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Tuesday 12 January 2021

Reviews: Dread Sovereign, Starified, CB3, Ominous Glory (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Dread Sovereign: Alchemical Warfare (Metal Blade Records)

This has been a long time coming. Dread Sovereign is the black/proto-metal/doom project from Nemtheanga who has been at the forefront of the black metal scene with Primordial. With Dread Sovereign Nemtheanga plays bass along with vocals, bringing Bones on guitar and JK on drums and aiming at the sound cultivated by bands such as Venom and Hellhammer where proto-black metal is met with speed driven rock n roll. With a couple of releases under their belt, released periodically as either EP's or full lengths, the lyrical and thematic content of each of the surrounding the trio's time travelling exploits in the historical and ecumenical realms. 

These lofty lyrical themes are tilted through a praise of Satan's existence in every one of us, Alchemical Warfare embracing that with more of punk attitude, as the band put it themselves "If it's the end of days we might as well go out with middle fingers raised right?". So with that in mind how does Alchemical Warfare weigh up against the rest of the Dread Sovereign canon, well as She Wolves Of The Savage Season explodes with some gutsy, grizzled riffs that continue into The Great Beast We Serve which has battering Motorhead vibe to it as Nature Is The Devil's Church has a distinctive gallop from the early days of black metal, Nemtheanga shouting like Cronos in a bad mood. If there was a party at the end of the world, the evils of man unleashed then Alchemical Warfare would be the soundtrack you'd want playing, it's a rip snorter that doesn't end until the cover of Bathory's You Don't Move Me (I Don't Give A Fuck). 7/10

Starified: Fat Hits (Ripple Music)

Power trios are stock in trade for the stoner rock scene but here we have a band that have a much more in common with the grunge and alternative sound of the late 90's this is the second record for them as a trio from a five piece guitarist Yuriy Berezovik, bassist Dmitri Shurpakov and drummer vocalist Vadim Ambartsumian, continuing where they left of on previous album Feathers. One of the major influences here is Foo Fighters mainly due to Vadim's vocal style on tracks like What If and the riffy Same Old River reminding you of the power The Foos had back in the day, before they became another 'classic rock act.

The band also cite The White Stripes and Led Zeppelin as influences but I hear a hell of a lot Faith No More with some quirky additions to the Latin influenced Don Loco, while Scapegoat starts the album with huge stoner riffs as Saraton does the same with thick heavy riffs as Noah takes things into the space rock heaviness climaxing with some explosive guitar playing. Everything here is so tight in terms of production the vocals, quite rightly taking center stage but nothing seems forgotten or overlooked. Its a record that is frothy and fun with the radio friendly alternative rock riffs met with some classic touches of Lizzy (a band Starified have covered recently). Expertly crafted riff rock from Russia, Fat Hits is a record with 10 tracks of exactly that! 8/10
CB3: Aeons Live Session (The Sign Records)

When a band who thrive on their live show release an album just before a global pandemic which puts pay to every single live show in over a year, then you could be forgiven for just giving up but not CB3 (Charlottas Burning Trio), they went into Signalverket in Malm√∂ to record three songs from their album Aeon in a live environment, where they can display their instrumental, fuzzy, freak out jam rock prowess. Recorded for YouTube and on special 12 inch single. So across the three songs Acid Haze, Sonic Blaze and Warrior Queen, we get carried away on a journey through expansive psychedelic spheres of bands like Barrett-era Pink Floyd, where the music speaks louder than words the trio of, Charlotta Andersson (guitar), Pelle Lindsj√∂ (bass), Natanael Salomonsson (drums), kick out the jams with long mind expanding experimental numbers ready for consumption by their fans. A unique idea but one that really only appeals to those who enjoy instrumental jam rock. 6/10  

Ominous Glory: The Elven Dream (Self Released)

Occasionally in this crazy world of reviewing you stumble across a record that is so unbelievably daft and overblown that you can't help but grin from ear to ear. The first time I heard Blind Guardian, Avantasia and Ayreon all promoted these feelings upon a first listen, added to that list is now Ominous Glory hailing from Philadelphia, their debut album is set in a mythical Elven Kingdom a million miles away from the East Coast of America. A concept album revolving around Elves, fantasy and Norse Mythology, featuring bombastic arrangements, multiple vocalists playing different parts and some power metal music that is a cheesy as Roquefort fondue. The album is 15 tracks long but my god do you get involved, the album builds with the first real "wow" moment comes with the Wayfaring Journeyman a driving, fist-in-the-air power metal which seems to open up the record into much more expansive realms, using the vocals of Rek Anthony (the band's main vocalist), Sarah Teets (operatic) and Ryan Hogan (death growls) to work in unison it has a Sabaton nature about it. 

Nordania brings folk touches moving into the Blind Guardian extravagance as does Echoes In TimeLove Knows No Distance is a mega ballad. The telltale signs of pretty much every major power/symphonic metal band, but all brought together with a unique storyline and some excellent arrangements. I've mentioned the vocalists and Rek Anthony has a great middle tone with the other voices, mentioned before along with Mike McElwee as the fourth singer fleshing things out on the character side. Musically things get incredibly cinematic, with Alistar Blackmane (guitar, orchestration, programming and narration), Michael Stegossi (keys), Jamison Wright (flute, keys) and Jacob Esbensen (bass) the main creative force as AJ Viana sits behind the drumkit and Jeff Teets plays some lead guitars near the end of the record. With such a dense membership, there is a lot of freedom to explore the theatrical leanings of this album as well as the influences present throughout. The Elven Dream is a magnificent debut that seems to have been many years in production, it's well worth the wait. 9/10   

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