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Friday 15 January 2021

Reviews: Fireforce, Fractal Generator, Tantivy, Oath SC (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Fireforce: Rage Of War (ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records)

Now it's usually the Americans that play heavy power metal, I'm thinking mainly about Iced Earth (a band that surely won't be releasing any more albums). But bringing this style of muscular, thrash influenced style of power metal back to Europe shores is Belgian metal crew Fireforce, who along with German's Mystic Prophecy, have been leading the European front on this style of music since the early 200's. Fireforce's fourth full length record Rage Of War continues mining the same heavy power metal sound they have been brining to the metal masses since 2008. Much like many of their American cousins it's built around rugged riffs and intense drumming taking a thrash-like approach though never shies away from going into the anthemic on Ram It. As I've said this record is built around the riffs (Firepanzer), with stinging production from R.D Liapakis (Mystic Prophecy), and the inflammatory six stringing is used hide a multitude of sins, mainly the vocals which are a little hit and miss especially due to this record being far too long at 13 tracks. There needs to be a bit of creative control here as at least 4 tracks could be cut and Rage Of War would be a little more impactful. Still it's both melodic and heavy enough to satisfy power metal fans but doesn't ever really hit the spot. 6/10     

Fractal Generator: Macrocosmos (Everlasting Spew Records)

Sci-Fi and technical death metal go together like cheese and biscuits, they usually channel the sci-fi influences through dark horror themes so it's ideal for the nastier, more evil side of death metal. Fractal Generator are one such band that blend darker existential themes, science fiction and virtuoso playing. Coming from Canada, Macrocosmos is the follow up to their debut Apotheosynthesis which was an intense record that drew from (early) Decapitated and Morbid Angel, but no matter how go the musicianship was it was let down a little by the production on the record. It seems as if this was addressed by the band on this second album, as they have taken five years to write this record but have genuinely tried to step up the production. 

The band handling that themselves while they let Stefano Morabito of 16th Cellar Studio make his mark on the mixing and mastering. He has worked with bands such as Fleshgod Apocalypse so if anyone knows how to make a band sound weighty it's him. This record has a theme, dealing with the existence of larger niverses that contain our tiny universe (macrocosmos) so it's got a lot of those existential "are we alone in the universe" themes I mentioned earlier. The band, who go under the monikers: 040118180514 (bass/vocals), 040114090512 (drums), 102119200914 (guitar/vocals) are all extremely proficent musicians shifting between crushing beatdowns, thunderous blast beats that all have a progressive flourishes as tracks like Contagion and Chaosphere are face meltingly fast as the latter is underscored by some synths while Serpentine brings some melodic edges and Shadows Of Infinity has some Fear Factory industrial battery to it. 

Brutally heavy death metal from the frozen lands of North America, Macrocosmos is weighty return from Fractal Generator. 7/10

Tantivy: Eyes In The Night (Self Released)

Yet another sleazy, speed/thrash metal record mixed and mastered by Trevor William Church, Tantivy are less Maiden more Motorhead with a heap of the gnarly buzzsaw riffs of Toxic Holocaust cutting through your listening experience with an analogue production style for that early 80's sound where records like this were confined to cassettes and traded between local bands. Tantivy is a duo from Wisconsin Adam Geurink is vocals, guitars and bass while Jon Zimick bashes the drums drawing from Guerink's experience in crust-punk bands but with a melody of early Priest on Houdin Ya where the thrash meets the NWOBHM gallop, although a shed load faster. At just five tracks it's certainly a statement from Tanivity Nowhere the pick of the bunch as you can feel the pit starting to kick off as it bounds along with a choppy riff behind Geurink's raw vocal scream. A concise shot of NWOTHM as this EP announces Tantivy to the world with a bang! 7/10

Oath SC: Computer Warrior (Self Released) [2020]

Another Trevor William Church alumni Oath Sc (as to seperate them from the numerous other bands called Oath) is a little more raw than Tantivy. Basically a solo project from Steve Waddell it's also a lot more melodic with touches of AOR coming through with clean twin axe attack however that's not to say that the record is lightweight in fact there is a dark heart here with Angelwitch a big influence musically and vocally, as is Di'Anno fronted Maiden. It's been crafted as 'garage days 80's band' intentionally making the record sitting in that second tier of NWOBHM bands that never made it into the mainstream but become cult classics in their own right. 

It's been faithfully recreated with the NWOTHM of which Oath Sc are certainly part of now. Bands like Haunt, Tanith and Unto Others (formerly Idle Hands) have successfully translated this sound of slightly progressive NWOBHM very well and Oath Sc does the same embracing the D.I.Y ethos as Waddell takes care of every instrument/vocal here to great effect, chugging away with Insomnia as those twin axe attacks comes back on the the title track. Chock full of fist pumping anthems Computer Warrior is great record from Edinburgh native Steve Waddell, channelling those glistening streets of L.A with Computer Warrior. 8/10        

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