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Monday 2 October 2023

Reviews: Blackbriar, 3Teeth, Diamond Dogs, Rippingdexd (Reviews By Matt Bladen, GC, Rich Piva & Mark Young)

Blackbriar - A Dark Euphony (Nuclear Blast) [Matt Bladen]

The second album from Dutch band Blackbriar is in collaboration with Joost van den Broek, for those who don’t know he’s a keyboardist and orchestrator who was a member of After Forever and is a member of Ayreon/Arjen projects. With Broek part of the creative team it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what this album will sound like, and if you heard their debut The Cause Of Shipwreck, it will be more obvious than ever. Blackbriar play a gothic, orchestrated style of symphonic metal based around huge cinematic compositions and the angelic vocals of Zora Cock. 

Cicada sums up what you get brilliantly with a dark heavy riff, swelling strings and those ghostly vocals. The Netherlands has a long history with gothic/symphonic bands, the previously mentioned After Forever as well as Within Temptation and Epica all established the country as one of the leading lights in the late 90’s early 2000’s, so Blackbriar not only come from a strong pedigree, they have a lot to live up to some 20 years later. If the debut did a lot to introduce them, A Dark Euphony shows what they are capable of, a much darker affair, the songs range from folksy numbers like Far Distant Land, driving gallops with sharp orchestral stings, An Unwelcome Guest to the evocative ballads such as My Soul’s Demise

They are a throwback to those glorious early albums from After Forever, Within Temptation and Nightwish, the siren vocals on top of brooding gothic alt metal. Long before the symphonic metal tag came along these bands were pioneers and Blackbriar follow a very similar path, fantastical stories set to stirring music. It’s been done but Blackbriar do it with passion and conviction. 7/10

3Teeth - EndEx (Century Media Records) [GC]

3Teeth have been around for a while now and I have never actually seen them or heard their music, so I decided to look them up and now wish I hadn’t! They look like an explosion in a leather factory and its all very Mad Max and completely not my sort of thing, I know you should never judge a book by its cover and all that and having not heard their music I will take that thought forward into the review!

Something that instantly gets my back up is first track Xenogenesis which is just a drawn-out 3 minute long intro that doesn’t really do much apart from try to be spooky and weird, it doesn’t achieve either its just annoyingly long, anyway onto first track proper then and Acme Death Machine wasn’t really what I was expecting to be honest, its got some big chuggy riffs that are straight out of the Emmure folder but then when the verse kicks in its like Powerman 5000 have decided to go heavy its all interspersed with some industrial electronics but it doesn’t really do much for me it huffs and puffs but never really does much to impress, Slum Planet is up next and is could probably be put onto any M*rilyn M*nson album and not sound out of place, which isn’t a good thing its second rate and a classic filler only 2 songs in, oh dear! 

What’s Left doesn’t really jump out and grab you either the big chuggy riffs have now completely disappeared and its all very gothy and electronic but with not much substance like a lot of bands at the minute you get a definite nu-metal influence throughout but as I have said before it always seems to be the dog end of nu-metal that nobody bothered with and Merchant Of The Void is a perfect example of this type of garbage its more of the same Powerman 5000 type dredge but with a little bit of Orgy and Videodrone thrown in for good measure, horrific sounding stuff. Higher Than Death does finally bring back the riffs and when they are there, they are decent enough but they always insist on dropping into spoken word verses that slow everything down and the chorus on this is atrocious, not sure how much more of this I can take but then the riff comes back and I almost smile before its back to the familiar sounding dross.

ALI3N then slaps me directly in the face and starts out very well with and upbeat and vicious section that when it drops into the verse is still slightly annoying but the whole of this songs actually feels like there is something there and when they want to these guys can actually get a groove going shame its taken this long to find it! To then follow that with Plutonomicon is an absolute disaster as it is probably one of the most boring songs I have heard this year and offers nothing of worth but bonus points for the end riff which is alright. Paralyze threatens to keep the boringness at maximum levels until it kicks in and is again fairly decent riff wise but it’s all too stop/start for me and even the guest spot from Ho99o9 cant save it fully, it all just sounds ok. 

Scorpion is another heavily ambient/electronic song that does create a bit of an atmosphere and gets you nodding along without realizing and actually isn’t too bad and surprisingly is a stand out track they then keep the dialed back tone into Drift but this is fully dialed back and just ends up dragging its heels and gets very boring very quickly and just when I feel it cant get any worse they thrown in a cover of Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears For Fears which is even worse than the original which is fucking saying something! An utterly shite way to end.

Well, I tried my best to be open minded and not let their appearance get to me but as soon as I saw them I kind of guessed what I would be getting on this album! But to my surprise there were some really decent sounding bits and a couple of songs were actually good all the way through but that’s not enough to save an album, if you’re a goth this is undoubtedly the type of thing you will love if you aren’t, seriously don’t bother with this you will be bored and annoyed at yourself for wasting your time. 4/10

Diamond Dogs - The Hardest Nut To Crack (Wild Kingdom) [Rich Piva]

Full disclosure, I am reviewing the new album from Diamond Dogs right after the new Stepmother album, which is doing them no favors, because they both play some version of garage type rock and roll, it is just that one plays with some ridiculous energy that immediate knocks you around, where the other is more reserved, almost rootsy take on garage rock. I was not familiar with the Swedes from Diamond Dogs and was shocked to find out they have a whole bunch of material back to the mid-90s and who’s members come from all sorts of Swedish rock royalty. Grabbing this one based on their band name and the “glam” categorization, I was thinking I was getting some Bowie love, but this is more like The Quireboys or a band like Dogs D’Amour who it shares members with, which is fine, but nothing that is going to knock your socks off.

Diamond Dogs have some cool, catchy songs on The Hardest Nut To Crack, with Wring It Out being the standout track, but nothing that jumps out as keepers to me. Down On The Debris Field is a fun glammy type track, and the piano led Keep Drippin Down where I hear those Quireboys vibes quite strongly. The other tracks on The Hardest Nut To Crack are not bad, just not all that memorable to me.

All the songs on The Hardest Nut To Crack are well executed rock and roll, but nothing that really stands out or is something that I will go back to outside of the handful of tracks mentioned. If you want some kick ass rock and roll, go grab the Stepmother album. This is fine, but nothing that I can get too excited about. 5/10

Rippingdexd - Anger. Sadness. Hope (Self Relased) [Mark Young]

Ok, so a little background is necessary here. Rippindexd is a one person wrecking crew who decided that combining an HM-2 pedal and pop-punk / Metalcore and a touch of electronica was an itch that needed to be scratched. A flurry of activity from 2021 onwards sees the album Anger.Sadness.Hope available from your choice of streaming service (including some natty merch on Bandcamp).

The influences on display range from OSDM to crust-punk to Industrial and probably all points in-between. The words emo rave blender were also used as a description so I’m going in with both my eyes and mind open.

Right, so this is a melting pot of a ton of different genres, the electro thump of The Plateau Of Latent Potential reminds me of a programme with 5-0 in its title, could be wrong and then the guitar comes in and it just flattens the song. Monstrous sound and we are into Spectrophobia with a delicious lo-fi quality that pulls across from classic black metal in the delivery but then it turns on a penny as the synths are unleashed once more. Halfway into this I know I am no longer in standard musical territory, which is a good thing because the metal is pumped up with some furious riffing and blast beats.

Heart Of Lead has a more traditional start and arrangement, with that punk feeling coming through as we are wrongfooted again as that electronica takes over until the OSDM kicks in. What is good from just these three tracks is that you have people who are willing to do this and put their art out there.

Throw them to the Wolves (Ft. Paul Nazarkardeh of De Profundis) just has an incredible low end in it, and yes you can argue that the vocals are rough (they are) but there is a face-melting solo on it as the rumbling riff behind just rolls over everything in its path.

Alienation And Self-loathing – Interlude, which is just that, waiting on Nihilism Through Pleasure to come in which represents a more death metal favoured approach and it has to be said the guitar sound is amazing. I’ll tell you now that I would love that sound on my home rig. It possesses one the lowest chugs I’ve heard in ages, broken up the keys which cut across like early 80’s synth pop. The two together mesh brilliantly, and for me it’s a stand-out track.

Twisted Morality is another mad experiment that is hampered by the vocal delivery. It just needs that bit of confidence and to really go for it because all the other ingredients are there, it’s the same with Dread My Fate, as this throws in a grinding riff and jungle beats (I told you I was old) and then we have The Risks We Take (Even The Score) starting off with that lo-fi approach and then unleashing some top class guitar / double bass which is fabulous. The constant change in direction unsettles, which is the point.

What this strikes me as is that this is an impressive effort from what is effectively a one person show, doing something they have never really done before. I won’t lie and tell you that I loved the electronica. I didn’t but I loved the idea of fusing the different worlds together. The vocal style reminds me of the Squeeze set against some brutal sounding guitar and double bass. 

Of the arrangements it’s apparent that putting together authentic death emtal represents no problem at all. Same with the fusion aspects as influences from Nintendo amongst others are front and centre. Where it falters is the vocals. They are rough and lack something, but they will improve as Rippindexd continue to write and release new music. 6/10

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