Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Vantablack Warship - Vantablack Warship

Record Label: Self-release

I remember going circuses as a kid enjoying the animals doing tricks, laughing at the clowns and being enthralled by the gymnastics of the trapeze artists and the tightrope workers. The tightrope walkers especially captured my attention as somebody who absolutely hates looking down from heights. I've always started shaking when I'm on the third floor of a shopping mall if I can see below. The enthrallment is similar for music, when bands straddle the tightrope between genres it's fascinating and attention grabbing. Vantablack Warship straddle the tightrope between hardcore and metal.

You might be asking yourself, which kind of metal do these genre-benders straddle? On "Another Dead Rockstar", it's black metal but there's an undeniable modern hardcore edge. On "Black Tongue Bertha", it's groove metal and I'd guess that a few members of this band own both Pantera T-shirts and albums. The vocals are spat out Phil Anselmo style. "Blood on the Mat" is Pantera wrestling with Converge. Kneel and pray you don't get hurt as a mere spectator. Towards the end of the song when a more standard rock beat is set down, the vocals move in the puking and growling direction of Blaine from The Accused.

Is death metal groove a thing or groove death metal? Because that's the twisted direction that "Kill this Kid" takes. It's slow but there's a metallic edge and a grooving underbelly. There's a little of nineties noise rock twisted in their mixture too. Amphetamine Records fans should be all over this track. There's a clear Slayer influence on the riffing on "Ruderalis" although the vocals lean towards blackened hardcore. "Abrasive Pulmonic Speak" sounds like Helmet jamming with Slayer. The chorus to "Crisis" is oddly reminiscent of "Stay Hungry" period Twisted Sister but the tune is a lot heavier and sludgier than anything Dee Snider's crew did in the eighties.

On surface level, Vantablack Warship come across as a metallic hardcore but scratching below the murky surface, the band are integrating nineties noise rock and black metal. If you wanted to hear any of the bands mentioned in this review take on a more experimental edge then I'd recommend checking this album out. With the eight song on full album clocking in at under thirty minutes, Vantablack Warship, thankfully don't wear out their welcome. In this day and age of over sixty minute albums and even songs, brevity is warmly welcomed.


Release Date: 26 January 2018

Vantablack Warship on bandcamp

Vantablack Warship on facebook

Monday, January 22, 2018

Untime - Untime

Record Label: Ampmandens Records

I'm willing to stake my wages that when you think Norway and metal, groove metal is not what comes to mind. It's more likely black metal, which conjures up images of bleak weather, snow and forests in the Scandinavian country. Groove metallers Untime have been knocking around for twenty years. They've finally got around to releasing their debut album this year.

As Untime are a groove metal band, the Pantera influence shines through brightest but there's also a tablespoon of "River Runs Red" period Life of Agony. Tracks such as "Some to Pay" open with that guitar tone and chugging rhythm that Pantera were renowned for during the nineties. "Mysterious Ways" is thankfully not a U2 cover but a fierce and muscular Untime groove metal original. "The Chosen One" is how Pantera would sound if they'd allowed New York tour mates Biohazard to influence their sound.

Untime's drummer bashes his kit in "This Picture". The vocals are somewhere in between rap, hardcore and metal without the band abandoning the groove metal template. Untime prove they're far from one dimensional groove metallers in "One Step", which contains a heavily grungy underbelly. "Manipulation" comes off as pure nineties Pantera worship. Untime sound stronger when they go down the Biohazard road and integrate elements of hardcore and rap like on the track, "Pale and Grey"than when they imitate the band who claimed to be stronger than all. It might be telling that the last track is called, "This is Nothing Compared to What's Coming". Hopefully what is coming doesn't sound as much like Pantera.


Untime on facebook

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Rapture - Paroxym of Hatred

Record Label: Memento Mori

How good can a Greek retro-thrash metal be? Rapture play unrelenting, ferocious thrash with a touch of death that is a throwback to the early eighties. Easy reference points are Slayer, Dark Angel and Kreator. This is largely due to the vocals of Apostolos Papadimitriou, whose barks fall somewhere between Mille Petrozza and Tom Araya. The band thrash along the Teutonic highway rather than taking in the sea air of the Bay Area. When Rapture go full throttle, they veer into death metal territory but keep the thrash edge, which is a feat not many bands can pull off. Just get a load of the death metal and thrash metal banging together tightly in the title track.

Those who like their thrash metal on the technical side will find what Rapture have served up on this vinyl to their taste as it is undeniably present in tracks like "Redemption through Isolation" and "Quintessence of Lunacy" plus a number of others. There's no doubt each of the musicians in this band can play their instruments with razor sharp precision and it's the tightness of the musicianship, which will have many a metal fan drooling over this band due to this release.

Other band comparisons that are likely be thrown at Rapture due to the sheer strength of "Paroxysm of Hatred" are Sadus, Dark Angel, Pestilence, early Believer and Demolition Hammer. This is Rapture's second album and is already a serious contender for album of 2018 in these quarters. 2017 was a great year for metal and 2018 is shaping up to be even better.


Rapture on bandcamp

Rapture on facebook

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Master and Dehuman - Decay into Inferior Conditions

Record label: Xenocorp

If you've been into death metal for a long time, then you've surely heard of one of the bands on this dual release and I'm betting that would be death metal underground stalwarts, Master and their core member Paul Speckmann since the band have knocking around since 1983. In comparison, Belgium death metal band, Dehuman are newcomers to the scene having formed in 2006.

Master delivers four songs on this release, which were taken from a soundboard recording of a gig the band played in Helsinki, on October 7, 2016. The band still has an old school death metal sound and there's no mistaking this for a studio performance as the audience are loud and clear. There's a raw bootleg feel to these tracks that will no doubt have ex-tape traders reminiscing of days long gone by.

Dehuman have a similar old school sound and their recordings are live in the studio. The vocals are scooby doo style growls that will have many pinpointing Obituary as a major influence on the overall sound of these Belgians. There's some strong guitar soloing on "Morbid Sun", that wouldn't sound out of place on albums from other metal sub-genres. The drums are punished with an unrelenting brutality that makes it difficult not to pity them.

This is a limited release which insures cult status. "Decay Into Inferior Conditions" is available in 200 copies limited edition "tour souvenir" DigiPak CD and 300 copies limited edition 12" LP+CD first print DigiPak so get on it fast if it sounds like your thing because it's been available since December 2017.


Release Date: 19 December 2017

Dehuman on facebook

Master on facebook

Friday, January 19, 2018

Ozone Mama - Cosmos Calling

Label: Ripple Music

Can you name any Hungarian bands? I sure can't. Here's comes Ozone Mama. Problem solved, I can now name a Hungarian band. What would a Hungarian band signed to Ripple Music sound like? My guess and probably yours was Sabbath tinged stoner rock. We're wrong though. Ozone Mama have a southern rock sound.

From the first full song, "Straight On Till Morning Light", it's loud and clear that Ozone Mama possess strong songwriting skills and are aiming and succeeding at producing rock radio-friendly tunes. The Black Crowes are an easy reference point as Ozone Mama take a very similar stylistic approach. "High Ride" contains a vibe not unlike an Ozzy eighties single, which in a world where Black Sabbath clones are a dime a dozen actually feels like a breath of fresh air , although vocalist Márton Székely resists temptation to go full Oz which works in the band's favour. There's a Stones swagger to "Shout at The Sky" and the vocals go in Led Zeppelin era Robert Plant direction. The title track starts with licks that contain a very swampy southern flavour. If you didn't know you'd likely swear this band was from one of the southern US states. "Freedom Fighters" features some tasty guitar solos from András Gábor and it is a catchy little ditty with the vocals up front in the mix. The catchiness continues with "Cold Light of Day". Those who like stories in their southern rock songs will enjoy, "The Alchemist" which is a laid back yet rocking tune. The early seventies influence is strong in "Moon Pilot" as it is reminiscent of early Bowie, Pink Floyd plus a number of hard rock bands without sounding like a mere copy.

Although this is the third album from Ozone Mama, it was my first time hearing them and they're a band we're all likely to hear more from if they're given the right push. It's very easy to see why Ripple Music has signed this band. This album begs for and deserves rock-radio airplay in a major way.


Release Date: 19 January 2018

Ozone Mama on Facebook

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Cops - First Offense

Label: Artificial Head Records

The Cops are another Texan band but from the Houston punk side of the tracks. The band specialize in fast catchy punk songs viewed from the eyes of the law. The band dress up as law enforcement when they're on stage.

Musically The Cops have a melodic edge and take cues from US eighties pop punk rather than the nineties variant. Bands that come to mind listening to these dudes are The Adolescents, Articles of Faith, JFA, The Descendents. "Street Hooker Love" channels The Ramones via Sloppy Seconds. The Cops keep proceedings brief with none of their song tickets clocking over three minutes. Hell, most tracks don't even escape over the two minute mark.

While it's clear that The Cops are a tongue in cheek novelty band, they do offer social commentary on an often corrupt police force while retaining a sense of fun. If you're a fan of any of the bands mentioned in the review then you should get your "First Offense".


Release Date: 16 February 2018

The Cops on Facebook

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Witchcryer - Cry Witch

Label: Ripple Music

On paper Witch Cry sound awesome; a Texan doom metal band with both the classic heavy rock influences of the likes of Black Sabbath, Uriah Heap and Deep Purple and combine it with the slightly more modern doom influences of Trouble and Saint Vitus. The band have female vocals that are reminiscent of Janis Joplin. The band have their chops together and sound really tight.

So what's the problem? It's hard to shake off the feeling this is nothing but a nostalgia trip. The songs here just don't catch this listener's attention. Overworked and overused Sabbath riffs need catchy hooks. The catchiest song on "Cry Witch" is "Witchfinder General" although the album closer "Lapis Philosophorum" is an attention grabber where the band ditch the heaviness (unless you consider Jethro Tull heavy) and vocalist Suzy Bravo is gives her strongest performance. I'd bet these songs work well live but this album just leaves this listener flat.


Release Date: 19 January 2018

Witchcryer on facebook

Witchcryer on bandcamp