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Monday 29 June 2020

Reviews: Wounded Cross, Chapfallen, Groom Lake, Fight The Tornado (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Wounded Cross: Our Future Is Dead (Self Released)

This is an odd one... Rugby based band Wounded Cross are something of a local legend playing a grand total of 27 gigs since their inception in 2014 supporting the likes of The Skull, Ohhms, Witchsorrow, Kaine. However the band are no-more so the aptly titled Our Future Is Dead is both their first and last album, collecting their songs together in one place as a testament to their legacy, and more importantly I guess something to show that they actually existed in the future. They say in their pr surrounding this album that they never really fitted in with any of the bands they played with and on the back of this album you can sort of hear why. Musically the band draw from NWOBHM, thrash and doom, with every song slightly stylistically different to the last, though final number Cosmic Annihilation is very much a doom song.

The tracks here are very rough and ready, deliberately so as the band wanted to leave them as they were unpolished and demo-like. With the numerous influence swirling it's hard to categorize the band (a nightmare for reviewers) but it does mean there is a uniqueness about them. If I were to make comparisons I'd say bands such as Mercyful Fate and Angel Witch due to the proto-thrash/doom sound, pessimistic lyrics and the 'theatrical' delivery of the vocalist. But also a hint of Faith No More due to the quirkiness factor. The singer does have a similar affliction to Ozzy where from a technical standpoint he is not the best singer but for the type of music he fits well. Shadowplay ramps up the drama, Ascension is all about that riff, Ashes brings a bit of melodic tenderness as does the proggy Tainted Legacy. Outside of the Rugby music scene Wounded Cross may not be known but these nine tracks collect their musical endeavours together in remembrance of what could have been. An interesting footnote from the UK underground metal scene. 6/10

Chapfallen: The Art Of War (Self Released)

Despite rumours of it's demise the UK metalcore scene is still bursting to the gunnels, perhaps it's the perennial shitstorm that seems to be the UK at the moment that inspires this aggressive often emotional style of music. I've said before that it's not what I normally listen to but I can appreciate it as a genre as influential as grunge bringing together that mix of classic metal stylings with both death metal grunt and hardcore anger. Chapfallen are from Stoke-On-Trent and they say themselves that their name is their message, they focus very much on mental wellbeing (suicide being the biggest killer of men under 45) using their music as a cathartic release against the sometimes (more often recently) miserable times that people have to endure. The band have two vocalists (another pet peeve of mine) but both of their voices blend well both giving growls and screams and the music flawlessly mixes metalcore rage with groove metal bounce (A Revelation).

The first two tracks Fugue and Iconoclast show what to expect from Chapfallen the former being a more melodic number with some nifty lead breaks while the latter is a lot more punishing (especially the drumming). Now as is cometime customary with the metalcore bands that evolve out of their genre bracket Chapfallen bring ambience and haunting female vocals from Olivia Wilkes on Liminal Presence which is a track aimed at that catharsis mentioned earlier, placing it in the middle of four ragers is a great idea as it gives them a depth. The Art Of War is a tempestuous record with as much ferocious riffage and affecting lyrics as you could want. 7/10

Groom Lake: Fallen Earth (Self Released)

Yet more metalcore this time from Brighton as Groom Lake take their shot at the genre originated by bands like Hatebreed, Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall and Atreyu, however Groom Lake owe much more to bands like Northlane, Architects and While She Sleeps with the huge technical riffs that many may call djent but really is still metalcore due to the huge breakdowns and the duality in the vocals. In a marked difference from Chapfallen much of the hardcore influence here has dissipated replaced instead with electronic beeps and bleats and the progressive sounds of bands like Meshuggah. It's an EP full of palm muted guitar playing, huge grooves, dexterous playing but also some brilliant loud/quiet dynamics vocally as you get verses that roar at full extreme metal tilt and choruses that saw with angsty cleans.

There's a clear Unearth influence on Unearthed (weird that) while there is also the more post-hardcore ambience cutting through the antagonistic tracks such as Someone's Son. This debut EP was recorded at Bandit Studios with producer Jonny Renshaw (Devil Sold His Soul, Blood Youth, Dream State) and he has lent Groom Lake's thumpingly modern metal assault a clarity and volume that makes an impression for the crunching Titan's Teeth, the furious Leech while No Relief is a bit more melodic and anthemic leading into the final number on this 7 track EP the excellently executed Grave (spot the BFMV influence here). Fiercely modern and full of technical skill Fallen Earth is a brilliant EP from these Brighton heavies. 8/10

Fight The Tornado: Maelstrom Of Thought (Self Released)

Fight The Tornado is basically a solo release from vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Jonny Young who along with Lindzi North has written, performed and produced this record after leaving their previous band Curse Of Dawn. It's very D.I.Y with the kitchen sink thrown into every song including symphonic touches, electronic bleeps, djent grooves and even rap metal, this makes things very odd to listen too, varying wildly between various genres. However the major issue I have with this debut record are the vocals with both Lindzi and Jonny falling flat with their clean voices, though the harsh screams are ok. I really struggled with this record, it's all over the place musically and when that is coupled with the jarring vocals I was reaching for the off after the obligatory two listens we give any album. 2/10

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