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Wednesday 30 November 2022

Reviews: SpiritWorld, Leather, Black Rain, Sirrush (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

SpiritWorld - Deathwestern (Century Media)

The musical journey of Las Vegas native Stu Folsom has been a very short, shifting one, initially starting out with country/punk bands, in 2020 he formed SpiritWorld a band that takes from the country/western influence but fuses it with the metallic hardcore sound of bands such as Converge, Kvelertak and that crossover punch of Power Trip or High Command.

Their debut Pagan Rhythms grabbed the public by the throat and led to them supporting 200 Stab Wounds/Creeping Death. So now they're back, swaggering into town on their horses, clad in Black Stetsons weapons cocked to take over one again. Having signed to Century Media who re-released their debut, but the focus here is on those sophomore release Deathwestern. After the Western tone is set on Mojave Bloodlust a Morricone homage, the riffs come at you like a razor sharp Tomahawk on the grunting The Heretic Butcher, the bouncing thrash of Relic Of Damnation/ULCER or the Slayer influenced Purified In Violence/Crucified Heathen Scum

There's a riotous sound to this record which again takes no prisoners with the wild riffing and shouted vocals. This record feels more in the crossover thrash style with Moonlit Torture featuring Integrity man Dwid Hellion. For me though the best tracks are the the title track which has a brilliantly gory, video inspired by Argento and George A Romero and the closer 1000 Deaths which successfully blends the hardcore thrashing and the country picking. I'd not heard a lot by SpiritWorld before this but it looks as if we could have a "next big thing" here. 8/10

Leather – We Are The Chosen (SPV/Steamhammer)

Perhaps not as well-known as Doro or Lita Ford, Leather Leone is one of the original Queens of heavy metal inspiring band such as Benedictum, Battle Beast and Crystal Viper. Starting out her career as the vocalist of Chastain, the heavy metal group created by guitarist David T Chastain, the man who discovered Firewind’s Gus G, Leone has been on a quest to spread the gospel of metal since then. Having never strayed far from the classic/power/heavy metal sound, staying true to herself and putting message in her songwriting. 

She is probably one of the most consistent artists in the metalsphere and deserves every bit of respect owed. We Are The Chosen is her third solo album and is full of positive lyrics and epic metal arrangements such as the orchestral Hallowed Ground a song dedicated to Ronnie James Dio, a vocal influence of Leone’s grittier, powerful style. She wrote this album with guitarist Vinnie Tex and like with any previous Leather record, the spirit of heavy metal runs deep, from the thrashy Dark Days, to the darker Who Rules The World and the chugging Shadows

We Are The Chosen is more traditional metal done in the Leather Leone way, the most brazen being the modern assault of Off With Your Head or the galloping title where she accepts her place as a metal queen and takes no prisoners. More anthemic music from an underground heavy metal icon. 7/10

BlackRain – Untamed (SPV/Steamhammer)

BlackRain already have six albums under their belt and many successful tours but now French sleaze rockers BlackRain look set to take things to wider audience on their seventh full length Untamed. Teaming up with Kissin’ Dynamite man and sound engineer par excellence, Hannes Braun as the producer, the relationship forged between BlackRain and Kissin’ Dynamite over the last 10 years has borne very juicy fruit indeed. 

That is of course if you’re a sleaze rock fan, bands like Pretty Maids, The Poodles, Hardcore Superstar and Kissin’ Dynamite are all present in BlackRain’s style but for 10 years they have been searching for the right style of production to make their song writing sparkle and here they have found it. Shifting toward the glam/AOR sound at times, there’s a big whack of Bon Jovi to some of these numbers, polished and preening like those preeminent hair bands of the 80’s. There’s nothing new on offer, BlackRain have maintained the same line up since their formation, so what they do is write songs that sit comfortably in their sound, not that there is anything wrong with that as I’m sure their fanbase would be up in arms if they suddenly started playing death metal. 

Untamed doesn’t do that of course but there are moments when they press the genre constraints a little, revealing those AOR and glam moments I wrote about earlier, a track like Summer Rain or Demon shifts away from the cemented style, but with the great production job there’s a cohesiveness to the album that makes it a joy to listen too. The summer may be over but BlackRain have delivered a feel good record ready for your next party. Leave the hairspray at home as somethings are meant to stay Untamed. 7/10

Sirrush – Molon Labe (Non Servium Records)

A band playing, cinematic black/death metal, writes and album about the The Battle Of Thermopylae in 480BC. No it isn’t the latest Rotting Christ record but its damn close. Italians Sirrush deal with one of the most famous historical campaigns ever on their new album Molon Labe (which translates to “come and take”), focussing on the struggle of the Greek (mainly Spartan) troops against the Persians, it is a story fueled by furious vengeance and the inability to surrender until all of them were wiped out, resulting an united Hellenic force that defeated Persia at Salamis, led by Athens. 

This album tries to capture the tenacity of the Greek troops and while it’s a story told plenty of times before when it’s paired with blistering blackened death metal it gets a much more impressive. I’d say that despite being Italian Sirrush have looked to the Hellenic Black Metal scene for their inspiration, with Rotting Christ and Varathon being the two major sound-alikes, theatrical atmospherics linking the blasts of ice cold black metal and groove driven death. 

A Son Set His Father Free and With Your Shield…Or On It both heavily focus on creating and atmosphere before unleashing the ferocious percussion of Sculptor Of Flesh, while the trio of Adranor (bass), Tiyris (guitar) and Otagron (guitar) carve through intense riffage, changing the pace a little for With Your Shield, that is until the title track goes back to trve black metal. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and Sirrush both imitate and flatter the Hellenic style well, point your Dory towards the enemy and advance with Molon Labe as your battle cry. 7/10

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