Forbidden Seasons—Promise (2018)

Cover shows a golden moth on a black background

Forbidden Seasons—Promise (2018)

Details

Debut album recorded at Heavy Tone Studios in Turin. Mixed and mastered by Studio Fredman (Architects, Blood Youth).  Released on 16 March 2018, distributed via This Is Core.

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Band

  • Mark Seasons—Vocals
  • Symon Ray—Lead guitar
  • Danny Ghale—Rhythm guitar
  • Paul J Price—Bass guitar
  • Federico Spagnoli—Drums and keyboards

Tracks

  1. Atlantis
  2. Thank you for the venom
  3. Keys and locks
  4. Gravity fall
  5. Wormhole
  6. The human
  7. Sorrow won’t end
  8. I’ve seen the end in your eyes
  9. The rejected
  10. Promise

Review

Founded in Turin, Italy in 2015, metalcore quintet Forbidden Seasons released their first EP Paramnesia in 2017 and have followed up this year with this, their debut album. Five individuals, the press release says, who came together simply to fulfil their dreams to play music. Good on them.

The band’s name, they say is about discrimination and a general lack of half measures in society today. “Everything is completely bad or good, black or white. There’s no space for grey anymore. Forbidden Seasons, it’s like forbidden feelings, forbidden thoughts, forbidden actions, forbidden goals…”

Lyrically, the album addresses topics such as anger, apathy, loneliness and misplaced trust.

Opening track “Atlantis” (track 1) opens with an atmospheric sound effect and then an electronic riff before the band kicks in with an undisputed metalcore-by-numbers riff: blast beat drums, staccato guitars, and alternating screaming and melodic vocals. “I feel myself going down” Seasons sings to himself about halfway through in a quiet interlude. As opening tracks go, it certainly sets out the intentions of the album. It also reveals the production of the album, which is a little light on mids and bass for modern tastes.

Thank you for the venom” (track 2) picks up where “Atlantis” left off. About a minute into this song I found myself wondering if this really was a different track. I quite like the chorus though, it’s melodic and catchy. But the song does sound a bit formulaic. The video (below) features Suicide Girl Riae, apparently.

Keys and locks” (track 3) was released as a single on 12 February 2018 (my late dad’s birthday). The song, vocalist Seasons explains, is dedicated to himself as a reminder to keep believing and not count on others. “I wrote this song thinking about people living their lives constantly looking for answers,” he said. “I don’t believe in fate, but I think it’s the willpower in all of us to define the path we want to take. The answer to all our existential questions is within us, this song is an incentive to stay strong and keep going on with the head held high in this drifting world.”

Top tip: don’t do as I did and listen to “Gravity fall” (track 4) alone in a dark room for the first time. The intro has a horror-like, blood curdling screech that scared the living daylights out of me. That aside, the song is decent enough. It just doesn’t add very much new to the mix. Unfortunately, by this point in the album everything is beginning to sound very samey.

Wormhole” (track 5) follows the same trajectory. The cookie monster-style vocals do drop to a lower pitch, which shakes things up a bit, as does a descending keyboard pad about two-thirds of the way through, but otherwise it’s Forbidden Seasons-by-numbers once again.

The human” (track 6)  opens with a nice atmospheric guitar arpeggio and thumping drums. It’s somewhere between Iron Maiden’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and anything from Evanescence. To be honest, I don’t think this song really needs gruff vocals—Seasons’ singing is good enough to carry this song. The variety, though, is enough to pique my interest again.

Sorrow won’t end” (track 7) opens with a brutal riff, once of the heaviest on the album. The song thumps along at the same pace as the others but seems to hold a greater sense of urgency. The chorus is quite catchy.

Forbidden Seasons, promo photo 2018

Forbidden Seasons, promo photo 2018

I’ve seen the end in your eyes” (track 8) and it sounds just the same as pretty much every other song on this album. It is well played and masterfully engineered but there’s nothing new. It follows the same template as every other decent metalcore song: crunching, bouncing riffs, vocals alternating between light and dark, dropping to a melancholic and ponderous middle-eight before seeing itself out the way it arrived.

And then “The rejected” (track 9) begins and finally offers something new: a piano and strings introduction that… quickly reverts to a well-trodden groove. Strings and electronic ‘doodles’ are sprinkled here and there throughout the song which does offer something interesting but I fear that it may be too little, too late. It is one of my favourite tracks on the album, though.

Title track “Promise” (track 10) closes the album, short as it is at 37 minutes and 35 seconds. It opens with Elliot’s ‘religion speech’ in Mr Robot (season 2, episode 3) and returns to it during quieter moments throughout the track. It’s a good song, well balanced and contemplative. It’s a shame they kept this to the end, it’s maybe one of the best songs on the album.

Conclusion

As I was listening to this album for the umpteenth time, I was reading and article in A List Apart, a blog about web development that said this:

In his book Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon argues that smart artists don’t actually create anything new but rather collect inspiring ideas from specific role models, and produce work that is profoundly shaped by them.

If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original,” he writes, “we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it.

(Source: “Order out of chaos” by Richard Rabil, Jr. in A List Apart)

I struggled to find anything inherently new in Promises by Forbidden Season but that’s perhaps missing the point. The band members got together to create music in which they combine their unique influences and create something that is new for them.

Sure, the songs mostly sound very same-y but listen closely and there are some beautiful moments in this release, the title track I found quite haunting. It certainly shows promise and I have found it to be a good album to work to without being distracted.

Review score: 65%

Layover—Your Laughter Never Leaves EP (2018)

Layover—Your Laughter Never Leaves (2018)

Layover—Your Laughter Never Leaves EP (2018)

Details

Recorded at Emeline Studios by Ian Sadler. Released via Fox Records on Friday 4 May 2018.

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Buy this EP on Fox Records’ Bandcamp

Band

  • Luke Rainsford—Vocals
  • Dominic Cattell—Guitar
  • Elliot Wallett—Bass
  • Brad Fisher—Drums

Tracks

  1. Hunger pains
  2. Coffee and fluoxetine
  3. Hollow me out
  4. Slumber
  5. Your laughter never leaves

Review

Layover (or as they prefer—the all-lowercase—layover) are an emo pop-punk band from Birmingham, England (UK) with an ear for light, jangly pop punk songs.

Founded in 2014, their early compositions had a “very DIY” feel to it. The band took 2016 off and reinvented themselves, emerging with both a new energy and more mature sound.

The result is an EP of rather American-sounding pop punk songs (think Tiny Moving Parts from Minnesota, and Tigers Jaw and The Wonder Years from Pennsylvania) addressing topics such as mental health, loss, sensitivity and sincerity.

Hunger pains (track 1)

With jangly guitars, bouncing bass and halftime drums, and emotional, passionately sung lyrics, EP opener “Hunger pains” (track 1) was the first song written during writing sessions for this release. As such it is probably the track that most closely resembles a perfect crossover from Layover’s old and new sounds. It is pure emo pop-punk with lyrics to match:

“On the day that you told me you finally saw me at my lowest. I’d never want you to know just how much I was hurting ’cause it’s nothing compared to what you’re facing. You’d never want it to show.”

The track slows down about two-thirds of the way in for a gentler, arpeggio-driven middle-eight before returning to its original tempo to take the song to its lamentful conclusion, “I’m a shadow of the person that’s never coming back”.

Coffee and fluoxetine (track 2)

As the title suggests, “Coffee and fluoxetine” (track 2) addresses mental health. “Do you remember when we both discussed the way my head makes me see the bad in everything?” Rainsford sings. And later, “You said ‘take care of yourself and put your mental health first”. Rhythmically the song dances around, changing tempo, flipping between chords and arpeggios. It’s a surprisingly upbeat and jolly song for one that seemingly explores feeling let down by someone leaving you while you are at your lowest. And then suddenly. It ends.

Hollow me out (track 3)

The shortest track on the EP, “Hollow me out” (track 3) hits the ground running with a hop and a skip of a riff. “I feel so uncomfortable in my own skin” sings Rainsford, and the music fidgets and dances about in sympathy. The track slows down for a few bars while he ponders, “I’d be lying through my coffee stained teeth if I told you I was hopeful or happy.” And then they’re back up to pace, jittering to the end of the track.

Slumber (track 4)

Track 4, “Slumber” opens with a simple, reflective and gentle melody. This is my favourite track on the EP. It has dynamics, it has passion, and an almost tangible vulnerability, a wistful melancholy.

With many songs you can read your own meaning into the lyrics, place your own story within the narrative. The song is an open letter to his late mother, about the night he was told over the phone that she had died. For me, when I first heard it, it spoke of the love that had slipped away—that missed opportunity.

It’s a beautiful, almost haunting song that stayed with me for hours after listening to it.

Your laughter never leaves (track 5)

The final track on the EP, “Your laughter never leaves” (track 5) is built around a riff that initially alternately gallops and chimes before it morphs and evolves into a driving, almost progressive track that pieces together everything from the previous four songs: it has space and depth, crashing chords and delicate arpeggios, and vocals that are variously quiet and passionately loud. It’s the perfect note on which to end the EP.

Conclusion

This release is a perfect example of why I insist on listening, where possible, to a release at least three times. On my first listen through I dismissed it as just another pop-punk American-influenced emo release. But delving deeper into it, taking my time to listen more carefully to each song and read through the lyrics I found myself relating to the lyrics and appreciating the musical nuances of each track. On each listen I heard new layers of instrumentation and appreciated more the song writing. I’m already looking forward to hearing what they will write next.

This is an EP that if you give it some careful attention it will give you back a lot more than you initially expect. Dismiss it as just another disposable emo pop-punk release at your peril: there is a depth to these five songs that will gently get under your skin.

Review score: 85%

Buy this EP on Fox Records’ Bandcamp

Disclaimer

I kindly received this EP to review from Inception Press, an artist-friendly, UK-based, independent, alternative music publicity and management agency. I didn’t get paid for this review but I do get to the keep the EP. I am not linked to either Layover or Inception Press.

Cove—A Conscious Motion EP (2018)

Cove—A Conscious Motion EP (2018)

Cove—A Conscious Motion EP (2018)

Details

Self-released sophomore EP.  Recorded at Hidden Track Studios. Produced by Oz Craggs. Released on 23 March 2018.

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Band

  • Ben Shorten—Vocals
  • Pete Woolven—Guitar
  • Charlie Smith—Bass
  • Jack Bowdery—Drums

Tracks

  1. Coincide: Collide
  2. Solis
  3. All I Believe
  4. Host
  5. Reflect: Resolve

Review

I have this strange relationship with metalcore. At its heart it’s a fusion of extreme metal and hardcore punk: two genres that I love. But I still struggle to wholeheartedly embrace metalcore. I know it’s because of the brash, uncontrolled and shout-y vocals—like a small dog yapping over a kick-ass punk metal band. Give me a Michael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) death metal growl any day, or a Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) bark. But there is just something about the rah-rah-rah-rah nature of the typical metalcore singer that just grates with me.  That said, if you look back at the metalcore albums I’ve reviewed on 195 Metal CDs you’ll see that they have averaged 74%, so there must be something there that I like.

Cove—as you will have no doubt guessed by now—are a British metalcore band who hale from Kent, the garden of England: home of the iconic white cliffs of Dover; the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury (the leader of the Church of England); and the country through which the rail track to the channel tunnel ploughs itself.

According to guitarist Pete Woolven, Cove set out to write a personal and cathartic EP that was uniquely Cove that didn’t sound like any other heavy band at present. “We wrote A Conscious Motion with a view to writing an EP of songs for ourselves that  were cathartic and personal. It deals with the struggles of members within the band, dealing with losing everything that you once lived for, to watching a part of someone else you love fade away.”

Coincide: Collide (track 1)

The EP begins relatively gently with the opening rim-shots of “Coincide: Collide” (track 1) building with a single-note bass, joined shortly after with a full-on, full-sweep, punk-style guitar riff. New singer Ben Shorten’s vocals are initially melodic until the band hits full stride in the chorus and Shorten reveals his obligatory metalcore holler. As songs go it has pace and dynamics, but predictably I find the uncontrolled shouting to be its weakest point—the harmonious accompanying vocal melodies redeem the song a little providing new layers and interest.

Solis (track 2)

Solis” (track 2) hits the ground spitting out the lyrics, “This is the beginning of this story / It started from an end / After broken choices / It’s time to amend”. It’s shouted. Most of the song is shouted. And I know that’s the metalcore way—I’ve already said that—but… anyway, the music is great: start-stop riffs that pulse like a sinister heartbeat. The production is clear and well balanced.

All I Believe (track 3)

All I Believe” (track 3) has a very gentle and delicate feel to begin with until it suddenly bursts with energy. This is probably my favourite song on the EP. It has a really nice dynamic, it builds and falls, and has a nice contrast of dark and light moments. There is a passion behind the lyrics, and some lovely instrumental moments: chugging bass guitar, flurries of distorted guitar breaking up otherwise regular-paced riffs. And Shorten’s shouting vocals are pitched, like shouted singing, which makes such a difference and takes the song to new levels.

The shortest track on the EP by far is the 1′ 29″ instrumental “Host” (track 4). It opens with a recording of what sounds like a NASA conversation between Houston and a space craft; it’s reminiscent a little of Celtic Frost’s “One in their pride” from Into the Pandemonium (1987). The music is gentle, pulsing and atmospheric. It’s a pity the track isn’t longer, I could listen to music like this all day.

EP closer “Reflect: Resolve” (track 5) ups the pace again. It leans heavily on a catchy, bouncing riff that morphs a little towards the end of the track as it slows down and simplifies. This is a well composed song that beautifully showcases many aspects of Cove’s musicianship and song-writing skills: it has a little bit of everything for everyone without diluting who they are.

Conclusion

Whether Cove achieved their goal of writing something that doesn’t sound like anything else out there at the moment, I’m not sure. But they have certainly penned an EP that has integrity and personality. I like the dynamics present in most of the songs, and appreciate that vocalist Ben Shorten does go a little off-piste with the usual metalcore shout-fest which positively takes the songs to new levels.

Personally, I preferred the final three tracks but if that’s any indication of the quality of music we should expect to hear from Cove in the future then British metal fans definitely have something good to look forward to.

Review score: 80%

Disclaimer

I kindly received this EP to review from Inception Press, an artist-friendly, UK-based, independent, alternative music publicity and management agency. I didn’t get paid for this review but I do get to the keep the EP. I am not linked to either Cove or Inception Press.

Vehement—Ashes (2017)

Vehement—Ashes (2017)

Vehement—Ashes (2017)

Details

Vehement are an extreme metal / black metal band from East Sussex on the south coast of England. Ashes released in October of last year is their second full length album. Recorded by Dave Archer at Tidal Force Studio. Released on 6 October 2017.

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Band

  • Xysor—Vocals and guitars
  • Wraith—Guitars and backing vocals
  • Ohtar—Bass and backing vocals
  • Andras—Drums

Tracks

  1. Far below us (6′ 29″)
  2. Ashes (7′ 16″)
  3. Carapace (2′ 27″)
  4. Thematic (8′ 23″)
  5. Burden’s root (6′ 54″)
  6. The turn of the passage (9′ 37″)
  7. Tidal verse (10′ 38″)

Review

Far below us” (track 1) opens the album with the gentle sound of what appears to be the wind blowing through a pop-shield and a crackling fire. Then comes the sudden barrage of metal. It’s a fairly typical black metal song: thrashing guitars, pneumatic drill drums and growling vocals. It contains a few nice melodic moments and guitar flourishes before changing pace about two-thirds of its way in which really lifts the song from what could have been a rather pedestrian black metal romp into something with character and dynamics.

Ashes” (track 2) flows straight out of the previous track with a strummed clean guitar pattern. The guitar tone reminds me of early, Paul Di’anno-era Iron Maiden. It doesn’t last long, though as a galloping mid-paced wall of sound drives itself through the first half of the song. It’s one of my favourite moments of the album—listening to the drums beat out the rhythm while the guitars swirl around and pull in new elements. The remainder of the song ebbs and flows until a sorrowful guitar solo leads the song to a rather unexpected and gentle conclusion.

Another seamless transition. “Carapace” (track 3) is a rather delicate and beautiful finger-picked song that provides a

Thematic” (track 4) returns us to the main programme with a thundering, slowed down wall of guitars and drums. The main riff is a very simple five note pattern that’s not too far from the spaceship theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind! In what is evidently becoming Vehement’s MO, the song changes direction halfway through. Cookie Monster vocals scream over a mid-paced chord pattern and arpeggio that takes the song back to its roots.

Burden’s root” (track 5) opens with a jangling clean guitar. It has something of early Opeth about it. This leads to a descending chord pattern and then a fairly standard death/black metal stomp through some chord changes and hollered vocals. But there is something wonderful about it. It twists and turns, changes direction here and there, Xysor’s operatic vocals are majestic and the guitar solo is haunting. What could have been a fairly dry and unimaginative black metal song now has colour and interest.

The two longest tracks on the album are left to the end, the 9 minutes 37 seconds song “The turn of the passage” (track 6) and “Tidal verse” (track 7) which clocks in at 10 minutes 38 seconds. “The turn of the passage” has a nice drum section about two-thirds of the way through when the song slows down and the guitars belt out power chords. “Tidal verse” nails its colours to the mast straight away with its fast-paced, buzzing opening riff. But like many songs before it, about halfway through, the song grinds to a halt and mutates into slow, reverb-heavy guitar chimes over rumbling toms.

Conclusion

This is an album that somewhat took me by surprise. I’ve listened to too many dull, black-metal-by-numbers albums over the years, and my fear was that this would be another. I’ve said more than once in reviews that all I really ask beyond basic musical competence is something interesting. Give me a reason to listen again and again. Give me hooks to listen out for. Give me twists and changes of direction that make me sit up and take notice.

There isn’t anything particularly revolutionary about this album—Vehement play authentic, straight-up black metal but they do it well and with enough variation and ideas thrown into each song to keep me coming back.

Review score: 80%

Disclaimer

I kindly received this album to review from The Origin Agency press team an artist management, consultancy and booking agency based in Brighton UK. I didn’t get paid for this review but I do get to the keep the album (thank you!). I am not linked to either Vehement or The Origin Agency.

King Leviathan—Paean Heretica (2017)

King Leviathan—Paean Heretica (2017)

King Leviathan—Paean Heretica (2017)

Details

“Two years in the making, it is our darkest and heaviest work to date, encompassing themes of loss, abandonment, blind faith and what comes after death. Our 9 track, 45 minute collection of psalms was recorded and mixed once again by Paul ‘Win’ Winstanley at Brighton Electric, but this time mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music and with art crafted by Alex Norman.” Released on Infernum Records, August 2017.

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Band

  • Adam Sedgwick—Vocals and guitar
  • Rob Kuhler—Lead Guitar and backing vocals
  • Sam Forrester—Bass and backing vocals
  • Danny Yates—Drums

Tracks

  1. Primitive baptism
  2. Sanctification
  3. Kingdom
  4. Agony
  5. Doomsayer
  6. Coffin swallower
  7. Harrowing eyes
  8. Like wolves to the throat of the lion
  9. The grand congregation

Review

This is another album that I’ve been sitting on since November but which I’ve been very much enjoying playing over the last few months.

King Leviathan are a blackened thrash metal band from Brighton on the south coast of England. Paean Heretica is their debut album, having previously released a couple of EPs (check out their Bandcamp page for those).

The album is dark and brooding, a fusion of thrash, black metal and doom.

The opening track “Primitive baptism”

“Sanctification” (track 2) hits you in the chest, straight out of the gate, with galloping wall of thrash that relents only a little to carve into you with a simple two-note riff. The song continues its almost progressive route, gruff vocals barking out its message, interrupted occasionally with soaring clean vocals.

“Kingdom” (track 3) is in a similar vein. The production is superb. The distorted guitars are warm, the solos cut through clearly. When the chorus hits it sounds familiar and timeless. About halfway through the song grinds to a sudden halt. Arpeggios and growls. This song has an epic, old school thrash feel to it. But thrash that’s been steeped in black metal for a month.

“Agony” (track 4) opens with a rolling drums and bass riff, overlaid with a moving guitar arpeggio (guitarpeggio?) and then by far my favourite riff on the album. This is one of my highlights of the album. It’s a dark, ponderous song that resonates with my current feelings of agony. “I will give all / I will give everything in atrophy / Be my love in / Be my love in agony”. This song is perfection.

“Doomsayer” (track 5) has that classic, old school thrash double guitar thing going on. One guitar cracking out the chords while the other plays an acidic-sounding picked chord over the top of it. Think Beneath the Remains era Sepultura. The song takes about a minute for the vocals to come in—again a combination of gruff death vocals and clean, like a combination of Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt and ex-Sabbat Ritchie Desmond.

To be honest, by this point in the album “Coffin swallower” (track 6) the first half of the song sounds a bit samey to what has come before. The breakdown around halfway through, though, is a nice departure. It is gentle and fragile. “I am alone in the dark  / swallowed in rags in a burial crib”. And then the most magnificent bass twang breaks that spell and we’re back up to full pace.

“Harrowing eyes” (track 7) is a solid, heavy rocky song with a strong melody. “Reaper is coming… to harvest life […] don’t ever forget, her harrowing eyes”. Something cheerful to get you through the day.

“Like wolves to the throat of the lion” (track 8) has an awesome fast-picking opening to a fabulously interesting and quite progressive song. I could listen to this and “Agony” back to back all day. The riffs are sublime. The guitar solo towards the end is simple but gorgeous. A lot of album have a few good opening tracks and then it’s filler until the end. This album throws in arguably their best song just before the end. Something to aim for or perhaps the whole album has been building to this all along.

“The grand congregation” (track 9) opens with a suitably sinister sounding riff that leads to a pounding riff and soaring guitar solo. It’s a glorious summary of everything that has come before it. It closes with pounding guitars and drums, before descending into a thunderstorm and quietly fading to silence.

Conclusion

This album is a journey. I feel both exhilarated and exhausted at the end of it. It is dark, heavy, and brooding journey through themes of loss, abandonment, slavery and life beyond death.

At this point, I’m really searching hard for things to criticise. Some of the songs, in places, do feel quite samey and while Sedgwick’s clean vocals are a bit too operatic for my liking, that’s a minor criticism: they work, they fit the music and the songs brilliantly.

More of this please. Very much more of this. British metal is very much alive and… well, swallowing coffins, I guess.

Review score: 95%

Video

Goya—Kathmandu EP (2017)

Goya—Kathmandu (2017)

Goya—Kathmandu (2017)

Details

Written and performed by Goya. Recorded at Tremolo Recording Studio, Staffordshire, England, UK. Mixed by Dan Rowley and Goya. Mastered by Sam Taylor. Artwork by Sam Taylor. Released 8 December 2017.

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Band

  • Jason Kester—Guitar
  • Sam Taylor—Bass
  • Mark Connolly—Drums

Tracks

  1. Collider (4:02)
  2. Venenatus (13:05)
  3. Ashoka (7:39)
  4. Kathmandu (7:35)

Review

I’ve been sitting on a number of releases for the last few months while the craziness of my personal life gently explodes around me. In a moment of relative calm I decided to take a listen to this EP, released by Goya a couple of months ago.

Flippin’ ‘eck it’s good! So good, in fact, that I’ve listened to it at least eight times in the last few weeks.

Goya are a three-piece instrumental group from Stoke-on-Trent in the Midlands (England, UK) and Kathmandu is their first EP. It’s what guitarist Jase Kester describes as the band’s “initial musical statement”. And what a statement! Not least that the whole EP was recorded live, with all three musicians interacting with one another in the same room. There is no substitute for such chemistry.

goya-portrait

Photograph: Marie Korner Photography

“We’ve tried to take all the things that we love about rock—the riffs, rhythms and sounds, the building blocks and devices—strip away some things that we feel have become clichés of the genre, in an attempt to create ‘absolute music’,” he said in an interview.

The idea of absolute music—or abstract music—developed at the end of the the 18th century. It’s the idea that music is not explicitly about anything, and that “instrumental music transcends other arts and languages to become the discourse of a ‘higher realm'”. It was the belief that music could be more emotionally powerful and stimulating without words.

Collider” (track 1) is built around two riffs that seem to call and answer one another. It’s a bouncy, upbeat song that you can’t but nod along to. It’s a simple post-rock track that kicks things off nicely but it doesn’t give too much away of what is to come.

Venenatus” (track 2) which is Latin for venomous is a 13-minute epic. It may not be poisonous but it’s definitely infectious. The track opens with a delicate guitar piece that playfully rises and falls like a children’s piano piece. Then about a minute in (see the video below) it changes direction completely into a crushingly heavy, doom-laden riff that slices its way through the next few minutes before returning to its delicate roots.

The track seemingly has a life of its own. From its fragile, pseudo-classical intro, through the Sabbath-like darkness, the stark bass and drums-only section, to a decidedly up-tempo movement, a section of feedback, and an acoustic outro that was entirely improvised during the recording session. It’s a prog-lover’s dream.

Ashoka” (track 3) is built around a simple three-note riff that evolves and revolves around a bass heartbeat. The track has both a sense of urgency and mournfulness. Around six and a half minutes in, the music gradually slows and dissolves into distortion and white noise.

The final and title track “Kathmandu” (track 4) brings the EP to a beautiful conclusion. It begins in a quiet, contemplative way; it sounds how I imagine it would be to hear the sun rising in the morning. A few minutes in a bass line drives the song through a few twists and turns until the rather distinctive outro in 6/4 time.

Conclusion

This is a really beautifully crafted EP. It has something for everyone: fragile and delicate guitar, thundering bass lines, crushing doom-filled riffs. This is absolute music—bring your own meaning—and it is absolutely gorgeous. The music speaks to me regardless of my mood: at times invigorating, at times mournful.

In places it reminds me of early Amplifier (a very good thing), and Shutter (a former prog/post rock style band from Inverness); but it always sounds vibrant and… well, without trying to be too pretentious, human. There is an honesty about this music that somehow makes it feel like it’s been the soundtrack to my life that I’ve not heard until now.

If this is Goya’s “initial musical statement”, I am all ears for whatever comes next.

Review score: 98%

Video

Thuum—Through Smoke, Comes Fire EP (2018) PREVIEW

Thuum—Through Smoke, Comes Fire EP (2018)

Thuum—Through Smoke, Comes Fire EP (2018)

Details

Self-released. Release date Monday 19 February 2018

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Band

  • Bear—Guitars and vocals
  • Andy—Guitar
  • Luke—Bass
  • Joe—Drums

Tracks

  1. Intro (instrumental)
  2. Worthless
  3. Hafgufa
  4. Through smoke, comes fire

Review

Hailing from Bournemouth, at the south end of the island, crawls Thuum with their debut EP Through Smoke, Comes Fire and it is colossal. This is already promising to be the heaviest release of 2018.

Black and white photo of the band standing in front of a stage

Thuum—They’re heavier than they look

Thuum are firmly lodged in the doom, sludge, southern-groove genre and they own it. Within four tracks Thuum manage to say more and generate more excitement than many bands with two or three times as many tracks.

Intro (instrumental)” (track 1) opens gradually, a fade up from silence. A quiet drone and a primitive-sounding chant, overplayed by a bell-like, heavily-reverbed guitar punching out a melody. And then the granite-crushing power of the track truly unleashes. It is slow and grinding but damn is it heavy and beautiful.

Worthless” (track 2) is a powerhouse of southern-infused sludge metal. Slowly meandering, bass-heavy riffs and sorrowful guitar solos provide a perfect background to Bear’s growling vocals. If you’re a fan of Down and Corrosion of Conformity you will not be disappointed. They’re like a fusion of Down and Mastodon—Mastodown, if you will.

Hafgufa” (track 3) begins with a blast of drums. then the pace is quickened for a song that winds itself around a simple, bouncing riff, that starts and stops, but never stops its unrelenting pace and heaviness. The song is cut in two with another lamenting guitar solo. “Can you hear me shouting out his name?” Bear yells—it’s reminiscent of Mastodon’s Troy Sanders. It may be the shortest song on the EP but it sure as hell packs a punch.

Through smoke, comes fire” (track 4). The title track. Another drums opening, which feels like a gentle nod of the head to Bonham’s drum sound in Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks”. A ponderous, bass-heavy riff builds and layers for a minute until it breaks down into an ascending, walking riff. This is truly majestic. A fusion of influences, progressive and doom, always heavy but never indulgent or aggressive. Then vocals, both growling and howling. It reminded me a lot of Mastodon’s album Leviathan. The tracks meanders through a melodic, harmonic progression to a gentle conclusion.

Conclusion

Wow! This is a near-perfect debut EP. I truly hope Thuum get the attention they deserve. This is precision crafted doom/sludge metal from the deep south (of England). I want to hear more. If through smoke, comes fire, I want to see what truly happens when the fire takes hold. Definitely a band to take notice of and follow over the next few years.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’m going to give this 24 minutes 39 seconds offering another spin.

Review score: 98%

Disclaimer

Stampede Press UK contacted me a few weeks back, inviting me to preview this EP.

I have no connections to either Stampede Press UK or Thuum. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review—which is pretty cool.

Many thanks to Rob from Stampede Press UK, and Thuum.