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.

Annihilator—One to Kill (official lyric video)

Canada’s Annihilator was among one of the first thrash band I got into back in the 1980s. I loved their first two albums, Alice in Hell (1989) and Never, Neverland (1990).

I’m delighted to see that their 16th album For The Demented (2017) will be released early next month, on Friday 3 November.

I kind of lost touch with Annihilator with 1994’s King of the Kill. This track certainly makes me want to check them out again and dig a little deeper into their now not inconsiderable back catalogue.

Martin Eric Ain (1967–2017) RIP

I felt so sad today learning of the untimely and sudden death yesterday of Martin Eric Ain, the former bassist of Celtic Frost and Hellhammer. He was only 50 years old, and reportedly died of a heart attack.

Celtic Frost were arguably the first metal band that I really got into as a teenager. Every time I visited a record store I would always, always look for something from Celtic Frost. In part to try to find something rare (I never did), but in part to determine the quality of the store: if they had any Celtic Frost albums then I judged it to be a good store.

Twenty-two years after getting into them, I finally got to see Celtic Frost play live in Glasgow in 2007, they were co-headlining with Kreator. It was a year before they split up again. That was one of the most memorable concerts that I’ve been to. It was an event.

I feel honoured to have seen Ain play live, to have seen Celtic Frost play live.

There was clearly a complex relationship between Tom G Warrior and Martin Eric Ain through the years. A push-pull relationship. Something that came up again recently in a post on Thomas Gabriel Fischer’s blog, “Mammon’s inexorable temptation” where he lamented what Ain was doing with Celtic Frost’s heritage, selling off old kit on a Facebook page.

I was sad when Celtic Frost ended. Monotheist was a brutal album. It was very different from their 80s albums—it was more raw, darker, more nihilistic. And it didn’t feature their famous sounds-like-a-vacuum-cleaner guitar tone. I was hoping for more new music.

No new music ever came from the Fischer/Ain partnership, although I have loved what Thomas Gabriel Fischer went on to create with Triptykon.

Rest in peace Martin.