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Wednesday 13 November 2019

Reviews: Slayer, Reign Of Fury, Laura Cox, Eleine (Paul H & Matt)

Slayer: The Repentless Killogy (Nuclear Blast) [Paul Hutchings]

Recorded at the Forum, Inglewood, CA as the soundtrack to the recent motion picture (which I haven’t seen although reviews of the actual short film are mixed to say the least), this double disc full concert captures the power and majesty of the seminal thrash band on their farewell tour. For anyone who caught the band on that tour, which is racing to its conclusion on November 30th at the same venue, it was hard not to be overwhelmed by the intensity that the band put into each show.

The set list, whilst retaining the nucleus of the songs that fans would have seen in the UK last November, contains a few variations with the inclusion of The Antichrist, You Against You, Cast The First Stone and Bloodline in favour of Jihad, Blood Red, Dittohead and Black Magic. With Holt and King firing on all cylinders, the guitar work is a ruthlessly jagged and cutting as ever, searing work on Dead Skin Mask, the pulverising War Ensemble and of the smouldering Seasons In The Abyss. Tom Araya definitely can’t hit those piercing screams anymore, but he manages to maintain the pulsing breakneck speed delivery necessitated on Born Of Fire; unfortunately, he doesn’t fare so well on Bloodline and his struggle on South Of Heaven sees him pushing every sinew and come up short. However, Paul Bostoph’s drum work is as immense as ever, the double bass battery in constant action and one of the few highlights on a laboured Cast The First Stone where Araya again struggles.

A Slayer live album will never capture the blistering intensity of their live shows. In fact, it’s galling to even try as I know that in the live arena the band simply bulldozer. I listened to Americans whooping and hollering whilst the band spill their guts and I was jealous; despite having seen the band three times last year and despite Araya’s croaking performance here. Slayer have repeated this week that they will continue in some shape or form. One can but hope that the legacy remains intact. This band mean too much to too many. The Repentless Killogy is a record of a moment in time for one of the most important metal bands of all time. Enjoy it, relieve those gigs, ignore the occasional struggling vocals and thank Satan that you got to see them. 7/10

Reign Of Fury: Exorcise Reality (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

It’s been a while since the Midlands thrashers wowed us with Death Be Thy Shepherd; 2015 in fact. Well, the good news is that the band are back and firing on all cylinders with their latest, hybrid thrash/NWOBHM style release, Exorcise Reality. A band that relies heavily on melody to support their sound, they also possess Bison Steed, one of the best sets of vocal pipes on the circuit and he has delivered a majestic performance once more. The band have released the album via YouTube and then music platforms such as Spotify due to the changes in the way music is delivered. I am fully appreciative of the implications of this, but financially we all know that this is merely a reflection of how the world has changed.

Is Exorcise Reality any good then? Well, the truth is yes, it’s a blinder. Opening song To Fight And Conquer sets the pace, intensive riffing kicking matters off at accelerated speed, the duel guitars racing each other in a seemingly crazy race, whilst Steed’s vocals soar above the cacophony. I May Be A Bastard But I’m Not A Fucking Bastard wins best song title of the month but is also a roar of frustration. Perfect harmonies dominate without ever impacting on the sharp, raging delivery, very much the trademark of the Cheltenham based outfit. New guitarist Joey Jaycock (I say new, he’s been with the band for over two years) slots into the Reign Of Fury line-up with easy, the Maiden style guitar work laced with hooks and catchy elements, such as on Addiction Hymn, a melancholic theme but a raging hard rocker. CapitalJism needs little interpretation but it is certainly worth drawing attention to the ferocious pace which will insight circle pits with ease. A pulsing, throbbing runaway horse, Steed (sorry, no equine pun intended!) demonstrates his class with a vocal masterclass.

And it continues. Destroy The Night is pumped up and jumping, the fresh approach supported by shouted backing vocals which do not detract in anyway. A little BFMV in style, Reign Of Fury have created a style which bridges both the old and the new; it could be the early 1980s or the 2000s. It is solid, charismatic and rewarding metal. Chunky riffs on Haunt The Murderer give way to a Megadeth’s style rampage, whilst the title track strays into the territory of Slayer for a brief minute before the slow, pounding stomp of the track slowly builds, the guitar work once more sharp as anything. This leads to the final song, the title track and about as anthemic a song as you could get. Powerful, mighty and clearly demonstrating that when it comes to thrash Reign Of Fury remain at the forefront of the UK scene. 8/10

Laura Cox: Burning Bright (Verychords) [Matt Bladen]

Parisienne guitar slinger Laura Cox returns with her second album which is big step up from her debut record, she's found her niche and yes it's bluesy hard rock but it does well as she stays true to the album title by burning brightly up and down the fretboard on rockers like As I Am where she shows off her guitar prowess, but also on this album the vocals are better wrapping Cox up as the full package now as she's developed a Beth Hart drawl on numbers like the Southern soulful River and the closing ballad Letters To The Otherside. Cox and her band state their influences as AC/DC, ZZ Top, Aerosmith and Blackberry Smoke fusing Southern American rock with Australia boogie, these influences shine through on this record making it ideal Planet Rock fodder, though there is a authenticity here especially on the sultry Looking Upside Down. Hopefully on the back of Burning Bright we'll be seeing Laura crossing the channel to play some gigs here which will probably be as incendiary as this album suggests. Très Bon! 7/10

Eleine: All Shall Burn (Black Lodge Records) [Matt Bladen]

I reviewed Eleine's second record Until The End and I was impressed by it's modern/symphonically-tinged metal sound and powerful vocals from singer/alt model Madeleine Liljestam so while we wait for another full length we have this five song EP made up of three new songs, one remix and a cover. Enemies blows things away as it opens with fat riffs and the symphonic style as the title track brings things back to modern metal aggression. Again it's Madeleine's vocals that bewitch though guitarist and band co-founder Rikard Ekberg has a great roar on him which gives a death metal sound to their cover of Rammstein's  Mein Herz Brennt which on the whole sounds like the orginal. The best song for me is Hell Moon (We Shall Never Die) a stirring cinematic song that could be a Bond theme as both singer's duet on top of the totally orchestral song, it's brilliant to see them show that their symphonic stylings are not an addition, this is where the band start adding the metal to it afterwards, the symphonic version of the title track shows this brilliantly as it's probably better all symphonic than it's metallic counterpart. A neat little interlude as we wait for a new full length. 6/10

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