Areis – Areis

Areis Album Cover Art

Areis – Areis
Wormholedeath
Release Date: 10/09/2021
Running Time: 39:12
Review by Steven Hooke
7/10

The region of Occitania in Southwestern Europe that acts almost as a centre point to the Venn diagram of France, Spain, Monaco, and Italy, drawing in cultures, dialects and history from a multitude of sources. Hailing from today’s geography lesson is Areis, a four-piece from the French Occitanie region who – much like their homeland – pull in inspirations from a variety of styles, creating a mood board of punk, post-hardcore, sludge and black metal.

On this, their debut self-titled album, Areis offer a fluid amalgamation of genres that share a kinship with the likes of Giver, Pariso and Morokh. A duality of low-end grooves and higher-end melodies dominate the album, traversing the realms of blackened hardcore (‘Born Again’, ‘Le Pain Maudit’, ‘Of Gold And Blood’), melodic hardcore (‘Eternal Curse’, ‘The Wanderer’, ‘Recall’) and post-rock (‘Under The Sun’, ‘Vacillate’). The album’s wonderful production job allows both layers to be heard crisply, revealing a strong library of riffs from axemen Paul Gonzalvez and Pablo Malbec, and bringing forth an extraordinary wall of sound on the final third of the release, with a rich, full climax in ‘Recall’ through to ‘Vacillate’.

Another dual-attack on “Areis” is the tandem vocals of Gonzalvez and bassist/vocalist Michaël Jarrié. A similar attack as their instrumentals, the pair trade low growls and a gritty, hardcore bark to add an extra layer of assault to their sound. Both vocal styles share the limelight in fair and naturally-feeling transitions that do not take away from the momentum a song has built, and even add to the energy of a song when layered, creating a vicious gang-vocal-esque effect, heard from the off on opener ‘A Wretched Vow’.

It’s a fair outing for the quartet on their debut. What could’ve been a muddied sound is in fact a new worthwhile entry into the modern hardcore spectrum, with dynamic vocal and tonal pairings, a cracking production job, and a bounty of jaw-clenching riffs. But while there are a lot of interesting ideas and arrangements, it’s hard to think that Areis have lent on this potential creativity enough. Looking at bands such as Respire, Svalbard and Birds in Row – 3 bands who also craft a sound made from hardcore, black metal, and aggression-tinged melodies, albeit in a much different way to Areis – they push the boundaries of their already-very loose parameters, and experiment from the first note to the last. In Areis, the furthest they leave the core sound of the debut is ‘You Are The Best At Your Worst’, which ironically feels like it takes more away from the broader sound, stepping closer to a more straight-forward groove metal sound when there are so many different avenues at their disposal.

The good news from this is the aforementioned bands are all at least two albums in with a plethora of EP’s and comps surrounding them. The fact that Areis can sniff at their heels, and draw comparisons to Giver, et al. paints the Occitans in a strong and hopeful light for the future, and a group to put stock into now.

‘Under The Sun (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. A Wretched Vow
02. Born Again
03. The Wanderer
04. Of Gold And Blood
05. Eternal Curse
06. You Are The Best At Your Worst
07. Escur
08. Le Pain Maudit
09. Recall
10. Under The Sun
11. Vacillate

LINE-UP:
Paul Gonzalvez – Vocals, Guitars
Michaël Jarrié – Vocals, Bass
Pablo Malbec – Guitar
Antoine Dineur – Drums

LINKS:

Areis 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.

Duel – In Carne Persona

In Carne Persona Album Cover Art

Duel – In Carne Persona
Heavy Psych Sounds
Release Date: 01/10/2021
Running Time: 38:41
Review by Alun Jones
8.5/10

Wait, it can’t be time for a new Duel album, surely? It only seems like yesterday that I reviewed their last work for Ever Metal. Time flies when you’re having fun, eh? Well, that last album “Valley Of Shadows”, also from Heavy Psych Sounds, was released back in 2019 – so yes, it’s time for more Duel. My cryo-freeze unit must have kept me out of trouble for longer than I thought.

Austin, Texas is where they came from, though Duel’s real home is good ol’ heavy metal and greasy hard rock. Whereas with the previous record review, I made comparisons to stoner rock and 70’s proto metal, this time around, “In Carne Persona” has a much more trad metal approach. Thundering out of the gates on the very first track, ‘Children Of The Fire’ has a galloping, early Maiden sound.

The NWOBHM influence rages throughout the album, with some classic Sabbath heaviness and Thin Lizzy style melody for good measure. Second track ‘The Veil’ illustrates both sides of those 70’s references with a pounding riff and laser sharp solo.

Tracks like ‘Anchor’ and ‘Bite Back’ take the intensity of Trouble or Saint Vitus and ramp up the pace with a ferocious Priest-like power. ‘Lizard Tongue’ delivers the boogie, whilst final track ‘Blood On The Claw’ provides an epic finish to the proceedings. Bringing the album to a huge and satisfying conclusion; it builds slowly, contrasting heavy chugging sections with refrained passages.

Superb bombastic vocals crown masterful musicianship that evokes the past masters, making “In Carne Persona” another triumphant album from Duel. Throughout it all, Duel create a dark and brooding atmosphere, that effectively stamps their own authenticity on the old template. Dark but never grim, it’s always exciting.

I remember a duel of sorts in my days with Purple. One night whilst on tour somewhere, we decided to have a game of beer Russian roulette. Thirty cans of lager on the table, one had been shaken up by yours truly and placed randomly back amongst the others. Participants would then open one can at a time next to their ear; one unlucky player would obviously suffer the frothy consequences.

Gillan, Lord and Blackmore all started well – springing open cans next to their heads which didn’t explode, so they could drink them down. Eventually, and inevitably, it was Ritchie who took the shaken beer to the head, he was soaked and screamed petulantly at Gillan, blaming the singer for his misfortune. It wasn’t like he didn’t know what to expect! Blackmore stormed off leaving the rest of us in hysterics. What was really funny was, when Ritchie wasn’t looking, I’d switched cans on him with another frothed up bullet. Ha!

‘Children Of The Fire’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Children Of The Fire
02. The Veil
03. Anchor
04. Behind The Sound
05. Bite Back
06. Wave Of Your Hand
07. Dead Eyes
08. Lizard Tongue
09. Blood On The Claw

LINE-UP:
Tom Frank – Guitar & Vocals
Shaun Avants – Bass & Vocals
Justin Collins – Drums
Jeff Henson – Guitar & Vocals

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.

Ghosts Of Sunset – No Saints In The City

No Saints In The City Album Cover Art

Ghosts Of Sunset – No Saints In The City
Golden Robot Records
Release Date: 14/09/2021
Running Time: 41:40
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

There’s something so comforting about familiarity, isn’t there? Familiar tastes and smells. A go-to song when you need a sonic hug. Your own bed when you arrive home after a trip. It’s a warm fuzzy feeling; nostalgia that puts you in your happy place and takes you back to good days and good times. Ghosts Of Sunset, our subject here today, basically epitomize that nostalgic familiarness, and wrap it up in a cosy bow for the listener. I had the pleasure of reviewing their EP “Headed West” earlier this year, and having the chance to trip down nostalgia lane again by reviewing “No Saints In The City”, their latest release, was something that I couldn’t let pass me by.

In case you didn’t read my EP review (tut tut. Don’t worry, there’s a link at the bottom of this review so you can rectify that) here’s a bit of history. Ghosts Of Sunset are an American 80’s Rock/Hair Metal project featuring singer-songwriter John Merchant, and drummer Todd Long. These two gents have been kicking it in the music business for a long time and were joined on the EP by some classic names. “No Saints In The City” has come about after the roaring success of that EP. And I’m very glad it has. While this isn’t as conceptual as the EP, each song tells a melancholic story of times gone by, but in a happy and upbeat way, that is 100% classic hard rock and hair metal, but that also draws inspiration from 70’s punk and rock ‘n’ roll.

This is an album that not only brings back the sound of the 80’s completely, but demonstrates some fine writing skills, both lyrically and musically. It’s got high octane numbers, and classic ballads. It’s got face melting guitar solos, catchy riffs and hooks, great vocal harmonies, punchy rhythms and gravelly, rocky lead vocals, that tell of long nights fuelled by rock ‘n’ roll! It is impossible not to tap your feet and nod your head along to the sounds, nothing is fussy or overcomplex, and nothing outstays its welcome.

One of my favourite tracks on the album is title track, ‘No Saints In The City’, which was actually the first single released from the album. It’s an up-tempo ballad about the quest for the protagonist to “make it” on the streets of New York City. It’s masterfully put together, and tells a great story, in such a familiar way that you will be singing along by the second line of the chorus. (The elephant in the room with this song, however, is the fade out at the end [*sighs and facepalms*]. Please don’t fade…please, please, please! It irritates the living hell out of me!)

This really is a great album that makes you smile. There’s one weird song opening that I can’t get my head around though – on, ‘Bastards Of The Bowery’. It sounds like an early 2000’s Nokia 3310 ringtone. And since connecting that thought with the opening of this track, I can’t unhear it!

But, if you’re looking for a nostalgia trip done brilliantly well, this album needs to be in your playlist.

‘No Saints In The City’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Tonight
02. No Saints In The City
03. Look Me Up (If You Come Down)
04. If You’re Not Coming Back
05. Queen Of Used To Be
06. Love Ain’t Enough
07. Bastards Of The Bowery
08. Puzzled Heart
09. Tonight You’re OK
10. Us Against Them
11. Something To Believe

LINKS:

LINK TO BETH’S REVIEW OF THE “Headed West EP”

Ghosts Of Sunset 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.

Black Sites – Untrue

Untrue Album Cover Art

Black Sites – Untrue
Self-Released
Release Date: 08/10/2021
Running Time: 43:51
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Prog Metal is, probably, simultaneously the hardest and the most likely to benefit from the new remote recording models forced on the world’s musicians in the last eighteen months. On the one hand, you more often are talking about a cadre of musicians who are usually not short of some serious technical skills both with their instruments and the technology behind the recording process, – hence the reason so many self-produce. On the other hand, we are also talking about a sub-genre of the Metal world (or perhaps Empire would be more accurate a collective noun) where subtle interplay, shared musical shorthand and improvisational precision (what an oxymoron) are crucial in creating an end product that is both technically complex but a fluid living thing. The consequence of recent events has meant many Prog albums that have sounded clinically precise, but lack the emotion that comes from face to face writing and recording.

“Untrue” does utilise a producer, but is ninety percent remotely delivered. Oddly, it has an enormous element of freshness and groove that others in the genre have recently failed to capture. The presence of a producer helps, because you have a third party able to offer opinion and constructive criticism regarding arrangements and temper the technical flourishes to enable accessibility. In this instance the production has also delivered a really rough and ready garage feel to the sound mix, which means instead of the acoustically over-polished sound that often comes at the expense of energy, this whole thing actually feels like it was recorded in a rehearsal room environment or could be coming at you live. Once you adjust your head to that concept, then the album flies out of the speakers and steals you away.

This is the third full length release from the Chicago-based three piece and quite frankly it’s a doozy. It has a huge amount of energy to go with that fresh feel, but frustratingly takes a couple of tracks to get into its groove, picking up the pace and energy as it goes like a boulder on its way down a mountain. It does that with a guitar sound and groove that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Stoner setting, but technically varied enough to never get boring. That said, for a Prog album it does not outstay its welcome, with tracks around the five to six minute mark as standard, with all eight of them coming in under forty-five minutes of run time. ‘They Eat Their Young’ steals the show for me, with its belting pace energy, roaring rhythm riffs and galloping bass line, but with enough subtle fills and time complexities to get the musos nodding in approval, you can see this tearing up a live crowd balancing the technical with the accessible perfectly, which to be fair is a great summary of the whole album.

‘They Eat Their Young’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Sword Of Orion
02. Call It By Its Name
03. Lost Tribes
04. Echo Of A Lie
05. The Worst Of Us
06. Nocturne/Everything Went Black
07. They Eat Their Young
08. White Ashes

LINE-UP:
Mark Sugar – Vocals, Guitar
Ryan Bruchert – Guitar, Vocals
Garry Naples – Drums

LINKS:

Black Sites 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.

Dark Sky Burial – Vincit Qui Se Vincit

Vincit Qui Se Vincit Album Cover Art

Dark Sky Burial – Vincit Qui Se Vincit
Extrinsic Recordings
Release Date: 06/08/2021
Running Time: 39:25
Review by Dark Juan
9/10

“To conquer is to conquer oneself”. Words to live by and no mistake. And also the title to the record I am now listening to. Although to be honest I have always preferred large calibre superior firepower to mow down the myriad of enemies I have amassed during the course of my life. Preferably automatic and explosive…

Hello, my precious cabal of Nightbreed and Cenobites, it is I, Dark Juan. Are you all sated after a weekend of debauchery and rampant sexual exploits with the people whose set of genitals you prefer? And are you now back at work ruing a weekend lost to alcohol, drugs and wild and carefree abandon as you return to the grey existence of a shirt and tie and a desk full of boredom and ennui? Even though you saw Sandra from Accounts with her tongue halfway down the throat of Dave from Sales when you were out in Slough and you were appalled, yet strangely aroused as his hand crept up her skirt and you saw an enticing flash of stocking top, but concealed the thought from yourself by downing another pint, saying something banal about football to your mates and denying the evidence of your own eyes? Yes?

Ha, I don’t have to start work again till Wednesday, so I can continue to debauch myself, and more importantly, teach nubile young followers of the False God to do it to themselves and others, as their impotent god weeps bitter tears in a riven Heaven as His word is subsumed in sweaty, ecstatic, overdriven flesh locked together in orgasm and I am striding around, laughing my Satanic arse off and liberally distributing illegal doses of Viagra to any young chap that looks like he is faltering in his duty, watching as a man takes a young woman over the altar of a ruined church, grinding her against the beard of a crucified Christ laid on the desecrated altar with every thrust… (I really do wonder which gate of hell you crawled out of – Rick 😊)

Wow.

That will teach me to nap in the afternoon after a fuckton of Manchego cheese before I start writing stuff. Quite how it went from standard office gossip fodder to full on religious defilement I’m not quite sure, but this is just how my mind works. Utter gutter filth. I have a pornogrind record to review in the near future. I’d better lay off the cheese and napping for that one and hit the ruby port to calm myself the fuck down before writing ANYTHING about it…

…All of which has absolutely FUCK ALL to do with the record I am currently listening to, being the legendary Shane Embury’s (if you don’t know who Shane Embury is and you claim you’re into metal, let’s face it, you are NO true metalhead. For all of you young people who are only just discovering metal [hello, you’re fucked!] and haven’t yet learned about it, he is the bass player of Napalm fucking Death) third release (which is part of a quadrilogy) as Dark Sky Burial, which, (not surprisingly, if you know Shane’s musical output, which is diverse to say the least, and downright musically promiscuous full stop – I give you his work with Brujeria, Meathook Seed and Napalm Death itself as evidence) is not metal at all. It is sweeping electronic soundscapes and industrial noise with ambient undertones. Moments of sheer ethereal beauty contrast with thundering basslines – ‘I Slept With Faith And Found A Corpse In My Arms’ being a prime example of just how far Shane is ranging musically with Dark Sky Burial, with Eastern influenced electronics overlaying a pounding industrial drumbeat and a smooth, deep bassline forming a luscious backdrop to the kino music. ‘Abraxas’ is harder edged, with a swirly, echoey vocal leading into a much more industrial sound. Forbidding keyboards sound like the grinding of gears as the percussive beat of Satanically fast machines assembling disturbing things festooned with blades and flails resounds around you. As the record progresses a palpable sense of menace begins to permeate it – ‘Beware Your Subconscious Destroyer’ is more ambient than industrial, reminding me of Scorn with added Shane Embury on angry bass. It is a tune that relies on atmospherics rather than musicality but can be read as a disturbing paean into the sheer effort it takes to maintain your own mental equilibrium in a world and especially a United Kingdom that is becoming an increasingly cruel and unkind place, where you are just a cog in a vast Capitalist machine, where people who don’t conform to the norm are vilified and ridiculed and harmed grievously. ‘Chains Of Delusion’ could be the soundtrack to the hallucinations caused by a bad trip – somber piano and guitars engineered out of all semblance to a musical instrument increase your paranoia and you start to realise that even the walls of the room you are in have fangs and are venomous and they are coming closer and closer to you, even as you stand motionless in the centre of the room, touching nothing but the floor, yet then something happens in the trip and you’re suffused with a sense of hope with white light surrounding you. Feeling joyful, until you look down and see that the floor has become a churning mess of viscous, clinging and acidic semi-liquid and you are slowly sinking, inch by excruciating inch into it and you’re helpless, terrified yet strangely unaffected by your imminent demise until it closes over your head and you know only ecstasy as you fade away…

I do love it when music creates images in my head.

Yeah. It’s safe to say I’m a fan, but then I have always been a fan of Shane and his music. If you like the kind of softer edged, gothic industrial that the likes of Blutengel play, melded with the moody electronic atmospherics of Scorn and chiminess and personality of Air, you’ll love it. If you don’t, you’ll probably be shouting at Shane to fucking play some Napalm Death or something, instead of wasting his time with this tinkly-bonk bollocks.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Dark Sky Burial 9/10 for an excellent record to listen to in the dark, full of menace and generally akin to the horror of machinekind steaming through a devastated world to wipe out what’s left of humankind. You’ll regret the internet of things when your toaster tries to toast your face off, or your internet capable fridge orders the ingredients for a phosphate bomb, won’t you?

‘Beware Your Subconscious Destroyer’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Vincit Qui Se Vincit
02. Beware Your Subconscious Destroyer
03. Scars Have The Power (To Remind Us The Past Was Real)
04. A Union Of Opposites
05. The Last Gift To The Universe
06. Embrace The Shadow
07. I Slept With Faith And Found A Corpse In My Arms (then you should be more careful with young ladies called Faith, Shane.)
08. Abraxas
09. Chains Of Delusion

LINE-UP:
Shane fucking Embury!

LINKS:

Dark Sky Burial (Shane Embury) Promo Pic

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.

All Seeing Eyes – Reinventing Time

Reinventing Time Album Cover Art

All Seeing Eyes – Reinventing Time
Self-Released
Release Date: 16/08/2021
Running Time: 52:02
Review by Beth Jones
6/10

All seeing eye are a Progressive/Power Metal duo from Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire right here in good old Blighty. We don’t get many Eurometal style bands coming out of our little island for some reason, I think possibly our failure to embrace the more flamboyant side of Metal in case we don’t look ‘cool’ enough. Well, personally, I’ve never been one for looking cool, so I love it when some homegrown metal like this lands in my review pile.

This is only the band’s second album, despite having existed for nearly a decade. A hiatus put things on hold, but, after their original keyboard player left, they decided to carry on as a duo.

So, to the album in hand. There’s a lot of influences in it, definitely – from Classic Heavy Metal, with Euro Power vocals, modern guitar crunch, and even some late 90’s Grunge. It’s certainly a unique plethora of sounds mixed together. It varies from track to track, too, keeping it interesting.

Musically, the songs are great, and there are some moments of brilliance, Ben Colton’s vocals and the guitar solos being prime examples. But I’m struggling with the overall mixing of the album. There are some issues here, that kind of spoil things for me. They’ve recorded it in their home studio, and mixed it themselves, which they deserve credit for…but then, due to the situation we have found ourselves in, so have a lot of bands over the last 20 months. I think the track, ‘Perspicacity’ is probably the most successful on the album because everything is at roughly the same level. It’s a decent song, too. Lots of different elements, from 70’s Progressive to Thrashier sections. However, in other tracks, it can sometimes be difficult to pick out the vocal line, the keyboards are too full on, or the snare sounds like a tin can. It’s a big shame.

The final track, ‘A Sequence Of History’, is pretty impressive at over 15 minutes in length, and doesn’t suffer from too many production issues. This starts quite Iron Maiden like, with pacey rhythms and guitars. It then alternates between this, and sweeping sections that feel more Euro Prog Power. It’s an epic song, and I can see it being spectacular live.

If you like Power or Prog there will definitely be something on “Reinventing Time” for you, but it hasn’t connected with me in the way I had hoped. I don’t like being negative because music is life. But, at the moment we are being spoilt with real quality, in terms of production, from so many bands, and that turns us into music snobs.

‘This Is Cypher World’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Welcome To Cypher World
02. Proselytized
03. Love Is Illusion
04. The Gift Of Madness
05. Perspicacity
06. Ghosts Of Yesterday
07. Angel Fires
08. A Sequence Of History

LINE-UP:
Ben Colton – Vocals/Lead Guitar
Kenny Fraser – Lead Guitar/Bass

LINKS:

All Seeing Eyes 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.

Ylva de Lune – I

I Cover

Ylva de Lune – I
Self-Released
Release Date: 30/06/2021
Running Time: 41:47
Review by Steven Hooke
7/10

Not content with simply watching the world pass by in the midst of the pandemic, German vocalist Ylva de Lune embarked on a creative outlet in the form of this namesake post-black metal project and its debut album “I”. Partnering with a multi-instrumentalist known simply as Alpha, Ylva de Lune combines the unabashed heaviness of black metal with ethereal soundscapes and searing vocals, more befitting a Wiccan ceremony.

The combination between the two musical sounds can be considered to be somewhat estranged. Being almost split right down the middle, the rapid-fire drums and low-end guitars tend to take up the mantle of being the “heavy” of the album, whilst a second layer of guitar and Ylva’s serene vocals act as the world building and scene setting. While at times the separation can feel a little too vast, it often results in surges of euphoria, as “I” conspires with the imagery used for the album and Ylva herself to create its own vision of post-black metal, away from the traditional corpse paint and spikes of black metal, and away from the existential mire of modern blackgaze, to a forest of European tribalism and paganism.

Often these moments are accompanied by the project breaking away from the mould of standard blackgaze. On opener and closer ‘By The Sea’ and ‘Crown Of Shadows’ respectively, it’s the spoken word portions that feel like they echo through you, the inclusion of a more defined guitar lick throughout the second-half of ‘Les Ombres du Monde’, the added groove to ‘The Purpose Of Light’, these moments give the band and the album more character and contribute more to the act’s final identity.

Ylva de Lune weirdly occupies a similar space to that of post-something metal collective Sleep Token in that they produce a sound that is so easy to fall into and vibe to. Even with the bursts of a heavier sound spread throughout both band’s output, it’s a sound that you can be present for and enjoy, as much as you can sit back and relax to.

For an opening gambit in a scene that is heavily saturated with artists right now, “I” may have found a little niche for itself. Ylva’s vocals are a refreshing component of the genre and are already an integral part of the band’s sound. A few more risks and a more adept synergy between the musical low-ends and the high-ends, and the pair could really be onto something special.

TRACKLISTING:
01. By The Sea
02. Grå Ulv
03. Les Ombres du Monde
04. 11:55
05. The Purpose Of Light
06. Crown Of Shadows

LINE-UP:
Ylva de Lune – Vocals
Alpha – Guitars, Bass, Drum Programming

LINKS:

Ylva de Lune 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.

Eternal Silence – Timegate:Anathema

Timegate Anathema Album Cover Art

Eternal Silence – Timegate:Anathema
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 08/10/2021
Running Time: 50:28
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Italian Symphonic Metallers Eternal Silence have been ploughing their particular furrow for about a decade and “Timegate:Anathema” is their first full-length album since 2017’s “Mastermind Tyranny” (although the void has been filled with a couple of EP’s in between). There are attempts at more overtly Power Metal tracks in this – the opener ‘The Way of Time’ being a good example, but the band work best when they stick to their Symphonic guns, as the second track ‘Edge Of The Dream’, which almost feels like it belongs to a completely different act or recording block. When they throw these more technical flourishes and time-change complexities into the mix things work much, much better for them and the effortless way that a nice lengthy instrumental section can be thrown at the front of tracks like ‘Ancient Spirit’ tells me that these guys have got the song-writing balance between the technical and the catchy-melodic just right.

The two handed vocal performance between Marika Vanni and Alberto Cassina works really well, although Vanni takes the lion’s share of the work. I also can’t fault the instrumental work at all, particularly their uncredited keyboard player, who whilst avoiding the cliché of inter-instrument shredding with the guitars, has some absolutely superb yet restrained solo spots scattered throughout.

Symphonic Metal works best when the production is top notch, crisp, layered and sensitive in equal proportions to the brutal or heavy when they are part of it. Fuse the two and you get the harmonic equivalent of being bashed around the ears by a concrete melodic elephant. Sadly, the production on this falls a little short of that. Although the vocals are clearly presented at the front of the mix, and given both depth and clarity, the Metallic instrumentals in particular sound very trebly, lacking in depth and way too far back in the mix (even the orchestral elements suffer from the same distance problem in places).

Now to be fair to them, this is probably the first time the band have tackled remote recording – a skill let’s face it that every act is having to grapple with at the moment. In reality this normally comes down to whoever is in the producer’s chair, not the musicians’, as there is usually a world of difference between what gets laid down in the raw and what makes it through the engineering and mixing process. However, in this instance, it’s a combination of Michele Guaitoli and the band themselves, and my gut tells me that they should perhaps step back from this area next time out and trust to a strong producer, as the mix is that little too close to a baseline recording.

The song writing is what holds this record up and the structure and arrangements here are spot on – ‘Heart of Lead’ being the stand out track for me, although the experimental but catchy as fuck ‘Glide In The Air’ deserves mention as well, as you can tell it will be a cracker live. Love the tunes, but let down by the recording and mixing – nonetheless the song-writing and performances still make “Timegate:Anathema” worthy of attention.

‘Red Death Masquerade’ (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Way Of Time
02. Edge Of The Dream
03. Ancient Spirit
04. Heart Of Lead
05. Lonely
06. Glide In The Air
07. Rain
08. My Soul Sad Until Death
09. Firefly
10. Red Death Masquerade

LINE-UP:
Marika Vanni – Vocals
Alberto Cassina – Guitar/Vocals
Alessio Sessa – Bass
Andrea Zannin – Drums
Enzo Criscuolo – Guitar

LINKS:

Eternal Silence 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.

Blackthorne – Afterlife/Don’t Kill The Thrill (2CD Reissue)

Afterlife & Don't Kill The Thrill Album Cover Art

Blackthorne – Afterlife/Don’t Kill The Thrill (2CD Reissue)
The Store For Music
Release Date: 30/07/2021
Running Time: 77:51/76:38
Review by Chris Galea
7.5/10

Blackthorne was one of those short-lived bands that never went close to attaining its true potential. The band was formed in the early 1990’s by guitarist Bob Kulick (Kiss, W.A.S.P., Meat Loaf, Doro, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens), vocalist Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, Alcatrazz, Michael Schenker Group) and keyboardist Jimmy Waldo (New England, Alcatrazz, Warrior). The band’s rhythm section was composed of bassist Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot, House Of Lords) and drummer Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P., Alex Masi, Steppenwolf). Not just ‘a band’ therefore but more like ‘a supergroup’.

Jimmy Waldo blames the band’s quick demise on the Grunge scene but before throwing the towel, Blackthorne released one album (“Afterlife”) and almost released a second one. This double-disc release, therefore, celebrates the band’s music albeit retrospectively.

Full details of the double-album’s contents can be found below but essentially, besides offering both albums in one package, this release is also jam-packed with demos of more unreleased tracks and alternate versions of Blackthorne songs. And before you put on your most sceptic-sounding snigger, let me say that a lot of the demo tracks we have here actually sound quite good. For example, on the disc containing “Afterlife”, the bonus demo tracks are sometimes better than the album tracks, especially with regards to Graham Bonnet’s singing.

Overall, I would say that the music style has something of the classical roots of Alcatrazz as well as the electrifying feel of Warrior, the band Jimmy Waldo had with Vinnie Vincent (Kiss, Invasion) and his ex-bandmates of New England. Regarding my Warrior comparison, check out the guitar tone and choir vocals of ‘Over and Over’ or ‘Sex Crime’.

In their sophomore (unreleased) album “Don’t Kill The Thrill”, Blackthorne continue to explore their musical ideas while remaining within the Classic Heavy Metal niche. ‘Twist The Blade’ is not short of catchy melodies but contains a Punk-ish riff that gives it a distinct edge. Riffs, melodies, solos…Bob Kulick gives all he’s got in ‘Don’t Kill The Thrill’. ‘Love From The Ashes’ leans more onto Hard Rock rather than Metal and it’s a great song.

Despite what I mentioned earlier, a few tracks (and not only demo tracks) failed to convince me. But, by and large, this was an album I enjoyed listening to.

Sadly, Bob Kulick and Frankie Banali passed away last year within the space of three months and thus didn’t live to witness this release. So, I reckon one may also consider this “Afterlife/Don’t Kill The Thrill” as a sort of joyful dirge celebrating Bob and Frankie’s talents and undying influence.

In all honesty Blackthorne was a band I discovered thanks to this double-album and hopefully it will introduce many others to the band’s music. For sure if there’s just one Blackthorne release you’ll ever need in your record collection, then it’s got to be this one.

‘Afterlife’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
Afterlife CD1:
01. Cradle To The Grave
02. Afterlife
03. We Won’t Be Forgotten
04. Breaking The Chains
05. Over And Over
06. Hard Feelings
07. Baby You’re The Blood
08. Sex Crime
09. Love From The Ashes
10. All Night Long

Bonus Tracks:
11. Wild Inside (Demo Cassette 1992)
12. Get My Heart Out Of Here (Demo 1992)
13. Since You Been Gone (Demo 1992_Vocal 2018)
14. Afterlife (Original Demo Mix) (Tony Palacios Guitar)
15. Baby You’re The Blood (Demo 1992)
16. Afterlife (Live Unplugged)
17. We Won’t Be Forgotten (Live Unplugged)

Don’t Kill The Thrill CD2:
01. Don’t Kill The Thrill
02. Wild Inside
03. Skeletons In The Closet
04. Dreaming In The Hideaway
05. Man In A Black Hat
06. Twist The Blade
07. Judgement Day
08. Insanity
09. Sanctuary (Alternate Vocal)
10. Save Me

Bonus Tracks:
11. Paralyzed (Early Demo)
12. Twist The Blade (Early Demo)
13. Guilty Of Insanity (Early Demo)
14. Afterlife (Demo 1992)
15. We Won’t Be Forgotten (Demo 1992)
16. Over And Over (Demo 1992)
17. Baby You’re The Blood (Demo 1992)
18. Love From The Ashes (Demo 1992)

LINE-UP:
Graham Bonnet – Lead Vocals
Bob Kulick – Guitars
Jimmy Waldo – Keyboards
Chuck Wright – Bass
Frankie Banali – Drums

THE STORE FOR MUSIC LINKS:

LINK TO OUR INTERVIEW WITH JIMMY WALDO:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea 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.

NYTT LAND – Ritual

Ritual Album Cover Art

NYTT LAND – Ritual
Napalm Records
Release Date: 06/08/2021
Running Time: 47:46
Review by Wallace Magri
10/10

Someone might say that my journey through different music styles, in my recent reviews, has gone way too far this time around. Because I ended up selecting, from Ever Metal’s list, a band from Siberia, Nytt Land, that play Shamanic Dark Folk Music, which is present all over “Ritual” – the seventh album from the duo, Natasha “Baba Yaga” Pakhalenko and Anatoly “Shaman” Pakhalenko.

But, as a matter of fact, I am very familiar with this kind of shamanic drumming, peculiar musical instruments and singing techniques, whose intention is to evoke the power of ancestral forces, basically for spiritual connection and healing – body, mind & soul, aligned with the spiritual world. You may ask me how the heck do I know about this stuff? Well, as most of you who read my reviews on Ever Metal already know, I am from Brazil and, in South America, we have a strong and powerful ancient folk tradition – that covers the Andes Mountains (Chile, Ecuador, Peru), all the way to the Rain Forest, where the native ethnicities perform Rituals that are quite similar to what is heard on Nytt Land’s album.

By the way, Sepultura gave a voice for native Brazilian tribes on the song ‘Kaiowas’ (from the 1993 album, “Chaos A.D.”), performed by the band with a native Indian tribe, in the middle of the Amazon Jungle! How could you possibly not love those guys from Sepultura!!! Here in Brazil, we also have adopted African ancient traditions and beliefs, called ‘Umbanda’ or ‘Candomblé’, that also perform rituals where mediums get direct connection to ethereal forces, through magic, helped by specific drumming techniques. The percussion sessions from Umbanda, hugely influenced Igor Cavalera (Sepultura’s drummer and founder member) on such songs as ‘Refuse/Resist’, and Max Cavalera played an African musical folk instrument – ‘Berimbau’ – on ‘Ratamahatta’, from Sepultura’s seminal album “Roots” (96).

Even though I’ve never met the Cavalera brothers on any occasion, the fact is, I also used to go those kind of Rituals, because I find myself astonished by how the shamans and babalorixás are able to evoke ethereal forces of Nature, guiding us through our deepest feelings, aligning our bodies in harmony with nature and spiritual forces, allowing us to comprehend ourselves and our role in the Universe and, hopefully, restoring our vital energy throughout Rites of Fire, everything protected by austere percussion and healing chants. (that’s our roots/bloody roots.. in Brazil, my friends!)

As I said before, according to their own traditions, that’s exactly what is heard on “Ritual”, an album that you should face as a dark and spiritual journey to keep in touch with the forces of nature and the spirits from the cold Siberian Forest. Judging by the video clip for ‘U-Gra’, I also figured out the resemblance to the South American and African ancient cultures, such as shamanic body painting, rudimentary clothing and ritualist dancing.

I have several playlists of Old Norse music, but “Ritual” caught my attention because they enable us to go through a full Siberian’s pagan Ritual, instead of the usual mix of folk music and heavy metal, performed by such bands as WARDRUNA, HEILUNG and RUNAHILD. All the songs on “Ritual” are performed exclusively with traditional instruments such as flutes, tagelharpa, horns and inserts of samples taken from live sounds of Nature – which make things even more realistic and authentic.

So, I dove in all the way and listened to “Ritual” about a dozen times, in different states of mind and absolutely loved what I experienced. It’s interesting because there are influences from the Mongol’s throat singing technique – with the purpose to connect with underworld forces that inhabit the frostbitten, dark and brooding woods of Siberia, as heard in the opening tracks, ‘Ritual’ and ‘The Fires of Ragnarok’, mixed with ethereal singing – that relate to the upper world – which completes the musical ambience with powerful tribal tambourine percussion, and with some of the aforementioned samples. Occasionally, Natasha sings in a more atmospheric neo Pagan style, to call the spiritual forces to take part in the Ritual.

‘Gróttasöngr’ and ‘Svartravn’ are based on “Poetic Edda” – the modern name for an untitled collection of Old Norse mythological anonymous poems, which goes back to 10th century shamanic tradition – in an ethereal ambience provided by atmospheric chants, bells, flutes and compassed percussion, driving the Ritual all the way to Valhalla, fearing no evil. The last song of “Ritual”, ‘Blood of the North’ is also influenced by Old Norse folk music, with the tagelharpa driving the listener to the end of the trance session in a melancholic funeral mood.

I could keep going on with my impressions on each song, but the main feel here is the impressive rawness, minimalism, purism and authenticity of the natural dark ambience provided by “Ritual”, taking Ambient Dark Folk music to the next level. It might sound a little bit frightening at first, but I can assure you that even so, it is still welcoming to the listener.

I highly recommend you listen to “Ritual’ in the proper environment, close to the woods; if that is possible, just light up a fire pit, get into a meditative mood, then focus on the drumming, chants and dark atmospheric ambience. Anyway, you shouldn’t fear spiritual force, unless you have unsolved questions with the underworld. Otherwise, go figure out the shamanic culture and enjoy the cold within for a while.

If you want to know more about Siberian Shamanism, I did a little research on the following website, which is very informative.

Shamanism in Russia – Embrace the Ancient Rituals and Traditions (56thparallel.com)

‘U-Gra’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Ritual
02. The Fires Of Ragnarok
03. The Birth Of A Shaman
04. Dead Man’s Dance
05. U-Gra
06. Gróttasöngr
07. Svartravn
08. Blood Of The North

LINE-UP:
Natasha “Baba Yaga” Pakhalenko – Vocals, Throat Singing, Drums, Percussion, Flutes, Programming
Anatoly “Shaman” Pakhalenko – Vocals, Throat singing, Tagelharpa, Mouth-Harp, Percussion, Horn, Programming

LINKS:

Nytt Land (Credit Ronny Zeisberg)
Photo by Ronny Zeisberg

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Wallace Magri 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.