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Thursday 12 November 2020

Reviews: Cult Burial, Death Dealer, After The Smoke Clears, White Magician (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Cult Burial: S/T (Self Released)

Sometimes this reviewing lark throws up something out of left field that rips your bloody face off. Cult Burial's self titled record is the musical equivalent of a a belt sander to the chops with a torrid, raging maelstrom of destructive death metal ala Deicide with the technical brilliance of Bloodshot Dawn or Suffocation, they also however have a major black metal side with the kind of rampaging nastiness of bands such as Cradle Of Filth and Behemoth. The album doesn't just stick rigidly to these conventions though, yes there are bottom scraping guttural vocals, but we get some squeals later on (End) as the songs become more expansive and musically dense towards the end of the album with industrial discord creating an ominous atmosphere that creeps in on Chaos

The album crawling to almost a halt with a post-metal dissonance built on a singular drum beat and large open chords before the brutal beating begins again, where Chaos begins the transition into tortuous doom, it's realised fully on Plague which moves the album into Alcest/Ghost Bath levels of jarring harshness, with Kill building more on that base layering and layering until it becomes a cacophony of extreme noise. From what I can see Cult Burial are just two men with the music from one and vocals another, well for a two piece this debut album is at the highest level in both the composition and production, equally melodic and bucolic the 10 tracks here rarely dip in quality adding searing lead guitar runs to the battering extreme metal offensive that bridges many genre gaps. Cult Burial is a brilliant debut record for anyone that likes their metal darker and dirtier than anything else, play loud, aiming at your neighbours where possible. 9/10 

Death Dealer: Conquered Lands (Steel Cartel)

When Death Dealer first hit the scene they were a a band who I really enjoyed with guitarists Stu Marshall (Night Legion/Dungeon) and Ross The Boss (ex-Manowar) joined by vocalist Sean Peck (Denner/Shermann, Cage, The Three Tremors) and drummer Steve Bolognese (Ross The Boss) for some fist-in-the-air epic metal anthems that sat in between the styles of Manowar and latter-period Judas Priest. Their first two albums were pretty standard in terms of style but they featured some stellar performances which gained them high marks from me. So I was expecting more of the same on Conquered Lands their third album, which now features Michael LePond on bass, as they were never going to move away from power/thrash/epic metal style but as I pressed play all was not right. 

This record does seem like it's going heavily through the motions of Manowar-like histrionic metal but the sound isn't quite right, the instruments were all treated at Monolith Studios in Melbourne Australia by Chris Themelco as the album was mastered by Maor Appelbaum in Los Angeles, California with Stu Marshall as co-producer/mixer/masterer and it's all a little harsh, however the most jarring part of the record is Sean Peck's vocals which are very screechy using his high register a little too often to be bearable, only when he drops things down is it ear friendly. Unfortunately Conquered Lands doesn't do anything new and it's focus on physical-only release and distribution which the band call an "old school campaign, directed at the true metal supporters and long- term fan engagement" seems a little elitist (like a certain American metal band I may have mentioned in this review), but really it's just that this album isn't up to their previous releases. 5/10  

After The Smoke Clears: Edification (Self Released)

Edification is the debut from London 4-piece After The Smoke Clears and from the first few seconds it's easy to get a handle on what you're going to get on the 9 tracks that follow brutal opener The Vine. The album tracks a journey from destruction into self-realisation, they chart this journey through aggressive groove metal that brings to mind bands like Machine Head and Chimaria,as the huge bass rattles around in your skull and the vocals are raw and ragged. This album has been foreshadowed by a few videos all of which are linked to the concepts on this record, generating buzz and also widening the scope of their music into a much more multimedia affair. These videos and singles were followed by turns with Incite, Thecityisours and Mtxs which has made their groove metal razor sharp and delivered with a controlled fury, only the last track releasing the aggression with a more emotive final part as some female vocals bring another more melodic addition to the groove metal battery. I'm never the biggest fan of groove metal as I do find it a little one dimensional but After The Smoke clears have hit upon what makes the genre so popular. 5/10

White Magician: Dealers Of Divinity (Cruz Del Sur Music)

What's the difference between a White Magician and a White Wizard? Well both in name and musically there is a lot that links the LA NWOBHM enthusiasts and these Detroit classic heavy metal crew, with penchant for galloping heavy metal filled with twin guitar harmonies, White Magician are a little bit more suited to the late 70's sounds of Thin Lizzy, BOC and Wishbone Ash with songs that are full of great lead playing from Mars Mysterio and The Great Kaiser who also the lead vocalist, Magia Nostra is a shining example of this with a hell of a lot of soloing closing out the song. 

The songs on this debut full length, following an EP and a Split (which weirdly also features The Great Kaiser's White Magician?), there's a big focus on the occult here as things shift into the sounds of Angel Witch and Mercyful Fate while elsewhere there's a power that remind me of Manilla Road too, there also seems to be an Italian influence here, not just in some of the titles but also on the albums instrumental track Fading Into Ages which has the fluttering acoustics of a Morricone Western theme. This whole album has a wider musical scope than just the classic metal influences it purports to have, so the difference is that White Magicians spells are a little more potent than the now defunct metal band bringing a brighter sound to the often repetitive trad metal genre. 7/10  

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