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Wednesday 2 February 2022

Reviews: Vass/Katsionis, Validor, Dryed, Ectoplasma (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Validor - Full Triumphed (Symmetric Records)

Since hooking up with Bob Katsionis (yep him again) Validor founder/singer/guitarist Odi Thunderer has been producing some of the most epic classic heavy metal Europe has ever heard. Both looking like and sounding like Eric Adams if he came from Athens Validor is basically Odi's project, he writes all the music and lyrics, but with Katsionis providing production, lead guitars, keys and bass along with Apollo Giannoulis on drums and classical percussion, it makes these 

Validor records sound like fully fledged offerings from Manowar. No wonder the Americans are starting their tour in Athens! Having remastered Validor's debut in 2020. Odi and co, recorded this fourth record in Jan-Feb 2021 at Katsionis' Symmetric Studios, striving again to capture that feel of Fighting The World, Noble Savage and Open The Gates. Of course once again they do so, from the bouncing Strong Winds (which nods to Running Wild too) to the stomp of Blood Metal Legions

Now I did say that Odi is trying to sound like Eric Adams, and while he doesn't quite nail it, though the lows are pretty decent, you can't fault the passion behind the delivery. He is calling out to the myths and legends of their Greek heritage, some Roman history too however Man Of Steel is about Robocop and Silverhawks comes from the show of the same name. This is clearly a passion project for Odi and Katsionis, is behind him every step of the way. 

Epic metal that is done by superfans can often fall flat, however there's something endearing about Validor, helped in droves by the excellent musical performances. 8/10

Vass/Katsionis - Ethical Dilemma (Symmetric Records)

Bob Katsionis' and Symmetric Records strikes again with a collaboration release. This one though is different both in style and presentation, Katsionis shares equal billing with vocalist Billy Vass most recently from Terra 1nc0gnita but he has been flexing his vocal pipes for years now. Bob has known Billy for more than 10 years and with his vocals secured, for this project he was able to explore a style that he hadn't been able too since the late 90's. 

Ethical Dilemma is a progressive metal concept record that is drawn from the sound perfected by Fates Warning, Queensryche and Conception. Vass's voice will be a revelation to anyone that hasn't heard it before, he has a massive range and incredible power putting him beside such greats as Geoff Tate and Roy Khan. Katsionis gives himself free reign to play the most technical guitar and keyboard riffs of his career while also adding heaps of melody and drama to tracks like Message To The Masses. The titular twosome are joined by in demand bassist Telis Kafkas and drummer Bill De Benedetto who make this a very experienced foursome.

This experience makes for a great listen, emotional but with a metallic toughness, the inspiration if bands like Queensryche, Crimson Glory and on Web Weaver heavier artists like Nevermore. Ethical Dilemma feels like a late 90's progressive metal record, which I know is the goal, but for those of us that were obsessed with this style, Vass/Katsionis have absolutely nailed it with this debut offering. If you want to pick and choose then the powerful Dreamscreen is dark and brooding, Echoes In Paradise is more melodic featuring lots of lush keys and chuggy guitars, while Faceless Encounter makes me think of Stratovarius. 

For classic progressive metal fans, Vass/Katsionis will be a must buy! Hopefully there is more planned. 9/10

Dryed - Dryed (Self Released)

Dryed are a band that have been around since 2009, but have only just released their debut album. There is a reason for this however. Formed in 2009 they spent the next year recording this record and put out a few videos but in 2012 singer Panos Mademlis left the band. It seems that the pandemic has worked in this bands favour as, even though Mademlis died in 2019, the record has finally seen the light of day. 

The rest of the band are Yiannis Fasoulakis (guitars), George Pagidas (bass) and Nikos Miras (drums) and this record sounds very 2009/10, inspired by groove/alt/nu metal bands such as Mudvayne, Sevendust and Godsmack. There's plenty of groovy riffs, fret slides and chant along choruses as well as moments where it's stripped back and melodic. 

I was never really a fan of this music at the time and this 'throwback' release has done very little to change my mind. Dryed look to continue with Harris Fotiadis on vocals so perhaps there's life in the old dog yet. Unfortunately this debut album offers me little to get excited about but fans of big alt/groove riffs will enjoy Dryed's debut. 6/10

Ectoplasma - Inferna Kabbalah (Memento Mori)

There are times when only death metal will do and Ectoplasma are determined to cover you in their slimy death goo. Inferna Kabbalah is their fourth studio record, the sample of "God is dead, Satan lives!" from Rosemary's Baby, not only gives the song it's title but also lyrical content, the grinding riff moving hastily into death metal battery, blasts of double kicks and more grinding riffs the order of the day. 

Both of these come from newest member Dimon's Night who has plied his craft in multiple bands joining long time member Giannis Grim who is the voice and bass of the album. The twosome deliver riff after menacing riff, bludgeoning on Appalling Abomination, the nasty start-stop of The Infestation Of Atrocity and the repeating grooves of Gruesome Sacred Orgasms. It's OSDM with attitude, vicious and scary, nothing that's new but enough to get a pit going strong. 7/10

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