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Tuesday 9 June 2020

Reviews: Vega, Aversions Crown, Curse The Son, Tia Carrera (Paul H & Matt)

Vega: Grit Your Teeth (Frontiers Records) [Paul Hutchings]

Two years almost to the day since Vega released the excellent Only Human, the British melodic rockers return with their sixth album Grit Your Teeth. Now entering their second decade together, the band are tight and confident, walking the line between arrogant and belief with a sure footedness which demonstrates how they have matured since those early days of debut album Kiss Of Life. Witness the conviction on Man On A Mission, a stomping anthemic crowd pleaser which purrs from start to finish or the closing duo of How We Live and Done With Me, all power and self-belief.

Never a band to search for labels to wear, Vega took a few more risks than usual, focusing on the music that they wanted rather than trying to please anyone else. This strategy has worked well, opening with Blind, picking up on Man On A Mission and catching the stadium rock vibe with Don’t Fool Yourself Again. For much of the album Vega have grasped a harder edge than in recent times, with some driving guitar to compliment their clean and crisp sound that has become their trademark over the past ten years. Blending sweet harmonies with the powerful vocals of Nick Workman, Grit Your Teeth has a modern and vibrant sound whilst retaining the quality of previous releases. Utilizing the production skills of the Graves Brothers who have produced Asking Alexandria amongst others is a key reason why this album possesses a sharper edge, the melody blended with power. The musicianship is top class, the songs here fit neatly and with a massively impressive production, Grit Your Teeth may just be the best album that they have released so far. 8/10

Aversions Crown: Hell Will Come For Us All (Nuclear Blast) [Paul Hutchings]

Technical deathcore isn’t my favourite genre. Whilst the brutality comes with with a bruising malevolence as standard, it rarely ignites any passion. Picking up Hell Will Come For Us All was therefore a bit of a challenge. Australia has produced several high-profile bands in this genre, Thy Art Is Murder being possibly the highest profile. Add to the list Aversions Crown, who hail from Brisbane, and formed in 2009, issuing their debut self-titled EP in the same year. Three full length releases have followed, the most recent being Xenocide in 2017. The band have changed vocalists a few times, with Tyler Miller making his debut on this album alongside drummer Jayden Mason and guitarists Michael Jeffery and Chris Cougan.

Hell Will Come For Us All is 37 minutes of explosive deathcore which rarely lets up from breakneck speed. Blisteringly fast drumming, guttural vocals and shredding guitars combine although the band do use breaks in tempo to slow matters down, such as opening track The Soil, which changes from 100 mph aggression to calmer passages with schizophrenic ease. The rage is intense, Caught In The System a muscular aggressive assault which piledrives with thick riffing, blast beats and Miller’s wire wool delivery intense and focused. The title track dominates the middle section of the album, a massively volatile and unstable piece of work which is laced with broken glass, such is the danger with which it is delivered. Plunging breakdowns, jagged riffing, and a massive sound; it all adds up to quite an album. There’s a desolate feel about Sorrow Never Sleeps, an edge which creates the most impressive song amongst these works. It may not be an album that I’ll return to often, but the power and passion that is contained within this ferocious fourth long player is savage enough to rip flesh from the bones. 7/10

Curse The Son: Excruciation (Ripple Music) [Matt Bladen]

I'm going to try not to mention the S Word in this review despite them being the biggest influence on this fourth album by New Haven trio. I suppose you can also say that they are influenced by Candlemass on the slower doomier sounds on the crawling heaviness of Novembre where Ron Vanacore channels Johan Längquist, though on Disaster In Denial has the sonic wooziness of Soundgarden and sees Vanacore reach those high notes of Cornell, a trick repeated on Worry Garden. Categorized as a stoner/doom band, they pay homage to their influences from the brilliantly titled Suicide By Drummer to Phoenix Risin' they never stray to far outside of the bands that made this style of music what it is today. Oh hell with it, Curse The Son sound like Sabbath, if you like Sabbath then you'll like Excruciation, if not (what's wrong with you) then you won't get anything out of Curse The Son's blatant homage. 5/10

Tia Carrera: Tried And True (Small Stone Records) [Matt Bladen]

Named (in a misnomer) after the 'mega babe' actress who played Cassandra and stole Wayne's heart in iconic rock/slacker movie Wayne's World, as well as taking the lead in Relic Hunter an early 2000's action adventure series. I was a little disappointed that there was no covers of Ballroom BlitzWhy You Wanna Break My HeartFire or Touch Me from the film on this records. However what we do get is 7 tracks of heavy psych based in the blues with lots of sonic exploration from a classic power trio line up. You can imagine the band kicking out the jams in a blaze of tie-dye and kaleidoscopic colour, with the fuzzy bass and guitar from Curt Christenson (bass) and Jason Morales (guitar) rampages through 71 minutes of instrumental freak outs all anchored by the expressive drumming of Erik Conn. Keeping the old school sound the LP version is 5 tracks but on CD you get two elongated bonus numbers, Visitors and Early Purple, were previously only released on vinyl. Tried And True is the kind of exactly that, the music here is the sort of thing you'd listen to in the middle of the afternoon during Woodstock as the 'herbal' smoke fills the air, the transcendent journey through the psych rock ether. 6/10   

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