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.

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Bonus: Not Above Evil—Always Darkest Before (2016)

Not Above Evil—Always Darkest Before (2016)

Not Above Evil—Always Darkest Before (2016)

Details

Written by Not Above Evil with Damien Levette (tracks 4, 5 and 9). Mixed and mastered by Daniel Mucs. Drum recording at Big City Jacks Studio. Engineered by Martin Corral.

Bandcamp | Facebook | Encyclopaedia Metallum

Band

  • Sideeq Mohammed—Vocals and bass
  • David Gwynn—Guitar and vocals
  • Daniel Mucs—Percussion

Tracks

  1. When the day comes
  2. Adrenaline
  3. Unleashed
  4. Fibre and sinew
  5. Elevation of the form
  6. The close
  7. Doors and desolation
  8. Compression
  9. Turning over
  10. And the skies return

Review

About a year ago I reviewed Not Above Evil’s second album  The Transcendental Signified (2011). I was impressed

“This is definitely a keeper for me. […] This is an album that I would seek out to listen to, not just not-skip-over if it came on random play. Good work Manchester metallers! ” (85%)

I kind of got that right. Three-piece melodic death metal outfit Not Above Evil hail from both Manchester, UK and Stockholm, Sweden.

In October, drummer Daniel Mucs messaged me on Twitter asking if I’d like to hear the new album. A few weeks later a CD metaphorically dropped through my letterbox. (It actually arrived at reception and I picked it up from my in-tray.)

Thanks to the madness that is wardennial work in a university hall of residence, the CD has been sitting on my desk teasing me for the last six weeks or so. What was I thinking?! I should have stuck it on straight away, because it’s brilliant!

“When the day comes” (track 1) begins quietly . I forget this every time and end up turning up the volume and getting a fright when the drums kick in about 20 seconds in. After that it’s a stately plod to the end. There is a slightly ‘doom’ feel to the song as it trundles along at around 76 bpm, but that gives it weight and it’s by far the heaviest thing that I’ve listened to all day.

“Adrenaline” (track 2) speeds things up a bit, with a straight forward, barked vocal and thundering tempo. The song breaks down about half way before building from a terrific riff that you can’t help but bang your head to.

“Unleashed” (track 3) has a horror feel from the start. Like the souls of a thousand death metal vocalists are trying to communicate something. This track lasts until about three-quarters of the way through before shaking things up a little. Then it’s back to the original riffs until it’s over the finishing line.

“Fibre and sinew” (track 4) begins with a delicate and harmonised guitar lick that sounds very old school Testament – someone has been listening to their copy of The New Order (1988) – before punishing the listener with another slice of modern, hi-gain over-driven death metal.

“Elevation of the form” (track 5) sees Mucs pounding about every drum on his kit as the song builds up to a no-holds-barred rich-sounding riff. It’s by far one of my favourite tracks on the album and they kept it for half-way through.

After such a huge song, it seems quite natural that the next track, “The close”, should be short, instrumental and contemplative. There is no indication on the sleeve notes, however, who the keyboardists/pianist is.

“Doors and desolation” (track 7) resets the proceedings to the to the original programme and we’re back into a fairly standard death metal offering.

Then just as you suspect the album may just see itself out with a few album fillers, the stop-start magnificence of “Compression” (track 8) begins. It has a slower, looser feel, but like the opening track it’s really heavy. It’s definitely one of my favourite tracks on the album.

“Turning over” (track 9) opens with a tremendous bouncing riff and drums that could summon an army of the dead. Not Above Evil demonstrate  yet again that they are not a one-trick pony when it comes to song writing. They introduce new elements and riff after riff that twists the song in different directions. It does follow a bit of a pattern though with the song quietening in the middle, heading off on an interesting meander before returning to a pounding riff.

Finally, “And the skies return” (track 10) closes out the album in style. Like the opening track this has a feeling of grandeur, but it soon steps aside to let out the churning, maniac of a riff that it has clearly been trying to control. Towards the end of the song, the guitars slow down and wail, and the song walks over the finishing line at a steady pace. Like that scene of the soldiers entering the sports arena towards the end of Black Hawk Down (2001).

Conclusion

Not Above Evil certainly seem to be finding their voice but it is in the slower, more progressive numbers like “When the day comes”, “Elevation of the form”, “Compression” and “Turning over” that I feel they have most to say. The song writing is layered and complex and, essentially, very interesting. More like this please.

If you are into heavy music, definitely check out Not Above Evil. Definitely another keeper for me.

Review score: 90%

Not Above Evil—The Transcendental Signified (2011)

Not Above Evil—The Transcendental Signified (2011)

Not Above Evil—The Transcendental Signified (2011)

Details

All music written, performed and produced by Not Above Evil. Engineered, mixed and mastered by Daniel Mucs. Released on independent label (self-release?) in September 2011.

Band

  • Sideeq Mohammed—Vocals, bass
  • David Gwynn—Guitar
  • Damien Levette—Guitar
  • Daniel Mucs—Drums

Tracks

  1. Crossroads
  2. Legion
  3. Capture the dawn
  4. Against the tides
  5. Nexus
  6. Death and transformation
  7. As the curtain falls
  8. The duel

Review

I’m glad I generally take two or three listens of an album before I review them, because it really took until my third or four listen through to really begin to appreciate the quality of this sophomore full-length release from Manchester melodic death metal band Not Above Evil.

The album clocks in at an old school 44 minutes 10 seconds—short enough to fit on a single side of a TDK D90 cassette! It doesn’t overstay its welcome, and if anything leaves you wanting more.

While there is nothing particularly inspiring or genre-changing about the album it is a solid album with some pretty decent musicianship, production and song writing.

Vocals are gruff and growly but they have some depth and don’t get in the way. The guitars have a melodic bite to them, the bass guitar sits back nicely in the mix and the drums cut through nicely.

It’s great to see such quality from an independent British release.

Conclusion

This is definitely a keeper for me. It took a few listens for it to finally grab my attention but I was rather preoccupied with other bits and pieces during my first few listens.

This is an album that I would seek out to listen to, not just not-skip-over if it came on random play. Good work Manchester metallers!

Review score: 85%

SSS—The Dividing Line (2008)

SSS—The Dividing Line (2008)

SSS—The Dividing Line (2008)

Details

Produced by Mark Magill, Andy Mason, SSS except all drums engineered by Al Groves at Sandfield Studios. Mastered by Rob Whiteley at Dorrit Street. Released on Earache records in 2008.

http://www.earache.com/bands/sss/sss.html

Band

  • Mark—Bass
  • Pete—Guitar
  • Dave—Drums
  • Foxy—Vocals/Tambourine

Tracks

  1. The dividing line
  2. Oil and water
  3. The bastard stench
  4. Waiting game
  5. Toxic bee
  6. Thrash with a small moustache
  7. Can’t burst the bubble
  8. Bored
  9. Invertibrate
  10. Purple reign
  11. Hammerhead
  12. Skate and destroy
  13. Ride the best, fuck the rest
  14. Flick the switch
  15. Times up
  16. Street leech
  17. Cherry island
  18. 3:06
  19. Last defence
  20. Unrest in the northwest

CD also included a free DVD “A short film about SSS”, introduced by the late, great Frank Sidebottom.

Review

I don’t have much punk, hardcore or crossover music in my collection. The closest I have are the first few Suicidal Tendencies albums, and offering or two from Biohazard and Sick Of It All. It’s not a genre that I’ve really identified with, but I discover that when I listen to it I really like it. That’s what I’ve found with this album: it’s very listen-able.

This album opens with a very unrepresentative track, however, ‘The Dividing Line’. It has an almost epic, 80s metal feel to it; building from a bass growl, guitars twittering over what sound like keyboard power chords. It’s nothing if not atmospheric. I want to hear more of that, please.

But it turns out literally to be the dividing line. The rest of the album is a thrash/crossover romp. Twenty songs in 32′ 39″. The songs are raw and energetic. It reminds me very much of Slayer‘s punk covers album Undisputed Attitude (1996).

The Slayer influence isn’t too far away throughout this album, for example track 10 ‘Purple Reign’ opens with what sounds like a b-side from Reign in Blood (1986).

The stand out tracks for me the opener ‘The Dividing Line’; track 11 ‘Hammerhead’ which features a fabulous, tube-screaming guitar solo; track 15 ‘Time’s Up’ which reminds me of the fabulous Nuclear Assault, particularly the bass rumble that opens the song; and the final track 20 ‘Unrest in the Northwest’ which opens with a clean arpeggio—it really is almost mid-80s Suicidal Tendencies in its feel. And it’s the only song on the album that lasts more than two and a half minutes.

Bundled with the album was a 30 minutes (or so) DVD following the band as they create the album. There is more than one scene where a member of the band is being interviewed while he’s making his tea, and another is sitting at an electric drum kit… in his shed. Very metal! I like DVDs like that though: real, down to earth, and they give you a good opportunity to find out about the members of the band.

Conclusion

All in all, a really fun album. As I said it’s very listen-able, not a classic but a solid album. At the end of the day what I want to know is: will I choose to listen to this again? And yes, yes I would and I have.

Review score: 70%

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