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Monday 27 September 2021

Reviews: Subfire, Tales Of The Old, Shadowmass, Wildfire (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Subfire – Define The Sinner (Symmetric Records)

As you listen to this record you may think that Subfire hail from Sweden or Germany as their tough style of power metal is very much those countries bread and butter. But no Subfire are a Greek heavy metal band and Define The Sinner is their brilliant debut album. Balancing heavy riffs and melodies well, they have complied an album of chest beating anthems, that also some more theatrical elements. You can hear these theatrical flourishes on the Eastern influenced, powerful, proggy opener Sacred Destinies a song that sounds a little like it could be on a Sons Of Apollo or Myrath. The band have been around for a while with numerous line ups all of which look to be more in the power/symphonic style but on this full length they are a lean mean four piece and have clearly taken cues from Serenity, Kamelot and Firewind as these 10 songs are as much about fist pumping metal as they are creating atmospheres. 

The music on the record was written by guitarist George Larentzakis and the lyrics come from him and drummer Symeon Sanidas in collaboration. But this is a guitarists’ album, a mixture of power and traditional metal style. All the songs are built around a great riffs, with lots of opening for the virtuoso guitar solos. A track like the battle metal march of Fate Of A Sinister World is one that really displays how good Subfire are as a band, it’s got a thrashy riff driven by galloping basslines from Rindra Rado and pacy but understated drumming from Sanidas, numerous time changes that allow acoustics to creep in as vocalist Veandok shows off his impressive range, though on the next song Sins Of Morality we get a moody ballad, backed by strings, that’s pure Roy Khan fronted Kamelot! Infinity meanwhile sounds like it could be Stratovarius with a keyboard/guitar duel. Produced by Symmetric Records boss Bob Katsionis Define The Sinner is a potent metal record that announces Subfore properly as a new force in heavy metal. 9/10

Tales Of The Old - Book Of Chaos (Pride And Joy)

Tales Of The Old is Michael Tzanakis, there's no bounds about it, he is an established keyboard player in the Greek music scene and wanted to create an album that evoked those early Rhapsody records. Having stripped away all the other members of the band since their 2012 EP, Book Of Chaos is essentially a solo album, with the only other instrumentalist being Bob Katsionis on guitar and co-production along with Tzanakis. As soon as you press play on this debut full length the sound of Rhapsody is the most prominent, keyboard/orchestration heavy symphonic metal and classical choirs are the order of the day as Michael has also managed to get Fabio Lione (Rhapsody) to sing on this one and a few other tracks, meaning that they are the ones that are most like the Italian symphonic metal legends. 

The main vocalists on the record though are tenor Alexandros Louziotis, soprano Christina Alexiou and Tzanakis who provides screams. Songs such as Dark Witch will get your symphonic metal feelers twitching as Fabio Lione returns duetting with Chaostar's Androniki Skoula. Elsewhere though the powerful Broken Heart features SixforNine's the husky vocals of Fotis Bernardo while final track The First Exorcism has Rotting Christ's Sakis Tolis barking up a storm. Book Of Chaos is a decent enough symphonic metal album with touches of the numerous metal operas as well, it features some of the best talent from the Greek metal scene, showing the strength of Michael Tzanakis' phonebook if nothing else. It's musically competent, if a little unspectacular. 6/10

Shadowmass - Oculus Diaboli (Self Released)

Speed/Thrashers Shadowmass' debut release was compared to Kill 'Em All by Paul Hutchings in 2019 and they have certainly doubled down on the raw, savage speed metal on their follow up EP Oculus Diaboli. It's with the frantic battery of songs such as Scorn Worshipper that reminded me of Brit thrashers Evile. There's a bit of melodic twist occasionally but mostly the band are very much metal of the heavy variety with lots of dirty, evil sounding thrash. A track such as OD II is a gloomy and moody instrumental driven by Constantine's bass and Maelstrom's drumming. Powerful and brooding it lives up to those classic thrash instrumentals, as they pick up the pace again on the black metal inspired Desecrators a song where Stam's tremolo picking delivering in droves. Vocally too he has a tough throaty roar which again brings to mind those early Evile records. There are positive signs throughout this EP that Shadowmass have expanded their thrash/speed sound, without getting rid of their main influence. This thrash trio have followed up their debut full length with another 19 minutes of belligerent, D.I.Y blackened thrash. I look forward to their second full length. Play loud in an open space for maximum effect. 7/10

Wildfire - Wildfire EP (Self Released)

Wildfire are a band from Athens Greece that play classic heavy metal, tracks such as Night Of The Witch bring to mind bands from the NWOBHM such as Saxon, Saracen and early Praying Mantis, but the remaining tracks on the album sit comfortably in the American sound of bands such as Dokken, Y&T and Winger.  Choppy riffs, fluid soloing and sing along choruses are very much what Wildfire do, their mid-paced metal often bringing in some more American radio sounds on Heart Offender especially. There's a lot of hair/sleaze metal sounds on this EP that are clearly the major influences of this band, but whatever you think of the music these bands produced, Wildfire are very faithful to it. Very much a case of, if you like the genre you'll like it, if not then you may miss this Wildfire. 6/10 

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