Be’lakor ‘Vessels’

Any Melodeath fan worth their salt should be well aware of Australia’s best heavy export by 2016. In case any of my acolytes have been living under a rock for the last decade – insert withering glare here – these lads have made name by refusing to remain still in a fairly crowded and creatively stagnant part of our world. There’s no shying away from the fact that for every Dark Tranquility there are ten bands  who are happy to continue writing the same album Children of Bodom were releasing over a decade ago.

Sorry, went on a bit of a tangent there, back to the task at hand. So, what sets Be’lakor apart from other bands of their ilk? Namely, a dogged and persistent pursuit of new ideas,  many of which some bands wouldn’t have the balls to attempt. This gives their albums an air of unpredictability that make a joy to experience for the first time or the second and even beyond .

Take for example An Ember’s Arc, a nine and a half minute track that starts with gorgeous acoustic guitar chords before sliding into more standard MDM fare, slowing down again, before smashing you right in the face with blastbeats. F**king lunacy! Honestly my words cannot do it justice. I’m pretty sure there classical piano hasn’t been used by a MDM band until now. But, use of it adds emotional depth to more one song on this disc.

Production wise thing slays as well. Every instrument sounds clear as a bell, with each having it’s moment to shine. My one criticism though, a minor one to be fair, is with the vocals. While they are beastly without a doubt, they lack dynamism that permeates the rest of this fantastic release.

It would be wrong of me to end this article on a bad note. 2016 is big year for MDM, with releases coming from the aforementioned Dark Tranquility and Mors Pricipium Est to name a couple.  So, this lot have set a high bar then. Bring it on I say!

9.5/10

Stay heavy my followers and have no fear for I shall soon be reborn \m/

 

 

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Gojira ‘magma’

Frenchmen Gojira made enough noise in our world with their last album to awaken their monstrous namesake (gojira being the Japanese name for godzilla) they’ve returned this summer with its follow-up, a 44 minute collection entitled Magma. I went into this expecting another nonstop neck massacring onslaught alá amon amarth. But, if you’ll forgive me the pun, what we’ve been given here is a somewhat different beast.

The Death Metal ferocity is still alive and well, it just has to bunk up with some more introspective, mellower sounding stuff now and then. Although to be fair, there are plenty there’s plenty of weight to everything here if you’re not an adolescent who needs every single note to bash your skull in. A perfect example of what I mean is album opener the shooting star, which opens with a beautiful plodding riff before pulling you slowly into auditory quicksand with Joe Duplantier’s ethereal vocals. Then the opening riff of Silvera hits like a f***king sledgehammer, just to remind you that every single member of this band still has MASSIVE balls. As a Cockney might put it; it’s  bloomin sick guvner! The Cell reminds us that JD’s brother Mario is one of the best stick men this side of Mars. It’s a perverse pleasure to hear him kick seven shades of shit out of the kit. Next up, Stranded has a riff ripped straight from Lamb of God’s songbook. It also features the kind of eerie guitar sound that only these ferocious frogs could conjure up. This brings us to Yellowstone and the title track, a pair of songs these find the band employing a decidedly more atmospheric/progressive tone. It’s a daring move particularly considering how they’ve earned a rep for their frankly titanic riffs. Moving on from there, Prey acts as a successor to the art of dying which in my opinion is the album.

I’m sorry to say that for my opinion this offering can’t live up to it’s astonishing predecessor. Magma is by no means a bad album, it just lacks the raw power that made L’Enfant Sauvage so compelling            

6.5/10

 

Stay heavy my friends and have no fear for I shall be reborn \m/

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Machine Head ‘Is there anybody out there?’ (single)

That’s right Brothers and Sisters, I shall speak twice today. This would not normally be the case, but our mighty gods have, in their infinite wisdom, have sent forth a hyme penned by the blessed Machine Head. As many of my long time followers know I am a pious disciple of the hero Rob Flynn, and have moshed before at numerous gatherings of our kinfolk.

It would appear that Flynn and co have returned to their Thrash roots with this track, which to my ear shares much of its DNA with material from Burn my Eyes, albeit played at a much faster than anything on that release, excepting Blood for Blood 

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Lacuna Coil ‘Delirium’

talian gothic metal outfit Lacuna Coil have returned with a new album in 2016. This latest journey finds them on top form. Every song in drenched in soul crushing misery. There’s a dark, throaty heaviness to the guitar work here that should please fans of extreme metal. At the same time though, the honeyed vocals of crooner Cristina Scabbia, along with a keen ear for melody ensure that the more casual fan won’t be left out in the cold. It’s a delicate balance that few bands are able to achieve. LC’S years of experience shine through in every note. As a side note, I would recommend that you listen to this on a decent pair of headphones to make sure you get the best experience.
   With delirium Lacuna Coil have delivered an ambitious, atmospheric, yet accessible sonic voyage that explores the murkier side of human emotion. While some of the songs do meld together at times, there is more than enough decent material to satisfy fans of Gothic rock/metal .
6.8/10
Brothers and sisters have no fear for your messiah has returned!
\M/
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Iron Maiden ‘Book of Souls’

Iron maiden’s 15th studio album ‘the book of souls’ is without a doubt the most important release of 2015. It may also be the most important record in these legends’ career.

It sIMeems fitting that the first thing you hear on disc 1 is Bruce’s voice. He simply took my breath away. It’s unbelievable when you remember he had Cancer during the recording. ‘Speed of light’ is classic maiden air raid siren howl, a killer solo duel and buckets of momentum. It struck me as being very reminiscent of ‘El Dorado.’ ‘The great unknown’ would have sat well on brave new world. A subtle intro soon explodes into life with speedy riffing and a potent vocal delivery from Dickinson. ‘The Red and the Black’ is Steve Harris’ only solo writing credit on his bands sixteenth release. His bass is prominent for the all thirteen and a half minutes of this juggernaut, but he never overrides the others, instead providing bedrock for them to build upon. A standout not only on this release but in Maiden’s career. Here’s hoping it stays in their live set for s long time. ‘When the River Runs Deep’ is a mid-paced stomper with a metallic edge. Don’t worry though blistering solos provide ample silver lining. Let be honest for a moment, it was only a matter of time before this rowdy lot wrote a song about human sacrifice. Clocking in at just under ten and a half minutes the title track oozes menace in a way few Maiden songs ever have.

Disc 2 opens with ‘Death or Glory’ which provides a dynamic contrast with the track that preceded it. Defiant and impassioned lyricism along with a fast tempo leading to a complete change in atmosphere.  ‘Shadow of the Valley’ is a classic Maiden ripper. It’s difficult to think of another band that could pack this many addictive riffs and catchy melodies into one song. I defy anyone not to roar along when this one is played live. ‘Tears of a Clown’ finds Harris and crew paying an emotionally charged tribute to Robin Williams, who was a long time fan before his tragic death. This one’s got a wicked little main riff – short and sharp – very, very old school sounding. The solos are special as well, you can tell every member put extra effort into recording this one. You can feel every note and I know the clown would approve. ‘The Man of Sorrows’ shares its name with a song on Bruce Dickinson’s solo release ‘Accident of Birth’ there’s a dreamy texture to it that I haven’t heard from these gents before. The vocal effects are a neat trick also. Hopefully Maiden will continue to experiment with that in the future. I for one am in no doubt ‘Empire of the Clouds’ will go down as the definitive Maiden epic. The 18 plus minute behemoth, entirely written by Dickinson, its that fucking good. Maiden meets Dream Theatre,  just awesome!

Trust in metal my acolytes and have no fear for I shall ride again \m/

10/10

 

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Rotting Christ ‘Rituals’

Of all the bands to come out of Greece in the last thirty years, perhaps none have had such a lasting impact as these Athenian hell raisers. Frontman Sakis Tollis and his crew haRCve been riding a massive hot streak since spitting forth 2007’s groundbreaking Theogonia 

Fans should rest assured that Rituals finds them stronger than ever. If I had to choose one word to describe this new opus it would be powerful. Tracks like ‘For a Voice Like Thunder’ sweep the listener up in a tidal wave of muscular riffage. RC have always had an eerie, mystical edge to their sound, these elements have been brought to the forefront on this disc. ‘Apage Santana’ starts with the band professing their spiritual adoration for the lord of hell while a tribal drumbeat plays in the background before building to an awe-inspiring climax. .

The riff on ‘Komx Om Pax’ while not particularly slow have a doomy texture to them. ‘Devadevam’ is replete with fervent chanting. The last track on the album finds Tolis talking about the four horseman of the apocalypse. The shift between reflection and heaviness represents perfectly represents the unique sound RC have been to able forge for themselves. it may be cliche to say this; but there is really no other band quite like them.

9/10

Trust in metal my friends and have no fear for I shall ride again \m/

 

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Metaprism ‘The Human Encryption’

The Human Encryption is the debut album from Bournemouth based wrecking crew Metaprism and it leave your neck feeling as if it’s been lashed by the waves of a fierce south coast tempest. Apparently storms make for great metal, who knew??

OneMetaprism-The-Human-Encryption- of the most impressive things about this disc, especially considering it’s a debut, is how confident and tight the performances are. There are no apologies here just balls-out, turn your brain to mush metal. They do a great job of balancing aggression and melody throughout. The mix of heavy hook-laden riffs nifty pace changes and a nice balance of clean/growled vocals makes them sound like a cross between killswitch engage and scar symmetry to this reviewers ears. There are also plenty of sweet solos for those who like to air guitar in between frenzied bouts of moshing.

I saw them live last night and they stole the show, honestly I don’t think I’ve seen a vocalist dive into the middle of a moshpit to sing with the audience before. As good as their music is (and it’s FUCKING good if you can’t tell), I think that kind of dedication to the fans which Satan be praised should see this lot go a long way.

If you want an idea of what they sound like check the link below!

9/10

Trust in metal my friends and have no fear for I shall ride out again \m/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GC0NhUA5lgk

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‘The Astonishing’ Review

Let’s face it Dream Theater have never been accused of lacking ambition in the past. in terms of sheer volume of material, their 2016 release opus goes far beyond what even longtime fans – including myself – will be expecting.

I have to say I prefer the more guitar driven DT collections, like Train of Thought and Systematic Chaos. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not saying I dislike this album. It’s just that Rudess’ keys have a much more prominent role here. Petrucci’s role is more about playing clever riffs than indulging in long solos which would take away from the story somewhat. He comes to the forefront much more in act two, which is slightly darker in tone. I must say though that it’s growing on me the more I listen. Fans of Scenes from a Memory or Six Degrees will find themselves right at home.

The Production is the most clean and clear I’ve heard from Dream Theater. No one instrument get lost in the mix. It’s particularly impressive consider the band to balance their own sound with a full orchestra and choir at times.

Quite frankly, this album impossible to absorb in one sitting. This two hour thirty minute plus beast is put together in a way that lends itself to being heard in one sitting. So if you plan on getting the most out of this one be prepared to put some serious man hours in.

Trust in metal my friends and have no fear, for I shall ride out again \m/

7.5/10

 

 

 

 

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Dark Tranquility Construct

Over the past ten years Dark Tranquility have become one of the most consistent bands in modern metal. What’s more, they’ve managed to maintain a level of relevance beyond that of their peers (ahem… In flames). To have done all that while only making subtle changes to their sound is an achievement that should be applauded. In 2013, along comes an album to break the mould: Construct.
Opener for broken words showcases a darker, more mature side of DT. Listening to it feels like being engulfed by a thundercloud. The solo in the silence of noise feels like a warm ray of sunshine when it turns up half way through the track, though the respite is only temporary, as the of the song feels like a blizzard. Uniformity finds vocalist Mikeal Stanne in imperious form. His clean vocals have never sounded more earnest, or more emotional. While we’re at it his growls are pretty epic to. If Construct was a volcano, then the silence in between and apathetic would be its molten core. Both tracks would have sat comfortably on fiction or we are the void. The solo in apathetic is a potent reminder that DT can still shred as well as, if not better than, many of the young upstarts they helped inspire two decades ago (yes they’re that old!). What only you know is a slow, thoughtful track featuring lyrics that will resonate with any long-time headbanger. Although its not the strongest cut on the disc, endtime hearts still has an ingredient to offer to the pot in the form of some industrial seasoning. State of trust leans heavily on electronics and sounds as if it could have come off of character. Weight of the end and none becoming round the album off in style. The keys in the latter track are a master stroke. Somehow, DT manage to sound both depressing and uplifting at the same time.
I think that’s the key to this album, it’s an emotional journey just as much as it auditory one. Simply put, this is the best thing DT have done for a decade. This is the sound of a band reinventing themselves. Here’s to the next ten years lads.

9.7/10

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My Metal Journey (part 1)

Hi I’m Liam and I’m a metalhead from Cambridge Uk, a place with a dead metal scene. Heavy Metal and I go way back.

When I was eight years old my cousin gave me a tape with Metallica’s ‘Ride The Lightning’ on it, a massively underrated album that still managed to grab me by the nuts. The visceral energy, raw anger and incredible guitar-work showed me a side to music I hadn’t experienced before. The  experience lingered in my subconscious for years. Looking back at it now, I can’t remember what made me buy my first album – Dragonforce’s Inhuman Rampage. I was sixteen.    

It took what Metallica had done all those years ago to the next level. Inhuman Rampage is a light hearted, feel good album which doesn’t always take itself seriously, yet possesses the technical skill to command respect. Listening to it sometimes feels like being hit in the face by a giant babybel.

Inhuman Rampage was the first half of a musical Renaissance in my life which would be complete by the Nightwish album Dark Passion Play…    

THE CHARIOTEER WILL RIDE AGAIN  

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