Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dark Forest - Dawn Of Infinity

Dark Forest
Dawn Of Infinity
Cruz Del Sur Music

Dudley (U.K.) based outfit Dark Forest have been around for some years, with no less than three E.P.’s and one full-length (2009’s self-titled effort through Eyes Like Snow Records) emerging from the band over the nine years they’ve been together to date. You can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of the band until now, given that almost everything they have released has been on fairly small independent labels. But after several years building up a name for themselves, Dark Forest (Who since 2009, have consisted of vocalist Will Lowry-Scott, guitarists Jim Lees and Christian Horton (Who was briefly a guitarist in N.W.O.B.H.M. act Cloven Hoof, and also dabbles in the acoustic folk outfit Grene Knyght), ex-Excalibur bassist Paul Thompson and drummer Adam Sidaway) have secured the services of the well and truly established Cruz Del Sur Music, who have duly released the band’s sophomore effort ‘Dawn Of Infinity’.
In a lot of ways, the pairing up of Dark Forest and Cruz Del Sur Music makes perfect sense. After all, Cruz Del Sur Music specialises in classic heavy/power metal music (Acts such as Argus, Slough Feg, Twisted Tower Dire, Pharaoh and Atlantean Kodex are just some of the label’s more recent acquisitions), and then there’s Dark Forest – who excel at reviving the classic N.W.O.B.H.M. (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal), without sounding like they’re trying too hard to sound retro, or cloning early Iron Maiden and Angel Witch to the point of sheer plagiarism.
The opening track ‘Hourglass’ is an energetic anthem that immediately showcases the great voice Lowry-Scott brings to the band since joining a couple of years ago (He was introduced to listeners via 2009’s three track ‘Defender’ E.P. through Iron Kodex Records), and his ability to craft some memorable melodies around the band’s classic traditional heavy metal/guitar driven song structures.
Elsewhere, ‘The Green Knight’ and ‘Under The Greenwood Tree’ are further firm favourites with their infectious melodies and subtle folk influences from the guitarists, while ‘Seize The Day’, ‘Through A Glass Darkly’ and ‘Black Delta’ are absolute thumping anthems that boast the classic metal riffing that you would expect from a N.W.O.B.H.M. act, but with just a touch of power metal to add a little more power to their sound – without making the band’s sound too generic or too modernised.
Although ‘Dawn Of Infinity’ does have a couple of songs that don’t quite work as well, Dark Forest have managed to produce a very impressive album overall.
If you enjoy classic N.W.O.B.H.M. that doesn’t bow to modern day influences, then don’t look past Dark Forest’s latest effort. This album really does rock, and is a thoroughly enjoyable trip down memory lane into metal’s golden era.

For more information on Dark Forest, check out - http://www.myspace.com/darkforestrealm

© Justin Donnelly

Hemoptysis - Misanthropic Slaughter

Hemoptysis
Misanthropic Slaughter
Independent Release

With thrash metal having well and truly made a comeback over the last ten years, it really hasn’t come as any surprise to see a whole new generation of metal fans trying their hand at taking the classic thrash metal sound of old and giving it a new twist and calling it their own. While some have managed to recreate the classic sounds of the past quite well (Evile, Bonded By Blood and Warbringer are just three names that spring to mind), there are some that just simply don’t come close to measuring up, or make the mistake of modernising their sound so much that it’s hard to recognise it as thrash. In other words, finding a thrash metal act that actually lives up to the thrash standard laid down by the acts of thrash’s heyday is a real challenge.
But one name that should definitely be included in the short list of acts that have managed to capture the essence and fell of classic thrash is Hemoptysis. Founded back in 2007, Hemoptysis have to date managed to release an E.P. (2008’s ‘Who Needs A Shepherd?’), which earned the Tempe (Arizona, U.S.) based act some considerable praise at the time. But after a lengthy three years away, the four piece act (Comprising of vocalist/lead/rhythm guitarist Masaki Murashita, ex-Excessive Bleeding lead guitarist Ryan Miller, bassist Sunao ‘Ren’ Arai and drummer Travis Thune) are back with their debut full-length effort ‘Misanthropic Slaughter’. And it’s a killer!
The album opens up with the title track ‘Misanthropic Slaughter’, and within its first minute, there’s no denying the band is here to thrash. Unlike a lot of so-called thrash acts, Hemoptysis’ sound is far from one dimensional, with the diversity of riffs from Murashita and Miller both varied and catchy, and the song itself memorable and classic in style. Vocally, Murashita adds plenty of aggression to the mix with a style that brings to mind Kreator front man Mille Petrozza, while the songs solos are well thought out and executed.
As good as the opener is, it’s the follow-up tracks ‘Hopeless’ and ‘M.O.D.’ that really showcase the band’s strength in their song writing, with the former a mid-paced monster that features some glean clean lead work, and the latter that features a darker/melodic death metal tone in places, and virtually annihilates everything in its path.
From here, the band maintains the bar set by the album’s opening three tracks, with the groove based ‘And The World Dies’ (A track that’s been re-recorded from their first E.P.), the savage battering of ‘The Cycle’, the classic sounding ‘Shadow Of Death’ (Which is another re-recorded effort from their debut E.P., and the first song to be given the promotional video clip treatment) and the superb dual-tempo epic closer ‘End Of Sorrow’ just some of the many highlights dotted throughout the album.
Although the band haven’t quite mastered their overall sound on ‘Misanthropic Slaughter’ (Some of the songs seem to veer off the traditional thrash path to take on a more groove orientated direction, or include some death metal influences at times), it’s hard to ignore the high quality of songs and performance that are present on Hemoptysis’ debut effort.
There’s a whole host of newcomers on today’s thrash scene, but few rarely qualify as the real deal. Hemoptysis is definitely the exception, and by far one of the most promising unsigned acts in the as thrash scene today. To sum all this up - ‘Misanthropic Slaughter’ is one hell of an album.

For more information on Hemoptysis, check out - http://www.hemoptysismetal.com/

© Justin Donnelly

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Allele - Next To Parallel

Allele
Next To Parallel
Goomba Music

Despite taking a few years to get off the ground, when Jacksonville (Florida, U.S.) based act Allele finally secured a solid line-up, they soon hit the road and started building up quite a following after supporting the likes of Saliva, Nonpoint, Staind, Sevendust, Earshot, Trapt and Godhead. Not surprisingly, the band were soon offered a record deal, and within ten months, their debut effort ‘Point Of Origin’ was released (In late 2005) through independent label Corporate Punishment Records. Bolstered by an overwhelmingly positive response from both the press and fans alike, and sales figures to match, it would have appeared that Allele’s future looked bright.
But within a year, things started falling apart, with lead guitarist Kelly Hayes (Ex-Cold) leaving the group in early 2006. Despite the group’s determination to forge ahead as a four piece, vocalist Wally Wood (Ex-Troubled Mind) soon made the decision to part ways. Although the band recruited a new vocalist (Andy Toole), and embarked on a month long tour with 10 Years and Evans Blue, by 2009, Allele was over with.
But in a strange twist, Allele would once again reform when Wood got in touch with the rest of the band. One thing led to another, and after a lengthy six year break, Allele (Comprising of Wood, Hayes, new rhythm guitarist Mason Romaine (Replacing Lane Maverick), bassist Tim Tobin and drummer Giancarlo Autenzio) have finally returned with their long awaited sophomore effort ‘Next To Parallel’ - which is also their first for their new label home Goomba Music.
Although I hardly categorised ‘Point Of Origin’ as the kind of album that changed the face of modern music, I could honestly say that I really enjoyed their debut, and appreciated it for what it really was (Hard rock/alternative/nu-metal with a strong melodic structural underpinning). So after a six year wait, I was really looking forward to see where Allele was heading musically with ‘Next To Parallel’.
The opening track ‘Let It Go’ (Which is also the first single/promotional video clip) is quick to announce the subtle changes within the band’s sound since their last release, and it’s really quite subtle. There’s a maturity in their sound, and a greater element of thought gone into the guitar structures evident. Whereas the band’s debut was heavier, simplistic and catchy, ‘Let It Go’ sounds a little more subdued, a little dark and delivered from a band that seems a little more sure of what they’re doing this time around.
‘Closure’, much like the opener is a solid number that doesn’t rely on aggression, but more makes its presence felt with guitar riffs that are measured and calculated, and a chorus that really gets you hooked after a few listens. That’s not to say that Allele rely solely on the keeping things mellow and measured, as tracks such as ‘Drone’, ‘Something Cured’, ‘Answers’, ‘Feed The Wolves’ and the closer ‘To Arms’ (Which is definitely a personal favourite, and one of the truly different sounding songs from Allele) boasting a little more aggression from Wood in the vocal department, as well as a little more attack from the remainder of the band.
But the album does have some fundamental flaws in its design. One is the overall tone of the album. With a general vibe of maturity and comfort that can be gathered from listening to the album, you can’t help but feel that at times, it’s also hard to differentiate each song as an individual song unto itself. The other real problem is that at thirteen tracks long, it does overstay its welcome over its fifty minutes.
Although having some issues, ‘Next To Parallel’ is a solid follow up to ‘Point Of Origin’, even if it was a little long in the making, and a little safe in terms of sound and direction.
Hopefully the album is a success and allows Allele to branch out a little more on their next effort. Not to mention I hope that if there is another album, it won’t be a long six year wait.

For more information on Allele, check out - http://www.alleleonline.com/

© Justin Donnelly

Funeral For A Friend - Welcome Home Armageddon

Funeral For A Friend
Welcome Home Armageddon
Roadrunner Records/Warner Music Australia

Welsh (Bridgend based) post-hardcore act Funeral For A Friend’s first couple of E.P. releases (2002’s ‘Between Order And Model’ and 2003’s ‘Four Ways To Scream Your Name’) earned the band a huge amount of buzz in the underground, and helped build the hype surrounding the band and ‘The Next Big Thing’ tag that was often attached to their name. So it was no big surprise to see their debut full-length effort ‘Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation’ (2003) soon turning out to be a huge success from the moment it was released. Predictably enough, the band’s follow-up release ‘Hours’ (2005) was another critically acclaimed effort from the group. But by 2007, Funeral For A Friend decided a change of musical direction was called for, with their third album ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’ showcasing a far more melodic side to the band’s song writing, and most of the hardcore elements of the band’s past laid to rest. While the album was still considered a success, many of the band’s early fans were disappointed with the band’s shift in sound towards the more accessible and radio friendly.
While the band did manage to regain some of the ground (And fans) they lost with their follow-up effort ‘Memory And Humanity’ (2008), their label Atlantic Records’ decision to release the compilation ‘Your History Is Mine: 2002 – 2009’ a year later left many wondering if the band’s time was coming to an end. The truth of the matter is that despite the countless line-up changes, the split from Atlantic Records and drifting off the beaten musical path for the better part of the last couple of album’s has not spelt the end for Funeral For A Friend. And the proof lies solely within their latest album ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’.
With a new line-up in place (Lead vocalist Matthew Davies-Kreye, guitarist/backing vocalist Kris Coombs-Roberts and drummer/aggressive vocalist Ryan Richards have welcomed guitarist/backing vocalist Gavin Burrough (Who previously played bass, and who was once a member of Hondo Maclean, Ghostlines and The Future) and ex-Hondo Maclean/Hurricane-Joe/Ghostlines bassist Richard Boucher into the fold), Funeral For A Friend have once again reinvented themselves and their sound, and delivered an album that’s as much rooted in the past and it in heading towards the future.
After a very short (And somewhat unnecessary) instrumental introductory piece (‘This Side Of Brightness’), Funeral For A Friend gets straight down to business with ‘Old Hymns’. It’s on this track that the band really fine tune their sound to incorporate the hardcore sound of their past (Metallic riffs and relentless double kick drumming throughout) with the melodic feel of their more recent past. The band sound re-energised and inspired, and the fusion of sounds gives the song a strength that hasn’t been heard in the band’s song writing in some time.
The mix of old and new isn’t isolated to one track either, with songs such as ‘Aftertaste’, the heavy and lengthy ‘Spinning Over The Island’, ‘Man Alive’ and ‘Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don’t’ all combining the best elements of both eras of the band’s past in truly inspiring form.
Richards takes on the lead role on the aggressive ‘Front Row Seats To The End Of The World’ (The album’s first single/promotional video clip) and the brutal ‘Broken Foundation’ (Which features some fantastic solo work), while ‘Owls (Are Watching)’ and the title track ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ are the favourites amongst the album’s more melodic and rocking efforts.
As little as four years ago, Funeral For A Friend was losing fans in their droves, and many were claiming the band was all but washed up. But with ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’, Funeral For A friend have managed to produce one of their finest efforts in years, and proven everyone wrong.
The band’s earlier releases may have been hailed as their best, but I’ll be damned if ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ isn’t up there with their early classic efforts.

For more information on Funeral For A Friend, check out - http://www.funeralforafriend.com/

© Justin Donnelly

Human Sculpture - Our World / Torn Down

Human Sculpture
Our World / Torn Down
Independent Release

The mixing of melodic death metal with thrash metal is nothing new these days. One only needs to look at the number of bands within today’s extreme metal scene and see that there is countless numbers of acts out there vying for the same crowd as the rest. Another new contender to throw amongst the large number of acts that already exist within the genre is Finnish (Järvenpää based) act Human Sculpture.
Formed less than a year ago, the five piece act (Comprising of vocalist Ville Mansikkaviita, guitarists Mikko Pylkkö and Jussi Salolainen, bassist Samu Pasanen and drummer Jaakko Jaakkola) have wasted no time in putting together their debut E.P. release ‘Our World / Torn Down’.
While the thought of reviewing another melodic death/thrash metal act didn’t exactly have me chomping at the bit with anticipation, I must admit that after giving ‘Our World / Torn Down’ a few spins, it’s clear that Human Sculpture are anything but the same old band punching out the same old sound, like many in the same realm.
The most immediate thing about Human Sculpture’s debut effort is the sheer power and brutality when the band delivers their brand of melodic death/thrash metal. The opening track ‘Deconstruction’ reminds me of the tight knit/technical precision musicianship of Decapitated and Meshuggah, with the sharpness of the riffing and fluency of the drumming sounding as tight as the bands mentioned, but with enough rawness in the sound to give the songs an organic edge over the overly processed vibe that can sometimes work against the most technical and brutal of acts these days.
Vocalist Mansikkaviita doesn’t have the broadest of range, with much of his delivery sticking primarily to guttural growls and some higher growls. But what he lacks in range, he does make up for in terms of keeping his vocals varied.
On the song writing front, the band keep things interesting by varying the tempo enough to ensure the songs don’t become repetitive, with the mid-paced and groove based second song ‘The Wait’ one of the more obvious examples of where the band shift gears throughout with considerable success.
Finishing up the E.P. is ‘A Heart’, which is by far the E.P.’s heaviest effort, as well as its most progressive and technically challenged in terms of arrangement, with the band fluidly transitioning between huge grooving passages and blast beat moments via huge breakdowns.
Production wise, it’s hard to find a fault on ‘Our World/Torn Down’, with Jarno Hänninen (Who recorded, mixed and mastered the three tracks at D-Studio) giving the band a sound that’s every bit as huge and dynamic sounding as you would expect of a signed act.
The only minor issue is that as good as Human Sculpture’s three song offerings are - there is a sense of familiarity in sound and direction on all three, which means that over the course of a full-length effort, the band could run the risk of having an album that sounds like it’s running a whole lot longer than it is.
Apart from my minor quibble over the song writing, I thoroughly enjoyed Human Sculpture’s brutal take on the melodic death/thrash metal sound, and I'm keen to see what the band will produce in the near future.

For more information on Human Sculpture, check out - http://www.myspace.com/humansculptureband

© Justin Donnelly

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Alice Cooper - Welcome 2 My Nightmare

Alice Cooper
Welcome 2 My Nightmare
Nightmare Inc./Sony Music Entertainment

When Alice Cooper first mentioned the idea of putting to together an official sequel to his classic ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ album from 1975, I wasn’t exactly over enthused with the move. The idea of a producing a follow up to such an iconic classic after so many years was always going to be a challenge, with the worst case scenario being that his new album would diminish and tarnish the reputation and status of the original.
But as further news filtered out about ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare’, things did seem a little more promising. Bob Ezrin, who produced many of Cooper’s classic releases in the past (Including ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ original sequel ‘Goes To Hell’ in 1976, and who last worked with Cooper on 1983’s rather confused and fascinating ‘DaDa’) was brought in to oversee the project, and the vast array of guest artists scheduled to appear on the album was admittedly looking rather impressive. But despite the big names and the promise of a return to the nightmarish conceptual storyline that Cooper began some thirty-six years earlier, I didn’t really hold my hopes up for anything that would rival the original in terms of classic status. In fact, if I were honest, I was expecting a real disappointment.
Perhaps it had a lot to do with my lowered expectations, but I must admit that ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare’ is actually a much stronger and more inspired release than I thought it would ever be.
‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare’ opens up in an unexpected manner, with the slower paced ‘I Am Made Of You’ initially starting out with a piano part lifted from ‘Steven’ and Cooper manipulating his voice to give it an effect similar to auto-tune via vocoder. The song itself has a definite classic Cooper/‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ feel, and the guitar contributions from Tommy Henriksen really stand out.
The follow-up track ‘Caffeine’ (The album’s second single) is a hard rocker that mines similar ground Cooper presented listeners on his last few albums (The classic 70’s hard rock sound that was evident on 2003’s ‘The Eyes Of Alice Cooper’ and 2005’s ‘Dirty Diamonds’), but is somewhat of a letdown as it essentially sounds a little too reminiscent of ‘Can’t Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me’ (The bonus track from 2000’s ‘Brutal Planet’).
The brief segue ‘The Nightmare Returns’, while a nice tribute to the original ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’, seems a little lost at this point of the album (As an opener, it would have worked), but Cooper does get things back on track with the totally rocking ‘A Runaway Train’, which depicts Cooper travelling to Hell on a train. Musically, the song is given a classic workout with the original Alice Cooper group (Guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith) helping to deliver the rocking soundtrack, while country star Vince Gill tops it all off with a killer solo.
Cooper continues to produce some real magic with his Tom Waits inspired ‘Last Man On Earth’ (This new album’s take on ‘Some Folks’), which flows through to the classic rock ‘The Congregation’. It’s these two tracks where Cooper’s humour and wit really shines, and the conceptual aspect of the storyline really flows well.
Unfortunately, ‘I’ll Bite Your Face Off’ (A nod to The Rolling Stones, and featuring the original Cooper group and backing vocals from Rob Zombie) and ‘Ghouls Gone Wild’ are throwaway numbers with their uninspired choruses, while the pseudo disco effort ‘Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever’ (Featuring a solo from John 5) just sounds annoying and out of place, and perhaps would have been better served up as a bonus track/b-side.
Cooper has rarely let down with his ballads, and ‘Something To Remember Me By’ is a classic Cooper/Wagner tune that could have easily found a place on either ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ or ‘Goes To Hell’. In stark contrast, the dark, humourless and menacing ‘When Hell Comes Home’ is another album highlight, with Ezrin providing the sinister piano work and the original Cooper band the haunting/classic backdrop.
The much talked about collaboration between singer/songwriter Kesha (A.K.A. Ke$ha) and Cooper on ‘What Baby Wants’ is actually not as bad as it sounds on paper, even if it is a little too pop based for the most part (I say that because while Steve Hunter is playing guitar, it’s not too over the top).
Finishing up the album is the fantastic ‘I Gotta Get Outta Here’, which not unlike most Cooper albums, is a bombastic and overblown finale with a cool twist.
The official closer is ‘The Underture’ which is an orchestral overture that runs through instrumental takes on tracks from both ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ and ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare’, while interesting, is hardly an essential piece to the album’s overall musical concept.
Although preparing myself for a huge letdown, I actually found a lot more to enjoy on ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare’ than I thought I originally would.
The album does have some filler efforts, and the story doesn’t flow quite in the same way as some other concept efforts from Cooper (‘Goes To Hell’, 1978’s ‘From The Inside’ and 1994’s ‘The Last Temptation’ are better examples of Cooper’s more accomplished conceptual efforts), but as an album, ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare’ is a strong effort, and proof that Cooper still has what it takes to entertain.

For more information on Alice Cooper, check out - http://www.alicecooper.com/

© Justin Donnelly

Dead Horse - Boil(ing)

Dead Horse
Boil(ing)
Abyss Records

Houston (Texas, U.S.) based death/thrash/crossover act Dead Horse weren’t exactly a huge success while they were active, but in the fifteen years since the band parted ways, the group’s legacy has endured throughout the years to the point where the band is now more popular and revered than they ever were when they were active.
Over the last few years, three members of Dead Horse (Guitarists Greg Martin and Scott Sevall and drummer/backing vocalist Ronnie Guyote) teamed up with D.R.I. vocalist Kurt Brecht in Pasadena Napalm Division, who duly released their debut self-titled E.P. (Not surprisingly, through Abyss Records) last year to fairly positive reviews.
Perhaps in part to playing together once again, or simply because enough water had passed under the bridge over the years – either way, Dead Horse have once again been reactivated, with plans to release something new to diehard fans sometime in the not too distant future.
In celebration of reformation, Dead Horse (Who now comprise of ex-Force Fed vocalist/bassist Allen ‘Alpo’ Price, Martin, Sevall and Guyote) have decided to re-release their long out of print and final release ‘Boil(ing)’ (Originally released in 1996 through Beermoment Music/Sound Virus Records), which is also the only release to ever emerge from the line-up of the band that exists today.
In terms of its place within the Dead Horse discography, ‘Boil(ing)’ still stands as one of the band’s more experimental and more obscure releases, with Price’s approach on the vocal front (Price replaced Mike Haaga in 1994) and the more thought out song writing style sounding vastly different from the sound many would be familiar with on their first two full-length releases (1989’s ‘Horsecore: An Unrelated Story That’s Time Consuming’ and 1991’s ‘Peaceful Death And Pretty Flowers’).
But despite the change in direction and sound, ‘Boil(ing)’ does have its moments, most notably on the thrash-like opener ‘One Nation’, the slower and more technically inclined ‘Reach Around’, the menacing and serious ‘My Apology’ and the short and brutal blast of ‘My Dog The Prophet’ (One of two tracks the band re-recorded from their independently released ‘Feed Me’ demo/E.P. from 1994).
Those who only have a passing interest in the Houston act, or want to hear what the fuss is all about are advised to probably seek out the band’s full-length efforts before seeking out ‘Boil(ing)’. But for diehard Dead Horse fans, this re-release is well and truly overdue, even if it’s only limited to one thousand copies exclusively on vinyl. Personally, I hope that Dead Horse’s resurrection doesn’t begin and end on this decidedly less than stellar release.

For more information on Dead Horse, check out - http://www.horsecore.net/

© Justin Donnelly

Enormicon - Storm Of Swords

Enormicon
Storm Of Swords
Independent Release

Formed a mere few years ago, Dallas/Denton (Texas, U.S.) based outfit Enormicon don’t have a lot of history behind them, nor a lot of recorded material to their name, with ‘Storm Of Swords’ their first offering to the music buying public.
Although unwilling to clearly define any one particular genre they’re comfortable enough to be associated with (Especially on their bio, which reads more like a fantasy novel), it doesn’t take a whole lot of thinking to know exactly where the band slot into the grand scheme of things when the opening track of their debut E.P. ‘Slaghammer’ comes blasting out of the speakers. In a nutshell, the trio (Comprising of vocalist/guitarist Clayton ‘The Abomination’ Davis, bassist Joe ‘Humongor’ Rosenthal and drummer Dave ‘Merciless Overlord Of Rhythm’ Slaughter) sound like a hybrid mix of latter day High On Fire, Clutch and Mastodon, which means that the sound is a heavy concoction of stoner/doom metal and psychedelic stoner rock. Although far from anything new or original (The title and the chorus itself reminds me a bit of High On Fire’s ‘Frost Hammer’ from 2010’s ‘Snakes For The Divine’), ‘Slaghammer’ is a thoroughly enjoyable track of heavy proportions, and a great start to the band’s E.P.
Unlike the bludgeoning direction of the opener, the follow-up track ‘Pray For Death’ sees the band further broadening the atmospheric and dynamics within the musical soundscape to give the song a touch of the epic, while the lengthy centrepiece of the album ‘The Gargantuan’ showcases a bit more technical finesse within the band in terms of constant time changes and precision riffing (Without making their sound too clean or clinical) in amongst the strong grooving influence that is ever-present within the band’s overall song structures.
The fast paced ‘Dark Forces’ and the mid-paced ‘Fury Shall Know The Warmth Of Your Blood’ are welcome changes of pace and style after the slow and brooding vibe of the former, and serves to give the E.P. a much needed shake up in diversity, while the closer ‘Brotherhood Of The Plague’ is a definite stand out with Davis putting in a vocal performance that appears to be a little more thought out and different sounding than anything else on offer throughout the E.P.
As a debut, ‘Storm Of Swords’ is definitely a great introduction to the masses of what Enormicon have to offer. And while the music is often a little too reminiscent of the band’s collective influences, it does at least show some real promise of things to come for the band if they continue to make some more music in the future.

For more information on Enormicon, check out - http://www.enormiconmetal.com/

© Justin Donnelly

Hatchet Dawn - Rebirth

Hatchet Dawn
Rebirth
Independent Release/Green Media/M.G.M. Distribution

When Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) based act Hatchet Dawn released their debut E.P. ‘Faith In Chaos’ in 2009, it represented the band’s sound well and truly before the band underwent a huge revamp in terms of line-up, and prior to undergoing a transformation in direction and sound. Having spent the last couple of years touring (2009 saw the band supporting Marilyn Manson on his Australian tour) and recording, Hatchet Dawn (Who now comprise of The Symbiosist/Dialysis vocalist Bert Cuzens, The Symbiosist guitarist Das Schmidt, group founder/guitarist Dave ‘Howsie Noise’ Howells, bassist Billie-Jade and drummer D Man) have finally returned with their debut full-length effort ‘Rebirth’.
‘Rebirth’ is a very appropriate title for Hatchet Dawn’s latest release, and it’s not all that hard for anyone familiar with their debut E.P. to understand. ‘Rebirth’ is very much a brand new start, both visually and sonically. To put it into simpler terms, this is nothing like the Hatchet Dawn of two years ago.
After a brief instrumental/sound-effects filled introductory piece (‘Toxic Oracle’), Hatchet Dawn quickly gets things underway with the slow building and moody ‘Planet Of Terror’. Some of the aggression found in Hatchet Dawn’s sound of old still remains in terms of harsh guitar sounds and at certain moments where Cuzens puts in a guttural death growl, but for the most part, Hatchet Dawn have expanded their sound by adding a lot more space on the musical scale (The guitars now share the space with the bass), and allowed the melodies within the choruses to really take the song to a completely different direction. This new sound will no doubt take some fans by surprise, but after giving the song a few listens, it’s near impossible to deny the progression the band has made over their past efforts.
The faster paced ‘Dark Symmetry’ (The first single/promotional video clip from the album) is perhaps as close to the band’s old sound as the album gets (Barring the melodic chorus), and perhaps for that very reason is why it stands as one of the album’s weaker tracks.
Faring much better is the huge and powerful sounding ‘Juggernaut’, the driving and more groove orientated ‘Red Osiris’ and ‘Untold’ (Which is preceded by the short ‘Necromatra’). All three tracks are real standout cuts, and perfectly showcase just how much the band’s song writing has come over the last few years.
The extra emphasis on melody from Cuzens on ‘Mother Destruction’ and ‘River Snake’ brings to mind Maynard James Keenan (Tool/A Perfect Circle/Puscifer) in places, while the title track ‘Rebirth’ is without a doubt the album’s darkest, heaviest and epic sounding track, earning itself another distinction as a genuine highlight on the album.
Despite some really strong efforts, ‘Rebirth’ is a little letdown by some tracks that simply don’t live up to the bar set by the stronger cuts. Sometimes it’s the shortcomings of the choruses, while other times the fault lies with a lack of a solid riff. But either way you look at it, it’s fair to say that over the thirteen tracks on the album, there are some notable filler efforts alongside the sure-fire winners.
But regardless of its flaws, ‘Rebirth’ is a huge step up from where Hatchet Dawn last left listeners on ‘Faith In Chaos’, and that says something about the band’s current line-up, and their newfound musical direction.

For more information on Hatchet Dawn, check out - http://www.hatchetdawn.com/

© Justin Donnelly