Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Reviews: Warrior Path, Acid Mammoth, Grande Fox, Zero 2 Nothing (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Warrior Path - Mad King (Symmetric Records)

Two years after the self titled debut record Andreas Sinanoglou (songwriter/rhythm/acoustic guitar) and musician/producer Bob Katsionis (lead/bass/keys) return with the follow up Mad King once again stickman Dave Rundle also makes his return but it's behind the mic where the major change has taken place on this second record. Sinanoglou says that when he writes songs he writes with a certain voice in mind and while Yannis Papadopoulos' was perfect for the debut, here the songs are darker and more ominous so Sinanoglou and Katsionis have looked to Sweden's Daniel Heiman (Lost Horizon) for vocals on this record.

Despite the change behind the mic, the music is still Epic Power Metal with influences like Iron Maiden, Manowar, Riot, Manilla Road and German genre leaders Heaven's Gate. A record that is full of chest beating, hammer swinging metal anthems with lyrics about fantasy, swords and sorcery. However there does seem to be more of a thematic approach that is given a bigger scope by the wonderful production of Katsionis at Sound Symmetry Studios. As with most of the albums that will be released this year it was recorded during last year's lockdown however this additional studio time means that this record sounds a lot bigger than it's predecessor, retaining that analogue feel but with a modern touch.

Starting out with some dramatic keys and strings the darker tone is noticeable with the tunings lower and rougher than the high flying first album, Heiman's rougher edge perfect for the heavier sound of songs such as the title track. With Beast Of Hate you get some galloping power metal, Don't Fear The Unknown has speed metal fury, Savage Tribe is more cinematic and leads into the brilliant Avenger a massive banners high anthem. That's the kicker of this record is that it is much more anthemic than its predecessor, it's also much heavier with less balladry moving away from the more melodic debut. All this means that this is less a follow up but a stand alone piece adding a depth of sound to Warrior Path show if they ever decide to tour. Horns Up! 8/10 

Acid Mammoth - Caravan (Heavy Psych Sounds)

The third album from Acid Mammoth comes only a year after their previous release Under The Acid Hoof, but in the midst of a global pandemic the worry, stress and uncertainty the Acid Mammoth and the world has been feeling has been translated into this new album from the Athenian psych doomsters. The album was conceived and recorded throughout the lockdown  at Dionysis Dimitrakos' Descent Studio in Athens with the drums recorded at Ignite Studio. The recording issues helps when the guitarists Chris Jr. (vocals & guitars) and Chris Sr (guitars) are son and father, while Dimosthenis Varikos (Bass) is Chris Jr's mate. 

They are joined by Marios Louvaris (Drums) and yet again Caravan is full of burbling, churning Sabbath worship with the father and son cranking out the Iommi grind with Dimosthenis' bass rumbling in unison with Marios thunderous drumming. Caravan also comes in conjunction with a vinyl repress of both their debut and Under The Acid Hoof, so you can chart the evolution of this rumbling, rolling, heavy as a bag of nails four piece. From the grunting Berserker, through the mind bending, slow, ominous Psychedelic Warfare to the closing occult dirge of Black Dust, Caravan once again reminds you of Acid Mammoth's doom mastery. 7/10 

Grande Fox - Empty Nest (Self Released)

Founded by guitarist Zao Lefteris and vocalist Berzamanis Nikos, Grande Fox are styled as a psychedelic stoner rock band but on this second album Empty Nest there is a very definite influence from that early 2000's style of alternative rock with a bit of Nu Metal groove. Imagine bands like Salvia, Drowning Pool and Soil with a touch of Korn (Brainstorm) and even 90's grunge as well. It's this that separates the band from the wealth of other stoner rock bands from Greece. That's not to say there isn't a stoner rock sound on the record as it has those groovy guitars and rough vocals that make the genre so appealing to me but as I've said they manage to fuse this with the US heavy rock sound from the beginning of this century. Rottenness Of Youth is the first song to sound like this with some RATM riffs and rap-like vocals, and from there Deathblow, Birth Of An Embryo all subscribe to this idea. Brutal Colours and the Southern influenced Hangman happily are more in line with the stoner/psych sound but that alt/grunge sound does tend to be the overarching style. Grande Fox however do it very well making for an enjoyable listening experience if you love a bouncy riff (or watched wrestling in the late 90's/early 2000's). 7/10

Zero 2 Nothing - Limits Of Temptation (Art Gates Records)

Well I wasn't expecting this, I wasn't sure what to expect but I wasn't expecting this. Athenian four piece (plus drummer) Zero 2 Nothing's debut full length record is a clinic in reserved progressive rock. At just 37 minutes none of the songs go past 5 minutes, but they do feature some very intricate writing, virtuoso playing and a bucket full of guts. Take the title track which at it's core is a swaggering blues number, but with some prog rock technicality, Closer continues with that late night bar feel, even featuring some mouth harp and driven by the soulful tenor voice of frontman Teo. If I were to make a comparison I would say that the band have a lot of similarities to fellow Greeks SixForNine whose singer Fotis Benardo produced the album with band while Dimitris Douvras mixed & mastered. 

There's a veritable melting pot of influences here, I can hear Tool, Alice In Chains, Pink Floyd, Queen throughout as they shift the styles. Bill and Chris kick out the the heavy grooves on In God's Will, but Bill can also adapt into explosive solos and melodic emotive lead phrasing Where the band really have an edge is due to the keys and piano of Rania who is classically trained bringing an added virtuosity with the Deep Purple-esque organs on Zero 2 Nothing and Running Deep In Me or the jazz piano on Closer which follows on from the psych rocking title track. Limits Of Temptation is an unexpected treat of groove-driven, progressive music from this Athenian band. Seriously good. 9/10 

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