Friday 29 April 2016

Live Review: NOIZ All Dayer, Rebellion Bar, Manchester, 2/4/2016

By: Dominic Walsh

Boasting one of the best heavy metal bills in Manchester in a long time, NOIZ promotions’ NOIZ All Dayer in Manchester seemed almost untrue with the amount of talent on show.

Drone duo, Khost, opened up the day with a massively heavy amount of tone and drone for the small crowd. It was only 12.30 when they took the stage so people were still filing in through the doors, although there were a couple of people who had made the effort to see Khost based on their attire.

From here on in, the bill changed shape with bands moving up and down the bill continually. Presumably this was due to people arriving/being delayed etc.

One band that did take the stage at their scheduled time was PIST. Now, for those who haven’t heard PIST, the clue is in the name. 1pm was a remarkably early time for the Bury quartet to hit the stage, however their groove laden angsty southern sludge did more than wake the gathered masses, and blow any Friday night cobwebs away.

As the afternoon progressed, Fvnerals and Dystopian Future Movies (both late additions to the bill due to cancelled gigs in the area) serenaded the crowd with dark post rock and doom laden riffs that slowed the pace somewhat during the afternoon. The slower pace did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd. Both bands have been touring together; if you’re a fan of Neurosis, Bossk, Long Distance Calling (or bands to that effect), give them a whirl.

Either side of Fvnerals and DFM, there were arguably some of the star turns of the day. Another local band who are making plenty of waves in the metal world, Boss Keloid, were in celebratory mood with a storming set which showed how much the band have evolved. They are much tighter as a band, and the material from their new LP ‘Herb Your Enthusiasm,’ sounded incredibly strong. To bring the pace down again slightly, were Witchsorrow. Although they’re a doom band, their latest LP, ‘No Light, Only Fire,’ has plenty of more up tempo selections. A mix of these tracks and cuts from “God Curse Us” helped them deliver a great set.
Towards the top of the bill was heavy rock trio The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, who did not disappoint. Complete no frills rock and roll just the way it should be. Steak ably assisted with their fuzzy stoner rock keeping the pace up as the crowd got steadily more lubricated.

One of the absolute star turns of the day however, took place early in the afternoon. London’s Vodun turned many heads in Rebellion. The trio, who have just released their debut LP “Possession”, took to the stage in their ‘tribal’ attire and delivered a scintillating performance. Chantal Brown’s vocals can easily draw comparisons with Skunk Anansie’s Skin, and the riffs swerve from thrash, to stoner, to doom. Over the course of their short set, Vodun proved why they are getting many great reviews of “Possession”. Another afternoon success came in the form of their tour mates, Limb. Showcasing some prime cuts from 2015’s “Terminal”, the band delivered a stomping set against a hazy white light back drop; foggy and fuzzy on many levels! “Down By The Banks” is a monster of a track; Limb deserve to be edging themselves up bills. They have the songs and presence to be huge.

The day ended with Israeli sludge mob Dukatalon playing host to a fully liquored audience. Their stomping set ended with a huge stage invasion capping off an excellent day of heavy metal. The amount of bands on the bill only scratches the surface of the amount of great bands out there. NOIZ are behind many of Manchester’s all day metal events – if you are even the slightest it curious, go along and check out some of the bands; it’s almost a dead cert you’ll find something you enjoy.

You can check them out here:

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas - "Mariner" (Album Review)

By: TJ Kliebhan

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 08/04/2016
Label: Indie Recordings

While both artist’s individual talents are showcased this effort never feels like the two artists were unfamiliar with each other. Rather, this album can trick you into thinking this is one artist rather than two. There is an utter lack of competing sounds, styles, or egos. The spotlight is entirely shared and makes “Mariner” a highlight of a how a seamless collaboration record can sound.

“Mariner” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). A Greater Call
2). Chevron
3). The Wreck of S.S. Needle
4). Approaching Transition
5), Cygnus

The Review:

April has been a good month for metal collaborations. After getting an excellent release from The Body& Full of Hell, the 08/4/2016  saw the release of “Mariner”-a joint project from post-metal pioneers Cult of Luna and vocalist extraordinaire Julie Christmas. “Mariner” features 55 minutes of material over 5 post-rock and sludge rock tracks which largely explores a theme of space exploration. Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas had been attempting to collaborate for over a year before it finally managed to happen, but the wait was worth it. “Mariner” is a refreshing stop in the Cult of Luna discography. Christmas offers a different hue in the band that has not existed in their heavy extended pieces before. For Julie Christmas, her voice in conjunction with Johannes Persson’s growl creates even more dissonance than a project featuring just her own. By sharing the microphone, Christmas’ wide range and high pitched voice is even more distinguishing due to Persson offering a baritone platform for her to project from.

The vocal prowess from Persson and Christmas is what keeps this record great on further listens. While Persson remains ferocious throughout these long songs Julie Christmas shows off her varying vocal chops. There are parts on this record where Christmas sounds quite melodic and pleasant. The opening track, “A Greater Call” features Christmas putting on her best Lauren Mayberry impression while Cult of Luna’s plodding post-rock atmosphere give her vocals enormous space to fill. Julie Christmas’ unique croon is incredibly ethereal here. Her scintillating vocals are the only relief from Persson’s relentless scowls that also can surprise listeners at any moment.  “The Wreck of S.S. Needle” is the highlight track of this record because of its ability to showcase the range of talents these artists possess. By utilizing numerous Christmas vocal tracks and playing them all in a sequential layered method an angelic or perhaps cathartic effect is created at its climax. The track as a whole feels immense after five minutes of dramatic buildup featuring trudging guitars and synth crescendos that follow the lead of Christmas’ vocal inflections. 

The two more melodic tracks act as safe havens between tracks centered on big riffs and a dark post-rock atmosphere. While Christmas does sing pleasantly for moments on this album, she does not hesitate from implementing her trademark dissonant screech either. Cult of Luna appropriately picks up the pace to match her energy. The final track “Cygnus” features pummeling drums and a nimble guitar scale that draws the attention to Cult of Luna’s guitar prowess which remained relatively reserved until now. This track features the best climactic maelstrom and serves as an appropriate closer. What is quickly apparent on this record is the fantastic drumming from Thomas Headlund which drives all five of these tracks by electing to use power and timing rather than flash.  

This collaboration was effective because the two artists’ talents stylistically matched up, or at least Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas present a convincing argument that they did. “Mariner” is a focused project that accomplishes most of what it sets out to do. Although the concept of space exploration wasn’t very thoroughly carved out the music can stand without the concept behind it. Julie Christmas sounds natural behind the sludgy riffs and her vocal harmonies and dissonances with Persson are incredibly powerful. While both artist’s individual talents are showcased this effort never feels like the two artists were unfamiliar with each other. Rather, this album can trick you into thinking this is one artist rather than two. There is an utter lack of competing sounds, styles, or egos. The spotlight is entirely shared and makes “Mariner” a highlight of a how a seamless collaboration record can sound.

“Mariner” is available here

Band info: cultoflunamusic

Rising - "Oceans Into Their Graves" (Album Review) & Exclusive Full Album Stream

By: Phil Weller

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 29/04/2016
Label: Indisciplinarian

Armed with fat, sledgehammer riffs, crafty harmonies and glorious vocal melodies bigger than any giant David and his pesky slingshot could handle, with ‘Oceans Into Their Graves’, Rising have created a monster.

“Oceans Into Graves” DD//LP track listing:

1. All Dirt
2. Burn Me Black
3. Old Jealousy
4. Blood Moon
5. The Anger
6. Coward Heart
7. Death Of A Giant
8. Killers Of The Mind
9. Waste Deep
10. The Night

The Review:

Armed with fat, sledgehammer riffs, crafty harmonies and glorious vocal melodies bigger than any giant David and his pesky slingshot could handle, in ‘Oceans Into Their Graves’, Rising have created a monster.

Sludge metal potency is here merged with a forward thinking, macro consciousness dedicated to creating songs of epic possibilities. Just as you are happily hurtling down a highway of thrash-ravaged Mastodon/Baroness musicality, you are suddenly jerked down a dark alleyway by the scruff of the neck. It’s an album full of surprises, of shock left turns, elevated by its sense of energised inspiration.

But it wasn’t always like this.

2013’s ‘Abominor’ had all the hallmarks of a record tailor made for critical acclaim amongst journalism’s filthy, riff loving inner cult. Yet, despite the intensity and power propelling its compositions down your speakers and into your lug’oles, it fell flat of expectation and desire. It just didn’t have that ability to quicken the heart’s palpitations and dilate your pupils like the artists much of their musical blueprint is drawn from.

It wasn’t a bad album. But in the ever-rapid world of music journalism, unless a record grabs you resolutely by the balls from the off and refuses to let go, it can often be washed away with the tide – forgotten about as soon as the next wave of releases come to shore.

It would be smart of me to write a witty line here about everyone deserving second chances. Perhaps I could quote a much-lauded philosopher or some do-good Bible extract. But, truth be told, it was only after being genuinely blown away, inspired and adrenalised by this album that I did my research, connected the dots and realised that this album was conjured by the same band that had bored me so much with ‘Abominor’. Volumes, in the fact alone, are spoken.

That’s not to say that there is a remarkable difference in the record’s sound, but it presents itself as a more ambitious, imaginative release than its predecessor and it is the cut-throat conviction of each member’s individual and collective performances that make the biggest difference. 

They sound more together, freer and confident in themselves. From the earthquake opening of ‘All Dirt’, with its booming, wrung out chords and heavy tom work onwards, it sounds a complete success. The opening track’s chorus is a triumph in itself, the almost operatic tenor vocals soaring atop the mix and proudly so.

‘Old Jealousy’ is driven by a fast, sharp riff that has its foot firmly on the accelerator. Harmonies bolster the classiness and those enormous operatic vocals again storm in to claim their spoils of war. It’s a real fist-in-the-air kind of song, rich in the kind of anthemic qualities that makes a song like this so damnably convincing, and characterised by a guitar tone that most definitely ate all the pies – and all the better for it.

Illusion shatters hollers vocalist Morten Grønnegaard on ‘Waste Deep’ above a pounding snare and venomous guitar motif. It soon releases you into an uplifting chorus, the kind that makes you feel ten feet tall, while never surrendering any of the grit and aggression of the build up.

The graveyard jam of ‘The Night’ and the possessed NWOBHM channelling ‘Death Of A Giant’ round off an album that not only does everything to your senses that ‘Abominor’ simply couldn’t, but makes up for lost time with menace.  

Oceans Into Their Graves” will be released on 12” black 180 grams vinyl and digital formats on April 29th, and the vinyl version is now available for pre-ordering in Europe HERE and in the US HERE. Check out this stunning album in full  below.  

Band info: bandcamp|| facebook

RISING has recently been confirmed for a performance on July 2nd on this year’s Roskilde Festival in their native Denmark, one of the biggest festivals in Northern Europe, sharing the bill with acts such as Sleep, Slayer, Ghost and Gojira. Prior to Roskilde, the band will play a a release show on April 29th in Copenhagen, and more DK shows and a full European tour will be announced in the months to come.

4/29/2016 Spillestedet Stengade – Copenhagen, DK *record release show w/ Orm, Fossils
7/02/2016 Roskilde Festival – Roskilde, DK w/ Slayer, Sleep, Ghost, Gojira

Monday 25 April 2016

Interview: The Return of Lord Mantis

By: Chris Bull

While they have received a lot of bad press recently, (thanks to the debacle surrounding former vocalist/bassist Charlie Fell's acrimonious departure) the band pressed on with a revamped line up, a new EP and a new label. 'Nice Teeth Whore' was exactly what was needed. Fans needed to know that the band could carry on. Critics needed to suck a fat one at any questions they had about whether the new line up could hack it and, most importantly, the band needed to get this out of their system and move the fuck on without the negativity that seemed to surround Fell. I had the chance to speak to core members, guitarist Andrew Markuszewski, drummer Bill Bumgardner and long time collaborator turned full time vocalist Dylan O'Toole to clear some things up before I went all fan boy on them.

SL: First question is a difficult one; Charlie Fell has been very vocal about his treatment during and after his exit from the band, how do you respond to such negative press?
Andrew Markuszewski:  Charlie Fell kicked himself out of Lord Mantis.  We all agreed in a way to go with the Charlie show on Death Mask, and simply put, in the end it just didn’t work out.  The guy’s ego shot through the roof and not exactly for the right reasons.  His interview with Metalsucks is actually a pretty good testament as to why he’s no longer in the band.  A skewed picture all around, but his true feelings are there and in plain view.  Siphoning off my credit for Death Mask while my riffs are the first one’s heard, the last, and I even had to play his bass parts in two instances for reasons of him not being prepared or up to snuff.  Always the same story – he was the victim, my life has been handed to me on a silver platter, and he’s the only one in this world who has suffered.  Insulting and ridiculous.  Typical nebulous junkie attitude, accusations, and more which we were dealing with for longer than anyone else would have put up with, and I really mean anyone.  At this point it’s all just dirty laundry.  You want a good interview?  Interview his ex-girlfriend. 
Fell wanted the full role for the record plus afterwards, and we were supportive of the idea.  I love bands that have a dedicated frontman.  Batter up let’s see whatcha got.  We’ve both had our hiccups.  I was terrible with booze and easily exceeded the term ‘asshole’.  People let me know and asked me to get my shit together.  Honestly, everyone in the band has been called out on shit.  No one is exempt from the rule.  We asked him to clean his shit up time and time again, but he got strung out and struck out.
The theme for Death Mask was his, and I’ll give credit where credit is due.  He executed on vocals.  He had good song ideas.  Like the rest of us.  I worked on the record from the first song we wrote for it till the last day of tracking.  Didn’t do any vocal overdubs on anything myself because my lip was still healing from being split open in a fight.  Felt like stiches being pulled if I tried.  Dylan O’Toole was there to do “Negative Birth” and help out lyrically on other parts of the record.  Check the credits.  There’s a reason he’s listed as an official member by then.
All Fell did at that time was try and drag everyone else around him down to his level, and that included getting whoever he could convince to do dope with him to do it.  Those were some pretty fucking gloomy times to be in the band or even the scene in Chicago in general, and people were dealing with the repercussions from it for a long time.  Thankfully even with all the damage done, most people are over it now.  He’s off doing his thing, I’m doing mine, and Lord Mantis as a band is doing its own thing too.  Whether he has or hasn’t got his life together I couldn’t tell you.  He despises me for how things turned out, but he has himself to blame.  Even after it all I’d rather hear about how he cleaned himself up and make peace, but I’m also no fool and not afraid to return fire or draw first for that matter.
Press is press.  I’ll take it.  Even the negative shit.  It gives room for answering back and keeps the train rollin.  Thanks for the question.
SL: Andrew, this is the first time that New Density has fully handled a Lord Mantis release. Was this due to a conflict with Profound Lore or more as a way to have full control over the release?
AM:  A little of both could be said.  Fell tried getting another lineup together for Lord Mantis that included a guitarist and drummer from two other bands on Profound Lore.  I have no idea what he had them convinced of.  This was a few months after we flew him home from Providence on tour and knocked him down from admin on the Facebook page at the time.  I believe he could have even still posted on there if he wanted.  We sent him home with clear instructions – “Go home and get help”.  He tried getting a new lineup to open for another band in Chicago.  The promoter for that show had no idea of what was taking place behind the scenes.  I found out and immediately put the kibosh on that together with our manager Rodney Pawlak.  That was also the moment Fell was given the official boot, kicked off the Facebook page and out of the band.  Within one day I had a new lineup in place for Lord Mantis, made the announcement, and soon after Fell started his whole tirade online. 
It was pretty obvious to me and I think Chris too that Profound Lore letting Lord Mantis go was the only logical step forward.  Unfortunate as I’ve enjoyed working on a few records for Chris and Profound Lore including the two full-lengths for my black metal band Avichi released by PL, but we’re both adults and smart enough to know when it’s time to let things go their own way.  Far from the ideal way, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  We still have a professional relationship of course.

As free agents again, Lord Mantis was willing to work with another label.  We decided to just do it ourselves after weighing the pros and cons.  The next release would only be an EP too.  We wanted to see what happens.  It was self financed from start to finish.  The majority by my label, but Bill’s hands are firmly involved too.  I take care of the backend of everything since it’s released through New Density.
SL: A lot of the riffs on “NTW” have a more 'Black metal' sound to them, was this due to having a 'new line up, new sound' mentality or did it evolve naturally? 
AM:  I wanted to bring back elements from the “Pervertor” record, and mesh that with where we left off on “Death mask”.  Plus I was listening to a lot of old KMFDM and Ministry again at the time, so getting those kinds of ‘hooks’ in there were also important for me in these new songs.  It turned into some catchy moments on Nice Teeth Whore.  I think it’s a great half step forwards, and NTW does exactly what it needed to do.
SL: Andrew and Bill; seeing as how there are more members of Indian than original Lord Mantis members how difficult a choice was it to carry on the Lord Mantis legacy? 
AM: No difficulty whatsoever.  The core of the band is still here.  Hell, Bill started this band and a lot of the writing doesn’t take place without free jamming with Bill.  Sometimes he comes up with patterns and beats that I’m actually writing riffs on top of.  It’s a really awesome chemistry.  We brought into the fold Dylan as lead vocalist who’s already worked with the band on its themes and lyrics for the last two albums.  It wasn’t as much of a hiccup as people might think.  If anything I’d say it was actually easier!
BB:  It wasn’t hard at all.  It’s my band.  An immediate line up change and recording had to be made.  People were contacting me as soon as they heard Charlie was up to some bullshit.  Dylan has pretty much always been a part of LM.  When I joined Indian, LM was still just a two piece with me and Greg.  When Charlie came into the picture he always had Dylan helping him with vocals and lyrics and sang on previous records.
SL: Was there any doubt that you'd get Dylan into the fold? 
AM:  It took one phone call.  He loves the band.
SL: Bill, I've always thought of you as one of the more underrated drummers in sludge/doom/black metal/heavy metal, the difference between your understated work in Lord Mantis compared to the more powerful hammering of Indian is noticeable to those who look for it. How does/did your approach differ between the bands?
BB:  The approach is the same.  Indian and Lord Mantis are both hate filled bands.  Indian can be tricky at times because you have to maintain a balance of not over or under playing and making the listener feel like they are being pulled behind a Mac truck with hooks in their back.  Lord Mantis I can open up a little more.  The writing process is a bit different.  Andrew and I get shit done every minute we practice.  A lot of riffs are based off of a pattern I’ll come up with, and Drew will knock it out of the park.  I have to say.  As of late the writing process has been very enjoyable.  

SL: Dylan, you're perhaps one of the most recognizable vocalists in extreme metal, no one can do what you do, how do you conjure up such intense, agonizing screams
Dylan O’ Toole:  That's quite the compliment. Well, I don't know. Nobody ever wants to front riffs with vox. That more than likely is not always the case, but in my experiences no takers. I personally never wanted to do vocals or play live. Ron, my dear friend from INDIAN tricked me! I'm sure my "F the world" diet helps.
SL: In terms of lyrical content, yours are always profound and poignant at the same time. What are some of your influences?
DOT: Hmmm, tough call. Lyrically, the themes and content are all mine. Steve Austin, Brian Sowell.
SL: The song '....Finality' has you screaming certain numbers throughout, could you give me some insight as to what this song is about?
DOT:  Writing “NTW” during her pregnancy was overwhelming.  Kinsey sexualized child research pisses me the fuck off. The ransom rape, passive profiting from abuse disguised as research is shit. 
SL: All; I found that the Lord Mantis on 'NTW' is an entirely different beast from that which was on 'Death Mask' and 'Pervertor', was this a deliberate attempt to distance yourselves from the band's past?
DOT:  I don't think so. I have a few original compositions that didn't feel right quite yet. Scott had a great song, it didn't feel right yet. Drew and Bill wrote all the music on NTW, they had powerful momentum I felt was working for and at that time. We are a different band now. Lean and mean, like an EP should be. Production and composition will be vastly different on upcoming LP. The next efforts will include the most ambitious concepts we've attempted to attempt!
AM:  I’d say it was just a natural step for us.  Take a listen to “Spawning the Nephilim” and then listen to some of “Pervertor” and then some “Death Mask”.  They’re all entirely different beasts, and I think that’s what sets this band on a different pedestal.  You don’t know what you’re going to get, but it’ll still rock your socks off.
BB:  I feel that “NTW” has more of a “Pervertor” vibe to it.  Both records have more attack and energy.  After “Pervertor”, Charlie turned into a timebomb.  It became a struggle always having to complete half thought ideas and down grading riffs that he wouldn’t even attempt to play.  It was just an all around corrupt and negative environment.  He was determined to ruin and bring people down to his level.  Riding on the shock value routine was getting a little corny and old.  “NTW” sounds like the band is enjoying playing music.

SL: Presumably, you'll be playing older songs in a live setting, is there any level of discomfort in playing songs that were written with Fell? 

DOT:  Yes, we will be playing some older material. No. No discomfort.  We feel strongly about which songs and why, but no discomfort. 
AM:  No not really.  Fell helped write some riffs on “Vile Divinity” I think, and we’re still playing that.  My history with Charlie at this point doesn’t change my feelings for what the band has done with him and now without him.  I have no issue with which records people favor or don’t at all.  If you like songs by this band I’m happy to hear it.
SL: I can imagine Dylan's vocals would sound incredible on tracks like 'Levia' and 'Vile Divinity', please make it happen!
DOT: Done. And they do!
AM: Well yes of course.  I sang “Levia” by the way on the record.  I remember Dylan saying he wanted to do that one actually and double up the vocals.  But we’ll see.  “Vile Divinity” is a no brainer.
SL: Speaking of live performances; are there any plans afoot for a tour in the future? (Hint, hint; come to the UK!)
AM: Absolutely.  We are in talks about getting back to the UK later this year/early 2017.
SL: A random question here; if you experienced a 'Groundhog Day' situation like Bill Murray did in the movie, which methods of self execution would you use? 
DOT: Delightful. I fear choking on my tongue! That sounds like a win win to me, although I'll bet I figure out how to talk shit without a tongue or life.  
AM: Easiest answer for me would be to force myself a heart attack through eating as much steak fat as possible and humping away until I die.
BB: Honestly I feel like Michael Douglas in Falling Down.
SL: Where do Lord Mantis go from here? I would love to hear a full album with this line up. 
DOT: Exactly. Don't call my bluff!
AM: We just started writing the first song of another full-length yesterday.  If we want to things can come together fairly quick.
SL: Finally; sum up Lord Mantis in 3 words.


AM:  Suck it good

BB: What a nightmare 

The End

Band info: official || facebook

Valley of the Sun - "Volume Rock" (Album Review) & Exclusive Stream of "Speaketh The Shaman"

By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 29/04/2016
Label: Fuzzorama Records

Now left to their own devices, Ryan and Aaron have managed to sail their ship to areas previously unexplored, refining their sound in the process. They are no longer a band that just plugs in and blasts; there’s a sense consciousness here like they took their time. And though they still blast speakers open, they do so not only with purpose but also tact.

“Volume Rock” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Eternal Forever
2). Wants and Needs
3). The Hunt
4). Land of Fools
5). I Breathe the Earth
6). Speaketh the Shaman
7). Beneath the Veil
8). Solstice
9). Empty Vision

The Review:

The power, riffs, and melodies that came flying at us on 2014’s “Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk” were insatiable. Valley of the Sun has supported the hell out of this album, touring The United States and Europe, both with and without Truckfighters. Every time the band took to the stage and played songs like “Centaur Rodeo” or “Maya,” they left crowds sweaty, exhausted, and exhilarated. This spring we get to do it all over again because Valley of the Sun will do more tours in celebration of the release of their newest ass-kicker “Volume Rock.”

With the bass drum right out in front of the crunchy, shiny guitars and an elaborate vocal show running on their heels, the album’s name does nothing more than state the obvious. In all honesty, Valley of the Sun’s dusty debut EP or kick-in-the-teeth follow up could have gone by the same name, so the title doesn’t really let us in on anything we didn’t already know. If we let the songs speak for themselves, however, then it’s clear that Valley of the Sun continue to keep up their loud reputation while they develop into a full-fledged rock band with depth; both in song and soul.

The two opening cuts couple hard verses and even harder choruses together. It’s a tip of the hat to “Electric Talons…” making it clear that Valley of the Sun still spit blood and leave marks everywhere they go. A simple formula at face value, but with the right guys laying down the tracks, the results can be massive. Luckily Aaron and Ryan – on drums and guitar/bass/vocals respectively – are the right guys.

The next few tracks take the speed down a touch which makes room for the riffs to breathe and the songs have more of shape because of it. “Speaketh the Shaman” marches on steadily with a stop and go riff while the lyrics tell a story of shamans, which may have some sort of connection with the teachings of Don Juan. Then comes the chorus, a firm knock to the jaw filled with “woo-ooo!” greatness. “Land of Fools” and “Breathe the Earth” kind of follow suit, filling out Valley of the Sun’s sound with a bluesy aesthetic – there’s sadness in these songs – before returning to something more in line with the band’s previous work.

The ferociousness of the band comes back in “The Hunt,” a high speed chase with plenty of layers of vocals and more “oo-ooo”’s that race against the beat of the song. In “Wants and Needs” Ryan sings “you’re all that I know, all I want to be, all I need” to Aaron’s raucous drum beat, and even though the lyrics are probably referring to some lady somewhere in the world, I can’t help but feel that Ryan is also singing about his ambitions to be in a band that tumbles down a path of aggressive, upbeat rock n’ roll. And if there’s any doubt in my mind about this double meaning was an accident, it’s debunked immediately by the classic guitar solo that bridges the two halves of the song.

It’s not only the difference between fast and slow that gets explored during the ten tracks on “Volume Rock.” The vocal performance includes a few more layers, a role that Aaron might have to fill in during the live setting. The band lost their bassist, too, who not only was a founding member but also an integral part of the songwriting process. Now left to their own devices, Ryan and Aaron have managed to sail their ship to areas previously unexplored, refining their sound in the process. They are no longer a band that just plugs in and blasts; there’s a sense consciousness here like they took their time. And though they still blast speakers open, they do so not only with purpose but also tact. Whether this is to be chocked up to a new band chemistry is unclear, but the fact remains that Valley of the Sun have done some self-reflection; they’ve learned how to work and read a crowd and have put this to use by making an album that not only satisfies them but also all those folks who are going to head out and work up neck injuries during the band’s next European tour. 

Volume Rock” is available here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp 

Thursday 21 April 2016

Aborted - "Retrogore" (Album Review)

By: Daniel Jackson

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/04/2016
Label: Century Media Records

The story of ‘Retrogore’ is that of an album that creates memorable moments, rather than relying on pure heaviness and technicality.  There is plenty of variety from song to song, with Aborted showing that they’ve found a way to come up with new ideas without throwing their standard strengths as a band out the window in the name of progress. On that basis, Aborted are undeniably at their best on this album.

‘Retrogore’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

1. Dellamorte Dellamore
2. Retrogore
3. Cadaverous Collection
4. Whoremageddon
5. Termination Redux (Album Version)
6. Bit By Bit
7. Divine Impediment
8. Coven Of Ignorance
9. The Mephitic Conundrum
10. Forged In Decrepitude
11. From Beyond (The Grave)
12. In Avernus

Aborted is:

Sven De Caluwe | Vocals
Mendel Bij De Leij | Guitars
Ian Jekelis | Guitars
JB van der Wal | Bass
Ken Bedene | Drums

The Review:

Aborted have been doing this for nearly twenty years at this point. The band’s history paints a story that’s becoming all the more common as the years wear on. They hit an early peak with ‘Engineering the Dead’ and ‘Goremageddon: The Saw and the Carnage Done’, in 2001 and 2003 respectively, before losing their way on the albums that followed. Their attempts to add strong influences from hardcore and groove metal into their sound produced decidedly mixed results.

Of course, a band is always going to try new things, and by the time 2012’s ‘Global Flatline’ had arrived, Aborted had settled back into a much more straightforward death metal style anyway, and they’d become ridiculously tight as musicians in the interim. 2014’s ‘Necrotic Manifesto’ was likely their best since ‘Goremageddon’, though the album seems to have been carried more by its dizzying brutality than truly memorable songs, in retrospect. Were ‘Retrogore’ to follow suit, I’d probably be writing about a case of diminishing returns. Thankfully, the story of ‘Retrogore’ is that of an album that creates memorable moments, rather than relying on pure heaviness and technicality.

A key example of Aborted allowing atmosphere and clever riff writing to shine through the dense, note and blast-heavy tempest is “Divine Impediment”. The song opens with some relatively clean guitar work aiding in building to a big moment as the drums progress towards their absolute peak in intensity before finally exploding into a furious riff that takes on a different tone altogether. Interestingly, from that point on the songs echo Nile’s excellent ‘Annihilation of the Wicked’ and ‘Those Whom the Gods Detest’ albums. It’s worth noting that every member of the band is positively on fire throughout the rest of the album as well, with the guitars putting together the band’s finest performances to date both from a rhythm and lead standpoint.

Retrogore’ stands to hold up as a much more interesting album than ‘Necrotic Manifesto’ for its variety as the years go on. There is plenty of variety from song to song, with Aborted showing that they’ve found a way to come up with new ideas without throwing their standard strengths as a band out the window in the name of progress. Aborted are undeniably at their best on this album.

You can pre-order a digital copy here and a CD/LP copy here

Band info: Facebook