Stone Broken – Revelation

Stone Broken – Revelation
Spinefarm Records
Release Date: 15/04/22
Running Time: 36:00
Review by Paul Hutchings
Score: 4/10

It’s strange to think that Walsall’s Stone Broken have been around for nearly a decade. In that time, they’ve released a mere two full-length albums, but have created a stir within the New Wave Of Classic Rock, a movement that appears to have no brakes. Having argued with a drunk member of the Broken Army at Steelhouse last year who insisted that Stone Broken should have headlined the festival instead of the legendary Uriah Heep (yeah, I know), I made it my mission to give this latest album a fair hearing. They’ve garnered a lot of fans with their hard touring ethic. I’ve seen them a few times, including a highly prestigious support slot to American legends Cheap Trick and whilst many of the audience were fully committed, their brand of rather lightweight choreographed Rock did little for me. 

It’s been four years since “Ain’t Always Easy” was released. I remember being rather non-plussed by it and I must admit that I’ve struggled with “Revelation” as well. It opens promisingly enough, both ‘Black Sunrise’’ and The Devil You Know’ are reasonable if routine Rock tracks, the kind that appeal to those who think the Foo Fighters are a Heavy Metal band. It’s music that attracts big followings, the kind that get singalongs at Steelhouse and Stonedead for starters and if that’s your thing then good for you. I hope you enjoy it. 

Listening to any album with a critical ear, I genuinely want something that really grabs hold, leaps out of the speaker, and grabs my attention. There is little of that here. It’s evident early on that Stone Broken have shifted their sound and approach, and for that they deserve kudos for not repeating the same formula repeatedly. And yet it lacks the sparkle that should set them apart. The title track should be an anthem, yet it’s got horrible autotune, programming and a Shinedown lite sound. It’s Pop music with a Rock edge rather than Rock with Pop sensibilities. There’s hardly a guitar present, although this is the direction that both Rich Moss and Robyn Haycock had apparently wanted to explore. It’s an interesting direction, and they’ve added hooks which will be easily buried in their devoted fans memories. Whether it’ll be something that widens their appeal or challenges some of the fanbase will be interesting. 

Inevitably, there are some emotionally charged ballads included. ‘Make It Out Alive’ is ghastly, echoes of manufactured boy bands running riot. Despite the band aiming for darker Electro elements with Haycock bringing additional vocals, it feels very over produced and the grit of their earlier sound is absent. ‘Me Without You’ is mercifully short, a piano led ballad that allows Moss to flex his vocals but it’s difficult to write a decent Rock ballad. Sadly, this isn’t one.

The tempo does get going again with ‘Without a Reason’, although they seem desperate to cram in the Electronica. The album is crying out for a real balls-out rocker and over halfway into the record, there’s little sign of something that really grabs you by the scruff of the neck. A brief solo bursts out of the Eurovision pomp that seems to be dominating their direction, but its short lived and relatively quickly lost underneath more electro sounds. 

Maybe I should be giving more credit to the band. This change in sound could have been exciting and bold. It’s a brave move. And there is the occasional flash of something interesting but overall, it’s just a bit dull. I’m not sure what their direction is. It’s a bold move to change style, and they’ve done it somewhat on tracks like ‘Over the Line’. Maybe more radio friendly tracks will grab more fans, sell more albums, and attract more to their UK headline tour. For me, and I remind you that this is just my opinion, it’s just a bit lacking in a) originality and b) passion. It feels flat, despite Dan Weller’s solid production. ‘Stronger’ is yet another ballad, whilst ‘This Revival’ sounds like the music that Nickleback, Shinedown et al can turn out for fun. 

Penultimate track ‘So Damn Easy’ suggests that the band haven’t forgotten their Hard Rock roots, with a couple of decent if rather standard riffs, although they go much deeper and darker than in many of their previous songs. That leaves ‘Gimme Some More’ to close the album and it’s a big, bombastic one which should go down well live. 

And there you have it. I’ve seriously tried to be objective. Stone Broken’s sound has never been the kind of music that overexcites me. There are many bands jockeying for seats at the top table in this genre. The likes of Those Damn Crows, The Treatment, Mason Hill, Bad Touch, Florence Black and Massive Wagons are just a few who spring to mind as the current occupants. I have no doubt that Stone Broken will be close after this album is released. I think the Broken Army will love it. The change in direction and style may lose them a few fans but it’s also likely to grab them many more. It hasn’t changed my opinion, but I wish them well. They write and perform their own music and I can’t argue with that. 

‘Black Sunrise’ Official Lyric Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Black Sunrise
02. The Devil You Know
03. Revelation
04. Make It Out Alive
05. Me Without You
06. Without a Reason
07. Over the Line
08. Stronger
09. This Revival
10. So Damn Easy
11. Gimme Some More

LINE-UP:
Rich Moss – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Chris Davies – Lead Guitar
Kieron Conroy – Bass
Robyn Haycock – Drums, Backing Vocals

LINKS:

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

My Own Fear – Violence Made History

My Own Fear – Violence Made History
Music-Records.fr
Release Date: 15/04/22
Running Time: 39:00 
Review by Paul Hutchings 
5/10

Sometimes you just don’t gel with an album from the opening track. French extreme metallers My Own Fear’s release “Violence Made History” is one of those. An atmospheric intro promised much, with a haunting backdrop to single piano notes, but the hope dispersed like morning mist in bright sunlight as soon as the vocals kicked in on the first track, ‘6:1 – 8’ for they bring absolutely nothing to the party. 

For a band that formed over a decade ago and whose influences included Death, Slayer, The Haunted, Kreator and Morbid Angel, this is a rather routine album. There’s a decent chug to the music, with a mix of Thrash and Death Metal but overall, it’s rudimentary and uninspiring. ‘Dux Bellarum’ sees vocalist Nicolas Benloulou’s throaty roar dominate in Old School Death Metal style, but its so raw that I struggled with even the deep rumbles that emanate from deep within. 

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh. For although the music is unrefined, and the vocals grate more than they should, there are flashes of potential. ‘Hell Fire Club (H.F.C.) has some promising breakdowns and the odd structure that works well, despite the slightly disjointed connection. The explosive crossover feel of ‘Ghosts on the Warpath’ is reasonable, but if I’m listening to a band who claim to bring Thrash and Death to my door, I want the music to hold my attention as a bare minimum. Unfortunately, I was wandering and drifting early in the album, and it was hard to log back in. 

It may be that the rather muffled production didn’t help, but in essence, the main reasons I found this a difficult album remained the same throughout. I struggled with the gruesomely challenging vocals, and the repetitive nature of the songs. There was definitely some decent work trying to escape from the mire of relentless similarity but trying to get it unlocked was a struggle. The schizophrenic nature of tracks like ‘Salem’ for example, merely served to frustrate. One minute pulsing Death Metal, the next raging Thrash, followed by doom-laden passages and even some Classic Heavy Metal. It was all a bit of a car crash. 

Finishing with a three-part track devoted to the ‘Era of the Rats’ there was at least a little more promise, with ‘Devoured by Pestilence – Era of the Rats Part 2’ a tasty thunderous beast, and even the vocals weren’t too demanding. Overall, this is an album I’d have enjoyed more with a bit more refinement. It’s savage, aggressive and many I am sure will really love it. For me, it’s one to leave in the memory banks and move on. 

‘Hell Fire Club (H.F.C)’ Official Music video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Once Upon a Fall
02. 6:1-8
03. Dux Bellarum
04. Hell Fire Club (H.F.C)
05. Torquemada
06. Ghosts on the Warpath
07. Salem
08. 1349 – Era of the Rats Part One
09. Devoured by Pestilence – Era of the Rats Part Two
10. Empire of the Rats – Era of the Rats Part Three

LINE-UP:
Nicolas Benloulou – Vocals
Fabrice Darmon – Guitar
Stephane Neraud – Guitars
Gilles Sala – Bass 
Sebastien Geley – Drums

LINKS:

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

Solstice – To Dust

To Dust Album Cover Art

Solstice – To Dust
SPV
Release Date: 08/04/22
Running Time: 41:00
Review by Paul Hutchings 
8/10

Having been part of the initial wave of Death Metal that surged through Florida, Solstice released two now revered albums in the first half of the 90’s: “Solstice” and “Pray”. A combination of Death and Thrash Metal, both albums carved a niche in the pantheons of Death Metal for eternity. Having gone their separate ways (founders Rob Barrett and Alex Marquez having already left to form Malevolent Creation after Solstice), it was something of a surprise when in 2009 a new, reformed line-up that included drummer Brian Harris (Foul Stench, later had a stint in Firewind and who is in print on YouTube comments saying that he was on this album as a hired gun – his performance is stellar, regardless), alongside guitarist / vocalist Christian Rudes, guitarist Dennis Munoz and bassist Garret Scott.

The Result was “To Dust”, 41 minutes of blisteringly heavy Death Metal that contains bruiser after bruiser with a cover of Cynic’s ‘Extremes’ included for good measure. Unrelenting from the opening bars of ‘Black’ through to the concluding ‘The Whisper’, this is an album for connoisseurs and newcomers to the band alike. The riffs are brutal, and memorable, the vocals of Rudes demonic and yet enunciated to a level that is distinguishable whilst the engine room of Scott and Harris is tighter than a Yorkshireman at the bar. 

The more you listen to “To Dust” the more you appreciate the driving bass that Scott administers throughout. Diving deep into the body, sending shock waves rippling through the listener with the guttural vocals corrupting the vital organs, sending them into a state of paralysis. There are time changes a plenty, sitting comfortably with more straightforward assaults that ripple through the brain with relentless energy. Even ‘The Whisper’, which one might think would bring a calmer conclusion to the album denies you that, instead bringing a final onslaught that spares nothing.

With most tracks coming in between three and four minutes, there is ample opportunity to get stuck in. Check out the ferocity of ‘Swarm’, with its pulsing vitality, punishing riffing and overall face melting approach. ‘Honest Human Emotion’ throws forward some of the best soloing on the album, the twin guitars blisteringly good in harmony as they race across the pummelling below. 

Solstice are one of the most influential bands in the Floridian Death Metal scene and ‘To Dust’ sits amongst the classics. If you’ve never heard this, then just ensure you are sitting securely, for once play is pressed, you’ll be in for hell of a ride. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Black 
02. To Dust
03. Honest Human Emotion
04. Sovereignty
05. Swarm
06. Moment of Clarity
07. Passionless
08. Extremes
09. Impressive Technology
10. The Whisper

LINE-UP:
Christian Rudes – Vocals, Guitar 
Dennis Munoz – Guitar 
Garret Scott – Bass 
Brian Harris – Drums

LINKS:


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

Bloodstock Metal to the Masses South Wales Heats 1 & 2

South Wales M2TM Heats Poster

Bloodstock Metal to the Masses South Wales Heats 1 & 2
Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff 
01 & 02/04/2022
Live Review by Paul Hutchings

It only seemed like yesterday that I was reporting on a hotly contested competition in the South Wales region for 2019’s Metal to the Masses. The winner that year was Blind Divide, with special guests Fallen Temples. Both bands had their 30 minutes of fame on the New Blood Stage, and both are now regaining momentum, the latter recently playing on the bill at the opening of the new 3500 arena in Swansea. 2021’s winners Pearler qualified via a video vote, which didn’t have the same ring to it but they put in a decent shift when the festival emerged from its slumbers in 2021. It was, however, with great relief that the South Wales promoters opened their doors at Cardiff’s Fuel Rock Club to the 2022 entrants and eager fans. 

Heat 1

The first heat took place on 1st April but there was nothing foolish about the talent on display. An eclectic range of bands brought varied levels of support but there was a good neutral support which rewarded the efforts of all outfits. 

It was only a fortnight since opening act Eulogy had been at the same venue, supporting the impressive Unto Others and Zetra. The Cardiff based four-piece had been putting in the miles to get match fit, and with a newly completed line-up, they wasted little time in shaking the very foundations of the venue. Focal point of the band is bassist and vocalist Neil Thomas, who dominates the centre stage without overpowering. His soaring vocals always get compliments from those who’ve not seen the band before, such is his range and delivery. The band’s solid Hard Rock and Metal approach has been beefed up in recent times by the addition of Brian Perkins who adds a solid rhythm that allows lead guitarist Mile Thomas to shred away. The band also have a new drummer in the shape of Josh Bird and his powerhouse delivery added a solid edge to the band’s music. A thumping set threw the gauntlet down to those that followed. 

https://www.facebook.com/Eulogyrocks/

Second up were newish five-piece Catalysts who brought a different sound completely. Crammed onto the small stage, there wasn’t much room for expressive dancing, but they weren’t to be put off, with plenty of movement and encouragement to a room that had filled excitedly with several their own fans as well as the curious neutrals. Catalysts released a six-track EP in recent times and tracks from “Sparks” gave some the opportunity to sing along. Vibrant, energetic, and entertaining, frontman David Challenger’s impressive vocals caught the ear and whilst the band’s style certainly isn’t my usual listening preference, their sheer attitude ensured most were hooked until the end. A point off for overrunning by a couple of minutes though. 

https://www.facebook.com/CATALYSTS.UK/

One of the joys of M2TM is discovering new bands and Swansea’s Inscape certainly brought a different style to the stage. I understand that these boys are reasonably big in their home city, and another band who played at the Swansea Arena opening. They certainly have a confidence that their hard gigging work has honed, with an assured performance. Their combination of Djent, Electronica and Progressive Metal is certainly an acquired taste, and their multitude of samples and effects at times seemed to overpower the rest of the music. But that’s a minor gripe as they certainly brought some variation and alternative sounds to the heat. A very healthy response from the crowd suggested that they earnt several new fans. 

https://www.facebook.com/Inscapeband/

It was impossible to avoid the volume of Risperidrone T-shirts around the club as we moved to the final band of the night. Some readers might remember JunkDNA who were active several years ago. Risperidone formed from that outfit with a Cardiff / Bath fusion which brought experience. It took a long while for the band to get going, with a longer than necessary intro. When they finally picked it up, their sound wasn’t the best, albeit probably okay for the Doomy music that they focus on. Vocalist Elliot Murphy certainly won the biggest smile from a front man award. His vocals maybe not as stellar. The band have BOA experience from 2016 but this wasn’t to be their night with a performance that just lacked some of the vibrancy of the other bands. 

https://www.facebook.com/Risperidrone

A brief scramble for the voting and the results arrived. Taking the judges vote was Eulogy whilst Catalysts grabbed the fan vote ahead of the other two bands. It was tight but for me the best two bands on the night got through. 

Heat 2

As the plague reared its ugly head again, heat two lost one of the bands in Scrape, who succumbed to a positive test and by the time the pushed back start arrived, both usual promoting team were also home, leaving an expert B-Team to step in with all the grace of an elephant on a bicycle. But somehow, they got it done and that’s what matters right? 

With Cardiff in the Radio 6 Music weekend frenzy, Fuel was as busy as ever and a fair few punters parted with entrance money to catch the three bands. Alt-rockers N A S H drew the first slot of the evening and proceeded to blow the roof off the room with an action-packed set. Singer Finlay Nash possesses a decent set of pipes and his jostling with energetic Karl John Harrigan on bass for centre spot was hugely entertaining. I’ve not seen someone enjoy their art as much as the bassist for a long time and his passion was such that despite two technical faults that saw the band’s finale cruelly curtailed, he still ended up bouncing around the pit. There is a bit of experience in this lot, and they played it well.

https://www.facebook.com/FinleyNashUK

If you wanted an example of the variation on offer in the two heats, then you only had to spend a couple of minutes having your skull caved in by the Hardcore Thrashing Sludge of Kill by Mouth to find it. The three-piece may not have the most diversity in their sound but they bring that pulverising delivery with an intensity that hits like a hammer. Vocalist and guitarist Cessar roared and growled, his heavy riffs backed by the deep rumble of bassist Simon Merrifield and drummer James Langston.  Disappointingly the large number of fans that N A S H had brought with them had departed for the bar, and it was only towards the end of their set that Kill by Mouth got the crowd their efforts deserved. Perhaps their crushing delivery was just too heavy for many.

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100027777802799

Bringing the curtain down on Heat two was a newly formed three-piece called Painted by Monsters. The band bring a heavy Muse like sound with far more heft than the stadium headliners. The band contains a Bloodstock veteran in Chris Machin, bassist with Jagermeister stage heroes Cranial Separation back in 2018, alongside the experienced Rhys Evans on vocals and guitar and drummer Matt Jones.  Having formed during lockdown, the band were playing only their second ever gig and it was an assured set that saw a brief glance at previous music as well as plenty of new material. Their Progressive bent went down a storm and they were deservedly the fans choice of the evening. 

https://www.facebook.com/paintedasmonsters

It was N A S H who took the judges vote and commiserations went to Kill by Mouth who on another night could have shaded it. It was that close. So, two down, six to go and the road to BOA has begun in earnest. I’ll be covering every heat I get to, although some silly fool has planned two heats when I’ll be at Manorfest – you can’t have everything. 

LINKS:

Fuel, Cardiff:

South Wales M2TM:

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.

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.

KYOTY – Isolation

Isolation Album Cover Art

KYOTY – Isolation
Self-Released
Release Date: 25/02/22
Running Time: 01:10:00
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings
8/10

I took a punt on this one. It wasn’t something that stood out as hip or fashionable to review. I knew nothing about the band or their music. So, a short history lesson for me is important. KYOTY play atmospheric Sludge and Post-Rock. They are based in New Hampshire and formed in 2009. Abbreviated from Keep Your Opinions To Yourself, the band are regarded as cryptic and secretive. Consisting of two members, guitarist Nick Filth and bassist Nathanial Parker Raymond, they released an album entitled “Undiscovered Country of Old Death and Strange Years in the Frightful Past” in 2012 with drummer Rob Brown. The album was remastered and rereleased as “Remanufactured Realm of Ancient Annihilation” in 2017. Their discography lists a live recording, split releases and a number of singles. Since Brown departed in 2020, KYOTY has utilised selected drummers to enhance their sound. 

This leads us neatly to “Isolation”, their latest release and one which certainly impressed on first listen. 70 minutes of deep, dark sonic soundscapes varying in length from four to 12 minutes and all weaving musical threads that envelope the listener. It isn’t warm, but at the same time it doesn’t chill the bones; more a variation of sounds that enable the listener to become immersed in the waves of sound that the band generate. Huge swathes and heavy passages are interspersed with lighter, almost ethereal moments that capture emotions and feelings on a tide of musical magic. 

Written during the pandemic, the music captures the divide of quarantine. Shared electronically throughout the past two years, music was completed and finalised before being released in single instalments. For fans of the band, tracks including the opening ‘Quarantine’ and ‘Ventilate’ have already been available via streaming sites and they provide the first 15 minutes of the release. The music is crushing, thick riffs and crushingly heavy passages dominate, but there is time to breath and catch one’s breath. 

Having stated their intention to release a song each Friday, I was unsure how much new music apart from the bonus track ‘A Fog, A Future Like Place Imagined’ would be on this release, but what is evident from further listens is how the album flows when it is played in full.  There’s the dark, angular challenge of ‘Holter’ and the gargantuan delivery of the 12 minute ‘Faith’ which opens gently, before expanding into a cinematic soundscape which detours from place to place with some style. 

Mastered by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios and with artwork designed by the band, ‘Isolation’ is another album in a long list this year that demand time and investment. I need to spend longer with it to give it full credit. Yet, even on the first few listens, it is a captivating release that is likely to grow into a firm favourite, time allowing. 

Quarantine’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Quarantine
02. Ventilate
03. Onus
04. Holter
05. Languish
06. Rift
07. Faith
08. Respite
09. Memory
10. A Fog, A Future Like Place Imagined

LINE-UP:
Nick Filth – Guitars
Nathanial Parker Raymond – Bass

LINKS:

KYOTY Promo Pic

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.

Dead Tree Seeds – Back To The Seeds EP

Back To The Seeds EP

Dead Tree Seeds – Back To The Seeds EP
Self-Released
Release date: 11/02/2022
Running Time: 18:00
Review by Paul Hutchings
6/10

2020 saw French Thrash outfit Dead Tree Seeds release their sophomore album “Push the Button”. It received solid reviews. The band have released a new single in the shape of ‘1796’ along with three tracks from their debut release, 2013’s “Seeds of Thrash”. 

It’s a short EP, just over 18 minutes in length. The opening song, ‘1796’ is savage, powerful and sits firmly in the Slayer camp for influences. There’s nothing wrong with citing the best Thrash band of all time as an influence of course and Dead Tree Seeds don’t hold back. It’s a robust powerful track that isn’t ground-breaking in anyway but for a thrasher is likely to get at least a nod in the right direction.  There’s some classic lead breaks and Frank Vortex’s visceral delivery works well. 

Onto the three songs form the first album and you can immediately see the difference. All three are rawer, savage and whilst full of power and passion, limited in excitement. ‘Set the Fire’ is routine and mundane, whilst ‘Torture and Rage’ is jumpy, stiff, and underwhelming. There’s a fire burning here but it isn’t one that is threatening to get out of control and at times it really is thrash by numbers. The concluding track, ‘Homage to Thrash’ has all the hallmarks of a song written early in a band’s career. Heartfelt no doubt, it really doesn’t provide much to change the view.

Dark Tree Seeds can play. The musicianship is robust. There isn’t anything on this well produced EP to really suggest that the band will push into any higher level at any time soon. Enjoyable enough but not an EP that is driving me to pick, up a copy of ‘Push the Button’ any time soon. 

‘1796’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. 1796
02. Set the Fire
03. Torture and Rage
04. Homage to Thrash

LINE-UP:
Frank “Vortex” – Lead Vocals
Aurelien Gonzalez – Guitar
François Odonnet – Guitar 
Sidi Assila – Bass 
Alex Prudent – Drums

LINKS:

Dead Tree Seeds Promo Pic

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.

Tygers Of Pan Tang – A New Heartbeat EP

A New Heartbeat EP Cover Art

Tygers Of Pan Tang – A New Heartbeat EP
Mighty Music
Release Date: 25/02/2022
Running Time: 18 minutes
Review by Paul Hutchings

8/10

They spearheaded the NWOBHM in the 1980s and, with some better guidance, could have, along with Diamond Head, been much bigger than they ever have been. But since their reformation in 1999 the band, doggedly led by guitarist Robb Weir, have released six albums, the most recent being 2019’s “Ritual”. 

During the pandemic the Tygers have been far from idle. New players have arrived in the shape of guitarist Franceso Marras and bassist Huw Holding, (although he doesn’t play bass on this release – that is left to former bassist Gav Grey), and the band now look to release this four track EP, which is full of vibrancy and positivity. Two new tracks, plus two songs revisited from the 1980 debut “Wildcat”, provide an interesting opportunity for analysis about the strength of their songwriting, over the 40 years since Whitley Bay’s finest threatened to break it big. 

The title track kicks things off and immediately it’s apparent that the new line-up is a vibrant and punchy machine. ‘A New Heartbeat’ is a full-blooded hard rocker, with ample hooks and a melody line to die for. Unlike many of their latter 1980s work, the band’s hard rock edge is retained and the production brings the power of the song to the fore. The same can be said of the energetic ‘Red Mist’ which features some heavy riffs and a real demonstration of the quality of singer Jack Meille, as he puts in a stellar performance. ‘Red Mist’ is modern and yet retains that 80s vibe that was essential to albums such as “Wildcat”, “Spellbound” and “Crazy Nights”.

The comparison with ‘Fireclown’ and ‘Killers’ from 1980’s “Wild Cat” is interesting, for although these two songs are over 40 years old, the revisions make them much more contemporary. ‘Fireclown’ thumps along and it’s only the chorus which dates the song at all. The music is well played, the solos sharp and controlled, whilst Meille’s vocals fit the band’s sound perfectly. ‘Killers’ is a little more dated, but the slightly modern feel of the song ensures it sits comfortably alongside the other more current songs. 

They may have missed the boat the first time around, and probably to an extent the second time as well, but hopefully the momentum that Tygers are building is the springboard to another decent album later this year. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. A New Heartbeat 
02. Red Mist 
03. Fireclown 
04. Killers

LINE-UP:
Robb Weir – guitar 
Francesco Marras – guitar 
Jack Meille – vocals
Gav Grey – bass (on the EP) 
Huw Holding – bass
Craig Ellis – drums 

LINKS:

Tygers Of Pantang Promo Pic

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.