Friday, 5 February 2021

Reviews: Aliceissleeping, Seven Doors, Death Kommander, Trapped In Purgatory (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Aliceissleeping: Completely Fine (Mandrone Records)

One listen to this record, you get the feeling that that Alice is doing anything than sleeping. This debut full length follows on from a 2018 EP and it leads this prog/grunge trio on to their next stage. The very awake Alice Dionis conducts a cacophony attitude that this record has with a sneering vocal delivery and five-string bass, giving the songs a throbbing bottom end along with drummer Jon Hare-Winton as they shift through a sound influenced by bands such as 90's alternative rockers like Smashing Pumpkins, Pixies and Sonic Youth but with the theatrics of a band like Queen and the psychedelic flourishes of Jefferson Airplane. Alice's vocals regularly moving into operatic ranges, like on the end of Felix as Twilight brings a dissonant eeriness where the bass and drums carry the shamanic chanting. On the heavier rockers Dan Murroni's guitar playing has some Nirvana-meets-blues riffage on Scary Mary but has a Sci-Fi punk sound on Alien. The sound shifts across the nine songs, it's the sort of band Hole wanted to be, switching musical styles while also retaining an adherence to the alternative 90's sound. A really intriguing listen Aliceissleeping are a band that I'd be keen to see live as I think they would really bring fire to these tracks on stage. However even on this record you can hear that they are a focussed, hard rocking trio with a perfect amount of oddness. 8/10   

Seven Doors: The Gates Of Hell EP (Self Released)

The Gates Of Hell is a 3 track EP full to the brim with evil sounding, occult/horror influenced OSDM. Over the course of these three tracks you get pummeled by blastbeats, have you flesh ripped by the grinding guitars and the growled vocals reverb through your head. You'll be surprised to know that all three of these, and of course bass, come from Ryan Wills the guitarist of Deadwood Lake and Wolves In Exile. Yep Seven Doors is his solo project where he plays and writes everything. According to his Bandcamp, the record is aimed at fans of bands such as Goreguts, Asphyx and Skeletal Remains and from the kick off of Into The Tombs I'd say that these bands are definitely major influences. 

The familiarity of biting guitar tones and slower death grooves are infused with a technicality that musos will appreciate. Drawing from horror imagery and taking the band name from the Louisiana hotel featured in Italian Horror film The Beyond, where a warlock is lynched opening a portal to hell. (Covered in detail on Seven Doors Hotel by Europe of all people). There is a definite move towards the macabre here ideal for that old school death sound. A powerful debut EP giving a brief introduction to what Seven Doors is all about, if or how Ryan will translate this live (it may remain a studio project) I'm unsure but get ready for your walls to rattle when you open The Gates Of Hell. 7/10

Death Kommander: Pro Patria Mori (Warhorn Records)

Don't worry! There are no National Socialist overtones to this band despite their Germanic spelling. No this Edinburgh based death metal crew are very much based in the horrors of WWI's mechanised warfare. Think flamethrowers, tanks and the appalling bloodshed of trench warfare and you'd be on the right track. Even the album title comes from the Wilfred Owen poem about the futility of war. Inspired mainly by UK OSDM gods Bolt Thrower and by association Memoriam, the record musically and conceptually owes a huge debt of gratitude to Karl Willetts and co as Death Kommander devote half the album to grinding, crushing grooves and the other half to faster more ballistic death metal concussion battery. Starting out with a ominous intro you are brought into the hostility of this album with tracks such as Shock Trooper has a relentless battery driving it ever forward into your eardrums as Unnamed Grave and Flanders Blues has that edge of grindcore/punk to it that brings back the Bolt Thrower comparisons. The D.I.Y production of the record adds to its underground feel, Pro Patria Mori sounds a lot like the sort of album that was traded on cassette tapes back in the club scene. Very promising indeed. 7/10   

Trapped In Purgatory: Damned Nation (Self Released)

"Trapped in purgatory
A lifeless object, alive
Awaiting reprisal
Death will be their acquittance"

Yep a band who have a name that is opening line of Slayer's seminal Raining Blood, you'd pretty much guarantee they're going to be thrash. However there's more to it than that, Trapped In Purgatory's membership comes from 3/5ths of UK thrash band Purgatory (not to be associated with the precursor to Ic*d E*rth). Chris Neighbour (vocals), Jason Coombs (guitar) and Andy ‘Jock’ Jamieson (lead guitar) are the three members from that original band but here they have brought in a totally new rhythm section of Jon Hoare (bass) and Marc Paling (drums). But what does it sound like? Well what we have on Damned Nation is that original thrash sound with a modern edginess, Beyond The Rubicon is a great example of this evolution, having a blasting thrash riffage that breaks down into a serious stomp, Chris' raw vocals mixing with Theresa Smith from Metaprism for a song full of melody and aggression. Elsewhere you have a lot 21sr Century thrashing as the production brings everything up to 11. Out Of The Fire (Into The Pit) a serious thrasher, inciting that titular pit even in your front room as does Hung Out To Die but as I alluded to earlier it's not all speedy thrashing as there are more melodic and even atmospheric elements on the title track. As I've said before thrash is not usually one of my most listened to genres but Damned Nation has enough variety to entertain throughout. Damned Nation is a very good modern/retro thrash record. 8/10 

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