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Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Reviews: Dee Snider, Prosperina, Chaos Over Cosmos, Nik Laidlaw (Reviews By Paul Hutchings & Matt Bladen)

Dee Snider – Leave A Scar (Napalm Records) [Paul Hutchings]

He’s certainly a legendary figure in the world of heavy metal. His last studio album, For The Love Of Metal was a right royal return to form after the distinctly average We Are The Ones in 2016. Having the might of Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta alongside the Twisted Sister frontman in both production and song writing clearly was a positive step and Jasta returns once more in one of metal’s most productive alliances of recent times.

Despite internally committing to the end of his live and recording career in 2019, the change in the world with not only the pandemic but the shift in global and US politics saw Snider change his mind and return to the studio. Leave A Scar is solid album, continuing the heavy feel of its predecessor and crammed with anthems of heavy metal that will soon have you singing along. Snider’s voice is as recognisable as any of his peers and whilst he tripped over the 60 speedo a few years ago (he’s fitter than a butcher’s dog though), Leave A Scar sees him in imperious form. Backed by his band of Charlie Bellmore - guitar & background vocals, Nick Bellmore – drums, Russell Pzütto - bass & background vocals and Nick Petrino - guitar & background vocals. His voice soars and screams, his enunciation as perfect as it’s always been, one of the facts I love about Snider. You can understand every word he says.

From the album opener I Gotta Rock (Again) to the dark, brooding rumblings of The Stand, Snider still has a lot to say about the state of the world. Harnessing his angst into a creative outlet, he’s on fire throughout with his lyrics expressing the anger, unease, and pain he and many have endured over the past year. There are also some fantastic guests, with the power of Time To Kill featuring Cannibal Corpse’s George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher surprisingly fast and good with the echoing guttural roars. All Or Nothing More sees Snider hitting the thrash pit in one of the fastest thrashy tracks he’s every delivered. The backing musicians really hit the tempo and propel the track forward as they do again on the feisty Down But Never Out.

Clearly, there is plenty of life left in Snider yet, and if he continues to produce music of such quality, who are we to argue. It’s a heavy metal album, made by a heavy metal frontman who seems to possess more energy now that he did 20 years ago. 8/10

Prosperina - Flag (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

A long time in production, Flag is the third album from Swansea prog/alternative/doom/grunge band Prosperina. Their last was in 2014 so it's been a long time in production and they still defy pigeonholing, the album is one of the many casualties of Pledgemusic thus why even though it was recorded in 2018 it has only just been released. As things politically haven't changed much since then (idiots everywhere), the themes of this album remain relevant to this day. Flag so often the signals for obedience or revolution, the uncertainness, fear and general confusion of these times we live in. None so much than Boot a crusher near the middle of the album with the iconic line from George Orwell's 1984, repeated in the chorus of the song. 

Gethin Woolcock's vocal a call to the disenfranchised left, the spoken word section coming from George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides. Woolcock and Chris Dean's guitar playing is part-indie rock, part-sci-fi prog with a stoner rock back beat of bassist Liam Scannel and drummer Yotin Walsh. The record brims with Floydian fluidity, A New Cold bringing to mind the darkness of Animals with the swirling groove of Soundgarden. There's also the swagger of Clutch on Art Nouveau but also a wide range of sounds that were key to the experimental nature of this album. From the slow shifting Deep Never we get some heavier  the band pushing themselves in the studio. Melding the darker, heavier tones with lighter moments, Drunk On The Blood Of Tokyo brimming with attitude as the title track swirls with psychedelic, Runner In The Maze taking things to a disorientating level across it's long run time. Flag has benefitted from it's delay in the long run as it sounds more vital now than ever. A great album from a band I will be welcoming back with open arms (when we can all hug again of course). 8/10

Chaos Over Cosmos – The Silver Lining Between The Stars (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

Since their formation in 2015, time has rarely stood still for Chaos Over Cosmos. The Polish and Spanish hybrid now include Australia as an outpost with the arrival of their latest vocalist, KC Lyon, who replaces Joshua Ratcliff who in turn had replaced Javier Calderon on the last album, The Ultimate Multiverse. The mainstay of the band remains Rafal Bowman who takes lead on guitar, song writing and programming whilst KC Lyon adds lyrics and song writing as well as the vocals.

The previous two long players clearly touched the right nerves with my fellow reviewers, and I can see why in part. The musicianship is impressive, with Bowman’s technical prowess at times breath taking. His shredding on the ten minute plus Violent Equilibrium is phenomenal, although the programmed drumming is frustrating due to its sheer intensity. At times, the battery is simply unreal and that gives the challenge between reality and artificial. As a showcase of prowess, it’s almost unrivalled.

The middle three tracks on the album are considerably shorter, and KC Lyon’s aggressive and guttural roars add girth to the tracks. The keyboard elements don’t quite work for me, at times rather abrasive in their interplay but this is a minor quibble. If you like technically melodic death metal, you’ll probably enjoy the likes of The Last Man In Orbit, the outer space feel of instrumental Eternal Return or the explosive Control ZD.

But for me, there is something that is lacking within the overall album and I’m not quite sure what it is. The title track which closes the album switches tempo so dramatically from the previous four frenetic pieces of work that I had to check that I hadn’t been given a dud. A gentle, calming intro which is rather out of step with the rest of the album is quickly dispelled by more frantic and familiar aggressive growling, although I like the clean harmonies that echo throughout. This style is repeated and brings a different and more melodic feel to an album that in parts is brilliant but doesn’t quite sit as comfortably as it might. Still, there is plenty to appreciate, and there is no doubting the quality that is on display. 7/10

NIK/Nik Laidlaw Music - Stasis (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

Nik Laidlaw Music, stylised as NIK, is the solo record from Seed Of Sorrow guitarist Nik Laidlaw. Stasis is his debut solo record. It's influenced heavily by early 2000's metalcore and melodeath, there's lots of groove, solos and melodic flourishes, even some clean vocals on No Control where Nik even sound a little like Rob Halford sneering. However the rest of the album is strongly in the realms of Ascendancy-era Trivium with the traditional metal sound cutting through the metalcore assault the record has Ruin and Point Of Impact reminding me of Lamb Of God as well, the latter having a thick groove. It's a reasonably short record with little time to ease into things, it just hits and hits hard from the first moment. The melodies and breakdowns vary it from the more straight ahead death metal sound of Seed Of Sorrow, but a pretty decent metalcore record. 6/10

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