Thursday 4 June 2020

Reviews: Death Courier, Karobela, Shok Paris, Brigantia (Charlie/Dr Claire, Paul H, Matt & Bob)

Death Courier: Necrotic Verses (Transcending Obscurity Records) [Charlie Rogers & Dr Claire Hanley]

Greek gods Death Courier return after a 7 year absence to serve up a visceral slice of groovy old school death metal. There’s a knock at the door, it’s riffs. Before you can answer, they’ve already smashed their way in. “Who ordered these riffs?”. We did, obviously. Thanks Death Courier.

Necrotic Verses blasted it’s way into our skulls with groovy, blackened riffs. With pummelling double kicks, and dynamic tempo shifts, it sets the standard for the rest of the record. As Heaven Blends With Rot opens with a saucy bass line. Creating the atmosphere of a Pestilence/Vader crossover, the track has a particularly prominent vocal performance, especially during the chorus. Another standout track, Pillars Of Murk, verges on the macabre, with regal riffage worthy of a Nile album. The solo is on point, with some exceptional melodic parts that counter the brutality of the riffs below. One of the more memorable guitar parts features in Visceral Slice, which worms its way into your consciousness. Clocking in as the longest track on the album, Remnants has a commanding tone, with unflinching phrases; making it a fitting end to an unyielding album that screams dominance.

While the aforementioned tracks were certainly worthy of praise, a small number of songs failed to have the same impact. For example, Morismon Imar is a solid death metal tune, but it pales into the background when compared to the standout offerings. It’s tracks like this with minimal defining features, which prevent us from scoring the album higher. With a career spanning 3 decades, it’s always surprising when a quality death metal band flies under our radar, but Death Courier are certainly on the watchlist for the future. 8/10

Karobela: Karobela EP (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

Karobela are a young British alt-rock outfit who have recently gained airplay on Planet Rock with their singles Skin & Bone and Liquor Heart. On first play, this debut EP comes across as a confident and powerful release. There is plenty of variety and diversity in their music with influences as wide as Black Keys, Fleetwood Mac, No Doubt and The Pretty Reckless to elements of Clapton, Queen and Hendrix. Underneath it all, there’s a vibrant vibe which will appeal to a wide range of interested listeners. Lauren Diamond’s sweet clean vocals are the star attraction although the rest of the band provide support on some nice harmonies. Six tracks in 20 minutes represents a solid debut with the soaring Song 2 contrasting with the driving Skin & Bone whilst the punchy No Mercy provides evidence of some of their influences. It’s all reasonable stuff, with the band tying everything together in confident style. It may be somewhat left field to our usual musical fare but if you like your music with melody, energy, and a fiery bounce, then this four-piece may well be of interest. 6/10

Shok Paris: Full Metal Jacket (No Remorse Records) [Matt Bladen]

So to say there's been a long wait for a new Shok Paris album is an understatement as their previous record Concrete Killers was released 31 years ago in 1989! However much like with the bands from the UK NWOBHM scene things for the American band caused them to explode just after this record. Now as luck would have it nostalgia still sells and Shok Paris were asked to play Bang Your Head in 2004 and since then Full Metal Jacket has been in production. But after 31 years is it any good? Well if you like your metal without any accoutrements, any genre blending or elements drawn from different influences then you'll get a kick out of Shok Paris as they pick up where they left off 31 years ago, straight down the line, meat and two veg heavy metal styled around Priest, Maiden Accept, Dio and Anvil (I mean they even have a song called Metal On Metal). The choruses are mainly the title repeated, the riffs are reasonably basic and come from a band who have only been back together properly from 2009, bassist Ed Stephens probably the best known for his stints with Tim 'Ripper' Owens. Full Metal Jacket is the metal equivalent of easy listening, it's enjoyable but ultimately there's nothing about it that lingers too long in the mind. 5/10  

Brigantia: Midnight (Self Released) [Bob Shoesmith]

We often use the reference ‘Sabbath worship’ in reviews. It's almost impossible to avoid using it when you get ‘Doom Metal’ offerings. Personally, as a massive fan of Ozzy and the dark riffmeisters from way back in the day, you won’t get too many complaints from me about that though! In fact, the three piece Brigantia from Ireland, do cite Sabbath as their primary influence along with doomsters Witchfinder General and (interestingly) goth icons Type O Negative. They don’t shy away from the genre at all.

The E.P Midnight has immersed itself in all of usual the graveyard and witchy imagery and some belting monster riffery much in the vein of the 1970 debut Sabbath album, but most of the ‘Sabbath worship’ stops there. Vocalist Dave Gleeson has a fairly decent singing voice and has avoided the preference for growling and shrieking of some of his contemporary doomsters. The sound on the recording gives a really retro vibe and (with my musician’s head on) I can’t tell whether that’s a clever production trick or a just a budget recording, no matter, whatever it is, that 1970 suits the style they’re after perfectly. All three tracks (Fooled By The DevilMidnight and Sardonicus) are great slabs of doomy riffing but it’s not all one-paced drop-tuned funeral marching. Brigantia have managed to keep all three tracks interesting and listenable particularly on Sardonicus where a bit of groove even creeps in. I would definitely like to hear more in that direction.

While Brigantia are clearly at the early stages of their career, this E.P shows some great promise and while they keep it dark and doomy like their influences would dictate, they’re clearly trying to do something creative within it. Who knows, if they dared to step outside the stock graveyard and black magic subject matter/ imagery and maybe into a decent studio I’d be all over it. Keep it up boys you’re onto something. 6/10

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