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Tuesday 14 November 2023

Reviews: Venus, Diviner, Receiver, Warship (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Venus - Obscured Until Observed (Xtreem Music)

Venus is two men from Athens; Giorgos Verginis (guitar/harsh vocals) and Antonis Avtzis (guitars/clean vocals), I assume everything else is a computer but it's a well programmed computer, playing the sort of blasts you'd want them to. With a science fiction/horror theme in their music they draw from Cynic, Voivod, Vektor and Death as they play intense thrash that often journey's into death metal. It's a guitar lovers wet dream the six string interplay between Giorgos and Antonis stunning from the first moments, leaning on the Chuck Schuldinger way of songwrting where the guitar is the focus.

On The Arrythmic Pulse Of Universe and the finale of Subatomic Search For Human Consciousness, they play with virtuosity and passion, even adding some techincal bass playing throughout the album too. The real skill though is composing songs that let them show off but make things coherent too. The Trivium punch of Sons Of Guns leads into the blistering prog metal workout The Observatory is how Obscured Until Observed starts, increasing the ferocity and techincality from their debut EP in 2022. For me the fusion of the harsh/clean vocals is a significant evolution from their EP, the harsh vocals growl while the clean vocals have Matt Heafy shout to them. It allows them to play with dynamics within the songs, insuring that it's not all just long phases of guitar shredding. 

The songwriting itself gains more progression and textures, turning Venus into the extra-terrestrial thrash machine they have threatened to be. Packed with shredfests from the opening moments Obscured Until Observed will get you busting out the air guitar on an interstellar overdrive. 7/10

Diviner – Avaton (ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records)

Forming in 2011 and with two albums under their belt, Diviner release their third full length Avaton. As is the norm with Greek heavy/power metal, Diviner choose to move towards the American style over the European. 

Though amongst the Savatage, Sanctuary and Metal Churchisms, there’s lots of Teutonic sounds and vocalist Yiannis Papanikolaou reminds me of Dio. So it’s got a classic metal vein, but with a bit of muscle behind it vocally and musically, the production of Fotis Benardo keeping it raw enough on tracks such as Dancing In The Fire and Cyberwar, especially the guitars of Teo Ross and Alex Flouros, but letting the instruments breathe on the more complex arrangements such as Waste No Time where George Nidriotis’ bass is key. 

There’s more than just bog standard mid-pace metal though on Avaton, Hope Will Rise is thrashy, driven by Lefteris Moros’ drumming, while they take a brave move of putting two 8 minute songs one after the other as Hall Of The Brave has to have a Savatage influence while The Battle Of Marathon goes full Manowar, as acoustics shift to chest beating epic metal. Avaton continues with the sound Diviner have been refining for 10 years. Nothing you haven’t heard but slickly done. 7/10

Receiver - Whispers Of Lore (Gates Of Hell Records)
Cypriot band Receiver bled NWOBHM with folk in a way that bands such as Warlord, Omen and Saracen have done before them. That latter comparison is the closest to what Receiver play as a band. NWOBHM that shifts into folk storytelling and even moments of AOR, the songs are about fantasy and emotions sung well by the vocals of Nikoletta Kyprianou who brings a bit of Leather Leone, a lot of Sarah Ann Vincent (Smoulder) and even a bit of Veronica Freeman (Benedictum). 

Whispers Of Love is their debut album and they set out the stall with the NWOBHM gallop of Unite, Loizos Koukoumas (bass) and Yiannis Xanthou (drums) pacing these tracks as if they came from the UK scene in the early 80’s. From Unite, Starchaser keeps the rhythms sprinting along while Andreas Kyriacou and Charalambos Vassiliou intertwine with the dual guitar harmonies. So far so atypical of the ‘epic metal’ sound, Maiden on Trespasser bleeds into more Maiden on Falling To Dust, but this is the early Maiden of Killers into Number Of The Beast, they even put in an instrumental, Wilderness, to keep up the authenticity. 

I can’t really hear the folk elements on the record, only really on the swashbuckling Arrow which is another, longer instrumental and on the title track. A debut album that owes most of the composition to Iron Maiden, probably too much, however if the NWOBHM never died with you then Whispers Of Lore will have you getting your denim out. 6/10

Warship - The Third Wave (Sleaszy Rider Records)

Athenian band Warship set off on their third crusade with Captain Foris Ntrikos (guitar/vocals) at the helm. They've been sailing the seas of metal for a number of years with the last two waves taking place in 2010 and 2016 so now it's time for their third. Warship play classic heavy metal from the early days of the NWOBHM. In the press pack it says they are for fans of Holocasut, Warlord, Blitzkrieg and Angel Witch, all of which is true, unfortunately these bands are the ones who were never really at the top of the scene, and I get a similar feel from Warship. They play quite simplistic music, which is authentic I guess but the major problem I have are those vocals...they are dreadful. Completey took away any enjoyment of the album. So no matter how good the music is I couldn't get into it. Not much else to say. 5/10

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