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Thursday 31 August 2023

Reviews: Till The Dirt, Nixil, Masheena, Hurricane (Reviews By Matt Bladen & Rich Piva)

Till The Dirt - Outside The Spiral (Nuclear Blast) [Matt Bladen]

Atheist frontman Kelly Shaefer return with his new project, he set the tone of Till The Dirt with techincal death metal riffs and those phased vocals that move between screams and cleans. The band, comprised of Yoav Ruiz-Feingold (bass) Chris Martin (guitar) Daniel Martinez (guitar) and Anthony "Apollo" Medaglia (drums), employ a progressive type of death metal that keeps you guessing across 46 minutes.

This is debut gets off the ground with Staring Role which has frantic drum blasts from Anthony "Apollo" Medaglia, a machine behind the kit demolishing everything in his path as the rabid screams of Shaefer move into cleans that are more akin to a band such as Mastodon, the track evolving into some Mastodon grooves too. After this brutal with hardcore-esque rapid fire vocals as it reminds me of Voivod, although As It Seems is also similar to Canadian progthrashers. The drumming is intensely techinical throughout as the title track features the fretless bass of Steve DiGiorgio. This track and the next one Privilege both make me think of Nevermore, the latter even featuring Jeff Loomis.

Other guests on this head crushing death record are John Longstreth of Origin on drums for one track and Kyle Sokol of Apeiron Bound on bass for another. There's influences of Atheist yes but with those phased vocals and the progressive elements Till The Dirt is much closer bands like Cynic, Origin and event Strapping Young Lad (Forest Of Because). An interesting record the blends extremity with experimentalism. 7/10

Nixil - From The Wound Spilled Forth Fire (Prosthetic Records) [Matt Bladen]

C (vocals), Key (drums), Aurora (bass), Alden (guitar) and Shane (guitar) make up Baltimore, Maryland black metal band Nixil who's abrasive, groove driven type of black metal influenced by bands such as Rotting Christ and Blut Aus Nord, their songs such as A Door Never Closed embrace various phases of extreme metal, shifting from raw blasting to a groovier style of repeating riffs. They deal with the "oppressive grasp of this rotting society" their ferocious, glacial music used as catharsis from the chaotic world we find ourselves in. 

Collapsing The Poles begins our journey into the extreme, ritualistic chants and incendiary riffs, it all follows on from their debut All Knots Untied, expanding their musical breadth on the shifting rhythms of In Thrall, a song that sounds like a raging inferno, as the title track rumbles, brooding in the low end, switching into blasts of aggression. The long run times are key to creating the atmosphere on this album, the ability to shift tone or speed, is helped immensely by this album being just 6 songs and 43 minutes. From The Wounds Spilled Fourth Fire is a monolith of European extreme metal from this American band. 7/10

Masheena - West Coast Hard Rock (Majestic Mountain Records) [Rich Piva]

An album called West Coast Hard Rock by a band from Norway and that calls out Kiss meets Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and David Coverdale all in their bio (none of which are West Coast Hard Rock interestingly enough) already digs a bit of a hole for itself, because to live up to that is pretty much impossible. This is what Masheena has done right off the bat with their debut record. Is the band talking about the West Coast of Norway, where some of my favorite bands come from, like Kal-El, Audrey Horne, and Sahg? Maybe, but those are also big names to throw out there too. Regardless, I think we will all agree, no matter what band names you throw in the bio, West Coast Hard Rock is a fun little stoner rock record worthy of your time, even if it sounds nothing like any of the bands I listed above.

The album opens with 1979, that has a very cool riff and a nice stoner rock gallop. It doesn’t sound like Kiss or black Sabbath, but this doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a great song, especially with its fun background ahhs during the chorus. Fun! I dig that crazy solo too. Next up, Under The Same Sun is more grunge/AIC/Soundgarden worship than anything else, and I am here for it. There is a catchiness to this track, and I am sure it would have been a radio hit back I the day. Looks Like A Man is more later period grunge stuff, kind of a chilled out slower burn with some cool guitar work but something about the vocals and lyrics on this one is not working for me. 

Brings Me Down is some great stoner goodness, and I dig the echoes on the vocals and the super catchy bridge. More catchiness with Five Seconds Of Fame along with some more cool guitar work and riffs, especially towards the end of the track. Sun Remains is an acoustic ballad type deal, and it is fine, channeling Jar Of Flies, but not as impactful as the legendary tracks on that EP, but I can see what they were going for. Sounds more like Days Of The New than Alice In Chains really. More of the same fun grunge worship closes us out with Remember The Rain and Where Are You Now, which channels Down On The Upside era Soundgarden.

I enjoyed West Coast Hard Rock. Masheena would do themselves a favor if they laid off the name dropping, but the debut record is a fun listen for those who did the 90s grunge sound sprinkled with some nice stoner vibes and riffs. Worth checking out indeed. 7/10

Hurricane - Reconnected (Deko Entertainment) [Rich Piva]

Let’s be honest, the majority of albums that bands from the hard rock/hair metal scene of the 1980s/early 1990’s put out in the 2020s are not very good. Maybe there are a couple of good songs, or the nostalgia of hearing one of your favorite bands from back in the day putting anything new out is enough for a couple of spins. It is likely however the albums have no staying power after those first couple of listens and will remain on the shelf for the rest of their existence. 

There are notable exceptions, especially recently, with the new albums from Skid Row, Extreme, and L.A. Guns. Let’s face it, those are the exception, not the rule. Here I am though, asking the boss a month ahead of time if I can have dibs to review the new album from second tier hair band Hurricane, who I enjoyed as a youngster and still spin their debut Over The Edge every now and then to this day. Well, let’s just say this does not fall into the exception category, as Hurricane’ return, Reconnected, is one of the worst things I have heard all year.

Why, you ask? Three major reasons. First off, why in the world would you cover Under Pressure, taking both vocal parts, and pretty much making me want to crawl out of my skin the two times I felt it was my duty to listen to it. Awful. Second, the lazy re-recording of their best-known song, On To You. It is a great song, but there was zero reason to include a straight ahead, not as good cover of their own song. Never mind the fact that they plopped it in the middle of the album randomly. If you are going to do that, put it as the last track and call it On To You (2023 Version) or something like that. 

You kill the flow of your new album by including an old song right in the middle. Third, the cringiest song of 2023, the title track, which is a true abomination of epic proportions. The less said about it the better. The rest is not that much better, with cheesy (not the good kind) lyrics, weird production that sounds both polished and bad somehow at the same time, and just an uninspired effort all around. The positives, you ask? With this I struggled, but Robert Sarzo’s guitar work was good as expected, but after that not so much. Even the album cover is horrible.

Look, fans of this band may think they like this and that is fine. But to me this was not good. It is not going to stop me from asking for these albums to review moving forward hoping I get something like Extreme’s new one, but for the new Hurricane, Reconnected should have stayed apart. 2/10

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