Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Laceration Mantra - Prolonging The Pain

Laceration Mantra
Prolonging The Pain
Obsidian Records

After continual line-up issues and lengthy periods of inactivity following the release of their E.P. ‘Killer Species’ in 2000, Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) based thrash outfit Transfear was officially laid to rest.
But while the band was no longer active, it didn’t mark the end of vocalist/bassist Rob Reiff and guitarist Michael Perry continued musical collaboration. Instead, it was simply a way of marking a new beginning for the pair, and after recruiting former Misery/The Dead guitarist Scotty Edgar and ex-Misery drummer Anthony Dwyer into the fold (Due to the fact that Misery are no longer active), soon announced the formation of Laceration Mantra.
Three years after first getting together, Laceration Mantra have finally finished work on their debut full-length album ‘Prolonging The Pain’. And as expected, the band lives up to the expectations the impressive pedigree of the line-up offers.
Although Laceration Mantra is essentially an amalgamation of Transfear and Misery, this new outfit bears little resemblance to either of their former groups. Yes, Laceration Mantra is a death metal outfit, and ‘Prolonging The Pain’ is one bludgeoning slab of intense metal throughout the ten tracks they offer up on the album. But beyond that, Laceration Mantra really does offer up something quite different from what you would expect, with the band finding the perfect balance of old school influences and new, without losing any of their own identity in the process.
‘Thrown To The Wolves’ starts the album off in a speedy fashion, with the production (Handled by Joe Panetta at his Wavelength Recording studio in Brisbane) allowing enough distinction between all of the member’s respective instruments, all the while maintaining a thick brutal sound. Direction wise, a bit of Deicide can be detected with the use of dual vocals, while the music falls along similar lines of Cannibal Corpse mixed with shades of Morbid Angel in places.
‘Purveyors Of Torment’ and ‘Realisation’ slows things down a touch to reveal some subtle grinding influences to come to the fore alongside some great lead work, while tracks such as ‘The Innermost’ and ‘Victims Of Hate’ take their influences a little more from the hardcore side of things both musically and vocally.
Elsewhere, the chaotic twisted riffs and various tempo changes on ‘The Global Straightjacket’ is a definite highlight, while the catchy ‘Surreal Reality’, the chugging groove of the title track ‘Prolonging The Pain’ and the rather short ‘Barney’ (Which I can only assume is a tribute of sorts to Napalm Death) are further tracks worthy of a mention in the latter half of the album.
Overall, ‘Prolonging The Pain’ is one solid brutal death metal album from start to finish, and a credit to the members of Laceration Mantra, who have a long history within the Australian metal scene.

For more information on Laceration Mantra, check out - http://www.myspace.com/lacerationmantra

© Justin Donnelly

Monday, April 18, 2011

Blut Aus Nord - 777 - Sect(s)

Blut Aus Nord
777 - Sect(s)
Debemur Morti Productions

There are few acts within the progressive black metal scene that have confused and enthralled listeners alike over the years like French based outfit Blut Aus Nord. Never ones to stick to any a particular style or direction for more than one release, the trio (Comprising of vocalist/guitarist Vindsval, bassist GhÖst and keyboardist/electronics/drummer W.D. Feld) have created a body of work (Seven full-length efforts, two split releases and two E.P.’s) that has defied any clear categorisation, which has in turn earned them a reputation as one of the more forward thinking and innovative acts within the black metal scene.
Following on from their ‘What Once Was... Liber I’ release from last year (Which was only available on vinyl, and their first release for Debemur Morti Productions), Blut Aus Nord have returned with their latest full-length effort ‘777 - Sect(s)’ - the first of what is said to be a trilogy of albums planned to be released within the next year.
Split into six chapters, ‘777 - Sect(s)’ is an album that’s ideally listened to as a whole to be fully appreciated, as each movement flows through from one to the next, and therefore allows the full scope of Blut Aus Nord’s rather experimental piece of sonic art to fully reveal its many layers and textures. It’s a bold undertaking from the band, but one that works on many different levels.
The opening piece ‘Epitome I’ sees the band get the album off to a truly chaotic and blasting start, with the musical soundscape full of descending riff structures and vocals from Vindsval that matches the harsh and brutal feel of the music with a cold rasp that carries as much bite and it does aggression. The tense atmosphere does let up a little around the halfway mark to allow a slowing down of the pace and the venom of the speeding opening, but even then the eerie industrial aspects of the band’s vast tapestry of sounds rarely allows a single glimmer of light amongst the shadows that envelop the song as a whole.
The predominately instrumental follow up ‘Epitome II’ is a definite stand out cut with its hypnotic industrialised keyboard work, gentle guitar underpinning and dominant drums, while ‘Epitome III’ sees a returns to the aggressive and speeding direction found on the opener, with the twisted guitar sounds giving the track a harsh tone that’s quite unsettling, and yet mesmerising at the same time.
The uncomfortable vibe that shadowed the former flows through to ‘Epitome IV’ with relative ease, but is softened by processed vocals, soft keyboard undertones and gentler riff structures, while the latter half of the track sees the band eventually drift away from the repetitive groove to indulge into some abstract chord structures that are delivering in what can only be described as a bludgeoning Meshuggah-like fashion.
Despite its hasty and vicious start, ‘Epitome V’ eventually settles into a melodic groove where the dynamics between all the instruments are utilised to create a unique sub-industrialised avant-garde progressive black metal feel (Without sounding generic or forced), while the closer ‘Epitome VI’ maintains the strong experimental aspects of the former to bring the album to a climatic conclusion.
There are plenty of so-called progressive black metal outfits, but there are few that are as daring and adventurous as Blut Aus Nord. ‘777 - Sect(s)’ is hard to pin down and describe, both as an album, and comparably to the band’s former works. But what I can say is that if you’re a fan of Blut Aus Nord’s former albums, or after something that’s a little more on the avant-garde side of black metal, you shouldn’t go past ‘777 - Sect(s)’.

For more information on Blut Aus Nord, check out - http://www.blutausnord.com/

© Justin Donnelly

Murder Construct - Murder Construct

Murder Construct
Murder Construct
Relapse Records

It’s hard to believe that’s its taken some ten years for Los Angeles (California, U.S.) based outfit Murder Construct to finally get around to releasing their debut effort. But then again, when you take note of who’s in the line-up, it’s probably not all that surprising to understand that getting all those involved in the studio together all at the same time would have been somewhat of a logistical nightmare.
But after numerous delays and scheduling nightmares, Murder Construct (Who now had a solidified line-up consisting of Cattle Decapitation/5/5/2000 vocalist Travis Ryan, ex-Intronaut/Impaled/Exhumed guitarist/vocalist/group founder Leon Del Muerte, ex-Watch Me Burn/Cattle Decapitation guitarist Kevin ‘Fetus’ Bernier, Bad Acid Trip bassist Caleb Schneider and ex-Uphill Battle/Thornlord/Exhumed/Intronaut drummer Danny Walker), have finally managed to lock themselves away together to knock out their self-titled debut E.P.
Given who’s involved in Murder Construct, this was either going to be nothing more than another so-called ‘supergroup’ of sorts that simply produced something that was only noteworthy because of the names attached, or it was going to something really quite special and unexpected. Thankfully, Murder Construct falls into the latter bracket.
Unlike a lot of groups, Murder Construct have managed to find the right balance of death metal and grindcore on the seven tracks they offer up to listeners, without resorting to a sound that’s overly produced or clinical, or lacking in punch in terms of aggression and power. In other words, Murder Construct has captured the sound and fire of early Brutal Truth and latter day Napalm Death, without losing their own identity and sense of experimentation in the process.
The opening track ‘Control’ sees the band going straight for the throat, blasting out the first half of the song with plenty of speed and blasts. Ryan puts in a truly crushing performance throughout the song, as to does Walker, who’s quite literally everywhere within the three minutes of the song. And while the manic speed down tapers off halfway through to make way for a solid groove, the brutality of the band is retained in bludgeoning fashion all the way.
‘No Savior’ and ‘Destroy Babylon’ are obvious stand out tracks with their, dare I say, catchy riff structures, chorus structures and subtle traces of black metal seeping through the familiar death/grind framework, while on ‘I Am That’, the band show that there’s more to their sound than simple aggression from start to finish, with the inclusion of a breakdown of sorts around the three quarter mark and a solo following helping to break things up and make the whole that much more interesting.
Walker’s tribal percussion in the middle of ‘End Of An Error’ is another unexpected surprise bit of experimentation that works exceedingly well at keeping the listener on their toes, while the atmospheric/percussion led instrumental piece ‘Boundless...’ only further showcases the band’s willingness to trade straight ahead aggression for something a little more interesting to spice up the song writing.
Keeping in line with the last couple of tracks, ‘Submission’ finishes up the E.P. with plenty of grindcore brutality to start with, before trailing out with some rather impressive experimentation toward the song’s closing moments.
Murder Construct may have taken their time getting around to recording, but the wait has been well and truly worth it. Their E.P. offers some genuinely crushing efforts, but with enough exploratory moments and influences to keep the whole E.P. from sounding tired and repetitive after a few tracks.
Whether or not Murder Construct plan to follow up this E.P. with a full-length effort any time soon remains to be seen, but if and when it does arrive, I’ll be certainly looking forward to seeing what the band can deliver on a much larger scale.

For more information on Murder Construct, check out - http://www.myspace.com/murderconstruct

© Justin Donnelly

Various Artists - SIN-atra

Various Artists
Armoury Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment/Shock Entertainment

Guitarist Bob Kulick may have played with some very well known names in the past such as Kiss, Meat Loaf, W.A.S.P. and Doro, but most will know his name through the various tribute album’s he’s co-ordinated and produced over the years.
Three years after the release of his all-star ‘We Wish You A Metal X-Mas’ release, Kulick is back once again with another off-beat release in ‘SIN-atra’ – a tribute to ‘Ol’ Blues Eyes’ himself – Frank Sinatra.
As with most of Kulick’s tribute efforts in the past (He’s produced efforts saluting Queen, Aerosmith, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Cher, Shania Twain, The Beatles), ‘SIN-atra’ is a fairly hit and miss affair, with the good coming across as an unexpected surprise, and the bad sounding absolutely cringe-worthy.
Starting off with the great, Devin Townsend (Ex-Strapping Young Lad/Vai) manages to put in quite a theatrical rendition of the classic ‘New York, New York’, with his over the top performance and his ability to broaden the overall sound of the backing band (Comprising of guitarist Kulick, bassist Billy Sheehan, keyboardist/orchestration co-ordinator Doug Katsaros and drummer Brett Chassen) really helping to open the band with a huge bang.
Glenn Hughes (Ex-Trapeze/Deep Purple/Black Sabbath) puts in a smouldering and soulful rendition of ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’, while Eric Martin (Mr. Big) positively shines on the hard rocking ‘Lady Is A Tramp’.
In terms of the O.K., Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) manages to just reach the high notes required of ‘It Was A Very Good Year’, if only just, while Ill Niño’s Elias Soriano’s rather thrash take on ‘Love And Marriage’ and ex-Warrant front man Jani Lane’s traditional rendition of That’s Life (Which also features Richie Kotzen on lead guitar) are passable efforts.
Unfortunately, the rest just don’t like up to expectations. Admittedly, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens (Ex-Judas Priest, who performs ‘Witchcraft’), Cheap Trick vocalist Robin Zander (Who sings ‘Fly Me To The Moon’) and King’s X front man Doug Pinnick (‘I’ve Got The World On A String’) are hampered by poor musical structures that don’t sit well with the respected vocalists styles, but the same can’t be said for Queensrÿche’s Geoff Tate (‘Summerwind’) and Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna (‘Strangers In The Night’), who neither do Sinatra or themselves a favour with their appearance on this album.
The list of those involved may sound impressive, but don’t be fooled. Sinatra’s songs don’t naturally translate well to the hard rock/heavy metal vein, and not all of the vocalists appearing here help make the transition any smoother. To put it in simpler terms, ‘SIN-atra’ is definitely one of those sorts of albums where it’s best to listen to it before you even consider parting with your hard earned cash. Buyers beware.

For more information on ‘SIN-atra’, check out - http://www.myspace.com/bobkulick

© Justin Donnelly

Monday, April 11, 2011

Evergrey - Glorious Collision

Glorious Collision

Given the disastrous results of 2006’s ‘Monday Morning Apocalypse’, and the rather tired direction heard on 2008’s ‘Torn’, the mass defection of three members in 2010 from Gothenburg (Sweden) based progressive/power metal act Evergrey didn’t come as any real surprise to long-time fans. In fact, the real concern amongst fans was whether or nor Evergrey could return to their former glory with the injection of new blood amongst their ranks, or whether the band’s new album would only confirm that their creative streak had long since been exhausted.
So here we are, a year after confirming the departure of members and the introduction of newcomers into the fold (Founder/vocalist/guitarist Tom S. Englund and keyboardist Rickard Zander welcome ex-Royal Hunt/The Ring/Pain guitarist Marcus Jidell, ex-Therion/Mind’s Eye/Tiamat bassist Johan Niemann and ex-Downthrust/The Gloria Story drummer Hannes Van Dahl), Evergrey have returned with their eighth studio effort ‘Glorious Collision’.
In a lot of ways, if you’ve heard one Evergrey album, then you pretty much know what’s in store for their remaining efforts. And that’s very much the case here. Although having some newcomers in their ranks, ‘Glorious Collision’ isn’t a huge departure from what you would expect from an Evergrey album. But what does separate this album from their last two efforts is some stronger songs, a greater presence from the keyboards and the overall energy that can be heard throughout the album, which was something seriously lacking on their last couple of albums.
The opening track ‘Leave It Behind Us’ includes everything you would typically expect from an Evergrey song including a short gothic tinged keyboard introduction, big riffs, a passionate vocal performance from Englund, a huge anthem-like chorus and some great lead work. In short, it’s a killer of a song, and certainly one of Evergrey’s more memorable efforts in some time.
Despite a heavier guitar approach, ‘You’ is a little forgettable on the chorus front. But what it lacks in a genuinely memorable hook, it does manage to make up in some interesting instrumental moments. But while ‘You’ was a little hit and miss, the first single ‘Wrong’ is very much the overly familiar (And therefore forgettable) direction we heard on ‘Torn’. As a song, it’s O.K. But compared to some of Evergrey’s classics in the past, it’s nothing special.
The band do manage to redeem themselves with the following three tracks, starting with the fiery and fast paced ‘Frozen’, moving onto broadening keyboard atmospherics and dual vocal approach on the driving ‘Restoring The Loss’ and finishing up on part acoustic/part densely riffed monster ‘To Fit The Mold’. These three tracks bring back memories of when everything Evergrey released was unique and classic, and fillers were virtually non existent on their albums.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the rest of the album. Again, while tracks such as ‘Out Of Reach’, ‘The Phantom Letters’, ‘The Disease...’ and ‘It Comes From Within’ are all worthy tracks that lean more towards the stronger side of Evergrey’s song writing efforts, the ballad ‘Free’, ‘I’m Drowning Alone’ and ‘...And The Distance’ just don’t quite have the same impact. In other words, while the middle of the album is quite exceptional in terms of distinctiveness and memorability, as the album moves further on, the quality seems to drop with each new song, which only leads to inevitable disappointment with the tail end of the album.
Compared to ‘Torn’, ‘Glorious Collision’ is a return to form for Evergrey. But when you compare Evergrey’s latest to past classics such as the band’s first four albums, I can’t help feel that the new line-up within the band are heading in the right direction, but still can’t quite deliver. ‘Glorious Collision’ is a solid album, but nothing that you haven’t otherwise heard from the band before.

For more information on Evergrey, check out - http://www.evergrey.net/

© Justin Donnelly

Sammy Hagar - Red - My Uncensored Life In Rock

Sammy Hagar With Joel Selvin
Red - My Uncensored Life In Rock
It Books/Harper Collins Publishers

Sammy Hagar is the living embodiment of success, whether it’s with his music, or the various business ventures the singer/guitar/song writer has outside his music career.
Musically, it’s hard to ignore Hagar’s achievements. Not only did he play a big part in Van Halen’s career, but he’s also managed to maintain a solo career in the years since he parted ways with the band. And in more recent times, there’s his involvement with Chickenfoot, which has been a runaway success for all involved.
On the business side of things, Hagar has been blessed with the ability to turn everything he touches into gold. His various ventures into property developments, restaurants, mountain bike stores and tequila has earned Hagar the life only people dream of, and then some.
So with Hagar turning his hand to his first autobiography, you can’t help but think it’s going to be another winner for ‘The Red Rocker’ right? Well, from a sales and financial perspective, it’s a forgone conclusion. After all, ‘Red - My Uncensored Life In Rock’ has topped the bestseller charts, and Hagar’s hit the road drumming up publicity across the globe in support of its release. But at the end of the day, behind the hype and the staggering sales figures, what really matters is the story it tells, and whether or not its worthy of the paper it’s written on. And to be quite honest, there’s no real clear outcome to be made. Because while in some areas the book is well written, informative and interesting, in others it falls well short of expectations.
In terms of writing style, Sammy Hagar and writer Joel Selvin have ensured that ‘Red - My Uncensored Life In Rock’ is a fairly easy read. The bulk of the book feels like it’s written primarily from interviews Selvin has conducted with Hagar, with Hagar simply recounting his long and storied career and life of sixty-three years in chronological order with Selvin providing the prompts every now and then.
After a brief foreword by ex-Van Halen/Chickenfoot bassist Michael Anthony (Who essentially details his own story of joining Van Halen, meeting Hagar, his eventual dismissal from Van Halen and his reconnection with Hagar after years apart), the book begins at the start of Hagar’s story (‘Hard Luck Son Of A Bitch’), namely Fontana (California), where Hagar grew up, learned to fight and lived in poverty. Hagar goes into great detail about his hard life growing up as the youngest of four children, living in a low income household and his alcoholic/abusive father. If anything, the opening chapter spells out just how tough life was for Hagar.
Hagar’s first venture into music is discussed in ‘Mobile Home Blues’, along with Hagar’s first dabble in drugs, and his eventual brief stint in jail. These early couple of chapters are invaluable, as even diehard fans will most likely be unaware of some of the stories detailing Hagar’s early history. Needless to say, everything is presented in a light-hearted manner, and as a consequence is also quite funny at times.
By ‘Going To San Francisco’, Hagar’s married to his first wife Betsy Berardi, had a child (Aaron) and moved to San Francisco in a beat up van and cheating welfare in order to stay in the black. The hard luck story is still a major part of the story at this point, but the chapter is spiced up a little with Hagar’s familiar tale of having his mind being intercepted by aliens, a visitation from his father before he died and first his introduction to numerology.
From here, the book starts to move a little more swiftly, with ‘Montrose’ detailing Hagar’s learning curve of the music business and eventual success with Montrose, along with his eventual removal from the band under conditions that obviously still don’t sit well with Hagar. And it’s here that the first real issues of the book are evident. While Hagar is willing to provide the backdrop to the story of his musical and personal life, he doesn’t delve much into the music itself. While he does single out the odd song here and there, there’s not a real lot of discussion on the music itself. And that issue only gets worse as things progress.
Both ‘The Red Rocker’ and ‘I Can’t Drive Fifty-Five’ are supposed to cover Hagar’s solo career, but you wouldn’t know it. Details surrounding the recording of the eight studio albums he released and the one sole release from H.S.A.S. (Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve - ‘Through The Fire’ - 1984) are fleeting at best, with Hagar spending most of his time instead talking his run-in with Sly Stone, the disaster of opening up for Kiss, fooling around behind his wife’s back and starting up his own travel company, mountain bike business and clothing line (Which by all accounts was a disaster). There’s nothing boring or irrelevant about what’s on offer here, but a little more detail surrounding the recording and the songs on the albums would have been a real bonus here for diehard fans. But despite this, the chapter does end with a twist, with Hagar admitting that he planned to record one more album and tour, before calling it a day.
Predictably enough, ‘5150’ marks Hagar’s eleven year tenure in Van Halen. Most of the story behind Hagar joining Van Halen would be common knowledge by now, but it is interesting to hear Hagar’s take on things. And by all accounts, it was positive at the start. Van Halen went from being a big act, to the world biggest in the space of one album (‘5150’ - 1986), and life for the band changed virtually overnight. Of course, apart from some selected tracks, the process behind making their hit albums is kept to a minimum, with the majority of the focus within the book looking at Hagar’s personal and business life.
Interestingly enough, Hagar admits that that ‘OU812’ (1988) was difficult, and that the ensuing ‘Monsters Of Rock’ tour was a disaster. Even more surprising is to hear that by the time the band were recording ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’ (1991), the strain was really starting to show up within the ranks.
From here, Hagar’s first marriage falls apart (Which, despite having been on the cards for some time, its still presented in a cold manner by Hagar), the band release their live album ‘Live: Right Here, Right Now’ (1993 – Which is in fact recorded in the studio according to Hagar), and the death of their manager Ed Leffler only adding to the eventual demise of the band. As predicted, Hagar’s view of Van Halen brothers (Guitarist Eddie and drummer Alex) at the time isn’t all that flattering. And according to Hagar, a lot of the problems came down to a growing dependency on alcohol and the games their new manager Ray Danniels was playing against the members of the band.
Large sections of the book are dedicated to Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina in Mexico (Which again was once affiliated with the Van Halen brothers, and which eventually added to the tensions within the group), Hagar’s marriage to Kari, the birth of Kari and Samantha and the gradual rise of Hagar’s tequila empire (Which he eventually sold eighty percent off for a whopping one hundred million dollars). Throughout all this, the story is tied in with the making of ‘Balance’ (1995 – Which is barely mentioned), the band’s contributions to the ‘Twister’ soundtrack (1996) and the eventual parting of ways between Hagar and Van Halen. This is undoubtedly the one area that fans are still a little unclear on, and for good reason. In the end, the end was more than any one thing, and it appears that Hagar both bailed and was fired, without really being fired or leaving the group of his own accord. All that is apparent is that it was a messy ending for Van Halen, and the band were a very much a mess at the time.
The tail end of the book is centred on Hagar’s ever growing business empire, his return to his solo career (1997’s ‘Marching To Mars’ is talked about, but the releases that followed are passed over for the most part), and his eventual return to Van Halen in 2004 (‘Samurai Hair’). If Hagar was critical before, then he is positively savage on the Van Halen brothers around the time of the reunion (And with very good reason I might add), he’s scathing of the tour that followed. Needless to say, while the tour was a huge success in money terms, Van Halen are done and dusted before the tour was even started.
Towards the end (‘Going Home’ and ‘Who Want’s To Be A Billionaire?’), Hagar talks openly about taking stock of his life, and focussing on taking things easy and doing what he wants - not only because he can afford it (And he certainly reiterates that statement plenty of times), but because it’s also where he feels he’s at in this point in his life. And so he should. He’s earned it.
As a book on Hagar’s personal life, ‘Red - My Uncensored Life In Rock’ covers a lot of ground, and really lifts the lid on a lot of history that fans wouldn’t otherwise know: which makes the book invaluable from that perspective.
But on a musical level, the book is sorely lacking. And that’s what really brings ‘Red - My Uncensored Life In Rock’ down as a whole. The pacing too is quite uneven (Some areas seem too rushed after the detail given within the first couple of chapters), and the figures quoted by Hagar (Album sales, concert attendances and the like) are at times questionable.
Overall, I got a lot from ‘Red - My Uncensored Life In Rock’, but it did leave me wanting more. And unlike an album, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

For more information on Sammy Hagar, check out - http://www.redrocker.com/

© Justin Donnelly

Leadfinger - We Make The Music

We Make The Music
Impedance Records

With a history that stretches back more than twenty years as a member of such groups as Proton Energy Pills, Brother Brick, Asteroid B-612, The Yes Men and Challenger-7, Stewart Cunningham is not only somewhat of a legend within the underground Australian music scene, but also a survivor. Over the last five years, Cunningham has been focussing his talents within his outfit Leadfinger, who have to date released two full-length efforts (2007’s ‘The Floating Life’ and 2008’s ‘Rich Kids’) and one E.P. (2008’s ‘Through The Cracks’) to high critical acclaim.
It’s been three since the release of anything new, but after putting together an entirely new line-up (Aside from vocalist/guitarist Cunningham, Leadfinger is now comprised of guitarist/backing vocalist Michael Boyle, bassist Adam ‘Reggie’ Screen and drummer/backing vocalist Dillon Hicks), and putting both the new line-up and a new batch of songs through their paces over the better part of the last couple of years, Leadfinger are back with their third album ‘We Make The Music’.
In the past, Leadfinger’s releases have always left a favourable impression on me, so I was pleased to find the band had returned with something new. But even though the band have put together some great music out in the past, there’s no mistaking that with ‘We Make The Music’, the band have really exceeded all expectations and put together their best album yet.
The opening title track ‘We Make The Music’ (Which is the first promotional video clip) is an absolute sunning stunner that draws its influences from The Who’s Pete Townsend with its mix of acoustic and electric guitars tightly woven together to make for a truly classic rock sound, while the straight forward ‘Dragon On My Chain’, the clever pop/sustained guitar charm within ‘No Reflection’ and the full bodied ‘The Price You Pay’ (Which was released as the album’s first single) are pure classic rock in their purest form both structurally and sound wise.
The punk/indie edged ‘Anthem For The Unimpressed’ might lack a little in the anger and volume stakes, but more than makes up in terms of bite lyrically and vocally, while the up-tempo and retrospective ‘Fourteen’ (Which, along with the short instrumental ‘Segue 2’, featured mandolin’s and Dobro’s alongside acoustic guitars) and the laid back ‘Leaving’ are stunningly heart-warming in their honest.
The lively ‘Come & Dance’ and ‘Beside Me, Against Me’ sees the band channelling The Rolling Stone’s via ‘Exile On Main Street’ through the use of vintage equipment, while shades of the blues are evident within ‘Eucalyptus Blues’.
‘We Make The Music’ is by far Leadfinger’s most diverse sounding album to date, but also their most consistent as well, with every one of the dozen offering a classic in their own right. This album is a must have for fans of Cunningham’s work, and for those on the look out for an example of some truly first class Australian rock.

For more information on Leadfinger, check out - http://www.leadfinger.com.au/

© Justin Donnelly

Zombiefication - Midnight Stench

Midnight Stench
Chaos Records

There’s virtually nothing that hasn’t already been done within the death metal scene that hasn’t been heard before, which means that sometimes it’s hard for a band to really make its mark without being labelled as simply a carbon copy of something that’s been done elsewhere, and more often than not so much better. But every now and then an act will come along and release an album that offers nothing new, but still manage to amaze with their sheer enthusiasm and dedication to the idols.
One act that falls into the latter category is Queretaro (Mexico) based outfit Zombiefication, who have just released their debut full-length effort ‘Midnight Stench’.
Comprising of Mr. Jacko (Otherwise known as Jacobo Córdova, and who’s the mastermind behind Majestic Downfall and Ticket To Hell), Mr. Hitch (Arthur Axegrinder of Inhearted and Rapture) and session musicians (Guitarists Mr. Kim and
Mr. John and drummer Mr. Rebellion), Zombiefication is a project that came together with the sole intention of making pure death metal music, with a focus on a sound that was in the vein of old-school legends such as Entombed and Dismember, and a lyrical prose that primarily revolves around a loose conceptual story of a possessed priest who uses the bible to resurrect the dead, and the battle that ensues between the undead and angels sent from heaven to set things right. It’s hardly a new concept, and one that’s quite familiar within today’s death metal scene. But unlike others that have attempted such a feat, Zombiefication have well and truly achieved their objective on ‘Midnight Stench’.
After a brief scene setting instrumental (‘The Shining’), Zombiefication get straight down to business in a truly destructive manner with ‘Cryptic Broadcast’. The band’s sound is harsh and raw, and definitely unrefined. But beneath the brazen exterior, there are some great riffs here and there and a real power that emerges from the individual performances (In particular on the vocal and drum front) that really give the song that something special.
Faster paced efforts such as ‘Anthem To The Deathmarch’, ‘Broken Gravestone’ and ‘Necrolumbatory’ provide plenty of variation in pace alongside mid-paced efforts such as ‘Last Resting Place’, the full-on assault of ‘Jacko’s Funeral Pyre’ and the doom-like ‘Sleepless Matter’, while on the closing pair of ‘Hitchcock Screaming In Phobia’ and ‘The Early Years’, the duo save their best for last, with the two tracks standing out as the strongest on the album.
Zombiefication aren’t going to win anyone over with their originality, but they will certainly capture the attention of those who long for the old-school Swedish death metal sound in all its gory glory. ‘Midnight Stench’ might be a nostalgic release, but it sure as hell is a fun listen as well.

For more information on Zombiefication, check out - http://www.zombiefication.com/

© Justin Donnelly

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dead Star Renegade - Blackwing

Dead Star Renegade
Interceptor Records

Although having only come together a couple of years ago, Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) based outfit Dead Star Renegade are hardly newcomers to the scene, with all of the members having been involved in a number of outfits over the last fifteen years.
Not surprisingly, that experience is immediately evident in the band’s debut full-length effort ‘Blackwing’, which boasts all the essential ingredients required for a classic hard rock album, without sounding like its well and truly past its use by date.
The opening track ‘Born To Lose’ is a big riff filled monster of a track with Matt Owen and Vik Kundra giving the band plenty of power on the guitar front, while bassist Tim Dobie and drummer Jay Pizzey provide the all-important backline. But the real star of the show here is vocalist Jimmy VanZeno, who is able to keep things melodic enough to catch the ear of the listener, but at the same time keep enough of a raw edge on proceedings to ensure those who simply want something to rock out to, can indeed enjoy the song for its huge collective rocking sound.
‘Supersonic’ retains the groove and riffs of the opener with its big sing-a-long choruses and flourishes of guitar shredding, while ‘Tommy Gun’ (The album’s first official single) ups the ante in terms of pacing and energy, and is a stand out with a powerhouse performance from VanZeno out front.
The slower paced ‘Time Standing’ is another strong cut with its infectious chorus and the song’s swing back and forth between gentle and hard rocking passages, while on the title track ‘Blackwing’ and ‘The Serpent’, the songs showcase a greater progressive influence rising to the surface within their overall hard rock sound.
‘20 To Life’, ‘One More Time’ and the fast paced ‘Outta My Head’ are the kind of straight forward rocking anthems that would sound perfect performed live in front of a audience, while ‘Tidal’ closes out the album with a song that’s mid-paced and moody, but nonetheless a mood that perfectly captures the essence of what Dead Star Renegade are all about.
Although the production (Handled by Ricki Rae, who’s worked with Electric Mary in recent times) is a little too clean at times, overall ‘Blackwing’ is an impressive slab of modern hard rock, and the ideal release for Dead Star Renegade to introduce themselves.
The Melbourne music scene has produced some impressive acts over the years, and the latest name to add to that ever increasing list is Dead Star Renegade. They’re the kind of quality act where success isn’t so much a matter of if, but only when.

For more information on Dead Star Renegade, check out - http://www.deadstarrenegade.com.au/

© Justin Donnelly

Hurtsmile - Hurtsmile

Frontiers Records

Amongst Extreme fans, Hurtsmile has been a long time coming, with the band releasing demos on their website as far back as 2007. But as history has shown, plans to record were put on hold when Extreme reunited.
But with Extreme now enjoying some downtime after the completion of their world tour following the release of their comeback album ‘Saudades De Rock’ in 2008 (Which was documented on 2010’s live album/D.V.D. ‘Take Us Alive: Boston 2009’), Extreme vocalist Gary Cherone has once again resumed work with Hurtsmile, who have finally unveiled their much anticipated self-titled debut effort.
What makes Hurtsmile interesting is those involved, including Cherone’s brother Mark Cherone on guitar (Who plays in The Who tribute act SlipKid, and was once a member of the band Flesh with Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt’s brother Paulo), bassist Joe Pessia (Who’s a member of Nuno Bettencourt’s DramaGods outfit and Tantric) and drummer Dana Spellman (Who was a student of former Extreme drummer Mike Mangini and was a member of Hypercane and Blind By Noon).
So with an obvious Extreme connection within the line-up of Hurtsmile, it would be fair to say that many would expect the band to sound somewhat similar to Extreme. But if there’s one thing that stands out about Gary Cherone’s numerous side projects, it’s that none of them sound quite like Extreme.
The album gets off in a heavy up-tempo rocking fashion with ‘Just War Theory’, which features plenty of strong lead/riff work from Mark, and a reliable and solid rhythm section holding up things behind the scenes. Even though Gary’s faux punk snarl is a little on the cheesy side of things, his vocals are in incredibly fine form, and help get the album off to a flying start.
Both ‘Stillborn’ and ‘Kaffur (Infidel)’ (A song reportedly influenced by reporter Daniel Pearl’s execution in the hands of Khalid Sheikh Muhammed) maintains the rocking vibe of the opener, but with an added edge of heaviness that gives the songs an overall tougher sound, and therefore stand out as favourites, while ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ stands out with an unexpected barber shop a cappella introduction before Mark’s slow and dark groovy guitar riffs and Gary’s trademark killer harmonies provide the album with another infectious rocking effort.
But like all of Gary’s work outside of Extreme, Hurtsmile’s album is full of different moods and textures, with the acoustic ballad ‘Painter Paint’ and the gospel influenced/
‘Hole Hearted’-like ‘Jesus Would You Meet Me’ showcasing the diversity Hurtsmile are capable of. While it’s clear that the band isn’t afraid to experiment, sometimes that willingness to step outside the box just doesn’t produce that something special. Examples of this can be found with the reggae driven ‘Just War Reprise’ (Was there a need for a reprisal in reggae form?) and the Bob Dylan/John Lennon sounding ‘The Murder Of Daniel Faulkner (4699)’ (Yes, it’s a great story, but hardly original sounding musically).
But when the experimentation works - it works incredibly well, as evident on the stunning two part epic ‘Beyond The Garden/Kicking Against The Goads’, the guitar driven ‘Set Me Free’ (By far Mark’s strongest performance on the album) and the rather modern hard rock sounding ‘Slave’.
Fans of Extreme will no doubt have an interest in Hurtsmile given who’s involved. But in saying that, if you’re expecting Hurtsmile’s debut to sound anything like Extreme, then clearly you’re not familiar with Gary’s solo work.
But for those who with an open mind and are well versed in Extreme and Gary’s long and varied body of work, then you’ll find Hurtsmile’s album lies somewhere between Tribe Of Judah’s ‘Exit Elvis’ (2002), Gary’s own ‘Need I Say More’ (2005) and Extreme’s ‘III Sides To Every Story’ (1992). In other words, expect the unexpected, and you’ll inevitably find something to your liking.

For more information on Hurtsmile, check out - http://www.myspace.com/hurtsmile

© Justin Donnelly

Starting Sunday - Starting Sunday

Starting Sunday
Starting Sunday
Independent Release/BNM Records

In 2009, Melbourne based pop-rock outfit Starting Sunday (Formerly known as Front Counter) were on the cusp of big things, with the band getting their name out to the masses through a considerable amount of radio play for their independently released four track self-titled E.P., and touring alongside the likes of Behind Crimson Eyes, The Butterfly Effect, Bon Jovi and as a part of the roving Taste Of Chaos tour.
But despite their rise in profile, the band slipped off the radar while they bunkered down to focus on writing new material.
Some twelve months in the making, Starting Sunday (Who comprise of vocalist/guitarist Rhys Thompson, guitarist Josh Bagdadi, bassist Basil Yu and drummer Josh Sforzin) emerged from their self imposed exile with the release of a new single (‘Somewhere’) and a tour that saw the band play several dates up and down the east coast of Australia.
Fast forward a couple of months, and Starting Sunday have finally unveiled their new E.P., which is surprisingly (And not to mention confusingly) another self-titled effort.
The opening track ‘This Low’ is quick to announce a slight change of sound and direction for the band. The guitars obviously have a place higher in the mix, which gives the band’s sound a bit more punch than anything they’ve released in the past. But while the band have toughened up their sound, their familiar template of catchy melodies and vocals that are easy on the ear are still very much present, which is by far the biggest selling point for their take on the pop-rock sound.
‘Crawling’ is a another strong effort which again showcases the band’s heavier guitar approach, while the lead single ‘Somewhere’ is undoubtedly the most addictive and radio friendly number on the E.P.
The moody ‘These Games’ is something of a departure for the band with the song writing sounding a little more daring than anything the band have attempted in the past, most notably with the subdued chorus and the darker themes presented on the lyrical front, while the huge choruses and catchy hooks on the rocking ‘Lonely’ finishes up the E.P.
Starting Sunday may not be breaking the pop-punk/indie rock mould on their latest effort, but what they lack in individuality they more than make up for in doing what they do - really well. This E.P. is a great listen from start to finish, and nothing more. Essentially, this is thoroughly enjoyable for what it is.

For more information on Starting Sunday, check out - http://www.myspace.com/startingsunday

© Justin Donnelly

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lecherous Gaze - Lecherous Gaze

Lecherous Gaze
Lecherous Gaze
Tee Pee Records/Impedance Records

After eight years together, and with numerous releases to their name (2007’s ‘Annihilation Time III: Tales Of The Ancient Age’ through Tee Pee Records being their last), Oakland (California, U.S.) based metal/punk rock outfit Annihilation Time decided to call it a day in late 2009.
Following the demise of Annihilation Time, guitarist Graham Clise, bassist Chris Grande and drummer Noel Sullivan made the decision to continue making music together, and after finding a new front man in Lakis Panagiotopulos, the four piece act formed Lecherous Gaze.
Having spent most of 2010 writing songs and working on their sound, Lecherous Gaze are finally ready to release their debut self-titled effort through Tee Pee Records.
On the opening track ‘Phaze’, the band’s collective influences are evident, with the music taking its cues from classic ‘70’s rock (Sounding like a cross between Thin Lizzy and AC/DC), with a slight punk edge being produced on the vocal front (A punked up mish-mash of Joey Ramone and Glenn Danzig). Although a solid track through and through, the song lacks something to give it a real punch.
The issues of the former track flow through to the follow up effort ‘Sold’. Again, the band has the chops, but there’s something lacking to make the song really stand out.
But all that changes when the band launch into the second half of the E.P. - starting with ‘Graveyard’. Perhaps it’s the slower tempo, or the fact that Panagiotopulos injects a bit more variation into his voice - either way, ‘Graveyard’ has that special something the others don’t, and stands out for that very reason.
Finishing up the E.P. is ‘R’ N R’ Lust’, which is again another winner with its energetic take on high energy MC5-like classic rock and roll sound.
Given the band’s former history, there was always going to be a bit of anticipation surrounding anything Lecherous Gaze was going to record. Unfortunately, the band’s debut effort is a bit of a letdown, even if it does have a couple of stunners.
It’s early days for Lecherous Gaze, and I’m not about to write them off completely at this early stage of their new venture. But what I will say is that I hope that when they get around to releasing a full-length effort, it will at least be a lot stronger sounding effort compared to solid fillers.

For more information on Lecherous Gaze, check out - http://www.lecherousgaze.com/

© Justin Donnelly

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blaspherian - Infernal Warriors Of Death

Infernal Warriors Of Death
Deathgasm Records

Following on from the 2010 re-release of their ‘Allegiance To The Will Of Damnation’ E.P. (In expanded form through Deathgasm Records), cult underground death metal act Blaspherian are back with their long awaited debut full-length release ‘Infernal Warriors Of Death’.
As expected, the Houston (Texas, U.S.) based four piece act (Comprising of vocalist Lord Apollyon, guitarist Wes Infernal, bassist Joe Necro and drummer Matt Mayhem) haven’t radically altered their sound and approach to old-school bludgeoning death metal that was presented on the former E.P, but then given the strengths of Blaspherian’s former material, they didn’t really need to. That’s not to say that Blaspherian have simply regurgitated what they’ve done in the past on ‘Infernal Warriors Of Death’. On the contrary, the band have managed to refine their song writing, improve upon the production values of their past efforts (Which was something of a sore point throughout ‘Allegiance To The Will Of Damnation’) and deliver one of the most crushing releases to emerge from the death metal scene in some time.
Blaspherian’s song writing isn’t what you would call overly complex. The band strip back the trademark death metal sound to its essential elements, and pummel that out in the heaviest possible manner. It’s hardly a new approach, but one that works well in the hands of some, and fails with others. For Blaspherian, it well and truly works.
The opening track ‘The Disgrace Of God’ is a good example of where the band virtually dispense the addition of unnecessary extras associated with the modern death metal sound, and simply blast out a sound that solely relies on tight knit riffing, a consistent bass presence and drums that provide enough differing rhythms to maintain an interesting sound from start to finish. The production is also noteworthy as it allows all members of the band to be heard clearly enough to distinguish one from the other, which isn’t always the case on most death metal releases.
Although remaining true to the tried formula of old-school death metal, the simplistic blast and duality of speeds within ‘Desecration Eternal’ and the title track ‘Infernal Warriors Of Death’ are quite effective, while the heavy doom influence-like riffing in the slower paced ‘Sworn To Death And Evil’ and ‘Lies Of The Cross’ are typically the kind of bludgeoning staple slabs of death metal that you generally associate from the group.
Other tracks worthy of an extra mention include the groovy and chaotic ‘Invoking Abomination’ and the intense vibe of the closer ‘Exalted In Unspeakable Evil’.
‘Infernal Warriors Of Death’ isn’t a reinvention of the tried and true Blaspherian song writing formula of the past, but more a refined and well executed version of what came before. And that in itself is enough to earn high praise for the band’s long awaited debut.

For more information on Blaspherian, check out - http://www.myspace.com/blaspherian

© Justin Donnelly

Caliber 666 - Blood Fueled Chaos

Caliber 666
Blood Fueled Chaos
Ibex Moon Records

The old-school death metal revival doesn’t seem to be abating one bit at Ibex Moon Records, with the label’s latest signing coming in the form of Swedish death metal outfit Caliber 666. On paper, ‘Blood Fueled Chaos’, the debut full-length effort from the Stockholm based outfit, looks quite promising. Aside from hailing from Sweden (The traditional home of everything old-school death metal), the band’s debut effort was mixed by none other than Fred Estby (Ex-Dismember/Carnage drummer, who’s now active in Necronaut), and features guest vocal appearances from ex-Carnage/Dismember front man Matti Kärki and the legendary L-G Petrov of Entombed.
But as impressive as the credits are, it has to be said that while Caliber 666’s debut effort ‘Blood Fueled Chaos’ is good, it’s far from a perfect release.
Much of the problem with the album comes down to the band’s somewhat patchy song writing, and the album’s overall sound, which is too unrefined to be called a typically modern death metal sounding album, and yet nowhere near raw and buzzing enough to be true to the sound associated with the Sunlight Studios era.
Having said that, the five piece act (Comprising of vocalist Joakim Mikiver, guitarists Tomas Burgman and Tony Riggo, bassist Jim Riggo and drummer Peter Pettersson) do offer up some interesting moments amongst the ten tracks they offer listeners on their debut.
The opening track ‘To The Killing Fields’ is a perfect example of where the band have all the right ingredients to create something special, but end up with something that’s less than appetising. After a slow building introduction (Which includes a sample from the character Pinhead of ‘Hellraiser’ fame), the band take on a familiar death metal sound that’s essentially traditional and familiar sounding with its mix of speed, buzzing guitar work and low level guttural vocals. While there’s nothing new under the sun in terms of old-school death metal, the song just doesn’t seem to exude any real magic or stand out in any particular way, which means that while it may get your head banging to some extent, it’s hardly the kind of track that will really stay in the mind for any length of time.
In contrast, ‘Let The Blood Flow’ (Which features Kärki on vocals) sounds a whole lot livelier, and boasts some truly crushing riffs. Elsewhere, the blasting/melodically inclined ‘Incineration’, ‘The Worthless’ (An obvious highlight with guest contributions from Petrov), ‘Frontline’ and the closer ‘Morphing’ (By far the most experimental and different sounding track on the album) are the definite picks on the album.
Overall, ‘Blood Fueled Chaos’ isn’t so much a terrible album, but more a patchy and disappointing one. Caliber 666 show enough promise on their debut to warrant further investigation into anything they present in the future. But as it stands at the moment, don’t expect much from ‘Blood Fueled Chaos’, and you’ll no doubt be pleased with what the band have to offer.

For more information on Caliber 666, check out - http://www.myspace.com/caliber666sweden

© Justin Donnelly

Old Wainds - Where The Snows Are Never Gone…

Old Wainds
Where The Snows Are Never Gone…
Negative Existence Records

When we think of primitive, frost bitten and harsh old-school black metal, we generally think of bands that come from the northern regions of Europe. And rightfully so, because that’s generally where most of those acts generally emerge from. But every now and then, a band will manage to take you by surprise and deliver an album that’s every bit as authentic sounding as the ones we’re well aware of, and yet not necessary coming from where we entirely expected. One such act is Old Wainds, who hail from Murmansk, Russia.
Although far from one of the biggest names within the black metal scene, Old Wainds have managed to produce three highly acclaimed albums within the last decade (Namely 2001’s ‘Religion Of Spiritual Violence’, 2005’s ‘Scalding Coldness’ and 2008’s ‘Death Nord Kult’), which has earned the band a cult following within the underground scene.
After re-releasing many of their older titles within the last few years, Negative Existence Records have chosen to re-release the band’s second demo ‘Where The Snows Are Never Gone…’, which was originally given a limited release way back in 1997 through Zimargla Power Production.
On ‘Where The Snows Are Never Gone…’, Old Wainds (Who comprise of vocalist/guitarist Kull, vocalist/bassist Kholdogor, guitarist Morok and session drummer Izbor) offer up eight songs of primitive, cold sounding black metal, where the harsh landscape of their origin has left a long lasting impression on their sound.
The opening track ‘Unholy Nordland Fire’ is fairly indicative of what Old Wainds stand for, with the tortured vocals bring to mind Immortal’s Abbath, albeit a little less melodic and harsher sounding, while the music is reminiscent of old Mayhem and Burzum. It’s hardly ground breaking or new in terms of what the Norwegian scene has produced over the years, but it’s certainly done well by the band, and authentically delivered in the spirit of the old-school founders.
‘Winter Warriors’ is a stand out with its choppy guitar riffs, pummelling drums and aggressive stance throughout, while the fast paced ‘Eternal Wanderer Of Winter Nights’ and the slower paced and moodier ‘Cold Mourning Of The Pale Moon’ are the strongest selections worthy of a mention on the album.
Despite the fact that all of the lyrics are sung in Russian, and that the original source tape hasn’t been cleaned up one bit (Which is evident in some places where the sound drops out from time to time), ‘Where The Snows Are Never Gone…’ is a thoroughly enjoyable listen, and a must have for fans of cold underground black metal from the frost bitten landscapes of Mother Russia.

For more information on Old Wainds, check out - http://www.myspace.com/oldwainds

© Justin Donnelly

Tesseract - One

Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

Despite the hype that has surrounded U.K. based outfit Tesseract over the years, and the growing legion of fans the Milton Keyes band has built up in that time through rigorous touring (Including tours with Devin Townsend, Periphery and Monuments), it’s taken a long time for the young five piece outfit to release anything official.
But after some line-up changes (The band is currently made up of vocalist Dan Tompkins, guitarists Acle Kahney and James Monteith, bassist/vocalist Amos Williams and drummer Jay Postones) and a delay in the album’s scheduled release date (Century Media Records put the initial release of the album back in order to put in a worthy promotional campaign behind the album), Tesseract have finally unveiled their debut full-length effort ‘One’.
Heralded as one of the leaders within the underground ‘djent’ movement (A term coined by Meshuggah guitarist Fredrik Thordendal to describes the band’s heavily palm-muted, distorted guitar chord sound), I was expecting big things from ‘One’. And after giving the album plenty of time to be fully absorbed, I can honestly say that the band have delivered on their initial promise.
As you would expect of any band associated with the ‘djent’ movement, Tesseract isn’t all that far removed from Meshuggah in the sound sense. But unlike some acts, while the association between the two acts is evident, Tesseract have managed to broaden their sound out enough to stand out against their obvious influences, which gives ‘One’ a familiar and yet unique sound.
The first song on the album ‘Lament’ pretty much eases the listener in with its ambient introduction of keyboards and soft layering of choral voices. It isn’t until about a minute and a half in that the band really gets things underway, with their heavy off-kilter rhythmic patterns combined with haunting clean vocals and captivating melodies.
The follow-up track ‘Nascent’ leans more towards the aggressive side of the band’s progressive sound, but with the clean vocals maintaining a presence throughout. The contrast of heavy progressive riff and Meshuggah/Tool-like rhythms alongside huge melodic vocal contributions isn’t necessarily all that new or cutting edge, but somehow Tesseract make it sound captivating, which isn’t always the case for most who attempt to achieve the same effect.
The six tracks that follow are the tracks that made up the band’s limited edition ‘Concealing Fate’ E.P. from last year. Comprising of one track split into six movements, ‘Concealing Fate’ has plenty of changes in moods and tempos throughout its duration, with the thrash-like ‘Deception’, the short and complex instrumental piece ‘Epiphany’ and the climatic conclusion ‘Origin’ the real stand out moments.
Those familiar with the band’s former E.P. will recognise the changes the band have undergone in the last year sound wise with the album’s addition of new tracks. And the best example of the band’s progression in sound can be heard in ‘Sunrise’, where the heavier musical and vocal moments are thrashed out with even greater aggression that previously heard, while the melodic clean vocals take on a far greater role in the grand schemes of the band’s overall song writing.
‘April’ takes the lead laid down on the former to even greater lengths, with the ambient elements given a larger platform over the heavier sounds, while the album closer ‘Eden’ sees the band combine the many sides of their sound together into the one track, which easily allows the song to stand out as one of the more memorable efforts on the album.
While I’m not a huge fan of the ‘djent’ movement (How many Meshuggah sounding/influenced bands does one really need when the real thing still exists?), I found enough to enjoy on Tesseract debut ‘One’, and proclaim them as an act to keep an eye on in the future.

For more information on Tesseract, check out - http://www.tesseractband.co.uk/

© Justin Donnelly

Warfield - Trivmvirat

Chaos Records

Mexico might boast a thriving metal scene, but for the most part, the acts that emerge from the region are generally passed over by most due to a lack of exposure and bands general limited ability to get their albums released to a worldwide audience. But in their relatively short six years existence, Mexican based label Chaos Records have helped introduce a wide number of their nation’s metal acts to a much wider global audience.
And the latest act to benefit from Chaos Records’ global audience is Mexico City based black metal outfit Warfield, who’s 2010 E.P. ‘Trivmvirat’ has been given the expanded/re-release treatment after receiving a limited release through Thailand based label Calamity Productions last year.
Released as a follow up to their debut full-length effort ‘Conquering The Black Horde’ (Which was released in 2009 on Black Saw Records), ‘Trivmvirat’ was essentially a stop-gap release for Warfield, while the four piece act (Comprising of vocalist/guitarist Polo ‘Hellfire’ Flores, guitarist Antimo ‘Molosh’ Buonnano, bassist Damnation and drummer Ivan ‘Infernal’ Herrera) set about commencing work on their second full-length effort.
Originally comprising of three studio tracks, the E.P. is opened up with ‘The Initiate’, which is a solid and straight-forward, if a little predictable, black metal number that’s reminiscent of bands such as Marduk and Watain. Hellfire’s rasping vocals are suitably grim and ravished, while the band’s command of heavier and atmospheric elements (Especially within the guitar effects) is well versed and executed.
The faster paced ‘Divinity’ is by far the stronger of the three tracks, with the relentless attack broken up with some well timed slower and melodic passages, while the final track ‘Trinity’ initially starts things off in a slow and tortured manner, before the band turn things around completely and unleash their unholy tirade to a blackened climax.
As mentioned earlier, this re-release has been expanded with the addition of three live tracks (‘Vomit On The Cross’, ‘Satanic Legislation’ and ‘Wolf Chakal’) and a previously unreleased live rehearsal demo (‘Pestilencia’). While the additional extras sound enticing, the reality is that they’re really quite substandard in sound quality, and actually take away from the quality of the E.P. as a whole, rather than add to it.
The three live tracks (Recorded in Warfield hometown of Tampico, Mexico in 2009) are pretty much bootleg quality (Meaning that they sound like they were recorded from the audience), and are a bit hard to listen to, let alone enjoy. As for the instrumental ‘Pestilencia’, well it primarily sounds like a work in progress piece, and therefore doesn’t really compare to the band’s official studio recordings.
Overall, if you’re a fan of Warfield’s debut, and have yet to pick up ‘Trivmvirat’, then this re-release serves its purpose in making it available once again. If, on the other hand you already own this E.P., then I wouldn’t be rushing to replace the original with this updated/expanded version in a great hurry. Instead, I would suggest you hold out for Warfield’s upcoming next full-length effort.

For more information on Warfield, check out - http://www.myspace.com/warfield666

© Justin Donnelly