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Thursday, 30 April 2020

Reviews: From Eden To Exile, Witchcraft, Baleful Creed, Smogg (Paul H & Matt)

From Eden To Exile: Age Of Fire (Attic Records) [Paul Hutchings]

Three years after their debut album Modern Disdain, From Eden To Exile are back with their new EP, Age of Fire. A brutal blend of metalcore, death metal and thrash all rolled into one vicious slab of extremity, the EP’s theme focuses on a not-so-distant desolate future exploited by corrupt leaders and our over-reliance on ever-advancing technology. Having experienced a number of line-up changes since Modern Disdain, including the departure of vocalist Matt Dyne and drummer Liam Turland (who extreme metal fans will note is now the powerhouse engine with MoM favourites Krysthla), as well as a change of position for bassist Joey Jaycock and guitarist Mike Bell who swapped places to finalise things. Having all the pieces in place has obviously helped the band because this is one face melting EP. Kicking off in brutal style with the title track, new singer Tom Franklin strains every sinew as he rages over the explosive onslaught that is unleashed. Incredibly tight, the song contains some precision time changes and on point aggression.

The production is unsurprisingly superb, undertaken by Neil Hudson of Initiate Audio and Media, who has allowed each instrument to blend into a swirling maelstrom of metal. The following four tracks maintain the quality of the opening song. Face Of Desolation pounds like an enraged streetfighter, Jake Patrick’s military driven drumming anchoring everything in place whilst the razor-edged guitar work of Kelland and Joey Jaycock is clinically sharp. The Great Disconnect continues the intensity, powerful riffs and Franklin’s ungodly roar dominant as the message continues. Ample breakdowns will please the metalcore devotees, whilst the sheer power and aggression of the band on songs such as the crushing, sludgy Inhuman will appeal to those whose tastes leans to the heavier style. Closing track Conspire adds in some fiery thrash, but also some clean vocals, and proves to be the most thought provoking track on the EP. Should we ever get back to the live event this one is sure to provoke absolute carnage. It’s clearly been a challenge for From Eden To Exile to get back on the level after their debut but with an offering of such brutality and technicality, this is a band that is rejuvenated and ready to unleash at the first opportunity. 8/10

Witchcraft: Black Metal (Nuclear Blast) [Matt Bladen]

Despite it being called Black Metal, you won't find any tremolo picking, raw satanic vocals or blast beats on the new album from Witchcraft. No it seems the Swedish band led by Magnus Pelander have moved away from the retro heavy rock sound and embraced the fireside folkisms of Roky Erickson, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and bands such as Hexvessel. Magnus' sonorous voice and plantative finger plucked guitar playing makes Sad People really resonate with the maudlin playing of Tom Waits. It's certainly a different direction from what many will expect from Witchcraft as it's about as far away from occult heavy rock as you can be, stripped of all the distortion there is still a lot of weight. Still unless you're a massive fan of acoustic troubadours then you'll love this, but anyone who wants psych hard rock or indeed Black Metal may want to find something else. 5/10

Baleful Creed: The Lowdown (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

Ballsy Norn Iron rockers Baleful Creed return with another album of swaggering stoner rock riffage. Formed in 2009 The Lowdown is their third full length and like with their previous two albums they bring a mix of his Gothness Danzig, the originators Black Sabbath, Americans Fireball Ministry (especially vocally) with an album full of massive punchy riffs, whiskey soaked vocals and melodic hooks galore. On this third record though they make it their most diverse yest adding some desert rock wooziness on the grungy Tramalamapam, which features some cosmic lead bass from Davy Greer, this trip continues on the throbbing One Shot.

They get some some raging punk fury on Riled Up, while Confused brings some big organs dialling up the blues Brit band Pig Iron. It's that stoner/proto-metal sound that Baleful Creed do best though, the twin axes of John Allen and Fin Finlay getting the head nodding with rockers such as Southgate Of Heaven which features drummer Dave Jeffers on the ol' blues harp but also leading the massive ballad End Game. Now I've listened to all of Baleful Creed's albums and while this is probably their most eclectic I'd also say that it's probably their weakest unfortunately, it will appeal to the Planet Rock crowd but to me it sounds like they've lost their fangs a little. 6/10

Smogg: Porblem (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

Another solo metal project drops into the box for review. Fuck. I hate these basement/bedrooms produced releases. But okay, I gave it a go. Smogg is a solo metal project by Andrew Kirkpatrick, a “lowly metalhead” dwelling in North Manchester, England. Apparently, he doesn’t play well with others so decided to go it alone. If you ask me, it’s time to get out a bit more, grow a pair and meet some real people. The production is dreadful, muffled and of lo-fi value. The opening two songs are okay, with competent playing and programming and some decent if unadventurous compositions which straddle black and death metal and the odd dip into grindcore. It doesn’t improve in anyway though. The track Devillish is a horrible, no redeeming features and a ghastly drum sound breaking through the inaudible guitar sound. The satirical piece about the legendary Star Trek Commander, Picaaard is little better and I’m afraid it is downhill at pace from here.

Quintessential Disorder is the longest song on the album at 5:46 and opens with an atmospheric intro before descending into a ragged shamble, a blur of synths, crashing percussion and dreadful vocals. By now I was already tired of listening to it and after the topical Self Isolation I skipped to the Extinction Rebellion irritant How Dare You! This apparently gained some attention due to the use of Greta Thunberg’s line. It’s rubbish and I’m sure those concerned with the climate emergency laughed it off in the same way I did. Album closer Nuclear Fury is the best track on the album as it means that there are no more to listen to. Kirkpatrick clearly has issues. There’s a lot of irrational misanthropic anger poured into Porblem. Unfortunately, it is not at all good and whilst I have every respect for those making music, this is time I’ll never get back. 2/10

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