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Friday 24 September 2021

Reviews: Tremonti, Solarius, LLNN, Signs Of The Swarm (Reviews By Matt Bladen & Paul Hutchings)

Tremonti - Marching In Time (Napalm Records) [Matt Bladen]

Alter Bridge/Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti is no stranger to writing a good tune, whether it's with the two bands mentioned or in his solo effort, he has an uncanny way of marrying technically assured heavy metal with catchy songs. On his solo efforts though he's able to experiment a bit more with a heavier style, mainly his love of speed metal. This fifth record moves away from the conceptual nature of his previous album, shifting focus into a more upbeat stance, this is Mark dealing with a global pandemic through his writing on this album, making hopeful, anthemic tunes full of the obviously virtuoso guitar playing. The Last One Of Us is a perfect example of what Tremonti does well, it has a big chorus which reminds you that Mark is also an excellent singer too. But also brings lots of acoustics, clean guitars and those downtuned riffs. 

The record kicks off with the pumping A World Away Tremonti and long term friend Eric Friedman peeling off riffs like nobody's business. It's a heavy way to start the record before we're brought back to more familiar territory on Now And Forever and If Not For You with the fist in the air sing alongs, the back room of Ryan Bennett (drums) and Tanner Keegan (bass) adding a needed thump for that heavy style. The record ends with the 7 minute title track which is the story of a father having a child during a pandemic, taken mainly from Tremonti's only experience. It's an emotional way to end a record full of different emotions, The Last One Of Us is a stirring radio track, Not Afraid To Lose a ballad, as Would You Kill gets thrashy again. Marching In Time is the most fully realised of all of Tremonti's solo albums. A muscular melodic metal record from this experienced hand. 8/10        

Solarius – Universal Trial (Heavy Psych Sounds) [Paul Hutchings]

A four track EP of never released tracks from 2006, Universal Trial may sound familiar to fans of the fuzzy psychedelia sound and with good reason. The band featured one Jonatan Ramm, guitarist, and vocalist with Gothenburg outfit Graveyard. From what I understand, these analogue tapes have been discovered after being hidden for 15 years. Predating the debut album by Graveyard, Solarius bring a classic 2000s stoner feel, rich with keys that underpin each song adding lush layers, whilst the thick heavy riff is classic of the genre’s sound. 

The title track opens the album, and it’s a feisty stomping piece with some delicious lead guitar that wails and howls as the track erupts in the final minute. Sky Of Mine has a lovely vibe, with the harmonies on the vocals soaring above the driving bass and drums. It’s got a totally different feel to the title track, with a bounce that verges on Americana for brief moments before the organ brings the song back to the more comforting style. 

Two slightly longer songs bring the EP to an end. The haunting and creepy Into The Sun with its definitive psychedelic tone and echoing guitars meanders and wanders before crashing into another explosive workout that you can’t help but nod along to. This leads to the final track, Mother Nature Mind, which begins with extended guitar interplay before dual vocals lead the band into an acoustic and melancholic finale that features more excellent lead guitar work as the crescendo arrives. It’s interesting fare, and one that fans of early Graveyard are likely to find most agreeable. 7/10

LLNN - Unmaker (Pelagic Records) [Matt Bladen]

Danish band LLNN are an elemental force of nature, their savage, raw, aggressive post-metal sound is inspired by bands such as Cult Of Luna, Amenra and The Body, carving out a niche for themselves as a band that deliver music to suffocate you. If you read the accompanying PR that came with this album you will see that they also are inspired by the unnerving soundtracks to films such as Alien or Blade Runner. These dark ambient soundscapes started to come in on their previous album Deads where the synths of Ketil G. Sejersen have really brought a sense of John Carpenter's evocative unsettling soundscapes. They linger and creep in the background of Desecrator which has Christian Bonnesen roaring like a demon bringing riffs along with bassist Rasmus Furbo. 

But on Vakuum the synths are really used for atmosphere leading into the blipping Scion along with the cacophonous Interloper and Division are exactly what you want from a band such as LLNN, swathes of doomy synths against ballbreakingly heavy metal assault. The band released a short film around making this album, with a focus on the massive amounts of sound design here. Nods to John S Bowen and even Sunn O)) on Resurrection. What is the biggest influence here is field recording artists such as Steve Roden also clearly plays a role in the creation of this record, these manipulated sounds throughout the record make it different to other post-metal acts around as there is something disconcerting about it. An interesting offering from LLNN that needs numerous plays to understand. 7/10 

Signs Of The Swarm - Absolvere (Unique Leader) [Paul Hutchings]

New to Musipedia, Pennsylvanian death metal five-piece Signs Of The Swarm’s fourth album Absolvere suggests that for those who worship at the altar of extremity, this is a band well worth investing some time. Historically, the band underwent a seismic shift in 2018 with a change in vocalist, founding member CJ replaced by Dave Simonich. His second full-length with the band sees him in vicious, feral form, guttural roars, and throat shredding screams amongst his armouries. It’s a huge opening, the boot stomp of Hymns Ov Invocation. A mix of aural abuse, there are powerful blast beats, massive driving riffs and slower, heavier slab cracking segments. It sets the tone for an album of fierce brutalist aggression. It’s explosive, animalistic and at times sensorially intimidating. And yet, underneath it all melody finds a way to survive, such as the soaring lead break on Boundless Manifestations

Over 40 minutes Signs Of the Swarm lay waste with a maelstrom of fire and brimstone. It’s not all hammer to cranium though, with some clean vocals adding an interesting melodic contrast that is unexpected. Huge breakdowns force immense jagged turns, and the overall thrust of the songs brings dissonance to the standard approach that one might expect. The punishment is relentless, and tracks such as Totem are monstrous in terms of intensity and sheer power. Then there’s the title track. At just over two minutes and an instrumental, it’s a genuine slab of technical progressive death metal with more than a touch of sci-fi. 

With most tracks reasonably short, this is an album that you can genuinely get stuck into. The immense energy that flows from the pulverising Revelations Ov A Silent King is harrowing, the slow, behemoth riffs and massacre effect of the drumming is face melting; this is an electrical storm whipping your skin into a bloody pulp. Two guests join in; on Hollow Prison we see Despised Icon’s Alex Erian deliver a sledgehammer or two of meanness whilst Shadow Of Intent’s Ben Duerr piles in on Blood Seal, possibly the most explosive track on the entire album. Closing with the intense Death Whistle, Signs Of The Swarm have laid down a marker in hyper-blasting death metal. The band comprises: Jeff Russo – guitars; Cory Smarsh – guitars; Dave Simonich – vocals; Bobby Crow – drums. 8/10

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