Wake are a five-piece from Calgary, Alberta. Formed in 2007, the band have moved away from their original grindcore/crust sound and on this latest album, their fifth, have adopted a hybrid black and death metal approach. The band are relatively prolific, this is their third album in four years following 2018’s Misery Rites. An assault on the senses from start to finish, tracks such as This Abyssal Plain bludgeon without mercy, distressing screams halfway the only pause to the intensity. By combining genres, Wake manage to blend some of the best and worst of each genre. The echoing riffing synonymous with black metal and the frantic blast beats will excite the extreme fans. Kyle Ball’s vocals are monstrous, ferocious and harrowing in equal measure. Abrasive, lacking in warmth and punishing in depth and delivery, it’s the centrepiece of the album, the ten-minute Torchbearer, that makes the album. A building cacophony leads to a sludgy, bone crushing track that powerfully delivers. Whilst Ball’s vocals won’t be to the tastes of all, I doubt that Wake will give a shit. This isn’t music for the charts but for those who want something that brutalises and violates. 7/10
HellgardeN: Making Noise, Living Fast (Brutal Records)
If you want to listen to a band that are straining every sinew to sound like Pantera, then I suggest you have a listen to Brazilian quintet HellgardeN. Making Noise, Living Fast is a ferocious slab of thrash and fast aggressive metal which captures not only the rawness of Pantera but adds in the brutal rawness of bands like Power Trip. The main feel is that of the Vulgar era Pantera, with Diego Pascuci’s Anselmo style vocals at times uncannily similar. Plenty of groove backed by rhythmic assaults, an underlying visceral sound and a punch-drunk element that adds to the chaos. Certainly, spiky and fierce, but with the similarities just a little too much makes this at times more of a tribute. 5/10
False Hearts: Remedy EP (Self Released)
It’s noticeable that nearly every band press release is accompanied by a list of dates which are scheduled in support of the release we review. “It’s destined to be this band’s year” and then, boom! Game over. Such is the challenge facing the Cambridgeshire quartet False Hearts, whose Remedy EP is a thoroughly decent piece of alt-rock. The band’s sound owes a lot to Halestorm, Muse and the Foo Fighters and you can probably tell from those references that False Hearts carry a wide appeal. Breathe Again is a solid opener, but it’s Enough Is Enough that catches the attention, a snappy, melancholic number that has riffs aplenty alongside melody to spare. Vocalist/guitarist Emma Hodgson leads the band well, her crisp, soulful vocals providing the Halestorm reference although I prefer her Harriet Hyde style delivery on Misery Loves Company. Capably supported by lead guitarist Ali Westwood, drummer Adi Bowes and bassist Phil Benton, False Hearts’ latest EP demonstrates considerable promise. With several live dates including several festivals, one can only hope that False Hearts can ride the storm as there is enough promise to warrant further attention. 7/10
Flight Of Eden: Dante’s Inferno (Self Released)
Dante’s Inferno as we all know is part of Italian poet Dante Aligheri’s epic 14th Century work, The Divine Comedy. For those who don’t know the story, in summary, on Maundy Thursday, Dante begins his journey into Hell. Guided by the poet Virgil, they descend through the 9 circles of Hell, confronting the horror and sin before them. It’s a subject covered by numerous metal outfits, most notably Iced Earth’s epic Dante’s Inferno on 1995’s Burnt Offerings and Septic Flesh on 2018’s Codex Omega. For a second EP this is a fine release.
Taking on challenging subject matter, the Reading based four-piece who formed in 2018 have produced a series of short pieces that interlock tightly, capturing the feel and emotion of the poem in style. Massive, melodeath segments combine with progressive passages to reach a crescendo on Canto IV – Morning Star before proceeding to the calmer, gentle Purgatory and the piano led Paradiso which explodes into a dramatic melodic rock conclusion.
The playing is technical, detailed and locked tightly. With their sound straddling genres, the progressive elements duel with the heavier, more aggressive approaches throughout the EP. It’s a fascinating subject, and repeated plays continue to reveal hidden gems that need repeated listens to appreciate. Entirely self-produced, mastered and released, the band commissioned artist Will Cross who has worked with the likes of Monuments to illustrate their EP artwork with an intriguing piece of art. Dante’s Inferno will also be released on April 9th, Maundy Thursday and is certainly an EP to catch. 7/10