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Wednesday 6 November 2019

Reviews: Hour Of Penance, Cloak, Down N Outz, The Devil Wears Prada (Paul H, Paul S, Steve & Liam)

Hour Of Penance: Misotheism (Agonia Records) [Paul Hutchings]

Reviewing this album within hours of the decision by the UK parliament to crash the country headlong into another general election and the subsequent chaos and instability seemed strangely appropriate. Misotheism: an attack to the biggest threat to freedom; the endless accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of the rest of humankind. A scream in the desert of our times. Owning the mainstream media and feeding us bullshit. Seems familiar? Yes indeed. And come December 12th we will no doubt get the government we deserve with the corporations greedily feeding the opulent whilst devouring everything until there is nothing left. Album number 8 from the technical bruisers Hour Of Penance captures the severity of the intense hatred and anger that rages within these Roman purveyors of brutal death metal. The intro of Mass Crucifixion Of Kings provides the pause before the brutality to come.

The pause doesn’t last long though and within a minute Hour Of Penance have exploded into their unique death technicality metal. What follows is a 38-minute masterclass in sheer brutality. Blight And Conquer is explosive and bludgeoning but there is much more to this album than just another relentless death metal onslaught. Technically stunning from start to finish, Paolo Pieri’s vocals roar over the intense riffing of Giulio Moschini and Pieri’s guitar work. Fallen From Ivory Towers is just a steam roller of power, the pace and depth pulverising. Davide ‘The Bomer’ Billia’s drumming is incredible, an onslaught of not only speed but technique of high quality. This is one blisteringly good album. The Italians have taken their game plan and ramped it up a level. It’s simply a beast. 9/10

Cloak: The Burning Dawn (Season Of Mist) [Paul Scoble]

Cloak have been in existence since 2013. The Atlanta, Georgia based 4 piece have produced one album before The Burning Dawn, in 2017’s To Venomous Depths. The music that Cloak make is broadly Black Metal, but is in no way the end of the story. The band have mixed a few different elements to make their brand of Black Metal unique. Firstly, the brand of Black metal is melodic and tuneful, reminiscent of some of Watain’s more melodic work. There are blast beats but you never feel like the band are trying to batter you. The Cleansing Fire is a good example of this; it’s mainly mid-paced, with occasional blasts, but mainly driving and dripping with melody. There are parts that feel bombastic, but it’s never about all out attack, this is a band that can do subtle. On Poisoned Ground is another clear black metal track that has as much melody as it does blasts.

As I mentioned before Cloak aren’t all about blasting and tremolo picked riffs, there is a certain amount of less extreme metal in here. The Burning Dawn has a bit of NWOBHM about it, and in particular there seems to be a nod to Mercyful Fate. This softer feel is best shown on the track Tempter’s Call which has a beautifully melodious chorus. There are blast beats and tremolo picked riffs on this track, but the mid-eighties feeling is what dominates here. There is also a very NWOBHM instrumental called The Fire, The Faith, The Void which is melodic to the extreme.

What would you get if you mixed Black Metal and NWOBHM? Well, you might get something that sounds quite Black & Roll, and that is what you get on the track A Voice In The Night which is reminiscent of Vreid, it swaggers along at a relaxed (slightly pissed?) tempo, and is one of the stand out tracks on this album. The Burning Dawn is a great album. It’s packed to the rafters with melody, riffs, blasts and tremolo picking, cracking choruses and a huge amount of fun. Ok, it’s not the most extreme piece of Black Metal, but if you can see past that you’ll discover a really enjoyable, and eminently hummable album. 8/10

Down N Outz: This Is How We Roll (UMC) [Steve Haines]

I first interviewed Def Leppard frontman about his side project Down N Outz in 2011 and at that time he described the band as being ‘loose and tight at the same time’. At that juncture, they were a niche project focussing on Mott The Hoople covers so I didn’t think any more of it. Fast forward 8 years and the band have released an album of self-penned original tracks and having listened to the collection of polished blues-rock tracks, I completely understand what he meant. While Elliott has his well documented background with Def Leppard, the rest of the band are pretty much the notable sleaze rockers The Quireboys minus their frontman Spike. With years of recording history and live gigs behind them, you find a band that have an almost telepathic understanding of each others’ significant musical talent and style meaning they can play the relaxed bluesy style with mastery and class. Add the polished production sensibilities of Def Leppard and you have the formula for rock success.

The album is good throughout with the bluesy vibe pervading all tracks giving the album a good cohesiveness as a body of work. Special mention goes to Goodnight Mr Jones which is a touching tribute to David Bowie. At times, the lyrics can be slightly stilted and I will always have a bugbear (Caution: rant ahead) with English singers who sing with an American accent. Granted, Def Leppard have had great success in the US and the blues style is, of course, rooted in the Deep South of America but it still rankles. Mind you, Elliott has made a bob or two from his style so what do I know? Overall, this album is a good listening experience without ever being spectacular or groundbreaking but it is unquestionably a group of guys who enjoy the music they are making and that enjoyment can be felt throughout and that makes for listener enjoyment. 8/10

The Devil Wears Prada: The Act (Solid State Records) [Liam True]

Being big into Metalcore I was excited when TDWP announced The Act. Their previous albums in the past have been pretty good. Nothing amazing, but nothing terrible. When they dropped the singles from the forthcoming album, I avoided them like the plague to not spoil it for myself. Then came the point of my listening to the record. And I didn’t enjoy it. Through 45 minutes of Metalcore/Hard Rock I thought there was going to be a shining point in this album, even just one. There’s no such thing to be found. The entire thing just sounds completely rushed, with nothing really to keep me moderately interested. The album just falls insanely flat of where it was destined to be, because this album should have been much more than it is. It’s almost like a tribute to all the Myspace bands from 2007-2009 which has been executed disastrously. Shame because this was an album I was excited for. Only to fall way down to the bottom. 2/10

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