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Friday 27 October 2023

Reviews: Doro, Nebula, Endseeker, Mouth For War (Reviews By Paul Hutchings, Rich Piva, GC & Mark Young)

Doro – Conqueress Forever Strong And Proud (Nuclear Blast Records) [Paul Hutchings]

Less than a year before she reaches her 60th birthday, The Metal Queen shows no sign of slowing. Although it’s been five years since her last studio album of new material, Forever Warriors, Forever United, she’s been busy with compilation and live recording releases, as well as celebrating the anniversary of Triumph And Agony with Warlock.

Not one to skimp on value for money, this latest album is a mighty collection of new songs, covers, and some bonus material. It’s crammed full of songs, all delivered in her inimitable style that you either love or hate. There’s not any in between with Doro.

I’ve reviewed several of her albums over the years, and what I enjoy is her honest endeavour, enthusiasm, and solid song writing. Sure, they are a little cliched, with songs like Lean Mean Rock MachineRock Me Wild and Time For Justice rather routine. But everything is well played, polished even, with a solid production. It’s timeless in many respects, especially if you enjoy traditional Heavy Metal. You aren’t going to get modern breakdowns, growling roars, or blast beats here. But if you like pacey, classic metal delivered with that special Germanic style that has seen Doro headline Wacken, and special guest at many festivals across the entire world over her nearly 40-year career, then Conqueress Forever Strong And Proud should be one for you.

As well as her own music, we get a couple of interesting duets. The arrival of the Metal God Rob Halford on a ballsy cover of Priest’s classic Livin’ After Midnight is enjoyable from start to finish, whilst the version of Princess Bonnie of Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of The Heart, again with Halford is, well, interesting. And as you sift through the bonus material here, one song stands out. The final track, called The Four Horsemen. Yep, Doro does ‘Tallica. It’s nothing compared to the original, but I’m sure she had fun recording it. Doro’s always a good listen, and this latest release is no different. If you like her, you’ll like this. If you don’t, then you won’t. See her giving these songs a right blast at Stonedead Festival next year. It’ll be emotional. 7/10

Nebula - Livewired In Europe (Heavy Psych Sounds) [Rich Piva]

Let’s not kid ourselves, we all know that I am going to love a live Nebula album before I even hear it. Their latest live platter, Livewired In Europe, recorded in both the Netherlands and Sweden while touring for their 2022 album Transmission From Mothership Earth, gives us a killer set spanning the career of the legendary desert/stoner band in all their live glory. The sound is excellent on the recordings and the band is in top form for sure, but what did you expect?

I mean Down The Highway? Stone cold classic from their debut EP that absolutely rips it up live. Man’s Best Friend from 2019’s Holy Shit kicks the show off in style. Listen to the tone of that guitar and how a band can be both tight and loose at the same time. Holy Shit is also represented by the great Messiah as well with more of the killer ax work from main man Eddie Glass. 2003’s Atomic Ritual is represented here with Out Of Your Head, a killer spacey stoner jam that fits perfectly into this set. My favorite song from the newest record makes a live appearance, as Highwired sounds right at home with all that classic material in the setlist. 

The heavy psych bluesy rock of Giant from Charged is another amazing addition to the collection, and whoa listen to that guitar. Even Dos EPs is represented with Full Throttle and oh yeah, it’s another perfect addition with that killer jam in the back half. You want something from the Heavy Psych album because I do, and our wish is granted with the excellent live rendition of Aphrodite. The vinyl version closes with the absolute classic Let It Burn from the EP of the same name and no words are needed, because if you know you know. The CD version has three bonus tracks, including the title track and Warzone Speedwulf from the latest album and another ripper from Holy ShitLet’s Get Lost, all that sound excellent in the live form.

Thank you, Heavy Psych Sounds, for bringing us another amazing live Nebula album. The band suffered a massive loss when bassist Tom Davies lost his battle with Leukemia, and this is such a great way to celebrate his life. Check out Livewired In Europe for so many reasons, but the prime one being that Nebula is a legendary band that is at its best when ripping it up live. 9/10

Endseeker - Global Worming (Metal Blade Records) [GC]

Since their formation back in 2014 Hamburg’s Endseeker have slowly but surely built up a reputation as a death metal force to be reckoned with 3 full lengths behind them they have taken the time between 2019 and all that Covid stuff that stopped the world to focus their minds and hit us with their new album Global Worming.

It all starts off in a suitably chaotic way with title track Global Worming which has a good mix of thundering drums and scathing guitars that jostle nicely with the unique (in a good way) vocals that mix the usual death metal neanderthal grunt with a thrash rhythm, it all creates something that wouldn’t sound out of place with the original wave of Florida death metal bands but also doesn’t sound like they are just trying to copy what has come before. Hell Is Here has a galloping open riff that is akin to heavy power metal but this soon falls into a thick and heavy motion that kicks the song on and is packed full of some gloriously groove infused riffs that keep you hooked all the way through you also notice that the production here is top notch and the vocals don’t drown everything out and not one instrument gets lost in the sharp and crisp mix. 

Violence Is Gold is a relentless juggernaut of destruction that hits the throttle from beginning to end but, it also manages to mix in some nice atmospheric guitar sections and shows another side to what Endseeker are capable of its also interjected with a more thrash pace than previously shown in places and is an absolute joy that shows that while death metal is meant to be all scary and serious it can still be tremendous fun at the same time! Wheel Of Torture while not exactly being slow does hold back on the pace and introduces a mix of sludgy hardcore and doom into proceedings which is a brilliant U-turn and mixes everything up brilliantly, it’s a big lumbering, hulking slab of a song in all the best possible ways and shows a real versatility in the way they go about their songwriting. 

C.B.V harks back to the more familiar death metal tones and pummels and blasts its way forward and sticks with the more familiar pace we would come to expect but still manages to mix in some more dialed back sections into the mix but all the while never losing the cutting edge that can sometimes come with trying to use different tones and speeds in songs. Terror has a slow and ominous opening for all of 13 seconds before its back to business as usual and the guitars sound suitably savage on this song and they keep it simple and brutal here all the way its probably the most familiar death metal sounding song on the album and while it doesn’t sound out of place its probably the weakest song on offer so far but a lot of bands would kill to be able to write weak songs as good as this! 

Hanging Gardens is just so full of groove it’s an infectious blend of more sludgey hardcore tinged riffs and old school death metal destruction and it keeps you wondering what is coming next and while its not re-inventing any styles it is making a case to say who needs re-invention when you have FUCKING RIFFS MATE!! and Endseeker have plenty to throw about! Our Only Life is a suitably wonderful mix of thrash pace, neck breaking death metal brutality and blast and grinds its way past you in just under 3 minutes of almost perfectness, I never thought I would say a song should be longer, but this definitely should have been!! Nemesis closes us out and they have now decided to slow the pace right down to begin with and it has an ominous march like pace all the way through and while its not a full throttle ending as you would expect it’s still a dramatic and grandiose way to bring this thrilling album to a suitably brilliant end.

This was a thrilling and engaging album full of brilliantly executed songs that while they are predominantly death metal still offer way more that just that, there are many forms and styles on offer here and this deserves repeated listens to really appreciate what is they are and if you do, trust me you won’t be disappointed. 9/10

Mouth For War - Bleed Yourself (MNRK Heavy) [Mark Young]

Colorado metalcore outfit brings you their second bout of aggression-fuelled songs in an attempt to shake a few more brain cells loose. Despite the 13 songs, it’s a relatively quick 34-minute yomp through what is in all honesty a fairly standard release for this genre. I’ve recently come across a way of being able to listen to full releases on the drive to and from work (circa 2 hours on each trip) so if I can go the full album without skipping a track (or crashing the car) then that is a useful barometer of my feelings to it.
Roses In Place Of Your Ashes starts off with a stomper, all-muscle, and bone as it barely stops for breath even in the break-down straight into The Plight Of Those You Left Behind, all galloping riffs and drums before settling into a crawling refrain. It's measured and you know it’s been built in getting bodies to move. Captivated has that same constant energy to it, the vocals driving forward whilst the music supports. It's that relationship that really works allowing for them to attack on two fronts.
While this is great what you don’t really get is much difference between tracks. No Grace takes that rapid start and keeps that going, it's heavy definitely, and Taste Of Steel is the same, it's heavy and aggressive but they still follow a blueprint – fast bit here, slow bit there, shouty bit here. I’m being a bit of a dick saying that but that is how it comes across. Its probably one of the reasons I haven’t got into Metalcore in that not an awful lot happens. In Lieu Of Flowers is a spoken piece that doesn’t add anything.

The Devil continues in the same vein. Its rapid and the whole thing is furious but it's still similar to what has come before. Saturate Me has more of a thrash swing (this I like) but still has a heavy breakdown. Under The Gun has some rapid-fire guitar/drums going on, but it is still more of the same. Getting to the end track with Bleed Yourself romps away with heavy riffing and it brings the album to a close.

It has everything you want in a metalcore release, there’s nothing wrong with the quality of how they play or how its recorded. The pattern is followed in each one and no I didn’t skip any tracks on the play-through. None of them really stood out for me to say this is an absolute stormer, which is indicative of how I felt about this. 6/10

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