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Sunday 13 February 2022

Reviews: The Silent Wedding, Vorga, Zetra, Burned In Effigy (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

The Silent Wedding - Ego Path (Self Released/Dutch Music Works/Underground Music Studios)

Much like how Pink Floyd and Dream Theater used to connect their albums, so have Greek progressive metal band The Silent Wedding. The Eternal Enigma brings the same repeating beat as Hands Of Fate the last song on their previous album Enigma Eternal. It gives the idea that Ego Path is a continuation to the evolution of The Silent Wedding. 

This Athenian band have always taken a political and philosophical point of view with their lyrics drawing from bands such as Conception, Kamelot, Fates Warning and Queensyche, as the power metal flourishes are driven by tougher heavy metal rhythms and dramatic keys/orchestrations/samples (Sinners In Disguise/ Ethereal Walls). The band his led by the co-founders Marios Karanastasis and Jim Katsaros, Marios the powerful vocals and Jim the virtuoso guitar/samples/production. They have been the guiding force behind two previous efforts and numerous live shows that have seen them play shows with Fates Warning, Epica, Warrel Dane and Threshold a band they share a lot of similarities with musically and vocally too, the emotive The Sea Of Fate reminding me of the Britsh prog metal legends.

So what about Ego Path? Well it’s yet again a record that leans heavily on downbeat, introspective lyrics set against heavy riffs, emotive vocal lines, heavy use of keys and light/shade to ramp up the drama. The band includes Giannis Thermos (keyboards), Giorgos Kritharis (bass) and Renos Lialioutis (drums/percussion), these three really powering the dynamic shifts in Caught In The Web. The Queensryche influences looms large on Reveal The Rain. Ego Path is an intelligent metal record, adding various styles to the established prog metal style, even flirting with trip hop on ballad The Final Token, but still having everything that fanboys like me love it so much. 

Hopefully this record will get them much more recognition outside of their native land as they deserve to be spoken about in the same breath as Threshold, Redemption and Seventh Wonder and hopefully get themselves over to the UK soon! 8/10

Vorga - Striving Towards Oblivion (Transcending Obscurity Records)

Their debut EP Radiant Gloom got them signed to Transcending Obscurity Records, so with their full length debut, German black metal band have a lot to prove, if they are going to be featured on one of the seminal extreme metal labels. Thankfully Striving Towards Oblivion builds and improves upon the EP tenfold with compositions driven by a ravenous, glacial, intensity, that really only a power trio could deliver. Vorga are very influenced by bands such as Dissection, Immortal and even Darkthrone, as their style shifts throughout the album, giving a broad range of extreme metal sounds. Focussed and forceful Atlas' guitars flay the skin, with that biting tone powering through the tremolo riffs and explosive lead breaks when required. 

Jervas' drumming is ferocious and focused, yes there's speed but there is also some moments where things slow down, the percussion and Спейса's bass playing are allowed to breathe, through ominous phases like Death Manifesting or Disgust where the blasting is a counter to the atmospheric guitars. It's these slower elements that bring new depth to Striving Towards Oblivion shifting often into the sci-fi metal soundscapes that makes them evolve into a atmospheric black metal band, with scope of sound much broader than you'd expect from a trio. Striving Towards Oblivion is a startling debut full length from Vorga, announcing these Germans as ones to watch. 8/10   

Zetra - From Without (Church Road Records)

Following up their 2021 album From Within, London based duo Zetra, emerge with more Gothic gloom. Part doom, part shoegaze, part post-punk, part Goth, they are a band that are hard to classify soundwise. Featuring just guitar, synth and voice this 5 track EP is a neat snapshot of the Zetra sound. John Carpenter/Vangelis like synth swathes come through on the dreamy Ubiquity and the final ominous title offering (imagine it on the Blade Runner soundtrack) while The Raven's Game has some long slow riffing that belongs on the doom sphere. It's a partner piece to From Within, though if possible more gloomy than their previous EP. There's lots here to love if you subscribe to the black eyeliner, dark clothes and lots of moodiness lifestyle, it's Robert Smith and Brandon Lee's The Crow embodied into a band. They will be supporting Unto Others on their UK tour later this year so I for one will be getting down early! 7/10

Burned In Effigy - Rex Mortem (Self Released)

Sometimes a debut album comes around and surprises the hell out of you! Abhoria for example recently blew myself and my colleague Matt Cook away. Burned In Effigy, from Chicago, really impress on their debut full length in much the same way. They play melodic death metal that is clearly influenced by Children Of Bodom, In Flames and even Trivium, incorporating neo-classical guitar playing into their music Vito Bellino and Brad Dose's guitar playing intricately cutting through the breakdowns on Artorias as Nightfall opens with some classical guitar influences and features lots of tasty twin harmonies throughout. 

Guitar fans will be salivating at what is on offer but Burned In Effigy aren't just about these neo-classical touches they also play some really decent melo-death with drummer Eddie Dec and bassist Matt Watkins bringing thrash rhythms and grooves, to Hades, switching the time signatures on The Empericist as it moves between heavy and clean easily. Finally the vocals of Mark "Smedy" Smedbron are harsh and raw but also have clarity. Rex Mortem is a highly impressive debut from Burned In Effigy, my money would be on them being snapped up to a label sooner rather than later. 7/10

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