Damnation Festival Preview

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The UK’s Damnation Festival is fast approaching. Saturday 5th November will see a plethora of top metal bands, large and small, take to the stage in Leeds to show off their music, and there’s a lot to be excited about.

With a whopping 4 stages and a wealth of metal talent spread across many genres and drawn from all over the globe, there’s bound to be something here to satiate even the most jaded of metal tastes. There’s a very good reason it’s my favourite UK festival and seems to only be going from strength to strength every year. Continue reading

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Gargantua – Avant-Propos (Review)

GargantuaThis is the début EP from French Progressive Metal band Gargantua.

Gargantua play Progressive Metal that combines some quite eclectic influences to produce a 26 minute calling card that shows off what they can do quite effectively.

To give you a flavour of their style, imagine a mix of The Meads of Asphodel, Sigh, The Black Dahlia Murder and Akercocke, among others. It’s essentially a form of melodic Death Metal with added folk, avant-garde and progressive influences, allowing the band a freedom to experiment and be playful with their influences.

The keyboard and accordion aspect of their sound is quirky and endearing. While not as completely over-the-top as some of the stuff that Sigh get up to, this part of their sound can still be demanding and attention-seeking.

The more aggressive Metal that lays the foundation of their music is tempered by their other influences so that the majority of the riffs have a lot of other stuff going on; the avant-garde and more-emotive aspects of their style are never too far away.

Thrash Metal-esque shouted growls, barely-holding-it-together screams, progressive cleans, operatic choral parts, emotive theatrics; there’s a plethora of different styles employed on Avant-Propos via four of the various band members.

A very promising first release. While not perfect, it shows a creative band willing and able to push boundaries to achieve the sound they want. With a few tweaks here and there to tighten the songwriting up, they could become quite a fearsome proposition in the future.

Check them out.

Mithridatic – Miserable Miracle (Review)

MithridaticThis is the début album from French Blackened Death Metallers Mithridatic.

Boasting a heavy and dirty sound that immediately puts me in mind of Arkhon Infaustus’ Blackened Death Metal classic Filth Catalyst, Mithridatic reveal themselves to be a similar proposition, albeit one with its own blackened charms, of course.

The songs are extremely satisfying and have that fine ratio balanced just about right between Black Metal and Death Metal influences. As such, these songs are both brutal and grim, providing the listener with some of the strongest Blackened Death Metal currently out there, in my humble opinion.

Mithridatic have obviously taken their time with these songs. They’re well-composed, well-structured and have just enough variation to keep things interesting without losing their sense of direction. Blackened riffs, fluid guitar solos, darkened melodies, moody malevolence, brutal assaults and blasting mayhem are all used effectively during these tracks.

High screams and growling shouts form the bedrock of the vocals. The singer has a certain quality to his voice that allows him to have instant charisma, putting me in mind of Morbid Angel on occasion, (whose influence also extends to aspects of the music).

A very impressive achievement. For me, Blackened Death Metal is a style that is all too easy to do poorly, but when it’s done right it really gets the hairs standing on end. This is one such release; not only due to the atmosphere the band create, but also due to the quality and personality of the songs themselves.

A mix of Arkhon Infaustus, Morbid Angel and a touch of Akercocke? Sign me up.

Go check this one out immediately.

Voices – London (Review)

VoicesThis is the second album from UK group Voices. They play Progressive Blackened Death Metal.

Featuring former members of Akercocke, this is an album full of promise from the start as Akercocke were one of the best and most individual bands that the UK had to offer.

As soon as the dark acoustic opener Suicide Note starts I’m instantly hit with the feeling that Akercocke gave me in their more restrained moments. Then Music for the Recently Bereaved blasts out of the speakers and I feel warm and fuzzy inside and out.

If voices aren’t the heirs to Akercocke then I don’t know who is. They’re definitely their own entity but they channel the same primordial power and majesty that Akercocke did so well.

Blasting Death Metal, scathing Black Metal, Progressive Metal, Avant-Garde and everything in between make up these tracks. Progressive Blackened Death Metal is as good a term as any, but it seems so small. Voices are just bigger than that and have a whole lot more on offer than that mouthful of a genre tag implies.

The songs here are varied and full of interesting ideas and avenues for exploration. The band essentially just do what they want and I’m incredibly glad of this as it has resulted in a top quality album full of modern Extreme Metal that stands alone.

Growls, screams, cleans; the band do it all with style. It’s like Akercocke, Arcturus, Opeth and Emperor were crushed up together, digested and vomited up as a slick, professional, fully formed Extreme Metal machine. It’s classy and in a class of its own.

I love it when bands do their own thing and inject their art with personality and character. It’s even better when they do this with obvious talent and a passionate hunger. London is all of these things and more.

This is ambitious and hugely impressive. For a snapshot of everything that Extreme Metal should be these days then London is flawless.

In fact that’s all I need to say really; London is flawless.