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Thursday 11 June 2020

Reviews: Die Ego, Nemesium, Leather Frank, Circus Cannon (Matt, Rich, Bob & Paul H)

Die Ego: Culto (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

The title track of Culto kicks off this record with some huge riffs, where the bass is very high in the mix giving you a groove laden thump that's noticeable on the solo section especially. Hailing from London and formed by Diego Fardel (Lead Guitar) and Gabe Scapigliati (Vocals and Bass) they released a demo Songs For Insanity back in 2018 after recruiting Dave Grosz but Culto is their full length debut and a chance for them to really show what they can do. Having toured regularly in London (remember when touring was a thing?) with special mentions to the Islington O2 and Camden Rocks Festival the trio play groove heavy metal with a major reliance on riffs and the shouted vocals.

Influences here are very obviously Pantera on Anger Is Yours and Demons Have Demons, to be honest most of the songs here are not too dissimilar to the Texan bringers of the groove but especially due to the rawness of Gabe's vocals, Die Ego are very much cut from the same cloth, I'd even say there are some of the more political fury of Exhorder too. Culto itself does sound a lot like Metallica but with a much more muscular, darker sound similar to Machine Head, in fact Mr Flynn and co rear their ugly heads a lot here too. On numbers like There Is No Tomorrow you can hear that aggression but with an ear for the melodic as Diego does foray into some killer guitar solos too adding soaring emotive playing on the occult thrashing of The Grave.

At just 8 songs it doesn't try to pack too much in letting the songs here breathe enough to give you an overview of Die Ego on record, and obviously finally record those songs that have been sitting in their set for ages. It's not world changing and musically very close to their influences but when Alien Weaponry can play the mainstage at Download by aping the sound of Sepultura then maybe the time is right for Die Ego's Pantera-esque approach? 7/10

Nemesium: Continua (Black Lion Records) [Rich Oliver]

Continua is the debut album from Australian death metal band Nemesium. It follows on from their debut EP Sentient Cognizance in 2015 and is their debut release for Black Lion Records. Nemesium take the death metal formula and add in elements of black metal and progressive metal whilst having a melodic sensibility about them. The melody is subtle enough that this is very much still death metal and the aggression of the music is the driving factor. The songs are all pretty much fast and relentless throughout and the song highlights are spread throughout the album. Annihilation Prophecy, Virch and The Dawn Of Retribution all impressed with their rage and intensity whilst The Fire And The Flesh is more of a slow burner with plenty of twists and turns and album closer Relive This Nightmare is the most melodically leaning song of the album. Continua is a very solid debut album for Nemesium. The quality of the playing is very high throughout and the songwriting on the whole is strong though some songs do feel a little repetitive. Minor criticisms aside this is a very solid debut and is recommended for death metal fans who like things a bit on the melodic side. 7/10

Leather Frank: Dark Forest (Self Released) [Bob Shoesmith]

From the information I can find, this four track E.P from the intriguingly monickered, Leather Frank (none of the band are called Frank, for the record) from Izmer in Turkey is their first release. They describe themselves rather accurately as; ‘dark, fuzzy, gentle rock’. If you add the words ‘stoner’ with ‘elements of psychedelia’ then you’ve pretty much nailed what you’ve got in the tin. One of the joys of stoner rock as a genre is that you know exactly what to expect. None of this genre-within-a-genre nonsense. Fat fuzzy guitars-check, slow echoey blues riffs – check, nothing too upbeat – check.

The opening nine minute track Comfortably Violent drifts slowly along and then drifts between slow stoner blues riffs, to soft slightly jazzy, psychedelic passages and back again. The occasional appearances of Bora Şentürk’s vocals are soft and complimentary but practically indecipherable lyrically being blended so far down in the mix or suffering clarity further from added distortion. Over the whole E.P, while the vocals are sonically pleasant enough, but its often tricky to detect what Bora’s actually singing about (or even what language its in) at all, that said, it kind of fits the whole stoner, hazy vibe.

All four tracks give the distinct impression of extended stoner jam sessions with the occasional appearance of vocals. This dream-like drifting quality is Leather Frank's biggest issue for me, nothing here sticks in the memory. Songs slowly drift in and out without leaving any kind of imprint or lasting impression. Out Of The Rain picks up the pace a fraction before another seven minutes of fuzzy drifting again and more instrumental jamming on the title track ‘Dark Forest’ (they do try and beef it up towards the end of the track but by then my attention had drifted).

I was hoping for something possibly a bit more energetic and muscular from this E.P, maybe in the style of Kyuss or Orange Goblin, but the songs are so genteel, trippy and generally pedestrian they are more akin to the likes of say King Gizzard for want of comparison. I really wanted a band from Turkey like Leather Frank to blow my socks off, I really did, as it’s a very under-represented area in the world of rock but unfortunately this is a pretty tedious outing, offering very little to get excited about. Perhaps with an injection of Hawkwind like psyche energy, or some mood elevation or even just something – anything - memorable, I’d possibly try them again, but this is too benign for me. If you’re suffering from insomnia or your listening pleasure is rolling a fat one, opening the Doritos and drifting away on your sofa, its maybe for you. 4/10

Circus Cannon: Drink Of Sleep (1268719 Records DK) [Paul Hutchings]

I know little about London outfit Circus Cannon. According to their Facebook biog they are ‘four idiots who got together to make unreasonably loud psychedelic rock’. Well, I’m not sure about the idiot label but this latest three track EP certainly soars into the astral plane with loud psychedelic rock. Opening song Stranded weaves its way around you, plenty of nice effects, reverb, shimmering guitar work and faraway vocals.

In Drink Of Sleep, the band maintain their record of releasing an EP ever year, the first being Clown Cave in May 2016, and the most recent Ashmedai in July 2019. If you enjoy this type of music, then there is little here not to like. Business Talk is the shortest track, an enjoyable instrumental that provides a laid-back vibe in contrast to the closing song Witch’s Haunt, a retro style track that circles the 1970s. By all accounts, Circus Cannon’s live shows are a chaotic. Maybe one day we shall see it for ourselves again. Until then, content yourself with three tracks that show their worth. 7/10

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