Monday, 21 January 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Soilwork, “Verkligheten”

By: Elliot Paisley

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/01/2019
Label: Nuclear Blast


“Verkligheten” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Verkligheten
2. Arrival
3. Bleeder Despoiler
4. Full Moon Shoals
5. The Nurturing Glance
6. When The Universe Spoke
7. Stålfågel (feat. Alissa White-Gluz)
8. The Wolves Are Back In Town
9. Witan
10. The Ageless Whisper
11. Needles And Kin (feat. Tomi Joutsen)
12. You Aquiver (feat. Dave Sheldon)

The Review:  

are a key example of a band being in the wrong place but at the right time. Their native Helsingborg is a small town in Sweden, closer to Copenhagen, Denmark than it is to melo-death mecca Gothenburg. Forming in late 1995, they were in prime position to take the place of At The Gates, frontrunners of the scene soon to disband and join the ranks among Dark Tranquillity and In Flames. However, this ultimately failed to manifest.

The band were never held in the same esteem as their contemporaries, and the reason why is curious. Could it be geography? Were they late to the party? Nevertheless, since their inception, the band have remained outsiders.

Their influence however must not be underestimated. Perhaps more than any other melodic death metal band, they have also had a remarkably apparent influence on the boom of American metalcore in the early 2000s, with such bands as Killswitch Engage, Unearth and particularly Trivium taking direct influence and appropriating the band’s flair for juddering rhythms and electrifying melody. Their work has even infiltrated the mainstream, as commercial heavyweights such as Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet for My Valentine have taken direct influence. They may not have been the originators, but Soilwork managed to wrangle a complex and whirling form of extreme metal and given it life in the limelight, despite not entirely enjoying such commercial success themselves.

Despite this, Soilwork could never boast about their consistency. While “Natural Born Chaos”, “Figure Number Five” and “Stabbing the Drama” each helped establish them as one of the leading lights of melodic death metal, the two following albums showed Soilwork making a beeline for the mainstream. Perhaps following in the footsteps of Dark Tranquillity, who embraced clean vocals and a gothic sheen, and In Flames, who explored alternative metal like that of Deftones, Soilwork began to take from the metalcore bands they had previously influenced. Both “Sworn to a Great Divide” and “The Panic Broadcast” felt derivative rather than defiant, and there was a worry that Soilwork were to fade from former glories, much like their contemporaries.

However, 2013 saw a tremendous return to form with the ambitious double-record “The Living Infinite”. Embracing their early victories and taking that formula into exciting new territory, the 20-song set helped establish Soilwork as a great band once again and quashed all doubt of their quality. It remains as one of the finest albums in their career Soilwork in good stead for the future. This campaign was furthered with the excellent 2016 effort “The Ride Majestic”, which was a leaner, meaner release than its predecessor and was welcomed by fans and critics alike. Improving on the progress made on “The Living Infinite”, the band made what was perhaps their most effective and successful album to date.

This has put “Verkligheten” in a curious position; on one hand, the band are in a strong position, having earnt back the trust of fans with the preceding two releases, but on the other, they now have a reputation to live up to. It is a relief to report that “Verkligheten” suffers no downfall, and instead further establishes Soilwork as perhaps a sole truly reliable band in melodic death metal.

The performances on this album are absolutely superb, from the opening moments of the instrumental title track, with it’s curious slide-guitar over tribal-drums aesthetic to the glorious string-bends which close the album, the band are on astounding form. This is the first album with Bastian Thusgaard, who has inherited the drum stool following the departure of Dirk Verbeuren who has recently become the full-time drummer for Megadeth, and he proves himself with an exceptional performance. Fiery and fluid, the percussion on this album mercifully swerves the traps that often laid within this style of music of feeling contrived and repetitive. It bolsters the album along and gives it a sense of pace that allows the album to feel light on its feet while also accenting the heavier passages.

The instrumentation is well-performed and tastefully composed, but perhaps the most impressive work on this album comes from vocalist Bjorn Strid, who has continued to improve album-on-album, with “Verkligheten” perhaps being his most accomplished performance yet. In a 20+ year career, to see a vocalist (particularly in metal) continuing to improve his craft is a rare thing. His screeches are furious and his cleans serene; it’s not a new formula, but when it is done to a high standard it remains refreshing.

The guitar-work is also electrifying, with soaring Maiden lead-wails providing a superb juxtaposition to the rhythm guitar’s punishing grunt. The album’s stand-out track “Witan” is a perfect example of this, with the low-end at its heaviest and the lead work at its most heavenly. Again, it’s not an entirely original formula, but when it is done with such conviction, it is still irresistible.

However, the album isn’t flawless. Perhaps most interestingly though, the primary flaws of this album are not really the fault of the band. The production job on the album, while complimenting the sweeter, more melodic passages of the album, can’t help but make certain passages feel less savage than they ought to. It’s far cleaner than it ought to be, and this is a pandemic among these types of bands; many of them appear afraid to embrace gritty production jobs, despite the fact that they would be far improved for it.

The band are their most electrifying when they let themselves off the leash and sound positively rabid, and at times it feels as though the band are restraining themselves. Closing track “You Aquiver”, while boasting some joyous melodies, does occasionally stray too far into Final-Fantasy territory, which is far from Soilwork playing to their strengths. It’s a markedly less-heavy album than what the band have put out recently, which isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it does show Soilwork moving away from the sweet-spot ever so slightly.

Despite these flaws, “Verkligheten” is still a great album. Soilwork may never be as good as In Flames, Dark Tranquillity or At The Gates at their heights; even their finest works don’t match up with “Clayman”, “The Gallery” or “Slaughter Of The Soul”, but in 2019, they are certainly one of the finest commodities within this style of music. Were it not for last year’s excellent “To Drink From The Night Itself”, a superb return to form by At The Gates, it would be difficult to find a peer for Soilwork in the modern age. “Verkligheten” may not be quite as exceptional as the preceding two albums, but it does more than enough to establish their dependability over 20 years in.

“Verkligheten” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

TRACK PREMIERE: Widows debut new track "P.S. Worry"

Hard Rock/Stoner/sludge quartets, Widows are a pulverizing juggernaut of deadly riffage drenched with impressions of Entombed, Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Down, and Eyehategod. Having spent several years laying waste to any venue that would have them, the band have made friends in high places; scoring stunning reviews and features in Metal Hammer, Terrorizer, Rock Sound and more importantly on this very site

Following on from the storming success of their third studio release, 2017’s “Oh Deer God”, Widows are back with their flattening new two-track EP “Ten’Yer” marking the final studio release with long time drummer Ze-Big and the first outings for new drummer Adam Sharrocks at their launch shows in February 2019.

Widows had this to say about their new release. “After a relatively quiet 2018, we’re glad to be back with these new tracks and excited to get them in your faces live! We are also stoked to be finally working with APF Records on the release too, the label has done a lot for the scene since it started up and we’re really happy we’re now a part of that.

“Ten’Yer” is a bit of a progression on what we did with “Oh Deer God” and expands on the nastiness on that record. There’s still that same vibe there but the focus was on trying to make it darker and more aggressive than “ODG” on all fronts. If you liked the last record, you’ll love what we’ve got in store for you come January 28th!”

Ahead of the release next week, THE SLUDGELORD are proud to present a brand new track which you can check out below.  The band are also set to hit the UK over the coming months, and can be found sweating it out in the following cities:

Live Rtuals:

Fri 1st Feb – Albert’s, Nottingham, w/Ritual King, Mastiff, Barbarian Hermit
Sat 2nd Feb – Bread Factory, Manchester, w/APF Records Showcase
Sat 23rd Feb - The Freebird, Stoke, w/Mastiff and Silverchild
Thu 14th March – The Maze, Nottingham, Metal 2 the Masses Heat 5
9th June -Black Heart, London All dayer, main support
Sat 5th Oct - Bannerman's, Edinburgh Barbarian Hermit weekender
Sun 6th Oct - Trillian's, Newcastle, all dayer, Barbarian Hermit weekender

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Friday, 18 January 2019

TRACK PREMIERE: Swedish post metallers Siberian offer new live ritual "Axis Mundi"

Siberian is a heavy metal band from Linköping, Sweden whose influences are drawn from the sludge and post-metal scene. Mix it together with their Scandinavian background and you will start to get an idea what Siberian is all about. Uncompromising walls of sound meets melody and melancholia.

Post-metal inspired experimentation with sitars, flutes and bag-pipes. Faintest traces of atmospheric black-metal clashing with cranking moments of hardcore sludge. Jubilant melodies and fiery war drums.

Siberian released their debut album 'Modern Age Mausoleum' in 2014. It was the first chapter in Siberian's 'Age trilogy'. The album displayed an Orwellian view of the modern society. After several tour cycles the band started to work with what was going to become their next release.

The band worked with the documentation of all their personal dreams. The material became the foundation of what was to become their second release in the trilogy named 'Through Ages of Sleep'. The follow-up explores the subconscious mind in dreams and is portrayed both sonically and lyrically. The album sees Siberian take a step further sounding more mature and grown up compared to the previous debut. The band have stated in interviews that they shun away from any musical rules and focus only on writing what feels right. Which becomes very clear on the new record.

Since the release the band evolved their musicality and added new members to the group expanding the band from a three-piece to a quintet. Focusing on writing new material with new instruments in the band. Siberian is introducing its new members with a new live EP 'Live at Studio Underjord' set to be released in February 2019 and today you can sample the awesome track “Axis Mundi” below

Band info: facebook

VIDEO PREMIERE: Grave Lines Live Session, "Loathe/Displace"

London/Brighton heavy contingent Grave Lines who released latest album ‘Fed Into The Nihilist Engine' in the first half of 2018 have announced UK tour dates for February 2019 with Dystopian Future Movies. To help promote this upcoming tour Grave Lines have filmed some very slick live session videos and today you can check out part 1 of the session featuring “Loathe / Displace” below, vocalist Jake Harding commented on the sessions

'As something a bit different we thought it would be cool to capture the more ambient side of Grave Lines with some live sessions. Our good friend Rob "longarms" kindly let us come and do it on his beaten up old canal boat so in a lapse of judgement we decided to go and do it on one of the hottest days of the year.

Sweating bullets and burning in the sun aside we had a blast and the videos speak for themselves.

These are the 'interludes' from our album which tell their own individual stories and at the same time act as part of the narrative of 'Fed into the nihilist engine'. They explore the human relationship with negativity, but act as isolated thoughts within us.

This first track was a bit of an experiment by Julia with synths and took us all by surprise but very quickly became an integral part of the album so it’s been great working it into our live set.

As is always the case with our band this filming was made possible by our talented friends.

Camera work by the amazing Josh gaunt and Florence Pellacani.
Sound recorded and mixed by the unstoppable Chris West (check out his new project Crawling For Carrion here

UK Live Rituals dates w/ Dystopian Future Movies:

Thursday 7th February, Record Junkee, Sheffield
Friday 8th February, Wharf Chambers, Leeds
Saturday 9th February, Black Heart, Camden, London
Sunday 10th February, Chameleon Arts Cafe, Nottingham

Band info: facebook

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Great Falls, "A Sense Of Rest"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 21/12/2018
Label: Corpse Flower Records |
Throatruiner Records |
Init Records

…the band have expanded their sonic horizons to cover new levels of punishing heaviness.  Jagged shards of damaged post-hardcore now give way to crushing low-end riffs like a collision between KEN Mode and “Remission” era Mastodon

“A Sense Of Rest” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. The Accelerationist
2. Not-For-Sale Bodies
3. Kettle Logic
4. We Speak In Lowercase
5. Thousands Every Hour
6. Baldessari Height
7. I Go To Glory
8. Scratched Off The Canvas

The Review:

Great Falls decided to throw Album of 2018 lists into disarray with the late December release of the monstrous “A Sense Of Rest”. The Seattle trios last LP “The Fever Shed” was a taut thirty minutes of barbed noise rock fury. In the three years since its release, the band have taken their furious back catalogue as a foundation and crafted an expansive beast of an album.

“The Accelerationist” wastes no time introducing the listener to Great Falls in full flow with an onslaught of razor sharp guitar, pounding drums and churning bass. It soon becomes apparent that the band have expanded their sonic horizons to cover new levels of punishing heaviness.  Jagged shards of damaged post-hardcore now give way to crushing low-end riffs like a collision between KEN Mode and “Remission” era Mastodon. “Not-For-Sale Bodies” continues the barrage, culminating in a lumbering finale that demonstrates how much weightier “A Sense Of Rest” is compared to previous offerings. 

The highlight here is the monumental fifteen minute centrepiece, “We Speak In Lowercase”. It feels simultaneously like Great Falls unleashing all they have achieved to this point in one slow-burning epic and a huge leap into the unknown. The opening sections are unexpectedly melodic, delivered with a restraint and vulnerability that bring to mind Kowloon Walled City's amazing “Grievances” LP. Demian Johnston's vocals are at their most affecting here, from an exposed despairing howl at the beginning of the track building to an imploring scream at its climax. As the band dynamics move between quiet and loud, the tempos shift accordingly leading to a stirring slow-motion coda of shimmering reverb-heavy distortion.

It's as if Great Falls anticipated the state of awe the mind-expanding “We Speak In Lowercase” would leave the listener in by following it with “Thousands Every Hour”. The opening minute or so of screeching feedback followed by a skipped groove, one chord riff brings you back down to earth with a dose of punk rock urgency.

“A Sense Of Rest” is an incredible release from Great Falls. A perfect blend of ragged noise rock, devastating riffs, dark melody and ambitious songwriting, this LP should earn them some well-deserved attention.  

“A Sense Of Rest” is available (LP USA) HERE, (LP Europe) HERE and CD HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

TRACK PREMIERE: BLCKWVS return with their trademark monolithic doom on "0165"

An ambitious undertaking that has been 4 years in the making, on February 22nd 2019 German Doom/Sludge outfit BLCKWVS will issued their new album “0160” via This Charming Man Records. It will come as no surprise to those familiar with the band that every song is recorded and released in their typical, monolithic style,  but not only that the record is teaming with guest appearances.

Musically 0160” sounds like a bulldozer flattening everything that stands in the way and today at THE SLUDGELORD you can check out a brand new track feat. Sarah from BLACK VULPINE below. 

Band info: facebook || instagram || bandcamp

Monday, 14 January 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Malevolent Creation. "The 13th Beast"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/01/2019
Label: Century Media Records

Resolutely traditional, old school Florida death metal with a modern production, iIn other words, for fans of the genre and band it is an absolute winner

“The 13th Beast” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. End The Torture
2. Mandatory Butchery
3. Agony For The Chosen
4. Canvas Of Flesh

5. Born Of Pain
6. The Beast Awakened
7. Decimated
8. Bleed Us Free
9. Knife At Hand
10. Trapped Inside
11. Release The Soul

The Review:

Malevolent Creation are certainly one of death metal's old school elite and even with powerhouse vocalist Brett Hoffman gone, the band (Phil Fasciana and able cohorts) press forward. Lee Wollenschlaeger is a fine death metal vocalist, as is demonstrated by his opening growl on “End The Torture”- and he brings an almost NYHC aggression to his delivery. Once again, the sound is razor sharp, the production suitably brutal, the sound is timelessly death metal.

As is standard (now and then) the drums are triggered and thus audible in their intricacy. The sound is pro-toolsed and the performances are spot on. These days, you would be hard pressed to find the endearing amateur aggression present on some of the biggest bands' debut recordings, but what you get instead is machine like precision born of experience.

There are blasts aplenty (“Agony For The Chosen”), some very thrashy moments (“Mandatory Butchery”), plenty of shifting tempos (“Canvas of Flesh”) and all of these elements rearing their heads at various times in most tracks. Over the course of eleven tracks there is no real relaxation time- just straight ahead death metal. This is, though, so what did you expect?!

Try out “The Beast Awakened” if you want a flavour of the best elements of the record in one track (it slays!), but if you like Malevolent Creation you are pretty much guaranteed to like this album. Is it their best? To some listeners it will be, to some it will be “another” good MC album. That the band are keeping quality control high and are still putting out impressive records is highly commendable and something that cannot be said of many old-school bands.

That there is nothing new here goes without saying- “Decimated” would fit on any of their albums past or present- but death metal is a taste you develop and if the bug has bitten you in the past, suffice it to say that this album will satisfy all death metal needs and wants you may have.

As the album progresses through “Knife at Hand”, “Trapped Inside” and “Release The Soul” you will know exactly what kind of album this is: resolutely traditional, old school Florida death metal with a modern production. In other words, for fans of the genre and band it is an absolute winner. Enjoy.

“The 13th Beast” is available HERE

Band info: facebook