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Tuesday 21 November 2023

Reviews: Alchemy Of Flesh, The Mosaic Window, Signum Regis, Solothurn (Reviews By Erick Willand, Paul Scoble, Matt Bladen & James Jackson)

Alchemy Of Flesh - By Will Alone (Redefining Darkness Records) [Erick Willand]

One man Death Metal wrecking machine Alchemy Of Flesh burst onto the scene in 2021 like an explosive elixir with Ageless Abominations, a tight well produced slab of refined base metals seemingly mined from the deep, dark swamps of Florida. Not content to rest on a job well done however, master Alchemist Tim Rowland returned to his hidden lab to bend science with magic and produce his newest creation, By Will Alone. So I’m going to take a swig and see if this is the elixir of immortality.
Not a second spared here as first track Meteor Hammer lights up as soon as you drop the beaker on the flame. This heady mixture of swampy vibes and tight riff elements complement each other for pure heated aggression. It’s an effective mix but of course the creator is never satisfied and thus the next concoction, The Godhead Of Self erupts riff first into sonic reality via precise measurements of esoteric elements and marshal drum work.

With the elements in place now comes perfection of ancient and practiced laboratory techniques for further transmutations to commence. Other Eden blazes hot like audio napalm while Earth Dragon Totality adds just the right amount of crunch to the mix and stirs it all together for a potent blend that feels like a vitality elixir. Working now on further brews for various vibes Rowland then adds stretched out Morbid riffs to Labyrinthine Fortress giving it a distinct sludgy undertone that makes it stand out among his other potions.
An Erratic Existence breaks the mold being the only song to breach the 5 minute mark but does so with purpose and riffs and stand out vocals. It’s a bold combination of Death Metal with just small dashes of Thrash of the later, more grandiose variety, not the pizza party kind. It’s complex, a top shelf potent mix that slings a noted hint of Incantation-isms at just the right levels. However, it feels like this should have been the last song on the album.

There are three more strange potions, like an Alchemist trying to use up all of his ingredients before being discovered. Unmaker is the answer to the large batch song before it by ripping face at a tight 2 minutes 16. Immuration gallops from the lab on rollercoaster riffs and grand vocals in equal measure while the final potion of the collection, Origin Of Suffering is a relentless last push for the Secret Of The Stone.
Master Alchemist Tim Rowland, and I checked, the dude did everything on this album but the artwork and photo, so the term master is earned here. By Will Alone is tight, proficient Death Metal in that Morbid Angel branch of esoteric audio elixir brewing. This one dude managed to distill all of the proper ingredients into a collection of tracks that any Death Metal dude is going to dig. The epic fight scene depicted on the cover by artist Mario Lopez, whose fame is growing with every album cover he does, is perfect t-shirt art.

Anyway, time to test my own transmutation mix for growing my hair back, wish me luck, By Will Alone creates gold at 8/10

The Mosaic Window - Plight Of Acceptance (Willowtip Records) [Paul Scoble]

The Mosaic Window is a one man Project of Los Angelis based Andrew Steven Brown. Andrew handles all instruments and Vocals on this project that has been going since 2021. Plight Of Acceptance is The Mosaic Window’s first full length album, it is the bands second release coming two years after an Ep called Hollow.
The Mosaic Window play a very melodic style of Black Metal, there are influences from Atmospheric Black Metal, Melodic Black Metal, Depressive Black Metal and clearly a healthy dose of Doom due to the inclusion of a fair amount of slow and very heavy material.
The album opens with Comatic Burial, which mixes blasting fast Black Metal that is full of melody, and slow and very heavy sections that have a Blackened Doom feel. The song features tremolo picked riffs that are dripping with tunefulness, which, in some ways reminds me of the band Mare Cognitum.

Next comes The Haunting That Follows which is faster than the song that preceded it, it’s still full of melody, but the pace if much more rapid. The song has a soft and clean section that comes directly before a rather more nasty section that helps to accentuate both the softer and nastier sections. The Haunting That Follows also features chanted Vocals that work very well.
Next we get the shortest song on the album Demon, which mixes heavy and aggressive riffs that have a bit more of a Death Metal feel to them with simple blasting Black Metal, the two feels swap places for a while and we also get a guitar solo, all in three and a half minutes.
Furnace is probably my favourite track on the album. On Furnace, The Mosaic Window mix in Brass instruments and some Jazz on the verse sections, in a way that is reminiscent of Imperial Triumphant. The verse has some chaotic elements that work very well. The chorus is much less chaotic with a distinctive tune and vocals, the interplay between the two is great and forms a very effective juxtaposition.
Next song is Spiritual Intoxication another song just over the three and a half minute mark. Spiritual Intoxication mixes very fast blasting black metal with much slower and much heavier parts. The song is still full of melody, as it seems The Mosaic Window are incapable of writing material without really great melodies! 

Nails Of Holy Origin is mainly fast and savage, but with the occasional slow and heavy part. The faster sections feature lots of melody so we get material that is aggressive and blasting, but still has huge melodies, and gives the listener a feeling of extremity and melodiousness. There is a slower section that is expansive with a big melody, but the main this you will take away from this song is fast, savage and melodic.

The album comes to an end with the song Consumed By A Thought, the longest song on the album. The song is just as full of melody as the rest of the album, but it feels more melancholic than on the rest of the album. The pacing is slower than on the other tracks; there are blasting fast parts, but the mid-paced and slow makes up most of the song. This slower pacing and more melancholic feel gives the song a depressive Black Metal feel that works very well as the final track of the album.

Plight Of Acceptance is a great piece of melodic Black Metal. The album is drenched in melody, that fills the album with emotion. The great tunes work their way into your head, and will have you humming them to distraction. This is all doubly impressive as this is a one man project, and a debut album. This bodes very well for whatever Andrew Steven Brown does next, this album is extremely enjoyable and affecting, what comes next will probably be amazing! 8/10

Signum Regis - Undivided (Ulterium Records) [Matt Bladen]

There's a long an potted history from melodic power metal band Signum Regis as there is with most power metal bands. Having been around since 2007, this current line up with Jota Fortino on the mic since 2019, they have released a studio album, an EP and a Live album. 

Undivided is their seventh studio album and is their first with an outside producer, choosing the masterful touch of Jacob Hansen to make this album really jump out of the speakers. It's bombastic power metal that draws from all of their previous sounds, from the more melodic reaches of Interpreter Of Dreams to the neoclassical shredding of Ministry Of Truth and the anthemic classic metal of Daniel's Prophecy

Like Theocracy, Christianity makes up their lyrical content but it's not that overt if you don't like that sort of thing. The music more than makes up for it with the songwriting and performance's, Jota Fortino imbibing the songs with a grit and power vocally, while Filip Koluš' guitars and Ján Tupý's keys interplay well. 

Speaking of the guitars there's special guest solos of Jimi Cimbala and Daniel J. Fries (Affector) on a number of the tracks too. With melodic power metal that has been refined for a number of years, Signum Regis deliver yet another fine album. 7/10

Solothurn - Servitude (Self Released) [James Jackson]

Solothurn are from Northern Ireland, more specifically Belfast. The five piece play a blend of Grunge, citing Alice In Chains as an influence, Stoner Rock and Nu Metal and earlier this year Simon Beggs, former guitarist with Mondo Generator joined the ranks. 

Opening track Sentience Fades is definitely channeling that Grunge style, vocally it has a feel of Pearl Jam to it - I can’t really make out what’s being said. The bio states that EP explores themes of failing governments, societal decay, a reflection of a crumbling and ruinous inner city Belfast.

I can’t comment on that as I’ve never been to Belfast and I’m struggling to make out some of the vocals due to the style, I’ve always believed that music should be used as a form of communication as well as entertainment, what better way to put across your message than with a punchy, catchy song. 

Whilst the song is well crafted, I’m failing to find that sense of despair in the lyrics, I catch snippets, like having a conversation in a crowded room. Perhaps the second song, the bluntly entitled War will come across more succinctly.
No, is the answer to this; it’s a bit more upbeat than its predecessor and shorter, again musically it’s got a good feel to it, some bass led riffs acting as bridges break the song up, adding emphasis when the band all pull together. So last song, In Servitude, more of the same, Grunge’s angst with more than competent playing. 

I was never a fan of the Grunge era, whether Nirvana were the best band at the time or Pearl Jam had the better riffs, or did Alice In Chains top them all really wasn’t on my radar, so as much as I would like to be enthused by this album, it’s going to be a middling score for me, it’s neither good nor particularly bad, it just is. 5/10.

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