Album Reviews Round-Up Week 41: Stick To Your Guns, Fozzy, The Walking Dead Orchestra, Samael And More

In the first of a new feature, Ghost Cult rounds up recent albums that didn’t receive the full review treatment, for your vulgar delectation…

“You’ve heard it all before” is a dangerous refrain to start your sixth album with, and while it’s true that Stick To Your Guns have hardly taken a massive left turn on True View (End Hits), there’s plenty of scope for divergence in a theme. Hard-hitting modern “straight-up” hardcore this may be, but ‘The Sun, The Moon, The Truth: Penance of Self’ is a sludged dirge, ‘Married To The Noise’ and ‘Delinelle’ co-opt stompy chomps with an A Day To Remember tint to their chorus, while ‘56’ opens up the chords and tones down the HC for a more emo-tinged radio anthem. While STYG have had better, and more distinctive, moments in the sun, there’s plenty on True View to keep the faith with, particularly the flailing ‘The Better Days Before Me’ as all the anticipated elements slot into play. [7.0/10]

Fozzy are an interesting proposition. Yes, genuinely. With a seven album, near-twenty year career behind them, these are more than a “side-project” for Chris Jericho and Rich Ward. And while several of their previous albums may not have passed muster, Judas (Century Media) is an altogether much-improved beast. Launching with a title track which is a downright banger and full-on anthem is never a bad way to go, but following it up with the Black Label Society stomp of ‘Drinking With Jesus’ is an equally smart move. And the quality rarely dips from there until the Annihilator-esque metallic closer ‘Wolves At Bay’, with mid-album quasi-epic ‘Wordsworth Way’ a brooding standout. Where the most impressive step up in quality is clearly evident is in Y2J’s performance… both in terms of the hooks and intelligent choice of melodies, making every track memorable, but also in terms of turning in his best vocal outing to date. Not a million miles away from Ozzy’s Nineties and Noughties solo output, this is an album to put a big smile on your chops. [7.0/10]

From the outside looking in The Walking Dead Orchestra’s Resurrect (Unique Leader) suggests it’s going to sound like Job For A Cowboy, from the font of the logo to the overly clean album cover, yet while TWDO are spawned from a Deathcore background (and have that horrible typewriter bass drum sound), there is identity aplenty. Owing most of all to the death metal of Suffocation, and in the main staying away from generi-breakdowns, instead lacing its fury with plenty of nods to Necroticism (Earache), Resurrect manifests as a tightly-wound catapult of riff-frenzy. A development in terms of quality from previous efforts, this is violent and seemingly aimed at being more impactful live… certainly tracks like ‘Vengeful Flavours’ and ‘Necrosphere’ have that hard-nosed, pit-violent edge to them. Look, no wheels have been reinvented, but for bands crawling from the creative mire of Deathcore, having songwriting chops and a genuine, non-sterile, energy to you can be enough to make you stand out. TWDO do what they do, and they do it well. [7.0/10]

While the saying in sports circles may be “form is temporary, class is permanent”, it is fair to say it has been a long old-time since space-disco (aka gothic industrial metal) act Samael could truly be branded as class. Yet, any writing team that boasts the blackened groove masterpiece of blasphemy Ceremony of Opposites, plus the seminal pairing of Eternal and Passage (all Century Media) in the back pocket is, along with the announcement of a returning boost of spite and a return to heavier climes, is one that is always going to have potential for a sparkling return to form. And Hegemony (Napalm) doesn’t disappoint. Like a spikier, more venomous take on the Eternal/Passage sound, with Vorph pushing his vocals back into raspier terrains, ‘Angel of Wrath’ calls to mind Laibach, while the mix of stomp with symphonics of ‘Samael’ brings many involuntary head-nods and shoulder-shakes. ‘Black Supremacy’ enters Age of NeroSatyricon territory before opening into an effective chorus, as Samael once more prove themselves a worthy part of the squad, still capable of producing a strong performance and a decent hopping on point if you’re new to the band. [7.0/10]

Modern Adoxography (self-released) and churning modern Death Metal is the name of the game for New Zealand’s Blindfolded And Led To The Woods. Full on technical discordance mixed with schizophrenic and rabid song arrangements and an unpinning djent chunk is a headache-inducing mix (in both a good and a bad way). While the playing abilities of its protagonists are undeniable, the reliance of showy fret-board finger-flicking distracts from BALTTW fully finding a pocket. That says, ‘A Restless Transplant’ in particular impresses, ploughing a more focused furrow and splicing moments of Gorguts with an underlying Morbid Angel vibe. [6.0/10]

With an interesting meld of post-Hardcore, post-rock and modern melodic Hardcore, is the UK’s Canvas, with Worry (Basick). The pained monotony of cacophony from the aching throat of vocalist Ricky Clarke takes these swirling and jagged songs of angst to a deeper emotional plane; the fire of ‘C.O.L.D.’ counterbalanced by the vulnerability of the sparse ‘Haunt You’ and then the jagged Gallows-tinged ‘Awake’, a track that ends in a near Deafheaven rage, form a very strong second half to the album run. While not yet the finished article, when emotion and class belong in the same creative space, as they do here, it is only a matter of time before something powerful AND lasting is made, providing Canvas can find the Je né sais quoi to truly distinguish themselves. [7.5/10]

STEVE TOVEY

10/13 releases reviewed:

Daniel Cavanagh Monochrome (Kscope),

Enslaved E (Nuclear Blast)

Exhumed Death Revenge (Relapse)

Expander Endless Computer (Nuclear War Now)

The King Is Blind We Are The Parasite, We Are The Cancer (Calva)