Reach – The Promise Of A Life

The Promise Of A Life Album Cover Art

Reach – The Promise Of A Life
Icons Creating Evil Art
Release Date: 23/04/2021
Running Time: 38:17
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

Hands up who likes Queen?…(NB, if you don’t have your hand up, leave now, because I don’t need that kind of negativity, and for the record, you’re wrong!) Got your hands up? Good, good. Now keep them up if you also like Muse, and can stomach The Scissor Sisters, Mika, and Lady Gaga, and also quite liked the 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s, and all the collective musical genres they had to offer. Anyone who put their hands down can now also leave, as this probably won’t be for you – BUT!!!…Don’t go too quickly, because you never know, and opening your mind to possibilities can be highly enlightening.

Today’s musings from my increasingly unhinged middle-aged psyche are about Swedish boundary pushing Rockers, Reach, and their new album “The Promise Of A Life”. And, my fellow lunatics, if you’ve ever wondered what a soup made out of the artists mentioned in my opening paragraph would taste like, then your answer is right here. (That’s a normal train of thought to go through, right…Come on guys, throw me a frikkin bone; it can’t seriously be only me who thinks about these kinds of philosophical, 3am problems…)

Since their inception in 2012, Reach have achieved critical acclaim, building a unique sound that likes to challenge. This new release is every bit of that. Its individuality shows no bounds, and the band’s willingness to experiment is clear from the start, even in the opening track’s title – ‘New Frontier’. This track begins with ‘Wild West’ whistling, and then starts galloping across the desert bareback on a stallion, carrying a Fender Strat and a large swag bag full of insanity, attempting to connect with Ziggy Stardust and James Bond before they drive Elvis to the moon in a big red bus! (None of that happens in the actual song by the way, that’s just the picture it painted in my head when I was listening to it, inspired by the tones and rhythms that were being put in there by this bunch of lunatic geniuses!)

And that gives way seamlessly to Sister Gaga Scissors, for track 2, ‘The Law’. You get the general idea. The theme for Reach’s sound is ‘Theme? Who needs a theme! What even is a theme?! Flibble.’ It takes the anthemic qualities and showmanship of Queen, and throws a host of modern methodology at it, to create something that really can’t be pigeonholed into a genre. Instead, it simply exists, as a presence refusing to follow any logic, but in the best way imaginable. It’s familiar, but insanely different all at the same time. Every single song is unique, and there’s not one that isn’t an absolutely killer track.

We have 80’s-esque rock rhythms, mixed with chunky guitars, solid bass, synth that’s popped straight in from the New Romantics (See the middle 8’s in ‘Satellite’ for reference), soundscapes that make it undeniably modern, and vocal harmonies that will never die while the memories of early Queen are still kept alive. There’s elements of 70’s prog, and the Woodstock generation underpinning everything, too, as well as the occasional moment of funk akin to the likes of Prince, and the fine line of genius/madness is fully trodden when it comes to orchestration. It’s experimental mastery that just makes your brain feel like a lovely mess. It’s prog without pretention or aloof irritation, rock without safe normality, and pop with eons more talent. I mean this is just ridiculously good. I literally cannot fault anything about it. I would even go as far as to throw the word ‘iconic’ into the mix. If Freddy Mercury had still been alive, he’d have been all over these guys like a rash. Love, Love, Love it!!! I need more. Hell, even the front man’s name – Ludvig – suggests that he was born to be a musical prodigy and impresario. I’m now addicted. I need to lie down. Too much excited lunacy for one day. Everyone needs this in their lives.

‘New Frontier’ (Official Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. New Frontier
02. The Law
03. Young Again
04. Satellite
05. Motherland
06. The Seventh Seal
07. Higher Ground
08. Cover Traces
09. The Streets
10. Promise Of A Life
11. The Streets

LINE-UP:
Ludvig Turner – Vocals/ Guitar
Marcus Johansson – Drums
Soufian Ma´Aoui – Bass

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.

Frozen Crown – Winterbane

Winterbane Album Cover Art

Frozen Crown – Winterbane
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 23/04/2021
Running Time: 52:56
Review by Mark Pritchard
10/10

As I write this review, I am actually celebrating my 33rd birthday. I mean what more could I ask for? It’s a nice warm day with the sun out, and I’ve got my headphones on, blasting out “Winterbane”, the new album by Italian Power Metal band Frozen Crown. It’s been a tough old time recently for all of us, so having some new music to turn to on my birthday has given me a great way to try and shut out the bad stuff, and to even have a smile on my face. So, for an insight into my thoughts of this album, continue reading. But first, some history!

Frozen Crown are based in Milan, Italy, and were formed back in 2017. In the following couple of years, they released their first two albums “The Fallen King”, and “Crowned In Frost”. The band then toured alongside the amazing Dragonforce on a European tour in 2020 as special guest, as well as working on this third, and newest, studio album. Although the band’s journey has only been four years long so far, they have done quite a lot during this time. As well as the touring with Dragonforce, their videos on YouTube have garnered over 18 million views, and “Winterbane” has been endorsed by Dragonforce’s own Herman Li on his Twitch channel, not many bands can say the same thing! Long may the journey continue, I say! So, what does it sound like?

Well, it’s fair to say that I’ve listened to this album a good few times now! So much so, I think I’ve lost count. But I’m sitting here at my desk, cup of tea in hand, rocking in my chair with my eyes shut for the slower songs, and headbanging without caution to the rest, as “Winterbane” contains both ends of the spectrum when it comes to heavy metal intensity. There are songs that hit the heart, but then others that hit deeper, to the soul, with awesome instrumentals, and beautiful vocals. It makes for an album that I can listen to over and over again and it never gets tiring.

So, as I have listened to “Winterbane” so much, finding a song that stands above the rest has been a challenge, but I have found it…‘The Water Dancer’. The instrumentals are really soothing and play through the song like water in a stream which is calming and coupled with the lilting vocals make this such a relaxing song to listen to. This is a superb album and I have really enjoyed listening to it. If you enjoy Dragonforce and positive sounding, up-tempo Melodic Power Metal, played effortlessly, then I thoroughly recommend it.

‘Embrace The Night’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Embrace The Night
02. Towards The Sun
03. Far Beyond
04. The Lone Stranger
05. Crown Eternal
06. The Water Dancer
07. Angels In Disguise
08. Night Crawler
09. Tales Of The Forest
10. Blood On The Snow

LINE-UP:
Federico Mondelli – Keyboards, Guitars & Vocals.
Giada “Jade” Etro – Vocals.
Francesco Zof – Bass.
Niso Tomasini – Drums.
Fabiola “Sheena” Bellomo – Lead Guitar.

LINKS:

Frozen Crown Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Mark Pritchard 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.

Lasting Maze – Thunder EP

Thunder EP Cover Art

Lasting Maze – Thunder EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 23/04/2021
Running Time: 26:12
Review by Simon Black
8/10

This Brazilian Melodic Metal four piece have been hammering the boards since 2014 and this EP follows their first, “Silent Spring” back in 2016. There’s been a couple of singles in between, which are included on here, but it definitely feels like a full album is the next key step. The musical style doesn’t stay still, which is nice and tells me that this is a band that has depth of writing skills, but is probably struggling with the finances needed to get a full album off the ground.

Musically though, these songs are beautifully written and arranged, with some incredibly nifty and technical instrumental performances to go alongside Grazy Mesquita’s soaring vocals. What’s letting them down are the budget limitations of the recording itself, which desperately needs a bit more consistency in the recording quality. It’s clear that these songs have not all been recorded at the same time. The two singles feel like they’ve been in the can a while, as by the third track the musical tone changes significantly, becoming richer and slightly more expansive sounding. There’s no mention of a keyboard player in the blurb, but whoever it is from ‘To The Wolves’ onwards adds a nice Prog/Power dimension to the music, which is a bit punchier and brutal in its delivery and has a noticeably better recording quality. I’m not going to give them a hard time about this, as when you are just getting off the ground, have no access to the money you need for a decent studio, engineer or mixer you have to make do and hope the songs hold up well enough to move you forward. Which they do – and brilliantly so.

By the time I got to the epic final track ‘Destiny (Carry On)’ the band had me in the palm of their hand. This stands up on two firm feet because of robust song-writing, talented musicianship and sheer belief in what they are doing and they pull it off despite the recording quality. Please get an album deal, and soon, because it’s a win-win for everyone.

‘To The Wolves’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Thunder
02. Greatest Sin
03. To the Wolves
04. Kosmos
05. Destiny (Carry On)

LINE-UP:
Grazy Mesquita – Vocals
Pedro Anselmo – Guitars
Isaac Barros – Bass
Mick Souza – Drums

LINKS:

Lasting Maze Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Kardashev – The Baring Of Shadows EP Reissue

The Baring Of Shadows EP Cover Art

Kardashev – The Baring Of Shadows EP Reissue
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 07/05/2021
Running Time: 51:42
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

Back in the early dystopian haze of the pandemic, Arizona four-piece Kardashev released their third EP “The Baring Of Shadows”, a crossroad of genres the band would label as “deathgaze”. Listening to the EP at that time, it felt like a difficult sound to put a finger on, as beautiful waves of post-rock washed over the versatile flurry of vocalist Mark Garrett, all the while musically shifting from searing blackgaze to blasts of deathcore, such a herculean task which is then met in the execution. Now the band have returned, nearly a year later, with the re-release, complete with instrumental versions of all four tracks, to celebrate their signing with Metal Blade Records.

Quite what Metal Blade can do to add to the sound of Kardashev is both terrifying and exciting. The production levels of “The Baring Of Shadows” are already of an insanely high quality, every aforementioned layer that becomes the Kardashev sound is clear, concise and compliments each other so effectively. When the full band comes in on a song like opener ‘A Frame. A Light’, it’s hard to think of a layer of the mix that can’t be picked out and isolated, right down to a fantastic, reverberating bassline from Alex Reith.

With the genre fluidity, a captivating vocal performance (essentially the best advert Mark could do for his Kardavox Academy vocal training business), and effective layering being amongst the highlights of the release, Kardashev stray into Devin Townsend territory quite deservedly. Particularly on ‘Torchpassing’, where Garrett’s vocal/drum duets with Sean Lang, the delicate twinkling’s from guitarist Nico Mirolla, and the occasional eruptions from the band as a whole feels indebted to the “Z² – Sky Blue” era of The Devin Townsend Project.

Closing track ‘Heartache’ feels like the cathartic release at the end, with the band’s deathcore side coming out in force and proud. Possessing the kind of slow, gradual, yet still blindingly heavy opening build that invokes latter-day Thy Art is Murder, ‘Heartache’ is, perhaps, the most literal example of the “deathgaze” moniker. A dirged blast of deathcore which is accentuated by the looming clouds of reverberated riffs, for that often-poignant shoegaze sheen, with the desperate cries from the subject of the lyrics, mourning for their lost lover to compound the song’s emotion.

Conspicuous by its absence in this review is sophomore track ‘Snow-Sleep’, which is by no means an oversight, but rather, saving the best until last. The EP’s second track had the distinction of being one of the most gorgeous songs of 2020, up there with the likes of Caspian, Creeper and Respire, and now a 2021 re-release means it can be in contention for one of the most gorgeous songs of this year too. A simply magnificent piece of music, blending prog, black metal, deathcore and post-rock into one symbiotic mesh of beauty and disaster, echoed in the lyrics that appear to deal with loss and punishment. The power in the band during choruses is astronomical, the call of “where have you gone?” could collapse a sun, it is somehow so empowering yet soul-crushing at the same time. The sheer temerity of Kardashev to have released this song at (hopefully) the book-ends of the pandemic is unreal.

The instrumental versions of each track certainly hold their own and will likely be of particular interest to those more invested in post-metal and blackgaze, but given what Garrett brings to the band’s sound, it feels criminal to leave him out.

Kardashev certainly feel like they’ve found their mark musically. While early tasters of “deathgaze” can be heard on the 2017 EP “The Almanac” – which in itself saw a huge development of sound compared to their prior release, 2015’s “Peripety” album – the jump in quality and composition into “The Baring Of Shadows” is astounding. This progression, alongside a newly-forged partnership with Metal Blade should make people very excited for album #2.

‘Snow-Sleep’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. A Frame. A Light.
02. Snow-Sleep
03. Torchpassing
04. Heartache
05. A Frame. A Light. (Instrumental)
06. Snow-Sleep (Instrumental)
07. Torchpassing (Instrumental)
08. Heartache (Instrumental)

LINE-UP:
Mark Garrett – Vocals
Nico Mirolla – Guitars
Alex Reith – Bass
Sean Lang – Drums

LINKS:

Kardashev Promo Pic

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.

Anaal Nathrakh – Reissues: The Codex Necro/Total Fucking Necro

Anaal Nathrakh Reissues Advert

Anaal Nathrakh – Reissues
The Codex Necro/Total Fucking Necro
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 11/06/2021
Running Time: 44:45/49:25
Review by Dark Juan
10/10
10/10

Greetings and salutations once again, dear acolytes, followers of the Left-Hand Path and my army of zealots! It is I, Dark Juan, and today I have returned to regale you with information about why you should in fact give your soul to Satan (Hell has the world’s best lounge band, you see) eat all the delicious food and gorge yourself on the finest wines, spirits, meads and beers (fuck it all, you only live once and you give FAR too much of your lives to fucking wankers in suits and ties telling you that you aren’t doing enough to earn the pittance the capitalist scum pay you. Burn down their house) and play with the genitals of whichever sex tickles your fancy as often as humanly possible (just fucking because, OK? Trust me on this…) Also, listen to heavy fucking metal until your eyes bleed.

However, you should not attempt to have sex with Anaal Nathrakh being the soundtrack. There are several VERY SOUND reasons for this. Firstly, if you are a man above the age of forty and you try rattling the bones of your beloved at the insane tempos of an Anaal Nathrakh song then frankly you’re guaranteed a spell in hospital due to exhaustion and also, you’ll put your back out which is not a good thing. Maybe this is what happened to our Glorious Leader, Air Chief Marshal Richard “What I get Up To In My Bedroom Is No Concern Of Yours, You Fucking Northern Ape” Tilley. Secondly, your significant other’s pelvis will be reduced to rubble in short order, unless you are enjoying some oral action in which case there will be an immediate requirement for emergency dentistry and she (or he, or xim, them or any other pronoun that is inclusive. However, I am a heterosexual male so I will write primarily from my point of view) will end up sounding like Phyllis Pearce instead of the winsome, lilting voice she previously stole your heart with…

A lilting, winsome voice is something that V.I.T.R.I.O.L (unsurprisingly his real name is Dave) does not have. He sounds like a demented banshee screaming pure unadulterated hatred at pretty much the entire world and surrounding galactic environs. I am privately convinced that he is solely the reason that extraterrestrials haven’t yet contacted us, because they got wind of “The Codex Necro”, listened to it once and then had to go back to wherever the fuck they came from to repair their ship because V.I.T.R.I.O.L and Irrumator (Mick Kenney) basically fucked it to the point of structural failure with the power of their music. Which is a term I use advisedly.

Yes, I am currently turning my brain to soup with a reissue of Anaal Nathrakh’s utterly classic “The Codex Necro” on Metal Blade and by God it has just reaffirmed just how savage metal can be. This is ultra-primal, martial black metal of the very highest caliber, easily rivalling anything Scandinavia had to offer for sheer sonic violence. You will all no doubt remember that I don’t normally score reissues highly, normally viewing them as a cynical cash grab (hello, Paradise Lost) for bands that were financially not too badly off, but this is going to be disregarded today because of this motherfucking shitty arsed pandemic pushing our music to the brink. Frankly so many of our bands need some form of income to keep going and if you’re going to bang out a reissue during these straitened times, I say have at it. And to be fair to Anaal Nathrakh, reissuing their utterly classic debut album is a smart move. It makes everything released nowadays look wimpy and insipid, and still shows the righteous way for unrelenting brutality in music. I have always regarded them as one of the most sonically dense bands there has ever been, in company with The Berzerker (and now The Machinist).

Everything about “The Codex Necro” is fucking perfect. Unparalleled vocal fury from V.I.T.R.I.O.L is underpinned with nothing less than the aural equivalent of messy and explosive murder by Irrumator (who does everything else apart from the vocals). Rarely does the album’s velocity drop below Warp Factor 9 and the rageometer NEVER drops below a full on ten, and it is a testament to the quality of this album that after 20 years, it is yet to be challenged by any pretender to sonic Armageddon. It is also a testament to just how unrelentingly murderous full on black metal can be when it is underpinned by a proper production job, rather than the production being handled by a corpse painted heroin addict from Oslo who has put all the microphones in fishbowls while stoned out of his gourd and forgotten to turn up the bass on the mixing board. “The Codex Necro” still sounds fresh as fuck, mate. Everything is clearly heard, even though they go that fast there are times when you simply can’t take in the savagery and horror.

Everything about (he gaily repeats himself) “The Codex Necro” is perfect. EVERYTHING. It is a landmark of black metal and the perfect distillation of the rage that fuels heavy metal, stripped back to speed and aggression. If I were scoring this by itself, it would always be full marks, it is that seminal a work.

On to “Total Fucking Necro” then…After you, please.

A rather rawer recording composed of pieces from three demos (“Anaal Nathrakh”, “Total Fucking Necro” and the unreleased “We Will Fucking Kill You”) including two cover tracks from Mayhem (‘Carnage’ and ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’) compared to “The Codex Necro”, this album nevertheless showcases what was going to become the absolute last word in British brutality to devastating effect. With a sound not unlike being on the wrong end of an extensive and long lasting carpet bombing campaign with added incendiaries, Anaal Nathrakh set a fucking marker that the rest of the world could not ignore – here we are, we can play black metal better than you pasty faced, skinny limbed, church burning Scandinavian lightweights and we dare you to fucking come at us with your swords and your Satanism – we will destroy you with merely our teeth, for we are not warriors of Satan, we are fucking feral and we are going to chew our way through your faces.

Where “The Codex Necro” had a superb production that enhanced the power of the music considerably, “Total Fucking Necro” does not. The sound is woolly as fuck and instruments drop in and out of the mix willy nilly and at times curiously poppy sounding cymbals overpower everything – it must be remembered that this record is a collection of demos and they are still absolutely uncompromising in power and savagery. The speed of the playing sometimes impacts negatively on precision and there are a few dropped notes here and there, yet they don’t compromise just how promising the young and thrusting Anaal Nathrakh of 1999 was. V.I.T.R.I.O.L relies more on the classic black metal strangled yowl vocal on the demos before finding that hate fuelled roar that made him one of the finest BM vocalists ever and Irrumator clearly hadn’t learned the finesse he later displayed on AN recordings, appearing to be flailing desperately at every instrument he could lay his hands on, rather than playing them as he struggles to maintain the punishing tempos Anaal Nathrakh became famous for.

That’s not to say it isn’t good though. Raw, untamed Anaal Nathrakh can still kick the arse of pretty much every single modern black metal band with ease. This is absolutely fucking classic black metal from a band that desperately deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Mayhem, Emperor, Burzum (may Varg Vikernes forever rot in some endless fiery hell specifically for right wing murderous fucknuggets) and Darkthrone as black metal luminaries and leading lights. And they did this without recourse to corpse paint and pseudo-Satanic silliness… It also has to be said that Anaal Nathrakh are considerably better when they are ploughing their own massively furious musical furrow than aping their contemporaries, although this reviewer has an incredibly soft spot for the classical and expansive nature of Emperor and Dimmu Borgir, yet AN display touches that move them ahead of the black metal crowd even this early in the development of the band and their sound. Absolutely fucking irreplaceable.

And there we have it. Anaal Nathrakh have reminded me just why they will always be one of my favourite bands. As a retrospective recording of their early days, these two records are an essential purchase if you don’t already have them. If you don’t and you are the kind of masochistic person who will enjoy having your face reduced to its component atoms by concentrated musical hatred, fucking buy these albums. If you’re dipping your toes into the water of black metal and you ignore the fucking idiotic gatekeeper kvltists (who are all frankly boring dickheads) who will inevitably claim that AN aren’t black metal because they weren’t hanging around a certain record shop in Oslo in 1995, you really can’t do much better than Mayhem, Emperor and Anaal Nathrakh as your gateway into a scene that has pretty followed its own path in isolation from mainstream metal for decades. I can’t believe these records are over 20 years old – both still sound as fresh, vibrant and exciting as they did when this (at the time) teenage Hellpriest discovered them and Cradle Of Filth at the same time and made my parents wonder just what the unholy fuck was going on in my bedroom. And that was before I had managed to lure any teenage girls up there…

Absolutely superb. Absolutely fucking superb. I’m blown away as much now as I was then.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System can do nothing but award Anaal Nathrakh 10/10 for both fucking records. Both are absolutely uncompromising slabs of concentrated murderous hatred that get full marks for different reasons – 10/10 for “The Codex Necro” because at the time it was THE gold standard for brutality, and 10/10 for “Total Fucking Necro” for the sheer juggernaut raw power and untrammeled talent it displayed. By golly I’m proud to be British right now!

TRACKLISTINGS:

The Codex Necro:
01. The Supreme Necrotic Audnance
02. When Humanity Is Cancer
03. Submission Is For The Weak
04. Pandemonic Hyperblast
05. Paradigm Shift Annihilation
06. The Technogoat
07. Incipid Flock (sic)
08. Human, All Too Fucking Human
09. The Codex Necro

Total Fucking Necro:
01. Anaal Nathrakh (“Anaal Nathrakh” demo)
02. Necrodeath (“Anaal Nathrakh” demo)
03. Ice Blasting Storm Winds (“Anaal Nathrakh” demo)
04. Carnage (“Anaal Nathrakh” demo; Mayhem cover)
05. The Supreme Necrotic Audnance (“Total Fucking Necro” demo)
06. Satanachrist (“Total Fucking Necro” demo)
07. L.E.T.H.A.L.: Diabolic (“Total Fucking Necro” demo)
08. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (“Total Fucking Necro” demo; Mayhem cover)
09. The Technogoat (“Total Fucking Necro” demo)
10. Necrogeddon (“We Will Fucking Kill You” unreleased demo)

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.

Before & Apace – The Denisovan

The Denisovan Album Cover Art

Before & Apace – The Denisovan
Self-Released
Release Date: 11/05/2021
Running Time: 52:04
Review by Beth Jones
7/10

Funny story before I tell you about the music I’ve been listening to for this review. When I put the album files for “The Denisovan” into Windows Media Play, the opening track disappeared. I thought I was losing the plot and had imagined that there was another track at first. But as this album was only 4 tracks, I was pretty sure I hadn’t gone completely mad, so checked the files on my computer. Sure enough, 4 tracks there, but still only 3 on Windows Media Player. I was beginning to think the missing track had gone to another dimension then, upon searching a little deeper in WMP, I found it. For no apparent reason, the inbuilt frustrations of anything Microsoft related had filed it as a track by Cliff Richard…I mean…Just…No. There is simply no explanation! There are some things that could be mistaken for the geriatric hip gyrator himself, I suppose, if you’d drunk enough booze, or taken enough mind-altering drugs. But I can safely say that no matter the circumstances, Before & Apace are very definitely not Cliff!!

They are in fact a heavy progressive rock project from Canada; the brainchild of guitarist and vocalist Devin Martyniuk. Now, as you know, I do love a bit of prog. But this is prog and a half!! Just labelling it as Prog doesn’t really cover it. It’s more Experimental Metal Jazz Rock! And before you even listen you know you’re going to be getting some pretty ‘out there’ vibes from it because, even though the album only contains 4 tracks, it’s a little over 52 minutes long, with the final track ‘Simultanagnosia’ coming in at just shy of 20 minutes!

Sound wise, it’s ambitious. I can hear elements of many influences within it. On fleeting occasions, the vocal tones remind me of Muse (particularly in the quiet sections of ‘Ontogeny’). Some of the guitar work has hints of early Queen (back to the Smile days) but heavier and, on occasion, quite Punk. It’s got the technicality of Meshuggah and uses the Drumkit from Hell samples that Meshuggah created. And there’s some ambience chucked in here and there for good measure. But it’s all scrambled up into some sort of weird mathematical scientific omelette. The press release says that this album has been 15 years in the making, and was an immersive experience that Martyniuk saw as, ‘an opportunity to blend the technical and programmatic aspects of music with the emotional.’ Martyniuk himself says that he thinks it will require a certain amount of investment from the listener before they’re able to fully engage and appreciate it. He’s not wrong.

Musically, the players on the album are all very good, very technical, and very knowledgeable of the necessary fluidity that’s required in progressive or experimental music. However, it’s all a bit much for me. There are elements in every song that offer relative calm, and you think you’re getting the hang of the rhythm and pace, but they don’t stick around for too long. It’s what I imagine being in a washing machine on a spin cycle would be like.

We’ve been sent a huge amount of literature to explain the concept of each song, too. Admirable maybe, and it’s always nice to have a bit of background. But to be honest, if a concept needs that much explaining, it might not be wise to use it. Just my opinion obviously. Now I will note that I was very tired the first time and, in fairness, even the “Postman Pat” theme music would have been too complex for my brain. On second listen, it makes slightly more sense, and has grown on me a little, but it’s still a bit chaotic to be comfortable. From a reviewing point of view, I don’t have the time to give it the attention it’s going to need to actually get into it properly.

In summary – very talented musicians, very complicated and technical music, done to a high standard, and very well produced, hence my reasonable score. If you like the experimental or extreme end of prog, then you’ll love it. But it’s a little too much for me to be able to properly process and appreciate.

‘Ontogeny’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Zeno
02. Limbics
03. Ontogeny
04. Simultanagnosia

LINE-UP:
Devin Martyniuk – Guitar/ Vocals

Additional Members for The Denisovan:
Kaylon Disiewich – Bass/Taurus Pedals
Bryce Holcomb – Vocals/Guitar
Arlan Kopp – Drums/Percussion

LINKS:

Before & Apace Promo Pic

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.

Lycanthro – Mark Of The Wolf

Mark Of The Wolf Album Cover Art

Lycanthro – Mark Of The Wolf
Alone Records
Release Date: 04/06/2021
Running Time: 43:02
Review by Simon Black
7/10

If you mention Power Metal to many fans in the UK, a fair few will wrinkle their noses in disdain, which is a shame, because if your opinion is based purely on what you have heard from Europe, then you are probably missing a trick. It’s a subject I discuss often on these pages, but when we talk about the genre of Power Metal we really are talking about two completely different styles that developed in parallel from a common root (which you can trace back to the Global Supergroup Rainbow and in particular Ronnie James Dio) but which then diverged a continent and major ocean apart. The European variant branch started with Helloween (even though they hate the term) and tends to be closer to NWOBHM and Speed Metal, is more melodic and keyboard orientated, with an unhealthy obsession with over-complex pseudo-historical, fantasy or mythical concept story arcs. The North American branch is a very different beast more akin to up tempo traditional Heavy Metal, with more riffage, little or no keyboards and is generally darker and heavier than its Euro counterpart. Given that Thrash was happening in parallel, way back when, there are many similarities, so when an act like this comes along that blatantly fuses bits of the attitude that came with Thrash and the sentiments of Power Metal this does not come as a great surprise.

For a start Lycanthro hail from Canada, a country whose Metal bands frequently do not get enough attention over here in the UK. It’s their first full album, but not all the material on here is original and dates back to their demo days and has been given a much needed freshen up and revamp. Fantasy themes abound on this record thematically, but it’s not a concept – although there are plenty of werewolves, witches, dragons and the odd hunchback. The album was apparently recorded in a cabin in the woods near Quebec (no TV’s to throw out of hotel windows here, as it might land on your tent), but it probably goes a long way to the slightly spooky atmosphere some of the songs on this interesting debut.

The Thrash / Power hybrid screams out loud and clear from the get-go, with ‘Crucible’, an absolute belter which, right from the first few bars, indicates that Vocalist James Delbridge has something of a range on him. The verse is fairly down and gruff but scales the octaves like a rocket into the chorus. Not an easy trick to pull off quickly, but he does it effortlessly. In fact ‘effortlessly’ is a word that runs through this recording like the lettering in a bar of seaside rock. The staccato time changes in here are not common in Euro Metal, and it creates a great sense of energy in what is actually a technically quite clever track, even though it does not seem so on the surface. ‘Fallen Angels Prayer’ is quite ambitious in its delivery. It feels like it’s going to be a more middle of the road rocker at first before taking a distinctly Symphonic turn with the additional of a really spooky choral section that sets the hairs on the back of your neck on end to finish. The title track doesn’t break new ground, but ‘Enchantress’ is an attempt at something more epic and complex, and in its seven minutes has the space to experiment a little more, but perhaps could have benefitted from tightening up a little earlier on, although the lengthy instrumental bridges evoke early Maiden and are worth waiting for. ‘In Metal We Trust’ is what you would expect with a title like that – a fist-pumping live anthem in the early 80’s Priest vein. Hold out for ‘Evangelion’ as well – it’s the latest single, and is one of the more musically European sounding tracks with a rich, epic feel to it, and which perhaps hints at the maturity that has developed over the course of the lengthy gestation period of the record’s songs. It’s not quite a Power Ballad, but it’s definitely one of the strongest and most mature tracks on this record.

Overall, this is a very promising start, but the mixed bag of old and new material clearly shows it’s covering a longer song-writing period, so it’s going to be interesting to see how they approach their next record. For my money, the older and more complex songs like ‘Lycanthro’ and the blisteringly tight ‘Into Oblivion’ have benefitted from a few more years of polish and muscle memory, but I’m far from writing the newer songs off yet. Interestingly, technically proficient and with an incredibly promising vocal delivery, this is clearly a band to watch.

‘Evangelion’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Crucible
02. Fallen Angels Prayer
03. Mark Of The Wolf
04. Enchantress
05. In Metal We Trust
06. Into Oblivion
07. Ride The Dragon
08. Evangelion

LINE-UP:
James Delbridge – Vocals, Guitars
David Shute – Guitars
Carlo Cote – Bass
Nathan Shuman – Drums
Forrest Dussault – Guitars

LINKS:

Lycanthro Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Flotsam And Jetsam – Blood In The Water

Blood In The Water Album Cover Art

Flotsam And Jetsam – Blood In The Water
AFM Records
Release Date: 04/06/2021
Running Time: 53:37
Review by Simon Black
10/10

“You have to listen to this!” These words were said to me at the tail end of the 1980’s by my old school friend, housemate and partner in grime, as I returned to our house of debauchery ready to wreck the weekend. Earlier that day he had purchased vinyl copies of both Flotsam’s ‘Doomsday For The Deceiver’ and the then only just recently released ‘No Place For Disgrace’, so I sat down with a cold one for a quick listen before we went out to paint the town red, but were so entranced by these records that we did in fact forget to go out.

The former record has its place in history as the only album and band to ever receive a 6K review from Kerrang! back in the days where that sort of thing mattered, because we all read it, but frankly both of these gems got listened to so much that the records got worn out. It seemed to me a heinous crime back in those days that this act never achieved the heights of Metallica in the same time lines, but then the latter stealing the former’s bass player (only to turn him off in the mix) is one of the many, many contributory factors in all of that that, never mind the usual challenges of shitty label behaviour, and line-up instability. And bless them, they’ve kept at it through all the grief and shit without losing integrity, although only relatively getting the sort of recognition they deserve and fourteen albums later seem finally starting to make the right sort of waves. I also remember being absolutely blown away by their performance at Bloodstock back in 2014, so for me the campaign to get them on the special guest slot at next year’s show starts right here and right now, because this new record is an absolute monster.

This album opens explosively with ‘Blood In The Water’ – its opening bars are fast, furious, drowning in energy and tighter than a flea’s rectum; with a beat pause before changing tempo to a more melodic harmonised guitar intro before turning up the pace for the verse – a mode retained as it alternates between verses, choruses and bridges. If that doesn’t hammer you into wakefulness then the wisely chosen and blistering single ‘Burn The Sky’ should do the trick – more paced at the outset but no less relentless and impressive when it gets going, because let’s face it, these chaps should have trademarked the words ‘fast’ and ‘furious’ before Universal Studios. But it’s not all furious Thrashing here today and the moments when the record takes a slower and more thoughtful pace is when it kicks up another level. ‘Cry For The Dead’ is a slow burning ballad that takes an emotive and moving boost in tempo, exploring a subject we have all had to live through in the last year or so. When A.K. Knutson screams “I can’t live without the ones I love” we believe it. ‘Too Many Lives’ follows the theme, with way more aggression, but is no less moving and these two are definitely amongst the best songs this massively underrated act have delivered in the past thirty-five years.

The production is absolutely crisp and clear, pulling off the trick of sounding fresh and immediate and well-produced with every musician loud and clear in the mix whilst simultaneously retaining a homogenous band mix and feel. Finally, I can’t let these words pass without a few words about A.K. Knutson’s vocals here either. This does not sound like a man well into his fifties – his voice can shred the high notes, growl the floorboards into insensibility and every shade in between – with transitions between these two states that flawlessly and furiously fly by. ‘On fire’ doesn’t even begin to describe how well he delivers on this record.

A few words about Andy Pilkington’s beautifully crafted cover whilst I am it, as with its demonic alligator lurking in blood-filled post-apocalyptic city ruins, it perfectly evokes the demonic adornment of both the original ‘Doomsday’ record and the colouring and mood of ‘No Place’, making this feel like a wonderfully thematic bookend to a 35 year career, albeit one which feels like it’s just getting into its stride. Still relevant, blisteringly well-written and delivered, this feels like a pinnacle record right here, right now. I’ve given it a 10/10, but I wish we had a Nigel Tufnel eleven setting, because that’s what this band have delivered.

‘Brace For Impact’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Blood In The Water
02. Burn The Sky
03. Brace For Impact
04. A Place To Die
05. The Walls
06. Cry For The Dead
07. The Wicked Hour
08. Too Many Lives
09. Grey Dragon
10. Reaggression
11. Undone
12. Seven Seconds ‘Til The End Of The World

LINE-UP:
Eric “AK” Knutson – Vocals
Steve Conley – Guitar
Michael Gilbert – Guitar
Bill Bodily – Bass
Ken K. Mary – Drums

LINKS:

Flotsam And Jetsam Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

GoMa – The Dark Monarc

The Dark Monarc Album Cover Art

GoMa – The Dark Monarc
Machine Man Records
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Running Time: 41:36
Review by Beth Jones
6/10

Electronic and Industrial is something that floats my boat in a big way. Not sure if it’s because I’m a child of the 80’s, when synth was booming, and my formative years were in the 90’s, when rave culture was everywhere, and I was stuck at home, listening to classical music, and yearning for something new, whilst trying to discover myself, or if it’s because I play keys, and loved messing around with sounds in my early days. But I find that there’s a certain special interesting and intriguing ‘something’ about electronic music. It spans across genres. It adds depth and expansiveness, and no sounds are off limits. So, whenever we get anything in to EMHQ that’s electronically inclined, I do like to give it a spin.

GoMa, a one man Electronic/Industrial Rock project from South Dakota is the latest artist in this area to fall into my review pile, with his new album release, “The Dark Monarc”. It’s heavily leaning towards the Electronic element of the genre, and feels slightly more like Euro-dance, but with a darker, more sleazy edge. GoMa bills it himself as ‘Vampire Club Music’ and I think that’s pretty much spot on. It reminds me very much of my local favourite, Lullaby frontman, and friend, Justin, when he releases work as his solo project, Skinflick. However, it’s not quite as dark and deranged! GoMa’s sound would be the music playing in the main room of the club, to keep up the pretence that it was just a normal club, until you got through into the dark and dingy back room, where all the serious depravity went on.

Composition wise, it’s obviously beaty and pacey throughout – as you would expect. This is music to keep you moving, no matter how knackered or fucked up you are. It’s all produced very well, again something that is almost a given with this genre, because it’s all in the programming, and musicians that dwell in the electronic realms are good with that kind of stuff!

According to the press release “The album’s central theme revolves around a dark tale taking place in the 1980’s. And explores the story of GoMa himself being shamed and disgraced by his own family members.” You can definitely here the 80’s inspiration, but story wise, I have to say that I’m not getting it much. I’m not great at picking out lyrics, which probably doesn’t help, but there isn’t really any variation in pace or key throughout much of the album, which I think makes it harder to pick out a mood from the music alone.

The final track, ‘Toxic&Sexy’ is probably my favourite track, as it has a bit more of a sludgy bass than the rest, and has different movements and sections throughout. But, for me, this is an album to have playing in the background while you’re concentrating on something else, rather than an album you can be drawn into and make an emotional connection with. It’s technically a very accomplished album though, so kudos for that, it just didn’t grab me quite as much as I thought it might.

‘Unbreakable’ (Visualiser)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Unbreakable
02. Intoxicated
03. Fighted
04. Me Faltas Tu (Gimme The Razorblade)
05. LoveBitch
06. Pray4me
07. StarPower
08. Mia O De Nadie
09. The Ride
10. Toxic&Sexy

LINE-UP:

Juan Goma – Vocals/Programming/Keyboards/Guitars/Bass

LINKS:

GoMa Promo Pic

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.

Red Eleven – Handled With Chaos

Handled With Chaos Album Cover Art

Red Eleven – Handled With Chaos
Secret Entertainment
Release Date: 23/04/2021
Running Time: 47:51
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

It’s the weekend again, which can mean only one thing! Housework. Goddamn, I wish someone would invent a self-cleaning house! The first job on the list today was clean the oven, as my rather tasty home-made pie had decided to share itself with it. There is no chore more unloving than cleaning the oven, and I refute any suggestion that there is!! I managed to clean the bathroom too. The second most unloving chore. But now I’ve decided that that is quite enough cleaning for one day and everything else can wait, because now I’m going to write about more music. So there!

Next up on my ‘To-Review’ list is Finnish Alternative Rock band, Red Eleven, with their newest release; the long-awaited 4th studio album, “Handled With Chaos”.

The title track opens the album, and we’re instantly hit with 80’s synth sounds, which briefly gives it an industrial feel. But that soon gives way to a hard-hitting groovy riff, with some punch. However, the synth sounds don’t leave, instead playing the role of expanding the sound. Which is great.

Their press release says that Red Eleven have ‘found their own sound, but not forgotten their inspirers, such as Faith No More.’ Well, I love Faith No More, so that’s a good start. But can I hear that influence?

In short, yes! And it’s Epic (pardon the pun)! The whole thing has that sound, but I can hear it particularly on track 3, ‘Universe’, which reminds me so much of ‘Epic’ in the chorus, it could literally be a Faith No More song. But it’s got more of a 90’s Grunge feel to the verses, which adheres to the band’s own style. This is my favourite track on the album, by a smidgin, because there are some absolute bangers!

The one thing that hits you with this album is the lovely rumble of downtuned guitars, and bass, and the punching drums. The riffing is second to none as well. It all makes for a sound that’s fresh, exploratory, and exciting, as well as having that comforting recognition of 80’s Hard Rock. And didgeridoo (featured in the intro and ending of ‘Against My Will’)! I mean, what can’t be made infinitely better by adding Didge to it? I’ll tell you – nothing. Didgeridoo is always a winner in my book.

‘Starry Eyes’ is another awesome tune. This one’s a ballad, and you really get to appreciate the smooth vocals, and impressive range of Tony Kaikkonen here. It’s a simple song, but beautifully executed, which to me indicates an understanding of music in its purest form. It doesn’t have to be flashy and immensely technical to stand out.

‘S.N.O.T.’ takes us in another new direction, with punk elements, and classic heavy metal guitar soloing. But those heavy, punching, downtuned riffs are still ruling the day. It’s an exciting sound.

The closing track of the album, ‘Half A Life, Full Circle’, isn’t only epic in beauty, but it’s epic in length too, at just under 7 and a half minutes. It’s atmospheric, and has elements of doom, progressive rock, and the good old sounds of the 80’s. I can’t be absolutely sure if it’s synth or real, but there’s also what I believe to be a Soprano Sax solo in this. An awesomely well-placed instrument choice, again, as, alongside Didgeridoo, everything can also be improved by adding sax!

There really is a bit of everything in this album. It’s like cherry picking all the best bits of the last 4 decades and mixing them all together into a marvelously tasty creation. If you liked 80’s synth, Faith no More, the heavier Grunge that the 90’s had to offer, and something a little progressive, but still accessible, with heavy riffs, catchy melodies, and luscious vocals, then this is for you. Superb album, and another one to add to the ever-growing list of bands that I need to check out further.

‘S.N.O.T.’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Handled with Chaos
02. Before I Fall
03. Universe
04. Against My Will
05. Starry Eyes
06. S.N.O.T.
07. Nothing Left to Hide
08. Die with Honor
09. My Own Space
10. Dark Water
11. Half a Life, Full Circle

LINE-UP:
Tony Kaikkonen – Vocals
Teemu Liekkala – Guitars/Backing Vocals
Petteri Vaalimaa – Bass
Pasi Pasanen – Drums

LINKS:

Red Eleven Promo  Pic
Kuva Anna-Katri Hänninen, RED ELEVEN LAHTI

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.