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Thursday, 23 April 2020

Reviews: Trivium, Barishi, Spirit Adrift, More Human Than Human (Matt & Paul H)

Trivium: What The Dead Men Say (Roadrunner Records) [Matt Bladen]

Trivium were the first 'heavy' band I fell in love with, coming from a hard rock/prog background, their mixture of classic metal/thrash and very of the moment metalcore was a revelation and a gateway into heavier music, they were also hotly tipped as the 'next big thing', though this attitude has changed various times over the years. I've been an avid follower of the band ever since Ascendancy and I have enjoyed every album they have released despite the varying critical reactions they have garnered. In recent time they have hit somewhat of a purple patch since In Waves (though some may disagree), finally nailing their sound, mainly due to Matt Heafy finally fixing on a vocals style he is comfortable with leaving the shouts/growls to his wingmen Corey Beaulieu and Paolo Gregoletto as they deftly balanced all their previous audio experiments on The Sin And The Sentence showing why they have managed to last for 20 years nearly now (though with more drummers than Spinal Tap!). What The Dead Men Say is the sound of a mature Trivium a long way from the youthful angst of Ascendency, they are now at the level of those influences they wore so heavily on their sleeve on their early releases.

Opening with the excellent title track What The Dead Men Say is a perfect Trivium opener the mixture of clean/growled vocals, those keening twin leads from Matt and Corey, it's got a defiance to change that says this is unmistakably Trivium, they haven't made any significant changes from The Sin And The Sentence except refining everything again ramping up the heaviness on tracks such as single the The Catastrophist which shows the slickness of bassist Paolo and drummer Alex Bent (who returns for a second record) as well as Trivium's knack of mixing crushing riffs with huge chorus hooks, Heafy bringing emotion with his powerful vocal. Bleed Into Me has the nod to their past as does the punishing The DefiantSickness Unto You once again shows the incredible drumming of Alex Bent. Scattering The Ashes is a melancholic and emotive, built around a bass throb, however Bending The Arc To Fear brings a technical stomp leading into The Ones We Leave Behind a twin axe attack that keeps things relentless right up until the very end. What The Dead Men Say is Trivium showing why they stand up as one of the best bands of the last 20 years, fulfilling the prophecy bestowed on them all those years ago. 9/10

Barishi: Old Smoke (Season Of Mist) [Paul Hutchings]

The third album from Barishi, a three-piece who hail from Vermont, is an intricate 49-minute collection of eclectic songs, three of which are over ten minutes in length. That doesn’t distract in anyway from the enjoyment furnished by this album, which contains enough bone crushing heaviness to satisfy those in need of the death doom fix. Opening song, The Silent Circle, echoes early Opeth in places, but Barishi are no copycat outfit. This is music that tests the grey matter as well as stirring the sinews, the muscular prompts supported by a cacophony of blast beats and thunderous bass rumbling whilst there is ample melody to underpin the death growling. Mikey Allred’s keys and synths add layers and subtle textures throughout the album. The Silent Circle progresses organically, the pathway natural yet weaving and driving, whilst the band’s sound stands somewhere between the death and black metal junction.

Third track The Longhunter opens with a sound clip before a delicious hammering riff signals the start of the song. Graham Brooks who provides the harrowing vocals also adds the guitar, and his maniacal roaring echoes as the riffs take centre stage, emerging over a thunderous rhythm section. It’s gnarly yet progressive, the combination of death metal and more progressive elements likely to delight fans who still need their fix. The title track concludes the album, Old Smoke beginning with a gentle, measured pace before expanding into a vast emotive soundscape which rolls and swells as the track slowly takes on epic proportions. Jonathan Kelley on bass and drummer Dylan Blake provide solid foundations. This is an album well crafted and superbly delivered with solid production and composition. 8/10

Spirit Adrift: Curse Of Conception - Re-Issue 2020 (Century Media) [Matt Bladen]

Back in summer 2019 I gave Spirit Adrift's second album Divided By Darkness an 8/10, I likened the album to both Grand Magus and Haunt as Nate Garret (of Gatecreeper) has really nailed that fist pumping classic metal sound. Divided By Darkness and it's predecessor Curse Of Conception were released by American label 20 Buck Spin, but now in the UK they have signed to Century Media who have re-released both of the albums. Now I won't review Divided By Darkness as if you want to read it, it's available here: https://musipediaofmetal.blogspot.com/2019/05/reviews-spirit-adrift-irongate-midnight.html.

However I will review Curse Of Conception as it fell under our radar when back in 2017. This is a chance to hear how Spirit Adrift evolved into the band they were on Divided By Darkness. The Sabbath worship of Earthbound  kicks things off with some intergalactic doom, Nate Garrett's vocals echoing over the crunching guitars of him and Jeff Owens, the title track adding wooziness to the doom stylings, Marcus Bryant's bass throbbing underneath. So far so doom, but To Fly On Broken Wings is a grinding stoner rocker leading into Starless Age (Enshrined) which is full of emotion a slow burning number with some great guitar playing and som spatial drums from Chase Mason. This is a little more in the stoner/doom style than Divided By Darkness but it shows the talent of the band. 

I urge you to pick up both of the re-issued Spirit Adrift albums when they are released on the 24th April, you'll be able to get them as ltd. Digipak and colored LP ready for Spirit Adrift's new record this year (hopefully). 8/10

More Human Than Human: What We Leave Behind (Re-Evolution Arts)‎ [Paul Hutchings]

Formed in 2017, Cheltenham based duo More Human Than Human’s latest EP is an intriguing and enjoyable listen. Seven tracks over 29 minutes, and not an electric guitar in sight. But wait! Before you throw down your pint in disgust, I encourage you to read on and delve a little deeper. More Human Than Human have an electronic industrial edge which at times swerves them closer to the likes of Killing Joke and Depeche Mode than more established metal outfits; indeed, there is a dance vibe to much of the EP. The band comprises Tomislav Vučetić, a 51-year-old Croatian veteran of the thrash band Anaesthesia, and his younger London born counterpart, Anthony ‘Badger’ Collins. The former covers lead vocals and bass lines, whilst ‘Badger’ adds drums, synths and backing vocals.

Technology is key to the band’s sound, which they can translate live without the need for additional musicians. After a brief intro track its Bodies that sets things in motion. A pulsing, dark feel with nods to Type-O-Negative and NIN, thumping bass and harrowed but clean and full vocals provide a gothic tint. A change in tone and pace for I’m Invisible, much closer to the punk feel of Killing Joke blended with the gothic undertones of The Sisters Of Mercy, swirling synths wrap around the punchy driving track. This emotion wrought delivery continues with Chain To Break, a ferocious yet haunting song. It’s dance floor delight on Quicksand (Remix), a vibrating track that mixes the best of Pendulum with hard house. I’m no expert in this style but it works for me on every level. Acorn (Remix) concludes things in dark Depeche Mode style, repetitive keys building an Eastern atmosphere which plays out to the finish. What We Leave Behind isn’t going to be for everyone but if you fancy a challenge from the norm, you’d be well advised to seek this EP out. 8/10

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