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Thursday, 30 April 2020

Reviews: Havok, Ante-Inferno, 1000mods, An Autumn For Crippled Children (Rich & Matt)

Havok: V (Century Media Records) [Rich Oliver]

As we delve deeper into 2020 the thrash keeps on coming with the fifth album from Colorado new wave thrashers Havok, the aptly titled V. Havok were born out of the modern day thrash revival and have a very strong and consistent back catalogue. I know some fans were disappointed with previous album Conformicide due to its more experimental nature but Havok fans rest assured that V certainly won’t disappoint. V is just over 45 minutes of seething thrash fuelled by political and social commentary about the current state of our society. After a short intro (which is very reminiscent of Blackened by Metallica) the doors are blown off in a thrashing rage as Post-Truth Era gets the album off to a flying start. The album is nicely varied throughout with Fear Campaign having a bit of a classic speed metal feel to it with a belting opening riff. Betrayed By Technology and Ritual Of The Mind stomp and stamp all over your face whilst Cosmetic Surgery and Panpsychism are more technically minded with some shifting time signatures and song structures and tight musicianship and Phantom Force and Merchants Of Death are absolute raging thrashers.

 The closing song and longest on the album Don’t Do It is an ever shifting beast being far more melodic with the inclusion of clean vocals after which it drops into some super fast and aggressive thrash before shifting to a calming acoustic outro. The band themselves are on absolutely furious form. The lead guitar playing from Reece Scruggs is slick and flash without being overbearing, the nicey audible bass from newcomer Brandon Bruce is the backbone which holds everything together, the drumming from Peter Webber is as tight as ever whilst the vocals by David Sanchez are indignant with fury and crackling with rage. V is an absolutely stellar release from Havok. The second half of the album is far superior to the first half which has just a few too many songs with a similar style and pace which drags the stride of the album down a bit. It does mean that when the thrashing fury of Phantom Force kicks in though it is all the more effective for it. My criticisms of V are only very minor as it is a kick ass album of thrashing goodness with riffs for days and bags of attitude. 2020 may be a shit year in general but it is proving to be a stellar year for thrash with fantastic albums from Bonded, Annihilator, Assassin, Testament, Warbringer and now Havok. Let’s hope this trend continues for the rest of the year. 9/10

Ante-Inferno: Fane (UKEM Records) [Matt Bladen]

"The Fane is a house of secrets, a house of stories, a vault of the treasured knowledge that mankind has forgotten – the eternal centre of what was and will forever be." With these bewitching words we are drawn into Fane the debut album of Ante-Inferno a frostbitten foursome from the Yorkshire moors. Categorized as Epic English Black metal, if you can hear the glacial technicality of Winterfylleth on Fane then you'll at least know that Ante-Inferno are taking influence from the best. It is 7 tracks of ferocious, glacial black metal, the band casting their runes into the raging winds, to appease the old gods. Opening the album properly is the 9 minute Oath begins frenzied and feels like the band have been unleashed, before it slows for a section that is a little more deliberate, yet as incensed as it is in the first part.

It's a cinematic start but songs like Passing and Return are shorter blistering stabs of black metal, ripping flesh from bone. The latter segues into some ambience towards the end, this continues on the haunting interlude Absence, this allows you to re-centre yourself before Worship explodes once again in a flurry of ankle snapping blast beats. There's a lot of myth and mystery surrounding this album at times it's full of chilling moodiness but it also knows when to go for the attack. This isn't any of your symphonic floaty stuff, Ante-Inferno ply their trade in the more underground realms of the black metal sphere, nasty and visceral Fane ticks a lot of boxes for the cvlt hordes. 7/10

1000mods: Youth Of Dissent (Ouga Booga And The Mighty Oug Recordings)

1000mods are Greece's largest (read: most popular/successful) heavy rock band having built a following over the course of their previous three full lengths and three EP's, on the back of their last album Repeated To Exposure (2017) they toured a total of 42 live dates in 15 European countries, including festivals such as Up In Smoke, Desertfest and Keep It Low. This is their fourth full length record the release timed to coincide with both the London and Berlin Desertfest's this year however this has now been cancelled but instead of delaying the release they have forged ahead with it, not to disappoint their fans and followers. Youth Of Dissent was produced by Matt Bayles (Isis, Mastodon, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Botch and many more), so he's a man who knows about fuzzy, stoner, grungy rock.

Which is a the kind of thing you get from 1000mods, they play a mature melodic style of music that is somewhere between the desert rock of Kyuss and the grunge of Pearl Jam, with a vintage ethos in terms of songwriting and instrumentation. This last influence comes is very apt considering Youth Of Dissent was recorded at both Litho Studio (owned by Stone Gossard) and London Bridge Studio, where Pearl Jam's Ten was recorded. So to the album and it opens with the crunchy Lucid full of grunge riffing it bleeds into So Many Days which is a grooving desert rocker, full of panoramic guitars and trippy rhythms. Having retained a stable line up for most of their career they are able to kick out the jams on numbers like Warped where Labros' drumming is spacious when paired with the furrowed bass of Dani.

He also leads the trippy Dear Herculine with his instrument and his heavily treated vocals, this is really heavy number that gets the head bobbing, Less Is More has big riffs from Giannis and Giorgos as Dani's vocals evolve into some Chris Cornell soul for a Soundgarden-like rocker as Pearl really cranks up the riffs. Youth Of Dissent is very much the album that 1000mods have been working towards over the course of their career, it's their most polished, impressive record yet and very much secures 1000mods as one of the premier European rock bands. 8/10

An Autumn For Crippled Children: All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet (Prosthetic Records) [Rich Oliver

All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet is the new album by Dutch blackgaze band An Autumn For Crippled Children. Not a band I have ever heard of before but from what I have read they are a three piece band who formed in 2010 and perform under assumed names with their identities unknown and have refused to play live. Since their formation they have released a number of albums and EP’s with something released every year and All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet is the eighth full length album from the band and their label debut for Prosthetic Records. I have never heard An Autumn For Crippled Children before so cannot compare this to any of their previous material but what I hear on All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet are the typical tropes of blackgaze but with far less emphasis on the black and a concentration of the gaze. There are a variety of sounds mixed together here from post-punk, gothic rock, synthwave and shoegaze all mixed with the aesthetics of black metal but rarely diving headfirst into pure blackened territory. 

 The harsh vocals, some of the riffs and certain drumming styles evoke black metal but this album instead explores other musical avenues and as such have a more unique sound that a lot of other blackgaze bands. The album was produced, mixed and mastered by the band and it does have a very different mix with fuzzy guitars, thin drums and buried vocals and an emphasis on the bass and keyboards but it works with the material provided. An Autumn For Crippled Children play sad and forlorn songs but in a more up-tempo style than their counterparts from the post-punk stylings of Water’s Edge, the sublime melodies of Everlasting, the emotional drive of Silver and the blackened edge of Craving Silence which is the song with the most black metal qualities on the album. With its unusual mix, alternative style and unique sound All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet is an attention grabbing album. It is a bit repetitive and there are bands who do the blackgaze sound in a style I prefer but this is still an enjoyable album. 7/10

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