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Wednesday 21 July 2021

Review: Space Chaser, Ophidian I, Chestcrush, Matt Long & The Revenant Ones (Reviews By Paul Scoble, Charlie Rogers, Richard Oliver & Matt Bladen)

Space Chaser - Give Us Life (Metal Blade Records) [Paul Scoble]

German five piece Space Chaser have been making music together since 2011. The band features Sebastian Kerlikowski on Bass, Matthias Scheverer on Drums, Martin Hochsattel on Guitars, Leo Schacht on Guitars and Siegfried Rudzynski on Vocals and has released 2 albums before Give Us Life; Watch The Skies in 2014 and Dead Sun Rising in 2016. Space Chaser play a very energy packed style of Thrash Metal, although it is a style that is much more influenced by American Thrash rather than Teutonic Thrash, closer to Exodus, Overkill, Anthrax or Testament, rather than Kreator, Destruction or Sodom. 

This is Thrash, and if there is one thing that is synonymous with thrash it is speed, fast riffs, rapid Drums, blistering Bass, breakneck Guitars, this album has them all, when Space Chaser do fast they do not mess about. Album opener Remnants Of Technology is a good case in point, fast tight riffs that are razor sharp and packed with energy. Another track that shows this is A.O.A. which features some very fast and flowing material that has vast amounts of inertia. The Immortals is a cracking high speed track, it has a particularly impressive display of very swift vocals from Siegfried Rudzynski, the pacing and rhythm of the verse parts is similar to the very rapid vocals on Testament’s track Curse Of The Legends Of Death. It’s not all about fast though, Space Chaser are very good slow, heavy and relentless, a little in the vein of Anthrax’s classic track I Am The Law

The aptly titled Juggernaut and the albums title track Give Us Life have this slow to mid-paced tempo, coupled with a feeling of relentless unstoppability, that is just as impressive and enjoyable as the fast stuff. All the material on Give Us Life is very well played, the technical virtuosity is very high on this album. All the riffs are very tight, the drumming is very impressive and the guitar solos are fantastic, full of melody, tunefulness and technical precision. The Immortals, Burn Them All and Remnants Of Technology all have very impressive solo’s that are eminently hummable. Give Us Life is a great piece of high energy thrash. The riffs are tight as anything, sharp as a scalpel, and incredibly head-bang-able. 

This album is so full of energy and inertia it could probably be used to reanimate corpses! One criticism could be that there isn’t anything on this album that wasn’t being done in the nineteen eighties, but this is far too much fun for me to care about breaking ground, I’m having far too much fun head-banging. 8/10

Ophidian I - Desolate (Season Of Mist) [Charlie Rogers]

Icelandic tech death about space - what’s not to like? Light speed guitars, blisteringly fast drums, and roaring vocals to match. There’s a lot to hear on this record, with a clear attempt at the world record for most riffs per minute clashing with plenty of harmonic and melodic diversity. The guitar work really is out of this world, and leaves you breathless with how quickly passages move. Tastefully utilizing many sonic colours, the songwriting flexes a true mastery of scalic and chord knowledge - lead guitars exploring unknown heights while the bass underpins the foundation of the movements at times, while also providing beautiful countermelody. It’s a thrilling listen.

The downside to extreme variety is a lot of it blurs in the memory, with many spectacular passages that are enjoyable during their time in the spotlight fading as the next equally epic lick comes to the fore. I find myself being very invested in the record while it’s on, but with no real memory of how the songs individually sounded once finished. There’s a memory of lightning quick instrumentation, but with no lasting detail. Complexity and dexterity are fickle tools in this manner, and trying to write 300 bpm ear worms is one of the hardest tasks in tech death. Try as they might, Ophidian I have done a stellar job in writing intricate, interesting, and honestly breathtaking music on this album, but for me they’re currently missing the mark when it comes to an album that truly has staying power. Perhaps it’ll take another 5-10 listens for the songs to embed, and I’m certainly willing to give them that in the future, in the hope they grow on me further. 7/10

Chestcrush - Vdelygmia (Self Released) [Richard Oliver]

Vdelygmia is a Greek word which means abomination, filth and repulsion of extreme levels and can be used both to define the feeling towards an act, or a person, who is sorely corrupted and depraved. It is a fitting title for the debut album from Chestcrush which is the Edinburgh based solo project of Greek born musician Evangelos Vasilakos who performs all instruments and programming whilst the vocals are handled by Thomas Blanc (who is involved with a whole myriad of bands including Celestial Swarm, Helioss and Kalmhain amongst others).

Chestcrush build upon the discordant blackened sludge metal they put out on their 2020 demo and have a sound that is utterly bleak, depraved and uncompromising. You will not find hooks or melodies on this release instead you will find a relentlessly soul-destroying mix of black metal, sludge metal and grindcore with the nastiest elements of all these subgenres mixed together to create something completely crushing. This can mean the album is a bit on the one-dimensional side and the especially slow and sludgy moments can get a bit tiresome as they don’t have any really solid riffs to match being more made up of discordant sounding chugs. The album is far more effective when it absolutely lets rip with a mix of grinding fury, blackened tremolo riffs and a barrage of blast-beats whilst also adding in moments of discordant sludge such as in songs like Let Them Crawl and Vothrodoxia.

Vdelygmia is a decent debut full length for Chestcrush but even with only around 29 minutes of music it does have some moments which are dragged out a bit too long. This is meant to be utterly ugly, unpleasant and uncompromising music and in that respect Chestcrush 100% achieve what they set out to do. Vdelygmia is one of the ugliest albums you will hear in 2021 and if an absolutely hellish soundscape is your bag then this album comes recommended. 7/10

Matt Long & The Revenant Ones - The Otherside (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

I didn't really know anything about Matt Long when I came to review this debut solo album. He is singer/guitarist of British blues band Catfish, having won numerous awards Matt set a out on a European tour in early 2020 with this album due for release in Spring of last year. Just over a year later the album has been released with a look to playing it live this summer. Unlike his day job this album with The Revenant Ones, is much heavier, drawing from the American rock/metal scene bands like Alter Bridge and (early) Black Stone Cherry built around driving riffs, virtuoso solos and powerful melodic choruses. The record is bolstered by some excellent songwriting, from the strutting 7 minute So that opens the record with an anthem and the slow burning, emotive With My Own Eyes (which is full Alter Bridge), there's also a full on rock out for Wild Animal a song that if played at Steelhouse would get the crowd going nuts. 

There's a real fire to this record, crafted to be played live, to reflect what is by all accounts an incendiary stage show. Matt himself has a gritty, melodic vocal that's steeped in blues tradition but also works well in this rock setting. His guitar playing too is that of a virtuoso, the solos as fluid as the current Covid rules while the riffs are boosted by the grooving basslines of Catfish bandmate Adam Pyke, who leads the final number, the 8 minute Across The Borderline into its punchy crescendo where Matt unleashes another solo. The trio is rounded out by the powerhouse drumming of ex-Raveneye man Kev Hickman, the rhythms he generates giving this album it's thump. The Otherside is a great debut record from Matt Long, it's different enough from Catfish to win over new fans while keeping those who already know Kong's previous work. Rock radio riffs, sing along choruses and a aim to be played live The Otherside is worth taking a journey to. 8/10

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