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Tuesday 7 May 2024

Reviews: Meden Agan, Dødsferd, Full House Brew Crew, Dogtag Remains (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Meden Agan - My Name Is Katherine (Sleaszy Rider Records)

The fourth album from Athenian symphonic metal band Meden Agan is a concept album based on singer Dimitra Panariti's novel of the same name. Released at the same time as the album it deals with the titular character of Katherine who battles inner demons in 1950's Greece, around this a love story adventure and horror and the musical accompaniment to the whole book is this new record their first since 2018.

Meden Agan's music puts together Gothic, symphonic and progressive metal Panariti's vocals are the main element of the bands appeal as her range is broad and impressive. She's a vocal coach so she can soar operatically but on Confident and Sickness can also bring growls and roars too.

This change between clean and harsh styles works well with Meden Agan's heavy style of music which has some virtuoso playing from guitarist Diman Koutsogiannopoulos and keyboardist Tolis Mikroulis, linking well they both get chances to show off with solo sections, but as Diman riffs and peels off some Petrucci solos.

It's Tolis that brings the orchestral swells to tracks such as Victorious which also has drummer Dimitris Palimeris unleashing hell, bassist Pantelis Sakkas the newest member of the band adding the chugging rhythms to the very power metal sounding Beyond Any Suspicion all of it culminates with the rampaging Transition just as it starts with the blitz that is Moth.

In fact the speed is much more pronounced at the beginning of the record than at the end. Not that it much matters as My Name Is Katherine is a cinematic album that will keep you entertained for nearly 50 minutes, I don't know if they'll stay in this literary world but the music that comes from it is damn good. 8/10

Dødsferd - Wrath (FYC Records)

Named after Dødsferd's founder, the 12th record from Greek black metal institution sees them heading back to their roots with abrasive, glacial, furious black metal. Never attempting to be pigeonholed, the band have released atmospheric albums, acoustic albums but with raw, visceral black metal that Wrath has made their mark on the revered Hellenic metal scene.

Wrath then paves the way for the next part of their existence, inspired by political corruption, capitalism, war and ecocide, Wrath fleshes out the raw black metal template with influences with other styles to keep the experimental nature the band have always approached their albums with.

The band here is Wrath on vocals/guitar, Neptunus on bass and N.D on drums but this is Wrath's record, totally written in solitude it's Dødferd and Wrath are one and the same. What's obvious on Wrath is the production is a lot cleaner than on previous albums, with the fury of Restoration Of Justice still retaining that blackend filth sound but just a lot clearer to hear.

From then on we get plenty of tremolo on Decayer Of Sanity, battery on Raging Lust Of Creation and some outright viciousness on Heaven Drops With Human Filth. If you've only heard the last two albums from this band, you'll be surprised by how visceral Dødsferd are as a band. If you think you know the Hellenic underground, then think again as Dødsferd/Wrath are the underground. 8/10

Full House Brew Crew - Rise Of The Underdogs (ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records)

Full House Brew Crew have been pumping out groove metal/metalcore anthems since 2009. Think Pantera meets Machine Head and the like but with the some of the more melodic sounds of bands such as Trivium or Architects due to the addition of synths to this album. They have released two previous albums with ROAR so it makes sense that this third release also comes on the Greek label. 

On Rise Of The Underdogs they have moved away from the stoner/heavy rock sound they began with towards a much heavier groove meets metalcore one. Nearly all of the songs are delivered with a gruff roar though cleans do come in for the melodic choruses on Leaving Home, those synths working well at the dark trip hop 'secret' outro and the oscillating beginning to the battering Fake. They are sprinkled between the low tuned bottom end and biting riffage of When Violence Meets Art and Flaws Of Guilt, then they add to the breakdown loaded Voice Of Doubt which flirts with Nu Metal but does have a great guitar solo to it. 

Giorgios Tzatzakis and Vagelis Karzis are the guitarists, bringing the massive riffs to Nightmare, Karzis' vocals on form here too, though he's got the ideal roar all the way through. Behind them is Spiros Dafalias (bass) and Nikos Friligos (drums), they give the songs their guts, even when they get angsty on Leaving Home which sounds a bit too much like FFDP (shudder) for me. Full House Brew Crew have increased the heaviness, trusted the electronic elements and become a different band than they were before. Whether it will appease long time fans, I don't know, it's bound to win them new ones. 7/10

Dogtag Remains - Forgotten Battlefields (Satanath Records/Australis Records)

Dogtag Remains are a war/battle obsessed OSDM band from Athens. Forgotten Battlefields is their debut album following a name change and a single before. Much like so many death metal bands their songs are all inspired by history, battles and the horrors of war, set to grinding, blistering death metal.

Encirclement gets going with an artillery barrage behind the drumkit, the guttural vocals that are pretty standard and then we get mid section that's slows to a filthy chug. So far so Bolt Thrower and it doesn't let up. But there are some more atmospheric elements to slow the moments of battery, check out the truncated start of The Man Who Never Was before all hell breaks loose and Vaggelis Kavalieratos obliterates his kit.

Thanos Kougioulis (guitar) and Kostas Eleftheriadis (bass) weave the DM riffs between fast and slow Dimitris Pastos' leads adding tremolo picking over the top of the crusty riffs. As Aachen kicks off with a bit of Maiden riff then blows away at full pace and The Glomfjord Plant goes back to crawling sludge.

As a debut album is a ferocious debut of militaristic death metal from the heart of Athens. 7/10

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