EP REVIEW: Lonely Dakota – End of Days

Despite their stateside sounding name Lonely Dakota are a British quartet who formed at the tail end of 2015. With a few lineup changes and singles in between, including 2018s ‘Dead Stories’, this year saw the release of their debut EP End of Days (Self-Released) – serving up the kind of Post-Grunge that Shinedown and Seether built a career on. The plaintive melody and general melancholic aura of opening track ‘Victoria’ sets the tone for this five-track offering, emotive Hard Rock with radio-friendly sensibilities and a nagging sense of deja vu. Continue reading

Orchid – Miasma

Despite a heavy music scene that is abundant in talent, not many of India’s Metal bands have appeared on the radar outside of their native country. Aside from the likes of Demonic Resurrection especially, Bhayanak Maut and (although more an international band) Skyharbor, India’s Metal scene is still a hidden entity to many on the outside. With a formidable live presence and with an exciting debut full length in Miasma (self-released), if there is any justice, Mathcore mentalists Orchid should be poised to be the scene’s next breakout. Continue reading

Cormorant – Diaspora

 

Across a four-album lifespan, Bay Area’s Cormorant had consistently proven to be one of metal’s true and brightest hidden gems, offering a branch of Black Metal which takes as much worship from progressive giants such as King Crimson as it does from Extreme Metal’s icons. Still independent to this day, Cormorant have always showcased a meticulous detail that encompasses not only their rich and textured music, but even down to their vibrant, detailed and often awe-inspiring artwork. Having always shown true forward thinking and near limitless artistry, it is simply staggering that their fifth release Diaspora (self-released) breaks their mould even further, and is without a doubt their boldest offering to date. Continue reading

Saint[The]Sinner – Masquerades EP

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Since Kiefer Sutherland’s piercing, well, I was going to say eyes but let’s go with teeth, made rock chicks around the world swoon and crick their necks to be bitten, vampires and rock/metal have been more than bedfellows, with both aesthetics, lyrics, band names and even subgenres and scenes entwined. Cradle of Filth blew up by cleverly playing the vampire game (no, not ‘I Vant To Bite Your Finger’), Atreyu resurrected the spirit of the Old Ones in their ascension, Korn temporarily buried their career by associating themselves with the Queen of the Damned, even the hippest of the underground, Tribulation, danced with the children of the night earlier this year, Manowar penned one of their best songs (‘Each Dawn I Die’) in honour of the sleepless, and let us not forget Aiden, the dumb bastard black (formaldehyde) sheep of the flock…

And so Saint[The]Sinner have exhumed a classic, pale theme for their sprightly, theatrical pop-rock meets post-hardcore, and it’s a cape they wear well as, with a flourish, they swoop down on ‘Theatre Of Broken Dreams’ haunted house intro and sink their incisors into a vibrant, hurtling, fast paced metalcore lead off track to new EP Masquerades (self-released). As twin vocals trade-off, the throatier screams give way to an engaging, welcoming chorus and a pattern is set.

Keeping energy levels up throughout is one boon of Masquerades, a Premier League production is another, allowing the endearing and vigorous song-writing to flourish and (widow’s) peaks to peak. With the clean vocals adding an off-centre Panic! At The Disco feel to their arsenal, particularly on lead single ‘She’s A Vampire’, it’s a welcome addition to the heady mix of AFI, Atreyu, Avenged Sevenfold and Dommin that is sure to see the band on a steep upward trajectory their burgeoning and bloody talents deserve.

The camp horror theme is a cute touch, but don’t let it detract from the fact that the English South Coast crew have summoned forth a beastly set of strong, gratifying, grin-inducing tunes. Saint[The]Sinner have hit the mix right on the money; whether it’s clean or scream on the vocals, it’s all about being dramatic and leaving those hooks in you, as fangs lock into your flesh and notable melodies are injected like venom into the bloodstream in a way that reminds you that, you know what, sometimes this metal thing is about energy and fun, and each track sounds like it was a (monster’s) ball in the creating.

 

8.0/10

 

STEVE TOVEY

Fractal Generator – Apotheosynthesis

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It’s hardly a new observation, but one of the many effects of the home-production/internet release revolution was to completely change the expectations of what we can reasonably expect from a band at the stage of putting out their first album. There are many reasons to celebrate the death of the system by which labels were the sole gatekeepers of the power to record, but one thing we’ve arguably lost is the filter which used to block many amateur or poorly-conceived outings before they hit the studio.

Which makes it even more satisfying when a début album arrives so well-formed.

Every aspect of Fractal Generator’s aesthetic – from the name to their white lab-coats – tells us that this is that engagingly awkward nerd hybrid Science Fiction Death Metal. There are significant nods to Wormed and The Faceless in their sound, touches of first-album Cynic and even the odd distorted riff that Meshuggah would be happy with, but they’ve already started combining them into their own sound.

Apotheosynthis (Independent) doesn’t sound like the first self-released fumblings of a band who’ve skipped past the old gate-keepers and jumped straight to the album stage. One of the first things to catch your attention here is just how tight the performances are – a blinding blur of taut riffing, thunderous blasts and well-executed keyboard work exhibit a band with total confidence in their chosen style. They know what they’re doing, too, never allowing the more esoteric expanses of their sound to detract from the central task of writing powerful, urgent Death Metal.

Apotheosynthesis isn’t without its flaws, of course. It’s arguably longer than it needs to be, losing some of its momentum in the last ten-to-fifteen minutes, and though the production is crisp and crunchy it sometimes relegates the keyboards and spacey noises to sonic garnish, burying some of the atmospherics that the band are aiming for. For a self-released début, however, it’s an absolute revelation, and leaves behind several of the year’s more established Death Metal releases in its wake. Fractal Generator are not simply a band it’s worth keeping an eye on in the future, but one who deserve your attention right now.

 

8.0/10

 

RICHIE HR

Behold! the Monolith – Architects of the Void

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For all the talk of sophisticated song structures, syncopated rhythms and harmonised vocalising that can often dominate reviews of records nowadays, sometimes it’s just nice to sit back, relax and be absolutely pummelled into submission by an album that is considerably more metal than you. Architects of the Void (independent/self-released), the third album from doom metallers Behold! the Monolith (no, I have no idea why they dispensed with the rules of grammar either) is one such record.

Upon first listen, Architects of the Void appears to eschew anything that would remotely suggest a lightness of touch. It arrives as the sort of record that is unapologetic in its roots and sense of self; belligerent in its execution and resolutely single-minded with how it brings a smile to your face and a crick to your neck.

Upon repeated listens however, the album reveals a much richer palette of sounds and creative touches; there is an undoubted progressive sensibility at play here – whether in the blending of musical styles (admittedly from the far left of the heaviness range) or in the playful riffing and energised pounding that comes from an understanding that, as listeners, we want this music to move us. And moves it does.

The doom metal architecture of ‘Lord of Bones’ is gloriously sludgy, there is a heft and glowering to ‘Philosopher’s Blade’, and the extended, rhythmical menace to the title track is absolutely beguiling. In fact, the entire enterprise is imbued with that sort of glorious, we-know-exactly-what-we-are-doing-and-we-are-having-a-marvellous-time-whilst-we-are-doing-it schtick that will have you running around your abode looking for a cap, proverbial or otherwise, to doff at them.

Monolith’s journey to this agreeable space might have come from digesting quite a lot of Mastodon records but that is hardly a bad thing. In fact, on ‘The Mithriditist’, it is demonstrated with a combination of power, precision and panache. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then this is something akin to a love letter.

Architects of the Void is the sort of record that you could easily pass by such is the vying for competition in today’s musical marketplace; please don’t. It’s inventive, passionate and as heavy as you could possibly wish for. Do you need any more than that? No, no you don’t.

 

7.5/10

 

MAT DAVIES