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Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Reviews: Kill The Lights, Bear Mace, Ov Shadows, Intoxicated (Liam, Paul H, Lucas & Simon)

Kill The Lights: The Sinner (Fearless Records) [Liam True]

Originally announced to be released in the summer of 2019 along with a warm up show before Download and a spot at the prestigious festival, The Sinner has been released just over a year later. Granted it’s late but during the wait we’ve been treated to a few singles from the album to quench our thirst. Another band trying to capitalise off the ‘Supergroup’ genre, although they haven’t called themselves as such, with the star power they have it’s pretty much a given. The line up includes James Clark (Throw The Fight), guitarists Jordan Whelan (Still Remains) and Travis Montgomery (Threat Signal) bassist Davey Richmond (Glamour Of The Kill) and Michael ‘Moose’ Thomas (Ex-Bullet For my Valentine). Coming from the background of Metalcore and the singles you have a pretty good idea of where the album is going and what sound they’re pounding into your skulls. But the question is, was it really worth the wait?

Personally, I think it was. While most people wouldn’t think, but as the band was promising a new take on the Metalcore genre, and given us the standard genre, they have included their own way of shaping the album. It’s not just breakdowns, gutturals or chugs, it’s more than that. There are riffs aplenty provided from Whelan and when entwined with the rhythms of Montgomery they provide a duel 6 stringed attack on the senses. The pounding bass from Richmond gives the album the much needed edge to infiltrate your mind. The powerful drums of Moose show off his Punk background and proves he still has the energy and heart to keep playing. And the vocals of Clark prove to be an odd combination to the album. His more Metal sounding vocals suit the album perfectly, while is cleans are brilliant and sound perfect, make the album the only downfall as they don’t fit on the album, as well as Through The Night & Tear Me Apart. While both are great songs, it brings the albums atmosphere down.

While the album has kind of been a let down for me personally, it’s still a terrific album with many great songs, riffs and air drum moments to keep you coming back for more (And hopefully to grow on me). And with a UK tour scheduled for March 2021 we’ll finally see the band play as a unit. Maybe the songs will be more solid in a live environment. Until then, the album will still be spinning in my rotation. 7/10

Bear Mace: Charred Field Of The Slaughterhouse (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

Don’t be fooled by the name Bear Mace, or the opening track, Hibernation – Destroyed By Bears. This is no comedic outfit. The Chicago five-piece’s second full-length is a blistering old school death metal assault that gives no quarter from start to finish. 

One of the first things that immediately strike you about Charred Field Of The Slaughterhouse is the quality of the production. Mixed by Horrendous vocalist/guitarist Damien Herring, the sound is crisp and powerful, with the drums and bass fully up in the mix but at no time smothering the rest of the sound. Although I’m not familiar with the band’s 2017 debut release, Butchering The Colossus, it’s evident on first listen that Bear Mace draw their influences from the death metal legend stable: Death, Massacre, Bolt Thrower and Obituary are all present in the band’s music. The guttural vocals of Chris Scearce roar and rage, whilst the duel guitars of Mark Sugar and Tommy Bellino slice cleanly. 

Check out the razor-sharp style of Xenomorphic Conquest or the ferocious From The Sky Reigns Hell for evidence. In fact, the more one listens to Charred Field Of The Slaughterhouse, one must question why all death metal albums don’t sound as good as this. It may only be 34 minutes in length, but those 34 minutes are some of the most enjoyable minutes of 2020. 9/10

Ov Shadows: I Djavulens Avbild (Hypnotic Dirge Records) [Lucas Tuckwood]

A mournful aura was emanating from my computer today. Upon inspection, I found it was Ov Shadows’ latest record, I Djavulens Avbild, bleeding its blackened heart out through my computer’s air vents. Now that I’ve cleaned my desk, I can happily say that this is some truly wonderful atmospheric black metal- the drums are frantic, the guitars haunt, and the vocals scream like a ring-wraith overhead, each contributing to the wonderfully bleak and empty atmosphere these sombre Scandinavians are known for. 

A notable difference from their last album, The Darkness Between Stars, is the decision to ditch English lyrics, and to instead write predominantly in their native Swedish. After popping some of their lyrics into a translator, they certainly fall in line with the atmosphere, and they’re rather poetic in their misery. Blasfemkist Crescendo, translated meaning Blasphemous Crescendo, is quite an appropriate description of this album. Each song cascades over the listener, and it’s best to just go with the current. Atmospheric black being quite foreign to me, it’s a little difficult for me to describe; the songs take you to a place I’m not quite equipped to describe, but it was nonetheless effective. Just sit back, put the album on, and absorb all the atmospheric juices, in all their satisfyingly mournful glory.

Overall, if you’re in the mood for some spooky atmospherics, I encourage you to drop the needle on I Djavulens Avbild. It’s chock full of mournful melodies that are sure to provide an excellent soundtrack to standing around in snowy forests in sleeveless shirts, and I loved every second of it. 8/10

Intoxicated: Walled EP (Seeing Red Records) [Simon Black]

Not to be confused with the German Thrash outfit of the same name, this version hails from Florida. Despite having been around in one form or another for a couple of decades this appears to be their first proper release and is fairly in-your-face 80’s influenced Thrash, with obvious nods to fellow Floridians Death and Morbid Angel in particular (although Sacred Reich’s early material is evoked here as well). It’s fairly chaotic stuff, with a surprisingly amount of technical skill on show for a three piece, whilst also retaining that raw edge that reminds us that the punk influence on thrash was never far behind with short and punchy tracks that rarely go beyond the three minute mark.

Smash The Line is fast brutal, and spot on, with some really nice riffage going on technically with the relentless Black metal vocals hammering this beauty home. Title track Walled and Grab The Rope are looser in style, with the rawness and unpredictability of the surf thrash scene, but the EP’s closers are a positive riff-fest, and suddenly I feel 17 again. I get the sense that from their home territory, Intoxicated were one of the great ‘back in the day’ acts that inexplicably didn’t get a wider audience at the time, given that their contemporaries are quite vocally positive about them, and I can see why. Glad to see that they are finally getting a wider audience. Not so much a comeback, as a massively delayed arrival. 7/10

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