Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Thursday 26 November 2020

Reviews: Voivod, Scour, Cats In Space, Bethmoora (Rich, Paul H, Simon & Paul S)

Voivod: Lost Machine - Live (Century Media) [Rich Oliver]

Voivod are a legendary and hugely inspirational band hailing from Québec in Canada. They are quite a difficult band to categorize with an ever shifting sound from their thrash metal origins to their psychedelic experimentations and the dissonant prog metal they play these days but one thing is for sure when you hear Voivod you know it is them such is the unique sound they have attained. For a band that has been active since 1981, they seem to be far from slowing down and are really hitting their stride with 2018’s The Wake album being one of the best albums in their very lengthy discography.

This live album was recorded on the touring cycle for The Wake in Québec City last year. Having seen Voivod myself in October 2018 when they played Cardiff for the very first time I can vouch what a phenomenal, energetic and enthusiastic live act they are and this live album does a very good job of capturing that. The performances are extremely tight considering the complexity of these songs and it shows the staggering levels of musicianship in this band. The vocals are the weakest link but whilst they aren’t particularly strong they work well enough with the music. 

 The tracklist itself is heavy on later material such as Obsolete Beings, Iconspiracy, Post Society and Prow but this is incredibly strong material so it is very welcome. There are classic cuts such as Into My Hypercube, Psychic Vacuum and Overreaction and well as deep cuts such as The Prow and The Lost Machine. There are the set staples such as the fantastic cover of Pink Floyd’s Astronomy Domine and the legendary speed metal attack of the title track. The mix of this live album is great with everything nicely audible and nothing too overbearing or buried in the mix.

Lost Machine is a great live album that very much captures the energy of a Voivod concert. Like a lot of live albums this will probably bypass the average listener but Voivod fans should love every second of this. Not an essential listen but a very enjoyable one. 7/10

Scour: The Black EP (Nuclear Blast) [Paul Hutchings]

EP number three from the extreme metal supergroup and it’s just as visceral and punishing as the previous releases. Six tracks in 15 minutes tells you all you need to know. This is faster than a chicken strapped to a F-16. Elements of grim black metal interspersed with a crusty grindcore with elements of punk and thrash combine in a maelstrom of fiery explosive blast beats and frantic riffing whilst the dulcet croaking roars of one Philip H Anselmo bring yet another dimension to his delivery. It’s guttural stuff, raw and caked in blood which starts with the sirens that signal the opening eruption of Doom, the two-minute pummelling of Microbes through to the finishing move of Subprime. Alongside Anselmo is the elite collective of John Jarvis (Agoraphobic Nosebleed), Derek Engemann (Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals), Mark Kloeppel (Misery Index) and Adam Jarvis (Pig Destroyer, Lock Up). Brutal from start to finish, this ain’t no easy listening release. If you want discomfort in the ear drums, horrific imagery and virtually primordial, then take a chance with this EP. 7/10

Cats In Space: Atlantis (Harmony Factory/Cargo Records UK) [Simon Black]

I have come to the conclusion that I have been living under a stone for far too long. Not only have I failed to notice the emergence of this band, I also managed to miss the fact that a cracking live album was recorded down the road from me in Cardiff Arena recently. More fool me. When this one landed it in my inbox, it coincided with a Konversation with the legendary Krusher Joule, who has been raving about these boys for a while. When I asked him if I should be worried being asked to review this piece, he told me no – “Honoured and thankful are the words you're looking for”. And he’s absolutely right. Now, I’m going to avoid calling this bunch a Supergroup – it’s a lazy journalistic shorthand that doesn’t do this bunch justice, as they’ve forged themselves from the bottom up the hard way. 

Although the constituents have all been around the block as hired hands for he likes of Asia, Mike Oldfield, Moritz, Ian Gillan and Sweet - the musical core of the band is not necessarily well known individually, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t brought a massive amount of musical nonce and experience to the proceedings. Oh, and a deep love for the bombastic pompous best of the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Spaceship Superstar positively explodes out of the speakers - I’m hearing lots of prime era Who with those striking and distinctive Pete Townsend style semi-acoustic rhythm chords overlaid over the louder instruments, with chord structures that resemble early Asia. Add the soaring vocals of new addition Damien Edwards (who if you had a childhood that involved a copy of Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds, then you probably just wet yourself reading this) and the ingredients for pomp par excellence appear to be laid clearly on the table. This track is a grandiose and monstrous album opener, and sets the tone nicely. 

Revolution keeps that lively tempo going with the right balance of Proggy Melo-Rock, with just enough nods in the direction of AOR to pull in a wider mainstream audience. It drives, it pumps and it’s the kind of track that’s clearly intended for an arena singalong. Sunday Best threw me – so familiar was the Elton John snorting a line with ELO piano melody with an overdubbed Les Paul guitar solo that Brian May deserves royalties for, that I had to check that this wasn’t a cover. It’s short, its sweet, its pure Power Pop and its got ‘hit’ written on the watermark of the lyric sheet. Listen To The Radio sounds like what it’s aiming to do – nod firmly in the direction of the classic US Radio Rock that kept an army of truckers rockin’ through the night crossing the rust belt. ‘Uplifting’ is a word that barely does this song justice. And it pretty much keeps that feeling going throughout. This album has a unique feel to it. Virtually every track has the feel of a classic hit from five decades ago – to the point where the back of my mind can’t shake the fact that there is some song-covering going on here. 

It’s not. It’s simply that they have worked out the magic of how to capture your influences and present them back in an original manner. They have nailed the absolute key element f capturing the essence of the era, whilst taking full advantage of the production techniques, bells and whistles of the modern age. The band also resist the temptation to create long drawn out rambling epics, which so often blighted the bands from their influence pot, and even the album closer title track, despite having all the right epic finale qualities, does it well by not outstaying its welcome. This whole album is fresh, heart-warming and uplifting, and really deserves every plaudit its going to get. It took me completely by surprise and the arenas are very soon not going to be quite big enough for these guys… 9/10

Bethmoora: Thresholds (Sludgelord Records) [Paul Scoble]

Bethmoora come from Denmark which is, according to Forbes, the second happiest country in the world. This clearly hasn’t rubbed off on Bethmoora, who seem to be very angry about how depressed they are. The band have been together since 2015 and have released a demo and a split with Doore in 2016, Thresholds is the band's first Album. The band is made up of Henrik Lyck on Guitar, Lewy Nicolson on Bass, Martin Korff on Drums, Anders Kofod on Vocals and Morten Leerhøy on Guitar.
The album has four very long tracks, of extremely slow and extremely heavy sludgey doom, there are elements of Death/Doom, and Funeral Doom in there as well. Anything that is slow and heavy, and malevolent. I can hear similarities with Conan, Lazarus Blackstar, War Crab and even Asphyx when they are doing slow and heavy rather than fast and frenetic. The album opens with Eternity, which after a dissonant build up, is a ridiculously slow and heavy track. It’s so slow that it doesn’t really feel like the band is using riffs, more like there are a sequence of massively heavy chords, that follow each other, but it’s so slow each chord feels solitary and isolated. 

The vocals are savage and incandescently angry. In the last couple of minutes the tempo increases, and an extra layer of guitar is added, and it starts to feels as if there is a groove there. Next track Keeper, is even slower and even angrier than the track that preceded it. It’s slower than continental drift and despite how slow it is it feels driven and purposeful. Third track Painted Man is ultra slow and heavy, and has a soft and brooding middle section that features clean guitar and feels minimal. Near the end the track has a little more drive and for a short period kicks up the tempo for a very quick Hardcore section, before the song comes to an end. The album comes to an end with the track Lamentation. Which is, again, incredibly slow, heavy and angry. The song feels a little bit more expansive than the other material with some guitar layers. 

Thresholds is a huge, heavy and very angry album. It’s incredibly slow, and apart from a couple of places stays incredibly slow. This is an album that does one thing, very well. If you want massively heavy and slow, this is the album for you, but this is all it does, so if you want any kind of variation, you are going to have to look elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad album, it’s just all very similar. However, this is the bands first album, they’ve set out their sound in a very strong way. Hopefully, as the band develop as an act, they will expand on that sound, and bring in more different sounds. This is a very strong debut, that will hopefully lead to a more varied sound. 7/10

No comments:

Post a Comment