Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Monday 12 June 2023

Reviews: Shakra, Torture Rack, Art Nation, Midnight Swim (Reviews By Matt Bladen & GC)

Shakra - Invincible (AFM Records) [Matt Bladen]

The press release for this album reads a little James Joyce but from what I can gather, this album was inspired by and written during the pandemic and the stop on touring. It’s probably why it’s a bit edgier than previous albums. Shakra survive on touring so now with the ability to take to the stage well and truly back (if you can afford it), they now releas their 13th studio album. Invincible, which is mantra for this long running hard rock act, has more bite, it’s a bit more defiant, a bit more diverse as the Swiss band have had time to play with different styles with some heavier riffs from Thomas Muster (rhythm guitar) and Cyril Montavon (bass), on tracks such as Between The Lines, the inspired solos and lead breaks from Thom Blunier catching my ear immediately. 

The emotive Tell Her That I’m Sorry and As I Lay Down To Sleep drop the pace in the middle of the record, after a few hard rockers, Mark Fox’s vocal doing well to convey the passion in the lyrics. We get back to the bluesy rocking with House Of Rock, Roger Tanner’s steady beat getting the head nodding like it’s a strutting Acca Dacca song, while Walls Of Hate feels more sinister. Shakra are back in business, with another record of songs to play in front of an audience, closing out with the triumphant, Van Halen-like As Long As I’m Alive, it’s not unlucky 13 for Shakra, just hard rock with bags of experience. 7/10

Torture Rack - Primeval Onslaught (20 Buck Spin) [GC]

After a brief break of reviewing the latest death metal releases (1 EP! My break was 1 EP!) here I am again back reviewing the latest death metal release, this one is from highly lauded label 20 Buck Spin, today it’s the latest from Torture Rack, Primeval Onslaught.

Rather than the usual explosion of sound Ceremonial Flesh Feast sort of crawls out and begins to seep and ooze all over you with a fetid and grim sound that is classic Florida-esqe old school death metal, the riffs are fat and full, the drums don’t pummel you but they are just high enough and knuckle draggingly fun so that they really add a more subtle depth to the song and for the first time in ages on a death metal release, I can actually hear the big low end rumble of a bass guitar! 

This is a suitably disgusting start before Decrepit Funeral Home spews forth and has such a scuzzy and downright dirty sounding rhythm you feel like you have been swimming in sewage, nothing here is as fast as you might expect or want it to be but, everything is delivered with a real purpose to make sure that it all hits just right. Forced From The Pit just continues with the filthy sound, and you must really give a lot of credit to the production on this record because it would be so easy for everything to sounds like total shit, but it manages to showcase everything well. 

Mourning Star Massacre is a short sharp almost grindcore type track and it’s a blast of good, stupid fun that leads nicely into Victims Of Inquisitors that carries on with the speedy approach that has been a bit on the back burner so far but before you know it the big groove infused riffs are back and piledriving you into the dirt again and the squealing solos mid song mix in beautifully with some more blasting drums that all make for a thrilling end. Bone Snare is another faster paced song, and it is placed perfectly to mix up the whole scope of the album and again everything hits with such a purpose you just can’t help but applaud. Now onto the best title Fucked By Death which comes in almost like a d-beat hardcore track and then keeps going, it’s like if Discharge did death metal and I am here for it, best title, and best track by far! 

You then almost want Impalement Storm to be more of the same but it’s not its yet another lo-fi and dirty early 90’ death metal sounding track and it feels just a bit tame after what it followed but it’s a decent enough track overall and does have a certain nostalgic feeling to it, Decent To Infernal Chasm is what should have followed as it keeps the pace upped and is a real shot in the arm its full of the now trademark big scuzzy guitars and the drums sound particularly good here and the pace is upped and dropped repeatedly to keep you on your toes and then Rotting Insignificance is another absolutely class track right at the end full of all the best parts of what you expect from Torture Rack and then in just over 25 minutes it’s all over!

You have to say that Torture Rack are certainly not trying to re-invent the death metal wheel here, they have a sound that they know and like and that they stick to, they also wear a lot of their influences on their sleeves, but this all just makes for an absolute blast of an album. Its fun, its dirty, it’s stupid and most importantly its heavy and will make any fan of death metal smile and really what more can you ask for from an album? 8/10

Art Nation - Inception (Frontiers Music Srl) [Matt Bladen]

Premier Scandi melodic rockers Art Nation return with their new album in four years and they haven’t missed a beat; Brutal & Beautiful bursts to life with choppy guitars, a buzzing synth wall backing and the soaring vocals of founder Alexander Strandell are all in place as the classic AOR sounds filter through modern rock/melodic metal elements. 

Recently signed to Frontiers, founding guitarist Christoffer Borg returns on this album and along with bassist Richard Svärd and drummer Alexander Lundgren. The reconciliation between Alexander and Christoffer coming after a lot of hatchet burying and self discovery as Strandell admits that when Borg left the band they weren’t the same. Inception is a record that is classic Art Nation, Borg’s return making it sound like that modern classic debut Revolution in 2015, that saw them explode onto the Scandi melodic rock scene, but full of the new modern touches Strandell has brought in since then. 

Tracks such as the bouncy Echo and Break Up (which has chorus that sound like One Direction) are just slick modern melodic rock efforts while the soloing on Light The Fire makes you pleased that Borg is back. I wasn’t too keen on Art Nation’s 2019 album but Inception feels like a triumphant rebirth as the band that had so much potential and skill. With the machine of Frontiers behind them, it won’t be long until Art Nation start to creep up the bill at gigs and festivals. Reformed, refocussed and recharged, Inception gets the Art Nation engine roaring again. 8/10

Midnight Swim - Into The Night (Self Released) [GC]

Recently I have reviewed A LOT of death/extreme metal and I feel like sometimes its good to cast the net far from what you are used to and cleanse the pallet slightly, so with that in mind today I have decided to go for the complete opposite of what I would normally review and picked up the new EP form Midnight Swim, Into The Night, I will of course do my best to not be a complete dickhead when reviewing this obviously can’t promise anything!

Usually, things I listen to instantly kick off and smash your face in without much warning, obviously there is none of that here! Tastes Like Summer almost politely introduces us to some simmering echoey guitars mixed with a slightly too sugary for me vocal line but there is a nice clean big chorus that reminds me a bit of New Found Glory in their Coming Home era mixed with a bit of The Goo Goo Dolls and there is a nice melody running throughout, its all very inoffensive and not sure who it would be aimed at but having said that I don’t hate it, but I also don’t really like it?! 

Take Me Home sounds like one of those mid album Nickelback tracks that sometimes get released as a single and you hear it and kind of just shrug, again its all nice enough but just not sure there enough to really keep people interested as its all very samey all the from start to finish, this is probably why I don’t listen to this sort of stuff, I feel like I am already being a bit unfair but it is what it is! Chemical is up next and this time they strip everything right down and lead with a vocal line that doesn’t sound as bad as I first said, and it builds up to a nice crescendo that drops in and out of the stripped back sound and the big choruses and keeps a good pace throughout and is actually a very decent song that wouldn’t sound out of place on a summer playlist. 

On A Night Like This continues on with the stripped back sound and adds in a layer of atmosphere and REALLY now reminds me of New Found Glory but mixed with a bit of The Killers, again all very safe and un-challenging influences and despite what I have said there must be an audience for this type of music somewhere, it’s just not me! And then One Track Mind fully confirms this point and actually makes me feel a bit sick, its all just now too sugary and summery for me, I cant deny they know how to write a nice song that I’m sure Mid-West American college students would like (I have found that elusive audience) but I just cant deal with it anymore, but there is still one final track and Run once again just sort of is there and doesn’t really offend me or make me pay attention, its all summery and shimmering guitars with the dialled back verse that then give you a nice chorus and cut and paste until song is over and so is the EP, thankfully.

Ok, look I mentioned at the start of this that this is not usually for me, I don’t mind stuff that’s not full on extreme and my playlist can vouch for that although I wouldn’t include Midnight Swim on my playlist I can imagine that people would hear this and enjoy it, its fine, non-offensive radio rock that has some decent parts and some not so decent parts. I can also say that usually I would have given up on this sort of thing, but it had something that made me willing to give it a chance, so there’s that, I guess! 5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment