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Tuesday 7 March 2023

Reviews: Enemy Of Reality, Thy Darkened Shade, Ecollapse, WiderSin (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Enemy Of Reality - Where Truth May Lie (Vinyl Store.Gr)

The highly anticipated third album from Greek symphonic metal band Enemy Of Reality is another concept album that is based on a fictional story (unlike the historical one from the last album) of a priest in Ancient Greece, and the loss of faith and trying to rediscover what the answers are. This involves Satyrs and their belief that real truth is not religious but can be found in music, dance, wine and pleasures of the flesh. (Sounds like a good time!). To really hit home with these Ancient Greek themes they have utilised Pontic and Cretan lyras, and avlos (Greek wind instrument).

The cinematic quality of their music has always been the major factor in why Enemy Of Reality have been universally applauded, and also why they seem to be in a class of their own when there are so many bands in the symphonic realm that sound alike. Frontwoman Iliana Tsakiraki is a wonderful singer, her soprano voice in that soaring Tarja/Simone Simmons style from the glorious early days of the symphonic metal genre. Obviously her classical training makes for a well rounded performance so she is album to slot in perfectly at all times, from the heavier end of the scale with Downfall, and the thrashy Baptised In Fire to songs like At The Edge Of Madness which are more folksy.

The orchestrations used brilliantly on the tumultuous Serenade Of Death, which also has lots of electronics, traditional instruments growled vocals and a guitar solo too from Steelianos Amoiridis (he goes on to have plenty of those). Serenade Of Death and it's follow up Ever Lusting, signal an increase in the melancholy and the wickedness, the riffs getting heavier, the orchestrations more dramatic and the bottom end turned up to 11, Philip Stone's drumming formidable linking in with the durable bass of Thanos, their robust bottom end directing tracks such as Long Forgotten and the groove-driven Goat-Legged Deceiver

Where Truth May Lie has been a long time coming but Enemy Of Reality, much like collaborators Septicflesh, are in a league of their own when it comes to symphonic metal, this is the proof of their might. 9/10   

Thy Darkened Shade - Liber Lvcifer II: Mahapralaya (World Terror Commitee)

In the very expansive world of black metal there are bands that will you know nothing about and after one listen will want to dive into everything they have ever done. For me Liber Lvcifer II: Mahapralaya is one of those albums, when the opening bars of Luciftias hit me with technically precise instrumentation of bands like Archspire, intense guitar workouts that melt fretboards and minds with their complexity, the bass playing to intricate and progressive, it's even more impressive when you consider that the guitars and bass are just one person, Semjaza, along with vocalist The A, they make up the core duo of this band. 

They manage to stay firmly in the black metal sound despite this virtuosity with the guitars as the drumming of session sticksman HG, believes in blastbeats and nothing but blastbeats, though with tracks such as Typhonian Temple, he shows impressive restraint that comes from the doom realms. Similar to the Satanic atmospheric, symphonic, choral black metal of Emperor (choirs by guest Herc) or their countrymen Rotting Christ and Acrimonious., Thy Darkened Shade are part of the Hellenic black metal scene but unlike so many bands they truly believe in their subject matter, their lyrics based on "Gnosticism, Spirituality, Occultism, Anti-Cosmic Satanism" so the this belief translates into authentic worship of all things occult.

The album is a follow up to their last studio album 2014's Liber Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet and it's an improvement in all respects, not a huge leap as by going back you see that Thy Darkened Shade have been riding this train of technicality since the early 2000's, but on this third full length they have fully realised their potential. From the raging mechanical Sacrosanct Pyre to the slithering evil of Sathanastasis and the atmospheric build of Qelippot EpiphanyLiber Lvcifer II: Mahapralaya wowed me from the first listen and kept doing so time after time. Black metal that is this good deserves your time. 9/10

Ecollapse – Dying With The Wolves (Self Released)

The third album from Ecollapse has been in the works since their 2016 record Humanity, as this one had a long gestation period it has meant this death/thrash/groove metal band have been able to write the most aggressive but most melodic release yet. Much of the aggression coming from new singer John Seviloglou’s guttural growls, he sounds a lot like Bolt Thrower man Karl WIllerts or John Tardy here especially on the slow, steady grinders such as L.A.D or Cassandra’s Dream.

Coming from Kozani in North West Greece (not far from where my wife is from), this foursome use their angry, heavy, technical music to play songs inspired by war, modern life and existentialism. The production of the album lets you hear how the band have managed to expand their soundscapes with acoustic guitars (Our Wine), keys/piano pieces (title track) and intricate basslines that are used as lead instrument on tracks such as Leviathan and The Rise, The Fall, the guitar so often the rhythm, until a solo comes out on the thrashier tracks such as Evil Empire.

Having had multiple members and various shifts in genre, Dying With The Wolves is the most complete Ecollapse album yet, it grabs you by the collar and ragdolls you around with the persistent riffs of Many Soldiers and Bloodless Skin. With Lamb Of God, Kreator and Obituary all influences on their style Ecollapse have followed up their previous record with their most consistent one, hopefully the line up changes and experimentation will stop and they can continue to play this style of riffage for a while. 7/10

WiderSin - Lost In Gray (Self Released)

Remember those final Queensryche albums with Geoff Tate? Dedicated To Chaos and Frequency Unknown (I'm counting that as Queensryche). The ones where the musical style varied widely, even using horns and electronic instruments? Yeah well it seems that Athens based WiderSin have gone fore something similar on Lost In Gray. With numerous genres covered from gothic rock on Into The Light, riff fests on Cross The Line, psych grunge on 1000 Passwords and blues on Stone it's all over the place, like Geoff Tate trying to be Bowie. 

This sounds like a criticism but isn't as WiderSin play all the styles with conviction and lots of musical prowess, the guitar playing is a highlight and their singer has a wide range like one Mr Tate, so it means that even when the songs are a little one dimensional (Martyrs) your attention is kept. It could have been a failed experiment like the Seattle bands tumultuous period, but WiderSin manages to keep the rock alive, no matter what style they play. 7/10 

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