PREVIEW: Death Blooms—Death Blooms EP (2017)

Death Blooms—Death Blooms (2017)

Death Blooms—Death Blooms (2017)

Details

Recorded at Red City Recordings, Manchester by producer and mix engineer David Radahd-Jones, Death Blooms’ self-titled debut EP is released Friday 12 May 2017.

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Band

  • Paul Barrow—Vocals
  • Ad Lucas—Guitar
  • Ben Grimsley—Bass
  • Mel Stewart—Drums

Tracks

  1. Hate:Die
  2. Last ones
  3. I’m dead
  4. Sick

Review

Death Blooms are a new alternative metal band on the UK scene, hailing from Manchester and Liverpool in the north-west of England. This is their debut EP and it’s really rather good.

Death Blooms (band)

Death Blooms (band)

That old adage “always leave them wanting more” is certainly true for this self-released EP (launched on Friday 12 May 2017). By the end of this four track recording I felt quite disappointed that there wasn’t more.

Musically, Death Blooms have a very modern metal sound. Vocalist Paul Barrow offers a gruff hardcore/metalcore vocal that isn’t afraid of softening a little to carve out some beautiful melodies, accompanied by a very competent-sounding band.

The EP opens with an in-your-face, punchy little number with the cheerful title of “Hate:Die” (track 1).  From the very first note, vocals are screaming, guitars are riffing, drums pounding. It’s certainly a bold entrance and one that initially took me a little by surprise and somewhat off-putting.

But that initial explosion, is immediately responded with an almost-whispered response, “then hate, then die, then hate, then die” that reminded in some part of—of all things—”What makes you tick” by Terrorvision. About a minute in, the chorus reveals a melodic core. It’s a classic combination: hard exterior, soft centre.

“Last ones” (track 2) retains the urgency but softens things just a little with a little less brutal opening. The riff is more melodic, as is the chorus (“If the skies should fall, we’ll be the last ones standing”). The band thumps around, throwing in a few interesting twists and turns and some colossal sounding riffs.

“I’m dead” (track 3)—see the video below—returns to the same song structure as the EP opener with the vocals leading from the go, like Hatebreed’s “Straight to your face” does. The song gallops through a solid riff, gruff vocals throughout, until a slightly more melodic middle-eight sung in chorus leads the song to a stomping conclusion.

EP closer “Sick” (track 4) begins with a complex guitar riff that weaves itself through the drums and screaming vocals. By now, Death Blooms have already revealed their hand and so the song structure and song textures are quite predictable: bouncy, shouting vocals broken up with more melodic, multi-voice choruses.

And then it suddenly goes quiet and it feels somewhat unfinished… always leave them wanting more, right? And that’s a good thing.

Conclusion

There is a vitality, a freshness and a sense of urgency about Death Blooms’ music that I really like. It’s exciting to hear such good quality British metal being created and exciting that such music can be released independently and still distributed widely.

While the four songs don’t stray too far from the same hardcore/metalcore/alt-metal formulas, it’s a solid approach and it still sounds fresh and relevant. I’d love to hear a full-length album to hear where else Death Blooms could take their sound, and what else they could achieve.

As it is, I’m perfectly happy with this EP. It’s a great start. I can only wish the band well in the future. Definitely a band to listen out for and look out for—they’ve already been seen live alongside Skindred and Raging Speedhorn.

Review score: 80%

Video

Disclosure

Stampede Press UK contacted me inviting me to preview Death Blooms’ forthcoming EP, which I was delighted about.

I have no connections to either Stampede Press UK or Death Blooms. 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 to Paul, Ad, Ben and Mel for continuing to create fresh, interesting metal in the UK.

Krysthla—The minor mystery of death (official music video)

UK death metal band Krysthla are preparing for the release of their second album Peace In Our Time (2017) with the release of this video for “The minor mystery of death”, the opening track on the album.

The album is great. It’s out on Friday 7 April 2017.

To support the release they touring the UK throughout April to July. I’m planning on seeing them when they come to Scotland.

Krysthla UK tour dates 2017

  • 17 April—Peterborough, The Met
  • 21 April—Bolton, The Alma
  • 22 April—Warrington, The Brewhouse
  • 28 April—Cardiff, Fuel
  • 05 May—High Wycombe, Phoenix
  • 06 May—Worthing, Bar 42
  • 07 May—Bournemouth, The Anvil
  • 12 May—Inverness, Mad Hatters
  • 13 May—Dundee, Beat Generator
  • 14 May—Edinburgh, Bannermans
  • 26 May—Northampton, King Billy Rock Bar
  • 27 May—London, The Devonshire Arms
  • 28 May—Leicester, Uprising Aftermath @ The Firebug
  • 03 June—Kettering, The Prince
  • 24 June—Norwich, B2
  • 01 July—Milton Keynes, Craufurd Arms
  • 22 July—Gloucester, Amplified Festival

PREVIEW: GraViL—No More Forgiveness (2017)

Gravil—No More Forgiveness (2017)

GraViL—No More Forgiveness (2017)

Details

Produced by Dan Abela (Voices, Sarah Jezebel Deva). Self-released on Friday 5 May 2017.

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Band

  • Grant Stacey—Vocals
  • Tony Dando—Lead and rhythm guitars
  • Charlie Webster—Rhythm guitars
  • Sparx—Bass and backing vocals
  • Perrin—Drums

Tracks

  1. Detonate
  2. Are we alive
  3. I am the blood
  4. Plagues, thieves and murderers *
  5. Locate the traitor
  6. Choke in silence
  7. Fractured, divided
  8. Decommissioned
  9. Forever is a prison
  10.  One eyed king

Review

Until this album dropped into my email inbox, I’d never heard of London melodic death metallers GraViL. But they’ve been around for a few years. Their debut album Thoughts of a Rising Sun landed in 2013, the same year they headlined the Takeover Stage at the Download Festival, and a year before they played at Hammerfest and then supported HellYeah on their UK tour.

That experience shows in this their second full-length album. I’m told that this is a far heavier album than their debut. I can’t comment on the comparison, but it’s certainly a relentless barrage of first class British death metal.

According to Grant Stacey, vocalist and primary lyricist, the album has, woven through it, an underlying theme of loss in 2016: the personal loss of a baby a few years ago, the deaths of close friends, the loss of the EU through Brexit, and the loss of America to Trump.

The album kicks off to a majestic start with “Detonate” (track 1). A pounding wall of guitars and bass, drums kicked and beaten to within an inch of their life, and Stacey’s vocals passionately screamed. There are some lovely, classic metal guitar patterns towards the beginning of this track: guitar one plays a riff, guitar two joins in for the reply. The more I listen to this one track the more I connect with it. “I can’t let you go… can’t let you go!” Stacey screams. This could easily be talking about my experience of 2016, too.

“Are we alive” (track 2) opens with a galloping riff and soaring guitar solo before the lyrics explore the feeling of losing control in the face of change. Again, another theme that resonates with me these past two years. This track has more of a metalcore feel than the opener.

“I am the blood” (track 3) feels like the second part of “Are we alive”. It features a melodic, multi-voice chorus that gives it a bit of a nu-metal feel (but not in a pejorative sense). About two-thirds of the way through it heads for a fairly inevitable solo and middle eight but the predictability doesn’t detract from the excellence of its execution. It’s a welcome and carefully penned hiatus from the onslaught.

“Plagues, thieves and murderers” (track 4) is one of my favourite tracks on the album. In parts it has an almost ethereal feel, a haunting wave played over a deep, pounding beat that stops and starts, and twists its way through the track. Towards the end they do that thing with the recorded voices from a TV show over the top of the music. I like that thing. It’s a steady, stomping track. “Slow burn” indeed.

“Choke in silence” (track 5) ends the first half of the album with a very Lamb of God-style riff that they take and twist into their own shape and run with it. This song features the best solo of the album so far—more solos like this please. Such is the strength of this album that we have another very strong song buried in the middle of the album.

“Locate the traitor” (track 6) sounds like how I imagine an underground train that had to bore its own way through an erupting volcano might sound if it hit a particularly gnarly piece of rock. It has an unusually melodic chorus and a rather more delicate middle eight, but it all works together beautifully.

“Fractured, divided” (track 7) has an almost folk-metal feel in its opening riff. It features guest vocals from Theresa Smith (Metaprism). Grant Stacey: “This is again, a tale of me dealing with loss. It tackles the feeling I had that I was solely to blame for the  baby’s loss and that it was my fault that I couldn’t give my partner the one thing she wanted so much. I felt like my heart and soul was being pulled apart.” It’s a powerfully emotional song, a fine balance between light and dark, between melody and noise. Theresa Smith’s vocals take this song to another level. Beautiful stuff.

“Decommissioned” (track 8) will be GraViL’s first single from the album (see their lyric video below). It’s a terrifically punchy track that talks—screams—about friendship betrayal. As with a few of their songs, I love the tranquil melody that glides effortlessly above the pummelling machine beneath.

“Forever is a prison” (track 9) has a really interesting starting-stopping riff that feels like it’s changing direction or pace every few bars. This gives the song quite an unsettling feeling, which is fitting given that the theme of the lyrics includes domestic abuse. About halfway through the song morphs into a beating, primal bass and drum rhythm, over which sings a melodic guitar solo.  The guitar solos are few and far between on this album, which is a real shame as when they do come they are really great, and add something special to each track.

The first time I listened to the final track “One eyed king” (track 10) I couldn’t believe they kept this track till last. It’s so different to the rest of the album. It’s brilliant! It opens with a grinding bass riff through which weaves a staccato guitar riff that builds and pummels into a full-on guitar-led assault. About a minute in the vocals bounce and build into a full-on rant. Each time I listen to this song I can’t help but smile: this song is perfect.

And then silence.

Conclusion

It’s often in the silence after an album has burned itself out that you really begin to appreciate its greatness. And this is a great album.

This is an album that was written largely online using home recording equipment, and over the phone. The lyrics were written within a week.

People often talk about the “difficult second album”. Well, GraViL have certainly made it sound easy—though, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t. They have poured out and honed their creativity into a solid body of music that feels both raw yet honed.

This is an exciting, fresh album from an up-and-coming British band. I just hope that the disappointments about the state of the music industry that are reflected in track 4 “Plagues, thieves and murderers” doesn’t destroy their passion before it flourishes more.

This is certainly a band to keep an eye and an ear out for. If this album is in any way indicative of the health of British metal just now then we are in a really great place right now. Thank you GraViL, 2017 is looking up already.

Check it out on Friday 5 May 2017.

Review score: 98%

Bonus video

Mastodon—’Emperor of Sand’ released on Friday 31 March 2017

The new album Emperor of Sand (2017) from Atlanta, Georgia progressive metallers Mastodon is scheduled for release later this week (Friday 31 March).

So far they have released two tracks on Mastodon’s YouTube channel: “Andromeda” (above) and “Sultan’s Curse” (below).

So far, there hasn’t been a Mastodon album that I haven’t loved. So my hopes are up for this being another classic.

Metallica’s ‘Spit Out The Bone’ reimagined as a Slayer song

I realised the other day that I still need to review Metallica’s 2016 album Hardwired… to Self‐Destruct (2016). For me, this was a solid return to form for the Bay Area thrash pioneers after the slightly disappointing Death Magnetic (2008); in may ways [controversial opinion ahead] I actually preferred St Anger (2003).

Until then, check out this version of the album closer “Spit Out The Bone” reimagined as a Reign In Blood (1986)-era Slayer song.

I really want to hear the whole album reimagined in this way, now.

PREVIEW: Krysthla—Peace in our Time (2017)

Krysthla—Peace in our Time

Krysthla—Peace in our Time

Details

Produced by Neil Hudson, who writes, “Our second album, ‘Peace In Our Time’ is influenced heavily, and almost solely by the fact I am a father. With so much unrest and violence in the world, it’s easy to turn your back and pretend none of it has an impact on your life. Or somehow because it’s a long way from home it’s someone else’s problem. War does not sleep. War does not stop. It doesn’t choose who dies and who lives. But the people who light the fire and fan the flames do…”

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Release date: Friday 7 April 2017

Band

  • Adi Mayes—Vocals
  • Neil Hudson—Guitars
  • Noel Davis—Guitars
  • Carl Davis—Bass
  • Wayne Minney—Drums

Tracks

  1. The minor mystery of death (6:40)
  2. Yawm al-Qiyamah (6:10)
  3. Depths (5:59)
  4. Make disciples of the nations (5:28)
  5. Within the lie of all lies (5:58)
  6. In death we shall not die (4:34)
  7. Age of war (5:50)
  8. Eternal oceans (9:30)

Review

2015 was a rather dramatic year for me. On Thursday 23 July, shortly before my 16th and—as it turned out—penultimate wedding anniversary, I caught viral meningitis which manifested itself in a quite literally blinding headache: the blindness lasted about three to four months, the headache for a year.

Somehow, within a week of being released from hospital I reviewed Krysthla’s then-forthcoming album A War of Souls and Desires (2015). I was clearly experiencing my own war but my desire to fulfil my promise to the band to preview their debut album won over despite the fact that I could barely see (I must have bumped my PC resolution to 800 × 600) and I had very little energy and so slept for more than 12 hours a day.

What the meningitis didn’t affect, however, was my ability to recognise a good collection of tunes when I heard one and I gave the album 100%. As I said in my conclusion, “If you are into extreme metal. If you like your Napalm Death and Meshuggah. Then seriously buy this! To many this may be just a lot of noise and shouting, but oh! what perfect noise and shouting! This is a modern metal masterpiece.”

Fast forward about 18 months and Krysthla are preparing to launch their ‘difficult’ second album Peace In Our Time. Can they do it again?

Krysthla band promo photo standing in a tunnel that has been lit blue

Peace in our tunnel

Well, yes! Yes, they can. Peace In Our Time is another modern metal masterpiece and I can’t stop listening to it. The album is technical and progressive, engaging and aggressive. The production is fresh and modern, the playing is intricate and precise. There is something here for everyone.

“The minor mystery of death” (track 1) is a perfect  opening statement for the album. It has quite an epic, stately start that builds to a thundering riff. About halfway through it changes tempo a little, weaving quite a Meshuggah-like syncopated rhythm while a sympathetic guitar solo meanders through it. Then it’s back to the main riff to the end.

“Yawm al-Qiyamah” (track 2) is straight out of the blocks with a very American death metal riff, which quickly mutates into a surging, wave of a riff. What really makes this song is the hardcore-esque vocals that subtly cuts a counter rhythm through the band, staccato-ed, biting, relentless.

“Depths” (track 3) opens with an atmospheric and delicate soundscape. But don’t let that deceive you. This is one of the most brutal and frantic songs on the album. Within a minute all hell breaks loose and you are treated to a full-on thrash-out until about two-thirds in when things slow down for a Gorefest-like wail. And then it builds again. A crushing, powerful riff to which you can’t but help bang your head to. This song has everything.

“Make disciples of the nations” (track 4) has an extraordinary riff that serves like a call and answer:

bark-bark-bark-bark    bark-bark-baaaaaark!
bark-bark-bark-bark    bark-bark-baaaaaark!

This is one of the things I love about Krysthla: they are continuously mixing things up with new tempos, influences from death metal, doom, thrash, prog, djent, hardcore, industrial. In many hands this wouldn’t work but processed through the Krysthla writing filters it produces new and interesting sounds song after song.

“Within the lie of all lies” (track 5) is one of my favourite songs on the album. Passionate lyrics screamed over an emotion-inducing riff. My heart soars when I listen to this track. There is something beautifully simple about this song. I haven’t heard anything so perfectly metal this year than this song.

“In death we shall not die” (track 6) challenges “Depths” for the most aggressive song. By Krysthla standards this is a short song being the only song under five and a half minutes. But it stands its ground, makes its point and moves on.

“Age of war” (track 7) begins with another magnificent and mutating riff. Again, it has a bit of a Meshuggah/djent feel but this isn’t blind repetition: Krysthla have their own sound, their own voice and it is most certainly one to listen to.

“Eternal oceans” (track 8) slows things down for the album closer. A lamenting, doom-ful riff grinds itself towards the end. Vocalist Adi Mayes screams above the storm. I wish I could read the lyrics because they sound urgent and heartfelt.

And then, about a minute before the end of the song the tempo changes. A simple riff. Another guitar joins. BANG! Thrash! And it’s all over. As the Kurgan tells us in Highlander, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that Krysthla in 2017 are a force with which to be reckoned. This is one brilliant album. On my first couple of listens through there were a few moments where I wasn’t entirely convinced. I wondered at the time if the album might drop a few percentage points. But now I can’t remember what my niggles were.

This album is a beautifully crafted statement of modern British metal and I love it. I have said again and again throughout this blog that what really fires me up is interesting music, music that appeals to all my senses, that appeals to my intellect as well as my ears. And this album, like their debut, has it and has it in abundance.

More please…

Review score: 100%

Live

Krysthla are playing live this spring to promote the album. Go see them! I expect that I’ll go see them in either Dundee or Edinburgh mid-May.

Videos

Official lyric video for “Depths” (track 3)

Official lyric video for “Make disciples of the nations” (track 4)

Disclosure

Stampede Press UK contacted me at the end of January 2017 inviting me to preview Krysthla’s forthcoming album, which I was delighted about. I’ve spent the last four weeks within this on semi-permanent play: in my car, on my phone, at work, at home, on the hifi next to my bed…

I have no connections to either Stampede Press UK or Krysthla.

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. But when the album comes out, I definitely intend to buy it to support the band because this is awesome!

Many thanks to Rob from Stampede Press UK, and Adi, Neil, Noel, Carl and Wayne from Krysthla for producing such an exquisite album.