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Solitary – The Diseased Heart Of Society

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 18th June 2017 by Paul Macmillan

Solitary
“The Diseased Heart Of Society”
Thrash metal
Released March 03rd 2017
via UKEM

If you pretty much live for the full Baskin Robbins, 31 flavours of thrash, Solitary’s latest release is an absolute must for your collection! No messing about with too much unnecessary cross-over into other genres, The Diseased Heart Of Society just gets straight to the point. It’s doubtful this would be a surprise to those aware of the band’s 2014 live opus I Promise To Thrash Forever. While this might put certain restraints on musical endeavours, Solitary pull it off with such flair you wouldn’t ever care.

This could be down to them being an expert hand at cherry-picking the essence of some utterly classic albums, without simply replicating them. There are definitely some shades of Master Of Puppets, as well as the hugely underrated …And Justice For All. I think I pick up a hint of The New Order era Testament (in fact I Promise… features an excellent cover of Into The Pit), as well as incredible lead-work nods to Rust in Peace and/or Countdown To Extinction. While these are artists who play in the same park, if not by the same rules, Solitary have created their own hybrid game. I think they might have pinched all the newer equipment, too.

Sharp, crisp guitars, thundering drums, driven bass make the production on this release a bit of a gold standard for me, and highly enjoyable to listen to for that aspect alone. This musical backdrop makes the perfect nest to carry what is possibly my personal favourite element of TDHOS; the vocals. Now, there is certainly an undeniably English accent, but the delivery fully puts me in mind of German band Rage’s frontman Peavy Wagner! That might not work for everyone, but right here, that is God status!

As much as I would normally lean towards it, I’m not sure if diversification would help in this case, or end up being a bit of a downer. The thrash energy is high, the solos are on fire, and the hooks are plentiful. One thing I do know is this is a solid keeper, and a prime example of the UK metal, and thrash, scene.

Paul Macmillan

4.5/5

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Maxdmyz – Alchemical Metal (EP)

Posted in Alternative, CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 17th June 2017 by Paul Macmillan

Maxdmyz
“Alchemical Metal” (EP)
Released April 17th 2017
Electronic/metal
Released via Renegade Records

This swift EP from London’s Maxdmyz is an odd, and mildly confusing one. Hell, I don’t even know for sure how we’re supposed to pronounce their name! Yet it’s the audio which keeps chucking out curveballs.

Swamped in the soundscape of 1990s rock and metal, collective tastes are somewhat obvious. The electronic edge of Obsolete era Fear Factory taken to its club friendly extreme, and the odd power-pop metal of Faith No More’s The Real Thing; the classics of that era are the big player’s in the canon of influences on display. One could also put some credence behind picking out the occasional nod to Alice In Chains, One Minute Silence, Rage Against The Machine, or even early nu-metal such as Hed(pe) or System Of Down.

There is plenty play on more current trends, though, albeit far more subtle in application. It does take a bit to push the overarching style to one side to filter them out, and then another shove to allow your head the space to blend everything back into one again. It’s no wonder they opted for the title of Alchemical Metal, as this pulls on predecessors from all throughout the metal and rock kingdom. From flecks of melo-death to stoned-out sludge, old-school to futuristic, the sonic melange is openly bizarre.

Not for the first time in reviews, I have to say, this should, in theory, have ended up a bit of a mess of mismatched tropes and idioms, but has managed to come together as one solid sound. Hopefully, the prevalence of this type of free-roaming artistic success story is a sign of things to come. Slightly disjointed at times, if you really look for it, but delivered with passion and talent, accessible, yet powerful and genuinely musical.

Paul Macmillan

3.5/5

Damaj -The Wrath Of The Tide (EP)

Posted in CD, Metal with tags on 12th December 2016 by Paul Macmillan

Damaj – The Wrath Of The Tide (EP)

Released March 1st 2017

Heavy metal

Self-released

Although Greenock’s Damaj have been cutting about for some three years or more – playing with Blaze Bayley, Tygers Of Pan Tang, and headlining Spanish festivals, as you do – The Wrath Of The Tide appears to be the first physical release they’ve put their name to. It presents a somewhat personal blend of numerous classical elements, drawn from the spectrum of metal; thrash, prog, and classic British heavy metal being the order of the day.

Vocally, there is much in line with the more accessible edge of the current UK scene, comparable to the likes of Reign Of Fury or Sumer, but the music behind is telling a different story. The lead work on the guitars is quite the trip. Incredibly professional in terms of technical ability, yet without plumping for mindless shred overkill, it really feels like something great has been accomplished in this respect. There are some very nice touches and twists in many of the riffs and rhythms, too, indicating that consideration and taste have been injected throughout. If I was to be mean, I’d have to say there’s something about the production value on this release which doesn’t quite click for me. It’s like later Voivod (i.e. the eponymous 2003 album). The edges of the sound are a little too… fluffy.

However, this doesn’t stop the integral energy of the collective breaking through. In fact, it doesn’t seem too farfetched to wholeheartedly believe Damaj have an almighty live presence, based purely on this EP. Now that they’ve cut their teeth on the recording front, and nailed their song-writing style to boot, they’ve laid the groundwork to make themselves a formidable force.

4/5

Paul Macmillan

Iron Altar – Iron Altar [EP]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 26th September 2016 by Paul Macmillan

Iron Altar
Iron Altar [EP]
Metal
Self-released: August 22nd 2016

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There are some practiced hands at work in Iron Altar’s eponymous debut EP, the band featuring Simon Anger (King Witch) and Andrew Callis (ex Torn Face). The disparity in the related acts lends itself to a unique metal sound, which is marvelous in its open-ended creativity. While there is one solid character, those of different tastes in heavy music will likely pick out completely dissimilar comparisons. On first full spin of the release, I swear I heard the footsteps of Faith No More, Annihilator, In Flames, Skid Row, Lamb Of God, Mastodon, and American Head Charge in just the opening track!

If the above makes this sound like a confused mish-mash of styles, be assured that assumption is mistaken. Shifting seamlessly between grunting thrash, monolithic atmospherics, eye burning lead work, and something altogether more… twitchy, this is metal that plays in its own league, and doesn’t give a good god damn about what is outside of those parameters. Iron Altar know what they like, and they’re not afraid to try melding any of it into their own world. They do it with panache and professionalism, and pool it together very nicely indeed.

I could be wrong. It might have been a naturally flowing writing process, but I imagine it took some doing to bring the composite elements into one cohesive sound. That said, I’d really like to hear this band delve yet further into their influences and come out with something even more distanced from their peers. It seems like that could well be within their collective powers.

4.5/5

Paul Macmillan

 

Cancerous Womb – It Came To This

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 14th July 2016 by Paul Macmillan

Cancerous Womb
It Came To This
Released July 5th 2016
Death metal
Released via Rising Nemesis Records

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So, the third of my three death metal reviews this week, and in my opinion, the best has been saved for last. Cancerous Womb have recently been through a bit of a shake-up, parting ways with original vocalist Chris Lewis, but this doesn’t seem to have slowed them down. They have been very active both at home in the UK and across the rest of the world, and returned to the land of recorded works with an absolute beast of a new sound.

As was subtly hinted at on their debut long-player, Born Of A Cancerous Womb, this is a band with a will to deconstruct, then reassemble, the tropes of modern DM. The difference here is that they have fully flung open the floodgates of restraint and just gone for it. Welcoming in the memorable hooks of thrash, alongside some mind-boggling grind, they have ditched any concept of genre defined song structure, and it has resulted in a collection of attention grabbing numbers, which crash through the headphones all too quickly.

There is a sense of the tongue-in-cheek to some of the passages, which makes them stick in the mind even more, but that may not be as apparent to non-musicians. Regardless, they are highly enjoyable purely as musical moments. Some are simple and powerful. Some are furious and intricate. Every second is gold.

If you are intrigued by the concept of Suffocation/Nile DM riffs meeting the jangle of Mastodon, the chaos of Pig Destroyer, and a scattering of evil thrash – handed out with complete disregard for expectations, and a little indefinable something else – this is an EP you really need to cram into your lugholes. Short and sweet. And sour. Bring on the album!

4.5/5

Paul Macmillan

Defiled – Towards Inevitable Ruin

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 12th July 2016 by Paul Macmillan

Defiled
Towards Inevitable Ruin
Released July 8th 2016
Death metal
Released via Season Of Mist

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The second of a triple hit of death metal reviews for this writer this week, and for the second time, I am not really a fan of the production values. Towards Inevitable RuinDefiled’s fifth full-length – states flat out, from the beginning, that this is an album which is ‘not pretty, nor pretending and reduced to the bare bones. DEFILED are definitely making a statement of naked brutality.’  I understand that minimalist sound can be a characteristic with charms and appeal, but on this occasion, I really feel it has missed the mark.  It takes a bit of perseverance to see through it to the album underneath. That said, it is possible to get used to it after a couple of spins, once the initial impact has dissipated, and you know what to expect.

Musically speaking, it’s insane! Sporadic drums and twisted riffs, blasted out in an aural labyrinth bizarre. What more could you ask? In terms of technical listening challenges, TIR tramples In Crisis, delivers a sneaky uppercut to Ugliness Revealed in passing, and leaves Erupted Wrath’s crippled body in a road-side ditch. Divination is likely the closest song-writing match from their back-catalogue. Naturally, this turn-on-a-dime complexity comes, to some degree, at the expense of coherence, but to different listeners, this will have different pros and cons. Considering the band in question, you would expect more pros, but the mix/master is still a little distracting, which may harm the delivery on first contact.

Defiled have well and truly invaded grind territory on this one, steaming headlong into crust-punk influenced lunacy, and who knows, maybe it will pay off in the long run. The riffs are there, as is the indefatigable, essential energy. These are ingredients which have seen other albums rise above uncomfortable mixes to classic status in the past. After all, people still love …And Justice For All, right?

3.5/5

Paul Macmillan

 

Gorgosaur – Lurking Among Corpses

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 11th July 2016 by Paul Macmillan

Gorgosaur
Lurking Among Corpses
Death metal
Released April 25th 2016
Released via Memento Mori records

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There isn’t a heck of a lot of information available about this Swedish, DM two piece. Lurking Among Corpses is only their second release, the first being the Gashes And Demise demo from 2014 (of which new versions of all tracks seem to be included herein). It opens up with what seems to be a tribute to 1980s horror movie theme tunes, with Basement Funeral Hymn, but what follows is, for the most part, fairly standard fare d-beat DM, broken up by the occasional groove-heavy riff section.

I have to admit, I’m not a massive fan of the production, but there is a certain aspect to its lo-fi character which may be a bonus to some. There’s a kind of Atari Teenage Riot frantic messiness to the mix. It seems to work better with the more blackened vocals of Åsa Hagström than Martin Schönherr’s full-on, guttural DM approach. While they list bands such as Celtic Frost and Venom among their influences, and these can be he heard to a degree, a better comparison would possibly be early works of fellow Swedes, Entombed, or even more so the previous band featuring many of the same members, Nihilist. Very old school and very dirty.

As a first full-length, LAC is absolutely a solid release in a field which has seen a lot of travel, but it would be nice to see this band develop a little, and grow a more unique identity. There are glints of that coming through already; they’ve got the passion, and a really good grip of what makes a classic death metal riff. It’s the spaces between which seem to need to be brought to the fore a little bit more. If that can be nailed, this could be a truly formidable sound.

3.5/5

Paul Macmillan