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Friday 26 April 2024

Reviews: Accept, Edit The Tide, Vesperian Sorrow, The Loyal Cheaters (Reviews By Matt Bladen, Paul Hutchings, Mark Young & James Jackson)

 Accept – Humanoid (Napalm Records) [Matt Bladen]

Accept embrace/reject the technology age, those historical takes in Blood Of The Nations/Stalingrad now replaced by fear of A.I and technological attachment as the German metal legends add another classic to their late period repertoire. Recorded with Andy Sneap again, it’s got all the fire and fury of the most recent Judas Priest albums, Sneap knows how to make a classic metal band sound up to date while keeping things similar to their earlier works. 

Mark Tornillo’s vocal performance on Humanoid is particularly good, snarling and snide he delivers The Reckoning and Diving Into Sin with apocalyptic venom, while on the glammy Nobody Gets Out Alive it’s refined for a more radio friendly cut and with Ravages Of Town he turns into Rod Stewart as a husky voiced crooner. Lyrically there’s focus on A.I and technology, but also the passing of time and ultimately death. The one problem I have is Man Up which I’m trying to work out if it’s serious or satirical, the idea of Manning Up in 2024 is perhaps a little old hat, but it’s got a AC/DC backbeat so may be tongue in cheek, the AC/DC influences come on Straight Up Jack too. 

Anyway away from me being a snowflake and back to this killer metal album we have. Wolf Hoffmann and Uwe Lulis bring that Teutonic twin axe terror to HumanoidMind Games and Unbreakable, it almost seems stupid to talk about dual harmonies and precision riffing as these are the foundations Accept, and most German metal are built on. However there’s some bluesy rock as well, the glammy stuff I mentioned earlier and neo-classical opening on Southside Of HellUnbreakable and Nobody Gets Out Alive highlight the work Martin Motnik (bass) and Christopher Williams (drums) put in in the backroom to keep this metal machine firing at full pace. 

Much like Priest, bands of this vintage could be just resting on their laurels but Accept are actively trying to better themselves with each album. Humanoid is a mechanical masterwork delivered by honed homo-sapiens. 9/10

Edit The Tide – Reflections In Sound (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

Bridgend five-piece emerged in 2023 and took early plaudits at their appearance at Swansea’s Station 18 festival. Their music is a combination of classic and modern styles, with some intricate guitar work adding to an overall melodic flow.

This five-track EP brings the band to the attention of the rock world in a wider way, and for a debut EP it’s certainly worth a listen. The band are no wet behind the ears outfit, with experience in other established acts evident in their confident approach. Opener Ambience is a pleasing combination of intensity and catchy hooks, ample harmonies which stick in the memory and a hard enough edge to interest those whose penchant maybe for things a little heavier.

Unite And Rebel has some heartfelt vocals that are underpinned by solid musicianship. It’s a contemporary approach, with the clean and gruff vocals working well. A song about the impact of the pandemic, it’s a darker song with a defiance that we can all appreciate. Paradigm reminds us that you get but one shot at life, so take it with both hands. It’s another deliciously crafted song, with the intricate guitar work more evident and clearer than I’ve heard when they play live. Harmonies are key to this band, and they’ve worked hard to ensure that they aren’t too intense but also deliver in the right way.

With Regret is another honest and complex piece of work, with a clear message that resonates throughout. That brings us to the final song, The Moment, a song focusing on determination and never giving up.

If I had one criticism, it’s the formula that the band use can present as a little repetitive. Whilst that could be levelled at most bands, a little more variety on style would be welcome. It’s a very minor quibble though. Overall, if you are a fan of the modern rock/metal sound, then Edit The Tide should be of interest. It’s an EP that is well delivered and provides South Wales with another band who are potentially on the edge of a wider audience, likely to appreciate their honesty and sincerity in sound. 7/10

Vesperian Sorrow - Awaken The Greylight (Black Lion Records) [Mark Young]

And now a blast of symphonic black metal to close out your April. Vesperian Sorrow bring you Awaken The Greylight, their 5th album and one that is presented as a new collection of music that ties together with that previously released over the course of their previous albums. 

With that in mind, I don’t believe that you must have experience of those in order to appreciate or enjoy what they have here. For the purposes of the review, I’m going to treat this as an album which represents their ‘jumping on’ point, is this any good, will it make you want to seek out these earlier releases and furthermore follow them going forward? This will depend entirely on if you like the symphonic genre.

What we have is 10 songs that sit in that genre very well. Fans of the band, and of this music will take pleasure as they do exactly what is expected. From the extreme drumming, melodic flourishes, guitars that rumble and vocals that switch between clean and dirty it has everything that you would associate with it. What I didn’t get was a sense of the epic, the grandeur that I thought would be present here. There are moments where it shines through, the opening of As The Pillars Were Raised screams out of the traps like a man possessed. 

There are subtle echoes of Nile and Morbid Angel in it, at least to these ears and it is effectively a snapshot for the songs that follow. There is that Middle Eastern theme that runs through it, from the vocal phrasing to the synths, the ever-present double bass, it’s all there but it runs too long and what could have been one of the best opening tracks of the year has its impact reduced. 

It feels as though this is something that is repeated as we progress through the album, there is an undeniable quality here, but the songs are stretched out too far, it’s almost as though there was a conscious decision not to have any short songs on here. A great example of a song that would have benefited from being a touch ruthless is Antediluvian – Proceeding The Unshaping. There is a section that is repeated and it doesn’t add to song at all.

The piano and harmony guitars at that usher in Traverse The Vorthonian Passage are well done, and this one zips along at a decent pace and has that bit of oomph that is needed to keep you onboard; there are some furious guitar lines, and the double bass again is laying down suppressive fire of the highest order. It’s a belter of a song and should have provided the springboard for them to kick on with but they seem to miss the target with the next one, opting for what felt like a safe option, or maybe something drawn from a template. 

Either way, the songs themselves are decent enough, well played and arranged but for me something is missing. It’s definitely a sense of familiarity bleeding through in each song, and by the time we get to the title track they hit it the mark but it’s too late. Awaken The Greylight is urgent, flying in parts and pulling back to allow their sense of melody to come in. Its rapid, heavy and there should have been more like this here. I don’t think it is a coincidence that it is one of the shorter ones here, and by being shorter it impacts so much better.

All being said, it’s not a poor release. It just feels top-heavy in execution and had the songs varied in length a little more then I could have enjoyed this more. It is not short of good ideas but the song lengths mean that these are stretched out too far. 6/10

The Loyal Cheaters - And All Hell Broke Loose (Go Down Records) [James Jackson]

This German/Italian Rock outfit, fronted by Vocal/Guitarist Lena McFrison play a mashup of Rock, Glam and Punk, all seemingly influenced by 70’s acts like Cheap Trick, a band whose song Surrender was covered by The Loyal Cheaters, on their previous album. 

The songs are short but punchy, the raucous Punk influences driving the upbeat tempo for the majority of the album, especially on tracks like Eat The Rich and Spit On Me. The tempo only dials down on a few tracks, the bluesy sway of Hound Dog shows that not everything has to be driven at full speed, for it’s change in tone makes it stand out from the rest of the album.

I feel slightly indifferent to the album however; it’s not anything I’d particularly listen to though it doesn’t make me immediately want to turn it off, the riffs are solid enough and the choruses catchy, vocally it’s a strong performance just as it is instrumentally, it’s Turbo Rock n Roll according to the bio and if that’s your style then I’m sure it’s one to try. 6/10

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