Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Friday 10 November 2023

Reviews: Autarkh, Sleep In Motion, Helmet, Rigorious (Reviews By Zak Skane, James Jackson, Rich Piva & Matt Bladen)

Autarkh - Emergent (Season Of Mist) [Zak Skane]

To begin this album Open Focus leads us in with atmospheric sounds scapes, before we get pelted by some punchy riffs and grinding bass tones to match provided by Michel, David and Desmond. Once the unique sounding vocals that sound like a mixture of Mike Heranica from The Devil Wears Prada laced with Greg P from The Dillinger Escape Plan we are enchanted by cosmic inspired lyrics. The combination of clean but punchy guitar riffs, grinding bass tones laced with half time grooves and ambient layers, this band are not afraid to lead the listener into uncharted territories. 

Following this intriguing opener, the enigmatic sound scapes still continue with Strife with it’s programmed pulsing electronic drum beats laced with hi-hat varied grooves courtesy of Tijin. To accompany pulsing beats we are greeted with these eerie and spooky synth sounds what are followed by strumming twangy guitars mixed with the vibes of Trent Reznor being assigned to compose a Silent Hill track. 

Duhka brings us into familiar metal territory with double kicked drum grooves, djenty guitar rhythms and eerie Meshuggah type leads whilst Trek brings back to experimental territory again with melding black metal inspired shoegaze chords that any Deafheaven fan would approve, whilst integrating their signature vocal style and glitching electronic effects. 

Other highlights on this experimental nine track album is the sludgy Meshuggah Catch 33-era inspired Refocus that consists on low tuned riffs and hypnotic melodies, Eye Of Horus brings in post hardcore inspired twangy riffs that you would hear from Reubens greatest hits whilst still being laced with it’s eerie synth layers. 

The closing track Ka brings in post rock and Nine Inch Nails vibes by lacing industrial inspired sounds from deep throbbing mechanical appreggios and pounding toms to it’s ambient soundscapes guitar tracks and low pitched vocal layers. Autarkh are not afraid to bare their genius and challenge the listener with every note that this band rings out. 

From the proggy atmospheres of their opening track Open Focus, the digitized blackened shoegazing elements of Trek to the industrial closer Ka this band are willing to keep their listeners ears pricked from start to finish. This album does one purpose and that is to encourage their listener to take a seat, grab a pair of headphones and be engulfed. This can be either be a pleasurable or challenging experience. 7/10

Sleep In Motion - Existential (Sleep Motion) [James Jackson]

The old saying of you should never judge a book by its cover applies to this album, when the first track Dead To Me opened up with its Hammer Horror style rainy night effects, a rumbling bass line over tribal style drums, my first thoughts were that this sounded promising, the guitar kicks in with a promising groove alongside a snarl of vocals, yes, this is sounding good.

One of my biggest turn offs when it comes to music is vocal style, I like what I like and that’s it; what happens here is that promise of something good crashes down beneath the whining twang of the vocals, there’s a South American accent to it that sounds as though it’s put on, which potentially it has to be as these guys hail from Nottingham. There’s a nice sleazy sound to the guitar riffs and it’s kind of Grunge meets the likes of Motley Crue and it’s bloody catchy too, damn those vocals.

This is the first full length album from Sleep In Motion, a few EP’s precede this, all recorded since their formation back in 2021 and they’ve a string of tour dates throughout November. Enemy and Terminal follow, the latter being previously released as a single, both are hard hitting rock songs and that rather nasally sounding vocal isn’t as prominent as it first came across. It’s the little things that matter most sometimes and like finding a fly in your song, things can easily become spoiled, Another Day is a slower affair and this seems to suit the vocal style a bit better than on previous songs.

It may sound like I’m being hypercritical but isn’t that the purpose of this review ? To give my opinion and first impressions, the song writing here is on point, lyrically the songs I’ve heard so far are packed with moments that you can imagine going down really well live, an eager fan base singing along.

Being petty and pedantic, I skipped Tomorrow purely because of the pronunciation of the title word, it ends with an O sound, not an A, within the chorus, again it’s the little things that matter the most sometimes. The March has a stomping great intro riff to it, reminiscent of Pantera and at times the vocal is an almost Dave Mustaine snarl rather than the tone I’ve come to dislike, structurally the vocals at times feel very Megadeth.

Play The Victim and The Edge are up next, both solid tracks with the latter having a subdued verse which promises bigger things to come, building up when the chorus hits. When I saw that the penultimate track was called Walk Away I got a little excited, but this is not a Sisters Of Mercy cover, though again it’s a well written song as is Nothing Left To Say.

Musically I quite enjoyed this, favourite track has probably got to be The March as the one that properly got my old noggin’ a bobbin’ and whilst the vocals were at times, unfortunately most of the time, not to my personal taste, I can’t deny that as a full length debut album this deserves a good deal of attention; whether I give it another chance at some point I don’t know.

I am impressed with the songwriting, the lyrics and the fact that each track is most likely going to go down really well in a live setting, it’s only personal preference that holds me back. 7/10

Helmet - Left (earMusic) [Rich Piva]

Helmet had a three-album run in the 90s that I consider untouchable. The Meantime-Betty-Aftertaste trio is as good of a three-album set that there is from bands that put out albums during that era. The were amazing live and all the players were just virtuosos. What happened after that I am not sure, but the quality of everything Helmet dropped off a steep cliff. 

Paige Hamilton’s playing has not changed as he is one of the best and most unique players ever, but the songwriting, especially lyrically, became anywhere from bad to unlistenable over the next batch of records, pretty much up until this new one, Left, their nineth, which, as I say for every album that has come out over the past twenty years, is hopefully a return to 90s form.

Unfortunately, Left is more like the post Aftertaste material, which is obviously super disappointing for a fan like me. Some of Left is bad, some of Left is almost unlistenable. The opening track, while it has some of the trademark Helmet sound, lyrically it is so cringy it is hard to get through. 

The song is pretty much Hamilton grunting different curse words and insults around his occasional clean singing voice. The solo is great, but Hamilton always rips. This seems like him trying way too hard to bring back his edge but is failing miserably. 

I think the album title Left is some kind of political statement, given the extremely cheesy anti-gun track Gun Fluf. While Kyle Stevenson is no John Stanier (no one is) I really enjoy the drum work on Left, but it is not enough to save this one. 

The fact that there is a song called NYC Tough Guy is a double down on how corny Hamilton’s lyrics have become but also how he is still one of the most unique guitarists out there. It is not all bad, as Bombastic is a fun track with some killer noodling from Hamilton and Powder Puff is a cool Helmet slow burn that shows he still has it in him to write a good song. It pretty much ends there from the stuff I enjoyed on Left.

I always want to like new Helmet material and I am always disappointed. It probably doesn’t help that I always think about Quicksand when I think about Helmet, which is not fair, but it is the case. The quality of Quicksand material has continued to be top tier, and in my opinion, they have a perfect discography. 

Helmet just can recreate the magic of those first few records. Left is no different. Hamilton can still play but the songs are not there, and the lyrics are terrible. I wish it was different, but this is where Helmet is in 2023. 4/10

Rigorious - Night Of Retribution (Metalapolis Records) [Matt Bladen]

Produced, mixed and mastered by Chris Boltendahl of Grave Digger, new German heavy metal act Rigorious, owe a lot to the German veterans, mainly the gruff vocals of Lukas, but their whole Teutonic thrust on Lay With Me and Iron Wings. This is debut album for the band it’s brimming with Germanic metal power, rough riffs and rougher vocals on ten tracks where the strains of classic metal are mixed with some of the veterans of the German metal scene. 

From the Grave Digger influences, there’s some Running Wild on Fight For Your Lives and Brothers Arise, while Behind The Curtains has the theatrical moments of Blind Guardian. You’ll have heard what they do before countless times but then German heavy metal does have its own sound, Rigorious adding liberal usage of keys to Victory and Children Of The Night

They’ve shared stages with Rage and Orden Ogan, and if you like that sort of thing you’ll be raising your fist to their metal anthems. However these battles have been fought many times before. 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment