Zero Gravity – Holocaust Awaits (Review)

Zero GravityThis is the début album from India’s Zero Gravity – a Thrash/Death Metal band.

After a pointless intro, the band start the album properly and they introduce us to their rather fetching take on Death Metal. Think Old-School Death Metal with a sharp Progressive edge and an added splash of Arch Enemy’s modernity and catchiness.

If you think Arch Enemy are too clean and polished sounding; if you’d prefer it if they had more of an underground, raw feeling then look no further. Arch Enemy combined with Death is as good a reference point as any. And do you know what? It sounds bloody good.

The singer has a good bark and she delivers the lines with passion and bite. She has a  great voice and it works with the aggressive riffs to fuel the band to greater heights of attack.

The riffs and licks flash out like lightning and the technical/progressive elements of their sound are abundant but relatively subtle. These are clearly people who know how to play their instruments well and don’t need to be overtly flashy or ostentatious to prove this.

Holocaust Awaits is an album full of hooks and has plenty of catchy parts to it. Sometimes this kind of songwriting can be a recipe for acute gratification at the expense of chronic satisfaction, however Zero Gravity are just damn Metal enough for the acute to bleed into the chronic and we could very well end up with an album that has some longevity to it. Only time will tell but I know what I think the outcome will be…

Minus the intro there are 8 songs on this album and the entire thing lasts just over 40 minutes – it’s a good length as it allows the band to show what they’re capable of but doesn’t let them outstay their welcome.

This is the kind of music that’s actually surprisingly hard to do well – this style of Melodic Death Metal with a bit of groove, a bit of Death, catchiness and hooks…on paper it sounds all very good but unfortunately a lot of bands who try this style end up sounding very mediocre and stale.

It’s all in the execution of course and Zero Gravity avoid all of this this by simply writing kick-ass riffs that are artfully arranged into actual songs, and decent ones at that.

A very enjoyable listen. Check this out and see what you think.

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Mandatory – Catharsis (Review)

MandatoryThis is Austrian band Mandatory’s second album. They play Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore.

Mandatory play clean Melodic/Modern Death Metal with some Thrash elements thrown in.

Catharsis comes across as mixing elements of Lamb of God, Illdisposed, Darkane and Arch Enemy…kind of a cross between the European melodic style and the North American modern Metalcore style.

Their melodic sensibilities are finely honed and this is mixed in with heavier moments.

The vocals are mainly deep growls but some spoken word sections and melodious cleans are used occasionally too. These are kept to a minimum though and are not overused.

Mandatory’s sound is big, clean and crisp, as you would expect for a band of this ilk. The songs play out quite nicely and the slightly-longer-than-average length of the tracks mean that the band take the time to explore where and what they want to.

Have a listen.

Arcturon – Expect Us (Review)

ArcturonArcturon are from Switzerland and this is their latest EP. They play Melodic Metal.

With this EP they give us 4 tracks lasting a total of just under 17 minutes.

This is upbeat Metal with a modern slant and added keyboards/effects. Think Dark Tranquillity as well as bands like In Flames, Arch Enemy, Soilwork, Darkane, etc.

These four songs are well-written and well-presented tracks that are on the more commercial side of Metal but if you don’t mind that then there’s a good amount of enjoyment to be had from them.

The singer has a good voice and switches between shouting and singing with ease. It’s designed to promote emotive responses and as long as you’re amenable to the genre it does the job.

This is the kind of band I could imagine getting a good degree of success if they have the right backing/are in the right place at the right time/etc. They have this particular genre of Metal down pat and inject enough variety and personality into the formula to make it work.

Give them a listen and see what you think.

Tantal – Expectancy (Review)

TantalTantal are from Russia and this is their second album. They play Progressive Melodic Death Metal.

This is upbeat and Melodic Death Metal in the vein of Arch Enemy, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Nightrage, etc. Tantal differentiate themselves though by having more of a Progressive edge to their sound.

The vocals consist of harsh male screaming and clean female vocals pairing off against each other. Both sets of vocals are performed admirably and the clean melodies in particular are quite enjoyable and remind of classic Lacuna Coil back when they were still a rising power to contend with.

The band’s progressive influences mean this is a relatively lengthy album and the songs have some good meat on them due to this. Everything is played well and the songs make an impression.

This has a strong European flavour to it, (despite originating in Russia), and takes me back to a time when European Metal still sounded quite exotic and had a unique flavour to it. Although this is still quite true in many respects, it no longer feels new to me any more, having heard it for decades now; Tantal remind me of a time when it all was still new and exciting, so that alone endears me to them even before you take into account the fact that they actually write good songs too!

If you like the more modern, melodic style of Heavy Metal yet eschew the more commercial tendencies of a lot of bands that play in this genre and want something a bit meatier to sink your teeth into, you could do a lot worse than check out Tantal.

A recommended listen.

Untimely Demise – Systematic Eradication (Review)

Untimely DemiseUntimely Demise are a Canadian Thrash Metal band and this is their second album.

Straight from the go we’re into high octane Thrash territory with solos shredding and drums clanging. Technical riffing and rasped vocals lead the way while the rest of the music rips things up.

Musically this is Thrash Metal with a Megadeth/Testament/Death/Arch Enemy flavour. Extremely competent and played with feeling, Untimely Demise show from the off that they have talent.

The singer mainly uses a harsh rasp, but also uses some rougher semi-cleans that shows he’s capable of depth. It adds texture to the impressive playing of the rest of the band. A cross between Death and Arch Enemy, it fits the music well.

The band avoid the issues of the over-saturated Retro-Thrash scene by just being themselves and adding some harsher/technical/more European elements to their sound. It’s honest, direct and more worthwhile than 100 Retro bands trying to recapture old glories without any real feeling. Untimely Demise have come to show them how it should be done; a nod to the past, a spotlight on the present and a battle-plan for the future.

Ferium – Reflections (Review)

FeriumThis is the début album from Ferium who come from Israel and play Death/Groove Metal with a slight Metalcore-style influence.

This is rabble-rousing groove Metal with a firm Death Metal basis and only a little bit of -core influence added in. A case could be made for calling them Deathcore I suppose, but they don’t share a lot of common ground with most Deathcore bands, (more emphasis on melody and less on breakdowns, etc.), and thus I feel this would be doing them somewhat of a disservice. Genre label quibbles aside, the emphasis is on the Metal, as it should be.

I suppose if you take a cross of, say Lamb of God and Arch Enemy and add more of classic Death Metal influence you’d be in the right area. Or conversely if you take some older bands such as Lipid and Konkhra and add a modern influence you’d end up in similar territory.

The songs are growers; they have an initial impact certainly, but require time to fully appreciate as they are the kind of songs that are unhurried, secure in the knowledge that they’re capable and worthy of repeat visitations.

This is at least partly to do with the fact that a lot of the riffs used here are midway between melodic and brutal, making them stand out and peak the curiosity. The band flirt with Melodic Death Metal but always pull back to heavier climes before fully embracing this destination. It’s an interesting listen.

The vocalist has quite the range, whether it’s deep growls or terror-inducing screams. He has the rhythmic patterns of a modern Metal shouter and the lungs of a Behemoth.

Ferium have produced a quality listen with enough longevity to keep things lively. Let’s see where this band end up as they have a lot to offer the discerning metal fan.