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Thursday 16 November 2023

Reviews: DGM, Sadus, Night Crowned, Dyssebeia (Reviews By Paul Hutchings & Mark Young)

DGM – Life (Frontier's Music Srl) [Paul Hutchings]

Italian progressive metal? Nowhere finer than DGM, who have been around since 1994. A band that has endured multiple line-up changes in its early years, DGM has boasted a settled line up for 15 years, and with Life, their 11th studio album, they demonstrate once more that if you are looking for the cream of the crop, then these are your band.

As one would expect, and you can check out Matt’s review of their last album Tragic Separation from 2020 here DGM are big on, well, just about everything. The sound is glorious, polished, huge in movement and impressive in every level. 

The musicianship of guitarist Simone Mularoni, keyboardist Emanuele Casali, drummer Fabio Constantino and bass player Andrea Arcangeli is sublime. The band switch from racing power metal through to the intricate progressive metal that incorporates all that is good about this genre. Sure, it’s gloriously over the top, but when you have Mark Basile’s stellar vocals to guide you home, then why the hell not?

Opener Unravel The Sorrow and second song To The Core which follows show the band’s steel. Both songs are driving hard rock, containing the edge that appeals to many. Glorious lead bursts, lush, layered keys, and a powerhouse combination of drummer and bassist mean that fans will soon be absorbed in a deep, semi-religious experience as they delve into the depths of this crafted piece of work.

Whilst each song is a delightful workout, I found myself allowing Life to simply wash over me. Simply sitting back and appreciating the talent coming through the speakers was heavenly. Unlike many progressive artists, DGM don’t overstay their welcome, punching tracks out around the five-minute mark and cramming everything they need in within those moments.

I closed my eyes for a second and immersed myself. The standout vibes of Dominate and the Pearl Jam hook of Eve both catch the ear, the latter due to its repeating riff that works its magic quickly. It’s a measured instrumental that slowly builds, never dull, and a showcase to the wider world of DGM.

It’s a door through which many will have entered, and one which you’ll regret heading through. Journey To Nowhere brings Basile back into focus, as he gives an album winning performance. His tender yet powerful vocals reach deep, the sumptuous cleans swoop whilst alongside him, the keys and guitar add to the overall melodious tones.

It's hard to do justice to an album that is so deeply and generously crafted. There’s no filler, just superb songs by musicians who know their art. As a finale, Neuromancer is perfect and a fitting conclusion. Listen, enjoy, appreciate. 9/10

Sadus – The Shadow Inside (Nuclear Blast) [Paul Hutchings]

Spoken in thrash circles in almost reverential terms, it’s been 17 years since the Californian thrashers Sadus last released an album. 2006’s Out For Blood wasn’t hugely well received, but time is a great healer, and we are now finally facing a new release. It’s drummer Jon Allen and vocalist/guitarist Darren Travis who now make up Sadus, Steve DiGiorgio moving on after the band’s brief split in 2015.

Over 47 minutes, Allen and Travis have complied an album of savage ferocity. There are no moments of introspective reflection here, just a pummelling aural assault that is relentless from start to finish. The tempo is intense, the musicianship excellent, and the song writing drawing once more from the Black and Death Metal sphere which retaining their feet firmly in the Thrash metal camp.

The first three songs are blistering in their attack. First Blood provides the initial barrage, followed by the aptly named Scorched And Burnt before It’s the Sickness gives more brutality. A song called Ride the Knife is hardly likely to be a love song, and true to form, it’s more a razor-sharp dissection of the innards, full of screaming riffs and non-stop powerhouse drumming. 

Combine this with Travis’s demonic blood curdling screams and you have a terrifying combination that spares nothing. It’s a blistering assault on the aural passages, with a hideously confusing change of direction for the last minute which is a real curve ball.

If you want high speed, then Anarchy will tick your boxes. Blisteringly fast, there’s very little to say other than these sub-three-minute bursts are frantically ferocious and show the more extreme end of the band’s style. More measured yet no less heavy then the six-minutes of The Devil In Me and Pain bring it in some style.

This all leads to the finale of an album that gets better on repeated listens. The instrumental New Beginnings leads into the title track, a snarling ball of nastiness that broods and smoulders. It’s a sinister yet fitting conclusion to the return of a band who prove here that there is more than just a legacy when it comes to Sadus. 8/10

Night Crowned - Tales (Noble Demon) [Mark Young]

And now, Swedish Blackened Death Metal of the kick-ass kind courtesy of Night Crowned who unleash their 3rd album to light up or darken these wintery nights as you see fit. It just screams into life with De Namnlösa (ft Jens Rydén of Thyrfing) with an absolute frantic start, a storming melodic pattern that repeats throughout. 

It has those sorts of riffs that you can chew on but presented as clear as day. It’s a cracker of an opener, grandiose and epic in nature and in stature with those black metal motifs presented that hammer home the speed. 

Just fabulous. There is literally no let up and no repeating of ideas, each song hits in such a fresh way. She Comes At Night (ft Therese Thomson of Disdained) has that Viking drinking swing to it. Growls are guttural, blast beats are furious, and that central slide riff is mint. When Therese comes in it takes that folk-tinge as a moment to catch a breath. Awesome stuff.

Nattramn changes it around, giving a more controlled measure amongst the audio carnage but no less direct. Their command of melody and arrangement just gets more assured as you navigate from track to track, and each song has its own identity. There is no repeating of ideas or of movements for example Loviatar throws in the cleans which by now is nothing new but they do it quickly and know where to put it within the song so it fits and doesn’t derail it. 

Flickan Som Försvann has some of the best riff builds you will hear this year, it moves in ‘THAT’ way that elicits an emotional response whilst Strandvaskarens Hymn comes at you like a mighty uru hammer. Old Tales is a great example of taking a simple arrangement and building something majestic from it. That arpeggio piece was something used in classic sci-fi and here it is deployed with a nightmarish effect.

As you might have expected, hailing from Gothenburg and absorbing all the prime metal that has come before has seeped into their creative process. They have taken inspiration but not aped it or copied it. Each of the songs hits the target in its own way, it is not a relentless battering as each track unfolds, its balanced and is for me one the albums of the year. Fantastic stuff. 8/10

Dyssebeia - Garden Of Stillborn Idols (Transcending Obscurity Records) [Mark Young]

And I thought we were heading into a slump! Dyssebeia drop their debut album and it’s a corker. There are a few tags affixed to their Bandcamp and I think that the one that hits the most is their melodic touches, even in the most blackened parts they offer up. This is one of those albums that is both immediate and warrants subsequent play-throughs, so you pick up on some of the nuances that were missed first time round.
It is a powerhouse of a record, opener Mors Tua, Vita Mea is chock full of prime melodic movements and some absolutely top-class guitar. Its fast when required but this does not detract from the overall build of the song. Having an opener that comes in like is just so important as it sets the scene for what is to follow and its just class. Then they give you Retribution which doesn’t miss a beat or suffer any drop in quality. 

It’s a one-two of the highest order which is amazing when you think it is their debut. They both possess all the required qualities to be called Progressive but have thankfully remembered that there has to be a physicality from which to melt your face with the solo work just on these.
Moon Bearer has that discordant doom feel during its opening bars that is then crushed underfoot by some storming black metal that is not without the melodic feel of the tracks before. It batters without bludgeoning. 

This is further expanded on Sacrificed On The Threshold which has that slower feel (I should point out that speed is relative, it’s still rapid but swings slower. Clear?), one where they are targeting a specific emotional feel that comes out in the chords they are deploying as they ring out during the middle section. It’s the final moments that they throw some mesmeric guitar in that somehow fits within the arrangement of the song.

Hatch brings the speed, as if to say ‘come on, wake up’ but there is no chance of nodding off due to the music here, and for me is one of the highlights of the album, along with that opener. Black Swarm is next up, and kind of follows too closely to Hatch in terms of that subtle opening and then into the riff-o-rama that comes next. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still class but that similarity just takes a little from it. 

Funeral Ink takes up the reins and has one of those riffs that would be mint to play, fingers everywhere and just sounds so good. This one has that speed thing going on where it feels fast without it breaking any land speed records. Its just powers forward leaving Apophenia to finish us off with what can be described as mental-guitar madness in its opening salvo. It is a strong closing statement and captures everything they are about and have provided on the songs before.

Dyssbeia have a firm grasp on what they want to sound like, and the art they want to create. It has drawn from different sources – Death metal, Blackened, Progressive and pulled them into a cohesive whole. It has so much happening that repeated listens are the order of the day. The best is that none of it comes across as forced or shoehorned in for effect.

As I said earlier, we are some 6 or 7 weeks from 2024 and we are still getting music like this released. I think if this had been released earlier in the year it would surely be in the talking for Album of the Year, or at least releases of the year. This is a band to keep your eye on because on the strength of this album there is a ton of great stuff to come 8/10

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