Pestilence – Exitivm (Agonia Records) [Paul Hutchings]
Exitivm (meaning Destruction in Latin) is bookended by sonic instrumentals. In Omnibvs – Intro provides a technical, sci-fi flavour, buffeting background noise and soaring synths pave the way for Morbvs Propagationem, which explodes in a maelstrom of frantic riffs and Mameli’s guttural roars. Unsurprisingly pacy, the sound is as intricate and complex as anticipated, with crisp lead guitar bursts and subtle layered keyboards. It’s technical, ferocious, and brutal.
There’s little bloat. The excess fat has been trimmed away, leaving a lean, powerful animal which wastes little time. At 38 minutes running time it doesn’t overstay its welcome, most of the tracks hammering home in under four-minute blasts. The tracks feature massive blast beats and Pestilence’s trademark discordant, angular compositions. The production is crisp, and the science fiction feel that links the songs works well. A degree of dramatic licence provides a fluid link between tracks, such as the change between Sempiternvs and Internicionem.
Glimt - Glimt (Self Released) [Ethan Reed-Spargo]
Where to begin? To say this album is phenomenal would be a colossal understatement. Glimt are a newly formed atmospheric black metal band who hail from the homeland of black metal itself and entwine the very beauty of their homeland into their music and perhaps have released one of the most beautiful albums of the atmospheric genre. This album had me gripped throughout the entire album with its melodies, ferocity and you can literally feel the outpour emotion and feelings from the members in their playing, this is no cheap/generic knock off of atmospheric metal, this is music played straight from the heart!
What you'll notice from the get-go of this album is how clean and precise the mix is and this is because it was mixed and mastered by Jack Shirley at The Atomic Garden who has mixed for bands such as Deafheaven. I'll go so far as to say the album had a feeling of ''familiarity'' and of ''home'' and strikes in me what many Welsh people know as the ''Hiraeth'' and pulls you straight into the music and feels you with yearning and other times with pure bliss.
The album is just over 38 minutes long with five different songs and a lush acoustic transition piece. Each one of the songs on this album is very distinct from one another and is in perfect order and just lets the songs move from one to another with ease. The album gets off to a flying start and opens with the song Nokkerose which doesn't hold back, it starts with an intense riff which is quickly joined by the accompanying instruments which delivers what this song is all about; intensity and rich beautiful melodies delivered from the guitarists Roald and Espen and for this entire song Kristoffen doesn't let his foot off the pedal(s) and delivers perfect timing and ferocity behind the kit with an assortment of blast beats and double bass attacks which just adds to the guitars and tortured vocals in delivering that ''familiar'' sound I spoke about.
The album then moves onto the transition piece, Breathe to move us from this intense song to something more mellow and full of yearning before then moving onto the second song dubbed Blossom, which is a far more relaxed song with some intricate work on the drums, which goes from soft and complex ghost note patterns on the snare to blisteringly fast double bass and blasts like a hot knife through butter, but all the while during this song Kristoffen and Stian work together in harmony to deliver some stunning passages, with bassist Stian weaving his bass lines around the drum parts in delivering a fundamental part of the song and album in general.
Moving on into the third song called Daydream which, for lack of a better word, is a very happy sounding song, it gave me the feeling as though I was out walking with a close friend on a warm summer day, the song is a very relaxed one to listen to and lets you put your feet up whilst you recover from the intensity from the first two songs of the album. We then move onto the fourth song of the album Nostalgic Gloom which is the longest song off of the album at over 10 minutes long, although it doesn't feel this way!
Finally, we move onto the fifth and final song of the album Glimt This is a perfect song in which to conclude the album with and leaves the album feeling complete, it's a song that delivers the sense of longing and sadness this album can represent at times. This album is just simply stunning and probably the best release this year in the atmospheric genre, don't sleep on this album, go and check these guys out and keep your eye on them for future releases! 10/10
March In Arms – Pulse Of The Daring (RFL Records) [Megan Jenkins]
The opening words of March In Arms bio describes them as a group of ‘military-themed power metal aces’; a fact that instantly made me sceptical of what I was about to listen to. I was imagining Sabaton on a budget, or at least budget that doesn’t allow for main stage slots at Download Festival, but I can honestly say that their new album Pulse Of The Daring left me pleasantly surprised. Their influences include the ‘American classics’ like Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica, which comes through clearly on songs like Thunderbolt with its heavy double kick and thrashy, fast guitar riffs but I get a very heavy Dokken or Queensrÿche vibe from their overall sound.
The album opens with 1914, a song that begins with a groovy drum beat and is filled with chugging guitar riffs – very power metal and a solid start. Eight of the remaining nine tracks are very similar: Ryan Knutson's vocals cut cleanly through driving drumbeats and harmonic guitar riffs, making each sound like an instant 80s rock classic. Track number three, Welcome To The Blitz, is where this rule varies for me. Yes, there’s a driving drum beat and chugging guitar but the vocal melody in the chorus makes this song in particular stand out from the rest. It’s the sort of thing I can imagine being screamed by a crowd at a gig because it's just so anthemic and powerful.
I don’t know what I was really expecting from Pulse Of The Daring but what I got was an album that had me nodding my head along to every song and anthemic vocal hooks that have been stuck in my head for longer than I care to admit. An extremely pleasant surprise for this power metal novice. 7/10