Heyoka’s Mirror – The Uninvited King

The Uninvited King Album Cover Art

Heyoka’s Mirror – The Uninvited King
Self-Released
Release Date: 06/03/2021
Running Time: 50:49
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

Rick, the grand high wizard here at camp Ever Metal, knows my tastes pretty well now. Not really a surprise, as he has lived with me and my eclectic temperament for the last 6 years! So, when Calgary based Progressive Rock/Metal band, Heyoka’s Mirror dropped their debut album, “The Uninvited King” into the EM inbox, he sent it in my direction. Their email stated that they had been likened to a variety of bands, including my all-time favourites, Queen, which made me pay attention.

I can confirm that there’s definitely a vast variety of influences in Heyoka’s Mirror’s sound, including the aforementioned gods of music themselves. The opening track ‘The Light Within’ starts with drums, alongside some delicious synth and guitar, very much akin to the likes of The Enid. But it launches into an indulgent guitar solo, which just has Brian May written all over it, and some ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ vocal harmonies.

The tracks that follow are much heavier, drawing from Classic Heavy Metal, Symphonic Metal, and a touch of Thrash, 70s Hard Rock, and 90s Grunge to boot, but all with the overarching difficult rhythms and ‘might as well chuck it in, why the fuck not’ nature of prog. We even get some death growl vocals, because, in prog, anything goes! There are some pretty groove-laden riffs throughout, too (‘Shadow Man’ is full of them).

The mid-point to the album treats us to a 10-minute prog marathon, exploring the full range of progressive sounds, right from the more modern, to the more classic. It’s full of discordant guitars, crazy vocals, soft interludes, pauses, reverb, complicated rhythmic patterns, and unexpected cadences. My kid brother once dropped acid at Reading Festival, and completely missed Metallica (one of the main reasons he went in the first place) because he was curled up in a ball on the floor, facing away from the stage, rocking and staring into a hallucinogenic abyss that had opened up in the field in front of him. I’m fairly sure that this track was probably pretty similar to the sounds inside his head at that moment!

Ironic, really, that the next track on the album is called ‘Asylum’ (On a side note, this is also nearly 9 minutes long, and as bonkers as the previous track, which makes me very happy. Great bit of classical inspired piano, and jazz funk bass in the middle of it, too, before the bonkers kicks off again).

The album takes a twist from this point, sticking to a modern prog sound, with a hint of djent. That is until the final track ‘Celebration Of Light’, which almost brings everything back full circle, in epic, cinematic, 70’s inspired anthem style. It’s a great way to finish an album. Beautiful sweeping guitar solos, vocal harmonies, thumping drums, and expansive synth sounds triumphantly march towards the climax of what is, indeed, a mighty fine debut album. This is the musical equivalent of philosophical debate, in an attempt to reach the Nirvana of complete understanding, whilst high on psychedelic drugs. It’s an impressive thing to behold.

‘Asylum’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Light Within
02. Heavy Rain
03. Shadow Man
04. The Darkness Within
05. Asylum
06. Deal with the Devil
07. King Of Deception
08. Celebration Of Light

LINE-UP:
Andrew Balboa – Guitar/Synth/Vocals
Omar Sultan – Guitar/Vocals

Additional Album Line-up:
Casey Lewis – Drums
Johnny Kerr – Drums
Brendan Rothwell – Bass
Renan Weignater – Bass

LINKS:

Heyoka's Mirror 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.

Infinite & Divine – Silver Lining

Silver Lining Album Cover Art

Infinite & Divine – Silver Lining
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 09/04/2021
Running Time: 47:11
Review by Simon Black
7.5/10

Another day, another debut album. The core of the band is two established Swedish song-writers; Tezzi (Terese Persson ) on vocals, and Jan Åkesson on guitar, bass, and pretty much anything else other than the drums. Åkesson has declared publicly that he has taken a back seat from live work and this definitely has the feel of a studio only project. It is pitched firmly in the Melodic Metal camp that is occasional known to dabble its nose into the Synth-tinged Symphonic instrumentally. I say that because despite having some blisteringly good lead work in there, the majority of the riffage takes a slightly further back seat in the mix to the epically expansive keyboards.

As debut’s go, it’s got a lavishly rich sound and production values, but then these are not new hands (with Åkesson  producing) and by all accounts the project has been baking in the oven for a few years before getting released. Tezzi’s vocal performance is quite something however and quite rightly is there front and centre in the mix for most of the songs. Her voice is gutsy and soulful and clearly full of heart and presence, but if I have a criticism it’s that she chooses to follow the main song melody lines a little too closely and a little more experimentation or some subtle Symphonic vocal touches here would have gone a long way.

Notwithstanding, there are some belters on here, ‘Keep Moving On’ is particularly memorable, along with the almost folky intro to ‘Burn No More’ which then takes a gutsy rockier road, but the fact that the album dips its toes into a number of different styles whilst staying close to the melodic core is quite refreshing. Although some of the tracks can be a little average, there is nothing bad here and the production values are so strong that even the weaker song structures pass by the ear unless you’re being deliberately critical (which is sort of my job). Time will tell if this is a one-off studio project or a full blown band, but it’s definitely a promising start and with a bit of confidence to be more experimental, then things could get very interesting indeed.

‘Infinite & Divine’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. II Feel Alive
02. Infinite And Divine
03. Keep Moving On
04. Not Too Late
05. Wasteland
06. Burn No More
07. We Are One
08. Off The End Of The World
09. You And I
10. While You’re Looking For Love
11. Perplexed Perfection

LINE-UP:
Tezzi – Lead and Backing Vocals
Jan Åkesson – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocals and Programming
Jens Westberg – Drums

LINKS:

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.

Cry For Mercy – Resist

Resist Album Cover Art

Cry For Mercy – Resist
Self-Released
Release Date: 02/04/2021
Running Time: 48:15
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

Let’s talk about bucket lists, shall we? Mine’s long and plentiful, and full of all sorts of things, from the mundane to the ridiculous. But one item on there has been firmly planted near the top for a very long time. Driving route 66. It would be in a little red sportscar, top down, sun on my face, and the wind in my hair. I’d probably have aviators on and be dressed like I was on the way to Woodstock. Not a care in the world, just the open road in front of me. I’m a sucker for a cliché… Anyway, that road trip would have to be accompanied by some smooth Southern Rock. And that brings me to our subject here today. “Resist,” the debut album from the North West’s very own Southern Rockers, Cry For Mercy.

These guys have been on our radar for a good while now, and we’ve seen them smashing it out live many times, so this has been a hotly anticipated album in camp Ever Metal. These 3 guys set the bar high for themselves, and aim to encapsulate that Southern Bluesy Rock sound, here in the lush green and rugged grey landscapes that couldn’t be further from the dusty deep south if it tried! So, does this debut live up to that high bar? Well, in short, yes.

Opening with the upbeat and punchy track, ‘Brother’ the Cry For Mercy sound is instantly recognisable. Crunchy guitar riffs, driving bass, and a rock-steady beat from Steven Taylor, topped off with clean but edgy vocals. If a bottle of Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels, and Budweiser started a band, this would be what they sounded like. (I’ll skip over the fade out, with a slightly raised eyebrow. Tut tut boys.)

And this is the way that this album continues throughout. Catchy melodies, riffs a plenty, gritty vocals. What’s not to like! There are even a few lush little guitar solos chucked in for good measure, but nothing’s overstated. It’s just laid back, and full of sunshine and desert dust.

There are a few standout tracks on this album too, which is always great to see on a debut. One of these is ‘Cold Hearted Woman’. This is more acoustic driven, and has a real ‘jaded with a guitar, sitting in the old, beat up rocking chair on the back porch, drowning your sorrows in a Jack, and strumming away’ feel. I love it.

And that’s followed immediately by ‘Born To Fly,’ a melancholy anthem, where Kev’s vocals take a turn for the tortured, really making an impressive use of the gruff and gravelly tones he possesses.

All in all, this is a really good debut in terms of musical content, and it’s been produced and mixed in a pleasing way, too. Can’t wait to see these guys live again, and we’re hoping to get that chance in early July (crossing everything that this happens) when they compete in the Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses North Wales final!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Brother
02. Roll The Dice
03. Resist
04. Chasing Me Down
05. Down To The River
06. Healing
07. Hear You Coming
08. Cold Hearted Woman
09. Born To Fly
10. Yesterday’s Man
11. Into Overdrive
12. On And On

LINE-UP:
Kevin Plant – Bass/Lead Vocals
Andy Cutty – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Steven Taylor – Drums

LINKS:

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

Katana Cartel – The Sacred Oath

The Sacred Oath Album Cover Art

Katana Cartel – The Sacred Oath
Self-Released
Release Date: 26/02/2021
Running Time: 48:07
Review by Simon Black
10/10

The debut album from these Melbourne, Australia based metallers has, like so much of the last eighteen months, been put completely on hold by Coronavirus. When this is your debut release, the decision to hold back or plunge forward is slightly trickier. Debut albums are critically dependant on bands’ getting out on the road and working their dues in gruelling support slots until enough people realise they are there and start creating demand for their music; then it’s about working the brand for all its worth. Australia and the state of Victoria have been locked down harder and longer than most (as my father, who lives there, never ceases to remind me) and so to release an album too soon and risk it disappearing, relatively unheard, despite rave reviews cannot be ignored. Equally, the financial costs associated with the production need to start to be met, which no amount of streaming success will balance out. It’s a tough call and my personal view is that a band should have the courage of their convictions and keep moving forward if they can. So with no sign of things lifting out of lockdown enough for touring to start any time soon, we need to work on the basis of what’s available and try and support the acts themselves, which is why I always ask people to buy the product directly from the band or label’s web site – even if they dip their toe into the streaming waters to see if they like it first. Because if we don’t there won’t be many new bands for us to enjoy.

And enjoy is the key word with this record, something the band clearly do and that infectiously spreads to the listener. Like many debut’s Katana Cartel have had a longer gestation period and the material presented is likely to be the pick of the material the band has crafted to date. Equally, when you are self-produced there is also the danger that without a manager or label forcing editorial decisions that the path of self-indulgence sometimes opens up. I need not have worried in this case, as the eleven tracks on here feel wisely chosen, well-written and a great showcase to the musical abilities of the band.

This is punchy and lively traditional Metal, with a strong early Thrash sentiment underpinning it instrumentally. Vocally the style is largely clean, but with enough of the Thrashier aggressive vocals mixed in to keep it from sounding retro, so consequently you can absolutely hear the influences, but the overall feel is very fresh and modern. What this translates to is anthemic and energetic songs liberally interspersed with some blistering technical time changes and instrumental interludes which show off the skill without being self-indulgent. OK, maybe they do a bit with the album’s closer (the brilliantly named 2000 AD comic tribute) ‘Judge Shredd’, as when you are treading the same lyrical path as one of Thrash’s Big Four, you need to differentiate. Which they admirably do, with several minutes of pile driving blistering shredding and playing that’s tighter than a possum’s bum hole and then counterbalanced by a more melodic and gentle few bars to counterpoint it and close it. It’s a great bit of playing and that’s probably the weakest track on the album!

I really can’t fault the rest of the record and its infectious energy has slowed down my writing, as I’ve been loath to stop listening and move on to what’s next in the pile. That tells me this is an act that I’m going to enjoy listening to for a while longer and therefore one that’s got legs. I’m normally slightly more generous on my scores with new bands, as I cut a little slack first time out, but in this case the score is fully deserved and if I could have gone up to eleven I would have. Because that’s what the band have delivered.

TRACKLISTING:
01. War Prelude
02. Air Raid
03. Bang Your Head
04. Night Town
05. Dime A Dozen
06. The Battle
07. Fragile Denial
08. Grenade
09. The Art Of Self-Destruction
10. Judge Shredd

LINE-UP:
Steven (FluFFy) Falkingham – Vocals
Rob (Rockit) Georgievski – Rhythm Guitar
John (JP) Price – Drums
Matt (Matty) Lentile – Bass Guitar
Dylan (Dylzy) Reeves – Lead Guitar
Dr. Mike Trubetskov – Keyboards

LINKS:

Katana Cartel 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.

Snær – Frozen Alchemy

Frozen Alchemy Album Cover Art

Snær – Frozen Alchemy
Self-Released
Release Date: 12/03/2021
Running Time: 41:10
Review by Rick Eaglestone
7/10

Maine’s Snær entwine legend and fantasy with their debut album “Frozen Alchemy”.

The aptly titled ‘Into’ eerily could’ve been placed into ‘The VVitch: A New-England Folktale’ movie soundtrack, whereas the doom laden ‘Black Stain’ tells the tale of local legend Colonel Buck, who burned his witch mistress at the stake and, as she burned, she cursed him to have a stain for all eternity – The drumming on this track really stands out for me.

Coming in with blackened thrash elements, both ‘Rise Of The Sea Ghouls’ & ‘Black Bear Mauling’ tear away relentlessly, before the longest track and my personal highlight ‘Endless Suffering’. The melodic intro feels really emotional, almost in the same vein as Metallica’s ‘Fade To Black’, it then changes pace various times, but still maintains that melodic tone throughout.

The title track ‘Frozen Alchemy’ is Snær’s ‘Black Sabbath’ with slow purposeful bass tones, menacing drums and absolutely gripping guitar riff. It is quite fitting then that the track is about a secret magical practice brought to Maine by Viking Shaman.

I really enjoyed the instrumental ‘Snær’ as it fits well within the landscape of the album and the marching beat of ‘March To The Ovens’ encapsulates the band’s philosophy, the extermination of the entire human race.

Finally, a very ambitious cover of Bathory’s ‘The Return Of Darkness And Evil’ completes the album. Now, not only do I love this track, but this is a great cover and really suits vocalist Joseph Doome incredibly well, in fact, so much so, that I actually went back and replayed the whole album again.

‘Black Stain’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Intro
02. Black Stain
03. Ghouls Of The Sea
04. Black Bear Mauling
05. Endless Suffering
06. Frozen Alchemy
07. Snær
08. March Of The Ovens
09. The Return Of Darkness And Evil (Bathory Cover)

LINE-UP:
Joseph Doome – Lead Vocals/Bass
Jeffrey Lloyd Snader – Lead Guitar
Conrad Lausier – Drums

LINKS:

Snær Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rick Eaglestone 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.

Ironbourne – Ironbourne

Ironbourne Cover Art

Ironbourne – Ironbourne
Pure Steel Records
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Running Time: 51:03
Review by Simon Black
6/10

Not to be confused with the very similarly spelt Northern Irish outfit, this act hails from Sweden and is a very NWOBHM influenced, but equally quite Modern Metal sounding act, with more than a few Stoner tropes, adding an ear-ringingly heavy layer to their sound. The constituent members have all been round the block a while, but this act is fairly recent in its incorporation however and, as a debut, makes an impressive opening salvo. I can’t find too much about them as beyond a Facebook page they don’t have too much of a web presence, which realistically is something you chaps need to fix if you ever get around to reading this.

One thing about this album, it’s wonderfully heavy without feeling overtly down tuned or depressive, which means despite most of the songs being fairly slow in pace, you are left with a largely up-beat feeling. It’s quite disconcertingly effective. The challenge is that too many of the tracks are equally paced in their delivery, so after the half way point in the album, you are craving for a change of pace. We get this with the highly impressive ballad ‘Too Late’, which gives the guitarists a chance to play acoustically, to the point that it almost feels like a completely different band. When another and much faster pace change comes quite late with the very positively speedy ‘Runaway’, you are left with the feeling that more variety would have made this a more interesting record. All the constituent parts work well though – these are musicians with a strong sense of mood and they know how to get a rich sound in the recording process and Torbjörn Andersson’s voice is loud, powerful and hypnotic. The epic closer ‘Year of Judgement’ probably encapsulates all the best elements and also dares to be a bit more experimental and trippy with the sound, adding a much-needed layer of reverb to add to that epic and haunting feeling.

The challenge I have with this album is not that there is absolutely nothing bad about it, but it just fails to deliver anything eyebrow-raisingly exceptional for a big chunk of its length and that’s down to too many of the songs feeling the same in pace and tone. All the tracks are absolutely competent enough, the musicians play well, the sound is rich and mature, but the song-writing sometimes lacks the punchy, dangerous edge that this sort of music thrives upon, although the three tracks I have called out absolutely do, making this an album that feels slightly unfinished. Perhaps this is just a symptom of a band that really need to be in the same physical space for the chemistry to fire up, so I would be curious to see what a live show looks like. When they vary the pace and become more experimental, this band soars and hopefully they can take those elements and run with them. Nonetheless, an impressive start.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Dreamer
02. Elusive Reality
03. Varsel
04. Twilight Of Gods
05. Too Late
06. Covenant
07. Hit The Wall
08. Runaway
09. Year Of Judgement

LINE-UP:
Torbjörn Andersson – Vocals
Olof Geijer – Guitars
Lars Andersson – Bass
Jonas Windle – Guitars
Stefan Viktorsson – Drums

LINKS:

Ironbourne 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.

Mason Hill – Against The Wall

Against The Wall Album Cover Art

Mason Hill – Against The Wall
Self-Released
Release Date: 05/03/2021
Running Time: 46:47
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

Ummm so…AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!! THE MASON HILL DEBUT ALBUM IS FINALLY HERE!!!

Apologies. I just had to get that out of my system! It’s been, what seems like millennia, that I’ve been waiting for this day, since we first happened upon these 5 lovely chaps from Glasgow, at RockWich 2017. I was mesmerized by them on that occasion, and my first words to Rick at the time were, “They are going to be huge.” Their hard rock sound, and their absolute passion, and sheer joy in performing, really connected to me, and all the gathered crowd in that room. It was a special gig. I checked out my original review, and this is what I wrote:

“When I say they really impressed me, what I really mean is they totally blew my mind with how awesomely good they were. They were very fresh melodic rock, which was so good, so tight, so together, and so electric that I have to admit it actually made me emotional. That has only happened to me twice before in 25 years where music is concerned. The first occasion was on listening to Queen’s “Made In Heaven” album for the first time, and the other was watching Doro Pesch on the main stage at Bloodstock (mainly because I worship the ground she walks on though!)”

Since then, the hottest question on everyone’s lips has been “When’s the album coming?!” So, as you can imagine it gives me an absolute thrill to finally be writing this review! But was it worth the wait? (Let’s face it, if you looked at my score at the top of this review, then you probably already know my answer to that.) Well, let’s find out!

The album opens with ‘Reborn’, and the first thing that hits you is the superb production. Right from the first note, everything is placed perfectly, from the distant guitar, full of reverb, to the thumping bass notes and ambient sounds. This leads seamlessly into the absolute banger, ‘No Regrets’. With a powerful riff, and melodic structure, this is the first of many earworms on this album. Scott Taylor’s vocals are clear, but raw enough to deliver a rock punch. The instrumentals of Marc Montgomery, Matt Ward, and James Bird are technically superb. And the metronomic rhythms of Craig McFetridge on the skins hold everything together in perfect time.

The title track is up next, and anyone who doesn’t get this track stuck in their head almost instantly is either insane, or dead! It’s THAT good! It grows and swells, with the pacey and bassy chorus being the high point in the song. I LOVE THIS TRACK!!

Now, you might think that this album had peaked too soon, with ‘Against The Wall’ as the 3rd track. But you’d be so wrong! The album continues like this, for literally EVERY. SINGLE. SONG!!! This should not be a debut album, because it’s simply too damn good! They’ve set the bar high, then thrown caution to the wind and pushed it a little higher! Here’s a few more of my highlights (I mean, I could quite easily just give you the tracklist, and say “There you go!” but that would be silly):

‘DNA’ for its punchy riffs that make you get up and move, and its ridiculously catchy chorus (again – I seriously challenge you not to be singing along by the second chorus! Be warned, it is completely impossible). ‘Who We Are’ – it’s a great hard rock ballad, and, if you don’t love one of them, then you have no soul. ‘Hold On’ for its machine-like riffs!  And ‘Where I Belong’, because it’s simply a beautiful and heartfelt track, that display’s the versatility and musical understanding that every member of Mason Hill possess.

Without wanting to sound like a complete fangirl here, if there is such a place as heaven, then this is the soundtrack that would be playing there. I Cannot stress enough how much of a superb album this is, and if you even remotely like Rock, you need to be spinning it at your earliest convenience. The young boys from bonny Scotland have done a bonny wee job on this record, and I could not be happier for them. It deserves a very high spot in everyone’s playlist, and long may they continue making these beautiful noises. And, if they carry on like this, they are still my top tip for being huge. The only thing I can say is, guys, please, PLEASE don’t leave it so long until the next album! I don’t think I could cope!!

‘D.N.A. (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Reborn
02. No Regrets
03. Against The Wall
04. Broken Son
05. D.N.A
06. Who We Are
07. Find My Way
08. Hold On
09. Out Of Reach
10. We Pray
11. Where I Belong
12. Reborn (Reprise)

LINE-UP:
Scott Taylor – Vocals
James Bird – Lead Guitar
Marc Montgomery – Rhythm Guitar
Matthew Ward – Bass
Craig McFetridge – Drums

LINKS:

Mason Hill 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.

Boneyard – Oathbreaker

Oathbreaker Album Cover Art

Boneyard – Oathbreaker
Self-Released
Release Date: 17/10/2020
Running Time: 50:00
Review by Simon Black
7/10

“Oathbreaker” is the debut release from this Canadian four piece, and has actually been out since October last year (blame the Ed, he only sent it me two days ago having found it behind the Ever Metal virtual fridge) – (How very dare you – Ed 😊). The style is very much traditional Hard Rock with a nod towards early Metal, with a nice crisp and fat sounding Production style. Frontwoman Pamtera (great gag by the way) has a warm and powerfully rich voice, with just enough of a bluesy edge to keep it real, although you can tell that her attention is equally focussed on her instrument from the way her melody lines follow the rhythm guitar parts. That’s easy to be critical of, but if you’ve ever tried playing rhythm and singing a different melody line you will know that it’s a lot harder to do than it looks. That said, it’s an approach that leads the head to more naturally nod along to what’s being played, especially live where it works like a virtual conductor guiding the audience’s response.

The key main criticisms I have are over length and the sequencing of the tracks. This is a tough one when you are a self-produced band starting out with a bunch of songs you’ve had on the go for a while, as the chances are you don’t have a manager, label or producer sitting on your back pushing you in a commercial direction and forcing you to tighten the arrangements or prune out the weaker elements. So, you have the strange situation where the weaker songs on the record actually open the album, but ride through these to the mid-way point and it’s absolutely worth the wait (or go straight to side B as I would have said in the old days).

‘Rat Race’ is the case in point. It’s got a really lively beat, catchy riff and chorus and the melody lines diverge, as well as giving the opportunity for the two guitarists to bounce off of each other with some old-fashioned sparring as opposed to the more clearly defined rhythm / lead split that predominates on the first half. The sound of this second half is also quite different from the first, with a more rich and varied mix of instrumental sounds and a much stronger phrasing and song-writing structure, this feels like the album is documenting a song-writing journey of several years and capturing the evolution of their sound. The second half is just punchier and more rounded, and perhaps they should have held back some of the more stripped back tracks for another time as at fifty minutes of run time, a shorter release with the stronger tracks at the front would have had a much stronger impact.

That said, when it’s on form, it’s on fire.

‘Fates Warning’ (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Fates Warning
02. Gone
03. Evil Ways
04. Smoke The Sky
05. Oathbreaker
06. Rat Race
07. Monster
08. Born Again
09. Hope
10. Tune Attack
11. Catch Me If You Can

LINE-UP:
Pamtera – Lead Vocals, Rhythm and Lead Guitar
Dennis Cooke – Bass and Rhythm Guitar
Jeff Cunningham – Drums and Percussion
Grant Tarapacki – Lead Guitar

LINKS:

Boneyard 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.

Incognosci – A Biography Of Madness

A Biography Of Madness Cover Art

Incognosci – A Biography Of Madness
Extreme Sound Records
Release Date: 22/10/2020
Running Time: 27:04
Review by Victor Augusto
8.5/10

Incognosci have finally released their debut album and maybe you are thinking that in front of us is a raw album made by people without experience. Sometimes it can happen with young bands releasing their first material, but I must tell you a few details that you probably don’t know about this Brazilian group. It is not easy to have a Heavy Metal band in my country (as you already know from me writing about it hundreds of times) and it is even worse if you play extreme Metal. In this case, the members have taken more than a decade to release this debut after line-up changes and all the struggles that being in a band demand. Of course, they are extremely active in their local scene along with other bands, like Gutted Souls, for example. However, if you look at it from a commercial or business point of view, it is horrible for a band to spend so much time without a release, but if you take the time to listen to “A Biography Of Madness”, you will understand how it was actually good for Incognosci!

Firstly, they are very experienced musicians as a consequence of all the years working together and with other bands. What every member does here is almost as if they are aliens from a distant and evolved civilization, playing on our humble planet. They are insane on their instruments. I could swear that I was listening to a band with more than three albums released and that survive by travelling around the world on long tours. This is obviously not the case with Incognosci, but what they have achieved as musicians is astonishing and they have delivered an incredibly mature work. There is a good balance between being extreme, but not sounding exacerbated or massive.

Now, let’s talk about the music itself. “A Biography Of Madness” is extreme Death Metal with Gore elements. It combines the aggressiveness and speed of Cannibal Corpse with elements of Obituary or Deicide from the Tampa Death Metal scene of the 90’s, mostly in terms of arrangements. There is also a much-diluted Djent feel which brings a modern flavour. The musical highlight are the complex variations they have created inside each song. It is insane how they vary the sonority many times with tremendous speed.

Having Jonathas “Jon” Pereira as lone guitarist sets him free to explore interesting techniques with his guitar, but it could also be because he has a killer bassist alongside him. Marcos Medeiros is highly creative with his bass and all the independent bass lines he has written are astonishing. Sometimes, it is like hearing hellish funk rearranged into Extreme Death Metal, as you can hear on the intro to ‘Perfect Specimen’. ‘Tales Of Insanity’ also has amazing bass work and Marcos fills the rhythm section during Jonathas solo, without worry. You will not notice that empty feeling, bands with one guitarist, sometimes have during solos!

Iron has a powerful, guttural voice and he has explored different vocal lines. This is the first time I have heard him doing ‘Pig noises’. He has departed from the usual style of Death Metal singers in one small detail. I can understand many things that he sings, and it shows his great ability on vocals that are noisy, but clean at the same time. Maybe, it is similar to the David Vincent (Morbid Angel) way of singing. Finally, the drum work that Braulio Drumond has put together for the album is the most impressive thing here, in my opinion. Many drummers can play faster than the speed of light, but to play fast with many tangled parts…well, few people can do that. He also hits his drum kit HARD and the music never sounds repetitive thanks to him. The opening song ‘Aftermath’ is a good example of what I am talking about!

The experience of the individuals has made “A Biography Of Madness” a terrific work. The album is short, the production is organic, the arrangements are very well thought out and the complexity of the compositions makes this an easy album to digest. It is a blend of the good and gold Old-School Death Metal, but with new elements. There is not a single song that sounds boring. All of them have received good attention and they are very professionally written. As a result of all these positive aspects this is an album that you won’t get tired of after 2 or 3 tracks, which can sometimes happen.

“A Biography Of Madness” is an amazing debut, I promise you.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Aftermath
02. Awaken The Desperate
03. Perfect Specimen
04. Traumatize The Masses
05. Eleven Years
06. Tales Of Insanity
07. Final Descent Into Madness
08. Trapped In Spontaneous Disintegration

LINE-UP:
Iron – Vocals
Jonathas “Jon” Pereira – Guitar
Marcos Medeiros – Bass
Braulio Drumond – Drums

LINKS:

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

Monolith – Sentience

Monolith – Sentience
Self-Released
Release Date: 13/11/2020
Running Time: 53:10
Review by Beth Jones
7/10

Hands up who likes Progressive/Tech/Djent/Industrial/Electro Metal??!!! Ah good!! Me too! Well I’ve got a little something you might like.

Monolith is a one-man project that’s got all that and more. It’s the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist, and an old friend of mine, Nathan Hughes. And his debut album, “Sentience” has just landed. Formed as a project for his university degree in 2018, Monolith has grown into his ‘passion project’, culminating in this release. It’s a meld of everything, like one big metal caravan filled with whatever the hell you want, ready to set off on a trek to wherever the hell you want, down all the twisty and turny A roads and dirt tracks you can find! Metaphorically speaking!

The album explores a myriad of soundscapes, infusing synth effects with more traditional metal instrumentation. It starts with ‘Sentience I – Awakening’. The opening couple of bars sound like ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, which I thought was pretty fitting for the direction this album is aiming to take. But it quickly becomes a guitar and drum driven track full of darkness and intrigue, as well as a myriad of complex rhythms and interlocking sections. A great start.

‘Lucid’ is up next. Groove funk central!! It starts off with drums and some pretty nifty bass licks, and then tumbles into groove laden guitar. But don’t get too comfortable, as some crazy synth then drills into your brain followed by a ridiculously complex rhythm section, then some full-on thrash! It’s impossible not to move to, but do NOT try to bang you’re head, as you will either a) get annoyed at yourself for going off beat, or b) look like you’re having some kind of episode.

‘Departure’ takes you on a much floatier and more calming journey to start with. Massive reverb on a solo guitar, with wave sound effects in the background, lead into bass synths, and a Pink Floyd style guitar solo that’s indulgent, but not to the point of it becoming tacky. It’s just peaceful. I likey. ‘Skyline’ comes next. This takes the crazy djent prog madness of the first two tracks, and the mellowness of ‘Departure’, and chucks them both together, purely because it can. It also has synth sax, again, because it can. Although, I’m a bit of an old fuddy duddy when it comes to wind instruments, because I was brought up in a house full of very proficient sax players, and synth versions of them grind my gears. They just sound corny. Sorry.

Anyway, moving on! In the middle of the album, at track 6, ‘The Elusion’ we’re introduced to some more new sounds. An almost 90’s grunge feel, cloaking, but not completely obscuring, the crazy proggy madness that we have been gifted with so far. Given the point in the album, and the track name, I think this is very cleverly thought out bit of placement. Possibly a metaphor for the ‘more socially acceptable’ version of ourselves that a lot of us over here in metal corner have to create in our day to day lives, in order to be accepted within ‘normal’ circles.

The next tracks, starting with ‘The Price Of Reality’, are a much darker journey. Slower than what has gone before, and with more trepidation. ‘The Price Of Reality’ using sludgy doom inspired sections, and ‘Lost’ making use of a minor key, an altogether slower tempo, and synth strings, giving it a stark and overarching feeling of sadness. Being a melancholy soul, this is my favourite track on the album. The musicality in the instrumentation really is superb here, and the progressions and cadences almost send it into the realms of a classical composition.

‘Cmd_Shutd0wn’ sees us heading swiftly back into Electro/Djent, and is hugely Gojira inspired. It’s only a small track, but it’s no less technical. It also marks the beginning of the reverse, which will bring us full circle to the sounds that opened this album. This is more noticeable however in the penultimate track, ‘Transcend’ which draws influence from everything that has already been introduced, and neatly packages it into a little under 4 minutes. ‘Sentience II – The Neon Dreamscape’, closes the album in much the same way, ending with the same synth sounds that we were first met with in the opening bars of the album.

Musically, this album displays the undeniable talents that Nathan has, as both a musician and a composer. It’s also superbly mixed and mastered, given that the sound is huge, but was basically put together in his bedroom. But, there is a fairly large elephant in the room, that I haven’t addressed as yet. This album, in its current form, is purely instrumental, and is crying out for vocals. While every track is masterfully constructed and played, there is a vocal shaped hole in them all, that needs filling to take this album to the next level. Maybe I’m biased as vocals are my thing, but for me, with vocals, this album would be a solid 10.

That said, if you like any of the aforementioned musical styles, you really should check out “Sentience”. With Monolith, and this release, Nathan has taken a really great step onto the metal project ladder.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Sentience I – Awakening
02. Lucid
03. Departure
04. Skyline
05. Overseer
06. The Elusion
07. The Price of Reality
08. Lost
09. Cmd_Shutd0wn
10. Transcend
11. Sentience II – The Neon Dreamscape

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.