Thursday, 26 January 2012

Solo Shoots First - This Is The Famous

Self Released 2011

1.Intro 2.This Is The Famous 3.Look At, Look Out 4.Bleeding Starts Receding
5.The Beginning

Breakdowns a plenty greet the listener with the first (instrumental) track which is used as an intro and duely named ‘Intro’. Accompanied by some quite catchy lead guitar work this is a promising start. ‘This Is The Famous’ continues the musical theme, heavy guitars backing some nice intricate and atmospheric lead work accompanied by the ‘genre standard’ anguished and angry screamed vocals. Add in splashes of cleanly sung ‘emotional’ vocal lines and you know the drill. It is something that is being done again and again by a multitude of bands and to be blunt, isn’t the most extreme of genres, no matter how angry the vocalist sounds. ‘Look At, Look Out’ introduces more of the clich├ęd breakdowns mixed with some atmospheric and tuneful guitar work. SSF do have a canny knack of writing good leads however, and when mixed with the heavier basic guitar lines sound engaging, but again being blunt, it’s probably about the only interesting aspect to the band’s sound, which isn’t necessarily the band's fault. The genre they have chosen has become so over saturated with countless clones that its nigh on impossible to sound original and as mentioned previously, we’re not dealing with the most extreme of genres so there’s not a great deal to keep extreme metal fans engaged with the band when listening to this. Even more frustrating is the fact that all these bands seem to use te same song structures and patterns which only adds to the sense of "been done a million times before".
 ‘Bleeding Starts Receding’ is in breakdown overload and again, genre standard mediocrity. It’s all well played and each band member handles their instrument well but the genre  itself has created a situation where everything sounds the same and is never going to push the boundaries of extremity. Hardcore kids will probably ‘dig it’, get the angriness behind the vocal lines and more than likely curse this review, but extreme metal fans will probably give this a very wide miss. Closer ‘The beginning’ is probably the catchiest of the tracks on offer, the band again showing their song writing skills off very well through the use of well written and catchy lead guitars; dual leads being incorporated which shows a progressive edge to the band, the bass can even be heard ‘noodling’ under the dual leads and is a welcome addition to the band’s sound.
If the band are to truly stand out then maybe they should push their progressive edge some more and lose some of the bog standard breakdown nastiness, because they actually sound quite interesting when they add the progressive element, which on this release, isn’t often enough and the band are obviously more than capable of pushing progression into their music. A fairly genre standard release that does begin to show some real potential when new elements are added to their sound, whether the band take the advice and add a more progressive edge to their sound only time will tell, but to stand out and get noticed, it might be their only option.
5 out of 10

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Betraeus - Towards The Sun

Siege of Amida 2011

1.Towards The Sun 2.Frustrate Recluse 3.Blossom Into the Void
4.Obsolete (Live) 5.Locust (Live) 6. Towards The Sun (Edit)

As opener 'Towards The Sun' opens up it doesn’t take long to realise just how good Betraeus actually are. There’s a real maturity to their sound, heavy rhythm guitars providing the death metal element to the band’s sound while the lead guitars display the bands progressive element, the two styles immediately complementing each other perfectly from the outset. More of the progressive element is on show through the use of cleaner vocals all the while been backed up with the heavy, growled DM style vocal. Again, the mix of different styles working well. This opener does showcase both the afore mentioned styles, but in all fairness, the track shows off more of the bands DM side with splashes of progression being added to spice things up and add variety. However, the track then takes on an altogether different approach; gone are the heavy guitars and gnarly vocals in favour of an extremely melodic interlude, acoustic guitars and cleanly sung vocals leading the way. It’s not entirely unexpected to add these breaks and even less surprising is when the heavy elements return. However, it’s all extremely well played with no fear of being labelled generic. ‘Frustrate Recluse’ again mixes the death metal and more progressive edge to the band’s sound extremely well. This is where the track succeeds; there’s always enough of the heavy DM included to label the band as a death metal band. The progressive elements are there, but they tend to be used sparsely, but when used are mixed with the heavier elements to create a very unique sound which remains interesting.
‘Blossom Into The Void’ has a very ‘vintage’ feel, almost ‘olde world’ atmosphere to its beginning. This isn’t even progressive, but tending to sit into the ‘extremely melodic’ or ‘rock ballard’ area which is a stark contrast to the two previous tracks and ruins the atmosphere and ‘edge’ created previously. It’s not metal and probably isn’t even meant to be, but I do feel a band can overstep the mark when trying to add progressive elements into their sound. Unfortunately they haven’t even tried to incorporate it, they’ve just used the progressive / melodic sound for the whole track and dropped their DM elements completely which some may lap up, but is a step too far in extreme metal terms. The next two tracks, ‘Obsolete’ and ‘Locust’ are live tracks and were recorded at the bands 2010 Bloodstock performance. For a live recording the production is amazing, crystal clear, every element to the band’s sound on show. ‘Locust’ in particular a whirl of sweeping riffs, choppy time changes and there’s even some blast beats which work extremely well. There’s a more brutal approach being taken whilst incorporating the progressive edge which is a great mix. Probably an excellent live performance on the day judging by the two tracks offered up here! Closing the cd is an ‘edit’ of opening track ‘Towards The Sun’. It’s a great track, the DM elements really punching through, frantic double kicks backing up some great guitar work which leans towards the heavier end of the bands spectrum. Chris’ vocals are at their best here, mixing all his stlyes from clean sung, to harsh shouts and screams all the way through to guttural DM vocals. It all creates a great atmosphere. Apparently every member of the band are in their early twenties, yet already they show great maturity and it would be fair to say they’re a real gem in the UK Extreme metal underground. They manage to stay the right side of ‘extreme’ metal (bar the ‘blip’ that it is ‘Blossom Into The Void) through the predominant DM sound yet they will also appeal to those who do like some melody and progression to their metal. Rather than chopping from one style to the other then back again, the band manage to use the two in unison which is quite unique, clever and extremely entertaining. Comes highly recommended.

8 out of 10

Friday, 6 January 2012

Penthos - Affliction

Self Released 2011

1.Affliction (instrumental) 2.Grief 3.Descendance 4.Disillusioned
5.Dictators of Aggression

Unusually the opening track ‘Affliction’ is an instrumental and is an extremely melodic piece of music, soft guitar leads accompanied by some ‘soft’ and slightly intricate drumming. To be perfectly honest it’s something and nothing. Not really grabbing the attention or giving anything to surprise us. ‘Grief’ opens up clumsily, the guitars and drumming never really gelling and sounding somewhat dis-jointed. The riffing is old school in nature but extremely generic, never grabbing your attention or making you sit up and take note. The pace remains slow to mid-paced, taking on a ‘galloping’ feel but again remaining very generic and beginning to sound chaotic, sloppy and not too tight. It almost sounds like these guys have only had a few weeks to gel as a unit before entering the studio. You can see the band trying to incorporate some new elements, the guitars beginning to show some progressive elements but nothing that will ever ‘break the mould’. The drumming is probably the most creative element to the band, but is somewhat limited in what can be achieved over such generic riffing without ‘stealing the show’. ‘Descendance’ follows a similar structure, the chaotic sound continued. The band do inject some pace into this song, adding short sharp bursts of blast beats which is a welcome break in pace but these are usually followed by a drop in pace and a return to the standard riffing seen previously. No pause between tracks as ‘Disillusioned’ opens up, a slightly more considered approach, but this track sounds exactly the same as the previous track, there’s no definition between the two. I didn’t actually realise the track had changed until I checked what number song was playing. Consistent maybe, but when everything begins to sound the same and blend into one big track it’s not good.
‘Dictators Of Aggression’ closes this five track e.p. The chaos seen in the previous tracks seems to have been lost and the band start to actually sound like a band. Much of the riffing sounding very old school Swedish Death metal, especially with the guitar sound the band has opted for. There is a definite thrash element to the band’s sound, but a very simplified thrash sound which isn’t all bad; it just lacks that killer punch. It’s probably fair to say the enthusiasm is there for the music, it’s the execution which lets the band down. They need to be a lot tighter and get back into the rehearsal room and write something with more originality because there are a lot of bands that are in the same ‘market place’ sounding a lot sharper and with more appeal. More hard work and some new members (the band are currently recruiting new guitarist and bass player) and we’ll see what a stable line up and new recording will bring, but for now there’s nothing really here that grabs the attention.
4.5 out of 10