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%

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.

PREVIEW: Klogr—Keystone (2017)

Klogr—Keystone (2017)

Klogr—Keystone (2017)

About

KLOGR release their third studio album ‘Keystone’ (mixed by Grammy winning producer David Bottrill (Stone Sour, Muse, Rush, Tool and more) on Friday 6 October 2017 via Zeta Factory (distributed in the UK/Europe by PHD).

The artwork is a piece of a painting by renowned Italian artist, Andrea Saltini.

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Band

  • Gabriele “Rusty” Rustichelli—Vocals/Guitar
  • Pietro Quilichini “PQ”—Guitar/Backing Vocals
  • Roberto Galli—Bass
  • Maicol Morgotti—Drums

Tracks

  1. Sleeping through the seasons
  2. Prison of light
  3. Technocracy
  4. The echoes of sin
  5. Pride before the fall
  6. Something’s in the air
  7. Drag you back
  8. Sirens’ song
  9. Dark tides
  10. Silent witness
  11. Enigmatic smile
  12. The wall of illusion

Review

Keystone is the third album from Italian-American band Klogr (pronounced Kay-logger). A band that I’d never heard of until now, but isn’t that the joy of this project.

Musically, the band sits somewhere between alternative rock and alternative metal. The album is very nicely produced and mixed. It has a warm, full sound that suits the melodic arrangements. The guitars are heavy without sounding harsh.

When you listen to album for the first few listens, if you’re anything like me then you’ll try to reach for comparisons. The album reminds me in part of Stone Sour fused with Freak Kitchen with a little Seven7 thrown in for good measure.

The album opens with what sounds like the start of the Star Trek theme tune, but accompanied by a children’s plinky piano. (“Sleeping through the seasons”, track 1) Then the guitars introduce a chug-chug-chug-chug riff. It’s catchy and melodic.

And so the album continues. “Prison of light” (track 2) features a nice ascending riff; “Technocracy” (track 3) is a fast-paced track with a twisting-turning riff; “The echoes of sin” (track 4) has a Dream Theater vibe to it; “Pride before the fall” (track 5) sounds a bit like a slowed-down “Technocracy”.

For me, the stand-out track is “Something’s in the air” (track 6). It’s a mid-paced, chugging rock track with a beautifully heavy, slide-y riff. I could listen to it all day. It’s heavy, it’s melodic, it’s interesting and varied. Brilliant stuff!

Klogr lurking in the shadows

Klogr lurking in the shadows

“Drag you back” (track 7) is built around a fluttering riff; “Sirens’ song” (track 8) is a short track that sounds like it was recorded underwater, and leads beautifully into “Dark tides” (track 9) which has an ’80s metal ballad feel to it.

“Silent witness” (track 10) opens with a bass riff that gives way to a complex guitar riff, that changes directions. Every. Few seconds. “Enigmatic smile” probably has the most metal riff on the album but gives way to a melodic rock track.

The album plays out to “The wall of illusion” which probably encompasses everything that Klogr have thrown at us so far in this album.

And then it ends.

Quite abruptly.

Conclusion

To be honest, there is little to criticize the album for. Some of the songs do begin to sound a little bit same-y as you progress through the album, but that would only really become a problem if the songs weren’t great. And these are really good songs. There is more than a little prog influence contained in the tracks on this album, and that is also a good thing. The songs have dynamics, and a shape, that each tell a musical story.

I really like this album. I can see myself returning to it again and again.

What more could you ask for from a piece of music?

Review score: 85%

PREVIEW: Haema—Insurrection EP (2017)

Haema—Insurrection EP (2017)

Haema—Insurrection EP (2017)

About

Debut EP recorded at Initiate Audio & Media by Neil Hudson (Krysthla/Gutworm).

Originally due for release in July 2017, but on 7 August Haema announced on their Facebook page that they have signed to Slipstick Records for the physical and digital worldwide distribution of this their debut EP.; see Slipstick Records for more details.

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Band

  • Jordon Calderwood—Vocals
  • Andrzej Jakubiuk—Guitar
  • Scott Stephenson—Bass
  • David Flitt—Drums

Tracks

  1. Eden
  2. Free Man
  3. Insurrection
  4. Thirte3n
  5. Two Minds

Review

So the email arrives and asks me if I’d be kind enough to review Haema’s forthcoming EP Insurrection. Sure! I’m always up for listening to new music. And then I listened to the preview. BLOODY HELL! THIS IS BRILLIANT!

Haema, a four-piece from Northamptonshire, UK, describe themselves as an experimental, industrialised, groove metal band. But that really doesn’t do them justice. Think: Rage Against the Machine meets Senser meets Circle of Dust meets Clawfinger. But heavier. Okay, let’s throw in some Fear Factory. Brilliant!

The EP opens with Eden (track 1). “What is the point of your existence?” a man asks. “To feel […] without love, without anger, without sorrow, breath is just a clock ticking.” A woman’s voice speaks above a soundscape. Then the riff kicks in. It’s tight and heavy. Jordon Calderwood’s vocals fluctuate between a Zack de la Rocha-style rap/rant and a metalcore-style bark. The song is both in your face and ponderous. There is space, plenty of space, plenty of depth and width to this song. It stops and starts and never ceases to be interesting.

Free man (track 2) rides a bouncy riff right from the get-go that morphs into a rap. “Now you can see / I’m not a puppet on a string / You know, I’m a free man…” The song is aggressive and melodic. It has an urgency and integrity that makes me believe without a shadow of a doubt that he is free.

The title track Insurrection (track 3) opens with the sound of an alarm—if Depeche Mode were in the alarm sound design business. Then a more traditional metal-style riff bursts in. It chugs along, steadily. And every time my head bounces in time to the beat. The vocals in this song remind me at times of early Mordred. There is a fragility about it, which is echoed in the guitar solo about three-quarters of the way through.

Damn! I could listen to this EP all day.

Thirte3n (track 4) is probably the most in-your-face metal track on the EP. It has a repetitive, blast-beat riff that sounds like someone is drilling through granite. The verses have this machine-gun burst riff. It’s interesting and gives the song movement. Then over the top of the carnage there is the most fragile and subtle of light melodies, like a butterfly floating across a battlefield.

The final track Two minds (track 5) is slower, more ponderous: a call and reply style riff that gives way to another RATM-style riff. It starts and. Stops. As it. Twists and turns. Following the. Rhythm of the. Vocals.

Conclusion

Haema EP coming soon

From my first play through of this extraordinary EP I’ve loved this collection of music. Sure people are going to make immediate comparisons to Rage Against The Machine and Senser, as I have done.  But that doesn’t detract from the quality of the playing, or the songwriting, or the production. Listen to the first two albums from Slayer—they wanted to be Mercyful Fate and King Diamond; Metallica played their first few years of gigs passing off Diamond Head and Budgie songs as their own until they found their own voice.

Given the chance Haema will also find their own distinct voice. But as a starting point, this is nearly perfect. I haven’t felt this excited by a not-entirely-metal release in a long time. I had the same burst of adrenaline and excitement listening to this as I did listening to Senser’s Stacked Up album in 1994. This album makes me smile and nod my head along to it for all the right reasons.

More like this please.

Review score: 100%

Bonus video

Disclaimer

In mid-June, Scott Stephenson (Haema’s bassist) contacted me inviting me to preview this EP.

I have no connections to Haema or any related companies or individuals; although I am a big fan of producer Neil Hudson’s previous work. I’m not being paid to review this.

Many thanks to Scott and the rest of Haema.