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Monday 4 July 2022

Reviews: Cellar Stone, Flames, Disharmony, 5m (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Cellar Stone - Rise & Fall (ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records)

Greek heavy rockers Cellar Stone return with their second album. Lyricist Fofi Roussos says that this album deals with the way politicians around Europe dealt with the pandemic and the frustration with the ruling classes in general. This raging at politicians is evident from opening groover Borrowed Time, the music of guitarist George Maroulees (assisted by drummer George Karlis) again brings heavyweight riffs and a Southern rock tinge. 

Only right then that the album was mixed by Jordan Westfall in Kentucky and Black Stone Cherry frontman Chris Robertson gives a solo to War We Can Win. The mastering job from Brad Blackwood enhances the meaty production of Nick Papadopoulos giving Rise & Fall a polished American sound. More so than on their debut record, not that it's a bad thing as this and the presence of Chris Robertson will certainly give them exposure to a wider audience. A track such as Time To Fall and Demons brings with them some Alter Bridge as War We Can Win has got a lot of BSC to it as well, on the other hand To The Core has an anthemic chorus and acoustic backing ala Nickelback.

Aris Pirris' vocals having that great balance of soulfulness with a bit of grit sitting well on the deep heavy grooves supplied by Maroulees, Karlis and Akis Rooster (bass). Personally I didn't find Rise & Fall to be as impressive as their debut, possibly because Cellar Stone have mellowed this album a bit more as they are trying to appeal to a wider audience. Still it's 11 tracks quality radio rocking from Greece. 7/10

Flames - Resurgence (No Remorse Records)

Continuing his one man journey to bring back every legendary Greek metal band, Bob Katsionis produces and mixed the return of Greek thrashers Flames at his Sound Symmetry Studios. This is their first studio album from the band since 1996, though they had a compilation of remastered songs in 2011. Flames were the first Greek band to release an album on an international label right in the middle of the thrash explosion in the mid 80's. Their sound shifted from razor sharp speed metal into a more ominous style of death/thrash that will have you thinking about some of the German thrash bands like Kreator and Sodom. 

The band is still led by founding guitarist Chris "R.B. Lee" Kirk along with his co-founder and brother Andy (bass) with vocalist/guitarist Thomas Trampouras returning last year and drummer Nick "Yngve" Saimos behind the drums. So do the Flames still burn bright? Or has the fire dulled after all this time? It all kicks off with a short intro but on the evidence of Resurgence and Crawl Beyond alone it seems as if Flames haven't missed a step, exploding out of your speakers with a savage style of thrash metal. Unleashing buzzsaw riffing and shouting vocals, Rotten Life reduces the speed with some proggy groove, War In Mind gets a great chug going. 

Murder Taste and Mercy Denied brings us right back to the raging thrash of bands such as Slayer. As well as Kreator and Sodom there's also some inspiration from Coroner, when they go techy which they do often. Many thrash bands don't have this much tenacity after such a lengthy layover but it seems that Flames have been re-lit and ready to burn brightly again! Get moshing! 7/10

Disharmony - Gods Made Flesh (Grimm Distribution)

Not to be confused with the black/death metal band of the same name also from Athens, THIS Disharmony are heavy/doom metal band from the Greek capital. Although forming in 1996, God's Made Flesh is only their third studio album and their first since 2017. It's a record that owes to the epic doom and American power metal scene with the darkness of bands such as Nevermore, Sentenced, Evergrey and Amorphis. The heavy riffs, down tuned rhythms and bellowed vocals offset by some more melodic phrases from the power/trad metal world. 

A track such as Cruel And Bitter is drawn from the Warrell Dane/Jeff Loomis school of songwriting, slow deliberate riffs and a dramatic vocal performance from Christos Kounelis getting those Nevermore vibes strongly as The Cry Of The Gods stays in the same influence but with a bit more of the heavy thrash sound and plenty of technical lead guitar playing as John Karousiotis and Stefanos Georgitsopoulos trade off solos and segue into acoustic moments at the climax of the song. These acoustics permeate into the Dreamers Lost which sets the tone for the more epic sounding part of the album which begins with the cinematic Of Flesh as Trigger Of Pleasure returns to thrash metal driven by bassist Panagiotis Gatsopoulos and drummer Nikos Miras.

There's a few guests that join add guitar solos, violins on the Nautical Under The Waves and guest female vocals while Ioannis Karousiotis, handles the engineering, mixing and mastering for Gods Made Flesh giving it the modern feel it needs. On this third album Disharmony will hopefully break out to a wider audience, as if you're a fan of Nevermore, Iced Earth and Sentenced then you'll enjoy Disharmony's new album as much as I do. 8/10

5m - Unravelling Pathways (Self Released)

Unravelling Pathways is the debut album from Thessaloniki based band 5m. Formed in 2015 they have shifted their sound to more experimental than many hard rock bands. They take inspiration both the alternative and progressive scene with tracks such as the title track and Observer sounding like bands such as Deftones, Tool and Sevendust. There's atmospheric melodic post rock guitars, grooving stop start riffs and clean/harsh vocals, traded between three of the members that sing, lead vocalist Giannis Petmezaris, guitarist Pantelis Kargas and bassist Nick Vadakis. The mix of styles Unravelling Pathways throws up is to its benefit as there's a sense of the band trying to do something a bit different as most of the songs have quite serious run times. 

The title track especially shifts it's musical approach several times, as the Deftones elements, switch into some NWOBHM gallops, before there's a bass solo that feels like Opeth. Cliffs Of Doom keeps the heaviness with drummer Dimitris Kavoukidis giving his best performance as Iasonas Anoixiadis links up with Kargas for some explorative guitar playing. After a three songs that are quite long, and sit in the middle of the album to show the full prog power of this band. Heirs Of The Hateful is shorter, but has the most amount of passion, those alt metal sounds very strong here, this has to be a single as it distills what 5m do as a band. 

With additional vocals from Evelyn Tsavalou and even some traditional Ney playing from Nikos Magnisalis on the interlude called Hades and the song Phoenix, where they delve into some Orphaned Land-like 'Oriental Metal'. 5m's debut album is brimming with promise and some experienced performances, proggy, alt metal that bends boundaries. A band to watch! 7/10

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