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Monday 5 July 2021

Reviews: Darkthrone, Fury, Inhuman Condition, Rascal Whack (Reviews By Paul Scoble & Matt Bladen)

Dark Throne - Eternal Hails (Peaceville) [Paul Scoble]

Darkthrone should need no introduction for regular readers of this blog, however for those not familiar with the band. Dark Throne’s story goes back to 1986, when they formed Darkthrone were originally called Black Death, but changed their name in 1987. The band started life as a Death Metal band, and their first release Soulside Journey was a (in my opinion) very good Death Metal album, however after rehearsals for the follow up to Soulside Journey produced material that the band did not like, they decided to dump all the material and head off in another direction, a direction that led to the genre defining classic A Blaze In The Northern Sky. The bands bassist at the time Dag Nilsen wanted to play Death Metal rather than the bands new direction so after recording the bass tracks for A Blaze In The Northern Skies, he left the band. Darkthrone followed up A Blaze In The Northern Skies with another genre defining classic in Under A Funeral Moon in 1993. After the release of Under A Funeral Moon, Guitarist Zephyrous left the band, leaving only Nocturno Culto and Fenriz to carry on as Dark Throne. 

In 1994 the band released the last of the 3 albums that defined Orthodox Raw Black Metal; Transylvanian Hunger. These three albums are very important to the development of Black Metal as a genre, and have spawned about a Billion imitators. Darkthrone, however, didn’t release any more albums in that style and instead went for a much more Celtic Frost direction for their next album Panzerfaust, and from that point on the duo have continued to develop their sound away from the Black Metal sound that they helped to create, towards a sound closer to Punk Metal, always evolving with each album, Eternal Hails being the bands 19th album. 

The album opens with the track His Master's Voice, which starts with fast, tight Punk Metal which has loads of energy and inertia. The song has several slow and heavy sections interspersed between the fast riffs, the song ends with a very slow and heavy section that feels very doomy and drips tri-tones. The track is full of energy, but is also quite long, it feels a little bit too long for the amount of complexity that the song contains. Next we get the track Hate Cloak, and this is where things start to go awry for Eternal Hails. The track, which is over nine minutes long, feels slow (but not heavy), ploddy and lacklustre. The riffs don’t really go anywhere, and I really hate to say this about Dark Throne, but ultimately the song is boring and it feels as if it keeps on returning to the same place. Wake Of The Awakened is a mix of mid-paced Punk metal and more slow and lacklustre riffs. The faster parts are ok, but the slow parts feels half-arsed and, again, boring. 

Voyage To A Northpole Adrift is another mix of fast punky riffs and slow and ploddy riffs. The fast punky riffs are really good, but again the album is let down by the slower material. The second half of the song is better than the first and even contains a simple solo. The album is brought to an end by the track Lost Arcane City Of Uppakra, which opens with slow but driving and purposeful riffs that are so much better than a lot of the slow material on this album, this then gives way to a faster and more bombastic riff that helps to drive the song along. There is then a nice rhythmic section that contains some very impressive drumming before the track goes into a section that is very close to Epic Black Metal (the style of Black Metal originated by Summoning and perfected by Caladan Brood) which features keyboards and some very strong melodies. 

The song feels full of life and tunefulness and is a great way to end the album. I must admit when I got this album to review I was expecting more than one great track, one pretty good track, two disappointing tracks and one terrible and boring pile of crap. I suppose it is a lesson in controlling your expectations. However, Darkthrone have released at least 3 albums that have defined a genre, and at another 5 other albums that are considered classics, if any band is allowed to drop the ball occasionally, it has to be Darkthrone. This is the bands 19th album, if you are new to Darkthrone, try one of the other 18 albums, have a listen to Panzerfaust, that's my favourite. 6/10

Fury - Rock Lives In My Soul/The Grand Prize Live (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

Any band that release an album just before a Global Pandemic will being kicking themselves at their inability to tour the record. Fury pretty much confirmed this to me when I interviewed them last year. However never a band to rest on their laurels they have done pretty much everything a band can to keep the interest and interaction of their fan base to maximum levels. They have re-released their debut album The Lightning Dream and now they have come with a hard rocking new single called Rock Lives In My Soul. Now we don't normally review singles so it's to our benefit that included with this new song is a six track live album featuring tracks from their most recent album The Grand Prize and a re-recorded version of classic song Kill The Light. So with this smorgasbord (as the band put it) laid out in front of me I dove in to sample the delights. 

The single is a cracker, a duet between Fury vocalist Julian Jenkins and vocal powerhouse Kim Jennet the inspiring message of metal/rock inclusivity is featured in a song that sits comfortably as part of Fury's heavy rock sound they've moved toward recently. Both Julian and Kim play off each other well vocally adding gritty but melodic vocals to this pumping new single. It's a live anthem ready to be shouted back by a crowd. Let's hope we can actually see that sooner rather than later. 

The live tracks make up the set that they were supposed to play when they toured, all are from the latest album giving a good example of what to expect when Fury do return to the stage. What strikes me is that the recording from Capsaarx Studios, the mix by Pete Newdeck and the mastering from Harry Hess, along with the lack of crowd make this feel more like a live-in-the-studio release than a full live album. The bass of Becky Baldwin and drums from Tom Fenn meaty (or Seitany for Veggie/Vegan friends) enough to sink your teeth into your teeth into while JJ and Jake Elwell's guitars play off each other throughout Jake's solos too never fading in the mix. 

In a lot of live releases.its either the instruments or the vocals that suffer but here both are perfectly balanced even Nyah Ifill (who also co-wrote the new single) and Jade Maris' backing vocals nice and clear. Finally we get a re-recording of Kill The Light from the Lightning Dream just to finish off this 8 track bits n pieces collection. Worth purchasing for the new single and the live songs alone, it's another ingenious way to combat these Covid times from Fury! 8/10

Inhuman Condition - Rat God (Listenable Insanity Records) [Paul Scoble]

Inhuman Condition formed when Taylor Nordberg (Guitar) and Jeramie Kling (Drums and Vocals), both from the band The Absence joined Massacre, wrote a load of Old School Death Metal material in a style that fits in with the legacy of the legendary band, and then left Massacre. The pair decided that the material written for Massacre needed to be heard and formed Inhuman Condition. The band name comes from the Ep of the same name that Massacre released in 1992. So the duo needed a Bass player and who better to get than Terry Butler, current Obituary Bassist, and former member of Death, Six Feet Under and original Bassist from Massacre, the guy who played Bass on the EP that the band named themselves after. The three ex-members of Massacre have been together since last year, and Rat God is their first release. The material on Rat God does have a definite Massacre feel to it, but then as this was written to be a Massacre album, that isn’t very surprising, but is it good Massacre style Death metal? Well, yes it is, in fact this is a great Old School Death Metal album. 

The material does sound like an early eighties Death Metal album; fast tremolo picked Death Metal riffs, are mixed with ultra slow and heavy riffs with savage harsh vocals and some very squealing, dive-bombing solos that seem to be channeling early nineties Rick Rozz. The album kicks off with the track Euphoriphobia, which opens with fast, tight Death Metal riffing, before a screaming solo and then a slow and very heavy section, all of which has some very nasty, harsh Vocals over the top. In the first minute the album makes it abundantly clear what this album is all about. The album then follows with another 8 brilliantly fast and frenetic, and slow and heavy songs that remind you why the early nineties was a great time to be into Heavy Metal. There are so many great fast riffs on this album; Planetary Paroxysm is a case in point, beautifully fast and flowing Death Metal that feels so full of energy and inertia, it has a brilliantly rhythmic and well structured aspect as well. The slow and heavy side of this album is also very impressive, the track The Neck Snap has a great, heavy and pounding chorus that is a highlight of the album. In many ways the constant juxtaposition of slow and heavy with fast and frantic helps to make the slow and heavy, heavier and the fast and frenetic, faster. 

The album has some nice thrashy touches as well, a lot of early nineties Death Metal had lots of elements of thrash in them as at the time the two genres were not as defined as they are now. Thrash bands pushed their styles so they were often very close to Death Metal, and lots of Death Metal bands still used Thrash riffs, so a thrash elements on here feel totally natural. The track Gravebound has several riffs that have a definite Thrashy sense to them, and the title track Rat God has some very good mid-paced Thrash riffs on it. The soloing on Rat God is also straight from the early nineties. It’s full of atonal speed shredding and the aforementioned squealing dive-bombs that I totally associate with Massacre. Every song has at least one cracking solo on it, there are more squeals on this album than in the film Deliverance. Rat God is a great album. It’s a brilliant piece of Old School Death Metal that is full of energy and drive. Ok, there isn’t anything particularly new or groundbreaking about Rat God, but you will be far too busy punching the air and Headbanging to care about breaking ground. Wonderfully good fun! 8/10

Rascal Whack - Maliveni (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

Following on from their 2015 album Gameroller, Greek rockers Rascal Whack have tried to redefine themselves and how they done that is by transcending into a meaty meal of stoner, psych and doom. Now I will say that the band name isn't the finest I've heard but the music here is great for fans of stoner rock that has a widescreen sound to it. The band try to do things authentically but also open their sound up to be much more expansive than many stoner bands. The album name Maliveni, means cedar-forest of which there is one in the center of Athens. The albums key theme is to keep places like this alive rejecting the constant need to expand and destroy. 

The band believe we sometimes need these moments of reflection to return to ourselves, they've channeled this feeling into the 8 tracks on this record with the rhythm section laying down steady grooves that get the head bouncing along to tracks such as ironically Raging Groove which also displays the expansive guitar playing that's featured here too. Musically I'd say that Rascal Whack that remind me of Planet Of Zeus, Acid Mammoth and even Clutch their music relying more on leisurely pace to bring the power. A track like Slipping Away is the ideal explanation for Rascal Whack as its got a gritty Monster Magnet-esque fuzz to it, while The Fly has some grunge vibes to it, with Soundgarden the major style you can hear. Riffy and also a bit mystical Maliveni is a prime slab of psych leaning stoner heavy rock. 7/10  

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