Esprit D’Air (with support from Nebulesse) – Rebellion, Manchester

Espirit D'air Poster

Esprit D’Air (with support from Nebulesse)
Rebellion, Manchester
03/08/22
Live Review by Laura Barnes

Now, prior to this night I hadn’t been to a gig in what feels like an agonizingly long time, so allow me to self-indugently set the scene here. It is a scorching Tuesday evening in Manchester. The streets are busy with jolly day-drinkers making the most of lingering sun. Outside of the Rebellion bar stands a small queue, in which people of all ages, genders and subcultures mingle excitedly as they wait for the doors to open. Rebellion is exactly the kind of venue I was craving: all wood-chipped and sticky-floored with just a tad of peeling fluorescent paint. It is also an intimate venue: perfect for a night like this one. 

Manchester locals Nebulesse were the first and only support act, and boy-oh-boy do they do their job with gusto. Nebulesse play what can best be described as noughties style alt-rock, but my more creative description is this: emo with a deliciously spicy kick. Being a support act can be challenging, especially when playing to a fanbase as dedicated as Esprit D’Air’s – more on this later – but Nebulesse handled this challenge with ease, winning the crowd over in what felt like an instant. If there were any doubters, they were soon silenced by Nebulesse’s rousing cover of My Chemical Romance’s ‘House of Wolves’. A special mention must be made here to Nebulesse’s absolutely electric frontwoman Pix, who commanded the crowd in an authentic and characteristically Northern way. By the end of their set, people were enthusiastically singing along to the anthemic ‘No More Waiting’. Nebulesse aren’t just a band that give you a good bloody show, but are also one you would happily grab a pint with at the end of the night. I recommend you check them out sooner than later; they are one to watch.

https://www.facebook.com/NEBULESSE

With the band all fired up, it was time for Esprit D’Air themselves. Esprit D’Air, it seems, are suckers for a dramatic entrance – one by one the band members enter the stage to rapturous applause, accompanied by the cinematic ‘Into The Oceans’ intro track. The biggest cheer arose when frontman Kai arrived. Dressed in loose black robes and silver jewelry, he looked like a very joyous grim reaper. And that joy was infectious! Although Esprit D’Air’s music is emotive and has a strong focus on personal struggles, there was something euphoric about the whole night. It is rare for a band to enjoy performing as much as the crowd enjoys watching, but this gig saw the band and the crowd feeding each other’s excitement until it filled the entire room.  Esprit D’Air played a very no-nonsense set; the focus was very clearly on the music, with only brief introductions to their hits. Such a focus really allowed for their musicianship to shine. The killer drum solo in the first half of the set was the perfect way to keep the crowd on their toes, and set the live Esprit D’Air experience apart from the studio album experience. Likewise, within the dark walls of Rebellion, the guitar solos were much larger and more powerful than on the albums. Free from glossy production, Esprit D’Air unleashed their full potential. It was delightful.

Another special mention here must go out to the fans. Gigs are always places of camaraderie and friendship, but Esprit D’Air have fostered a whole community of fans. People who had only ever spoken on the dedicated fan Discord server met each other for the first time, exchanging gifts and hugs aplenty. Half the crowd already seemed to know each other, and the other half all made friends over the course of the show. Gigs are life-affirming events, and as frontman Kai serenaded the crowd with ‘Guiding Light’ I remembered why I had missed them so much. 

https://www.facebook.com/espritdair

LINKS:
Venue

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes 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.

Liminal Shroud – All Virtues Ablaze

All Virtues Ablaze Album Cover Art

Liminal Shroud – All Virtues Ablaze
Willowtip Records
Release Date: 05/08/22
Running Time: 40:03
Review by Laura Barnes
7/10

Although Black Metal has its roots planted firmly in Northern Europe, recent years have seen some ground-breaking bands coming out of North America. The likes of Wayfarer and Panopticon have revolutionised the Black Metal scene, creating music that is equally as thoughtful as it is extreme. This prospective third wave of Black Metal (and Christ almighty, that is not a debate I want to get into) is one that is philosophical, unashamedly political, and unafraid of experimentation.  It goes beyond the sinister; it is black metal that connects you to the wind in the trees and the dirt beneath your feet. Canadian Black Metal act Liminal Shroud fit neatly into this tradition. 

Liminal Shroud’s version of Black Metal is far more earthy than it is hellish, but is equally as crushing. “All Virtues Ablaze” is an album designed to be listened to loudly and intently. That said, it is certainly an easier listen than their previous album “Through The False Narrows”. The production is far more polished while managing to avoid veering into an overly glossy terrority, but more importantly Liminal Shroud sound fuller and more confident than ever before. The bass and snare combo used throughout this album gives “All Virtues Ablaze” that feeling of vastness and enormity that makes Black Metal special. Album opener ‘Hypoxic’ feels like standing under a waterfall, almost drowning but not quite. Lyrically, the song is a reflection on imprisonment and solitude, and – in my opinion – can be taken both physically and metaphorically. While this may be well-travelled territory for a Black Metal band, it is clear that Liminal Shroud have approached this topic with care and attention. The free and natural world is one that has been destroyed, and replaced with one of tall grey towers and stagnation. As the instrumentals reach their bone-chilling conclusion, an epiphany is declared: ‘We built these towers / and we must tear them down’. 

The rest of the album maintains it’s heavy impact, but also adds in a slightly melodic kick. Although three out of the four tracks exceed the eight minute mark (for me, eight minutes is the border between an ‘easy listening’ song and a ‘lay down with all the lights off’ song), they never once forget that they are songs above all else, weaving the instruments together to create a tapestry of atmosphere, emotion and story. ‘Transmigration I – Pelagic Voids’ features a brief but significant moment of clean singing, and ‘Transmigration II – The Cleansing Ash’ incorporates piano and church choir-esque vocals into a track that is otherwise a twelve minute exploding volcano of sorrow. This is a phenomenal way to round off the album, and those final fading notes will have you wishing that “All Virtues Ablaze” was just that bit longer. 

Although this album is one that I am proud to have in my collection and will no doubt turn back to whenever my skies grow that bit darker, I still feel that Liminal Shroud have more to give. Their sound has become more full and consistent, yes, but I believe that Liminal Shroud can grow their sound even higher, till it reaches snow-capped mountains and is tall enough to look down on those grey, lifeless towers. On a less metaphorical level, there is also a case here for bringing the vocals forward slightly. Whilst there are some Black Metal bands in which the vocals are just one instrument among many, designed to be incomprehensible and mysterious, Liminal Shroud’s lyrics seem too relevant and poignant to be completely buried. These minor gripes aside, “All Virtues Ablaze” gives something that I, personally, will always want more of: big Black Metal with a big black heart. If you’re anything at all like me, then I promise you: this will be worth your while. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Hypoxic
02. Mists Along Florencia
03. Transmigration I – Pelagic Voids
04. Transmigration II – The Cleansing Ash

LINE-UP:
Aiden Crossley – Vocals, Guitar, Piano
Rich Taylor – Vocals, Bass
Drew Davidson – Drums

LINKS: 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes 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.

Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters – Mythos, Confession, Tragedies, and Love

Mythos, Confession, Tragedies And Love Album Cover Art

Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters – Mythos, Confession, Tragedies, and Love
Beautiful Disasters Records
Release Date: 08/07/22
Running Time: 40:03
Review by Laura Barnes
8/10

The cover of Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disaster’s third album is a haunting one. The grim reaper looms over a woman who has, seemingly, ripped open her own heart. Album covers – in my view, in any case – often act as promises to the listener. The smashed mirror of Black Flag’s “Damage” promised raw and unfiltered rage, and it delivered. The Vikings that populate Amon Amarth’s various offerings let you know that yes, this album is indeed about Vikings. Here, the cover of “Mythos, Confession, Tragedies and Love” promises precisely what its namesake implies: confessions. 

The third album from Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters is clearly a very personal one, with vulnerability and hope imbued into every song. Soulful classic rock style vocals combine with crunchy, post-grunge style riffs and guitar solos that err just on the softer side of metal to create a slick and punchy slice of modern rock that feels meaningful and deliberate. Instead of merely following formula, Blade and her Disasters embrace uncertainty throughout “Mythos, Confession, Tragedies and Love”, in every sense of the word. Lyrically, Blade wrestles with nuanced emotions and situations, most notably demonstrated on ‘Sin Eater’ and ‘Hold Your Heart’. ‘Sin Eater’ is an emotional journey: what starts with ‘You can’t crucify me more than I’ eventually becomes ‘I am reborn / No longer fractured’ with a furious guitar solo for a tripling helping of catharsis. ‘Hold Your Heart’ is a mature ballad that goes beyond the usual don’t-leave-me! or I’m-so-sorry! territory that classic rock ballads tend to cling to. Instead, this track reckons with the experience of seeing somebody you love in pain yet being unable to help them. This poignant moment on the album shows just how far Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters have come since they released their first album of punky floorfillers back in 2017. 

That being said, whilst this album does frequently venture into heavier territory, the punk and alternative rock influences remain an integral part of Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disaster’s music. ‘Tonight I’m With You’ is a joyful pop-rock anthem that wouldn’t be out of place on an Orianthi album, and undoubtedly a speeding down the highway, windows down, singing your heart out kind of song (and yes, I’m using the American word here, because there is absolutely nothing rock n’ roll about being on the M62), and bonus track ‘New York Time’ is a super fun earworm that could have easily slid into the Rock of Ages soundtrack without raising any eyebrows. 

The competition for my favourite song on the album, however, has resulted in a tie. ‘Sacrifice’ and ‘Persephone’ are both equally innovative and layered. ‘Sacrifice’ sees every element of the Disasters come together to create a hook that is sombre yet still manages to pack a thunderous punch. The inclusion of piano and acoustic guitars uplifts the storytelling ability of ‘Sacrifice’; the moment when Blade puffs out her chest and belts out ‘You have no power over me!’ delivers the fierce impact that it has earned. ‘Persephone’, meanwhile, takes a more atmospheric route, with the kind of thick and tasty bass that keeps your heart pumping as you headbang away – and trust me, there’s a lot of headbanging to be done here. 

So, what’s next for Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters? Having pushed their songwriting further than ever before, where can they go from here? Now that the band has a tight grip on their sound, the time could be ripe to let loose and take some risks. I would love to hear Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters with a more rough-and-ready production style that would really show off Blade’s vocal talent and allow each element of the Disasters to shine. Or perhaps even a live album! After an album like “Mythos, Confession, Tragedies and Love”, the sky is the limit. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Otherside
02. Sin Eater
03. Tonight I’m With You
04. Who You Are
05. Hold Your Heart
06. Undo Me
07. Persephone
08. Ozymandias
09. Sacrifice
10. Trigger Warning
11. Still Not Asking For It
12. I Never Knew (Bonus Track)
13. New York Time (Bonus Track)

LINKS: 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes 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.

Mansions In The Sea – Terra

Terra Album Cover Art

Mansions In The Sea – Terra
Winter Solitude Productions
Release Date: 01/07/22
Running Time: 47:46
Review by Laura Barnes
Rating: 8/10

It’s bloody boiling, isn’t it? 

Or at least, it is at the time of me writing this (knowing the fast-paced soap opera that is British weather, this might be completely irrelevant to you by the time you read this). If you, like me, are absolutely sweltering, all out of ice cream, and in desperate need for something to cool you down, then look no further: Mansions In The Sea’s debut album “Terra” will do just the trick. This album of chilly folk will give you that fuzzy, goosebumpy feeling you didn’t even realise you were missing. You will find yourself transported into a snowy woodland, huddled around the campfire, listening intently to the lone figure with a guitar that tells you stories of his home land. 

And a lone figure Mansions In The Sea  is indeed. ‘Mansions In The Sea’ is in fact a solo project of Berlin-based songwriter Sascha Blach, who is also the vocalist and guitarist of rock band The Halo Trees. In my opinion, folk is very much a ‘too-many-cooks-spoil-the-broth’ sort of genre, and it seems Blach shares my opinion: as well as the vocals and guitar, Blach also recorded the banjos, pianos, ukuleles and even cajon single-handedly. The result is an album that feels intimate, vulnerable and authentic. Mansions In The Sea work in the tradition of 60s and 70s singer/songwriters like Leonard Cohen and Tim Buckley, and much like his forefathers manages to achieve a sound that is melancholic without being crushingly, devastatingly bleak. 

Like all good folk, “Terra” sways gently between poetry and storytelling, atmosphere and groundedness. This balance is most eloquently achieved in ‘The Artist As An Old Man’, a beautiful and stunningly earnest track that tells the story of an old man disillusioned with his music and poetry after struggling to find success throughout his life. The lyrics depict his emotions with empathy and clarity, from his cynicism (‘if somebody reads his lines / it’s just an echo of an ego’) to his epiphany that gives his art more meaning than ever before (‘full of ideas nobody wants to hear / it’s just himself that he plays for’). 

Blach’s talent for insightful lyrics again shines through on ‘Just A Dreamer’, where he tells his lover, ‘show me a record you adore / and I grant you a glimpse into my soul’. Here, the sweet and upbeat melody really manages to capture the excitement of a tentative new love, and will surely resonate with anyone who has ever been enthralled by the possibility of understanding another person in all their totality. This track also features the wonderful singing talent of Joran Elane, whose softer-toned vocals harmonise and contract perfectly with Blach’s deeper tones. 

Speaking of Blach’s distinctively low singing voice, ‘Pacific Ocean View’ sees him utitlise his unique sound to its full potential in this sinister, unease-filled track. Upbeat guitars dance through the uncertain atmosphere set by the percussion and violins (provided by Kathrin Bierhalter, also of The Halo Trees) as Blach tells his tale. The best way I can describe this song is that it feels like going on a fun camping trip with a dead man, and who doesn’t love camping! 

There are moments, however, where I feel that some of the songs could have been pushed further to increase the dynamicsm and variety of the “Terra” – ‘Flow’ seems to slow the momentum of the album somewhat, and ‘Lonelytown’ is a fantastic concept that would have really benefitted from venturing deeper into its own darkness. However, this is a small critique of an album that is refreshingly unique and original. If you’ve ever wondered what it would sound like if David Gold joined Simon and Garfunkel, or if you need a break from a very loud and very bombarding society, or if you simply love heartfelt and well-crafted music, then “Terra” will not disappoint. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Disappear In The Clouds
02. Circumnavigation Of The World
03. Somewhere Out There
04. The Artist As An Old Man
05. Lost Without A Trace (feat. Joran Elane)
06. Lonelytown
07. Bleary Remembrance
08. Pacific Ocean View
09. Renounce Despair
10. Bridge To A New Life
11. Just A Dreamer (feat. Joran Elane) 
12. Flow
13. One Night In Summery Barceona 

LINE-UP:
Sascha Blach – Vocals, Guitar, Ukulele, Banjo, Mandolin, Percussion 
Kathrin Bierhalter – Violins

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes 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.

Sarayasign – Throne of Gold

Throne of Gold Album Cover Art

Sarayasign – Throne of Gold
Melodic Passion

Release Date: 24/06/22
Running Time: 36:53
Review by Laura Barnes
9/10

We are currently in the presence of courage far greater than any lion or dragon-slaying knight. Step aside snake tamers, deep sea adventurers, people who bungee-jump for fun. This is bravery like you’ve never seen it before: Sarayasign’s debut album is a concept album. A bloody concept album!

For those of you who don’t follow music as obsessively as I do, a concept album is one of the riskiest things a band can do. Even for bands with a massive, quasi-religious following, the concept album can be a double-edged sword bathed in flame and venom. Even Judas Priest haven’t fully recovered from the unholy reaction to “Nostradamus”, and they’re Judas Fucking Priest for God’s sake (note: please do not take this as Nostradamus slander. I would not dare slander Nostradamus). Since then, culture has gotten even less concept album friendly. In an age of algorithm-tailored running playlists and Spotify shuffle mode, concept albums can easily get lost within the ‘I-have-no-time-right-now-so-I’ll-listen-to-this-abum-when-I-have-time’ folder because – you guessed it – there is never enough time. To this I say: move some shit around and make some time, because this debut album is unmissable. 

Swedish Hard Rockers Sarayasign deliver banger after banger in the vein of Kamelot, Queensrÿche, Coheed and Cambria (with just a sprinkle of Dream Theater for a dramatic flourish, of course) that is guaranteed to have you singing your heart out whether you follow the story or not. Despite the strong and effective focus on storytelling, “Throne of Gold” never once forgets that it is an album and not a one thousand page Ken Follett novel. Expository monologues and incomprehensible interludes are nowhere to be seen and no song exceeds the ten-minute mark. Instead, the storytelling is built into Sarayasign’s song writing in a way that feels natural, authentic and compelling. 

According to Sarayasign’s website, “Throne of Gold” kicks off an epic fantasy narrative that will be told over the course of four albums. In this album, Sarayasign have laid down the building blocks of this narrative with two interweaving story threads. The first thread introduces the world of Saraya to the listener, where chosen heroes are searching for a book that will vanquish the Darkness that is encroaching on the land. One problem: the pages have been torn out of the book and separated across distance and time. The second thread is much less far-reaching: a woman is stricken by grief after her husband dies in a car crash. Eventually, these narratives will connect in some unexpected ways. Although these two story threads seem wildly opposing in tone, Sarayasign maintains a consistent yet varied tone throughout. 

That said, whilst songs in each storyline are all fantastically written, it is the second, more down-to-earth storyline that showcases Saraysign’s magical talent for sonic storytelling. Take ‘Distant Memories’, for example. The slower, foreboding verses fill the listener with the same dread felt by the widow as she waits anxiously for her husband’s return; the melodic chorus conveys the beauty and tragedy of lost love; the gentle piano bridge frames the moment of the husband’s death. As powerhouse vocalist Stefan Nykvist spins the yarn, the attentive listener will pick up on sound effects that propel ‘Distant Memories’ into goosebump territory: car radios, police sirens, and the husband’s fading heartbeat in his last moments of life. ‘Distant Memories’ is followed by ‘If Only For A Moment’, an unflinchingly earnest ballad that manages to look grief right in the eye without cloaking itself in bleakness. The lyrics are simple, but effective; Nykvist belts out lines like ‘Home is not where the heart is / All the memories are turning black’ with unwavering conviction and weeping guitars from Daniel Blohm and Jesper Lindberg (who, by the way, is the mastermind behind the vast story-world of Saraya) bring the song to its dramatic conclusion. 

This isn’t to say that the songs following Saraya and its battle with the mysterious evil are subpar however. Whilst tracks like ‘Distant Memories’ and ‘Throne of Gold’ pack a spectacularly emotional punch in a way that surpasses earlier tracks like ‘Book of Wisdom’, every track delivers something unique. ‘Stranger in Ice’, for example, is one of the coolest tracks (pun intended) on the album. It features a guy on HORSEBACK galloping across a ‘blood red sky’ and contains enough euphoric ‘YEEAAAAAAHS’ to destroy your vocal chords twice over. What more could you possibly want?

Regardless of whether you’re a fantasy nerd or a high-flying executive metalhead who has no time for such far-fetched things, Sarayasign’s dramatic entrance into the Hard Rock scene will make you pay attention. With such a sprawling world laid out before them and the quiet confidence with which they write their music, it is clear that Sarayasign’s journey – much like their chosen heroes –  has only just begun. If you follow my advice and give “Throne of Gold” a spin, then I guarantee you’ll want to see it through with them till the end. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Book of Wisdom
02. When World’s Collide
03. Distant Memories
04. If Only For A Moment
05. Sandman
06. Run
07. Stranger In Ice
08. Throne of Gold

LINE-UP:
Stefan Nykvist – Vocals
Daniel Blohm – Lead Guitar
Andreas Axelsson – Keyboards
Daniel Lykkeklev – Bass
Jesper Lindberg – Drums / Rhythm Guitar

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes 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.

Fallen Sanctuary – Terranova

Terranova Album Cover Art

Fallen Sanctuary – Terranova
AFM Records

Release Date: 24/06/22
Running Time: 01:01: 47

Review by Laura Barnes
9/10

I won’t beat around the bush here: this album absolutely rules. 

Power Metal gets a pretty bad rep within the Metal scene, and it’s easy to understand why. With its surplus of historically inaccurate Viking helmets and bizarre but enduring obsession with wolves, Power Metal is (aside from Black Metal, of course) the easiest Metal subgenre to make fun of. Alongside its many quirks, Power Metal is also criticised for its repetitiveness. For a subgenre that claims to be massively influenced by fantasy, there is often a distinct lack of imagination that can make Power Metal hard to get excited about – after all, there are only so many times you can hear about a big shiny dude with a big shiny sword fighting a big scary dragon before it gets stale. In such an overcrowded landscape, it is tragically easy to forget just how awesome and life-affirming this music can be when it is done right.

So, thank you Fallen Sanctuary, for reminding me. 

“Terranova” is an album that soars, an album that bounces with energy and joy, even in its darkest moments. Fallen Sanctuary’s enthusiasm is as contagious as it is obvious, and I can guarantee that after a couple of listens you’ll be jumping on your bed and singing into your hairbrush like a thirteen-year-old girl in a smelly battle jacket. This album may be Fallen Sanctuary’s debut, but it is far from their first melodic rodeo. Fallen Sanctuary’s founding members include Serenity vocalist Georg Neuhauser and Temperance guitarist Marco Pastorino, and it is clear that they have brought all of their song-writing experience to the table, resulting in a sound that is way more mature and consistent than your Average Joe’s debut album. In fact, the album is so consistently good that it’s mighty hard to pick out highlights, but I’ll try my best! ‘Now and Forever’ and ‘To The Top’ are two fiery, fist-pumping anthems, and the inclusion of keyboards gives ‘To The Top’ that softer emotive edge. ‘Rise Against The World’ is a track that really showcases Fallen Sanctuary’s range; poppy choruses meet with a thunderous bridge and an electrifying guitar solo. ‘Destiny’ fizzes with a Classic Metal kick that is almost Maiden-esque. ‘I Can’t Stay’ is the obligatory Power Metal ballad that no self-respecting Melodic Metal album could go without. Granted, it’s a little cheesy, but so is pizza and pizza is, of course, the best savoury dish in human history, so get over yourself and enjoy this delicious cheddar already!

Whilst “Terranova” can hardly be accused of re-inventing the Melodic Power Metal wheel here, they do certainly sand-down the wheel’s rough edges. The production is nice and glossy, and the song-writing is tight and compact; you never once feel like a song is overstaying its welcome. Fallen Sanctuary do set themselves apart from other Power Metal bands lyrically, however. Instead of songs about, er, wolves or something, Fallen Sanctuary are more interested in things like interpersonal relationships, climate crisis, and drug addiction. Title track ‘Terranova’ is a great example of this as it hauntingly depicts the physical, emotional, and interpersonal consequences of drug addiction (however this renders the spoken word segment at the end unnecessary, admittedly). The vulnerability displayed though these lyrical themes really give the album staying power and proves that Fallen Sanctuary’s song-writing go beyond crafting catchy verses and sick guitar solos. With such strong performances across the board, the fact that this is Fallen Sanctuary’s debut album and not their third or fourth is mind-boggling.

All in all: this album absolutely fucking rules. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Terranova
02. Now And Forever
03. Broken Dreams
04. Rise Against The World
05. To The Top
06. Destiny
07. I Can’t Stay
08. Trail Of Destruction
09. No Rebirth
10. Bound To Our Legacy
11. Wait For Me

LINE-UP:
Georg Neuhauser – Vocals
Marco Pastorino – Guitar
Alfonso Mocerino – Drums
Gabriele Gozza – Bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes 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.

Deathwhite – Grey Everlasting

Grey Everlasting Album Cover Art

Deathwhite – Grey Everlasting
Season of Mist
Release Date: 10/06/22
Running Time: 48:03
Review By Laura Barnes
10/10

There are two kinds of heavy music. 

The first kind of heavy music feels like a glorious sledgehammer to the skull. It is a heaviness that crushes you, eats you, wrestles you to your knees and demands that you worship it. This is the heaviness of Slayer, Sepultura, and Bolt Thrower. It is simple and straightforward; you know it when you see it.

The second kind of heavy music is more discreet, more intricate. It is like a tide that gradually washes over you before swallowing you whole, or an ancient Siren that beckons to you sweetly before she sends you to your doom. Heaviness of this sort is rare, although it can be found among bands like Woods of Ypres, Katatonia, Oceans of Slumber, and the entire genre of DSBM. 

Deathwhite falls firmly into the second category.

“Grey Everlasting” is not an album for the fainthearted. It is raw, sombre, and digs deep into an intimate despair that many Doom metal bands fail to touch. Tracks ‘No Thought or Memory’ and ‘Formless’ are perfect examples of this. In these two songs, Deathwhite leads you into a lightless cavern so haunting that it quickly becomes difficult to distinguish between yourself and the darkness. In ‘No Thought or Memory’ the guitars twist and turn through a sorrowful riff as Deathwhite’s frontman beautifully sings his lamentation: ‘being nothing / nowhere / being nothing / nowhere’. This slow pace builds up a heavy tension that is gloriously released in a guitar solo that positively spits with wrath and humanity. If ‘No Thought or Memory’ is cavernous, then ‘Formless’ is labyrinthine. Tremonti-style guitar work accompanies the vocalist as he questions whether or not it is truly possible to comprehend the pain of another, eventually realising that ‘Night is now eternal / I have no name’. This feeling of isolation and depersonalisation is one that runs throughout the entirety of “Grey Everlasting”, and was, according to Deathwhite themselves, largely inspired by the experience of writing and recording during the pandemic. 

Be assured, however, that “Grey Everlasting” does not contain any of the navel-gazing, on-the-nose platitudes that haunt an unfortunate amount of pandemic-inspired art. Alongside the pandemic, the band have also pointed to the “strife on the political and human rights front” of these past few years as a source of inspiration, and it shows. Although Deathwhite’s music is sophisticated and often subtle, there is also an unmistakable rage present throughout the album, particularly on tracks such as ‘So We Forget’ and ‘Earthtomb’. Alongside Deathwhite’s signature atmospheric sound, these tracks incorporate elements of extreme metal that really pushes “Grey Everlasting” to the next level. The use of blast beats across the album adds new layers of emotion to Deathwhite’s music and is, in my opinion, a huge step up from their previous work. Deathwhite’s progress is fully embodied on the darkly magical ‘White Sleep’. This is a truly magnificent track that sees each of Deathwhite’s musical and emotional layers coalesce into a beautiful whole. ‘White Sleep’ is one of the shorter songs on “Grey Everlasting”, yet somehow feels much longer, thanks to its ability to engage in sheer sonic storytelling. If you are afflicted with a tragically busy life and only have the time to listen to one song from this album, then I beg you, let it be this one. 

When one opens their ears to “Grey Everlasting”, they should tread carefully. Deathwhite have taken thick doomy basslines and existential dread and fused them together to create a beast of phenomenal power. Feel free to gaze upon its glory, but remember this: it has the power to devour you whole. 

‘White Sleep’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Nihil
02. Earthtomb
03. No Thought or Memory
04. Quietly, Suddenly
05. Grey Everlasting
06. White Sleep
07. Immemorial
08. Formless
09. So We Forget
10. Blood and Ruin
11. Asunder

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes 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.

Sartori – Dragon’s Fire

Sartori – Dragon’s Fire
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 28/01/22
Running Time: 30:30
Review by Laura Barnes
7.5/10

I think I speak for us all when I say: I miss Dio. Hence why Sartori’s debut album, “Dragon’s Fire” made me grin from ear to ear. Never before have I listened to a non-Dio album that is so, well, Dio-esque! With it’s delightfully crunchy riffs and messages of strength and positivity, listening to this album is like stepping through a time portal to the 23rd of May, 1983, the day that Dio released his own debut solo album. 

Much like Ronnie James Dio himself, Sartori founder and guitarist Andy A. Sartori is inspired by classical music, citing Mozart as his biggest inspiration. This influence is one that absolutely shines throughout this album and is enough to separate Sartori from the immense pack of power metal bands out there. The guitar work in “Dragon’s Fire” is intricate, sophisticated and emotional, especially on tracks like ‘One Distant Heart’, ‘Through The Eyes Of My Soul’, and ‘Battle In The Distant Lands’. Whilst the guitars, naturally, take musical lead on this album, a word of praise must also be given to vocalist Scott Board, who sings his heart out on each and every song. 

With guitar and vocal expertise combined, Sartori take simple song structures to new heights. Much like the flying dragons that Sartori like to sing about, their choruses soar through the air before settling in your head like a ferocious earworm. For a band still very much in their infancy, Sartori have the songwriting skills of a much older band. I’m sure we’re all familiar with what I fondly call ‘Debut Album Syndrome’: overly long songs, self-indulgent intros, outros, interludes and intermissions and a slight dominance of filler over killer. Clocking out at just over half an hour, “Dragon’s Fire” has achieved the nigh impossible feat of avoiding all these pitfalls. The band has limited themselves to a single interlude, fourth track ‘Little Aria in G Major’. Unlike the rest of “Dragon’s Fire”, ‘Little Aria in G Major’ features clean guitars and provides a moment of mellow contemplation before the fist-pumping, rifftastic anthems fire up again. 

In future releases, I would be interested in seeing Sartori fuse these two sides to their music together. ‘Little Aria in G Major’ showcases a lot of potential for further experimentation in Sartori’s music. With “Dragon’s Fire”, Sartori have firmly distinguished themselves as a band worthy of the metal’s scene attention. Having earned their place, Sartori now have the licence to play and explore, to take the sounds of their incredible influences and make them their own. I can’t wait to see what they do next. 

‘Devil In Disguise’ Official Lyric Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Evil Heart
02. One Distant Heart
03. From Hell To Heaven
04. Little Aria In G Major
05. Devil In Disguise
06. Through The Eyes Of My Soul
07. Castle Of Lost Souls
08. Dragon’s Fire

LINE-UP:
Andy A. Sartori – Guitars
Scott Board – Vocals
Rod Viquez – Bass
Dino-Castano – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes 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.

Wolfbastard – Hammer The Bastards

Hammer The Bastard Album Cover Art

Wolfbastard – Hammer The Bastards
Clobber Records

Release Date: 14/01/22
Running Time: 31:28
Review by Laura Barnes
8.5/10

Quick! Grab a hammer, a beer, and a Molotov cocktail, ‘cuz it’s time to go on a rampage! Oh, and don’t forget to grab a coat – it’s mighty cold outside. Not the icy cold of Norwegian mountaintops, mind you. This is the pissy chill of a Manchester night. This is a uniquely British cold.

Hammer The Bastards is Wolfbastard’s third offering of Crust Punk Black Metal goodness and my oh my, what an offering it is! In an era in which Black Metal seems to distance itself from its own hellish roots with the gentle sounds of pseudo genres such as ‘Blackgaze’ and ‘Post-Black Metal Jazz Fusion’ (sorry, White Ward – you know I love you, really), Wolfbastard’s back-to-basics approach is like a breath of fresh, poisonous air. “Hammer The Bastards” is just over half an hour of sheer fist-pumping, head-banging, bloody adrenaline. If you haven’t yet been able to go to a gig since lockdown ended, then just give this album a spin: you will be instantly transported to a basement show in the grottiest pub you have ever seen. Your arm will be bruised purple, and your brow will be drenched in sweat. It will be the most fun you’ve ever had.

‘Buckfast Blasphemies’ is easily the most ‘live’ sounding song on the album. Here, Wolfbastard have accomplished a nigh impossible feat: they have made black metal catchy. This is followed closely by ‘Fear the Exxxekutioner’, a total satanic moshpit of a song that finishes with a fantastically unhinged guitar solo. These songs – alongside other crowd-pleasers such as ‘Pissing on the Sacred Ground’ and ‘Black Friday’ – are a testament to Wolfbastard’s unique frenetic energy. As soon as one song ends, you are flung headfirst into another with little more than a rugged bassline to make sense of your descent. However, whilst these songs are undoubtedly a total fucking hoot and a half, it is actually on the occasions where Wolfbastard break from the formula in which they really shine. 

Title track ‘Hammer the Bastards’ is unquestionably the best song on the record; it is also the most unusual. At three minutes and thirty-four seconds long, ‘Hammer the Bastards’ is the longest track on the album, and it earns each and every second. Rather than diving immediately into chaos, ‘Hammer the Bastards’ takes it’s time, gradually building tension with a chilling intro that is overlaid with a sample of a priest giving a fantastically bleak sermon. Once the intro comes to its blood-curdling end, Wolfbastard go straight into what Wolfbastard do best, but this time, something feels different. This time, there is an emotional cutting, a sharpened edge that is perhaps less present on other tracks. When the guitars take charge right before the final chorus, it is, of course, completely fucking buckwild, but there is also a sense of compelling sense of desperation lurking just below the surface. The same goes for a later track on the album, ‘Morbid Fucking Hell’. When vocalist Dez cries out ‘This morbid fucking hell / Tearing at my skin / Ripping up the flesh’ it is positively hair-raising. Wolfbastard’s trademark fury is strangely complemented by this level of hopelessness, allowing the band to reach new emotional heights. With these two songs, Wolfbastard not only showcase their well-established Black Metal chops, but also offer a brief vision of where their music has the potential to go in the future. 

All in all, this is not only a rock solid Wolfbastard album, but an important contribution to the wider British Black Metal and Punk scene. Wolfbastard have taken two distinct, controversial genres and fused them together to create something that manages to be both unique and fun. With tracks ‘Hammer the Bastards’ and ‘Morbid Fucking Hell’, Wolfbastard demonstrate just how much emotional depth they care capable of, and I look forward to this being explored further on future albums. In the meantime! Listen to “Hammer the Bastards”! Or else! 

‘Black Friday’ Office Single Stream

TRACKLISTING:
01. Can’t Escape the Grave
02. Black Friday
03. Hammer he Bastards
04. Buckfast Blasphemies
05. Death Creeping in
06. Drag Me To Hell
07. Fear the Exxxekutioner
08. Morbid Fucking Hell
09. Nun Krüsher
10. Returning Evil
11. Pissing on the Sacred Ground
12. When Will It End
13. Graveyard Slag

LINE-UP:
Dez – Guitar/Vocals
Si Fox – Bass/Vocals
Dave Buchan – Drums

LINKS:

Wolfbastard Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes 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.

Dead Space Chamber Music – The Black Hours

The Black Hours Album Cover Art

Dead Space Chamber Music – The Black Hours
Self-Released
Release Date: 03/12/21
Running Time: 42:50
Review by Laura Barnes

7.5/10

As a metalhead, listening to bands like Dead Space Chamber Music is interesting. With its subtle basslines and soft vocals, they are, at first listen, a world away from the music we are used to. Yet, much like bands like Wardruna or Heilung who also specialise in music from a time long past, Dead Space Chamber Music are experts in crafting exactly what metal would be non-existent without: atmosphere. Specifically, an atmosphere darker than a winter’s night. 

“The Black Hours” opens gently, taking you by the hand and leading you through a haunted landscape populated with quiet wails and drums that gradually creep upon you like the oncoming footsteps of a giant. The construction of opening track ‘Liement Me Deport’ is phenomenal; the build-up is slow, gradual, yet never once feels boring or – God forbid – self-indulgent. Every single second of this track has a purpose, and that purpose is clear: it wants to fill you with dread. As the track reaches the three minute mark, that sense of dread swells, and you prepare yourself for the inevitable explosion. And that’s when the unbelievable happens.

It slows. It stops.

This unpredictability, this uneasy ebb and flow is characteristic – and undoubtedly a strength – of the entire album. Which, when you think about it, makes perfect sense. Immediately after this first track was recorded, the country was plunged into lockdown and Dead Space Chamber Music were forced to make radical changes to their improvisation and recording practises. The following five tracks, recorded sequentially over the course of the country’s first lockdown, don’t shy away from embracing this uncertainty. The entire album is engaged in a gentle push and pull, inviting the listener into intimacy in one moment, and plunging them headfirst into the depths of despair in the next. Penultimate track ‘The Pit / Dissolved In Ashes’ is a wonderful demonstration of this versatility. On this track, Dead Space Chamber Music subtly blends Latin and English lyrics during a sombre exploration of grief. The Latin phrases, (for example, Dies irae / Dies illa, referring to a Latin hymn performed at funerals) add a grave sense of formality to the piece, whereas the English phrases portray a raw vulnerability (for example, from these embers I rise again / My heart crushed in ashes) that culminates in a harrowing wail towards the song’s climax. 

One is reminded of the strange balance of collective ceremony and personal sadness that occurs after loss. Vulnerability is something that Dead Space Chamber Music does incredibly well; in fact, twin instrumental tracks ‘Ion’ and ‘Ion II’ appear to be experiments in vulnerability. Just how close is a listener willing to get to a song? ‘Ion’ and ‘Ion II’ get eerily close at times as vocalist Ellen Southern breathes into your eardrum and percussionist Kate Murt’s drums take on a whisper-like quality. Some listeners may, perhaps, find this level of intimacy off-putting, but to them I say: that’s part of the fun! Much like the Metal bands they are often categorised beside, Dead Space Chamber Music make challenging music, testing the boundaries of what music can and can’t be. Even if ‘Ion’ and ‘Ion II’ don’t appeal to your specific tastes, the two tracks are still deserving of praise for their sheer bravery and originality.

With all this talk of darkness and vulnerability, it would be easy to overlook the level of joy expressed in “The Black Hours”. Indeed, “The Black Hours” treads across gloomy waters, but it is the sheer joy that lies at its heart that keeps the album going. This joy is most evident in ‘Mari Lwrd / Morf’ar Frenhines’ (that’s ‘Grey Mare / Queen’s Marsh’ for all the non-Welsh speakers out there – Dead Space Chamber Music are quite the linguists), a song that can be most efficiently described as an entrancing dance around a campfire. Guitarist Tom Bush really shines here, ripping out a doom-infused solo in an album-defining moment that sees all of Dead Space Chamber Music at the top of their game. The lyrics, too, are enchanting, and seem to embody the ethos of the entire album. The opening lines translate into ‘Here we come / Dear friends / To ask permission to sing’ and the final verse translates into ‘I have no dinner / Or money to spend / To give you welcome tonight’. 

Dead Space Chamber music don’t cover Middle English folk songs to get to number one on the charts, nor do they incorporate a bowed and plucked psaltery into their music to fill seats at Wembley Stadium. Instead, they make music for the same reasons that cavemen first began to bang pebbles together: to create, to express emotions difficult to articulate through words alone, and to connect with their fellow man. For that, “The Black Hours” absolutely deserves a listen. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Liement Me Deport
02. Bryd One Brere (Bird on a Briar)
03. Ion I
04. Mari Lwyd / Morfa’r Frenhines (Grey Mare / Queen’s Marsh)
05. Ion II
06. The Pit / Dissolved in Ashes
07. Douce Colombe Jolie

LINE-UP
Tom Bush – Guitars, Sampler
Katie Murt – Drums, Percussion
Liz Paxton – Cello
Ellen Southern – Voice, Percussion, Bowed and Plucked Psaltery

LINKS:

Dead Space Chamber Music Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes 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.