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Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Reviews: Ingested, Atræ Bilis, Robbie Krieger, The Human Veil (Charlie/Dr Claire, Paul S, Paul H & Matt)

Ingested: Where Only Gods May Tread (Unique Leader Records) [Charlie & Dr Claire]

A highly anticipated release from the self proclaimed Mancunian Slam Kings, Where Only Gods May Tread is a triumphant proclamation of intent. It’s Ingested but not as you know it.

Bludgeoning from the get go, the pounding drums of Follow The Deceiver beats your ears into oblivion. Laced with classic slam rhythms, it’s a song built with precision, airtight and calculated. There’s no room for sloppy slam riffs here. Riffs that tease and excite the listener build anticipation for what’s to come. No Half Measures is an even more high octane offering with relentless blasts and double kicks from resident Welshman Lyn Jeffs. Matching Lyn’s ferocity Jay Evans, gives a stunning vocal performance, showcasing the full extent of his jaw dropping range. Even at this early stage in the record, you can already tell the boys are bringing their A-game; introducing more melodic components, their evolution is clear. This track is certainly going to be a crowd pleaser - with tasty hooks acting as an unavoidable invitation to pit yourself into a frenzy.

Commanding instant presence, Impending Dominance exudes a steadfast arrogance; a tone that Ingested have mastered on this album. Guitarwork from Sam Yates and Sean Hynes on this track is sublime, in particular the way the bending riff meshes perfectly with the onslaught of drums. Picking up low end duties for the album is Dominic Grimard, who sustains the steamroller of a track that is The List. It’s a much slower paced, lumbering song, that contrasts with the band’s established sound, and yet is no less impactful. Taking the tempo down further, The Burden Of Our Failures sees the first guest vocal of the album from Vincent Bennett. It beefs up the mid-level vocals but feels superfluous - it’s nothing the band couldn’t achieve on their own. Clean guitar lines mimic the returning motif established during Impending Dominance; a recurring theme throughout the record, showing that the band have really thought about the album as a cohesive whole.

Dead Seraphic Forms is an absolute banger, the epitome of savage and swagger. So much so, Dr Claire attempted to start a pit on the sofa while we listened. Several times. It’s a memorable track, and certainly one of the highlights of the album. It contrasts dramatically with the next track Another Breath, which opens with a sombre tone echoing the motif. With guest vocals from Kirk Windstein, this track was initially jarring as it strays far from the norm. Yet on repeat listens, and hearing it in the context of the album, it's a real grower. The cleaner vocals are a definite marmite moment, but the musicianship surrounding it is unmistakably genius.

Following this, Black Pill somewhat pales in comparison. While still being a solid track, it’s got a heavy deathcore influence (courtesy of guest vocals from Matt Honeycutt) that falls flat among some of the more innovative material on this record. Forsaken In Desolation features some seriously tasty bass action, and some really anthemic guitarwork that inspires movement. The layered vocals are a particularly novel element. Most surprising on the record, is the final track. Weighing in at a hefty 9 minutes and 17 seconds, Leap Of The Faithless is a brave inclusion. But it pays off. Showcasing the combined talent of each member, it really adds to the theme of this album - Ingested mean business. Moving from killer riff to killer riff, to an epic solo midway through, to a reprisal of the motif, ending with an ethereal outro that captures a transcendent feeling. This song is a masterpiece nobody expected.

Where Only Gods May Tread exudes self-esteem. Stuffed to burst with big riffs, this album is the pinnacle of the band’s musicianship thus far. Hearing everything in context is a must to appreciate the intricacies. The singles are insane in their own right but integrate seamlessly into the record. Ingested still reign supreme but are so much more than Slam Kings. 9/10

Atræ Bilis: Divinihility (Transcending Obscurity Records) [Paul Scoble]

Atræ Bilis are a four piece from Canada. The band, made up of Jordan Berglund on Vocals, David Stepanavicius on Guitar, Brendan Campbell on Bass and Luka Govednik on drums have not released any material so this is their debut album. Atræ Bilis play a very technical style of Death Metal, although not in the melodic and sweep picky way, this is closer to bands like Origin where the technicality is used to make things nasty and brutal. There is a definite amount of nasty dissonance in their sound as well, giving them a similarity to some of the more extreme acts on the Death metal spectrum, although I should point out that Atræ Bilis have their own sound and don’t really sound like anyone other than themselves.

The album opens with Gnode a short instrumental of taut, dense and technical riffs and leads us into the first track Sulphur Curtain. Sulphur Curtain blasts into life with choppy and dissonant riffs, before going into more direct, driving section. The riffs are intricate and nasty, but there always seems to be enough melody to keep it palatable. The track then returns to blast beats and very fast riffs, before a really pleasing mid-paced section with complex but beautifully flowing riffs which then dissolve into a slow and dissonant part, before bringing the song to an end with complex blasting.

Phantom Veins trumpet is a mix of complex mid-paced riffs and really fast blast beats with intricate technical riffing. Next track Ectopian has a simpler start with a riff that is more direct and very rhythmic before getting very nasty, blasting and dissonant, this then returns to the simpler and more melodic style that the song opened with. This juxtapositioning happens a couple more times before the song slows down and gets much more expansive in feel. The expansive sense is added to by the addition of chanted vocals, for a very melodic and tuneful section. The song ends with a very dense, tight and driving riff.

Upon The Shoulders Of Havayoth is probably the nastiest track on the album. It’s packed with high speed, spiky and nasty riffs, the harshest vocals on the album and some serious aggression, beautifully nasty. The album is closed by the track A Ceremony Of Sectioning. The song opens with some super tight blasting, before the track goes into a very dissonant, slow and heavy section. The track builds to being mid-paced before we get some very effective blasting to bring the song and the album to an end.

Divinihility is a great album. It’s very original, there isn’t anything that sounds exactly like this, and in Death Metal that is rare. Everything on this album is high quality, great music, great musicians, very well recorded and produced. The material is harsh and extreme but it also manages to be melodic, tuneful and very accessible, which is a very clever trick to pull off. However, there is an issue that I have with this album, despite how high quality it is. The problem is the length. This album is only 23 minutes long, more like an EP, which is what I originally thought this album was. The six track (one of which is an intro), just don’t feel long enough to be an album. So the quality is high, but it’s over too quickly. If Divinihility had had 2 or 3 more tracks of a similar quality to the rest of the album then this would be a contender for AOTY lists. A very, very good, if very short album. 8/10

Robby Krieger: The Ritual Begins At Sundown (The Players Club) [Paul Hutchings]

Forever to be known as the guitarist in The Doors, which is no mean accolade by any stretch, there is plenty more to the man who at the age of 74 can still play the most beautiful guitar. Born in 1946, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Krieger co-wrote many of The Doors most famous songs. He’s continued to play and is also a talented artist. The Ritual Begins At Sundown is his first album since 2010’s Grammy award nominated Singularity. Once again Krieger has teamed up with long time writing partner and co-producer Arthur Barrow, who worked worked with Frank Zappa through the 1970s-80s. The album also features other Zappa alumni Jock Ellis (Trombone), Sal Marquez (Trumpet), Tommy Mars (Keys) and Chad Wackerman (Drums), as well as AeB Bryne (Flute), Vince Denham (Sax), Chuck Manning (Sax) and Joel Taylor (Drums).

Through the course of this 52-minute release we are treated to ten laid back numbers which feature some superb brass playing and keyboards reminiscent of The Doors alongside Krieger’s smooth and relaxed guitar work. Tracks such as The Drift, the rocky Chunga’s Revenge and Hot Head all allow Krieger to remind us just what an influential guitarist he is. It’s a work of quality, ideal for a bit of down time and whilst the words ‘smooth’ and ‘nice’ fall readily to mind, this is a superbly crafted album. Whilst it’s certainly musically out of kilter with what we would usually listen to, if you fancy some time detoxing from raging guitars, The Ritual Begins At Sundown is a fantastic album to enjoy. 8/10

The Human Veil: Fractures (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

The new EP Fractures by Manchester based metalcore mob  was apparently inspired by the story of Hannibal Lecter, dealing with  the "battles people can experience in their own minds; from the most disturbing issues of psychosis and trauma, depression and addiction". The record endeavours to mix the heavy negativity with the more hopeful numbers. Take a track like 8612 which slams with massive hardcore breakdowns and huge heavy grooves, it's a perfect pit music but with that more emotional lyricism I mentioned earlier.

Though fiction was the inspiration much of it overlaps with vocalist Matt Wall's own journey, his screams, grunts and melodic clean vocals that become much more used on the later tracks. At just five songs this is brief look at what The Human Veil can do, it's clear this Manchester band are focussed on unleashing these songs on the stage to baying, pit hungry fans, however there is a lot more here than just chunky metalcore, they also have some ambient texture on Lone Wolf that move into BMTH, Architects realms. A hopeful but aggressive EP from The Human Veil. 7/10

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