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Thursday 8 December 2022

Reviews: Barabbas, Induction, Wise Blood Records Split, Robot Death Monkey (Reviews By Paul Scoble, James Jackson, Mark Young & Matt Bladen)

Barabbas - La Mort Appelle Tous Les Vivants (Sleeping Church Records) [Paul Scoble]

Biblically named band Barabbas have been making France a far more noisy country since 2007. The Gallic doomsters have produced one EP in 2011’s Libérez Barabbas, and one album, 2014’s Messe Pour Un Chien, before La Mort Appelle Tous Les Vivants. The band is made up of five Saints (what a happy coincidence that five Venerated Saints all had the same interest in heavy doom metal), they are: Saint Jean-Christophe on drums, Saint Stéphane on guitars, Saint Rudolphe on vocals, Saint Thomas on guitars, and Saint Alexandre on bass.

As you may have worked out already, Barabbas play a very heavy and exuberant style of doom. According to the press release that accompanied this album Barabbas say of their sound that they are influenced by, “The Holy Trinity of Doom Metal : Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Cathedral”, which is a pretty good description of the kind of sound to expect from Barabbas, you can add a little bit of the best Orange Goblin as well. However, don’t think Barabbas are reductive or generic, they have taken these bands as their starting point and have developed a huge, bouncy style all of their own.

The album opens with an intro called La Mort Appelle Tous Les Vivants, which features spoken word samples, before going into the first full song Je Suis Mort Depuis Bien Longtemps. Je Suis Mort Depuis Bien Longtemps, is a song of huge, driving and very powerful doom at a brisk walking pace. The Vocals are immense, Saint Rudolphe has a bellow that would shame a charging bull, he sings in French and makes no attempt to tone down his French accent, or do a naff Mid-Atlantic voice. There is an organ (possibly a Hammond) on some of the track and a softer melodic section that leads into a very good solo, before a perfectly paced stomp to the end.

Next is Le Saint Riff Rédempteur, which feels like a mix of Cathedral and Black Sabbath, it has the same 6:8 bounce that Sabbath’s Children Of The Grave has, it’s an infectious rhythm that could force a planet to dance. The song does have a slower and heavier section that feels quite dark, but this track is all about exuberant bouncing, the song ends with a colossal laugh from Saint Rudolphe before the track bounces to an end. De La Viande has a slower tempo than the song that preceded it, it has a relentless pace that feels unstoppable and kind of slithers and slips along with the tempo unchanged, but the intensity increasing constantly throughout the song. As with all the tracks on La Mort Appelle Tous Les Vivants it has a great solo and the intensity builds to a huge ending.
The next track Le Cimetière Des Rêves Brisés is also slow, but it is more restrained than the previous song. This slow one is all about melody, and it has lots of melody, from the Vocal performance which is more restrained than the other material, and is also very tuneful, and from the great melodies from the riffs and a very memorable melody lead.

The next track is Sous Le Signe Du Néant, a return of the Bouncy 6:8. This track is Barabbas with everything turned up to 11. The song features a huge bouncy tempo that drives the song forward and keeps everything fun and effervescent, Saint Rudolphe is back to his towering, bellowing best, this is up there with some of Cathedral’s best disco doom material, its got so much energy it could re-animate a corpse. The song does have a slow and sinister section in the middle, but that just highlights how much fun the faster parts were when they return. Mon Crâne Est Une Crypte (Et J'y Suis Emmuré) brings a return for the slow and relentless feel we saw earlier on De La Viande, the song has a really great melodic chorus, before we return to those riffs that feel as unstoppable as continental drift. The song has a soft and very melodic ending featuring some very pleasing guitar harmonies.
The final full song is La Valse Funèbre which is big and powerful, with very effective backing vocals, the tempo has a swing to it that works very well. The track has a very good solo before a section that is bass heavy, has some great vocals and feels expansive and takes the song to its end. The album comes to an end with a outro to match the intro with spoken word and field recordings. 2022 has been a great year for doom, loads of really great albums have been released this year, however, we have had to wait till the end of the year for the best. 

In my opinion this is the best doom album released this year, I’m going to have to reorganise my top 20 for the year to squeeze it in. La Mort Appelle Tous Les Vivants is such a blast of bouncy doom with great energy and verve. All the material is very memorable, I’ve been humming riffs off this album for the last 2 weeks, once it gets into your head this album is addictive. This is just so much fun (something that has been a little bit absent from the doom scene over the last few years), it feels like amazing nights out with your best mates, its life affirming, it invites you to stop taking everything so seriously and join in with the merrymaking. What this album has in spades is great riffs, amazing solos, brilliant Vocals and some of the best bouncy doom to be made this century! 9/10

Induction - Born From Fire (Atomic Fire Records) [James Jackson]

Originally founded in 2014 and having undergone a slight lineup change, Induction, a Power Metal band with, according to their bio a “symphonic influence” release their second album Born From Fire.

And sure enough within the first few songs that symphonic influence can be heard with a strong nod and more than frequent familiar comparison to one of my favourite bands, Nightwish but those sweet spots are few and far between as there are other moments within the opening few songs that raise a quizzical eyebrow. For within album opener Born From Fire, there’s a rather 80’s inspired bridge complete with synth hand claps and the seemingly odd and out of place piano bridge towards the end of third track Go To Hell that really doesn’t go anywhere, let alone somewhere that the current gas prices aren’t an issue.

Embers, Order And Chaos carry the torch for symphonic power metal before The Beauty Of Monstrance shatters that trend an almost, rather short lived, black metal intro, it’s an interesting start to an otherwise lacklustre track which only gets worse with what to me seems like a really ill conceived slap bass segment. There are many influences played out through the course of this album but not all of them work well alongside the power metal aspects of their writing, it’s not that it’s particularly bad (that slap bass aside) it’s just that some of it feels so out of place here, like the almost Southern rock/metal style opening to Ghost Of Silence.

Penultimate track Eternal Silence was my first and only skip of the album, it’s ballad like in its composition but I wouldn’t be reaching for my lighter (yes, I’m that old) if I were to be listening to it live. The album closes with Sacrifice, a track the band released as a single earlier this year and it’s a well enough rounded piece of power metal, missing are the odd intros, bridges or slap bass verses, it’s just straightforward and better off for it.

Born From Fire does what it does, which is to bring that power metal vibe, vocals that remind me of the long gone days of 80’s hair/glam and the rather typically cheesy lyrics which go hand in hand with it all. Musically at times there are some great moments, some which remind me too much of other bands and then those odd drifts into inspirations which probably should have stayed on the cutting room floor. 4/10

Dungeon Crawl & Throne Of Iron: The Side Quest Split (Wise Blood Records) [Mark Young]

The opportunity to review this split EP came due to some form of cosmic alignment, where a hitherto unknown label, Wise Blood asked if I would like to review music they released. At the same time, Musipedia Of Metal asked for contributions for their site and bang, here we are. 

A little background on Wise Blood Records: Hailing from Indianapolis, they look to bring the best in heavy metal and punk and this EP is a fantastic introduction to this label. An artist first DIY label, they have core beliefs in integrity, empathy, and kindness. They see it as their goal in life to share the music they love, from their home base to a wider audience in the US and beyond. I am looking forward to being exposed to more new music and this EP is certainly the perfect place to start. 

Dungeon Crawl kick off with their thrash influence taken from the west coast’s golden age, which to those of us of a certain vintage really hits home. The four songs presented here hit remind me of Slayer, in terms of attitude, which is no bad thing at all. Instrumental Minions Of A Dark Master leads into Where The Coin Falls, which is just down pick heaven. If songs get you nodding your head whilst at your desk, you know it is doing the right thing. It’s well produced and more importantly well executed. It also sounds fresh in that they have taken their cues from Exodus, Slayer and company and they can comfortably sit in their company. The songs whip along and there is plenty of thrash on display. I won’t sit here and tell you it’s brand new, but what Dungeon Crawl do, they do it exceedingly well and I would recommend seeking them out for the full album when it drops later this year via Bandcamp. 

Indiana natives Throne Of Iron take over with their half, and immediately take you to the land of Iron Maiden’s classic 80’s material. It’s a massive sound, considering it is a three piece. Just like Dungeon Crawl, It’s heavy and watching this live you would have no option over than to bang your head. Or shake your fist depending on your age. Of the three songs, The Curse Of The Lighningmancer is the shortest, but none of their songs are boring or overly long. One of the things about Maiden and similar bands was the need for showing their musical ability which is the same here. This is going to sound like a negative, but it’s music to get absolutely slaughtered to. 7/10

Robot Death Monkey - Intergalactic Party Powder (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

5th EP from Scottish stoner groove machine Robot Death Monkey is bursting at the seams with fat stoner riffs, gnarly vocals, innuendo-laden titles and lyrics. This Edinburgh foursome have been carving up the roads with their riffs and they bring 4 new cuts to appeal to the fans of Fu Manchu, Orange Goblin and Monster Magnet. 

Blasting forth from their mother-ship Bantha Rider is a chugging start where they lay out their musical identity in the deserts of Tattooine with a grooving instrumental, the first track with vocals being Asguardian Micro Whitey which rages with Shaun Forshaw's snarl as rough as his basslines, locking down with brother Sam on drums and Fraser Lough on rhythm guitar they are the riff machine ready for Alan Travers' leads to bring fretboard fireworks. 

Another psych led instrumental Dragon Clit continues their swaggering riffs as the EP closes with the Kittens & Coke, which most people would consider essential. Big Scottish worship to riffs, weed, booze, get the party powder and get wild. 7/10

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