Silver Talon – Decadence and Decay

Decadence And Decay Cover

Silver Talon – Decadence and Decay
M-Theory Audio
Release Date: 28/05/2021
Running Time: 46:44
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Today alone I have ploughed through a couple of Power Metal records in my on-going mission to either listen to the bad ones so you don’t have to, or find the diamonds that you need to. Oh so many times, so many of these are constantly ticking the same boxes that it does tend to get repetitive, with the most frustrating fact of all being that generally the level of musicianship is so high, which makes it difficult to differentiate between the vast majority of them. So here’s how this particular debut album fares against the usual Power Metal cliché check list to give you a sense of what we journo’s have to deal with the rest of the time, and why this one is a little special:

  • The band is from Germany, Sweden or Italy? Nope, Portland Oregon, USA. That does not mean that they should not travel to these and other Power Metal staple countries as soon as possible, because the rest of the world is going to get a shock.
  • The band is a Supergroup, made up from musicians from other Power Metal bands (from Germany, Sweden or Italy)? No again, these chaps all seem quite young, although guitarist Sebastian Silva has definitely been a busy chap in the past. Whether we have heard of them before or not, there is an incredible level of musicianship on display with these boys.
  • Dodgy colourful comic book styled cover painting showing either a war, over-muscled heroes doing battle or scantily clad women…or all three? Well the lady in question is definitely on the scantily clad side, but this is way darker in colour and tone than the usual fantasy fare, but given that it was done by fantasy artist Gerald Brom it probably cost more than the studio time.
  • A concept album based on either a fictional Sword & Sorcery scenario of the band’s construction or a pseudo-historical war story, or something mythical and easy to recognise but still allowing plenty of scope for artistic licence? Wrong again – although there’s a conceptual theme of darkness underpinning all the songs, each one stands on its own two feet … although they are most likely cloven.
  • Lots of uplifting Major key songs, that you don’t need to know the lyrics to be able to sing along to in a festival field whilst utterly wankered on beer and herbal cigarettes? Not in the slightest. Although the musical virtuosity and eye-watering speed are there, this is dark, moody and angst-ridden stuff, to the point where I’m not sure it can technically be called ‘Power Metal’ any more… or maybe the whole genre is about to get a major overhaul.

To be fair though, Euro and USA incarnations are quite distinct from each other although formed from a common root that traces right the way back to the opening strains of ‘Rainbow Rising’, but this is something both of that genre and clearly distinct from it. The eight tracks on here share a common feel and house sound, but are very separate from each other. From the blistering opening of ‘Deceiver, I Am’ to the epic lamenting wails and complexities of ‘Touch The Void’ this is an album that surprises continually and delivers constantly.

‘Divine Fury’ is the first track on this album that sounds like it might have more Eurometal origins, with its blistering opening and Neo-classical harpsichord voiced keys Jens Johansson style introduction, but the brutality and ethos remain firmly further Western side of the Atlantic in sound. It’s one of the more complex tracks on the record, with a complex interweaving melody structure, dizzying time changes and large dollops of the Progressive in the mix, with multiple vocal lines adding layers and layers of complexity and the longer instrumental section keeping that going. It simultaneously appears to be chaotically without structure, whilst also having the most complex of song-structures architecturally, which is no mean feat to achieve. If they can play that live without sheet music, they deserve an award of some kind.

Throughout this record, however, you cannot avoid the sheer heights of musicianship shown. With no less than three guitarists in the mix, the interplay and layering is formidable. There’s no credited keyboard player in there but whoever is doing this needs a credit, because I don’t give the Jens from Stratovarius comparison lightly. The rhythm section is a veritable powerhouse of delivery, and Wyatt Howell’s hauntingly powerful vocal lines leave you feeling slightly uneasy, like the soundtrack to a good horror movie that you simply cannot stop watching. Definitely a diamond, and an exceptional one at that.

‘Divine Fury’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Deceiver, I Am
02. Resistance 2029 (feat. Andy La Rocque)
03. As The World Burns
04. Next To The Sun
05. Divine Fury
06. Kill All Kings
07. What Will Be
08. Touch The Void

LINE-UP:
Wyatt Howell – Vocals
Bryce R. VanHoosen – Guitar
Sebastian Silva – Guitar
Devon Miller – Guitar
Walter Hartzell – Bass
Michael Thompson – Drums

LINKS:

Silver Talon 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.

Immortal Guardian – Psychosomatic

Psychosomatic Cover Art

Immortal Guardian – Psychosomatic
M-Theory Audio
Release Date: 12/02/2021
Running Time: 52:06
Review by Simon Black
8/10

The sophomore album from this Power / Prog quartet is a very interesting beast. So many acts have been impacted by lockdown, but writing and producing an album when your singer is in Brazil, your guitarist / keyboardist is in Las Vegas, your bassist in Texas and you are still running in a new drummer who is up in Canada is no mean feat. …And just to make sure we get the point, there is a single available now all about it, called surprisingly ‘Lockdown’! Let’s think about the process behind creating that for a moment. Prog in particular is all about the ability of the instrumentalist to riff off of each other, to take that improvisation, capture it and structure it in a repeatable way whilst still sounding fresh each and every time it is played. “Psychosomatic” does this with considerable finesse.

Perhaps the most considerable musical Prog feat in here are Gabriel Guardian’s twin roles on guitar and keyboards. I wasn’t not sure how this would work in reality live, as last time I checked in order to shred your audience a new asshole with a guitar on stage, you needed to use both hands. A quick check on Youtube proved that this is in fact exactly what he is doing and it is little short of incredible to watch. Given that the interplay between keyboards and guitar is about continuous use of harmonies  he mostly has to switch between the two, but most of these songs are pretty darn fast and that’s no mean feat to pull off onstage (particularly for the frenetic and quite sublime ‘Goodbye To Farewells’, where the kind of musical interplay you might expect from the likes of Dream Theater is on display). …And shred he does, and pretty damned well to boot, with tracks like ‘Phobia’ that would give the great Joe Satch a run for his money. I’m also going to call out Carlos Zema’s vocals, as the range this guy has on him is quite impressive. When clean, the notes are long, high and loud, there’s gutsy rough’n’ready, a bit of screaming and the odd death grunt in the mix, often scaling between these within the same song and somehow not sounding out of place.

What is refreshing about the Power Metal aspects of this album is that it does not fall into the bear trap of clichés that many European peers do of death by historical or mythically themed concept albums and a highly predictable song structure. Although there is a theme in here, as the band apparently completely scrapped the album they had already started writing in favour of this collection of songs about their experiences in the pandemic. That takes confidence and guts. However, each of the songs on here stands well on its own merits and whilst clearly having a house band sound, does this without sounding repetitive or formulaic. Each song has a clear and distinct song writing structure to it, new techniques, structures and effects creep in with each song but at the same time it’s clearly one album. I am tempted to adopt the moniker ‘Super Metal’ bestowed upon them by their fans just this once as they really are in a class of their own.

This may be their second professional release, but these guys were apparently quite prolific before being signed and the musicianship on here is absolutely top notch. Like most Prog artists they know how a good sound can be achieved technically, although apart from a few solo moments the keyboards do stand a bit further back in the mix, largely generating atmosphere rather than carrying the melody. It still is worth noting that as well as writing remotely, the band members all learned how to record remotely (no mean feat when they all have different digital workstations), producing a project that then gets sent to a Producer to mix down. It certainly does not sound like they were learning on this job. So, do yourself a favour and give this a spin, because it really is a magnificent achievement.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Psychosomatic
02. Read Between The Lines
03. Lockdown
04. Phobia
05. Clocks
06. Self-Isolation
07. Goodbye To Farewells
08. Candlelight
09. Find A Reason
10. New Day Rising

LINE-UP:
Gabriel Guardian – Guitars/Keyboards
Carlos Zema – Vocals
Justin Piedimonte – Drums
Joshua Lopez – Bass

LINKS:

Immortal Guardian 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.

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.