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Wednesday 30 June 2021

Reviews: Felled, Pestilence, Glimt, March In Arms (Reviews By Paul Scoble, Paul Hutchings, Ethan Reed-Spargo & Megan Jenkins)

Felled - The Intimate Earth (Transcending Obscurity Records) [Paul Scoble]

Felled have been in existence since 2014, although the origins of Felled go back before 2014 to 2010 and a band called Moss Of Midnight. The band is made up of Jenn Grunigen on Drums and Vocals, Cavan Wagner on Guitar and Vocals, Isamu Sato on Bass and Brighid Wagner on Violin and Viola. In the 7 years that Felled have been together the only other recording the band have made is a demo called Bonfire Grit in 2017, The Intimate Earth is Felled’s debut album. Felled’s style of music is a mix of Folk and Black Metal, they never seem to stay in one particular style preferring to have one foot in each camp, Felled clearly have their own sound; not Black or Folk, just Felled. The band do sound unique, the use of Viola as well as Violin makes them sound different from other Folk Metal bands, this isn’t fun, uptempo jigs, this is folk of a far darker strain. 

The Folk of Felled is far more Post industrial revolution Folk, than something from an imaginary pre-industrial revolution ‘Shire’ Folk. The lower register Viola gives the music a darker, baser sound, there are several areas where the Violin and Viola are layered, giving the music a lush feel that has weight to it. The tone of the Classical/Folk instruments is very good as well, deep and dark, a sound that is similar to how Dawn Ray’d use the Violin, or to early Skyclad (the originators of Folk Metal). The album opens with Ember Dream, which has a slow opening that is dark and heavy, the track then goes into a blasting section before settling down to be a mid-paced piece of Violin and Viola Folk Metal. The vocals are harsh and nasty throughout the song which has a great driving and purposeful feel to it. All through the song the Violin and Viola are the dominant instruments, the ‘Metal’ side of Felled’s sound is the background, the Classical instruments are taking the lead. 

Next up is the track Fire Season On The Outer Rim, which has a busy and complex introduction before a slower and simpler verse section that feels fervent, dramatic and deeply melodic. The track has a fast and urgent section before the slower verse returns this time with beautiful clean vocals, the track then builds back up before a quiet and deeply melancholic ending. The Rite Of Passage continues the melancholia from the previous song. The song is slow and achingly sad, with a dark feeling, the tempo is slow but with a driving and relentless quality to it. The song features beautiful layered Violins and Violas, that are deeply sorrowful, the feeling of The Rite Of Passage is bordering on Depressive Black Metal in how bleak and melancholic it is. Sphagnum In The Hinterlands is much faster than the track that preceded it, the song also has the Guitars further forward in the mix, and on a couple of occasions the guitar takes the lead melodic role. For most of its length the song is driving and dramatic, it has a section that feels a little closer to Bluegrass, giving the track a little similarity to Panopticon. The song takes a turn towards the a darker and more brooding sense for a very slow and heavy ending. 

Final track The Salt Binding, is a softer and more ballad like track. That Depressive Black Metal feeling is back, backed up with some lush layered tremolo picked riffs and some really beautiful clean vocals, and a mournful Guitar melody. As the track develops it does get a little bit more driving and purposeful, with some harsh vocals. The song has a very soft and slow ending featuring some gentle chanting that is achingly beautiful. The Intimate Earth is a stunning album. I would urge anyone who likes Folk Metal or Black Metal to have a listen as this is a brilliantly original album. The Violin and Viola taking nearly all of the melodic and tuneful elements gives this a truly original sound. The album has been realised very well as well; it’s no good having great original ideas if they can’t be realised, so this is both a creative and a practical achievement. 

When I first did my research on Felled I was going to make snarky comments about how long they have taken over getting an album out, but after hearing Felled’s debut I can see that they have spent the time very well, creating something that is both innovative and exquisitely accomplished. The melodic aspects of this album are what stay with you, I have been humming all the tunes from this album since I first started listening to it, it gets into your head and it stays there, I’m not complaining though, its a wonderful album to have going round and round your mind. 9/10

Pestilence – Exitivm (Agonia Records) [Paul Hutchings]

It’s been an eventful three years for Pestilence or should that be guitarist/vocalist Patrick Mameli. The release of their first album in five years, Hadeon was soured by a clash with Metalsucks website, allegations of racism and Nazism (totally denied by Mameli) and the cancellation of their US tour as a result. 2019 saw the band shed all members apart from Mameli and subsequently, this ninth record from the Dutch death metal legends once again features a changed line-up. 

In come former Dew Scented and Creepmime Joost Van der Graaf on bass, Bleeding Gods Rutger van Noordenburg on lead guitar and drummer Michiel van der Pilcht (God Dethroned). Noted as one of the big four of technical death metal (alongside Death, Atheist and Cynic), Pestilence have once more shrugged off the challenges of an all-new band and demonstrated that far from being a novelty, they can still produce the goods in dramatic fashion.

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

Exitivm should excite old school fans and new blood alike. Tracks like Morifervm with its haunting intro and explosive battery of riffs will raise a nod from fans of classic album Testimony Of The Ancients. There’s ample contained within this slab of sheer technical brutality for all. It’s a worthy record to add to the legacy. 9/10

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! 

The song doesn't drag on and just keeps on evolving and spiralling in all sorts of directions and captures your imagination for the entire song. It starts off slow and sombre and slowly builds up momentum until they deliver a full out assault. During this entire song there is an awesome display of vocal abilities from both Kristoffen and Roald, with both clean vocals and screams present throughout the song which really help push the song along and further capture the feelings they wished to convey through this song.

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

Reviews: Toto, Crashface, North Of South, Mourn The Light (Reviews By Alex Swift & Matt Bladen)

Toto – With A Little Help From My Friends: Live (The Players Club) [Alex Swift]

This concert does not include Africa. This can be a double-edged sword – on the one hand fans of Toto who are so inclined to see them live, at a socially distanced concert no less, probably hold more fondness for them outside of their most notable songs, and a band should never feel obliged to play the hits just as a matter of “crowd-pleasing”. The problem being, to someone like me, Africa, and to a lesser extent Hold The Line and Rosanna (which they did play admittedly with admissions of reluctance) the only defining factor of this act. Without that the song that initially catapulted them to success and recently got people talking about them again when the internet made the song a meme. Without that they are just another Album Oriented Rock artist. Again, ironic given that the only album worth possessing from this band is the greatest hits. 

Outside of that though this sounds like a great concert – it’s technically faultless except for a few live mixing issues which result in a few awkward moments between the song of the band shouting instructions back and forth to the sound man, and joking amongst themselves (their jokes are as cheesy as some of their music, evidently), I might even say the show is a little too note for note although I can hardly blame them for imperfection, even if the faint smatterings of applause in between songs does not help in giving the listener the impression of being at a concert in the way that great live albums do. 

Admittedly, this is another element I can’t exactly blame the band for, because as far as I know toto did not cause pandemic. All that being said, this is an album firmly for the fans and that’s not a category I count myself as being in in. However, if you’re a fan of Toto and you’ve brought all their other work, you’ll definitely enjoy this as well. The record is a crowd-pleaser in itself in that sense. 6/10

Crashface - Heavy Infectious (Self Released) [Alex Swift]

Cultivating a deliberately chaotic atmosphere in their music, Crashface fuse industrial atmosphere with a thrilling raucousness. A track like the opener, ultraplasticplanetkiller may make submerging the listener in sonic disorder its primary aim but dig a little deeper and the myriad of effects and samples proves intriguing. The writing and performances remind me greatly of the work of Enter Shikari, Bring Me The Horizon or even some of the early work of Nine Inch Nails – on a surface level it’s just volatile, and extreme yet there a lot to engage with on a deeper level should you wish to. Molotov Smile proves erratic and changeable, the punk inspired energy combining excellently with the sheer scale and ambition of the piece. 

On a different note entirely, Loading Screen Infinity is anxious and existential and tone – in a sense this feels like the perfect quarantine album as its surrounding atmospherics and deepening sense of panic reminds me of being locked in a room and witnessing the world collapse from the convenience of an i-phone. This is also the most notable instance of this duo being genuinely contemplative and emotional as the song slows to a mournful and sombre dirge before allowing anger to rule once more. Cold is a brilliant example of how this band bring together entrancing electronics with a strong guitar and drum presence while not allowing either element to dull their unique and intriguing sound! We end on You’re the Worst Thing That’s Ever Happened To Me, Ever and it’s the perfect closer. 

Wild, Loud, yet also melodic and meaningful, if you just listen to one song off this EP listen to this one as to this writer at least, this feels like the one to win over potential fans. While elements of Crashface’s sound can come across as derivative, by the time I got to the end of this release I was excited and enthralled despite the copycat tendencies that lurk in the background. This is a great start to a career that seems like its going to be boisterous, lively, and impressive! 7/10

North Of South - The Tides In Our Veins (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

Founded by Spanish multi-instrumentalist Chechu Nos North Of South is basically a collaborative solo project for Nos who contributes guitar, vocals, bass, drum programming, keyboards and synths, so this is very much the music of one man, and he experiments with various sounds throughout shifting between hard rock, melodic metal, Latin/Jazz but mainly sitting in the dark progressive metal sound of bands like Evergrey. A track such as White Blindness is very much in the Evergrey style, however Evergrey frontman Tom S Englund features on third track Soul Cartography which brings some touches of Opeth. 

It's a dark evocative style of music across 50 odd minutes and along with Englund there are some featured vocals from Rebecca Stanley (The Mariana Hollow) who provides a wide ranging style to the songs she has co-lead and backing vocals on the biggest being A Pinch Of Stardust and In The Margins Of The Script Of Life. There is also some flamenco vocals from Javier Caminero on Just Fourteen Seconds along with screams from Rotting Christ man Sakis Tolis makes me feel things moving towards a band like Moonspell. The Tides In Our Veins is an expansive solo prog metal record with some high profile guests. 7/10 

Mourn The Light - Suffer, Then We're Gone (Argonauta Records) [Matt Bladen]

Mourn The Light are formed by Dwayne Eldredge, who is the founder of The New England Stoner and Doom Festival. A man who knows about doom, Eldredge's band Mourn The Light is a definite homage to the legends of the epic doom scene. They claim bands like Saint Vitus, Candlemass and The Obsessed are their main influence but there is a very distinct progressive sound that to me makes them have touches of Atlantean Kodex and even Rush when they morph into acoustic passages like they do on When The Fear Subsides and Wisdom Bestowed. On the other end of the record the crunchy I Bare The Skies has the mid-paced thrust of Grand Magus. These lighter moments are one facet of their sound, the other though is all powerful doom, which rears its head on the title track, adding some extreme vocals ala My Dying Bride. Featuring all the styles of doom you would want (not funeral) Suffer, Then We're Gone is a strong doom metal record, made by a band who are well established in the sound. Mourn The Light and let the darkness in, though don't lose all hope if you enter here. 8/10

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Reviews: At The Gates, Lustmord & Karin Park, Nemophila, Mycelium (Reviews By Paul Hutchings & Matt Bladen)

At The Gates – The Nightmare Of Being (Century Media Records) [Paul Hutchings]

Two albums in ten years could have been viewed as a meager return from the Swedes, following their reformation in 2011. Both 2014’s At War With Reality and 2018’s To Drink From The Night Itself proved that the band could still deliver, with the latter showing a different, more complex evolution to the band’s song writing and playing. The Nightmare Of Being, their seventh release, makes a mockery of all that has gone before, because it may well be the most complete album of their entire career. Concept albums are always a minefield for artists, and one that explores dark revelations contained in pessimist philosophy is hardly a light subject to explore. And yet, within these 45 minutes, there is a vibrant, adventurous and expressive At The Gates, unafraid to take chances, mix things up whilst all the time retaining that gritty, Swedish melodeth style.

The signs are good from the start. Spectres Of Extinction is full of atmosphere and anticipation, a dramatic soundscape that builds dramatically before powering into some formidable melodic death metal, all racing guitar and blistering drumming, huge chunky riffs and of course, Tomas Lindberg’s distinctive gravel-soaked roar. With Lindberg supplying such dark lyrical matter, chief songwriter and bassist Jonas Björler has excelled with a wide range of sonically challenging soundscapes which vary from the King Crimson-esque Garden Of Cyrus, with its jazz saxophone and lower key feel providing a progressive edge maybe not that common with the band, to more traditional explosive death metal. There’s something distinctly Swedish about the album.

There’s a haunting orchestral introduction on Touched By The White Hands Of Death which then erupts in a frantic melee of brutality before settling into a hook laden piece that is both melodic and fiercely heavy. Or the funked-up collaboration with American author and pessimist philosopher Eugene Thacker on Cosmic Pessimism, which is as left field as the band have written but still distinctly At The Gates. It’s this deep dive into their sound, delivered organically and progressively without losing the traditional At The Gates flavour. There is still ample opportunity to be smacked across the cranium should you drop your guard.

Unsurprisingly, the inclusion of Jens Borgen the recording of Adrian Erlandsson’s drums and legendary guitarist and producer Andy La Rocque manning the decks for guitars and bass, The Nightmare Of Being is crisp and crystal clear. There is a chemistry on this album that rarely occurs. This is a pivotal and crowning moment for At the Gates. A truly majestic release. 9/10

Lustmord & Karin Park - Alter (Pelagic Records) [Matt Bladen]

Lustmord for those who may not know (I didn't) is and electronic music pioneer, the Welsh (now living in California), is a master of industrial, esoteric, musical much of which is born out of his extensive filed recordings. He is no stranger to the rock and metal world having recorded with Melvins and multiple times with Tool, most recently on Fear Inoculum, but is probably best known as part of a sound design team on films such as The Crow and Underworld along with games such as Far Cry: Instincts. He has a massive discography but for this latest release he has added the haunting, beautiful voice of Årabrot's Karin Park for added drama on top of an already dense, often unsettling soundscape. 

This is the first collaborative effort but one that bears fruit very quickly the opening salvo of Hiraeth pairing mournful, religious chants with Eastern influenced brass, it's the start that welcomes you into the dark, hypnotic world of this record, the electronic sound beds made of pulsing rhythms, numerous samples and in places Park adds piano for additional atmospheric depth to an album that is already deeper than the Marianas Trench. Alter is the record that would be made if Portishead knuckled down with Tool in a recording studio with every type of sample known to man to channel years of sadness and depression into a cathartic, expression of atmospheric music where tracks like Twin Flames wash over you with a sound akin to a religious experience.

Alter is about as far away from the metal tag as we get here but heaviness is certainly a state of mind when approaching Alter. I suggest you give it a listen if you want something intriguing and unique. 7/10

Nemophila - Oiran: Extended Edition (JPU Records) [Matt Bladen]

When I read the PR for this record it mentioned a word that brought a shudder of fear to me. Babymetal. I bloody hate Babymetal, however I do like many of the J-Metal bands such as Lovebites and Mary's Blood. Happily Nemophila (something about loving small forests) don't actually sound a lot like Babymetal, yes they have the upbeat pulsating J-Pop thrust, with big singalong choruses and everything being played at over 120 bpm but their music is more akin to metalcore and even pop punk with enough guitar heroics to keep the Japanese fans happy! Guitarist SAKI is the band leader and a well established artist in her own right having recently formed a band with Frédéric Leclercq of Kreator (ex-Dragonforce) she is joined in Nemophila by other well established musicians in mayu (vocals), Hazuki (guitar), Haraguchi-san (bass) and Murata Tamu (drums) all with decades of experience between them. 

So musically this album is built upon the well traveled musicians making for some great songwriting such as the anthemic Sorai and the heavy battery of the title track Oiran. Now Oiran was only released as single in their native country but here they have included the Oiran singles' b-sides and added all of their previous singles to create a compilation album only available in the rest of the world. This is all of their recorded works in one place, in order to show those outside of Japan what Nemophila are about. It works well as Oiran is a great track to kick things off with it's melodic metalcore sound but personally I think Dissention is better, which the band have also recorded in English and has a real Trivium sound to it from the blasting double kicks and plenty tasty dual leads. 

I approached this album with trepidation but I shouldn't have. It's a great slice of modern melodic metal brimming with enthusiasm and attitude. Let's hope this compilation gets them noticed on these shores and over here for some shows! 8/10   

Mycelium – Scream, Bloody Spore (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

It’s appropriate that this album sounds as if it was recorded underground, for that is where you’ll find the acres and acres of the fungal kingdom that forms the themes for this half hour voyage of extreme fungi-influenced death metal. Mycelium is a solo project from Glaswegian Greg Edwards of Necronoclast. Exploring the dark side of mycology, Scream Bloody Spore is educational if nothing else. Few know the dark world of decay, the dangers and the benefits of the parasitic forms which provide such an essential element of nature. It’s a fascinating topic, one which could engross, and envelope should one wish to explore. Influenced by the old school 90s death metal, Scream Bloody Spore somehow manages to combine mycology with death metal in a way that whilst being almost unlistenable at times, is also quite compelling, through a level of morbid fascination. It’s like staring at a corpse. It’s macabre, dark, and yet informative. 

All the tracks either have their roots deep with real fungi or touch on fungal characteristics. It’s no surprise that opening track Virosa, a savage, almost uncontrolled explosive piece which disappears in a muffled production of almost damaged quality, is based on Amanita Virosa, the Destroying Angel and the deadliest mushroom in the world. Abhorrent Entomopathogen is based on Cordyceps Militaris, the parasitic fungus that feasts on insect pupae, before sprouting forth from the body as an orange/scarlet structure. Nature at its rawest and similarly the pulsing drumming, distortion of riffing and savagely delivered death roars capture these ferocious fungi. By now you’ll have the picture, and if you can tolerate the decaying aural stench, you’ll be aware that you’ve arrived at the Stench Of Impudicus. One of the most well-known fungus, this is one that develops into a penis-shaped mushroom and a rotting meat smell. 

It’s an album that I’ve struggled with. The production values are so low it’s almost impossible to capture the vocals, whilst the mix is dreadful, but true to those early influences. The topics are a delight, especially as Edwards clearly knows his subject matter. Punishing, brutal and oh so basic, this is a niche record for a niche audience. 6/10

Sunday 27 June 2021

Metal To The Masses 2021 Interviews: Eulogy (Interview By Matt Bladen)

Interview With Eulogy By Matt Bladen

MoM: Give us an introduction to the band for anyone that doesn't know you. Band name, members, style etc?

Eulogy: Previously a three piece for many years we are now a four piece after second guitarist joined during the lockdown in January 2021. We play ass kicking hard rock music with melodic chorus and dark lyrics. Band members are as follows: Neil Thomas - Vocals and Bass, Mike Williams – Guitars, Brian Perkins - Guitars and Darran Goodwin – Drums.

MoM: Elephant in the room. How have you coped with the pandemic? What have you been up too?

Eulogy: Over the pandemic we have been very busy writing new tracks for forthcoming album and sharing with band members online. We have taken part in some virtual rock festivals and featured on Keep Wales aLive Music event. Our drummer Darran was hospitalised with Covid in December 2020 and was on critically unwell on ventilator for many weeks - he is now thankfully on the road to recovery and rehearsing with the band again so we can retire off our laptop drummer – though he was a better time keeper and didn’t argue back

MoM: What experience have you had with Bloodstock/M2TM in the past?

Eulogy: We have entered the M2TM heats at Fuel for the past few years and had some really good experiences playing there and also some great feedback. Unfortunately we have not gone through to the final…. but one day hey.

MoM: How are you feeling entering this slightly restructured M2TM format?

Eulogy: It’s a real shame we have to socially distance and not just cram in there and play to a full, sweaty crowd but at least it’s a gig as we a desperate to get back out there and play some live music to an actual audience rather than online. Hopefully the live events will go ahead and not the plan B recording but I guess we gotta take whatever comes next.

MoM: What would it mean to play Bloodstock? Would it be more significant doing so this year, after everything that's happened with live music?

Eulogy: It would be absolutely awesome to play such a prestigious and crazy festival especially after a whole year of no playing live gigs. The fans and bands will be going fucking crazy and will be one hell of a party, that Eulogy want to be part of.

MoM: Give us a three word rundown of what to expect in your performance?

Eulogy: “Rock’n Fuckin Roll”

Final Thought: Can the hard rock sound of Eulogy win over the Metal To The Masses? We'll have to wait and see.  

Metal To The Masses 2021 Interviews: Southbound (Interview By Matt Bladen)

Interview With Southbound by Matt Bladen

MoM: Give us an introduction to the band for anyone that doesn't know you. Band name, members, style etc

Southbound: We’re SouthBound - we like to describe ourselves as “alternative metal” but that’s literally just because we don’t even know what category to put ourselves in. We’re probably the softest of the bands involved in Metal 2 The Masses. The band consists of drummer Tom Witcombe, bassist Kyle Chaplin, rhythm guitarist Harri Wyatt-Jones, lead guitarist Morgan Price, and vocalist & guitarist Megan Jenkins.

MoM: Elephant in the room. How have you coped with the pandemic? What have you been up too?

Southbound: The beginning of the pandemic definitely hit the wind out of our sails, the same for most people that are a part of the local music scene. We were starting to gain a tiny bit more traction (by that I mean people weren’t seeing our name on a lineup and going “who?” as much) and had released our EP ‘Even Angels Sin’ in January 2020 so we were gearing up for a summer full of gigs and festivals to show everyone what we had created. Other than that, we’ve all found it to be really beneficial. Granted, the last gig we played was in McCann’s on the 13th March but having time off and away from everything has given us a chance to sort things out that we’ve been meaning to do for ages. 

We had a brand new logo designed by Studio Rbnsn, had a promo shoot done with Stu Rowles, and finally managed to get into the studio with Made by MJD to record our new single ‘On The Rise’. This year has meant that we had a chance to discover new music and use the inspiration to reinvent and reimagine our set into something completely new. We’ve pretty much changed the entire set from our last gig because we’ve written so much new music and rewritten what we already had, so that those returning to one of our gigs will be able to experience something brand new from us.

MoM: What experience have you had with Bloodstock/M2TM in the past?

Southbound: Well we were supposed to play last year in the second heat, but everything went into lockdown the week of it. So we haven’t had much of an experience, I guess. It’s a brand new experience for all five of us in the band and it's one that I know we’re all looking forward to!

MoM: How are you feeling entering this slightly restructured M2TM format?

Southbound: It’s definitely exciting! Having a new and restructured format doesn’t bother us in the slightest because we’re all just so excited to play a gig again. I can’t lie, we’re all a little nervous because it's been so long since we’ve performed for anyone but ourselves in a practice room but we’re all extremely glad we can get up and do so in a safe manner again.

MoM: What would it mean to play Bloodstock? Would it be more significant doing so this year, after everything that's happened with live music?

Southbound: It would be the most amazing experience any of us could hope for - I think it would be the peak of our careers and we could quit then and there and be happy with what we had achieved in the four years of the band being active.

MoM: Give us a three word rundown of what to expect in your performance?

Southbound: Probably too soft

Final Thought: They describe themselves as 'too soft' but can they wrap M2TM in a big blanket, lulling them into voting for them. 

Saturday 26 June 2021

Metal To The Masses 2021 Interviews: In Which It Burns (Interview By Matt Bladen)

Interview With In Which It Burns By Matt Bladen

MoM: Give us an introduction to the band for anyone that doesn't know you. Band name, members, style etc

In Which It Burns: We are West Wales thrash metal crew In Which It Burns. Steven Flynn - Guitars, Eugen 'Vinny' Lowe - Drums, Ian 'Squid' Jennings - Bass, Wayne 'Stretch' Mayhew - Guitars and Vox

MoM: Elephant in the room. How have you coped with the pandemic? What have you been up too?

In Which It Burns: Pandemic was/is a full on ball ache but we kept busy writing for our second album. We did a few videos that we filmed with mobile phones and mixed together best we could. We parted ways with bassist mikey, and got in new guy Ian 'Squid' Jennings, and have entered the studio with Allen Chambers in Creature Sound Studios in Swansea and recorded our soon to be released album 'Consume Kill Repeat' along with a re-working and reissue of our first album 'Silence The Nothing' and a bundle of new merch designs. Aside from that, we managed to get a photoshoot in, did a gig in Creature Sound using in ear monitors, filmed and screened to an outside audience, and we were jamming the second we could form a bubble, and managed to squeeze a few live streams shows in... but not much else!!

MoM: What experience have you had with Bloodstock/M2TM in the past?

In Which It Burns: We were finalists in the 2019 M2TM meet. We had some of our best gigs there that year. Was an awesome experience.

MoM: How are you feeling entering this slightly restructured M2TM format?

In Which It Burns: We're as ready as ever. We wanna hit the stage asap. Just the chance to do this again has put a leap in our steps.

MoM: What would it mean to play Bloodstock? Would it be more significant doing so this year, after everything that's happened with live music?

In Which It Burns: To play Bloodstock, at the same show as some of the bands we grew up with, would be awesome, made even more significant after the events of the last year. The stage is where we belong. The size is not important, but to see live audiences again would be killer.

MoM: Give us a three word rundown of what to expect in your performance?

In Which It Burns: Brutal Fast Heavy

Final Thought: In Which It Burns are band who have come furthest West, so they will surely bring an outlaw attitude to the competition.  

Metal To The Masses 2021 Interviews: Ashen Oath (Interview By Matt Bladen)

Interview with Ashen Oath by Matt Bladen

MoM: Give us an introduction to the band for anyone that doesn't know you. Band name, members, style etc?

Ashen Oath: We are Ashen Oath, which is Dan (vocals), James (Guitar), Dyl (Guitar) and Kris (Drums) and we play metal with phat riffs and big chorus’

MoM: Elephant in the room. How have you coped with the pandemic? What have you been up too?

Ashen Oath: Work, pretending I am superman and fucking up my shoulder (in the case of Kris) but surviving which is the most important thing. We have had some good news in the band though, Dyl has got engaged and now has COVID baby on the way and Dan has just got engaged.

MoM: What experience have you had with Bloodstock/M2TM in the past?

Ashen Oath: We played in a previous M2TM under our previous iteration as Prophecy and got to the semi’s and loved it but haven’t had much luck with band members in the past and then COVID hitting which has put things on hold a bit, but we want to come out of this lockdown flying.

MoM: How are you feeling entering this slightly restructured M2TM format?

Ashen Oath: Fucking excited, sounds like a big party to us. At this point, just getting out and playing a gig means the world to us!

MoM: What would it mean to play Bloodstock? Would it be more significant doing so this year, after everything that's happened with live music?

Ashen Oath: It honestly means everything. Playing a festival as legendary as Bloodstock would be a dream come true even under normal circumstances but coming out of something like COVID and everything opening back up (hopefully) just makes the whole thing surreal.

MoM: Give us a three-word rundown of what to expect in your performance?


Final Thought: Who doesn't love big riffs and bigger vocals right?

Friday 25 June 2021

Reviews: Buckcherry, Hiraes, Graywitch, Demon Incarnate (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Buckcherry - Hellbound (Earache/Round Hill Music) [Matt Bladen]

Hellbound is the ninth record from Buckcherry and as they enter the realms of 'elder statesmen' of the rock scene they continue to release records that still manage to carefully balance their punk rock ethos with bluesy hard rock and some radio friendly ballads. Hellbound is no exception to this general rule of thumb, Here I Come and 54321 both having that choppy punk riffage, perfect for Josh Todd's sneer. A man who by all odds shouldn't be here, Todd still leads this rock act from the front the master of the party kicking out the jams and 22 years on since their debut, they continue to do so. Wasting No More Time is a bluesy backed melodic number that is followed by 'proper' ballad The Way. The title track gets a Rolling Stones like groove to it, and while No More Lies has the reggae backseat and synth coda from Zeppelin's The OceanGun though is more akin to boogie rock with lots of cowbell! Still the life of the party Buckcherry are growing old disgracefully with a rock n roll soul. It's pretty much what you'd want from a Buckcherry record. 7/10

Hiraes - Solitary (Napalm Records)

Hailing from Germany, Hiraes are a thunderous melodic death metal band forged out of the ashes of Dawn Of Disease. Now the obvious comparison will be Arch Enemy due to the brilliantly angry vocals of Britta Görtz who's scream is blood curdling right from the off. Essentially Solitary is a debut album but from musicians that have paid their dues on the scene, it means that the melodic death metal sound here is refined and focussed like a precision cutting blade, rather than a chainsaw that death metal can often be, the dual guitar riffs of Lukas and Olli are textbook Gothenburg scene, blending those traditional metal values with the furious rage of death. 

However they are not a one trick pony, due to Britta's versatile screams and growls the band can open up a little musically, Eyes Over Black has that clean guitar touch but also kicks into blistering death metal led by the battering rhythm section of Christian (bass) and Mathias (drums), which also features some nifty time changes for a big groove as it shifts into thrashy riffage, continued guitar workout that is the title track. Throughout the album there is also some really subtle uses of orchestration and synths that means Running Out Of Time ends with a longing piano piece. For fans of melo-death bands such as Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth, Hiraes' debut record will feature on your playlists for a while. 7/10  

Graywitch - Rise Of The Witch (Sleaszy Rider Records)

Nicosia (Cyprus) formed, now Thessaloniki based band Graywitch play classic, leather wearing, chest beating classic metal. Their sound does feature some Maiden touches as you'd expect on Midnight Metal Queen and others but they sit in the European metal sound with Helloween and Accept the major influence. Night Demon and Old Salt have the Helloween vibe to them Spyros Vlachopoulos and John Boutzetis delivering some slinky dual leads on My Comrade as the rock solid rhythm section Thomas Chalkias and Aris Ioannou keep a steady pace on Witch Of The Damned. The only issue some may have are the with Dino Nassis who has a lower register than a lot of metal singers but he still manages to carry the power of these songs. It's a pretty good debut album from this traditional metal crew, with some refinement their second will be great. 6/10

Demon Incarnate - Leaves Of Zaqqum (Metalville Records)
Sometimes you need a just need more occult retro rock so when you have exhausted your Lucifer, Blood Ceremony, The Blues Pills records out. Then I suggest checking out Demon Incarnate. Lots of organs, witchy vocals and proto-metal riffs are what Demon Incarnate bring to the table, based in the doom tradition, Leaves Of Zaqqum is the bands third full length and while the music here is decent enough, there are a multitude of bands that are doing this. The breathy vocals of Lisa Healy sit well on the groovy doom riffs with the aforementioned organs filling out the rest of the musical backing. The problem is no matter how good it is, Leaves Of Zaqqum fails to reach the heights of the bands I mentioned earlier. It's worth a listen but maybe just the one. 5/10    

Reviews: Amenra, Thy Catafalque, Urne, Deathchant (Reviews By Rich Oliver, Paul Scoble & Matt Bladen)

Amenra - De Doorn (Relapse Records) [Rich Oliver]

When looking up the word atmospheric in the dictionary there should be a photo of Amenra next to it. For 22 years the Belgian band have been offering some of the most consistently fine albums in the atmospheric post-metal world and with their seventh release De Doorn the band continue to release some of the finest music in the genre. De Doorn is a different album for Amenra in two respects - it is the first album not to be entitled Mass followed by a number in Roman numerals and secondly it is the first album to be entirely sung in Flemish which is the first language of frontman and band leader Colin H. Van Eeckhout. Musically it is still very much the Amenra we know and love being dense apocalyptic soundscapes drenched in a foreboding atmosphere with crushing riffs mixing with evocative ambience. This is music with a cinematic breadth to it which is completely easy to get completely lost in. I’ve listened to this album several times and it feels like it is over in no time despite being nearly 47 minutes in duration. 

The five songs which make up the album all have their own individuality and flow so well into each other that it feels like one complete piece of music rather than a collection of songs. The album opener Ogentroost slowly builds up the atmosphere at a steady yet tantalizing pace before the main riff kicks in and the waves of heaviness consume all. The vocals by Colin H. Van Eeckhout are pure anguish and you can honestly believe the dark place from where this performance emanates even if you can’t understand the lyrics. Guesting at several points throughout the album is Oathbreaker vocalist Caro Tanghe whose haunting and evocative cleans are a perfect contrast and stunning accompaniment to Colin’s blood-curdling screams (as well as throwing in some tormented screams of her own). De Dood In Bloei which follows is the polar opposite of Ogentroost being a wholly ambient and atmospheric piece which is simply magical before the crushing heaviness returns in De Evenmens. Some well placed clean vocals towards the end of the song add an emotive edge and had my arm hairs standing firmly to attention. 

Similarly the next song Het Gloren perfectly summarizes the bands ability to switch between the calm and the storm with moments of crushing heaviness broken up by the serene and atmospheric so when the riffs drops back in accompanied by Colin’s screams it not only draws you back in to the song it positively yanks you off your feet. The album closer Voor Immer is far quieter to start and for a good chunk of the song with some soft somber guitars and a spoken word passage before the heaviness strikes hard and fast but mixed with a hugely melancholic melody that is quite simply utterly sublime. Amenra have almost cult-like following in metal circles and with De Doorn it is absolutely easy to see why. This is a hugely powerful and immersive album that feels like a journey from start to finish. I can only imagine how incredible this material is going to sound live. De Doorn is an album that is bleak and forlorn but vast and cinematic in equal measure. It is an absolutely magnificent piece of work which I have literally nothing critical to say of. Put simply this is a must-hear album. 10/10

Thy Catafalque - Vadak (Season Of Mist) [Paul Scoble]

Thy Catafalque is the band name that Hungarian multi instrumentalist Tomás Kátai uses for his main musical project. Originally from Makó in Hungary, Tomás relocated to Scotland, and has now re-relocated to Budapest. Tomás is responsible for everything you hear on Vadak, except for some exquisite vocals from Martina Horváth, who also sing for Mansur and The Answer Lies In The Black Void. Thy Catafalque have been making music since 1998 and have released 9 albums before Vadak; the first being Sublunary Tragedies in 1999, and the last being Naiv in 2020 which was very favourably reviewed in this blog. The album that Thy Catafalque released before Naiv; Geometria was also reviewed in these pages and got a 9 out of ten, so Vadak has a lot to live up too, has Tomás dropped the ball on Vadak? Thy Catafalque’s sound is quite complex, but is also unique and instantly recognisable. Tomás melds together Metal, originally Black in style, but now closer to Progressive Metal, Electronica, World music, Folk, and Jazz to form a whole that is beautifully realised and where the transitions between different styles feel perfectly natural and effortless. 

The album opens with the track Szarvas, which after an intro of lush electronics, is a taut and uptempo progressive metal track. The melodies have a slight Eastern European flavour, which isn’t that surprising, along with some harsh vocals, and a great chanted chorus. Next we get the track Köszöntsd A Hajnalt, where the metal Guitars take on a background role and the electronics are further forward. The vocals on this track are from Martina Horváth, and are achingly beautiful. Gömböc opens in a very Metal way with a blast beat and a very driving riff. As the song progresses the electronics take over and we get a much softer section, that then leads into solos from guitar and synth, the track then has a very heavy ending. Az Energiamegmaradás Törvénye opens with vocal samples before fast choppy riffs come in. The track then has an extended drum break, with some interesting samples, the song then brings the clean guitar back in before fading out. Móló opens with taut, mid-paced electronics, distorted guitar is added, giving the song an Industrial feel. 

The song has a very strong electronic melody running through most of it, even in a harsh section with driving aggressive Guitars and harsh vocals, before the electronic return for a soft and gentle ending. A Kupolaváros Titka is a great piece of mellow, piano based Jazz (MMmmm Nice!). The track also boasts a Saxophone solo (MMmmmeven Nicer!). Kiscsikó (Irénke Dala) is a Heavy Metal Polka with Trumpets, and is as amazing as that sounds. Piros-Sárga is a taut and simple piece of Progressive Metal, it features a Hammond (or similar) organ, a great synth riff and is a fantastic piece of uncomplicated metal. Title track (sort of) Vadak (Az Atváltozás Rítusai) starts as a huge piece of driving Progressive Metal, it then drifts into soft piano led Jazz, strings are added to make this lusher than lush with a Violin solo and then we get some brass instruments to add to the amazing Jazz. 

The track then takes a turn back towards the Metal for big ending. Zúzmara is the final track on the album. It is very gentle and melodic keyboards with another stunning vocal performance from Martina Horváth. It is a simple, minimal and exquisitely beautiful way to end the album. Vadek is a stunning album. It has the distinctive sound that makes Thy Catafalque instantly recognisable, but at the same time does not sound as if Tomás is repeating himself. This album has its own personality that is different from his other albums. The huge melodies that are featured all over this album stick in your head, and will be hummed to distraction. The complexity is really impressive, but what is even more impressive is the way that that complexity is smoothed out into a whole that is coherent and cogent. So, to answer my earlier question; No, Tomás has not dropped the ball, Thy Catafalque have produced yet another amazing album. Highly Recommended. 9/10 

Urne - Serpent And Spirit (Candlelight Records) [Paul Scoble]

Urne are a three piece based in London. Two of the members have risen, Phoenix like, from the ashes of Hang The Bastard; Joe Nally on Bass and Vocals and guitarist Angus Neyra. The pair of former band mates are joined on Drums by Richard Wiltshire and have been making music together since 2018, in that time the band have released one EP, in 2018’s The Mountain Of Gold. Serpent And Spirit in the bands first album. Urne’s sound is a mix of different flavours of Heavy Metal, from huge and heavy doom to fast hardcorey thrash. The album opens with the title track, Serpent And Spirit, which has some fantastic Queen like Guitar harmonies before going into some very heavy, sludgy Doom, the song has a very melodic chorus with some clean singing and is a great mid-paced start to the album. Next up comes The Palace Of Devils And Wolves, which has a faster and very purposeful feel to it, this is like mid-paced thrash, in fact the track is quite similar to Executioner’s Tax by Power Trip. 

Memorial is slower than the previous track, but is also purposeful and driving, although in some places it feels like the tempo is a little too slow and it comes across as a little plodding. The song also boasts a very impressive Guitar Solo. Next we get Moon And Sky, which feels expansive and huge, the track has a very good chorus that is a little bit grungy. The song gets much faster and thrashier nearer the end, for a nice blasting conclusion. Desolate Heart is a cracking piece of Hardcorey Thrash, it has a slower but still powerful chorus and a very good Guitar solo. Envy The Dead is a short blast of driving Sludge, before a chorus that is Grungy and similar to Alice In Chains. Memorial - Sing Me To Rest takes its time getting going with a strummed into and soft vocals, the track builds and feels expansive. In the second half of the song the band adds some Tremolo picked riffs that feel very Post Black Metal, and this is combined with some Blasting to make probably the most interesting track on the album. 

Serpent And Spirit comes to an end with the song A Tomb So Frail, which has a very soft and quiet intro, before blasting into some savage crossover Thrash, which is then juxtaposed with some slower passages with clean vocals, before a very heavy and pounding ending, bringing the song and the album to a very pleasing end. Serpent And Spirit is a great album, the fact that it is a debut makes this even more impressive. There is a slight issue with some of the pacing, but apart from that this is all very well written and performed. There are a lot of different styles of Metal morphed together on this album, and the way they have moved from one to the other, without it ever feeling jarring or forced is an achievement, personally I’d like to hear them expand on the Post Black Metal style they use on Memorial - Sing Me To Rest, but however they chose to develop their sound, I’d be very keen to hear what this band does next. 7/10

Deathchant - Waste (RidingEasy Records) [Matt Bladen]

L.A quartet Deathchant play noisy, droning proto-metal which is thick in psychedelic explorations. Across 33 minutes and 7 songs, Waste is a soundtrack to a outlaw motorbike film that hasn't come out yet. Kicking out the jams with the twin leads of Lizzy opening Rails you're knuckled down for some riffs and echoed vocals, you may start thinking that you're in for a load of big NWOBHM anthems and if you just listened to Gallows and Holy Roller but the transitions between the songs such as on the evocative Black Dirt or the punk rock thrust of the Motorhead sounding title track. Deathchant improvise a lot of their music but they aren't in the vibe of Gov't Mule no Waste is an album that has more akin to The Sword with Maker fully amped up stoner rocker to close things out. Deathchant rock out with lots of different sounds like punk, grunge and heavy psych as well. Play it loud with your Harley ready to go. 7/10

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Reviews: Withered, Ballsdeep, Endless Chain, Bloodbeat (Reviews By Matt Bladen, Zak Skane & Simon Black)

Withered - Verloren (Season Of Mist) [Matt Bladen]

Withered sound is described as tortured blackened death metal and from the explosive opening salvo By Tooth In Tongue you can hear why that is, their music is slow paced, punishing and oppressive but also aggressive, driven and destructive, featuring clean vocals for the first time. They are in frontman Mike Thompson's own words a band "for metal nerds" and with the influences of Coroner, Strapping Young Lad and even bands like Cynic and Akercocke, they are 18 year in the making overnight sensation. Their cult status has held them in high regard and as you listen to this Atlantan acts' fifth full length their well worn themes of grief, loss and emotional pain have constantly been a source of inspiration allowing the music to feature a varied sound throughout. 

Supporting Mike Thompson (guitar/vocals) are drummer Beau Brandon, bassist Rafay Nabeel and guitarist/vocalist Dan Caycedo, the four of them playing a record as eclectic as their as live shows. Verloren is Withered re-connecting with their darker, introspective style of music. The production sound is almost like D.I,Y black metal acts, lots of fuzzy tremolo picking abound on The Predation but it's always backed by a much more experimental sound that ranges from heavy death metal grooves, such as on the technically savage From Ashen Shores to ominous My Dying Bride-like doom on Dissolve, beautiful classical guitar pieces, like the title track and they even dig into some grindcore/crust fury. With Verloren (German for missing) Withered remain resolutely in a category of their own, this album bringing them back to the style that they had back in 2005 on their debut, but also adding numerous dimensions to their already eclectic sound. Great extreme metal from the USA! 8/10 

Ballsdeep- Temperance (Self Released) [Zak Skane]

Ballsdeep have been apart of the UK Metal scene since 2010 hailing as the Bastard sons of Pantera. Since the bands previously released album …And On The 8th Day… and a three year UK touring cycle doing headline shows and well support bigger acts like Sepultura, Skindred and Evil Scarecrow just to name a few, the band have a new campaign for their up and coming (triple release) album Temperance, Death and High Priestess.

The scheme of this campaign is to release every part of this album every six months to insure that their followers are getting new content and baring witness of the gradual progression of heaviness, starting with Temperance.…and what can say about the first part of this album….Groove? Check! Riffs? Check! Attitude? Double Check!!! Starting from the five track opener Lay The Lines the band just smacks you in the face with this down tempo old school sludgy Lamb Of God groove accompanied with Dimebag Darrell inspired pitch shifted riffs. Other highlights include the energetic Supercharger’s ferocious fast tempo to the sludgy climax of King Of Heathens. Sam Bloor of Lower Lane Studios did a great job capturing the bands intensity making the guitars sound thick, the bass and drums sound punchy whilst getting the best performances out of the vocalists and making him cut through the mix.

In conclusion don’t expect anything genre defying but I can proudly say that this four piece wear their influences on their sleeves with pride and have made awesome but genuine first instalment from the album. If you like old school Lamb Of God and Mastodon mixed with Pantera and Neurosis this triple release for you! 7/10.

Endless Chain – Forthcoming Past (Rockshots Records) [Simon Black]

Less of a band and more of a well-connected solo project with a hell of a lot of high profile guests, Endless Chain’s debut is centred around Finnish guitarist/songwriter Timo Mölsä, who apparently is something of a latecomer - picking up the guitar for the first time in early middle age and forging this project off the back of some demos. His guitar playing is not too bad either – nothing flashy or overly technical, but with a clear melodic through line that leads you through the songs and much like Paradise Lost’s Greg Mackintosh structural use of melody, plays the notes and melody lines that you need to hear to manage the listener’s emotions. He also understands the structural side of songwriting to a tee, as each and every one of the songs on here has balance, structure and packs a hell of a punch.

This is moody and Gothic Metal in the Anathema/late 90’s era Paradise Lost vein, but with a generally cleaner approach to vocals from the four guest vocalists (Mikko Heikkilä, Ville Hovi, Aki and Salla Sundberg). Opening with the slightly clichéd moody opening bars of the title track, the album very quickly moves the spooky keys into the background and focuses on being dark, oppressive, moody and exceedingly heavy man… Forthcoming Past itself is slow and ponderous, creating a crushing sense on relentless inevitability, with Ville Hovi’s drawn out and haunting vocal lines evoking early Ozzy and counterpointed by Aki Salonen’s gruffer lyric lines that either alternate or harmonise in a highly effective way. 

They’re The Ones To Fall, takes the pace up slightly, but moody and well-paced remain the watch words through this track and indeed for the remainder of the record. Switching vocalists constantly also gives a lot of breadth to the sound and I wonder how this might work in practice live, as I can imagine only one or two frontmen working on the road in the early days of support slots and venues the size of the average living room. A living room which is going to be heaving with bodies when crowd pleasers like All Of The Above or Scars On Me are unleashed. It’s also not afraid to really take the pace down with the haunting mid-point acoustic ballad A Letter, or its sequel - the beautifully delivered duet Feel adding a female voice in the form of Salla Sundberg. It’s beautiful, haunting and powerful and I am left wishing that this singer had contributed more than the one track to this album.

This style of music fails utterly if it’s not richly produced, and Producer Aleksanteri Kuosa gets this completely, having immersed himself so heavily in pre-production to the point where he’s probably the second most important contributor on here after Mölsä. Polish and attention to detail are clearly on display here and this record feels like it has taken a lot of studio and post-production time to get this many musicians working remotely to sound as effective and cohesive an ensemble, whilst still allowing the contributions of the guests to stand out clearly and distinctively. In fact the only close comparison I can find that gets this balance so perfectly right is the combination of Tobias Sammet and Sascha Paeth on Avantasia projects, but they’ve had years and eight studio albums to get that balance right – Mölsä and Kuosa pull it off on the debut. This is an album that delivers with every listen and if they can make the transition from studio project to live spectacle, then this could be really, really interesting to watch unfold. 9/10

Bloodbeat - Process Of Extinction (Inverse Records) [Matt Bladen]

Coming out of Berlin with their fists flailing, heads banging and guitar riffs tearing at your skin, Bloodbeat play an aggressive style of death/thrash metal, with nods to Slayer and Cannibal Corpse, but also some shifts towards the speedy grindcore of Napalm Death and Misery Index. Beyond The Skeletons is an ideal show of this sound with drumming that comes at you relentlessly, the riffs cutting like a chainsaw and the vocals barked before it explodes into some divebomb solos. It's very much 90's death metal from moment one, the pace never really relenting, except for a few groovy stomps, ripe for mosh pit beating. Jason Juhn's vocals and guitar are the focus of this record leading the riffage along with Paul Hopp (Drums), Daniel Dokic (Guitar) and Fux (Bass) completing the lineup of this German death machine. DM aficionados will probably pick up more in this record and that will lead to them being more critical but in my opinion, Process Of Extinction is just a nasty piece of death metal ripe for armchair pitting. 6/10  

Reviews: Light The Torch, Bossk, Fractal Universe, Loch Vostock (Reviews By Zak Skane, Matt Bladen, Paul Hutchings & Simon Black)

Light The Torch - You Will Be The Death Of Me (Nuclear Blast) [Zak Skane]

If you don’t know who Light The Torch is then you clearly been living under a rock for the past three years when it comes to the metal community. The band are a super group that consist of members Howard Jones (Ex-Killswitch Engage), Francesco Artusato (All Shall Perish) and Ryan Wombacher (Bleeding Through). The band have released three albums previously (two under their former band name The Devil You Know) The Beauty Of Destruction and They Bled Red before they released Revival and their upcoming album You Will Be The Death Of Me under their current band name.

Listening through this album I can easily say that if you are big riffs and big choruses…you are not going to be disappointed. For instance the opening track More Than Dreaming pummels you with Francesco's groovy guitar riffs accompanied with the drums that are provided by Alex Rudinger (according to Wikipedia) topped with some of the best vocal harmonies and choruses that are on this album. Let Me Fall Apart provided us with classic metalcore pedal tone riffage that is accompanied with a tom groove in the verses before it comes in with female choirs in the chorus that keeps things fresh. It’s the End Of The World shows off Howard's Southern-tinged vocal melodies backed by 6/8 guitars and drum grooves. Wilting In The Light lets you hear the electronic elements put forward in the mix as well hearing Alex Rudinger use of ghost notes filled drum beats in the verse sections. Death Of Me (personally) is one of the highlights on the album and shows how good this band is when it comes to song-writing, this song combines vocal melodies and dynamics to tie in each section, allowing this song the flow perfectly. 

Living With A Ghost takes ode to classic balls to wall metalcore. With the song featuring the classic bad cop good cop sung vocal patterns and the chuggy riffs in the verse which transcend into strummed chords in the chorus which would please any old school Metalcore fans including the Howard-era Killswitch Engage fans. Become The Martyr tones down pace as relies on the electronic elements to centre stage in the verses before it elevates us with the chorus and also surprises us with a Alice In Chains sounding bridge. Something Deep Inside channels the bands hard rock inspirations with the simple foot pounding 2/4 down beat that companies those meat and potatoes riffs and that rock sounding guitar solo. 

The last three original tracks on this album the emotional I Hate Myself to the heavy laid Denying The Sin and the Post-Hardcore jangly Come Back To The Quicksand, sound great before it closes with Sign Your Name which was originally wrote by Sananda Maitreya. Comparing the original to their adaptation I got to give Light The Torch the credit that they have gave the song some new life, but I felt a bit of a weak album closer and it would of help up better a stand alone single.

Overall this is a great album, and an awesome follow up to their previous album Revival. The quality in their song-writing continues to escalate tying in the awesome production quality. If you like big riffs, huge choruses and massive sounding drums this album is defiantly for you. 9/10.

Bossk - Migration (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

Migration is Bossk's first release since 2016 and it's a step forward for the band who have always been a leading light in the UK's post-metal scene. If you want a broad scope of what this album sounds like I would say to check out the two closing pieces Lira and Unberth, at 9 and 8 minutes respectively they categorise all that Bossk are known for while also adding newer tricks. Soaring, atmospheric guitar melodies are met with a spacial rhythm section breathing air into these lengthy compositions, ther fritter of synths adding a lushness while the additional noise manipulation of Taro Aiko and Etsuo Nagura bring a disconcerting, industrial feel to these final two numbers especially. The couple of minutes of near silence with just some wittering machinery and white noise that ends the wonderfully powerful Lira before becoming loud again for the bright Unberth are one of numerous moments in the record where you are drawn into it. 

The anticipation something that both excites and unnerves. It's these additions to the record that firmly establish Bossk as not just a post metal band but more a post-everything band, rallying against all musical norms to become something much more experimental. Predominantly built around this five pieces' instrumental prowess, the mastery of this album comes when they dive into different styles. The crushing sludge of Menhir (which features Cult Of Luna's Johannes Persson) shifts by way of hallucinatory interludes into the thumping prog sound of HTV-3 which features Palm Readers Josh McKeown. Migration is an impressive musical exploration from this Kent based band, a very welcome return for Bossk! 8/10 

Fractal Universe - The Impassable Horizon (Metal Blade Records) [Paul Hutchings]

It was 2019's Rhizomes Of Insanity which first drew my attention to the progressive and complex music of France's Fractal Universe. An album I said “challenges, consumes and absorbs”. Well, the good news is that The Impassable Horizon is here, the worthy successor and another delicious fusion of progressive metal, blistering death metal, lounge music, jazz and funk – you’ll probably find many more genres nestled under the wings of this release. You’d be bemused by that description after listening to the opening minutes of Autopoiesis. The sledgehammer blast beats, choppy staccato riffs and angular time changes lead more towards technical death metal. Yet, the harmonised clean singing and crystal-clear guitar work hints at much more to come. 

The use of subtle yet full on keyboards provides a richness which evolves organically as the album progresses. Fans of Opeth will find this opening track resonates strongly, the interplay and switches in tempo as well as the sheer technicality that saw the band pair with Obscura just prior to the pandemic for some European dates. At times, the musicianship is insane, the irregular and shifting time signatures suggest this is a band whose creative well never runs dry. It’s incredibly good if you like your music delivered in a progressive and challenging manner. There are death growls a plenty, as heard on second song A Clockwork Expectation. This track also sees vocalist/guitarist/saxophonist Vince Wilquin let loose with his single-reed woodwind instrument for the first time, a sound which strangely enhances rather than inhibits the song. “We wanted to keep developing our musical personality and the natural sound we managed to get on 'Rhizomes'," commented drummer Clément Denys. 

There’s certainly plenty of organic and natural development on offer on The Impassable Horizon. You can see and hear the continuation of their musical voyage throughout. Withering Snowdrops for example, is a song full of contrasts and right turns. Instant diversions from blistering blastbeats to jazz-soaked explorations. Black Sails Of Melancholia stands as another incredibly impressive song, soaring highs, djent style elements fusing with melodic passages, the contrasting rough and clean singing all combining in a cacophony of majestic heaviness. Technically as exciting as any band I’ve heard for years, Fractal Universe can combine their talent without becoming overindulgent – except for penultimate song Godless Machinists, no song pushes much past the five-minute barrier. This is an album that will frighten those who struggle with variation and progressive soundscapes; but for those who enjoy expanding the grey matter, The Impassable Horizon should be on your must-listen to list. 8/10

Loch Vostok - Opus Ferox: The Great Escape (Black Lodge Records) [Simon Black]

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from these Swedish Progressive Metallers and there have been a fair few changes under the hood since 2017’s Strife album. Most immediately visible is band leader Teddy Möller’s decision to step back from lead vocal duties and focus on guitar, although he’s still providing the backing growls. There’s a new Bass player in the form of Patrik Janson and the arrival of Jonas Radehorn on Vocals. He’s best known for being in Priest tribute act Metal Gods and has a notably higher range than Möller, but there’s a breadth of vocal delivery styles in there, which creates a great ensemble effect when you add Möller’s grunts to the mix.

After eight studio albums there’s always the risk that things are going to start to get a little stale, but the new blood has brought new life and energy to the proceedings and there’s a freshness there that’s positively tangible. The tunage on here is dark and moody in the main, with a generally apocalyptic feel to help cheer us up after eighteen months of global pandemic with strong tension between Progressive and Melodic Metal elements with a surprisingly modern feel to it. In point of fact, for a Progressive act there’s a surprising amount of technical restraint on display here. So often in this genre the band members display unrestrained virtuosity whenever allowed, but this record feels more restrained so that it doesn’t not alienate ears less inclined to excessive fret and key wankery. It’s there, but it’s not dominating the proceedings with a focus on rounded song delivery and accessible catchiness, although I can’t see a song with a title like The Glorious Clusterfuck making it onto a mainstream radio playlist no matter how catchy the melody.

Generally the songs all work quite well in and of themselves, with one stand out moment being the opener The Freedom Paradox, which has an energy and passionate dark streak that stand out above many of the more accessible and melodic moments on the record. The more technically bass-driven groove of Disillusion is also one of the more progressive moments on the disk, where the technical elements of rhythm interplay work on the surface but raise an eyebrow the more you listen to them and realise how tight the playing had to be to achieve that sound. When The Wolves Have Eaten Everything takes that accessibility and catchiness to a more open level whilst retaining the Prog tropes with plenty of complex time structures hidden under a deceptively simple melody line. It’s the kind of song that’s going to widen your audience, but it is a bit isolated on the record, but you can see it being a hit live. The remainder of the album largely brings the more progressive elements back to the fore, but whilst keeping the catchy elements in play. 

If I have a criticism it’s that the album feels like it needs a little more thought to take accessibility to the next level, which means it’s in danger of leaving the Prog fans behind without expanding the envelope too far. It sounds great mix wise and it’s heading in the right direction, but it doesn’t quite produce enough phone-light wavers to get a crowd of new fans going live. Nevertheless like all good Prog it rewards the patient and repetitive listener. 8/10

Monday 21 June 2021

Reviews: Devin Townsend, Lacuna Coil, Stöner, Fargo (Reviews By Simon Black, Paul Hutchings, Paul Scoble & Matt Bladen)

Devin Townsend - Devolution Series 2 - Galactic Quarantine (Inside Out Records) [Simon Black]

As someone who has come very late to the Devin Townsend game (starting with the first release in this series a few short months ago), I am liking what I hear a lot. With the possible exception of fellow Progmeister Neal Morse, I don’t think there is a more prolific musician than Devin Townsend. He’s penned twenty-five or so studio album recordings, almost as many live ones and still finds time to crop up in other people’s projects. The Devolution Series is all about sharing material that he would not normally count as a major release, but whilst many acts right now are scraping the bottom of the barrel to find that sort of material to keep fans interested and their profile’s alive and relevant, this slightly eccentric Canadian has so far turned out two releases in the Devolution series alone this year, a trend likely to continue as long as the pandemic I suspect.

As with the first Devolution release, this one is also a live show delivered very recently, but whereas Volume 1 was an acoustic show from Leeds, this one is taken from his recent Live Stream performance, delivered entirely remotely with musicians all over the world in recompense for having to pull the plug on the back end of the Empath Tour in 2020. The reality was this was assembled over a period between July and August last year, and tightly welded together to create that feel, so perhaps ‘as live’ rather than ‘live’ would be a better description. It doesn’t sound like it – as ever with a man of his skills and talent, the sound is rich cohesive and feels like a proper live gig – even if you go and check out some of the songs from the show on YouTube, which saw the various artists all green-screened from wherever they happened to be in the world to a futuristic and highly animated CGI set.

The set list peppers a breadth of material from Strapping Young Lad days, the Devin Townsend Project and the current solo incarnation and all fits the moody and futuristic feel, but there’s also some new material in here premiering in this live format first as a preview to what hopefully we will get to see at Bloodstock later this year if there’s a fair wind, given that that was part of the Empath Tour. It’s a really tight show despite this fragmented production and I get absolutely zero sense that these guys are not perfectly and musically in synch with each other throughout. Maybe some of you who have followed him for a long time may be more weary of live album’s, but for me this is all a relatively new experience and I have to confess to having been thoroughly converted to this man’s work. Even these don’t qualify as major releases, if they can win me over from the bottom of their barrel, then there is something undeniably brilliant in there. 9/10

Lacuna Coil - Live From The Apocalypse (Century Media) [Paul Hutchings]

If you search through the pages of this site, you’ll find Matt’s glowing review of Lacuna Coil’s ninth album, Black Anima back in October 2019. That’s probably all you need to read because whilst this is a ‘live’ performance of the album in full, there’s not a lot else different, certainly not for the audio segment of this release. Another live album recorded during the pandemic, Live From The Apocalypse joins three previous live albums by the Italians … at least they had an audible audience. Recorded in September 2020 at the Alcatraz Club in Milan, this is Lacuna Coil going through the motions in a similar way to many others during these unprecedented times. It went out as a live stream and for hundreds of thousands of Lacuna Coil fans, this was the best thing they could have had at the time.
I have no doubt the event was cathartic for vocalists Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro, guitarist Diego Cavallotti, bassist and keyboard player Marco Coti Zelati and drummer Richard Meiz. After all, a band without live action is permanently disabled. 

It’s perfectly recorded, beautifully performed and showcases the strength of the album, which is magnificent. It just lacks heart. And that’s no-one fault. It’s just the way it is. Like albums recorded during other live streams, see Paradise Lost, Lamb Of God and Katatonia, there’s that horrible silence after each song, the occasional comment, “how are you doing, world?” and the lack of interaction. After all, you can’t generate much response from a TV camera. Musically, as I said, its stellar. Crisp and clean, with the usual polished production from Coti Zelati even though there is a whiff of antiseptic about it. Scabbia and Ferro are in fine form, the former’s soaring soprano cutting through the sky and the latter having at long last really perfected those growls. If you are a fan of the band, this is probably worth picking up, even if just to contribute £10 to their crew and overall income. If you aren’t a diehard, then even the beautiful piano version of Save Me (with Silvia Zanaboni) at the finale won’t be enough to change your mind.

Maybe the DVD will be more enjoyable. 7/10

Stöner - Stoners Rule (Heavy Psych Sounds) [Paul Scoble]

Two of the members of Stöner will be familiar to anyone with a passing interest in Rock music, particularly Stoner Rock as two of the members are Brant Bjork and domestic abuse enthusiast Nick Oliveri, who between them have played important roles in Kyuss, Mondo Generator, Chè, Fu Manchu and Bloodclot. The two ex-Kyuss members are joined by Ryan Gut, who also plays in Bjork’s solo project, on Drums. As you’d expect the music on Stoners Rule is Stoner Rock. The sound is very simple, Guitar, Bass, Drums and Vocals and that is pretty much it, the guitar and the bass have a very similar sound with very little distortion which does mean that in a few places it sounds more like just Bass and Drums. This gives the album quite a subtle feel, in some ways closer to blues than Stoner rock which usually have big fuzzy guitar and bass sounds. The vocals are all clean and are handled by Bjork and Oliveri, on most of the songs the lyrics are quite sparse, and are more like chants. It reminds me a little of the vocal style of psychedelic rockers Here Lies Man, but it does give the feeling that this is an album of choruses rather than an album of full songs. 

The album opens with Rad Stays Rad which is a simple piece of Stoner Rock, it has a nice, head nodding tempo, and feels quite minimal. Next track The Older Kids is also simple, but has a tauter and more driving feel than the opening track. As you would expect from the title, Own Your Blues is slow swaggery, piece of blues rock. The tempo is straight out of Alannah Miles hit from the Eighties; Black Velvet. Nothin’ is short and simple, the tempo is driving but over all it’s a little bland. Evel Never Dies is another short track that is uptempo and feels nicely alternative and punky. Stand Down, which is probably the best track on the album, has a minimal sound and feels controlled and introverted. The tempo has a great, funky groove to it, and the track has some nice dynamic development as it gets bigger and more powerful as the track nears its end, something that the other tracks are missing. The album is brought to a close by the 13 minute Tribe/Fly Girl, which has a softer sense to it, closer to a ballad than any of the other material. Although the track does have some build in dynamics nearer the end, for most of the song it feels plodding, over long and repetitive. Stoners Rule is so close to being a great album, but falls short. 

Although there are lots of great tunes, riffs, grooves and chants, there aren’t enough to keep you interested. The feeling of being subtle and simple, quickly slides into bland and boring, which is a shame as this feels like a missed opportunity. It feels to me that this is an album that has been recorded too soon. Apart from the track Stand Down the material on Stoners Rule doesn’t sound finished, these songs feel like demo’s rather than finished tracks, like the band needed another month of writing and jamming before recording the album. There are lots of flashes of the brilliance that Bjork and Oliveri have shown in other bands, but ultimately Stoners Rule is a disappointment. 6/10   

Fargo - Strangers D'Amour (SPV) [Matt Bladen]

Not a woodchipper in sight on this sixth record from Hanover rock act. In fact Rain Of Champagne is probably the fastest rawest song here with a running riff, opening the record to anyone that may have never heard of Fargo. You may have well heard of band leader Peter Knorn (bass) who put Fargo to rest after forming Victory in 1984, however after ending the Teutonic metal act in 2011, he reactivated Fargo along with vocalist/guitarist Peter Ladwig and drummer Nikolas Fritz they recorded Constellation in 2018, it was a well received comeback but not long after they set about making this follow up. Strangers D'Amour is classic Fargo sound, with the exception of the packet first song, the remaining tracks here are mid-paced rockers with influences such as AC/DC, Dire Straits and Golden Earring all filtered through a 2020's production sound. The music is mature and comes from clearly experienced musicians due to it's smooth delivery and measured approach. 

With Fritz drumming linking with Knorn' bass work, there's a drive to these tracks that allows Ladwig's guitar to get some time to show off on tracks such as Time, he also adds some Fender Rhodes and Hammond organs to the proceeding as well as delivering Knorn's clever often mocking lyrics with a soulful refrain. I'd not been familiar with Fargo, possibly because their initial run was between 1979 and 1984 and very much part of the German rock scene. But Strangers D'Amour is a grooving, rock album that comes from a time when rock n roll was on the top of the world. For some it may not be heavy enough, for others it'll be too slow, but if classy hard rock with lashings of experience is what you're looking for then don't let Knorn, Ladwig and Fritz be strangers for much longer. 7/10

Sunday 20 June 2021

Metal To The Masses 2021 Interviews: King Kraken (Interview By Matt Bladen)

Interview with King Kraken by Matt Bladen 

MoM: Give us an introduction to the band for anyone that doesn't know you. Band name, members, style etc?

King Kraken: Hey we’re king kraken from South Wales, we are a heavy rock/metal band with giant riffs, bigger drums and in your face vocals, we’re a 5 piece band consisting of Adam Healey on lead guitar, Pete Rose riff master on rhythm guitar, Karl Meyer on bass, Richard Mears on drums and Mark Donahue on vocals, we’re signed to Metal Rocka Records (an offshoot of Off Yer Rocka Records)

MoM: Elephant in the room. How have you coped with the pandemic? What have you been up too?

King Kraken: The pandemic has hit us hard as it has the whole music industry, February last year we played in front of 800-1000 people in Birmingham O2, it felt like things were going well for us and we had a lot of bigger gigs planned for the rest of the year and the month after we were all stuck in the house because of lockdown, so it’s been difficult to say the least but we’re the same as many others and just can’t wait until things go back to normal safely, which looks to be in a difficult situation at the moment with Covid regulations grassroots venues not able to get enough people through the door to make it worth while putting a gig on, grassroots music venues have been hit hard so many of them are not going to be coming back when things go back to normal.

As to what we have been up to, not too much as much of the year we haven’t been able to do a lot except writing new songs online which is a strange thing because songs written online don’t sound the same when u get into the practice room, which we have found out. Since we’ve been able to practice again we have tried to cram in as much as we can having 2 Practices a week to try and get back on track and learn to replay our old songs as well as writing our new stuff, which is sounding great and were looking forward to recording our 1st album which is nearly finished.

MoM: What experience have you had with Bloodstock/M2TM in the past?

Our experience in 2019 was a great one, we wasn’t very well known at the start and our 1st heat and we got through on a wildcard to the next round, which we were crazy happy about because nobody knew us, as time went on and Round 2 came around we had people wearing our t shirts buying CDs which was crazy, we got through Round 2 and into the semi final then the final and we were gobsmacked to be there, it was an amazing night the place was packed to the rafters, I’m not sure what we came in the competition but it didn’t matter we had such a great few gigs with M2TM it was just a great start to the band, 2020 speaks for its self and hopefully 2021 will go ahead in some capacity,

MoM: How are you feeling entering this slightly restructured M2TM format?

King Kraken: It’s going to be a bit of a struggle for everyone I feel this year, not long to learn to play together as well as what we did before the pandemic, finishing writing new songs, which is expected of us as we’ve had a year off, we are not going to come back with nothing new, biggest issue is we can’t play our new songs to any crowds before hand to see Which ones are crowd favourites and which ones are not, we’ve never been very good at picking songs by ourselves and go on how we feel a crowd reacts but we are not going to have that luxury this year.

MoM: What would it mean to play Bloodstock? Would it be more significant doing so this year, after everything that's happened with live music?

King Kraken: It would definitely feel like an achievement of getting through the year and a bit of the pandemic and still being a band after it, it’s been very difficult having faith in what your doing when you can’t do it, sometimes I've forgotten I’m even in a band, so if we pulled it off it would be a big achievement for us personally and recognition that we still have what it takes to play to a bigger crowd, I think our pants would be collectively brown to say the least as playing to a bigger crowd is a big step up after being off for so long!!! I think playing this year would be a massive achievement as you would be playing with the cream of the crop of British bands at the moment

MoM: Give us a three word rundown of what to expect in your performance?

King Kraken: Half And Half ... we’re doing just that for our set at M2TM South Wales, we released Chaos Engine EP in August last year when we got signed and got to play it to nobody and we don’t want people to forget those old/newer songs that we had back then as we didn’t do anything with it, but we’re also playing 4 new songs that nobody has ever heard before outside of the band so it will be very interesting to see how those songs go down for sure, we think their better than the old stuff but how do we tell when nobody else has ever heard them, so it’s definitely going to be interesting for sure, Thanks for the opportunity to do the interview and not forgetting about us!

Final Thought: The lean green metal machine are back in business, watch out for those tentacles!

Saturday 19 June 2021

Metal To The Masses 2021 Interviews: That Which Ate The Moon (Interview By Matt Bladen)

Interview with That Which Ate The Moon by Matt Bladen

MoM: Give us an introduction to the band for anyone that doesn't know you. Band name, members, style etc?

That Which Ate The Moon: We are That Which Ate The Moon (Made up of Alex, Lewis, Teagan & Ben). We play a mixture of stoner metal with influences from heavy and psychedelic rock and some modern hardcore. We’ve played both headline and support shows in Newport, Cardiff, Swansea and Pontypool and have plans to start playing further again as soon as possible.

MoM: Elephant in the room. How have you coped with the pandemic? What have you been up too?

That Which Ate The Moon: The lockdowns have allowed us all to spend time with our families, working and also at university. We've also spent lots of time writing new music and perfecting our older songs that we are soon to record. Recently we’ve been rehearsing a lot getting everything as tight as possible ready for shows.

MoM: What experience have you had with Bloodstock/M2TM in the past?

That Which Ate The Moon: For most of us, playing M2TM is going to be a brand new experience and we are all really excited to play it. Alex’s past experience with M2TM has been overwhelmingly positive. It creates a huge opportunity for smaller artists from all over the UK to showcase their music in front of hundreds of potential new fans. We all believe it can really help push a band through the barrier of just being a small local artist.

MoM: How are you feeling entering this slightly restructured M2TM format?

That Which Ate The Moon: We’re really excited to play our first gig back at the M2TM show. Post-COVID gigging is going to be full of challenges whether it be social distancing or people who don’t feel comfortable coming back out to shows as normal yet but we are ready to embrace all the changes and are grateful that we’re finally coming back.

MoM: What would it mean to play Bloodstock? Would it be more significant doing so this year, after everything that's happened with live music?

That Which Ate The Moon: After having not played for so long, to return to the live scene with M2TM and possibly even a slot at Bloodstock would be massive for us. It would be so much more significant for us to play this year as being part of the first wave of bands to be back after the pandemic would be something very special.

MoM: Give us a three word rundown of what to expect in your performance?

That Which Ate The Moon: GROOVY HEAVY RIFFS

Final Thought: Equally groove driven and outright nasty, they could devour the competition

Metal To The Masses 2021 Interviews: Incursion (Interview By Matt Bladen)

Interview with Incursion by Matt Bladen

MoM: Give us an introduction to the band for anyone that doesn't know you. Band name, members, style etc?

Incursion: Incursion! We are made up of a multiverse spreading collective of hitty things and low frequency noises. Griff (drums) Grunt (bass) and Fox (vocals/guitar) came together after incorrectly wiring a damaged interdimensional time gate thus opening a brief rip in the space time continuum transferring G&G to our plane of existence.
We recount our tales and ongoing adventures from the wastelands through the medium of metal and have a fun time doing it!

MoM: Elephant in the room. How have you coped with the pandemic? What have you been up too?

Incursion: Can this elephant be weaponized? If so that would come in handy, we would always have the higher ground then. The human plague that started from a bat and totally had nothing to do with us? It's been interesting, we've done a lot of experimenting and eaten many biscuits. We've learned alot about each other as we had not long joined together as the new three before the human plague got out from our holding cell... I mean bat...Outside of that, we've just finished filming a new tale and it's being edited by our hostages prisoners friends at Stone Letter Media.

MoM: What experience have you had with Bloodstock/M2TM in the past?

Incursion: Pretty positive, although there was that one time were our friends Malum Sky won and to celebrate/sulk we went on a fishing trip, returned and the apocalypse had happened, so that was a bit of a bummer, can't rightly remember which universe or reality that happened in. But we always have a lot of fun playing M2TM and always have huge support from the Incursionists old and new when we perform, they buy so many Incursion t-shirts it's crazy, please keep doing so.

MoM: How are you feeling entering this slightly restructured M2TM format?

Incursion: Seems like chaos, we like chaos.We are just glad that it is going ahead as of writing this. After a year and a bit of hibernating it'll be a welcomed return to performing live, even if we all have to sit down, which is fine with us being unfit and flabby.

MoM: What would it mean to play Bloodstock? Would it be more significant doing so this year, after everything that's happened with live music?

Incursion: The experience to play on a larger stage, to have the opportunity to spread the tales of Incursion, and to become part of that Bloodstock family, would be lovely. I just want to watch a tent full of people fight over a packet of Hobnobs to be honest. All hail Lord Richard Richard and his butler Eddie.

MoM: Give us a three word rundown of what to expect in your performance?


Final Thought: 2021 could very well be Incursion's Olympic year. Oh it's true, it's damn true!