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Wednesday 24 November 2021

Reviews: Eternity's End, Godhead Machinery, Enuff Z'Nuff, Cyclopean Walls (Reviews By Paul Scoble & Matt Bladen)

Eternity’s End - Embers Of War (Prosthetic Records) [Paul Scoble]

Eternity’s End are a Power Metal band from Bavaria in Germany, who have been making very twiddly noises since 2014. The bands lineup is made up of Iuri Sanson on Vocals, Christian Muenzner on Guitars & Keyboards, Justin Hombach on Guitars, Linus Klausenitzer on Bass and Hannes Grossmann on Drums. If three of those names are familiar it’s because Christian Muenzner, Linus Klausenitzer and Hannes Grossmann could be a Technical Death Metal supergroup as all three play in Technical Death Metal band Alkaloid, are all ex-members of Obscura and Christian Muenzner and Hannes Grossmann both played in Necrophagist. In Eternity’s End, however, they are playing very solo heavy Power Metal, so in many ways an easier gig than they usually play. In their 7 years of making music together the band have made 2 other albums; The Fire Within in 2016, and Unyielding in 2018.

The style of Power Metal Eternity’s End play is up-tempo and very bombastic, the pacing is very fast, just a few BPM slower than thrash, something that is emphasised by Hannes Grossmann’s liberal use of double bass drums. On most of the tracks there is a definite Neo-Classical flavour to the songs, particularly in the solos, of which there are many. There are definite similarities to Dragonforce, early Dream Evil, and probably most of all to American Power Metal band Paladin.

Opening track Dreadnought (The Voyage Of The Damned) is a good example of the sound on this album; fast, technical riffs with fantastic vocals, Iuri Sanson has a very strong clear voice with just enough of a rasp to keep it interesting, pounding drums and several solos. The solos on this album are very impressive, if you are a fan of Widdly guitars then this is an album for you, on many of the tracks you get chains of solos where both guitarists get an individual solo, then there is a harmonised melody lead, then a bass solo, and it will all end with another harmonised melody lead. All the songs have lots of solos, but Embers Of War, Deathrider and Call Of The Valkyries stand out as exceptional.

Power Metal would be nothing without great choruses, and Embers Of War is no exception, Arcturus Prime has a great sing-along chorus that is so much fun. Hounds Of Tindalos is another one with a great chorus, it’s huge, dazzling and will have you bellowing along. Considering this band features 3 Technical Death Metal Legends, it’s not surprising that in few places the riffs verge on Tech Death speed and intensity, title track Embers Of War in particular has some riffs that could be from a Technical Death Metal album, so maybe this album isn’t just for the Power Metal fans.

Embers Of War is a fantastic Power Metal album. It’s packed with great riffs, thundering tempos, soaring vocals and so many amazing solos. The amount of technical ability on this album is staggering, there is enough talent here for about a billion Pop Punk bands. I realise up-tempo, energy packed Power Metal dripping with great solos isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but if you are a big fan of Power Metal then this is an essential album, no-one is producing better Power Metal than this at the moment. Widdletastic! 9/10

Godhead Machinery - Monotheistic Enslavement (Black Lion Records) [Paul Scoble]

Swedish extremists Godhead Machinery have been making deeply blasphemic music since 2015. The five piece, which is made up of Niklas Ekwall on Vocals, Robert Kail Karlsson on Guitar, Tommy Ericson on Guitar, Daniel Forsberg on Bass and Marcus Andersson on Drums, have released 2 albums before Monotheistic Enslavement; their debut Ouroboros in 2017 and their second offering, Aligned To The Grid in 2019.

Godhead Machinery’s style is broadly Black Metal of a fairly orthodox approach. Godhead Machinery’s sound works when they are going for the throat with blistering pace and velocity. When this album Blasts it’s great, tight, fast blasting drums, and viscous tremolo picked riffs rip through the listener, and batter passers by into submission. In places the Blast Beat sections have a definite chaotic feel that works very well, Godhead Machinery are clearly very good at insane swirling chaos, something that is helped by the addition in places of shredding Guitar solos that sometimes accompany the chaos. The track Dethroned is a good example of this faster, and sometimes choppy and chaotic style of fast, blasting Black Metal.

However this album isn’t all about fast blasting, unfortunately. The fast stuff is probably in the minority on Monotheistic Enslavement, this album is mainly about slow or mid-paced material, and that is where it falls down. The slower material feels overly simplistic and isn’t of the same quality as the faster material. The tempo’s feel a little strained, sections plod where they should have stomped, the riffs feel a little weak; this is simple melodic Black Metal with echoey dissonance added to it, and it feels flat.

The track Ethereal spends its whole 5 minutes feeling like an intro, the song just doesn’t go anywhere. The vocals are a little too high in the mix as well, so on the more sluggish material the vocals are too dominant and feel overbearing. The vocals are very dramatic, which works when the music is fast and savage, but on slow, plodding material they feel ridiculous and over the top, a good reminder that context is not a myth, even in Orthodox Black Metal.

Monotheistic Enslavement is not a terrible album, but it feels like a missed opportunity. The fast stuff is great, and is very enjoyable, but it is let down by the slower, more simple material. If the band had concentrated more on speed and savagery, or had made the slower music closer to the fast in terms of complexity and detail, then they could have had something, but as it is here it is a perfectly fine, if unremarkable piece of Black Metal. 6/10

Enuff Z'Nuff – Hardrock Nite (Frontiers Music Srl) [Matt Bladen]

Does the world need more The Beatles covers? No. Does it need more The Beatles covers from American glam rock bands? Again no. Mainly as that honour falls mainly to Cheap Trick, still Chip Z’Nuff and his band have always been huge fans of the Fab Four so have decided to follow that through with an album entirely comprised of The Beatles songs and selected solo tracks as well. Keen to make it as authentic as possible, the four members setting out with just guitars, bass and drums to record the songs.

Now having been fans of The Beatles (and Cheap Trick) Enuff Z'Nuff could have always released a covers record but the pandemic has finally allowed them to live out their fantasy of trading Chip, Tony, Tory and Daniel for John, Paul, George and Ringo. They manage to capture the songs pretty well, yes they’re a bit more ‘rock’ than the originals as the record is call Hard Rock Nite but they stick pretty rigidly to their original formations.

However we’ve all heard bigger and higher profile covers of Magical Mystery Tour, Live And Let Die, Helter Skelter and of course With A Little Help From My Friends so to have another one seems like a wasted opportunity to cover some deep cuts. Still I’m sure fans of the band will dig it, I just find that it’s a bit of an expensive (have you tried to licence a The Beatles song, I have), self-indulgence, that ultimately could have been a new album of original material. 4/10

Cyclopean Walls – Enter The Dreamlands (Steel Gallery Records) [Matt Bladen]

If you have ever been to the Peloponnese you will have witnessed Cyclopean masonry, it was the major form of stonework in Mycenaean architecture. Go and see the Lion’s Gate if you haven’t. Built with Limestone boulders it was built to last a lifetime while also being a sterling technical achievement. Don’t worry I haven’t gone all George Clarke on you, International band, Cyclopean Walls take their name from these structures and the band take inspiration by playing muscular prog metal that I assume they hope will last in the memory and be considered to be a technical and musical achievement. Formed by Greek Yiannis Tziallas, this is the debut full length of the band, he plays guitars and bass here but has recruited a strong line up of musicians to fill out the remaining places.

The most notable is Brazilian singer Raphael Gazal who holds the mic in various bands (including Ty Morn) and with him on board, they of course owe a debt of sound to the US prog act as they do to numerous other US proggers as well. They also pay homage to H.P Lovecraft, the songs all based in his created world Festival and The Garden both using his writings as lyrics, the former also featuring some sax from Hugo Lee and disconcerting Hammond from Yiannis Plastiras. The record also features two session drummers, two session lead guitarists, female vocals on The Dweller In Darkness and also the Esession String Quartet to make for a really cinematic sound.

Enter The Dreamlands, deals with the Lovecraft Mythos well, pairing the otherworldly, mysterious style of his writing with a darker musical style, highlighted by heavy but artistic compositions and Gazal’s theatrical vocal approach. A pleasure for any fans of bands such as Savatage, Fates Warning and Angra, Cyclopean Walls are worthy find. 7/10

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