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Monday, 27 April 2020

Reviews: Unmerciful, Abduction, Nocturnal Curse, Before Sunday (Paul S, Rich, Paul & Alex)

Unmerciful: Wrath Encompassed (Willowtip Records) [Paul Scoble]

Unmerciful are a Kansas based band featuring Clinton Appelhanz on Guitars and Vocals, Jeremy Turner on Bass and Vocals, Trynt Kelly on Drums, Justin Payne on Guitars and Vocals and Joshua Riley on Vocals. The band have been making horrifically nasty music since 2001; the band took a brief break between 2002 and 2004, but have been constantly active since 2004. In that time the band have produced 2 album 2006’s Unmercifully Beaten, and Ruinous Impulse in 2016. The band play a very aggressive, ultra-brutal style of Death Metal that is similar in style and brutality to Hate Eternal, Dying Fetus, Nile but most of all like Origin. The similarity to Origin isn’t a coincidence, Unmerciful feature 2 ex-members of Origin. The bands sound is very fast and brutal, they do also do slow, but they have that slow tempo, but fast BPM style that a lot of modern Death Metal bands use.

This can be seen on the tracks Carnage Unleashed which mixes this slow style with some very nice, tuneful fast riffs, and on Oblivious Descent where the slow and heavy is mixed with some fast and flowing riffs that have a nice level of complexity to them. The album is packed full of fast, complex riffs; opening track The Incineration is full of fantastic, dense riffs that batter the audience, the drumming is spectacularly fast and intricate, and the bass work thunders and rumbles and adds massive amounts of power to the sound. The track Blazing Hatred has that same complexity but then adds some very interesting rhythmic ideas, with an aggressive staccato style. I should also add that this is a brilliantly produced album, the mix is exactly right, and the individual instruments sound huge, in particular the guitar sound is so good, really thick and powerful, this is also apparent in the great guitar solos that this album has in abundance.

The result of this is a Death Metal album that feels big enough to kick the crap out of King Kong’s big brother, and then stare down Godzilla. Wrath Encompassed is a cracking Death Metal, it feels fresh and modern, whilst at the same time being brutal, viscous and extreme. It is very well written and performed, and as I said earlier fantastically produced. If you have any interest in Death Metal then this is an essential album, if you have only a vague knowledge of Death Metal, then still give it a go, this is the kind of album that will convert people to this genre. Highly recommended. 8/10

Abduction: Killer Holidays On Planet Earth (Impeto Records) [Rich Oliver]

Killer Holidays On Planet Earth is the new album from Italian thrash metal band Abduction are a thrash metal band from Italy and is the second album from the band. Initially formed as a solo project by frontman Elvio Corona (no relation to the virus) who performed all instruments on the initial demo, it is now a fully fledged band with Stefano Olivia on bass and Matteo Defraia on drums. Abduction are very much in the Municipal Waste school of thrash being far more of a crossover thrash band than a pure thrash band.

 It definitely sits in the silly school of thrash with the lyrical content being far from serious with songs about songs such as Uranus AttacksFart ClubIf You Don’t Like Star Wars We Can’t Be Friends and The Baloff Zone which pays homage to the sadly deceased former Exodus frontman and his death to posers attitude. The music on Killer Holidays On Planet Earth is what you would expect. It is fast, frantic and fun. The songs are short, sharp and silly and get straight to the point. The band are a very tight unit and the unhinged shrieking vocals of Elvio suit the tone of the music perfectly. This is a perfectly enjoyable piece of ‘party thrash’ and fans of Municipal Waste should lap it up though it does lack its own real identity. A solid and fun album if you love your crossover but not an essential listen otherwise. 7/10

Nocturnal Curse: Empyrean (1845314 Records DK2) [Paul Hutchings]

Albuquerque, New Mexico is not a known hot bed of metal and it is unlikely to change much despite the arrival of this decent but average debut from four-piece thrash outfit Nocturnal Curse. Crammed full of Pantera and Lamb Of God style chainsaw guitar, the band kick off the 36 minutes with a time-honoured cinematic soundscape before launching into a grinding Impartiality. Echoes of The Black Dahlia Murder are evident amongst several other influences, the drawling growl of guitarist Hunter Teixeira solidly fitting the band’s sound.

Nocturnal Curse stick closely to one style throughout the album and whilst it is fast and furious, by midway on the release, things are becoming a bit repetitive. It’s performed well enough, but Anguish echoed every track before it. The band’s reliance on a single formula is both a strength and a weakness. The strength being an established sound, the weakness the lack of variety. The slow Pantera style chug of My World is one of the more promising songs on Empyrean, in part due to the wall of riffs which encase the song in a rich casing. By no means a poor album, especially compared to some of the turkeys I’ve suffered lately, there is insufficient for Empyrean to stand out in a crowded field. 5/10

Before Sunday: Anticipation (Rockshots Records) [Alex Swift]

Before Sunday command a style imbued with elements of contemporary pop and traditional element. Their work revolves around telling stories of feeling isolated in a big city and being part of a strange and volatile society. It is not capital P political. Rather a lot of their music focuses on starkly personal stories. Living In London swaggers and struts with a sense of cheeky bravado – it’s a great and danceable way to start the album, yet lacks the ambiances and subtleties you may expect for an album with these themes. There’s a certain irony to the way that Before Sunday later their music in electronic beats and glossy production. Big House is a sneering critique on consumerism – ‘a thousand mirrors I’m sure they’re going to drive you mad’ they chant at one point, against a bright and exuberant backing melody, which in turn forces you to pay closer attention to the lyrics. If you don’t care for acts in the vein of Walk The Moon or Kaiser Chiefs, subtle social commentary will be unlikely to convince you to become a fully-fledged fan. However, speaking as someone whose taste for music relies largely on a range of traits commonly manipulated in pop, the optimistic flair certainly isn’t turning me away.

That said, their style can lean too largely on manufactured rhythms and exhausted clichés at times. Unconditional has a tendency to grow on you after a while. However, the funk-infused guitars and confident choruses grow tiresome. Despite that, for every contrived moment, there is a soulful one. Gone proves an immersive and emotional work inspired by pop classics in the vein of Gabriel or Kate Bush, creating an extra dynamic to Before Sunday’s sound. Furthermore, Closed doors substitute the synthesizers with acoustics and organic percussion, lending a beautiful sense of authenticity to what would otherwise be quite an average pop-rock anthem. No Destination must be one of my favourite pieces throughout, bringing horns, strings, and an overall sensation of joy, into a vivid and dynamic mix, about escaping one way of life, and moving to another! By contrast, A Million People is a track of peaks and troughs, consists of fake instrumentation, and is my least favourite moment – occasionally, this record does fall outside of our jurisdiction, yet treads the line between genres gracefully. Its where these musicians lean to far into one style, that they may not necessarily be comfortable with, that I begin to have reservations.

Coming to the final few pieces, Obsessions makes itself another introspective experience, with tones of expression and a gorgeous keyboard refrain. Goddess is the closest we get to art-pop and presents an interesting direction for Before Sunday to potentially explore in the future. Finally, Devil seizes the listener with the frenzied instrumentals and even borders on metal territory in the final few moments, qualifying the record for review, after all. Considering all of this, this act has some interesting concepts at play, both lyrically and musically, yet still have the challenge to cut out an identity and persona for themselves. How they do that will determine their relevance and significance in the years to come. 6/10

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