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Friday 13 September 2019

Reviews: Nightstalker, Planet Of Zeus, Night Resident, Synteleia (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Nightstalker: Great Hallucinations (Heavy Psych Sounds)

The leaders of the Greek stoner genre (though they reject the term) return with their highly anticipated new album Great Hallucinations. Formed in the same year as seminal black metal act Rotting Christ, Nightstalker are still led by singer (then drummer) Argy and they have risen from the Greek underground into the grungy, funky, heavy riffing beast they are today. Numerous line up changes have come to the bad but since Dead Rock Commandos the band have become the leading light in the rock landscape in Greece while also extending their reach across Europe playing at numerous festivals every year and even headlining in their own country, most notably this year's Street Mode Festival in Thessaloniki.

So what of their eighth record? Well it opens up with some Monster Magnet grooves which sees Argy's voice distortedly shouting over some psych drenched riffs and distorted basslines from Tolis Montsios and Andreas Lagios. Things get slower with the blissed out Sweet Knife as some open chords as Argy cries out with the "Can't sleep at night" refrain when the thumping bass kicks in again built on Dinos Roulos' expressive drumming as it builds into more big riffs, Sad Side Of The City is a slow burning number built on a repetitive guitar sound and chorus, it moves into Seven Out Of Ten which is the most Sabbathian (it's a word) song on the record sounding so similar to the Birmingham originators it's uncanny, the spirit of Sabbath also looms heavily on Cursed which has a big bas throb and some tasty guitar work.

Born of the sounds of the British inventors of heavy metal while also moving through desert rock soundscapes (title track) and adding their own Athenian grit, Nightstalker deserve all of the plaudits they get. With this eighth record they have shown this yet again so maybe it's time the UK gets a taste of these Hellenic hard rockers with a tour. 8/10    

Planet Of Zeus: Faith In Physics (Heavy Psych Sounds)

The continuing evolution of Planet Of Zeus comes with their fifth album Faith In Physics, they are a band that have always had one foot in the political but this record amps up their socio-political ideology as it serves as "a pamphlet about political, religious and digital-era extremes that stifle freedom of speech worldwide these days." It's a theme that can unite anyone listening to this album using the groovy stoner riffs and clever but singable lyrical style of Clutch (All These Happy People) mixed with the defiance of Rage Against The Machine (Revolution Cookbook). There is a lot of different sounds here but they rarely stray outside of the highly charged stoner rock anthems full of thick grooves, something they have always excelled at.

But on Faith In Physics they have gained a level maturity that has been creeping in from their previous album, it's taken them from snot nosed stoner ragers into a more savvy heavy unit. These Athenians crank out the riffs that move from Gasoline which has the rampaging of Monster Magnet's Powertrip to the psychedelic Let Them Burn a slow, open chord driven monster that crawls along in a haze and the explosive On Parole which takes things into MC5 style of elongated guitar freakery. Babis Papanikolaou, Stelios Provis, Giannis Vrazos, Serafeim Giannakopoulos have crafted another high calibre slice of heavy rock music that brims with passion and a take no prisoners attitude.

The album ends with it's slowest song King Of The Circus which could be a song by The Doors such is it's waves of wooziness and long instrumental passages. Faith In Physics is yet another great album from Planet Of Zeus, the Athenian pack are back with their most 'adult' album yet! 8/10

Night Resident: Self Released (Moon Rapture Records)

Do you remember when Ghost were a heavy band? Pepperidge Farm remembers...as do we at MoM. Well Night Resident obviously also remember as their sound is is reminiscent when the nameless ghouls and Papa played doomier sound but with hard rock edges. Akin to bands like Graveyard and Uncle Acid these Athenians have made an album of blatant Sabbath and Candlemass worship with echoed vocals and thick riffs are often fleshed out by some folky acoustic segments. This is a debut record for the band and it's brimming with gloomy rock goodness, drawing on the dark occult for Bright Red Eyes while bringing the heavy to Moon Rapture and After The Fade. These are songs that you can shout along to with the rumble along with occult touches throughout it's pretty standard but enjoyable enough if this kind of doom rock is your thing. 6/10

Synteleia: Ending Of The Unknown Path (Hells Headbangers Records)

Formed in 2015 Synteleia are another Greek black metal band and unlike every other Greek metal band where the Orthodox church features heavily in their lyrics, Synteleia instead are all about Horror, Lovecraftian horror to be exact focusing on one of The Great Old Ones Chthulhu. With the opening Daemonica Infernalium the band immediately attack with blast beats and ferocious vocals that are barked down the mic. It's got a production sound of those early Rotting Christ and Varathron records along with the more cinematic style of their later works. This is relentless battery from  moment one as the stories of the monster from the abyss are told against classic sound Hellenic black metal.

Tracks such as Dark Summoner Of Yog-Sothoth have more of a grinding groove to them with Ithaqua, Thy Mighty Storm having fewer blast beats and digging a more ominous trench. It's Hellenic black metal 101 drawing from all the eras, when it was raw and visceral, when doom and death creeped in and more recently when symphonic and classical sounds, included here is a soprano. This album builds as it progresses opening up into a very strong black metal album, expertly played and crafted black metal. 7/10

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