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Monday 12 June 2023

Reviews: Y&T, The Bleeding, Rise To The Sky, Sicksense (Reviews By Rich Piva, Erick Willand, Paul Scoble & Zak Skane)

Y&T - Yesterday And Today Live: Expanded Edition (Metal Blade Records) [Rich Piva]

Y&T is by far one of the most underrated bands in rock, ever. I put them right there with the also criminally underrated Zebra. I especially love the early to mid-eighties stuff, which is how I first got into the band, unfortunately late, in the early nineties, with the 81-85 collection. The three-album streak of EarthshakerBlack Tiger, and Mean Streak is as good of a trifecta that you can get. 

The band is also killer live, which is why I was so excited to get a remastered and expanded release of Yesterday And Today Live. This was recorded as the band’s swan song as the idea was to break up after the tour was done, but we know how that goes with rock bands who try to walk away, and we are better for it that they did not. The new repress released by Metal Blade is the original album, remastered (awesomely) and added two bonus tracks which make this the definitive Y&T live record. Don’t ask me what about Summertime Girls? You will be fine without it, as this record has everything you need from their discography back from the very early days before they shortened their moniker.

You get all the hits played with the extra edge the band brings live. HurricaneBlack TigerMidnight In Tokyo, and Mean Streak are all represented here. Luckily for all of us my favorite Y&T track is added as one of the bonus tracks, the awesome Rescue MeEarth Shaker is the other bonus track, and it is a very worthy inclusion indeed. Beautiful Dreamer from the debut Yesterday And Today record is revved up and heavier and is one of my favorite tracks on Live. You even get something from the more AOR/Glam side of the band with Don’t Stop Runnin’

Overall, you get fifteen of the best songs from the band, a setlist that no fan of the band would walk away from disappointed. I am so happy this is getting a new life, as Y&T is a band more people should know and love, especially live. An amazing set that sounds even better now, and the edition of the bonus tracks makes this mandatory for any fan of the band. Y&T rules and so does this. If you have not heard the band before this is not a bad place to start. 9/10

The Bleeding - Monokrator (Redefining Darkness Records) [Erick Willand]

These UK Death Thrashers have been around at least since 2013 with a solid EP drop titled Death Eternal, they then went silent for a few and came back in 2017 with Rites Of Absolution and a fresh new logo design. Rites Of Absolution was the first time they came under my all seeing gaze and have stayed there ever since, growing with 2019s Morbid Prophecy followed by an EP with some remixes and live tracks called Rise Into Nothing in 2021.

Now comes the new full length Monkrator and this beast hits the ground at full speed. Opening riff assault Chemical Lobotomy starts with no intro (a plus) and it’s like standing too close to a formula 1 track. It’s refreshing and Chainsaw Deathcult keeps this full tilt speed going with added cool chorus, mild slow bit for some growls, a good bridge, a manic laugh and fulltilt again. I am in, not going to lie. Mutation Chamber is layered in classic Thrash-isms, from swinging riffage to vocal delivery, what I call ‘fun thrash’ for the lyrics and mosh-pit potential. 

Union Of Horror starts off with my fav riff on this album so far and rages into a ruckus anthem type thrasher with a wicked fun “We Will Rise!” chorus and I smell a live crowd favorite right here. Screams Of Torment is yet another solid ripper and keeps the fun chorus thing going, has a great crunchy riff valley in the middle with some growled out lyrics, this builds back up nicely and saves the song, which still stuffers just a touch for length.

On Wings Of Tribulation heralds the album's last three songs and even on an album as fast and aggressive as this, this track is urgent in a different way. Title track Monokrator peels face skin off within seconds and does not disappoint for one second, delivering a blistering attack equipped with memorable riffs and great chorus shout-a-longs topped off with attention focusing leads. Not slowing a single bit, final assault track Throes Of Repulsion gives no quarter even here at the end. The listener is rewarded for the full listen with what is probably the best vocal performance of the album, the scream at like 2:36 followed by “Cover your eyes!” is chilling in all the right ways.

The Bleeding are good, no doubt but don’t break any new ground here, it’s new but also familiar. This album is speed for the sake of a ‘Death Thrash’ good time and I admit I dig the hell out of this kind of fun, fast and catchy stuff. Big huge riffs, ripping vocals and with the extra added flavor of cover art by Juanjo Castellano that just really seals the deal for me. All fun and speed considered The Bleeding land at 9/10      

Rise To The Sky - Two Years Of Grief (Meuse Music Records/Tragedy Productions) [Paul Scoble]

Rise To The Sky is a one man project of Chilean Sergio González Catalán, which began in 2019. In that time Sergio has been incredibly prolific, releasing Rise To The Sky’s first album Moonlight in 2019 the same year he founded the project, and another album; Death Will Not Keep Us Apart, a year later. One year later Sergio released the bands third album with 2021’s Let Me Drown With You

In 2021 Sergio’s Father died, and Sergio started a run of 4 albums that relate to and and were inspired by this tragedy; Per Aspera Ad Astra in 2021, Every Day, A Funeral in 2022, Stay With Me When You’re Gone released later in 2022, and finally this album, Two Years Of Grief. Sergio has said that this is the last album about his fathers death, the birth of his son last year has allowed him to move past his grief, this is shown in the final song on the album From My Blood I Bring You Home.

Sergio is joined on this album by drummer Emidio Alexandre and by Natalia Deprina who provides guest vocals on Two Years Of Grief

The album opens with Funeral For My Home, which has a soft Piano introduction before the huge and deeply melodic death/doom, with a great melody lead that is very sad, comes in. The vocals are harsh throughout the album, they are in a death/doom style, so harsh, but not aggressive or barked. The song builds to mid-paced with bigger drumming, the track then goes into a surprising section for a death/doom band, the song drops into a section of black metal, blast beats and tremolo picked riffs. This section has a depressive black metal feel to it, which is less surprising when you find out that Sergio González Catalán has a depressive black metal side project called Winds Of Tragedy, whose last album came out in February, was reviewed by Musipedia Of Metal (GC wrote the review) and got an eight out of ten. 

After the very good black metal the song goes back to the death/doom style with mid-paced riffs that then give way to slow riffs with a great melody lead as the song comes to an end. Next song Burdened By Grief begins with the same style of blasting black metal before the death/doom returns with some very sombre riffs and even sadder melody leads, lush strings are added making this very beautiful misery. All this beauty couldn’t last too long, the nasty black metal returns to batter the listener, this time the strings are joining in with the riffing. The song batters us till it’s end. 

I Knew That Joy Would Die is a much softer track, still death/doom but the strings are much further forward giving the song a lushness that is very appealing. The song builds in intensity, with the drumming building before a church organ brings the song to an end. Next we get Becoming Flesh And Bone which is slow and sombre death/doom in the first half, and drops us into blasting depressive black metal, using the same melody from the first half of the song as a tremolo picked riff. 

Title track Two Years Of Grief is short and very beautiful. It starts with piano and spoken word, before the incredibly beautiful vocals of Natalia Deprina come in. The second half of the song features soft guitar and layered strings, its very beautiful and extremely affecting. The song Can’t Hide The Pain is all about building intensity from soft death/doom with strings and gentle melodies that remind me a little of Brian Eno, to blasting depressive black metal. the song slowly builds over the course of five minutes from ever so soft to ever so savage. 

The final track of the main album (There is an extra track at the end) is the aforementioned From My Blood I Bring You Home. From My Blood I Bring You Home is a massive fourteen minute epic that features lush strings led death/doom that builds in intensity. The opening sections are very soft and affecting with melodies that, again, remind me a little of Brian Eno. There are several softer sections with just keyboards, before the song starts to get tauter and bigger until it has huge death/doom riffs that are properly heavy. The song comes to an end with church organ. The extra track My Light Dies is a short track featuring strummed clean guitar and clean vocals and in the second half heavier guitars and harsh vocals. 

Two Years Of Grief is a great piece of death/doom. The album is very affecting as it drips melancholy and as the title suggests, Grief. All the musical aspects of this album are very accomplished, and the album has been very well produced as this sound great. However, this album is all about emotion and pain, how this album feels is far more important than any technical accomplishments, and it succeeds there as well, the emotion in this album is real, and you can tell. The pain that is in every single second of this album is real and genuine, and that is why this album works so well. I hope Sergio can move on with his life and come to terms with his fathers death, I’m sure caring for his new Son with help that healing. 8/10

Sicksense – Fools Tomorrow (Sound Escape) [Zak Skane]

From the strike of the bell we are delivered with bouncy baritone voiced riffs that you would expect from any classic band in that genre such as Korn and Coal Chamber but lased with modern harsh vocals and production. Vicky Psarakis swoons from each end of the exotic scale patterns to produce her vocal melodies accompanied with 5th note harmonies whilst trading off the classic rap rock styled verses. In the bridge section we also get to hear the multiple layers of this band as we get to hear some prog sections when the bass and drums share the spot light with intricate bass lines and tom grooves.

Fools Tomorrow brings in riffs straight from Korn's back catalogue whilst also layering some guitar melodies to add some individuality whilst getting some radio friendly choruses from Vicky showing off her excellent range. Invitation starts to rear it cheesy head with it’s stock nu-metal riffs and it’s come at me bro themed lyrics with the only saving grace is the soaring choruses that Vicky provide. Run And Hide does have some redeeming factors with its progy quieter dynamics but with lyrics like whos there, there is a monster inside you…it still has a whiff of stilton. 

Finally the band redeem their musicianship with their closing acoustic track Erase And Rewind with shows off Vicky vocal arrangements along side smooth bluesy guitar solos and heavenly sounding vocal harmonies which brings this five track EP to a pleasant close.

Overall this was a fun listen, there were potential moments such as the proggy sections in the open track Feed Them To The Wolves and the dynamic Run And Hide. Where as the closing track Erase And Rewind strips back the bands sound to the bare essentials, but the copy and paste Korn riffs, rapping and cheesy lyrics especially in tracks like Invitation it can be quite cartoonish. 6/10.

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