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Wednesday 11 October 2023

Reviews: The Vintage Caravan, Overthrow, State Of Deceit, Sahg (Reviews By Paul Hutchings, Mark Young, Matt Bladen & Rich Piva)

The Vintage Caravan – The Monuments Tour Live (Napalm Records) [Paul Hutchings]

It’s inevitable that a band steeped in the vintage style that Icelandic trio The Vintage Caravan are would eventually bring out a live album. That it has taken 17 years and five albums says a lot, for the band’s stock has slowly risen over that time to the point where they are, in my opinion, one of the best live bands on the circuit today.

You can read reviews of most of their albums in the pages of this site, along with a couple of live reviews which describe the band’s powerful and captivating delivery. But we are here to consider the latest offering of course. Recorded in the band’s tour supporting their excellent 2021 Monuments album, The Monuments Tour (Live) does indeed capture the essence of the band in the live arena. The crowd interaction is a little limited, as the tracks are obviously spliced from several shows, but you get the enthusiasm.

Having seen the band headline The Globe in Cardiff almost a year ago, a fine support slot with Opeth in 2019, and festival appearances at Damnation and this year’s triumphant Steelhouse Festival show, the setlist is familiar. They throw in the expected high number of tracks from Monuments, together with a smattering from their previous releases. It’s generally high-octane stuff, their pulsing psychedelic and progressive combination proving they can rock with the best. Crystallized remains one of the best tracks they’ve ever written, a scorching blend of blues and hard rock. Innerverse shows their lighter, reflective side, whilst Forgotten is the first of three extended workouts that demonstrate that these are technically brilliant musicians.

Oskar Logi Ágústsson’s ability to sing with such clarity whilst ripping out searing solos remains almost superhuman. The inclusion of Psychedelic Mushroom Man from their self-titled debut is a nice blast from the past, and the singalong On The Run brings back sweet memories. Throw in a further double workout to finish in the shape of Expand Your Mind and a beautiful Clarity, with a combined time of just shy of 20-minutes, and you have the perfect recording of a band who continue to inspire and mesmerise. 8/10

Overthrow - Ascension Of The Entombed (Redefining Darkness Records) [Mark Young]

Overthrow are another UK extreme act, here providing us with a 4 song EP that wastes no time in getting the sonic bludgeoning going. Taking on the baton from 2021 Strike Down The Saviour, this is a further example of how strong the UK metal scene is and I’m digging these EP’s as they serve up a short sharp shock, often acting as an introduction to new and upcoming bands.

Offering up some extreme metal, Ascension Of The Entombed comes through with a tight and compact riff / arrangement. Occupying that mid-tempo for the structure, it nonetheless pips along at a decent pace, before throwing in a dynamic break section that really opens the song up. It’s a pretty good example of a band who are comfortable in writing songs that don’t just rely on momentum to get their ideas across. Its possibly guilty of repeating the arrangement twice, but all told it’s a great start.

Lords Of Xibalba is next up and goes straight for the throat, still displaying that keen song craft with that mix of melody and brutality. There is an urgency to this, and it just rips along at a good pelt which is just what you want from your extreme metal. Ruptured Nebula has a cracking muscular start, reminiscent of Morbid Angel which is always a good thing. This one places its focus on melody but certainly doesn’t forget the heavy side of things. It supercharges towards the end without losing that melody line – absolutely spot on.

And so, we finish on Caustic Vengeance (Blindly Driven) that has that grandiose slow start before kicking over into trem / blast beat heaven. This manages that balance between constant movement and superspeed, throwing both at you as they see fit. It’s a quality end to four quality songs and I hope that there is a full-length coming that will be as good as these tracks. If these are taken from it, then they serve as a fantastic taster of what is to come. 8/10

State Of Deceit – Stalked By Daemons (Eclipse Records) [Matt Bladen]

South Wales’ bruisers State Of Deceit return with their debut full length Stalked By Daemons, following on from the Retribution EP in 2019, the album sound a lot bigger, bolder and more vicious than their EP. The production helps as we kick off with Endure My Fate which to me sounds like Trivium or that NWOAHM from the early 2000’s, classic trash meeting metalcore and groove metal, the rhythm guitar of Jon Russell and bass of Davide Santini, insistent and savage while Gareth Jones’ leads weave in and out with flourishes, riff slides, divebombs and more, adding the more melodic overlays to the storming riffage. If you’re a fan of shredding then this record won’t be for you, there are fret melting solos and lead breaks but Stalked By Daemons is mostly about concocting riffs you can throw yourself around too, the groove metal of Prong, Seputura, Machine Head, Devildriver, and even Pantera all clear influences on the State Of Deceit sound.

Having seen the band live a few times the noticeable thing about them over the past few years is how much vocalist Peter Scammell has improved as a vocalist, his growls are aggressive and dangerous, in the vein of Dez Fafara meets Robb Flynn, while the cleans, augmented by Santini’s give the title track some much needed deviation from the all-out attack of the previous two songs. Though it also has a killer solo and some devastating double kicks from drummer Matthew Toner. This shift to the lighter sound continues on the beginnings of Hate Within where the clean vocals are used really well on what is a heavily distorted rock track, where quiet and loud dynamics rule giving Jones’ a showcase to peel off some Dimebag-like leads. It’s on a track like this where you can see how groove metal transitioned into Nu-metal, State Of Deceit able to bring emotion without losing the aggression they establish early on.

After this things get back to the thrash roots on Withered as the foul mouthed Scorched brings more chugging as At What Cost? Trades off between Gojira and White Zombie. Stalked By Daemons closes play with Digital Tattoo and the Devildriver sound come back with force. A major sonic enhancement on their EP Stalked By Daemons will be the record on which all their future success will hinge on, good job then it’s a killer. 9/10

Sahg - Live Demons (Drakkar Entertainment) [Rich Piva]

Sahg gave us a nice surprise release (at least for me I didn’t see it coming) with 2022’s Born Demon, which I had ranked 17th on my album of the year list last year, as I could not get enough of their occult metal goodness and their catchy as hell odes to the dark side. Did I mention the riffs because I should have. I love every song on Born Demon, which is why I have no choice but to enjoy the new companion live EP, aptly titled Live Demons.

You get four of the best tracks from Born Demon in their live form (hence the title). The track choices are excellent, as you could not go wrong with any of them but kicking it off with the ripper album opener Fall Into The Fire was the perfect choice. The band is tight and sounds great, even the (I am assuming) tough to sing live vocals are spot on. House Of Worship is executed perfectly while probably my favorite track from Born Demon, Black Cross On The Moon is included to my utter excitement. The metal cover of a famous Norwegian song Heksedans, sung in their native tongue, is a great inclusion to close out the way too short EP.

My only complaint is I want more, as Sahg has enough of a back catalog for a full live record, but for now I will take what I can get until the follow up to Born Demon drops, hopefully sooner rather than later. This is fun, check it out. 8/10

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