Archive for November, 2015

Exhortation ‘Oracle of Bones’

November 29, 2015

Formed in 2014, from ex ‘Skourge’ members, Exhortation are a Texas-based heavy metal band, whose fan base has quickly grown.  Having already supported well established bands such as Nuclear Assault, they’re now billed to play alongside others, namely Hate Eternal, Misery Index, Beyond Creation, etc.

Although Christianity is amongst their main influences, Exhortation are equally influenced by more widespread social and individual issues and how these impact on modern society. This debut studio EP was released in August 2015 and the band are currently preparing their first full-length album.

The Human Condition – Gradual intriguing piano intro, with a spoken news feed of world events, demonstrating the development of the influences behind the ensuing songs.

Toxic Disembowelment – Banging, unhesitant drum and riff intro – heavy as hell.  Fast-paced, dark and hard-hitting metal mayhem.  Slowing the pace, for some interestingly blackened riffs from the mid-section onwards, then picking it back up again and filling the track with well honed growly vocals and an atmospheric haunting tone.  For such a young band, it holds a maturity and skill base beyond their years.

Husk Of The Pit – A more melodic intro, still retaining the hard and heavy factor in spades.  Great riffage and unapologetically screamo lyrics; a deep catchiness to its rhythm and pace – cleverly and disappointingly short.  This is what you call whetting the appetite for more.

For Every Goliath, There Is A Stone – Very much in the nature of The More I See’s ‘Empty Chair’, this opens with a creeping, teasing intro.  Varied and versatile arrangements, practised harmonies and a generally cohesive feel, growing progressively more elaborate and ending with some spoken word input; this is probably the wild card which just fills the space with infinite possibilities. 

Blood Of The Chosen One – Loud and melodic intro; soon seguing into a cranked up rapid rhythm and more of those deathly vocals, matched by the funereal lyrics.  This is one of those bands whose performance complements their music well.  Again, some intriguing alternations in pitch, tone, pace and general feel, highlighting their absolute versatility and capacity for progression.

Oracle Of Bones – Here, they’ve nailed that rare skill of breaking into an intro in a way which makes it seem as if they’ve already hit the mid-section.  If there’s one thing that can be said about this band, it’s that they have the unique ability to experiment in a sense that makes you wonder where they’re going next, amply demonstrated throughout this track.  Moving seamlessly from one sound to another in an entirely fluid way; you’d think they’d been on the scene a long time.  Combining instrumentals and sung vocals with spoken word sections and curiously closing with the words ‘in the beginning’, it’s just a very varied and highly skilled example of how well incorporating different methods can work, in the right hands.

Overall, a highly inventive, intriguing and complex piece of work, worthy of mass exposure.  A solid and original example of why metal holds no age boundaries and what’s possible when passion and genuine ability unite.  The techniques inherent in here have to be heard to be believed.

9/10 *********

For fans of melo-death, thrash, extreme metal, prog and everything in between.

 

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Hamerex ‘The Last Ride’

November 28, 2015

Calm Before The Storm – A very intriguing intro – sinister and enchanting all at once.  It soon bursts into life, though, with a high-powered performance that’s hard to fault.  That voice carries the song well, with lots of audible strength and passion; well supported by the energised instrumentals.  There’s a darkness and light about this and it’s nice and long).  A definitely catchy feel and you can feel the emotion within it.  Great strong track.

Ride On Ruin – Opening with a metallic blast; evoking powerful visual imagery and well-placed, strategic use of percussion.  Some tricky notes to hit in there and they’re hit well.  Good job throughout.  Clear and steady, with effective use of vocal intonations.  Lots of melody and good sound production.  A very decent track altogether.

Reign Of Fire – Gorgeous acoustic intro, quickly followed by a crescendo of drums and riffs and extremely skilled use of the alternating ‘soft and heavy’ structure, for want of a better phrase.  Loving the tones and how they’re played around with.  Another enjoyably long track.  Got to love those sexily smooth riffs approximately three quarters of the way in.  Very catchy and extremely likeable.

Apophis – Some truly beautiful guitar tones in this intro and this time, they’re followed up by an even mightier crescendo of metal.  You just have to join in.  Particularly impressive are the vocals, given the complexity of some of those notes.  Good selection of instrumental arrangements.  Cleverly executed riffs and general rhythm in the closing section.

Overall, an intelligently crafted EP, with plentiful twists and turns and lots of listenability.  Fizzing with fiery passion and excitement and bags of imaginative vision.

8/10 ********

http://hamerex.bandcamp.com/album/the-last-ride 

www.facebook.com/hamerex

www.hamerexweb.wordpress.com  

 

Blacksmith Legacy ‘Metal Never Dies’

November 27, 2015

Formed in 2009, Blacksmith Legacy are a pure heavy metal band.  Influences include Judas Priest, Helloween, Accept etc.  After three years of line-up changes and experimentation with musical styles, various live performances and recording sporadic singles, the band started recording their debut album in 2012.  It was released and debuted live in 2013.

In 2015, the current EP, ‘Metal Never Dies’, was completed.  Its completion was marked by a sold-out release party, along with a video of the title track.  Since then, the band have been busy with video & song production and gigs throughout South Sweden.  A new album is on its way and gigs already planned for 2016.

Having supported the likes of Helix, Amaranthe and Lillasyster, B.L.  are currently looking for a record company.

Close To The Abyss – Very Ozzy style in its intro riff, (or if you want to be pernickety about it, more in the style of Zak Wylde and the late Randy Rhoads), straight into the pure metallic vibe.  Right from the start, this has it all.  Excitement and heaviness factor abounds.  Melodic and clear-sighted, with a hard groove; incorporating riffs from a well-known popular soundtrack around the mid-section – work it out, if you can…  it rocks big time!  Fun, sexy and just too damn short!

Forged – More of that awesome heaviness, in a great pounding rhythm, with incredibly metallic lyrics.  This one’s got ‘made for metal lovers’ stamped all the way through it.  Riffage aplenty, strong, almost viking like vocals, melody infused with metal, drums of steel; the works.  There’s something very party like about this one.  Made for repeated listens.  In every well-made metal EP, there’s an instant favourite.  This is it).

Metal Never Dies – Gentle, acoustic intro, followed by the most gorgeous gritty vocal harmonies and some perfectly smooth riffs and all the while, retaining that pure metal beauty.  A 100% sincere metal track, positively exuding metal truth.  It just makes me want to climb inside that guitar and make love to it all night.  You just have to love the sentiments of the title and the absolute honest purity with which it’s performed.  Where have Blacksmith Legacy been all my life?

Saints And Sinners – Crashing intro, with the drums taking centre stage and lyrics to die for.  Engaging and powerful; oh and there it is… the catchy singalongability.  Is that a word?  If not, then the Rock Queen just invented a new word.  There.  This is a great choice of closing track.  A very Dragonforceesque feel to this.  Sheer force of metal is probably the best way to put it.  Ace.

Overall, a pure and honest steel plated slice of metal.

10/10 **********

For fans of Ozzy Osbourne, Dragonforce, NWOBHM, European metal, classic metal, speed/power/thrash metal, Viking/Pirate metal, Pure Heavy Metal.

www.blacksmithlegacy.com

 

 

Beckon Lane ‘Self Titled’

November 15, 2015

Welcome to the debut self titled EP from Beckon Lane.  Hailing from Nottingham, amongst their influences are modern American rock bands such as Alter Bridge, Shinedown, Nickleback, Pain of Salvation and Black Stone Cherry.  Having played their live debut at Nottingham Rock City in 2014, Beckon Lane have subsequently played many other Midlands based rock venues and have a video TBC in 2016.

Divided – Opening with a seasoned low bass rumble, an equally down-toned, if somewhat melancholy vocal tone, gentle percussive support and a steady, rolling rhythm; there’s a gradual but consistent direction.  Meaningful and resonant lyrics and a quiet insistence are what forms the bedrock of this track.  There are some definite audible soft rock influences.  It does have a certain kick to it.

Jaded – Oh, a darker, heavier intro and a faster, more upbeat tone.  The drums are standing out the most.  Slight reverb to the vocals in places, but a clear melody and higher pitch, with a little more emphasis on the guitar work, which holds a quality I’d like to have heard more of.

Lost Myself – Opening with a noticeable sombre tinge, this feels very reflective so far…. that is, until the drums and riffs kick in, with more power; joined by the vocals and the harmonies are adding that special something here.  There’s a definite catchiness in the mid-section, bringing out the flavour and the feel of the riffs that bit more and that final vocal and drum hit just nailed the ending.

Overall, a good quality production, with a lot of effort, which just needs a bit more power injecting into it, to bring it to life.  Obvious talent and enthusiasm, but the guitars are hiding in the shadows and they need to come out.  Great potential generally.  It would just benefit from a stronger sound and greater cohesion, to show the band in their true light.  A lot more riffs and a louder tone would propel them upwards to their rightful place.

6/10 ******