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Wednesday 26 August 2020

Reviews: Exist, The Devil's Trade, Venomous Concept, Tulkas (Paul S, Paul H, Liam & Lucas)

Exist: Egoiista (Prosthetic Records) [Paul Scoble]

Exist have, well, existed since 2010. The four piece made up of Max Phelps on Guitar and Vocals, Alex Weber on Bass and Vocals, Matthew Rossa on Guitar and Brody Taylor Smith on Drums. The band, who are based in Baltimore, have released 2 albums before Egoiista; So True, So Bound in 2017, and Sunlight in 2013. Exist play Progressive Metal, but it’s a little bit more complicated than simply Progressive Metal. The range of styles on this album is quite big, it takes in most of the styles that can be described as Progressive. So, we get a mid-paced fairly extreme Progressive Metal that shares quite a few similarities with more recent Ihsahn, where the vocals are harsh and the riffs are tight, complex but still flow nicely. A good example of this is the track Until The Storm Comes, which features some fantastic mid-paced prog riffs, its taut and driving and flows beautifully. The song does feature a softer part (I’ll come back to this later) with beautifully layered clean vocals and a great guitar solo, which is another thing that this album does very well, there are some very technical, but also very tuneful solos on Egoiista. The band also do some very pleasing parts that are faster and closer to Technical Death Metal that remind me a little of the band Spawn Of Possession, fast, tight, intricate riffs that have huge amounts of energy and drive. 

Spotlight’s Glow has one of these sections in it and it really adds to the track. The way different styles are mixed together on this album is another of Egoiista’s strengths, the band move between different styles seamlessly, mixing parts that shouldn’t really fit together, and make it sound like the most natural, effortless thing in the world. The two main heavy styles, mid-paced Progressive Metal and fast tight Technical Death Metal fit together pretty well, the real curve ball is in the softer and less aggressive parts. When Exist go for a softer, less metallic sound, things seem to head back to the early nineteen seventies. Musically the softer parts sound quite similar to Post Rock, clean guitar and bass with simple drumming, it’s taut and controlled and has a fairly neutral feel to it, the clean sections are made by the vocals. On the softer sections, most of the vocals are layered harmonies that are smooth in the extreme and feel to me like they came strait out of the seventies Prog Rock and Hard Rock scene. There is a similarity to ELO, Queen and early Peter Gabriel era Genesis. 

This blissed out, softer style gets a complete song to itself in Siblings Born Into Different Dimensions, which is soft, dreamlike, ethereal and in some ways psychedelic. The track, which comes about halfway through this album, acts as a pause, a brief respite from the more aggressive and nasty styles on the album. In some ways it’s like a palette cleanser separating the two halves of the album. It’s a genuinely lovely track, an oasis of calm before the album gets heavy again. Another place where there is a very effective softer section is on the last track Amongst The Trees. The softer section in question is beautifully serene and relaxed and reminded me of the early Queen song White Queen (As It Began), and is a very effective and beautiful way to end the song and album. I’ve written about the different, often disparate elements that make up this album, but one of the most impressive aspects is how this is all mixed together. The transitions between styles has been handled so well. In some places the songs go from tight and aggressive Progressive Metal, into a soft section with layered harmonies and back into Technical Death Metal, without anything feeling forced or out of place. 

Transitions between very different sounding parts happen totally naturally, and in many ways this is the most skilled and accomplished part of the album. Egoiista is a fantastic album. It’s complex and in places difficult, but also manages to be extreme, intelligent, ethereal, beautiful and challenging. There has already been a lot of very good progressive rock and metal released this year, Egoiista will stand out in what is a very impressive and very packed scene. Stunning album, highly recommended. 9/10      

The Devil’s Trade: The Call Of The Iron Peak (Season Of Mist) [Paul Hutchings]

The Devil’s Trade is the solo work of Hungarian Dávid Makó, who provides vocals, guitars, and banjo. The Call Of The Iron Peak marks his debut for Season Of Mist. So, what is the Iron Peak? According to the blurb, it is a mystical place where one once found his long-lost peace, total silence, and home. Heaven?

Once you immerse yourself into this album that makes sense. Each track on this album contains deeply personal themes, as Makó delves deep into the darkness, his doom-laden folk echoing with melancholic elements. Whether it be with guitar, his strong vocals, banjo, or the synths that add atmosphere and the call for one to be at peace. Be it on the dark, emotional strains of Dead Sister (featuring Rita Szabó, Kornél Szabó on Triangulum), the harrowing No Arrival or the eerie Expelling Of The Crafty Ape, this album shivers under the intense sentiments that echo throughout. There is nothing derivatively metal about the album, and yet the atmospheric tension and feelings provide a crushing heaviness which does not require pounding riffs and drums.

Delving deep into his roots, immersing the folk of the Appalachians, the tales of Hungarian and Transylvanian tradition, Makó is calling for you to share his rituals of loves and hopes lost and found along the pilgrimage of his. The standout piece on the album is undoubtedly Dreams From The Rot, a near eight-minute piece which evokes dark thoughts. This isn’t going to appeal to that many. Exquisitely crafted and self-produced to a high standard, this is an album that needs to be listened to in a darkened room with the only light provided by candles. Time indeed to answer the call of the Iron Peak. 7/10

Venomous Concept: Politics Vs The Erection (Season Of Mist) [Liam True]

Grindcore has now become synonymous with short bursts of songs either just under or over a minute long, and to most people has become a bit of a laughing stock in the scene due to its short songs, unintelligible vocals and racing up and down the fretboard to produce the noise of Satan. Venomous Concept does fall into these stereotypes, but in the process shows that Grindcore is full of surprises. Between the blast beats of drummer Dany Herrera are the soaring solos from Shane Embury on guitar (both current members of Grindcore pioneers Napalm Death). While your mind is still being attacked you have the beautiful sounding bass of Danny Liker and the vicious feral sounding vocals of Kevin Sharp (both from previous band Brutal Truth).

Across 13 songs that span just over 34 minutes, the band unleashed the pent-up anger from inside, and looking at the album art and some of the lyrical content, it’s aimed toward a certain person of political power, not that he deserves a name drop. Through the songs, each last in between 53 seconds and nearly four minutes they drop the powerful album to change the landscape of Grindcore forever by grabbing the rule book and ripping it up before your very eyes. If there’s an extreme metal album you need to hear so far this year, make this top of your list. You won’t be disappointed. 8/10

Tulkas: The Beginning Of The End (Noble Demon) [Lucas Tuckwood]

When you say the word perfection, no two people will think of the same thing. Some might think of a movie they love, or how to spend a perfect Sunday. After today however, I know my answer will be The Beginning Of The End by Tulkas. 

This EP is a five-strong salvo of thrash missiles that serve to utterly annihilate the listener, delivering a neck snapping payload that spares no one, and leaving nothing but devastation in its wake. I don’t know what they’ve been putting in the water over in Mexico, but damn is it potent. The opener, O.G.C, lulls you in with some mid-tempo riffage, before exploding into a hail of machine gun drumming. Next is Devastation By Greed, yet more blisteringly fast thrash, incorporating a more anthemic chorus. Extinction- yet more thrash, accompanied by a magnificent solo that dances between the high frets frets with laser precision and blinding speed. 

Title track? You guessed it, more fucking thrash! This time however, the thundering riffs and blasting drums give way to a smooth, jazzy interlude that incorporates some magnificent bass playing from Mr Mendoza, which serves to sweeten the inevitable payoff riff, as the hellish symphony roars back into life. The final track, a cover of Metallica’s The Shortest Straw, blows the original out of the water to such a degree I don’t think I can listen to the old one ever again. Maybe it’s the presence of an actual bassline. Ever present are Mr Trapero’s jaw dropping vocals, as he bellows out some truly evil bars that work in perfect tandem with the crushing instrumental work, and in the process creating undisputed neck-snapping perfection. 

If you’re looking for the best track, throw a dart, because each song is a bona-fide masterpiece. Tulkas have managed to pack more energy into a short EP than most bands put out in their whole careers. I can’t recommend this album enough. I wonder if they’ll start selling patches soon. 10/10

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