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Monday 22 February 2021

Reviews: Mogwai, Temperance, Natural Born Machine, Embrace Of Souls (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Mogwai - As Love Continues (Temporary Residence Limited)

Scottish post-rockers Mogwai were once hailed as the future of music. Their widescreen, cinematic style of electronica drenched progressive post rock is some of the best around, so much so that they really can be seen as originators. While they are now the elder statesmen of the genre they still have the ability to bring glorious, euphoric music in the hardest of times. As Love Continues is the sort of record the world needs right now, a cathartic exploration of mostly instrumental music richly textured for maximum effect. The first part of this record hooks you in, allowing entrance into the world of Mogwai if you've never visited before. 

As To The Bin My Friend, Tonight We Vacate Earth segues into Here We, Here We, Here We Go Forever the record shifts into the realms of Division Bell Pink Floyd, all fuzzing electronics and brilliant guitar playing. Dry Fantasy has yet more electronics, making me feel like I'm listening to one of those New Age records of the early 90's before we get the indie rocker of Ritchie Sacramento which is the first track to feature vocals and a natural single. It's an album that has been recorded in spite of the pandemic, trying desperately to inject some positivity into things with these anthemic tracks. It does trail off a little towards the end, essentially after the Daft Punk-like Fuck Money but if you're looking for yet more expressive post rocking then you have to go to one of the most recognisable names in the game. 7/10  

Temperance - Memories Of Green And Blue (Napalm Records)

Italian's Temperance have become something of a big name in the symphonic metal scene, bringing a new edginess to the genre across their previous albums. Their best being the most recent release Viridian. Much like Ad Infinitum recently the lockdown has led to them reworking the songs from that album in an acoustic format. That means that I Am The Fire becomes a happy clappy pop song in this format while Nanook gets everything very folky with the fluid guitar leading it. What sets Temperance apart from many of their contemporaries is their vocal trio; Michele Guaitoli (Visions Of Atlantis) really showing how good his voice here especially in ideal unison with Alessia Scolletti's emotional power and Marco Pastorino' giving the vocals harmonies and the guitars too. It's this triumvirate of voices that really sells this record on songs like Start Another Round which feels a lot like Jethro Tull and the very fun Latin flavoured My Demons Can't Sleep. Yes it's a stopgap release but one that is a lot more entertaining than the Ad Infinitum release. 6/10

Natural Born Machine - Human (Pride & Joy Music)

Ah David Readman, the Pink Cream 69 singer has probably sung with every kind of band there is, but where he really shines is on melodic rock. It's useful then that when bassist/songwriter Alberto Rigoni founded melodic rock project in 2019 he tapped Readman to sing on any songs that were written. Well two years later the debut album Human has come to life an it's pretty much the style of melodic hard rock you would want Readman to be a part of. The band is rounded out by guitarist Alessio "Lex" Tricarico and drummer Denis "Denzy" Novello with quality performances from all unfortunately the songs are fairly generic for melodic/hard rock style, Won't Be Friends is a bit like modern Whitesnake, a band who are always mentioned when you talk about David Readman, Reborn takes a similar tact, while Beast In The Dark is bit more Dio-like. Enjoyable enough but nothing much to write home about, perhaps album 2 will change my mind. 5/10

Embrace Of Souls - The Number Of Destiny (Elevate Records)

The project of Chronosfear drummer Michele Olmi, The Number Of Destiny is the debut album of Embrace Of Souls and the name of the game here is power metal, big, boisterous power metal delivered by a well versed band an numerous high profile guests from the Italian power/symphonic metal scene. If were to make an immediate comparison it would be to Rhapsody, possibly the bastion of Italian epic power metal, Embrace Of Souls' debut album is a concept record that has the same kind of theatrical sound to it, kicking off with the rampaging New Hope and From The Sky both which feature heavy use of orchestrated keys and excellent guitar playing from not only Giovanni Paolo Galeotti but also guest guitarists Danilo Bar and Edward De Rosa both adding to the neoclassical sound of these songs.

Now I mentioned Rhapsody and much of that comparison comes from the sky scraping vocals of Giacomo Voli who sings with Rhapsody of Fire, but also there's elements of Labyrinth, Deridian, Visions Of Atlantis and Temperance, so it's only natural that all of these bands vocalists contribute to the album adding to the storytelling aspect of this album. At over an hour of music it may be a lot to take in for the casual listener but for Rhapsody/ROF/Avantasia etc fans then The Number Of Destiny will put a huge smile on your face. 7/10 

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