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Friday 29 September 2023

Reviews: Wolves In The Throne Room, The Hirsch Effekt, Annisokay, Rocky's Pride & Joy (Reviews By GC, Matt Bladen, Zak Skane & Rich Piva)

Wolves In The Throne Room - Crypt Of Ancestral Knowledge (Relapse Records) [GC]

Its not very often I choose to review the newest black metal releases for a few reasons, to start with there are people on our team who know much more about it than I do and are therefore better placed to review it, I never know if the band I am reviewing are Nazi scumbags and its always in the back of my mind when listening which is distracting and finally I have the attention span of a small child so 8 minute songs are usually off limits for me! Having said that Wolves In The Throne Room are black metal royalty and haven’t released anything poor in 20 years and as far as I know they aren’t Nazi’s so today I will take my chances!!

It all begins with the swooping, symphonic and majestic fury of Beholden To Clan which engulfs you in a dark cloud of atmospheric and epic guitars and as mentioned the keys add another huge swathe of grandeur to proceedings, the vocals also really stand out in the mix which really helps to complete the songs huge feel and the production is top notch and not one piece of the jigsaw is missing sound wise, and the mid-section of this song is filled with a haunting beauty you wouldn’t get anywhere else, stunning stuff to start with. 

Twin Mouthed Spring continues with the huge sound and is a cascading wall of brooding beauty which then throws in a majestic acoustic section which adds more drama when combined with the eerie atmospherics created and once again lets the vocals really breathe and take a front seat to really stand out and push everything forward with strength and power, W.I.T.T.R are not here to mess about or talk about Satan or burning churches, they are here to grab your attention with stories about sacred kings and Celtic mythology and trust me the way this sounds I’m listening! 

Initiates Of The White Hart takes on an altogether different direction and gone are the usual buzzsaw guitars and thunderous drums, these are replaced by more beautiful acoustics and the atmospherics now take the lead and both combine to create an enthralling industrial tinged sound where you can just close your eyes and drift away, to say that this is soul stirring would be an understatement and it gave me goosebumps from start to finish, complete perfection. 

Crown Of Stone is the final work of art on this masterpiece of an EP and once more its full of dark ambience and rich sounds that are as haunting as they are horrifying usually this sort of thing would have me throwing my arms up in the air and complaining about what a waste of time it is, not here it’s a suitably bleak but also utterly majestic end to what is easily the best EP you will hear this year. Yes, I said it.

As you may have already guessed I fucking loved this and if you don’t then you really need to sit down and have a long think about your life! There is not one part of this EP that can be criticized apart from the fact its only an EP, its everything you could want, its majestic, bleak, heavy, thoughtful, epic and many many other things. I mentioned at the start that I don’t usually review black metal releases although I have done a few in my time here and I can say now that this is easily the best one I have done so far! If this isn’t in your EP of the year type lists, I can’t help you. Utterly Breathtaking stuff. 10/10

The Hirsch Effekt - Urian (Long Branch Records) [Matt Bladen]

As the djent sound has evolved from its beginnings the use of ambiance has become paramount and on Urian by The Hirsch Effekt the usage of electronic atmospheres and whispered German makes for evocative soundscapes that split up the dense techincal metal, driven by chunky riffs and some virtuoso bass playing. 

Building on a haunting beginning Otus, brings the first instances of technical modern metal, funk-like grooves and clean vocals while 2054 adds some industrial mechincal riffing and screaming. A duality of what The Hirsch Effekt bring to the table, the ferocious heaviness moving into more other worldy textures as it breaks down into blasting speed sections. The title of this album is the name of the uninvited guest and that undesirable ominous quality is obvious as 2054 turns into the death metal brutality of the title track. 

The dystopian themes expressed in direct heaviness, where organs are used to bring extra drama, the conceptual nature of their previous album done away with meaning that these 8 tracks are more loosely connected but still feel coherent and more importantly, potent with the band cranking out their most diverse selection of songs yet. The frantic switches in tone and genre coming from the influences of mathcore and band such as Dillinger Escape Plan. Like bands such as Vola and even Opeth they use their native tongue too, the German lyrics Stegodon bringing a euphoria to the chorus. 

Nils Wittrock (vocals/guitar), Ilja John Lappin (bass/vocals) and Moritz Schmidt (drums) are all multi-instrumentalists, which is why there is such a breadth of music fetaured on Urian. Socially broad, virtuosic modern metal music that has full dynamic range. 8/10

Annisokay - Abyss Pt.1 (Arising Empire) [Zak Skane]

As soon as we descend into the opening track Into The Abyss, the track greets us with swelling atmospheric swirls, haunting pianos and cinematic drops that introduces us to complementing guitars and the bands first vocal lines which trade off from melodic choruses and throat trearing harsh vocals. Human infuses industrial pulsating chugging rhythms that have come straight of Rammstein and modern Architects play book. 

Whilst the clean vocals soar and catch us into a nostalgic trip to help us reminisce on greats like Dead by April and 30 Seconds To Mars, the guitars keep us in the present with some doom slayer riffage. Ultraviolet provided some ultra catchiness with it’s ear worming synth lines, pop charting soaring choruses whilst also featuring rap sections and venomous harsh vocals. Throne Of The Sunset brings deep naughty grooving riffs, pounding cinematic percussion, whilst Calamity channels Bad Omens vibes with its 80’s synth in fused pop and it’s face punching hardrock meets metalcore energy. This is carried on to their closing track Time, which provides us the farewell gift of pulsating synth rhythms, dance styled breakbeats and arena filled choruses. 

This EP contains all of the right ingredients that make a decent modern metal album, it’s got rip and tearing low tuned guitar chugging riffs, the industrial pulses generated by cinematic post production, throbbing synths and even transitioning harsh and vocals. Even though these elements have been mixed to perfection, but, when you compare it other bands that have perfected this style before them like Bring Me the Horizon, Bad Omens and The Word Alive this type of style does really break the mould. 6/10

Rocky's Pride and Joy - All The Colours Of Darkness (Electric Valley Records) [Rich Piva]

Traditional Australian doom. Yup, this is one of my new favorite things. My love affair started back in May of this year with the killer debut album from Melbourne’s Oceanlord. Now, after a few demos and singles, we have the debut from Adelaide’s Rocky's Pride And Joy, brought to us by the excellent Electric Valley Records. Where Oceanlord plays a traditional doom vibe, a bit cleaner and with atmosphere, Rocky's Pride And Joy brings the dirt and grime. The best word that I can come up with for eight tracks on All The Colours Of Darkness is filthy. Filthy doom, and I am here for it.

What do I mean by filthy doom? Everything from the riffs to the vocals screams unclean in the best kind of way. Take the opening Sabbath worship riff of Red Altar and partner it with those evil female vocals and you will know exactly what I am talking about. RP&J bring the riffs all day and all night, layered on top of the vocals and lyrics the conjure all type of unholy beings. Revenge is up next, with a slow, plodding pace and another filthy riff, you can see where All The Colours Of Darkness is heading. You want dirty? How about a song called So Said The Roach? Somehow the riff is grosser (in the best way) that the song’s namesake. 

Crawl brings some comparisons to The Crooked Whispers for me, without the demon from hell vocals but instead a demon succubus and her siren song. The second half of All The Colours Of Darkness is as filthy as the first, lead by the very cool Tunnel Vision and the next level evil acoustic ditty Lucifer’s LullabyYour Hell has another great doom riff and is the least filthy and catchiest song (comparably) on the record. Pure Evil closes us out and it is just that. This is the riff that nightmares make. I love the guitar tone and production on this album, it works perfectly for all the songs like it does for the closer

Australian doom is a thing, and I am all about it. Bring me more of the evil from down under. Be it the sea inspired atmospheric doom of Oceanlord or the ultimate underneath vibes of Rocky's Pride And Joy. If you like riffs, if you like occult flavored doom, if you like your metal a bit filthy, All The Colours Of Darkness is for you. 8/10

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