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Tuesday 16 June 2020

Reviews: Mordred, Elegis, Solaris, Lined (Paul H, Rich, Paul S & Matt)

Mordred: Volition EP (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

One of the crossover thrash pioneers, Mordred originally formed in 1984, releasing three albums and an EP before splitting in 1994. Often cited as a band ahead of its time, their first album Fools Game in 1989 blended thrash, funk, and metal with DJ Pause on the turntables, and spawned the MTV favourite Every Day’s A Holiday. Their second album In This Life was released in 1991 also received many plaudits unlike third release The Next Room which saw the band move to a Faith No More style sound. 2013 saw the band reform, the line-up including five of the original In This Life members minus drummer Gannon Hall who was replaced by Jeff Gomes of Fungo Mungo. It’s this line-up that now returns with their new EP, Volition. Mordred 2020 is Scott Holderby on vocals, guitarists James Sanguinetti and Danny White, Art Liboon on bass, Aaron (Pause) Vaughn on keyboards, vocals, turntables, and drummer Jeff Gomes.

The band released Not For You a few weeks ago, causing a bit of a stir amongst the thrash sites around the world. It’s a catchy release, full of the old-style fusion but with plenty of fresh energy and impetus. A strong message about the ‘American Dream’, it’s a punchy, chaotic, and addictive song that features some chugging guitar, the typically dangerous jagged edges, and more power than a jumbo jet. Repeated plays will have you moving. This is followed by What Are We Coming To, a harrowing powerful statement about social inequality and incredibly relevant at the current time. A slow-moving hip-hop track, it’s a contrast to Love Of Money, the third track which sees singer Holderby in full flight, matched by some driving riffing and DJ Purse’s trademark turntable abuse. It’s unmistakably Mordred.

The Baroness brings this refreshingly enjoyable EP to an end, and whilst the groove is definitely old school, the freshness of the self-titled bastard sons of the Bay Area makes Volition one of the most welcomed EPs in a year which is rapidly turning into one of the biggest steaming turds in the last 100 years. With some fabulous artwork courtesy of Andy Pilkington’s Very Metal Art, this is a package well worth checking out. 7/10

Elegis: Kultus (Self Released) [Rich Oliver]

Poland is very much a hotspot for quality extreme metal acts with many successful bands or highly renowned bands emerging from the country. Another band to add to the ever growing list of excellent Polish extreme metal bands are Elegis who have suitably impressed with their second album Kultus. Elegis very much follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Behemoth and Hate with a sound that sits somewhere between black and death metal and a dark, epic and grandiose approach taken to their style of extreme metal. Elegis definitely have a brutal sound but there is an epic and atmospheric feel despite the brutality of the music with symphonic flourishes maintaining the epic feel throughout the album. The performances throughout are excellent with fantastic musicianship and precise playing. 

The production is also of excellent quality being very crisp and polished yet punchy. The album is comprised of eight songs (including an instrumental and an outro) and it starts as it means to go on with the dark symphonic intro of Apollyon Ave leading into some very brutal yet precise blackened death metal. The ferocity continues with I Am A Shadow Of Thorns which also incorporates some Eastern style melodies whilst my personal favourites Aeon Omega and Deus Arcana just level everything in their path. Kultus is a great album and prime example of Polish extreme metal. It may lack a certain degree of originality (bearing a lot of resemblance to bands such as Behemoth and Hate) but it is impossible to deny the quality of the music being offered here. I for one thoroughly enjoyed. 8/10

Solaris: Un Paese Di Musichette Mentre Fuori C’è La Morte (Bronson Records) [Paul Scoble]

There are many bands called Solaris, a quick Google search of the name will reveal a very long list. This Solaris are a four piece Noise Rock band based in Cesena in Italy. The band have released one album before Un Paese Di Musichette Mentre Fuori C’è La Morte in 2017’s L’Orizzonte Degli Eventi. The style of music on offer on Un Paese Di Musichette Mentre Fuori C’è La Morte (A Few Seconds Of Doubts And Endless Hesitations) is broadly Noise Rock, with a bit of sludgy doom and a little bit of nineties grunge as well.

The band do a good line in big slightly doomy rock riffs, often with some very pleasing melody lead guitar over the top. In most of the songs these big riffs are separated by softer sections, with clean guitar and a fairly minimalist approach to the arrangement. It’s in these softer, minimal and brooding sections that the nineties grunge influence is heard. There's definitely a similarity to Soundgarden and Alice In Chains in these softer sections, it goes once the band get bigger and heavier, but it definitely gives the album an interesting addition to the musical balance of the album. There is some very impressive guitar work on Un Paese Di Musichette Mentre Fuori C’è La Morte as well. The melody leads that go over most of the big riffs are nice and blues infused, and the album also boasts some very impressive solos as well, very melodic, lyrical and expressive. A lot of the songs on here have a fairly relaxed pacing, nothing is frenetic but there is a lot of energy, whilst keeping the feel leisurely and unhurried.

If I was going to find fault with Un Paese Di Musichette Mentre Fuori C’è La Morte, it would be in the song structures on offer here. Two of the tracks are very short, opener Podio is a fast blast of noise rock, while Maledetti is a short Post Rock instrumental, are both under 3 minutes. The 3 remaining, longer tracks all have the same basic structure. Big noise rock intro, everything drops down to the minimal, softer, grungy sound, then it builds back up to the big riffs for the chorus, and then return to the softer, minimal sound. This is then repeated two or three times before the song ends. It is in no way a bad structure, but having about 80% of the album fitting into this pattern, does start to feel a little bit too familiar by the time you have reached the end of the album.

Un Paese Di Musichette Mentre Fuori C’è La Morte is a very good album. Yes, I would have preferred a little more variation in the structures of the songs, but considering the strength of the songs individually, this is a minor quibble. Hopefully the band can add a little bit more complexity to the next album, as this would make their style of Noise rock really fly, but for the time being this is a very good album is definitely worth a listen. 7/10

Lined: Soulcrifice (Art Gates Records) [Matt Bladen]

Just as a heads up before I start the review. A lot of music fans rely heavily on a band's social media for information about them, as reviewers too it is nice to have the information all in one place. Unfortunately there is absolutely 0 information on Lined's Facebook page other than a picture of the band and "PURE F*CKING METAl" and the release date of this album, they do give a link to to their record label and after some searching you find out that Lined are melodic death metal band from Spain, more accurately the Basque country. Their self titled debut was released in 2009 and since then there have been a number of line-up changes in the band that has meant that after 11 years we get Soulcrifice as a follow up and as a summing up of the record it has everything you'd want from the thrashier end of the melo-death pool of influence big thundering blast beats and twin guitar harmonies are met with screamed vocals. The songs are slick and well produced allowing these anthems to be pit ready with influences of Dark Tranquillity as well as Pantera, and these can been seen in all of the band pictures, as well as on tracks such as the groovy The Reaper, the propulsive Rotten Society while the melodic elements creep in on Buried Alive. All in all Soulcrifice is a pretty decent melo-death album, it's just difficult to find out anything about it. 7/10

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