Sal—Infatuation!! EP (2007)

Sal—Infatuation!! (2007)

Sal—Infatuation!! (2007)

Details

Recorded at Stir Studios, Cardiff. Engineered by Steve Davis. Produced, mixed and mastered by Ace (formerly of Skunk Anansie) at Ace Record Production.

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Band

  • Cat Southall—Vocals
  • Noog—Guitars and loops
  • Chris—Bass guitar
  • Den—Drums

Also features Richard Holley—Keyboards.

Tracks

  1. In love
  2. Make it on her own
  3. September
  4. Goodbye
  5. Dreaming

Review

Infatuation is Cardiff band Sal’s second release, following debut album Dysfunctional (2005). The band reminds me of bands like Garbage: they have a pop-punk-rock feel, mixing melody with grit and attitude.

The EP fires off with a fast-paced, Bob Mould style song “In love”, before slowing things down with the power ballad-esque “Make it on her own”.

“September” takes the speed up again, but the song fails to hit the mark for me. It reminds me of something that might go well as the soundtrack to a montage in a US teen feel-good movie. “Goodbye” is the punkiest song on the EP with fast downstroke picking, rumbling drum fills and some of the cheesiest lyrics on the disc. Goodbye.

“Dreaming” is another mid-paced track with some nice dynamics.

Conclusion

Production-wise, musicianship-wise, songwriting-wise this is a decent enough release. I certainly wouldn’t switch it off, and I get the impression they would be fun to see live. Whether I’d hunt out this EP to listen to, I’m not sure. It’s not really my thing, but I do appreciate why it might be someone else’s.

Review score: 68%

Gwynbleidd—Amaranthine EP (2006)

Gwynbleidd—Amaranthine EP (2006)

Gwynbleidd—Amaranthine EP (2006)

Details

Recorded with Ka on Luna Sun at DMD Studios, Brooklyn, NY. Mixed by Michael Kacunel and Maciek Miernok at Galicja Studios, Brooklyn, NY. Mastered by Alan Silverman at Arf! Digital, New York, NY. Released on 6 June 2006 as an independent release.

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Band

  • Maciej Kupiszewski—Vocals and guitars
  • Michal Kacunel—Vocals and guitars
  • Jakub Kupiszewski—Bass
  • Adam Romanowski—Drums

Tracks

  1. Nostalgia (10′ 54″)
  2. New setting (9′ 45″)
  3. The awakening (9′ 51″)
  4. Lure of the land (9′ 12″)

Review

The EP opener “Nostalgia” beings with a clean guitar, quite pretty, almost folk-y sounding riff, that gradually sounds more and more sour before it transitions into a distorted riff and the growling vocals begin.

And this being progressive death metal, the song then grumbles on for another nine minutes, twisting and turning, starting and stopping, delighting and surprising.

About seven and a half minutes in, the guitars are clean again for another folk-y, almost Gregorian chant-style passage. And a minute later we’re back on the train, and treated to a slightly uncomfortable sounding (in a good way!) guitar solo.

“New setting”, track 2, opens with a slow, doom-like riff, that reminds me a little of Paradise Lost. This song seems to have a little less variation than its predecessor, or perhaps it’s that they wait until about a minute before the end before the clean passage.

By now, on my first listen, I was already comparing Gwynbleidd (Welsh for ‘wolf blood’) to Opeth with their mixture of heavy and clean riffs. But these guys have a decidedly folk metal slant. This is even more evident on the next track.

“The awakening”, track 3, starts with a strong, driving riff. The vocals surface quite unexpectedly about 90 seconds in. A proper folk-y riff played on what sounds like a nylon-string acoustic guitar, with accompanying bodhran-style drums and a flute.

And at nine minutes and 51 seconds, the song just cuts off.

The final track, “Lure of the land” follows a similar path. It opens with an acoustic, strummed chord sequence before it’s overtaken by the same riff on electric guitars. Vocals growl into view around 1′ 45″.

Throughout the song, amidst the distorted riffs, like clearings in a dark forest, there are clean passages. In places folk metal, in places mediaeval-sounding—like Opeth once were when they imagined they were lute-playing minstrels.

Around 7′ 20″ the song slows to a dirge. Out of which is reclaimed the original riff for a minute or two. Until fade to black…

Conclusion

For an EP it’s pretty long, with none of the four songs dipping below nine minutes, firmly placing it in the progressive camp. While this EP didn’t exactly set me on fire, I did enjoy it. Parallels can be made in places to Opeth, but that’s perhaps inevitable given its genre.

I have another Gwynbleidd album coming up this week, that actually includes the first two tracks from this EP. So it will be interesting to hear how that compares.

In the meantime, I think this is definitely a keeper.

Review score: 68%

Decrepid—Live at the Purple Turtle (2009)

Decrepid—Live at the Purple Turtle (2009)

Decrepid—Live at the Purple Turtle (2009)

Details

Recorded live at the Purple Turtle, London on 24 June 2009. Bonus studio track recorded at Ealing Film Studios, London on 23 May 2009. Engineered by Geriant Newall. Mastering by Owen Crawford at Soundfire Studios, Wales. All songs written by Decrepid.

Band

  • Cris Bassan—Vocals
  • Danny Price—Guitar
  • Steve Brennan—Guitar
  • Marni—Bass
  • Michael Dummett—Drums

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Tracks

  1. Born to die
  2. Sins of Sodom
  3. Avoiding humanity
  4. Devoted to death
  5. Kill or be killed
  6. Bloodlust
  7. Sins of Sodom (bonus studio track)

Review

Another review written late… sorry! I tell you, this going back to work lark is seriously interfering with my metal listening!

As I think I’ve said elsewhere on this blog, I’m generally not overly fond of live albums. Try as they might, they don’t always capture the full live experience: hours of waiting around, the aching feet, watching roadies moving stuff on stage, the smell of stale beer, the sticky floors, the rank lavatories! Oh yeah, and the music…

The production on this album, however, is pretty decent. I mean, it still sounds pretty rough, but at least the instruments are well defined in the mix. The bass guitar is meaty, the drums have a depth to them, the guitars aren’t too dominant or have too much high end, and there’s a clarity in the incomprehensibility of the vocals.

Not only are the lyrics unrecognisable, but Bassan insists on introducing the name of each song in the death growl style that he sings the songs. “The next song is called GROWLGROWLGROWL!”

The album kicks off with four beats on the hi-hat to count in a beefy, almost doom riff at the start of “Born to die”. Before long speeds up and are joined by guttural vocals. I love the bass tone on this song. It’s refreshing to actually hear the bass guitar on a death metal album, as they so often follow so closely the main guitar riff.

As the song grinds to a halt, Bassan utters a self-congratulatory, “Fuckin’ yeah!” before announcing to the crowd, “Alright, we are Decrepid. We are from London. … [Pause] … That’s it really!”

Not the most dynamic of chats with the crowd from a front man, but it does the job.

And that about sums up the rest of the album for me, really. It does the job adequately. There isn’t anything on this album that I disliked particularly. But neither was there anything in particular that stood out for me. It’s all pretty much death-metal-by-numbers, but it’s fun. (Is death metal supposed to be fun? I must look that up sometime.)

I tell you what else is fun: the album title. It’s about as far from death metal as you could hope to get. Think about it, repeat it over and over again: death metal… purple turtle. It’s like mentioning black metal and My Little Pony in the same sentence.

Conclusion

If I was to see Decrepid in concert, as I was standing on the sticky floor, my feet aching, my ears hurting from the volume, I get a sense that I would rather enjoy their set.

The only problem is that I imagine it might be forgotten rather quickly. Like disposable death metal: use once then discard.

Review score: 68%

Tripswitch—Until (2008)

Tripswitch—Until (2008)

Tripswitch—Until (2008)

Details

Tripswitch’s last EP ‘Until’ was immediately picked up for distribution by Code 7 through Plastic Head, garnered great reviews and even gained the band their first celebrity fan: Porn star Belladonna. A large promotional run followed its release, handled by Andy Copping at ACP, plus appearances on cover mounted CDs with Zero Tolerance and Terrorizer magazines. (Source: Tripswitch website.)

Band

  • Jamie Armstrong—Vocals
  • Peter Botterill—Drums/Samples
  • Shaun Hodson—Guitar
  • Rick Whitehead—Guitar
  • Steve Dearnley—Bass

Tracks

  1. Call It A Day
  2. 1 Hit Infliction
  3. Withered
  4. 15:1
  5. Answers
  6. .
  7. Outro

Review

If I had been played this EP blindfolded I would have sworn that the vocalist was Armored Saint / ex-Anthrax singer John Bush. Jamie Armstrong has a fabulous voice for metal: raspy but clear, and melodic but not at the cost of being able to shout a line or two if the need arises.

This is another one of those recordings that begins (with the song “Call it a day”) in a rather deceptive, almost pop-way before distorted guitars kick in and Tripswitch reveal their true hand: metal.

Or… maybe not. The following track, “1 Hit Infliction” suddenly takes a left-turn about half way through into something rather trippy and pop-like before coming to its senses once again and pummelling the song through one final riff until the end.

More than one song on this EP follows the same path, dabbling with poppy, electronic samples. It’s done well though, it doesn’t feel forced or contrived.

The EP definitely has a British vibe to it, reminding me in places of Xentrix or Skindred.

If I had one criticism it would be that many of the songs sound very alike, more than just the fact that they are all played by the same band. That aside, this is a decent EP not least due to the vocalist and the punishing stop-start riffs.

Conclusion

This is definitely moving into my main music collection. I’ll listen to this again, quite happily. Until…

Review score: 68%