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Wednesday 14 June 2023

Reviews: Twilight Road, Project: Roenwolfe, Verletzen, False Memories (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Twilight Road - Trapped (Cherry Red Records)

Dario Mollo is a man who has been there and done that. The Italian guitarist/producer has been playing since the early 80's as the founder of heavy metal band Crossbones. His more recent projects though have all been collaborations the most well known being three albums with Tony Martin (Black Sabbath) in The Cage, he's also had three albums with Voodoo Hill featuring Glenn Hughes and one with EZoo which had Graham Bonnet behind the mic. So it's another Mollo record another singer, this time Nazareth/Persian Risk screamer Carl Sentance.

Firstly it's great to hear Sentance's voice singing heavy rock/metal again, his last solo record was not particularly inspiring to me so to have him singing over some heavy rock fills me with joy. Secondly you always have an idea what you'll be getting on a Dario Mollo record as he hasn't really changed up his approach since the 80's. Like with much of Mollo's records he adapts the music to suit the voice and if say that Twilight Road is more like Voodoo Hill with Glenn Hughes, a tonne of funky riffs (Dark Angel), some huge organs and obviously Mollo's killer guitar playing.

It means that the album is full of Deep Purple (MK III) hallmarks on God Is Red. The duo even doing a cover of my favourite Purple song Perfect Strangers (which I know is the MK II Reunion), which they do nothing new with other than just keep it to the original. After this brief foray into a cover, Madonna is draped in the blues of Gary Moore and evolves into Empty Mirror a guitar driven instrumental, the hard rock roaring back towards the end of the album on Shooter's Paradise and Behind The Mask. Another strong collab from Dario Mollo, bringing out the best in Sentance. 7/10

Project: Roenwolfe - Project: Roenwolfe (Syrup Moose Records)

Project: Roenwolfe is a band with a message. Proudly Anti-Fascist and support all oppressed people. These beliefs are used as part of their conceptual Sci-Fi story devised by singer Patrick Parris. When transgender empowerment/liberation anthem Boundless begins the first thing you notice is that this albums sounds HUGE, the production of Michael Goodrich means that from the first track you can hear that this is an album that attempts to have the same epic style as bands such as Blind Guardian on Saturnus Augmentum but instead of fantasy lyrics theirs are sociopolitical, similar perhaps to Iced Earth but on the otherside of the political spectrum.

Honor The LineTheater Of Sorrow and Pearls Before Swine are all diatribes on Capitalism, while Pre-Existential Crisis is about the state of American healthcare. The music is all written by guitarist Alicia Cordisco, there are science fiction elements on Kyromid, while Saturnus Augmentum is the third part of their ongoing sci-fi saga. Cordisco's guitar playing is brilliant, virtuoso leads, acoustic interludes and thrashy rhythmn playing in unison with the impressive bass of Leona Hayward on the thrashfest of Pearls Before Swine, the influence of Nevermore very strong with Lux Edwards (Soulmass) adding death growls to Parris' powerful cleans.

Ernie Topran's drums gallop and blast as we criss-cross between thrash and power metal as Acea Lashley's special guest solos soar over the brilliant riffage and keys/synths/samples of Michael Goodrich. Featuring members of Transgressive, Theocracy, and Judicator, Project: Roenwolfe have delivered more gifted, impressive heavy power metal on their third album. 8/10

Verletzen – The Blackened Crusade (Marwolaeth Records)

Taken from the German “to injure” Verletzen are a black metal band based in South Wales formed in 2016. The Blackened Crusade is their debut full length after a demo and an EP. The trio of Nazgul (vocals/guitars), Azog (bass) and Demetae (drums), play raw and ravaged black metal, influenced by the Nordic second wave, this album features 10 frostbitten blasts of from the forests of South Wales. 

Like with a lot of black metal the production is very D.I.Y, the drums sounding like they are back-masked on In Cold Crypts and Dwelling Of The Black Mist, the lower end sounding ok but the snare sound is a bit weird. The bass meanwhile is really high in the mix, overwhelming the guitars and bass. The guitars of course are distorted to hell and feature rapid tremolo picking, vocally it’s the standard shrieks and screams. 

Split by the two Tudor-styled Invocation interludes, the album is certainly paced pretty well, though without a huge amount of variation. The title track adds a bit of mood and atmosphere before Grimmog continues the violence. If the Nordic noises of Darkthrone, Burzum and Mayhem, make you want to burn down a church then Verletzen will inspire the same furore. Check them out at the M2TM South Wales Semi Finals this weekend. 7/10

False Memories - Hybrid Ego System (Frontiers Music)

Gothic, dark metal from Italy now as False Memories bring a familiar style forged by Lacuna Coil before them Hybrid Ego System is the third album (second on Frontiers) by guitarist/producer Francesco Savino and vocalist Rossella Moscatello, again featuring drummer Emanuele Cossu, guitarist Moreno Palmisano, and adding bassist Davide Tavecchia. 

As well as Lacuna Coil there's also Evanescence and Nightwish, former Nightwish vocalist Annette Olzon duetting with Rossella on first song The Storm Inside, it's a dramatic opening gambit that is a little slow but as we get to Holding On, the riffs are heavier and the dual vocal style of Rossella is used well. Hybrid Ego System indulges in goth textures deeply with electronics rippling through The Other Side and strings on Rise Again, there's also plenty of prog for tracks such as Concrete and From Dust

The problem with this album is that the majority of the songs are ballads or slow paced so it drags from about the 5th song. It meant for me that Hybrid Ego System didn't really hit as hard as it could have, leaving a sort of gothic malaise without any deviation. 6/10

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