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Thursday, 27 August 2020

Reviews: Sound Of Origin, Mercyless, Brimstone Coven, The Tangent (Matt, Liam, Mike & Steve)

Sound Of Origin: The All Seeing Eye (APF Records) [Matt Bladen]

Yet another doom-laden, heavy riffing release from the excellent APF records, this time it's Huddersfield Stoner/Doom/Bluesers Sound Of Origin who follow their 2017 EP Seeds Of The Past with their debut full length The All Seeing Eye, recorded at Foel Studios Wales, it's a record made up of 9 slabs of knuckle dragging, blues influenced, fuzzy doom with the sludgy instrumental Not Dead Yet opening into the throbbing title track which breaks down towards the end, it's a proper doom track which is followed by the grooving stoner sludge of Lockjaw which reveals Sound Of Origin's secret weapon, the amazing vocals of Joel Bulsara who can rage with your Anselmo's but also has a sonorous clean vocal that reminds me of Layne Staley. 

With Joel up front the musical dexterity of Joe 'Zeph' Wilczynski's guitar playing which shifts from fat fuzzy distorted riffs into soulful bluesy passages (Morning Bird), while the almost nuclear powered rhythm section of Jax Townsend's hammering bass and the battering drumming from Chris 'Foz' Foster also bring a a mixture of feather touches and heavier than anvil battery. As this album progresses the band get much more explorative sliding into desert rock mind bending on Stoned Messiah Blues with the other elongated tracks such as Into The Vile and Tempest Dunes weave their way into your brain with a shifting quiet/loud musical style. The All Seeing Eye is another winner on APF, if you worship at the altar of the riff, Sound Of Origin is the latest addition to the gospels. 8/10    

Mercyless: The Mother Of All Plagues (Xenokorp Records) [Liam True]

It’s hard to find a decent Death Metal band nowadays. It’s not that the scene is stale, it just most band's sound the same and don’t really try to stand out. Most of the time it’s that the guitar tone sounds the same so it gets overused and bland. Mercyless have used the same sounding tone, but on their seventh studio album they’ve put their own spin on it, so one or two songs may sound like the dull Death Metal tone then other songs sound new and unique, sounding like a mash up of Cannibal Corpse & Anakim, while keeping their signature sound intact to blaze through the record.

With the signature gutturals and rhythmic guitar work of Max Otero, he commands the fretboard and uses his vocals to infiltrate your mind like a swarm of locusts. The riffs and guitar solo’s of Gautier Merklen provide a seamless transition from the quick riffs to even faster solo’s. Then the destructive drums of Laurent Michalak create a crushing sound that shakes the foundations of the Death Metal scene. For their seventh album Mercyless are a band to contend with for one of the best Death Metal albums of 2020 so far. Full of air guitar and drumming moments, and even heavier vocals to join in it’s a ear shattering album with a lot to offer. And 35 minutes isn’t just enough for it. 8/10

Brimstone Coven: The Woes Of A Mortal Earth (Ripple Music) [Mike Chapman]

I like Doom, there I’ve said it. So it may come as no surprise that I rather enjoy Brimstone Coven. Emerging from Ohio with Corey Roth taking Vocals, guitar and songwriting duties Brimstone Coven remind me of a lot of bands, which is a good thing. Where they diverge from their counterparts is with clear, punchy production and blending it with influences across the rock spectrum to create a very enjoyable if short record. As we commit to what they have in store for us, The Inferno thrusts you into a riff laden Sabbath-esque banger that delivers the aforementioned qualities that make this album good. Dual vocals ala Alice Chains add melody to the crisp production and steady guitarwork. 

There is variety to be had here too, tracks like my favourites When The World Is Gone & Song Of Whippoorwill treat you to some nice down tempo Doom, really capturing the atmosphere of stalwarts such as Saint Vitus and Pentagram. On the flip side we have what I would call single material in the up tempo The Darker Half, a hard rock classic in the making with a catchy chorus and great riffage that is sure to get those heads banging. On a personal level the production could have differed, as crisp and punchy as it was I can’t help but wish it was just a tad muddier and fuzzier, this by no means detracts from a very enjoyable album, as I mentioned it is what helps Brimstone Coven stand out and that certainly isn't a bad thing. Best advice is to give this album a spin, you won’t regret it. 7/10

The Tangent: Auto Reconnaissance (InsideOut Music) [Steve Haines]

I have to start this review with a disclaimer: if you’ve read any of my reviews in the past, you’ll be aware of my penchant for bizarre analogies to try to help people get a feel for what I’m hearing and feeling and this review will require a great many as there’s a hell of a lot going on – and unfortunately, not in a particularly good way. The Tangent were formed in 2002 as a prog/jazz/[insert any genre you like] fusion collective headed up by Andy Tillison alongside a revolving door of personnel from then to now. I’m generally a fan of progressive music so I was looking forward to listening to this with open ears and open mind. Both mind and ears are now closed for refurbishment having sat through one hour and eighteen minutes of audio self-indulgent meandering. Imagine, if you will, being in the Jazz Club from The Fast Show and having Neil Hannon’s Divine Comedy talk you through his very worst discarded demos in spoken word form to a backdrop of jazzy hold muzak. I know – it’s a lot to imagine but honestly, it’s as close as I can get without making you listen to it.

Opening track Life On Hold takes the jazz base and throws in a generic 80s chat show theme-style jingle. Second track Jinxed In Jersey is a 15 minute inner monologue on the Eastern Seaboard of America. At this point, I’m ditching the ‘progressive’ thoughts and taking ‘experimental’ to mean ‘throw everything at it and let’s see what sticks’ but like musical flypaper, everything sticks in haphazard fashion. It already feels like a parody and I’ve only just finished song 2! There are better songs. Under Your Spell, Tower Of Babel and Midas Touch are all more cohesive and with each coming in at less than 6 minutes, a definite reminder that less is more as the self-indulgent and, dare I say, pretentious excesses are reined in (though not completely).

In amongst these ‘highlights’ we have the 28 minute Lie Back And Think Of England which is an experience of a sort. Political audio clips seem dropped for effect and no real purpose while the music wanders in vague directions, seemingly trying to find itself. Surprisingly, there are a couple of times towards the end of the track where things improve. From 20 to 23 minutes, it genuinely feels like instrumental storytelling while the section from about 25 and a half minutes to the end of the song is actually pretty good – if you cut the first 22 minutes of the ‘song’ you could have a halfway decent tune. Bonus track is the instrumental Proxima It is 12 minutes of more experimental jazz that feels like the kind of hold music companies use when they are encouraging you to hang up. I admit I’m not particularly a jazz fan, but I can respect any influences in progressive music if they’re done right and for me, this just isn’t It feels self-indulgent to the point of feeling like a vanity project. 

Unless you’re the type of person who tries to be different for the sake of being different and looking cool for doing so, there is nothing here that you couldn’t find in elevators across the world. As I said early in this review, it feels like parody that brings to mind The Fast Show’s Jazz Club though I suspect John Thomson’s erstwhile host would struggle to say “Nice!” to this.

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