Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Reviews: Arch Enemy, A-Z, Unprocessed, Seventh Storm (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Arch Enemy – Deceivers (Century Media Records)

Initially slated for 29th July, due to unforeseen reasons the 11th Arch Enemy album Deceivers is finally here 2 week later than billed. A rager of a record, full of the classic aggressive melodic death metal sound but also some shots in the dark that also pay off, it’s their first record since 2017, making this the longest gap between the Swedish bands’ albums. Handshake With Hell gets the blood pumping in true Arch Enemy style with band founder Michael Amott (guitars) and Jeff Loomis trading back and for the with biting melodeath riffs and virtuoso solos, it’s an epic first track with some slower more progressive elements to show a different side to Arch Enemy, longtime fans may balk at the use of clean vocals here but it’s only a brief change before more heavier things come back and it’s business as usual on Deceiver, Deceiver, which has a groove metal riff. 

The bottom end of bassist Sharlee D’Angelo locking in with the powerful drums of Daniel Erlandsson before once again we explode into a faster pace and some explosive leads. D’Angelo and Erlandsson also bludgeon on the raging death metal of Sunset Over The Empire. The cohesion between Amott and Loomis is brilliant when you consider they recorded their parts in separate countries, Deceivers is the album where Loomis, particularly has arrived drawing out the melo in melodeath with his progressive metal experience showing that he can wring emotion out of every note as well as shred like a total bastard. 

It also seems that it’s led to a game of ‘I can do it better’ with Amott who plays some of his best work for a long time. A track such as The Watcher is bristling with anger, Alissa White-Gluz’s harsh roars sitting on top of a rampaging power thrash assault, that’s got a lot of Nevermore in it, with a keyboard outro that swells into the orchestral beginnings of dark Poisoned Arrow, a death ballad that has a chugging pace and is very much catered for White-Gluz’s clear growls. 

Her voice is now fully ingrained in the Arch Enemy sound meaning that she can show off her cleans on Handshake With Hell as the growls are a given, on House Of Mirrors too there’s a lot to love as its premium Arch Enemy, followed by Spreading Black Wings which manages to feel both like a black metal song and a Motorhead song at the same time as more swelling orchestras/choirs gives way to the instrumental/interlude Mourning Star. The lead up to this album saw them release a number of singles, more than ever before, the cinematic videos, all adding to the songs, creating a buzz for this new record. 

It means that yes you will have probably heard much of the album already but when sat together, Deceivers is an Arch Enemy album that still delivers lots of well-established thrills and very few spills, while also taking a few risks as any band with 10 albums under their belt should have a right to do. Arch Enemy are always a band that you can rely on for being one of the pillars of their genre, and here they deceive no-one with their melodeath excellence. 8/10     

A-Z - A-Z (Metal Blade Records) [Matt Bladen]

Former Fates Warning/Warlord drummer Mark Zonder started writing some songs that focused on hooks and melodies rather than the overly progressive/flashy style that he has been associated with. He wanted a band that could have longevity not a single album supergroup, a collection of players, creating music that will be both recognisable and repeatable. Of course this doesn't mean that he was going to find any old musicians to flesh out the band, his time in the prog world means that he has been able to get some of the best performers in music to join A-Z. 

On vocals it's Fates Warning man Ray Alder, Philip Bynoe of Warlord/Ring Of Fire on bass, fusion guitarist Joop Wolters and keyboardist Vivien Lalu. There was a real collaborative effort from all involved tracked and recorded in various parts of the world, Zonder produced with Robbie Wyckoff on backing vocals and Simone Mularoni mixing. 

So do they make good on their promise of not to bore us and get to the chorus? Emphatically yes, Trial By Fire the first song here, is a driving opener with an 80's feel, the AOR synths are in unison with a rocking relatively simplistic riffs that often shift into explosive solos. There's a feel of Toto's jazzy rhythms on The Far Side Of The Horizon while The Machine Gunner feels like Signals-era Rush meets Mr Big. If you're familiar with the sort of proggy AOR that made Asia and Saga a big deal in the 80's then you'll get a lot of joy out of A-Z

Clean cut, sing along choruses with virtuoso playing meaning that it works on many levels, with the emotional Window Panes a good ballad, it's a track like Run Away where both the progressive playing and melodic elements work brilliantly. A-Z feels like the first chapter in a long story, one that draws from an already established style but perhaps helps a new audience discover it. 7/10 

Unprocessed – Gold (Airforce1/Spinefarm Records) 

Umm? OK? On the back of the first two songs that feature on Gold, the new album from German band Unprocessed, you will probably think they have given up on the metal sounds of their past all together as, both Rain and Redwine are heavily influenced by pop and electronica, almost acting as two intros that lead into The Longing which features a heavier riff, led by the bass prowess of David Levy, and the first set of harsh vocals from Manuel Gardner Fernandes, who is something of a Youtube sensation for his virtuoso guitar playing., though Chris Schultz is no slouch. Fernandes is also the bands vocalist moving from angsty cleans to screams. 

The musical style on this record is certainly eclectic, with some influences coming from Plini and Dirty Loops the marriage of djent, pop, electronica and even some post-hardcore/emo a happy one, but it can be jarring if like me you’ve only ever seen the band playing outright heavy djent with atmospheric flourishes on their previous three concept records. Consider then Gold a rebirth, the next stage in their journey as a band, as while tracks such as Orange Grove have crushing grooves, the next song Mint feels like latter period Linkin Park with a trip hop beat and emotive chorus. Levy is also the keyboard wizard here the processed beats in unison with Leon Pfeifer’s acoustic percussion. 

Snake is pure pop which will confuse a lot of djent/prog metal fans, and from here there's about four or five slower torchlight songs that ruin the flow a little. It’s all about experimentation, probably the reason why this album is 16 songs long, although a nothing goes past five minutes, there does seem to be a need for filtering here as there’s not a lot of cohesion, other than most of the album makes me think of pop record rather than anything else. With Scorpio having a lot of Eurovision ballad vibes, though that can be said of much of the middle part of the album, The Game finally brings back some riff, but it's a little to late by then. 

The band state they stand by their creative choices 100% on this album but it will definitely divide opinion, for me I get the idea, and the performances are good enough to pull it off but I think a little editing to make Gold a bit more lustrous. 6/10

Seventh Storm - Maledictus (Atomic Fire Records) [Matt Bladen]

Formed by now ex-Moonspell drummer (of 30 years) Mike Gaspar, Seventh Storm is his new musical endeavour that celebrates his love of classic metal and the adventuring naval history of his native Portugal, which is where the melancholic vein of these songs comes from. Fans of Moonspell will find enough of that bands style of 'dark metal' here Gaspar's extreme metal drumming driving tracks such as My Redemption and Haunted Sea. There's a conceptual feel to the album linked to our collective feeling of being lost at sea, so this project is Gaspar giving back for all the metal community has given him. Joining Gaspar in his voyage is vocalist Rez, guitarists Ben Stockwell and Josh Riot with Butch Cid on bass. 

This band make a glorious noise, with a muscular style of heavy metal, arranged totally by Gaspar, there's a deep vein of the late 90's metal style of bands such as Paradise Lost/Samael but also the more radio friendly sounds of Disturbed/Godsmack as well as stylistic elements of Masterplan and many black metal bands too. The latter coming from Gaspar's drumming as I have said. Getting the record off to a strong start is the orchestral The Pirates' Curse bringing emotion and guts, Saudade coming next as this records linchpin, a Gothic ode to his country, that evolves into a galloping thrash/power metal track with a big chorus. 

As it segues into the classical guitar break of Sarpanit, those traditional Portuguese folk traditions coming through into the blasting black metal on the epic Gods Of Babylon which also is brimming with folk influences. I wasn't sure what to expect from Maledictus but what I got was an strong heavy metal record that brings myriad of influences for a engaging listening experience. 8/10 

No comments:

Post a Comment