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Friday, 24 April 2020

Reviews: King Witch, I Am Destruction, Malevolence, Bullet's & Octane (Matt, Charlie, Liam & Simon)

King Witch: Body Of Light (Listenable Records) [Matt Bladen]

Finally! It feels like I've been waiting ages for the second full length from Scottish Heavy Doom Metal band King Witch. But with Body Of Light now here it was on to the decks of death and the volume cranked up ready to annoy the neighbours. As soon I pressed play the gates to the church of riffs were opened with Jamie Gilchrist's exciting guitar playing on the title track, wildly attacking his axe with abandon as the song gets faster in its last section. It's breathless stuff that grabs you from the first moment. Of Rock And Stone is slower Lyle Brown's cavernous drums and Rory Lee's thumping bass driving the massive doom riffage. Instrumentally the band are exciting relying on a heady mix of classic metal and doom that brings to mind Candlemass and Grand Magus as there are numerous sprawling solos and grooving lead breaks spread across these 9 tracks.

However it's not just the riffs that draw you in the snippets of gothic organs on Of Rock And Stone and Call Of The Hunter both add to the atmosphere especially as Call Of The Hunter lurches into some occult low end doom. What immediately drew me to King Witch when I heard their previous album was the powerhouse vocals of Laura Donnelly she has extraordinary soulful vocal prowess that scales a large range and rawness that brings added heft to the already weighty music. Body Of Light steps everything up from their first album the riffs are denser than before, the travels in doom have greater sonic depth (Order From Chaos) as the classic heavy metal sounds are elevated with the aforementioned guitar playing. 

The songwriting too has more emotional depth especially the trio of songs that start with the 10 minute progressively tinged Solstice I - She Burns, through the blasting proto-thrash of Witches Mark before ending with the folksy instrumental Solstice II. It's a brilliant mini-suite showcasing the prowess of King Witch. With their show in The Gryphon postponed for the moment it will probably be a while until I see the band live so playing this at full volume in the garden will have to do! Fantastic slab of epic doom! 9/10

I Am Destruction: Nascency (Unique Leader Records) [Charlie Rogers]

Yee haw, Texan extreme metal. Nascency is the first full length release from I Am Destruction, a brutal, crushing first album. It opens with a rather morbid sample, not one to be played around the faint of heart, then an ominous chugging riff drags the slab of death metal to the table, in a sort of overture for what’s to come. Propagated By Abnormality then drills into your ears with a determined gait, it’s opening riff set at a lumbering pace, followed closely by disgusting swamp monster vocals. The atmosphere feels like something horrific being unearthed. Riffs that grip you, a groove that entices, and hammering drum beats that build to a frenzy. Very impressive.

The groove continues into the next track, Ruinous Phantasm, with uncontrollable bopping along to the bouncy opening melody, and unconscious gurns prompted by the blend of foul vocals. There’s a real sense of pacing and dynamics with the different sections of the tracks, songwriting is evidently important here. Knowing when to unleash a barrage of neck snapping riffs, when to drive the tempo forward to invoke the urge to pit, and when to hold back and let the listener catch their breath is a skill supremely on display here.

There’s not a huge amount of variation across the album, with the focus seemingly on making high quality slamming death metal, and that is not a bad thing. The quality really is high throughout, with no tracks feeling unnecessary or filler, each having their own melodies and feels distinct from the others. I can’t stress enough how much involuntary groove my body was subjected to while listening to this album. ZZ Top are still my favourite musicians from the Lone Star State, but I Am Destruction are coming in as a close second. 9/10

Malevolence: The Other Side EP (MLVLTD) [Liam True]

Composed of three tracks, weighing in at 12 minuets with their first musical offering since 2017’s Self Supremacy, the Sheffield beatdown crew are as balls to the wall heavy as they should be, and also as melodic as you didn’t know they could successfully pull off. With EP opener Remain Unbeaten being a slow burner but as the song progresses it becomes their signature Hardcore sound with the aggressive vocals of Alex Taylor being the driving force penetrating your eardrums. Keep Your Distance is a pure straight up ‘Don’t stop moving until the song ends’ crowd carnage maker, delivering a powerful drop and making you grimace with utter delight. EP ender and title track The Other Side is where the band show off their more melodic side. With the instruments being predominant but without being ear destroying, it accompanies the vocals in such a way that you’ll be replaying this song and quietly singing it to yourself without realizing it. A spectacular end to a brilliant offering from the Northern beat-crew. 8/10

Bullets And Octane: Riot Riot Rock N Roll (Bad Mofo Records) [Simon Black]

LA Based Bullets And Octane have been at this a while, although for some reason I’ve not crossed paths with them much before, which is a shame as I think I’ve missed out. The album title says it all. This is full on in your face rock’n’roll, no holds barred and no apologies. Ripping straight into the proceedings with the title track, what we get are a series of short, punchy and highly effective slugs of tunage that are proof that down’n’dirty ain’t dead. With a full on in vocal performance from Gene Louis, this album does not intend to compromise and takes you with them every step of the way. Even when they take the frenetic pace down a notch or two (such as the punchy boogie Addicted To Outrage), you still get songs that are far from slow, and just as effective as Louis moves from scream to snarl.

Like many bands, they’ve had their ups and downs and flirted with the major labels, and there is a very strong sense that they are still fighting to prove themselves, as this sounds like a band just getting going, not one that’s been at it for 22 years. The production is mercifully not overdone, although a bit more welly on the guitar sound would not have gone amiss, but to be honest this is me being picky on an album that flies by leaving you wanting much more. If I am going to pick a favourite track, it would have to be The Devil, which is an absolute belter: solid rhythm and catchy riff and lyrics and exactly the sort of stuff that made me stick two fingers to pop music four decades ago. Motörhead may have blasted through years ago and shagged their mum’s, but these guys are after your daughters. 8/10

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