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Wednesday 4 October 2023

Reviews: Trivax, Blood Command, Heavy Water, Atena (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Trivax - Eloah Burns Out (Cult Never Dies)

The new full length from Trivax is a concept album about the story of death. Weaving a complex mystical tapestry of lyrics over some intense blackened death metal. I've talked about the importance and unlikely existence of Trivax before, founder Shayan (guitar/vocals) forming the band in his native Iran, playing in secret under a possible penalty of death.

Before moving to the UK and finding bassist Sully who had a similar experience in Syria, the trio are rounded out by M. Croton on drums and the Triumvirate has been unleashing impassioned, conscious, extreme metal for years now in spite of their home countries.

Recently Trivax's music has been used in protest outside of Iranian embassies due to the backgrounds of the bands and their key defining factor of believing in freedom and liberation from tyranny and oppression. The band have said they: "were, and still are willing to die for our art" so it's almost impossible to criticise the why. So I suppose we need to focus on it as a musical piece and there too it's difficult to find fault.

Shayan's flesh cleaving guitar and paint stripping vocals are front and centre, the Middle Eastern influence at the opening of Azrael evolving into ferocious black metal, but carried by the muscle of not only Shayan's frame (the man is huge) but also the the musical might of some pit inducing death.

From here Alpha Protector, goes back to more black metal influences Croton's drumming just blastbeats as the guitar hit tremolo picking the intensity shifted to a more ethreal plane on the title track where an organ and guitar are the major star. This drop is used to build into the 9 minute The Serpent's Gaze where Trivax go Celtic Frost, complete with an "Ough" at the beginning, a thick groove from Sully and a layered approach for what is a brilliant mid-album epic. With guests such as Wraath (Behexen, One Tail One Head, Beyond Man), Naut (Winterfylleth, Necronautical) and J.Wilcox (Funeral Throne, Master’s Call). 

Eloah Burns Out is a culmination of blood, sweat and tears and arrives as the most accomplished Trivax album yet. The second part of the record adding progressive flourishes on the 7 minute opus, Twilight Of Death, which is proceeded by the atmosphere building on Memento Mori, which I believe uses a chang at the beginning.

There is as well more Tom G Warrior on Against All Opposition (By Aeshma's Wrath) while the finale of در آخر دنیا is a fantastic way to close, a slow burning prog track with multilayered stringed instruments as the clean vocals deliver liturgies escaping into whispers before the tremolos riffs pick up again towards the end in a furious explosion of black metal, closed out with more organ. 

Eloah Burns Out could well be one of the extreme metal albums of the year, it's magnificent. 10/10

Blood Command – World Domination (Hassle Records)

20 tracks! 20! Bergen, blazers, Blood Command have packed as many blasts of Nordic blackened hardcore as they can on new album World Domination, their fifth studio full length is more anarchistic punk, infused with industrial/electronic thumps, raving breakbeats, spooky death pop and black metal frigidity, the 20 songs here working as short insights into the creative maelstrom of Blood Command. 

The Band With Three Stripes, plays welcome to Ennio Morricone horns as the drumbeat builds into the chugging introduction to this new album, the guitars gnashing and biting as they then unleash their blistering punk metal. The vocals of Nikki Brumens on full display as she shifts from squawking shouts to a clean sneer, as it segues into the bass driven Heaven’s Hate

These segue is used brilliantly here as the 20 tracks are thematically linked to each other, making for one 30 minute listening experience which shifts tonally. If it was a band like Dream Theater it would be one long song but Blood Command manage to put enough definition into a couple of songs that they work as a restart.

From the classic metal of Forever Soldiers Of Esther, the sludgy groove of The Plague On Both Your Houses, to the threatening hardcore of Bare Witness, the electronic pump of Welcome To The Next Level Above Human and Burn Again, which also brings some hip-hop, while Decades and the title track are swirling dream pop. 

World Domination is Blood Command at their heaviest and their most experimental, it’s a wild ride where the final two tracks release the fury that has built up with acoustic and shimmering clean guitars. It’s this mastery of misdirection that mean Blood Command carve their own niche as a avant garde brand of hardcore punk that enthrals. 8/10

Heavy Water - Dreams Of Yesterday (Silver Lining Music)

Byford & Son return with their lockdown project Heavy Water. This second album is yet more classic rock, taken from the shared influences of Saxon frontman Biff and his son Seb of Naked Six, Dreams Of Yesterday is a rumination on the inspiration of West Coast and UK rock music in the 60's and the Seattle sounds of the 90's as classic hard rock, psychedelia and grunge come together, Biff and Seb sharing vocals as Seb plays six and Biff plays four strings. 

Musically more focussed than the first album, this is less of just a father and son playing music together but a solidified band with an ambition to make great rock songs. With Biff as the guiding hand and Seb as producer, it's a real testament to honed experience and youthful skill, the duo enhanced by the drumming of Tom Witts, while keys on Life To Live come from Callum Witts (both of whom make up the rest of Naked Six). 

The Zep-like riffs of Dreams Of Yesterday, give way to some strutting blues rocking on Don't Take It For Granted leads into the heavy grunge of How Much Can You Take. It's all music that is not necessarily associated with the NWOBHM drive of Saxon, but comes from the sound Seb attempted with Naked Six, refined after the debut into some retro modern heavy rocking ala Rival Sons, (Shadows Of Life), Wolfmother (Another Day) and Reef (Be My Saviour). More mature and direct than their debut Dreams Of Yesterday plants Heavy Water firmly in today. 7/10 

Atena - Subway Anthem (Indie Recordings)

More Norwegian music now and more experimentation with the synth/edm infused metalcore of Atena. Bring Me The Horizon were one of the first bands to bring in the electronics to metalcore, so many bands now use them that they have almost become the only way to be a metalcore act, Atena lean on this with their influences clearly bands such as BMTH or Architects. 

Hard Day shifts from classic metalcore angst, into drum-driven electric twists, which also remind me of 30 Seconds To Mars. This link is due to the vocals and their knack of a huge clean chorus, the vocals of Jakob Skogli emotive when sung clean and passion filled when he screams.

For me the drums of Fredrik Kåsin are the highlight of the record as he is able to bridge the metal and dance elements well, propulsive on the emo-esque title track, where Ulrik Linstad’s bass is the driving force, but also adding the ferocious double kicks to Poison Pure, in sync with drum pattern and Vebjørn Iversen’s angular guitars. 

A song such as Slip Away inspired by the bands collective love of heavy metal and classical music, the switches in tone and phrasing noticeable as much as the constant use of layered musical differentiation. Taking tracks such as Peeling Skin or the woozy Leave you could think that these are two different bands but that’s the skill of Atena. 

Musically dexterous, lyrically dark and fascinating metalcore. 7/10

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