Wednesday 22 November 2023

TRACK PREMIERE: "Laughing Song" by GULA

The Netherlands based psychedelic doom/metal group GULA are releasing their new album “Birds of the Apocalypse” on December 15, 2023. “Laughing Song” is the first single off of it, offering a glimpse of what's to be expected from the full-length but without giving away too much right away.

The slowly brooding monolith of a song takes its time to grow and evolve, while advancing on fuzzed out feverish sonic fields that invoke various palpable feels during its seven minute duration. The song encapsulates the atmosphere of the entire album perfectly, as the potent and organic production underlines the hazy musical delivery, guaranteed to hit home with anyone even remotely interested in these particular styles. The final nail to the coffin, atop the well-executed instrumental department, would be the aerial vocals that float along the firm pulse to introduce loads of depth and emotion into the mix. While GULA can be seen as a relatively new band perhaps, they for certain know their craft in and out, “Laughing Song” being the perfect example of just that.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

ALBUM REVIEW: Sylosis, "A Sign of Things to Come"

 By: Richard Maw
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 08/09/2023
Label: Nuclear Blast

“A Sign Of Things To Come” track listing:
1. Deadwood
2. A Sign Of Things To Come
3. Pariahs
4. Poison For The Lost
5. Descent
6. Absent
7. Eye For An Eye
8. Judas
9. Thorns
10. A Godless Throne
The Review:

Sylosis follow up 2020’s excellent “Cycle of Suffering” with this; have the British metal icons forged forward effectively? I first listened to the band back in 2015 with “A Dormant Heart”; an album I still hold in very high regard. I felt at the time- and still do- that Sylosis had cracked a very difficult code. They are a modern sounding band with a forward-thinking sound that won’t alienate old-schoolers (such as myself).
The band, for those that don’t know, combine thrash, death/melo-death, metalcore, groove metal and more traditional metal into a very effective alloy fit for almost any type of metalhead. It pleases me that they have (and have always had) the weighty backing of Nuclear Blast, but it pains me to consider that if, IF ONLY, the band were American then they might well be on a much higher level than they are. The Reading, Berkshire, UK, crew are instead at a level above underground and cult- but not at the large theatre/arena level they deserve.
UK metal- and metal in general- needs bands that look forward as well as back and Sylosis fit that bill. As such, then, you’ll hear synths and layers of sound across the title track, along with hardcore infused vocals, clean singing and huge riffs. The playing and performances are on point right out of the gate; “Deadwood” is a very effective opener, distilling what the band do well into four and half minutes.
The album continues at a very high watermark; “Pariahs” is heavy as hell, grooves massively, and hits all the right spots for a pit to go insane to. The record sounds incredible; massive and thick, precise and streamlined. Once again, the band combine handily the best bits of Machine Head, Lamb of God, Pantera, Fear Factory and so on into their own sound.
Stand outs? I’d probably pick “Poison For The Lost” as a real high point; it thrashes extremely convincingly with real malice and spite injected into the vocals and playing. This is metal as it should be; fast, furious and laser-honed.
Incredibly, the band are six albums in here. The level of experience and confidence shows throughout. The band don’t put a foot wrong in terms of song writing, production or performance. Band main-man Josh Middleton has been at this for over two decades now and he is a master of his craft. The band even ring the changes with the track “Absent”; a kind of synth-scape ballad that gives way to a more metallic section. It’s cinematic and daring, showing what the band can do when they spread their wings. More typical service is resumed with “Eye For An Eye” as the band puts the pedal and metal to the, er, metal once again- but not forgetting their sense of melody throughout the song.
As noted on previous records, things are focused and lean throughout; ten songs only, nothing too bloated and most clocking the 3.5-4.5min playing time. The riffs of “Judas” have a kind of ‘doom but sped up’ feel and the dark vibe that it gives off is great. Naturally, speed also kills on this one. Great track.
“As Thorns” and then the epic closer “A Godless Throne” bring this excellent record to an end, I can’t help but ponder the state of the metal genre in 2023. The arena filling likes of Maiden and Metallica may be on the way out, but with bands like Sylosis around, the genre is not going away. The fact is, to many metallers younger than me THIS IS the sound of metal. Not Priest, Maiden, Sabbath et al, but instead bands like Sylosis who have cherry picked the best aspects of various metal sub genres and then come full circle to be defined as, simply, METAL. Yep, Sylosis are a METAL band- and they are the best modern metal band in the UK. Easily.  
“A Sign of Things to Come” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Cannibal Corpse, "Chaos Horrific"

By: Richard Maw
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/09/2023
Label: Metal Blade Records

“Chaos Horrific” track listing:
1 Overlords Of Violence
2 Frenzied Feeding
3 Summoned For Sacrifice
4 Blood Blind
5 Vengeful Invasion
6 Chaos Horrific 
7 Fracture and Refracture
8 Pitchfork Impalement
9 Pestilential Rictus
10 Drain You Empty
The Review:

The most reliable of all the death metal institutions, Cannibal Corpse, are back- not that they went away- with their sixteenth (!) studio record. Thirty three years in, this represents a very impressive work ethic indeed. It’s all the more remarkable for the fact that, much like thrash veterans Overkill, there are no bad Cannibal Corpse records.
While there are no bad records, I wouldn’t deny that some are better or more significant than others. For instance, The four Chris Barnes helmed early records are often held up as classics, but I have always preferred the Corpsegrinder years; “The Bleeding” IS a classic, but so is “Torture”, or “A Skeletal Domain”, or “Red Before Black” and so on; it’s just that “The Bleeding” has that zeitgeist-right-place-right-time vibe/nostalgia. “Violence Unimagined” from a couple of years back was one of the best- possibly THE best CC records of any era. Was it as significant as “Tomb of the Mutilated” or “The Bleeding”? Probably not. Was it better? I think so,
Fortunately, the band are very much switched on here. “Chaos Horrific” picks up where “Violence Unimagined” left off. It’s brutal, chaotic, horrific, aggressive and crushingly good. “Overlords of Violence” is a fresh and frenetic opener; busy bass and full tilt aggression in place.  “Frenzied Feeding” manages to keep the vibe and quality going before an album stand out: “Summoned For Sacrifice”- which combines crushing slow tempos, breakneck pace, memorable hooks and incredible vocals. Erik Rutan is firmly assimilated into the band’s sound now; his lead work is exceptional throughout, and he works really well with Rob Barratt. The rhythm section remains pretty much peerless, while George Corpsegrinder Fisher reminds us all why he viewed as the best DM vocalist on the planet by many.
I really like the varied tempos on this record “Blood Blind” might be slow by CC standards, but this is as heavy as they come. The band avoid the “Gallery of Suicide” trap (having too many tracks on one record) and instead have offered up ten tracks of three and a half to four and a half minutes each, Perfect, really, as a little of this goes a LONG way.
There is complex riffage on “Vengeful Invasion” and just unrelenting brutality abounds. At the half way mark this is a candidate for one of the best CC records. The material is strong, the sound and production is superb, the playing incredibly tight. From there, there is no dip in quality or energy. The title track thrashes very convincingly with lots of changes used effectively.
I’m not as keen on “Fracture and Refracture”- for reasons I don’t really even understand, but “Pitchfork Impalement”, “Pestilential Rictus” and “Drain You Empty” all impale and disembowel the listener extremely effectively; they are all memorable, frenzied and ferocious in their approach.
Cannibal Corpse have brought their A-game here; no wasted tracks, no wasted riffs, beats or solos. Everything counts; there are nifty changes, some really technical playing, incredible vocals and an overall sense that the band are utilising every year of their experience to create a death metal tour de force. Death metal simply doesn’t get any better than this. Imperious. 

Band info: bandcamp || facebook