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Tuesday 30 March 2021

Reviews: The Dust Coda, Greenleaf, Karma Violens, Paladine (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

The Dust Coda - Mojo Skyline (Earache Records)

There was a time, years ago, when Earache Records were the go to label from angry, underground metal, they spawned the careers of bands like Napalm Death, Entombed and Morbid Angel however in the last few years they have perhaps mellowed in their middle age as the output on the label has been spearheading another type of music all together. With Rival Sons, Blackberry Smoke, Massive Wagons, Those Damn Crows all signed to the label Earache have been instrumental in the New Wave Of Classic Rock revival that has been storming the FM/DAB rock radio stations for a few years now. In 2017 The Dust Coda released their self titled debut album, launching themselves into the NWOCR melee as a labelmate to some of the most well-known bands in the genre.

 It was a hell of a record, The Dust Coda clearly influenced by bands like Zep, Free and Humble Pie with the modernity of Wolfmother and Rival Sons as well. Their debut was packed full of attitude and swaggering riffs and follow up Mojo Skyline continues this groove, Breakdown and Limbo Man kicking you in the guts with ballsy riffs and wild solos, it's raw, frenetic and full of grit. Though it's not without melody, the band getting reflective on Dream Alight a clear single and future live favourite. 

Although they are a four piece John Drake (vocals/guitar), Adam Mackie (lead guitar) Scott Miller (drums) and Tony Ho (bass) they give a huge amount of credit to their producer Clint Murphy for the sound of this record and it's clear on tracks such as Jimmy 2 Times where they employ horns and on Bourbon Pouring there's a sweet Hammond for that feel of laid back Americana, he's their 'fifth Beatle' for sure making this second record sound huge with a multi-layered hard rock album. As it closes out with It's A Jam, a number that could come from Use Your Illusion, you become keenly aware that Mojo Skyline is The Dust Coda taking their shot at being the new face of the NWOCR movement. 8/10 

Greenleaf - Echoes From A Mass (Napalm Records)

Sweden has a long storied history with the retro/stoner rock, many of their bands draw their sound from the bluesy classic rock style of the 1970's. Bands like Graveyard, Blues Pills, Horisont have all come from the country and have done well with their decidedly retro sound but one of the originators of this revival in Sweden are Greenleaf a band who have been around since 2000 and have steadily evolved their sound from riff-filled stoner rock into the more ear friendly retro rocking. This shift comes from 3/4 members being in stoner rockers Dozer so this 'side project' has changed into something different. Mixing psychedelic desert rock, with the bluesy riffs and some fuzzy garage rock. 

It's a a gritty record with a widescreen sound to it. From the cascading Tides, to the crunchy fuzz of Needle In My Eye (very Rival Sons) and the muscular A Hand Of Might which sounds like fellow Swedes Grand Magus, this record is the continuation of Greenleaf's hypnotic musical journey shifting between each track to keep your attention. Echoes From A Mass is a strong follow up to their 2018 release Rise Above The Meadow continuing their retro exploration while staying true to their stoner roots. 7/10

Karma Violens - Mount Of The Congregation (Self Released)

Mount Of The Congregation is the fourth album from Greek brutalists Karma Violens. This is a band who I was made aware of on their previous record Serpent God in 2018 as I was impressed by their fusion of aggressive death (Great Old Ithaqua), flesh ripping thrash (The Observer) and explosive black metal (One Way Journey). Built around the furious double kicking of Thodoris, Mount Of The Congregation is yet another devastating slab of modern groove metal that builds upon the metalcore template with a much nastier style, that has crept in since their debut EP in 2007 (though they have been around since 2002). It's an album that doesn't rely too much on additional musical additions, just battery. 

Mount Of The Congregation is their most abrasive record yet, bursting at the seams with the unrelenting drumming of Thodoris, who lays the template to be followed for Steven's grinding bass and the immense guitar playing from George and Costas which not only carve grooves wider than a ship stuck in the Suez canal but also bring a technicality of double tapping and tremolo picking. There's little respite on this album, it comes at you at 100mph across 13 tracks. The vocals of Ilias sit between Randy Blythe and Nergal adept at the black or death metal styles but really just bringing a primitive aggression to the record, even when in duet with Natasha Tsirou of The Mighty N on the title track. A brutal record from these Greek heavies, if Lamb Of God, Behemoth and Gojira light your fire then Karma Violens will get it roaring. 7/10

Paladine - Entering The Abyss (No Remorse Records)

Coming from Athens but living in their own fantasy world Paladine are essentially the Greek version of Italian symphonic/cinematic/power metal band Rhapsody. Their albums revolve around the fictional Dragonlance universe which is full of fantasy imagery, telling tales of warriors, wizards and dragons in a conceptual storyline. Thankfully to the benefit of the conceptual lyrics there is a cinematic musical backing for it, War Of The Lance the initial blast of power metal to bring you into the world of Dragonlance. Now I said they are similar to Rhapsody but Paladine having a more direct power metal sound favoured by Hammerfall and countrymen Firewind, especially on Between Gods And Men. 

That's not to say they don't have symphonic elements as Darkness And Light and Brother Against Brother both show in different ways. What I do like about Paladine is the low vocal of Nick 'The Metalizer' as he adds depth and a little differentiation to the usual sky scraping high vocals bands like this usually have. (He sounds a lot like Fury's Julian Jenkins). With a rampaging power metal band behind him full of galloping kicks and twin guitar harmonies Paladine are a band that shouldn't be overlooked by fans of fantasy based power metal! 7/10 

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