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Thursday, 13 February 2020

Reviews: Necrowretch, Albert Cummings, Colosso, Paul Di'Anno (Paul H, Matt, Rich & Simon)

Necrowretch: To Ones From Hell (Season Of Mist) [Paul Hutchings]

2017’s Satanic Slavery certainly earned the seal of approval from fellow write Rich, a connoisseur of all things evil and gnarly. Within minutes of Pure Hell Fire, the opening track on the French blackened death metal masters latest release I can see why. It’s brutal, bludgeoning and aggressive and dripping with a devilish fever which is maintained for the whole release. Luciferian Sovrenty is next, the pulverising blast beats and dirty riffage cascading out of the speakers, the urge to bang the head almost irresistible. Whilst I am not as familiar with their catalogue as my colleague, there is no doubting that this is as good as their previous releases. The old school production remains, as does the hauntingly malevolent combination of thrash, death and black metal.

The title track opens with a riff that sears through the blackened heart, layered guitars and rhythm echoing with ominous intent, a brief respite from the intense barrage that you know is about to be unleashed. Less frenetic, To Ones From Hell instead heads for the crushingly heavy, frontman Vlad’s guttural vocals as sinister as ever. Codex Obscuritas may well be one of the most harrowing songs I’ve heard, its demonic, almost funeral feel at times edging into the dark doom territory. Through the Black Abyss maintains a suffocating approach, thick riffs, enveloping darkness which builds and then sweeps over in an unstoppable tsunami of punishment, the pause only serving to allow Vlad to unleash a vicious scream before a black choral chant closes the song. All this and then Necrowretch itself, a furious four and a half minutes complete with death-like screams and effects which round off a blisteringly good album.

The sonorous drums of Ilmar ring in the deep, the barrage of blast beats all sinewy muscle and intense power. Vlad’s vocals are matched by his agitated guitar, the speed at times almost uncontrollable whilst bassist Wence makes a solid recording debut. Recorded as a three-piece in February 2019, the session lasted over ten days at the Blackout Studio in Brussels with ‘Phorgath’ from Emptiness as producer. Alan Douches, who worked with everybody from Baroness to Cannibal Corpse then carefully took care of the mastering job. This album has been almost a year in the making. I invite you to take the journey. It’s worth every minute. 8/10

Albert Cummings: Believe (Provogue Records) [Matt Bladen]

Another guitar toting bluesman from Provogue Records. This one is Albert Cummings who has recorded hi eighth album, Believe in FAME Studios,Muscle Shoals, Alabama, with help of Grammy Award-winning producer, Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana). So really you can sort of expect what's to come, slick rhythm and blues with nods to funk and soul, a smokey vocal, soulful backing singers and slinky guitar playing, now this is a little bit different to his normal firebrand style, drawing from those classic Muscle Shoals albums from yesteryear. It's a mixture of original material and covers with the usual suspects such as Freddie King, Van Morrison and Chas And Dave along with another re-treading of Red Rooster. Now covers like these are all par for the course in blues music but his originals also stand up, mainly due to Cummings' versatility as a performer straddling multiple genres, though he never really strays outside of the American songbook. A 20 year veteran of the blues game Believe is a slick album performed by a talented individual. 6/10

Colosso: Apocalypse EP (Transcending Obscurity Records) [Rich Oliver]

Apocalypse is the new EP from Portuguese death metallers Colosso. It is the seventh release by the band with four albums and two previous EP’s under their belts and sees the band releasing their most ambitious material to date. Apocalypse is comprised of four songs with each song representing one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Each song also features a different vocalist with guest spots from members of fellow Portugese bands Oak, Bleeding Display and Analepsy. The music put forward on Apocalypse is varied with each song having its own identity but all fall very much into the contemporary death metal category. Opening song Pestilence is a slow crushing beast that almost veers into death doom territory with its lumbering pace. It is followed by War which is the most straightforward death metal song of the EP being fast and brutal with plenty of blast-beats. Death is the most experimental song of the release with its strong melodic lines, clean vocals and melancholic atmosphere whilst the finale Famine is the most pummelling of the release being bowel rupturingly brutal. It is a fairly short release and an interesting idea and concept. The variation throughout is nice and refreshing and despite each song being different it by no means makes the EP inconsistent. A nice but brief showcase of the skills of Colosso and of the variation that can exist in one of the most extreme subgenres in metal. 7/10

Paul Di’Anno: Hell Over Waltrop – Live In Germany (Metalville) [Simon Black]

We all know and respect the influence that Paul Di’Anno had on Maiden and metal in general, being such a crucial part of their origins and arguably still two of their best of their numerous back catalogue of albums so many, many decades ago. Give the guy his dues, he’s kept hammering at this for decades ever since his unceremonious exit from Maiden, with varying degrees of success, for me probably peaking with Killers in the 90’s despite the fact the world was moving in a different direction.

This live album sees him in energetic form at a festival in Germany way back in 2006, and invokes what you expect when he gets up and does his thing – rawness, energy, and a crowd loving every minute of it in an unbridled orgy of nostalgia. Maiden hits make up only half of the set list, with a peppering of songs from his various projects stopping this from being a one-trick album, so respect for the restraint. Di’Anno is at his best when he has something to prove, and this album is no exception, as he works his socks off to win over a crowd, many of who have probably never heard of him. No mean feat-this was not a metal festival, but I don’t hear that slowing him down, and let’s face it this man kicked down many musical doors back in the day…and a few physical ones too if his autobiography The Beast is anything to go by.

Like many mid-size festival slots, the recording quality is far from great, but you can feel the vibe, and hearing him growl out Prowler, Phantom Of The Opera and Running Free live is always going to send a tingle down my spine. For a recording made from the front of house desk by the sound man, not released back at the time due to technical issues but made possible now by digital kung-fu magic, what we have is a remarkably solid recording of a top notch performance, and what rough edges there are actually what I would expect from this legend. What is sad, is that we will probably not get the chance to see him again, as his health has deteriorated significantly recently, and with no prospect of some more solo material, which I would be interested to hear, this looks like this is the last hurrah of an absolute one-off. Play it loud muthas…8/10

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