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Monday 1 June 2020

Reviews: Sinister, Wild Souls, Evoker, Mountain Witch (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Sinister: Deformation Of The Holy Realm (Massacre Records) [Matt Bladen]

Dutch death metalists Sinister have been spreading their Satanic death metal for over 30 years and in that time they always remained true to the underground, becoming almost unsung heroes of the genre never really reaching the lofty heights of some of their contemporaries but carving out a niche as one of the originators of European OSDM. Deformation Of The Holy Realm is the bands 14th full length and it begins with the swelling orchestral intro The Funeral March which brings some Gothic choirs and a tolling bell that leads into the first rager the title track. From here it's a bludgeoning OSDM album with devastating blastbeats from Toep Duin and a filthy flesh ripping bass attack from Ghislain Van Der Stel.

It's a take-no-prisoners sound that will conjure aggressive pits when gigs come back to life. With a rhythm section that is absolutely relentless the more melodic and very technical lead playing of Michal Grall is sometimes welcome change in the songs structure as he explodes at various intervals much like Jeff Hannerman's dive bombs in those classic Slayer tracks. Above all the torrid musical rage there are of course vocals if you can call them that. Founding member Aad Kloosterwaard grunts and growls as if he's possessed, having been at the front of the band since their reformation in 2005 (previously their drummer). He is at full voice on the chunky Unbounded Sacrilege and Unique Death Experience with the more occult stylings of Scourged By Demons leading to some head ripping thrash. Punishing death metal, still killing the old way. 7/10

Wild Souls: Queen Of My Heart (Lions Pride Music)

Queen Of My Heart is the third album from Greek hard rockers Wild Souls. Now you can guess what style the band play from the band name, album title and record label but to satisfy the curiosity of the ones who can't guess. Wild Souls play melodic hard rock/AOR but with a bluesy base that reminds me of that MTV beating evolution of Whitesnake. Wild Souls have a particular affinity with ex-Whitesnake axman Doug Aldrich who has played on their previous record, so you can hear why tracks like Night Groove have a serious blues strut to them, though the title track is probably most indebted to David Coverdale.

The first word that comes to mind here is 'slick' the 80's flavours of the Bon Jovi-like Love Ain't No Lie (those keys), the throbbing, fist pumpers such as Ready To Rock and the melodic Nothing But Loving You and I Remember You which has a Foreigner vibe, all contribute to this record having an American polish to it. All of the instruments are bold and brassy and the voice is full of blue eyed soul. This record would have sat well with the bands brought up on the Sunset Strip or indeed on the GTA Vice City soundtrack, it suffers a little in the second half with more mid-paced numbers bunched together but if you devoured bands such as Whitesnake, Winger, Night Ranger or Dokken then Wild Souls will inspire memories of those days of spiky day-glo guitars, tight trousers and hot nights. How this translates in Kavala I don't know but on record at least Queen Of My Heart is rooted in the Western USA. 7/10

Evoker: Evil Torment (Blood Harvest Records)

Jesus Christ...not a great start with the cartoony thunder and lightning effect but happily things do improve on the rest of the opening track From The Depths which is Satan worshiping horror themed death metal similar in sound to Morbid Angel etc. This six tracker is a meaty little morsel with flesh ripping death that lacerates like a possessed woodchipper (there's a horror film idea). Before this they have released a demo in 2018 but here they have gone for the throat, you can hear the black metal influences on Old Evil (though more tolling bell isn't needed) while Shackled To The Grave has thrash metal tremolo that will break your wrist and a bit of noodling for balance. These two sounds are channeled through the death metal aggression across 6 tracks that will get your head banging away. Nothing new musically but enough to make you want to pit furiously, let your neighbours hear it and enjoy. 6/10

Mountain Witch: Extinct Cults (This Charming Man Records)

We often reference the phrase "Sabbath Worship" in this blog, but the opening riff of Capping Day is ridiculously close to the opening chords of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath that it takes the phrase to new heights. Luckily for them the remainder of the song sounds nothing like it, though it does retain that Sabbath stoner sound that so many bands aim for. Mountain Witch are shamelessly retro influenced unit that play with the occult throughout, referencing those same B-Movie sound tracks that Uncle Acid and Electric Wizard delve into so deeply. The band state that Extinct Cults comes "after four years of conspirative plotting" and with tracks such as Worship You bringing the ringing 70's doom of BOC, as Man Is Wolf To Man keeps things pacy with some choppy riffing. It's produced with the retro effect in mind but never goes into blatant copying, though Capping Day comes close. Witchy, doomy, rocking from Germany. 6/10

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