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Tuesday 17 November 2020

Reviews: Periphery, Warfect, Macabre, Kvilla (Alex, Matt, Liam & Lucas)

Periphery: Live In London (Century Media Records) [Alex Swift] 

Known for their technical and intricate stylings on progressive rock, Periphery are an act who very much divide opinion. I love a vast array of their work. Personally, I feel that the Alpha and Omega double album from 2015, where they leaned into the melodic and atmospheric side of their work, is where they really shone. That said, despite being inconsistent, their 2019 release, HAIL STAN, painted them in an experimental and exciting light. That said, having never seen them live, I was curious as to how their complexity would translate over into a live album. My opinion on live albums as a whole is that they need to have a reason to exist. Do they, like the Triptykon album from earlier this year, capture a particularly unique on-stage moment that just needs to be recorded in history? Do they, like a live offering from Rush, help convey the experience of a live performance, for fans who couldn’t attend?  Do they, like Enter Shikari for me, paint a band in a different light that might help convert detractors? 

Concerning Live In London, the answer to each of these questions, in turn, is: definitely not, probably not and…um…kind of, but not really. I guess you could argue that this release helps to show to Periphery’s detractors that they are not just skilled at studio trickery, and can execute their craft in a real-life setting, And, if for some reason you didn’t think they would be able to, this piece is especially impressive, as these musicians don’t miss a note, and their performance echoes that of the record. However, that’s the same factor that holds the piece back. There is very little audience interaction, improvisation is - as far as this writer can tell - non-existent and the performed versions of these tracks do not differ in any significant way from the album versions. The setlist is not even terribly diverse – at ten tracks, five of them are from the last record! Why on earth would I listen to this again, when I can just listen to one of the studio recordings? 

That’s not to invalidate the show itself. I would have probably loved to have been there, singing along with the crowd, basking in the spectacle of the light show and allowing the loudness of live music to absorb me, yet without bringing that excitement to the home listener, even in a small fashion, by not offering them anything unique, Periphery has granted us with a disc which has no reason to exist. In a year when we are all being told to “stay indoors” (see what I did there?) we desperately need something, anything that will replicate the thrill of live music from our own home. Hell, lots of musicians have been busy organizing streams or releasing live albums of their own. Still, as far as bringing those atmospheres to us are concerned, Periphery have failed to arouse an ecstatic sensation. 5/10

Warfect: Spectre Of Devastation (Napalm Records) [Matt Bladen]

Despite hailing from the Gothenburg underground there is a very Germanic sound to Warfect's style of thrash metal, think Kreator, Sodom, Destruction and you're on your way though there is a bit of the second wave American sound too, it's a bit angrier and nastier than some of the traditional thrash crews. Spectre Of Devastation is the band's fourth record and it reinforces Warfect's straight ahead thrash metal assault, croaked vocals, explosive drumming and riffs the pummel kick in from Pestilence and it rarely drops in pace from there with a death and black influences creeping in as it moves through it's 8 tracks. 

It's skillfully produced and mastered by Grammy winning Flemming Rasmussen who produced the Metallica holy trinity so he's a man that knows thrash and he eeks out every single ounce of aggression and heaviness from this trio. Made up of Fredrik Wester (vocals & guitar), Kris Wallstrom (bass) and Manne Flood (drums) Warfect manage to bring grooves to track such as the Obituary-like Left To Rot while also bringing back ferocity on Into The Fray. Spectre Of Devastation as I've said takes from Teutonic thrash metal with an American sheen, these Swedes avoid falling into the Gothenburg sound stereotypes. An ideal thrashfest for fans. 7/10

Macabre: Carnival Of Killers (Nuclear Blast) [Liam True]

Being described as ‘Murder Metal’ and being anywhere between Thrash & Death Metal I was a bit excited to hear the record considering it’s their first in 8 years. But instead I was greeted with a whirlwind of tempo changes, vocals that sound like nails against a chalkboard and catchy yet terrible songs. Tongue in cheek humour is my bread and butter, but Macabre have used forced humour in their attempts to be funny with song titles such as Richard Speck Grew Big Breasts which may make some people laugh, but for me it just fell flat. 

The song contents themselves are more horrific than I thought to be, as we have nursery rhymes altered to include Ted Bundy, a song about your bones connecting to each other and a song about being stinky. It’s just a childish attempt at dark gross humour for the sake of trying to be edgy. And considering the band have been going since 1985 they must be doing something right. I have to admit, the songs are catchy, I can see myself humming the tune of Stinky and Tea Cakes to myself, but that’s it. That’s all this album has going to them. It’s a shambolic album as the band doesn’t sound like they’re I time for about 85% of the album. If you’re a fan of the band I’m sure you’ll love it, hands down. But good god, it was an excruciating listen. 1/10

Kvilla: The Ward (Self Released) [Lucas Tuckwood]

Today we’ve got the debut EP from Manchester based hardcore outfit Kvilla, The Ward. Kvilla aim to blend aspects of black metal, hardcore and shoegaze into a brand new style, and while it doesn’t necessarily stick the landing, it’s still a fiery little debut in its own right. Across the eight tracks it certainly leaves an impression on the listener, but struggles to find its own distinctive sound. Blending genres is never easy, and managing to do so convincingly while also providing one’s own unique sound can be pretty challenging, and unfortunately Kvilla don’t quite hit the mark in that regard. 

They’ve got the hardcore down to a fine art, but it’s the black-metal inspired riffs that fail to impress, as they never stray beyond well-trodden territory. As for the shoegaze, I simply can’t hear it. No tracks really stick out, but they’re all well performed, even if the mix is a little too clean. It’s heavy, but it offers nothing you haven’t heard before. Overall, this is a decent EP, but it lacks any real spice to separate it from its contemporaries. If you enjoy hardcore and black metal you’re bound to enjoy it, but it just leaves a little to be desired. 6/10

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