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Friday 10 July 2020

Reviews: Static X, Tokyo Motor Fist, Urzah, Left To Suffer (Simon, Rich, Matt & Liam)

Static-X: Project Regeneration Vol. 1 (Otsego Entertainment Group) [Simon Black]

This is a difficult one. When Wayne Static died in 2014, most assumed that Static-X would be history, especially given that he had fired the original members of the band and replaced them with the hired guns from his solo Pighammer project. That original line-up reviving the band with a new singer feels like cashing in, but having Static’s live replacement wear a mask of the dead band progenitor feels downright macabre. Add to the fact that this album unreleased material from the past with new man Zer0 only supplying backing tracks, and you have a very strange listening experience indeed. I have to be honest – they aren’t a band I’ve ever seen or listened to, which is odd as this sort of groovy Industrial Metal is right up my street. There’s also guest turns from Al Jourgensen to wet your Industrial whistle….

From the get go Hollow kicks things up with high-octane and solid Industrial groove. Worth Dyin' For take the groove, bounces the riffs across the speakers and brutally kicks you in the teeth with the first half of the chorus and perplexes you with its surprisingly melodic second half, pulling those teeth back out from where they had ended up in our gullet and leaving you thoroughly punch-drunk. Those distinctive vocals take on a really spooky feeling under the circumstances and more than once I find myself looking over my shoulder. None more so than single All These Years, with its pile-driving riff and haunting voice sends shivers down my spine. I also defy anyone not to tap along some part of their anatomy to Terminator Oscillator.

With its catchy synth intro that would work in a fashionable club for the ‘not we’, crazy samples, full on industrial riff’s hammering you into the ground and a vocal assault like the proverbial pan-galactic gargle blaster, My Destruction is nothing short of brilliant. There are touches of the more Nu-Metal/Alternative sound which is the other side of the Static-X coin, but they don’t dominate. Something Of My Own fits in this groove to an extent, with the more catchy vocal lines and tinkling keyboard riff takes me back to the early noughties. Album closer Dead Souls is the only other track in this mould, and is an odd and weak way to close the album after such a in your face set of preceding tracks, although lyrically it makes sense.

Given that the material on here goes back over a number of earlier album sessions, the work the band have done to fill in the gaps and mix to a consistent modern production sounds is formidable and is up there for album of the year in terms of production quality. The more heavily sampled and programmed sound of earlier days is the template, and regardless of the age of the recording it’s had this treatment consistently, to create a very polished and rounded feeling. When diving in the bin for leftovers the risk is that end products sounds exactly like that. Nothing could be further from the truth. This sounds like a reformed, revitalised band with something to say. Absolutely superb. 10/10

Tokyo Motor Fist: Lions (Frontiers Records) [Rich Oliver]

I think most of us wished time travel was possible to escape the hell that is 2020. Unfortunately time travel is still the work of fiction but if you did fancy transporting yourself back to the 1980’s then you could just listen to the new album from Tokyo Motor Fist. Tokyo Motor Fist were formed by singer Ted Poley of Danger Danger and guitarist Steve Brown of Trixter out of their long running friendship and they are joined by bassist Greg Smith and drummer Chuck Burgi who have played with some of the greats such as Rainbow, Blue Oyster Cult, Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper. The credentials are all there for a great hard rock band and with album number two Lions the band definitely deliver the goods.

Tokyo Motor Fist play the catchy and anthemic sort of melodic hard rock that transports you back to the neon lights of the L.A. sunset strip in the height of the hair metal movement in the 1980’s. This is a very feel good album which is very polished, very slick and very well performed with some very solid songwriting. The songs are catchy and the choruses are huge with monster anthems such as Monster In Me, Winner Takes All and Mean It sitting alongside softer songs like Look Into Me and the title track.

Lions is a very solid and very enjoyable yet slightly unremarkable album. There is so much of this retro sounding 80’s styled melodic hard rock at the moment that unless you are a die hard fan of this genre it is virtually impossible to distinguish one band from the other. Though what Tokyo Motor Fist do they do extremely well and considering the band is made up of people who all lived through that era and played in these classic bands they do have a bit more to them that a lot of the younger bands coming out and emulating an old school sound. Lions is flawed in its lack of originality but it doesn’t try and pretend to be anything other than a great hard rock album ripe with nostalgia. 7/10

Urzah: S/T (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

Hailing from the muddy shores of Bristol Urzah's debut EP is three songs of riff heavy stoner with the crushing slowness and aggression of sludge. Their influences are Sumac, The Sword and Red Fang, meaning that Urzah sound like an amalgamation of all three of those bands. The kickoff of this album is Phantoms In The Fire over 5 minutes of shouty sludgy metal with the guitars distorted and reverebed to hell and back as the rhythm section drives a tough groove, it's a meaty way of opening the record up that unfolds into some sprawling lead guitar exploration as that relentless riff doesn't give up. Next up we have Ashes Of War which is a bit faster adding more stoner and doom elements where it breaks down in the middle section. Both of these songs benefit the rough edged production of this EP harking back to those late-90's stoner and grunge bands. Now you're probably thinking, another stoner/sludge band, so what? Heard it before! Well on the final track Allure Adrift the psychedelic rumblings are counterpointed by some hypnotic female vocals, leading into the throbbing finally with some great rhythmic drumming. It hints at Urzah expanding their sound on further releases and sounds like this may mean that Urzah don't get overlooked. 7/10

Left To Suffer: A Year Of Suffering (Self Released) [Liam True]

2020 is the year for Metalcore/Deathcore bands to really prove their worth and stand their ground. And Left To Suffer have just upped the ante by pushing the boundaries on how heavy we can go. Nowadays with Deathcore you usually think of the bigger bands like Thy Art, Whitechapel and Angelmaker. But Left To Suffer have taken every element of Deathcore and just turned it all up to 11. The amount of absolute filth that spews forth from this record is unbelievable. From the down tuned guitars of Jacob Gordon & Jacob Higgs, the pounding bass of Christian Nowatzki and the controlled demolition explosive drums of Levi Dunn bring the record together in a way that no one knew we needed, but the sound we all wanted. It’s full of surprise guests from David Simonich of Signs Of The Swarm, Jacob Wallace from Cerebral Harvest/Brojob and CJ McCreery from previous band Lorna Shore/Signs Of The Swarm.

The three vocalists themselves are ungodly on their own, but on the same album it’s like opening pandora’s box and letting the demons rage hell on us. But the don’t even hold a candle toward lead vocalist Taylor Barber. The vocal ability of Barber is just phenomenal. His highs are soaring and his lows, well lets just just say on Wasted he’s the closest I've heard to hitting the fabled ‘Brown Note’. It’s a stupidly heavy album and just blows everything in the Deathcore scene this year out of the water. The passion and heart is all here, but so is everything else. It’s heavy. It’s nasty. And they’re here to slay. 9/10

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