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Wednesday 7 June 2023

Reviews: George Gakis, Horizon's End, Distorted Force, Darklon (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

George Gakis - Parallel Dimensions (ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records)

If there was an equivalent I'd say that George Gakis is the Greek version of David Coverdale, an aging rocker who formed The Troublemakers in 1993 to emulate the blues based, melodic rock stylings of Whitesnake, Aerosmith along with 90's rockers such as Winger and our own Thunder. In fact Kip lends his mixing and mastering talents to this fifth album.

Despite it only being his fifth, the band are very experienced having played many, many gigs throughout Greece as well as supporting Scorpions in the past. Because of Kip's work and the entire style of Gakis' music the record sounds slick and Americanised, it's got Frontiers written all over it but Rock Of Angels know a thing or two about the melodic rock scene. Alongside George is Bob Saganas on all guitars and basses, while Sotiris Gakis is behind the drumkit as The Troublemakers celebrate 30 years on this album.

On the slinky Nightmare Dreamer there's some special guest harmonica from Sokratis Kiridis, making it the most Whitesnake sounding track here, Gakis' vocals rough and whiskey hued born out of the blues and showing it here. Elsewhere there's some harder rock on the title track which is full of screaming guitars, the strutting I Love To Kiss Your Love, while My Daddy Said brings more blues and Dancing With Your Demons gets the boogie going. George Gakis' album is a melodic blues rock feast for fans of any of the bands mentioned at the beginning of the review. 8/10

Horizon's End - The Great Destroyer (Steel Gallery Records)

Greek prog metal veterans return with their fourth album The Great Destroyer, a sprawling epic that's deals with the over arching theme of war, and how it effects the non combatants especially children. Something that is ever present in the media at the moment it's hard hitting and extremely topical, the snippets of media coverage quite affecting especially after the last two tracks 8 minute Voices From The Sea and 12 minute Postcards From War.

The mastermind behind this Thessaloniki based band is Sakis Bandis, the keyboardist writes the music and produced the record too so really it's his baby. The remaining members of the band all put in a heck of shift, the guitars of Kosta Vreto have some excellent interplay with Bandis, the melodic elements covered by both men while Stergios Kourou (drums) and Kostas Scandalis (bass) steer the often long, complex rhythms. Vocally Vasilios Topalides is emotional and expressive weaving the lyrical content over the music, he's joined by Theoharis from Hail Spirit Noir on Voices From The Sea.

Cinematic and dramatic tracks such as The Trail Of Notes or Another War both bring this element while Catalyst Of Fear and Nightmares both are more traditional progressive metal, Horizon's Edge doing both very well. On this fourth album the band have produced their best music, so fans of progressive metal will love it. 8/10

Distorted Force - Angelic Bloodshed (Soman Records)

Founded in Thessaloniki in 2008, Angelic Bloodshed is the seventh studio album from progressive metal band Distorted Force. A drama fuelled, progressive metal album where theatrical performances, quirky vocals and odd time signatures blend into extreme metal performances that bring to mind Paradise Lost jamming with Dream Theater, or the style of Enslaved. 

Knowingly avoiding linear songwriting the music they compose is bloody odd, a little jarring but they are definitely virtuosos at what they do. Here the piano is just as important as the guitars, the rhythm section have a life of their own. Tracks such as Light & Stone use liturgies to add atmosphere ready for the growled vocal performance as the song breaks into bass and drum driven sections that mean this track is an engaging listen, though let down a little by the production that leaves the bass sounding like a digital blip. On Achérondas they bring more jazz percussion while Machine takes on industrial metal though the medium of Slayer as Hellbroth which brings power metal and much much more on it's 14 minute runtime. 

Then there's the quirkiest moment of the whole record which is the spoken word/piano piece composed by Natasa Delivoria called Clouds leading into the final movement Approaching Event Horizon. Angelic Bloodshed is not an easy album to listen to but once you get into it, there's moments of magic. 7/10

Darklon - The Redeemer (No Remorse Records)

Heavy power metal from Greece featuring the current vocalist of US power metal veterans Omen Nikos Migus A. Darklon are very much in the US power metal vein owing much to bands such as Omen and Jag Panzer. When I say US power metal I mean the type that is much tougher than a lot of the European side. D.K. Krasonis' guitars are more distorted and muscular waivering on thrash at times (I Am Death) but bassist Savvas Glikis and drummer Sevan Barsam. 

From the swaggering Lamashtu's Claws, to the speed metal Iron Glory and to the mid paced chug of The Downfall, The Redeemer is exactly the sort of album you think it is. Gruff vocals (a little like Chris Jericho's), heavy bass and lots of tasty riffs, this is a Greek band doing US Power Metal, which may sound weird. 

However festivals such as Up The Hammers, a NWOBHM/Trad Metal festival in Athens, shows that there is a lot of call for this style in their home country. (Just look at the No Remorse roster if you don't believe me). Hopefully they'll cross over into a wider audience. 7/10

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