I, the Betrayer – 7 (Review)

I, the BetrayerI, the Betrayer are a Norwegian metal band and this is their debut EP.

This is the first EP from this new band, although as there’s over 30 minutes of material here, it’s actually longer than some albums. Continue reading

Advertisements

Alkira – Klotho (Review)

AlkiraAlkira are a thrash metal band from Australia and this is their second album.

You may recall Alkira from their 2014 debut album Juggernaut. This was a very enjoyable slab of aggressive thrash metal that I especially enjoyed as it seemed at the time that so much of thrash was doing the retro/ironic/humour/whatever version of the style, which is largely not for me; Alkira were, (and are), somewhat of a panacea for this. Continue reading

Distant Sun – Into the Nebula (Review)

Distant SunThis is the second album from Distant Sun, a Russian power/thrash metal band.

2015’s Dark Matter was an enjoyable slab of metal, in which Distant Sun, (featuring members of Shadow Host and Starsoup), showed the world what they had to offer. Continue reading

To the Pain – 7 (Review)

To the PainThis is the second album by US Thrash Metal band To the Pain.

This is a short release – 6 songs in just under 27 minutes – featuring Bay Area-style Thrash and a fantastically-titled closing song Don’t Eat the Eyes. (I felt compelled to point that out).

The Metallica/Anthrax/Testament inspired songs are a real throwback to decades past and in all honesty it really, really works. It may be resolutely Old-School but it’s not a Retro release or any such nonsense – this is a real band playing real Thrash and doing it very well.

I enjoyed their début album, (which was one of my earliest reviews), but I can’t help but notice the strides forward that the band have made in the intervening years. 7 has seen them make advances in every area, from sound to songwriting to delivery; the entire thing sounds more confident and assured. The songs are better and this is a real Thrash Metal feast.

The singer’s voice has improved along with the rest of the band and he too sounds more confident in his role. He has settled into his job with ease and seems to have no problem infusing his performance with character and charisma.

But where’s the rest of the album? I feel like there are another two or three tracks missing. Some bands easily put out too many songs and you can lose attention, but 7 is the opposite and is over before you know it. Maybe it’s better this way though, as it certainly leaves you salivating and hungry for more.

Well, recently I’ve stated, quite a few times actually, that I feel a bit jaded with Thrash Metal. However, there have been a plethora of recent releases that are making me rethink this and To the Pain’s newest is another. 7 is a winner for me. Check it out.

Seven7 – The Follower (Review)

Seven7This is the third album from UK Progressive Metal band Seven7.

This is Modern Progressive Metal that’s big on riffs and melodies.

These songs are clearly well-thought out and are well-balanced between classic song structures and more adventurous Progressive explorations. Down-tuned riffs and heavy guitars work alongside lighter, introspective moments and a Rock sensibility that gives the songs an energetic vibe.

At 50 minutes in length, there’s a lot of different influences and ideas on The Follower. Under the overarching Progressive Metal aegis the band are able to work in a whole manner of different elements from a whole host of different genres and sub-genres, from Metal, Rock and otherwise. The amount of variety on display is still consistent with their overall Progressive core, and it takes the learner on a very involving journey.

The singer has a powerful voice and presence, coming across as somewhat of a mix of the singers of Metallica and Alice in Chains. His singing is dark, infectious and merges with the music symbiotically throughout this album. His vocals are flawlessly executed, much like the music itself.

In some ways this makes me nostalgic for the inventiveness of commercial Metal in the 90s. Seven7 sound like a 90s band updated for the current age. It’s as if a fledgling Nu-Metal band was consumed by the spirit of Progressive Metal, transported forwards in time a few decades and then unshackled and let loose. Don’t let the Nu-Metal tag fool you though; it’s part of their sound but doesn’t define them. The Follower is intelligent and passionate music that shares part of Nu-Metal’s once-essential vitality and incorporates this into Progressive Metal just enough to energise it.

There’s a lot to enjoy on this release and the band have worked hard to craft a collection of songs that have emotional depth and maturity while at the same time featuring enough instant energy and impact to snare the listener.

Highly recommended.

Stillnes – Sin Destino (Review)

StillnesThis is the second album from Spanish Thrash Metallers Stillnes.

Wow. Now that’s an album cover. GIANT MONSTER ALERT!

Thrash Metal is a funny beast these days, with most bands seeming to opt for either an ultra-modern approach or an Old-School Retro one. Stillnes are one of the odd ones out as they opt for something in the middle.

This has elements of the Old-School but it’s not some puerile Retro nonsense. Theirs is a more balanced approach that has a modern sheen but not overly so; they come across as a nice mix of old and new that would fit nicely in many different Thrash eras. Ultimately they belong to themselves and this is what I like about them.

The band have a straightforward approach to their Thrash and play largely mid-paced with a good energy and plenty of melody. They are perfectly capable of unleashing a more aggressive attack when they need to, but for the most part it’s choppy riffs and good rhythms that lead the way.

The singer has a decent voice and there are plenty of solos and leads peppered around the release.

Somewhat of a cross between Trivium and Metallica; there’s not a lot to dislike on Sin Destino and it’s an enjoyable listen.

Check them out.

Sågverk – Sahataan ne Kaikki (Review)

SågverkThis is the début album from Finnish Black ‘n’ Rollers Sågverk.

Angry, Crust-fuelled Black Metal with a modern Rocking aspect and plenty of attitude; Sågverk make this kind of music look easy, but also offer up something a bit different.

There are 8 tracks of Blackened belligerence and groove here, comprising 7 originals and a Metallica cover of Motorbreath.

Buzzsaw riffs and brutal guitars power the songs, but there’s a lot more control here than I was expecting to hear. The tracks are written with more than just Black Metal in mind – as well as the Punk/Crust there’s a bit of a Stoner vibe to some of the riffs, making Sahataan ne Kaikki a bit different from the norm.

The songs are well-written and make use of a strong riff-oriented approach. This is not a release that’s top-speed all of the time, but nonetheless maintains a high energy throughout.

The vocals are shouted screams that vary in tone and delivery a fair deal. Cleans are also used sparingly but it’s mainly all about the shouting. The singer plays his part well and gives a good performance.

The band have a very clean and clear sound; again, a bit different form the norm as this kind of Crusty, Blackened assault is usually a lot dirtier in delivery. It works though and allows the Rockier aspects to their style to come to the fore.

This is a really interesting release that smashes my preconceptions about what Black ‘n’ Roll can sound like. If you imagine a Black Metal/Crust/Punk hybrid, the likes of which we see relatively often, then make their sound cleaner and add in a combination of Kvelertak with a bit of (old) Mastodon to the riffs then Sågverk will be the end result.

Enjoyable and different, Sahataan ne Kaikki is a really good listen.

Highly recommended.

Distant Sun – Dark Matter (Review)

Distant SunDistant Sun are a Russian Power/Speed Metal band and this is their début album.

This is Power Metal played in the European style with a nice influence from US Thrash/Speed Metal felt throughout.

The vocals are a little grittier than most European-influenced bands and this falls in line with the Thrash influence. The singer does have a good voice though and is reminiscent of the singer of Metallica in some ways, but thankfully not overly so.

The band are comfortable playing chuggy, Thrashy riffs as well as more stirring, melodic ones. Overall the album is quite riff-heavy and the guitars have a nice bite to them.

Distant Sun’s style is kind of late-90s, combining the Power, Heavy and Thrash Metal styles of the time into a kind of Blind Guardian/Testament/Iced Earth/Annihilator melting pot. Add to this a bit of an 80s Thrash influence too and you have Dark Matter.

The songs are a good combination of these styles and frequently result in tracks that are both high-octane and catchy.

The band members in Distant Sun are also active in Shadow Host and Starsoup; both are top-notch bands and Distant Sun is another great outing from them.

I firmly recommend this and suggest you check them out.

Astrakhan – A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin (Review)

AstrakhanAstrakhan are from Canada and play Progressive Metal. This is their latest EP.

This is powerful music with plenty of dynamics and personality.

Think Progressive Metal with a modern edge; kind of in the vein of what Mastodon do but without really sounding like them too much. Couple this with elements of bands as diverse as Alice in Chains, High on Fire and Metallica…

Hard Rock mixes with a Sludge feel and strong clean vocals dominate everything. Stoner simplicity and technical complexity merge together. They are at once cohesive and divisive; multiple influences congeal into a coherent whole and result in four very impressive songs.

The sheer force of charisma generated by the singer is draw-dropping. To further muddy the waters of genre-definition, he sometimes sounds like he could easily front an Avant-Garde band like Arcturus or Manes with ease.

The distortion feels alive and the riffs have a vitality to them. Each of the songs flexes its musical muscles and exudes feelings that are both epic and emotive.

Their music is textured and rich with riffs that propel the songs onward with real passion and vigour.

Top quality. If they can translate their obvious talent into a full length album they’ll be on to a real winner.