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Monday, 14 October 2019

Reviews: Spider Kickers, Swedish Death Candy, Weapon UK, Nachtterror (Paul S, Alex, Paul H & Val)

Spider Kickers: Ektroma (Sleazy Rider  Records) [Paul Scoble]

Spider Kickers have been making nasty noises since 1986. The Greek four piece have released 5 albums before Ektroma, the last being The Hill Of The Dead released in 2014. Spider Kickers play a fairly incendiary mix of Death Metal and Thrash. They class their sound as Deathrash, however this sound is less technical than the sound of more recent mixers of thrash and death metal; Revocation or Reprisal. This is a mix of old school death metal and eighties European thrash. The album kicks off with the title track, and we are dropped strait into a battering blast beat, the death metal quickly morphs into thrash for an incredibly tight, thrashy chorus. The track then goes back to battering us with death metal, before it’s all brought to an end with a very thrashy outro. Inner Grave has a mid-paced thrash intro with some very interesting spooky keyboard parts, before going into what is really a melodic death metal section. Inner Grave is a simple track, it just repeats those 2 main feelings, but they’re such good parts, and the song isn’t long, so it all works. Vanity In Front is mid-paced and sounds a lot like Kreator, and has a very pleasing solo. Nightmare Receiver starts with speed metal before getting a little mid-paced and then blasting off into a bit of Death Metal. This track does have an issue in the second half where the tempo drops and it feel a little lacklustre and plodding, which is a shame as the track started so promisingly.

Carnivores is a mix of slow, driving death metal and mid-paced aggressive thrash, it’s simple but very effective, and has a cracking chorus. Isolation Cell starts with driving, powerful death metal, before it gets really slow and heavy, almost as heavy as Death/Doom, before going back to that unstoppable death metal feel from earlier in the song. Jehovah Complex is mainly mid-paced thrash, except from the bits that are poundingly aggressive death metal. This is another fairly simple song, but a lot of its effectiveness comes from that simplicity. The album comes to a close with Lord Great Ra, which starts with an eastern feeling intro, before driving and aggressive death metal kicks in, the track has a very purposeful feeling to it. The chorus is nasty and combative, and the song has a very slow and heavy ending. Ektroma is a very strong piece of Deathrash. It’s not perfect; those moments where the tempo isn’t quite right, where the pacing and drive drop a little, are there. However, those moments are few and far between. This album is mainly packed with energy, drive, great riffs, melodic solos, battering blast beats, and great vocals. On balance the great moments massively outweigh the moments where it drops off a little. 7/10

Swedish Death Candy: Are You Nervous? (Hassle Records) [Alex Swift]

The intriguingly titled, Swedish Death Candy plays a form of traditional psychedelic rock. Everything is very Doors, late-era Beatles, grateful dead, and very, very retro. If I can wear my objective hat for a second, moments in the vein of Interstellar Love Machine and Space Holiday, manage to combine classic rock charm, with elusive, weird textures, making them immersive and experiential. Judging by the influences they utilize, anyone who has a liking for old-style, trippy, psych rock, will probably be absolutely drawn in by these musicians. Me, on the other hand…Well, while I don’t dislike that sort of music by any means, you all know how I appreciate modernity and innovation, and I just can't get fully behind a complete an utter retread of an old genre, no matter how skilled the musicians on display are. Indeed, Modern Child just sounds like the early desert rock piloted acts in the vein of Kyuss. Always sounds like an extremely early synth-pop record. Journey to the 13th Floor slaps of such punk founders as the Damned, and The Stranglers. Seriously, there’s not a single song here that I can point to and wholeheartedly say ‘yep, that’s a Swedish Death Candy piece’. The only thing this band seems to do differently from anyone else is lathering their music in layers and layers of reverb, and deliberately dragging out their compositions in order to give them that weird, beguiling, hallucinogenic experience. Again, while I can see some appreciating Are You Nervous? I’m not feeling the excitement, in the slightest. 3/10

Weapon UK: Ghosts Of War (Pure Steel Records) [Paul Hutchings]

Initially formed in 1980, Weapon UK’s main achievement was securing the support slot on Motorhead’s All The Aces 1980 UK Tour. This 32-date tour included four nights at Hammersmith Odeon, something that bands would kill for these days. Having disappeared as quickly as they appeared, the band members went their separate ways, remerging in 2003 for the release of a compilation Set The Stage Alight before returning again in 2012. The current line-up features original members Danny Hynes and Jeff Summers along with Darren Lee and Tony Forsyth. Ghosts of War is an average chunk of NWOBHM. The odd passage catches the ear, emerging from the rather mundane and routine songs that are thumped out with a fair degree of energy. Queen Of The Ride for example, is about as bland as you can get, with the typical chorus repeated ad nauseum, a feature of many of the original NWOBHM bands. It’s not unpleasant to listen to, but it is just a bit pedestrian, from a band who are clearly stuck in the 1980s. Like so many of their contemporaries, and as I’ve said many times before, sometimes it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie. 5/10

Nachtterror: Judgement (Hypnotic Dirge Records) [Val D'Arcy]

Canadian five piece Nachtterror, from Regina, Saskatchewan present their debut, full length album Judgement. Claimed to be ten years in the making, it still feels unfinished. The first track, which although clocking up over four minutes is more of an extended intro, which opens up with some fairly basic keyboards before moving into the first metal passages consisting of rolling double bass, melodic guitars and clean vocals. It doesn't really set you up for what follows especially well (despite some passages of this track being reprised later on). It sounds a bit like Borknagar done badly.

The second track, which in my opinion the album should have opened with (and done away with the first track altogether) is a combination of some more key driven melodic metal and some chuggier doom based riffs. There's a mix of clean vocals, some harsh, which alternate between raspy death growls and higher pitched, black screams which, sound OK but sadly the mix here isn't great and they've been layered in a way that makes it all a bit difficult to pick apart. This track goes on for over seven minutes, which seems a bit on the long side for what's on offer. The third track is a slower paced dirge like number, once again combining the interwoven mix of vocal styles, synths and more spoken word passages, before exploding into a faster paced symphonic melody which actually sounds pretty good; it's not a million miles from early Bal Sagoth or more contemporary tech death act Inferi. Despite this glimmer of promise, once more, before it's given any opportunity to develop its back to the dirge and spoken word which is about as gratifying as someone swapping your cake out with sand just as you're about to take a bite. We'll just skip past track five, I have no idea what's going on here.

As I listened to this record, on more than a few occasions I wished they'd just let the faster paced, symphonic melodies develop, or at least be given some time to run rather than being constantly choked by the tedium of the slower doom (I guess) parts, which sadly prevail throughout. For music like this to be effectively epic (which it seems to want to be) it needs to be given sufficient space to breathe, expand and ultimately climax. Nachtterror have attempted to scatter fleeting moments of it throughout the record, each contained within a matchbox and it doesn't work at all. The seventh track is perhaps an exception, an eleven minute, straight up symphonic blackened melodeath track which actually sounds good, it's the highlight of the album and despite briefly dipping into their dirgey indulgence pot towards the end it's a more balanced song (despite being far too long). Much like the beginning which shouldn't have been, this should have been the end but instead we're subjected to two more relatively uninspired threnodies, like someone that won't stop talking to you when you've already got up, said goodbye, put on your jacket and got half way down the road. Even if I ignore these last two songs sadly it's not enough to sway my opinion of what is mostly an average album that's equal parts confusion, frustration and boredom. With some ruthless editing, better production and a lot more discipline in the writing process this could go somewhere, but I won't hold my breath. 4/10

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