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Thursday 4 March 2021

Reviews: Harakiri For The Sky, Einherjer, Cobra Cult, Starscape (Reviews: Matt Bladen & Paul Hutchings)

Harakiri For The Sky - Mӕre (AOP Records) [Matt Bladen]

Consisting of Matthias "MS" Sollak (guitars, bass, drums) and Michael "JJ" V. Wahntraum (vocals) Harakiri For The Sky are now five albums into their career and they continue to reinvent what they truly stand for as a band. They seamlessly fuse the aggressive extremity of black metal, the cinematic atmospherics of post rock along with the toughness of hardcore and crushing sludge breaks too. Their fifth album Mӕre delves into dark folklore the title character causing breathlessness while you sleep. The band have been championed by the press since their inception and it's clear to see why on songs Sing For The Damage We've Done which is a brilliant use of blistering extreme metal power and deft effortless clean guitars combined together switching between both to keep your attention. It also features guest vocals from Alcest frontman Neige while Us Against December Skies has a anthemic style that is proper post metal. 

These Austrians create songs that are odes to pain, anger and melancholy, all feeling that lend themself to this style of provocative emotional music. Along with Neige we have Gaerea on the piano led influenced  Silver Needle//Golden Dawn and Kerim 'Krimh' Lechner (Septicflesh) as the studio drummer. At 10 songs and pretty hefty run time Mӕre is another epic album to add to the cannon of brilliance from Harakiri For The Sky, it is perhaps a little too long but definitely an album that need to be taken in as a whole piece from the chugging djent/piano melodies of I'm All About The Dusk, through post-hardcore angst of Once Upon A Winter and the acoustic Time Is A Ghost leading into the punchy final track Song To Say Goodbye. A powerful, dark listen from Harakiri For The Sky. Believe the hype! 8/10

Einherjer - North Star (Napalm Records) [Matt Bladen]

North Star is the eighth album from Nordic Black Folk metallers Einherjer, it's also their first album on Napalm Records for 25 years. Recorded at Frode Glesnes' (vocals, guitar & bass) home studio, this means that the record sounds slightly D.I.Y sound to the production, the rawness of the vocals on Higher Fire and Echoes In Blood both of which take the black metal route. It's also led to some experimentation Gerhard Storsund adding some symphonic keys, taking things far and away from Dragons Of The North their last release on Napalm which was so influential to the Viking metal scene back in 1996. Still it's all quite metal West Coast Groove comes along with some 80's styled guitar soloing courtesy of Ole Sønstabø, Tony Enge adding the chuggy grooves underneath. It's like W.A.S.P playing with Venom while the final Chasing The Serpent starts out as doom but has a chorus that is ideal for stadium filling. An odd record for sure but one that re-establishes Einherjer as a technically potent force in the Viking metal scene. 7/10 

Cobra Cult – Second Gear (GMR Music) [Paul Hutchings]

23 minutes, eight tracks. There’s no waiting around with album number two from the Swedish hard rockers Cobra Cult, whose line up comprises Johanna Lindhult on lead vocals and guitar, Thomas Jonsson on bass and backing vocals, drummer Carl Johan “Sillen” Sillén and guitarist Anders Martinsgård. Recorded and mixed by Robert Pehrsson (Robert Pehrsson‘s Humbucker, Death Breath) at Studio Humbucker and mastered by Joel Grind of Toxic Holocaust, Second Gear is a straightforward, uncomplicated slap to the face with heads down three chord hard rock the order of the day.
It’s perfectly listenable music. The tracks are short, as you’d expect, with but they pack a punch, and with Lindhult’s vocal delivery providing a different aspect. There’s the odd bit of grunge, a little bit of stoner and plenty of good fast rock and roll. It’s never going to be ground-breaking, but I’d give my right nut to be watching Cobra Cult kicking out the jams in a sweaty club with a beer in my hand. It’s that kind of music and boy, we could all do with that now. 7/10

Starscape – Colony (Stormspell Records) [Paul Hutchings] 

Okay, it had to happen. Throughout the pandemic the musical output from almost every band has been of a high quality. There have been few bands that have rattled the cage, but Starscape have crashed and burned big time. Formed in 2015 under the moniker Pilgrim, Starscape was initially a solo project by Anton Eriksson. Intent on playing, ahem, “classic” metal from the 70s and 80s, with a lyrical concept of space and man’s place in it. 2017 saw the addition of Per-Olof Göransson to the line-up adding vocals whilst Eriksson dealt with the instrumental aspects. Colony is not only the band’s debut full-length but a concept album about humanity’s journey to find a new home among the stars. Unfortunately, it’s awful. 

Awful to the point that after the harrowing Pilgrims Of The Stars and Interstellar, the stop button was almost engaged. Musically Eriksson is okay, with some decent guitar work, but Göransson’s inability to hold a clear note for much of the first two tracks was excruciating. His horrific tone-deaf roar on the title track persuaded me that there really are times when you must give up before the end of an album and that wavering finger was deployed. It’s rare but Starscape really should get back into their rocket ship and head back to 1975, because I’d have still be playing with Tonka toys and would have avoided the aural agony that I endured. There is nothing classic about this record and if there is a worse album in 2021, I don’t want to hear it. 2/10

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