31 May 2016

Forklift Elevator - Killer Self EP

It is time to return to a band I reviewed last year, the Italian groove metal machine Forklift Elevator.  Last year I reviewed their first album 'Elevator' (our review is cleverly linked here) and it was a good effort, but to be honest as well played as the music sounds, it is not the sort of music I tend to go for these days.  Groove metal is the usual bread and butter of our review, Mr Chris Jermyn.  But I have recently given him a ton of album to review, so it has fell to me once again to review the latest release from the Vigorovea natives.  From what I remember and the briefest read of the last review, Forklift Elevator are a mixture of groove metal, trash metal and have one of the strangest names I have heard in a long time.  Much like 'Elevator', the cover is very minimal and start.  A grey backdrop with the band's logo engraved and a noose just hanging there, with the EP titled at the bottom, scratched in red along the bottom.  But this is not looking at the EP, so it is time to see if this has added anything to the band's repertoire…...

Starting the EP is the brief introduction track "Life Denied" which is over in just over a minute, it reminds me of the beginning of parts of Judas Priest "Night Crawler" and any Pantera song you can think about.  It gives way to "Bagger 288" which is not a song about the strip-mining machine, but a groove metal song that aims for the body and looking to start a mosh pit in a room by itself.  The song is nothing that has not been done before by other acts, but it is still a good tune that will be well received by groove metal fans around the world.  "The 8th Sin" followers a similar suit to "Bagger 288" with a tune that reminds me of bands such as Biohazard and Sick of It All, it has that alternative metal 90's feeling about it and it is certainly one that does its job very well.  It is larger than life, an explosive song and one which will once again have many fans all over this planet of ours.  However, this is still a song which I can appreciate the craftsmanship, yet still not completely fall under its charms.  "Deception" slows the speed down a little, but it does not lessen the intensity as it moves towards a sound that is akin to a mixture of Pantera and Soulfly/Sepultra.  The song is a stomper that jumps around and has a lot of energy going for it, it is does hold a certain charm and it is one of the better groove metal numbers I have heard in recent years.  But once again I am left appreciating the effort that went into this, rather than enjoying the song like a fan of the genre would.

"Black Hole" is probably the weakest song on the EP here, with a slowed down-tuned riff that seems to grind without reaching the peak it is aiming for and changing to an Alice In Chains song half way through for a few seconds.  Once again, I cannot fault the performance of Forklift Elevator on this song as they play the song competently and there is a good degree of talent in this band, but it is not something I can connect with after many spins and the song leaves me a little cold.  The penultimate track "I Executor" and I can finally say there is a track on here which I actually really enjoy, rather than admire for the talent, this song has an interesting opening it has this nu-trash/groove riff that sparks the tune into life and it all comes together in a little ball of furry that ignites the imagination and brings out the best in the band for me.  Ending the album is "Hidden Self" and firstly I would like to say thank fuck there is not a slow and moody number that is a mixture of acoustic guitars and heavy trash riffs, there has been too much of a fashion for that in nu-trash metal releases recently and it has been annoying me.  What we have here is a mean and moody piece, but it is all power, all grind and it comes across pretty good if the truth be told.  It grinds slowly before reaches a nature faster crescendo, then it heads towards the end and the clear tones of the guitar guide the audience to the end of this EP.

I really want to like this, I feel slightly sad that it is sort of passing me by.  As I have said throughout this review, it is not the fault of the band as this is a well-produced EP and their performance sounds sharp, intelligent and one that will have fans of groove metal, trash metal and metal in general in rapture.  It could be one that takes them to a higher level, give them international attention, but for me it was just a good release with a few songs that I really enjoyed and a performance that I admire more than loved.  If you are looking for something in metal that is not full of keyboards and is as far from chart metal, I would recommend checking this out and making up your own mind.

3.5 out of five - Decent, getting there

Top track - I Executor

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You can purchase the Killer Self EP on the Logic (il)logic Records website here

You can stream the Killer Self EP on Spotify here

You can stream the Killer Self EP on Deezer here

You can stream the Killer Self EP on Tidal here

30 May 2016

Mesarthim - Pillars

I'm unsure as to how to go about reviewing Pillars by Austalian duo Mesarthim. Do I review it as an EP because it's only four tracks long? Or as an album because it's over 37 minutes long and I have several albums shorter than that?  Let's just see how it goes.

The band themselves, as I said, are from Australia but other than that little is known about them. They don't even have names. They released their debut album last year which was called Isolate, which seems to have been well recieved. Ostensibly they're an Atmospheric Black Metal band but there's several other aspects and nuances to their music that give them a unique sound. At least to my ears.

The opening track is the title track and when I said they were atmospheric before? That doesn't do justice to way the sounds almost makes you feel like you're heading through the lonely, claustrophobic depths of space whilst also admiring the grand, epic beauty of it. A slow pounding riff is accompanied by sweeping synths and some incongruous keyboards that have almost a Poppy quality to their melody. There are the occasional bursts of harshly screamed vocals that I have no idea if they are just that or if there's actual lyrics to them., not that it matters particularly. The song takes a few twists along the way and the electronics often come to the fore. The song eventually comes to a close after 13 1/2 minutes.

The next track is Orbiting and it'sonly a mere 6 minutes long. The guitars are much more prominent though those weird 80's Synthpop keyboards are present too. There's an Opeth-like quiet passage halfway through that stops Orbiting becoming too repetitive. Again, the vocals are quite sporadic but incomprehensible to me. I'm woefully un-KVLT.

Following that is the track 11 which is frustratingly 11 minutes and 4 seconds long. I'm sure they could have shaved those four seconds off somewhere and made it much more pleasing to the OCD. Musically it falls somewhere between the first two songs; the guitars are prominent but it's slower and more atmospheric. I'm really liking what the plinky plonky keyboards bring to their music. They don't sound silly or out of place but maybe give it a retro Sci-Fi feel. Listening to 11 You can easily imagine yourself adrift in a crippled spacecraft watching yourself slowly tumble towards an unnamed gas giant and an undecided fate.

The fourth and final track is an instrumental called Constellations that kicks of with some electronic beats that are kind of Drum n' Bass in nature. All of a sudden, everything crashes in and we're into the most urgent the band have sounded so far, The guitars chug away but the keyboards could be straight from some cheesy 90's europop band. It shouldn't work but it does, very well. After a couple of minutes the music fades out to just a synth and multi-layered choir vocals, similar to the Halo theme if you remember that? they eventually fade out and there's a peculiar, quiet electronic droning left in the wake.

Pillars is an impressively absorbing piece of work, it's immersive and emotional if not something you'd want to listen to casually. It needs undivided attention to appreciate fully. You should have a listen at least once. Oh and the internet says EP so that's that sorted too.

4 out of 5 - This is really good and well worth checking out.

Best Track: Pillars

You can listen to Pillars on Spotify HERE

You can listen/Purchase it on Bandcamp HERE

Babymetal - Metal Resistance

Link 1: Blabbermouth announcing the release of Metal Resistance.

So a lot of links there.

The reason for that is the paucity of cohesive info from Wikipedia.
Yes I'm lazy and tend to get my main info from there for dates and names and albums etc.
I also check reviews both by well-known mags and by bloggers and podcasts.

There is some basic info-names-ages (which are somewhat worryingly young) and the reason for the formation of the group.
But it appears that what could have been seen as a gimmick -is now a movement of sorts - cute metal. 
I think it needed to be done.

The music industry - particularly the rock/metal side - is absolutely and unnecessarily saturated with men. Usually the women are scantily clad and featuring in an overly elaborate video as an objectified obsession, or the cause of pain and suffering.

But these young lasses are headlining and the music is outstanding! They have amazing voices -in tune even when live-and an extremely hard work ethic for some so young. The element of choreography adds something...the showmanship and sheer force of professionalism and creativity is admirable and it's important - it's new and it works.

Reading the reviews and listening to various podcasts and YouTube videos gave rise to some interesting debates. Namely the 'lone man of metal' ranting about how the band have 'cheapened metal'. That they’re ’just a formulated-manufactured j-pop combo'.

Good grief -  bands over the years have been manufactured -or have manufactured themselves - to meet popular demand.
They've been there at the right time with the right stuff, yet often wishing to distance themselves from a genre and prove their authenticity i.e. Nu Metal.

Babymetal haven't done that - they haven't needed to - they have unapologetically placed themselves front and centre with their own thing.

And their thing appears to be beautiful.

Melodic vocals and fast technical and emotionally gripping guitar solos. Traditional pieces of classical sounding music combined with alternately Black Sabbath, Korn and Dream Theatre esque riffs.

It's cute, it’s funny, its sweet singing and harsh screaming and mad growling. Its heavy head banging, goose bumps inducing drama. Dance dubstep is used fantastically - it's layered and integrated and energising.
It's enjoyable it makes me smile to hear it.
Give it a listen - you'll not regret it.

10 out of 10 – This is proof that there is a God

Favourite Track: Karate -funky metal as fuck with awesome routine and sass.

The Virginmarys - Divides

Welcome to cover roulette!  I have missed picking up an album just for the cover and after looking in the submissions box, it might be a little bit longer as well.  But I am determined to pick this one up as I need a little diversion for my own mind scape (remember, we are not getting paid to do this).   The album I have picked at random due to the interesting cover is the latest album from The Virginsmarys, these guys are a three-piece alternative/punk rock band from Macclesfield, Cheshire and have been going since 2009.  This is their second album after 'King of Conflict' which was released in 2013 and this album was produced by Gil Norton, who has also worked with the Pixies, Catherine Wheel, Honeycrack, Throwing Muses and others.  I love the image of the person having coins in their eyes, but the face is not sure what is going on.  Is there a hidden meaning to this image or is it to be took at face value?  Either way, it has taken my interest and now it is time to see if it was worth my while.

"Push The Peddle" is the first song on this album, it is a rumbling track that sounds as if it is aching to explode and when it finally does ignite, it really does take on a new dimension.  The start sounds as if it is designed to start a show, settle the audience down slightly and then give them an excuse to bounce around with the chorus and the shouting later on in the song.  I like it, but I have a feeling there is better to come from this band and album.  "For You My Love" is a protest song mixed in with a declaration of love and the willing to sacrifice one's own life for a loved one, it is a song that reminds me a bit of the Wildhearts and the Almighty during their 'Powertrippin' era.  It is a hard rock number that has a strong message at its centre and it picks up the pace once again, two good songs so far which are creating a good impression on me.  The third track is called "Halo in her Silhouette" which has an old school punk 'n' roll feeling to these ears, the riff is an infectious one that truly grabbed my attention from the first time I listened to the album.  It is also not a flash in the pan as it bounces around your brain and makes the hairs on your neck stand up.  This song to a lady that is likened to an addiction in some sections of this song just hits all the right buttons for me, definitely one of the best songs of the album.  The fourth track is called "Free to Do Whatever They Say" and this song ticks all the boxes for a new classic for me, it has a shit load of energy, a fantastic and infectious riff that makes the hairs stick up on the back of your neck and it sticks in your mind.  I cannot help but hit the repeat button on this song, it just sounds huge and life affirming to me.  It is just what the doctor ordered as they give a new alternative rock anthem for me, it is one that the neighbours have been enjoying as well - even if they do not like it, as it has been played awfully loudly these last few days.

"I Wanna Take You Home" is a song about control and it is either personal demons or lust, I have not quite worked out which one it is yet.  It is what I would call a good old fashion stomper; it is not vintage in anyway or dated, it is just a good & honest song that just rocks out.  It is a no-brainer that hits all the right spots, it might not be the most spectacular on this records, but it is still a great song in my opinion with a dark undertone to the riff and a slight touch of glam rock to the guitars in places almost akin to the sound of Swedish band, Backyard Babies.  "Walk in My Shoes" marks the half way point of this album, this can best be described as the reflective number.  It slows the album down a little, but not by so much that it is derailed - every stomp needs a rest every now and then (unless you are a grindcore album, then it is peddle to the floor all the way through).  Anyway, back to the song - this is a song which warning people not to judge until you know what the other person has been through, a message that a lot of people should really listen to.  It is a great song, a slow burner that reveals more with each listen and adds a different dimension to the album, it keeps everything going in the right direction for the band and draws your interest in the album much further than before (which was already pretty high in the first instance.  "Kill The Messenger" brings back the energy to this record, a song that adds another layer of drama to the album.  The drumming has a Celtic battle feeling towards it, the steady beat which is still fast sounds like the Scottish are ready to come over the border and take the land back from the English once more.  Considering this band are from Macclesfield, I must guess this was not a sound they were thinking about; but it is also a song that gives off a vibe that has a mixture of Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age and (this is probably why I got the feeling of a band wanting to come over the border) The Skints.  It is a great number that has the right amount of menace and energy that propels this song towards the horizon and beyond.  "Into Dust" is a song about being sick of the battle, the lies and general bullshit that is surrounding a person and wanting to have a little bit more to a group of people or singular person apart from the waves of strife and broken dreams.  It is another huge punk riff, with big ambitions and a stellar performance from the band.  This song sounds huge, it sounds as if it is destined to go down a storm at their shows with the huge outpouring of emotion being something that people will be able to relate to.

"Moths to a Flame" slows things down slightly, but only by the smallest amount as the band start the song starts.  It is about being drawn to something, trying to be supportive in many way, yet always knowing that it might not be right but still seeing it through till the end (at least that is the message that I am taking from this song).  It is a complicated song lyrically, something that makes so much sense and people will be able to identify different things from the song and it will still have the same power.  It is a grower for me, a song that takes a few spins to reveal its beauty to the world and it is worth the persistence as it a beautiful number.  "Falling Down" is straight out of the block and it starts a fire in your mind that is never going to be put out, a fast punk number that has a massive riff, a great drumbeat and a brilliant bass line in it as well.  I played this the other week on a radio show I present called Attention Please in the North East of England and after each show I put up a list of what is played on the show.  When that was done, Danny Dee (I am guessing that it is drummer Danny Dolan) dropped a message by the official Virginmarys Facebook page thanking us for the spin and stating that it is one of his favourite songs off the album.  I have to agree it is one of the best songs off this record, it have a brilliant amount of energy and it does not let the speed down one iota throughout the song.  It was so close to being my top track as well, but was just pipped at the post.  The penultimate song of the album is called "Motherless Land" which goes between sentiment, reflection and full out rock mode when the song requires that slight pickup of energy.  It is a great moment that builds around a room full of memories and all the feelings that come from those sort of events.  It is another grower and it takes its time to get settled for me, but it is a still a great number as we head to the final track.  The name of that song is "Living in My Place" which is one of the best songs I have heard in 2016, it is a slow building number about growth, acceptance and the need to belong.  It starts with an acoustic guitar and a sense of closure and admittance to the reality of the situation, but then it explodes into the chorus which sinks into your mind instantly and refuses to move.  There is another verse about not wanting to be anything but true to themselves, then comes that chorus once again and from there on in, the song just builds towards a fantastic ending.   It just keeps looping and building around a simple, yet effective riff and the performance is outstanding.  It has been pretty much on repeat since I heard it (obviously when I have free time away from the blog) and it makes such a dramatic impact at this late stage of the album and ends it on a huge high!

I think it is safe to say I love this album; it is a blast from beginning to finish with each track being as memorable as the last.  There are a few growers in the mix, which keep on giving with each release and sometimes that is needed.  If I was to look for any negatives, I would not be able to find one that is not me being superficial, as I love this album.  It does have a sound that is a little retro in places with an alternative rock sound that has been missing from the music scene, but it still has a current edge to the album as well; it is a special release with the work of the band and producer Gil Norton being of an incredibly high standard and it will be welcome by any fan of punk, grunge and alternative music as a whole - purchase now, why have you not purchase it?  Do it and thank you cover roulette for bring up another winner!

9.5 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost....

Top track - Living in my Peace

You can purchase Divides on Amazon here

You can visit the Virginmarys website here

You can follow the activities of Virginmarys on Facebook here

You can stream Divides on Spotify here

You can stream Divides on Deezer here

You can stream Divides on Tidal here

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