Nightrage – The Puritan


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Originating in Thessaloniki, Greece, under the fleet-fingered generalship of Marios Iliopoulos (the bands only stalwart and ever-present) and six-string superstar guitarist Gus G. (Firewind/Ozzy), Nightrage have had a fair few well-known faces bolster their ranks and raise their profile throughout the years, including, amongst others, Per Möller Jensen (The Haunted) and Tomas “At The Gates” Lindberg. Yet, despite the constant turn over, through the sheer force of Iliopoulis’ will and personality, the band has maintainted both its sound and style.

And so to opus number six, The Puritan (Despotz), and yet another line-up change with Ronnie Nyman grabbing the poisoned chalice-shaped nettle of the microphone stand, his early Anders Fridén stylings slotting in seamlessly with an assured and aggressive voice snarling over another dose of the confident melodeath we’ve come to expect from Nightrage. Steeped in the fast riffing, melodic leads and off-beat snare snaps that define post Slaughter of the Soul (Earache) Melodic Death Metal, The Puritan displays all the expected genre trappings, with Nightrage comfortable in laying out a heavily In Flames and At The Gates influenced sound.

Yet, this was the sound of the late 90’s… in the lead up to the turn of the millennium, you couldn’t swing a cat without it picking up the print ink of review upon review comparing bands to the main protagonists of the NWOSDM sound and nearly two decades on it’s disappointing to hear respected outfits slavishly reproducing a style that belongs to yesterday. There were too many bands doing it back then to need any more doing it now.

Iliopoulos knows how to do this melodeath thang til his fingers bleed, and The Puritan is an effectively crafted slab of Gothenburg jagged riffing, harmonized guitars and throaty vocals. For a band that has rubbed more than shoulders with some big hitters and genre-definers, while the proficiency is there, that extra dose of depth of thought and invention in song-writing that would move Nightrage from just A.N.Other band to genuine players, is lacking.

Even seventeen years ago this would have sat as one of the pack alongside your Withering Surface’s, A Canorous Quintet’s and Crown of Thorns as follower, not leader.

 

6.5/10

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STEVE TOVEY


Antropomorphia – Rites ov Perversion


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The shock factor no longer makes an impact in Death Metal. It has been nigh on two decades since Desecration’s Gore and Perversion (Anoxic) was banned, and more than that since Cannibal Corpse first ripped entrails from the front bottom of a lady yet to engage in encounters of a sexual nature – indeed, it’s been fifteen years since AntropomorphiA displayed a tattooed, um, fanny – I’m using the UK version of the word – on the cover of their debut Pure (D.M.). Desensitization kicks in and kicks in hard, and while there is a certain childish glee from titles like ‘Nekrovaginal Secretions’, these hardened (!) Dutch perverts have been around long enough to know that in order to cut the corpse they need a lot more about them than some titillating words.

But any reservations are dispelled within seconds by the hurtling early Slayerisms of opener ‘Temphioth Workings’ as Antropormorphia are no pony, one-trick or otherwise. With a sound that owes much to Bolt Thrower, early Amon Amarth and the underground Death Metal of the mid 90’s that wasn’t afraid to groove, change tempo or to have melodic inflections (while eschewing an overly lead based approach), Rites ov Perversion (Metal Blade), the band’s second album since reforming and third overall, is gratifying and grinding in equal measures.

As the album progresses, AntropormorphiA show they have a knack for hitting an uptempo groove, ‘Morbid Rites’ is Canestan for the itch A Canorous Quintet never came close to scratching (I always had a soft spot for ACQ – The Only Pure Hate (No Fashion) is a decent album, I’ll have you know), ‘Gospel ov Perversion’ references At The Gates and Morbid Angel, while the neck muscle workout of the excellent hate machine that is ‘Inanimatus Absqui Anima’ is pure The Karelian Isthmus (Relapse) era Amorphis. Elsewhere, there are flashes of Dismember, Autopsy and Carcass, as well as the ubiquitous Bolt Thrower.

While AntropomorphiA haven’t created anything innovative, or issued a challenge to the order of khaos, they have released a very enjoyable album that showcases and pays tribute to many of the immortals while still sitting within a consistent and identifiable sound of their own. A worthwhile listen.

7.5/10

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STEVE TOVEY