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Tuesday 28 September 2021

Reviews: Kryptos, Duel, Apostolica, Graceful (Reviews By Paul Hutchings & Matt Bladen)

Kryptos - Force Of Danger (AFM Records) [Paul Hutchings]

Fancy an Indian? In this case, the feisty classic metal with a thrash twist of Bangalore’s Kryptos whose latest album Force Of Danger is a decent 35-minute listen. Formed in 1998, the band have supported some of metal’s biggest names including Iron Maiden, Testament, Kreator and Exodus and have also brought out five albums. Their credentials include a couple of appearances at Wacken, supporting tours with Death Angel and a European headline tour in 2019. There’s nothing remotely original about the band’s style or approach but their competent and solid delivery means that there is nothing to dislike with Force Of Danger

Opener Raging Steel is thrashier than some of the other tracks on offer here and may appeal to those who like their metal with more speed. The likes of Dawnbreakers, Thunderchild and Nighthawks are all muscular heavy metal with a contemporary twist. Vocally, Nolan Lewis has a slightly challenging delivery, but one that suits the band’s music. There’s little variation, but I’ve heard far worse and whilst Force Of Danger won’t threaten my top ten, it was an enjoyable listen. 7/10

Duel - In Carne Persona (Heavy Psych Sounds) [Paul Hutchings]

Album number four from Texas four-piece Duel and for me it is probably their most impressive and accessible yet. It’s crafted with magical stoner and psychedelic flavours and underpinned by a boatload of riffs, the essence of the band. The Texans get better with every release and this one brings in elements of classic heavy metal and hard rock; there’s touches of Thin Lizzy, UFO and Priest hidden away here. From the opening Children Of The Fire, with its hard rocking crunch, the mystical weaving of The Veil through to the six-minute Blood On The Claw which moves in a more expansive, sleepy way, there is nothing to dislike. 

Duel have always delivered, and this release is another superb addition to the discography. The trippy Behind The Sound and the riff-soaked Dead Eyes may hark back to the 70s but whilst the echoes of the past run deep, Duel also bring their contemporary approach, mixing their sound into a classic combination which allows each song to sink deep in the psyche. I could eulogise all day about this band; suffice, they are one of the best in the stoner genre today and hugely underrated. The band, Tom Frank - guitars/vocals Shaun Avants - bass/vocals Justin Collins – drums Jeff Henson - guitars/vocals could give Mastodon a run for their money. You should buy In Carne Persona. It’s bloody great. 9/10

Apostolica - Haeretica Ecclesia (Scarlet Records) [Matt Bladen]

This mysterious, enigmatic four piece all go by biblical pseudonyms we have Ezekiel on vocals, Isaia on guitar, Jonas on bass and drummer Malachia. They combine their years of experience in other bands (so we are told) to create this debut sermon. Now there is a huge amount of Biblical references in this record. The entire thing is a concept based around the Book Of Revelations, but in the modern day. As you explore more of this album, you discover that the Biblical/Religious imagery of the band is subverted much like it is with Powerwolf, who Apostolica are a huge amount like, both musically and aesthetically. Ezekiel has rough vocals guide these heavy metal sermons on tracks such as Thanatos where the rolling organs lead into a marching chorus that is full Sabaton. 

The Swedish history metallers another major influence that looks large. Essentially Apostolica play melodic heavy metal that has an ear to the cinematic, dressing themselves in costumes and masks to keep the mystery of their membership alive. There aren't many bands who can subvert the biblical imagery as honestly as this Italian band, but they do so through dramatic, muscular symphonically backed heavy metal. Whether they will reach the same heights as Powerwolf, Sabaton and those heretics in Ghost, remains to be seen but this debut record is a bloody good start. 7/10

Graceful - Demiurga (Vlad Productions) [Matt Bladen]

Billed as heavy fusion, Graceful are about as heavy and fusion as you could get. This French band are in two words: fucking weird. Extremely experimental on their sound Demiurga is and album seeping with post metal ambience, stoner rock riffage, trip hop beats and lots of quirky oddness that will appeal to fans of Mike Patton's projects. The album is about the insecurity of the psyche and it switches between sounds with the same frequency as an unsettled mind, Eddie Coutinho's drums the most consistent and persistent sound on the record as Pierre Redondo, Claude Orain and Fran├žois Orain move between guitar, bass and keys, the three of them key to this wildy explorative record. 

Water Bombs brings grooves, as does the heavy bass of Two which has a feel of current QOTSA, while opener The Passage is frenzied, Fran├žois' vocals bringing to mind At The Drive In/The Mars Volta man Cedric Bixler-Zavala on I Hope You Run Fast (If You Don't Want To Die). While my colleague and myself saw Kryptos and Apostolica had nothing original, Graceful are nothing but original. Strangeness abound and musically evocative Demiurga is an interesting listening experience, I really enjoyed this audio journey, which is very much for the open minded muso. 8/10

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