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Wednesday 1 November 2023

Reviews: In This Moment, Elm Street, Bacterial Husk, Aeonian Sorrow (Reviews By Zak Skane, Paul Hutchings, Mark Young & Matt Bladen)

 In This Moment – Godmode (BMG) [Zak Skane]

Opening up this ten track album The Purge greets us with the seductive pulses of electronic 808 kick drum rhythms, which lures us in to Maria Brinks venomous rap styled vocals which transcend into silky smooth vocal harmonies in the choruses. The guitars and drums lay down sledge hammer weighted grooves to the let the style of electronic arrangements glaze the track into it’s new direction. This is just the beginning to this new bands direction. 

Sky Burner brings in some sexy swinging riffs matched with some swooning half time grooved melted with some sleek shoegazing choruses that would please any Deftones fan. Maria Brink strictly reminds us that she is not retiring the harsh vocals anytime soon in Sanctify Me, with it’s gruesome gravelling verses to it’s sharp tearing classic screams that echoes of the nostalgic era of the band, whilst bringing in some Meshuggah influenced bowl rumbling riffs and precise double kick grooves. The angry sexy vibes of Sacrifice brings in some euro dance inspired 808 beats, filtered guitar effects and additional vocal layers, which takes some notes from Nine Inch Nails. To close the first half of the album the cinematic piece I Die For You which has been featured in the Keanu Reeves stared movie John Wick 4. 

The track brings typical cinematic tropes that would originally feature in film score compositions with its big reverbed percussion and moving strings to co-exist with the bands ballad. Highlights on the second half of the album are Fate Bringer which brings in poppy swinging rhythms and catchy choruses, whilst Everything That Starts And Ends With You comes in as a personal highlight with one of the best songs in their back catalogue with it’s throbbing and grinding synth riffs, polyrhythmic snare beats accompanied with fuzzy guitar riffs and soaring choruses. The rap laced verses of Damaged showed some chilling trade offs with Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills and their closing track Army Of Me brings in crushing riffs, industrial pulses and the tearing vocal lines.

It’s safe to say that this is most electronically driven album that the band have delivered to date, but it’s an album that is still thrives with In This Moment style. The guitar riffs and drums are bombastic as ever, the vibes are as sleazy and sexy like they were on their 2012 and 2014 releases Blood and Black Widow. This is also an album that shows the band still growing in their 18 year career, Maria and crew are still growing as musicians and especially as songwriters. 

The opening track The Purge and The Sacrifice showcases the band exploring into more electronic influenced arrangements, to highlighting songwriter moments with Everything Starts And Ends With You and finally to new career heights with their major film featured song I Die For You. If you think this band have covered it all, trust me they are just getting started. For fans of Deftones, Nine Inch Nails and Bad Omens. 10/10

Elm Street – The Great Tribulation (Massacre Records) [Paul Hutchings]

Aussies Elm Street graced these pages back in 2016 with the subtle second album Knock Em Out … With A Metal Fist. That was the last album this four-piece had recorded until now, when The Great Tribulation has arrived. There has been an EP release between then and now, before the purists pick me up on inaccurate reporting. Anyway, The Great Tribulation provides an opportunity to reacquaint oneself with the band, whose vocalist Ben Batres delivers in raspy style throughout.
Whilst Elm Street sit with the thrashers, there is a wider style to their approach, with a combination of styles that switch from the punk tinged Take The Night, to the impressive opener Seven Sirens, which at 11 minutes long is an ambitious way to open any release. 

Apart from Take The Night and the groove-soaked Price Of War, both of which are short and punchy, this is an album which favours the longer song, something quite unusual for a thrash album.
The longer songs allow Elm Street to expand on their writing style, which they do with some enthusiasm. 

Whilst some of their songs follow a more traditional groove/thrash approach, it’s the ballad The Darker Side Of Blue, the penultimate song on the album that sees the band include with orchestral arrangements complimenting a heartfelt performance from Batres. It allows the band to show a more composed side to their writing and it’s not to the detriment of the overall record. Indeed, the guitar work of lead guitarist Aaron Adie is sublime.
Ultimately, The Great Tribulation is an album that is more enriching on every listen. If you are expecting a pure thrash metal record, then you may well be surprised. If you like variation in your metal, then this is an album that should be of interest. 7/10

Bacterial Husk - Anthropogenic Ruin (Label 2318) [Mark Young]

Boston, Mass. Not keen on tea but very keen on death metal as the following platter will inform. Bacterial Husk, active since 2015 brings their latest to the table and it's another top addition to what feels like a classic year for death metal.

Spores Of Hallucinosis starts with what could be described as an over-under-sideways-down intro riff that boots straight into a trem picked twinned with some stabbing guitar that sets the whole thing up with that filthy kind of death metal complete with submerged-in-slime vocal delivery. There is some razor-sharp guitar going on here with that baton picked up by Flayed By Anomalies. Underpinned by a simple structure, it takes the conceit of Spores…and keeps the foot firmly pressed to the neck. It has that sort of riff that is just mint to play and to headbang to. 

It's not ground-breaking in any respect but not every release has to be. It knows what it needs to do, and it does it very well. Plague By Pollination is dominated by that swing style with a firm emphasis on getting people to move. There are thrash elements in there which come out during the solo break. The arrangement is just so solid, and it can be said for the album as a whole, the slow start into tight triplets on Corrupted Hydrosphere and the drum battering in the final moments that usher in Enshrined Gravitational Aberration, it’s a great set of brutal, modern death metal that you will return to again and again.

Umbilical Sewage drops some nice technical touches in there without forgetting their core statement of bringing the brutal whilst Mystics Of Transmutation just goes for it, with a guitar tone that sounds similar to a swarm of murder hornets looking for a feast. It has to be said that there is enough going on to the engagement high, and similarly, the energy level is kept up, I think that they could have done with shortening one or two tracks, making them like shotgun blasts – devastation delivered quickly and on the next one. That is me being mean in some respects, but hey I’m reviewing it. 

The final track – Starving The Immortal unleashes a furious attack that grooves and finishes it off, ensuring that they close out on a high note. Fans of death metal should love everything on here, it does what it is supposed to and to that end, they have delivered an album that does no wrong 7/10

Aeonian Sorrow – Katara (Self-Released) [Matt Bladen]

In the death/doom sphere most bands either come from the UK, the Nordics or Greece, so when I saw that Aeonian Sorrow has Finnish and Greek members and played music that was ‘FFO’ Daylight Dies, Draconian, Swallow the Sun, then I immediately felt the temperature drop at MoM Towers and dark clouds gather outside. Aeonian Sorrow have been peddling maudlin, sorrowful, atmospheric doom since 2015. Their music has been described as cathartic, and with the dual vocals, clean and harsh, usage of keys and long slow riffs they bleed out every moment of emotion. 

Having had a few line up changes since their debut album and their last EP, they now return with their second album Katara, named for the mountain pass in the Pindus Mountains, which has numeorus tragic stories surrounding it due to weather. As someone who is married into a Northern Greek family I can tell you the weather in the North is not all beaches and sunshine, in the winter it can be cold and desolate. Greek singer/keyboardist Gogo Melone was also inspired by death of her grandparents, written in their empty house which was only accessible through the Katara roads. With that kind of inspiration, the music produced is guaranteed to be despondent. 

Gogo's vocals are ache with remorse and regret, introspective but purgative using the keys as a gothic vein that pulsates through these elongated songs. The distorted, deliberate riffs of Taneli Jämsä and Jukka Jauhiainen, set a funeral pace, melody a stranger to downcast heaviness. Counteracting Gogo's voice are the snarls of Joel Notkonen coming in to their own on Ashes And Death, he's just a big of a part as Gogo, the light and shade in the vocals evoking those influences of Draconian. As Anemos and Elumia are perhaps more gothic led by the measured drumming of Achilleas Papagrigoriou, he does get to open up when they pick up the pace though the power on Her Toment can't be denied. If you're death/doom fan then this atmospheric/gothic record will be the soundtrack to your cold winter nights. 8/10

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