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Thursday 23 March 2023

Reviews: Harboured, Embryo, L'ira Del Baccano, Words That Burn (Reviews By Mark Young & Matt Bladen)

Harboured - Harboured (Lost Future Records) [Mark Young]

This is the self-titled debut from Harboured, with the component parts coming together from other bands. This 4-piece promise a dense mix of metal-core, black metal served up with an almost progressive feel.

First up is Anterior which builds with synths, drums and subtle chants exploding into metal bombast. Its similar in sound to maybe Rolo Tomassi but with a heavier edge as it almost sets up the following track. Impermanent Cell has that urgent pace to it as vocals are barked as drums whip up until they decide to stop almost dead and promptly put the brakes on any momentum they have built. This quiet middle section then comes back to life as expected and it is this almost reliance on quick/slow/faster song structure we have heard so many times before and I hate it. if you are going to do this, make it interesting, do something new.

Thy Own Destroyer changes tack slightly, with the softer introduction, with the drummer working hard to keep that interest going until they light the blue touch paper prior to slowing that pace. With this one, they have found their range as it combines some nifty guitar passages that keep you going with it. It rises to an anthemic end, from whispered speech to the metal-core barks that preceded it. On this they convey a ton of emotion as the guitar is synced perfectly to it. This is a great track. Atlas To Fall segues in with furious riffing, drumming again trying to fill all available space without being over the top. Again, this is a top-notch track, built with a groove that will be awesome live. This is maintained and augmented by synths which really fill their sound further.

Far Barren is the longest track here and after a slightly meandering intro, this one burns, tremolo picking, blast beats and some almighty chugs. It’s full of rage and violent intent and I love it. It’s fantastic that they have this ability to put this together in a way that is exciting for the listener. There is the slow, quiet piece but I can forgive them here as it is giving space to each instrument. This is a testament to Cierra White who pounds the absolute shit out of the kit. Everything is on fire with this one as it screeches to its end.

Final track, The View has an almost melancholic feel to it as there is a slow build with soft chants underpinning it as that gives over blast beats and pummelling guitars and then it is all over. So, for a first release it is a strong effort from them. I said that the slow break in Impermanent Cell was something that I am (personally sick of) but other than that they don’t put a foot wrong. It is an almost fully formed monster and the triple threat of Thy Own Destroyer, Atlas To Fall and Far Barren are three of the best songs I’ve heard within this genre. Live they will be unstoppable, and it points to an incredibly bright future for them. 7/10
Embryo - A Vivid Shade On Misery (Rockshots Records) [Mark Young]

For this, their 5th album they enlisted the considerable talents George Kollias to keep the beat, and he brings that certain something to elevate the band around him and as you might expect they come out blasting with pride and waste no time in announcing that this a straight up attack, with all the necessary armoury you want – growls, double bass, and guitar battering. This is just continued into Highest Fame, which has enough twists and turns to keep it from just being another speed fest. Background keys play counter with an almost familiar passage that reminds me of 80s sci-fi (V, for those interested). So far this is good stuff with each of the tracks pitched with just the right run length to avoid repetition and fatigue.

The Seed Of Lividity has that classic gallop riff running through it and is just pure class. There are moments of melody here and these are welcomed to keep it fresh. MMDC slows down a touch whilst there are some drum acrobatics going on. It sounds like despite the song titles, there is an element of ‘Lets have some fun with this, let’s make this the best we can’ and its clear from first listen that they want you to join in. Guitar/drums are in total sync, lead breaks fit the songs without being overblown and are just well measured. Medusa comes across like classic melo-death from Sweden with that just above mid-tempo pace that allows the drums to fly as it starts to take off during the middle before throttling back and jumping into Vanitas which has a similar pace and structure, which is fine as it sets up Concrete Visionary to close us out at a great speed.

What I love about it is that it is unashamed death metal that sounds like it is straight from Scandinavia, these guys are from Italy and with this they are more than holding their own against bands from that part of Europe. It sounds as it should, with each instrument balanced and present. If having George K on drums is a temporary thing, then they will need a similar level of talent to keep them going when performing live. The whole album has that urgent energy which is just perfect. Any negatives are that its doesn’t offer anything new (for me) in terms of melodic death metal, but it comes out as fresh in that there is no slow third track which has been a staple on music I’ve heard recently. They have set out to kick you about for a while and succeeded. 7/10

L'ira Del Baccano - Cosmic Evoked Potentials (Subsound Records)

In these often turbulent times, there's periods where an album such as Cosmic Evoked Potentials really hits home. Billed as doomdelic instrumental space prog rock, this Italian band are a spaceship to far out galaxys many lightyears from here. Sabbath jamming with Hawkwind on the drugs provided by the The Grateful Dead and visuals from pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd.

Existential, extraterrestrial journey through the cyclic nature of existence, recorded in an old mansion as live as possible Cosmic Evoked Potentials is a jam session committed to reaching into the astral plane. Luca Primo's bass and Sandro Salvi's drums are the driving force to songs from The Strange Dream Of My Old Sun to Eclipse Omega as the jazz inflections are met with doom metal power. 

The guitars of Alessandro Santori and Roberto Malerba atmospheric, reverbed and echoed, the synths/keys as well needed to really express the mood on these instrumental explorations. If bands like Astra, Diagonal or Caravan and of course Soft Machine tickle your third eye then these Italians are a psych doom rock delight. 7/10

Words That Burn - Cut Throat Culture (Blood Blast Distribution/Believe Digital)

It's been done by hundreds of bands before them but there's something about the melodic metalcore assault of Words That Burn that endear me to them. 

Inspired by bands such as Parkway Drive and Architects but still holding on to the heft of those bands early years, this Irish band utilise the quiet/loud dynamics, an alt-metal groove and lots of fizzing electronics (The Cavalry Ain't Coming). Produced by Josh Schroeder who has tackled Lorna Shore and King 810, Cut Throat Culture rages against despair and crisis, the blood curdling screams and fast, chunky riffs, frothing with anger as they move into breakdowns that'll make you want to smash your possessions. 

However Words That Burn can also do the otherside, clean reverb guitars, crooning vocals and plenty of melodic choruses that will have you singing along. A track such as Sirens has a radio friendly thump to it, while the melodic sound comes through well on the choral backed You're On Your Own. Shifting away from just the metalcore of yore, like so many bands, Words That Burn are preparing themselves for the future. 7/10

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