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.

Flood Peak – Fixed Ritual EP

Fixed Ritual EP Cover Art

Flood Peak – Fixed Ritual EP
Anima Recordings
Release Date: 22/01/2021
Running Time: 30:15
Review by Steven Hooke
7/10

Seemingly forged in despair and emanating from a budding hardcore/post-metal scene in Portland, Oregon, Flood Peak offer a punishing follow-up to their 2018 debut “Plagued By Sufferers”. Converging from various bands in-and-around the aforementioned scene, the band’s somewhat modest three-piece appearance does nothing to prepare you for the incoming barrage of grim, doomy sludge metal waiting in the winds.

Straight from the moment you press play on opener ‘Urnfield’, “Fixed Ritual” is a heavy barrage of reverberating bass riffs, clever drum lines and shearing guitar parts, all backed by the raw, guttural vocals of frontman Peter Layman. The trio do an amazing job of filling any would-be gaps in their sound, with a production job sounding as if the band are enveloping you like a rising tide and–ohhhh, the name makes a lot more sense now.

Flood Peak do personify everything sludge metal has come to represent; this EP is downright filthy in its sound. Yes, it’s been mentioned how the production makes the band sound twice as big, but the general tone of their instruments plus the mix position of the drums, it is a snarling, gritty affair, topped off with its methodical doom influences as well. Many bands have tried something similar before, only to fall short and sound like a blown-out speaker.

Flood Peak do tinker with some outside elements as well, ‘Feral Wraiths’ has a hideously gorgeous black metal hue over the top whilst closing duo ‘Way Of The Sea” and ‘Sectarian Hilt’ veer more towards the realms of post-metal. Implementing or embracing a genre so left-field of your current working environment has the potential to be so creatively fruitful for a band. While post-metal and sludge are certainly no strangers to each other in this day and age, contradicting the fast-pace and higher tone of black metal should be something Flood Peak explores further, it’s worked wonderfully here and on debut album track ‘Mire’, and can be used in breaking up a release and stopping it feeling too linear.

This is a release that the doom/sludge crowds will salivate over, ultimately the feeling of a slow-motion car crash, but actually getting to sit in the car. Flood Peak in their short time of being a band have already shown signs that they can branch out their sound to something very interesting, á la a Conjurer or Inter Arma.

Inevitably though, you’ll come for the doom, stay for the gloom.

‘Urnfield’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Urnfield
02. Salve Curator
03. Feral Wraiths
04. Way Of The Sea
05. Sectarian Hilt

LINE-UP:
Peter Layman – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Pierre Carbuccia Abbott – Bass
David Fylstra – Drums

LINKS:

Flood Peak 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.

Zebadiah Crowe – The Cloven Hand EP

The Cloven Hand EP Cover Art

Zebadiah Crowe – The Cloven Hand EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 02/12/2020
Running Time: 11:47
Review by Steven Hooke
6/10

Zebadiah Crowe are a hardcore-influenced black metal duo based in Hertfordshire, UK who returned to the music scene in 2020 following a 7-year break with the album “Host Rider”. With a hefty amount of momentum behind them, they would soon follow-up with this EP, featuring experiments into the realms of *checks notes* industrial, 90’s house and dubstep. Hmm…

An electro element is no stranger to the strict world of black metal with the likes of Anaal Nathrakh, The Axis of Perdition and Aborym all making names for themselves by sounding like a Tamagotchi caught in a chemical fire. Zebadiah Crowe themselves have dabbled with the ol’ keyboard before, delicately dabbling with some atmospheric synths before their hiatus in 2013, bringing them back in a more pronounced fashion for “Host Rider”, leering over the barrelling ruckus of The Horrid and Forrrthen. But the boys go one (massive) step further by enlisting the dutiful hands of Portsmouth electro nu metal outfit Seething Akira, and underground Hitchin-based industrial metal troupe Gods of Ruin, to add some profound beeps and boops to their particular brand of black metal.

Despite the 2-on-1 handicap, it is Seething Akira that pulls out the bigger and better result. Dubstep enjoyed a short spell of being a metal fan’s guilty pleasure and the genre’s confidant in the late 2000’s, thanks to bass-breaking modulation (colloquially known as “wubs”) and heavy bass drops invoking the same response as a hearty metal breakdown. Seething Akira tap into those tropes almost a little too well, veering a reorganised Zebadiah Crowe into an electronicore sound that could rival Crossfaith, whilst giving vocalist “The Horrid” the Al Jourgensen-esque through-the-radio overlay, retains ZC’s sinister edge in the song.

That is not to say Gods of Ruin have done a particularly bad job. Their first track ‘Barrens Forge’ is a slower-paced affair built on the back of the looping trio of samples – a classic house drum clash, a scaling synth line, and a hearty guitar power chord – later joined by someone leaning on the E key. It accomplishes its job perfectly fine, although it’s hard to see the line between this and Linkin Park’s “Reanimation” album.

Their second attempt, ‘Skull Shank’, is a much better effort, bringing forth images of the 90’s rave scene of dodgy goatees, bucket hats, short pigtails, and so many PVC vests. Whilst thematically, it is further away from Zebadiah Crowe’s sound than any other track on the release, it resonates with the band’s core sound the most sonically; a high-tempo and vicious delivery of music that should’ve been what they danced to in the cave scene in ‘Matrix: Reloaded’.

All power to everyone involved who were willing to take such an alternative approach to a genre so prone to gatekeeping. Personal preferences will likely differ based on the era you grew up in (and shocker, the filthy millennial likes the dubstep wub-wub parts) but the energy and aggression on display certainly sits soundly in the Zebadiah Crowe camp.

“The Cloven Hand” was part one of two post-“Host Rider” EPs to be released by Zebadiah Crowe, the second EP “LychMilk” is also available now and is an evolution of the industrial influence in the band’s sound, sounding more akin to the industrial black metal stalwarts mentioned at the top of the review.

TRACKLISTING:
01. House Of Worms (Seething Akira Remix)
02. Barrens Forge (Gods Of Ruin Remix)
03. Skull Shank (Gods Of Ruin Remix)

LINE-UP:
The Horrid – Vocals, Bass, Drum Programming
Forrrthen – Guitars

LINKS:

Zebadiah Crowe 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 Hawkins – Live In The Woods EP

Live In The Woods Cover Art

The Hawkins – Live In The Woods EP
The Sign Records
Release Date: 29/01/2021
Running Time: 26:57
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

The Hawkins are a Swedish four-piece rock band that have mastered an apparently difficult art of looking at past influences – most notably Queen – and learning from and adapting their style, instead of half-arsedly copy and pasting into a dreck, rip-off AOR band. Their sophomore album “Silence Is A Bomb” came out in September 2020 and was a super fun, hard rock album that took those core principles of early Queen such as crunchy, toe-tapping rock with sprinklings of glam and merged that with modern alt rock, garage rock and blues.

The album is littered with house party rock anthems thanks to a crisp guitar tone, and vocal hooks from frontman Johannes Carlsson, with songs like ‘Roomer’, ‘Cut Moon Bleeds’ and ‘Libertine’ being the stand-out performers. The band’s itchy feet and a willingness to do literally anything at the moment to replace live music (a feeling I feel is shared amongst all music fans across the globe) led them to a two-part, live recording experience, split between performances in the Swedish forests and inside Brasstacks Brewing, who brewed the band’s liquid refreshment: the Olsson Lager, in what might be the single most Swedish sentence I’ve ever written.

The seven-track live EP begins with the in-the-wilderness part which sounds remarkable given the environment, and is a collection of all of the best songs from the album. The opener ‘Hilow’ is a perfect road trip song, heart-warming in its delivery as it details the ups and down of a relationship; think The Hives covering Foo Fighters. It’s a steady start to the “show” that breaks into the swaggering ‘Stranger In The Next Room’ that sound studio-tight which might be the best testament of a band given modern audio trickery and tomfoolery.

They then change the game almost entirely, turning ‘Black Gold’ into a bluesy garage punk bop, having previously been an up-tempo folk-rock ditty on the album. It remains a foot-stomping, enjoyable track, providing you can get past the repeated line of “…I’m wishing for Cancer to come…” which hits about as hard as finding out what ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ by Foster the People is really about. The band then finish their woodland sessions with undeniable rager and one of their strongest tracks, ‘Libertine’.

We then join The Hawkins in their brewery sessions which somehow does feel more “live”, probably due to the acoustics of being surrounded by actual walls. ‘Roomer’ acts as the first proper song on “Silence Is A Bomb” and is sure enough a decent, energy-builder to really get the album going. In this live setting though, it becomes apparent that it is going to be such a great song for crowd interaction, not just from its easy-going feeling or Johannes’ unwaveringly good vocal hooks, bolstered even further by backing vocals of Martin, Mikael and Albin, but the post-solo break of rhythmic clapping that will sound like a barrage of firecrackers when put in front of people. It’s a similar story with ‘Cut Moon Bleeds’, in the studio, it sounds like such an important song for the band throughout their career, but in this pseudo-live scenario, it sounds like the song that will be a staple of theirs that people clamour for 10, 20, 30 years down the line.

We round off back at the forest sessions, where the band retreated to a nearby barn for ‘Fisherman Blues’. Just as expected, it absolutely slams in a live setting, with the accompanying female vocals adding extra gravitas as the song explodes following the most appropriate of lines: “…wait until the hook comes back up; ripping you apart…”. A herculean chorus with another fantastic vocal performance that will send shivers down your spine as you neck a Scandinavian IPA and fist-pump your hand through the ceiling.

The Hawkins are an effortlessly enjoyable band making the most out of a crummy situation. What this live EP has proven (along with a whole bunch of videos from the sessions if you’re really conspiracy theorist about them) is that not only are they just organically great-sounding musicians, with barely a difference between their studio and live sound, but they’ve shown the level of live chops they possess that will send crowds nuclear with excitement. They were already trying to tour the UK before COVID struck so as soon as BoJo pulls his finger out, shall we try for round two lads? Snälla?

TRACKLISTING:
01. Hilow (Live In The Woods)
02. Stranger In The Next Room (Live In The Woods)
03. Black Gold (Live In The Woods)
04. Libertine (Live In The Woods)
05. Roomer (Live At Brasstacks Brewing)
06. Cut Moon Bleeds (Live At Brasstacks Brewing)
07. Fisherman Blues (Live In A Barn)

LINE-UP:
Johannes Carlsson – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Mikael Thunborg – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Martin Larsson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Albin Grill – Drums, Backing Vocals

LINKS:

The Hawkins Live 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.

Kyros – Four Of Fear EP

Four Of Fear EP Cover Art

Kyros – Four Of Fear EP
White Star Records
Release Date: 27/11/2020
Running Time: 24:33
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

Not content with releasing one of 2020’s most expansive and anticipated albums in June, London quartet Kyros surprise released this EP in November with only a two-month writing period, owing their newly-found free time to the plethora of COVID-19-related tour cancellations. Frontman Adam Warne went on to say that the band had achieved a streamlined online workflow that resulted in “Four Of Fear” as well as their new band project: ‘Celexa Streams: Isolation Gigs’, a series of lockdown gigs that saw socially distanced collaborations with members of Haken, Frost* and Ihlo.

With this intensely creative response to our new lockdown world, you would be forgiven for thinking any music made in this streamlined tunnel may sound rushed or a little scrambled, but “Four Of Fear” is nothing of the sort. An unimaginably visionary and warmly complex collection of music, the songs on this EP are all written in isolated creative vacuums, resulting in four tracks all sounding completely different, but owing to the songwriting expertise of the band, all sound like natural bedfellows next to each other.

Opener ‘Ace’s Middle’ begins with a War of the Worlds-esque imposing synth riff and tune, interspersed with smatterings of drum and synth duality. As the song progresses, and the synthline takes over the bass, guitars and even vocal melodies, the fluctuations and bastardisation of that tune create music of genre-ignorant structure that echo prog’s keyboard-heavy precursors of Yes, Genesis and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

From the 60’s and 70s’, we then move into the 80’s for the back-combed synthpop joy of ‘Fear Of Fear’. Arguably the most “normal” song of the release, and the song the band most liken to the 2020 album “Celexa Dreams”, the track is a bass-heavy electro armada complete with short drum blasts and a synthline on the chorus that sounds like the doorbell at your nan’s house.

‘ResetRewind’ completes the stepping stones of seminal decade genres by skipping the 90’s and going straight for 2000’s dubstep, mixed with just the subtlest whiff of new wave. Building on an experiment they employed on their 2016 sophomore album “Vox Humana”, ‘ResetRewind’ doesn’t feel too far away from Alex Clare’s wub-wub days, but a brilliant collective effort from bassist Peter Episcopo and drummer Robin Johnson do not let the song whist too far away from their proggy realm.

Lastly ‘Stop Motion’, the song that actually kicked off the songwriting process of “Celexa Dreams”, is a much more tempered, focused affair. A dramatic, emotional drop reflects the heavy nature of the song lyrics, dealing with some painful themes about suicide and depression, yet it is this drop and subsequent section thereafter that circles back into a War of the Worlds-ian sci-fi climate as Warne’s keyboards and Joey Frevola’s guitars battle it out for song supremacy.

This is an absolutely fantastic release. From only four songs, so many styles and experiments are on display, never once faltering and never feeling like a caricature. A Devin Townsend-like approach to a wall of sound-style production, allows for so many layers of musical storytelling to come through, partnering Adam Warne’s genre-bending voice exquisitely. If this is Kyros’ version of going stir-crazy in lockdown then shut down the planet and hook it straight into my veins (not actually because I’ve forgotten what grass looks like and want to go outside but you get what I mean, it’s proper good like).

TRACKLISTING:
01. Ace’s Middle
02. Fear of Fear
03. ResetRewind
04. Stop Motion

LINE-UP:
Adam Warne – Lead Vocals, Keyboards
Joey Frevola – Guitar
Peter Episcopo – Bass
Robin Johnson – Drums

LINKS:

Kyros Promo Pic (Credit: Jake Owens Photography)
Jake Owens Photography

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.

Cult Burial – Cult Burial

Cult Burial Cover Art

Cult Burial – Cult Burial
Self-Released
Release Date: 06/11/2020
Running Time: 43:53
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

I’ve been pondering an intro for the debut Cult Burial album for the last 30 minutes now, including multiple rewrites and restructurings, but I’ve settled on taking inspiration from the London three-piece and getting straight into it in the same vein as opener ‘Dethroner’, which explodes in, complete with a guttural war scream, pounding blast beats, and just a general feeling of apocalyptic disaster. For a complete experience, read that first paragraph again, only now imagine a West Country bumpkin screaming at you as you read. Similar vibes.

Cult Burial’s sound can best be described as an amalgam of death, doom and black metal, one of the few times an umbrella term like “extreme metal” can be used generously due to the nature of how the band effortlessly meander from one end of their sound to another. As mentioned, ‘Dethroner’ is an impactful opener that delves into the world of blackened death metal as Simon Langford’s leering tremolo picking sets as the backdrop to César Moreira’s grotesque vocal delivery. For the chorus-y parts, the multi-layered growls give those sections so much more weight and impact in what is shaping up early to be an absolute corker of an album.

As you progress through the album, there is rarely a time where it lets up. Again, the effortless transitions from slow, riff-heavy doom metal into raging old school death metal into shrilling black metal is astounding. It is in the death/doom moments when Simon can show off his chops as a guitarist, etching in Pantera-esque riffs during walking stomps to add texture to songs like ‘Moribund’, ‘Chaos’ and ‘Forever’, or discordant high-range licks in the likes of ‘Abyss’ and ‘Kill’ to add to the enjoyable uncomfortability as well as a bit of NWOBHM flair.

In this venn diagram that the band have cultivated for themselves, where common genre overlaps of death/doom and blackened death are already spoken for, even a blackened doom hybrid can be found, as the dirged stomps are often met by the classic high-pitched tremolo of black metal, add to that the lingering, high-end delays and bends that act as air raid sirens to the warzone riffs below.

Cult Burial’s debut self-titled album is a thunderous opening gambit for the trio, a scintillatingly evil display of crushing extreme metal that makes such great use of classic tropes and bending them to fit a modern songwriting structure. Never settling to just have one identity, being dark and depraved whilst still sounding sharp and crisp, it’s an insanely hot start for the lads.

TRACKLISTING:
01.Dethroner
02. Moribund
03. Chaos
04. Abyss
05. Plague
06. Kill
07. End
08. Forever
09. Sorrow

LINE-UP:
César Moreira – Lead Vocals
Simon Langford – Guitars, Drums
Rick – Bass

LINKS:

Cult Burial 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 said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Operation Hurricane – White Walls EP

White Walls EP Cover Art

Operation Hurricane – White Walls EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 27/11/2020
Running Time: 17:47
Review by Steven Hooke
7/10

Hailing from the largely untapped haven of the Netherlands, three-piece Operation Hurricane offer up a debut release of their particular brand of “pseudo-grunge”, a self-defined genre that mixes grunge, prog, punk and pop. Compare “White Walls” to their previous singles ‘Mary Jane’ and ‘Fly’ and you can see why they opt for a loose definition of their sound, with the former presenting itself as a more stoner rock-ian affair whilst the latter exists somewhere between pop punk and classic car stereo hard rock.

And honestly, why commit yourself to just one genre? The trio are all university students, a place where different cultures, ideas and experiences collide, and Operation Hurricane seem set on a similar journey with their music.

‘WW//BC’ is a short, snappy affair to open proceedings, sitting on classic rock tropes as Max Coenders rhythmically lashes his snare into submission, whilst Jari Stoppelenburg maintains the flow of the song with his noodling bassline. From the straightforward opener, we go into the first big highlight from the EP, ‘-Undefined-‘; a stage-ready alt rock banger that seems to be taking notes from the likes of Foo Fighters and QOTSA. Frontman Jurriaan Kurpershoek possesses a smooth, brooding voice akin to Jock from Puppy that whilst it does stick to a fairly narrow lane, it fits in conjunction so well with the music, the lads clearly acknowledging their strengths and how to work around each other.

‘Bittersweet’ and ‘So It Goes’ bring the pace down to more gloomier affairs, stylising themselves around more grunge royalty, with doomier elements borrowed from Alice in Chains and acoustic, more brooding vibes harking back to Pearl Jam.

Final track ‘Lose Control’ brings back the in-your-face rock seen earlier on the EP with more choruses begging for a live atmosphere. Lyrically exploring mental health issues that are becoming all too apparent for many people, delivered with such energy and gravitas almost in competition with those bad vibes. Again, the combination of Jari and Max producing leering, crawling verses that explode into a rapturous, high-energy chorus may be an easy win or cheap pop (to borrow a wrestling term) but hey, it works for a reason.

“White Walls” is a fun opening gambit for a very young band. Acknowledging early their openness to have a bit of genre fluidity will mean a variety of rock ideas not hampered by imaginary gateposts. I mean it worked great for the likes of Puppy, Dinosaur Pile-Up and Jamie Lenman. Plus, big sounding choruses this early on is a huge positive going forward.

TRACKLISTING:
01. WW//BC
02. -Undefined-
03. Bittersweet
04. So It Goes.
05. Lose Control

LINE-UP:
Jurriaan Kurpershoek – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Jari Stoppelenburg – Bass, Backing Vocals
Max Coenders – 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 said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Averted – Silenced EP

Silenced EP Cover

Averted – Silenced EP
Wormholedeath
Release Date: 18/12/2020
Running Time: 25:19
Review by Steven Hooke
7/10

It feels weird and a little dirty to describe anybody’s sound “old school djent” given the youthful tenure of the progressive metalcore-adjacent genre, following its primary explosion in popularity in 2009. I mean, it can only just about go and watch Wonder Woman 1984 in cinemas (if we were allowed outside that is).

But “old school” or “first-wave” djent seems the most fitting descriptor for this Southampton four-piece. These early days of the controversial movement saw bands perform in two very distinct ways: widdle around on guitar like they’re doing their Grade 8 exam with the occasional Meshuggah-laced power chord thrown in there to show they’re part of the scene, and swapping out the aggro parts of modern metalcore with ‘obZen’ by Meshuggah.

On their debut release, Averted have done the latter, offering a sprightly modern metalcore affair with Jamie Stevens’ tree trunk-thick guitar tone to bounce along the rhythm, that explodes into wild, spindly licks that eventually give way to the double-barrelled vocals of Syhem Angel. An underrated trope of the genre – and something producer Jack Stephens has nailed – is that a release’s mix allows drummers and bassists (the unsung heroes of metal rhythm sections) to have their talents heard to great extent as well, as drummer Merlin Parr meets every syncopated chug at the pass, and Logan Ashed does as good a job accentuating the low-end tones of the band’s sound, as he does echoing any tangible scale adventure Jamie takes, as heard best on ‘Vaecordia’.

Something I found took a little while to come around to (whilst categorically not saying they are bad at all) were the vocals of frontwoman Syhem. Her harshes are more than sound and up to the task, delivering a range not too dissimilar to Otep Shamaya, albeit with less rasp and more guttural body. In her cleans though, it almost feels like at times, she’s singing outside the ranges of this style of metalcore, having such a rich, unusual sound to her voice, oftentimes feeling more at home on a power metal record. Using ‘Sacrifice’ as an example, the instrumentation in the verses is short and punchy, whilst the vocals feel like they’re trying to use a more flowing kind of delivery, but somewhere there’s been a compromise and the vocals are trying to hit a word-per-beat ratio. Compare that to a song like ‘Absolution’, where sharp, heavy riffs build to a swell for Syhem’s vocals in a way that feels way more natural and it’s a no contest. Considering all parts of the EP were recorded in individual home studios, meaning the collaborative process would have been a different beast entirely, and as a group, they’re barely a year old, this can all easily be remedied in the post-apocalyptic future of inter-person engagements. Also, as a side note, the power clean vocals on the chorus of the title track are sinfully good. Take a bow.

Overall Averted haven’t rewritten the rules for djent or ushered in a new era of techy metalcore, everything on “Silenced” has been done before, but it’s a testament to them that at no point did it feel repetitive or boring. Again, considering each part of the EP was recorded in separate remote locations and doesn’t sound horrendously dysfunctional shows that they have promise as a unit. Getting a better hold of the song flow that is mutually beneficial to the music and vocals will improve with time and the delicate experiments with synths and keyboards, show that they’re already looking to expand their sound, and thus it may be a matter of time before the dedicated tech metalcore crowd starts taking notice.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Plea
02. Silenced
03. Vaecordia
04. The Curse
05. Sacrifice
06. Absolution

LINE-UP:
Syhem Angel – Lead Vocals
Jamie Stevens – Guitars
Logan Ashed – Bass
Merlin Parr – Drums

LINKS:

Averted

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.