All Wasted – Burn With Me

Burn With Me Album Cover Art

All Wasted – Burn With Me
Wormholedeath
Release Date: 04/06/2021
Running Time: 46:16
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

With members rooted in Sweden’s ever-fruitful underground music scene, All Wasted are a punk-laced death metal group whose sole intention seems to be “have a bloody good time”. The five-piece possesses a sound definitely inspired by UK legends Motörhead, as they throw down a cavalcade of riffs with the melodies of classic rock & roll.

Whilst their intentions are pure and the heroes are of the highest order, “Burn With Me” does actually take a little while to really get into a solid groove. Openers ‘Passion Of Crime’ and ‘Behind Broken Glass’ do have their moments in the sun, the latter – the faster of the two – has an incredible energy to it to really psyche you up for what’s about to come, with the formidable tandem of vocalist Patrik Johansson and backing vocalist/guitarist Emil Sjöstrand making the vocal portions of the album an absolute treat. Johansson alone sits on such a fantastic middle ground of hardcore and death metal that makes you want to run round your front room and get all sweaty.

And maybe it’s just a personal taste thing of whilst those songs may be “good”, they’re not quite “great”, or maybe they were just eclipsed by the cataclysmic units of follow-up couplet ‘Towards The End’ and ‘Sense Of Weakness’. Any time I put this album on, these were the songs that made me stop and say “phwoar!” before making unflattering gurning faces. ‘Towards The End’ opens with a steady barrage of riffs, quite fittingly sitting somewhere between The Offspring’s ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’ and In Flames’ ‘Bullet Ride’, as we gallop towards the monstrous chorus that has a touch of latter-day Children of Bodom/Bodom After Midnight (minus the keys).

They are then able to top themselves almost immediately with ‘Sense Of Weakness’ and largely, it’s because of all the same reasons why it’s predecessor was so good as well. Grooving riffs, a stunning vocal performance, and that chorus! The addition of a simple vocal harmony to give it some depth and theatre, and some top of the line drum work from H-Can, who is also simplifying his role, but in a way that still gives the song enough punch to make sure the energy levels don’t drop off completely.

From there, the album does keep a fairly high level throughout, and while it may largely do one thing, it does that one thing exceptionally well. ‘Dawn Will Rise No More’ does tap into more melodeath territory with searing melodies over the chorus, the title-track goes into a Cancer Bats-esque hardcore epiphany, and ‘Rotten To The Core’ and ‘This Means War’ do God’s work in keeping the energy levels and the quality up to the final note.

In regard to issues with the release, outside of the slow start, there’s not really much to complain about. As I said previously, “Burn With Me” largely does one thing, and does it well, so it’s not an album that you can dissect and say, “that hammer-on in track 6 didn’t work for me”. This ain’t exactly your dad’s 70’s prog that he won’t stop going on about. Arguably, because it stays in this realm throughout its entire duration, the sound does drag a little after a while, and it’s not even that long of an album, clocking in at just over 46 minutes. Compare that to some of the bigger punk/metal releases of the past few years, Capra’s debut went for 32 minutes, Svalbard’s post-metal-tinged “When I Die, Will I Get Better?” clocks in at 38 mins, Entombed A.D.’s “Bowels Of Earth” raged for 36 mins, even Napalm Death in their new age experimentations on “Throes Of Joy…” had a runtime of 42 mins. In a live setting, I imagine it’d be a non-factor, but whilst vibing around the house? It’s like sharing a flat with the Ultimate Warrior.

All Wasted’s debut album is tonnes of fun. I love a chorus that packs melodies into the aural energy of getting punched in the head, and this has that by the bucket full. The fun and energy of punk rock with the power and aggression of death metal will always be a winning combination in my mind!

‘Fading Out Of Line (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Passion Of Crime
02. Behind Broken Glass
03. Towards The End
04. Sense Of Weakness
05. The Rise
06. Burn With Me
07. I Am The Pain
08. Fading Out Of Line
09. Dawn Will Rise No More
10. Out Of This Grave
11. Rotten To The Core
12. Time To Burn
13. This Means War

LINE-UP:
Patrik Johansson – Vocals
Emil Sjöstrand – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Eric Rydén – Guitars
Jimmy Malmenlid – Bass
H-Can – Drums

LINKS:

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.

Exanimis – Marionnettiste

Marionnettiste Album Cover Art

Exanimis – Marionnettiste
Klonosphere Records
Release Date: 05/03/2021
Running Time: 65:39
Review by Steven Hooke
7/10

With origins rooted in French contemporary music training centre, the Music Academy International, Exanimis is a symphonic death metal collective seeking to combine the energy and aggression of death metal, with the flair and pomp of a full orchestra.

The worlds of symphonic metal and extreme metal combining is not exactly a foreign concept, in fact just the term “symphonic death metal” should bring to the forefront the likes of Fleshgod Apocalypse and Septicflesh, but something that seems to be a struggle for newer bands of the genre is creating that perfect balance of metal and orchestra. Often the emphasis goes into the metal side of things, with the “symphony” sounding like a cheap riff on setting Synth_05 on a Casio keyboard (looking at you early 2010’s deathcore), but Exanimis have knocked that part of their sound out of the park on the first attempt. The orchestration on the French outfit’s debut is exquisite, steadily building drama, peaking and spiking to make a song feel more dangerous, subtle world-building arrangements to back narrations and interludes, all the while never once letting the metal fall too far back in the mix.

Album standout ‘Throne Of Thorns’ perfectly encapsulates all of this. Adding wonderful accents to the introductory drum rolls, the flairs of brass throughout, the forte explosions in the chorus, the vocal harmonising , which may in fact be the best part of the song that becomes a bit of a detriment to the album. Vocalist Alexandre Dervieux largely operates in one dynamic throughout the album which would be perfectly fine were this an out-and-out death metal album, but since this album is so indebted to a symphonic arrangement, it feels like it needs more vocal variety (excluding the spoken word parts). It’s a dynamic that helped Fleshgod Apocalypse standout so much in their breakthrough, that clash of styles between Rossi and Paoli (and previously Rossi and Riccardi). The one dynamic approach isn’t completely impossible, Septicflesh vocalist Spiros Antoniou utilises a low, guttural grumble in the same vein as Dervieux, by there are lighter elements to broaden and counterbalance the Septicflesh sound, such as stringed instrument pirouettes and vocal choirs, both executed tremendously on “Marionnettiste”, thanks to collaborations with Maxime Poirot and Lorine Pauget, respectively.

“Marionnettiste” does venture into stage musical territory from time-to-time which may divide opinion, particularly in the two latter-half epics, ‘Cogs, Gears & Clockworks’ and ‘Cathedral’. The steampunk apocalypse ‘Cogs…’ utilises a music hall-esque three-bar beat to give it that stage show feel, which in turns fits nicely thematically, as the lyrics count-down to existential doomsday. ‘Cathedral’ is an absolute meal of a song, clocking in at over 16 minutes and tells a fantastical tale, stretching across several acts and peaking into the worlds of power metal and progressive metal. Both tracks boast impressive orchestral arrangements, but do suffer from the same ailments that plague the album as a whole, with the metal elements trailing behind the symphonic elements in creativity. The riffs, similarly to the vocals, largely operate in a very small range, inevitably becoming a little samey, and generally lost in the grandiosity in the accompanying symphonies. Even the drum work (contributed by Fractal Universe drummer Clément Denys) keeps up and matches the energy of the orchestral ensemble, and does so marvellously.

Overall, this is a great attempt of a herculean ask from the young musicians. It almost feels like they threw so much attention into getting the symphony parts right, that they overlooked the core metal components instead (which is usually the opposite of what happens). Should Exanimis pour more of that creativity, that they very clearly have, into the death metal portion of their sound, then we’ll be onto something truly special. They already possess a better mix than a lot of other newer faces to the symphonic extreme metal world, and the look and aesthetic of the band will translate so well to a live setting. Surely there must be some room left at HellFest right?

Cogs, Gears & Clockworks (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Prélude du Songe Avant le Cauchemar
02. The Wrathful Beast
03. Throne Of Thorns
04. Stampede Of The 10000
05. Entracte du Sommeil Pendant le Cauchemar
06. Cogs, Gears & Clockworks
07. The Slow Flow Of The Spume On The Shore
08. Cathedral
09. Épilogue du Songe Après le Cauchemar

LINE-UP:
Alexandre Dervieux – Vocals, Guitars
Julien Marzano – Guitars
Julien Prost – Bass

LINKS:

Exanimis 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.

Capra – In Transmission

In Transmission Album Cover Art

Capra – In Transmission
Blacklight Media Records/Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 23/04/2021
Running Time: 32:27
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

The mixing pot of punk, hardcore and metal will never not be a good time. The ‘fuck you’ energy, the frenetic pace, the almighty riffs, it is a Holy Trinity in alternative music and should be held aloft with pride, alongside spiky belts, black band t-shirts and dodgy haircuts.

Every now and again though, you find a band that *gets* it, and Louisiana-based troupe Capra really, really gets it.

The now-five-piece (hello Trevor!) came together after a mutual desire between guitarist Tyler Harper and drummer Jeremy Randazzo to bring the excitement and nostalgia of 90’s and early 00’s hardcore to the present day, complete with a modern sheen. After solidifying a line-up that would come to include bassist Ben Paramore and vocalist Crow Lotus, the group eventually set to work on their debut album, “In Transmission”.

The one-word summary for this album would definitely be “aggression”. From the intro track that sounds cut from the main menu of a horror game to the assortment of riffs that possess the frenetic energy of Converge – but also the head-rocking groove of Cancer Bats, and the vitriolic fables spewed forth by Lotus, “In Transmission” often feels like a therapeutic outlet for the band in the face of their battles over the past few years.

A blistering start to the album proper in ‘Hollow Doll’ sees the band tread into Svalbard-esque blackened hardcore territory, before a smooth transition into the album’s lead single, ‘The Locust Preacher’. Possessing a mid-song build akin to ‘Beside the Ones We Love’-era Palm Reader and a litany of riffs seemingly inspired by Every Time I Die, the song is an all-too-real account of depression, and the entrapment one feels inside your own mind and body.

And on that point, this album does not let up lyrically. Primary scribe Crow Lotus puts various subjects on blast, including failing governments, oppression, sexism, and toxic relationships. Cries of “Am I a product of my surroundings, or does the nightmare follow mе?”, “For the weaknesses within yourself, that you don’t have the strength to address” and “They’re not in control of their bodies and somehow that’s my fault” reverberate in the mind each and every time, in a delivery that invokes Ren Aldridge of the Petrol Girls at her most furious, the swagger of ETID’s Keith Buckley, and the ferocity of Gouge Away’s Christina Michelle. In the words of the lady herself, Lotus states “I intend to give a voice to the people who are often overlooked”.

On the musical side of things, the guitar work of Harper cannot go without comment. Once the album kicks in, it rarely relents, maintaining that high-adrenaline attack throughout its near-33 minute runtime, but at no point does it feel like the riffs are running out. “In Transmission2 may stay at that intense level, but it never feels repetitive or running dry on ideas. ‘Red Guillotine’ and ‘Deadbeat Assailant’ in particular, showcase an excellent collection of six-stringed slappers.

Capra joins an ever-increasing army of female representation in punk no longer content with simply sitting on the sidelines or even just being happy to take part, they have become the scene. From pop punk, to crust, to hardcore, to powerviolence, to straight-up punk rock, punk music has a plethora of female-perspective bands brewing in the underground, stretching all the way up to ticket-shifters at festivals. On their first outing as a solid unit, they have opted to go straight for being mad as hell and raising a ruckus on what fires them up the most. The addition of a second guitarist will only add depth to their already vicious sound, and the band are already contemplating their next step to make up for the time stolen from them by COVID. If the pandemic has given them another reason to be angry (which it most certainly would have done), then we are in for a hellacious treat.

‘Medusa’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. [Exordium]
02. Hollow Doll
03. The Locust Preacher
04. Medusa
05. Torture Ship
06. Paper Tongues
07. Mutt
08. Transfiguration
09. Red Guillotine
10. Deadbeat Assailant
11. Samuraiah Carey

LINE-UP:
Crow Lotus – Vocals
Tyler Harper – Guitar
Ben Paramore – Bass
Jeremy Randazzo – Drums

LINKS:

Capra 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.

Kardashev – The Baring Of Shadows EP Reissue

The Baring Of Shadows EP Cover Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Snow-Sleep’ (Official Video)

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

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

LINKS:

Kardashev Promo Pic

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

Årabrot – Norwegian Gothic

Norwegian Gothic Album Cover Art

Årabrot – Norwegian Gothic
Pelagic Records
Release Date: 09/04/2021
Running Time: 56:58
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

Couples, that sing about sex and death over waves of hedonistic gothic noise rock together, stay together – is I’m sure how that phrase goes! The husband and wife duo of Kjetil Nernes and Karin Park have comprised the core foundations of Årabrot since 2001, with a litany of musicians circling the pyre, in the form of Ted Parsons (ex-Prong/ex-Swans), Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O)))), and Erlend Hjelvik (ex-Kvelertak), with Lars Horntveth (Jaga Jazzist), Jo Quail, and Anders Møller (Ulver) just some of the guests making an appearance on “Norwegian Gothic”.

Starting life as an abrasive, noise-heavy sludge metal outfit, Årabrot has been exploring its identity and adapting to changes over the last 20 years, with marriage, the purchase and repurposing of a church, battles with cancer, starting a family, Eurovision, all shaping the new face of the band. What that results in is a marvelous mixing pot of goth, post-punk, electro rock, and noise which will lull you into its weird miasma and that you won’t be able to look away from.

The slow, layered build of opener ‘Carnival Of Love’ will do this straight from the off. The mirrored guitars that lead into the delicate swell of synths, buffeting Nernes’ haunting croon, before the song kicks off proper, with a simple-yet-effective slam of drums. There’s a great vocal trade-off in the chorus, as Park goes from backing vocalist to lead in one line thanks to Nernes’ positioning. Then, just before the breakdown, we hear the first glimpse of Årabrot’s reverberated vocal effect. Heard more prominently on ‘Kinks Of The Heart’ and ‘Hounds Of Heaven’, the effect adds a wonderful occult feel to the album’s identity. Already bathed in gothic imagery – from music videos, how the pair dress, the album art, the fact they bought a church and repurposed it into their home/home studio – that extra little oomph in the production really does enlist visions of chiromancy, alchemy, and strolling barefoot along a woodland brook in search of crow skulls.

Away from the mysticism that delightfully plagues “Norwegian Gothic”, there are a hearty amount of songs on this album that simply go off. The Connect-4 of ‘Feel It On’, ‘The Lie’, ‘The Crows’ and ‘Kinks Of The Heart’ is particularly outstanding. ‘Feel It On’ sounds like Scissor Sisters’ twisted younger siblings that gets forced out of their room for family gatherings; Nernes possesses a near-bipolar execution to ‘The Crows’, easily switching from disarmed and tame, to an imposing howl at the snap of a finger. ‘The Lie’ and ‘Kinks Of The Heart’ though, are where the album just hits another level.

The crushing bassline to open ‘The Lie’, building to the incredible chorus, with a vocal relationship between Kjetil and Karin in the same realm as Will and Hannah from Creeper (shoutout to any pop punk homies reading this). The swirling guitar lines in the back add an orchestral-esque layer for extra theatrics, and then there’s the lead single ‘Kinks Of The Heart’, delicately tinged with punk rock and again, full of massive swells on the chorus to make you feel like you’re being summoned to an unholy congregation. It is a gorgeously sultry song that will earworm its way into your head for days on end.

Whilst the first half of the album is undeniably stronger, the latter half still boasts its fair share of bangers. ‘(This Is) The Night’ is a high-energy rager that will shock you back into life following the gospel-like ‘Hallucinational’, ‘Deadlock’ has a certain Nick Cave quality about it, ‘Hard Love’ pairs a catchy chorus with great tag team vocals between Park and Nernes, and ‘The Moon Is Dead’ is a horrifying 7 minute crawl, harkening back to the band’s more avant-garde days.

This is an astounding and gorgeous album. Brilliant hooks and melodies that could break its way into a mainstream setting, with enough fuzz to still gurn your face to, the blending of all the different musical ideas and genres that then lends itself to the general look and disposition of the band is musical identity at its finest. There is a bit of filler in the middle of the album, even outside of the spoken word interludes. ‘Hailstones For Rain’ feels like it’s trying to do what ‘The Crows’ perfected earlier, ‘Hounds Of Heaven’ is a glimpse back at Årabrot’s sludge metal past which feels the most out of place, given all the different things happening on the album, and ‘Hallucinational’ is a beautiful track, with an incredible performance from Karin Park, but similarly to ‘Hounds Of Heaven’, just felt a little out of place. Have this as an intro track though and it’d be a different story. Opinions may be split as well of Kjetil Nernes’ vocals, a veering, hypnotising croon that often takes centre stage, but by this point, we’ve all heard Serj Tankian, Eddie Vedder, Brian Molko, et al. so I’m sure people will manage.

A staggering album, and another win for 2020s goffs everywhere.

‘Kinks Of The Heart’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Carnival Of Love
02. The Rule Of Silence
03. Feel It On
04. The Lie
05. The Crows
06. Kinks Of The Heart
07. Hailstones For Rain
08. The Voice
09. (This Is) The Night
10. Hard Love
11. Impact Heavily Onto The Concrete
12. Hounds Of Heaven
13. Deadlock
14. The Moon Is Dead
15. You’re Not That Special

LINE-UP:
Kjetil Nernes – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Karin Park – Piano, Backing Vocals

LINKS:

Årabrot 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.

Zeahorse – Let’s Not (And Say We Did)

Let's Not (And Say We Did) Album Cover Art

Zeahorse – Let’s Not (And Say We Did)
Copper Feast Records
Release Date: 29/01/2021
Running Time: 33:09
Review by Steven Hooke
7/10

Returning after a 4+ year break are noise rock-merchants Zeahorse, a Sydney-based four-piece who combine fuzzy, sludge metal riffs with clean psychedelic vocals in a delivery not a million miles away from punk rock.

Invoking a heavier approach than 2016 offering “Torana Dreamin”, much of which is courtesy of bassist Ben Howell whose mired tone could rival the Bloop, “Let’s Not (And Say We Did)” consequently draws in a lot of comparisons to Fugazi, Hawk Eyes and to a lesser extent, Helmet. Opener ‘Designer Smiles’ does this almost immediately, a filthy, bassy riff that acts as lead conductor to the music, before the hypnotic vocals of Morgan Anthony come sprawling in, resulting in a high-energy melancholy, dating back to 90’s grunge (complete with a very ‘Black Hole Sun’-esque solo).

The album then breaks into a brilliant three-part special from ‘Panic Laps’ to ‘The Ladder’. ‘Panic Laps’ has a nice injection of pace, even as Anthony continues his floating vocals, in a well-worked clash of tempos and brings the album from the 90’s feel of ‘Designer Smiles’ into the present day. Follow-up ‘Guilty’ feels like it has more of an attitude in the vocal delivery, akin to Hawk Eyes’ Paul Astick, accompanied by a lingering vocal hook the chorus will stick with you for the rest of the day. And then ‘The Ladder’ presents a bit of a kick up the arse, as it leans more towards Zeahorse’s punkier roots. The song packs tight bassline riffs, a punchier chorus, and a general frenzy that is perhaps lost in the more aloof, stonery tracks heard prior.

The latter half of the album feels like it takes a step pack in tempo and makes up for it in a gluttony of riffs. ‘One Of Everything’ is a sole three minute shot of adrenaline, in amongst blown-amp-sounding, face-gurning riffs, with ‘Cut The Slack’ almost falling into stoner doom territory, owing to the cloud of psychedelia that makes its way into the fold as well.

By garnering comparison and directly/indirectly drawing inspiration from a multitude of names, Zeahorse almost back themselves into a corner of “why listen to the new thing instead of the original thing that we already know and like?” In response, the band does a fine job of establishing their own identity throughout the majority of the album. Songs like ‘One Of Everything’ and ‘Panic Laps’ never feel punk enough to be outrightly branded Fugazi 2.0, but show enough homages to bring in new fans.

For those about the riff and maybe certain horticultural practices, this album should be a winner. Intense, bass-heavy sounds stomping their way through psychedelia and 90’s grunge, with interludes of punk rock to keep the party going, Zeahorse are heading into their metal phase with gusto and with more than ample ideas at their disposal.

‘Designer Smiles’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Designer Smiles
02. Panic Laps
03. Guilty
04. The Ladder
05. Cut The Slack
06. 20 Nothing
07. One Of Everything
08. Don’t Laugh

LINE-UP:
Morgan Anthony – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Max Foskett – Guitars
Ben Howell – Bass
Julien Crendal – Drums

LINKS:

Zeahorse 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.

Seraph in Travail – A Black Death Incense

A Black Death Incense Album Cover Art

Seraph in Travail – A Black Death Incense
Self-Released
Release Date: 19/03/2021
Running Time: 47:33
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

There seems to be an almost routine arrangement these days for the world of symphonic extreme metal to conjure up a beacon of commercializable light, in an otherwise twisted and nefarious world of darkness. From Emperor, came Dimmu Borgir, into Cradle of Filth, into Children of Bodom, Septicflesh, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Make Them Suffer, and now potentially looking to throw their hat into the mix is Philadelphia-based symphonic death metal bruisers Seraph in Travail.

Solidifying a stable line-up following their 2015 debut “Bring Forth Death”, Seraph in Travail spike and florette orchestral accompaniments with rattling death metal in a way perfected by the previously-mentioned Cradle of Filth. Often feeling like they are separating songs internally, as if they are classical movements, there’s a resultant and wonderful gothic energy about “A Black Death Incense” – imagine Phantom of the Opera except The Phantom is actually Freddy Krueger.

A key component in the angry goth vibes is the versatility of vocalist Jonathan Sutherland. Possessing a debilitating range that is at times Trevor Strnad and at times Ville Vaio is already an impressive feat, but the transitions and timings for this singing styles gives his overall performance that extra something. Vocally reflecting the movement-like songwriting, Sutherland’s smooth changes, from a guttural snarl to a shrill cry, to a baritone croon blends incredibly well with the music, with no better example coming from the absolute belter ‘My Bitter End’. The latter stages of the song’s chorus see Sutherland begin a line with clean vocals, and as he progresses through the lyrics, he evolves into a fierce battlecry with zero wavering in the delivery.

But by no means is this a one-man show. It’s a modern death metal trade-off between guitarist Dan Shegue and session (and founding) guitarist Joe Bonner trading bombs throughout, working in near-perfect synergy with drummer Mike Shaw to ensure no wasted motion or respite for the listener. In tracks where all the collective shit hits the fan, such as ‘When They Crown You Queen’ and ‘The Apostate Coil’, all three take turns at constructing the most crushing, intense lick of the track.

An incredible production job rounds off the album. Every beat, every note, every moment that makes you think “ah, I see death has found me” is delivered with pristine clarity; nothing feels sacrificed for a different layer in the mix, resulting in a fluid dynamic between metal and orchestration.

“A Black Death Incense” feels like an essential listen for anyone who likes their metal with a layer of theatrics. Plenty of classical pomp and circumstance that never compromises on heaviness, a worthy contender to the symphonic extreme metal crown.

‘For The Wrath Of Dying Days’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Fixed And Dilated
02. My Bitter End
03. When They Crown You Queen
04. In Hemorrhagic Hues
05. Dead Scream Kill
06. For the Wrath of Dying Days
07. The Apostate Coil
08. Across Bloody Waters

LINE-UP:
Jonathan Sutherland – Vocals/Bass
Dan Shegue – Guitars
Mike Shaw – Drums
Joe Bonner – (Session Guitars)

LINKS:

Seraph In Travail 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.

The Impaler – AFWTD (A Fate Worse Than Death)

AFWTD Album Cover Art

The Impaler – AFWTD (A Fate Worse Than Death)
Self-Released
Release Date: 19/02/2021
Running Time: 29:31
Review by Steven Hooke
7/10

I’m starting to think the raging sun and the multitude of insects and animals that want to kill them is starting to really get to Australians.

A hive of various iterations of hardcore over the years, the light and frilly post-hardcore of The Amity Affliction and Hands Like Houses slowly evolved into the stomp and aggression of Parkway Drive and I Killed the Prom Queen, which then in turn crept into the realms of deathcore with Thy Art is Murder and Make Them Suffer, before a quick foray into the emergence of djent with Polaris and Northlane, lead to New Zealand’s bigger brother becoming the international hotspot for the new age of nu-metalcore with the likes of Ocean Grove and Alpha Wolf. It’s almost like they were bored of being known as ‘that country with the band that’s played the same song for 50 years and whose guitarist dresses like he’s still in secondary school’.

In that bracket of ‘it’s like deathcore, except it actually sounds like someone wants to kill me’ is The Impaler, a five-piece banquet from Melbourne. Following up from their debut “Death Cult” from last year, “A Fate Worse Than Death” actually opens with a similar idea to the debut, with the intro track – in this case ‘Voices’ – keen to set the mood and the atmosphere for the album. Whereas ‘The Leper’ from “Death Cult” goes from ‘spooky spooks’ to ‘murder’ in about 30 seconds, ‘Voices’ lets the aura build, creating a darker, encroaching presence before getting to the aforementioned ‘murder’ parts. Straight away from the two openers, The Impaler’s ‘AFWTD’ has whiffs that the band has been hard at work to create a bigger feeling to their music, with the switch into ‘Failure’ showing off the wall of noise they now have in their repertoire.

A large part of it comes from an improved production job, adding in the rumbling bass tone that’s all the rage at the moment, which affects the bass drum kicks and general low-end notes. That, in turn, gives you a satisfying little rattle in your head whilst not sounding like a blown speaker. It’s particularly prominent on ‘Mourn’, which features a guest appearance from Thy Art is Murder’s CJ McMahon who trades vocal lines with The Impaler frontman Jordan Scott, ending up sounding like the pair are gargling cement.

The black metal elements are far more pronounced on this album too. Echoing tremolos dominate ‘Release’ before they melt into veering bends that feels like you’re taking a peak outside after the first bomb has been dropped, but no song adds blackened kvlt-ness as prominent – or as good – as ‘Immortal’. An almost beautiful song that feels inspired by the blackened folk qualities of ‘The Wild Hunt’ by Watain and one that is bathed in melodies, with everyone playing their part so well throughout the song. The heaven breaching swells of guitars that seamlessly transition into black metal chord progressions, drummer Jammie Hubbard leading the charge from one key change to another, before working with bassist Ben Van Looy in imploding the world on the breakdown, all the while Jordan is performing with an incredible range that almost poetically feels like a cross between Alpha Wolf’s Lochie Keogh and former Suicide Silence frontman Mitch Lucker.

I feel almost cruel giving this a 7/10, mostly because it doesn’t feel like it tells the full story – although for what it’s worth, it is a high 7. Like a 7.999*/10.

It feels like the best parts of ‘A Fate Worse Than Death’ almost hinder the album, the heights of ‘Immortal’, ‘Mourn’ and ‘Release’ are so high that they leave the rest of the album feeling quite normal (although the “…destroy the fucking world!” breakdown in ‘Hatred’ is pure filth). The world building and sadistic opera-like swells brought in from black metal work wonders for the band’s sound and should, along with this production style, be things The Impaler lean into heavily for album number three, which given their turnaround so far should be here March next year, so chop chop lads.

‘Mourn’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Voices
02. Failure
03. Immortal
04. Mourn (ft. CJ McMahon of Thy Art is Murder)
05. Fear
06. Hatred (ft. Josh Hill of Cerement)
07. Release

LINE-UP:
Jordan Scott – Vocals
Shaun Van Looy – Lead Guitar
Lewis Ranford – Rhythm Guitar
Ben Van Looy – Bass
Jammie Hubbard – Drums

LINKS:

The Impaler Promo Pic with Logo

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.

Tribulation – Where The Gloom Becomes Sound

Where The Gloom Becomes Sound Album Cover Art

Tribulation – Where The Gloom Becomes Sound
Century Media Records
Release Date: 29/01/2021
Running Time: 48:17
Review by Steven Hooke
9/10

Sweden’s Tribulation sent metal’s corner of the internet world ablaze following the release of their 2018 album “Down Below”. To the uninitiated, it was an explosion of something new, something different, as the band delivered a hyper-ethereal, psychedelia-laced brand of black metal. To long-time fans of the band though, it was seen as a continued evolution of a sound crafted over nearly a decade, across their three previous albums.

Beginning life as a death metal outfit for debut “The Horror”, Tribulation soon began incorporating hazier and more atmospheric harmonies for the sophomore release “The Formula Of Death”, which looked like the band were edging towards a blackened death metal sound, á la a rawer Behemoth. However, 2015’s “The Children Of The Night” sought to sidestep any assumptions made of the band’s direction, blending black metal with 70’s/80’s hard rock, resulting in more melody and at-times – dare I say – “jaunty” guitar riffs, yet still drenched in the dark evil of Tribulation’s macabre songwriting abilities.

So, after years of slowly building up extreme metal with classic rock and gothic miasma, what does a Tribulation album sound like in 2021?

The answer is: breathtaking.

The manipulation of dooming melodies with heavy extremity, should be spoken about in the same realms of Ghost and Type O Negative. The way in which vocalist Johannes Andersson can clearly convey his stories of horror, death, and mysticism, with a snarling, venomous growl, rivals that of fellow Swede, Erik Danielsson of Watain. And whilst comparisons and possible inspirations can be drawn from other bands, none of them quite sound like Tribulation, and equally, Tribulation doesn’t sound quite like any of them. Tribulation manages to do that one golden, sought-after skill in the world of music in bringing together a whole host of ideas, and producing an original sound.

A big contributor to that accomplishment is guitarist Jonathan Hultén, who has slowly emerged as something of a modern guitar icon in metal (made all the more bittersweet due to his departure from the band shortly before the album’s release). As the band has grown in style and sound, perhaps no-one has evolved quite like Hultén, regularly cascading floating, atmospheric licks with a crushing underbelly of 80’s-inspired riffs. His guitar playing dips into the worlds of gothic metal, hard rock, doom, psychedelia, and almost most dramatically, NWOBHM. ‘Funeral Pyre’ especially feels like he’s conjuring up the energies of Maiden’s Adrian Smith, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and whoever was playing the strings for Ghost on their “Popestar” EP, and that’s not discounting the shred-banging of ‘The Wilderness’, ‘Daughter Of The Djinn’, and ‘Elementals’.

There’s not an aspect of rock, goth or metal that this album doesn’t excel at. From the menacing stomps of ‘Dirge Of A Dying Soul’ and ‘The Wilderness’, the Willy Wonka river rides through hell of ‘Leviathans’ and ‘Elementals’, and I hope, one day, to create anything that leaves a lasting impression on someone, in the same way the final 90 seconds of ‘Inanna’ leaves on me.

This is a remarkable collection of music. The kind that makes you sit back and think “fuck, music is actually really bloody good isn’t it?” A crossroads of Joy Division and Watain, resulting in a sorrowful hellscape that’d bring a tear to your eye and turn circle pits into black holes. The evolution of Tribulation seemingly has no bounds at this point, and while new man Joseph Tholl may have big shoes to fill, he brings with him previous history with the band and a fresh perspective in terms of songwriting.

Only the darkest corners of Hell know what’s coming next, and I for one, can’t wait.

TRACKLISTING:
01. In Remembrance
02. Hour Of The Wolf
03. Leviathans
04. Dirge Of A Dying Soul
05. Lethe
06. Daughter Of The Djinn
07. Elementals
08. Inanna
09. Funeral Pyre
10. The Wilderness

LINE-UP:
Johannes Andersson – Lead Vocals, Bass
Jonathan Hultén – Guitars
Adam Zaars – Guitars
Oscar Leander – Drums

LINKS:

Tribulation 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.

Samtar – The Curse of Infinite Luminosity

The Curse Of Infinite Luminosity Album Cover Art

Samtar – The Curse of Infinite Luminosity
Self-Released
Release Date: 08/01/2021
Running Time: 42:43
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

For an artist to label themselves as “experimental” can usually be considered something of a red flag, owing to the unpredictable nature of the potential sound. System of a Down have branded themselves “experimental” for years, but then again, so has Igorrr, yet they operate on very different ends of the spectrum. Samtar is a wacky mononymous experiment rock project hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, that sits more comfortably towards the realms of SOAD, blending catchy and crying alt rock with prog, pop, funk, hip hop and jazz. The level of “oh that reminds me of…” extends from R.E.M. all the way down to Pertubator.

It starts off well, the light and breezy R.E.M. vibes coming on strong and proud on the appropriately named opener ‘End Of The World’, with the jaunty, crisp guitar shuffles interrupted with twinkling atmospheric electronics. We hear Samtar’s impressive Serj Tankian-esque vocal rise and fall as the song progresses, eventually continuing into ‘Wizard Of The Mountains’, a comparatively minimalist track, but one full of vocal power, as Samtar unleashes a beautiful, cinematic torrent of vocal notes, backed by delicate plinks of guitars and the rumbling of drums.

There is a bit of a small mid-album dip, where there is a tepid feeling of “ordinary”, but the album is quickly saved by the surge of ‘One Is Too Many’ all the way into the closer ‘Island Of Eyes’. Genres, styles and ideas ricochet the listener from one point to another, drawing inspirations from Pearl Jam, hip hop, dark synth rock, Octaves and Tankian’s post-SOAD solo material. ‘The Science Of Irreversible Perception’ in particular sticking out, combining the energy of the recently revived synthwave movement with looming doom rock.

This all serves as a testament to Samtar, the young musician is only two albums into his career and manages to combine musical directions in such a way that it doesn’t sound clunky or discordant, but still largely remains in the same space thematically. It is at times criminally catchy, and combined with its willingness to have such a broad tonal range feels like it has taken more than a few cues from Faith No More.

‘Wizard Of The Mountains (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. End Of The World
02. Shedding The Last Bit
03. Wizard Of The Mountains
04. The Curse Of Infinite Luminosity
05. Awake
06. Life Is A Party
07. One Is Too Many
08. Slipping
09. The Science Of Irreversible Perception
10. Waiting To Di
11. Island Of Eyes

LINE-UP:

Samtar – Everything

LINKS:

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.