Category Archives: Album Reviews

APPALLING – ‘Inverted Realm’

(Redefining Darkness)

Appalling Album Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Two years ago, Appalling impressed their growing legion of followers with debut album, ‘Secrets Of The Adept‘, which effectively combined metal that was blackened and brutal-sounding with lyrical content which focused on themes of death, degradation, and the collapse of humanity.

Now – in the late spring of 2019 – the Virginia five-piece have unveiled ‘Inverted Realm‘, a follow-up which sees the band firmly build on the solid foundations they laid with their first full-length offering.

Providing a strong opening to proceedings is ‘Hot Coals For Branding‘, which whilst rather lengthy in comparison to the majority of the other tracks, is chaotic, intoxicating, and alarming, with a fast, aggressive pace throughout, led by a gnarling vocal delivering and infectious guitar riffery.

Shameful Kiss‘ keeps up the heaviness and high energy, with the vocals and intensity almost cranked up to maximum levels, making for a sound that is very moshpit-friendly.

Epileptic Sermon‘ is a rather similar-sounding affair, whilst ‘Artifact And Vessel‘ is slightly slower, but contains grittier riffs, and a bleaker tone overall.

Fifth track ‘A Mutilator At Large‘ is pretty much comprised of three segments, the first and last sounding frantic, fierce, and deliciously evil, with the middle part being calmer, but more anguished, which is represented by the hoarse screaming of the quintet’s frontman.

Critical Thinking‘ marks a return to the musical stylings that were present in songs two and three, containing intense bursts of vocal savagery and merciless instrumentals, accompanied by dark, tense undertones, and closing the album is ‘Templar‘, a five-minute riff-heavy number that sees the sound being blackened to its very core.

Overall, although not entirely abundant in originality, ‘Inverted Realm‘ is a release packed full of well-crafted tracks that really capture Appalling‘s penchant for bleak sonic tones, venom-fuelled vocals, and lyrics that are about as far away from optimistic as you can possibly get.

This album comes highly recommended for all of the moshers out there, and further represents a further step in the right direction for a collective who are now rapidly-growing in popularity.

TOP TRACK:A Mutilator At Large’

(4/5)

 

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SABOTEURS – ‘Dance With The Hunted’

(Self-released)

Saboteurs Album Cover

REVIEW by TOM NEIL
ARTWORK by ANITA INVERARITY

Dance with the Hunted‘ is the latest album from Saboteurs, who are a Lincoln-based five-piece who blend together elements of alternative rock, post-punk, and folk. They dropped their first EP back in February 2018, and I strongly suggest that you check it out, but anyway, that’s enough of an introduction, as now it’s time for the main event.

Splintered‘ – the first of 10 tracks that comprise this offering – starts off strong with a live, energetic feel of a crowd talking, before merging into an amazing guitar section that just blows through you.

The song actually feels like it was recorded live, as it has a raw, honest feel that you don’t get from something that was laboured over in a studio.

Splintered‘ is neither too fast or too slow, instead it reaches a middle ground, which I feel pleases fans of both of those musical styles, therefore, the track makes for a great opener.

Over And Doubt‘ is instantly engaging, what with tight vocals that seem to smack you in the face, and a good flow overall, especially with the subtle harmonies between the vocalists, who work together to ensure that they aren’t overpowered by the instruments.

Also, there is a nice, heavy percussive section right in the middle that’s just amazing, and it’s something that you can just lose yourself in.

All of this results in a song that is very dynamic, and one I’ll certainly be listening to again in the future.

Believe Nothing Hurts‘ has a cracking opening that makes me think of a soundtrack from an old film, and from there, the track goes from strength to strength, with well-paced highs merging with fast sections that show what happens when the guitar, bass, and drums are all working in genuine harmony.

Despite its title, ‘Break Down‘ doesn’t quite break things down, as instead it slows the overall pace a little with a pleasing acoustic folky number that has just the right amount of edge to it, and this is a song that I seriously considered for the top track, because I’m partial to folk, and this is a strong example.

Marooned‘ has a slow-paced build-up, which is maintained consistently throughout, which makes for a nice shift, as it’s almost like Saboteurs are easing us back up after the previous number, and if that is the case, then I admire that, as not every band will pay such close attention to the running order of their albums.

Anyway, ‘Marooned‘ just works really well for me, as it’s still got that live feel to it, and as the middle track on what has so far been a pretty substantial album, it’s certainly not letting the Lincoln quintet down.

In my opinion, ‘I Think My Face Hates Me‘ has a slightly different vibe to the songs that have come before it. It’s still a strong addition, but it changes things up, which is an interesting choice as we moved towards the second half of this release.

It is rather enjoyable, though, as it’s energetic, the pacing isn’t frenetic, but it knows when to let loose a little, and as a result of this, it impressed me more than enough to earn the accolade of top track.

‘One Track Mind’ marks a return to the style of the earlier numbers, as like a lot of songs on this, it’s neither heavy, slow, or melancholic, it represents a musical journey.

Whilst not the best that this album has to offer, the title track is a good, strong entry, and ‘Traces‘, while it is slower and a little more subdued that some of the other songs, doesn’t surrender any power, and still manages to pack a mighty punch, and along with ‘Break Down‘, this nearly grabbed the top track slot, whilst ‘Willows‘ finishes proceedings off by picking up the pace slightly, opening with thrashing guitar riffs and powerful vocals, which certainly doesn’t disappoint.

One final thing that I have to say on the album is that I just love ‘Dance With The Hunted‘ as a title, as it is so evocative.

TOP TRACK:I Think My Face Hates Me

(4/5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CANAVAR – ‘Canavar’

Canavar Album Cover

REVIEW by THOMAS NEIL

Canavar are a four man punk-infused metal band from Southampton, comprising of Deklan Webb on guitar/vocals, Jack Bowden on guitar, Rowan Rashley on bass, and Toby Rashley on drums, and today, I’ll be reviewing their self-titled debut album.

‘Sacrilege’ kicks things off with a bang, thrashing guitars and heavy vocals that hit you right in the face, and there is a really nice counterpoint to this track where the vocalist slows things down, showing a softer side to his voice, then ratchets things back up again. It’s jarring, but in a really good way.

Also the extended instrumental section towards the end is phenomenal, and improved even more with some screaming to give it that extra edge.

‘Brick by Brick’ opens with fast-paced guitars and some epic screaming, and having tried and failed to start my own metal band, I know how hard this type of high intensity screaming is, especially without it just becoming noise, but the singer really knows how to keep a grip on his voice while letting it all out.

I also love the densely layered instrumental sections, I’ve spent the past few weeks reviewing folk and indie music, so this was probably more of a shift than had I been reviewing heavier stuff, but I actually think coming from that has helped me appreciate the band’s style that much more.

‘Moral Compass’ has a nice slowed down bassy intro, and the track really shows both a different side to the band as a whole, as well as a different side to the lead vocalist’s voice.

Some people who are talented at screaming can’t transition well into other types of vocals, but I think the lead singer has a strong, distinctive voice, and when he’s backed up by such strong instrumentals, it’s not hard to put out tracks like this.

‘Daybreak’ hammers through its opening line, all speed and edge, and you just get swept away with it, I personally love this track because it’s decisive and clear, and you get to know the band really well. This track, along with ‘Sacrilege’, are singles that have been previously released, with some good music videos you can check out.

‘Devils in the Details’ is another vocal transition that really gives the singer a chance to shine, I listened to the tracks a good few times while writing this review, and this song was the one that got stuck in my head the most.

It has what I liked about the previous few tracks, but there’s just something that’s a little different about it, which made me really enjoy it.

‘Deadly Sins’ slows things down, with softer, more mellow guitars, bass and drums that support a more melancholic vocal section. You get a lot from this track, and you get picked up along with it as it rises and the melancholy is replaced with passion and energy.

‘Fire Inside’ is a big track, with long, sweeping guitar notes, backed up by a consistent and tight bassline, it both seems busy and very open as a track, a nice balance of things, and as I’ve noticed with the previous tracks, you just kind of get swept away in their rhythms.

‘Lost and Found’ follows ‘Devil in the Details’ as a personal favourite of the album, I just think by this point in the album, especially since I’m experiencing each track and the band as a whole for the first time, they’ve really cemented a style, and that’s very clear in this track. I wasn’t lost after listening to this track, and I’m certainly glad I found it, terrible joke aside, it was really good.

‘Burnout’ really fought with the previous track for second top track on this album, it’s a really strong addition, but what kept it from beating out ‘Lost and Found’ was that while being a good track, I didn’t really feel like it was saying anything, as sometimes when listening to an album as a whole, you get an impression from each track, other times you get something from the full album, and so far, every other track has been different, but this one just feels a little too similar.

‘Blacklist’ has my favourite opening on the entire album, some sweeping guitar and building up to the vocal sections, which I could go on about for ages, but I’ll just say, at this point I’m definitely a fan of it, and the band, as a whole.

‘Ready and Willing’ is the last track on the album, which can sometimes make or break the release, but it doesn’t let ‘Canavar’ down, as it’s a great track to end on, its got energy to it, but it’s a little slower as we wind down to a finish on what is a strong debut release from the band.

TOP TRACK: ‘Devils In The Details’

(4/5)

 

THE RAINBAND – ‘The Shape of Things To Come’

(Strawberry Moon Records)

The Rainband Album Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

In 2016, Manchester indie-rock quintet The Rainband burst onto the scene with their impressive debut album, ‘Satellite Sunrise’, which was a moody, very much blues-led affair.

Two years on, the band have returned with a follow-up, entitled ‘The Shape of Things To Come’.

While the formula of engaging guitar riffs, anthemic choruses, ambitious melodies and powerful vocals that served the immensely-talented outfit so well with their first offering still play a major part in the make-up of the sound, they have used this new release as an opportunity in which to broaden their musical scope.

Some of the tracks, for example ‘New York’ and ‘Is This What You Get?’, have a noticeably brighter and more optimistic feel to them, really capturing the essence of the energetic live performances that they have become known for in the last couple of years.

Lyrically, the five-piece focus on what they describe as “the four L’s” – life, loss, love and laughter.

The Mancunian collective have always taken pride in putting out a highly-polished piece, but they take the production values to a whole new level here.

Some bands, in regards to their albums, will put most of their creative energies into the first three or four songs, and then pad the rest out with generic-sounding songs, but that’s certainly not the way The Rainband work.

It is obvious that they have agonised over giving every single second of each track much due care and attention, which is how it should be.

‘The Shape of Things To Come’ is an entertaining listen, so much so that when you reach the end of the final song, you find yourself immediately wanting to go straight back to the beginning, and relive the experience all over again.

It is easy, by listening to the album, to understand why quite a few famous names in the music world, as well as a lot of the music press, are tipping these guys for greatness, and this should be the release that finally launches them into the indie-rock stratosphere.

If you can only listen to one album, in full, in 2018, make it this.

TOP TRACK: ‘Gimme Love’

(4.5/5)

CHECK OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH THE RAINBAND HERE.

 

 

I FIGHT BEARS – ‘I Fight Bears’

(Lost Generation)

I Fight Bears Album Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Up to now, I Fight Bears have had nothing but high acclaim for their fast-paced, intense brand of metalcore, so the pressure for them to keep up the momentum for this, the quintet’s self-titled debut album, must have been immense.

It would have been something that would have overwhelmed quite a few outfits, but the Welshmen have used this opportunity to craft ten tracks packed full of vigour and edginess that represents a real step up musically.

They take the key elements of bands such as Killswitch Engage, Parkway Drive, Lamb of God and Avenged Sevenfold, and merge them all together to create a sound that is truly theirs.

Holding it all together are thrashy, soaring guitar riffs, forceful drum beats, and anthemic choruses delivered at lightning speed with much grit and determination.

The lyrics are represented by hoarse shouts and screams, which intertwine well with softer, more tuneful clean vocals.

Originating from Bridgend, the same place that gave the music world Funeral For A Friend and Bullet For My Valentine, I Fight Bears, with such a spectacular first full-length offering, are now well on their way to becoming the next metal juggernaut to hail from the south Wales town.

TOP TRACK: ‘Lost The Fight’

(4/5)

DISCOVER MORE ABOUT THE BAND, AND HOW THIS ALBUM WAS PUT TOGETHER, HERE.

 

 

 

OF LEGIONS – ‘Face Value’

(Self-release)

Of Legions Album Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘Face Value’, the debut full-length album from Stoke-on-Trent four-piece Of Legions, sees the band employ a core combination of contagious, gritty, stop-start guitar riffs, hammering drum beats, and a gravelly vocal delivery abundant in aggression as a base on which to branch out into a range of rock genres.

Out of the nine tracks featured on this record, some are highly intense and are delivered at a rapidly accelerated rate, whereas others, such as sixth song ‘Suicidal Thoughts’, are performed at a calmer pace.

This shows how the quartet are able to be diverse with their sound, without venturing too far from its key components.

Other notable examples of this approach include the ways in which they begin each track, with opener and title song ‘Face Value’ starting with a gradual fading in of the instruments, fourth track ‘Worthless’ launching with a full-on musical onslaught, and closer ‘Wormfeeder’ introducing itself with what sounds like radio static.

‘Face Value’ is a formidable debut offering containing much passion and rawness, and sees Of Legions announce themselves as a real force on the British hardcore scene.

TOP TRACK: ‘Suicidal Thoughts’

(3/5)

FIND MORE INFO ON OF LEGIONS, AND HOW THEY PUT ‘FACE VALUE’ TOGETHER, HERE.

 

 

RAGE CAVE – ‘Ride The Rhino’

(Self-release)

Rage Cave Album Cover

REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

‘Ride The Rhino’ is the debut album from Stoke-on-Trent hard rock trio Rage Cave.

Since the release of their self-titled debut EP towards the end of 2016, the band have formed a reputation locally for being a strong live outfit, and when they kindly sent me an advance copy, I wondered, “Can they capture the essence of this on a record?

Well, the answer to that, judging by listening to their new offering, is “Yes“.

They enhance the strengths of the EP, the uncomplicated lyrics, the anthemic choruses, and big, lengthy guitar riffs, while at the same time, improving on what fell slightly short of the mark.

The vocal delivery of Max Jeffries, at times, was dwarfed by the music, and the high notes tended to be a struggle for him, but this time, he does a much better job of making sure those who have yet to see the outfit live know just how robust his singing can be.

The Potteries three-piece have also decided to revisit what were the two best tracks of the EP, ‘Devil’s Advocate’ and ‘Secular Sabbath’, and find ways in which to improve on them.

They are successful in achieving this, the songs, instead of sticking out like a sore thumb, fit in well with the new material, which sees them become more adventurous in regards to their sound.

A major example of this is ‘Neanderthal’, a track which is split into three parts. The first section, subtitled with the band’s name, is a rather bluesy and Black Sabbath-esque, whereas the third piece, ‘Kill To Live’, is done at a more accelerated speed, and takes more of an Iron Maiden influence.

The middle part, ‘Space Haze’, acts as an effective instrumental join between the two, really giving Max and drummer Zak Eyrolles a chance to show how much progress they have made musically, and new bassist Kieron Shore an opportunity in which to introduce himself with some funky basslines.

However, the best is saved until last with the title track.

While holding on to the key components of their sound, the band show off just how versatile they can be, with a pounding djembe beat at the beginning, and spoken word and chanting akin to that of an African tribe prioritised ahead of the usual vocal harmonies.

Even though the EP was a good listen, ‘Ride The Rhino’ sees Rage Cave move up to another level, better able to blend their individual musical talents and diverse influences into a coherent sound that is a more fitting representation of the trio’s powerful live performances.

TOP TRACK: ‘Ride The Rhino’

(4/5)

FIND OUT HOW RAGE CAVE PUT TOGETHER ‘RIDE THE RHINO’ HERE.