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Wednesday 7 December 2022

Reviews: Soen, Oceans, MCC, Mick's Jaguar (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Soen - Atlantis (Silver Lining Music)

If you pair a band like Soen with an orchestra you are guaranteeing magic. Atlantis is a live concert film/album that captures the band in the Atlantis Grammofon Studio in Sweden, formerly Metronome Studio where ABBA recorded. It was recorded in December 2021, with Martin Lopez (drums & percussion), Joel Ekelöf (lead vocals), Lars Enok Åhlund (guitars & piano), Cody Lee Ford (lead guitar) and Oleksii “Zlatoyar” Kobel (bass) collaborating with an eight piece orchestra to reinterpret some of their most well known songs in a different way, using the strings, clean guitars, piano and those longing vocals, there's a magical atmosphere, that weaves it's way over the listener from the opening strains of Antagonist right to the closing number Lotus

Obviously as this is only the audio portion you do only get the one side of the performance however hearing tracks such as Monarch, Trials, Jinn, the grooving Savia and the emotional Illusion done in this style really highlight the songwriting outside of the metal sphere. It's not just their songs featured here though as Soen cover Slipknot's Snuff to great effect. With a lot of well known song on this recording, it's the lesser known anthems that work the best as they are sometimes reconstructed and rejigged to be most effective in this format. Having seen Soen this year I'll be seeking out the visual portion of this release as the music is sublime. 8/10

Oceans - Hell Is Where The Heart Is (Nuclear Blast)

Hell Is Where The Heart Is, is the the latest album by Austrian/German metalcore band Oceans (not to be confused with German progressive band The Ocean) however it only actually features four songs that haven't been released. As this is the bands trio of EP's released this year collected together, released simultaneously with the final EP Part III, the full force of the music can be felt with everything in one place, though it's only about 40 minutes of music but it leaves its mark with some emotional post-metal/metalcore ringing with fear and catharsis as Timo Schwämmlein's angsty cleans and raw growls, sing of depression, mental health issues and inner struggles, tracks such as Living=Dying giving those clean choruses and growled verses that the metalcore genres builds it's foundation on. 

Having been active since 2017 this is actually only the bands second full length Oceans instead preferring to use EP's and singles to produce new material, this being especially effective in the post pandemic era (their debut album was released in 2020). If you've followed the and then you'll already know what most of this record sounds like so really the last four tracks with pique your interest, Clarity (Interlude) leading into the piano driven If There's A God She Has Abandoned Us, the most emotive moment on the album, starting out what for me is the best part of the record as I Sing Alone brings djent beatdowns as this last third has the woozy, darkness of Deftones, the final act being the crushing title track, J.F Grill's blastbeats punishing as Timo and co guitarist Patrick Zarske shred like beasts on top of bassist Thomas Winkleman's grooves. 

This record to me sounds like an evolution, with a concept hung over it keeping things together, they emerge from metalcore tropes into something more as the album continues. Ultra modern, ultra violent and smart, Oceans are an aural tsunami of emotion and passion. 8/10

MCC [Magna Carta Cartel] - The Dying Option (Vernal Vow Records)

Magna Carta Cartel is Martin Persner's precursor and successor to his time in Ghost. Having been in the Swedish megastars until 2016, he reactivated MCC after he let go of the mask and the mantra of a nameless ghoul he set about following up the debut with the new slimmed down version of MCC (MCC member Tobias Forge now doing other things). 

There has been a previous EP since MCC reformed but The Dying Option is the second full length, with Persner on guitar/vocals, drummer Arvid Persner and Pär Gledor on bass/keyboards, the style is eclectic with U2 meeting Vangelis as the spectral sound that became Ghost is obvious on Silence and Darling. Persner says that one of the influences is the opening of Kubrick masterpiece The Shining, that Nordic feel does permeate over the record as Sleepy Eye June and Don't Look Now go into more Western themes.

The synths and guitar in harmonious union on Savantgarde which was written in the pre Ghost days and is very similar to that first Ghost record, but it feels very different to Tamsa which has that synthwave repeating beats. What we have here are pop songs, catchy pop songs dressed up in goth, electronic, post-punk trappings, with an EP and a new full length on the way MCC are definitely back in business, exorcise the spirits and join the cartel. 7/10

Mick's Jaguar - Salvation (Tee Pee/Totem Cat Records)

A potted history of Mick's Jaguar is that this Brooklyn mob formed as a Rolling Stones cover band for a NYE party, but since then they have established their own sound which is an amalgamation of the sounds from 1977 so we have some garage rock fuzzing, punk rock snarling and blues rock swaggering, these styles culminating in their 2018 debut Fame And Fortune which saw them take to stages across the USA, then after losing a bassist they reconvened with some additional members and set about laying down 10 new attitude driven rock n roll tracks. 

That's what this record is just 10 tracks of vintage rock n roll, the ideal fit for labels such as Tee Pee and Totem Cat. Salvation has the bar brawling sound of AC/DC on Molotov Children, the chugging Skin Contact and the dark Hell's Gate, Handshake Deals and 5am have some unleashed punk fury with attacking guitar similar to Wilko Johnson (R.I.P). Bar room rock n roll from a band caught out of time. It's only rock n roll, but hell I like it. 7/10

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