Archive for EP

Reverence – Foreverence

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 23rd January 2018 by izaforestspirit

Reverence
Foreverence
Released 22nd December 2017
Power Metal/Thrash Metal
Released via Razar Ice Records

Reverence - Foreverence

Two years have passed since I reviewed Reverence’s last full length ‘Gods of War’. A lot has happened since then. For starters, they have a new singer. Secondly, last year they suffered the loss of their guitarist Peter Rossi, who died unexpectedly in March 2017. This EP is dedicated to his memory. It also features two live songs acting as preview to their new live album.

From the musical perspective, this EP essentially picks up from where their last full length left off. You’ve got your uplifting, guitar-driven power metal hit – Firelord which, though a little cheesy in the lyrical department, is rather enjoyable. Then there’s New Order which features some old school thrash metal and even groove elements in the guitar structure. Speaking of guitars, the band’s official tribute to their recently departed guitarist Final Flight – RIP PJR is a true masterpiece in guitar work. No vocals or drums, just full on guitar solo harmony and riffs galore. I’m sure that any current or aspiring guitarist would love to have a go at playing this tune.

Then there’s the sombre, slow acoustic ballad Sleep in which you can really hear the emotion in the vocals. It’s a far more profound and bittersweet sound than what you might expect to hear from Reverence but it suits the mood. Finally, the live tracks seem like a fitting way to end this EP, acting as a means to show that the band will go on doing what they do best.

In summary ‘Foreverence’ is a great way for the band to pay tribute to their departed guitarist. They have paid their respects and now they are getting ready to move on and take the next step forward. All I can say is keep up the good work!

4/5

Iza Raittila

Maxdmyz – Alchemical Metal (EP)

Posted in Uncategorized 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

EARTHBREAKER – Voice of the Voiceless

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 11th January 2017 by Nico Davidson

EARTH BREAKER
Voice of the Voiceless
Hardcore/Metal/’Ullcore
Self-Released: November 2016

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Hull – Otherwise known as the City of Culture – has a lot going on for it, especially in the music scene, which is where a promising young band known as Earthbreaker are currently making makes and lots of noise. Having only been around for just over a year, this melodic metal quintet have already made their presence felt – and heard – in North England.

Voice of the Voiceless opens straight up with the powerful and memorable track The Vipers Nest, which features an energetic and tenacious breakdown and some bestial vocal work. Family follows up almost seductively, with its overwhelming assault of guitars and differing and unique vocal sounds.

Misanthropy is a melodic track which is as catchy as the common cold but that doesn’t stop it from being heavier than an elephant’s arse. The guitars are heavy-duty, paving a path of broken bones whilst the rhythm sections lay down the gritty foundations. Whereas Deathwish brings a more emotive but just as unyielding sound to Voice of the Voiceless.

The EP finishes on Psychosis, with its enchanting dance between the guitars, bass and drums, making it a good track to finish on.

Voice of the Voiceless demonstrates Earthbreaker‘s well-founded sound in a way that leaves the listener wanting more and shows that this young quintet can go toe-to-toe in the pit with some of the heavy hitters on the scene.

4.5/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Iron Altar – Iron Altar [EP]

Posted in Uncategorized 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

 

The End Of Grace – Unity

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 3rd June 2016 by Pieni

The End Of Grace
“Unity” [EP]
metalcore
Released: 3rd June 2016
Via Ilumnirec

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If you know The End Of Grace and have been following their story, you may find this title a bit ironic, given the recent major line-up change in the band. I see it the other way around, a tribute to what makes us one and not what divides us (check the words on the artwork – they’re not exactly random). First of all, the departure of 3/5 of the band had nothing to do with falling outs – it’s just life and its usual way of forcing people to make hard choices; they may not partake in the songwriting and performance anymore but they’ll always be a part of TEoG. And then there’s founder Jimmy Bergman’s passion for this project, which will keep it alive no matter what – a true unity with music.

Now that you have my two pennies on the title, let’s go for what really matters. When I’ve last spoken to the boys (interview here) they told me there would be more breakdowns They weren’t fooling around! All songs are much richer in that department, making them sound heavier, thicker. Well, all except the ballad “Fighting For Another Day” (I still smile at the term “ballad” when Kriss Clark is busting up his throat to growl like that, but there’s no other thing to call such bleeding melody) – this one has its own heaviness and there’s no need for extra breakdowns for that.

There’s also more riffs/more elaborate guitar structure, more meaningful lyrics and a better complicity between the aforementioned growls of Kriss and the clean tones of Johan. I had the chance to see “The End Of Grace” (yes, they named a song after themselves) in concert (report here) and witness how such briskness works live. Well let me tell you that “If You Fall”, “Never Break” and “Trigger” will cause the same restless effect. This is what metalcore is all about.

It’s been already three years since the release of “Lost In Transition” but it seems like yesterday, as those songs keep rolling on my playlists. I’m pretty certain the same will happen with “Unity”.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Rage – My Way [EP]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 26th January 2016 by Pieni

Rage
“My Way” [EP]
Heavy metal
Released: 22nd January 2016
Via Nuclear Blast

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Nowadays, EPs and singles are mistaken for one another quite often. Rage’s “My Way” is one of those cases; at least I wouldn’t call EP to a 4-track recording comprised of two versions of the same song plus two new versions of 20-year-old songs. But it’s still worth saying a few words about it, as “My Way” is an upbeat, classy piece of heavy metal. Vibrant riffs upon a sturdy rhythm, an ear-worm chorus with a defiant attitude (“it is my way or nothing at all”) and a flowing, rich solo – everything a fan of the genre appreciates.

The aforementioned “new versions” are actually just re-recordings of “Black In Mind” and “Sent By The Devil”; nothing, or almost nothing, has been changed. Sure, the recording and production have a clarity now that wasn’t possible back in 1995, making the sound of each instrument much more distinct. But on the other hand, those rough edges were part of the era these songs were born in in the first place, and taking away that rawness wasn’t exactly necessary.

As for the Spanish version of “My Way”, by the name of “Apuesto A Ganar” (determined to win)… well, unless Spanish is your native tongue or you really like this Latin language, I don’t see a reason for you to not stick with the original version…

3 / 5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Lurid Memory – Dematerializing [EP]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 30th November 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Lurid Memory
Dematerializing [EP]
Released September 18th 2015
Progressive death metal
Released via Funeral Noise Records

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Although self-described as progressive death metal, there is genuinely a bit more to this band than has come to be associated with the genre tag. A blazing solo is nice, but sometimes you just don’t want to hear every member of a band try to pull one off at the same time for 45 minutes. Lurid Memory, seem to have a firm grasp of both these facts.

This release is a clear development from their chaotic debut Unclear Mental Portraits From Lives Past, in terms of song-writing, carrying much of the same character. However, they have reached a new level of maturity by embracing a slightly more blackened essence, supplementing their already diverse blend of heavy prog, thrash and classic DM. Hints of its presence seem to have been lurking from the off, but on Dematerializing it is allowed to surface with beautiful results. The atmospherics are darker than on their previous releases, and occasionally lend a folky arm to proceedings, bleeding into a more traditional prog sound.

At times, this release is very straight forward, but that in itself is refreshing, and the palette which Lurid Memory have at their disposal should more than satisfy those ravenous for intense musicology in their listening. For me, personally, they have hit the prefect stroke between technical ability and knowing when to rock the f*** out, with the final landing point somewhere between the jagged constructs of Death and the floating ephemera of Cynic.

The one significant draw back with this EP is that it reeks of restricted potential. It would be interesting to hear the results were this lot locked up in an isolated location with nothing to do but write a full album. This is hardly a major flaw, but it appears that the next step is an obvious one. Lurid Memory are already a cracking band, with much to offer the metal world, but it’s hard not to imagine them exploding into something more, given the opportunity.

4/5

Paul Macmillan

King Witch – Shoulders Of Giants

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 19th November 2015 by Paul Macmillan

King Witch
Shoulders Of Giants [EP]
Released November 09th 2015
Doom / classic metal
Self-released

King Witch - Shoulders Of Giants

Kicking off with an eerie intro to the title track, the real fun with King Witch’s debut EP, Shoulders Of Giants, starts when they cut to the chase with their strange concoction of slightly black, doomed-up, sludgy trad metal. Although this may leave you expecting a drawling beast of a record, lumbering on at tectonic velocity, there’s actually quite the rapid flow at times, and in shying from self-indulgence, King Witch make every shot count, never lingering in one territory for too long.

They also seem to have access to bottomless pockets of metal-ology into which to delve in the quest to keep things engaging. While Black Sabbath are riding high in the Shoulders… world, there is equally a shadow of Death looming ominous on the barren horizon, casting a prog-metal tone over the landscape. When you have three tracks of doom to state your case to the world, set to diverge at several musical tangents, it should be self-apparent why KW have seemingly made efforts to keep things moving along fairly swiftly.

The warlock on top of the mountain, however, we have still to address here. As some may already know, King Witch included the talents of long-term partners in crime, Laura Donnelly and Jamie Gilchrist, formerly operating in the much lauded Firebrand Super Rock. Where Gilchrist’s guitar work shines through as part of the musical character described above, Donnelly provides what is quite simply ultimate power, full blast, metal vocals; a classic delivery in the realms of Tony ‘The Cat’ Martin or Brittney Slayes, with the slightly cheesy undertones switched out for something altogether darker.

Although this is their first release, and they only formed in 2015, this is something special, and King Witch could well make a significant dent in the scene in 2016 if they keep up this level of work. There’s nothing quite like this kicking about at present, and it’s likely that any who tried to emulate it would fall far short of the mark. Powerful, professional and unique.

4/5

Paul Macmillan

Salem’s Pot launch pre-orders for The Vampire Strikes Back vinyl EP

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 11th November 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Suzzed out Swedes Salem’s Pot have opened up orders for the 2-track vinyl release of their most recent EP, released in digital format this Halloween.

Salem's Pot - The Vampire Strikes Back

The record is available in a number of physical versions; test pressing, black vinyl, and clear vinyl. To order one up, head over to their label, Riding Easy’s online shop. The Vampire Strikes Back will see its hard copy release on Christmas Day.

You can listen to and share the EP at their Soundcloud page here

Suicide Silence – Sacred Words (EP)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 7th November 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Suicide Silence – Sacred Words (EP)
Released October 23rd 2015
Deathcore
Released via Nuclear Blast

Suicide Silence - Sacred Words (EP)

Although this is billed as an EP, I certainly feel more like I’m listening to an old school single. The release comprises of the title track, plus its instrumental version, remix version, and live version, accompanied by live recordings of a further two tracks – Cease To Exist and Inherit The Crown. It’s a minor detail, but I think most people have come to expect more new material from musical output in this format. I also feel that four renditions of the same work is total overkill.

The focus track itself (taken from 2014’s You Can’t Stop Me) is a good display of ‘Eddie’ Hermida’s more core oriented vocal style, which has naturally divided opinion amongst fans since the untimely demise of original frontman Mitch Lucker. The music, however, lacks some of the vehemence of their previous recordings, and, for me, it’s the live takes which lift this platter to its peak. The energy they are delivered with is akin to that on some of extreme metal’s brightest moments in concert audio recordings. The immediate comparison which springs to mind is Pantera’s Live 101. The song-writing is a different pot of spuds, but the essence and tangible energy is very similar.

As someone who was never a fully-fledged admirer of Suicide Silence, or, indeed, deathcore in general, I am quite prepared for my opinion to be called into question on this, but to a certain degree, I find the new vocalisation more fitting to their current sound. That doesn’t mean better, and it could well be the case that the music has changed subtly in order to make this happen. The truth is we may never know, but in all honesty, it has turned me on a little to a band who I never really gave much thought to in the past, and I’m not really sure where many of their old school fans have found the ammunition for hate.

If you were a die-hard fan of You Can’t Stop Me, this will most likely please you as a behind-the-scenes collector’s piece, but I would personally hold out for the next full-length to effectively sate any death-core cravings.

3.5/5

 Paul Macmillan

Bloodyard – Darker Rage EP

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 8th June 2015 by mickbirchy

Bloodyard
Darker Rage
Black metal / groove metal
Release date: 27th June 2015
Self-release

Bloodyard are a death/groove metal band based in the North-West of England. The band consists of Donna Hurd on vocals, Nick Adamson on guitar, Dave Cowley on bass and Matty Lee on drums.  After the release of the their 2013 EP, Set To Fall they found reasonable success across the UK. Now, with their follow up EP “Darker Rage” they look to continue in their future and further their potential.  Their sound is this cool combination of groove tones, thrash rhythms and black metal style vocals.  It make for very interesting concoction. I find myself weirdly compelled by the stylistic choices of this EP. They have some great riffs and interesting ideas for songs. I’ve heard comparisons to Arch Enemy and I think that fits well enough.

The EP opens with “Epitaph” which has this really well worked riff and the whole song fits around it.  Along with a good bass groove, this song is fun and drives you to keep listening.  The vocals are well projected and powerful. I can’t say the drum work is spectacular but it does its job. This song, however, would be nothing without that excellent groove. Up next is “Sacred To None”.  Once again a solid riff and great groove.  This one clearly takes some influence from thrash metal.  The drums are well worked and frame the song nicely, and the vocals are still pretty good.  It’s around here, though, that I noticed a problem with this EP: the songs go by too quick.  Maybe that’s just me but just as I’m getting into the song, it ends.  Just as it gets interesting, I’m cut off and left wanting a little more.

Next up we have the title track “Darker Rage” This is just awesome.  Really enjoy this track.  The riff is solid and the whole song just feels rounded. One of those tracks that make you wanna just get up and headbang.  Throughout the EP, the writing is just consistent, everything is solid and it shows as the riffs and grooves are very enjoyable. The solos aren’t anything too special, but they serve the purpose fine, I have nothing against it.  Finally the last track is “Dead Relics” and it’s more of the same.  I don’t think I can add much else talking in a track-by-track sense.

So yeah, this is a pretty decent EP.  Yet, it does have its problems. The first thing you’ll probably notice is the production quality. It’s not great, everything sounds muffled and if it is mixed you couldn’t tell.  I get that not everyone has a big production budget, but yet, I’ve heard self-releases that sounds bloody amazing. So I don’t quite understand that.  Also every song on the EP follows pretty much the same structure.  Slow intro, speed into the song, have a solo, close out the song.  There’s just barely enough tweaks to make each track sound like a different song. Which to me is a little lazy and makes everything sound samey.  With an EP you should try to show off variety, I get the feeling this is a one trick pony.

To summerise, is this good? Well, yes and no.  If you’ve spent a lot of time around under the radar metal bands and you particularly like the sound of cheaper production on a metal record, then I say go get this.  That’s not to say there isn’t anything there, there’s so much potential in this band and I genuinely like the grooves and riff.  Those were the fun moments of the EP.  However, I know not everyone gets excited by a decently composed riff.  I like this EP, I think the band has a long way to go but I also think they have enough to get there.  They just need to be a bit more creative and think of a new structure for the songs.

2,5/5

Mick Birchall

Six Gun Saints – Ashes [EP]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 24th January 2015 by mickbirchy

Six Gun Saints
“Ashes” (EP)
Hard Rock
Released 14 October 2011
Via Dead Island Records

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Six Gun Saints, are a hard rock quartet hailing from Concord, CA.  Their debut EP “Ashes” is influenced by so many sources, yet it comes off a just standard metal.  Described to me as follows “Their EP ‘Ashes’ was shaped by drawing from various musical influences of each band member, forming their unique sound”, yes it’s quite cliché and I feel like I’ve heard this sound somewhere before.  Don’t mistake that as bad; it’s just being advertised incorrectly.

The EP itself is a fun heavy metal romp and feels like a Bullet For My Valentine/Avenged Sevenfold-esk type sound.  The riffs are well structured and easy to listen to, this isn’t something that’s going to challenge you as a listener but it’s good all the same.  The track “Spotlight” opens with a gorgeous bit of very atmospheric music and kicks right back into the same vibe.  The reason I point this out is that, for only the second track on their first EP this is really well composed and feels really nice.  The twin guitar is pretty pretty cool too and complements the overall sound nicely with the bass and drums creating a great framework for the band to shine.

The production quality varies throughout and some points are really night and they hit just mark that’s needed, but other moments it feels really disjointed and and the timing feels weird too. The riffs are always nicely structured and when it comes to transitioning between chorus and verse it just feels like they stopped playing for a little while then started again and someone just mixed it badly.  I can imagine these songs sound a great deal better live, or hell, this might even just be their style.  I don’t know, the disadvantage of reviewing a debut is you don’t know what you can and can’t criticise, as it could just be the way I listen to music.  For some parts to sound so good and then the other parts are sloppy, it just sounds disjointed in my head.

Overall, this is a good EP.  I couldn’t say it’s any more than good.  Six Gun Saints show a lot of promise and I do genuinely look forward to more from them, they could be the next big rock band they have all the necessary skills, they just need a little tighter production and more focus and they could be set.

3/5

Mick Birchall

Moonshade’s “Dream | Oblivion” release party – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 6th December 2014 by Pieni

Moonshade, Destroyers Of All, Survive The Wasteland
Metalpoint, Porto
29th November 2014

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Moonshade’s EP “Dream | Oblivion” has been available digitally on Bandcamp since May, but now they’ve released it in physical format. So a release party was mandatory. Playing melodic death metal, they invited two bands of different death flavors – straightforward death metal and a more thrash-oriented one – bands that “tore down the stage”, as Moonshade singer Ricardo said later on, adding that it was just what they had expected, hence the invitation.

 photo _DSC0057copy_zps25631991.jpgThe first was Survive The Wasteland, formerly known as Suffochate. Already under the new name, they’ve released a 2-track EP (3-track if you count the intro) last year, “Devour”, “Sculpting The End” suitably wrapping up the show. All the other five songs – including “Stolen Ceremony”, to which the band recorded a “live in studio” video – are still a work-in-progress to a future release. A promising one, by the sound of it! Despite the crowd standing a couple of steps back – singer Cláudio and bassist Miguel taking the clearing for themselves here and there – and the moshers kicking their circle just for the last song, one could tell Survive The Wasteland were making an impression, given the constant headbanging and the growing enthusiasm in the applauses. I believe these kids from Matosinhos have a good thing going on here. (5 / 5)

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www.facebook.com/survivethewasteland

Next came Destroyers Of All. Warmed up… no, heated up by Survive The Wasteland,  photo _DSC0314acopy_zpsaa3eebf6.jpgthe crowd started moshing earlier. The fact that they had a bunch of hardcore fans there also helped, screaming along the lyrics and everything. After all, if you make it to the finals of Wacken Metal Battle (losing to a more veteran act, Revolution Within), you must be good enough to earn followers along the way and get a lively crowd every time you go on stage. “Into The Fire” it’s the only recording so far, an EP with four shredding tracks (plus intro & outro) and its title track seems to be the most popular. Among those songs they played also a new one, “Death Healer”, and a couple of covers, Death’s “The Philosopher” and Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell”. Singer João introduced the first one as a song from a band that “you might have heard of before”, and the trick to make the crowd scream louder came from drummer Filipe, who said “what, am I the only one who knows them?”. And yup, the trick worked. “Astral Projection” finished another great set. (5 / 5)

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www.facebook.com/DestroyersofAll

 photo _DSC0703copy_zpsb82f2878.jpgDespite their more melodic approach, Moonshade weren’t less intense. They even had a guest keyboard player, Nuno Barbosa, to produce that authentic sound that samplers never achieve.
“Dream | Oblivion” is already their second EP, the first released four years ago with the title “The Path Of Redemption”, so this gig was a mix of them both – quality melodeath made in Portugal. And while the rest of the band keeps a bit to themselves, frontman Ricardo is otherwise very expressive. And amusing. For instance, when introducing “Genesis 3.5”, he warned us they would bore us with those almost eight minutes of a song. Or, close to the end, when a fan picked him up and carried him through the front rows, holding him between his legs, Ricardo would thank him, claiming it had been real fun, although he probably wouldn’t be able to have kids in the future.
When the show was over, the crowd wanted more, but the singer said they didn’t have more songs. Someone asked for them to repeat one song (he was specific about the song, but I honestly can’t remember, sorry) but Ricardo replied they didn’t have any more songs of their own but there were “the songs of others”. And the night ended with a brilliant cover of Amon Amarth’s “Guardians Of Asgaard”. (5 / 5)

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www.facebook.com/moonshadeofficial

Metalpoint celebrated its 7th anniversary the following day and these three bands put up quite a pre-party.

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Aonia – Sunchaser [EP]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 28th July 2014 by mickbirchy

Aonia
Sunchaser [EP]
Operatic metal
Self-released on 25th July 2014

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I’ll start with this, this is a good EP, the writing is solid, the band sounds tight and the overall tone is excellent.  For fans of the genre of symphonic/melodic metal this is well worth picking up.  This is not to say that it’s without flaw, but it’s pretty entertaining in it’s own right.  Aonia are a group from Worksop, England and have had some buzz on the under the radar scene for a bit, I have heard of them before but have not had the chance to listen to the until now.  With their new EP Sunchaser in towe, hopefully this will give them some sort of traction.

This EP is packed with good riffs, melodies harmonies and solos.  I was particularly impressed with the quality of the music straight off the bat with the title track Sunchaser, with an intense yet enchanting atmosphere that is kept although the EP, this tune is an excellent starter to become acquainted with Aonia.  The production overall is nice, a little rough around the edges but gives a generally good vibe.  The use of the synth and keys is also executed very well in terms of the music, Aonia, gets a thumbs up from me.

There is one part of the EP that I haven’t really talked about, the vocals.  Not that they’re bad, just a little underwhelming.  When I looked up the band before hearing this EP, I thought “two vocalists, I wonder how they use this in their music”.  The short answer is they don’t really use it to any sort of advantage, either both vocalists sound very similar and they using a layered vocal effect in production or they’re singing in unison because I couldn’t make out the two singer structure that is supposed to be here.  Also they aren’t very well produced and on some moments of this EP, the vocals get lost in the music and it’s hard hear them.  However, the singing is executed really well, I just feel it could have been a bit more dynamic and added  something a little more interesting to the already enjoyable.

Overall, this is a pretty decent EP.  Aonia really come out of the gates swinging with an interesting and atmospheric sound that I’m sure is translated well in to live performances.  I think with a bit of fine tuning to the production and maybe some tweaks to the vocals, they could be a name to look out for in the symphonic/melodic metal genre.

3/5

Mick Birchall

Cognitive – The Horrid Swarm

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 14th November 2012 by hammersmashedlauren

Cognitive
The Horrid Swarm
Released 21st July, 2012
Technical Death Metal
Self Released

Only being an active band for a year now, Cognitive may not be too well known, but with the way they’re creating their music now, it’ll be a matter of time before their name gets spread around. With the release of their EP The Horrid Swarm, it branches from a sundry amount of metal genres but mainly sticking to the technical death sound. With underlying influences such as Nile and Spawn of Possession, any fan of death metal or metal in general will enjoy this EP.

The EP starts off immediately with In the Form of a Drone which is just a mix of brutal guitar riffs and punishing drums. I was personally taken aback by how clear and amped the sound was on this EP. I could clearly make out every instrument that was accompanying the low vocals which I believe made it easier to listen to. Especially on newer bands who may not be equipped with great recording equipment, I was definitely happy with how well they captured their musicianship in The Horrid Swarm.

I was also happy with the fact that there were 5 tracks to this EP. I feel that this gave more of a feel of what the band is capable of doing and it defined themselves as a band as well. Each song on The Horrid Swarm varied in content but it gave me that feeling of wanting to throw my computer chair across my room while forming a hole in the wall.

I highly recommend checking out Cognitive and seeing them live if you’re in the New Jesery and Pennslyvania areas. These guys deserve a ton of support and this album proves that they’re a talented band with passion and drive to deliver neck-breaking metal that appeases to anyone who supports brutal death metal.

5/5

Lauren Gowdy

Obscene Entity – Self Titled EP

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 3rd October 2012 by tobiasgray

Obscene Entity
Self-Titled
Released October 2012
Death Metal
Self-Released

Cambridge based three-piece Obscene Entity have released their début EP.  A generous five tracks of technical, up-tempo brutality that promise good things for their future.

Duel death metal vocals, a talented (human) drummer & a penchant for catchy, groove based riffs elevates them above similar bands breaking out on the underground.  The production is clean and professional, and the organic yet precise mix mirrors the band’s musical style – modern ethics mixed with the old school ethos.  How is this achieved?  Through tight, beatdowns (not breakdowns!!) reminiscent of the early 90’s Florida scene, blending seamlessly with modern ‘tech’ riffs involving dissonant tremming and rapid guitar trills.  The vocals are similar to the gravelly spoken tone of earlier Decapitated releases, with enough clarity to hear individual lyrics on occasion (a rarity in death metal!).

The songs each have their individual flavours and I expect will get heads banging live.  The band’s Facebook promote the track ‘Doomed’, a faster, tempo shifting song with a couple of substantial solos.  For me, however, the climax arrives with final track Hell Goeran oppressively violent number with a tight chuggy main, ‘tasteful’ sample use and eastern Nile style melodic leads dropped intermittently.

To sum up, they aren’t sludgy Autopsy copycats, but they aren’t hyperspeed sweep-laden Necrophagist enthusiastics either – they are a n interesting bridge between both worlds and this EP is an excellent career beginning…Check them out live if you can!

5/5

Tobias Gray

My Dying Bride – The Barghest O’ Whitby [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , on 5th December 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: My Dying Bride
Album: The Barghest O’ Whitby
Release year: 2011
Genre: Doom Metal

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My Dying Bride – Part of the “Peaceville Three” – have never been commercially successful compared to most metal bands but they always remained one of the most respected and influential bands to ever come ascend from the murky blackness that is the British underground – More specifically, Yorkshire (which is the best part of the UK – both musically and culturally). Anyway, I better stop writing about the geographical origins of the band before I cause another Yorkshire/Lancashire argument. As I was saying, My Dying Bride are definitely one of the most respected metal bands from Britain – Be it due to their status in the underground or the fact that they’re musical geniuses is a reason unknown to me in my current state of excitement. The excitement of course being about the new EP: “The Barghest O’ Whitby”.

Anyone who has ever read a book on Yorkshire folklore will that the barghest is an ominous sign that foretells death of the person who lays eyes upon it or the death of one of their relatives. A grim portent to come face to face with indeed. Well, that is if you believe in folklore and fairy tales. It’s no surprise that the ethereal legends of night fallen depression that are My Dying Bride have based an entire EP on such a grim and macabre legend. If you do think it’s a surprise then where the hell have you been living?!

I’ll admit, the EP being only comprised of one track (“The Barghst O’ Whitby”) did take me by absolute surprise. The first minute or so is composed entirely of the ominous howling of wind creating that unique otherworldly atmosphere. The first guitar section feels like it’s taking you back in time – Not in the sci-fi, let’s change the course of the future kind of way but more in the kind of sense that they sound similar to the riffs that can be heard echoing throughout the “Turn Loose The Swans”. The violin turns the sound awfully cold, much in the way that snow adds that extra chill to a quiet December morning – Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad effect, in fact, it helps enforce the classic My Dying Bride sound. The raw snarling of vocals offered up by frontman Aaran Stainthorpe complete this first section of the track.

For most, it would feel as if the song does drone on but that’s part of the genius hidden within the music. Obviously the song does progress into something a little faster, featuring a cleaner, more Gothesque vocal range provided by Stainthorpe combined with a dark musical sound. The violin, once again, adds that cold and frostbitten [Is frostbitten a term that can be used for doom metal?] sound that gently echoes through the speakers. The bass work, provided by Lena, through out the song, so far has been a pleasantry for the ears as well. The track progresses once more into a new sound, showing a slight use of melodic riffs in the guitar section though not enough to be considered melodic, unfortunately. The drone of music and vocals is almost mystifying, verging on the lines of being a hymn sung by the grimmest of divinity.

One of the guitars slowly fades out leaving only the hollow echo of a string being slowly picked, which also fades away into a void of empty of silence. But fear not, young readers (or listeners when you listen to the EP), for it is not the end just yet as whispered winds and chanting of guitars return with a more melodic sound. The bass and drums add that extra weight to the guitars like depression to the soul – Just to be clear, I mean that positively. The howl just after the vocal section is masterfully placed, reinforcing the concept of the barghest in the song. For lovers of heavier music, you’ll be pleased to know that the EP ends on a violent and aggressive note with the additional roar of thunder at the end.

”The Barghest O’ Whitby” is possibly one of the best releases of 2011. My Dying Bride have done what they do best and created a musical masterpiece that will give Andrew Lloyd Webber a run for his money. While the EP has a very raw edge compared to previous releases, it still echoes the sound of the band’s earlier releases – Something that many bands struggle to do with their new material. “The Barghest O’ Whitby” is definitely one that could rival My Dying bride’s first release “Turn Loose The Swans”. I would seriously advise buying this EP and keep it on repeat for a long, long time.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Dry Pilot – Dry Pilot [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 28th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Dry Pilot
Album: Dry Pilot EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Progressive Rock

Dry Pilot are a Leeds-based progressive rock band with all three members originating from Brildington, East Yorkshire. Though being a fairly young band, they have risen to acclaim in the Leeds underground music scene. Their self-titled debut EP is the first in what is hopefully a long line of releases.

The EP begins with “The Need For Money”, a song title that a lot of people can relate to. The beginning section is a genius mixture of guitars and impressive drum work. The vocals are strong but not overly powerful, which is fortunate. The riffs become slightly more technical as the song progresses yet staying simplistic at the same time. Already the EP is at a great start which does beg the question, can the rest of the EP live up to “The Need For Money”. ”Bended Knee” comes next with the answer and that answer is… Yes! It begins with more a funky kind of riff which will no doubt make people want to get up and dance along. Again, the vocals are powerful and the drums are precise to the beat. As the song progresses, it just gets better and better.

“Transparent” has a more drum orientated introduction which is soon accompanied by the bass and guitar. The riffs are intelligently played, blending well with the technicality of the drums and bass, making for a truly superior track. The vocals bring a very emotional feel to the track as well. This one is certainly the best one of the EP. The EP comes to end with “See Me, I’m Gone” which just carries on the musical genius found on the other tracks. The riffs are well composed and the drum sections are brilliant. “See Me, I’m Gone” is certainly chart topping material.

The debut release of any band is usually the defining factor of how well a band will fare in the future. Well, Dry Pilot are certainly going to fare brilliantly in the future. This EP is proof of it. Each track is better than the last, combining strong vocals with genius riffs and great drum work. Dry Pilot are clearly a band to keep an eye – and ear – out for. On stage or on recordings, there are a band that impresses!

5/5

Nico Davidson

Cryptic Age – Homeland EP [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 13th June 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Cryptic Age
Album: Homeland EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Folk Metal/Power Metal

Since their formation, Cryptic Age have been a rising star in the British underground metal scene, having shared the stage with the likes of Ravenage, Hecate Enthroned, Windrider and Skyclad. “Homeland” is the first chapter in their epic saga.

The title track, “Homeland”, is the first track of the EP. It begins with the sound of thunder and rain. Vocals are soon heard over the rain. The Manx Gaelic lyrics are a great touch to the track, giving it a very Celtic feel. With the introduction of the symphonic sections, combined with the drums, bass and guitar the track turns aggressive yet beautiful. The vocals are monumentally powerful, more so than most soprano styled vocals. The symphonic elements bring a very intense, epic sound whilst the guitar, bass and drums bring good ol’ fashioned heaviness. The keyboard solo and the guitar solo that follows can only be described as “sagaic”.

”On The Cold Bare Ground” is the second track of the EP, beginning with a dark and mysterious sounding riff. The riff eventually transforms into a something heavier for a short while before going back to the softer, darker riff. The track does turn heavier again though with an increase in tempo. The vocals ring strongly throughout the track. The drum work is acute and precise. Like the previous track, the solos are mind-blowing.

The third track, “Bring Down The Sky” begins very folky, with an acoustic intro and a long symphonic note. The vocals work very well with this intro, conjuring up images of a small Celtic village. The drums add a new dynamic to the track as well. Whilst the first half of this track is slow paced, the second half increases the tempo. The guitar solo is astounding, brutal and masterfully played. The wittily named “No Folkin’ Way” is the second to last track of this so far majestic EP. Like the previous track, it has an acoustic and symphonic intro, though it is short lived before the electric guitar dominates. The symphonic sections are grand sounding, blending well with the guitar riffs, bass and drums. The only downside to this track is the lack of vocals.

The last track is “Paragons Of War”. Straight from the beginning, there is a somewhat heroic-sagaic sound resonating from the combination of drums, bass, guitars and keyboards. The vocals complete the track, adding a very majestic touch to it. The guitar and bass sections are brilliantly played and the drums are definitely are a highlight of the track. And the solos are nothing short of grand and noble.

Cryptic Age, despite been young, are clearly a talented quartet of musicians. No doubt that “Homeland” is but the first chapter in a long and legendary saga for these Yorkshire lads and lass. Female fronted metal has never sounded so good.

5/5

Nico Davidson