Archive for Ostinato

Beyond Grace – Monstrous [EP]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 25th April 2014 by Paul Macmillan

Beyond Grace
Monstrous
Released February 2014
Extreme melodic death metal
Self-released

It’s with no mean frequency that the phrase ‘If it ain’t got riff, it ain’t worth a fuck!’ tumbles from these lips. Nothing turns me off from an extreme band more than constant noise or technicality for the sake of it. It just doesn’t spell out H-E-A-V-Y to me. Some of my favourite metal albums are those that punch a middle finger into the face of convention, blast beats swirling effortlessly into percussive grooves. Think Carcass Heartwork or Bloodbath‘s opus The Fathomless Mastery (especially At The Behest Of The Dead! Damn! That chorus!).

It’s such a shame that the UK bands taking this particular musical bull by the horns are vastly outnumbered by those who pump out the same old trend-oriented metal pudding as everyone else, but those who do tend to hit me in a special place.

Step up, Nottingham’s Beyond Grace – a band who seem to have set out to make writing an actual tune part of their purpose for existence. From the first moments of opening track The Chronophage – which I believe roughly means ‘the time-eater’ – it’s obvious that this lot don’t care much for fitting in to the preconceived notions of either the current UK death scene or mainstream extreme metal (Yup, I said it. It’s a thing now!), while brushing shoulders with both. The song is an easy choice for an opener, kicking off with a bombastic announcement of power-chords, shamelessly declaring “We are here! Listen!”, but it’s the intelligent introduction of complementary lead-work that really makes it stand out.

And they’re no one-trick-pony, either. Progressing to the accompanying tracks, Inhumanity and Invasive Exotics, they churn out riff after riff of addictive, individual brutality. While more consistently fast-paced, these two numbers guide the listener through a bit of an experiment in combining elements of rhythmic divergence and harmonious exaltation. The entire EP is dripping with all the best bits of At The Gates, Lamb Of God and The Haunted, without really sounding like any of them. I think I even sense the echoes of 80s thrash in there, but that could just be decades-old tinnitus.

It’s also worthy of note that frontman Andy Walmsley is one of the few who can really nail down clarity of lyrical content while dealing in full-on death metal vocals. It’s not something that everybody will care about, and to be fair, I do love a whole load of bands who haven’t achieved this, but I find it adds a little something being able tap into the story aspect of a heavy song on first listen.

I’d really like to hear full-length continuation of this style, but maybe with a more aggressive, rawer production, as it feels something is missing in terms of bite, and the whole thing is over far too soon for my liking. That said, this is a gripping, memorable release, proving, to these ears at least, that you don’t have to ditch any sense of melody and/or hooks to keep up with the pace of modern heaviness. More of this kind of thing!

4/5

Paul Macmillan

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Powerwolf – Preachers Of The Night

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 25th August 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Powerwolf
Preachers of the Night
Released 19th July
Power Metal/Werewolf Metal
Released via Napalm Records

Powerwolf have become a recognisable name and band on the power metal scene, from their darker sound compared to other acts, to the corpse-paint and the almost fetish-like obsession with werewolves. Following their jump from Metal Blade to Napalm, Preachers of the Night – which is the band’s fifth studio album – was soon released thereafter.

The catchy number Amen & Attack opens the album, proving to be more infectious than the black death. The vocals are loud, boisterous and powerful added to the heavily symphonic elements and driving slabs of metal. The track proves to be a strong sword arm for the album, swinging left and right, taking unsuspecting listeners by surprise in the black of night – Which is exactly what any metal album needs to keep the attention of the listener.

Secrets of the Sacristy continues with the surprise attacks, proving to be unrelenting with the near-joy filled guitar passages and contrasting dreary symphonic lines. Coleus Sanctus (which apparently in Latin slang means something like holy testicles) keeps the strong flow of melodic riffs pouring forth whilst the vocals conjure up memorable lines that have a few hooks hidden for good measure.

The ambitious, hard-to-ignore riffs continue on through Sacred & Wild and straight into a total lycan-like metamorphosis with Kreuzfeuer which hammers out a darker, vastly sinister sound. Even the vocals have a cimmerian shade to their sound. Cardinal Sin begins with the hymn-like anthemic sound before the blazing trail of riffs bursts in. The chorus stands out the most throughtout the duration of the song.

In The Name Of God (Deus Vult) is a true power metal anthem through and through and the best track on the album. With an impressive and infectiously poignant chorus and eventful musicianship, the song soars above the rest of the album. Nochnoi Dozor is painted with a shade of dusk from beginning to end, each riff and symphonic passage adding a fresh stroke of twilight-coloured paint to the lyrics and the music. A tragic wave of sound comes crashing down throughout Lust For Blood, mixing typical power metal elements with a murkier – if somewhat vampiric sounding – concept.

Extatum Et Oratum brings a far more grand and majestic ambiance with its presence as well as references to Greek mythos, Roman nobles and dead civilisations. The guitar segments give off an intense sound, whereas the symphonic elements still bring the tragic voices. Last Of The Living Dead is a truly haunting piece of work, making a strong use of Latin lyrics and chilling symphonies with icy guitar riffs. Some of the vocal passages are still sung in English, though the most power vocal sections are those sang in Latin. The wolf howls add an eerie aspect to the song as well, as do the church bells.

Preachers Of The Night shows another development in Powerwolf‘s sound. Each track tells its own tale, both musicially and lyrically, and each track weave together perfectly to tell an overall story as well – Though some tracks are more memorable than others. Preachers Of The Night is the pinnacle of Powerwolf‘s sound.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Powerwolf online:

http://powerwolf.net
http://facebook.com/powerwolfmetal

 

Serpent Omega – Self-Titled

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , on 21st May 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Serpent Omega
Self-Titled
Released January 2013
Sludge-Doom Metal
Released via Mordgrimm Records

Formed in 2011, you would be forgiven for wondering exactly why you haven’t heard of Serpent Omega before and what they have to do with the revival of the sludge doom scene. Hailing from Sweden, a country with its roots deep in Black, Death and Doom Metal as well as all things Nordic, Serpent Omega carry the mantle of their musical and historical forefathers with pride and encourage others to worship the riff. It’s surprising that they’re a four piece considering the weight of the riffs and the thick foggy atmosphere produced by their sound and screeching vocals that lend a lot to what has come before, but at the same time is innovative and new.

Serpent Omega’s self-titled LP gives the Sludge Doom genre a breath of fresh air and offers plenty of riffs to bang your head to. The track Konflux is a classic example that resembles early Cathedral with its crunchy guitars and a bass that sounds more like an explosion. The vocals of the front woman Pia are refreshing and range from snarled and choked to ethereal and chant-like within the space of a song.

All elements combined provide an insight back into the bleak early 90’s, but they succeed where many have failed. There is variety in between tracks, and although they maintain that dusty and dirty atmosphere we crave from Doom, there are surprises in the form of blast beats, chanting and lead guitar patterns that any Death Metal guitarist would be proud of.

The production is honest and sounds distant. Pia for instance, sometimes sounds like she’s shouting from the bottom of a well, but that only adds to the crushing atmosphere of the album that gradually intensifies.

The track Smoke Ritual sounds like the bastard child of Entombed’s Wolverine Blues and Cathedral’s Forest of Equilibrium, and is full of riffs worthy of worship, but the sound is fresh and perhaps more accessible than the albums it is obviously influenced by. It certainly has the elements of groovy swinging riffs that Cathedral made their own, but it also has the biting attitude of Entombed and it is a winning combination.

Overall, Serpent Omega will appeal to those that desire to return to the doom scene of the early 90’s and although they will satisfy your sludgy cravings, they offer a modern twist on the genre.

4/5

Alex Cook

Serpent Omega online:

http://www.serpentomega.com/
https://www.facebook.com/serpentomega
http://serpentomega.bandcamp.com/