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Tuesday 8 February 2022

Reviews: Mortuary Drape, El Moono, Naked Gypsy Queens, Nasson (Reviews By Paul Scoble, Rich P, Simon Black & Matt Bladen)

Mortuary Drape - Wisdom Vibration Repent (Peaceville Records) [Paul Scoble]

Anyone who knows their underground black metal will be familiar with Mortuary Drape. The Italian band formed in 1986, and released a series of demos and one EP before releasing their incredibly influential debut album All The Witches Dance in 1994. This was when black metal was in its infancy and Mortuary Drape are one of the bands who helped define what it was. Over the years the band carried on releasing albums; Secret Sudaria in 1996, Tolling 13 Knell in 2000, Buried In Time in 2004 and the bands last album 2014’s Spiritual Independence. The band have been quiet since 2014, but are now back with a new EP (their 4th) and a new record contract with Peaceville Records. 

One constant in Mortuary Drape is Vocalist/drummer Wildness Perversion who is joined by S.C. on bass, S.R. on lead guitar, D.C. on rhythm guitar and M.T. on drums. The EP opens with In A Candle Flame which has a clean, brooding intro before going into slow and very heavy Black Metal. Mortuary Drape always had a certain amount of doom in their sound, in many ways they can be seen as the originators of blackened doom. The riffs are nasty and packed with tri-tones, in some ways this is like a black metal autopsy, extreme metal that is just as effective being slow and putrid. Next comes All In One Night, which also has slow and nasty sections, but this time the nasty and slow is mixed with some very effective thrashy black metal that is fast and savage. 

The middle track on the EP is a great cover of Mercyful Fate’s Nightmare Be Thy Name. Musically this is spot on, especially the guitar solos, and vocally Wildness Perversion does a very creditable impersonation of King Diamond. Circle Zero (0) is fast and aggressive black thrash with a spooky, doomy part in the middle. The track is full of great riffs that stick in your head. Final track, Where Everythings Fall is a mix of the slow and doomy blackened doom sound and the black thrash sound, it’s a great track that brings the EP to an end in a very enjoyable way. 

Wisdom Vibration Repent is a great EP, the Mercyful Fate cover is a great version of the song, and the 4 other original tracks are really good songs that remind me that the early days of black metal was about so much more than just Norway, Mortuary Drape’s use of really slow and nasty riffs has been massively influential on black metal, and it’s great to hear them putting out material that will be just as influential. 8/10

El Moono - Temple Corrupted (Lockjaw Records) [Rich P]

Being of the age I am when you throw the grunge word around my ears automatically perk up. El Moono use this term liberally, and for good reason. But there is a lot more going on than a nineties nostalgia act. The Brighton UK based boys bring the heavy with their riffage and bring the emotion with their sometimes screamed and always passionate vocals. Elements of shoegaze and some notes of post hardcore shine through as well. But how do all these elements come together? Turns out it works darn well. 

Starting off with a brief instrumental passage, Temple Corrupted blasts into the heaviness of Final Execution, which sets the tone nicely for the rest of the EP. The next track, Requiem, brings the slow heaviness of Soundgarden and sprinkles in some shoegaze ala what you may hear (or at least want to hear) from the Deftones, only to break it down hardcore style to close out the track. Sounds like a lot going on but it all works. Forced To Smile sounds a bit like an effort to break through onto rock radio at first, until the slow breakdown starts to drag you through the sludge, slowing you down and screaming you into submission, and subsequently requesting you to start a circle pit. 

White Gold closes out this strong EP, with a slowed down, shoegaze inspired, emotion filled track that is the perfect ending that still leaves you wanting more. In White Gold I swear I heard the line “grunge is dead” (I may have misheard, I do not have the lyric sheet, but it works for my narrative…). I’m not sure I agree if we are putting El Moono in that category. This is a killer EP that really shows a ton of promise from this young band. Heavy riffs with some excellently placed quiet-loud-quiet moments and emotionally impactful vocals leave me playing this one on repeat and will be a consistent listen for a while. Many aspects borrowed but brought together for a unique blend of heavy that I highly recommend. 8/10

Naked Gypsy Queens - Georgiana EP (Mascot Label Group) [Simon Black]

Sometimes it’s just nice to get back to your musical roots. Younger me was very much more into music with cleaner dotted or direct lines back to the blues or the early years of European Rock ‘n’ Roll. I blame my Mum – she loved The Beatles, having grown up through that period - but The Stones were the business for me back then. The point is that I’m no spring chicken myself, but that this music is still influencing and spring boarding new bands the world over - including this bunch of four youngsters from Tennessee. 

Its music which, if done properly, with love and affection to the roots but enough of a modern flair for the current generation to feel fresh and relevant then it’s still got the potential to be a floor filler the globe over. The five tracks on here are full of that early 70’s sentiment and lots of Southern groove, but with enough of a down-tuned weight to pull in the stoner and metal communities without too much effort. This is important, as when acts come along like this with the potential to cross the boundaries, they can pretty much carve their own groove as long as they stay focussed on the quality. As far as these five songs go, quality is an appropriate word, with strong music with that elusive hypnotic quality of songs taking their time because the journey can be more interesting than the destination. 

That said, these are far from rambling doodles – the songs are actually quite short, but somehow feel like there’s a lot packed in there. They probably need to get a couple of punchier crowd pleasers similar to the opener and title track to get them noticed more broadly moving forward when it’s time for a full length album, but these more cleverly crafted songs taking up the rest of the EP are clearly what they are all about. Singer/guitarist Chris Attigliato has a wonderfully soulful turn and because the chemistry he shares with fellow guitarist Cade Pickering is positively tangible, but to be honest these boys have absolutely got the groove, the tunes and most importantly of all that weaving fluidity and groove of a band able to anticipate each other at an almost chemical level. 8/10

Nasson - Scars (Frontiers Music Srl)

Nasson Prudant will be known to some as the multi-instrumentalist behind Chaos Magic and Sinners Blood. He is a guitarist/producer and songwriter so it was probably only a matter of time that Frontiers set about getting a solo record out of him. This is actually his third solo record but the first on Frontiers. 

As it is a solo record, from a polymath, Nasson plays everything except drums (handled by Rodrigo Leiva) and even shows off his vocal prowess, aided by the backing vocals of Chaos Magic frontwoman Caterina Nix. As with most of the Frontiers releases there are a few guests, all coming from the South American bands who have been signed to Frontiers, Gui Oliver (Landfall), Mizuho Lin (Semblant) and James Robledo (Sinner's Blood) all lend their vocals to the record, as does Alessandro Del Vecchio, on the duet When It Rains while Ignacio Torres provides some guest guitar solos. 

Scars is a melodic metal album, touches of gothic rock and prog also sneak in, with the glitchy electronics and keyboard runs on Not Today, the swelling orchestral of Mother Moon, or the dark drama of On The Otherside all contributing to the mature melodic metal sound of this record. If I were to make a comparison it would be that Scars reminds me of Kamelot and Evergrey, as the heaviness is counterpointed by an almost romantic flavour. It shows that Nasson is a very talented musician and yet again that the Frontiers machine will always make the most of talent. 7/10 

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