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Tuesday 2 March 2021

Reviews: Baest, Alice Cooper, Wolf King, Dopelord (Reviews By Richard Oliver, Matt Bladen, Paul Scoble & JT Smith)

Baest - Necro Sapiens (Century Media Records) [Rich Oliver]

Having established themselves as one of Europe’s top old school death metal revival bands, Denmark’s Baest are back with their third album Necro Sapiens. Following on from 2019’s Venenum album, Necro Sapiens sees Baest continue to do what they do best and that is pummel listeners with their old school death metal assault.

Necro Sapiens is an album that is full of the fast and frantic battery that is expected of death metal but also mixes in a mid-paced malevolent groove such as in Czar, Abattoir and Goregasm though the strongest songs for me are the ones where the bands kicks it up a notch such as in the title track, Towers Of Suffocation and Purification Through Mutilation (which has some major Morbid Angel vibes to it). The album seems to grow with intensity as it progresses with the best songs mainly in the second half of the album. Performance wise vocalist Simon Olsen has a ferocious death metal roar that maintains a great level of clarity whilst guitarists Svend Karlssen and Lassen Revsback lay down great riff after great riff. Bassist Mattias Melchiorsen maintains the rhythm and the groove whilst drummer Sebastian Abildsten effortlessly switches between maintaining that groove and assaulting the listener with blast-beats.

Baest have a solid death metal album with Necro Sapiens. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel and to the average listener would sound like simply another old school death metal throwback album. Essentially this is another old school death metal throwback but it is done with great style and enthusiasm and pays homage to its influences from both the US and European death metal bands of yesteryear. There are plenty of bands trying to take death metal into new, progressive and uncharted territories but if you want something that sounds simple, nasty and is ideal for banging your head to then Necro Sapiens is just the album for that. 7/10

Alice Cooper - Detroit Stories (earMusic) [Matt Bladen]

When you say the words Alice Cooper, it conjures images of schlock horror rock with guillotines, murder, death and horror imagery about. However Mr Cooper hails from the rock n roll mecca of Detroit Michigan and at the grand old age 73 he has penned a record that is an ode to his hometown. Featuring three covers; Rock N Roll (Velvet Underground), Sister Anne (MC5) and East Side Story (Bob Seger & The Last Heard), the rest of the album is penned by Cooper and frequent collaborator Bob Ezrin (who also produces) with Alice's guitarist Tommy Hendriksen and Wayne Kramer (MC5) taking the lion's share of the co-writing credits. 

After The Velvet Underground cover it's very obvious what Cooper is trying to do on this record and that is trying to create an album that encompasses all of the sounds from the Detroit music scene from the punky garage rock of Go Man Go, the Stooges-like Social Debris, as $1000 High Heel Shoes is properly funky. It's almost like a jukebox album with Cooper covering Detroit rock n roll songs that have never existed. There's a little remnants of that schlocky lyrical style he has favoured since Hey Stoopid preferring to concentrate on rock n roll storytelling about loose women and bad guys. 

Yeah it's been done before but for anyone that has yearned for The Alice Cooper band sound this is the closest Cooper has come for a while, he even has original Cooper band members Michael Bruce (guitar), Dennis Dunaway (bass) and Neal Smith (drums) all of them contributing vocals to I Hate You where they all trade insults with each other in a tongue in cheek number. Detroit Stories is Alice getting back in touch with his roots for a record that sees him with his most diverse songs in a long time, Hanging On By A Thread (Don't Give Up) the one song here that really hits home as it deals with the depression caused by the current pandemic with Alice giving out the number to the suicide prevention hotline at the end. Alice with an ode to the Motor City that really gets your engine running. 7/10  

Wolf King - The Path Of Wrath (Prosthetic Records) [Paul Scoble]

Wolf King have been making nasty blackened noise since 2016. The four piece, based in the Bay Area, have released one album and an EP during that time with 2016’s Into The Infinite EP and 2018’s album Loyal To The Soil. The band, made up of Tim Wilson on vocals, Jacob Broughton on guitar and vocals, Brian Mojica on bass and Connor White on drums, have had 3 years to make their second album, how does it fit in with the material they have made before? Well, the Blackened Hardcore from the bands first two releases is still there, but on their second album the band have added a healthy dose of Old School Death metal into the mix. It’s very Old School Death Metal as well, think late eighties rather than early nineties, as this is D-Beat Death Metal, nasty, spikey and very punky. Which fits in very nicely with the Hardcore aspect of the bands sound.

The Death Metal elements fit very nicely with the Blackened Hardcore aspects, on the second track Messenger Of Doom the Death Metal crashes in right from the start. High energy, punky D-beat Death Metal that drives the song forward and feels full of forcefulness and dynamism. There are slow and very heavy parts to the song that are in some ways reminiscent of super heavy hardcore band Leeched.
The Hardcore aspects of this album are impressive as well. The track Sanctuary is a cracking piece of mid-paced, dissonant Hardcore, which has a relentless feel that drives it forward without the need to blast. The track Incantation also has some very impressive heavy as anything Hardcore that feels relentless and unstoppable, it’s slow for most of the track, but has a faster and more savage part in the middle, whatever the pacing though, this all feels very intense and extreme.

There are some nice Black Metal Blast Beats on here as well, the track The Oath has some very nice Black Metal Blasts mixed with some very nasty mid-paced dissonance. Grief Portrait shows off some very nasty Black Metal extremity. The track features some very savage blasts, verging on Anaal Nathrakh levels of viciousness in some places. The track also has some very effective dissonant passages and very pleasing layered vocals. The Path Of Wrath is a great album, it mixes Hardcore, Black Metal and Old School Death Metal seamlessly. It also adds some very heavy Doom and Sludge elements to this savage and intense mixture to great effect. The whole album flows well and is a great listening experience due to the way the material is fitted together. Fast and savage is seamlessly merged with slow and heavy and all covered in a veneer of Blackened nastiness, for a very effective blast of ferocious viciousness, highly recommended. 8/10

Dopelord - Reality Dagger (Self Released) [JT Smith]

I’ve spoken at length about how satisfying it is when bands do something different in a chosen genre, putting their own stamp on things and innovating. It’s one of my favourite things a band can do. However, it’s also supremely satisfying when a band doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but does something *so well* that you’re super impressed with their mastery of a genre.

Dopelord definitely falls into that category. From the opening, super fuzzy riff of Dark Coils, you know exactly where you are with this. It’s all there. The wailing, Sabbath-esque vocals, the ponderous, stoner doom density of Windhand (and of course, Electric Wizard…), and the sudden break into the familiar stoner rock gallop/bounce at 4.19. You’ve heard this before, but you’ll still be smiling as you hear it again. Your Blood is, at the risk of beating a dead horse, more of the well written and well crafted same with a slightly faster pace and a slightly looser, jammier feel.

The ten minute title track and absolute behemoth Reality Dagger is altogether a nastier affair, getting really deep into their doom-y side, and is the first move away from clean vocals (though when they kick back in, they are impressive; Try not to smile when you hear Klusek hitting that sky high “Reality is dragging me DOOOOOOWN!”). There’s a tempo shift after the heavy, 100 tonne crawl of the first 5 minutes into a faster paced, more urgent song (well, as urgent as fast paced as Stoner Doom gets), finally ending with yet more crushing, aural weight. 

If what you want is some really well crafted stoner doom that holds no surprises, this will serve you well. And that’s not a backhanded compliment. I had this on repeat for the better part of a day while I wrote this, and the minute I send this off, I’ll spin it again. Nicely done, lads. Nicely done. 8/10

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