Washington D.C. symphonic blackened death metallers Wythersake strike hard and fast with their debut album Antiquity. There seems to be a growing movement of bands mixing majestic symphonic sounds with extreme metal and this has my full seal of approval as this meeting of two worlds works so well to my ears. Wythersake are a welcome addition to this movement and Antiquity is an incredibly accomplished and stunning debut release. Although billed as symphonic blackened death metal and those being key components of Wythersake’s sound, there is a lot more going on here from progressive metal complexities, gothic metal atmosphere and melodic death metal hooks. All these elements are combined together in a very pleasing and cohesive form.
Odd Dimension - The Blue Dawn (Scarlet Records) [Richard Oliver]
The Blue Dawn is the third album from Italian progressive metal band Odd Dimension. They are not a band that I have previously heard of but they are certainly an ambitious one with an album that is cinematic in scale with guest vocalists, guest musicians and an overarching science fiction concept with a story of two space travellers stranded on a new planet called 'The Blue Planet'.
The Blue Dawn is the first album by the band since 2013 and sees the addition of a new drummer Marco Lazzarini and new vocalist Jan Manenti to the line up. Both put in impressive performances with powerhouse drumming from Marco and melodic yet gritty vocals from Jan. The music itself is in a classic melodic progressive metal style akin to bands such as Queensryche, Fates Warning and Dream Theater but there is also some melodic hard rock influences prevalent throughout as well. The songs are all pleasant and melodic sounding but there is little in the way of dynamics. It is quite a safe sounding bunch of songs though there are highlights such as the driving Life Creators, the highly melodic Sands Of Yazukia and the relaxed feel of Escape To Blue Planet. Some of the songs especially the lengthier ones simply do not have the strength of material to justify the song lengths with songs such as the title track and The Supreme Being feeling like they could have been trimmed somewhat.
Odd Dimension channel that classic prog metal sound to good effect but The Blue Dawn is a fairly safe and uninspiring album that lacks a lot of dynamics. Although it all sounds very pleasant, apart from the aforementioned few songs it works well as background music and not much else. Not a terrible album by any means but just a very placid one. 6/10
Maverick – Ethereality (Metalapolis Records) [Simon Black]
For a band trading in a sound that’s essentially about 35 years old, Maverick have done remarkably well. This Belfast based Hard Rock five piece have worked hard, churning out an album a year since 2017 and getting on the right support and festival slots for the audience they need, which let’s face it is not what it was in 1985. And I cannot fault them for that, as old fashioned Hard Rock with that slightly Hair Metal feel may not be novel, but when delivered well can be timeless. I’m not familiar with the rest of their back catalogue yet, but this has the feel of an album that would have been shifting like hot cakes when I was a teenager back then.
The ten tracks take up a modest thirty-eight minutes of run time, but then I prefer it when an act is to the point and doesn’t pad their records out for the sake of it. Consequently you have a record that is short, but focussed and consistently crafted. The production sound is of the ‘rich fat retro meets Pro-Tools’ camp and straddles the decades well, as it’s always refreshing when a band can keep their output this prolific whilst retaining the energy and freshness of a new act. The tracks are in the main punchy and to the point and apart from some 80’s elevator music keyboard parts on a couple of tracks sound fresh, lively and overall it’s got a good heavy sound given the major tuning.
The Last One is the only ballad, and a bit soppy and dated to be honest, but otherwise high tempo delivery is the order of the day. The guitar work is not over the top and too flashy, which would be intrusive in this sort of act, but there is some fairly nifty footwork going on from new drummer Jason-Steve Mageney and co-founder David Balfour’s soaring vocals are solid, clear and hold the attention well. The mix of catchy melodic songs, clean but raw vocals and hard and heavy rhythm section works really well, and apart from that one ballad is an enjoyable ride with a really consistent and high quality of writing and delivery that rather cheered me up after a difficult week. 8/10