PREVIEW: From Eden to Exile—Modern Disdain (2017)

From Eden to Exile—Modern Disdain (2017)

From Eden to Exile—Modern Disdain (2017)

Details

Debut album produced by Neil Hudson (Krysthla/Gutworm) at Initiate Audio and Media. Released on Attic Records/PHD. Released Friday 2 June 2017.

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Band

  • Matt Dyne—Vocals
  • Tom Kelland—Guitars
  • Mike Bell—Guitars
  • Joey Jaycock—Bass
  • Liam Turland —Drums

Tracks

  1. Gospel untold
  2. Modern disdain
  3. Volatile
  4. Victim
  5. The dreamer
  6. From Eden to exile
  7. What you’ve done
  8. Sentiment

Review

Having won the Corby finals of Bloodstock’s ‘Metal 2 the Masses’ competition in 2015, Northampton metallers From Eden to Exile appeared that year on the Bloodstock “New Blood” stage. Since then they seem to have gone from strength to strength, having been taken under the wing by Krysthla (and former Gutworm) guitarist and producer Neil Hudson to help produce this storming modern British metal album.

When asked about the experience vocalist Matt Dyne said, “It’s been an extraordinary time. We’ve taken our time and sweated bullets nailing this album to the point where everyone in the band can honestly look each other in the eye and confidently state this is the best of us, right now.”

“Yet there’s much more in the tank”, continued guitarist Tom Kelland, “Working with Neil [Hudson] at Initiate really opened our minds as to the possibilities with our music. The boxes we may have felt confined to in the past have been stripped away and we firmly believe we’ve got something really solid to offer the metal community.”

And it certainly shows.

From Eden to standing in a field

From Eden to standing in a field

I’ve been listening to this album off and on for the last couple of months and it’s really hard to fault. Modern Disdain is a solid album with enough certainly to keep me interested. Musically this album sits somewhere on the border between Lamb of God’s flavour of American groove metal and metalcore.

An almighty battering of the snare drum, barked lyrics, and a riff played at breakneck speed, “Gospel untold” (track 1) kicks off this album, as so many track 1s do. It reminds me very much of something from one of the early Lamb of God albums, until about 1′ 20″ when with a curt chugga-chugga the pace changes slightly and veers off into a more metalcore neighbourhood. I love the guitar solo on this song. It is rich and warm, it sours and adds something melodically beautiful to the soundtrack to the apocalypse that is raging beneath it.

Title track “Modern disdain” (track 2) opens with quite an acid, sour disharmony. Its stop-start metalcore riff morphs into an almost Exodus-style riff but with deep, Chuck Billy (Testament)-style, growling vocal. There are so many influences within this track but as a whole the song doesn’t feel contrived or stolen. Another soaring guitar solo marks the descent towards the track’s end.

“Volatile” (track 3) is another super-fast track that initially has quite a Slayer vibe to it. You can watch the video, below. About 1′ 25″, though, the sound gets stripped back to just a riff, and then gradually builds, steering towards a very shouty-metalcore sound, before returning to its original, galloping behemoth of a riff.

Track 4, “Victim” takes a different approach to what has come before. It has an almost epic, traditional heavy metal opening—think Powerslave-era Iron Maiden. It builds gradually, it has melody, duelling guitars. It then switches step into a metalcore gallop that weaves in and out of a Low-era Testament style riff. Overall, the track holds itself together but it doesn’t quite seem to understand itself. Maybe I’m wrong and I’ll return to this track in a few months with some kind of blinding epiphany, but having lived with it for a couple of months it, unfortunately, feels like one of the weaker songs on the album. I do rather like the start-stop descending riff outro, though.

“The dreamer” (track 5) is built around an old-school thrash style riff or two. It’s the shortest track on the album, but it gets in there, does its job, and gets out again.

Of bands that have songs titles that are the same as their band name, off the top of my head, I can think of only Iron Maiden and Motörhead. And now “From Eden to exile” (track 6). Unfortunately, this isn’t the most iconic track on the album. It doesn’t have the same punch or drive as any of the tracks on the first half of the album—it feels, sadly, like a bit of an album filler.

“What you’ve done” (track 7) picks up the pace, with a handful of galloping riffs that wouldn’t feel too out of place on a Slayer record. About a third of the way through, it drops to a halftime tempo and a Pantera-style arpeggio that in the 90s would undoubtedly have been accompanied by a rich, deep voice spoken over the top of it. Each time I listen to this track I find myself grumbling some made-up metal nonsense libretto over the top of this passage. Back to the main riff, fade to black…

Album closer, “Sentiment” (track 8) is a strong track. It has a bit more urgency and drive than the rest of the second half of this album. It’s also one of the most Lamb of God-sounding tracks on the album, which is perhaps why it’s one of my favourites.

Conclusion

This album is, for me at least, very much a game of two halves. The first four tracks are really strong, and while I’m not a massive fan of metalcore—although I do love thrash and hardcore separately—From Eden to Exile do steer their sound close enough to thrash for me to really appreciate it.

What lets things down for me a bit is the second half of the album. While the songs, for the most part are still strong and interesting, they seem to lose focus a little around tracks six and seven. Thankfully, things are brought back into line with the final track on the album which closes the work nicely.

Overall, though, this is an album that I could quite happily return to again and again. This album is proof that metal isn’t dead yet, that it still relevant, and that British bands still have a lot to give.

From Eden to Exile are definitely a band to keep an eye on in the future, both live and recorded.

Review score: 90%

Bonus video

Disclaimer

Stampede Press UK contacted me a few months back, inviting me to preview From Eden to Exile’s forthcoming debut album.

I have no connections to either Stampede Press UK or From Eden to Exile. 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 From Eden to Exile.

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Sofa King Killer—Midnight Magic (2004)

Sofa King Killer—Midnight Magic (2004)

Sofa King Killer—Midnight Magic (2004)

Details

Produced by Thorla and Seelye. Mastered by David Torrey at DRT Masteringart. Released on Retribute Records, 2004.

Wikipedia

Band

  • Ryan Burgy—Vocals
  • Chris Chiera—Guitar
  • Paul Bartholet—Bass
  • Brad Thorla—Drums

Tracks

  1. It’s Fun To Be The Bad Guy
  2. Taller Buckets Hold More
  3. The Getaway
  4. The God Out Of Reach
  5. Killing People Is Easy
  6. No Other Path To Pursue
  7. An Ode To Myself
  8. Don’t Slow Me Down
  9. Thiboderux
  10. Holy Bottle

Review

Sofa King Killer were a sludge metal band from Akron in Ohio. According to Wikipedia,

Sofa King Killer’s (abbreviated as SKK) vision was to create a hybrid band of different genres including doom metal, sludge metal, rock and roll and punk rock. The band was known for guitar riffs inspired by Black Sabbath, drums of the Melvins and the vocals of Eyehategod.

If this album is anything to judge them on—and there’s not much more in their back-catalogue, so it will have to do—they’ve done a pretty good job realising their vision.

I imagine this would be a great album to listen to on a long train journey, sitting staring out of the window. The pace of the songs stays pretty consistent, the audible landscape varies little, slowing down here and there, but on the whole bouncing its way through one dirty riff after another.

This is the kind of album that I can listen to on repeat, the kind of album I can listen to and enjoy but which doesn’t distract me for getting on with other pieces of work. This would be great music for writing to, or coding to.

Chiera’s guitars are heavy and loose, tuned down and distorted; Bartholet’s bass guitar rumbles along the bottom occasionally shining through when given the space; Thorla’s drums hold it all together, plenty of cymbal crashes, with the snare tick-tocking to keep the beat; while over the top Burgy’s vocals are throaty and hoarse. It’s tight and loose all the same time. With each song I found my head nodding as I bounced along to the groove.

Conclusion

No surprise but I found this album really enjoyable. Sludge metal has been one of my delightful finds in this project: the average score that I’ve given a sludge metal album is 81%.

It’s a shame that Sofa King Killer split in 2009. I’d liked to have heard more from them. I’ll just have to track down their debut album Stout-Soaked Songs (2000) and see how it compares.

Review score: 90%

Bonus

Ramming Speed—Brainwreck (2008)

Ramming Speed—Brainwreck (2008)

Ramming Speed—Brainwreck (2008)

Details

Recorded onto 2 inch tape by Jordan Levantini (with assistance from Nick Wolf) at New Alliance. It was then dumped into Protools before being dumped back onto tape for mastering by Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East. Released on Teenage Disco Bloodbath Records in 2008.

Band

  • Pete “Za” Gallagher—Vocals
  • Kallen “Lock ’em up” Bliss—Guitars
  • Ricky “Ta Speed” Zampa—Guitars
  • Derek “The Bass Player” Cloonan—Bass
  • Jonah “The Laser Storm” Livingston—Drums

Tracks

  1. Speed trials
  2. The threat…
  3. Lazer assault
  4. All in all
  5. Shane Embury is the Brad Pitt of grindcore
  6. Bogus facade
  7. Sound the alarm
  8. Immigrant song
  9. Political party
  10. Man vs machine
  11. Arrested development
  12. A modern myth
  13. Heavy metal thunder

Review

From the moment I listened to the first track I knew that I’d like this album. To be honest, I had a sneaking suspicion before that when I read through the lyrics printed on the inside of the CD packaging. This is a band with both a sense of humour and a political opinion.

I first noticed the song “Immigrant song” and wondered if it was a cover of the Led Zeppelin classic. It’s not. But it’s brilliant: a commentary on how badly migrants are treated. It ends with “We’re so fickle with the arguments we choose / Many of our ancestors faced hardships when they arrived / So let our new immigrant amigos just live their lives”. Well said!

Something I noticed too when typing out the band members’ names. How upset must Derek Cloonan be to get such an unimaginative nickname?! We Pete “Za” Gallagher on vocals, Kallen “Lock ’em up” Bliss and Ricky “Ta Speed” Zampa on guitars, and Jonah “The Laser Storm” Livingston on drums. How on earth then did Derek Cloonan only get given the nickname “The Bass Player”? That’s about as creative as when Jason Newsted joined Voivod and inherited the moniker Jasonic.

Conclusion

This debut album from US thrash / crossover merchants Ramming Speed is really rather good. It has a very old school thrash/punk feel to it. Think Evile meets early Suicidal Tendencies.

This album will definitely be on my playlist throughout 2016.

Review score: 90%

Gunslinger—Earthquake in E Minor (2008)

Gunslinger—Earthquake in E Minor (2008)

Gunslinger—Earthquake in E Minor (2008)

Details

Engineered and produced by Alan Davey and Nigel Potter. Mixed by Alan Davey. Mastered by Paul Cobbold. Recorded at Boot Hill Studios.

Band

  • Alan Davey—Bass, vocals and synths and keyboards
  • Nigel Potter—Rhythm and lead guitars, vocals and keyboards
  • George Agent the 2nd—Drums and percussion

Tracks

  1. Night song
  2. If the bombs don’t get ya the bullets will
  3. Shell shocked
  4. Savage love
  5. Cyanide
  6. Blitzkrieg baby
  7. Going in for the kill
  8. Hymn to the wild
  9. Don’t need you
  10. Warhorse
  11. Gunslinger

Review

Bands that sound like other bands: AC/DC has Airbourne, Led Zeppelin has Kingdom Come (who were nicknamed ‘Kingdom Clone’; Gary Moore sang about them, with Ozzy, on his After the War (1989) track “Led Clones”)… it would appear that Motörhead has Gunslinger.

Everything about the band screams Motörhead: the Lemmy-like vocals, the dominant overdriven Rickenbacker bass sound, the song structures, even the inlay sleeve shows the band dressed in black, wearing cowboy hats–reminiscent of the Motörhead—Ace of Spades (1980) cover… though nowhere near as cool. (Sorry guys!)

What I found most fascinating, though, is that bassist/vocalist Alan Davey appears to be the antithesis of Motörhead. Whereas Lemmy left (…was fired from) Hawkwind to form Motörhead, Davey left a Motörhead-sounding band to join Hawkwind. He was with them from 1984–1996, and then again from 2001–2007 before reforming Gunslinger.

So… what’s the album like?

Well, first up: the artwork is really terrible. It’s like a someone has just discovered how to layer stock images in Photoshop. Take the surface of Mars, the sky, some lightning, a few explosions, a black circle, a skull with red eyes, a crudely hand-drawn band name, and a photo of three blokes… paste, new layer, paste, new layer, repeat… ta da!

But let’s not judge an album by its cover. Thankfully the music is better. Much better.

Sure it sounds like Motörhead (have I mentioned that already?), but it’s classic-era Motörhead that it sounds like. It sounds like the early albums, when Motörhead were fresh and young. But it (inevitably) has elements of Hawkwind in there too (they use synths and keyboards), as well as a kind of wild west feel that immediately put me in mind of Adam and the Ants.

My favourite tracks by far on the album are the excellent “Cyanide” and the blow-away “Warhorse” which features some fabulous solos, both on guitar and bass.

Conclusion

Motörhead-clone they may be, but this is straight-up, top notch British rock and roll. According to the Metal Archives, “Lemmy Kilmister has dubbed [Alan Davey] the second ‘bass assassin’. Good skills!

Review score: 90%

Video

Detritivore—Pakt (2010)

Detritivore—Pakt (2010)

Detritivore—Pakt (2010)

Details

Music by Detritivore. Artwork by Justin Bartlett. Produced by Joakim Jensen. Mastered by James Plotkin.

Band

  • ?

Tracks

  1. Postludium
  2. Lutring
  3. Messe
  4. Undergang
  5. Pakt
  6. Finale

Review

With an album cover like that I expected something dark and black and Norwegian. And it is but not in the conventional sense.

It’s hard to categorise this album. It reminds me in part of Monotheist-era Celtic Frost (it’s the dirty, slow guitar sound) and Justin Broadrick’s post-Godflesh shoegaze/drone outfit Jesu.

This album is certainly not easy to listen to in the background; the album demands your attention, and there’s something really great about that.

So, a quick run down of the tracks:

“Postludium” is initially like an atmospheric soundtrack to the zombie level of one of the Call of Duty games. Then there’s a bouncing distorted riff that puts me in mind of Apocalytica at their most energetic, and distant sung vocals in the style of something from Towering Inferno’s Kadesh (1993).

“Lutring” builds on a distorted, sustained note. This could be something from Bladerunner. The note broadens to a chord. A heavily detuned guitar punches Tom G Warrior-style riffs out through a deeply distorted amplifier. It closes with the sound of planes flying over a post-apocalyptic landscape.

“Messe” offers more weird noises into which a guitar picks out a diatonic pattern beneath a quietly wailing violin. Eventually these are joined by a bass and overdriven guitar. Sustaaaaaaaaiiiiinnnnn,,,

“Undergang” sounds like it was recorded in the London underground. During a flood. It’s a study in white noise without anyone actually saying “Shhhh!”

“Pakt”. The title track. A clean arpeggio opens the track. Bludgeoning riffs. Dischordant chords. All played slowly and deliberately.

“Finale” beings with high-pitched squeals. Out from it emerges a rolling, almost bouncing riff that eventually burns itself out after eight minutes.

Conclusion

This is an unexpected gem. It’s experimental. It’s interesting. It demands attention. I really, really loved this album. Well done… whoever you are.

Review score: 90%

John 5—Requiem (2008)

John 5—Requiem (2008)

John 5—Requiem (2008)

Details

All songs written by John 5. Recorded at the Chop Shop in Hollywood, California, USA. Produced by Chris Baseford and John 5. Executive producer—John 5. Mastered by Undercurrent Studios. Engineered by Chris Baseford. Assistant engineer—Will Thompson. Released on Mascot Records in 2008.

www.john-5.com

Band

  • John 5—all guitars, bass, banjo
  • Tommy Clufetos—Drums

Tracks

  1. Sounds of impalement
  2. Heretic’s fork
  3. Noisemaker’s fire
  4. Pity belt
  5. Cleansing the soul
  6. The Judas cradle
  7. Pear of anguish
  8. The lead sprinkler
  9. Scavenger’s daughter
  10. Requiem

Review

This is the second John 5 CD that I’ve reviewed, at the end of last year I listened to The Devil Knows My Name (2007) and gave it a complementary 85%. How does this, its sequel, compare?

It’s great! There are still elements of portfolio-of-someone-about-to-graduate-from-the-Guitar-Institute-of-Technology but overall this is a heavier, more focused album in my opinion. With smatterings of finger-pickin’ bluegrass an’ banjo!

The album opens with “Sounds of impalement” which is reminds me of a cross between Stone Sour and Steve Vai. It’s rocky, it’s fun.

Next up is the Alice In Chains-like “Heretic’s Fork” which opens with a riff that’s not a million miles away from “We die young” from Facelift (1990), until it’s reveals its true widdly-heart. A tune that certainly gets my head nodding every time.

“Noisemaker’s Fire” sounds like a bluegrass track that’s been recorded in a room full of cine projectors and dot matrix printers. About halfway through, though, it seems to employ almost exactly the same riff as “Heretic’s Fork”. This gives these couple of tracks a kind of suite feel to it. I like it.

Track 4 “Pity belt” is the first track I would likely skip, to be honest. More bluegrass-style picking along to a drum kit in the background; thin sound; not my thing. However, it inspires the widdle-tastic and very much electric “Cleansing the soul”, so I guess it stays on my playlist.

“The Judas cradle” (track 6) opens with strings and an intriguing arpeggio that soon bursts into a Black Sabbath-style riff that is both dark and haunting. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album.

“Pear of anguish” features the only vocals on the album, even if those are slowed down speech. More bluegrass style banjo pickin’. A cheesy little portion of silliness.

“The lead sprinkler” sees the album retreat to the darker places once again. More Steve Vai or Joe Satriani-like widdling.

“Scavenger’s daughter” opens with a delicate tune picked out on guitar, beneath the rumbling drums and the frosty winds of Hoth that then explodes into a Slayer-like riff that absolutely rips! The flight of the bumblebee arpeggio runs kind of spoil it a little for me but whenever John 5 returns to the Slayer-like riff he wins me over again.

The album closes with the title track “Requiem”. It’s experimental (squeaks and squeals, reverbed drums, samples of guitar) and really quite interesting. It builds and builds towards the end, and closes with a picked guitar arpeggio (is there any other kind?) that is reminiscent of the intro to Slayer’s “Seasons in the abyss”. It is quite emotive and very atmospheric.

Conclusion

All in all a great album by all accounts. While the banjo and bluegrass-style portions don’t exactly float my boat I can forgive John 5 for these. They reflect his style and his interests (rather than mine), and they are neither indulgent nor played to death. Besides they often inspire the following track, giving a more coherent and interdependent feel to the album. There is always plenty more to interest the listener. And this listener in particular. Good stuff!

Review score: 90%

Video

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-_44zgIK1g]

Opera IX—The Black Opera: Symphoniae Mysteriorum in Laudem (2000)

Opera IX—The Black Opera: Symphoniae Mysteriorum in Laudem (2000)

Opera IX—The Black Opera: Symphoniae Mysteriorum in Laudem (2000)

Details

Recorded and mixed at Studio Underground, Sweden in January 2000. Produced and engineered by Pelle Saether. Assisted by Magnus Soderman and Lara Linden. Mastered at Massive Arts.

www.operaix.it

Band

  • Cadaveria—Vocals
  • Ossian—Guitars
  • Vlad—Bass
  • Lunaris—Keyboards
  • Flegias—Drums

Tracks

  1. Act I: The first seal
  2. Act II: Beyond the black diamond gates
  3. Act III: Carnal delight in the vortex of evil
  4. Act IV: Congressus cum daemone
  5. Act V: The magic temple
  6. Act IV: The sixth seal
  7. Bela Lugosi’s dead (Bauhaus cover)

Review

And so to the conclusion of my introduction to Opera IX, to their (and my) third album The Black Opera: Symphoniae Mysteriorum in Laudem.

I took a few days off before listening to this album, having had a bit of an Opera IX overload last week. I also had my first ocular migraine, which I’m still suffering from as I write this—the headache has gone for now but the visual anomalies are still very much present. To misquote someone on Twitter this week, having a migraine is a bit like staring at the sun, with concussion, listening to black metal! Anyway…

Of the three albums I’ve listened to this is by far the most palatable. The song writing is more mature, the musicianship is more accomplished, the production is better. All in all this is the best of the three, which is a bit of a relief as I was feeling a bit down about not terribly enjoying the last two albums.

Musically the album makes me think of Paradise Lost meets Arch Enemy, with elements of Celtic Frost’s more avant garde moments: it’s gothic metal with a black heart.

Whereas with previous albums the songs seems to go on for ever quite needlessly, this time around there seems to be more of a journey, more of a purpose. It’s more interesting.

I imagine that the lyrics aren’t the cheeriest, but given that I can’t focus just now I’m not even going to attempt to read them. It’s hard enough typing this on a keyboard that seems to melt in front of my eyes. For accessibility considerations on future releases black metal bands may wish to consider not printing their lyrics in red on black in the most unreadable script typeface. Just a thought boys and girls.

Conclusion

All in all, a much, much better release than their previous two offerings. This has been quite a fun recording to listen to as I’ve pottered rather blindly around the house in a migraineous haze. Good work Opera IX, more like this please.

Review score: 90%

Video

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVx7Nv9RUS8]