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Wednesday 27 September 2023

Reviews: Tides Of Sulfur, Of Virtue, Terra Builder, Z-Machine (Reviews By Matt Bladen & Danika Ulrich)

Tides Of Sulfur – Apathy Chasm (APF Records) [Matt Bladen]

South Wales most aggressive, unflinching, righteous band return with their new full length Apathy Chasm. Released again on the magnet for all things heavy APF Tides Of Sulfur deliver more audio battery where the most extreme fringes of music are brought together in a cacophony of ear piercing feedback and headache inducing distortion. 

The trio of Chris (bass/vocals) Snake (guitar/vocals) and Tom (drums), have be sniping at injustice, the lurch to the right on the previous records, and they do so here measuring that with lyrics about depression, existential dread and the search for meaning in a relentlessly cruel world. The music then has to be more cruel, louder, more dissonant than the influences they have lyrically, their use of grind, sludge and blackened death is the audio equivalent of a buzzsaw on a concrete block. 

The biting riffs of Anthony "Snake" O'Shea, harsh and noisy, the idea of 'clean' guitars almost abhorrent, though there a flashes of melody beneath the wall of noise. Chris Bull's anguished screams are shouts into the unforgiving void as they explore their own Apathy Chasm from their experiences of the last four years. Chris' bass reverberates with low frequency fuzz, it's filthy and aggressive in unison with Tom Lee's cripplingly loud cannon fire drumming.

With Anxiety Veteran they set the tone of bleak, dissonance, the sludge crawl of Ruined following things up as if drawn from the bowels of the underworld, the gears shifting to the hardcore rage of Downhill. The heaviness of Summer Of Snakes is beyond compared as the ferocity of Blame Thrower eviscerates everything in its path. Another slab of South Wales nastiness, abetted by APF Records, they may as well moves down this way as it seems our green peaks and valleys are gray and threatening. 9/10

Of Virtue - Omen (Arising Empire) [Danika Ulrich]

No band is more aware of the necessity of growth and development to adapt and survive than Of Virtue. Evolution of sound and progression is a constant to make it in the modern metalcore scene. Metalcore can take many different forms and Of Virtue like to focus on the melodic side. As a matter of fact, they occasionally border on pop music.

The albums opening track, Hypocrite, reminds me of classic nu metal with a touch of synths added to their brand of sound. Sober is a metalcore ballad, if that's even a thing. It is a wonder to behold. The shortest track but it also happens to be one of the strongest. A.N.X.I.E.T.Y. is a fierce song that is possibly the album's most angry track. 

However, even amid the chaos there are instances of calm brought on by bursts of melody. In True Colors, the vocals are primarily tortured and pained as the pace picks up. One of the albums catchier songs is Sinner. It leans more toward pop but the powerful riffs negate that. Cannibals is a memorable track with a chorus that will undoubtedly stick in my head. It has some of the stand out riffs of the album.

Melodic components serve to stir up the aggression that comes naturally with the style of music. In addition to metalcore there are ambient elements, clean and fuzzy vocals, memorable choruses and industrial style riffs are mixed in. The album has a core oozing with sullen guitars and an affinity for multidimensional vocals. The band combines an expansive taste for the melodic, memorable, and beautiful. 

In order to produce music that is absolutely their own, Of Virtue clearly drew inspiration from several genres and styles. As a result, they have established a diverse and captivating album. 9/10.

Terra Builder - Solar Temple (Transcending Obscurity Records) [Danika Ulrich]

The death grind onslaught of Terra Builder is aggressive and catchy. They are also being creative with it by adding black metal and sludge influences. Albums like this are hard to come by when you consider its their debut.

The opening track End Of Orbit is immediately impactful with a deathly barrage. The music is unrelentingly savage. The violent chugs of Interplanetary Portal ripped through my ears. Abyss borders on atmospheric black metal in spite of the fact their main objective seems to be dissonant destruction.

Death grind groups frequently suffer from being frustratingly one dimensional however, Terra Builder are prepared to advance the genre. Solar Temple has been created to serve as a monument to creativity, variety, and most importantly the unrestrained, instinctual violence needed to achieve it. 

The albums atmosphere is viscerally enticing, contagious, and frightful. The group has an intriguing death grind sound that leans more toward the dark side than extreme brutality.

They have some heavy riffs that kind of resemble sludgy doom with a touch of death metal. Along with the ominous tone of the song structures, the vocals and guitar soloing are two features that distinguish this band. A fearsome blaze rages inside Solar Temple. Every chord is filled with unrepentant animosity. 

The German quintet starts out strong on their debut album.This album was made to tear the listener apart. 8/10.

Z Machine – Merging Worlds (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

Rob Harrison is a former member of South Wales psych proggers Attercorpus (who actually only released their debut, twice, after they split up), he's a saxophone player and flautist, on new band Z-Machine he joins with guitarists Owen Rosser and Gareth Piper from death metal band Extinction for some instrumental jazz fusion/prog that owes inflyence to King Crimson, Gong, Ozric Tentacles and to really throw it back Brand X or Frank Zappa. 

No vocals are no problem as it's Harrison's sax and flute that take that lead role, the guitars intertwining, cleaner and more fluid that on the two axe men's last band. They recruited Kristian Reese on bass, a gifted bass player is the cornerstone of any prog outfit, as is a killer drummer that role filled by Lester Greenhalgh who has the jazz chops needed to play the off kilter rhythms needed for this crossover style. 

Written over three years, their tracks have been honed at festivals such as Glastonbury Psychefest, Kozfest and others, the experimental nature of jazz fusion meaning that I assume these 'final' versions that feature here will evolve much more when played live. So what is Merging World like? Well if you like any of the bands I've mentioned then you'll be in your elements as the little interludes, split up the proper tracks such as Bonus ErputusMyrtle The Turtle and Joining The Q, to pick a few. 

Each song brings something new, keeping a familiarity in sound but not always in style. Throwing back to a niche style thats on the cusp of the rocksphere, Z Machine are happenin' man. 8/10

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