Demonstealer - The Propaganda Machine (Black Lion Records) [Paul Scoble]Demonstealer is the solo project and nom-de-plume of Sahil Makhija singer and guitarist with the Indian band Demonic Resurrection. The Propaganda Machine is Demonstealer’s fourth album, the first titled ….And Chaos Will Reign was released in 2008, and their last before The Propaganda Machine was released in 2018 and was called The Last Reptilian Warrior. As this is a solo project Sahil has drafted in a collection of the great, good, and ridiculously talented, from the world of extreme metal.
The music on The Propaganda Machine all fits into a broad death metal style. Some is melodic and filled with tunefulness, some is much faster and more brutal, there is thrashy death metal and a fairly technical feel throughout. The technical feel definitely comes from the lineup that Demonstealer has assembled for this album; the drumming is superb, the solos are mouth-wateringly spectacular and full of verve, energy and melody, the bass is pretty much as impressive as the guitar work and Anabelle Iratni’s keyboards keep everything nicely atmospheric, so the guests are all excelling themselves, and the material they are playing is of a similar quality as the performances.
Opening track The Fear Campaign is a good example of the basic sound; melodic death metal with lots of keyboards to create a wall of sound effect. The verse sections are very fast and battering with harsh vocals, while the chorus has clean singing that works very well, there is a social conscious feel to most of the lyrics on the album (as you can probably tell from the song and album titles). The song has a couple of very good solos and is full of a really great energy.
The Art Of Disinformation is an interesting song, it has a dark and brooding opening, before going into a verse section that initially feels very thrashy, before dropping into some brutal blasting. The chorus has a similar battering quality, and the songs solo is incredibly tuneful and melodic. The albums title track The Propaganda Machine has a brutal and very heavy verse section and a chorus that is almost a singalong, it should feel out of place having two such disparate parts in a song, but Demonstealer have managed to pull it off without it feeling incongruous at all.
The album comes to an end with the song Crushing The Iron Fist, which manages to be blasting but still melodic, the song has a great chorus that gets stuck in your head. It’s a great song that is a fine way to end the album. The Propaganda Machine is a great album. Considering the huge number of different musicians involved the album still feels like a complete whole, nothing feels out of place. The album sounds great, and has some really good performances, but as there are so many amazingly talented guests, this album really lives or dies on the writing, which is great, full of great tunes and is very enjoyable, as is Sahil Makhija’s performances on guitar and vocals. A very good album of (mainly) melodic death metal. 7/10
Empyre - Relentless (Kscope Records) [Matt Bladen]
Well if there's a band who deserve to be signed to Kscope records it's Empyre, favouring more of an arena rock format on their debut album, before adding a some prog to their last record, the global pandemic and other issues meant that this third offering had a much longer gestation period and because of that Relentless is their most progressive, heaviest but also most introspective album yet. Now signed to the home of The Pineapple Thief amongst others, arty, experimental music is the raison d'etre of Kscope and Empyre deliver that in spades.
Relentless is the best album of Empyre's career, their move to Kscope has made them not only a fantastic arena rock band but also one that can bring prog, grunge and alt rock to their music. Empyre are imperious on this third album, rich in emotion and drama, it's listening pleasure. 9/10
Dead Lakes - Daydreamer (Sharp Tone Records) [Mark Young]
Daydreamer is the debut full-length release by Dead Lakes and is possibly something that I never want to expose myself too ever again. If there ever was a release which exposed the gap between the heavy music I grew up on and continue to listen to then this is it. It is likely that I should not be left anywhere near this because I have nothing good to say about it.
Negatives then; It is exactly like a boy band who all play their instruments. The songs just feel as though N-Synch, 5ive etc could have released. You have the strong vocals, the whispered vocals, the rap vocals (auto-tuned?) whilst a barely-there guitar follows a predictable sequence and the whole thing just screams GROWN IN A LAB. There is no heart, it comes across as sterile and I just hate it.
I feel terrible in having to write this as I am sure they are all lovely lads and there will be an audience for this, but it is not me. This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve had to sit through, and I took my kids to watch Little Mix. 4/10