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Wednesday 20 November 2019

Reviews: Eluveitie, God Alone, Singularity, MSRY (Lee & Manus)

Eluveitie: Live At Masters Of Rock (Nuclear Blast) [Lee Burgess]

I recently learned the correct way to pronounce Eluveitie, but that won’t help us here. Seriously, the new album, Live At Masters Of Rock is a great starting point if you’ve never heard them before. It also shows you just how good they are in a live setting. What you will discover is wonderful collection of folk metal. Unlike a lot of bands who wait until the end of albums and smack a few very badly recorded live tracks on the end of a record full of mediocre fare, Eluveitie have given their all and shown us all what can be achieved if you care enough. We all know being in the metal scene can sometimes be quite difficult. We go to gigs in shitty little venues, giving our cash to bands that often have to haul ass in less than glamorous vans and busses only to play to small crowds for less money than it costs to tour.

So, it really is a gift when bands like this put out live performances of such magnitude. There really is nothing not to like here, unless of course you hate folk metal, then I think you need to stop reading. Many of these songs are not performed in English. This adds to the mysterious nature of the music and the traditional folk that is the bedrock of so much European extreme music. This is vital in an age when us metal heads find it far too easy to cry elitism when listening to the more savage end of the metal scale. These seem to have gained a large commercial following, which pulls them away from the elitist label somewhat. Having said that the music here is full of complex mystical wonder that takes us through magical journeys across lands we would never see if it weren’t for the music which carries us above dark plains and through cursed valleys.

What makes this so special is the talent these have for their craft. The music is just something to savour. It is both blistering and cloaked in tradition. The folk instrumental passages have an infectious anthemic quality and we become lost in them as they show us a long-forgotten time and place before giving way to crushing, pounding melodic death metal that acts as a battle cry to the hoards. Anyone who has seen this band do what they do will know that to see them is close to worship, which is quite apt, as it is with their track entitled Worship that this band really show what they are made of. A brilliant melding of historical European melody with an unfathomable sense of violence and bloodshed. This is just a beautiful album. 9/10

God Alone: God Alone (Cosmonaut) [Lee Burgess]

God Alone do post-rock and/or prog mixed with suggestions of heavier sub-genres and bugger me they do it well. I say suggestions because rather cleverly they often sound like the score from Italian genre flicks of the 70’s and 80’s, with riffs coming straight from the likes of Goblin or John Carpenter, and then we go batshit crazy with black-metal tinged insanity. In some ways, this is very similar to the experimentation of early Mike Oldfield, had Mr. Oldfield downed one too many cans of cheap pop and added breakdowns and DM growls to Tubular Bells. Actually, in parts there is no telling just what these weirdos are going to give us. It’s best if you just pop this on and be prepared to expect, well just don’t expect anything, because you’ll just get confused and nobody wants that. Right now, as I hear this, I’m not sure just what the fuck I’m listening too, but I really like it. It’s prog, it’s jazz, it’s rock, it’s metal, it’s all and none of the above. If only more records sounded like nothing you’ve ever heard before.

It’s really blissful to know that there are bands out there who want to give listeners something referenced in the past, but with a unique spin. I’m so in awe of people that can put art like this together. It’s really just so good to hear something so utterly bonkers, but also breath taking in the way it’s put together. The production is almost perfect, as if somebody paired a band with a higher power. The sheer balls of this lot, taking post-rock and adding pinches of other styles and genres is something that we don’t get enough of in what can seem a bit of a tedious or just pretentious field of music. I could listen to this band for hours, because although it sounds at times like you’ve stepped into a strange time warp, within the vortex is a whole dimension of fully formed ideas that just keep on giving. The only negative point is that at times the change between one style to another seems a little clumsy. This is the only reason this gets a point deducted, and it does feel a bit mean. It’s hard to find a more descriptive way to tell you just how God Alone manage to pull off something so expansive. 9/10

Singularity: Place Of Chains (The Artisan Era) [Manus Hopkins]

Rather than bludgeoning listeners to death with excessive technicality just for the sake of it, Singularity build complexity from simplicity on Place Of Chains, approaching the music from an interesting and ultimately effective angle. It’s still technical, of course, but the songs are composed with technicality, rather than having layer upon layer added to convolute the music. The excellent riffwork combined with piano-led passages throughout the record does a great deal to shape the sound—but the vocals are impressively haunting as well and the versatile drumming serves each song well. Like many others of its style, Place Of Chains is best listened to front to back, without any skipping or any breaks. 8/10

MSRY: Loss (Self Released) [Lee Burgess]

MSRY are a straight-forward, simple old-fashioned outfit. It’s pretty much a say it as you see it affair. The hard-hitting post hardcore riffage is fun and unrelenting. There is no real imagination on show here. This is a bunch of guys having the mother of all teen hissy fits. It’s all about how hard life is and how people will just have to cope with what life throws at them. Listening to them, you can almost see the gurning and the base-ball caps dripping with sweat and spit. It’s not bad. It’s just not really giving us anything very meaningful. It’s a bit old, well OK, really old. This sound is something that has always kind of annoyed me, because at one point just about everyone and next door’s dog was doing it. Chunky riffage, spitting vocals, thundering drums and an all-out barrage of angst. Think Terror, Madball, Agnostic Front and Biohazard and you’ve pretty much got the idea of exactly where this record is going.

Then think of a 14 year old boy ranting like a twat because he’s forgotten to put his P.E. kit in the wash and it’s everyone else’s fault. Then, you will have an exact idea of what this sounds like. This is not clever, mature or complex. It’s fast, break down galore and if we’re being honest quite amusing. Yes, I giggled. The trouble with bands like this is that they quite often become their own spoofs, and I’m afraid this is very much the case with this bunch. If MSRY were to make a concept album, it would probably be called something like A Bit Grumpy, or Grrr Go Away! It’s fun, or maybe funny. I’m not quite sure. The point being that there are far more interesting and grown up ways to make Hardcore music. Just because go around sticking the word post on everything doesn’t make it mature, or complex. This record is well made, but I’m not sure it’s good for the right reasons. 6/10

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