Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Thursday 7 September 2023

Reviews: Sylosis, Kvelertak, The Flower Kings, Pomegranate Tiger (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Sylosis – A Sign Of Things To Come (Nuclear Blast)

There’s a reason why I love Sylosis, it’s the same reason why I love their American contemporaries Trivium who were formed a year before them. These were the bands that I first discovered by myself when I got into heavy music. Not bands from my parents or older friends, these bands that came from metalcore but added thrash, death and classic heavy metal together always caught my ear and brought me my love of harsh vocals (having never cared for them before). So whenever there is a new Sylosis album (or a new Trivium album) I’m always very excited. 

Even more so when said album, throws back to recapture that enthusiasm and directness of that early 2000’s sound. This is exactly what Sylosis main man has done on A Sign Of Things To Come, never being a band to shy away from a longer song format, here he has deliberately tried to write the shortest and most concise Sylosis album of their career. Consider it job done as A Sign Of Things To Come balances the technical savagery of their last couple of records, with the maturity of band able to write a track such as the emotional Thorns and the passion for playing that’s on their debut.

You can make Trivium comparisons all day long as both bands share similarities and influences, though the influence is extremely strong on Eye For And Eye and Judas, this sixth album wears it’s influences proudly and channels them through the expansive songwrtiing of Middleton, peeling off thrash, death and sludge riffs alongside Alex Bailey, this duo carving up each track with ease, from the crushing cinematics of A Godless Throne, to the thrash feast of Deadwood (a killer opener) and moving onto all styles of heavy music in between, this duo are one of the UK’s brightest axe duo. 

Though not to be outdone Ali Richardson is a monster behind the kit, exploding like gunfire on the death metal blasting of Poison For The Lost and Sylosis wouldn’t be half as heavy without the bottom end of Conor Marshall, he keeps the pace fast on the chugging Descent and leads those breakdowns in Judas. As it’s their sixth album and 23 year, you’d expect slickness and it’s here in droves, locked down tighter than New Zealand during a pandemic, the foursome are untethered from the opening shredfest of Deadwood, Josh’s vocals at their apex both with his diverse growls/roars but also his cleans. 

Co-produced with Scott Atkins (Amon Amarth/Cradle Of Filth) it sounds colossal, the sludge stomp of the title track hammering your ear drums with the influence of Slipknot, carried over into Pariahs too. The gothic atmospheres of Absent, slows the breakneck pace before Eye For An Eye brings it back, with huge choruses added. A Sign Of Things To Come is Sylosis coming of age, buoyed by the inability to tour their last album they have created 10, streamlined, show ready, slices of heavy. Staking their claim as the kings of British Metal. 9/10

Kvelertak – Endling (Rise Records/Petroleum Records)
2020’s Splid was a turning point for Norway’s premier (maybe only) blackened punk metal band, critically acclaimed and well received it was an album that dealt with folklore and legend. Something which Norway has in abundance. On Endling, they have continued this exploration, delving into as guitarist Vidar Landa sums up “the stories of the extinct and dying men and women of Norway”. Always a raging ball of energy live, Kvelertak are almost always able to convey this live assault on record, biting punk riffs, classic rock grooves and squawked black metal vocals the triumvirate to what makes them so unique in the scene. 

Endling opens with the first single Krøterveg Te Helvete, the discordant tremolo guitar opening that builds into a repeating drumbeat, feedback coming through the speakers as if the band were live in your living room, the slow build, notching up the tension. It can do this because its 8 minutes long so if you don’t like drama or pathos with your music then you’ll want to get to about 3 minutes in where the fur really begins to fly and we’re brought into some hyper-speed Status Quo riffs and that wild and reckless punk attitude. 

It’s a wild opener that will pull you back into the musical conundrum that is Kvelertak, Fedrekult however is more straightforward with black metal blast beats brought in between the stomping groove, the bluesy stoner riffs of Likvoke rounding out three distinct changes in sound on just the first three tracks. But this is what Kvelertak have always been able to do, vary things enough to keep you guessing and interested while retaining the atmosphere of a party. 

Endling is an album that you’ll want to throw yourself around to, but if you look deeper you’ll find songs about some, bewitching folklore and historical legends of their native land. That is of course if you speak Norwegian, but I urge you to try to work out what these songs are about as there’s more than just the Scandinavian history you see on TV or in movies. 

Back to the music and Motsols is storming biker rock, Skonggangr more thundering stoner. Døgeniktens Kvad which shifts between black metal and hardcore, the distinctive classic rock vein strong even on the skate punk of the title track, the only time things calm is on the beginning of Svart September which is awash with acoustics as the fuzzy punk of a band like The Hives then cuts in. 

They have managed to bookend the album with another near 8 minute song which twists and turns through heavy riffs, punk and rock trappings. Kvelertak have defined themselves as sort of their own genre, with a couple of bands following in their mixed up footsteps, Endling shows that the originals are still the best. 8/10

The Flower Kings – Look At You Now (Inside Out Music)

Sixteen studio albums is a milestone for any band, but it could be seen as hardly trying for prog bands, they either seem to be ridiculously prolific or they release a new album ever decade. Swedes The Flower Kings are the former, bandleader Roine Stolt is also part of Transatlantic, The Sea Within and is a former member of Kaipa and The Tangent, singer Hasse Fröberg has his own group too called Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion. So as well as releasing 16 The Flower Kings records they have plenty more under their collective belts. Stolt however is made for The Flower Kings, it’s very much his baby, combining all the elements of classic prog rock you could want, they are now highly respected in the prog scene. Not bad for a band started as a touring band for Stolt’s third solo record. 

Anyway enough about the history and on to Look A You Now, again it’s a cinematic journey through 70’s prog/psych inspired by the Canterbury scene with soundscapes torn from the songbooks of from Yes, Genesis (Gabriel-era), King Crimson and Gentle Giant, approached without fear of experimentation, jazz, funk and blues, each song layered symphonically, for a rich sound. Take a track such as Scars which leans heavily on keys and screaming guitar leads, behind it there’s choirs and tubular bells which remind me of Frank Zappa’s crossover shenanigans. 

The multiple vocal, bassist Michael Stolt gets in on the act, means yet more layers to unravel, the complex arrangements stuffed into songs between 3 and 7 minutes which is not long for progressive rock, vocally Iamthemorning singer Marjana Semkina add her ethereal tones too. Only the final title track goes above 7 minutes as a 12 minute finale, but it’s worth it. In fact due to the sequencing, the record feels like one long song, segueing between all the different varieties of musical experimentation. If you’ve been in the court of The Flower Kings you’ll know what to expect, if you haven’t then get ready for a progressive journey. 8/10

Pomegranate Tiger – All Input Is Error (Self Released)

Pomegranate Tiger is the nom-de-plume of Martin Andres, multi-instrumentalist and virtuoso musician who arrived on the prog scene in 2010. By 2013 he was on everybody’s lips with his impressive songwriting and playing skills, utilising the instrumental style of bands such Intervals, Chimp Spanner and Plini, to create whole expansive worlds, breaking boundaries with instrumental music and being held in high regard with progressive music fans.

After this he released another solo record that again displayed his incredible talent, in 2016 Pomegranate Tiger was put on hold, Martin joining Oni as a guitarist and collaborating as a producer with several artists, though he never really moved away from the progsphere. As with any first loves they will always live long in the memory, so after 8 years the tiger roars again. Andres returning with his man Friday, Matt Shaheen who plays additional guitar and co-produces.

All Input Is Error is a meditation on A.I, D.N.A Sequencning and robotics, how all three learn from eachother and become more and more reliant on the others. These intelligent subjects are explored through advanced polyrhythms (The Cryptographer), electronic breaks (The Great Filter), intricate lead breaks (Poison Pen) and virtuoso compositions that manage to tell a story without the nead for vocals, the masterful playing at every corner.

I'm not a guitar buff so I can't really go into detail about how things are played or what tone is used etc but what I can say is that instrumental bands often fall a little flat for me, but I was engaged in All Input Is Error from the outset the links to A.I really hitting home as the collusion between human talent and technological enhancement is very pronounced. A welcome return for Pomegranate Tiger. 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment