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Friday 30 June 2023

Reviews: Throw The Fight, Raven, None, Death Ray Vision (Reviews By GC, Matt Bladen, Mark Young & Joe Guatieri)

Throw The Fight - Strangeworld (Long Branch Records) [GC]

Post hardcore? What does that even mean? It’s a genre that confuses me as I never know what I am going to get from a band when I listen to them which is maybe a good thing as there are no preconceived ideas of what it should sound like? I say all this as Throw The Fight are described as post hardcore and I have their new album Strangeworld to review today. Time to open my mind and see what we have!

We are introduced to opener Cover Your Tracks with a big chunky riff that then dives straight into an up tempo and urgent song that is full of more chunky down tuned guitars that crush and soothe in equal measure, there is the now seemingly standard electronic sound that so many bands are using at the minute and the vocals here, are slightly to high pitched for my liking but not enough to ruin anything! Obey isn’t too different, it starts with the biff chunky riff and then drops down into a muted verse that lets the vocals take center stage and carry the song forward well as they don’t seem as high pitched this time and there is a nice beatdown chucked in towards the end. 

Lost Without You is an ambient and stripped back song that creates a different feeling and of course it does include the ‘heavy’ bit but for my money I feel they shouldn’t have included it as the song was good enough without it and it just seems a bit forced, Sorry, Not Sorry seems to follow the same path as previously and I kind of get the feeling that most of the songs are going to follow the same path now, quiet/loud/quiet/chuck in riff or beatdown, repeat, end of song, which is fine and they do it well for the most part but I feel that it may get a bit tedious towards the end!? Hourglass then shuts me up and aims straight for the throat and is as full on as you they have been so far its fast paced, urgent and gets the blood pumping, great song and just in time! 

Shadow Self then sort of sounds like if Linkin Park down tuned a few steps and I’m not mad at it, it is clear now that Throw The Fight have a knack for creating big earworm songs that while don’t blow you away you get the feeling that you will be going back to them and re-listening a few times. Lost In The Lies is another familiar sounding song structure wise once again full of big riffs and the band themselves create a glorious sound that has grown on me more as the album has gone on. The next 2 tracks Snake Mountain and Wake Up are both re-recordings of previous tracks and both are in general the same style as what we have had on the album, both are as familiar sounding as you would expect which shows that they have been at a good level throughout their time as a band and they end the release on a high note.

On the whole I really enjoyed Strangeworld, while it doesn’t break any boundaries or push you out of your comfort zone, it sounds familiar and is an enjoyable listen that thankfully doesn’t actually ever get tedious like I thought I might. On future releases it might be a good idea to expand the sound and try to be heavier because I feel it’s there but it’s just being held back slightly, but this is obviously coming from someone who is an extreme metal fan so it would be unlikely they would ever scratch my heavy itch fully. If you take a chance on this and really take the time to listen to it, I feel you will get a lot from it and really enjoy it. 7/10 

Raven – All Hell’s Breaking Loose (Silver Lining Music) [Matt Bladen]

The Gallagher brothers (no not those ones) return with more ‘Athletic Metal’ now I know this is an outdated reference but many of the long term Raven fans will get it. Raven have always been at the faster end of the NWOBHM, edging towards speed and thrash metal, unleashing frantic riffs that would have inspired many Bay Area teenager to throw down their tennis racket and get behind the drum set, or something. Yes Raven are a band that can be considered to be pioneers, from the tough streets of Newcastle John and Mark Gallagher trade off with each other with Mark on guitar and John on bass and shouting, this 15th album full of visceral thrash-inspiring songs that are best played at full volume. 

Screaming guitars, raging bass and some brilliant drumming from Mike Heller make for a breathless beginning as Medieval and Surf The Tsunami are certain to get the blood pumping. The riffs shifting and changing shape with every moment, the bass of John digging in on Turn Of The Screw. All Hell’s Breaking Loose is packed with as much heavy metal as it can be, pioneers of the thrash metal scene, the longevity of Raven is astounding and they sound vital here, nearly 50 years into their career, with only really a four year hiatus back in the early 2000’s, they are a testament to respect metal fans have for these that have inspired some of the perhaps more popular bands around. 

Perhaps not as athletic as they used to be on stage, their songs such as The Far Side, Desperate Measures and Edge Of A Nightmare will be inciting pits, left right and centre when they come to tour again. All Hell’s Breaking Loose with Raven so watch out! 8/10

None - Inevitable (Hypnotic Dirge Records) [Mark Young]

And the last one for this week, brings us None with Inevitable, their latest long player that represents their fourth full length effort since 2017. Their approach is to simply devastate with atmospheric and depressive black metal, which wasn’t on my bingo card for reviews this late in the year. Digging a little deeper, there is two members, both listed as Anonymous, and this latest offering has been likened to the final stage of grief and from the outset you can immediately see why they would say this. Each of the songs is lengthy, with the shortest My Gift running at 6 minutes.

Never Came Home starts with a building guitar part that barely registers for the first two minutes or so. Just this piece is haunting, and softly done until it comes in properly with that black metal overload of guitar and drums that seems to have been squeezed together to provide a wall of sound. The main part is that guitar line that started it off, that is the focus here and it anchors the whole thing. This is certainly dark in its feel and rises to a euphoric climax, dropping back to an almost muted melody line.

This is certainly a great start, and they continue with Alone, Where I Can See. This starts on the front foot, but with a controlled almost ponderous riff that favours the buzz saw sound in lieu of the clear melody lines from Never... as they just choke the life out any light that may have come from track one. This one conjures up the blackest period of mourning, of the bone deep pain that is associated with that and with just these first two songs they absolutely nail the atmospheric but cold approach. It also shows that they are not afraid to make the music that they feel representative of who they are, and the ending section here shows that in spades.

However, as A Reason To Be continues this depressive journey there starts to be a bit of fatigue setting in. This one comes out on the attack, but in an almost similar measure as Alone, and has just enough sonic differences to make this a companion piece (of sorts) to that track. I’m not sure if that was intended, but the melodies and attack are almost the same. This is not to say its poor, but with this music there has to be something that grabs you constantly, especially if the run time is 10 minutes plus. My Gift barely registered with me, this is an almost silent, whispered track that seemed to go nowhere and ultimately really put the brakes on proceedings and puts pressure on the last two songs to build something to make it all worthwhile.

Locked, Empty Room starts with a piece of melody that just doesn’t go anywhere and just hangs there, plodding away to its end. Its mournful and at the same time fits in so well with the overall feel of the album, especially with the spoken word at the end but it feels as though it is an idea stretched too far and by the time that Rest chimes in with the admittedly beautiful chords and arrangement, I’m somewhat done in. But something exceptional happens and the song just explodes with a wall of sound – distortion vs melody with the black metal delivery sat on top, pulling it together with a slow, measured percussion that grows until there is a stripped back refrain which makes way for a more urgent attack, not in speed but in approach. This is built for emotional pay off and you can imagine the release of writing and then recording this piece, the effect it would have on them.

Going down the full honesty route, my musical taste sits more on that brighter side (of death) as opposed to the full blackness that is presented here. Personally, I think they could have done without the instrumental and there was a drop in momentum that sapped me and made it a slog to get to the end. The songs are haunting, and beautifully put together but are aimed for consumption within a very specific genre. For me, its not one I would necessarily dip my toes into again. 6/10

Death Ray Vision - No Mercy From Electric Eyes [Joe Guatieri]

Discovering that Death Ray Vision’s new album, No Mercy From Electric Eyes features artists from high-profile Metalcore bands like Mike D’Antonio of Killswitch Engage filled me with pretty high expectations. I expected something with a lot of force behind it but unfortunately that’s not what I got.

The instrumental performances are well-played, especially in the drums which provide a sense of hyper-activity. The fast and frantic verses accompanied with solos and the odd breakdown keeps things from becoming too stale. However by the time I was five tracks in deep, I found myself losing patience with the same few ideas happening again and again.

I really enjoy the introduction to Reaper (track 4) for example, briefly using a lead guitar that sounds very Eastern influenced within its tone. A device which could have meant so much more if the song was built around it, but it just feels like a one and done sort of thing - refusing to take the ball and running with it.

My main point of criticism for the record is with the vocals. This band member is very new, only joining this year so it feels like they weren't involved much in the songwriting process. Therefore, the final product suffers from a lack of cohesion and direction as a result.

Overall, there are only a handful of moments that I really enjoyed with a formula that only stretches out so far. With time, things can potentially expand and become more concrete and fleshed out, making for a more complete experience and the vocalist can find their place within that. I’m underwhelmed by No Mercy From Electric Eyes. 4/10.

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