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Thursday 25 November 2021

Reviews: Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Deep Purple, Victory, When The Deadbolt Breaks (Reviews By Paul Scoble, Rich P, Simon Black & Richard Oliver)

Der Weg Einer Freiheit - Noktvrn (Season Of Mist) [Paul Scoble]

Der Weg Einer Freiheit shouldn’t need any introduction to anyone interested in European Black Metal. For anyone not aware of the band, they formed in 2009 in Würzburg, Germany and released their first, self titled album one year later. The band's second album; Unstille was released in 2012 and their third, Stellar came out 3 years later in 2015. Finisterre, the band's last studio album was released in 2017, the last we heard from the band was the live album, Live In Berlin in 2019. The band, made up of Nikita Kamprad on Guitar and Vocals, Tobias Schuler on Drums, Nico Ziska on Bass and Nicolas Rausch on Guitar, have always had a reputation for interesting and creative Progressive / Atmospheric Black Metal, have the four Germans kept this up on their latest album? 

The album opens with a soft, clean and quite quiet guitar intro called Finisterre II which leads us into the first full track, Monument. Monument opens with soft riffs which build to driving and intense Black Metal. There is a nice amount of blasting fast tremolo picked riffs, with nasty harsh vocals, which then drops into a section that is driving and aggressive, but also has a lot of melody and tunefulness before going back to end with the slow and soft parts that opened the track. Am Rande Der Dunkelheit opens with blasting fast Atmospheric Black Metal before going into a slow and very heavy part, the track then takes a turn towards Post Black Metal, there are still tremolo picked riffs and Blast Beats but it feels less aggressive and bigger and more expansive. The track then goes into huger and slower territory with some very big and heavy riffs before bringing the song to an end with some fast Post Black Metal riffing. 

Am Rande Der Dunkelheit shows a certain amount of different thinking for Der Einer Freiheit, the slower parts and the Post Black Metal style show the band experimenting more, but still showing some savage Black Metal blasting as well, so it feels like a transitional track. If the last track shows signs of Der Weg Einer Freiheit experimenting more then Immortal sees them drop convention almost completely. The track is mainly slow and brooding, initially with clean guitars and clean vocals. When the heavy does arrive it’s slow and harsh with a relentless intensity that drives the track along. There is another clean section before the song builds back to dark, but tuneful Post Black Metal. Next track Morgen is similar to Am Rande Der Dunkelheit, a mix of harsh, fast and blasting Black Metal and softer and slower Post Black Metal. 

The Post Black Metal sections feel huge, affecting and sweeping in nature and really works with the more traditional Black Metal sections. Gegen Das Licht has a big, slow opening which takes its time building in drive and intensity, before dropping into some very fast and nasty Black Metal that has a hardcorey feeling to it and is probably the most savage and nasty Black Metal on this album. The track then goes into a slow and very heavy section before the track comes to an end with a church organ. The final track on Noktvrn is Haven

Haven is the most interesting and innovative track on the album. The song is mainly soft, introverted strummed guitar and very high register vocals. The opening half of the song has no percussion on it and feels brooding and reserved, the high register, falsetto vocals remind me of some of the material on Muse’s album Origin Of Symmetry, a style of singing that some find distasteful, but I love (I love it on Origin Of Symmetry and on Haven). This song is reminiscent of some Blur material as well as classic Pink Floyd, and is a long way from Der Weg Einer Freiheit earlier material. The second half of the track continues the feel of the first half, but increases the intensity and drive by adding drums to the mix. Throughout the song the riffs and vocal melodies remain the same, but everything around them become bigger and bigger. 

Noktvrn is a stunning album. Der Weg Einer Freiheit’s career is clearly taking them on a journey, and Noktvrn is a part of that journey. We see the band partially on the way from a more orthodox style of Black Metal to something completely different. So there are still elements of Black Metal and Post Black Metal, but also elements that do not fit in with either of those styles. The more you listen to this album the more it feels like a complete piece of work, despite some of the disparate parts. An impressive album from one of the most interesting Metal bands currently active. 9/10

Deep Purple - Turning To Crime (earMusic) [Rich P]

Did the world need a Deep Purple covers record? No. Is it super fun? Absolutely. Will I listen to it again? Probably not. But it was enjoyable while I had it blasting. The album kicks off with the very cool Love cover, 7 And 7 Is, which is an amazing song with some killer keys and is right in the wheelhouse of this configuration of the band. The absolute classic Fleetwood Mac track Oh Well is a standout with Ian Gillan putting his vocal stamp on an already perfect song. Purple's take on Lucifer, originally by Bob Seger System, sounded like it could have been a Deep Purple classic and may be my favorite track on the album. 

 The always amazing Cream gem White Room is a great addition to any covers album when the band knows what they are doing, and these guys have been kicking it for 50 years, so they qualify. You can tell Deep Purple had fun making this album, revisiting all the music they came up with and have loved over the years. At this point they are not breaking any new ground, but that is not what this effort is about. I am not sure it has any staying power but Turning To Crime will be a fun listen for die hard Purple fans to see how their favorite band interpret some of rock's classics. 6/10

Victory - Gods Of Tomorrow (AFM Records) [Simon Black]

Victory have been very quiet for a long while, with ten years having passed since last they released an album – perhaps understandable, given that guitarist and band leader Herman Frank pulls double duties with Accept. The line-up is totally different from last time out though, with only Frank and vocalist Jioti Parcharidis remaining since 2011’s Don´t Talk Science. Whilst relatively back burner in the UK, they were definitely up there in the 80’s in their native Germany so it will be interesting to see how much of a comeback this record proves to be. First off, it’s a highly competent Hard Rock affair, with solid by the numbers song writing and structures and a slightly heavier sound than they are renowned for in their heyday, so in everything but name this feels like a new project. 

The trouble is a lot has happened in the scene in the last ten years, with a lot of new band entrants successfully fusing the 80’s influences with a more contemporary sound to create something fresh, plus labels like Frontiers pumping out endless Melodic Hard Rock supergroup projects like there’s no tomorrow for the older artists – which makes this, very much more rooted firmly in the past feels like it’s just twenty years too late. To be clear, there is nothing actually wrong with it – there’s some good material here, well mixed and competently delivered. 

The problem is that’s ‘good’, not ‘great’… The strong vocal performance from Parcharidis is one of the better things this has going for it, but it’s not going to win any prizes for song-writing originality, which is a shame because catchy and effective songs used to be Victory’s stock in trade. More solo project than true band in feel, this feels like a missed opportunity to reinvent the band for the times. 6/10

When The Deadbolt Breaks - As Hope Valley Burns (Argonauta Records) [Richard Oliver]

When The Deadbolt Breaks are a new band to this reviewers years. Despite the fact that the band has been going for over 15 years I have never heard of them until now. Hailing from Lebanon, Connecticut and forming in 2005, When The Deadbolt Breaks are a four piece with five previous albums, a split and an EP under their belts and 2021 sees the release of album number six As Hope Valley Burns.

As Hope Valley Burns is an album that mixes the lighter and heavier sides of sludge and doom metal with a big chunk of psychedelia in there. Comprised of five songs, they veer between crushing riffs, dense noise scapes and trippy psychedelic moments. The Hanged Woman is a good example opening with a monster of a sludge riff before the song descends into dissonant soundscapes whilst The Crushing Weight Of The Sun has more of a desert rock feel to it to start before switching to a bleak and doomy sludgefest with a wholly oppressive atmosphere to it. Most of the five songs are quite lengthy and hefty numbers but there is one short song Awakening which is a sharp blast of aggression with crushing riffs and even some blast-beats.

As Hope Valley Burns is a decent album though it does have some drawbacks. The long songs means that things get dragged out a bit too much and the more psychedelic and dissonant moments didn’t really connect with me. The production is quite thin in places as well and robs the songs of some of their power. When this album goes into full crush and destroy mode it hits hard and it contains some gloriously repulsive and heavy moments of sludge metal glory.  This is an album that has its good and bad moments but overall it is still an enjoyable enough listen. 6/10

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