March 2016’s Monthly Review Roundup

chasing-dragons-300x251Faction: Prologue by Chasing Dragons

Chasing Dragons are a female fronted metal band hailing from Leeds and it is obvious from the opening riff of Devin in Her Eyes that this band are deadly serious about what they do, and beyond excellent at it. Superbly produced and expertly written, the three tracks on this EP showcase a band on fire and capable of the best and brightest of things. Every so often you hear a band where everything just fits and clicks together. This month that band is Chasing Dragons. Catchy, aggressive, heavy yet poppy, the tracks on offer here are as good as post-hardcore can get. Do yourself a favour, go listen to them, you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

primitive man northlessSplit by Primitive Man/Northless

Up next we have a split between Denver, Colorado’s slab-dragging doomsters Primitive Man and Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s own doomsters Northless. The first track, Empty Husk belongs to Primitive Man and is their only offering on this EP (mainly because it clocks in at around 15 minutes). It is Primitive Man at their most vile and heavy. This is the sound of humungous tombstones being hurled down mountains by cave trolls. This is slow, heaaaaaavy death/doom and will definitely satisfy lovers of the genre. Northless have 3 tracks on offer and are a similar proposition to Primitive Man – heavy deathly doom, though they verily speed through their tracks, comparatively speaking. Deleted Heartstrings is a maelstrom of angular discordant guitar riffs laid over fit-inducing drumming, with true throat stripping vocals slathered over the top. Their other two tracks continue in a similar vein until, by the end, the listener is left breathless and partially deaf.

Rating: 3/5

Rusty-GsLow by Rusty G’s

Hailing from Milton Keynes, the homegrown Rusty G’s play balls out alt-rock in the truest form. From the snotty vocal drawl of Oh Yeah and indi-esque stomp and distortion of Crawl it’s clear that the band are onto a winning formula. Taking all the best influences from 90’s alt-rockers (Janes Addicition, Bush, Weezer and The Vines to name a few) and melding them into something that harkens back to that era without sounding out-dated Low is certainly an entertaining listen. There’s enough musical talent here to make the songs cohesive and catchy, with many a well-wrung guitar solo, there’s also enough of a pop sensibility here to gain some serious airplay if there was any justice to be had, particularly album single Don’t Belong.

Rating: 3/5

 

a0059073382_16Humanity Burning by Unheard Before The Wake

Unheard Before The Wake are a London-based death metal band and their second EP, Humanity Burning, opens with the straightforward death metal stomp of the title track. Well produced and well written, this is standard death metal fare with no added frills, until the second half that is, when Strapping Young Lad-esque clean vocals kick in and the style switches to a more melo-death approach. The rest of the EP continues in a similar vein, but the quality remains exceedingly high, from the furious beginning of Lurker to the eerily haunting spoken word interlude to the full melo-death/power metal bouncy opening riff of The Pluto God. Unheard Before The Wake are on to a winner with this formula and can only get better over time, with the only criticism being that the clean vocals could do with a little bit of work.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

War-Inside-Suture-front-coverS.U.T.U.R.E.by War Inside

French noisesters War Inside play a frenetic blackened death metal a la Belphegor and Behemoth. Opener Demiurge rips out of the speakers and refuses to let up, no mellow breakdowns or interludes here, just full frontal brutality. This approach continues through The Milgram Whore and occasionally throws in melodic passages and excellent guitar solos that offer variation but don’t get in the way of the battery War Inside are so intent on delivering. Instrumental Penance shows the excellent musicianship of the band before the brutality continues with disturbing howls and intricate leads of Cold As Dead.

There is no reason why War Inside shouldn’t reach the levels of the likes of Belphegor and Vader, they have the musical chops and the song writing ability. S.U.T.U.R.E. is a fantastic album and War Inside are a band to keep an eye on.

Rating: 4/5

a0014327358_10Wode by Wode

Hailing from Manchester, UK, Wode play straight up no frills black metal. Ice cold riffing, pummelling blast beats and throat ripping vocals. You can tell instantly that this band belong in the upper echelons of the UK black metal scene, if not the UK metal scene as a wider whole. Expertly produced and painstakingly put together there is not a note wrong with the album from start to finish. Melodic in a Watain/Mgla sense that doesn’t detract from the brutality (if anything, it adds to it), relentlessly aggressive and furious, and that’s just opening track Death’s Edifice. Wode keep this up for the remaining 5 tracks, with standout moments occurring during the opening of Cloaked In Ruin with its slow building beginning riff, that builds and builds in speed with different musical layers coming in until the whole track erupts into a brutal assault of black metal fury that any Scandinavian band would be proud of. Wode have certainly made an impressive statement of intent with their self-titled debut and I look forward to seeing far more from the band. An excellent edition to an already thriving UK black metal scene.

Rating: 4/5

All above Reviews by Mike ‘The Reverend’ Tasak

 Heartfelt Single CoverBe Strong/White Eyes by Heartfelt

Back in the days of vinyl a single had to grab your attention from the word go. For the performer that meant summing up everything you were about in a couple of minutes on what could be a make or break chance towards a career. The options on how we get to hear music these days are wide-reaching but often random – To purchase a single where you also get what was a vinyl B-side but is now just another CD or downloaded track so what was the chance to show another side of the creative personality often means the listener is a fan of the performer already.

Heartfelt start off well with an anthemic intro ringing out before ‘Be Strong’ gets going in earnest, as a belting modern rock tune that veers between a harmonic pop verse and angry growling asides. There’s a brief change in pattern musically three-quarters through and there are probably some studio effects at play that might be hard to pull off live but for the most part it does its job well.

‘White Eyes’ however is more of the same, but less interesting. The growling strains for the death metal side of things and the lighter voice no longer works as an appealing aural dichotomy. Indeed the song’s stop-start nature makes it feel like two half-finished songs bolted together to avoid arguments between a couple of vocalists (even presuming it’s not one guy doing both). Commercially, the businessman in me says, sell yourself on the sweeter voice and keep the growl for added character, just doesn’t overplay it.

Rating : 2/5

104450Heel by Heel

Looking like they’ve gate-crashed a debutante’s ball were not their suits and prom dress all so carefully torn, the female fronted Heel offer creative variety in what is a coq au vin of modern art rock with a side order of Garbage and a little Paramore.

With ‘An Apology’ Margarita oozes sex appeal vocally, not coy but urgent; the allure focusing the listener on the lyrics. ‘Fake Love’ is twitching chords and double time drumming, ‘Live This Forever’ similar, more aggressive, but less interesting; more appealing the rock ‘n’ shuffle of ‘Nothing New’ and the bright dancing crossover rock of ‘Selfish Burn’. Experimentally ‘Keep Running Back To Me’ echoes Love Sculpture’s sixties hit ‘Sabre Dance’ married to Adam & The Ants Burundi style drumming while ‘Shatter’, ‘Streets Full Of You’ and ‘Cool’ each play with the moods of the modern rock torch ballad. ‘Yellow & Bliss’ has an appealing Latin rock feel, it’s an approach one becomes familiar with when guitarist Dan takes solos elsewhere; it’s as if he takes his cues from Roxy Music ’s Phil Manzenara then spices the sound for a contemporary audience.

Heel might just be that little bit different that, if allowed to grow musically, could make a big impression.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

BTO_COVER_1440Come Clean by Burn The Ocean

‘Days In November’ and ‘Seeds’ would seem to set the template for this debut from Burn The Ocean: full-on bludgeoning contemporary aggression with busy drumming over what’s essentially classic rock style songwriting. At its zenith tracks like ‘Bitedown’ pull that into Alter Bridge territory whereas on a cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Black Dog’ they deliver an interesting take with jazzier drumming and the guitar taking Plant’s “Ah-har” lines but you’re hardly likely to opt for it over the original and ‘Bitedown’ centres them squarely in a rowdy early Kiss/Starz vein with a rather radical tambourine sound cutting through.

Moving from their general template, ‘Land Of Mud’ features raw-rocked guitar alongside a pop-psych tune that broadens in scope as the song develops, whereas ‘Gone Away’ is the one that throws you, after six mainly aggressive tunes it ends Come Clean with an acoustic piece in the manner of Page/Bert Jansch/Roy Harper with what sounds like old news reportage over the top.

As a unit Burn The Ocean mesh well together, they produce a solid sound with good arrangements but the songs themselves never really stand out. They may be from Europe; the vocals possibly have an Italian inflection, and the rasping tones are pleasing enough but not a highlight, similarly when you’re waiting for a song to take off and a solo to ignite the situation it rarely does, hardly rising beyond a melody line twist played low in the mix.

Decent, with potential, but not compulsive listening this time round.

Rating: 3/5

ep-artBlack Syrup EP by Novacrow

Zombie face painting, burlesque acts, and a “ridiculous stage show” were apparently all part of launch party thrown by Liverpudlian band Novacrow for the release of Black Syrup. The EP’s fanzine comic strip styled cover kind of indicates that’s what they’re about. Slow-churning scuzzed rock pours out over a ‘We Will Rock You’ beat on oddball opening track ‘Fat Frog’ with what sounds like a kazoo being played near the end and they follow it with ‘Fight The Horde!!!’ for which we assume the zombie-spoof music video they made makes it more entertaining, wherea instrumental ‘Colourless’ is merely a diversion. What you get from this is that Novacrow might possibly be largely entertainingly live but lack identity musically.

However, they redeem themselves somewhat with ‘Black Syrup’ itself, a sleazy pastiche of the blues with a sassy groove under singer Kitty Staunton’s come-on lyrics, and call time on the EP with ‘Set In Stone’ that sifts through the rougher edges of their rock sound to add other creative dimensions.

Rating: 2/5

image003Last Man Standing by Ekram

Ekram list the likes of System of A Down, Metallica, Shinedown and Pearl Jam as influences. Opening numbers ‘Breakaway’ and ‘Gun In Your Hand’ play it safe musically, being thundering modern metal with pulsating rhythms and angry vocals that it must be admitted grow on you. The Madrid-based band then show their hand with ‘Swallow It’ a slower paced broken chord affair that gains gravitas with stirring harmony lyrics that reveals they’d rather like to play big arenas where they can stretch out musically. And far be it from me to deny such aspirations.

‘The Hunter’ steers into similar territory but relies on the earlier songs heavy rhythm. ‘Enemy’ by contrast is an almost folky pop ballad before stacking up the power chords and is a surprising highlight. They conclude with ‘Enemy’ that applies early Sabbath sludge-paced gloom between faster more modern metal riffs and an archetypical rock solo.

As a taster Last Man Standing offers a decent bit of variety but it’s with the less obvious more expansive sounding tracks that I’d like to hear Ekram develop as a band.

Rating: 3.5/5

 All above reviews by Paul H Birch

 Game-Over-Crimes-Against-RealityCrimes Against Reality by Game Over

Game over are a European thrash metal band band that started out in the summer of 2008. The band was originally three guys but they later partnered up with their drummer who was later replaced with somebody new.

Their new album, “Crimes Against Reality” is their 5th effort released in 2016, and it is awesome!

The album introduces with the first track “What lies within”. It starts off with a slow guitar riff, then mixes in with some sharp, heavy chords followed by the drums blended with the bass and it all comes together to form an epic opening track. The next song on the album “33 Park Street” is a lot more of what you bought the album for. The guitar of course comes in first, slowly, with a couple of sharp chords. Then as it mixes in with the drums it gets a lot faster in a very short space of time, as if to throw you into the song like a wall. The vocalist comes in with this deep, rasp heavy cannon of a voice and it goes from an okay album, to an amazing album. Another memorable track from the album was “Fugue In D Minor” because it completely catches you off guard with a full on growl, followed by lightning paced drums and guitar and then goes straight into something you’d hear from a cartoon horror sketch from the 90’s. Over all great album from these guys.

Rating: 3.5/5

25572714161_1b573955a9Storm clouds by Cairo Son

Cairo son, three guys who know how to make a person depressed for no real reason through their groovy, dark and awesome music. This trio based in London started out in 2012 with their debut album “Heart against the feather”.

They haven’t released a whole lot of music but now they’re here with some new material that mixes stoner rock up with the dark, morbid vibes of grunge. And boy does it sound good.

There are six tracks all together on the album ranging from about 4-6 minutes in length. The album doesn’t really have much of an intro track, it’s just gets straight to the band’s sound. An awesome guitar riff sets in followed closely by some deep, slow paced drumming before the front man comes in with some amazing vocals. He sounds like if somebody mixed up Chris Cornell’s voice with Rob Flynn’s rasp. The lyrics start out with “Rise from the ashes once more” and proceed on about lifting yourself up after you fall and restoring yourself, then about ignoring your demons and healing through time. Yeah, some deep shisnick, definitely not just words thrown onto a piece of paper recited over some guy you’re paying £10 to play some sheet music you stole from class on his out of tune starter axe with some really badly computer generated drums. This is something these guys clearly spent a lot of time coming up with (Probably why they took 4 years to get it out.)

Overall the rest of the songs on the album don’t change in tempo or sound, which isn’t the best considering how slow and morbid said sound is, but it’s still some good material. The song’s lyrics differ from picking yourself up, to being trapped and then about the dark side of the mind but the guys voice doesn’t really project any louder or speed up at all throughout. This is not a completely bad thing, considering some of the messages they’re trying to get across in these songs, I guess they’d want to be taking it slow. I don’t listen to much slow paced music or groove stuff but I thoroughly enjoyed these guy’s music. Amazing piece from these guys and I’m sure I’m not the only one who will look forward to more from them, definitely worth a listen.

Rating 4/5

12143161_900862080004001_2895433008159425246_nPunk Rock by Headline Maniac

Headline maniac are an alternative rock band from Essex in the UK. They are a three-piece band who released their debut album in September 2015, and just came back with their new album “Rock And Roll Thuggery”.

Now being a mainly death/thrash metal listener it’s hard to really get into a rock album or anything soft, but I actually thoroughly enjoyed listening to these guys.

The first track on the album “Idiot me” starts off pretty fast with all three of the band’s members coming in at once and a series of “Oi’s” before the guitar gets mixed with the frontman singing and then the song gets a little bit more melodic before lowering again to make way for a guitar solo.

The music itself changes mood throughout the album and also gets more and less heavier in places. For the soft rock lover this band is gold and worth a listen, but the heavier people are better off sticking to their Pantera or Cannibal Corpse.

Rating 3.5/5

DemiseOfTheCrown_-_album_coverDemise of the Crown by Demise of the Crown

Demise Of The Crown, a Canadian power Quintet based in Montreal. Their official line up formed in 2014 and have just released their self – titled album.

The first track “We are invincible” starts off with some typical high pitched fast paced guitar strumming before it is accompanied by some heavy chords and then the guys voice comes in. I say typical not in a bad way, an awesome way, you have to have power metal characteristics to be a power metal band. The sound over all is fast paced and heavy, with soft patches of songs where the instruments slow down and the guys voice lowers from a scream to the most manly rasp you could imagine, like Andy Biersack without the makeup.

Another amazing track on the album is the final one “Eons”, which starts off with some slow, calming acoustic guitar and the frontman voice, which is the most soothing thing ever when clean, the guy is like if Morgan Freeman was Canadian and could sing. That is the best way I can describe his voice. The track speeds up but not to anything more than some high pitched strumming and some drums. Probably best they chose to end their album with this song considering how different it is to the rest because of its slow pace.

Awesome band, would definitely listen to these guys myself.

Rating 5/5

Endgame_(Blood_of_the_Martyrs)Endgame by Blood of the Martyrs

Blood of the martyrs are a metalcore/deathcore band that also incorporate electronic and symphonic elements into their sound. The band formed in late-2007 in Farmville, Virginia. That’s not a joke, there’s a place called Farmville, take a second to think about that.

In early 2014 the band announced their new album “Endgame” with a new vocalist, Jason Wilkins. The first track on the album is called “The devil’s grip” (Christian metal band by the way). The song starts off with some faded out guitar and then the vocalist shouting something under his breath, before a guitar comes in, cutting in and out using electronic sound, followed by some violent clean vocals from the drummer/backing vocalist and the song goes on. The music’s sound goes up and down in mood setting from a doom-like guitar blast to a calmer, lighter sound with clan vocals instead of screams.

There are seven tracks on the album all together each about 3-5 minutes long which all pretty much incorporate this hard electronic intro. Followed by rough screaming and instruments and then spots of softer, light and slower areas of sound with soft clean vocals from the drummer.

Rating 3.5/5

Implode-The-Anti-Cimex-EP-ArtworkThe Anti-Cimex EP by Implode

Implode are a five-piece death/thrash metal band from Mariestead/Skõvde.

They have two albums out, the first being “One of Everything” and the second being the focus of this review.

Like most metal albums, it consists of an intro track, in this albums case that is “March Of The Wolves”. The track starts off with some deep/ slow drums that slowly come into focus. Then straight away the two guitars come in with some deep, slow chords that blast out any remnants of any previous sound.

The EP consists of just 5 tracks, the second of which starts off with pretty much the exact same way as the intro track, but without the slow drumming at the start. The rest of the tracks on the album also start off with this kind of thing. Finishing a song and getting the next one out as fast and brutally as possible.

If you’re into the speed from a thrash metal band with death metal type vocals and the overall sound of sped up doom metal, then you’re in for a treat.

Rating 4/5

pearl-handled-revolver-if-the-devil-cast-his-net-300x300If The Devil Cast His Net by Pearl Handled Revolver

Pearl handled revolver, a quartet bought together by the shared desire to create music based off of their own instinct instead of style.

Between 2010 and 2013 they released four EP’s and two full albums and have now decided to release their seventh effort entitled “If the Devil Cast His Net”.

The first track on the album “Help Me Down From the Trees” starts out with some computer generated noise, like a really high pitched violin mixed with fast symbol tapping from the drummer before dropping into heavy drumming, guitar and an organ. The song drops again into some soft, blues type drums and guitar accompanied by the guy’s voice, who sounds like Lemmy and Elvis Presley had a baby.

Another track on this album I though was way worth talking about is the third, “Someone Like You”. The song starts out with some slow and deep drums and slow guitar, which doesn’t stop throughout. About 15 seconds into the song the guy starts singing and this jazzy, psychedelic masterpiece is created. Listening to this album is like a trip, I loved it.

Rating 5/5

All above reviews by Kye Haddleton

a2026555213_10Impasse by Blackwork

‘a very exciting and encouraging release from a fresh metal band.’

Blackwork bring us an absolutely banging debut EP in the form of Impasse. At times furiously fast and aggressive, other times hauntingly melodic but always with a definite heaviness. While some elements of the music feel refreshingly innovative it is also worth noting that the band also occasionally wear their influences on their sleeve a little heavily at times. Overall though a very exciting and encouraging release from a fresh metal band.

Rating 3/5

 

 

Evil-SidesEvil Sides by Efpix

‘Always thick and heavy and moving smoothly between the atmospheric and downright aggressive tones, this is definitely for fans of things that are unapologetically brutal.’

Maybe we really are beginning to run out of decent band names…I only say this because everything else the band does seem to ooze creativity; from the ghoulish image to the music featured on this very album. Sporting an eclectic mix of influences from melodeath to industrial to black metal and making various stops in between. I am impressed by how cohesive a sound the band has been able to create. Always thick and heavy and moving smoothly between the atmospheric and downright aggressive tones, this is definitely for fans of things that are unapologetically brutal.

Rating 4/5

 

a1896263988_10Nihil Ex Nihilo by Abandoned Life

‘I give credit to the band for having the nerve to write songs as relentlessly long as they have done but the fact is after a while I forgot I was listening to them altogether.’

There are times when a band will rail against the usual aims of a recording session and deliberately try to achieve the ‘roughest’ quality of recording possible. Other times it’s a budget thing. Both are valid positions for a band to take so long as they make it work. I’m not so sure here. I’m usually quite happy to listen to the hypnotic riffs of a doom metal band no matter how long they let the song drawl on for. I give credit to the band for having the nerve to write songs as relentlessly long as they have done but the fact is after a while I forgot I was listening to them altogether. Maybe the fuzzy, washed out nature of the recordings didn’t help, perhaps it’s just my listening and I will definitely say that, even more than most, this style of music really belongs in a live setting. Not one for me though.

Rating 1.5/5

aobw-harrowed-split-300x300Split EP by Art of Burning Water and Harrowed

‘Both bands act, very successfully, as a kind of audible middle finger.’

Ahh, old-school hardcore punk vibes. Crusty, grindy, furiously fast and in-your-face aggressive. Both bands act, very successfully, as a kind of audible middle finger. Art of Burning Water seem to bring a more deeply unhappy and genuinely miffed attitude to their sound while Harrowed almost seem to revel in the joy of their own anarchic presence. A fine pairing, albeit brief. Very much for fans of such things but amongst those who are both bands should go down an absolute treat.

Rating 4/5

 

 

388521The Thin Line Between Hope and Ruin by Ragestorm.

‘Ragestorm incorporate various shades of death metal with an impressive degree of playing ability, without losing a primal sense of brutality and urgency.’

The standard of technical playing ability in the death metal genre has risen greatly over the years. Sometimes this can lead to bands focusing a little too much on the technicality of their music and not giving their sound chance to be as satisfyingly guttural as it could be. Ragestorm incorporate various shades of death metal with an impressive degree of playing ability, without losing a primal sense of brutality and urgency. At times even going so far as embracing something filthy and crusty like a good grindcore band. Impressive and highly enjoyable song writing with tones to make your ears bleed.

Rating 4.5/5

 

All above reviews by Eric Valentine