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Wednesday 3 February 2021

Reviews: Walking Papers, Metaprism, Blind Divide, Demon Head (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Walking Papers: The Light Below (Carry On Music)

Somehow Walking Papers are still somewhat of an underground sensation. Other than their debut album which had huge fanfare, WP2 seemed to arrive out of nowhere and yet again The Light Below, the bands third full length has taken me by surprise. It is I'll admit a pleasant surprise as I really enjoy the bands amalgamation of 90's alternative/grunge rocking, late night smoky blues with a dash of soul and dark Americana thrown in to keep you guessing. It's a been a long time since Screaming Trees man Barrett Martin and G'N'R bassist Duff McKagan were part of this band but it is still lead by the steady hand, soulful guitar and husky voice of Jeff Angell along with his collaborator-in-chief Benjamin Anderson on keys. The rest of the band are the current touring version that was formed after the release of WP2. This means that we have Will Andrews on drums, Dan Spalding on bass, Tristan Hart Pierce on additional guitar and even saxophonist Gregor Lothian, these additions are now essentially the full band as Angell and Anderson are the creative force behind it. 

So what does The Light Below actually sound like? I hear you cry over the mountains of info I've just given you. Well there seems to be a bit more experimentation here, Angell bringing in the multi-genre approach of his solo project Staticland, The Value Of Zero is a moody, fuzzy, filthy way to open, the echoed vocals put over an industrially tinged riff reminding you of the innate darkness of Walking Papers musical output, What Did You Expect comes next and it's part Alice In Chains, part ZZ Top with some swampy keys behind it. Stood Up At The Gates Of Heaven returns to that moody blues sound of their debut as Going Nowhere has gospel tinge to it, though for me the most affecting song on the album is apocalyptic sounding Money Isn't Everything which is followed by Rich Man's War which continues the sentiment thematically. The Light Below is a 'adult' record, this doesn't mean it'll have to be censored by the PMRC (dated references) but that it feels grown up, perfect late night listening with glass of whiskey as the world goes to sleep and the seedy underbelly arises. Let The Light Below in. 9/10   

Metaprism: From The Earth (Self Released)

Metaprism have always been a band that have shunned the traditional, guitarist Ollie Roberts has essentially formed a melodic metal band filled with progressive flourishes and a dual vocal delivery since the inception. The soaring, powerful vocals of Theresa Smith are the constant across their two previous albums and EP's, she is the main vocalist of the band but they have always had a counterpoint of harsh vocals, in the past the Jut Tabor (Divine Chaos) and Joey Draper have been the co-vocalists on the previous outings however here Jut Tabor returns as a *guest vocalist* rather than a fully fledged member. I for one am pleased about this as I like Jut's vocals style as it is slightly more clarity than his predecessor/successor, using the harsh voice more than the cleans, (though Einherjar makes it known he's not a one trick pony), with Tabor's involvement is makes the record similar to their debut full length The Human Encryption but with a more seasoned level of songwriting. Take the title track, which has Theresa in full power ballad mode, the harsh growls add another level of emotion, but ultimately it's Theresa who's the star behind the mic here. The band too are extremely talented Roberts and Callum Downing's guitar playing moves between, thrash, death and even modern djent grooves with big melodic solos, changing time signatures and sometimes even styles with ease the rhythm section of Matt Hudson (bass) and James Clarke (drums) a fully stoked engine room chugging along well. Metaprism are one of the shining lights on the British metal scene and this third full length, proves this further, hopefully as touring resumes again they can get a permanent co-vocalist for Theresa to spar with and get back on the road. 7/10

Blind Divide: Nimis (Self Released)

After playing Bloodstock, losing a drummer, not playing for a long time, then finding a a drummer and the world going to shit. You may have thought that Cardiff M2TM 2019 winners Blind Divide would have packed it in and gone about their lives but no with serious adulting going on in their own lives they have managed some how to release this new EP called Nimis. A neat 12 minutes 3 tracker it's the first to feature new sticksman Max Hill who immediately makes an impression on the crushing title track his more technical style of playing working in conjunction with the meaty bottom end of Declan McCabe. With the two previous singles that followed their debut EP you could hear how the band were evolving their sound and here it has come to fruition the guitars of Adam Duffield and James Ponsford are chunkier, downtuned to hell but more virtuosity than they appear, although the three tracks, and Pride especially retain the bands trademark groove, this one will be a rager live, mark my words! Lastly but not least, James Birkett's vocals are sounding better than ever, he's got a powerful set of lungs with a ragged scream, guttural growls and just an unkempt rage and venom in his voice. Listen to Defiance and you'll understand why Nimis is the beginning of Blind Divides next phase. A vicious, destructive EP that has been forged in varying levels of adversity and triumph from a band who are hitting their stride. 8/10

Demon Head:Viscera (Metal Blade Records) [Matt Bladen]

Coining the term 'Diabolic Rock' Demon Head is a long running collaborative project rather than band, Viscera is the fourth record they have produced and it's full of occult, satanic doom metal that draws from Candlemass with the low, slow riffs and echoed vocals, with tracks like Magical Death displaying this perfectly. Now with recording/engineering by Flemming Rasmussen and mix by  Martin 'Konie' Ehrencrona (In Solitude, Tribulation, Nifelheim), Viscera certainly has a powerful all-encompassing sound to it, unfortunately the songs are a little stale. Much of what you can hear on this record has been done by several bands before much more convincingly, the tracks just seem to drone on a little relying a little too heavily on the occult sound than anything else. Enjoyable but as I've said it just feels a little too similar to the multitude of bands that play this style, to stand out. 5/10

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