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Monday 15 June 2020

Reviews: Vile Creature, Protest The Hero, Atavist, Cadence Noir (Paul S, Dr Claire, Matt & Paul H)

Vile Creature: Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm (Prosthetic Records) [Paul Scoble]

Vile Creature have been making huge and heavy noises since 2014. The duo, made up of Vic on Drums and KW on Guitar and Bass and both on vocals duties, hail from Canada. The band released their debut album, A Steady Descent Into The Soil in 2015, an EP called A Pessimistic Doomsayer in 2016, the fantastic Sci-Fi concept album Cast Of Static And Smoke in 2018. All the bands releases were put together into a compilation album when they signed for Prosthetic Records in last years Preservation Rituals, which I reviewed for Musipedia Of Metal and got a 9 out of ten, and considering you get 2 albums and an EP was incredibly good value. As this is Vile Creatures first new album for Prosthetic and as there is quite a lot of noise being made about the band, there is a lot of expectation for this album; is it as good as people are clearly hoping it will be? Let’s see:

The album opens with Harbinger Of Nothing, the song crashes into life with a huge, sludgy riff, powerful drums and some very angry harsh vocals. The tempo is slow but driving and purposeful, it’s one of those tempos that makes keeping your head still an impossibility. There is a section where everything gets much looser and more expansive, the driving nature of the song loosens off for a while, before Vile Creature build everything back up again and the huge opening riff returns, and we are back in huge and very heavy territory again till the end. When The Path Is Unclear starts with slow and very echoey clean guitar and harsh vocals. This section is disturbing, dissonant and in a strange way feels minimal. The track then increases in hugeness, heaviness and drive. This song is all about building from the minimal feel at the beginning of the track and making it bigger and more and more intense. The last couple of minutes are almost ridiculously heavy and huge.

You Who Has Never Slept opens with a great drum pattern, before Guitars and and harsh vocals come in. This is probably the most uptempo track on the album. The track is big and heavy, and has an unstoppable feeling to how it evolves. This feels like it has a certain amount of hardcore sensibility to it, live it would probably inspire one hell of a pit. The drumming is a little bit reminiscent of Children Of The Grave by Black Sabbath, this is a fantastic piece of uptempo doom. So, we now come to the first of the two title tracks. Glory, Glory! Is very different to what I would have expected from Vile Creature, as it is mainly a Gospel Spiritual. The track features clean, twangy guitar with layers of clean, choral vocals. As the song develops they add more and more layers until it feels huge and lush, and incredibly beautiful (this track is as beautiful as the front cover of the album is vile). The track reminds me of some of the Spiritual music used on the soundtrack of the Cohen Brothers film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? It sounds like music you would normally hear in a cathedral, stunning!

Apathy Took Helm! opens with the last few notes of the previous track before the opening riff explodes out from the beautiful vocals turning everything huge, heavy and nasty. We get a massive riff, but that clean twangy Guitar is back playing melodies over the huge riff in a way that reminded me of the band Opium Lord. As the song develops some of the choral vocals from Glory, Glory! are added, it’s very subtle at first, but more choral elements are added to the huge sludge as the track moves on. The song gets bigger and faster as it progresses until the track comes to a huge ending with lots of choral elements giving this track a truly original and unique feel. Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! is a fantastically original and ingenious album. The band have answered all of that expectation with something really special. The mix of Sludgy doom with post metal elements gave the album a very interesting sound, and the addition of choral spirituals takes this to another level. The album is full of great, hummable riffs and rhythms and great vocals, but by adding the amazing choral vocals lifts this from being a great album to being something original, groundbreaking and important. So, yes this is every bit as good as people were hoping it would be, in fact this album has massively exceeded the huge expectations that were placed on Vile Creature. Fantastic album, highly recommended. 9/10

Protest The Hero: Palimpsest (Spinefarm Records) [Dr Claire Hanley]

The impending release of Palimpsest marks the end of a challenging time for Protest The Hero. A full length follow up to the 2013 studio album Volition was already well overdue, when in 2018 news of frontman Rody Walker’s struggle with vocal issues further delayed progress. Thankfully, the wait is finally over as the progressive Canadian powerhouse make their much anticipated return. An atmospheric introduction with a twang of all things Western sets the tone for The Migrant Mother, an opening track of substantial stature. Intricate riffs and innovative drum patterns dominate from the outset, showcasing the level of technical ability and proficiency in song writing that Protest The Hero are known for. It is truly mind-blowing how the band can create such tracks that flow so seamlessly yet comprise of distinctive, dynamic components. Building on the groove laid down by the preceding song, The Canary is every bit as anthemic. Punchy and uplifting, every instrument is perfectly positioned in the mix to create a fist-clenching, voice-splitting gem of a track.

Instantly catchy, From The Sky, demands attention with yet more quirky tangents to the main guitar lines that shift your focus as you traverse through the song. It encapsulates a more laboured and purposeful aura yet still delivers as a rousing track. The sudden pause leading into a stripped back piano and string section is exquisite. An incredibly powerful moment allowing for reflection on the subject matter, with drummer Michael Ieradi pounding the kit, while Rody unleashes those soaring highs - the minute wavering in the notes accentuating the sincerity of his performance. After another opportunity for quiet contemplation during instrumental track, Harborside, the momentum is kicked up a notch. All Hands features the signature offerings of a metric tonne of groove and choppy, jarring riffs but this time they’re at odds with the vocals - on different paths, set to collide spectacularly. It’s enticingly unpredictable, unnerving, uncomfortable, and expertly executed.

With a killer introduction, The Fireside, gets off to a solid start. A track with more grit to it than much of the other material, darker tone riffs greet the listener in the mid-section. The backing vocals are a welcome addition, and provide further texture to the track, but the presence of the faster ‘machine gun’ vocals doesn’t mesh as well. Considering the calibre of the preceding tracks, Soliloquy appears comparatively bland but develops a real sense of prominence towards the end, with the incorporation of a string section and choral elements. Reverie and Little Snakes pull the listener back from the darkness to signal the return of the more upbeat tracks, invoking that classic heightened state of alertness. The duelling guitar work between Luke Hoskin and Tim MacMillar is especially impressive during the former. The dominance of the bass from this point of the album is also noteworthy, which is particularly prominent throughout Gardenias and the closing track, Rivet; both of which also showcase the extent of Rody’s vocal range. An album of contrast and precision, Palimpsest kept me thoroughly transfixed. 9/10

Atavist: III - Absolution (Candlelight Records) [Matt Bladen]

After a long 10 years UK death/doom band Atavist returned from the murky shadows of hiatus in 2017 and have now convened to follow up their 2007 release II: Ruined with four new tracks that culminate in 58 minutes of devastatingly heavy death/doom as the songs here crawl at a glacial pace as they evoke the sounds of funeral doom, deafening drone but also with sheer ferocity of death metal. Self-Realisation shows this with it's tolling bell and long passages of just dense doom, despite being the shortest track here, a mere 9 minutes, it could be the most affecting on a record the band describe as "A soundtrack that travels through the depths of human emotion, from losing everything, mourning loss, realising your own mind, right through to finding your way again."

So what you have here is a musical journey for the sign of the times, many across the world are dealing with their own personal demons along with much mourning happening, so when you listen to III: Absolution it hits home just that little bit more in the world of pandemic and protest are all that feature in the news. The tremolo picked riffs and general six string ambience coming from Winterfylleth's guitarist Chris Naughton, who also gives provides this record with his extreme metal vocal style along with Toby Bradshaw. The dense, devastating mournful low end comes from bassist Shane Ryan and drummer Callum Cox who give a resonance to the longer, melancholic tracks such as the beautiful closing number Absolution.

As well as the traditional instrumentation the record also features the string expertise of cellist Jo Quail (solo artist, Myrkur, My Dying Bride) with Winterfylleth alumni violinist/violist Bianca Blezard and Mark Deeks also providing the atmospheric synths for those additional doses of despondency. III; Absolution is a staggering return to form from a band who have been silent long enough. With the world at its most broken sometimes you have to take stock with music that cuts to the bone and wish for your own absolution, stunning. 9/10

Cadence Noir: A Reckless Endeavour (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

Cadence Noir’s blend of Punk, Thrash, Folk Metal, Celtic Rock and Pop had flirted with me when they won the North Wales M2TM final in June 2018 and subsequently played on the New Blood Stage that year. I interviewed the band before their appearance but admit I was unable to catch much of their show. Sitting in the garden on another baking hot lockdown Sunday in South Wales listening to this second EP from the UK Gothic Folk 'n' Rollers, I admit I hadn’t been paying perhaps as much attention as needed to the first listen, as I usually allow songs in any review to do their thing on the first sweep before I take a deeper dive. Then track four Down The Park arrived. The opening lines went “ Tell me why must we hate, why can’t we play, like we used to when we were all in the park, ‘cause when you’re young there’s no colour, there’s no difference or another”. As I listened, I’d been scanning the news, soaking up the reports from the USA as rioting, looting, the arrival of the National Guard on the streets and protests in support of #Blacklivesmatter occurred not just in the States but in other countries. Timing is everything and this track, with its simple message coincided with the tragic scenes in America and the latest utterings from the orange buffoon.

A Reckless Endeavour features three brand new songs, a re-recording of the band’s 2014 single My Place, their 2015 single, the title track A Reckless Endeavour and a rather bizarre song which the band teased was “Dave, the whole Dave and nothing but the Dave”. This turns out to be a four-minute drum solo called Dave’s Turnip Tart, and that’s all I’m going to say about that track. The opening duo, Weighing Owls and Hammered And Sickened may come across as jovial and upbeat but the dark subject matter ensures hesitation. The combination of Emma Bennett’s violin and the driving guitar work of Adrian Perrie and Nick Chamberlain inevitably draw comparisons with The Dropkick Murphys and The Pogues, although there is plenty of differences; this is not a tribute band.

I’ll state here and now that bands with fiddles rarely do much for me and although I’m not wild about this EP there is plenty to enjoy if you like the Celtic flavours which run through this release. My Place, first written in 2007 has an honest raw quality about it, the band clearly honing their skills during their first decade. It’s tight and gels neatly. Closing track Hey Yeah has an earthy quality and is well positioned with the violin working well in the final song. Cadence Noir’s line up is completed by Tom Smith on bass and David Budge on drums and percussion. The band don’t take themselves that seriously despite their subject matter. It’s an EP that their die-hard fans will love and that those who don’t know much about the band are probably going to be reluctant to spend much time exploring. I’d certainly suggest getting into it with a couple of spins before making your mind up. 7/10

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