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Sunday 20 September 2020

Reviews: Naisian, Wail, Crown Of Glory, Omega Diatribe (Paul S, Simon, Lucas & Stuart)

Naisian: Metal (Sludgelord Records) [Paul Scoble]

Naisian are a Sheffield based trio who are on to the second phase of their existence. I say second phase as Naisian went on hiatus in 2012 after releasing the EP Monocle, which came one year after their debut album Mammalian. So, after having a breather for 6 years the band returned in 2018 with another EP called Rejoinder, which we reviewed at Musipedia. The EP got a very positive review, with the only criticism being the short length of the EP, which isn’t really a criticism as we wanted more! Now 2 years later we have the second album that bookends their releases in a pleasingly neat way, but has it lived up to the promise that their last EP suggested? The album opens with Taft Point, a short (most of the tracks on Metal are quite short, only one track is over 4 minutes, with most tracks being 4 minutes or less), aggressive piece of sludge. 

The vocals are harsh and nasty the whole way thorough the album, and we can add very effective to the description as well. The track has a soft and brooding section before getting heavy and ill-tempered again. Liquid Attraction has a little bit more of an alternative feel to it, the vocal performance is nicely dramatic and the song features a suitably unpleasant guitar solo. The next track Is It Though is the first of 3 instrumentals, it’s simple and features an intro with reversed parts. Asteroid is a driving piece of uptempo sludge, it has a lot of energy and feels expansive, and is probably the strongest track on the album. FILA is a bit of a curve ball, it’s short and features strange electronic noises, very heavily processed (Vocoder?) vocals and due to the vocals sounding more like an instrument than a voice, it feels more like an instrumental. Brain Throne is slow, heavy and dramatic with very nasty vocals. The song has a softer, minimal section before going back to heavy and aggressive. Small Talk is a short brooding instrumental with an electronic feel to the percussion. Praying For Elliot is another piece of aggressive, driving sludge. Again we get a softer less aggressive section, before the huge and heavy returns for the end of the song. 

Vanilla is another electronic instrumental. Final track, and longest song on the album, Paradoxical Undressing is a monumentally huge slab of pounding sludge, it has a quieter section as well as some very atmospheric keyboards and a very enjoyable melody lead. Metal is a great piece of Sludge. The 3 instrumentals add some nice variation to the album, breaking up the huge slabs of heavy with something a little bit less aggressive. This helps to give the album some depth, and gives the audience a breather. The main heavy tracks are quite similar, but this band really excel at huge and aggressive heaviness, so it’s not a surprise that they play to their strengths. Metal is a very enjoyable album, packed with great riffs, hopefully Naisian will not disappear on Hiatus again after this pair of Ep and Album. 7/10

Wail: Civilisation Maximus (Wormholedeath Records) [Simon Black]

Parody Metal is always a sensitive area for bands to tread in. When it’s done well, it can absolutely blow your socks off, but not everyone has the balance right (say as Evil Scarecrow do) or the potential for longevity that Lawnmower Deth have achieved by literally becoming their own tribute band. Norwegian 5 piece Wail don’t immediately grab you as a parody act, as musically the music is tight enough to stand on its own feet, and lyrically there are so many examples of hilarity from bands that were being deadly serious that it’s not obvious (see the entire Power Metal genre). That said it’s obvious when you track down a video, because no-one in Metal is going to wear a white suit and bow tie on stage … Ok, maybe Graham Bonnet…

Exploding with the energetic Down The Mountain, it’s clear that Wail are heavily influenced by Iron Maiden in Power Metal mode. Singer ‘The Singer’ (yes, really) is doing his best Bruce Dickinson on this album, although vocally the high end does feel a little forced at times. Endless Repetition isn’t, and the Power Metal tone continues with a lively enough number, and as I get to the more catchy Presage it’s clear that these guys know how to write an engaging track. This catchiness continues into Through The Ice and it’s clear that good structured song writing is something these boys do well. No Hesitation is a great head-bobber, with a catchy rhythm and riff and lyrically one of the clearest songs on the record, perhaps helped by the more restrained vocal performance. You’ve Got Nothing sees a return to the more forced vocal feel, and is one of the weaker elements of this release but they’re back in the game with the full on speed of Overwhelming, which again gets the balance right. The title track closes the album, and again is another nod along effort.

As I hinted earlier the parody isn’t lyrically all that obvious, perhaps not helped by where the vocals are placed slightly back in the mix on some of the tracks. Whereas other Parody acts are blatantly daft, these guys keep it subtle, to the point where this does simply sound like one of the better examples of the Power crossed with traditional Heavy Metal genres. Maybe that parody element is more obvious on stage. Nonetheless it’s very listenable once you get used to The Singer’s voice. 7/10

Crown Of Glory: Ad Infinitum (Fastball Music) [Lucas Tuckwood]

I hope you’re in the mood for some power metal today folks, because Crown Of Glory are back, and better than ever. While they may hail from the land of chocolate and fancy watches we all know as Switzerland, these guys are the opposite of neutral. Ad Infinitum is a no-holds-barred full frontal assault of melodic metal from start to finish. Featuring fast-paced riffing, soaring vocals and intricate synth tracks, Crown Of Glory totes an immense arsenal of tools with which they construct perhaps the finest power metal album released this year. Opening with a fiery tune named Emergency, this album starts with a fierce yet slightly melodic bang, briefly delves into ballad territory during the mid-section with Surrender, and fully kicks into gear with heaving groove-laden tracks like Master Of Disguise during the climax. 

Be it traditional power metal, ballads, or fast paced harder tracks, each one is crafted with laser precision, and every piece runs like clockwork. Track two, Something, even features a guest appearance by the immensely talented Seraina Telli, and her top-notch vocals perfectly compliment an already excellent track. Everyone involved here gives 110%, but none stand out quite like Hene’s vocals, as he utterly savages the microphone across the runtime, and effortlessly soars over the non-stop riffs. I can’t think of enough good things to say about this album. It’s eleven tracks of utterly badass power metal and one excellent ballad, each tune better than the last. Power metal fans are going to absolutely lose it over this album, and I’d have no hesitation recommending it to non-power metal fans too. It’s got the heavy, and it’s got the melodies in equal measure, and enough power to level a skyscraper. Wholeheartedly recommended. 9/10

Omega Diatribe: Metanoia (Metal Scrap Record) [Stuart Blythe]

Hailing from Hungary, Omega Diatribe’s new full length album is exactly what you would get if you crossed a Student Union, Meshuggah covers band, who are clearly fans of Gojira with a complete lack of musicality. Technically proficient, excellently produced djent/ groove metal with not a single hook, memorable riff or song. Full of twisting polyrhythmic drumming, waaaaay- down tuned guitars and the odd spot of death metal (Global FireMirror Neuron). Omega Diatribe tread a singular, unwavering path toward the monumental altar of mathematical worship that is Meshuggah. Metanoia is a frustrating listen. As mentioned previously the production is fantastic, with clean but weighty drums, that djent tone and some occasional echoey/ floaty clean vocals. It was mastered by the mighty Jens Bogren, well known for his consistently wonderful work with bands like Opeth, Soilwork, Enslaved and many more. Where the record falls down is simply, and purely the quality of the song writing. 

The opening riff of the aforementioned Global Fire was literally the only thing that made my ears prick up throughout my many play-playthroughs of Metanoia. Yet there are a few embers burning which allude to some great potential on tracks such as Mirror Neuron and Parallel. There’s just not enough here to sustain prolonged interest though. It is a shame, as Omega Diatribe are undeniably superb musicians. The main feeling Metanoia gave me was one of boredom… not a good thing in a metal record! There is likely a part of the djent fanbase who will be lauding this as a stunning release, and I can see why to a certain extent. None of this clicked with me though. The, mostly, mono-paced relentlessness of chuggy “Doom Eternal” soundtrack guitars combined with the one dimensional vocals of Gergely Komaromi results in a bland, lifeless listen. For the hardcore djentleman only. 3/10

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