Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Thursday 11 February 2021

Reviews: Loathe, Sacred Reich, Wig Wam, Jorogumo (Reviews By Liam True, Richard Oliver, Simon Black & Matt Bladen)

Loathe - The Things They Believe (Sharptone Records) [Liam True]

In a world where ‘elitist’ online commenters decide what’s ‘Metal’ and what’s not, there are few bands that transcend the genres they’re known for and actually explore other musical standpoints. And thank god for bands like Loathe who are spearheading the genre bending movement. Even though it’s a direct follow up from their previous album I Let It In And It Took Everything it bears none of the hallmarks of their previous outputs.

Gone are the grinding riffs, hulking vocals and booming backdrops the band is accustomed to delivering, and are replaced by an atmospheric, ambient soundscape that takes you on a journey through the mind of the Liverpudlian’s and their escape from the world that we know today. An almost eerie vibe fills the album that makes you think they’re going to bound back into their signature wall of sound that has blown many minds. But nothing.

Although the album is a soothing relaxing vacation away from the struggles we’re all undertaking, it’s soft sound isn’t all that it seems to be. As the album presses on it has some violent, contorting moments. The first being toward the end of Don’t Get Hurt. The static loops and implodes in itself before Do You takes you back on the soft synth pattern of the album. It’s an absolute dazzlingly ambitious performance that encapsulates the minds of the band. As they’re not strangers to producing this kind of structure, having introductions and interludes of this caliber on their previous albums, it’s actually quite cathartic and mesmerising that they’ve put out a full 12 song ambient record that spans longer than their debut, albeit only by mere minutes.

It’s a atmospheric love affair with their traditional sound that actually transcends the landscape of what we thought the band was capable of. We knew they could twist a genre. But we didn’t know they could actually take an already mind bending genre and weave it to their personal gain and make it sound so haunting and alive. It’s a complete mind fuck from the band. And that’s what makes it so beautifully brilliant. 10/10

Sacred Reich - Reissues (Metal Blade Records) [Richard Oliver]

When it comes to old school thrash metal bands Sacred Reich aren’t the first band that comes to mind for most people but they are one of the most respected and beloved bands to come from the 80’s thrash scene. They formed in Phoenix, Arizona in 1985 and word quickly spread about them in the underground scene with their 1986 demo Draining You Of Life becoming one of the most sought after tapes in the tape trading scene. They were also a very politically aware band and were not afraid to put across their political ideals in their lyrics and it is something they are still passionate about to this day. The band soon signed to Metal Blade Records and put out a string of highly successful and influential releases. These have been reprinted in 2021 both on CD and on vinyl (in a variety of different colours and limited editions). So let’s go back and delve into a bit of thrash metal history…

The first of these reissues is of course the now classic debut album Ignorance (8) which was originally released back in 1987. This album is a lean mean killing machine full of absolutely no nonsense thrash metal that is full of crunching riffs, ripping lead solos, relentless drumming and the passionate and enraged vocals of singer and bassist Phil Rind. This isn’t an album that reinvented the wheel when it came to thrash metal but just did it in absolutely crushing style with several absolute bangers such as the weighty title track, the speed attack of Rest In Peace and the absolute classic Death Squad which is one of the finest opening songs on any thrash metal album. Ignorance is a cult thrash classic and quite rightly so.

The second reissue is the Surf Nicaragua EP (7) that was originally released in 1988. Like a lot of EP’s of this era it is a mixing pot of original material, re-recorded material, a cover song and live material. The new material comprises the now classic title track which is probably the most well known Sacred Reich songs with its goofy mix of thrash metal and surf rock whilst One Nation is a chunky mid paced thrasher. You get a passable cover of the Black Sabbath classic War Pigs followed by a ripping re-recording of Draining You Of Life from the bands 1986 demo of the same name. The live recordings of Ignorance and Death Squad sound great and burst with the energy of their live shows. This isn’t an essential Sacred Reich release but it’s still a very enjoyable one.

The third and final reissue is of the 1990 album The American Way (8). Whilst a lot of fans consider this an inferior album to Ignorance I think it is equally as enjoyable. It’s just a different beast. Back in 1990 thrash metal was at its height of popularity and a lot of bands cleaned up their sound and made it somewhat more accessible for the casual listener. The American Way is very much a cleaned up sounding Sacred Reich with a far more mid-paced feel but the songs on offer are absolutely brilliant from the catchy onslaught of Love...Hate and The Way It Is, the snarling attack on the PMRC on Who’s To Blame and the stomping headbanging anthem that is the title track. It also has possibly the most derided Sacred Reich song which is the funk fusion of 31 Flavors. It’s meant to be nothing more than a bit of fun and I personally like it (sorry fellow thrash metal maniacs!). Although a different sounding Sacred Reich I think The American Way stands up just as well as Ignorance.

These reissues are enjoyable but ultimately are very bog standard reissues. The material hasn’t been remixed or remastered and there is no bonus material on offer. Although these albums have been reissued many times over the years for European audiences there hasn’t been a reissue in the US for a very long time so the main reason for these reissues is to allow US customers to finally get their hands on these on shiny new CD or vinyl without having to pay to have them imported from Europe. Nonetheless I’m sure there are vinyl collectors who will be snapping up these limited edition repressings of these thrash metal classics.

Wig Wam – Never Say Die (Frontiers Records) [Simon Black]

Norway’s Wig Wam have been on hold for quite a few years, having officially called it a day in 2014. Given the resurgence in popularity in all things 1980’s at the moment it is perhaps not surprising that a band whose look could have come straight off the front of any Hair Metal favouring publication from that decade, this may not be surprising. Having become something of a hit in their home country after successfully representing it and coming a respectable fifth place in the 2005 Eurovision contest the year before Lordi famously won it (so have a think about who stole the idea from whom…) and despite getting some support slots with Kiss, Wig Wam haven’t really reached their full potential. Perhaps this record may change that….

For a start, this is definitely not a Glam record and although the costumes still look of the period, it’s definitely more the Girls, Girls, Girls Crüe era street look this time around. That’s a useful analogy in other respects, because this is a much harder, more Melodic Hard Rock / Metal sounding album than I was expecting and a distinct change of direction for Wig Wam. It’s much heavier and moodier than their back catalogue and completely avoids the late 20th Century tropes, because let’s face it, they have been done to death and the double entendre has been replaced by the thundering double bass. The title track kicks things off and proves that point, and despite its catchy melody intro line is a solid and full on door kicker, with enough melodic hooks to appeal to a more mainstream audience, but plenty of heaviness and full-fat crunchy guitar work to keep old farts like me nodding along. 

There’s also a deep richness to the rhythm section that clearly marks the change in direction. Hypnotized is a bit more traditional, but no less heavy in its delivery, which is what prevents it from being too mundane, despite the by-the-numbers radio-friendly melody chorus line (not that it would have got played on radio back then with lyrics like “Lucifer in the skies”). There’s plenty for the Power Ballad fans as well, as after a few all out rockers the tempo slows a little to allow space for these – Kilimanjaro is the first and probably most successful of these as it keeps the tempo mid-range and avoids being insipid. (Rises like Olympus you could say - AOR Ed)

There are some pleasant musical surprises in here too, as the unexpected instrumental Northbound illustrates – one of the strongest all out pieces of music here and one that illustrates that guitarist Trond Holter would have been completely wasted in the Glam bands of old, many of who would have rankled at this sort of virtuosity. I was expecting to hate this, but found myself being pleasantly surprised. You may be too. 8/10

Jorogumo - Rot (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

From the grimy depths of Glasgow's gutters Jorogumo (a shapeshifting woman-spider from Japanese folklore) are a raging beast of heaviness that mercilessly swing between brutal death metal, aggressive hardcore beatdowns and earth shattering doom. Rot is their debut EP and it gets you by the jugular from the opening seconds, the powerful riffing and guttural vocals immediately bringing to mind bands like Eyehategod and Crowbar but also they give you glimpses of Obituary too. Tracks such as PeaksAltar and Raised By Wolves also manage to bring in some clean vocals which balances out the filthy death growls, adding a more melodic edge to the EP. On the Raised By Wolves especially things shift into a punishing breakdown as the final track Pyre closes this lesson in aggression. Very much on the extreme side of sludge Jorogumo with towering highs and thundering lows, these Glaswegians are ready to unleash their wicked Yōkai upon you. 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment