Drudkh – All Belong to the Night

All Belong to the Night Album Cover Art

Drudkh – All Belong to the Night
Season of Mist
Release Date: 11/11/2022
Running Time: 46:00
Review by Rory Bentley
8.5/10

Ukrainian Atmospheric Black Metal outfit Drudkh have established a career founded on being both prolific and incredibly consistent in quality. Incorporating a strong cultural identity rich in Slavic history in their work, each release feels like a true labour of painstaking love and attention to detail. On their eleventh (yes eleventh!) studio album “All Belongs To The Night”, the band’s national pride feels particularly befitting considering the unimaginable hardships their home country is currently going through. Despite doing their best to put me off in a staggeringly pretentious set of press notes which begins with a bizarre attack on ‘Stranger Things’ and ends with the writer granting permission to enjoy the album. Like I fucking need it; this record is a triumph!

The moment the urgent tremolo picking and blast beats of ‘The Nocturnal One’ come racing in it is clear the band are not afraid of going for a more direct approach rather than the ponderous build-up this genre is so often guilty of. Elegant and savage in equal measure, this conjures the sensation of being pulled into a shadowy realm between dream and reality. Somehow it feels sinister yet oddly tranquil, particularly around the four-minute mark where everything simmers down to a backdrop of lush chords, intricate bass work and sparse drums. It is a hypnotic other worldly experience that only serves to heighten the impact of the song’s crescendo where layer upon layer of guitars and keys provide an overwhelmingly emotional build that leaves you drained and cleansed before even getting to the second track.

Luckily, ‘Windmills’ provides the perfect tonic for the visceral anguish of its predecessor. The Pagan chanting and guttural throat-singing of the intro feels like taking part in some shamanic ritual in a forest clearing, warmed by a roaring fire as the icy winds whistle through the surrounding trees. Where the previous track began as an inferno before flickering down to embers and exploding once more, this one is more of a slow, linear build. When the widescreen Black Metal majesty does finally kick in, it feels like the smoothest of transitions, emerging from such a humble beginning like an act of sleight of hand. The drums are particularly impactful here, feeling like they’ve been let off the leash after being forced into patient restraint for such a long time as they erupt into expressive flurries and fills under the swelling, almost orchestral waves of distorted grandeur.

The highest compliment that I can personally pay the album is that when I’m listening to it, even at its most dense and sprawling moments, my attention never wanders. My threshold for meandering Black Metal is notoriously low and there’s plenty of releases that the aficionados at Ever Metal have bigged up that have lost me after two gruellingly long tracks, usually through the monotony of the composition. After wincing at the fifteen-and-a-half-minute runtime of closing track, ‘Till We Become The Haze’, I found it was over before I knew it. The band possesses the remarkable skill that so many Atmospheric / Post-Metal outfits attempt but so few pull off – the ability to truly absorb the listener and put them firmly in the moment. Hypnotic would be one way to describe Drudkh’s music, but it doesn’t do justice to the visceral thrill one feels when caught up in the icy blast of the band at their most feral. This record feels dangerous, wounded and bleak yet somehow incredibly listenable and accessible considering the band’s uncompromising approach.

As the winter months set in there will be few albums that can provide such a gloriously melancholic and cathartic experience to fit the days getting darker and the nights growing longer. As defiant and fearless as their home nation, Drudkh are the perfect soundtrack and tonic to these troubled times.

‘November’ Offical Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Nocturnal One/Нічний
02. Windmills/Нічний
03. November/Листопад
04. Til We Become the Haze/Поки Зникнем у Млі

LINE-UP:
Roman Saenko – Pretty much everything
Some Other Lads Who Weren’t Named In The Press Notes – Everything Else

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.

Warlung – Vulture’s Paradise

Vulture’s Paradise Album Cover Art

Warlung – Vulture’s Paradise
Heavy Psych Sounds
Release Date: 04/11/2022
Running Time: 44:00
Review by Rory Bentley 
7/10

As bands like Green Lung and Jess and The Ancient Ones amongst many others are garnering a big buzz in the underground, it was only a matter of time before a fuzzed up psychedelic rock band would make their way onto my release radar. Although I tend to avoid nostalgia like the plague when looking for new releases to review, there’s something about the warm analogue tones of Warlung’s brand new release “Vulture’s Paradise” that I immediately found incredibly appealing and eminently listenable.  I remember feeling the same way when my uncle loaned me Witchcraft’s “The Alchemist” album when that dropped; despite my deep immersion in Sludge and Metallic Hardcore I couldn’t resist those lovely round guitar tones and that feeling of being in the rehearsal room with the band. Every now and then one of these kinds of bands will hit me in the feels at just the right time and that’s exactly what this album does.

Lifting the guitar tone entirely from Black Sabbath’s “Volume 4” is always a fantastic idea in my book, so when ‘Hypatia’ proceeds to riff my fucking face off from the get-go I’m already a happy boy. The washed-out slightly distant sounding melodic vocals are the perfect foil to the crushing slabs of fuzzed up noise and really add to the hazy psychedelic atmosphere of the record.

Things kick up a gear with the powerful melodic chorus of ‘Sky Burial’ as lush guitar lines spiral around your speakers and set the table for a full tilt Space Rock freakout in the second phase of the song which sits somewhere between peak Monster Magnet and ‘Children of the Grave’. Vocally it doesn’t sound a million miles away from Ghost’s occult catchiness, which is no bad thing unless you suck and hate good songs.

After conjuring the feeling of an intense peyote trip in the desert on the title track, the band really hit their stride on the titanic ‘Demonocracy’ which initially combines the lumbering power chord blasts and downright filthy verse riffs of ‘Snowblind’ before shifting into a mid section that is so caked in NOLA Sludge that it might be crawling with alligators. A real highlight!

Thankfully the band are capable of more than just (admittedly masterfully done) Sabbath worship, as demonstrated by the driving up-tempo swagger of ‘Return Of The Warlords’ which arrives at the perfect point in the album to switch gears and keep things interesting. Follow up track ‘Marauders’ offers an even slinkier and more taut interpretation of this approach.

Just when the fun but less memorable one-two of ‘Caveman Blues’ and ‘Worship The Void’ threaten to slightly flatten the album’s trajectory, the majestic ‘Runes’ comes in to close things out  and save the day. Atmospheric, folky, soulful and hypnotic with its tribal rhythms, this is a real standout and a sound which I’d happily hear a whole lot more of. The trajectory of “Vulture’s Paradise” sees Warlung going from being competent Iommi acolytes  to a vintage sounding band with many tricks up its sleeve. They tick all the Psychedelic/Stoner boxes that the beard/trucker-hat faithful enjoy, but there’s a melodic sensibility and knack for a catchy chorus which means that everyone can enjoy it.

If you like your Psychedelia with a little songcraft and a lot of melody then there’s a high chance Warlung are going to be a delightfully distorted late-addition to your favourite jams of 2022. Hook this guitar tone into my veins!

‘Sky Burial’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Hypatia
02. Sky Burial
03. Vulture’s Paradise
04. Demonocracy
05. Return of the Warlords
06. Grave Marauders
07. Caveman Blues
08. Worship The Void
09. Runes

LINE-UP:
George Baba – Guitar/Vocals
Philip Bennett – Guitar/Vocals
Chris Tamez – Bass
Ethan Tamez – 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.

Ingested – Ashes Lie Still

Ashes Lie Still Album Cover Art

Ingested – Ashes Lie Still
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 04/11/2022
Running Time: 44:00
Review by Rory Bentley 
8/10

In my never-ending quest to review everything Metal Blade puts out this year it’s time for some Brutal Death Metal that I’m only allowed to crank when my wife’s out because it gives her a headache (and I’m sick of hearing that excuse as it is – amirite lads?! Eh? Eh?). 

So, you know that Metal thing? Turns out the UK’s fucking great at it. We invented it when some lad called Tony chopped his fingers off over 40 years ago – and we’re pretty bloody great at it in the present day as well. Furthermore, it’s really satisfying that we’re really good at the nastiest, most foul aspects of it, as exemplified by local heroes like Venom Prison, Pupil Slicer and Dyscarnate. Ingested can also be added to that list as they come roaring back with album number six “‘Ashes Lie Still”.

Upon reading the press notes (for once) and seeing that this album potentially offers a departure and a more melodic approach, I was praying that this wouldn’t be the moment the band introduced bland clean vocals and castrated their absolutely vile Death Metal approach. Thankfully this proclaimed dynamism doesn’t compromise on the brutality one iota and still contains enough sonic bile to incite the desire to disrespect one’s surroundings. There are hulking riffs and big hooks throughout the album along with a healthy dose of melody, but the face-breaking intensity is always present; it’s just that now it’s catchy as fuck!

Despite featuring the lilting melodic vocals of Julia Frau, the title track opens things up in a suitably mean fashion, quickly racing to chug city via blast boulevard and shrieking like a seething pig / man hybrid all the way. Stitching the whole thing together is a clean picked arpeggio, that acts as an unsettling motif and a further demonstration of the band’s growth as songwriters. By the time the swelling majesty of the outro has hit like a tidal wave of anguish, it’s already clear that the sonic tweaks Ingested have made are a welcome addition to the band’s strong foundations, rather than an unnecessary reinvention.

On ‘Shadow In Time’ Jason Evans demonstrates his canny knack for creating big vocal hooks without having to do any actual singing and ruining everything. You guys know I love melodic vocals, but this kind of music works best when the front person sounds like a disgusting goblin creature experiencing severe road rage! As if they knew me personally, the band caps the song off in a flurry of deranged whammy-bar squealing and a beatdown section that made me want to commit abhorrent acts of extreme physical violence. More than usual I mean.

Not content with merely injecting their molten brand of filth with more compositional variety, the band have also enlisted the help of some excellent guest vocalists. Aside from the ethereal presence of the aforementioned Julia Frau, Aborted legend Sven De Caluwé lends his haggard pipes to the abrasive stomp of ‘Hollow Words’ and bolsters the scowling mantra of ‘Fuck your hollow words!’ in a cathartic anthem brimming with spite. Elsewhere Trivium main man and Metal polymath Matt Heafy lays down some shrill commanding growls on one of the album’s grandest moments ‘All I’ve Lost’, which features widescreen symphonic parts that elevate the surprisingly vulnerable lyrics to biblical heights.

Despite staying within the confines of Brutal Death Metal, there are enough bells and whistles added to the band’s tried and tested sound to make for an engaging and varied listen from start to finish, with things going out on a melancholic yet malevolent high on the tortured melodicism of ‘Scratch The Vein’. The runtime absolutely flies by even if everything on here doesn’t hit the emotional highs of the gut-wrenching ‘Tides Of Glass’, which is possibly the most successful incarnation of Ingested’s current direction.

All in all, this is an immensely satisfying release that will please the Death Metal die-hards while adding new dimensions and a magnificently huge production job that will no doubt broaden the band’s appeal. Like I said the UK rules at Metal, and this is an example to shove down the stupid throat of anyone that says otherwise. Sorry to be needlessly aggressive but this album does that to me! 

‘All I’ve Lost’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Ashes Lie Still
02. Shadows In Time
03. You’ll Never Learn
04. Tides of Glass
05. From Hollow Words
06. Sea of Stone
07. All I’ve Lost
08. With Broken Wings
09. Echoes of Hate
10. Scratch the Vein

LINE-UP:
Jason Evans – Vocals
Sean Hynes – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Lyn Jeffs – 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.

Obsidious – Iconic

Iconic Album Cover Art

Obsidious – Iconic
Season Of Mist
Release Date: 28/10/2022
Running Time: 53:16
Review by Rory Bentley
7.5/10

One of the many downsides of having a lot of guitarist friends is that they constantly confuse being able to play the shit out of one’s instrument with making good music that I’d actually want to listen to. I get told to check out new bands that wouldn’t know a chorus if it tea-bagged them while they were practicing their sweep picking. For this reason, I’m always wary of Tech-Metal bands. Some are great but most of them leave me utterly bemused in a flurry of songless audio pud-pulling. Obsidious call themselves ‘Modern Metal’ in their press notes but you’re not fooling anyone lads! Most of you were in Obscura, one of the shreddiest of the Tech-Death bands, and all your listed influences are Prog and Tech bands that have had 20 year plus careers! If half the bands in this scene were as creative with their music as these press notes are with the truth I wouldn’t have spent my whole Ever Metal tenure cherry-picking Hardcore releases from the review schedule.

Thankfully as you can see from the rather positive score at the top of the page, this debut album has enough sizzle and song-writing nous to appeal to an audience far beyond people who are in a relationship with a metronome. For a first go-around, “Iconic” (ballsy name), does an impressive job of turning its Prog-Metal magpie act into a cohesive whole that avoids pretty much all the pitfalls of that Monuments album that I probably graded far too generously a few months ago. It’s surprisingly lean, sonically varied and hints at an exciting future.

Those familiar with the pedigree of the instrumental contingent of the band will be fully aware that they are as fundamentally sound as it gets and can perform the kind of skin and string acrobatics that would make Robert Fripp’s head spin, but it is the man on the mic that provides the final piece to this chaotic jigsaw. I don’t know where they got Javi Perera from (mainly because I got bored of reading the press notes) but he is like a Prog Metal chimera (the mythological hybrid animal not the noughties Metal band) traversing smooth Tesseract cleans, Symphony X operatics and gritty Devin Townsend bellows. He’s so good at the theatrical side of things that I caught myself in a reverie imagining Dream Theatre with a tolerable singer. A guy can dream right?

Not only is he adept  at the whole singing thing, but his distorted vocals are also excellent, possessing a guttural quality and robust thickness that would be more at home on a Morbid Angel or early Opeth record. The often characterless phoned-in approach to harsh vocals is one of my least favourite aspects of this genre; so to hear some growls that have a set of bollocks on them is a refreshing and welcome addition.

Of course neither the musical or vocal chops would amount to much if the songwriting wasn’t up to snuff. Thankfully Obsidious already seem to have a good grasp on this key area, for the most part knowing when to be judicious with editing. I’d still trim a few songs here and there but to produce a 53 minute album in this style without boring me is quite the feat. If you want to know if this album’s for you the opening track will tell you all you need to know.

Touching on the full range of the band’s influences, ‘Under Black Skies’ acts as something of an overture for the rest of the record. We get the dizzying Dream Theatre leadwork, the filthy chug of Djent and the bubbling fretless bass of early Cynic and latter day Death. All capped off with a masterfully chameleonic vocal performance from Perera. This is 6 minutes of Progressive genre-hopping with a catchiness that elevates it above its niche source material.

‘Sense Of Lust’ isn’t quite as broad in its palette, but opts for a more muscular brutality, thuggishly channeling Meshuggah by way of Strapping Young Lad as chanted vocals collide with mechanical riffs and atonal soloing. This nastier approach is incredibly welcome and it is this aggression that anchors the album when the band go on their more florid flights of Prog-inspired fancy. ‘Devotion’ performs a similar function later on in the album, cleansing the palate between more indulgent numbers by bringing the King Kong riffing of Gojira to the party.

Album highlight ‘I Am’ transported me back in time by a decade as it ignited the memory of trying to digest and make sense of Devin Townsend’s bat-shit and obnoxiously heavy “Deconstruction” album, combining grit with grandeur and smashing my head off in the process. Despite being one of the compositions that could perhaps do with a bit of trimming, it also offers a great example of the band’s innate ability to write memorable hooks that cut through the chaos.

To conclude, this is an excellent starting point and although it still feels like a band feeling their way into a sound that’s uniquely their own, there’s enough evidence in their present powers of Prog alchemy to suggest that they’re not a million miles away from achieving their goal. There will be very few Metal releases that will match “Iconic” on a technical level this year, and even fewer that will hint at such a bright future. Album number 2 is where I feel things will really take off but this maiden effort contains more than enough fire and flashiness to hit the spot for anyone in need of some violent virtuosity in 2022.

‘Iconic’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Under Black Skies
02. Sense Of Lust
03. Iconic
04.Bound By Fire
05. Iron and Dust
06. I Am
07. Delusion
08. Devotion
09. Nowhere
10. Lake Of Afterlife

LINE-UP:
Linus Klausenitzer – Bass
Rafael Trujillo – Guitars
Sebastian Lanser – Drums
Javi Perera – 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.

Eyes of Tomorrow/Perfect Sky – Songs of Faith and Demolition

Songs of Faith and Demolition Album Cover Art

Eyes of Tomorrow/Perfect Sky – Songs of Faith and Demolition
WTF Records, Dedication Records
Release Date: 28/10/2022
Running Time: 27:00
Review by Rory Bentley
6/10

Since our Simon Black has taken control of updating our release schedule, I’ve had a lot more Hardcore in my inbox. Rather than waiting for me to ignore all the Power Metal/cynically swipe up the bigger band releases because I’m always on my phone when I’m supposed to be working before hoovering up the Hardcore, he’s cut out the middle man and started sending me this shit directly.

Part of me is insulted that I’m viewed as so predictable, but everything I’ve received so far has been bang on the money. Even with that said though, a split release by two bands that are described as FFO: Sick Of It All, Madball, Biohazard and Agnostic Front is unbelievably on the nose! This album should come with an oversized hoodie and a stick and poke tattoo.

Despite drawing from the same narrow (but fucking awesome) pool of influences, there is enough to distinguish Eyes of Tomorrow and Perfect Sky from each other, even though the differences may seem negligible to all but the Hardcore conisseur. But if you’re reading this review there’s a chance that you’re part of the Core community and this is going to be right up your street.

Eyes of Tomorrow definitely lean on the more Biohazard/Sick of it All end of the spectrum, favouring gruff catchy vocals and wiry warp speed riffing peppered between sludgy mosh sections designed to make sweaty dive bars bounce. ‘Burn Your Flags’ won’t win any prizes for innovation, particularly with its ‘fight the system!’ refrain, but the pit-inducting, full-tilt intensity of its delivery more than makes up for any feelings of pastiche.

‘Better Dayz’ has a chuggy mosh-call section that is pure satisfaction distilled into wounded masculine chants and stink-face inducing sludgy riffs. There’s not a lot to it either musically or structurally, but again the energetic performance is the true selling point and the band definitely holds up this end of the deal throughout.

‘Move Ahead’ caps off E.O.T.’s contribution to the album nicely, adopting a more crossover thrash approach for the bulk of its runtime before bursting into flames with some delightfully violent  ramshackle playing at the end that makes you fear for the safety of anyone working at the recording studio.

Perfect Sky are a slightly different proposition. The riffs are slung lower, the aggression is dialled up and the vocals are much more guttural and extreme. Their overall approach is a lot more metallic and I get the feeling they’re a little more tongue in cheek in their performance. Such is the ultra-macho posturing on DGAF that I thought I was listening to a parody band. My boy Oliver on the vocals clearly sounds like he’s having a lot of fun and this translates nicely to the listening experience and I for one an happy to chant “Fool me once – Fuck you forever!” along with him without a hint of shame.

There’s a heavier focus on groove here as well, with ‘Overcome Your Fears’ grinding away like “Roots”-era Sepultura to great effect. This sludgy swing to the guitars is what makes the jaw-droppingly clichéd Hatebreed-on-a-budget vocals of ‘No Pain No Gain’ easier to swallow, and Oliver even chucks in a good old fashioned ‘bleugh!’ for good measure. 

The album takes one more subtle yet welcome stylistic shift with ‘It’s My Life’ which sadly isn’t a NYHC take on the Bon Jovi classic. It is, however, a fun if a little clichéd Proto-Punk banger that has the same frantic energy and groove as MC5’s ‘Kick Out The Jams’. Lovely stuff!

Don’t let the score fool you guys, if you love all things Hardcore like I do, this is a great time in less than 30 minutes. There’s next to nothing original from these two Austrian outfits other than the fact that their entire sound sounds like it’s emerged from the East Coast of America, but that’s not really the point. What we have here is a promising start to the careers of two young bands with an admirable affection for the old school, and if their sound doesn’t progress beyond that then it’s not the end of the world. Plus the album title is a cool twist on Depeche Mode’s 1987 classic so they had me by the balls from day one.

‘Global Genocide’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. E.O.T.
02. Burn Your Flags
03. Better Dayz
04. Move Ahead
05. Still The Same
06. DGAF
07. Overcome Your Fears
08. Die for a Lie
09. Global Genocide
10. No Pain No Gain
11. It’s My Life

LINE-UP:

Eyes of Tomorrow:
Dom – Guitars 
Adam – Drums
Chris – Bass
Mirko – Vocals

Perfect Sky:
Oliver – Vocals
Christoph – Guitars
Markus – Bass
Roman – Drums

LINKS:

Eyes of Tomorrow: 

Perfect Sky:

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.

Avatarium- Death, Where is Your Sting

Death, Where is Your Sting Album Cover Art

Avatarium- Death, Where is Your Sting
AFM Records
Release Date: 21/10/2022
Running Time: 45:00
Review by Rory Bentley
8.5/10

Hello friends, please indulge me as I mount my soap box and have a big old moan that Avatarium aren’t way bigger than they are. This is a band I’ve been with from day one, when Candlemass main man Leif Edling created the project, melding his classic Doom riffing and aesthetic with the smoky, jazzy vocals of the inimitable Jennie-Ann Smith and her husband Marcus Jidell’s masterful fretboard wizardry. That incarnation produced two world class Doom albums that contained the occasional nod to Psychedelic Pop, a territory that the band have continued to expand upon following Edling’s amicable departure with their previous two records, the flawed but admirably experimental “Hurricanes and Halos” and the excellent “The Fire I Long For”. “Death Where is Your Sting” is the fifth full length from this criminally underrated band and guess what? It’s fucking great. Duh.

Eschewing past albums’ proclivity for smashing you in the mush with a riff that could put King Kong on the deck, ‘A Love Like Ours’ begins with mournful, Gothic strings and sinister piano lines as Jennie-Ann Smith croons hauntingly to create an ominous, suspenseful atmosphere. The threat of those titanic guitars is ever present, stalking and weaving in sparse stabs but it never quite explodes, allowing the increasingly unhinged strings to take centre stage and shred their way to the final chorus, which ramps up the distortion and intensity significantly. An absolutely stunning way to kick things off.

The band tread more familiar territory on the magnificent ‘Stockholm’, which adopts the alternating transition between lumbering, distorted blasts and folky acoustic sections, an approach popularised in fan favourite ‘Moonhorse’ from the band’s debut. Far from being a re-tread of past glories though, this is an elegant exercise in restraint with Smith’s layered, wordless choral vocals acting as the main hook, pulling the listener into an ethereal landscape that melds Doom and Folk impressively, without either element overpowering the other. A tasteful slide guitar solo caps things off with a measured grace only hinted at in the band’s earlier work.

The album’s title track continues with a theme first explored in the debut album’s Occult Rock banger ‘Boneflower’- the band’s ability to write spooky ​Pop ragers! ‘Death, Where Is Your Sting?’ contains perhaps the band’s catchiest and most anthemic chorus to date, as Smith sells every line with theatricality and a Pop sensibility that deftly avoids tipping into parody. The idea that we will all make death’s calendar one day is delivered with such glee that the morbid subject matter becomes a life-affirming celebration. It may well be the best song they have ever written.

From throwing shapes and tearing it up with The Grim Reaper, things take on a more solemn tone in ‘Psalm for the Living’, a beautiful hymn-like ballad that showcases Smith’s stunning vocal prowess as she puts in her most fragile, raw performance to date. The delicate backdrop and aching beauty, devoid of anything resembling Metal, show a level of growth that, with all due respect to Mr Edling, the band didn’t seem capable of in their original incarnation. Acolytes of the order of Doom need not despair, however – Avatarium got you covered with the next cut.

‘God Is Silent’ lets Marcus Jidell off the leash and makes me pull a face that would guarantee a podium place at a gurning contest. The riffs slam, the bass is driving, and the lurching guitars gradually ramp up their presence until a filthy middle-eight chug gives way to a tar black wah-drenched solo played like the guitar owes Marcus money. Throw in a classically evil chorus and it’s another setlist staple to guarantee a sore neck the next morning. Jidell flexes his leadwork elsewhere on the outro section of the gothic ‘Mother Can You Hear Me Now?’, where my man goes full David Gilmour, wailing on the minor pentatonic scale with a soulfulness and mastery that the Pink Floyd axe legend would be proud of.

My one minor criticism of the record is more down to sequencing than actual content. For me, I would have swapped the two closing tracks around, as despite being incredibly engaging and showing the band’s versatility, instrumental closer ‘Transcendent’ would be better placed as a lead-in to the track that precedes it. Nocturne offers perhaps the most succinct solidification of all the seemingly disparate elements of the album. It has a classic Sabbath feel, chugging metal guitars and a euphoric, psychedelic chorus melody as well as a theatrical Prog-like solo that leans more towards John Petrucci than Tony Iommi. It brings to mind “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’s” glorious closer ‘Spiral Architect’ which I always felt struck an intriguing balance between flower power and firepower.

Overall album number five sees the band continue to grow while still retaining all the core elements that made me love them in the first place. Although they don’t quite fit in with the resurgent Occult Rock movement that has seen artists like Dool, Lucifer and Green Lung gain plaudits over recent years; there is an argument that Avatarium have all of the appealing elements of these bands while having a more distinctive sound that doesn’t sacrifice the Metal crunch in favour of retro-worship. Please give this one a go as it’s another excellent addition to an increasingly impressive body of work that deserves way more love than it gets. 

‘Death, Where Is Your Sting’ Official Audio

TRACKLISTING:
01. A Love Like Ours
02. Death, Where Is Your Sting
03. Stockholm
04. Psalm for the Living
05. God Is Silent
06. Mother Can You Hear Me Now
07. Nocturne
08. Transcendent

LINE-UP:
Jennie-Ann Smith (Vocals) 
Marcus Jidell (Guitars) 
Andreas Habo Johansson (Drums & Percussion) 
Mats Rydström (Bass) 
Daniel Karlsson (Keyboards)

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.

Wednesday 13 – Horrifier

Horrifier Album Cover Art

Wednesday 13 – Horrifier
Napalm Records
Release Date: 07/10/2022
Running Time: 39:00
Review by Rory Bentley
7.5/10

Alright you spooky little dorks, as Halloween approaches (at least at the time of writing), everyone’s favourite Glam Punk boogie man Wednesday 13 is here to provide the perfect soundtrack for Pumpkin Sluts up and down the land. The former Murderdoll and Frankenstein Drag Queen is the train that’s never late, dropping a ghoulish LP of gory floor-fillers every two or so years with remarkable consistency. By now you know what you’re going to get, and you’ll already know if this record’s going to be your cup of tea / goblet of blood or not. There are very few surprises here, however when I order ice cream, I know what ice cream’s going to taste like and I’m not looking for some culinary reinvention of the concept of frozen dairy. Stick it in a cone, pop a flake in it and everybody’s happy. With that said I present to you the Shock Rock equivalent of a Mr Whippy. These analogies are getting worse.

Centring on the lyrical theme of John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and “Christine”, the album could not be more perfect for its October release if it came with a pumpkin-spiced latte. Opening with some classic slasher movie Synthwave for instrumental intro ‘Severed’, before launching into the screeching, Rob Zombie on steroids Industrial attack of the gruesomely titled ‘Insides Out’ it is immediately apparent that subtlety is clearly not on the cards; but good, dirty fun? You’d better believe there’s plenty of that!

I must admit by the time the scabrous molten riffage and screaming vocals of ‘Exhume and Devour’ flew out of  my speakers at an unreasonably early time in the morning, I was concerned that the whole album would consist of beatdown-heavy songs that lacked the playful catchiness of Wednesday’s best work. Nothing about the opening is bad, and I appreciated the more brutal approach as a welcome new wrinkle to the guy’s game, but nonetheless I’ve grown accustomed to big choruses that make you want to cut a rug dressed as a skeleton. Thankfully I did not have to wait long.

In comes ‘You’re So Hideous’ in all its gleeful stupidity to put a big old grin on my sneering face. Gritty, melodic and flamboyant in equal measure, this is what I signed up for! The fact that this is immediately topped by ‘Good Day To Be A Bad Guy’, both in terms of big dumb fun and earworm catchiness, is further proof that despite new pretenders to the schlocky horror throne like Ice Nine Kills, Mr 13 is still the daddy for this sort of cartoon horror fuckery. This is the kind of thing Twisted Sister would give their right bollock to write.

‘Return to Haddonfield’ continues the momentum with Wednesday channelling an even more twisted Blackie Lawless in an absolutely massive chorus replete with soaring guitar leads. This is possibly the most accomplished song on here and sure to be a live favourite, representing a clear high point in the record’s taut sub-forty-minute runtime. But there’s still plenty more gas in the tank as the album continues its blood-splattered rampage.

‘Horrifier’ is a straight down the line Proto-Thrash bruiser that eschews subtlety and intricacy for red-blooded shoutalongs and a filthy chug that never lets up for the entire runtime. The pummelling pace is nicely contrasted when followed by the sleazy Southern grooves of ‘Hell Is Coming’, which in anyone else’s hands would be tiresome wrestling PPV background music, but is rescued from eye-rolling Butt Rock by Wednesday’s knowingly pantomime delivery, committing to the part while keeping tongue firmly in cheek.

Those hankering to hear Wednesday’s Glam side are sure to get a kick out of ‘Halfway to the Grave’ which manages to channel the stadium-filling vibes of the 80’s sunset strip without resorting to boorish misogyny or being composed by abhorrent human turd people like Vince Neal. Result! The fact that it makes me write positively about a scene I despise with every fibre of my being should speak volumes on the song’s quality.

Things wrap up nicely with the short, sharp shock of ‘Christine: Fury In The Night’ and the overblown creepy power ballad, ‘The Other Side’, capping off another successful joyride on this ever-reliable ghost train. This is not an album that will change your life, it’s a little slow to get going and it isn’t up to the gold standard of that first Murderdolls album. But you know what? It has one hell of a shot at improving the soundtrack to your spooky season. It’s a good day to be a fucking bad guy!

‘Good Day To Be A Bad Guy’ Official Audio

TRACKLISTING:
01. Severed
02. Insides Out
03. Exhume and Devour
04. You’re So Hideous
05. Good Day To Be A Bad Guy
06. Return to Haddonfield
07. Horrifier
08. He’ll Is Coming
09. Halfway To The Grave
10. Christine: Fury In The Night
11. The Other Side

LINE-UP:
Joseph Poole – vocals, guitars
Roman Surman – guitars
Jack Tankersley – guitars
Troy Doebbler – bass
Mike Dupke – 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.

Charlotte Wessels – Tales from Six Feet Under Volume II

Tales from Six Feet Under Volume II Album Cover Art

Charlotte Wessels – Tales from Six Feet Under Volume II
Napalm Records
Release Date: 07/10/2022
Running Time: 42:00
Review by Rory Bentley
8/10

Your band splits up, the bills keep piling up and there’s a big old pandemic that’s put every touring musician’s career on ice- what do you do? Well, if you’re former Delain singer Charlotte Wessels you set up a Patreon, connect with your fans and let your creativity explode.

Hot on the heels of last year’s debut solo album, the Dutch songstress continues to capitalise on a musical purple patch with another eclectic set of Alt-Pop ragers that continues to show what an immense talent she actually is. I already knew her pipes were top drawer as they were comfortably my favourite thing about Delain, but this record, along with its predecessor, demonstrates that Wessels is more than a powerful set of lungs.

‘Venus Rises’ acts as the perfect introduction to Wessel’s sonic realm, with layered crooned vocals dripping with attitude over an Electro Pop backdrop which has a recurring motif that stays just the right side of Dubstep so as not to date it to 2010. So strong is the chorus that the song also gets away with a key change at the end without conjuring X-factor Christmas single vibes. This sultry almost Hyper Pop approach is sprinkled throughout the track-listing, adopting a more aggressive form in the layered, almost Industrial strutting of ‘Good Dog’ which sounds like Garbage in their 90’s pomp.

Elsewhere there are hints at Wessel’s Symphonic Metal past such as the plucked strings of ‘Human to Ruin’ and the bombastic riffing and orchestral attack on ‘Phantom Touch’, which could be a Delain song were it not for a more raspy vocal delivery and a creepy carnival waltz that brings to mind sections of Nightwish’s “Imaginaerum” album while adopting a chorus that erupts like a minor key version of Cheryl Crowe’s ‘If it Makes You Happy’. Maybe that bit is just me.

Continuing in a more commercial vein (again, not a dirty word guys – not everything needs to sound like Pig Destroyer), there are a couple of songs where Charlotte goes into her higher register that have the fragile melancholy of Lana Del Rey’s recent work, namely ‘The Final Roadtrip’ and ‘I Forget’. The former drips with summertime sadness even when the final chorus piles on the euphoric strings, while the latter has a Folky bounce to it that will appeal to fans of Joanna Newsom. Although it’s more palatable and less vocally quirky.

The two songs that best illustrate the broad palette on display across “Tales From…” come in the form of ‘Against All Odds’ and ‘Toxic’. The former is a straight up ballad with breezy acoustic guitars and percussive natural harmonics layered under Charlotte’s angelic head-register vocals. The whole song hinges on a theme of dusting yourself off and being ready to look for love once more despite knowing it’s more than likely going to hurt you all over again. The melancholic lyrics that depict defiance in the face of suffering, along with a gorgeous vocal delivery, stop this one tipping too far into diabetes-inducing syrupyness and result in a genuinely lovely song. ‘Toxic’ on the other hand is pure animalistic NIN aggression with stalking industrial beats and a staccato orchestral riff that descends into a screaming beatdown section, all while weaving in some top-tier Pop hooks. It’s a song so filthy it’ll leave dirt under your fingernails by the time it’s had its wicked way with you!

Despite ending a little more sedately with ‘Utopia’, possibly my least favourite here, this is overall a fantastic Alt-Pop record that spans everything from Radiohead, to The Gathering to Ministry, held together by Wessel’s expressive, distinctive voice. Free from having to compromise in the confines of a band and an increasingly saturated and formulaic genre, this is an artist doing whatever the hell she wants and pulling it off with nonchalant ease. I for one am all ears for part three of this journey and am strongly considering joining Charlotte’s Patreon community to see the next chapter take shape firsthand. 

‘Toxic’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Venus Rising
02. Human to Ruin
03. The Phantom Touch
04. Against All Odds
05. A Million Lives
06. The Final Roadtrip 
07. Good Dog
08. Toxic 
09. I Forget
10. Utopia 

LINE-UP:
All vocals, programming and instruments performed by Charlotte Wessels except –
Timo Somers – Guitar on ‘Human To Ruin’ and ‘Against All Odds’ 
Elianne Anemaat – Cello on ‘I Forget’

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.

Crippled Black Phoenix – Banefyre

Banefyre Album Cover Art

Crippled Black Phoenix – Banefyre
Season of Mist
Release Date: 09/09/2022
Running Time: 01:18:00
Review by Rory Bentley 
9/10

Have you ever heard of too much of a good thing? No matter how much you love ice cream there comes a point where you get so full of rum and raisin that the prospect of another scoop of the very thing you’ve craved like heroin during those tough days at the gym now sounds like a sure-fire crash course in redecorating your living room with the contents of your rotund stomach. A very idiosyncratic analogy I’ll grant you, but one that can apply to music, particularly album runtimes.

If you combed through every review I’ve put up on Ever Metal (and I pray that things aren’t so bad for you that you’d subject yourself to that), you’d probably find at least half of them contain some complaint or other about the album being too long. Normally this gripe comes from me getting fatigued by the same ideas cropping up over and over again, but there are occasions where the quality and innovation remain consistent but it’s just a bit overwhelming.

British Post-Rock / Alt-Metal / Prog / Fuck Knows behemoths Crippled Black Phoenix have long left this impression on me. Every album of theirs sounds magnificent while it’s on and appeals to so many of my musical quirks, but by Odin’s beard they’re fucking long! 2020’s “Ellengaest” bucked this trend of excess, swooping in at a comparatively brisk fifty-five minutes that flew by, aided by multiple excellent guest spots from the likes of Anathema’s Vincent Cavanagh as well as now permanent member Joel Segeratedt. However, this shift away from more epic compositions has proved to be short-lived as “Banefyre” clocks in at a whopping ninety-eight minutes. But you know what? I’m down with it.

Part of my enthusiasm comes from a shift in my current listening habits, where my exhausted brain prefers a more patient build up than thirty minutes of synapse-nuking angular hardcore at this point in time; but the main reason why I’m willing to sit in this album’s company until my arse cheeks go numb is the new direction this album takes.

Although the core components of CBP’s sound are still there – the cinematic soundscapes, walls of guitars and Belinda Kordic’s smoky, ethereal vocals, there’s a vibe and tone to this record that’s delightfully menacing and sort of fun! After the unsettling Twin Peaks-meets-coven-leader intro of ‘Incantation for the Different’, I’m treated to the absolute occult Rock riot that is ‘Wytches and Basterdz’. Steaming in with sci-fi keyboards and Kordic’s seductive croon, there’s a palpable sense of spooky fun under the dark surface that came as a real surprise in the wake of the previous album’s melancholic elegance.

‘Ghostland’ further ups the ante by sounding like a more widescreen cut from Chelsea Wolfe’s laconic Doom masterpiece “Hiss Spun”. The cult-like chanting is also absolutely terrifying, like a particularly grim outtake from The Wicker Man, demonstrating the band’s unique ability to straddle the line between film score and Prog odyssey. It’s intense, uplifting and unsettling in equal measure and left my jaw on the floor when I first heard it. A quasi-religious experience. 

In addition to this new Occult Rock approach, there is a consistent Post-Punk thread running through many of the songs. ‘Reckoning’ tips its cap to Grave Pleasures and Beast Milk, whereas ‘Bonefire’ has a more Synthwave seductiveness as it slinks along before crescendoing beautifully in more typical CBP style. As we venture deeper into the album there is a menacing, widescreen sci-fi overtone that collides with 80’s Art Pop in the Pink Floyd meets Bladerunner brooding of “Blackout 77” and its twisted Peter Gabriel hooks. These stylistic additions give the record its own distinctive feel and further bolster the world-building approach of “Banefyre”.

The sprawling grandiosity of the record will likely repel and attract casual listeners in equal measure. Part of me wished that some of the more commercial-leaning sections (relax, I mean commercial as a compliment) were transposed into a more digestible song format, such as the sultry Lana Del Rey Goth-Pop of the epic ‘I’m Ok Just Not Alright’. But Crippled Black Phoenix have always been a vibe kind of band where these sprinklings of catchiness act as an anchor to the swirling ocean of immersive, existential ambience that engulfs the listener over the course of their albums.

As it stands, I was happy to surrender myself to the all-enveloping ethereal majesty of this dense, disturbing and often beautiful record. The gorgeous swelling build up and regal horns of ‘Rose of Jericho’ alone are worth the price of booking annual leave to squeeze in a listening session. It also doesn’t hurt that Kurt Balou handles production magnificently here and I’m automatically predisposed to give anything involving members of Converge at least an 8/10. Give it your time and an open mind and this is an incredibly rewarding listen, and one of which I feel I have barely scratched the surface. Time will tell but this feels like a future classic.

‘Everything Is Beautiful But Us’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Incantation for the Different 
02. Wyches and Basterdz
03. Ghostland
04. The Reckoning
05. Bonefire 
06. Rose of Jericho
07. Blackout77
08. Down The Rabbit Hole
09. Everything is Beautiful but Us
10. The Pilgrim
11. I’m Ok, Just Not Alright
12. The Scene is a False Prophet
13. No Regrets (Bonus Track)

LINE-UP:
Justin Greaves : Guitars, Drums, Bass, Samples, Saw
Belinda Kordic : Vocals, Percussions
Helen Stanley : Grand Piano, Synthesisers, Monochord, Trumpet
Andy Taylor : Guitar, Baritone Guitar, 12 String Guitar
Joel Segerstedt: Vocals, Guitar

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.

Wake – Thought Form Descent

Thought Form Descent Album Cover Art

Wake – Thought Form Descent
Metal Blade
Release Date: 22/07/2022
Running Time: 47:00
Review by Rory Bentley
8/10

Alright gang, good to see you again! I’m currently catching up on my review list after having a bit of an emotional wobble and then getting married. I should stress those two things are not connected but both have been less than conducive to listening to and writing about Metal. Particularly when it’s as bleak and devastating as “Thought Form Descent” by Canadian Black Metal masters Wake.

Having garnered some serious underground credibility and critical acclaim over the last few years, Wake have carved out their own niche in the world of transcendental, crushing Black Metal. As I’ve stressed before, I’m not a huge Black Metal guy generally speaking and there normally needs to be a little bit of sizzle on the side to get me interested. The sizzle in question with Wake is the crushing heaviness and pastoral feel throughout this album that gives me the same unsettling sense of existential dread and awe at the vast natural wilderness that I get from the last Cult of Luna album. There is an earthiness to widescreen opener ‘Infinite Inward’ that feels like grabbing a fist full of soil as you lie on a forest floor as the sun begins to piece through the canopy above. I’m reminded of fellow North American BM outfit Wolves In The Throne Room here and throughout the record.

Circling back to the ‘heaviness’ I mentioned earlier, I should elaborate on this. A lot of Black Metal is heavy on atmosphere but unlikely to make me scrunch my face up like a gurning bulldog at the level of molten riffage. This is where Wake really tick my boxes. There’s a muscular Death Metal thrust to ‘Swallow The Light’ that bolsters the band’s sound and gives the song a visceral impact that melds raw power with ethereal elegance.

Vocally, Kyle Ball is a commanding presence throughout, summoning up an intensity that galvanises the expansive, cinematic flow of  ‘Mourning Dirge (Repose of the Dead)’ and channels both the human and the bestial with a bone-chilling roar. There is a guttural percussiveness to his low end growls that provides the heartbeat to each song and makes each banshee-like high register shriek more impactful. The closing 2 minutes of ‘Venerate (The Undoing of All)’ in particular provide a terrifying example of this.

This is by no means an easy album to listen to and I do find myself struggling with its consistent level of intensity. While it would be unfair to say the record lacks dynamics I do feel a little more sonic variety in places wouldn’t go amiss. The melodic leads and crashing arpeggios on ‘Observer to Master’ were a blessed relief amidst the near constant barrage of white hot intensity I’d been subjected to up until that point. In the end the band add just enough wrinkles to their game to keep your attention and maintain momentum throughout the epic closer ‘Bleeding Eyes of the Watcher’ and its instrumental coda ‘The Translation of Deaths’.

This album’s main strength lies in raw, seething emotion. Sometimes that scalding intensity can be too much to digest in one sitting, but persevere and it will leave you drained but satisfied. I’m hoping that there will be even more layers added to the band’s sound by the next album, but for now this is an often stunning piece of passionate, celestial Metal alchemy.

‘Swallow the Light’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Infinite Inward
02. Swallow the Light
03. Mourning Dirge (Repose of the Dead)
04. Pareidolia
05. Venerate (The Undoing of All)
06. Observer to Master
07. Bleeding Eyes of the Watcher
08. The Translation of Deaths

LINE-UP:
Kyle Ball- Vocals
Josh Bueckert- Drums
Arjun Gill- Guitars
Rob LaChance- Guitars
Ryan Kennedy- Bass

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.