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Thursday 29 July 2021

Reviews: Flame Dear Flame, Tantric, Sense Offender/NIL, Wings Of Destiny (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Flame, Dear Flame - Aegis (Eisenwald)

Aegis is the debut album from Brunswick, Lower Saxony based Epic Doom Metal band Flame, Dear Flame. And put simply it's a fantastic record that sends Flame, Dear Flame straight near the top of the epic doom metal pack. Channelling acts such as Atlantean Kodex, King Witch and the brilliant Avatarium, this record is essentially two tracks split into sections. So the first three are part of the The Millennial Heartbeat suite consisting of the formation of the ocean and the earth itself, primordial and torrid, the three parts crawling from the beginnings of the Earth with a traditional metal foundation taken for a slow, powerful doom laden ride through elongated musical journeys. The deft drumming of Jan Franzen and steady, ground shaking basslines of Martin Skandera keeping the tracks always moving forward carving grooves with every low slung note. 

In this first trio of songs we get glimpses of brilliance from vocalist Maren Lemke, her beguiling, soulful vocals style adding emotion to these compositions. However it's on the second suite which deals with a feral child and a prioress where she really shines through the folkier textures of The Wolves And The Prioress Part III and Part IV where we almost get to the point of a doom metal Fleetwood Mac the final song especially is breathtaking. Now I haven't yet mentioned the scintillating guitar playing of David Kuri, but he is the glue that brings together, from the haunting light and shade on opening number Millennial Heartbeat Part I the classic doom sound is established very early, with Part II adding crunch as it moves into atmospheric bass-led main part as Part III slows again, a simple single guitar riff that gets distortion and ends this suite with a titanic power. 

As alluded to earlier The Wolves And The Prioress brings more acoustics and folk flavours on top of the doom metal power that is already so brilliantly done. It opens up a brand new musical landscape for the band as they creep toward this records climax adding yet more fantastic feasts for the ear. For a debut Aegis is a wonderful epic doom metal record that will have fans of the genre placing Flame, Dear Flame in the top echelon! 9/10

Tantric - The Sum Of All Things (Cleopatra Records)

We haven't reviewed Tantric on this blog before and their is probably a reason for that. The Californian alternative/post-grunge band are apparently beloved by their fans. Well they obviously hear something here that I can't. The Sum Of All Things is like every B-List Post Grunge from the early 2000's think Staind, Puddle Of Mudd and Seether level of crunch riffs and low baritone vocals. They had two big hits on 2001, both of which are here on re-recorded form. However it pretty much stays in 2001 musically, the majority of the songs are pretty basic, many range from "meh", to "oh Christ what the fuck is that!?" An example of meh is the instantly forgettable Compound, the faux-country of Ten Years and Walk The Way which has over used electronics. On the other hand you have a song such as Can't Find This which is dreadful, overly emotional crap with terrible lyrics which sounds like a song so saccharine even Nickelback would have left it on the cutting room floor. The shocking lyrics continue on Living With Out You and The Words You Say another awful ballad. I really struggled with this record, nothing appealed in anyway, mostly the fact that it's 14 songs in length, including some re-recorded tracks. I don't think I'll be featuring Tantric again on the back of this eighth (!) album. 3/10

Sense Offender/NIL - Split (Sludgelord Records)

If you're feeling angry, frustrated or even homicidal at any point soon I suggest sticking on the new split EP from Northeast England's blackened hardcore mob Sense Offender and Leeds' masters of the groove laden technical aggression NIL. Both bands have been featured before in these pages and been given quite positive feedback. Sense Offender especially are no strangers to a split album having previously released them with Pupil Slicer and South Wales own They Live We Sleep. You can see this as a continuation of Sense Offenders' goal to bring some of the more underground sounds to a wider audience by both bands getting equal footing, two songs each. 

Sense Offender are first with the tumultuous rage of Prayer Sheet bubbling over into blast beats and a more off-kilter riff driven by some wild drumming. Skin Of Your Teeth is a little more what you'd expect from Sense Offender but with a lot more dissonance added to the hardcore battery. NIL's first track is more similar to their colleagues here, with a grindcore thump kicking off their contribution to this split before breaking down though on The Falling Man things go back into the NIL remit of extreme metal with added grooves. Both bands work well in unison complimenting each other well with a lot of similarities to their music but enough differences to let the first time listener tell who is who. This is the point of course a split to introduce these underground bands to a wider audience. Yet more moody, angry music from those folks at Sludgelord Records. 8/10 

Wings Of Destiny - Memento Mori (Wormholedeath)

I'm unsure how many albums are actually called Memento Mori but it got to be well into the hundreds. The Latin phrase that means "Remember that you die" has been used by countless bands as a title over the years so have Costa Rican metal band made sure that it takes on another life? I mean in a word no but that doesn't detract from this being a decent power/prog metal record. Formed, as Wings Of Destiny, in 2015, Memento Mori is the bands sixth album, their last was in 2020 and it keeps them plugging away at their Helloween, Rhapsody and Angra influences. Now obviously this album was recorded during a pandemic and although I don't know how the pandemic affected South America, the song Death Wish the protagonist of the song as an anti-lockdown enthusiast, talking about living their life despite against being told to lock down. Hmmm. Thankfully (or perhaps not) the next song is a galloping Stratovarius rip off that is full of Dan Brown level conspiracy talk. Now as enjoyable as the songs are, they do get your foot tapping and the overarching theme of human beings not being immortal or infallible is a noble one. Even if it is a little religious at times. A shame as the music is very generic and the vocals are all over the place. Another album that aims for greatness but falls a little short. 5/10

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