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Friday 17 May 2024

Reviews: Pallbearer, Combichrist, Insanity Alert, Tzompantli (Reviews By Rich Piva, James Jackson, Mark Young & Gavin Brown)

Pallbearer - Mind Burns Alive (Nuclear Blast) [Rich Piva]

Pallbearer is a strange band to review after you just lost a loved one, but what better way to experience the beautifulness of their version of doom, a version that has become less and less heavy instrumentation wise but never loses its punch. Mind Burns Alive is barely a metal album, but it is going to be tough finding something heavier and more emotional than this record.

Reviewing this and the new Vitskär Süden back-to-back in my given headspace is quite cathartic I must say, but Mind Burns Alive is even more on point to the pain and emotions that I have experienced over the pat 2 months or so. I literally feel this record coming out of my speakers during the opening track, Where The Light Fades. Can an album be more on point for a person at a certain time of their life? Pallbearer has perfected the doomy slow burn, but this beauty they continue to add to their music is astounding. Yes, this one gets crunchy at the tail end to keep the metalheads interested, but it is about so much more than that. 

There has always been a bit of Type O in Pallbearer, and with the title track you get some of those vibes for sure. This track will satisfy the listeners yearning for the heavier doom metal side of Pallbearer. The whispered vocals at the beginning just adds to the deepness of the song as it permeates your skin and seeps into your veins. Signals hits just as hard, with a chunky but beautiful, with excellent vocals and a solo that breaks your heart. There is so much raw emotion built into Mind Burns AliveEndless Place is classic later period Pallbearer and if saxophone offends you in any way be ready for it, but it very much works here. 

Daybreak may be Pallbearer’s most delicate track in parts, abandoning any semblance of metal for just straight up raw emotion that rips your heart out up front and at the end, but when it does kick in during the middle oh how I love that layered guitar work and we get really heavy around seven minutes where the raw emotion and metal crunch absorb each other into a purely perfect sound. What a song. Where The Light Fades, the closer, destroyed me.

Whether it is the right album at the right time or whatever, Pallbearer nails it with Mind Burns Alive. The perfect mix of raw emotion and heaviness lyrically and musically that creates a dark and beautiful soundscape that only this band can deliver in this form so effectively. 9/10

Combichrist - CMBCRST (Out Of Line Music via Rough Trade/Believe) [James Jackson]

I had the pleasure of seeing Combichrist perform an Old School set at Leicester’s Uprising Festival last year and the act were a personal highlight of the event, I went for one band but came away very much intrigued by the Industrial/Aggrotech of Combichrist. For the most part the “band” are frontman/founder Andy LePlegua, joined by various artists when performing live; earlier recordings are far more Techno than the most recent recordings including this album and an EP released earlier this year. 

The tracks on CMBCRST are an interesting blend of Metal and Techno, the two seemingly unrelated genres thrown together to create something simultaneously organic and synthetic, where one track is more “Metal” the next holds more of an Electronic/Techno element; some are then more in line with the Industrial offerings of Fear Factory, the first band that came to mind when Through The Raven’s Eyes came on. 

Such is the diversity within the tracks that even the rather Funk infused, cowbell toting intro of Modern Demon which almost descends into Goth Rock territory before a stomping Techno beat takes over, doesn’t seem out of place, whilst the track Sonic Witch has a riff that reminds me of the tone of Rob Zombie’s album The Sinister Urge. For twenty years LePlegua and Combichrist in its various forms have been a huge part of the Aggrotech/EBM/Dark Electro scene, their work appearing on both Movie and Game soundtracks. 

Undoubtedly this album will only cement their role as one of the most influential and longstanding artists within the genre. 9/10

Insanity Alert - Moshemian Trashody (Season Of Mist) [Mark Young]

From one extreme to another, Insanity Alert brings you four songs that are inspired by four incredibly well-known recording artists. How well you’ll like it will depend on how you like your classics being treated. They take influence from some of the speediest exponents of thrash – S.O.D, D.R.I and Municipal Waste as well as adopting that sense of humour that allows them to poke fun and hopefully get a laugh too.

Welcome To The Moshpit is our kick-off track and is a rapid fly-through, keeping enough of its source material so you know exactly where it’s coming from. Wisely, they have trimmed the song to an inch of its life, knowing that stretching it beyond would probably start to grate on our nerves. It sounds exactly how you think it's going to sound, job done. Beer In The Park is shameless. And guaranteed to make you thirsty. They keep the best bits in, and you can imagine this being done live, everyone singing along as you would with the original. Beerless Fiesta is well, George Michael with double bass and death vocals. It’s the sound of drinker’s remorse, but with trem picking and Motorhead’s drums. I’d rather hear this than the original...

Moshemian Thrashody, well, this is the song for everybody who has been battered in the pit. I defy anyone not to like this, it could be the soundtrack to anybody who has been battered in the pit. Condensing a 7-minute classic into the best bits is a tall order. Adding your own lyrics to it and keeping it sounding something like the original is something to be applauded. It is not half-arsed and finishes the EP off well.

In the space of 12 minutes, they take what could be thought of as untouchable music and George Michael and wring it through an irreverent thrash filter. Sometimes you need someone to do this kind of thing, have a bit of fun that we can all share. Each of the songs is approached with the right balance of keeping it recognisable whilst maxing out the speed. How this lands will depend on your sensibilities, but if you go in with the approach that it is in good fun then I think you will like it. 7/10

Tzompantli - Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force (20 Buck Spin) [Gavin Brown]

With their 2022 debut album Tlazcaltiliztli, the death/doom/ black metal behemoth that is Tzompantli fused indigenous history and lore, merging traditional instruments with the heaviness of that unholy trilogy of sounds and the results were spectacular.

Now two years later, Tzompantli return with the follow up album Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force and it sees the band building on the power of that debut album with another collection of brilliantly executed songs, bolstered by even more additions to their tribe this time around.

The tribal rhythms that Tzompantli crush all in their path with are more than present and correct on Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force and this definitely adds to the power of the bands music especially on songs like Chichimecatl and Otlica Mictlan, which merge their doom infusing brutal death metal and in turn, some real menacing vibes with those tribal sounds, and the results are immense, something that happens constantly on this album.

Those meetings of sound are something that are all over this album and it all adds up to a brutal and atmospheric listening experience, and it safe to say that Tzompantli have delivered the goods again with Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force, and in doing so, they have made an album that is even more eclectic and even heavier than what they have done in the past, and another example to mark Tzompantli as an undisputed force to be reckoned with in extreme music. 8/10

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