Ross Harding – Chapter II EP

Chapter II Album Cover Art

Ross Harding – Chapter II EP
Mongrel Records
Release Date: 11/04/22
Running Time: 21:45
Review by Simon Black
8/10

Good old-fashioned, Blues-based Rock is very much out of vogue at the moment. This pisses me off no end, because the fact is every splintered sub-genre across the Rock and Metal pantheons owes a very strong debt to this influential music through which Elvis Presley crossed the racial lines of post-depression America’s darkly racist South and out into the big wide world. Without it we would have no Rock, Metal or the million genre splinters thereafter. And to be fair, it was first coming across Blues and Soul music via an unlikely exposure to The Blues Brothers movie in the early 80’s that opened my ears and mind, sent me diving into vinyl second-hand shops with a vengeance and started a long musical journey that brought me to the point where I am sitting writing this all these years later. These days here in the UK, Blues seems relegated to a niché pub-jam environment catering mostly to an older audience, which is a damn shame, as for me it’s just as relevant, influential and moving as it ever was when it’s done right. You certainly would not have had Grunge in the 90’s either, as that brought a lot of the Blues sentiments after Rock and Metal had almost over-polished themselves out of existence in the late 80’s, and with it a more down to earth, accessible and soulful way of expressing yourself through music heavy enough to rattle internal organs.

Enter Ross Harding, who hails from Johannesburg in South Africa and is living proof that this is far from just being music for old men in pubs in the UK (he’s half my age), with this five track EP being the second he has released this year. Musically the Blues vein runs deep, but that’s in equal proportion to a soulful Hard Rock vibe, and enough of a dollop of that honest Grunge-ethos and down-tuning to appeal to the heavier end of the spectrum. For a man writing, playing and singing everything himself this actually has a surprisingly tight and cohesive groove, and I was slightly surprised to find this was not in fact a full band. 

These five tracks have a remarkable dark and moving depth to them, an experience that starts with his cracked, soulful and incredibly emotive voice which has a surprising turn of range to it. Add to that a remarkably heavy edge to the music, especially opener ‘Black Sun Blues’ which really evoked “Superunknown” era Soundgarden in terms of mood, tone and vocal timbre (he’s a dead ringer for Cornell as well). Musically this is underpinned perfectly, with bass work so deep, vibratory and heavy that my teenage daughter asked me to turn it down please. He’s also a rather talented guitarist, of the kind where controlled precise flow of sound carries you along the emotional path in a way that blistering shredding never will. One note held well can move hearts and mountains, as any Pink Floyd fan will tell you, and tracks like ‘Love And Time’ illustrates this perfectly. 

With a crisp and clear production, the subtleties of guitar and vocals are beautifully balanced and the songs just flow leaving you wanting more. Sometimes you just need to go back to your musical roots, and it’s rather fantastic that it’s taken a gentleman half my age to remind me of that fact.

‘Rest’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Black Sun Blues
02. Blood And Bones
03. Love And Time
04. Fire Away
05. Let It Go II (Return)

LINE-UP:
Ross – Harding – All Instruments

LINKS:

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

Radiant – Ora EP

Ora EP Cover Art

Radiant – Ora EP
Jarane Records
Release Date: 21/10/22
Running Time: 20:22
Review by Dark Juan
8/10

Greetings and many hails, my dear readers. I am Dark Juan and I have been consigned to my bed of pain. Yes, the man who has successfully bid defiance to contagion for three fucking years has finally been claimed by the fifth horseman of the apocalypse, COVID-19. This is irritating for a number of reasons – the main one being that I worked all the fucking way through the lockdowns and was fine. Now it’s no longer a major issue, now I cop it. Plus, I am absolutely terrible at being ill. I get cranky and slightly snappish. The Smellhounds have been threatened with death on no less than seven occasions today and it is only 12:55. Mrs Dark Juan is already not speaking to me even though I dragged myself to the kitchen to make her a fake bacon sandwich to say sorry for being an absolute twat. I have already eaten all the chocolate in the house and I’m not allowed out to go and get any more. I suppose one benefit is that I’ve stopped drinking for a bit… Unlike Simon “Hair Of The Dog” Black who was rat-arsed last night…

Still, I’m bored of the same four walls and I don’t want to build any more models or anything so I have decided (despite the fucking irritating headache I can’t shift) to clamp on the cans and get my review list reduced by actually doing some work for a change. This time it’s Radiant, a Parisian Post-Noise trio that appears to be composed of two Frenchmen and an Italian lady, that has come to my somewhat grumpy attention. This makes a change from the diet of Stoner Rock and Psychedelia I have been recently subjecting my brainpan to recently – The Antichrist Imperium notwithstanding.

This four-track EP opens with ‘Skin’, which is a delicate little thing, elegant in construction and very reminiscent of the likes of Ulan-Bator and Sonic Youth. The instrumentation is sparse, yet Radiant are able to conjure soundscapes of some magnificence and majesty just from bass, guitar and drums. The pipes of Simona Maurone are also a massive asset, her unusual intonation and diction adding interest and charm to the music as a whole. The whole song builds from simple, repeated passages up to a huge, distorted behemoth.

‘Aspettami’ is the most Metal tune on the EP, starting off in a manner much reminiscent of the Punky Grunge of Sonic Youth and pretty much staying there, but with a rich, almost Prog arrangement that hints at a cruel, cold place inside that brooks no dissent from a straying partner or some form of dodgy individual, when ultimatums are being dealt out. It’s a slamming tune that takes absolutely no prisoners, whereas ‘Cut Open’, with its refrain of “You’re my art, take it, it’s yours” is a haunting and creepy song, not helped with Simona shouting “I know what you want” over some heavily distorted guitar. The song then takes a bit of a left turn and becomes almost Jazzy but with Simona singing “Kiss me, kill me” repeatedly. Slightly disturbing, even to this Hellpriest with all his manifold psychological problems.

Closing song ‘Radiosi’ starts off gently and reminds this listener of Kraftwerk, with Electronic noise underpinning a simple, chiming guitar line but then opens up into an expansive, softly breathing kind of song that grows slowly and menacingly into a fuzzy, angry beast that lashes out at the listener before ending on a screaming guitar and Simona shouting in French and Italian before it all comes to an abrupt crescendo and finish.

The record is ably produced, although it shouldn’t be hard to not cock up guitar, bass, drums and vocals and the production is a rich and varied thing, being able to transmit feel through the music as it is being played, and allowing the listener to experience the music, rather than just to hear it and this is to the record’s considerable credit – mainly because with the compositions of Radiant, it would have been extremely easy for the band to disappear up their own arses with noodling and experimentation, whereas this record is an intrepid listen in many respects. The problem I have with the record is that a Metal audience is likely to completely ignore it and that would not be fair. It is a very good record, but it is of limited interest to anyone who enjoys the music of FFDP, for example. If you like Drone and Shoegaze, though, Radiant are fucking brilliant. 

So, I’m a bit conflicted. Radiant have released a very good EP, but it is going to only have a quite limited audience as it sits between Metal, Prog, Grunge and Drone and therefore defies description or any form of mainstream success. Which is a shame, but you play the music you feel and if you operate in the grey areas between dimensions like Radiant do, only the time-travellers and dimension jumpers are going to find you.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Le système breveté d’évaluation des éclaboussures de sang Dark Juan OR Il sistema brevettato di valutazione degli schizzi di sangue di Dark Juan depending on whether you are French or Italian) awards Radiant 8/10 for an excellent EP although marks have been deducted for the fact that a limited audience will be its fate and that quite a lot of Metal fans aren’t going to be interested in the band, and that is a fucking shame.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Skin
02. Aspettami
03. Cut Open
04. Radiosi

LINE-UP:
Simona Maurone – Vocals, Bass
Aurélien Esquivet – Guitar, Vocals
Léo Goizet – Drums

LINKS:

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.

Obsidian Skies – Saturnian EP

Saturnian EP Cover Art

Obsidian Skies – Saturnian EP
Self-released
Release Date: 14/10/2022
Running Time: 24:10
Review by Richard Oliver
7/10

Born out of the dissolution of another band and the stresses of the pandemic is new band Obsidian Skies. They are a two-piece Colorado based band made up of Liam Dougherty and Tim Watervoort (both formerly of Endlight) and they are releasing their debut E.P. “Saturnian”. The two collaborated again during the Covid-19 lockdown, trading ideas and sending parts to each other which before long became a fully collaborative writing process from which this release was born.

“Saturnian” is a concept release with the story, spread across three songs, taking place on Saturn’s moon Titan. In this story, humanity is forced to flee from a dying Earth, and a portion of the population colonises Titan. While life is able to flourish there, the people who survived are forced to deal with the emotions of leaving their lost home and the guilt of abandoning those who could not leave the planet.

Musically “Saturnian” is a mix of sounds with influence from melodic Death Metal, Technical Death Metal, Progressive Metal and Symphonic Metal with the band citing influences such as Amon Amarth, Insomnium, Opeth, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Epica. It is a diverse sound with several ideas spread across the three songs which make up the E.P. and a strong sense of melody and technicality permeates the music. The lengthiest song on the release ‘Rebirth In The Stars’ contains the most Progressive and varied sounds across its 11 minute plus duration, with some cool guitar parts, epic orchestration and lush acoustic sections. Likewise, the final song ‘Home’ starts off low key with acoustic guitars, clean vocals and some very light orchestration whilst slowly building in intensity and heaviness but still remaining extremely melodic throughout.

“Saturnian” is an enjoyable first release from Obsidian Skies. Whilst only a three song E.P. it is a very ambitious release with some very epic and complex music on show. There are some dissonant sounding parts which sound a bit out of place at times and it is a release that gets better as it goes on, but it is a release that shows great promise. Obsidian Skies are to remain a studio-only project for now, but they definitely show great potential with their debut release.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Celestial Age
02. Rebirth in the Stars
03. Home

LINE-UP:
Logan Dougherty (Guitars, Piano, Orchestration)
Tim Watervoort (Guitars, Bass, Vocals)

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Oliver 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.

Anti-Clone – Human EP

Human EP Cover Art

Anti-Clone – Human EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 16/09/22
Running Time: 17:22
Review by Dark Juan
8/10

Good afternoon – I am still pet sitting and suffering from concussion, yet I continue to bring you Very Good Things from my bed of pain and suffering as Mrs Dark Juan creates some new and terrifying creatures in the kitchen. As I currently can’t see straight due to a blow to the head I gave myself, it has been decreed that I should not move much. As I am due to wrangle recalcitrant young gentlemen tomorrow, I disagreed and got what can only be described as a rather unpleasant telling off and instructed to remain on the sofa or my ankles will be “Miseryed”. Having remembered just what happens in that story, my arse hit the sofa faster than a hot dog disappears down a fat bastard’s throat and here I remain, at least more compos mentis that I was yesterday after twatting my own cranium, and therefore I have taken it upon myself to have a listen to a young British band and their latest release – these being Anti-Clone and the record is called “Human”, being a five track EP recorded in Manchester.

On the first play, the listener is grabbed by a rather huge production, with big, BIG guitars, a bottom end with more bottom end than a room full of cloned Gemma Collinses having all been at the dessert trolley and destructive, fucking loud drums. The sound is absolutely fucking colossal, lads, lasses and all other genders. The whole record is played with considerable verve and energy as well. There’s a clear sense of purpose running through the performances of the entire band and a rather needle sharp, cruel focus throughout each song. I’ll attempt to be brief, this time, rather than waxing lyrical as I do normally. Mainly because my head is fucking pounding right now but that’s just cranial trauma…

The record opens with ‘Human’ and it is a song about the horror of being human, how we all lie to each other and how entire populations can be deceived by their leaders, especially in wartime. It is a satisfyingly bludgeoning opener as well, vituperative and venomous with a chorus that would not be out of place in a Mudvayne (in their make-up and Math Metal years) or Powerman 5000 song. This is followed by ‘Punish Me’, and this rather masochistic song is about being unable to walk away from toxic or damaging situations in life. However, it does espouse the fact that sometimes the only thing to do is let go. Musically we delve into the realms of Emo, with a huge chorus that young boys with swoopy Adolf Hitler haircuts and more eyeliner than their stripy-trousered girlfriends will absolutely go gaga for, complete with mosh-worthy Korn-lite breakdown in the middle.

And so it continues – Math Metal meets Emo meets the kind of 90’s Alternative Metal of prime PM5K, Rob Zombie and Human Waste Project with added Korn and Adema for that bit of Nu-Metal bite. It’s actually a really intoxicating mix that works splendidly with the vocals of Peter “CLΩNE” Moore, a man who can ape the baritone of Marilyn Manson (‘End Of The World’ – loving the middle eight of this song though!) just as readily as the impassioned howl of Chino Moreno and the guttural roar of Jonathan Davis. This latter is eminently displayed on the closing song on the EP, a cover of batshit insane Icelandic murder pixie Björk’s ‘Army Of Me’. It’s a Nu-Metal classic twenty years too late, but it’s still fucking brilliant.

And that more or less sums up the sound of the EP. Anti-Clone wear their influences openly and honestly on their collective sleeves and the band and the record are all the better for it. There’s no pretending that they are trying to play something innovative and new (unlike GLDN, see my review on them and see just why it pissed me off) but what they do play, they do fucking WELL. And although these are new compositions, they manage to offer a warm sense of familiarity and of being in on the joke. 

So if you are the kind of person who loves Powerman 5000, Korn, Human Waste Project and Mudvayne, Team Satan 666 ice hockey shirts and having make-up that has you looking like a melted panda, Anti-Clone have you splendidly covered. If you don’t, well, you’ve backed a loser here, but the sheer exuberance of the performance should win over a fan or two and as far as purchasing goes, it’s a bloody good British Metal record and worth a punt for anyone, even if it is faintly derivative along the way. I have heard megabucks bands with miles shittier songs and production jobs than this. I want to hear more Anti-Clone and I want it now!

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Anti-Clone 8/10 for a fine EP that successfully manages to hark back to sounds that were popular in the near-past but drags them into the 21st century. Marks are deducted for the release being an EP (not long enough) and for them skirting a little bit too close to Nu-Metal now and again. Otherwise, though, crushing and satisfyingly meaty.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Human
02. Punish Me
03. End Of The World
04. Spiteful
05. Army Of Me

LINE-UP:
Peter “CLΩNE” Moore – Vocals
William “26” Richardson – Guitar
Pat “KAKES” Godin – Bass
Drew “ALPHA” Moore – Drums

LINKS:

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.

Symbolical – Natura EP

Natura EP Cover Art

Symbolical – Natura
Self-Released
Release Date: 08/09/22
Running Time: 23:00
Review by Paul Hutchings
9/10

Formed in Warsaw, Poland, almost a decade ago, it might be tempting and easy to mix the band with either of the two German outfits by the name Symbolic. It might also be reasonable to expect a connection of tribute with Death. Whilst there is the inevitable influence, this is a Death Metal band after all, Symbolical’s sound is definitively their own.

This EP, which comprises three tracks that stretch over 23 minutes, is the second part of a trilogy of EP’s that the band are releasing and follows “Igne,” which surfaced at the end of 2021. As you delve deeper into the EP, you may notice the multiple links with William Blake. The EP cover is inspired by Blake’s works whilst his lyrics are spread throughout the songs. Based on “The First Book of Urizen”, originally published in 1794, the three tracks form part of the story which is explained best by vocalist and guitarist Cymer: It’s time to open our new chapter about Jesus. He will face Dark Urizen – Universe’s brother who cast Jesus into hell where he will become the leader of demon army.  We still keep the spirit of former albums but for the first time we decided to use William Blake’s lyrics – The First books of Urizen.”

It’s for you to do the deep dive into the background of the release and the stories behind it but I must admit to being intrigued and listed the exploration of Blake’s works as a future endeavour. ‘The Dread World’ opens in sombre fashion, a sole violin casting its reach far whilst shimmering percussion provides atmosphere and drama. It may start slowly but the explosive Death Metal, which the band suddenly erupt into is anything but sedate. Cymer’s roars and screams are demonic in nature, whilst the band link cohesively, accelerating before slowing into a crushing Doom-laden section. Anchoring the band, drummer Daray, former Vader and Dimmu Borgir member doesn’t miss a beat. His engine room battery provides Cymer and fellow guitarist Sloq to carve out lacerating lead breaks that are ferocious. 

More relentless aural assault follows on ‘Dark Urizen,’ with aggressive growls bursting forth as the maelstrom of chaos is unleashed around. It’s a blistering approach, but Symbolical incorporate melodic patterns and lines into their approach, which not only enhances their sound but provides the listener with more to experience. A guest solo from Tomasz Radzikowski (Spirits Way, ex-Black Altar) screams out of the track adding even more. 

It’s the band’s use of time changes that also provides something a little different. Dips in the delivery merely add to the overall feel of the tracks, building tension rather than adopting a full throttle blast beat attack. It works well and leads neatly into the progressive finale, the ten-minute ‘Abominable Chaos’. A vast, expansive rampage, this is impressive, majestic in nature and brings a short but sweet EP to its end with a flourish of high quality. 

‘The Dread World’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01.The Dread World
02. Dark Urizen
03. Abominable Chaos


LINE-UP:
Paweł “Cymer” Cymerman – Guitar, Vocal
Konrad “Sloq” Słoczyński – Guitar
Dariusz “Daray” Brzozowski – Drums
Łukasz “Lukas” Matyja – Bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings 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.

King Bull – Conflicting Opinions On Mold and Bacteria EP

Conflicting Opinions On Mold and Bacteria Album Cover Art

King Bull – Conflicting Opinions On Mold and Bacteria EP
Riot Records
Release Date: 09/09/22
Running Time: 12:44
Review by Dark Juan
7/10

Good morning. Jesus. This is the third time in as many weeks that I have risen from my slumber before midday. It’s almost like I am becoming a normal, functioning member of society instead of the revenant-like night terrorizer of courting teenage couples and religious liars you all know and despise. There’s apparently this thing in the sky called the sun and it showers you with warmth and light and is (allegedly) responsible for our survival. Well, it’s not for mine, the shiny, eye-frying superheated gaseous twat. Give me the comforting covering of fog and black night anytime. Have you any idea how hard it is to hunt victims during daylight? It’s for people who follow laws and don’t go around abducting men of the cloth and indoctrinating them in the word of our One True Lord, The One Who Walks Backwards, Satan. Only when they have accepted the Horned One as the only true deity of Earth are they released back into the community to spread the right gospel and confuse the fuck out of their flock.

Shit. This isn’t actionable, right? The Reverend Bertram Algernon Fletcher is NOT missing from his parish in Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire, is ABSOLUTELY NOT currently squealing to his false god to save him from among the slowly maturing batches of whatever-the-fuck-they-are masquerading as beer in my pantry, and most ASSUREDLY IS on sabbatical and unable to be reached in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Neither is Rabbi Yeshua Rubenstein. Or Imam Mohammed Hussein from the Finsbury Park mosque. I tried to get a Buddhist monk but they a) could hand me my arse with both hands, and b) are bendy buggers and tricky to get a grip of, and c) extremely noticeable being manhandled through the door of a Yorkshire terraced house.

King Bull (which is, incidentally, a perfect description of the opening preamble of this review) are a trio from Red Deer, Alberta. This is in Canada, my geographically challenged friends, and is probably not a city particularly friendly to the arts, due to location. Anyway, King Bull are a young band who do not look dissimilar to Hanson (remember them? MmmBop, baby) if Hanson had suffered a horrific car accident involving much facial trauma and they play the kind of greasy, thumbs-in-your-belt Rock ‘N’ Roll fused with Punk that got your parents dancing in the early 80’s. The blurb says they are a Synth Rock band. There’s about three seconds of Synth in the bloody thing and that is at the start of the opening cut, ‘Don’t Want You To Know’. Vocalist Tucker McMurray (who also abuses his guitar in a manner than can only be described as egregious) has a high pitched, unusual vocal delivery that just screams teenage Punk attitude, flamboyant 90’s frontman posturing and doesn’t sound too dissimilar to the noise a turbojet makes when it’s not working properly. 

King Bull don’t do subtle or complex in the same way I don’t do religion (or Tories), instead employing a straight down your throat dose of good old-fashioned Punk ‘N’ Roll that really sounds like it should have been released in 1979. It’s all simple riffing on what sounds like a Stratocaster through an old Boss OD-1 overdrive pedal, brisk tempos and choruses with bigger hooks than a fleet shark fishermen. The opening track is rather Pop Punk (I could see Sum 41 playing it, but with McMurray replacing the ex-Mr Avril Lavigne Derrick Wibley or whatever he was called), but with engaging, snotty, sneering vocals that lift it from the merely tedious into the actually pretty good fucking fun. ‘Never See You Smile’, being the second song on this five-track EP, is a bit of a cracker – the unusual enunciation of the singer reminding this far too old bastard of Bryan Ferry and Iggy Pop and the music of good old-fashioned Punk Rock. Bassist Aiden “Ace” Beauchamp is also a very solid performer, his capable bottom end (cheeky!) anchoring the whole glorious mess together nicely.

The third track in is called ‘Cigarette’ and King Bull take a bit of a step back (briefly) from the full-on Punk ‘N’ Roll of the first two tracks to serve the listener with a bizarre Punk and David Bowie crossover that’s just a little bit unsettling. McMurray fixes the listener with a snake-like stare and proceeds to sing directly at you without blinking. He really is a performer with a dangerous and demented repertoire, but changes from posturing Jane’s Addiction wannabe to snarling monster with a disturbing frequency.

The EP closes with current single ‘I Hate Waiting’ after the rather forgettable, slightly heavier than, but still aping Franz Ferdinand ‘Scary’, featuring a guy I have never heard of, and is a speed-fuelled Punk shoutalong just designed to be screamed back at the band at shows. Designed-in audience participation. Is that elegance, knowing your craft or just being generally obnoxious? Having listened to King Bull, I’m torn between options one and three, but leaning more towards three…

King Bull are obnoxious, but in the right way. It’s that fun-loving, yet still slightly dangerous edge that all the best Rock bands have. Like the mate we all had, who, once fuelled by beer, would cheerfully attempt to steal road signs, get accosted by two excellently dressed gentlemen who informed him they were CID, only for him to shout, “Piss off, I don’t talk to strange men!” whilst halfway up a lamppost and simultaneously trying to hide the sign, which was rather larger than you thought when you got close to it, inside his jacket. Remember that, Gary Newgrosh? I do.

That’s what King Bull are like and it is for that reason, as well as a wonderful lack of care about having a clean production, opting instead for a very organic feel to the record, why I like King Bull. I like the utter lack of pretension, the absolute good-natured bonhomie and the fact that they write simple, but more catchy than an STI in Bradford songs. It’s all very well having syncopation and distended harmonics and microtones and shit, sometimes you just want to hear some good time Rock music and that is what King Bull delivers in spades. Short, stompathon songs define the sound, three minutes being something of an epic for King Bull because the whole five song EP lasts a meagre 12:44. Hallelujah, brothers and sisters and non-binary siblings. Hallelujah.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Le système breveté d’évaluation des éclaboussures de sang Dark Juan, pour mes amis canadiens francophones car je sais qu’il y en a en Alberta. De rien) awards King Bull 7/10 for a cracking, fun filled EP. I’m being churlish here, but Punk isn’t really my sort of music so I’ve knocked a mark off for that, for ‘Scary’ which is a bit of filler and for the fact it took me FUCKING AGES to find out the names of the performers in the band and that I had to go digging in the first place. Fuck’s sake PR companies – tell us journos who is in the band and who does what in the press kit! Makes my life a lot easier and I do this shit for free… If I were getting paid I wouldn’t complain, but I’m not. So, I will. There.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Don’t Want You To Know
02. Never Seen You Smile
03. Cigarette
04. Scary (featuring Ryan Kuly). I don’t know who he is either. It’s fine. We will survive this.
05. I Hate Waiting

LINE-UP:
Tucker Mcmurray – Guitar And Vocals
Alex Adamson – Drums
Aiden “Ace” Beauchamp – Bass

LINKS:

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.

Rituals – Show Me The Signs EP

Show Me The Signs EP Cover Art

Rituals – Show Me The Signs EP
Self-released
Release Date: 02/09/22
Running Time: 11:06
Review by Dark Juan
8/10

I’m still here, you know.

Will anyone ever let me out?

Please?

I’ll be good, I promise. You took my weapons away and I’m nothing without my weapons. There’s still open wounds on my arms where you tore out my wet-wired combat systems and my biomorphic rifle. You even took my augmented targeting eye. I’m no threat to anyone at the moment. The blood loss and the rupturing of my nutrient sacs have left me weaker than a day-old kitten and I can barely lift up my head. Look, the blades under my fingernails won’t even extrude anymore. The electro-convulsive shock “therapy” put paid to that. Let me out, you fucking bastards. I’m no longer combat capable. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say I’m not capable of anything right now. You could send in a toddler and they’d take me the fuck apart. I’M NOT A THREAT and I’m dying. If it’s my time I want to die in the open air with the sun on my face and not in the fucking cage, you hear me? I’ve been telling you this for days and you’ve got my vitals on your displays and you can see that I’m fading!

LET ME OUUUUUUUT!!!

I can hear booted footsteps and rattling coming down the corridor. The grinding of metal on metal as the key enters the lock and twists. The door is thrown open and an entire fire team of combat-boosted troopers take up crossfire positions around the room. I show them the ragged scars on my arms where my rifle was torn from me and stagger towards the wall. While they push my face into the wall and start to secure my arms, probably for yet another interrogation session, I subtly alter my body chemistry, speed up my metabolism and oxygen/ blood concentration and feel my mouth fill with acidic saliva. Spun roughly round by one of the men I spit straight into his eyes and watch them start to burn as the acid in my saliva eats into them. Arching my arm around his throat and using him for cover I form a fist with my left hand and direct it in the direction of another trooper. A quick clench and the hidden fleshports open and diamond sharpened, titanium tipped bone darts from the webbing between my fingers are released to bury themselves in the face of the poor bastard opposite me. He falls, the fast-acting neurotoxin coating the darts going to work on his nervous system almost immediately and dropping him like a twitching, spasming sack of shit. 

My body automatically shoves energy from healing reserves into what combat function I have left, the third man being obliterated by organic explosive bolts shot from my shoulder launcher, which melds back into my flesh after discharge. I sink my armoured teeth into the throat of the trooper I still have hold of, tear it out in a welter of blood and cartilage and launch him at the last trooper standing. I follow this flying corpse up and bury my fist in the collar of the trooper as I look deep into his wide, terrified eyes and pin him against the wall. My rictus grin becomes a serene smile as I extrude a long, wickedly sharp bone knife out of my right wrist, below my upturned hand, before I push it, exquisitely slowly, up through his chin, his soft palate, through his sinuses and ultimately into the base of his brain. He’s down too and I drop him after watching his eyes roll backwards in his head. Dickheads, you can’t fight a man who is a biomorph. I’m still at least 86% combat effective but nutrients and rest from trauma are needed. Thankfully this place is easy to escape from, and escape I have and returned to…

Dark Juan Terrace, where you find me recuperating and hiding out from the authorities and listening to a three-track EP from young British bruisers Rituals, while the mechadendrites in my flesh reconstruct and reconfigure my biomorphic rifle.

Parts of the above story may not be entirely accurate.

Rituals are from Newcastle and this is the first time they have come to my attention on record although they appear to be building up a positive buzz on the UK gig circuit. But what, I heard literally no one ask because I am in my home and therefore not privy to the outside world currently do they sound like and are they worth your attention, and that of the UK Metal scene in general?

The opening cut on the EP is called ‘Show Me The Signs’ and it is so Emo it makes me want to cry in my bedroom and claim that my entire family abused me cruelly by not letting me wear fishnet gloves, black nail polish and New Rocks to school. Opening with a clean chord medley, but with a very odd little half-second pause before the distortion kicks in, it’s all soaring choruses, impassioned clean vocals and heavily produced guitars – Dark Juan can easily picture the guyliner and the power fist on the high notes and the swoopy Emo dreamboy haircut. It’s a good tune though, and the production of the whole EP is pretty groovy with only (as usual) the snare drum sounding like someone twatting Tupperware with sticks of celery. Everything else is very clear and distinct.

Second track in is entitled ‘Oceans Subside’ and it appears that Rituals had listened to quite a lot of Korn before writing this tune. Now, the band do describe themselves as “Contemporary Metal” so some modern influences should be clearly discernible. Do not necessarily dismiss my having a poke at the band as not liking them – Korn are just as viable an influence as Ten Years After or some obscure Blues band from Kentucky who only released one single in 1957, that you can only obtain after giving a blowjob to One Tooth Dave in the record shop in Mammoth Cave, KY. Mammoth Cave. Like your mum’s after I have visited. Fnaar Fnaar. It is also a rather good tune with a strong emo bent on the chorus once again, but with some very chonky riffing and a very Nu-Metal guitar line in the verse.

The last offering on this small platter is ‘In Devastation’ and this is where Rituals start to really shine with a song that is an unholy result of a violent sexual encounter between Korn, Slipknot and Optimum Wound Profile. This song is a speedy, aggressive gut-puncher out to flatten you in less than a minute. It is an uncompromising monster where the vocalist lets fly with the kind of roaring that normally only comes out of Mordor, the drummer appears to be wildly spasming and guitarist and bassist flail desperately to keep up. There’s still some clean emotional singing but rather less of it than on the first two tracks. This is a cracking tune.

So there we have it. Rituals. A band that melds the sonic fury of Slipknot at their most aggressive, the spasmodic Nu-Metal of Korn and the soft, seductive crooning of AFI and HIM. Makes a change from my usual fare of oddities, Synthwave and all the 70’s tinged Doom in the world, but absolutely well worth taking a punt on if you want to hear some well-produced, high fidelity Modern Metal from a young and promising UK band. Dark Juan will ALWAYS champion the underground in jolly old Blighty. Shame they haven’t put anything about who plays what on any bio or anything because I can’t find out. The PR company didn’t include it in their EPK either. This is mildly irritating.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Rituals 8/10 for a generally brilliant EP marred by a bit of dodgy song construction and the band wearing their influences rather too proudly on their sleeves. Still, it knocks the block off a lot of other releases this year, so the lads should be proud. Howay!

And they can always take pride and solace in the fact that they will always be better than Warrior fucking Soul.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Show Me The Signs
02. Oceans Subside
03. In Devastation

LINE-UP:

If the band would like to furnish me with their identities and what they do, that’d be grand. Otherwise it’s done by description. From left to right…

Leopard skin-shirted love god – does something.

Slightly dodgy looking backward cap and blue denim-wearing geezer lurking in the background – does something else.

“Strawberry blonde” obvious frontman with questionable moustache and swoopy, dreamy  emo-Hitler haircut – vocals.

Long-haired throwback to the big four thrash bands circa 1987. Bet he’s wearing white basketball boots – does stuff other than vocals. Probably.

LINKS:

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.

Desenser – Aurora Equitum EP

Aurora Equitum EP Cover Art

Desenser – Aurora Equitum EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 19/08/22
Running Time: 24:07
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Sometimes bands can be their own worst enemies. There’s an endemic attitude of “build it and they will come” amongst so many musicians –  particularly those just getting going, which assumes that if they’ve got as far as writing, recording and releasing some music, that this will magically translate into instant success. The reality is that a decent product is only a fraction of what’s needed to even start to get anywhere, and many bands flail at these obstacles helplessly like a squid attempting the one hundred metre hurdles on dry land… 

I always talk about success in the music business as being a magic triangle that has to come together each time a band wants to move up a level – where the right quality product, delivered with the right attitude and persistence and (the one you cannot control) a lot of luck. Lose out on one of these and you stay or fold… Desenser are getting a lot right however…

The first I had heard of them was just prior to their lunchtime slot on the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock. At this point in the weekend, the hangover had been kicked down the slightly longer but badly scorched grass for two days, and most of my camp were cowering under a gazebo by our tents hoping that today was not going to prove to be as blisteringly hot as the last two days had been – heat so intense that just standing in the field all day to see who you got was off the radar and we found ourselves only venturing out for the shortlist of acts that could not be missed. 

Sadly it was hotter than hell that day…

…Into our camp, and full of enthusiasm like it wasn’t torrid enough for your average demon to consider emigrating to one of the poles, comes Defenser front man Tyler Shield. Now Mr Shield clearly understands the point I made in my opening words, because despite having more than one CD available to the market, and despite managing to succeed at the Metal To The Masses and grab a slot at Bloodstock, he has realised that a lot more was going to be needed to get people in to see the band in these (or indeed any) conditions. He’s right, because far too often I’ve seen bands hit that stage like they were on top of the world, never to be heard of again. 

So here he was, telling us that he was playing and trying to drum up support. For that reason alone, we all made it into the New Blood Stage, because that’s the attitude and energy that gets you moving in this day and age, when a label is largely redundant unless you have already made it several levels up. It’s a launchpad, and it needs to be treated as such – Desenser get this. Actually, they were surprisingly good live and that energy came through on stage as well, despite the fact that everyone was probably in serious danger of skidding in their own sweat pools on stage, such was the boundless energy these lads, and Tyler in particular, displayed. 

Tyler was also kind enough to hand me a physical copy of their latest opus, which is why you are now reading this. One thing that grabs you immediately for such a young band, one for who even the humble compact disk might seem an archaic format, is quite how much thought, care and attention has gone into the presentation of the disk (and the same for their 2020 self-titled debut EP as it happens). If a self-produced band just off the staring blocks do release a physical CD copy without label support in those crucial early EP days, then you don’t expect it to come in a lavishly produced digipak, complete with separate booklet and lyrics sheets for each song, and with some truly high-quality artwork to boot. This is a 5-track (+ intro) EP remember, not an album – so a considerable outlay for the band. But then if you want people to buy your wares, you need to make them attractive, and they succeed admirably here.

Then there’s the music. 

Take a little bit of Punk, a dollop of Hardcore, add a Modern Metal tinge and an almost Progressive twist to the instrumentals and you have a combo that would peak my attention anyway, even if they hadn’t got such a good grasp of viral marketing that morning. From the opening bars of the intro ‘Behold, A Pale Horse’, it is clear that there’s a level of musicianship and depth at play here beyond the normal “rip the world a new asshole for as long as we can” that bands on the starting blocks usually opt for. What you don’t get is complex bass work like Daniel Law delivers, which fluidly intertwines with some subtle and restrained synth lines from Daniel Hudson, and some really, really clever drum work from the final part of the jigsaw Daniel Law. Yup, this technically rich, fat sounding and complex piece of work is the work of three lads splattered across the midlands and North West, despite sounding like they might be a five piece. And that’s just the Intro…

When they do turn on the punch, it’s not held back. With lively, energetic and well-written songs that hold the attention that play and juggle the influences whilst sounding unique and individual, which is what you want in this business because let’s face it, originality wins this game. ’White Face’ feels the most obviously Metal of the tracks, and if the music had stayed at this pitch and tone I would probably have been content, but these lads don’t stay still. 

If I had to pick a favourite, I would go for ‘Broken Crown’, because it showcases their variety, as well as the range of front man Shield, who can Hardcore roar, scale the clean note highs effortlessly, and even croon on occasion. Sounds odd? It is, but it works. ‘Passing, Fade Away’ is interesting too, with its haunting opening bars and clean vocal melody lines, layering in the instruments to a rapid crescendo, this is probably the most technically tight of the tracks on this EP. It’s also got the kind of production values in the studio that you really don’t expect from a band at this stage in their career, and the band have managed to produce a remarkably well-made video for the track to boot (see below).

“Dawn of the Knights” is what their Latin title translates to, and it couldn’t be more apt for these lads. Two of the three corners are there, fingers crossed for that all important luck…

‘Passing, Fade Away’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Behold, A Pale Horse
02. White Face
03. Broken Crown
04. Torn Apart
05. Passing, Fade Away
06. All That Remains

LINE-UP:
Tyler Shield – Vocals
Daniel Hudson – Guitars / Synth
Daniel Law – Bass
Luke Smith – Guest vocals on ‘Broken Crown’

LINKS:

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

GLDN – First Blood EP

First Blood EP Cover Art

GLDN – First Blood EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 22/07/22
Running Time: 15:52
Review by Dark Juan 
5/10

Well, today has been a right day of ups and downs, and it’s only 12:48 at the time of me settling to write some stuff that literally one person in Somalia reads. I will not be sated and will keep doing this until the mighty Ever-Metal.com juggernaut has conquered North Korea and the righteous power of metal topples the Kim dynasty and Juche communism is brought to an end, and the victory parades will celebrate the day a better world was won. Yes, that was a VNV Nation lyric I managed to shoehorn into a metal record review. Anyway, since I have got home from wrangling young gentlemen, I have had to take to task a fucking gammon dickhead for having a bash at my friend Sarah as she has an Eastern European surname, discovered that the biggest joke I have ever heard or seen is my current bank balance, had to warn a teenager about the dangers of sending unsolicited dick pics and the fact it will be all over social media in a day or two, and when the inevitable fallout happens it will be HIS OWN FAULT, and have had to make coffee in an effort to stimulate my poorly abused brain cells into some spasmodic form of life in order to provide you with concise and precise information about the Brooklyn, NY based GLDN and their latest EP, “First Blood”.

GLDN are the brainchild of one Nicholas Golden, who appears to be another of those really irritating bastards who can play everything and sing as well, and “First Blood” is the debut record from him. The blurb states that GLDN is, “An unnerving and rage filled world [of GLDN] where boundaries are pushed and your comfort is NOT paramount! Daring and transgressive, GLDN cannot be contained, nor put into a single musical category – with elements of industrial, metal, and crust punk with passionate and furious vocals.” 

This is all well and good, but GLDN’s world actually appears to be tinkly-bwomp NIN-esque squelches with a Marilyn Manson aping baritone and a very similar sounding scratchy howl. It is neither daring nor transgressive. Daring and transgressive would be recording heavy metal records with hurdy-gurdies, and getting Katy Perry and one of these drill stars who wear sunglasses over balaclavas, and look fucking ridiculous, think they are dangerous when really they are a spotty teenager from rural Buckinghamshire with arms and legs like pipecleaners, and basically fuck about near a hired Lamborghini in their videos, which all seem to be filmed on the same street in Tower Hamlets [without actually touching it because just out of shot is an aggressive and angry owner with a baseball bat who has warned the youths to not touch it] while rapping about how shit their life has been and how they are scared they are going to get stabbed, and calling it Drill Metal and expecting the leather and denim and New Rock clad hordes to accept it without question.

Pardon me. I have digressed. Indeed, a number of the songs being offered on “First Blood” sound like “Antichrist Superstar” era Brian Warner bumping uglies with “The Downward Spiral” version of Trent Reznor. 

Let us dwell upon that mental image for a moment or two.

Horrifying, isn’t it? Or possibly one for the wank bank, depending on your point of view.

The sound of GLDN is somewhat enhanced by some tasty, buzzing guitar, but too often this is cut up and the loud-quiet-loud dynamic sometimes wrecks some promising brutality by slowing everything down, so Nicholas can do his best Trent Reznor crooning over a bit of dissonant piano, or electronic wooshing. There’s no boundaries being pushed here. This EP sounds like the year 1996.

Opening offering ‘Gravedigger’ kicks off with an electronic beat and bassline before metallic guitar cuts in for 12 beats and the faux-emotional crooning starts, extremely reminiscent of the delivery of Filter’s Richard Patrick, and the chorus sounds like it could have been written by Deftones. The middle of the song has some throat mangling howling a la the God Of Fuck. In fact, the whole song sounds like “Title Of Record” era Filter. Not a bad influence to have, but it borders on copyism.

This continues on the title track. Pure Marilyn Manson, but a mix of Spooky Kids era Mazza and “Antichrist Superstar” including a lyric that could have been written by the man himself – “They always look so pretty when they’re on their knees.” It’s all overblown and perverse sexuality, wild gyrating, demented roaring, sequenced, layered and multi-tracked guitars and not very much substance. ‘Ripe’ is more of the same – dissonance, baritone rumbling, a simple bassline, lyrics about hypocrisy and lots of downtuned guitar and roaring on the chorus, before going to a swooping, gothic-tinged middle eight on the synth, and then a heavily-produced solo that’s just a load of drawn out notes rather than fretboard gymnastics that segues neatly back into the chorus. So far, so still Mazza Manson.

‘(harmful if swallowed)’ (sic) is a bit more interesting, with a piano playing a wrong note deliberately that increases the sense of menace in the music nicely, but it’s just a bridging piece, and that makes me fucking furious because the music and that harsh, dissonant piano could have been turned into something magnificent, and it has just been wasted.

‘This Must Be The Place’ is just a slightly more electronic Marilyn Manson song. I know I keep coming back to him, but this is the overwhelming influence I hear. This particular song would not sound out of place on “Antichrist Superstar”, even the chorus sounds like it belongs on the title track of that august record and would fit the song quite seamlessly. I’m struggling to contain my disappointment here. Normally I would launch into some horrible bullshit and be mean to Nicholas, but I have become acutely aware lately that I am trashing the art of creators and they pour their heart and soul into it. All I do is tell them that they are either a) very good at it, b) average, c) rubbish or d) Warrior Soul. Mainly because I am a faile… RETIRED musician who was REALLY shit at playing music and if you can’t do it you write about it instead. Unless you’re EM’s Rory. He can do both, the annoying knobjockey. 

DISCLAIMER: Rory isn’t an annoying knobjockey. He is a fine gentleman. Rob Sutton is, though! Wink, wink…

Last offering on this six-tracker is ‘Parasite’ and it is far and away the best song on the EP, where he leaves Mazza alone for a bit and combines an aggressive, angry howl with a creepy clean voice, punchy, speedy drumming, and full on metal guitar with extra fizz and fuzz, lushly produced and brimming with a life all its own.

The EP does benefit from a decent production, with no one thing overpowering the other, but it has a curiously lifeless and flat quality that is difficult to describe, and although GLDN promise much in their press release, claiming elements of metal, industrial and crust punk, all I have heard is mainstream 1990s gothic industrial metal that the emo teens of the day would have gone fucking gaga over, that instead offers this grizzled old metal bastard a curiously warm and nostalgic feeling, rather than slavering excitement. It’s all a bit uninspiring, to be honest. I haven’t even got my old baggy Menace jeans out to relive the 1990s vibe.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is disappointed. It was expecting something visceral, wild and incendiary and instead got the spavined love child of Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson.

Which brings us back around neatly to that mental image we shared before.

You’re welcome.

5/10. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Gravedigger
02. First Blood
03. Ripe
04. (harmful if swallowed) – This is not me having some kind of seizure and losing command of English. This is how it is written. It is making my internal grammar Nazi fucking FURIOUS!
05. This Must Be The Place
06. Parasite

LINE-UP:
Nicholas Golden – Everything

LINKS:

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.

Void Rot – Telluric Dismemberment EP

Telluric Dimemberment EP Cover Art

Void Rot – Telluric Dismemberment EP
Everlasting Spew Records
Release Date: 22/07/22
Running Time: 29:24
Review by Rick Eaglestone
7/10

Death Doom titans Void Rot get ready to embark on their first European tour, so have stitched together a five track EP consisting of one brand new track, a cover version, and three live tracks taken from their exclusive CVLT Nation show.

First up the brand new, and title track ‘Telluric Dismemberment’ crawls and slithers firmly into the ear canals of the listener – at just over 6 minutes it serves as a great introductory track for people not already familiar band, and similarly something new is also great for existing fans to get behind and excited about.

My highlight track though is the fabulous cover of ‘Black Embrace’ from Amorphis’s 1993 release “Privilege of Evil” EP. For me personally it is a smart choice, as it is not predictable, and it fits in well with the previous track and aesthetic of the release. 

Lastly are the three live tracks ‘Descending Pillars’, ‘Liminal Forms’, and ‘Inversion’ all taken from 2020’s very well shot CVLT Nation show. I did go back and rewatch the show in its entirety again and could not recommend it highly enough, the three tracks selected are a good representation of that show and finish this EP off well.

‘Telluric Dismemberment’ Official Track Premiere Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Telluric Dismemberment
02. Black Embrace (Amorphis Cover)
03. Descending Pillars (Live)
04. Liminal Forms (Live)
05. Inversion (Live) 

LINE-UP:
JH – Guitar, Vocals
KS – Guitar
CC – Bass
WB – Drums

LINKS:

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