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Wednesday 25 November 2020

Reviews: Hatebreed, Black Pyre, Shores Of Null, Wolves Don't Sleep (Reviews By Paul Hutchings)

Hatebreed: Weight Of The False Self (Nuclear Blast)

Bruising, muscular and addictive, album number eight from the Connecticut five-piece who are now amazingly deep into their third decade. The metalcore outfit follow up 2016’s solid The Concrete Confessional with a short, sharp 34 minutes and 12 tracks which are unlikely to change your mind about the band. They either do it or they don’t.

And whilst there is limited change in the band’s style or delivery, songs such as Cling To Life and the bass heavy pummelling of A Stroke Of Red certainly demonstrate that Hatebreed can mix it up. There are few bands as settled in line-up; there hasn’t been a change since 2009 and that was the addition of lead guitarist Wayne Lozinak and it is evident on Weight Of The False Self. Confident, ferocious, and incredibly tightly gelled, Hatebreed leave all trailing in their wake. Heavy as hell, this album stands comfortably alongside their earlier works. It’s combination of visceral thrash, pummelling hardcore vocals and overall power is as intense as it has always been, and in places, there is an urgency that shows how vibrant Hatebreed remain. The Herd Will Scatter, This I Earned and the crushing From Gold To Gray all possess blistering intensity.

Jamey Jasta has been active over the past few years with his solo work and of course, putting the metal back into Dee Snider but it’s in Hatebreed where he is at his most vocal (literally - Ed), with a rampant performance that rolls back the years. Alongside him, the powerful engine of Chris Beattie on bass, Matt Byrne’s thunderous drumming and Frank Novinec’s reliable rhythm guitar hold all the aces, propelling the band forward at pace. There’s little to argue about with Hatebreed. If you like them, this album will be another piece of excellent metal. If you don’t, then either try again or don’t bother. Whatever your persuasion, Weight Of The False Self is a brutal and angry album that works on every level. 8/10

Black Pyre: Winter Solstice (Self Released)

Amidst all the gloom and doom of 2020, something dark has been brewing in the fringes of the South Walian permafrost. Having finished 2019 with a live release of their impressive set at Winter Eradication, the band hunkered down in their ice caves to craft their debut album. The results are exciting.

Black Pyre’s earlier work in the shape of The Forbidden Tomes EP was a statement of intent. The first of their dark, atmospheric black metal to be committed to CD, it was a great start, but Winter Solstice sees an organic growth and surge in the band’s music. Bolstered by the recent addition of guitarist Olthigor Doombeard, Black Pyre have slowed things down, adding depth and emotion to their frantic blastbeat driven assault. Hiraeth for example, shows that you don’t need to be balls out to be heavy. The introduction of some atmospheric short pieces (Pale Apparition and Underworld) provide texture and demonstrate the maturing song writing.

The title track is another example where Black Pyre have chosen to step off their already well-worn path in the name of exploration. There are still ample walls of tremolo riffing, with drummer Dominus de Octopus a ferocious blast beat merchant, but there is more feeling, depth and a maturity to Black Pyre’s music on this album. The subtle differences between opening song Aeon, which is perfectly placed, the mighty title track, Permafrost and Ave Sathanas are noticeable, with the use of slower yet no less powerful tempos, keyboards and switches in style all adding appreciably.

What Winter Solstice shows is that Black Pyre have very much moved into the upper levels of UK black metal. The confidence that has come from their relentless enthusiasm and gigging is evident, the band displaying a swagger that can only come from those who are slowly mastering their craft. Sure, there is the odd rough edge, and the production is slightly on the raw side, but other than those extremely minor niggles, Winter Solstice is a fine debut release from a band who are rapidly becoming one the most exciting outfits on the South Wales circuit. If you are a fan of South Walian metal, you owe it to these brothers in darkness to get onto Bandcamp and pick up a copy. 8/10

Shores Of Null: Beyond The Shores: On Death And Dying (Spikerot Records)

Shores Of Null are not renowned for their speed. The Italians are masters of doom so it’s a surprise to find that during their crushing and painfully slow chord structures and gargantuan riffs, this third record sees some slivers of melody inserted. This album is a 38 minute long suite, and features a number of guests including the growling roars of Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow The Sun) Thomas A. G. Jensen (Saturnus), clean vocals from Elisabetta Marchetti, screams from Martina Lesley McLean and Marco Mastrobuono (Hour Of Penance), the piano of Paolo Campitelli, Fabio Gabbianelli’s double bass and Valentina Gabbianelli on violin.

Inspired by the five stages of grief which were created by Swiss American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross which she explored in her book On Death and Dying, this piece is drenched in a cloak of despair which slowly drapes over the listener. Melancholic, harrowingly haunting and at times massively oppressive, it’s not an album for light listening. It does, however, provide the listener with a thought-provoking journey which demands repeated listens. At times overwhelming, Shores Of Null’s latest work is another piece of high quality. 8/10

Wolves Don't Sleep: Clarity (Self Released)

The second EP from Nottingham based outfit Wolves Don't Sleep, Clarity is a ferocious slab of bruising metalcore that sees the four tracks focus on the personal battles of vocalist Steve Bond with anxiety, depression, and self-destruction. Thankfully, he’s fought through these battles and brings a roaring vocal performance to a band who are now entering their fifth year. The EP opens with the pulverising driven If I’m The Snake Then You’re The Ladder, followed by the concrete hammering of Self Destruction. A ferocious yet melodic piece, this sees raging riffs and a heaviness that is enhanced by the visceral roar of Bond. Searing guitar work of Dan Bradley elevates the song, the drum sound is massive and the groove deep. It’s impossible not to nod along to this track. 

Wolves Don’t Sleep are completed by Dan Bingley (bass, vocals) and drummer Connor MacLean and both come to the fore on the track Clarity, a song that builds into an anthem that the band are surely going to utilise in the live arena. The build up erupts into some vicious breakdowns and an explosive piece which will cause carnage in the pit. This is a statement of intent. The EP concludes with Forest Fire, which varies from the other tracks in style but maintains the huge energy and surging power. Another beast of a song, it’s visceral and aggressive and brings a solid EP to a fine end. 7/10

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