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Tuesday 10 November 2020

Reviews: Pulchra Morte, Pteroglyph, L.A Guns, L'Uomo Nero (Rich, Liam, Simon, Paul S)

Pulchra Morte: Ex Rosa Ceremonia (Transcending Records) [Rich Oliver] 

Pulchra Morte are a death doom band from the US made up of members from bands such as Skeletonwitch, Wolvhammer and Eulogy amongst others. They are not a band I have previously heard of but they have certainly impressed me with their second album Ex Rosa Ceremonia released through Transcending Records. Pulchra Morte have a sound that transports us back to the early 1990’s and is very much influenced and inspired by the style and sound of the bands of the ‘Peaceville Three’ which is Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Anathema so this is a bleak concoction of doom and death metal. On the whole the songs on this album are far more riff driven rather than relying on forlorn melodies with songs such as The Serpent’s Choir, In The Mourning Light and the title track being more doom laden pieces of death metal. 

 On the flip side you do have songs which play to the more melodic, melancholic and atmospheric side such as Knife Of The Will, Prince Of Shadows and The Archer & The Noose. All the songs are relatively short and compact with the longest being around the five and a half minute mark meaning that nothing is drawn out longer than needed. The guitar work from Jeffrey Breden and Jarrett Pritchard is excellent with a mix of doom and death metal riffs and those essential forlorn melodies which sound very reminiscent of the style of Greg Mackintosh of Paradise Lost. The vocals from Adam Clemans are a mix of blackened screams and deathly gutturals with the inclusion of some baritone clean vocals at times. Ex Rosa Ceremonia is a great album and whilst not wholly original sounding, the quality is there and it is a wonderful love letter to the early 1990’s when these pioneering death doom bands were releasing unrelentingly bleak and unsettling music. 8/10

Pteroglyph: Solaire (Bloodblast Records) [Liam True]

Despite being around since 2012, touring the underground UK Metal scene for years, gaining media attention from the likes of Metalsucks & Kerrang!, playing both Bloodstock & UK Tech Fest in 2016 & 2017 respectively, they’ve never come into my radar. And with their debut album out in 2017 I thought I would have heard of this band earlier. But finally, on their eagerly awaited follow up they’ve hit the nail on the head for everything I look for in a powerful Metalcore band. With a six-song album the Leeds trio are thrown back into the spotlight with Solaire. A meaty chunk of technical, but melodic, Metalcore it shows you can combine two genres to curdle into a sickening collaboration of Djenty sound with the melodic chorus’ of Metalcore. Entwining the two together to produce the 28-minute album to crush all other newcomers to the party. Fronted and lead by vocalist & lead songwriter Jimmy MacGregor heads the charge with his signature vocal charge as the band commence their thrones on the battlefield of Solaire. 

Doing double duty on the vocals and guitars can be somewhat challenging, but MacGregor pulls it off like he’s been doing it since birth. Both himself & fellow six string compadre Ainsley Prothero don’t dabble with atmospheric intro’s as they let their guitar tones do the talking before both the album & title track Solaire is off to a punishing start with sticksman Bradie Nixon coming from the dark to unleash the machine gun like tempos of pure destruction that don’t let up for a second. While the band annihilate your senses with their almost Death Metal sound, they also bring a more melodic side with chorus’ in songs like Black Death & Forlorn that enhance the sound of the album. From start to finish it’s a perfect album with riffs aplenty and air drums to perfect. It took a long time to reach my radar, but now I'm glad it found me as it’s easily my contender for album of the year. It’s worth your time to wreck your neck headbanging to and to learn the album through and through back to front. Meaty. Vile. Monstrous. This is Pteroglyph. And they’ve just slayed the competition. 10/10

L.A. Guns: Renegades (Golden Root Records) [Simon Black]

Poor old L.A. Guns. Despite being a key component of the history of the rise of Guns ’N’ Roses and the whole Holywood 80’s phenomena, and despite producing some classic contributions to the remarkably resilient (but now mercifully underground) Sleaze scene in their early days, they never really got the kind of attention they may have been entitled to. They are always referred to in the same breath of the Rock Gods of that era, but that has never translated into sales, mainstream recognition or big venues even in their heyday (much as Diamond Head sit in the shadows of Metallica).

Any attempt to do this now is massively hampered by the fact that for the second time in his history, the recording incarnation of the band bearing his name no longer actually has Tracii Guns contributing to it. For those not in the loop, L.A, Guns are yet another example of the acrimony of the early noughties that led to parallel incarnations of bands to come into being as rival versions vie for the attentions of a smaller slice of the Sleazy Hard Rock pie. Although by keeping the ongoing tradition of including the L.A. Guns Skull badge logo, the Steve Riley version of the band are determined to try and claim that legitimacy.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t followed these guys in any way since their debut album many moons ago, so the trials tribulations, splits and line up fluctuations have passed me by completely. Looking at this album as it stands is not easy, because as ever when there are multiple acts vying for the same brand (and in this case the one without the man who lent his name to it), I can’t shake off the feeling that I’m not listening to the real thing…

So what I am listening to is a perfectly competent, if slightly flat Rock’n’Roll album. Although a little dated lyrically from time to time – for example single Well Oiled Machine drips sleazy 80’s cheesiness; sorry this is not 1987. It’s got the feel, but recording wise is just a bit to clean for the genre. This kind of music works best when it’s really rough around the edges, and this sadly lacks that slightly dangerous quality that their early albums dripped. Songs like The Lost Boys have the mood and the songwriting, but the production kills it dead. And there’s the challenge – the songs should work, but the spark is missing. It’s the kind of low slung riff machinery that works a treat in a sweaty club where the energy of the audience can feed the musicians, but this album is unlikely to move them beyond those sorts of venues. The legal profession may have decided that the two halves can continue independently, but this album is nowhere near whole. 5/10

L’Uomo Nero: Andiamo Nel Deserto (Desert Records) [Paul Scoble]

L’Uomo (The Boogeymen) are a 3 piece based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The band, which features Dominic Cagliostro on Vocals and Guitar, Robson Guy on Bass guitar and Luke Seelau on Drums, are in the process of making a 3 part concept piece using 3 EP’s, of which Andiamo Nel Deserto is the first part. The trilogy is about ‘Occult’ detectives, and is inspired by true events, and by H.P. Lovecraft.
Musically L’Uomo Nero play quite a bluesy style of Boogie Woogie Rock and Roll. The opening track Andiamo is an uptempo 12 bar, with a certain amount of swagger. 

Second track Afterman is My Sharona by The Knack, but with different lyrics, it’s played well, and is a lot of fun, but it’s basically someone else’s song. Nel Deserto is a big blues ballad, that is huge and dramatic. Final track is bit of blues with a swaggering swing tempo called Walk Away, it’s a nice bombastic way to end the EP. Andiamo Nel Deserto is a fun and well played Ep, but the material is fairly generic. There isn’t a note that I haven’t heard before, and Afterman is just too close to being someone else’s work. This EP reminds me of The Commitments Soundtrack, in the style of the music on offer, and in that The Commitments were a covers band. Not bad at all, but this EP might give you Deja Vu. 6/10

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