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Monday 1 November 2021

Reviews: Sentinels, Reaper, Kill Ritual, Shadowland (Reviews By Zak Skane, Paul Scoble, Paul Hutchings & Matt Bladen)

Sentinels – Collapse By Design (Sharptone Records) [Zak Skane]

The New Jersey progressive metal bruisers have released their debut album Collapse By Design via Sharptone Records. As soon as the ere radio soundscape faded in I knew my eardrums was in for a world hurt. As soon as those jarring riffs infused with hardcore inspired rhythms kicked in, I was in my happy place whilst reminiscing of bands like Dillinger Escape Plan and old school Emmure. The polyrhythmic drumming locked in with the guitars is tight and mechanical but yet not too polished in which it will result them sounding like another Architects rip off. The brutality continues with songs like Inertia, Albatross in where you will be hearing some of the meatiest breakdowns from this album, and their second last song To Wither which ramps up the aggression one final time. 

The vocalist channels his aggression through snarly gutturals throughout track to track but yet still captures the emotion that he is depicting in his lyrics. The production of this album so punchy and gnarly in which really helps with portraying the emotion that this band is trying to capture. In conclusion this is a great listen if you are into bands like Dillinger Escape Plan, Knocked Loose and Vildhjarta. The only concern I had is that there are some songs that hint on sounding too much like a Architects rip off like their closing track Atlas. I’ll give this a 8/10

Reaper - Rebirth Of Chaos (Self Released) [Paul Scoble]

In the research to write this review I have discovered that there are at least 16 bands called Reaper. Apart from 1 Electro Pop act all of the other 15 acts are Heavy Metal of one sort or other. At least 6 of the many bands called Reaper are Thrash bands. 4 of the bands are based in the UK. So, after about 3 hours of research, lots of cross checking and the occasional outburst of frustrated, sweary ranting I managed to pin down which Reaper had made Rebirth Of Chaos. The Reaper in question are a Thrash band based in Liverpool who have been in existence since 2010. The four piece are Daniel Moran on Vocals and Guitar, Anthony Capitano on Guitar, Elliot Capitano on Bass and Anthony Longworth on Drums. In their 11 years of existence the band have released 2 albums and 1 EP. 

The bands first album, Birth Of Chaos, came out in 2018, this was followed up in January of this year with their second album; Stranger Than Fiction and the band released an EP called Entropy on the first of October this year. So, that's 2 albums and an EP in 2021, the band have been busy. However, you may have noticed the similarity of the name of the bands first album and the release I’m reviewing here; Rebirth Of Chaos is a ‘re-imagining’ of the bands first album. Re-Imagining in this context means a re-recording, something that has become a bit of a fad in recent years. I have listened to the original on Bandcamp and the production job is better on the re-recording, everything feels a little fuller and the vocals are more dramatic and affected than on the original; however, the original isn’t terrible, I know that the people who made the original might have stronger feelings about how it sounds, but other than a slightly flat production job, it sounds ok. 

The style of thrash on Rebirth Of Chaos is similar to Bay Area Thrash with maybe a little Teutonic Thrash added for good measure, there are parts that are reminiscent to more recent Kreator material. Most of the material is mid-paced with the occasional faster part. All the riffs feel energy packed and purposeful. The track Entropy is a good example of the bands sound, a mix of mid-paced and super fast riffs drive the song along, the verse has a spiky, choppy nature and the whole thing is tempered by some very pleasing NWOBHM harmonies and a very melodious guitar solo. The lead work on the album is very good, it’s technically impressive but also has vast amounts of melody and tunefulness. The Way Of The Shinobi is another interesting track; in many ways it’s a song of two halves, fast blasting riffs and fervent vocals opening the song, a quiet middle section that then develops into beautiful guitar harmonies that take the song to its end. 

Birth Of Chaos was a perfectly acceptable Thrash album. Rebirth Of Chaos is a perfectly acceptable Thrash album with slightly better production and a better vocals performance. I can understand why they wanted to re-record it, but do think the band could have spent the time writing new material rather than looking backwards. Most of the important albums in Heavy Metal, particularly Thrash Metal, were not well recorded due to when they were recorded and the amount of money available. Look at Slayer’s first 2 albums, Sodom’s first couple of albums, and many other albums that are considered classics sound crap, but none of them have been re-recorded. Probably the most influential recording from eighties metal, Hellhammer’s Satanic Rites demo, sounds awful compared to most of the albums that were inspired by it; great material will shine through any production job, no matter how bad it is. Reaper have released a fine Thrash album, I’m just not sure what the point of it is, the band would probably be better to stop plotting the topography of their navels and start looking forward. 7/10 

Kill Ritual – Thy Will Be Done (Blood Blast Distribution) [Paul Hutchings]

A five track EP from the San Francisco based metallers, Thy Will Be Done showcases why the band have received consistently high ratings in these pages in the past. Four tracks that have been previously released alongside a bonus track; The Opaque Is Divine which was originally tracked for their previous release of the same name which hit in March 2020. The opening track Angels In Black is a feisty number, echoing the heritage of the band’s location and at times bordering on thrash. Light The Fire (Tonight We Fly) moves towards a more classic metal style, with Chalice Blood’s vocals sitting somewhere between Udo Dirkschneider and Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens. It’s slower in parts, with Blood’s incredibly high falsetto in parts a little challenging. 

Musically, it’s muscular and ticks all the right boxes, even if it’s a little cliched. The real surprise is the bonus track, The Opaque Is Divine. At over nine minutes in length, it begins with an atmospheric intro that segues into a semi-acoustic section. You feel that the band are about to launch into something more metal at any moment, but the wait is necessary as it contributes to a rather epic piece of work, with a classic Iced Earth type feel. It’s been a while since I listened to Kill Ritual and I enjoyed this reminder. It’s solid from start to finish and a tidy way to spend half an hour of your day. 7/10

Shadowland - The Necromancer's Castle (No Remorse Records) [Matt Bladen]

Signed to Greece's No Remorse Records, New York metal band Shadowland fit comfortably into the No Remorse remit. The Necromancer's Castle is a record influenced heavily by the NWOBHM and the burgeoning thrash sound of the USA in the 80's. From the analogue production style that often makes the drums feel a bit flat and the guitars a little tinny, to the extensive use of trad metal gallops and the histrionic howl of their singer Shadowland tick every single box available. However musically they never really move out of being just a box ticking exercise, yes ok they come from that early NWOBHM sound when Maiden still had Di'Anno up front, but by about track 3 I had a pretty good idea what was coming. At a Trad metal festival they'll get the long hair whipping and the denim moving but there are a multitude of bands doing this better. 6/10

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