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Monday 4 December 2023

Reviews: Stengah, Mind Control, Cryptosis, Demons Of Noon (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Stengah - Downward Mechanic EP (Mascot Records)

A brand new EP from French bonecrushers Stengah is a short blast of grooving modern prog metal that will excite anyone that loved their debut album Soma Sema in 2022. It was critically acclaimed, your humble writer giving it a respectable 7/10. They've been touring since then, but to keep the fans happy they have released Downward Mechanic, an EP filled with songs written during the Soma Sema sessions but not put on the final version of the album. 

For whatever reason they were left off, it wasn't beacuse they were any lesser than the songs on the record, the aren't any different either, they are born from the same creative soup so pack as much of a punch as the album tracks. The idea behind all of these tracks is a machine becoming human, learning to feel and moving from mechanical to organic, the climax of Inner Space, the final transformation with the harsh/clean dynamics showing this duality between machine and man, the last chapter of what they started with Soma Sema

This is the end but the EP gets going with The Earth Awakes, a blistering tech metal track that injects pace from the first moments and doesn't relent. From here is Reign Of An Apocryph, the djent increased to a higher level with palm muted riffs and more aggression, shifting into atmospheric middle section, before realigning at the end. It's the heaviest song here that moves into the most emotional song on the EP. Resurface (September's Gone), has a brighter atmosphere musically and lyrically, describing the escape from depression as Sheltered Within is a sucker punch to the face increasing the brooding heaviness again. 

Founded by drummer Eliott Williame, joined by bassist Benoit Creteur, guitarists Maxime Delassus and Alex Orta and vocalist Nicolas Queste, Stengah write the final paragraph of their first volume with Downward Mechanic, where they go now will be worth watching out for. 7/10 

Mind Control – Elements (Self Released)

From Italy, Mind Control are an extreme death metal band, a country that has its fair share of progressive death metal bands, but Mind Control sound a lot more Swedish than they do Italian, though there is some Fleshgod Apocalypse levels of pomposity, along with the alt metal hooks of a band such as Lacuna Coil on tracks such as Flames and Effluent

This second album has been a while in the making, nine years actually, due to line up changes and life getting in the way but they've returned with a record that is as good, if not better than their debut. Based around the melodic death metal of Scandinavia, with progressive metal virtuosity Mind Control will appeal to fans of bands such as Wintersun, In Flames or Scar Symmetry. The vocals from Stefania Salladini are diverse and powerful, the screams and growls of Angela Gossow fused with the soaring power of Christina Scabbia. 

With her at the mic, the band have a bonafide star, in the back room Stefano Tatasciore's bass gives some heavy grooves to Wind while the drums of Luca Nicolucci's drums present double kicks that doesn't quit, especially not be Devin-like Storm. This track also displays the keyboard/synths that permeate all of these songs provided by Massimo Boffa who's the bands guitarist and shreds/solos with a disgusting level of techincally. 

Now I will want you that Elements is 13 songs long, and none of these tracks are short either so unless progressive melodeath is one of your go to genres then you may get a little fatigued with this album. However if you stick with it you'll be rewarded with an album that is full of twists and turns, but in the end Elements is a progressive melodeath record that stands with the big guns of the genre. 8/10

Cryptosis - The Silent Call (Century Media)

Called Cryptosis? On tour with Cynic and Obscura? Made up of a trio where mellotron is named as an instrument? It's going to to progressive death metal innit? Tickle me correct as The Silent Call is an EP that has been put out to indicate that the Dutch band have been in the studio writing for a new album next year. 

This EP contains one new song, in the title track, an unreleased track from their 2021 album sessions and two live versions from their show in Athens last year. So to the music and yep there's that mellotron on the opening of the title track Frank Te Riet using it to maximum effect before cranking out the chonky bass riffs against the bombardment of Marco Prij's drumming. There's a lot of synth in the background much like tourmates Cynic which detracts a little bit you'll still be in awe of Laurens Houvast's guitar playing.

I actually prefer Master Of Life to The Silent Call as I think it relies less on the synths and more on technically gifted metal, it also gives a better account of Laurens' vocals. The live tracks, well they're what you'd expect, without the crowd noise and with a bit of overdubbing they'd sound exactly like the record. If the new album sounds more like The Silent Call than it does Master Of Life then I'd be a bit more wary, however it could sound toally different. 

Anyway this EP gives a taster of Cryptosis if you've not had the pleasure but ultimately is a stopgap. 6/10

Demons Of Noon - Death Machine (Evil Feast Records)

Kiwi occult doom now with Demons Of Noon, compared to Blood Ceremony, Hex Thoth, Lucifer and Purson, I'd say they sound more like Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats, Bloody Hammers or even Wales' Spider Kitten. The Auckland six piece are of course also indebted to Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard with their ultra distorted riffs of Abraham Kunin and Scott Satherley (guitars) and bowel rumbling low end on tracks such as Crushing Sun

This is their debut album, compiling all of those most recent singles including that black hole of Crushing Sun, the shamanistic Coward, driven by the percussion force of Joseph McElhinney. Where Demons Of Noon distance themselves is with the use of two vocalists, the haunting, cleans of Tamsyn Matchett enter ethreal realms as the gruff growl of Aria Jones envokes demons. 

Building the record from the ground up with the 8 minute Echolalia, they layer twisted guitars with chanting vocals and sparse drums to create unease before a chug continues the hypnotic beginnings of this record. The intent is for this album to be a ritual, doom, stoner, sludge and the occult meshed to make you lose your mind and make sense of the world though noise as Succession displays amicably. 

I'd compare Demons Of Noon to Church Of The Cosmic Skull, you have the light and the dark, the Yin and Yang, Death Machine definitely the Yin, Southern Hemisphere heaviness that will damage your eardrums. 7/10

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