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Tuesday 7 March 2023

Reviews: Siege Of Power, Death Pill, Venomous Concept, Mur.Doc 104 (Reviews By Matt Bladen & Erick Willand)

Siege Of Power - This Is Tomorrow (Metal Blade Records) [Matt Bladen]

When Chris Reifert (Autopsy), Paul Baayen (Asphyx), Theo van Eekelen (ex-Hail of Bullets),
Bob Bagchus (ex-Asphyx) get together you can expect nastiness. So when Warning Blast dropped as exactly that in 2018 as the four buddies jammed and cranked out dirty death metal, pissed off punk and dirgy doom too, this was the shape of things to come and on This Is Tomorrow they have one thing they didn't on the debut. Intent. 

The intent to be more serious in their songwriting and make a cohesive record that pays homage to their influences in Venom (The Devil's Grasp), Slayer (Sinister Christians) and even going back towards Bathory but with death metal assault all four men are used to, Asphyx, Hail Of Bullets and UK legends Bolt Thrower especially rearing it's slow moving, caterpillar track crushing groove on No Salvation. They've tried to keep the production as raw as they can, that level of roughness adhered to by their influences as well. It means that This Is Tomorrow has slicker songwriting than the debut but feels dirtier, darker with a dystopian retro. 

It's an album that probably needs to be enjoyed on cassette, in an old Ford full of the yellow/orange polystyrene McDonald's packaging as you toke on your buddies bong. The title track shifts from death metal to Sabbathian Doom (tolling bell and rainfall), that epic feel contributing to Ghosts Of Humanity as well. Scavengers is loud and groovy but Zero Containment goes full on death blasting, counteracted by the sludgy, glacial doom of As The World Crumbles

What started out as a jam session between friends has gained momentum and now feels like a fully fledged band with a collective vision. I'll be interested to see where they go from here, wherever it is in sure it'll be vicious. 8/10

Death Pill - Death Pill (New Heavy Sounds) [Erick Willand]

Death Pill is an all woman 3 piece power punk rage machine hailing from Ukraine, so there’s a bit of anger and urgency here, understandably. Combining elements of different punk movements and maybe even a touch of Thrash to spew forth a fast little self titled stomper sure to produce some nasty and very sloppy mosh pits.

First track Dirty Rotten Youth is indeed a proper banger of a song, good build up leading into a ripping little riff and some raw, sore throat vocals like a witch casting a spell in some deep dark urban sprawl. And no mercy is given here as Rotten Youth slides head first into Miss Revolt with its quick angry jab to the face of noise and no apologies Riot Grrrl vibe. Die For Vietnam opens with a very competent drum beat into the first example of some ‘clean’ signing. This song clearly got a fair amount of work put into it as the song structure and musicianship on display just feels like a step up in skill from the two opening tracks. No idea what it’s about though…

Apyr is sung in Ukrainian so I have no idea what’s going on but the song itself is a blast. Punchy and fierce, it's quick and powerful as it should be. It’s A Joke is a pointed little jab that I suspect is aimed at someone the band knows personally and not in a good way. Song starts off with some sounds of walking that escalates into many boots running, it’s a cool effect. Go Your Way feels like it ties in with It’s A Joke but again, I’m just guessing here. 

This track sports the best drum lines and the biggest moshy thrash bits yet, I’d mosh to this. It also has the most aggressive vocal delivery yet, raw and completely in your face in the best Punk Rawk way. Speaking of Thrashy bits Kill The Traitors is a thrash song make no mistake, like a forgotten hymn from the late 80’s you can feel the young urgency and straight out anger. Safe to say this song was born of current events and I believe track 8 is the same even though the song title and lyrics are all in Ukrainian the band is clearly angry and with good cause.

Closing track Would You Marry Me is the only weird inconsistent spot on this album and I suspect it’s either a cover or a joke song, the whole vibe and vocal delivery is…off. Overall though this is a short punchy little album with a lot of heart, fun and Riot Grrrl vibes. The songs are well placed and crafted, not one runs too long. I wasn’t bored at all, which if you haven’t guessed is how I judge most things. Anyway, the cover art is a comic book style punk girl with a bloody switchblade and is dangerous yet also somehow classic, I dig it. 6/10

Venomous Concept - The Good Ship Lollipop (Decibel Records) [Erick Willand]

This Venomous Concept has gone through some changes since Politics Versus The Erection back in 2020. Replacing a few band members which all hail from a list of bands, and though Napalm Death is at the top of that list, don't expect blast beats and short songs, this is grown-up post-punk done quick and catchy by a crew that clearly knows what they’re doing. Lets jump aboard this ship and see where it’s sailing too.

First track is the title track and I have to respect that, it’s straightforward and to the point, no goofing around. Opening with a strange little clip I think comes from an old TV show the song wastes no time getting into it. Punching and urgent with a fun gang chorus. I dig it and it ended up in my playlist at first listen. Timeline is faster and more aggressive with some really fun guitar work and a crash heavy video that carries right over to Slack Jaw which opens with some sick guitar peels that clearly live in the same neighbourhood as Timeline. I can’t help but sing along with this one too. 

Pig has a great beat and gets your head moving quickly and keeps it moving with just a touch of early GWAR I kid you not, also another good chorus sing along. Clinical feels like a radio song, the only track so far that just doesn’t have the same punch as the other songs. Like the teeth are missing from this one. Fractured brings back a bit of the bite but adds some pop melody and clean vocals that almost have an 80’s kind of vibe.

Voices is the 7th track and clearly marks the midpoint here as the vibe of this song leans more hardcore gang sing along and would play well to a crowd into karate move mosh pits. Next track So Sick confirms this theory with all the aggression held over from the first half of this album packed into this short jab of angry punk energy. Then Flowers Bloom comes in with some real rock swagger and an interesting guitar and vocal shift that make this track stick out, and with added easy chorus this track wins for repeatability and memory hook. 

Humble Crow is a fast driving song that would have fit much better if it had been placed before Flowers Bloom and that goes for Can’t Lose as well. Quick punchy punk tracks that should have been placed closer to the middle of the album with the other quick punchy tracks. As a result the last two tracks here, Everything Is Endlessness and Life’s Winter almost feel left out and clearly share a closer vibe and tone to Flowers Bloom or The Good Ship Lollipop.

All told, The Good Ship Lollipop is an enjoyable little trip down a semi-paved post-punk/punk-rawk road marked by quick, catchy songs with just enough hooks to land a few choruses in your brain's memory bin. A reshuffling of these songs would have made this a stronger album since some of these songs just do not flow well back to back. I would also have rethought the album cover as the lollipop with a weird face on it is creepy for sure, it feels like an interior idea and not a cover piece. 6/10

Mur.Doc 104 - The Undying (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

Maltese Thrashers Mur.Doc 104 cute their influences as the second wave of American thrash with Exodus, Death Angel and Forbidden mentioned a lot. To me these have always been the most interesting bands in the thrash seen so I was keen to hear whether Mur.Doc 104 would impress me more than other thrash bands (a genre I struggle with). 

Founded back in 2015 The Undying is their debut EP, the five piece having played a lot of gigs and released a couple of singles before then. This experience punctures the idea of it being a debut album as it's just their first release, but the songs have been honed to be snarling, shit kicking thrashers that bring groove on tracks such as Ignorant Masses and the final offering Thrashing The Boat which stomps.

Luke Debono's vocals are in the vein of Steve Souza or Bobby Blitz while the riffs are nasty and have a retro production style that adds authenticity. If gnarly second wave thrash is your thing then you'd do well to check out these Maltese metalheads. 7/10

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