Killswitch Engage – Live at the Palladium

Live At The Palladium Album Cover Art

Killswitch Engage – Live at the Palladium
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 03/06/2022
Running Time: 71:00
Review by Rory Bentley
8/10

Taken from their two livestream specials from earlier this year, “Live at the Palladium” sees Massachusetts Metalcore legends KIllswitch Engage take to the stage in a very different environment from their usual sweat-soaked singathons, where a baying crowd roar back every syllable. This new lockdown necessity has affected each artist differently and some have suited the format better than others, but it’s hard to see playing in front of a film crew as anything but a disadvantage for Killswitch, who thrive on creating a party environment and whipping up a crowd in a way that few other bands are capable of. I’m getting this negative out of the way because it’s nobody’s fault and there’s still more than enough across these two sets to please any hardcore KIllswitch fan, of which I am most certainly one of.

The decision to play their latest album “Atonement” and their self-titled debut in full gives everything a unique big-event feel that makes the experience worthwhile and allows deeper cuts to come to the fore. It’s a bold move by a band whose bread and butter is peeling out back to back anthems that have become staples within Metal, but it’s a gamble that really pays off and stops this being just another live album. I’ll never tire of “My Last Serenade” and “Rose of Sharon” but this band has so many hidden gems and lesser played classics that it’s a shame that they don’t always get the same shine as the tried and tested hits.

My earliest thought when spinning this for the first time was that we all did “Atonement” dirty when it came out in 2020. Despite being better received than the somewhat patchy predecessor “Incarnate”, the response was lukewarm at the time with a lot of criticism that the band had settled into their groove and it was ‘just another Killswitch album’. While this is not entirely inaccurate, I would posit this question- how many of their peers are capable of this level of songwriting on such a consistent basis? When “Unleashed” roars out the traps it feels like the kind of song most bands could only dream of opening their set with. To then follow it up with future set staple “The Signal Fire” is just plain rude, even without the towering baritone of former singer Howard Jones on guest vocals the song is pure serotonin distilled into a world class chorus and razor sharp riff work. 

The heart wrenching “I Am Broken Too” is somehow delivered with more passion and power than on the album and offers a touching statement of solidarity to those suffering from mental health issues. Jesse Leach really pours everything into this performance, reaching out through the sterile prism of the empty stage and straight into the gut. Which is nothing less than one would expect from one of the great frontmen of our time. In fact this whole set shows how much he has grown as a singer and lyricist. There was a time when his raw emotion often came at the expense of his technical ability, and while this was a trade off I never had a problem accepting, his transformation into a master of his instrument is a wonderful thing to bear witness to. Where once he strained and his pitch wavered, his soulful tenor soars above the frenetic guitar work of his bandmates to create some truly spine tingling moments, as demonstrated on ‘As Sure as The Sun Will Rise’ where he hits you right in the feels and dovetails beautifully with Adam D’s fantastic counter vocals and butter-smooth harmonies.

It sort of goes without saying that the band are inhumanly tight and that famous guitar tone is loud and proud throughout, benefiting from a stellar mixing job that gives clarity without ever sacrificing the filthy chugging crunch that propels every song into an infinite circle pit.  Justin Foley hits with weight and precision on the kit and Mike D is ever reliable holding down the low-end grooves. Just another day at the office for these guys.

As much as I enjoyed the first set, the grimy Hardcore kid in me was salivating at the prospect of that first album getting a run through and good lord was I not dissappointed! To hear the squealing harmonics and Melodeath riffs of ‘In The Unblind’ is always a treat and it’s great to hear that despite becoming Mr Slick on the clean vocals, Jesse still sounds absolutely feral on the old material. ‘Irreversal’ should be played at every Killswitch show forever despite the fact that I may die horribly when they kick into the final beatdown, and ‘Temple from Within’ into ‘Vide Infra’ is about as good as hardcore one-twos get! Yes I said hardcore, stop folding your tatooed arms and recognise that they’ve got riffs that Earth Crisis wish they could write!

The icing on the cake comes from the inspired idea to close with ‘Just Barely Breathing’ from “Alive of Just Breathing”, which is one of my favourite songs by any band ever and it’s blasted out so aggressively you’d think the band’s instruments owe them money!

“Live at the Palladium” is one of those rare live albums that is actually worth having in your collection. It paints the new album in a different and more favourable light while reminding everyone that underneath the festival-crushing singalong band lies a group of rabid hardcore kids that haven’t lost touch with their underground roots and can still fucking GO!

‘Temple From Within’ Live at the Palladium

TRACKLISTING:
01. Unleashed
02. The Signal Fire
03. Us Against The World
04. The Crownless King
05. I Am Broken Too
06. As Sure As The Sun Will Rise
07. Know Your Enemy
08. Take Control
09. Ravenous
10. I Can’t Be the Only One
11. Bite the Hand That Feeds
12. Temple from Within
13. Vide Infra
14. Irreversal
15. Rusted Embrace
16. Prelude
17. Soilborn
18. Numb Sickened Eyes
19. In the Unblind
20. Just Barely Breathing

LINE-UP:
Adam Dutkiewicz – Lead guitar
Joel Stroetzel – Rhythm guitar
Mike D’Antonio – Bass
Justin Foley – Drums
Jesse Leach – Vocals

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley 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.

DVNE – Cycles of Asphodel EP

Cycles of Asphodel EP Cover Art

DVNE – Cycles of Asphodel EP
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 20/05/2022
Running Time: 25:26
Review by Rory Bentley
9/10

Fresh off of last year’s wonderful sophomore release “Etemen Ænka”, Scottish Prog Metal firebrands DVNE have decided to reward us with a special live recording of their Bandcamp livestream in the form of this fantastic little EP. Good things often come in small packages (no innuendos please) and it certainly proves to be the case here.

I’ve seen many superb bands struggle to fully realise dense, complex and dynamic material in the live arena. Sometimes that’s down to the logistical nightmare of rearranging grandiose studio compositions into something that aligns with limitations of a core band that don’t have the budget to tour with the album’s guest musicians. Other times it’s down to the venue’s battered old PA system and clueless sound technician. Fortunately the band have opted to hire two highly capable collaborators to immortalise these songs on record the way they intended.

The world class musical chops of Lissa Robertson on vocals and violin and Evelyn May Hedges on keys ensure that the core band is given that extra sonic boost that allows these four sprawling tracks to be delivered in all of their cinematic glory. Lissa’s ethereal melismatic vocals conjure up the exotic and wild atmosphere of the recent “Dune” movie, the original novel of which the band derives its name from and the additional keys and ambience of Evelyn create an immersive listening experience as they glide gracefully over the labyrinthine guitar work and thundering rhythms.

Original album highlight, the frankly mind blowing “Omega Severer” in particular sounds positively colossal as winding arpeggios give way to the king of planet-smashing riffs that Cult of Luna have been crushing my skull with for years. Make sure you mark that reference on Bentley Bingo, there’s a converge reference coming up soon so dabbers at the ready!

I should also say that the core band is absolutely on fire here and in no danger of being overshadowed by their guests of honour. The vocals are delivered with both the primal bellow and emotional expression required and the musicianship and tightness of the band over these dynamic compositions bares all the hallmarks of a unit that has been forged in the fires of relentless gigging. Dynamic, head-spinning songs like “Asphodel” are unbelievably difficult to pull off in a live setting, particularly the delicate Post-Rock sections, but if anything these live versions surpass their studio counterparts.

I was already giddy with excitement for the band’s next full length, but after hearing this exquisite little set the wait feels unbearable. Do yourself a favour and spend 26 minutes in the company of one of the UK’s best new bands. In fact I’ve posted the whole show in the link below for all my Fremen Fam! (Dune reference guys, nerds are cool now, deal with it.)

‘Cycles Of Asphodel’ Live Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Weighing of the Heart (Live)
02. Omega Severer (Live)
03. Asphodel (Live)
04. Satuya (Live)

LINE-UP:
Victor Vicart: guitar, vocals, keys
Dudley Tait: drums
Daniel Barter: guitar, vocals
Allan Paterson: bass
Lissa Robertson: violin, vocals
Evelyn May Hedges: keys

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley 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.

Master Boot Record – Personal Computer

Personal Computer Album Cover Art

Master Boot Record – Personal Computer
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 13.05.22
Running Time: 63:01
Review by Dark Juan
647,332,196,003/10

Good afternoon, dear friends. It is with considerable sadness that I start this review having heard of the untimely and tragic death of Trevor Strnad, a gentleman of the first order. I had the pleasure of interviewing him for Ever-Metal.com during one of the many lockdowns over Skype, and found him to be a gregarious, charming and funny man, and understanding and amused at an ersatz metal hack bungling his first big ticket interview as well as him being a walking encyclopedia of metal. This is a sad loss, and Dark Juan’s thoughts go out to the rest of The Black Dahlia Murder and of course Trevor’s family and friends in their time of loss and grief.

May Trevor Strnad rest forever in peace and power.

This leads on to another point before I actually start telling you about the genius that is Master Boot Record – Yet another man has been lost to suicide. Dark Juan is also going through a difficult time and suffers from dark thoughts frequently, thankfully I’ve been able to turn to certain people in my life (and for this I thank them all profusely and without restraint – they know who they are) to help drain the black away. 

IT’S OK TO TALK.

I IMPLORE you, struggling gentlemen who read my barely literate shite, to go and seek help from Andy’s Man Club or Samaritans or whoever the fuck you need to, to obtain help and counselling before it gets too much to cope with. It is NOT weak to share your burden. You are NOT less of a man if you realise you can’t cope and reach out for support. I don’t want to have to know that any of my acquaintances and friends have joined Trevor Strnad and Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell and  Kurt Cobain. I would much rather have you all fucking get help. I need it sometimes and I am one of the most resilient motherfuckers you will ever come across. Today, however, a long dirtnap would be amazing but you (and I) have to keep fighting because that long dirtnap, you aren’t coming back from that. Suicide is a permanent (and horribly painful for your family, significant others and friends) method of dealing with a temporary situation. TALK, MEN, TALK…

Enough seriousness. Let us instead discuss a musical project that has brought me considerable joy ever since my friend Metal Carl (yes, that is his nickname and it is a running joke around the area of West Yorkshire where I live that Metal Carl is more metal than ACTUAL physical metal) sent me a link to the song “IRQ 0 SYSTEM CLOCK” and told me that I might like it.

How right he was. He has given me a whole new obsession with this Italian electronic auteur (being as Master Boot Record is a project from a 486DX-33MHz-64MB computer, processing avant-garde chiptune, synthesized heavy metal & classical symphonic music. It is also shockingly productive, this being the 8th MBR album proper as well as its work with Keygen Church) and its colossal, expansive instrumental soundscapes. Master Boot Record derives some of its pleasure for me from the fact that it is the work of an Italian man called Victor Love who has spent years making out he is an IBM 486 processor. I love daft shit.

Now, the blurb states that I shouldn’t call Master Boot Record’s music synthwave, and that it should be in fact described as electronic metal. I actually have some sympathy with that description, but fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me. Unless you’re a devastatingly attractive woman ordering me into her boudoir while waving a packet of dex at me. Then it’s a case of fuck you, I’m doing what I’m told… but I digress – Master Boot Record plays a style of music that encompasses Outrun synthwave as part of its alternative silicon based DNA before being fused cybernetically with the heaviest and chunkiest of metal. The resulting musical behemoth is A) terrifying to behold and B) fucking brilliant.

If you have ever read William Gibson’s Sprawl books, or Burning Chrome, or Mona Lisa Overdrive, I humbly submit that Master Boot Record is the soundtrack to his fevered tales of the Net and its denizens. The music sends my imagination into turbocharged high gear – I picture Chiba-boosted assassins with scalpels underneath their fingernails battling vat-grown zaibatsu samurai armed with monofilament wire that can cut two-inch-thick steel in the rainy, slippery, gomi-filled back alleys of a neon-lit geodesic nightmare, fighting over the capture of a strung-out mnemonic courier chain-smoking Yeheyuan filters who has just offloaded the data packet he was carrying in his wetwired brain to a drug addicted, cybernetically enhanced and armoured dolphin who’s fighting his own infowar with his Lo-Tek allies against the zaibatsus. I close my eyes and see people with grey lenses surgically implanted into their faces to cover up the Hong-Kong made cybernetic eyes they see through, and rain slick black leather and PVC hiding boosted musculatures and micro-pistons replacing tendons in the hand of a colossal Russian bouncer, whose jacket falls open just enough for you to see the well-used shok-stik and tape-wrapped grip of a rusty, knock-off Vietnamese made Tokarev pistol in a shoulder holster outside the bar from which heat, dry ice and the sound of Master Boot Record emanates…

Master Boot Record is not necessarily just about future shock though. There are some absolutely delightful neo-classical moments on “Personal Computer”, especially the intro to “80486”, where Love gleefully creates beautiful pieces of music and then records them using sounds that would have just been considered acceptable on a ZX Spectrum – essentially taking classical influences and turning them into 8-bit chiptune renditions of themselves. However, it’s not as banal as it sounds, trust me. Equally, you can’t discount the sheer heaviness of Master Boot Record, even though purists and gatekeepers will be spilling bitter tears of trad-metal loving horror all over their authentic 1980s W.A.S.P. t shirts. MBR’s music takes the sheer scale and grandiosity of trve (sic) heavy metal, and adds it to the uncompromising, unstoppable qualities of machinery and the endless possibilities for sonic fury that electronics offer the seriously unhinged, and the result is something that is so supermassively greater than the sum of its’ component parts it can form its own event horizon. The music has a cinematic quality reminiscent of 80s action flicks where hundreds of nondescript bad guys are blown away by a musclebound leading man for the cause of freedom/ America/ rescuing daughters and sons/ wives/ favourite second cousins/ pets (I’m looking at you, John Wick. I wholly approve), yet said musclebound leading man seems to be able to survive being blown up/ nearly drowned/ STILL USE HIS FUCKING ARM AFTER BEING SHOT THROUGH THE SHOULDER (this ALWAYS pisses me off) and otherwise shrug off anything that might floor a less perfect specimen whilst cracking the sort of one-liners that only dads should have permission to use (my favourite ever being, “Are you a Virginia farm boy? Here’s a couple of achers” mere milliseconds before booting some poor evil lackey right in the gentleman vegetables). In short, although there is a strong techno-historical (by that I mean that MBR’s music could easily be the theme tune to any number of SF or 80s fantasy TV shows – Stuff like Airwolf, Street Hawk, Knight Rider, Automan, that kind of thing) quality to Master Boot Record’s music, it is also tremendously futuristic and forward-looking, hinting at a future where electronics supercede traditional instruments and change the face of the planet, “80486SX” being a perfect example of how this could happen, being as it is heavier than a regiment of plutonium panty-clad Soviet hammer throwers named Olga, yet brightly-lit and forward looking and inventive and almost…. Utopian in outlook and scope, as it charts endless sunny vistas of progress and promise in front of it. “80686” ends the record with a bastardised electronic harpsichord playing the kind of chamber baroque that makes goths weep with what equates to joy for goths (probably crushing sadness and clove cigarettes and absinthe whilst having a candlelit Xmal Deutschland marathon, or if you’re a boy, all of the above whilst wistfully lusting after Sisters-era Patricia Morrison) before crashing into the heaviness like an endless parade of heavily armed and augmented cyborg automatons marching in lockstep right past your foxhole, and then taking a hard left turn into the kind of soloing that would not look out of place on a Rhapsody Of Fire record (but done on keyboards) and returning to the vastness of intergalactic starscapes and glissandos and epic coruscations of music swirling through a continuum all of its own creation… Fuck me, I love Master Boot Record so much it hurts!

So, there are nearly thirteen hundred words on just why men should talk more and why Master Boot Record are absolutely fucking magnificent. You don’t need to read any more. Go listen, instead. And fucking talk to someone, chaps. Dark Juan is sick of losing good people to the black dog and requests and requires that you are not next, please and thank you.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Il sistema brevettato di valutazione degli schizzi di sangue di Dark Juan) was going to award Master Boot Record a full 10/10, but has decided that it is going to make an absolute mockery of the Ever-Metal.com scoring system and actually score “Personal Computer” 647,332,196,003/10. Just for the lulz.

Heh.

TRACKLISTING:
01. 8086
02. 80186
03. 80286
04. 80386
05. 80386SX
06. 80486
07. 80486DX
08. 80486SX
09. 80586
10. 80686 (No. These song titles are not me joking. They do actually correlate to the IBM 86-series PCs I learned to do stuff on in college in order of release and processor speed…)

LINE-UP:
Victor Love. He does absolutely fucking everything and I hate him for it. I can’t even play the guitar properly.

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.

Satan – Earth Infernal 

Earth Infernal Album Cover Art

Satan – Earth Infernal 
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 01/04/2022
Running Time: 48:00
Review by Rory Bentley
8.5/10

If there’s one thing that makes my eyes roll back into my skull like The Undertaker, it’s disingenuous claims that certain older Heavy Metal bands have never sounded better. I know art is all subjective, but there comes a point where a reviewer is either toeing a publication’s line so as not to upset a big band, or they have lost all critical faculty and shouldn’t be reviewing art. The most obvious example being the maddening hyperbole surrounding every post-reformation Iron Maiden release and live show. “Senjutsu” had some great moments on it but if I have to make my own version of the album on Apple Music, because half of its 90-minute runtime is gash, then they clearly have sounded better.

This brings me to another band that was kicking around the NWOBHM scene when Steve Harris and the boys started out, Newcastle rockers Satan. The reason I bring up Maiden for comparison is that unlike the globe conquering Londoners, there’s a strong case for Satan sounding better than they ever have, and “Earth Infernal” adds further weight to this claim. Traditional Heavy Metal is undergoing something of a revival these days, whether it’s Visigoth’s blue collar stripped back approach or the likes of Spirit Adrift and Khemmis adding a pummelling Doom tone to the classic style. This surge of more denim and leather-minded bands has provided the perfect backdrop for Satan to finally get their flowers, as more fans are opening their minds to the more melodic pre-Thrash era of Metal’s history.

The first thing that struck me about “Earth Infernal” was the beautiful, warm analogue production. There are no click tracks, overdubs are minimal and the drums sound like they’re being played in your living room. A lot of bands from this scene go out of their way to create a Lo-Fi production job, believing they are adding an authenticity to a genre that is programmed and polished within an inch of its life, but few are able to pull it off with such clarity and precision.  This approach suits Satan down to the ground, bringing continuity between their old and new work without feeling like they’re just taking a retro approach because it’s trendy on Bandcamp. In fact this whole aesthetic would fall flat were it not for the lively, excellent performances captured here, with the band electing to leave the odd bum-note in here and there if the overall take has the right feel. When ‘Poison Elegy’ builds towards its finale, for example, there is a refreshing looseness as the band takes a few seconds to lock into the optimum temp to take the song home.

Of course, great musicianship and sound engineering can only take a band so far and Satan’s real trump card comes in the form of some immaculate songcraft. These 10 tracks display a confidence and elegance that comes with experience, seamlessly weaving between sections and knowing just the right amount of time to ride a riff or groove. ‘Burning Portrait’ perhaps best exemplifies this, as it builds tension with ascending riffs, tasteful leads and a spidery arpeggio that gradually gathers steam before thundering along at a pace that belies the band’s years. In between all this is a powerful melodic chorus that provides the perfect foil to the chaos of the verses. You don’t just rock up to your first band practice and peel out something this thrilling and fully realised.

Throughout the record the band are acutely aware of where their strengths lie, those strengths being tasteful lead lines, catchy mid-paced riffs and strong melodic vocals that never tip too far into theatricality. They accomplish this with very little distortion but a whole lot of attitude with songs like ‘Twelve Infernal Lords’ being played with more vim and vigour than most Thrash bands. The band even accomplish a compelling instrumental track in ‘Mercury’s Shadow’ where a graceful acoustic intro gives way to a huge swaggering 70’s Judas Priest riff, before leading to some classic duelling leads. I would love to see the band utilise more acoustic passages elsewhere as I really appreciated the macabre vibe they bring here.

As the ambitious closer “Earth We Bequeath” puts a bow on things by bringing in surreal jazzy keys to go along with triumphant riffs and some piercing falsetto vocals, I couldn’t help but tip my hat to Satan. There are bands that are going out of their way to sound like this that just come off as pastiche compared to the passion and craftsmanship on show here. In so many other walks of life people get better at what they do the longer they do it, but Heavy Metal bands often seem to have a sell by date after the twenty year mark. How refreshing, then that here we have a band that bucks that trend and have seemingly reached their final form in their later years. Hail Satan! Sorry I couldn’t resist.

‘Burning Portrait’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Ascendancy
02. Burning Portrait
03. Twelve Infernal Lords
04. Mercury’s Shadow
05. A Sorrow Unspent
06. Luciferic
07. From Second Sight
08. Poison Elegy
09. The Blood Ran Deep
10. Earth We Bequeath

LINE-UP:
Brian Ross – Vocals
Russ Tippins – Guitars
Steve Ramsey – Guitars
Graeme English – Bass
Sean Taylor – Drums

LINKS:

Satan Promo Pic

Midnight – Let There Be Witchery

Let There Be Witchery Album Cover Art

Midnight – Let There Be Witchery
Metal Blade Records  
Release Date: 04/03/2022
Running Time: 34:50

Review by Rory Bentley
8/10

I’ve ruffled plenty of feathers during my time writing about music / generally being an obnoxious dickhead over the years. I can’t help myself, I was born a horrible little rotter with a big gob and it’s peeved plenty of people, but if I think something is derivative or painfully average and people are drooling over it I have to say my piece, and I usually phrase it like an absolute bell end. Just ask my new friends in Veonity. To illustrate what I mean, I think the last two Exodus albums are inessential cack with no songs, I’m never going to listen to the new Saxon album and I couldn’t give two shits about 99% of Thrash revival bands that everyone raves about. It’s predictable, boring and doing nothing to move things forward. SO WHY THE FUCK DO I LOVE MIDNIGHT SO MUCH??!!

Honestly mates, I’m not sure I can accurately answer that with anything more eloquent than they fucking rip! Sometimes the execution is more important than the idea and nobody executes evil, thrashed up proto-Black Metal with as much joy and shit kicking charm as Midnight. They sound like the band I want Venom to be. Don’t get me wrong – I respect Venom and their importance to the evolution of heavy music, but they can’t play their instruments and the records sound like shit. Midnight brings the cartoonish horror fun of The Misfits, throws in some NWOBHM riffing, filters it  through some Black Metal scuzz and chucks it back in your face with the grizzled swagger of Motörhead. The resulting mutant sonic ooze is something that even a snobbish hack weasel like me can’t resist.

‘Telepathic Nightmare’ has me tapping my foot and mean-mugging straight out the gate with mastermind Jamie ‘Athenar’ Walters barking ghoulish chants over disorienting Voivod style riffs. ‘Frothing Foulness’ sounds like Lemmy and the boys fronted by somebody suffering from severe tourettes and ‘In Sinful Secrecy’ sounds like a group of swamp monsters decided to form a Hair Metal band. Three songs in and I can’t get enough of this filth.

By the time the Garage Punk sleaze of ‘Nocturnal Molestation’ oozes out of the speakers I give zero fucks about the lack of innovation here, I just want to chug a beer and drop kick the can into my neighbour’s garden  while my better half screams at me to turn this racket down! You see the clever thing Midnight does is act as a sort of 80’s Metal magpie, shrewdly curating the choicest licks and gnarliest riffs from classic bands and blending them into a satisfying cocktail that makes every record feel like a greatest hits album of a forgotten Thrash legend. By casting the net deceptively wide into the annals of classic Metal, Athenar is able to season his core template of Speed Metal filth with spicy samples of satanic-panic staples so every song has a distinct feel even if it’s not deviating wildly from the core sound.

‘More Torment’ has a lurching Danzig groove that breaks up the more savage moments of ‘Let There Be Witchery’, while ‘Let There Be Sodomy’ has an evil sounding tremolo intro and the kind of chorus I wouldn’t allow my nieces to listen to. This is an album bursting with moments that will make you punch the air and grin like an idiot and those moments will be stuck in your head whether you want them there or not!

Like a kebab after leaving the pub too late, I don’t need a new Midnight record, but if you give me the option I will run through a brick wall to gobble one up. I’m shouting ‘Villainy Wretched Villainy at my cat now and I couldn’t be happier, so what are you waiting for? Give in to another helping of grimy, tongue-in-cheek, life-affirming speed metal written by one bloke with a bag on his head! You won’t hear a more fun 35 minutes all year.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Telepathic Nightmare
02. Frothing Foulness
03. In Sinful Secrecy
04. Nocturnal Molestation
05. More Torment
06. Let There Be Sodomy
07. Devil Virgin
08. Snake Obsession
09. Villainy Wretched Villainy
10. Szex Witchery

LINE-UP:
Athenar- Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley 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.

Týr – A Night At The Nordic House

A Night At The Nordic House Album Cover Art

Týr – A Night At The Nordic House
Metal Blade
Release Date: 18/03/22
Running Time: 01:26:29
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Not a band I have ever come across before, but Týr get two firsts from me today by also being the first band from the Faroe Islands that I’ve come across. Whilst lyrically and thematically being all about Norse mythology, Týr have much more of a heart-thumping Folk Metal feel to them than the more outwardly Metal stalwarts of all things Viking like Amon Amarth do. Apart from subject matter, there’s everything to compare between them, so don’t assume that if you are familiar with one, that you know the other. 

This is a good enough place to start with the band though, although what makes this slightly harder to wrap your head around as an introductory record is the fact that this is a live performance with The Symphony Orchestra of the Faroe Islands, so there’s a massive Symphonic Metal style overlay here that might distract you. It actually works really well because unlike many of these sort of collaboration projects the orchestra is not overly dominant in the mix, with the focus remaining with the core four members of the band whilst simultaneously giving you a shortcut to their greatest hits from the eight studio albums that precede this. It’s also been hanging around for a while, having been recorded in early 2020 before the music industry went turned tits up, but with Covid presumably having put plans on ice this seems like a sensible choice for a release. 

Let’s be clear, this is not a slot-filler for the sake of it. These sorts of collaborations have become de rigeur since Metallica did their first “S&M”, but there’s clearly a lot of thought gone into getting the balance right and still making it sound like the band are sticking to their guns. And then let’s not underestimate the deeply Folk feel here, and its effect. There’s a massive cultural disconnect between the concept of orchestral and classical music, with its implied elitism and the middle ages “street” of Folk, which is about as blue collar as you can get without storming the bastille. That’s why I raised my eyebrows when I read about this, but they absolutely pull off the dichotomy – but it’s clear why the orchestration is played lower in the mix than the band are.

This is a band unafraid to use simple unaccompanied vocal harmonies in their native Faroese language from time to time too, which when you throw a choir into the mix as well add a hugely rich and cinematic feel to the proceedings. Check out the insanely epic ‘Ragnars Kvæði’ if you don’t believe me for sheer effect. In fact “epic” is a good word for this whole endeavour, as at eighteen tracks you get plenty of bang for your buck, but with so much variety in tone, pace and style that you don’t get chance to get bored. 

Style wise for every Faroese language Folk piece, you’ve got more Folk Metal-esque fist-pumping English language fare like the anthemic ‘Blood of Heroes’, which is one of those tracks with a singalong chorus for which no previous familiarity is required that mercifully doesn’t get ulled into Power Metal territory. It’s worth noting that the anthemic choruses work just as well even if you don’t speak a word of Faroese, because these guys know how to craft engaging and punchy songs. The band wisely alternate between style and language to keep the pace fresh and to keep the novelty of the special nature of the project, and with a vocalist in Heri Joensen who can alternate between a gruff Metal delivery, high end classically clean and nasally folk as and when it stays crisp and dynamically fresh throughout.

The audience are clearly deeply enjoying themselves and it would be interesting to watch the live DVD that goes with this, as the strength of performance alone here has my curiosity piqued enough to want to know a little more about this act. However this 96 minutes is a cracking introduction to a band who clearly can cut the mustard live, and with some solid enough tunes in their repertoire to warrant further analysis.

‘By The Sword In My Hand’ Live Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Hel’s Prelude
02. Gates of Hel
03. Grindavísan
04. Sunset Shore
05. Ragnars Kvæði
06. Gavotte from Suite in G Minor
07. Blood of Heroes
08. Ramund Hin Unge
09. Hold the Heathen Hammer High
10. The Lay of Thrym
11. Tróndur í Gøtu
12. Mare of My Night
13. Turið Torkilsdóttir
14. Fire and Flame
15. Torkils Døtur
16. Ormurin Langi
17. By the Sword in My Hand
18. Álvur Kongur

LINE-UP:
Heri Joensen – Vocals / Guitar
Hans Hammer – Guitar
Gunnar Thomsen – Bass / Vocals
Tadeusz Rieckmann – Drums

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.

Vio-Lence – Let the World Burn EP

Let The World Burn EP Cover Art

Vio-Lence – Let the World Burn EP
Metal Blade Records
Released: 04:03:22 
Running Time: 24:00
Review by Paul Hutchings
7/10

Nostalgia. It’s something that is part and parcel of the Metal world. Is it possible to have a conversation with another metalhead without drifting back to “the good old days”? Well, when you get to your half century those times become more and more faded in the memory. When something that was pivotal to you over 30 years ago returns, there is unsurprisingly a certain amount of trepidation. 

Where is he going with this, I hear you ask? Well, let me take you back to 1985 and Oakland, California. The Bay Area Thrash movement was in full swing, and Thrash bands were appearing like rain on a Welsh Bank Holiday weekend. Surging out as part of the second wave of Thrash was Vio-Lence, whose early line-ups included Phil Demmel, Sean Killian, Perry Strickland, and Robb Flynn (Machine Head). Vio-Lence released three albums before their breakup in 1993, with “Eternal Nightmare” and “Oppressing the Masses” held in high regard within the Thrash community. The band returned a couple of times before becoming a full-time going concern in 2019, where they returned to the live arena. 

Now we finally have their first original material in 29 years in the shape of ‘Let the World Burn’, a five track EP that features Demmel, Strickland, Killian as well as new members Bobby Gustafson (ex-Overkill) and Christian Ober Wolbers (Powerflo, Beowülf, Fear Factory). The band has already released the title track plus ‘Flesh from Bone’ on lyric videos and now we finally get the chance to digest all five tracks. 

The first thing to notice about Vio-Lence circa 2022 is that they’ve managed to retain that 80’s vibe which is often missing in today’s Thrash circles. Demmel has taken on the mantle of main songwriter, and he admits that the move to the classic Vio-Lence sound wasn’t a problem. “That came very naturally. I hadn’t written a lot of Thrash in the past 17 years or so but being the main songwriter for the band over the years I wanted that sound, I wanted that mid-80’s raw thing, but I also wanted to capture our signature notes and structures and stuff like that.”

But this isn’t a trek down memory lane for each song has its own contemporary feel. ‘Flesh from Bone’ doesn’t begin that brilliantly but soon erupts into a real Thrash monster. It’s a foot stomper of a song, with the bruising riffs charging along with Gustafson’s bludgeoning drumming and the thunderous bass line. This allows Killian to spit and snarl the lyrics over the top in a visceral performance, it may only be one track, but it’s already sounding promising and it’s a rager. 

Can Vio-Lence keep the momentum up? The good news is yes, as ‘Screaming Always’ proves. A fast, punching semi-Hardcore attitude sees the tempo at full pelt, the vocals of Killian surprisingly impressive although I’m not over thrilled about the Rob Flynn-style rapping towards the end of the track. Killian has always been marmite vocally and it’s unlikely he’ll gather many new fans, but his style is his style and that’s what makes him unique. His delivery on the slower but just as heavy ‘Upon Their Cross’ is remarkable, given this is a singer who not so long ago was severely unwell. 

The playing on this EP is as stellar as you’d expect from such musicians. Demmel as primary songwriter has delved deep into the Thrash roots, each song bringing something a little different to the table, but all inherently thrash in nature and vibe. Alongside Demmel, Gustafson’s years in Overkill are evident whilst Wolbers links tightly with Strickland to provide a rock-tight rhythm section. 

It was always the band’s intention to release an EP rather than a full length and you only have to read some of the interviews with Killian to confirm why. Originally a one-off gig to say thanks to those who had supported his liver transplant, Vio-Lence realised that there was still an appetite for their music but that just exploring if the dynamic would work again was enough. The fact that they have managed to put some decent thrasher together is remarkable, especially when you consider the poor cover of ‘California Uber Alles’. The stomping drive of ‘Gato Negro’ brings a different attitude and sound, but at no point do the band veer too far from their old school sound.  The title track closes the EP, and it’s another thrashing beast with visceral guitar work and Killian’s down the line delivery. The slow narrative echoes some of Dave Mustaine’s work, but it sits solidly within the song. 

With festival appearances once again scheduled for 2022, including a highly anticipated booking with Bloodstock Open Air, there is an air of optimism in the camp. On a day when the world careered out of control once more, it’s good to know that the old school may still be able to bring some quality to the table. 

‘Let The World Burn’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Flesh from Bone
02. Screaming Always
03. Upon Their Cross
04. Gato Negro
05. Let the World Burn

LINE-UP:
Phil Demmel – Guitars
Bobby Gustafson – Guitars
Sean Killian – Vocals
Perry Strickland – Drums
Christian Olde Wolbers – Bass

LINKS:

Vio-lence promo pic
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS- NOVEMBER 6,2021: Violence photographed at Reggies in Chicago, Illnois on November 2021. © Gene Ambo

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.

Allegaeon – Damnum

Damnum Album Cover Art

Allegaeon – Damnum
Metal Blade Records
Release: 25 February 2022
Running time: 60:00
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings
10/10 

 

It’s been a while since Colorado’s Allegaeon penetrated my cranium. 2019’s ‘Apotosis’ to be precise with a live show in The Fleece in Bristol in support of German Tech Death giants Obscura proving that the band were just as breathtaking live. Before that their 2016 album “Proponent for Sentience” had also wowed me. So, when their sixth full-length dropped, it was with greedy, clawing hands that I grabbed the opportunity to immerse myself once more into some of the most technically blistering Heavy Metal that you can legally purchase.

This is the debut album for new drummer Jeff Saltzman and the Cotinuum live drummer doesn’t disappoint with a performance which is simply Technical Death Metal perfection. Laying down the barrage of aural assaults from the start, it only takes a couple of minutes to sit back down in awe at the aural assault unleashed on ‘Bastards of the Earth’. Of course, it’s not just the drumming that makes Allegaeon such a force. Riley McShane’s vocal performance is once again outstanding, switching between perfect cleans and demonic growls with a fluidity so many of his peers are unable to capture. Alongside this the dual guitars of Greg Burgess and Michael Stancel are explosive, the fretboards red hot as the double axe attack shreds and melts for fun. 

With ample melody as well as swathes of sheer brutality, “Damnum” is one mighty schizophrenic record that switches at will. The gentle synths and vocals that introduce ‘Of Beasts and Worms’ for example, gives a sense of calm before an explosion of intensity in the shape of an absolute battery of technical death metal erupts. The vocals hold the line and despite the raging chaos, the melody wins out. It’s compositions like this that make this band so unique. 

Dive deeper into the album and it’s impossible not to be stunned by the complexity of the band’s compositions. What makes “Damnum” so deliciously addictive is the increase in tempo of everything they have done here. The melody is evident, and so is the visceral intensity. At times, this album is just so damn heavy. It is punishingly brutal. 

With all five band members involved in the writing of the album for the first time ever, it’s evident that this has been beneficial for all parties. McShane notes: “We didn’t want to keep knocking on the same creative door that wasn’t ever getting opened. We didn’t want to force ourselves to stay in a box that had been built for ourselves over the years.” If you want evidence of this, just explore the mesmerizing fourth track – ‘To Carry My Grief Through Torpor and Silence’. It contains everything that you could possibly want in just over five minutes of magnificence.

Saltzman’s drumming is immense throughout, a rapid-fire machine gun and he has locked in tightly with bassist Brandon Michael, the pairing providing the concrete solidity that the band has hankered after for years. Listen to their complete synchronicity on the galloping ‘Vermin’ as just one example, their combined approach paving the way for some of the most expressive guitar work ever heard on an Allegaeon album. 

‘Damnum’ is Latin for loss and whilst it is more often used in legal parlance, there is a personal meaning for the band which made it appropriate for the title of the album. “The band experienced a lot of death within our personal lives, and it colored the album,” explained McShane. The track ‘Called Home’ is particularly poignant, allowing McShane and Burgess to achieve closure on the suicide of people close to them. It’s a monster of a track, slower than the usual blistering tempo, with the lyrics hitting deep. At times the track veers towards the likes of Opeth, with gentle semi-acoustic passages and heartfelt clean vocals. It’s another example of the versatile nature of this band. 

With metaphors for mental health littered throughout the album, one could be forgiven for thinking that this is too dark a place to go. You would be wrong, and even the concluding track ‘Only Loss’, with its stark bleakness is intended to provide some comfort and hope. “This song is about coming to terms with the fact that sometimes life can be challenging, and it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

‘Damnum’ may well be the album that Allegaeon have been promising for so long. It’s a challenging listen, and if you don’t like frenetic paced time changes, roaring vocals and at times incredible bursts of speed, then you may struggle. But you should at the very least try. Converting lessons from the ‘Apotosis’ into practical application, Allegaeon have produced one of the most incredible albums of 2022. It may only be February, but we have a contender for album of the year right here. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Bastards of the Earth
02. Of Beasts and Worms
03. Into Embers
04. To Carry My Grief Through Torpor and Silence
05. Vermin
06. Called Home
07. Blight
08. The Dopamine Void Pt. 1
09. The Dopamine Void Pt. 2
10. Saturnine
11. In Mourning
12. Only Loss
 
LINE-UP:
Greg Burgess – Guitar
Michael Stancel – Guitar
Riley McShane – Vocals
Brandon Michael – Bass
Jeff Saltzman – Drums
 
LINKS:

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

Interview with Adam Biggs, of Rivers Of Nihil

Rivers Of Nihil The Work Album Cover Art

Interview with Adam Biggs, of Rivers Of Nihil
Interviewed and Recorded by Sheri Bicheno

As soon as I heard that Rivers of Nihil were about to unleash their new album, “The Work”, via Metal Blade Records, I rushed to submerge myself in this absolute journey of an album… and I was not disappointed. 

Philadelphia based Rivers Of Nihil are certainly no strangers to the abundance of growth around Progessive Death Metal, with their years spanning since 2009, and 4 stunning studio albums, 2 LP’s, and an impressive itinerary of shows under their belts. 

It needs to be noted that the album artwork featured for Rivers of Nihil is none other than that of the renowned Dan Seagrave (Memoriam, Entombed, Lawnmower Deth) and the links to the fantastic artwork on the new album connects to those of the elder… my advice – go and find out!

This has got to be one of my favourite releases of 2021 by far – paired with the anticipation after their success with “Where Owls Know My Name”, Rivers of Nihil offer a new palette with “The Work”. I was lucky enough to be joined by bassist Adam Biggs to have a chat about the concepts and deeper exploration behind their new offering. Have a watch below:

Interview with Adam Biggs, of Rivers Of Nihil

Rivers Of Nihil are:
Jake Dieffenbach – lead vocals
Brody Uttley – lead guitar, keyboards
Adam Biggs – bass, vocals
Jon Topore – rhythm guitar, keyboards
Jared Klein – drums, backing vocals

LINKS:

YouTube video for “The Void of Which No Sound Escapes”

Rivers Of Nihil Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Sheri Bicheno 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.