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Monday 26 July 2021

Reviews: Heavy Water, Erdve, Anakim, Dear Mother (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Heavy Water - Red Brick City (Silver Linings)

A lockdown project from Seb Byford and his father Biff, Heavy Waters debut album is a modern alternative rock album, with a strong blues ethos to it. As someone who works with his father it can be quite tense occasionally, however there's a load back, free form feel to Red Brick City that is an indication that father and son love making music no matter the challenges facing them.

Sound-wise it's about as far away from Saxon as you can get, being more like bands such as Royal Blood, Band Of Skulls (Medicine Man), Arctic Monkeys (Faith) and Seb's other band Naked Six, Tom Witts joining his bandmate Seb here as well by playing drums. Now Seb is great singer and guitar player, his grizzled vocals suiting the style well and working in tandem with his father's higher register. Yes both Byfords contribute vocals here though Seb has the majority, Biff also plays bass on the record providing a second lower riff on most of the tracks as Dave Kemp rounds things out with keys on Faith and sax, on Follow This Moment.

Now what's quite good about this record is that there's clear influences shared by father and son, Seb bringing the more modern grunge fuzz of QOTSA and Soundgarden as Biff calls back to the psychedelia of The Beach Boys and riffs of Zep. Somewhere in the middle both of them have out their heads together for grooving numbers like the title track. A little D.I.Y with the recording, preferring it to be just loud and proud without any studio trickery. A decent lockdown effort that is essentially Naked Six plus 2 with a more relaxed vibe. Easy listening from 2 generations of rockers. 7/10

Erdve - Savigaila (Season Of Mist)

Bringing introspective, dissonant, progressive, ear piercing sludge heaviness. Lithuanian trio Erdve have followed a path of experimentalism with their music, never settling on on style as they veer between hardcore battery on songs like Betonas while tracks such as Votis and Pleura are more ambient and atmospheric in their approach. The latter undulating with and industrial bent before those sludge and hardcore influences bring the rage again. I'm not sure if the band find catharsis in this music but the album title translates to "self-pity"the theme of the album, revolving around overcoming the numbness within the great challenges of unsettling reality, and accepting them as they are. These are channeled throughout the 42 minutes of forceful, sometimes unsettling metallic hardcore.

The title track ups the extremity a persistent guitar riff and screamed vocals before Skiimas is a piano piece that brings the mood back down again just as Lavondėmės gets the fire burning bright at the start of the 11 song playlist. Erdve don't just concentrate on the music though this record is part of a whole artistic package with the band members also creating lots of visuals to accompany the record. Vocalist/guitarist Vaidotas Darulis produces Savigalia, giving it a claustrophobic sound especially when listened through headphones with the cacophonous rhythm section of drummer Valdas Voveraitis and bassist Karolis Urbanavičius, the hazy fuzz underneath some of the atonal guitar riffs and shrieked vocals. There are few bands that take so many risks with their music as Erdve and as such they be Marmite for many. But this second album is them adding to their own little niche with another interesting album. 7/10  

Anakim - The Elysian Void (Self Released)

Now fronted by The Drowning vocalist Matt Small, who has the most ironic name due to him being a brick shithouse, death metal act Anakim have spent their lockdown creating savagery rather than sourdough. The Elysian Void is their second full length album following Monuments To Departed World's from 2017 and this Weymouth five piece have increased the aggression and the progression on this second album. The addition of Small on vocals gives them a more vicious and diverse vocal approach while the second new member, bassist Anthony Ridout, not only gives this album lots of technically proficient basswork but also additional black metal screams.

Science fiction and horror themes combine with furious, technical yet melodic death metal. The sort of music that makes sure a song like Of Starlit Shrines works as an ideal opening shot, building from a slower style before bringing the furious blast beats and down tuned polyrhythms. This shift between light and shade is what Anakim do very well, their progressive nature imbuing every element of this album. Infinite Realities has a bass solo which moves in some explosive lead guitar solos before we get a coda of arpeggios and chorus before the track ends. Auguries Of Virgin Soil brings black metal dissonance and a relentless rhythm section of drummer Ewan Ross, rhythm guitarist Carl Hunting and bassist Ridout allowing Joe Ryan to unleash lots of lead guitar flourishes on this records most progressive and hardest hitting song.

This will be a definite pit starter when they open the Sophie Lancaster stage at BOA on Wednesday this year but there's much more to Anakim's sound than just outright heaviness and death metal, Malformed Cathotic Dreams is very intelligently composed track that has several time changes and a power metal edge as well before Veins Of The Unlight ups the rage quotient again while keeping things progressive. The Elysian Void is stunning follow up to Anakim's debut record, the injection of new talent has made sure that they are at their most vicious and versatile. A fantastic record! 9/10

Dear Mother - Bulletproof (Self Released)

Formed by ex-Delain members Merel Bechtold (guitar) and Joey Marin de Boer (drums) Dear Mother started to come together when the duo found Russian (UK based) vocalist David Pear. The trio then set about writing music, almost constantly setting out their stall firmly in the style of modern metal bands, taking from alternative metal and metalcore. But with an increased virtuosity and a fireguard for the rules of what these bands 'should' sound like. Using 2020 to crowdfund this album and steadily drip feed their singles in preparation of this album. The album title, Bulletproof, is indicative of the albums theme, that is overcoming struggle dealing with obstacles to become stronger. The thumping Vertigo gets the record moving similar to the Delain albums that Merel and Joey played on, pulsating synths met with djenty riffs as David displays his emotive vocal prowess that shifts between soaring cleans and passionate screams. 

12 Years In Exile is probably the best exhibition of this reminding me of early Haken and even Between The Buried And Me. The synths are a key element to this record reminding me of BMTH but they would feel out of place without the multi layered drumming of Joey more than just a pace setter, but a fully formed rhythm section all by himself. I've said a lot about Merel's guitar playing in the past with previous reviews of albums she's featured on but, I have to say again that she is one of the best around effortlessly moving from the thrashier themes of Symbiose to the slower riffage of A Soil For Hire all while adding tons of tasty soloing. Bulletproof stands as Dear Mothers call to arms, knock them down and they'll keep coming, hopefully to a stage near you soon. 8/10  

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