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Monday 2 September 2019

Reviews: Visions Of Atlantis, The Mothercrow, Foscor, Skeletal Prison (Paul H & Matt)

Visions Of Atlantis: Wanderers (Napalm Records) [Matt Bladen]

Here we go again! Another selection of symphonic metal tracks from one of the genre leaders, now on their fifth female vocalist, Clémentine Delauney (Exit Eden, ex-Serenity, ex-Kamelot) who has been in the band since 2013 and most recently fourth male vocalist Michele Guaitoli (Temperance), who joined in 2018. Wanderers is their seventh studio album and it maintains the band's symphonic metal styled based on classically trained vocals and cinematic synths meeting metal instrumentation. I'll straight away that this lost my attention mid way through, at thirteen tracks it's too long especially as the songs are either galloping anthemic metal songs or big ballads so things very rapidly become repetitive. Now I love Clémentine's vocals, but here they are overshadowed by the debuting Guaitoli who takes many of the leads on the upbeat songs leaving Clémentine to deal with the ballads mainly and add the harmony vocals, though when she gets to shine she does, though that doesn't take anything from Guaitoli who has shown his metal credentials in Temperance. Wanderers doesn't change the world, it won't even revitalised the symphonic metal genre, but it's keeping it alive and kicking. 7/10

The Mothercrow: Magara (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

Two gals, two guys and some retro noise, that pretty much sums up Spanish four piece The Mothercrow who hail from beautiful Barcelona. Magara is their debut full length release, a contrite groovy slab of psychedelic infused rock n roll that draws as much from the later 60's Californian rock of Grand Funk Railroad, The Door, Big Brother & The Holding Company along with the proto-metal sounds of Steppenwolf and Blue Cheer. Faithfully recorded to get an analogue 'stereo' sound Magara is an album that rocks in a really old school way, Stone has those thick heavy metal while Swat It! is driven by big open bass chords from Claudia González as Max Eriksson fires off some frenetic guitar solos. It's not all hard rocking though as Forevermore slows things down with some slinky blues that highlights the raw, powerful vocals of Karen Asensio while Pep Carabante keeps the pace behind his kit. Things get folkier on Gauan (Lo-Kanta) as the spirit of Jethro Tull comes in as they break out a flute leading into Lizard Queen which is a swaggering riff rocker. Magara is another album to add to the burgeoning pile of bands who are still all about the halcyon days of 60's & 70's for fans of Kadavar, Graveyard and The Blues Pills it's psychedelic rock n roll with flair. ¡Bien hecho! 7/10

Foscor: Els Sepulcres Blancs (Seasons Of Mist) [Paul H]

This second chapter of the trilogy initiated with 2017’s Les Irreals Visions is a strong contender for one of the most developed and complex albums of the year. Foscor, which translates as ‘darkness’ hail from Catalonia and sing in their native tongue. The band from Barcelona’s first two albums, Entrance To The Shadows' Village (2004) and The Smile Of The Sad Ones (2007) were wrapped in a shroud of classic second wave black metal around a melancholic yet vital core. With the release of their third album Groans To The Guilty Foscor traversed to a more progressive and avant-garde course, with 2014’s Those Horrors Wither marking a clear departure from the black metal style with the use of very personal clean vocals, tempo reduction and atmosphere. Els Sepulcres Blancs sees Foscor poetically facing a change of a sick world and society through the land of dreams. The title translates as The White Tombs, a metaphor for that world of dreams and expectations where humans chained to reality may die and born free to imagine a better one.

Intense riffing combined with a melancholic aura characterises this release, with opening song Laments scene setting in dramatic fashion. A juxtaposition of despair and hope flows through the album, the close clean harmonies belying the frenetic pace that expands beneath. Els Colors Del Silenci contains crashing percussion, expansive bass lines and constant delicate and repetitive riffs. Whilst the band may have moved away from their black metal origins, the traces remain. Crafted solos slice through the wall of post-metal that is offered up. Closing track L Esglai (The Scare) epically closes this progressive masterpiece with some perfect solos which interlink with the overall character of the album. Inevitable comparisons with French outfit Alcest and similar bands will no doubt have been and will continue to be made. A compliment I would suggest, with the atmospheric creations which their music delivers inspiring, captivating and enchanting in equal measure. 8/10

Skeletal Prison: Condemned To Flesh (Self Released) [Paul H]

Formed in 2017, Skeletal Prison from Rockford, Illinois emerge with their snarling debut long player and slab of death metal Condemned To Flesh. Containing the usual nonsensical song titles (Dawn Of Eradication? Symbiotic Hypocrisy?) the four-piece have a jack hammer approach which thunders toward you like a juggernaut which you know is never going to apply the brakes in time. Vocals are split between drummer Josh Hulson and guitarist Michael Watz but both have sufficient girth to spit out the venomous lyrics with enough bile. Sharp, chunky riffs add to the maelstrom which Skeletal Prison create, Jake Reese’s pounding bass adding heft. Song wise the band are tight, with chainsaw guitar work and a punishing approach which viciously lacerates. The music and lyrics aren’t the most memorable but if you like death metal with the kick of a mule, check out Skeletal Prison. There is plenty of promise. 6/10

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