened metal to freeze your warm heart from the South Coast (Plymouth to be precise)? This is the debut release from the duo known as Itheist who have been around in several shapes and forms since the early 2000s. Powerful, soaring and dramatic, KN (vocals) and DC (music) have produced a blisteringly heavy evisceration which bleeds the ears, damages the skull and warps the mind. Satanic entrails drape across this gargantuan piece of work, with track such as Guardian Of The Baphomet, the sprawling Infernal Insurrection and a massively impressive and atmospheric Suffering In Existence which closes the album in typically evil and chillingly epic conclusion. One for the dark nights and winter evenings. 7/10 

E-an-na: Nesfârşite (Self Released) [Paul H]

Romanian folk metal is nowhere near a genre which I am either familiar with or which I want to be familiar with. 64 minutes of all kinds of jigging, rambling, death vocals, clean vocals, heavy riffs, light harmonies and disjointed chaotic music. If you like that kind of stuff then E-an-na, formed in 2014, is probably something you should check out. Me, I’m rarely excited by the mismatched sounds that vomit up in the name of folk and classical metal, and this album, despite being intricate and cleverly constructed just left me cold. I listened to it three times. That’s over three hours of my life and all I can hear is hurdy gurdy widdling, a fucking accordion (possibly the most appalling musical instrument every designed) and the image of those people of the tube who play you three notes and expect you to hand them a fiver. This is not something I would watch or listen to by choice ever again. 3/10

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