29/11/19 - Broken Calling - From the Ashes EP
Broken Calling is an English five-piece metal band featuring members hailing from London, Canterbury and Dover. The line-up comprises of Connor Snyder on vocals, guitarists Callum Green and Martin Osbourne, bassist James Falconer and Jack Apella on drums. As former members of the band Spreading the Disease (apart from Callum) they have more recently decided to branch out on their own and their debut EP entitled From the Ashes.
Following a brief audio sample taken from a Malcolm X speech that proclaims “democracy is hypocrisy”, the EP opener “Superiority Complex” explodes with all of the band members firing on all cylinders. Featuring spit balled lyrics at lightning pace and some dark and foreboding rhythm guitar riffs to match this is a great start. Next up “Broken” begins on bass. This track has more of a death metal vibe at the outset before unleashing a surprising alternative metal twist. The chorus brings back the band's more modern sound with a keen sense of melody. Connor Snyder's vocals are particularly on point. The only thing missing is a kick-ass guitar solo.
“Where is Your God?” begins with another audio sample (I sense a theme here) before proceeding into my favourite riffage of the EP. Very progressive, super heavy and ultimately headbang worthy. James' and Jack's united front of bass and percussion is an unrelenting onslaught that is only matched in ferocity by Connor's rage-fuelled vocals towards the end of the song.
The opening to “Russell (In Memoriam)” was certainly not what I was expecting considering the title of the track but I am definitely glad to be surprised. Love the riffs and the immediate contrast between them and the fast-paced verses. The melodic chorus is the perfect icing on the cake. Bringing the EP to a conclusion “Warmonger” is a more melancholy affair that builds into yet more groove-laden rhythm guitar. The interplay between guitar and bass is especially good during the verses. This track also boasts the EP's only guitar solo. That's bonus points from me.
From the Ashes is a masterclass in modern metal showcasing what each of this band do best. The guitar and bass tones are brutal, the vocals are simultaneously violent and melodic, and the arrangement is second to none. Well worth a listen when you can.
From the Ashes is out now.
Check it out on Spotify at the link below: https://open.spotify.com/album/7G2KNiFJ1Cakik9b7rA0zK
18/11/19 - Ashen Crown - Obsolescence
Ashen Crown is an English five-piece metal band from the West Midlands. Formed in October 2016, they made their live debut in March the following year and soon after successfully navigated their way to the final of their region's Metal 2 The Masses competition. Winning the final culminated in their appearance on the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock 2017. Since their festival debut at Bloodstock the band have gone from strength to strength with performances at a number of other festivals including Amplified, Hammerfest and Uprising to name a few. Since then Ashen Crown have taken all of their live experience and spent most of 2019 working on their full length studio debut entitled Obsolescence which was finally released on the 1st November.
Opening with “Unbroken Faith”, Ashen Crown satisfyingly set the mood for what it is to come with the sound of rain and church bells akin to Black Sabbath's self-titled debut. They then add their own spin with clean guitar and a spoken word intro. The brutality of Ste Fowkes and Jay Rogers guitar riffs that follow are only matched by Kieran Scott's impressive growls. This sheer ferocity continues on “Crimson Sea” with some clear Lamb of God and Gojira vibes shining through. Midway through the contrast between clean and heavy is exemplified by a melodic bridge that is almost black metal in its arrangement. The track ends with an emotive guitar solo and a reprise of the brutality from before that slowly fades away.
“Ultimatum” on the other hand is an altogether thrashier affair in the same vein as early Sepultura. Mike Ellis' aggressive drum attack and Philip Milman's pounding bass are at the forefront of this sonic onslaught on the senses. Again towards the middle there is a change of pace that adds another dynamic before an impressive solo section with plenty of Kerry King guitar squeals too. Next “Right to Rise” takes up where the previous track left off, starting with a guitar solo. The riffs change a number of times, twisting and turning throughout, always keeping you guessing. The song is simultaneously heavy and melodic which takes the whole performance to another level.
Following another fade out “Guilty of Hatred” erupts with yet another sinister sounding riff to kick off the second half of the album. The stop/start nature of the earlier part of each verse hammers home the sense of rage and aggression in Kieran's vocal delivery. There is an obvious nod toward old-school death metal in the arrangement of this one. “Blood Beneath Us” channels some serious Hypocrisy vibes with it's melancholy intro, although the track progresses into more of a cross between thrash and death metal. The bridge is suitably dark and foreboding before the song verges on black metal once again. The band really know how to switch up their sub-genres which is refreshing. The operatic backing vocals toward the end of the track are a nice touch too.
“Fall of Thine Eyes” is thrash 101 with a complicated intro riff that evolves into a demonstration of Kieran's different levels of growl. I am somehow simultaneously reminded of Death and Cradle of Filth at the same time. A feat I never thought possible. And last but no means least, the album closer “Under The Leaves” begins as the album itself began: with clean guitar and the sound of a howling wind. The atmosphere conjured is undeniable. The band then bring the heavy with some rhythm guitar playing that reminds me of bands like Bolt Thrower and Testament. About two thirds through there is a surprisingly quiet section that acts as a precursor to a heartfelt melodic solo before the earlier heaviness resumes and the ensuing guitar solo takes on a much darker feel. Operatic vocals featured once again are only subtle but add to the overall dynamic of what is already a solid final track.
Obsolescence is a brilliant debut album that is undoubtedly the culmination of several years gigging experience. Well mixed, perfectly arranged; these songs have clearly been tried and tested out on the road (where it counts most) and you can really tell in their flawless execution. In my experience as a musician you really have to live with a song by playing it over and over again in rehearsal and on stage to get to grips with it and for it to grow into something much much more. Ashen Crown have most definitely lived with these songs and it shows.
Obsolescence is out now.
Check it out on Spotify at the link below: https://open.spotify.com/album/5RD8H4qetqhCyyQAXy24yZ