30/04/19 - By Design - From Apathy To Waste [Single]
By Design is an English three piece metal band from Derby comprising of Robert Fulton-Hamilton, Harry Warren and Ed Shiers. They have just released their debut single and I have been asked to give it a listen and share my thoughts.
From the very beginning of the track it is obvious that the band have taken a minimalist 'back to basics' approach with the mix which is a refreshing change from the onslaught of multi-tracked overdubbed guitars that is the usual fare. With lead guitar panned left, rhythm guitar panned right, and bass and drums slap bang in the middle it almost feels like a live recording which is great. And when the lead guitar is joined by a harmony part I am instantly reminded of the bands influences, particularly Bullet For My Valentine.
Lyrics follow soon after and are delivered in a traditional metalcore growl courtesy of Robert,the band's lead vocalist/guitarist. At the chorus Robert switches to clean vocals instead, and although this is another metalcore staple it does not detract from a keen sense of melody. In the second half of the song the rhythm shifts into more of a Trivium style groove with a hint of Iron Maiden that acts as a build-up to a pair of well executed guitar solos by Harry and Robert respectively. Ed's double bass drumming is formidable throughout with more drum fills than you can shake a stick at. Pardon the pun.
'From Apathy To Waste' is a decent sounding debut single and is perfect for fans of metalcore and modern metal in general. However it does strike me as being perhaps a little too much like the band's influences in my opinion. Although they have managed to successfully merge all the best bits of Bullet, Trivium and Machine Head among others, no easy feat I'm sure, no new ground has been broken either. This is a solid debut from a great up and coming metal band with plenty of potential to do much much more. I certainly look forward to hearing some more new material from them in the not to distant future.
By Design's debut single is available now to stream and download on all major online platforms in both the radio edit form and the full length version (which is way more metal!).
You can check out both versions for yourself at:
28/04/19 - Derade - Derade [Demo]
Derade is an English melodic power rock band formed in 2017 by Guy Radford and his brother Mark, with Pete James on bass and at present programmed drums. They are classically trained musicians and have a very wide range of influences; listing them on their Facebook page as being from Bach to Led Zeppelin.
When I was originally asked to review the Derade's five track self-titled demo as featured on their bandmix page all of the songs were instrumental only. I was very impressed by the band's technical skill but I thought that something was missing. With hindsight perhaps I'd missed the point of them being an instrumental band but I did feel that adding a vocalist over the top of their already solid guitar and bass riffs would make them sound even better. So when Guy sent over two recordings with added vocals by Joshua Francis I believed the missing piece of the puzzle had been provided.
'Howard Hunt' is a “tale of two Howards”: Howard Hunt and Howard Hughes, or so the band's new vocalist tells us in the opening lines of the first verse that begins almost as soon as the track does. No preamble, just straight into the thick of it. The lyrics are filled with a sense of humour and plenty of other name drops, featuring anyone from George Bush to Marilyn Monroe. Joshua's vocal delivery is reminiscent of Paul Dianno and early Bruce Dickinson in places and the music is superb throughout, though the bass solo that comes in at the half way mark is worthy of particular mention. All of this combined gives the track an early 80's Iron Maiden kind of feel. The guitar solo towards the end of the song is spectacular.
'Three Ring Circus (On The Back Of My Hand), formerly 'Blue Skies' in its instrumental form, opens with a drawn out guitar intro that soon makes way for Joshua's distinctive vocals style. In a similar vein to the previous song the lyrics are delivered in much the same way though this time there are some backing vocals present too. Once again the classical training of the band is put to good use as the lead work in this track is excellent. Admittedly I prefer 'Howard Hunt' to this one in the case of its overall arrangement but that by no means makes this any less of a good well performed song.
Also worthy of mention are the three remaining instrumentals that do not yet have lyrics but are well worth a listen. 'Dream Thief' begins more mellow but is probably one of the heavier tracks on the demo. I am particularly looking forward to hearing this one with vocals. 'Chrome' and 'Journeys' on the other hand really show off Guy's and Mark's classically influenced lead guitar skills and Pete's bass prowess. Due to the amount of stellar fretwork on the twin guitars and bass they could probably both remain as instrumental tracks akin to Iron Maiden's Phantom Of The Opera'.
Derade is band with bags of potential, an abundance of musical skill and I can't wait to hear the finished tracks with real drums and some additional lyrics that will surely be the icing on the cake. You can check out their Facebook page and all five of their instrumental demos for yourself via the links below:
26/04/19 - Dead River Kings - Hymns Of Hope And Despair EP
Dead River Kings is a five piece groove metal band from Teesside, UK with influences ranging from Black Sabbath to DreamTheater to Def Leppard. Earlier this month they released their debut EP 'Hymns Of Hope And Despair' so let's get to it...
Opening track 'God Die' dives straight in with no compromise, laying down a tasty down tuned riff laden with doom style distortion and vocals. The shouts of “save me!” “why don't you let God die!” at the chorus add a sing-along aspect too. After two choruses the riff change at the bridge brings in another dynamic,again brimming with groove metal tendencies. Sadly no guitar solo in this one which would have taken this track into overdrive.
'Pipe Of Gold' begins with a progressive chord based rhythm which adds a slightly funky element that is only reinforced by Marc Walsh's impressive drumming. Despite becoming more of a ballad at the chorus, which is no bad thing, the song is punctuated by the bluesy guitar solos that follow each of them. At the three and a half minute mark the track takes a Sabbath turn which left me infectiously banging my head all the way to the outro.
Track three 'Spiritual Gold' starts with bass performed by Jake Carr Smith that has a faintly Tool-esque vibe before the twin guitars return and bring the thunder with a sinister lead harmony. Again towards the end of the track, the song takes a cue from Black Sabbath in its slow monumental riffing, I sense a recurring theme here. This section acts as a prelude to a satisfying pair of back to back solos courtesy of lead guitarists Connor Turnbull and Rich Heward.
'Four Words' opens with lead vocalist Mark O'Hare's repeated shouts of “I need four words!” before a sudden change of pace into a riff that wouldn't be out of place among some of Tony Iommi's finest. The faster nature of this track suits me down to the ground and the stop-start fretwork during the verses are the icing on the cake. At over six minutes in length 'Four Words' is the longest song of the EP but this just means that the band give themselves more time to fit in several riff changes, a bass solo and a series twin guitar harmonies. I can really see the Tool and Dream Theater influences coming out here.
And finally 'Jaded And Blind' sees a return to the slower pace of earlier in the EP albeit with a more hard rock sound in places. The song take its time to develop with a number of riff changes increasing in intensity. Though for the most part not quite as heavy as the rest of the EP the outro brings back the bands signature sound with another pair of excellent guitar solos.
With their debut EP, Dead River Kings have delivered a well balanced mix of doom and groove that will surely make Sabbath fans like myself very happy. My personal favourite track would have to be 'Four Words' due to it's fever pitch intensity virtually throughout, although the end of 'Spiritual Gold' comes a close second - Who doesn't like a good ol' guitar duel?
The 'Hymns Of Hope And Despair' EP is available now directly from the band.
Check out their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DeadRiverKings/
25/04/19 - Imminent Annihilation - Strong And Stable [Single]
Imminent Annihilation is a five piece unsigned metal band from Aylesbury, UK that comprises of guitarists Connor Rhodes and Jack Hollywood, Richard Knight on bass, Harry Godfrey on drums, and vocalist Jordan Gray. The band recorded their debut EP entitled 'The Annex Between Creation And Annihilation' back in 2014 and are currently working on their follow up. In the meantime they are on the verge of releasing a new single 'Strong And Stable' so I thought I'd give it a listen.
Opening with a short guitar fade before bringing in the heavy, 'Strong And Stable' gets straight to the point with a brutal growl over some impressive riffage. This continues into the verse which twists and transforms beneath an onslaught of death metal vocals. The stop-start nature of the guitar whilst the vocals and drums continue their barrage creates quite an interesting contrast.
At around 1 minute 40 seconds the rhythm shifts, increasing the tempo with a change of key and some slightly higher vocals ensuring that you are constantly kept guessing. I was left wondering, where will this song go next? I didn't have to wait long either. The lead section in the second half of the track is technically impressive though did leave me wanting more, but that's just my personal preference. Following the solo the song resumes its twisting and shifting before a brief reprise of the guitar fade from the intro. This builds up into a satisfying growled outro that brings this beast of a track full circle.
'Strong And Stable' is a solid death metal affair with plenty of riff changes, a gut wrenching bass line and rapid fire drumming. All topped off with some proficient lead work and suitably aggressive vocals. Despite the fact that I am more of a traditional hard rock/metal and thrash metal fan I still found plenty to be admired in this track and the bands obvious technical ability and look forward to hearing more from the UK's answer to Lamb Of God and Meshuggah.
Although the track is not quite out yet you can still check out Imminent Annihilation's Facebook page (via the link below) and give them a like to keep up to date with any future band announcements and be among the first to know when 'Strong And Stable' is released.
21/04/19 - King Kraken - King Kraken EP
King Kraken is an unsigned Welsh rock band from Cardiff that is, according to their official Facebook profile, “an amalgamation of South Wales best heavy rock bands.” Featuring members of Boom Sons, Psycho Kiss and Pilgrim - it sounds like the makings of a supergroup to me. Back in January of this year the band released their debut self-titled EP and so I thought I better check it out and see if their music lives up to such a claim.
The first track 'Freak' begins with a short vocal rant that builds with intensity before turning into an intro riff that is an unmistakable nod to the legendary 'Down With The Sickness' by Disturbed, complete with some familiar sounding grunts no less – an undeniable homage to be sure. After the rhythmic verse the song comes into its own and opens up into a melodic chorus. Just before the two minute mark it slows down and takes on a more bluesy feel which acts as a prelude to the first solo of the EP. Although the lead work itself is excellent it does seem to last a little longer than I would have expected. The song comes to an end with a final reprise of the chorus and Disturbed style outro.
'The Grey' opens with drums courtesy of Richard Mears that make way for yet more melodic lead playing. Despite the song being slower than the opener it is no less heavy. Karl Meyer's bass playing during the chorus is also worthy of mentioning too. At almost the three minute mark the tempo increases and there is some superb riffage, in part reminiscent of early Black Sabbath. The track ends with some furious fretwork and spectacular guitar solo.
'Under The Sun' barges in and demands your immediate attention with some heavy chords and dramatic vocals delivered by lead singer Mark Donoghue. The slower pace of this track gives Mark room to really perform every word and as a big Ronnie James Dio fan I am in awe of this song. You can really feel the emotion and the potential 'Heaven and Hell' vibes throughout. The harmonies between lead guitarist Adam Healey and rhythm guitarist Pete Rose are particularly impressive too.
And finally 'Heatwave' sets the scene with some heavy lead guitar and yet more of Mark's booming vocals. This final track is in much the same vein as the previous one up until the first solo which is quite the face-melter though perhaps a little self-indulgent. Post-solo the tempo shifts much like 'The Grey' and features more awesome Sabbath styled riffs. At just shy of six minutes ' Heatwave' is the longest song on the EP and though its not without its cool sounding riff changes, I feel that the same could have been achieved if the track had been cut by a couple of minutes. As the faster section doesn't come in until about three and a half minutes in, the earlier part of the song does seem to drag on a little, but that's just my personal preference. Even so it is still a solid track though not my favourite on the EP.
In summary, King Kraken's self titled effort is a decent debut and definitely worth taking for a spin. The lead and rhythm playing is brilliant, the bass and drums provide a solid backbone underneath, and there is strong vocal presence on top. What more could you ask for? The release really harkens back to a traditional heavy rock sound that is not without a few modern twists here and there. A very enjoyable listen and I definitely look forward to hearing more from this Welsh supergroup in due course.
You can check out the full King Kraken EP for yourself at: https://open.spotify.com/album/74xFAY18XN7Z9GNdmNdwtl
17/04/19 - Zombie Met Girl - Super Atomic Werewolf Chicks On Motorcycles
Zombie Met Girl is an English garage punk rock band from Gravesend, Kent. The band comprises of Nick Danger on vocals, guitarist Frazer Horton, bassist Tim Cross and Steve Ford on the drums. They have previously self-released two albums and have just released their highly anticipated third effort entitled 'Super Atomic Werewolf Chicks On Motorcycles' and I thought I'd give it a listen and see what all the fuss is about.
Album opener and lead single 'Mail Order Bride' is what can only be described as hard punk 'n' roll. Starting with an overdriven guitar, the riff builds up and up until the whole band comes in and the fever intensifies with Nick's vocal swagger delivering some tongue in cheek lyrics. It is very easy to see why this is the first single from the album as the chorus is highly infectious and “only 127.99” apparently.
'I'm So Sick' carries on in the same vein as the opener except with a slightly punkier edge reminiscent of The Sex Pistols perhaps in its rapid fire vocals and rhythm guitar chug. The brief guitar solo however is rock 'n' roll 101 which is an interesting twist. Next track 'I Don't Wanna Live Like That' is similarly punky however the melody and overall arrangement is more Ramones than Pistols at this point. It just goes to show the diversity of influences within the band which is something I can definitely identify with.
Track number four 'Coming For You' is a bass driven masterpiece. Tim's bass tone is suitably crunchy and the overdubbed lead adds just a touch of eeriness. The vocals remind me somewhat of Andy Cairns of the alternative rock band Therapy? The guitar solo at the end of the track is superb and brings the song to a satisfying conclusion. 'Undead Rock 'n' Roll' opens with bass and vocals until the songs reaches another level with the chorus. The arrangement of the track is simple but effective with a distinct contrast between the mellow verses and sing along choruses. For this reason this song is probably my favourite of the album.
The title track at the midway point of the release is a much faster affair with Steve's frenetic drumming and returns to the hard punk and roll tendencies of the opener. The chorus is quite a mouthful but somehow Nick manages to fire through “super atomic werewolf chicks on motorcycles” with ease. The solo section in the second half of the song really adds to the frenzy of the track that ends with a final reprise of the crazy chorus.
'We're In 1984' sounds like it could easily be on the soundtrack to a sci-fi b-movie and consequently doesn't take itself too seriously. I can also hear the Dead Kennedys influence on the band on this track in particular. It is interesting to hear a modern bands take on a classic sound whilst adding their own twist. 'Last Night At The Lunar Cafe' on the other hand is a much slower track and opens with dialogue from a classic American diner. The slower lyrics give Nick a chance to demonstrate his range whilst Frazer lays down a peculiar melody underneath. That is until the song suddenly shifts tempo to more of a mid pace affair for the pre-chorus and again for another catchy chorus. This format is repeated twice before Frazer unleashes a brief bluesy guitar solo. The final verse is slightly faster than its predecessors allowing the vocals to reach fever pitch by the end of the song before a final reprise of the melodic intro.
The next two tracks 'Trash' and 'Black Rabbit' are a little heavier and faster than than the previous tracks but still retain Zombie Met Girls rock 'n' roll aesthetic crossed with their punk attitude. It is nice to see a band stretching the limits of their supposed genre to really show off their songwriting ability without totally leaving behind their signature sound. Zombie Met Girl are able to explore all of their influences, try something different, and show off different aspects of their band members skills – all a the same time. It just goes to show that genre...is just a word.
Following on from 'Trash' and 'Black Rabbit' it makes perfect sense that penultimate track 'No More' is the second heaviest song on the album with its sheer garage rock intensity. The final track 'Oblivion' however is by far the heaviest song on the album. Despite being disguised as a rock 'n' roll ballad from the outset, it soon progresses into near hard rock which is more my realm of expertise. With heavy chords, chaotic drumming and louder and louder screams what more could you ask for in an album closer. And then before you know it, the song comes to an abrupt end as if acting as a cliffhanger from an old 50's or 60's American TV show. What will happen next week? Tune into Zombie Met Girl's next album to find out I guess – can't wait for the next one.
Though I am primarily a hard rock/metal fan, 'Super Atomic Werewolf Chicks On Motorcycles' was still an interesting listen. A well crafted, well thought out, superbly tongue in cheek dose of hard punk-rockabilly 'n' roll. A great album by a great band. Long live rock 'n' roll...in whatever form that may be.
'Super Atomic Werewolf Chicks On Motorcycles' is available now and can be streamed on Spotify at the following link: https://open.spotify.com/album/24pLD1z6cJj7i1yLGnpsja
05/04/19 - Till The Fall - The Seventh Circle
Till The Fall is an English six-piece metal band from Crewe in Cheshire. With influences ranging from old school rock and metal legends such as Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden; to more modern bands such as Avenged Sevenfold and Korn; Till The Fall offer something unique. Good old fashioned hard rock with modern metal tendencies and a heavy dose of shock rock drama for good measure. I have previously had the pleasure of seeing them live a couple of times so I already knew before getting to this review that they put on one hell of a show. That said, they have just released their debut album 'The Seventh Circle' and so I thought it was worth checking out what they can do in the studio to match their impressive live performance.
'The Beast Inside' starts off the album nicely with the sound of a clock ticking away until a guitar riff suddenly comes in to demand your immediate attention. With the onset of the vocals, lead singer Cal Whittaker channels his inner Jonathan Davis from the band Korn, laying down some thought provoking lyrics with an aggressive yet eerily melodic approach. Mid way through a brilliantly executed twin guitar solo section perfectly demonstrates the prowess of all three, yes three, of the bands guitarists. The song ends with a return to the chorus and Cal's heartfelt screams of “should I listen to the beast inside.”
The second track 'Alexander (The Seventh Circle)' is a somewhat shorter affair and with its half vocal-half narration sets the scene for the rest of the album and acts as a prelude to the next song 'Romance with the Devil'. The early acoustic guitar of this third offering soon makes way for a suitably dramatic guitar intro complete with shrieking lead guitar. This time Cal first dives into Alice Cooper territory with air of gravitas in his vocal delivery before adding in a few growls for good measure, really showing off his vocal range. The return of the acoustic guitar at the three minute mark is followed by a beautifully bluesy solo that acts as brief reprieve before the heaviness returns to end the track on a high.
'Home' begins with the sound of rain and a horse drawn carriage on cobblestones that adds to the eerie vibe of the album so far. This quickly transitions into more of a Judas Priest or Iron Maiden affair – melodic vocals and overdubbed harmonic lead guitar. All the while drummer Alex Bayley and the band's very own masked bass menace 'The Wraith' keep the heaviness intact with some superb bass footwork and fretwork respectively. The song ends on the more optimistic side with the addition of some synth and acoustic guitar.
The story of Alexander is continued in 'The Debt', another narrative interlude consisting of some thoughtful story telling and sombre acoustic guitar. The track ends with a sinister maniacal laugh that transitions brilliantly into Alex's drum solo at the beginning of 'Le Cirque Des Damnés', the band's first single and music video. By this mid-way point in the album, Till The Fall have really hit their stride with a heavy yet catchy arrangement that is in part reminiscent of 'City Of Evil' era Avenged Sevenfold. A real highlight of the album and simultaneously semi-autobiographical too; telling the audience to “enjoy the show”. Well done lads, love it!
'Down in Flames' opens with guitar feedback, a decent heavy riff and gravelly vocals before bringing back the bands signature melody. I have heard this track a number of times live so was already familiar with it but it was nice to be able to finally hear a studio recording. It perfectly captures the bands live energy and the guitar solos in the second half of the track is immense. Not sure which guitarist does what so I will credit both Ricki Dunne and Danny Wenlock for some stellar lead work.
Track eight 'The Call of Abaddon' heralds an even heavier side than the previous effort with growled vocals verging on death metal, almost. I think this is probably the first Till The Fall studio track I ever heard when I listened to an early pre-album version online after first discovering them. Half way through there is a short bridge that is, I believe, performed by synth guitarist Joel Bayley. This builds into an irresistible head banging breakdown and yet another technically proficient solo section by Ricki or Danny, or perhaps both. Continuing in a similar vein, 'Shape the Life' retains a progressive heaviness that cannot be denied and features a similar arrangement to the previous track, minus the synth bridge. It begins with a twin guitar harmony followed by more of Cal's melodic-snarl delivery that is key to the bands sound.
'For my Sins' is considerably calmer, with melancholy lyrics delivered over acoustic guitar. About a third of the way in, distorted guitars enter and add another dynamic. In the latter half of the track there is some impressive lead playing – less of a face-melter than previous but more emotionally charged which suits this solid heavy metal ballad. By contrast 'The Final Days (Of Mankind)' brings up the tempo and returns to the hard/rock metal style of earlier in the album. There is continued lead guitar work throughout hearkening back to the sounds of Iron Maiden's greatest hits.
The final track 'Wither and Burn' begins with synth followed by a solo overdriven guitar carving a path through the symphonic atmosphere laid down before it. The song illustrates the bands technical ability and arrangement skill as it twists and shifts through several musical phases akin to Maiden's 'Hallowed Be Thy Name'. At just over seven minutes this track is a fitting musical epic to end a spectacular album on a grand scale.
'The Seventh Circle' is more than just a debut studio effort by an up and coming band. It is a heavy metal experience that most certainly captures all of the weapons in Till The Fall's creative arsenal. All of the instruments are well-played, the arrangements are tight and the production of the album makes it sound as though the band are in the room with you which is perfect. Though not quite as good as going to see these lads in action, this is the very next best thing. If you can't make it to one of their live shows, have a listen to 'The Seventh Circle' – or better still, do both.
The full album is now available to stream on Spotify at the link below: https://open.spotify.com/album/6A4oANi3YHiF4CGhgsy27w