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Friday, 2 December 2022

Reviews: Star Circus, Burnt Out Wreck, Doubtsower, Sonus Mortis (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Star Circus - Separate Sides (Diamond Formation Music)

David Winkler is a very experienced musician, playing with rock and pop bands for a long time as a hired gun he's brought all of this experience and his passion for poppier rock bands such as Cheap Trick, Badfinger and Def Leppard in to his band Star Circus. His songwriting has caught the attention of many but most notably Radio One Rock Show producer Tony Wilson, who sat behind the desk for Separate Sides, Ade Emsley (Iron Maiden/Alison Moyet/The Treatment) handles the mastering, but for me the mix of this record does let it down a bit. I know that it's probably supposed to sound vintage, like vinyl but I found it all a little muffled, as it's Winkler's vocals that are the most prominent thing. 

Still much like Cats In Space the mix of theatrical rock from the likes of Queen and Def Leppard with the pop touches of bands like ELO and Cheap Trick make for a joyous listen for the most part. Winkler provides the vocals, guitars, keys and bass but has a cavalcade of musicians on this record playing additional guitars, bass, keys, percussion and a big backing choir too. Sticking mainly to the 70's Just Like In A Movie brings Lizzy to Bowie, Circles gets a bit of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, A Couple More Years brings a big whack of Cheap Trick but we do stray into the 80's with Times Get Tough plus the power ballads On Your Side and Before The Song Is Over

Definitely moving more toward pop than rock sometimes, I feel there needs to be a bit more polish in the production to really make more of an impact, still it's a fun listen. 7/10

Burnt Out Wreck - Stand And Fight (Burnt Out Wreckords)

AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Nazareth, three bands that are the cornerstone of dirty pub rock n roll. Well over their last two albums Scots Burnt Out Wreck have been have been flying the flag for this no frills rock for a while now. Frontman Gary Moat made his bones in NWOBHM act Heavy Pettin' but with Burnt Out Wreck he has taken influence from the bands mentioned at the beginning of this review. Having taken a darker route on their previous record, they change again on Stand And Fight, with a defiant, retrospective, upbeat set of lyrics. 

The grit of Moat's voice still carrying that cheeky, wry delivery of Bon Scott, especially on the title track which tells you to "kick 'em in the balls". The band is rounded out by Alex Carmichael (bass), Paul Gray (drums) and new guitarist Richard Upson (Andy McLaughlin also joins them live), all of them retaining the sound of High Voltage or Dirty Deeds, raw and ready, filthy and flirty. 

With a 12 bar sway on I'm A Loser to the close a record that leans heavily on the blues and the strutting guitar sound of Acca Dacca, while Lion has the fast vocal delivery of Angry Anderson, More Than Anything though has the driving sound of Nazareth. Stand And Fight is a record that leans heavily on its influences but with a solid set of pub rockers it'll get you duck walking in no time. 7/10

Doubtsower - The Endless Shadow Of Despicable Power (UBAii)

Doubtsower is the project of Matt Stangis the bass player for Cardiff based atmospheric doomsters Pantheist and also released electronic/darkwave under the name Kyam. Doubtsower though has more in common with Pantheist as it is Stangis' solo doom project, The Endless Shadow Of Despicable Power being the second album. It builds on what he created on the debut LP retaining the DIY ethic he had on the first record. Completely self recorded/produced/performed this is the definition of a solo record. What Matt has also done with this album is record it so it feels like the album format of old, you can hear how it sequenced that it has a Side A and Side B. 

Clocking in at over 13 minutes Plastic Trail To The Gaping End, is a kick off that an album like this needs, built around the core of doom metal but with some post metal shimmers and experimental parts that keep it form being hits one note. As well as doom there's a lot more on show here Inhumed Legacy maintaining the post metal influence with repeating main groove and layered clean guitars. Doubtsower tries to fuse electronic ambiance with metal aesthetic and does it well, keeping the recordings organic without using many of the modern tricks other bands use. 

As Inhumed Legacy fades off into static, the gloom descends on Trajectory, an instrumental opening built on scintillating guitars, before the industrial throb and death metal vocals close it out. Monument To Hypocrisy really highlights the experimentalism too as it starts off as stoner/doom before shifting into dark industrial electronica at the end. Closing out with the slow sludgy title track The Endless Shadow Of Despicable Power is a one man project that feels like a fully formed band, two albums in and this is doom for those that enjoy a multitude of influences. No doubts to sow here just fertile fields of heavy music. 8/10

Sonus Mortis – Collapse The Mountain (Self Released)

Collapse The Mountain is the sixth album from one man band Sonus Mortis. It’s another showcase of Kevin Byrne’s ability as a multi-instrumentalist, having been the bassist of Valediction, he has really displayed an aptitude in all facets of the extreme metal sphere with Sonus Mortis, this sixth album being no exception. Sonus Mortis sits in the same kind of symphonic approach as bands like Septicflesh, Hypocrisy and even Dimmu Borgir on the black metal styled Faoi Thalamh. 

The strong orchestrations swelling the death/doom metal riffs as Byrne lays down plenty of ear splitting riffs and technically gifted solos. It’s a very impressive that everything on this record is done by just one man as it is much broader in sound than many D.I.Y projects. Now Byrne is quite prolific, but he has got quality over quantity, each of his albums are usually a tight 40 minutes of impressive extreme metal and Collapse The Mountain is no different, with brutally short death blasts such as Traumatic Amputation and Rat Race Ritual, expansive aggression on the blackened death of Reveal The Arteries And Attach The Leeches and the excellently progressive title track. Collapse The Mountain is another strong record from Kevin Byrne symphonic, blackened, death, doom, call it what you will, it’s a grand listen. 8/10

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