Reaper – Stranger Than Fiction

Reaper – Stranger Than Fiction
Self-Released
Release Date: 16/10/2020
Running Time: 37:53
Review by Beth Jones
9.5/10

Merseyside. An area in the North West of England, known for some interesting stuff; The Beatles, a couple of decent football teams (one arguably better than the other – which one that is, I’ll leave up to you to decide), and the exit point of the River Mersey into the North Sea (I believe there’s a ferry across it, too. I heard it once in a song 🤣). And now, Merseyside has a new offering! A young four-piece Progressive Thrash Metal band, by the name of Reaper. Over the last couple of years, we’ve become quite friendly with their frontman, Dan Moran, so it’s a great pleasure to now be able to review their second full length album, “Stranger Than Fiction”.

Inspired by the great and good of Thrash, Prog, and Classic Metal, Reaper create a sound that’s full of thumping melodies, entwined with faster thrash riffs, and intricate rhythms, which give the sound a distinct edge. “Stranger Than Fiction” was originally set to be an EP, but then Covid happened, and the lockdown that followed led to some intense and inspired writing, leaving them with enough material to go the whole hog! The concept of being thrust into life in a world full of chaos, then learning to accept that chaos is all part of life’s rich tapestry, forms the basis of this album. It explores some of the harsher sides of life that run starkly through the world, especially at the current time.

After a short introduction, made up of a collection of chaotic samples to set the scene, ‘Sigil’, the bands previously released single, kicks the actual music off. It’s pacey and full of epic riffage and thrashy rhythms, with Dan’s vocals ripping over the top of everything. His voice is somewhere between Rob Halford and an angry Bruce Dickenson! Powerful and gritty, with a great range, and an even bigger lung capacity (there’s some ridiculously long notes in this track)!

‘The Titan’ is slightly slower, but still with all the vim and vigour you want from a meaty Thrash track. It’s a real thumper. It gets a bit trippy in the middle, too, before coming back to shotgun staccato work on the guitars, bass, and drums, and a pretty epic guitar solo. This thunderous sound is continued in the first half of ‘Upon The Sun’. However, halfway through, it suddenly drops into a quite acoustic section, followed by a proggy interlude, which really mixes things up a bit! Again, this is another belter.

‘Flight’ takes an amble through full on prog, with a heavy edge. It’s many cross-rhythm sections, discordant guitar solos, and bonkers vocal effects, intertwine to create a reasonably psychedelic, hallucinogenic experience. Don’t try and bang your head to this one. It will just annoy you! Just pay attention instead! There’s so much going on in it, that you’ll find something new with each listen.

The business end of the album brings the thrash back, (with ‘Jericho’ being a full-on thrash number that you just have to move to) then goes all out thrash prog genius for the final two tracks, ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Walk The Sky’, which are both of epic length, and by far my favourite tracks on the album.

‘Afterlife’ starts off pacey and powerful, then builds and builds, until it crashes into the stratosphere of epic melodic prog, before finally coming back down to earth, with an acoustic guitar closing the track. It’s so emotive and exciting! I think it might be my favourite Reaper song ever, actually! ‘Walk The Sky’ is almost a resolution of ‘Afterlife’. It offers a fair amount of heavy and pacey thrash riffs early on, but then floats down into intricate, measured, chilled out prog. The symbolic “moment of acceptance and contentment” realising and resolving the discordant chaos.

I love this album. And the more I listen to it, the more I hear in it. If you like anything thrashy, with some added diversity, then you need this in your playlist. It’s interesting and exploratory, and musically, its skilfully executed, tight, and displays a mature professionalism that goes way beyond the band’s years. I’ve only held back from giving “Stranger Than Fiction” a perfect 10 because I believe that Reaper still have even more to give. And that, my friends, is a hellishly exciting prospect!!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Event Horizon
02. Sigil
03. The Titan
04. Upon The Sun
05. Flight
06. Jericho
07. Afterlife
08. Walk The Sky

LINE-UP:
Daniel Moran – Vocals, Guitar
Anthony Capitano – Guitar
Elliott Kyriakides – Bass
Anthony Longworth – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment

Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 02/10/20
Running Time: 41:04
Review by Steven Hooke
9/10

There may not be a band that completely and totally summarises the state of planet Earth in 2020 quite like Brummie extreme metal titans Anaal Nathrakh. There’s been plenty of punk albums this year that rag on US and UK politics, social commentaries and global injustices, and there exists a near-limitless supply of blood-curdling grindcore, black metal, death metal, etc. albums to really amplify the feelings of internal frustration, Mick Kenney and Dave Hunt though bring together both sides of the turgid, decaying coin and leave you constantly coming back for more.

And it’s been pretty much the case since their inception over 20 years ago. Although Anaal Nathrakh have offered a rare glimpse into their lyrics for the latest album, they have traditionally remained reserved and protective of them, with tr00 necro experts piecing together unofficial lyric sheets, depicting the inner-monologue of Hunt’s mind as he lambasts religion, modern society and political leaders all in the name of a false freedom. The title track – which both opens the album and was used as the lead single prior to the album’s release – shows no shred of backing down, admonishing people for their callous mindset of “I side with whomever gives me a better reward” instead of looking at the bigger picture of how any particular declaration, political or otherwise, helps a broader audience.

It’s a real, organic response to the world. Hunt even states “personally, I feel more cynical, more bitter, with a greater sense that the world is fucked, and is continually re-fucked by people who have no idea what they are doing.” It’s all stuff that’s happening today too, ‘Punish Them’ acts as a short but scathing commentary to the situation involving a British woman in Malaysia being sentenced to death for allegedly smuggling drugs into the country (reportedly against her will). As barbaric as it seems to condemn someone to death for a crime even in 2020, the infamous comment sections of newspaper pages showing people to have no compassion or empathy when dealing with a person’s life. ‘Singularity’ deals with the human race’s innate ability to destroy itself, and that we’re losing our own identities to artificial intelligence, social media culture, all the while allowing a small room full of people dictate the behaviour of entire countries just to please a small fraction.

As previously stated, it’s not just lyrically where A.N. excel at bringing forth clouds of despondency; always expanding the realms and limitations of black metal to create images of horror in their sound, “Endarkenment” continues the trend of “let’s make something really bastard heavy, add a melodic bit that people can sing along to, but sing in a King Diamond-falsetto and sound like a ravenous harpy”.

Again, the title track is an early example of this as well as a prime example of Mick Kenney’s ability to tell a story through music and structure. Pitched as the complete antithesis of ‘enlightenment’, the high-pitched shrill vocal echoes Hunt’s clean delivery of “endarkenment”, the encroaching evil in an already chaotic and unstable environment. ‘The Age of Starlight Ends’ is another great example of this, with the pitch of the chord progressions steadily increasing, only to drop on the bellow of the chorus.

The deeper into the album you go, the more experiences you are sure to find. ‘Thus, Always, To Tyrants’ is a song that sounds like it’s collapsing in on itself, with some exceptional guitar work from Kenney for good measure, ‘Libidinous (A Pig With Cocks In Its Eyes)’ and ‘Create Art, Though The World May Perish’ sound plucked from an alternative universe where Niklas Kvarforth pursued a career in power metal and ‘Beyond Words’ is dissonant noise that make Author & Punisher blush.

“Endarkenment” is a triumphant onslaught of aggression. An ever-elaborate world of discordance and melody, knee-jerk reactions and patience, fear and, well, more fear. But if nothing else, it is a testament to a band 20+ years and 11 albums in that can remain concise and relevant to the world around them, but to also maintain such a profound level of quality in their delivery.

Anaal. Fucking. Nathrakh.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Endarkenment
02. Thus, Always, To Tyrants
03. The Age Of Starlight Ends
04. Libidinous (A Pig With Cocks In Its Eyes)
05. Beyond Words
06. Feeding The Death Machine
07. Create Art, Though The World May Perish
08. Singularity
09. Punish Them
10. Requiem

LINE-UP:
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – Vocals
Mick Kenney – All instruments

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Steven Hooke and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Helix – Eat Sleep Rock

Helix – Eat Sleep Rock
Perris Records
Release Date: 04/09/2020
Running Time: 45:34
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

I’ve made the difficult decision today to take a break from progressive metal…Don’t worry, it’s only for the day! Because sometimes Sundays just call for a bit of good, honest, salt of the earth, hard rock, right?! Today’s listening pleasure is sponsored by old-school Canadian hard rockers, Helix, in the shape of their new album, “Eat Sleep Rock”.

This album is a compilation of the bands favourite songs recorded since their departure from Capitol/EMI back in 1990. (Yes, that is 3 decades ago, and yes you are, like me, getting very, very old. Eesh! 30 damn years, where the hell did that go?!) But as an added bonus, alongside some timeless classics, this album also offers two previously unreleased tracks, the title track, and ‘The Story Of Helix’, which opens the album.

And what a way to open an album it is. In a style akin to the ever popular ‘Tribute’ (originally performed by Tenacious D, but subsequently murdered millions of times over in every Karaoke bar globally), this track is an hilarious spoken word piece, set to music, and interspersed with musical fills at just the right points. It summarises the story of the journey that Helix have been on, over nearly half a century, into a neatly packaged 7 and a half minutes! And it’s funny as hell! I did some proper belly laughing at it! I would recommend that anyone who held the 90’s music scene in any level of contempt have a listen to this track. You’ll sympathize with it!

Following the amusing start, Helix get back to business in ‘Eat Sleep Rock’, the album’s title track. It’s just great, solid, hard rock. And that, my friends, really is all you need quite a lot of the time. Think Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, and AC/DC, and you’re on the right tracks. It’s written and performed to be tight and no nonsense, and when you listen to it, it’s completely impossible not to tap your toes and nod your head. And I’ve discovered, when you’re writing, it’s also impossible to stop yourself writing in time to the music, too.

The album continues in this way throughout. Just tune after tune of great hard rock. Superb solos, metronomic drumming, classic rock vocals – clean, but with just enough grit to give them edge, big riffs, and driving bass lines. It’s music for a road trip. Or music to shoot some pool and drink liquor to, and I love it.

I don’t have a favourite track on this album, as the whole thing just puts you in a great mood. There’s no way I could single out one track that does that more than the others. Everything is written, performed, recorded, mixed and mastered to perfection. But this is to be expected, as these guys are all seasoned professionals, and they’ve used some of the cream of the crop to take care of mixing and mastering, too. There isn’t a single thing that I would change, or that has irritated me, about this album, which is rare, because I’m a fussy cow!!

Ok, I’ll level with you. If you’re looking for explorations of new and Avant Garde sounds, you should probably move along. But if you want to be immersed in some proper ROCK, then get stuck into this bad boy, because you won’t be disappointed!

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Story Of Helix (Unreleased)
02. Eat Sleep Rock (Unreleased)
03. Shock City Psycho Rock
04. Wrecking Ball
05. I’m A Live Frankenstein
06. Even Jesus (Wasn’t Loved In His Hometown)
07. Cyber Space Girl
08. When The Bitters Got The Better Of You
09. The Tequila Song
10. (Gene Simmons Says) Rock Is Dead
11. The Devil Is Having A Party Tonight

LINE-UP:
Brian Vollmer – Lead Vocals
Daryl Gray – Bass & Keyboard Programming
Greg “Fritz” Hinz – Drums
Kaleb Duck – Guitar
Chris Julke – Guitar

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Milk White Throat – Hierarchy EP

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Milk White Throat – Hierarchy EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 18/09/2020
Running Time: 21:51
Review by Tammy Lomax
10/10

I miss Brighton, I miss it a lot. Not just because of the diversity, but because of the people. My circle of friends are the most important and genuine people I have in my life, some of them coming from Brighton.

When I moved there, I felt at home for the first time in my life, it’s very versatile. I struggle blending in up North, where I am now. I wear a metal t-shirt and feel I’m being judged all the time. In Brighton, you can literally be anyone you want to be and there is no judging, well you still get the odd dick, it’s expected anywhere.

I left just over a year ago, but Brighton did enable me to broaden my horizons and expand my music career. After removing the dicks from my life and trying to settle in “Planet North”, Mr Editor and I began chatting! He and Beth have lots of cheek kisses coming their way, he has helped me get out of my rut, mentally, and channel the crap into my writing.

I mention all of this because Alternative/Progressive band Milk White Throat are from Brighton. I have seen them play live on numerous occasions and I bloody love them. I do have a dirty mind at times (All the time dear readers, all the time – Rick), and to be fair how can I not go off on a tangent with a name like this?! “Milk White Throat”, Oh gosh. Yes please! 🤭

The name Milk White Throat is actually taken from a line in the Nick Cave song, ‘Black Hair’.

Starting in 2000 as a Thrash/Death metal band, ‘Milk White Throat’ refuse to be pinned down to a particular genre, mainly because there is so much variety and creativity, individually and collectively as a group…fuck the rules!

During this time, the line-up has slowly reduced in size and by 2016 only three members remained.

They have continued to evolve and have now returned with their self-released EP “Hierarchy.” Whilst still sticking to variety, the three songs that make up “Hierarchy” are their most mature and melodic effort to date, progressing forward from 2018 EP “House Of Fire”.

The songs represent an individual’s fragility from different perspectives. Our minds can certainly be a fragile thing for sure, especially during these times.

As “Hierarchy” is only three tracks long. I am going to go through them one by one, with as much information as I can.

Opener ‘Closed Eyes’. It is written from the perspective of the world within oneself. It can be a struggle to accept who we are and what everything around us is actually about. What is our existence worth to ourselves? The track itself is over 7 minutes long and they jump straight in with the most alluring vocals, they are light as a feather, well balanced and everything is…calm. The music moves me in ways I can’t explain. Their guitar work meets the flow then excels as it progresses, giving us some umph. It’s pretty clear there are some personal experiences behind this music, you can feel it and the passion.

Next up is ‘Sleepless’ and It is written from the perspective of a parent and the continuous battles mentally. Are our children a true reflection of ourselves and are we qualified to raise a child? Fans have made comparisons with Deftones, I understand why. There is more energy in this track, but a continuous graceful flow remains. Vocalist Brian Thomas is slightly fiercer, but you can hear his growls being held back, no room for gruesome growls here guys! ‘Sleepless’ is also the lead single and has a wonderful accompanying video filmed in The Underworld, Camden Town!

Finally, title-track ‘Hierarchy’ is written from the perspective of someone failing to live up to society’s expectations. Are we just a number and statistic in the outside world? How do we use all of this information to better ourselves? This takes you on a journey, all sections are dynamic, and the tempo is fast, but it still flows with the other two tracks.

I am now going to sound like the biggest cheese ball going!

“Hierarchy” is a perfect representation of how we see our lives in general. It covers different points of views, experiences, opinions (*cheese ball incoming*) and my perspective is, LOVE! Love is the perspective! We should inject that good juice daily, seeing potential in the negatives, seeing inspiration in the darkest of moments, seeing beyond all limitations. The sky is not the limit, our minds are!

The work that has been created on this stunning EP is exceptional. It moves you in so many emotional ways. Although it is short it is balanced throughout. I cannot really do it any justice, so please do check it out.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Closed Eyes
02. Sleepless
03. Hierarchy

LINE-UP:
Tom Humphrey – Guitars.
Guillaume Croizon – Drums.
Brian Thomas – Bass and Vocals.

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Tammy Lomax and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Lindsay Schoolcraft – Worlds Away

Lindsay Schoolcraft – Worlds Away
Cyber Proxy Records
Release Date: 09/10/2020
Running Time: 45:25
Review by Dark Juan
9/10

Hello, you bunch of beautiful but frequently dangerous and unpredictable people. It is I, Dark Juan, and I have been beset by travails these past few days that would test kings, let alone mere mortals. It’s a good job I’m speshul, really, otherwise I might have become REALLY cross and let’s face it, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. People rarely like me when I am drunk and cheerful so if I’m pissed off you have no chance. Sir Zeusington Zeus, VC, KCVG, MM, DFC and Bar, took it upon himself to eat the ONLY important piece of mail we have received at Dark Juan Terrace in WEEKS… Bear in mind this document is absolutely necessary for me to continue my work of wrangling recalcitrant young gentlemen and you can imagine the rage and recrimination poured upon his unfortunate canine head. Yes, I am ashamed to say I gave him a good telling off. However, he appears to have forgiven me as he has adopted his usual position of lying next to me upon my jewelled chaise-longue and forcing my left arm into a most disadvantageous position causing me significant discomfort as I type this nonsense. And farting most unappealingly.

Shall we get on with writing something about Canadian gothic metal goddess Lindsay Schoolcraft’s “Worlds Away” album, then? The first thing you should know is that this release is by no means a heavy metal record, as Lindsay has reinvented some of her music for strings and electric harp as well as recorded two new songs written for the harp. A notable feat for Ms. Schoolcraft is that if you were listening to this album in isolation, that is to say if you were not aware of these songs before playing this, then you would not be aware that they are harp and string-based re-imaginings of existing songs. This is a plus and showcases the basic high quality of the songwriting. Lindsay has a very appealing voice, her mezzo-soprano (bordering on contralto in parts) lilting and soothing and flowing with the glissandos on her harp. This is a record best listened to in a dark room, through headphones, in silence. Then, and only then, will you understand the bewitching quality of the music. And it’s also gothic as fuck. Songs of darkness, broken hearts and shattered love abound, most noticeably on ‘Dangerous Game’ where Lindsay manages to convey the deep sorrow, crushing sadness and barely contained rage that accompanies a cheating lover and their shenanigans being uncovered.

Lindsay is accompanied on several tracks by original Evanescence drummer Rocky Gray, who adds some interesting flavours of electronic percussion, particularly appealingly on album closer ‘Warn Me’ as he adds a powerful cadence to the sensuous gentleness of Lindsay’s voice and harp. It is also a very worthy album closer as it brings the haunting, darkly romantic quality of the rest of the record to a rushing, thunderous climax (fnarr fnarr). ‘Masquerade’ has a carnival-like sound to it, underpinning a cinematic-quality lyric that instantly transports you to the inside of Lindsay’s head and is one of the finer songs on the record, resonant and thrilling. ‘Dance On The Strings’ benefits from a particularly mournful viola line played by the mysteriously named Dagda and sends this reviewer into mental realms of gothic splendour where all the ladies are gorgeously attired in flowing lace gowns, and the gentlemen in brocade frock coats and breeches, facing each other across a lushly appointed salon before engaging in a mirror dance of unnatural movements and disturbing tempos as black candles illuminate a splendid but unearthly scene, while monsters with venomous jaws and misshapen, unsuited limbs prowl the night outside, ready to strike down the unready and the vulnerable…

So, as we haul ourselves back from the demesne of tortured metaphor that I frequently inhabit we come to the point where I have to draw some conclusions about what I have just listened to. I fucking loved this record. I loved the Sharon Den Adel quality of Lindsay’s voice (both are mezzos, although Den Adel is more soprano in range, whereas Lindsay is more contralto) and the lushness of harp and strings. The cinematic quality of the lyrics are also superb and as I said previously, this is a record best listened to in the dark, in headphones and in seclusion. Then, and only then, will you be able to appreciate the gothic splendour of the music Lindsay Schoolcraft has created. Only then will you be able to appreciate its lustre. Also, it helps if you are actually a sad old goff like what I am.

Lush, staggeringly beautiful, emotional, challenging and frankly gorgeous. It is proof that quality songwriting is key to great music, regardless of genre because the sparse instrumentation and reliance on Lindsay’s voice solely should have been a demerit, but it isn’t in this case as instead it provides a very intimate listening experience. No, I’m not going there about intimacy. Dark Juan is perfectly able to behave himself, thank you very much. Most of the time.

The Patented Dark  Juan Blood Splat Rating System(Le système breveté d’évaluation des éclaboussures de sang Dark Juan, pour les Canadiens françaises. De rien) awards Lindsey Schoolcraft 9/10 for a small piece of Gothic splendour. I’m all overcome. Waft my fevered brow.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Worlds Away
02. Saviour
03. Darkness Falls
04. Fading Star
05. Stranger
06. Where I Fall
07. Dance On The Strings
08. Dangerous Game
09. Your Mind
10. Masquerade
11. Warn Me

LINE-UP:
Lindsay Schoolcraft – Vocals, Lyrics, Electric Harp, String Direction, and Co-Production
Spencer Creaghan – Additional String Programming on ‘Worlds Away’, ‘Darkness Falls’, and ‘Warn Me’
Dagda – Viola on ‘Darkness Falls’, ‘Stranger’, ‘Dance on the Strings’, ‘Your Mind’, and ‘Where I Fall’
Rocky Gray – Electronic beats on ‘Worlds Away’, ‘Stranger’, and ‘Warn Me’

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

White Walls – Grandeur

White Walls – Grandeur
Self-Released
Release Date: 23/10/2020
Running Time: 54:01
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

Afternoon metalheads! Tis I, MegaBeth!! And it’s time for another review! So, get yourselves comfy with your favourite beverage, and let’s talk tunes! Today’s listening is being brought to me by many bands, of many eclectic styles and genres. And first up on that list is Romanian progressive metal band, White Walls! Namely, their new album, “Grandeur” which is to be released in a couple of weeks’ time.

White Walls formed in 2009, but first came to my attention earlier in the year, when they performed at the European Metal Festival Alliance virtual festival, and were easily my band of the weekend. I am rather ashamed that I’d never been aware of them before, as this is their third album, and they’re bloody good! According to the press release this album is a ‘new sound’ for them, so I must check out the back catalogue to see what they sounded like before!

The album is inspired by the state of the world currently, and explores the juxtaposition of the grandeur presented by the shiny and glamourous things in life, vs the realities of life. The band’s sound has been compared to the likes of Leprous and Opeth, and I concur. So, if those bands cut it for you, then you’ll like White Walls.

The album begins with ‘False Belief’. It starts as a mellow and chilled-out track, with guitar, keys and bass exploring cyclical chords, and Eugen Brudaru’s falsetto vocals sitting atop. This doesn’t hang around for long though, as the track quickly melds into track 2, ‘Eye For An I’. And this is brutal, with crunching guitar riffs, thumping drums, and a tortured vocal roar. It goes through various tempo changes, with Eugen’s clean vocals taking the lead in the slower sections, but it soon picks up the pace and goes back to punching you in the nose with the real world! We carry on in much the same way throughout the album. It’s a very clever mix of clean and harsh, echoing the themes on which the album is based.

Track 5, ‘Velvet’ is one that particularly caught my attention. Full of cross rhythms, dark and heavy, and with some really great bass work by Șerban-Ionuț Georgescu. And even though it’s got lots of changes and complex sections, you can really feel the rhythm, and move to it. If any of my neighbours where watching while I was writing this review, it probably looked like I was having some sort of fit!

Much of the album is in the same minor key, and they regularly use the Persian scale, which gives things a kind of Middle-Eastern ‘droning’ feel. This really works very well, and brings an air of sombre realisation to their sound. In quiet sections, they also use a lot of reverb, which makes those areas sound almost dreamlike. But it always kicks back in to bring you back down to earth.

I think my favourite track is ‘Locked-in Syndrome’. It’s a hellishly complex track rhythmically, and displays a lot of technical prowess from the whole band. Lyrically it’s tortured, and tormented, and it just really appeals to me. I’m a happy soul like that! From this track onwards the album gets even darker in it’s sound, which again pleases me. ‘The Decent’ is a real mixed bag of everything that’s happened so far, and there’s so much going on at one point that you do feel your descending into some sort of madness. There’s a really low bass note in this track at one point, too, which sits as far forward in the mix as they’ve dared, because of its depth, and literally vibrates your brain. Awesome!

The album closes with a monster of a track. Coming in at nearly 9 minutes long, ‘The Slaughter’ starts with some jazz drums, and guitar, all beautifully panned in the mix. A section of guitar and vocals in the middle of the track give the melancholy feel of a battlefield, in the ‘calm before the coming storm’, which kicks back in pretty quickly. This sequence is revisited at the end of the track, where the full band sound fades into just the guitar and vocal, with repetition of the words ‘just go on ahead’. It’s a very sombre end to a very good album.

When it comes to mixing and mastering, the production of “Grandeur” is great, too. It was done by Forrester Savell (Karnivool, Make Them Suffer, Animals as Leaders), and he’s obviously thought carefully about the placement of each instrument, to create a fully immersive sound with great depth. I must also give a quick mention to the album artwork. Created by Radu Damian, its imagery fits superbly with the sound and themes of the album.

All in all, this is a very mature and well though about album by a band who now clearly see their direction. I really enjoyed it and am extremely glad to have now discovered White Walls.

TRACKLISTING:

01. False Beliefs
02. Eye For An I
03. Home Is On The Other Side
04. Holy Worse
05. Velvet
06. Speaking in Tongues
07. Starfish Crown
08. Locked-in Syndrome
09. Month’s End
10. The Descent
11. The Slaughter (Marche Funèbre)

LINE-UP:
Alexandru-Eduard Dascălu (Dasu) – Guitar
Eugen Brudaru – Vocals
Șerban-Ionuț Georgescu – Bass
Theo Scrioșteanu – Drums

LINKS:

📷 Miluta Flueras

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Sacramentia – Prophecies Of Plague

Sacramentia – Prophecies Of Plague
Extreme Sound Records/Old Shadows Records
Release Date: 06/06/2020
Running Time: 39:18
Review by Victor Augusto
8.5/10

Since I’ve joined forces with this incredible team called Ever Metal, I have seriously put into my mind that I should keep my focus on professional bands for reviews and promotion, no matter if it’s a new or famous band. I also believe, that all people are like radio frequencies and we have a connection with people that are on the same wavelength, and who have the same spirit and passion for the cause. Within this scenario, I had the great opportunity to meet the young people from Sacramentia, a band from a small city called São João da Boa Vista, in the state of São Paulo (Brazil). After our first contact, we worked a lot to spread the word of their debut album and a good friendship has appeared from all of it.

With all I have explained, you are probably asking why I took so long to write a review about them (I know you are not really asking, hahaha), but my honest answer is that I didn’t know if I could write good words about them. “So, Victor, Are you telling us that Sacramentia’s music is not good?” (Again, I am imagining some of you asking it). No, my friends, it is just the opposite. It is so good, and also so complex, that I took a long time to understand their sonority. I was first confused when vocalist Renan showed me the single ‘Crucifiction’ before the album’s release. The title is a fiction about the crucifixion of Christ. Firstly, I thought they were a Black Metal band, but the lyric video of this song shows the exact history of the crucifixion that you read in the Holy Bible. Right after that, I got very confused, if they are a Black Metal Band or a band that worship God or Christ, as many bands do in Brazil (then they are called a White Metal band).

Sacramentia are, actually, not Black or White Metal. The band just play a dark and heavy music that navigates in a Death Metal and Thrash Metal sonority. They talk about lunatics that are involved with religion but from the corruption side…men that use this institution for their own good and the people who are blinded by faith. Actually, the band’s name is a combination of ‘Sacra’ and ‘Dementia’ which explains perfectly what they want to tell us. Most of Renan’s vocal interpretations sound like a priest vociferating religious dogma or trying to corrupt his followers. The most interesting interpretation is on ‘Silent Sinner‘, where he really looks like a devilish priest whispering to his believers.

Musically, this is extremely interesting, utilizing a bunch of influences which mix hugely different bands and genres. The bass of Guilherme Melo is an important instrument that received good volume in the recording process and increases all the darkness and heaviness. The guitar work of André Guimarães and Guilherme Mendes is also very interesting, with the riffs and solos, and even the clean notes, like on the track ‘Scum’, giving an obscure sound. This song shows how good the band are band at creating good variation in their music. ‘In Integrum Pandemonium’ is another example of a mix of their inspirations. For me, this song is like Marduk playing Slipknot, because the initial riff reminds me of ‘Before I Forget’, but the song structure and arrangements is more akin to Black Metal. It also has good Brazilian drum percussion from Leo Michelazzo.

Another good song is ‘Black Psalm’, the longest on the album, which creates a mixed atmosphere. ‘Necrolust’ is the fast track and, again, it is about sacred sins related to sexual temptation within the Church. Brutal song by the way! To summarize what you can expect from “Prophecies Of Plague”, it is an album which combines all the energy of a Thrash/Death Metal band but with Black Metal arrangements. Sometimes, they even sound like Swedish Melodic Death Metal with obscure Norwegian musical influences.

Throw away your thoughts of silly Satanism subjects and instead, listen to a narration of the obscure histories that have happened inside the sacred temple of god and all the moral and personal conflicts that the people involved with it have suffered. For sure, “Prophecies Of Plague” is a pretty intense album, but with a good power too. Become immersed, musically, and thematically, in a subject that always messes with our minds. Maybe it looks like an old-fashioned theme, but it is still a TRULY relevant theme.

Considering all the restrictions new bands here have with affording a good production, Sacramentia have undoubtedly extracted the best from their musicians. They used a four-track soundboard to record this album, but it is not a bad record, they have just put a good level of rawness into their sound. Nice job!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Scorn Fate
02. Scum
03. In Integrum Pandemonium
04. Black Psalm
05. Silent Sinner
06. Necrolust
07. Crucifiction
08. Falling State ov Mind
09. Ancient
10. Unknown Gods

LINE-UP:
Renan Bezan – Vocals
André Guimarães – Guitar
Guilherme Mendes – Guitar
Guilherme Melo – Bass
Leo Michelazzo – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

The Gates Of Slumber – Live In Tempe Arizona

The Gates Of Slumber – Live In Tempe Arizona
Self-Released
Release Date: 28/02/2020
Running Time: 37:40
Review by Alun Jones
8/10

Right then, who’s up for some big, fat riffs played at a crawling, slow pace? You know I am. Never more ready. So, let’s plunge in and have a listen to this live opus from The Gates Of Slumber! I can promise you that TGOS not only have one of the best band names ever invented – they also do magnificently heavy, Sabbath influenced doom.

This gig was recorded live at the Clubhouse, in Tempe, Arizona – back in 2011, supporting the mighty Orange Goblin. You can almost feel the heat and smell the beer at the venue on this recording.

Starting out with ‘Bastards Born’, the riff is slow and menacing, with mournful vocals. Second track ‘Ice Worm’ ups the tempo a little, with a chugging groove. The highlight of the album is possibly the gloomy ‘Day Of Farwell’, which is allowed to breathe and sprawl, featuring some spellbinding guitar. ‘Coven Of Cain’ rocks out, before the band slow down to a monolithic pace for ‘The Wretch’.  Moving those stones from South Wales to Salisbury to create Stonehenge was probably faster. Finally, the band are at their most Sabbath with the crunching ‘The Jury’.

Audience reaction is very low in the mix, and the sound is very clear, with no studio or soundboard trickery. What the listener is left with is a very honest representation of The Gates Of Slumber – those guitars and drums are free to go straight for the jugular. It might not be the sort of album that will blow the mind of the casual listener, but for anyone who’s schooled in the melancholy beauty of Saint Vitus and The Obsessed, this is a short but sweet treat.

Will that do for the review, guys? I’m knackered myself after last night. I wasn’t partying with Ozzy and Slash again, honest. I was up all night with Brian May, going on about his bloody astronomy. “Really Brian? That is fascinating. You don’t say? Yawn.” Didn’t get a wink of sleep.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Bastards Born
02. Ice Worm
03. Day Of Farewell
04. Coven Of Cain
05. The Wretch
06. The Jury

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Thirteenth Sign – The Ashes Of A Treacherous Silence

Thirteenth Sign – The Ashes Of A Treacherous Silence
Self-Released
Release Date: 02/10/2020
Running Time: 70:54
Reviewed by Tammy Lomax
8/10

By nature, I am a positive person, full of beans 90% of the time. But lately, I’ve been feeling quite flat in myself, the pressures of modern life can sometimes take us away from the beautiful thing that is life!

I did have a chat with Mr. Editor (she did indeed – Rick), as I didn’t feel as confident in my writing that day, unusual as I normally bring all the bubbles, but the last thing I wanted was for this to reflect in my writing, so I decided to sit on this album for a bit.

Kick-starting my fitness and religiously meditating my brain, I now feel ready to swallow “The Ashes Of Treacherous Silence” the new album by Thirteenth Sign.

The band actually started off under the name ‘Skeletal Embrace’ back in 1998/99 in Norfolk. They managed to record 3 demos, then decided to change their name. After releasing their debut album “Oracles Of Armageddon” in 2008, they went and played Hammerfest, supporting Napalm Death and Anaal Nathrakh. They then released two more albums, “Rise Of The Black Angel” (2012) and “Evolutions End” (2016). Originally Norfolk based, band members left and were replaced with new members from Nottingham, thus they now consider themselves Nottingham based.

Now to the album itself. Go Forth Tammy, I tell myself “I got this”.

Let me start with the meaning behind the lyrics. They are based upon the true story of some of Britain’s most notorious serial killers, but the album does not focus on the actual killings themselves but delivers insight to what made those killers commit such evil crimes. Therefore, we get songs about neglect, domestic violence, depression, suicide, and betrayal and the spoken pieces in between tracks give the album a definite “Operation: Mindcrime” feel, which is to be expected as that concept album was their initial inspiration for this!

I can’t see a happy dance happening any time soon.

‘WN-3617’ opens the album which is just over a minute-long introduction and It’s actually really creepy.

‘The Bond Of Wicked Blood’ opens the album, in suitably gruesome fashion but, personally, I feel the album really kicks off with next track ‘Impulse Control’. We are marched forward into the album, there is a really good repetitive riff and the tempo meets this making it feel completely thrash.

The first thing I noticed was drummer Lloyd. His accelerated beats rip and slay hard. His blazingly fast double kick drums turn me into a trembling mess! They are hard to keep up with but not misplaced at all. Drummers like this are rare gold dust.

Throughout the entire album you also have some befitting vocals. The only slight niggle for me is on final track ‘The Scars Of Betrayal” where they are a no-no from me. They are not terrible, but they are not great either. It’s difficult to understand what is going on and they seem to be out of place in comparison to the rest of the album. The musicianship is still remorseless though, and severely intense.

As a whole, the album is way beyond being quiet. There are so many moments that illustrate this. For example, ‘Electric Hammer’. This is the first video released from the album with their new line-up and was recorded during the lockdown by Loki Films! Thirteenth Sign transport all the chaos in this track. The production is clear, projecting a real clean and relentless sound. I actually resembled a hippo at this point as my jaw hit the ground. You can hear every string and strum on those guitars, and I have to bow my head with respect. They nail it totally.

Recording began in Feb 2020 and Covid-19 could have derailed everything, but the band were able to continue recording the remainder of the album at their home studios during lockdown. Thank goodness for that as this cruel and destroying album can now be heard by everyone!

Ok, so my overall thoughts are:

Thirteenth Sign have undoubtedly proved to themselves and demonstrated that if you want to do it, whatever it may be, then get UP and do it. They have bonded well together and their creativity and talent is completely apparent. There is enough variation in track tempos and there is a crisp production. They have delivered and it certainly stands out from their previous albums. From what I can gather, they bring a bloody good party, and they know EXACTLY what they want. “The Ashes Of A Treacherous Silence” deserves a huge slap on the back.

Cheers guys.

TRACKLISTING:
01. WN-3617
02. The Bond Of Wicked Blood
03. Impulse Control
04. Electric Hammer
05. Demons Within
06. Locked In A Deadly Embrace
07. The Spider’s Web
08. Walls Of Jericho
09. The Bone Collector
10. Leach
11. The Perpetual Darkness
12. Ashes For Eternity
13. Silent Witness
14. The Scars Of Betrayal

LINE-UP
Chris Hubbard – Rhythm Guitar
Reno Ramos – Vocals
Dale Stringer – Lead Guitar
Lloyd Stringer – Drums
Dave Thomas – Bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Tammy Lomax and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Quinn The Brain – Open Wide EP

Quinn The Brain – Open Wide EP
Self – Released
Release Date: 29/05/2020
Running Time: 17:10
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Good evening, my dear ladies and gentlemen. I am lounging upon my chaise longue, sipping from a delicately jewelled chalice and sporting my Seventh Invocation Robes (Autumn Weight) after a busy couple of days involving proselytising, being endlessly shouted at by the Dread Lord Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover, smashing up indestructible sofas and having Mrs. Dark Juan experience medical emergencies requiring trips to the apothecary and then the hospital. This is of course not in order of importance and rather more to do with my permanently derailed train of thought. I should have been wrangling young gentlemen as per my normal employment, but Mrs. Dark Juan comes first. At least that’s what I promised her when we first started seeing each other. Wink wink. I’ll let you judge how trustworthy I am on that score.

Also, for Seventh Invocation Robes (Autumn Weight), read beat up old (yet supremely comfortable) Batman onesie. I’m all about full disclosure, me.

I’m also all about writing about the music I’m listening to. What a segue. Tonight’s offering is an intriguing and beguiling band of Texan misfits called Quinn The Brain. Now, if you are of a certain age (and can recall MTV actually playing music videos and having Vanessa BLOODY Warwick ruining Donington for everybody) you may remember a poorly animated and distinctly sarcastic programme on MTV called Daria, about a young alternative lady called Daria Morgendorfer and her adventures with Jane and Trent.  And her endless watching of Sick, Sad World. Digressing? Me? Never… Anyway, there was an episode of Daria called Quinn The Brain That’s where Quinn The Brain got their name from. They have therefore earned a bonus point for having a cool name from a TV show beloved of Dark Juan in his youth. I’m easily bought.

As this is a four track EP, I am going to do a track by track critique. Let us begin…

The record opener is also the title track. Beginning with a simple, chiming guitar lick, it rapidly goes down a rage-filled rabbit hole of fury and reminds this reviewer greatly of ‘Bruise Violet’ by Babes In Toyland in the delivery of the vocal by Arta Salehi in parts. This is not a criticism as Kat Bjelland is a fine, fine basis to take your performance from. Musically, the song rampages from riot girl rage and kickass riffs to alt-rock twanging before hitting off kilter vocals and rapid loud-quiet-loud dynamics. I like this very much so far. Hopefully track two lives up to the promise of this stomper of an opener…

Track two is ‘Step On Me’. My, this is grungy. All lo-fi guitar and angst-ridden lyrics with a tough punk edge to take the grunge undertones up a notch and out of the navel gazing bollocks that most grunge was. Special mention goes to bass player Steve Blackheart on this one, who serves up some of the filthiest, sexiest bass I have had heard for a long time. Lyrically, this one is about working in an industry where no-one cares about you and the futility of your trying to achieve something when no-one will ever notice. Welcome to the world that most of us inhabit. Although this is the weakest offering it’s still a fucking slamming song and well worth your time.

Lucky three then – entitled ‘Comes In 3s’ and about bad luck coming in threes and dreading the next piece of shitty bastard luck to empty its capacious, disease-ridden arse in your unsuspecting lap. Again we enjoy some sexy, sexy fucking bass from Mr. Blackheart and some very tasty guitar work from Arta as well as a vocal that oozes snotty, fuck you attitude without having to resort to the kind of inane, ball squeezing squealing that large, hirsute, bearded men frequently employ when they are playing heavy metal. This is one of the more unusual songs as it straddles the fence between grunge, punk and metal (is that more than one fence? Fuck knows.) Oh, and it’s a full moon at the end of the song too, so all fucking bets are off…  Another top, top song.

Onto the record’s closing tune now, and it’s called ‘Dark Skies’ and it is by far the most metal of the songs on this EP. It’s got an absolutely doomtastic central riff and just drips melody and menace at the same time. Vocally, Arta treads a finely judged line referencing strong female vocal leads like Brody Dalle, Kat Bjelland, Die So Fluid’s Grog and even a bit of faux-cute Courtney Love and the words reference the loss of innocence, while skilfully leaving it to the listener’s imagination just what innocence has been lost. Such subtlety in songwriting is a rare and precious thing, especially in metal and other extreme music which tends to just bludgeon you over the head with the message the band wants you to understand. This is also a fucking kickass tune.

So, this is only a 17-minute EP but as a body of work it is extraordinarily complete. It’s a short but comprehensive journey down an absolutely rage filled tunnel of violence, edged weapons and negative emotions, and the musicians back this up by being able to emote this on their instruments as well as being able to rely on Arta’s witheringly intense vocal delivery going voraciously straight for your soft, white throat. I CANNOT WAIT for a full album, boys and girl! This really is one of my favourite records of 2020 so far, and I have listened to some high-quality alternative music this year. Quinn The fucking Brain are fucking magnificent!

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (y’all) awards Quinn The Brain a colossal 10/10. Treasure this, Quinn The Brain. It is a rare and precious thing. Dark Juan officially loves you.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Open Wide
02. Step On Me
03. Comes In 3s
04. Dark Skies

LINE-UP
Arta Salehi – Vocals and Guitar
Billy Kimmel – Drums
Steve Blackheart – Bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.