Scardust – Strangers

Scardust – Strangers
M-Theory Audio
Release Date: 30/10/2020
Running Time: 53:02
Review by Beth Jones
/10
(Yes, that is the ‘infinity’ sign!!)

A few months back I reviewed Wilderun’s “Veil of Imagination”, scoring them a technically impossible 11/10. I thought at the time that there was absolutely no way I would hear a better album this year, and probably not for a good few years to come. Well, it turns out I was wrong.

Scardust are a Progressive Metal band from Israel. This album, “Strangers”, follows the critically acclaimed debut “Sands Of Time”. It’s a unique concept album based around the idea of being estranged. The bands vocalist Noa Gruman composed the album with Orr Didi, who she also collaborated with for the first album, and it was mixed by Yonatan Kossov and

mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Devin Townsend, Arch Enemy). Noa explains, “Written from multiple perspectives, it explores the ways in which people can be estranged from one another, from themselves, from society, from their loved ones and even from their own subconscious. After the overture, which introduces musical themes, the album separates into two parts. Every song from the second part is a mirror image of a parallel song in the first. Each pair of songs tells the story of a pair of strangers. They can be played together as a standalone piece, as individual songs or as part of the album, whatever the listener’s heart desires.” That’s bloody clever that is!!

There’s only one word to describe this album, and that’s ‘Masterpiece’. I’m usually pretty good with words, but it’s seriously left me chastising my own lack of comparable vocabulary to explain why I feel this way. So, please bear with my while I try and do it justice! But before I begin, I’ll say this. If I die tomorrow, at least I got to hear this album.

‘Overture for the Estranged’ starts the album, opening with choral harmony performed by Hellscore, the choir Noa formed for the original album. It took me right back to my choral days, from which I became estranged when I left school! Noa’s vocals float in over the top of this, in full operatic beauty, with unexpected cadences all over the place. We’re then led into a fully orchestrated section that Mozart would have been proud of, with the addition of crunching guitar, and thundering drums. It’s just spectacular! It’s like an opening overture to a top rock opera running on Broadway, or in the West End. This style is revisited throughout the album, too. Just for fun, it throws in some jazz and funk along the way, as well as the progressive rhythm changes you would expect from any great explorer of the genre. Right, that’s track 1 pathetically dealt with, like a boxer trying to cradle a new-born still gloved up! 10 more to go – stay with me folks!

Track 2, ‘Break the Ice’, is full on musical theatre, complete with chorus line from Hellscore again, and a melody so catchy I dare you not to hum along! Aside from the vocals, which are simply sublime, we get to see just how skilled the musicians in this band really are. With an awesome guitar solo, and some equally complex bass runs, cross rhythms, piano fills, and orchestral violins, it just makes me want to explode with admiration. I’m so emotional about this album, it’s untrue! The musical theatre feeling continues through track 3 (which is also one of my favourite tracks, more on that later!) and 4, but always with a progressive twist. Complexity is their absolute ethos, and they do it effortlessly.

Track 5, ‘Concrete Cages’ starts with folk instrumentation provided by German Folk musician, Patty Gurdy. It then goes through funk, and heavy riffs, and dives into a whole melting pot of extravagant instrumentation, choral harmonies, and just pure musicality. It’s heavy enough to bang your head to, but so intricately precise that it’s possible to hear every single note like there was no other sound.

Track 6, ‘Over’, returns us to some sort of metal normality, ramping up the heavy for a bit! It also let’s Noa explore her guttural vocals too, which are just as perfect as her operatic tones. In contrast, and forming the other part of the pair, if you’re listening to the album as paired tracks, ‘Under’ is pure funk / gospel/ jazz, complete with snare rim beats from the drummer, gospel choir harmonies, and solos a plenty. Track 8, “Huts” features a performance from Westbrook Hay Prep School Chamber Choir, just to add another element, because why not?!

The next few tracks continue exploring every theme imaginable, until the album is brought to a close with ‘Mist’. A slowed down track in which Noa’s vocals are just sublime. It’s a real ‘lighters in the air’ closing overture, that brings things to an end as stunningly as they began.

When an album is this good, it’s hard to pick out a standout song. But I have gone with the tracks that I’ve had on repeat over the last couple of weeks. ‘Tantibus II’, which is also the first single from the album, and ‘Gone’. ‘Tantibus II’ melds complex guitars with dark choral harmonies, and a hellishly catchy chorus! I actually cried when I first saw the video for this, I was so overwhelmed by how good it was. ‘Gone’ on the other hand, I love for a different reason – we discover the true skills of bass player, Yanai Avnet. It opens with a bass line lick, and he gets a solo section in the middle. This man’s got skills!!! More licks than an ice-cream parlour full of children, I can tell you. Bloody brilliant.

Everything is just bloody, bloody, unbelievably bloody brilliant!! I’ll shut up now, I’ve taken up too much of your time. “Strangers” gets infinity out of 10 from me, because my scoring system no longer matters. Buy this album.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Overture For The Estranged
02. Break The Ice
03. Tantibus II
04. Stranger
05. Concrete Cages (feat. Patty Gurdy)
06. Over
07. Under
08. Huts
09. Gone
10. Addicted
11. Mist

LINE-UP:
Noa Gruman – Vocals
Yanai Avnet – Bass
Yadin Moyal – Guitar
Itai Portugali – Keyboards
Yoav Weinberg – Drums

Guests:
Hellscore Choir
Westbrook Hay Prep School Chamber Choir
Patty Gurdy

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.

Hazzerd – Delirium

Hazzerd – Delirium
M-Theory Audio
Release Date: 24/01/2019
Running Time: 48:57
Review by Victor Augusto
8/10

“You just have to listen to 30 seconds of a Hazzerd song to love this band!”. Yes, I wrote something like that when I reviewed the previous album, “Misleading Evil”, from Canadian Thrash Metal band Hazzerd, back in 2017. Three years later, and the band are still showing something impressive with their new offering, “Delirium”. Now, listening more carefully to their music, I think the band’s secret is their pure passion for Thrash Metal. Maybe it sounds silly, but I am really being serious. If you have a chance, watch any Hazzerd video live, and listen to this album, and you would understand what I am saying. It is not a matter of playing faster than the speed of light, or being the most technical musician in the world, but a matter of putting in your feelings and playing with passion.

The guitar work from Toryin Schadlich and Brendan Malycky is the first thing you hear on this album, with great harmonies that open ‘Sacrifice Them (In The Name Of God)’. I must confess that their solos, and some of the bass lines remind me of traditional Heavy Metal!

Some of the melodies have a bit of Judas Priest combined with bands like Megadeth or Anthrax. David Sprague creates intriguing funky bass lines throughout, but he has his highlight moments, such as the introduction part of ‘Victim Of A Desperate Mind’ or in ‘Illuminated Truth’, which bring to mind Cliff Burton lines from old Metallica.

The excellent work on the instrumental song ‘Call Of The Void’ brings in 80’s NWOBHM influences, with an Iron Maiden sonority. My favorite song is definitely ‘Waking Nightmare’. It is a real mix – a bluesy intro, again reminding me of Maiden songs like ‘Remember Tomorrow’, but with a hard punch similar to Overkill.

I also have to confess that I hadn’t realized the line-up until I watched a video of the band recently. But when I saw Dylan Westendorp playing drums and singing, I became an even bigger fan of the band. It is incredible how he can play so insanely and create difficult vocal lines with a mix of aggressiveness and melodic sounds.

The melancholic instrumental ‘The End’ closes the album and again Hazzerd show why they are an incredible band. Heavy sounds with plenty of good influences mixed and distilled into amazing Thrash Metal. It is no surprise that “Delirium” is being played on Heavy Metal radios stations around the world. It is definitely an incredible album.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Sacrifice Them (In The Name Of God)
02. A Tormented Reality
03. Sanctuary For The Mad
04. Victim Of A Desperate Mind
05. Call Of The Void
06. Dead In The Shed
07. Illuminated Truth
08. Waking Nightmare
09. The Decline

10. The End (Outro)

LINE-UP:
Toryin Schadlich – Guitars
Dylan Westendorp – Drums and Lead Vocals
David Sprague – Bass
Brendan Malycky – Guitars

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/HazzerdThrash
www.instagram.com/hazzerdthrash/
www.hazzerdthrash.bandcamp.com/
www.youtube.com/user/TheParanormal4
www.spotify.com/artist/1U9J6D5J0m5B8R48KzUyOs

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

Hecate Enthroned – Embrace Of The Godless Aeon

Embrace Of The Godless Aeon Cover

Hecate Enthroned – Embrace Of The Godless Aeon
M-Theory Audio
Release Date: 25/01/2019
Running Time: 53:11
Review by ‘Dark Juan’
8/10

This is nice. This I am enjoying. A Black Metal band that have not given themselves stupid names like ‘Stormbeast Fangmeister Murderwort’ or ‘Vvvvvvvnorthweit The Insalubrious’. This has already gained Hecate Enthroned bonus marks.

Good evening, Ever-Metal.com, I’m Dark Juan and I am very, very drunk. I have had a hard weekend of trying to interest my septuagenarian neighbour Helene in the latest releases from Gunship and Corpsefucking Art to no avail and busily defiling young women on the altars of the nearest Catholic churches in the area (there’s one at the top of my road, but before my father disappeared in the strange accident involving a crop dusting aircraft, Mossad and the song Josin E Spazjin (Google it and watch the attendant video. Immediately. I’ll wait…… Well, that’s something you’re not going to forget in a hurry, is it?) he told me to not shit in my backyard, so I go to Ploerdut 3 miles up the road and defile their altar instead) and doing that most metal of activities, DIY. Or in my case, swearing at various tools, drinking more beer and finding excuses to avoid it in the future. I bet Hecate Enthroned don’t do DIY…..

And with that extremely tenuous link to the band I am actually supposed to be reviewing, we shall plunge headlong into the cold, black waters of “Embrace Of The Godless Aeon”, being the first album release from these famous brutish British Black Metal bruisers for five years. The last time I heard Hecate Enthroned was in 1994 when they were on a bill at the original Bradford Rio’s (directly opposite a mosque. It made queuing to get in entertaining as Muslim gentlemen were waiting to get in to their prayers at the same time, and neither community quite knew what to do with the other. We became friends eventually. And then Rio’s moved into the centre of Bradford and lost all its charm) with other estimable (and indeed seminal) bands Bal Sagoth, Bonewire and a little known headline act called Cradle Of Filth. There is a point to this rambling, because Hecate Enthroned’s sound owes a lot to early Filth (think of the sound of “The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh” and “V Empire”) and Emperor circa “In The Nightside Eclipse”. To take the Cradle Of Filth influence ever further to the fore the record even enjoys a guest vocal appearance from the always wonderful Sarah Jezebel Deva, well known for her work with Cradle Of Filth, Therion, strange little goblin creature Mortiis and Angtoria.

So yeah, here we have Gothic Black Metal of the most atmospheric kind. There are the kind of keyboards normally played by a misshapen manservant called Igor in a draughty castle somewhere in Transylvania, guitars that can remove limbs at twenty paces, such is their speed and sharpness, bass which dislodges internal organs and forces them out of your nose, drumming at a pace that you would normally associate with heavy calibre assault weapons firing at full auto and a vocal that veers wildly from the kind of shriek that makes bats crash into trees to the low pitched growls that even wild boar would avoid for their own safety (wild boar are a thing here in France. I hit one with the Metal Machine [yeah, all right, it’s a particularly knackered Volkswagen Passat. It has a Hellbastard sticker on the boot. It’s metal. Scruff approves and that’s all that matters to this hellpriest] the other day. It got up, glared at me and ran off. It took most of the front end of the car with it. They are like prehistoric pigs with major anger management issues and appear to be utterly indestructible) and turns your lungs to jelly. All this is underpinned with the glorious mezzo-soprano of Deva enhancing three tracks in her own inimitable style.

Every song is high quality, blistering black metal in the classic sense of the words, right down to the slightly dodgy production and occasional total incomprehensibility of the lyrics when Joe (vocals) utterly loses his shit and disappears off into octaves where only dogs can hear him and bats enjoy a second flying rodent/ cellulose interface due to sonar interference. Standout song on the record is ‘Goddess Of Dark Misfits’. It’s incendiary.

The whole thing is a bombastic, joyful experience and a damned fine record.I love Hecate Enthroned. If you like Classic Gothic Black Metal, you will too. Well worth expending spondulicks on.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Hecate Enthroned 8/10 for a splendid evening’s entertainment although Mrs. Dark Juan is unhappy about the bloodstains on the sofa.

TRACKLISTING:
Be warned. I find Black Metal song titles absolutely hilarious. However, these are comparatively tame, so you can be spared my usual acerbic marginalia.
01. Ascension
02. Revelations In Autumn Flame
03. Temples That Breathe
04. Goddess Of Dark Misfits
05. Whispers Of The Mountain Ossuary
06. Enthrallment
07. The Shuddering Giant
08. Silent Conversations With Distant Stars
09. Erebus And Terror

LINE-UP:
Nigel – Guitars
Andy- Guitars
Dylan – Bass
Gareth – Drums
Pete – Keys
Joe – Vocals

LINKS:
https://hecateenthroned.wixsite.com/home
https://www.facebook.com/HecateEnthroned/

https://www.instagram.com/hecateenthronedofficial/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp-egXDZlUUI-Cn4V44xHYg

 

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.