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Tuesday 16 June 2020

Reviews: Constellatia, Cro-Mags, Dead Reynolds, Huanastone (Paul S, Paul H, Alex & Matt)

Constellatia: The Language Of Limbs (Season Of Mist) [Paul Scoble]

Constellatia are a four piece based in Cape Town, South Africa. The band feature members of Crow Black Sky and Wildernessking, and have been in existence since 2018. The album also features the vocal talents of Alison Rachel and Lucy Kruger. The main style on The Language Of Limbs is a mix of Post Metal and Post black Metal. Post Black blast beats with tremolo picked riffs are separated by lush, deeply melodic Post Metal sections, the album also features harsh male vocals and beautiful female vocals.

The album opens with the track All Nights Belong To You. The song opens with a Post Black Metal blast beat with tremolo picked riffs, it’s fast and frenetic but has that smoother feel that is common in Post Black metal, they feel similar to those use by ColdworldMessage In A Cloud or Violet Cold. Harsh vocals are added, but due to the nature of the Blast Beats and riffs this isn’t as nasty as it could be, there is still lots of melody and tune-fullness. The track then slows for some really melodic riffs, this slowly fades into an atmospheric ambient section. This section slowly morphs into clean guitar and female vocals which take the song to a really mellifluous ending.

Second track In Acclamation starts slow, mellow and relaxed before going into a very fast punky section, where the drums are bordering on D-beat, the energy in this section is very enjoyable. This then segues into a more traditional tremolo picked riff, with a big melody lead over the top. This riff and tune then slow down and we are back at the relaxed and mellow feeling that the song opened with. As the song moves along this section feels more purposeful and driving until it reaches the end of the track. Empyrean is the shortest track on the album, it opens with a part that feels like a slow Blast Beat, which then morphs into a faster more aggressive Blast, but with lots of melody. The track vacillates between these two feels until it comes to an end with a beautiful acoustic riff.

Final song The Garden has a soft, lilting opening with achingly beautiful female vocals. Harsh vocals are added and draw the song into a Blast Beat and tremolo picked riff, however the harshness of the Blast beat is tempered by really nice guitar melody. The song then slows down for a Post Metal section with a very tuneful guitar solo. These two feels of Blast Beat and the Post metal section are repeated, before a slow and comparatively heavy section takes the song and album to an end.

The Language Of Limbs is a beautiful piece of Post Black/Post Metal. The fast tremolo picked sections are full of energy and drive, but are also packed with melody and tunefulness. The softer, slower Post Metal sections are lush, and beautiful. What really make this album work is the interplay between the two main feelings on offer. This album has a beautifully realised ebb and flow, there is a fantastic balance the more savage parts and the lush beauty, which produces a cathartic feeling that is genuinely affecting. Highly recommended. 8/10

Cro-Mags: In The Beginning (Arising Empire) [Paul Hutchings]

Few would argue with the legendary status of Cro-Mags, the New York hardcore outfit who raged from 1981 -2002 and again since 2008. Numerous line-up changes have seen Harley Flanagan as the only original member, and amidst a background of legal action over the rights to the name, it’s something impressive that we finally get a new record at all. Flanagan returns to the vocals on this album after an 18-year gap, following the departure of long-standing singer John Joseph and he does a fine job. Flanagan remains the driving force behind the band, with the current line-up consisting of Flanagan (vocals/bass), and three former members in guitarist Gabby Abularach, lead guitarist Rocky George (Suicidal tendencies/Fishbone) and drummer Garry ‘G-Man’ Sullivan.

In essence, In The Beginning is a bastard mutation of thrash metal and a hardcore attitude. It’s a punishingly brutal assault but does it really catch the ear in a way you might expect? Well, I’m no hardcore expert but this album ticks all my boxes. The thrashing stomp and screaming guitars on songs like There Was A Time and No One’s Coming sit nicely in the metal camp, the muscular opening on Don’t Give In returns to the band’s ferocity on their debut The Age Of Quarrel and the battery on Drag You Under will certainly get pits moving. It’s been 20 years since Cro-Mags released an album, Revenge being their fifth release and whilst it’s been a long time, In The Beginning is certainly a blistering piece of work. From The Grave features the guitar work of one Phil Campbell, and it’s one of the best tracks on the album, a true rager which smashes from start to finish.

Whilst the album is relentless in its approach, there are certainly surprises as it progresses. The savagery of No One’s Coming contrasts with the intro to PTSD which is atmospheric before reverting to a fist pumping second section, Flanagan’s growling roars as raw and violent today as they have ever been. We even have the brooding Between The Wars, almost six-minutes of instrumental music featuring violin and a smouldering bass line. The emotive style which lends itself to the space rock of bands like Hawkwind is a massive change of approach but amid all the chaos, it really works. Elsewhere, it’s thundering, angry and everything you would want from a band cited as such a massive influence. The heritage of NY hardcore remains intact in this album. The band are due to return to the UK next year and those shows should be immense. In the meantime, this is a savage return from a legend. 8/10

Dead Reynolds: Frontier (The Fort) [Alex Swift]

East Anglian five-piece Dead Reynolds command their powerful rhythms and strong hooks with the precision of acts in the vein of Shinedown or Black Stone Cherry, and the ferocious angst of bands like Rise Against or Gallows. There’s a certain forcefulness present throughout Frontier, which speaks of a desire to make an impression in a succinct amount of time while living up to their influences. Nothing here necessarily reinvents the wheel and you wouldn’t expect that from an EP. Neither would you hope for that necessarily, as there’s an earnestness which comes from seeing these musicians flaunt their influences while making those sounds their own. Take a moment such as Bright Lights, where the soaring notes create a feeling of cosmic inspiration, beautifully lending a sense of balance to the aggressive presence of the bass and the vigorous bridge, which makes for a startling if captivating change of direction.

Alternatively, look to By Your Side – a pop-punk/post-hardcore rager, led by the frenetic rhythmic prowess, the huge chorus, and the layers of harmony which bring to mind joyous memories of summer and camaraderie. Looking to another influence, Lines bears more of a rustic, DIY indie feel, yet is imbued with changeable guitar passages, and variable drum patterns – there’s the metal fandom shining through. We finish on the contemplative P.S (I Loathe You), which feels slightly disparate and jarring compared with the other tracks, yet no less energetic. In short, there’s very much a ‘something for every rock fan’ approach being trailed here – I don’t know whether that’s a description they’ll take kindly to, though I totally mean that as a compliment, as…well…it’s what I heard when listening. I only hope they outlive the acts they clearly admire, as I’m sure with refinement and experimentation, these combinations could be a winning and successful formula. 7/10

Huanastone: Third Stone From The Sun (Argonauta Records) [Matt Bladen]

Third Stone From The Sun is the latest album from Swedish fuzz merchants Huanastone, it's their second release and deals with the same kind of explorative heavy stoner riffs that they had on their debut merging thick heaviness of The Sword on Viva Los Muertos and Bad Blood which brings some killer Sabbath-like riffs from Tobias Gonzalez and Carl Lambertus Olofsson, while Tobias's vocals are similar to that of The Sword's John D. Cronise, these first two songs on this record are deep in the stoner metal groove with Bad Blood bringing some great bass and drum work from Filip Larsson and Victor Hansson who even brings cowbell. Now from here on out we go into the outer reaches of the stoner rock realms the acoustic interlude of Oliver Pt 1 leading into Part 2 which brings things into the woozy sounds of desert rock as things get Kyuss inspired with the title track and the jazz-inflected blues of Carnivore which also brings some QOTSA funk as Tobias' voice adopts a Josh Homme soulfulness. A fuzz, riffy, bluesy treat from this Malmö quartet worth some lazy summer night head nodding. 7/10

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