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Tuesday 31 October 2023

Reviews: Edgar Broughton, Lung, Massive Hassle, Usurper (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Edgar Broughton - Break The Dark (Esoteric Antenna)

Acid Rock pioneer Edgar Broughton has a huge back catalogue of music behind him. He's let his freak flag fly across multiple decades, his self named band breaking up and reforming multiple times. Since 2010 he has been a solo artist, but Break The Dark is possibly his most introspective works. 

Beginning in COVID lockdown it's an interesting work that uses his unique vocals, evocative guitar lines and pulsing synths to create soundscapes such as Flowers In A Bowl, the addition of Edgar Broughton Band member Arthur Grant and cellist Calle Armgrip on the beautiful Bell Of Trevelyan, making this record some of Broughton's most impressive music of his career, from the dark The Raven's Song, to the folky Morning Dew, there's building percussion on The Deben Flow and the reflective The Sound Don't Come all make this record a thrilling listen, it's not loud or boisterous but it latches itself on to you with touches of Bowie (Eulia), Depeche Mode and The Mission. 

The mixing of the legendary John Leckie, who cut his teeth with Edgar Broughton Band, weaving a tapestry of sonic wonder. The most intriguing album I've heard this year. As the nights get darker this is a solitary comfort. 8/10

Lung - Volume (Self Released)

Cardiff has a strong selection of heavy riff wielding bands from the underground whether it be Made Of Teeth, Tides Of Sulfur or Spider Kitten, if you want crushing heaviness and woozy distortion then South Wales' capital rumbles with aviation grade basslines, percussion like an artillery barrage and guitars so fuzzy you'd think you were on a week long bender.

The latest exponents of the loud are trio Lung featuring Danny Hume on drums, Ethan Szafnauer on guitar and Joseph Sewell bass, synths and shouts, though Ethan takes the lead voices on White Castle. Lung bring an extremely heavy style of doom metal with the ominous, pulverising power of bands such as Electric Wizard, cult overtones fused with aggressive Sabbath worship that features heavily effects driven songs and reverbed vocals. Produced brilliantly as usual by Tim Vincent at Woodcroft Audio it's an album that very much lives up to its title.

On Volume, there's a lot of that from the chugging riffs of Iron Bison that are distorted and twisted while The Experiment/New Worlds serves as a psychadelic interlude featuring Seth Williams on upright electric bass, there's hardcore aggression on Science Cult while Obsidian Bong Monolith takes a heavy toke then coughs it's guts up and builds on a slow groove segueing though Ahab into the crushing 10 minute Electric Fleet which keeps a steady groove building into an Iommi-like riff although if Iommi did massive amounts of GHB. We close out with the duo of The Saurian which spirals into progressive realms, the samples and synths used brilliantly.

Volume is an intense listen from another of South Wales' doomslingers. Crank the volume, take a hit and lose yourself in the majesty of Lung. 9/10

P.S I'm gutted I missed their recent Cardiff show

Massive Hassle - Number One (Self Released)

Featuring a an album cover picture of them as young boys, Massive Hassle is the new project from Marty and Bill Fisher, between them they have been or currently are Mammothwing, Church Of The Cosmic Skull and Dystopian Future Movies, but they approached this project with an ethos of “Don’t let it become a Massive Hassle”, the idea being that this record would just be the two of them, all songs and lyrics written collaboratively, everything recorded live and filmed in singular takes, each track released as a live video in the run up to the album release, and that the brothers would sing in harmony or unison throughout. 

With their backgrounds in the stoner scene, Massive Hassle then feels like the early days of the scene where bands such as Atomic Rooster, Captain Beyond, Budgie were the originators but Massive Hassle take it further with the harmonies of Buffalo Springfield/CSN and the jazz rock of Steely Dan. Number One is certainly a menagerie that prides itself on collusion and wide musical scope that stretches further than a lot of two pieces. Emotion rings out from the first bluesy moments of Lane, while the garage fuzz of Twos brings more of what you’d expect as does Kneel, which goes into the weirdness of Jack White, the album set out to be one faster rocker then a slower burning track for the most part. 

The natural production giving a feel of being in the studio while the album was being recorded, Number One strips back any of the cinematic sounding bands these brothers have been a part of and lets them show their dynamic as both songwriters and as siblings. 8/10

Usurper - Hand Of The Usurper (Self Released)

Geordie trad metal band Usurper follow up their 2021 debut Master Of The Realm with this five track EP. Again written by vocalist Paul Atkinson and guitarist Ian Fisher, it's five tracks of fist pumping classic metal with a twin axe attack from Fisher and Liam Kennedy soaring vocals from Atkinson and galloping rhythms from Joe Summerfield (bass) and Jed Miller (drums). 

Continuing where they left off Hand Of The Usurper doesn't vary that wildly from their debut full length. The rampaging Angels One-Five gets the EP going as the title track goes abit heavier into some Maiden-like rhythms, Taking Fire From The Gods meanwhile goes into speed/thrash with a bit of Mercyful Fate too. More Maiden comes on the marching Shadow Of Farewell and on the finale epic Wastelands Of Time. Hand Of The Usurper allows the band to add more songs to their live show while keeping their fans happy. 

Classic metal with muscle, Usurper are no pretenders to the throne. 7/10

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