Sound Of Memories: The Sand Within (Domino Media Group)
First up are French death/thrash metal band Sound Of Memories who owe a major debt to the Swedish Melodeath acts such as Arch Enemy and In Flames, mixing melodic technicality of classic heavy metal, with death metal aggression. Formed in Paris (a long way away from Gothenburg) the band experimented for a few years before settling on the style you hear on this second full length record. Despite not being from the Swedish capital they play very good melodeath with Del and Lucho's dual guitar sound really adding to tracks such as State Of Grace and Soul Asylum giving the record a more melodic feel against the thundering rhythms of Fab (bass) and Nacim (drums) as Flo's excellent growls and screams are in the Anders Friden/Tomas Lindberg style, brilliantly fitting the bands very slick style of melodic death metal which is anchored by some thrashy grooves (This Shivering Whisper), death metal aggression (Fate And Doom/Black Virgin) and lots of classic metal melodies with tracks such as the excellent The Mirror Behind and Inside The Eye Of The Storm. A real treat for fans of the melodeath sound building on it with a lot more guitar fireworks Sound Of Memories will also appeal to any classic metal fans as well. Though miles from Sweden these Parisians have hit the nail on the head. 8/10
Next is an acoustic record from horror rock band Ward XVI who have stripped back tracks. It's an EP that has come from necessity, their most recent album (reviewed highly by Simon in these pages) was released in the middle of the pandemic meaning that despite all the deadlines of the release being met their release show was postponed twice and most of their live shows on hiatus they jumped onto the acoustic show/live stream bandwagon that has become the norm. Frontwoman Psychoberrie and guitarist Doktor von Stottenstein set about rearranging their music for just acoustic guitar and vocals, it has yielded a unique release that shows the songwriting prowess of the band away from the schlock horror theatrics of their main albums. What you really draw from this record is how good Psychoberrie's vocals are, taking the dark lyricism to new emotive realms when it's just her voice and the expressive guitar playing of von Stottenstien that shifts between country-styled themes and even some AOR-like acoustic balladry while retaining the Gothic nature of their 'full band' records. An EP that wasn't planned but one that gives another side to Ward XVI that will be greatly appreciated by fans and newcomers alike. 7/10
The Foundation is essentially a solo project by multi-instrumentalist Andy Lenoce with contributions from Connor Occhialini who adds the riff to Call Without Response. Lenoce says that the record "was originally conceived as a coping method" to honour his late father but the scope has widened to encompass all of his recent personal events. This wider scope in influence can also be heard in the musical style present on this record which takes broad strokes at the progressive metal sound lurching between light and dark textures, heavy riffs and ambient passages as well as employing clean/harsh vocals, it's got echoes of bands such as Devin, Ihsahn, Opeth where the extreme metal sound is broken up by classic prog references but for the most part things stay on the heavier side Lenoce's musicianship being of an extremely high level in all respects songs such as Call Without Response having a very big sound to them despite being hindered a little by the D.I.Y production. His vocals aren't bad either, shifting between histrionic cleans to growls easily on tracks like the symphonic An Ocean Of Fire which shifts into the closing two part suite ending this record very well indeed with the most progressive tracks on the record. To Those We've Bid Farewell is an emotionally powerful record from this two man collaboration. 8/10
Deliberate Miscarriage: Ghost Of Christmas Blast (Self Released)
With Christmas out of the way what better way would there be to celebrate the gluttony and greed than with a new three track from Cardiff's latest proponents of blast the delightfully named Deliberate Miscarriage. They're demo was unleashed earlier this year bringing bludgeoning blast beats and face melting death grooves so there has been quick turn around in making this second EP that brings some seasonal slaughter to your ears with such family friendly ditties as Splattered Toddlers which really ups Deliberate Miscarriage's thunderous death metal sound Jordan Roberts of JKR Studios adding a wider audio scope to the cripplingly heavy assault of Charlie's technical bass playing, expressive growls and Adam's brain melting guitar playing.