Sunday, 16 December 2012


A tune from my latest EP, Find, is available for free on Psychonavigation's bandcamp page. There's a good lot to be had, with eighteen other contributions.

Roll on 2013!






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Tuesday, 16 October 2012


Hey, my latest EP 'Find' has been signed to Nippi Records. If you're curious, up for leaving a tip, or feeling generous, please, please, please feel free to check out my work via the label's homepage, HQ, Pyschonavigation Records.

There's also a blurb there which helps to explain what the EP is about, as well as a 'listen' link to the new remastered copy.

My cheesy thanks!
Andy

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Friday, 14 September 2012


They might sound like Sabbath, grimy and stoner like, but Trippy Wicked roar into life on their self titled track Going Home. It's an indication of what the album feels like. Yes, the production might reflect earlier times but "Going Home" is an energetic affair, flirting with the Sabbath sound and rocking like Queen's of The Stone Age.

Similar to their record labels first release “Stubb”, Going Home is an album characterised by imperfections. The choppy takes of vocalist Peter Holland, make for a raw performance, sometimes hitting the notes, and sometimes just growling through a riff. It keeps everything focused in a vintage era, even when the riffing occasionally veers into the modern and progressive. 

The more subtle, proggy moments, help them avoid pastiche and with the greatest intentions, set them apart from what's kicking around in the underground. That's not to say there's nothing derivative throughout the record. Quite the contrary; the stoner love-in has been echoed countless of times for better and for worse.

Trippy Wicked are in love with the Sabbath theme, and the rock-rebellion lifestyle that might come with it. If you sample "Going Home's" tracks, “I want Another Drink”, and “Pour Me Another One”, they're written about times that are cliched within the genre. That's fair enough, after all the very genre to express emotions about being stoned is in something 'stoner', but it might be more interesting if the three-piece wrote while being inebriated, instead of documenting the process while being sober.

Ultimately, Trippy Wicked have an album alight in production, but stuttering in content. It makes for an album that's only half full.

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Monday, 3 September 2012


The Tronix Series was a set of tunes released every month on Bandcamp from January 2011, to January 2012. Irish electro-jazz label Diatribe Records took charge of releasing the series, with the goal of bringing together musicians across diverse fields of music, and house them into one field - that field being electronic.

Tronix One is a compilation of those monthly released tracks, perhaps a 'best of the series'. Despite it being compilation light, Tronix is closer to a celebration of individuality.

Tronix One opens with Cignol's “Loose Concrete”, that's similar to something heard on Autechre's LP5. It's a cold trip-hop experiment, relaxed in a groove with a freezing melody on top. Enda Bates produces something much warmer in tone. His award winning track, “Pulse”, is a bright affair, rubbing shoulders with Lemon Jelly in an upbeat and booming rhythm, while Haci's "Frindle" is an ambient work, reminiscent of eastern artist Floex (otherwise known as video-game composer Tomas Dvorak).

ZoiD's “Istanbul Dub” is close to something Deadbeat would've created under the retired German label Scape. It's a dub tune at its centre, with all of the melody created by the natural timbre of jazz.

The final two tracks of Tronix are both improvisations and they hide the soul of a good old racket. Ultimately, this is technology and plotted algorithm on show, with the jazz improv playing second fiddle. Though that may seem like a criticism, it suits the complex nature of the entire album. What Tronix boils down to, is that it's a noisy experiment, with jazz & electronica fighting for centre stage.

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Thursday, 19 July 2012


Breezy, effortless, flow, these are the kind of adjectives immediately thought of were Torche‘s music is concerned. The four-piece interchange through pop, progressive, and doom genres with a clear fluidity - it’s fascinating to hear the genres put side by side. It is unusual (perhaps less so nowadays) to have genres of music drenched in counter-culture work alongside a populist format.

“Harmonicraft” is a relatively pretty picture. The verses and choruses are often lead by a vocal harmony of sorts, steering close to pop rock, in the veins of Weezer and Blink 182. Outside of its pop traits, this is a far more artsy experience, with sounds panning across the mix, the guitars finding a lower string to rattle on, and the vocal fluttering into a dreamy synthesis of harmony.

7/10 Powerplay Issue #143

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Industrial metal reflects a kind of mood, more so than a checklist for specific musical elements (Scandinavian metal ALWAYS contains vocal, drums, and guitar riffing around the minor pentatonic scale), and Nachtblut work in that somewhat drab, chrome-coloured Rammstein vibe. Apart from a more ‘Abbath Occulta’ (lead vocalist for Immortal) vocal performance, “Dogma” stays tight to Rammstein's industrial watermark. Nachtblut’s guitars chug like Rammstein, their vocal growls in German, and they have a slick production for the record to roll along in.

Obviously for these comparisons to have been drawn, “Dogma” is by far a detailed reflection on the Rammstein template. It’s accomplished with a degree of accuracy that’s convincing, while being able to hold onto an identity of its own.

7/10 Powerplay Issue #143

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“MachinatioN” puts the black metal format on top of an electronic production. It’s an unusual sound, weighing heavily on the output from the computer, compared to the strings on the guitar, along with the raspy, angry vocal performance. Though the two aren’t ever uttered in the same breath (‘electro’ and ‘black metal’), the question of them both working together throughout the record is never in doubt. “MachinatioN” is more about a dark and industrial atmosphere, littered in a kind of hyper-production, perhaps even the nerdiest of us would have trouble giving the nod of approval toward. This is certainly not an accomplished effort by any stretch of the imagination – but that it moves so far out of a comfort zone repressed by an aging genre, is something very welcome indeed. A wise man once said, ‘it’s the journey not the destination’. That’s applicable here.

7/10 Powerplay Issue #143

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There’s another viewpoint which I’ve never considered regarding the hardcore genre. It’s that it has been built as a kind of appeasement to the PR machine, of which includes critics. It’s been built to annoy the heck out of us. When you’re trying to find points of comparison, thoughts on how the music makes you feel, and a response to the underlying critical de facto, ‘is it worth your ears’, hardcore is an extremely tough genre to underline. In its purest form, should this style of rock be put together at the expense of entertainment? And if it isn’t entertaining, how does the critic respond fairly? Egos At The Door fall into my conundrum. There’s not much fun in their mania, and you can’t help feeling that annoyance is the very essence of what the quartet are trying to convey – an emotion, a feeling that’s perhaps better felt outside of your home stereo system, and explored throughout the spontaneity of a live gig, were you can punch strangers or your friends (incidentally they can thwack you too). Their indie inspired scream-fest makes for an intense experience, drawing on the likes of The Chariot and Shield Your Eyes.

6/10 Powerplay Issue #143

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There’s a mistake in matching Kreators guitar prowess but skimping on a weak vocal performance, something that greatly impacts ADFs “Tell Me What You See”. Their sound is rounded well, with a high standard of studio production - the guitars are crisp in the high frequencies and the drums are punchy for a tight percussive backdrop, but its centre-piece, the vocal, is thin and skinny, with patchy auto-tuning effects throughout.

You’re left in no doubt about their instrumental nous, and even the bands own artistic technicalities in the studio is admirable; but in contrast, alarm bells ring when the vocal populates the disc.

6/10 Powerplay Issue #143

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Adramelch produce a kind of rock which is tame in its early Dream Theater inspired riffing. Yet they’re exploratory when grooving in their proggy, instrumental extensions. They stick tight to the classic formula, applying it with meticulousness, which makes “Lights Of Oblivion” a far too normal experience for it to punch through the masses underground.

6/10 Powerplay Issue #143

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Monday, 2 July 2012


ReDiviDeR, a jazz quartet based in Dublin, have been assembled as a front for Matt Jacobson’s creative output. Jacobson has a rich background when it comes to the genre, with graduation in the field and a few raving reviews locally, hailed as a “bright spot” by the Irish Times.

It might come at a surprise how loose ‘Never Odd Or EveN’ is, despite its compositional identity. Perhaps less of a surprise is how rhythmic the arrangements appear to be – Jacobson is the man behind the drums after all.

This is an adventurous jazz on the whole, with technical melody and breezy timbre throughout – almost traditional in the way that Coltrane’s sound was always unassuming and cool. ReDiviDeR play with a fluidity despite the material having been stamped on a page.

Yet it wouldn’t be naïve to think that the Irish quartet become stagnant within their written environment. Just like ‘Lighthouse’, the latest album by jazz outfit Simcock, Garland, Sirkis is technically impressive, it’s also made stale by the written habitat that it rigidly lives in. ReDiviDeR never break a sweat, even when they’re improvising the final few bars of a tune at 150bpm, and there are few surprises as their progressions choose the option of building up, rather than exploration.

Nonetheless, there is respite in their ‘casual build up’. Few quartets are able to hold their own in keeping a familiar section feeling fresh, without going off the wall into free form improv. Where technical ability is concerned, ReDiviDeR isn’t concerned. Yes, their melody can become jumbled, but they're conscious of what tones are heard over how many notes they can play at once. 'Never Odd Or EveN' is full of pleasant and involving sketches, played by a band that wants its music to breathe.

Diatribe.ie (Diatribe Records) - ReDiviDeR, Never Odd or EveN


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Made from the frayed debris of a head-on collision between electronica and jazz, ‘ZoiD Vs The Jazz Musicians of Ireland’ is almost as it says to be – experimental electronica, in combination with the natural timbre of jazz.

ZoiD's sonic palette contains more beat-driven electronica than jazz, and Zoidan Jankalovich, the brains behind ‘ZoiD’, is invested in letting jazz melody live an organic and unprocessed life beside his electronic beeps.

Jankalovich’s presence is vital to ‘ZoiD’ working. Throughout each of the eight tracks, there’s a guest instrumentalist ‘versus ZoiD’, often playing on top of a variety of loops and intricate rhythm. What he’s really interested in is witty arrangements and explosive melody. The opener, ‘ZoiD Versus Tommy Halferty’, is literally Jankalovich and Halferty soloing on their guitars on top of a groove not far away from an Andrew Pekler production.

It must be emphasised how the instrumentation is handled with care. Jankalovich while veering into the strange and unfamiliar with his electronics, often leaves the jazzy timbre alone. This ingeniously brings the purity of improv to its fore when alongside the zealously produced electronica.

This is an album paced unevenly, fractured by its electronic rhythms and ambient experiments. It’s as much a forward-thinking record, as it is baffling and frustrating. You don’t listen to ‘ZoiD’ and his battle against the jazzers of Ireland, you wrestle with him – and them.

Diatribe.ie (Diatribe Records) - ZoiD Versus The Jazz Musicians of Ireland Vol 1


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Sunday, 1 July 2012


Pigeon Toe are a five-piece prog-rock outfit, hailing from Germany. They’ve recently signed a deal with Lifeforce Records, giving their debut, The First Perception, worldwide distribution and a happy backer to help with promotion. The five members aren’t exactly new to the block either. They’ve all been involved with a couple of projects that have gained a fair amount of attention – Fear My Thoughts, Backslide, and Triptykon to name but a few.

“I’m sorry we didn’t come up with something more innovative,” says Martin Fischer, guitarist and vocalist of Pigeon Toe, when asked about their bizarre band name. “We used it as a working title when we started the band, and when it came to playing the first show, we didn’t have an alternative name”.

The name Pigeon Toe has been a stumbling block for critics to clamber over. One critic awarded Pigeon Toe “extra points because of their weird name”, while another critic was much more aggressive in tackling the band name before reviewing the debut, “Let’s get the issue of the bands name out of the way. It is awful. It just is. Everybody I’ve spoken to agrees with this, so let’s just leave it there.” Fischer devilishly smiles, “Well… our name might be helpful because people don’t know what to expect.”

Despite mixed feelings over the bands name Fischer insists that the press response to The First Perception has been positive. “It’s a good thing most critics are giving it [The First Perception] a second or third listen”. Detail is very much part of Pigeon Toe’s work. Their subtlety makes for an underwhelming experience first time around, but a colourful adventure on second playback.

The First Perception is a stripped down production. The guitars don’t have the sharp distortion found in metal. The drums are warm sounding and loosely compressed, and the vocal is sung rather than belched. There’s a space all around the stereo field, much like Devin Townsend’s Ki, or King Crimson’s live album Level Five. Their debut can sound blank in one section, but explosive in another.

During a previous interview Fischer mentioned that their debut was both conceptual and open to interpretation. How can an album be both? “I spent some time thinking about a story and characters and all that, but it never seemed necessary to make that work for everybody else, in or outside the band. Still, people should create their own picture when listening to the album.” Critics are divided in what The First Perception is meant to represent – if anything. Some have said, “Alice lost in Wonderland”, others “a potential wizardry”. You get the impression the band aren’t so sure themselves. “Well, all of us had all kinds of ideas in our heads”.
 

Living far apart in the digital age means very little to these prog rockers. The members of Pigeon Toe live miles away from one another, yet they’ve pursued a sound that’s most effective when they’re together in the same room, “Actually, the possibilities of digital recording are really impressive, and yeah, I’ve spent a lot of time in front of the computer”. The use of recording software is fast becoming a recurring theme in the mainstream. U2 are known to jam for hours on end, only for the resident engineer to cut and paste the ‘better’ bits together using software; technical giants Meshuggah are known to electronically program sections of their music before reaching the demo stage; the revered Radiohead are known to work around electronic sequencing first, before the other instruments are even considered at the writing stage.

Yet, listening to The First Perception, it doesn’t sound like it’s been made with a computer in mind, “I’ll take that as a compliment!” says Fischer, unsure if a compliment was actually meant. “Of course, there was a point when I realised that this [digital recording] doesn’t replace the feeling in a band, inside the rehearsal room.” “Still, we’d use it [recording software] to save some ideas and work on them at some other time… but when it comes to song writing or rehearsing we have this one place where we’ll all meet. Also, I think it’s really important for us to react spontaneously and inspire each other”.
 

Song writing and spontaneity can’t live without the other, and were progressive rock is concerned, spontaneity has been the genres corner-stone for decades. “It might get a little complicated when we’re writing, but it can be pretty refreshing having all kinds of unplanned combinations happening at once”.

The First Perception by Pigeon Toe is available worldwide via Lifeforce Records online store, iTunes & Amazon

 http://www.lifeforcerecords.com/main/artists/pigeon-toe/

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Friday, 22 June 2012


Originally started as a high school cover band back in 2005, rocking out to the likes of Metallica, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, it isn't hard to understand Freedom Slaves evolution into a hard rock outfit come 2012. The self-titled debut is close to a commercial affair, as the Italian five-piece cycle through the popular sub-genres, hopeful in getting close to future chart-topping gold. There's a few dazzling moments of artistry too, veering into progressive territory, like Dream Theater's earlier work on Images And Words.

Normally, this kind of rock is restricted to melodramatic climax, and Freedom Slaves isn't much different, full of big choruses, larger than life lyrics and chunky guitar breakdowns. There are a few problems, particularly on the vocals production which can muddle the experience when it's expected to be crystal clear. The guitars and vocal often compete with one another, and it's difficult to know when you should be singing along with a power chorus, or playing air guitar with the guitar riffs. Yet, on the whole, this self-produced debut is polished; it sounds big and weighty, like the American bands they've been inspired by.

As it happens, Freedom Slaves sound unafraid throughout and they know how to put together an effective headbanger. With the exception of a few misplaced riffs, the clarity of their work is promising and their balance in the commercial and artsy is more of a fine act, than it is indulgence. However, it's unlikely they'll make much of an impact on the hard rock scene with an album loud and tribute-like, that will attract some and repel others.


Freedom Slaves - Black Collar Radio

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Monday, 28 May 2012


New York City doesn’t hold the crown for drive-time rock, New Jersey have had Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen clutch onto it tightly for the past twenty years, and then there’s the Canadian Bryan Adams. New Yorker Bob Dee writes a kind of rock similar to the old timers, perhaps without their edge, but with the same straight-face.

Dee isn’t a fresh prodigy hitting the scene anew. He’s been part of a few projects around the globe, shooting music videos of his own tunes in France and Canada as well as co-writing a track with producer Desmond Child. He also has a body of work behind him - four EPs all with the band Petro. It’s a strange band title, ‘Bob Dee with Petro’, as by the sounds of things these are tunes embodied by Dee, completing all of the writing and front of house performing. The name 'Bob Dee' alone would be fine. It’s not as if both names carry much weight by being famous rock artists. No matter, it’s a herring most fans in the genre would overlook in place for the quality of music, which is certainly up to scratch.

This sort of music is made to fill stadiums, and if enough tickets were sold it would likely fill with happy punters, assuming they don’t mind Dee’s dodgy wordplay and clichéd lyrics. It’s the same problem which plagued Bryan Adams albums reaching the kind of acclaim Crowded House records would garner; it’s that the subject matter was always the same. Bob Dee’s “Tell Me” is about his love for an unspecified woman, over the tones of him groaning like a megastar and strumming his guitar dispassionately. “Lips That Heal” is presumably about, erm… feeling better from having feeling worse after kissing an unknown lady. It’s cliché ridden, but fans should find plenty to love here, if they’re willing to buy into the fantasy.

Up All Night” isn’t going to surprise anyone, but regulars of the genre shouldn’t worry: Bob Dee riffs in the same formula of drive-time rock’s most established oldies, best played on a breezy sunny day blasting out of a convertible sports car. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

http://bobdeewithpetro.bandcamp.com/

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Friday, 4 May 2012



It’s a learning experience,” I say to a fellow Chariot fan, as he asks, how I’m getting on with the gig. Hardcore metal is literally lots of rapid, angular body movement to the sounds of disjointed rock rhythm. Well, that’s a very detached view, but perhaps this is the best you’ll get with an analysis. Anyway, there was a lot of buzz circulating around The Limelight for The Chariot, and it’s probably because of the sheer spectacle on stage. As the first track rumbled on, it’s a much more cathartic experience than you might think. Turn everything up, bang a few chords together, shout as loud as you can, run around a lot, dress in a middle class fashion, belch Christian lyrics, throw stuff into the crowd, occasionally spit, throw a guitar three hundred and sixty degrees around the body, remember to breathe. That’s how it goes, with greater pauses in between the tunes later on throughout the set, no doubt, due to fitness levels, and the release of testosterone. A little like an exorcism of sorts.


But there’s no telling what was actually being listened too, as this was metal apparently alight on impulse. Describing the sonic assault is twofold; it’s either Dillinger Escape Plan or Car Bomb, and The Chariot’s endless activity on-stage puts them into the same boat.

No doubt, punk and its influence has changed. No longer are you meant to be an anarchist, or post-apocalyptic maniac. Instead, these Georgians represent a kind of stuffed shirt personality, of the norm, like-everybody-else, droning on throughout the day, and wanting to explode whenever something ticks them off.


Yet the show was certainly not unhinged. If you could mute what was coming out of the PA, and simply watch the band jump around, there are patterns everywhere in their frenetic choreography, which makes it all much more populist than their fellow punters would like to imagine. Who else employs dancers for a dazzling effect to go along with their music? Quite a few pop artists, I’d imagine, and pop comparisons certainly dent the hardcore image. Though they captured the spur of the moment reasonably well, this hyper-stylised punk, is still learning about what it wants to do with itself. We’re either in the infancy stages of hardcore metal or at its tail end, but whatever that may be, less is more effective, and these guys plundered on for well over an hour.

6/10 Powerplay issue #143

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I see a contradiction as the second of the headlining acts walks out. Norma Jean’s sound is very familiar within a commercial sphere, yet it’s being lauded as the second coming for reasons unknown to me. The crowd have went crazy for this lot, but the first two, the lesser known ‘hardcore’ aficionado, haven’t had anywhere near this kind of reception. You can see the blatant contradiction, at least in identity: the hardcore guys enjoy the commercial stuff much more. Oh well, maybe Norma Jean are just better and that’s all there is to it. Clap your hands.

It’s true, to an extent, as this is the most complete baby of the night. They’re able to make a real impact, chugging through southern American riffs, the likes of Lamb Of God or even Korn would vein in, and at the same time, go off the wall when needed in their mathcore element.

Fans were easy pleased getting a lot of content from their latest album “Meridional”, as well as material from their debut success “Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child”. In context of the evening, there wasn’t anything particularly spectacular about Norma Jean, and in fact, residing from their commercial sound, they were probably the most simplistic band, when it came down to a mathcore sound.

Yet, the complicated material felt uncomfortable in the set. It was as if the band were drunk within the parameters they had set for their music, doing the math stuff to appease one half of an audience, and commercial licks to groom the other half.

6/10 Powerplay #143

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If Admiral's Arms were all about keeping the screw turning (Admiral's Arms review), Dead and Divine were about the way it was being turned. Vocalist Matt Tobin did reasonably well at getting the crowd involved, disparagingly (and a little desperately) jumping off the stage and grabbing people around the bar, then shoving them to front of the pit, before things got going. In truth it wasn’t a bad move for them, as it forced a lot of sober heads to nod with whatever rhythm they decided to play.

Musically, there was a kind of nutsiness about them, the way they kept riffing to and fro vocally based choruses, and fast paced rhythm guitar. This felt much more metalcore, and machine like, than that of hardcore. They also had a cameo from one of The Chariot band members, to crank up anticipation for the night. However, their stage persona is hard to buy into, with Tobin doing all of the work, and the rest of them standing around like wooden statues. All in all, they demonstrate that pacing works well inside of metalcore, even when the four out of five band members look completely disinterested.

5/10 Powerplay issue #14

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When a band affects your own inner confidence, bringing you to the point of questioning the self, you know that there’s a mismatch on stage, as my opening notes for the night read; “Why am I so uncomfortable for these lads? Is it their stage presence? Is it their sound? Is it their technical bravado?” On reflection it’s something of a feat, that a hardcore act, who only played for a near forty five minutes – excuse me for thinking that it clamoured on for longer – fleeted along like slow-burners.

Maybe it’s the hardcore genre; it has the ability to make you look snobbish when you turn on your brain and become an active listener. Wherever that of-the-wall impulsivity was, it constantly reigned itself in throughout, stuck in a genre and made muddy by the talents of the musicianship on show. Yes, these blokes could really play, and despite their technical workout towards the final stuttering of the set, the choice to stay within a trendy genre was head scratching at best. Admiral’s Arms sound a lot like The Chariot, but two thirds slower. They’re like a middle classed, inexperienced newly graduate, walking into his first filthy glam-job. Awkward, nervous and not very good.

5/10 Powerplay issue #143

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Friday, 30 March 2012


This is a release completely paying tribute to Mark Giltrow, who died in 2006, and was best known in the metal world to be the brains behind Primary Slave. He actually had all of this material ready for the final cut, before his untimely death, and since then, the band have endeavoured to put together an album spanning all of his ideas which he left behind. There’s a difficulty with this kind of record being released as commodity, alongside a tribute. With the upmost respect, time will truly tell how much Giltrow actually is Primary Slave, and if the band will go onto survive without him.

Obstacles aside, it’s difficult to know where this material stands in an album that has tunes polished and ready for the market, along with some other tracks bare boned in comparison, as if they were still lurking around the demo stage. It makes for a fractured experience; you no doubt realise the sheer scope of Primary Slaves production on the fully fleshed numbers “Powdered”, “Defiled”, “Eyes Feel Free”, and on the other hand “The Game” and “C.R.E.A.M.” feel sparse because of their rawness.

What got everybody's goat on Primary Slaves previous, “Data Plague”, was defining them in a single buzzword, and to their credit, it’s still difficult today. There’s an industrial harshness about “Another Mark Is Drawn”. It feels metallic and cold through its production, and it’s driven by the ‘chorus-effect’ vocal, similar to Sonny Sandoval’s early work in P.O.D. Crucially though, there’s a commercial entity throughout, like a handful of the more computer based Fear Factory stuff (think Transgression), late White Zombie, and dashes of Alabama Three.

Yet, this isn’t an album that’ll be remembered for anything blistering on the disc, but it should stick for Giltrow’s own musical accessibility – the fact that five years on, his three brothers who are part of Primary Slave, are able to resurrect the project, owes much to Giltrow’s own vivid musical imagination. Even if he’s not present, finding a path for his ideas is something everyone should be able to discover.

7/10 Powerplay issue #142

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Is this meant to be funny? Already we’re off to a bad start, but this is a bizarre formula. “Discoteque Tranny” translates to what I can assume to be ‘Tranny Disco’, as in ‘Transsexual Disco’. So is the emphasis on undercut teenage humour? The kind of stuff Bloodhound Gang grew famous (or infamous) for in the late 90s, with the release of “Hooray for Boobies”? Sorry for the puzzlement, but it goes a long way in explaining just how a bands identity, built through album promo, press release notes, art, and a no-less spectacular name, Hayley’s Royal Whores, can get far and away lost in music, which lo and behold, isn’t even teetering on the edge of laughter.

For weight of argument, comedy, and especially rock music, isn’t necessarily easy to pull off. Even Devin Townsend recently wrote about the humour littered across his multitude of work, that it was something he would be looking to “avoid” because it “didn’t have the desired effect” in the context of his metal. Not that Hayley’s Royal Whores are a metal band by any stretch of the imagination, nor do they have the kind of production tools behind them which Mr Townsend employs, but it demonstrates a gravitas to the problems comedy and rock based music usually wrestle with. Tim Minchin can do it with a piano, Bill Bailey with the Theremin, Tenacious D in the rock opera sphere, but bare boned rock comedy? It’s a dead art.

So if this isn’t funny, what’s it got going for it? Not much. It’s an album written in a pop-rock sensibility, residing with the likes Blink 182, Weezer, and Bloodhound Gang. The bands previous efforts came by way of goth rock projects, and it’s easy to hear passages laden in synth work, The Birthday Massacre would be proud of. The vocal throughout is weak, and under-performed, along with the records production being precariously flat, for a band that seek to move you enough to laugh. Perhaps “Discoteque Tranny’s” B-lined, B movie construction is part of the gag.

You’re left wondering if the joke’s on the critic? Their surnames have even been altered with comedic intentions (let’s see if you laugh): Pasi ‘Crash’, Teukka Von ‘Terror’, Teme ‘Schnaps’, and Kuha ‘Spears’. I’ll hold my hands up. I really don’t get it.

3/10 Powerplay issue #142

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Swedish and Intelligence are constantly intertwining when it comes to artsy rock, perhaps at the expense of muscle, and that’s not any different when it comes to “Joint Clash”. That’s not to say this isn’t different or experimental, but something of an emerging trend; when it comes to a native translation of Swede prog rock, it tends to be broken down to us Brits, as an off-beat stranger in rock music. Maybe it hints at our national acceptance for label-based rock? Let’s hope not.

Switch Open’s languid play style, and dirty sound, might go a long way in referencing a 'joint' for the laid back, stoner feeling it contains, but rest assured, their sound is much more steady in the brain, than that of illegal chemicals. Switch Open don’t lumber around the place, but elegantly stroll throughout their progressive plains, occasionally stretching their legs when a chorus needs it and tinker thoroughly in instrumentation when it comes to filling space, or building on a tune for production sake. Like Jack Endino’s work with Slave Traitor or the well-beaten path of Tool, most prog-rockers won’t be put off by “Joint Clash’s” relatively slower pace, in light of its dazzling effects.

7/10 Powerplay issue #142

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What’s the point in doing In Flames when In Flames can do themselves just fine? It’s the age-old copycat train of thought, but in Synasthasia’s case, they’ve had to start somewhere. A common theme spanning through bands starting up, is to perfect their craft on whatever’s inspired them to pick an instrument up in the first place. What comes next is usually what matters, when they finally find their feet on the second project.

Style Collector” isn’t so much a collection of ideas, but the expression of one singular vision - that being a late sounding In Flames. To their credit, with whatever budget that’s been gathered, they’ve put together a decent sounding production, that does show off their talents reasonably well, considering the genre we’re bashing around in. There’s a few good riffs in here too, and the occasional vocal splattered on top, does help to give the tracks a decent hook when the choruses fire up. Then again, it’s nothing we’re writing home about; this exists inside of an exhausted genre because of its commercial appeal, which lifts much more from the pop charts than it does invent ideas of its own. A patronising, yet fitting ‘promising’, underlines this debut.

5/10 Powerplay issue #142

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Metal and 80s nostalgists seem to be living on forever, evident in Crimson Cult, the latest sounding leather wearers drenched in guitar licks and raspy vocal performances, you no doubt became enchanted with when you were an awkward, angsty teen. But that’s just the problem, this is an album satirically withheld in a period over three decades old. For any other genre, it’s labelled resurgence; but in metal it’s still considered a ‘tribute’ to bawdy traditions. And yet, to think that the tradition of your droning teenage life probably inspired you to the edgy metal plains of 1980... building tradition within a period seems, well, very un-metal.

So what about the actual music? Graze around the plains of Megadeth’s “Rust In Peace”, Metallica’s “Ride The Lightening”, some late Iron Maiden thrashing, and there you have “Tales of Doom”, albeit a much lesser concoction than that great list. Opener “State of Fear” chugs along similar to Megadeth’s “Holy Wars” with a Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) inspired vocal slapped on top. It’s a performance that is acceptable at best, but clumsy most of the time, not through its tonality, but through the sheer amount of syllables vocalist Walter Stüfer wants to get in on top of the riff. In microcosm this is how the remaining album plays out, sticking thoroughly by the old school, and clumsily wrecking its head on 80s technicalities. Some fresh ideas, please.

5/10 Powerplay issue #142

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It’s actually not as easy as you’d think to dismiss a band that purposefully sound so ugly, and so disorientated - that despite every inch of your body telling you to stop it, you refuse to press that square shaped stop button. Hardcore bands never get away from their fascination with challenging an audience, and to their credit Biipiigwan really do give it a go, droning on and on with angry riffing, engaged in making as upsetting an atmosphere as possible, perhaps outside of an actual riot. It probably is trash, but if it’s intentions are to simply rattle a few rubbish bins until they fall apart, “God’s Hooks” does the job.

Fitting it all into a genre is a stormy teacup, but apart from its laboured thrash sections, it’s easier to stamp it all in hardcore. These Canadians go a lot like As We Fight, or The Pyske Project, romping along fearlessly on their guitars and consistently belching vocals, inaudible to the ear. It’s all been put together as a kind of sonic assault, to get wrapped up in, than something for your mind to wrestle with consciously.

But that’s just the problem: If you’re not within the moment, it all sounds like a jumbled repetitive mess. It’s ordinarily hardcore, and sparks up the whole heart versus brain debate, which Biipiigwan really ought to find more balance within, than siding completely for the big old heart. If you’re listening, take a step back and refresh your sonic perspective – you’ll likely loose interest. It’s a shame these blokes haven’t done the same.

5/10 Powerplay issue #142

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Tuesday, 27 March 2012



Split albums are often tricky to get right. Contrary to this being an actual album (it’s a three track EP), my main concern before getting both bands sussed out, was if they’d gel together to make a fluid experience. Or are they both sharing disc space to help promote one another, because they’re mates outside of the illusionary world of music? Well, maybe they are buddies, but thankfully, the two acts compliment each other, almost carefully throughout playback.

Clean Kitchen open up the affair in more of a vibe-cum-jam, initially slouching along, building on layers of distorted guitars and plodding drums, before they get their hands dirty in a disjointed workout, something Primus might get away with producing. The intention of the jam is interesting, helping to introduce the material in an anticipatory way, yet it’s certainly misleading; both of these bands are in their element outside of a groove, outside of focus. They’re on the disc together because they’re ultimately messy together, and it’s a treat when Clean Kitchen begin to fire on all cylinders toward the remaining two minutes of the opener.

Silent Front are much more predatory in comparison – the mayhem is accentuated by Clean Kitchens constraint. The chaos works similarly to hardcore, but not quite on its post-Acidic-trippy levels; Silent Front are more methodical than most hardcore or math workouts. It’s a sophisticatedly British sounding band too, spearheaded by a Damon Albarn (Blur) sounding vocal, performed by Phil Mann, who carries the material with strength as the band manically proceed – he sounds strained and choked, and it works well in the aesthetic of their disjointed headbanging. Dillinger Escape Plan may well be a reasonable point to start if we’re looking for a straight edged, mainstream comparison, then again, definition in the hardcore genre is tough, and DEP aren’t anything to go by for British sounding production values (and can they be considered 'hardcore'?). What’s best about Silent Front is the nature of how they get into the groove of their music; it feels underplayed, matter of fact. They plug in, consciously make a racket, and drop the mic.

8/10 Silent Front / A Clean Kitchen Is A Happy Kitchen split (Bandcamp)

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Sunday, 11 March 2012


‘What a bunch of head cases’ you might say in response to hearing the EP played back in your kitchen. Not that they’re a little madcap or that the music echelons into the candid territories of white-noise, it’s just that somehow, they’ve put their adlib and improvised riffs into fully structured, metal tracks. It’s convincing. Tied in knots like the metal-cum-jazz fleeting Ephel Duath, Castles pull off their complications with a great amount of aplomb, staying toe-to-toe with some kind of structure; but they're more an unpredictable animal, the more you try and conform their sound to a single buzzword or schmaltzy phrase.

‘The punk end of hardcore metal with a capital P’ is probably the best you’re getting out of this snobby critic. Or, the most therapeutic migraine you’ll get, for under a tenner. Take your pick.

9/10 Powerplay #140

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Despite the casual image, Lay Siege are focused on grinding through a brand of metal that’s dissonant and visceral in feeling. “Obolus” is an EP that not only displays talent through well written formula, but the record feels as if it’s exploring the unseen depths of your belly, in fits of horrific angst. Convincing is not just a buzzword attached to this fledgling quartet, it’s the darn truth.

Opening track “Explorer” is energetic in progression, but it’s laced in those dramatic, discordant chords, with the slightest of nods to both Virus and Bloodbath. They stick to their guns throughout, not chopping the material for want of a different theme, or unconfident in the darkness they’re exploring. This is an imaginary, well-crafted diabolical experience, from a young and untested bunch – judging by the rate of superlatives spluttered, their loathing really pleases us.

8/10 Powerplay #140

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Tool are often referenced in spite of the hopeful act not sounding anything like them, but only by a means of being alternative prompts the comparison (that's probably to do with not knowing you sound like, or a dose of identity crisis - in ATQOs case, it's probably a bit of both). Always The Quiet Ones single “Freak Show” stands around the commercial arena of Scottish band, Biffy Clyro, and treading lightly on the visceral riffing that Tool or A Perfect Circle tend to chop through – however, this is tame stuff in comparison.

That’s not to say ATQO are any better or worse for it; they clamour through their energetic rock with an American-indie sensibility, that’s a little quirky, thematic and weaved in personality. A Clyro knock-off this isn’t: there are delicate progressions pushing things along different hard rock regions, which help keep the record sharp and unpredictable, even if the tracks follow nauseating, familiar patterns. The tight production also gives them a leg up, for what is a pretty convincing debut.

7/10 Powerplay #140

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Are Rizon serious-minded, or quid-quo-pro parody? We think it’s the former. “Masquerade” combines not one toe-curling genre but two, that’s becoming something of a standard trend to follow, when creating euro-metal. Putting Scandinavian metal beside power-rock is going to create something fairly familiar, and Rizon create an indulgent package that’s completely histrionic, and almost paradoxically defunct of emotion. Despite the entire collective giving it all they’ve got – notably the vocal improvises groans and yelps in between the actual lyrics – it’s the lack of balance in their emotional drama which tears the material apart. Put better: How can drama be drama when drama’s happening all the time? Got it? Yep, thought so.

That’s not to say there’s isn’t a niche for “Masquerade” to slot right into, which by its very definitions will find great comfort within that lukewarm, melodic section of a power-rock catalogue. Be warned Manowar, and Turisas fans, here’s a band to rival your fluffy-cheesy fun. Well, maybe not half as much fun.

2/10 Powerplay #140

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This is hardcore at its most rootsy, bent on capturing the brutality of the verse and thinly sung chorus. It’s interesting to hear the kind of impact Meshuggah are having on metal in its modernity, as more and more bands turn to an eight stringed assault outside of the Swede’s experimental bubble. But with a twist, Confession often riff on their lowly strung guitars throughout the verse, and pep up the choruses with the strumming of chords, layered with a specific vocal style, which goes a long way to characterise crummy teen dramas – indeed the contrasts here are stark.

It’s almost like Oceano and Sum 41 spawning a lovechild, but only on the special circumstance that the child can go completely bonkers in one second, and then on the flick of a switch, become crummy and fragile; Houston we have a balancing issue. It’s not an original or artsy style that you need to familiarise yourself with – In Flames’ recent material combines the two on the less extreme, Trivium the same. The problem here is the extent of polarisation that’s happening. The nigh Meshuggah down-tuned assault, eclipsing in a Blink 182 chorus isn’t designed to read well, never mind sound good.

Better to forget about quantum time signatures - this is truly the stuff you’ll want to scratch the back of your eyes over.

3/10 Powerplay #140

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The most difficult pill to swallow when it comes to FeedForward, is that the band themselves take it all with militant seriousness, blind to the sophomoric nature of the work. It should be a huge amount of nostalgic fun, but instead, it all washes off into whimsical daftness.

Their riffing owes influence to the likes of Marillion and Whitesnake; inevitably when the vocal gets raging they sound like most progressive-cum-eighties conversions of Nightwish. They’re an ambitious collective though, with the tracks often fractured enough to warrant an arrangement slinging in early Nightwish (think “Elvenpath”) – which is much less of a complement than you might think.

Early Nightwish was haggardly under produced, and it puts into focus that aspiring progressive acts really ought to leap onto a producers shoulders to convert their big ideas into something believable; needed to create the dips in energy for the verse extensions not to wearingly drag on, and clever twists to swirl the elements in a track. Three amps, a microphone, and a drum kit, simply isn’t enough anymore.

5/10 Powerplay #140

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Blood Ceremony are a kind of doom-stoner prestige, riffing around veins that Sabbath pioneered, occasionally dressing up their progressions with a finger-popping organ, and the odd flute line – this is very much an old school 70s affair. They’d go along with tagging their music 'psychedelic' or 'trip' to add substance to what is a niche genre, very much in hibernation. But it's not true, as Blood Ceremony capture more of an old-time groove in their flow than anything experimental.

The undercooked production and underplayed performance by the Canadian rockers is to be expected in what they’re trying to achieve; even the guitars when riffing throughout their “War Pigs”-esque, “I’m Coming With You” are sloppy in their take, which goes at quite a length to give the band a quality of authenticity through the cans (as well as lead vocalist, Alia O’Brien, sounding somewhat tanked off her feet).

6/10 Powerplay #140

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Wednesday, 15 February 2012


This is Superhot Records first punt, and it’s convincing. While it’s far too early to see if the label will pigeonhole a niche, Stubb are certainly a worthy selection in dirt-rock quality. This is an album harking back to those vintage pubs and clubs dedicated to the sounds of Sabbath and Hendrix, drenched in the wails of bluesy feedback and its evergreen psychedelia.

The self-titled, ‘Stubb’, is a quaint exercise in imperfection, embodied by a vintage recording. It feels as if you’re in a grimy, smoke filled room with the trio, as they spontaneously jam through the uppers and downers of 70s rock, brightened by their psychedelic and explosive choruses.

This is a fairly brisk and messy affair that’s made fun in its reminiscence for the simple sounding old school, and thankfully, the record has been put together without copying guitar tabs of Osbourne infused rock - Stubb’s own stamp on the material pays homage to the oldies instead of blindly ripping them off. Track, “Scale The Mountain” bobbles along its driven choruses before bubbling up into a widescreen, spectacular Wylde-like chorus, while “Hard Hearted Woman” is close to a disorientated “Voodoo Child” that slows deliriously down into a drunken blues lull. “Galloping Horses” is Stubb at their most aggressive, and notably most captivating; structurally, it sticks out like a sore thumb, and unlike that of the 70s period pieces which came before it, this is the one tune they’ll reside an identity in. It’s a powerful, stompy finish to the album. Edgy and angsty in its blues chugging, yet suitable for a headbang to the pace of Kyuss.

Stubb aren’t a band to wreck with your soul. Sure, they do trip themselves up every now and then, but there’s enough standout material on playback to make the crumples worth your effort. They’ll definitely provide the oldies dancing around the perch with a good time, while sounding modern enough for newcomers alike, to jump on their bandwagon.

8/10 http://www.superhotrecords.com/

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Tuesday, 14 February 2012


Emoticon kicks off from the Plymouth quartets last effort in similar territory, but on a greater scale, with bigger production values to boot. Definitions by their very definition tend to shut down debate, yet defining Daggers Drawn at the drop of a penny, is something worth debating.

Indeed, they pull in many directions, (combining progressive, technical, grunge, stoner rock), which help give the EP a lot of style and thankfully, not at the expense of substance. Yep, you can actually feel their disdain, opposed to a band chucking a few genres side by side; inevitably we could tag this ‘Gojira with added Alice and Chains’ or ‘Kyuss with added Machine Head’ but swimming for attractive buzzwords discredits any sort of identity for Daggers Drawn, who on the merits of their current material, are strong enough to sit beside the big guns.

The proof is usually in the pudding, and if you flick on opening cruncher, “Pariah Among The Lepers”, the transition through genres feels weightless, packing the desired punch through its steady execution. There’s a good amount of adrenaline to be burnt through second number “Midas In Reverse”, before it halts to open up with the colour of vocal harmony, while the technical and heavier “Emoticon” and “World of Lies” will grip those looking to kick the hinges off a door – we’d advise you to wear boots if that’s the case.

8/10 (Metal Mayhem UK)

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Monday, 30 January 2012


The king of 50s melodrama, director Douglas Sirk, famously remarked about the cheesy nature of his flicks, that ‘there is a very short distance between high art and trash’. There’s something very relevant about the quote and CROMs “Of Love and Death”. The record is embedded in a gloomy type of melodrama, with huge passionate lyrics, ‘I will end my life tonight’, ‘I know my dreams are full of emptiness’ and ‘All I want is to be free’ - which is fine with a pacing of varied thematic material in between, but as a consistent rattle of the soul, one adapts far too quickly as each track ticks along. How can drama be hysterical, if it is constantly hysterical? “Of Love and Death” suffers from displaying just the one emotion, which becomes weightless amongst its very reasonable, proggy extensions.

6/10 Powerplay #139

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‘The modern Black Sabbath’. Allegedly these comparisons have been made, based on 9 Chambers music. This kind of nostalgic referencing can be likened to period dramas popping up on the television, which are meant for a pocketed audience, loathed in the longing of a post-modern world – which to this critic seems terribly boring. Things are OK when they change, not when the stay the same. There’s no ‘real’ rock and roll. ‘Real’ rock and roll is reborn every time this same hyperbole is produced on a press release. So being honest, what's making 9 Chambers so engrossingly poignant: the material here is a great guff of well crafted, well made, hard rock, which is born out of their past, regurgitating successful rock artists, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath and ACDC.

The individual members of 9 Chambers aren’t necessarily new to the block. Co-creators, Greg Hampton and Ed Mundell used to play with Alice Cooper, and Monster Magnet respectively - thus it’s no surprise to hear such a crisp and well-balanced production. Between the searing harmonies on “Majick Number” or the drama of chorus on “Know Your Enemy” this is material that’s being pulled off with an age of expertise. These noisy veterans have grown well, and kick back their brand of rock with a sense of instinct, which is very hard to unearth inside of the darker corners of our rockworld.

7/10 Powerplay #139

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A big speech laden in orchestral sound, that’s tagged as some battle cry before the music crescendos, and… we’re off! This is the kind of power-metal only made commercial through its traditional setting; as to the naked ear, it’s a load of Scandinavian metal riffs with the sounds of violin strings on top, a synthesised accordion mixed in, and theatrical vocal work to guide it all. Turisas then, aren’t necessarily judged on what they produce, but about putting up frontier for it all. The face-paint, the booze on-stage, the otherworldly costumes, the daft haircuts; this was a show about spectacle rather than sound, and in its skittish way, it worked.

This was mostly part of the tour promoting their recent release “Stand Up And Fight” which in its simplicity won over the crowd for a rootsy headbang, in the kind of child-like nostalgia power and Viking metal holds it foot in. Opening with “The Great Escape” kept heads thwacking right through to the more technical “Five Hundred And One”, with the show eclipsing in fan favourite “Battle Metal”.

Turisas won’t hang around the memory banks for musical nuances, but for sheer stage presence - front man, Mathias Nygard (or the aptly named Warlord Nygard) is a man possessed, with and without his body paint.

7/10 Powerplay #139

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Be baffled, and glimpse into “No Man Is An Island’s” press release notes, ‘Conceptual, progressive, art-rock’. It all reads brainy and sophisticated, but the literal translation from disc to paper, is that this is a simplistic metal album, bolstered by a carefully planned production, which warrants at least ten gold stars. Why does this matter? Because a pretentious claim often seeks to cover up insecurity. This is big sounding metal – and it’s all the better for it, outside of Dean’s awry, artsy claims.

Yes, there is much to applaud here: the huge, effective stage entrance on track “God Help Me”; the aggressive wall-of-sound which characterised Pantera, whacks with overwhelming impact on track “Do I Care”; and the personality inside of the late Exodus sounding “Reptillian Girl” has the ability to move you into a jive – subtle? We think not.

Ultimately, the records fabric is what reeks havoc with it achieving a certain amount of greatness. Dean has written the entire album with his vocal taking centre stage, but his voice lacks the power of variation to carry the kind of drama he can wave through his talented guitar playing, rendering much of the fifty-five minutes precariously flat.

“No Man Is An Island” is an exhausted effort because of its one-manned perspective; although valiant, Dean hasn’t explored enough thematically to make this into what should be, more than an accomplished effort.

7/10 Powerplay
#139

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It’s a prodigy, droves flocked in over two hundred people, went to cheer on the Devin Townsend Project, who are wrapped in the kind of zaniness, charisma and gimmick which Mark Zuckerberg could never get away with. This show wasn’t about the fifty nerds at the front, waving Ziltoid dolls in the air, this was a carefully plotted metal show, with less of the baldy middle-aged bloke behind “Ghost”, and more of the angry boy in front of “Deconstruction”.

A common theme spanning through, in particular, Irish folk gigs is the idea of playing something airy and ambient through the PA before the lights go up, to not only set a kind of laid back mood in the room, but to emphasise the effect of jiving when it eventually gets going. Townsend implores a similar psychology, except while the roadies are setting up, a ‘radio’ ‘Ziltoid 5.3’ gets going, playing stuff like Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” and Beyonce. Not only did it work in getting the crowd full of laughter in anticlimax, but it also served to misdirect them, so that when he eventually chugged into “ZTO”, it looked like their face had hit the wall.

It’s hard not to notice a lot of his older productions sounding enhanced live, and it’s a worthy cosmetic touch. Reproducing “Seventh Wave”, “Deep Peace” and “Bad Devil” they had much greater guile live, than their usual habitat on CD. Two tracks ripped from Deconstruction were played, “Stand” and “Juular” which served to pulverise the crowd, and the double encore finish got quite a few laughs in its irony – he twice told the audience to ‘shut up’ while playing through “Heaven Send” off “Ki”, which got this snotty nosed critic teetering, and completely on his side.

8/10 Powerplay #139

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One might think that what characterises a doom metal act is their focus on downtuned, brutal guitar riffing, (and you would be no mug in making that assumption) but what Pilgrim manage to achieve is a kind of hypnotic suspense, starving you of any vocal before it kicks in to tie all of the loose sludge together. It feels huge, and its artistic restrictions only emphasise a power within their sound.

This reductionist approach is fearfully welcome in an age of crisp, overcooked studio production. Pilgrim labour through each arrangement using their own heads instead of the tools heard through the new gizmos littered on the latest mixing desk, and it attaches an authenticity to their devoted 70s sound. This certainly isn’t for everyone though. Its niche is in downtuned gloomy metal, and its majesty can only be realised through a kind of patience newcomers will need to bargain for.

7/10 Powerplay #139

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There’s certainly the Type O Negatives about Woods Of Ypres. This is their most commercial package put together, and it’s a farcry from the kind black metal or doom which characterised the bands baby steps.

Five albums in and we’re now hearing the lead singer fully realised in his Peter Steele imitation, laden in harmonies as high as two octaves up (which isn’t that high up considering how low Steele and Gold get), which creates a dramatic dynamic when the two piece progress into their thrash riffing. There isn’t enough rocking around though, to sustain their phenomenal performances, as most of this album is confined to loathing in sludge cum doom riffing. First track “Adora Vivos” hits the money in an example of the bands thrash-to-slow capability, but as the record pushes on, it’s suppressed inside a non-drama, which makes “Woods 5” overly sparse, and an unexpected disappointment.

7/10 Powerplay #139

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Deaf Horse may not have the edge over dirt rock, but their compositions are busy enough to keep a criticism at arms length. This then, isn’t a great position to be in. It’s OK to drive someone fast enough to a degree of appreciation, but taking the other road to apathy is something very much undesired. Who wants to hear an artist within an exhausted genre producing something stuck in its middle ground?

“Out to Sea” does a fair job at imitating that dirty sound which characterised Queen’s Of The Stage. Front man Ben Noble, in one sense wreaks out of place, with a skinny, clean vocal, on top of the fat and ugly distortion. In another light, what they’ve produced here is quite clever. It feels like a bridge between an indie-rock and stoner production, with enough guile and likeminded riffing in the two genres to perhaps satisfy both sets of fans. Then again this encapsulates Deaf Horse’s problem: they sound in transition, and it’s difficult to unearth poignancy about their sound, which should be present. It’s not as if they’re under-performing. They really do try.

6/10 Powerplay #139

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The Quill ought to be in the company of the next Mission Impossible soundtrack; it’s the kind of rock that’s best implored when wearing a set of sunglasses and that old leather jacket which now doesn’t fit. Emblazoned in the rosy nostalgia of Black Sabbath and Metallica, romping full of harmonies, adrenaline packed riffing and structured song writing, this is an album this critic was certainly caught up in.

“Medicine” is reminiscent of Metallica’s “I Dissapear”, while track “Full Circle” feels like something ripped from the Wylde archives of BLS, hurtling toward the southern devastation of Damageplan.

Superlatives are great at demonstrating the niche which The Quill operate in, but it would be plain naïve not to recognise the kind of capital which the record represents: it’s artistically appalling because of a lack of invention and refreshed ideas. It’s simply happy to host a party, essentially made by much more accomplished acts, and put it on as their own. Don’t be fooled, this is music for being lulled in the kind of suppressed job that is telesales. Good fun - not much else.

7/10 Powerplay #139

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Sparsity is the name of the game, and Wandel tries to exploit the idea of holding everything back and then letting rip into its choruses. Jumping from a treacle of piano keys to multi-layered metallic chugs is interesting, and certainly provides a wake up call to the sleepy dithering which came before it.

This said jump from gothic loathing (piano) to gothic anger (guitar) continues in relatively predictable steps throughout the records length. Hearing this re-hash of the same theme makes an entire playback moot; it doesn’t break the album, and it certainly doesn’t define it.

5/10 Powerplay #139

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Progressive music isn’t defined by track length and how many riffs tend to edit and cut between the other; it’s more importantly been about whatever’s inside of the pool, which the lengthy tracks tend to swim in. Everwood are known as a progressive rock outfit, but would dare to dream to live in the same proggy habitat resident to King Crimson, Dream Theatre, and King’s X, as they tinker through their eclectic sound of distortion and neo-synth’d keys with little substance. To batter the point further: this is music built surrounding the vocal, ergo, it needs to carry strong vocal performances, which must be kept interesting throughout an entire playback. On both accounts, Everwood are far off the mark.

The band feels wooden, trying to play a brand of rock, perhaps unnatural and beyond their abilities. The eastern styled synths on track “Desert Sun” certainly plays on the correct scale, but sounds without depth inside of the mix. The melodramatic vocal on track “Free” doesn’t convey any sense of drama because, vocalist Matyas Haraszti, struggles with the choruses’ higher range. “Without Saving” cries for a kind of leadership, to guide each track through the mazes, but it falls flat when the musicians start scratching their heads.

5/10 Powerplay #139

Posted by Posted by Andy at 3:33 pm
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