Light Field Reverie: Another World (Avantgarde Music) [Matt Bladen]
Light Field Reverie have been slowly releasing singles for a while now but it's taken a global pandemic for their debut full length to come to fruition. Formed as a collaborative project between Mike Lamb and Scotty Lodge of the amazing Sojourner with Heike Langhans of the equally amazing Draconian. Another World is a stunning collection of evocative, sorrowful and heartbreaking songs that can't really be classed as just doom, as there are layers of ambient synths underscoring Langhans captivating, haunting vocals as the songs traverse the line between the crippling heaviness and ethereal melodies Lamb giving the lion's share of the musical backing with guitars, synths, piano and drums all coming from him as Lodge gives us the chest rumbling low end, Langhans too providing the 80's New Romantic synths that cut through on The Oldest House in contrast to the fat riffs that chug along when the lighter passages shift into darker ones.
Hellraizerr: Life After Death (Reaper Metal Productions) [Paul Hutchings]
One of the filthiest and refreshingly brilliant albums of the year, HellRaizerr’s downright dirty blend of speed, thrash, death, and horror metal hits you like a cold shower on a winter’s day. 13 tracks all blisteringly fast come at you over 43 maniacal minutes with no attempt made to apply the brakes for one second. Hellraizerr come at you from Los Angeles, California, and comprise Cursed Moon’s Sal Hellraizerr on vocals, guitar, bass and synth, with support from Chris Hellking – Drums and vocals on Seeing Red and Vengeance Rising, Adam Axe – Lead guitars and additional synths from Jason Bacajol. What makes this album so appealing is the underlying rock n’ roll feel which gives Life After Death an irresistible groove.
Throw in some synths and samples, and grisly growling vocals and you have a visceral combination which is crushingly heavy with just the right amount of melody. Blistering drums batter away as the onslaught commences with Summoning Of Demons, a barrage of horror and terror which continues with the power of songs including Collector Of Souls and Hordes Of Decay. And then, when you think you have an idea of how this will pan out, Hellbound curves into view, and completely changes everything. A solid synth beat which combines with a pulsing bass line, soaring guitar and the occasional crashing riff, this is more Depeche Mode and a real different change of tempo, style, and approach.
Tempo and approach changes again on Vengeance Rising, which reminds me of the rawness of early Tank and that might be another reason why Life After Death appeals; there is an underlying feel of the NWOBHM movement within this album. Life After Death combines the raw power of early punk, the grit of Motörhead and protype thrash but with a bass line and rhythm that is almost psychobilly in flavour. Think Sabbat meets Demented Are Go with the more pop sensibilities of Rob Zombie thrown in, and then clear your mind again as Vicious Assault adds a bit of black metal and electronica into the mix. It’s a bit of everything but with such a visceral undercurrent that it may well make a cheeky late assault on the top 20 of 2020. 9/10
10 Code: Ride (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]
Ellefson: No Covers (EMP Records) [Paul Hutchings]
2019’s debut solo album Sleeping Giants was decent enough and introduced the Megadeth’s bassist’s business partner Thom Hazaert on vocals. Hazaert is a well-known businessman, journalist and label owner and his outing on Sleeping Giants was reasonable. Now Ellefson is back with album number two and it’s a real challenging one to consider. Conceived during lockdown, No Covers is exactly the opposite of its title, with 19 tracks from various rock and metal artists selected by Ellefson and Hazaert and then performed with guitarists Andy Martongelli and Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (Sons Of Apollo, Yes, Ex-Guns N' Roses), drummer Paolo Caridi and a host of guest musicians who make up the who’s who of metal. Now, this must have been some logistical challenge to arrange and record and there is nothing wrong with the album in any way. We’ve all seen musicians jamming and recording throughout the last eight months.
The album’s origins are explained by Ellefson. “This album was a totally impromptu conversation between me and Thom over the phone. I had just come home from Nashville in early June recording the new Megadeth album, and Thom and I already had an Ellefson record in the works to release in October of this year. We just looked at the calendar and said, ‘we’re not going to be able to tour; we’re not going to be able to support this thing. It will probably just end up falling through the cracks and nothing will happen.’ We decided why waste all that energy we put into these new songs, and I remember we both said at the same time, why don’t we just do some covers”. What do we get? Well, Ellefson states that he didn’t go for the obvious covers and overall, that’s a fair assessment. The tracks selected are delivered faithfully, and with varying amounts of success. Taking on Freewheel Burning as the album’s opening song is a brave move. Musically, the band can match the might of the Priest but Hazaert isn’t the metal Jesus, let alone the Metal God and he struggles badly on a song that is dominated by Halford’s high pitched delivery. It’s a bit of a guitar jam mind, with Ellefson joined by boss Mustaine, Andy James Gus G and Jason McMaster.
Not Fragile by Bachman Turner Overdrive is certainly less well known whilst the cover of Cheap Trick’s Auf Wiedersehen Pet featuring Al Jourgensen and Anthrax’s Charlie Benante is another curved ball. The cover of Def Leppard’s Wasted is solid enough, Eat The Rich (the Krokus version) sticks faithfully to the original and Doro’s vocals add to a stomping version of Love Me Like A Reptile. The Metal Queen returns for Sheer Heart Attack. The cover of the Kiss ballad Beth leaves me cold, despite the faithful rendition, the brass sounding out of place and the vocals unfortunately no where near those of Peter Criss. Much better is the version of Fastway’s Say What You Will, which was an underrated song when it first came out. The list of artists is impressive and if you like collaborations then this should float the boat. I’m not going to knock any musician doing this type of thing in the current climate but with so much music out there, one does question why this would take preference over new and original music. Maybe those who don’t want to challenge themselves will find this more to their liking. Well played and produced, No Covers (with the homage to On Through The Night artwork) is enjoyable enough but not an album that will get regular airplay with me. 6/10