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Monday 12 July 2021

Reviews: Solus Ex Infernis, Thelemite, Toby Hitchcock, Spiral Grave (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Solus Ex Infernis - Daemones Ceramici (Self Released)

Daemones Ceramici (the name of five demonic spirits from Greek mythology) is the debut full length from international extreme metal band Solus Ex Infernis. For those who may not know the band, they have members from all over the world the most recognisable to readers of MoM being vocalist Sahil Makhija, the Demonstealer himself, adding his growls and barks to this record as he did for the EP back in December 2019. The rest of the band are made up of guitarist Dave Sevenstrings, lead guitarist Ollie Morgan, bassist Mauricio Catalán and drummer Marco Pitruzzella, none of whom recorded this album in the same room, despite this they are coherent, savage extreme metal act that moves between OSDM, Swedish melodeath and even touches of grindcore and thrash.

The punishing riffage battering you from the first moment, the destructive drumming from Pitruzzella shifting things at hypersonic pace, riffs coming thick and fast as the Demonstealer roars from the bowels of hell. The Myth Creation is immediate, punishing you from the first few seconds as it shifts into technical lead breaks and some tasty solos from guest guitarist Matias Quiroz who imprints his six string mastery across this album really upping the technicality of the album which is already filled with virtuosity oozing out of every orifice. The pace is unrelenting, every song rampages past in flurry, drawing you into a breed of technical savagery that is very rare these days. Daemones Ceramici is a tsunami of extremity, a true tribute to what can be achieved with the power of the internet and the love of metal. 7/10   

Thelemite - Thelemism (Sleazsy Rider Records)

Thelemite love Judas Priest. I mean they love them so much that if you asked them what they wanted to sound like they would say Judas Priest. However it is a specific era of Judas Priest as their 2nd album is very much from the Ram It Down/Painkiller style of rampaging, thrash-influenced, slightly progressive speed metal that saw Priest reborn. They even describe the album as Painkiller Pt. II in their press pack! Singer/guitarist Yiannis Manopoulos is the ideal mix of Halford and Tipton with Zack Kosikis his K.K.. Their dual leads and Yiannis' air raid/snarling vocals are very much what you'd expect from the Painkiller era.  It's got a nice crunch from Nikos Michalakakos (bass) and Renos Liaioutis (drums) in the rhythm section with tracks such as Up On The Cross really highlighting their mechanical drive. At 9 tracks Thelemism doesn't dwell for too long only breaking from the heavy with I Love Death which could be on Turbo (for better or worse) and actually sounds more like The Scorpions than Priest. Other than that these Athenians are very much just a Priest cover band playing their own songs (which sound like Priest). A treat for Priest fanatics, but not much else. 6/10

Toby Hitchcock - Changes (Frontiers Music Srl) 

Known for years as the vocalist of Pride Of Lions, Toby Hitchcock is no stranger to the AOR scene, being one of the most recognisable modern voices in the genre mixing just enough of Toto's Bobby Kimball and Foreigner's Lou Gramm, to make his own voice unique but recognisable. He is one of the current leading lights of the AOR scene and Changes is his third solo record, once again full of radio friendly rockers and ballads most of which were co-written by Frontiers in-house producer Alessandro Del Vecchio (yes him again), writing songs that fit Hitchcock's smooth as silk vocals. Along with tracks such as ballad Tonight Again and the bouncy Garden Of Eden there's also an English language cover of Greek singer Despina Vandi's Xano Esena which actually fits well, while Don't Say Goodbye is cinematic in it's delivery. Musically if you love Pride Of Lions or Toto then Changes is a record that will very much prick your ears up. It may be a little radio friendly for some but this is Hitchcock's wheelhouse and he excels, but it never moves out of the comfortable. 6/10 

Spiral Grave - Legacy Of The Anointed (Argonauta Records)

Another member of the American stoner/doom scene Spiral Grave was formed when Alfred Morris III, founder of Iron Man tragically passed away leaving bassist 'Iron' Louis Strachan, vocalist 'Screaming Mad' Dee Calhoun and drummer Jason 'Mot' Waldmann without a band. After a bit of searching they settled on former Lord (the sludge band) six stringer to form Spiral Grave. After a couple of singles the band set about recording this debut album with the intention not to sound too much like Iron Man. Legacy Of The Anointed does succeed on that front definitely, though the powerful rhythm section and gruff voice of Iron Man remain the songs here are little more steeped in the realms of Dio-era Sabbath and even bands like Exhorder, Black Label Society and Corrosion Of Conformity, adding a NOLA groove to the New England thump. They very much see this a debut album rather than a continuation of their previous band, there's less Sabbath worship here, tracks such as Out Of My Head having a Southern stoner groove, while Your Enemy's Enemy is a heavy riffer Zakk Wylde would add (yet more) pinched harmonics too. Stoner/doom done well is always welcome here and Spiral Grave cast off any baggage they may have from their previous band to bring a whole new set of fuzzy, groovy riff fests. 7/10    

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