Sinocence—Scar Obscura (2009)

Sinocence—Scar Obscura (2009)

Sinocence—Scar Obscura (2009)

Details

Produced by Frankie McClay at Einstein. Released on Rising Records, May 2009.

“This album is dedicated to our mothers for showing us the true meaning of strength and bravery.” — Anto and Moro

Band

  • Moro—Vocals and guitars
  • AntoGuitars
  • Jim—Bass
  • Davy—Drums

Tracks

  1. Perfect denial
  2. Metalbox
  3. God complex
  4. Ultraviolent
  5. Art of separation
  6. Evicerate
  7. Rule as one
  8. All new revenge
  9. Scar obscura
  10. Terminus

Review

On my first listen through of this album I wasn’t overly impressed. Which is exactly why I always try to give each album at least three spins. Like walking into a darkened room and waiting for your eyes to adjust to the subtlties of light, so it can take the ears a few plays to tune in to what is really going on.

I like this album. From the off it reminded me a lot of Trivium with a large chunk of Iron Maiden-influence, which is perhaps why I didn’t take to it straight away as I’m not a huge Trivium fan.

The music is melodic, with largely clean vocals, over galloping guitar lines. There is almost a progressive element too as the songs twist and turn, build and crash.

“Perfect denial”, the album opener, starts with a few clean chords; pounding drums lead the guitars; and…. riff! “God complex” (track 3) also opens with a delicate guitar passage, that reminded me very much of God Forbid. “Art of separation” (track 5) is another slow opener. The title track “Scar obscura” (track 9) is a short, acoustic song. The remaining songs kick off as they mean to procede: hard and heavy.

The album ends with “Terminus”, an epic, nine minute track that follows a now-familiar path: start quietly, start clean and build and build.

Conclusion

Over the last three or four listenings I’ve developed a lot of respect for this album from Belfast metallers Sinocence.

Review score: 85%

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Residual Effect—In a World Where Pain is God (2006)

Residual Effect—In a World Where Pain is God (2006)

Residual Effect—In a World Where Pain is God (2006)

Details

Recorded at Void Studios, Dublin. Engineered and mixed by Mark Galvin and Residual Effect. Mastered by Marty Robison at Ferox Studios. All tracks written, arranged and performed by Residual Effect.

Band

  • Michael Higgins—Vocals
  • William Caulfield—Guitars
  • Andrew McCallistar—Guitars
  • Anthony McKee—Bass
  • Antony Weston—Drums

Tracks

  1. Second face
  2. Porcelain idol
  3. Morbid theme
  4. IV
  5. Withered
  6. Stronger again
  7. Pivotal

Review

Having loved their three track demo I felt a certain degree of anticipation and expectation when I fired up this album.

While I’m not entirely in agreement with the theological statement presented in the album title, _In a world where pain is god_ adequately continues the good work where the three track demo left off.

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite live up to the quality of the songwriting on the demo.

“IV” (track 4) is a nylon-strung guitar solo which takes me back to the classic days of thrash where every respectable heavy band nestled a classical-inspired track somewhere on their album: Exodus did it, Sepultura did it, even Metallica did it on the black album.

“Withered” (track 5) kicks off with a head-splitting guitar riff that saws right through you while remaining guitar, bass and drums piledrives that riff into your head, for good measure.

Flippin’ ‘eck! This should have been the album opener. Don’t hide this stuff in the middle order. This is is gold. Put it on display. Flaunt it! This is the kind of music the demo promised me there would be more of. I’d happily allow you your “Second face” and “Porcelain idol” further down the album. But give me this first.

The same goes for “Stronger again” (track 6) and to a lesser extent “Pivotal” (track 7).

Conclusion

The problem with this album, in my opinion is three fold: the songwriting isn’t quite as good (that’s okay, it happens); the vocals drift a little too often into just outright shouting, which at times feels lazy; and the songs are simply in the wrong order on the album.

But those are pedantic niggles on what is otherwise a very impressive debut album British (and for the real pendants: Northern Irish) album.

Review score: 75%

Residual Effect—3 Track Promo Demo (2005)

Residual Effect—3 Track Promo Demo (2005)

Residual Effect—3 Track Promo Demo (2005)

Details

No details on inlay card. Independent release.

Band

No details available.

Tracks

  1. Less than this
  2. Slit wrist
  3. Living through mime

Review

You couldn’t really hope for a better intro to this three track demo from Belfast (Northern Ireland) based melodic death metallers, Residual Effect.

When “Living through mime” introduces the demo it does so like a brick to the face. The musicianship is excellent, the riff is heavy and dark, and the the bass tone in particular is very pleasing. (I’m not sure I could write a more British thing in a metal review!)

“Less than this” (track 2) proves that this wasn’t just a freak accident. Another heavy riff that begins like a tank being started, before trundling off down the road to crush everything in its wake. (Do tanks have wakes?)

“Slit wrist” (track 3) hits the ground running with a relentless, bouncing riff. Gutteral vocals are barked. Guitars that sound like chainsaws buzz through the song, as te drum kit is pounded to within an inch of its life. The initial, very repetitive riff is broken up nearly two minutes in with a slight change of direction. To be honest, I didn’t think this song was going to cut it but these cunning deathsters brought it round in the end.

Conclusion

This is one of the most promising and exciting demos that I’ve listened to in a long time. To be honest, it’s significantly better than an awful lot of albums by signed bands that I’ve had to listen to.

To date Residual Effect have only put out this 2005 demo plus one full length album, the following year. Thankfully that album is scheduled for next week. Expectations are running high. Don’t disappoint me team Ireland!

Review score: 90%

The Undertones—Dig Yourself Deep (2007)

The Undertones—Dig Yourself Deep (2007)

The Undertones—Dig Yourself Deep (2007)

Details

Dig Yourself Deep is a 2007 studio album by The Undertones. It is the band’s second album with lead singer Paul McLoone, who replaced Feargal Sharkey when the band re-formed in 1999. Engineered and mixed by Mik O’Connell.

Band

  • Paul McLoone—lead vocals
  • John O’Neill—guitar and vocals
  • Damian O’Neill—guitar, keyboards and vocals
  • Michael Bradley—bass and vocals
  • Billy Doherty—drums

Tracks

  1. Dig yourself deep
  2. So close
  3. Here comes the rain
  4. Everything you say is right
  5. Him not me
  6. We all talked about you
  7. Fight my corner
  8. Precious little wonder
  9. Tomorrow’s tears
  10. Easy way out
  11. Happy valley
  12. Move right in
  13. She’s so sweet
  14. I’m recommending me

Review

John Peel famously said that The Undertones’ 1978 track “Teenage Kicks” was his all-time favourite track, so much so that he wished for a line from the song to adorn his gravestone.

Until this week that song is the only Undertones song that I’ve been aware of. I don’t have much punk in my collection, and this is the only album that falls somewhere between the sub-genre of ‘pop punk’ and ‘new wave’ (of which I have a few more examples in my collection: Adam and the Ants, Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, New Order, Talking Heads, Television).

This album is the band’s second with singer Paul McLoone who replaced Feargal Sharkey after the band reformed in 1999 after a 16 years hiatus—their first incarnation ran from 1975–1983.

This is definitely a pop-y, punk-y record packing in 14 songs in around 33 minutes. The shortest song clocks in at only 1′ 39″, only three manage to get above 2′ 30″.

This is a fun album of throw-away melodic songs that had my middle son (6) bopping around my study.

The songs seem to have feet planted firmly in both a nostalgic punk past but also in the present: they sound fresh and urgent.

My favourite song on the album though is probably “Move right in” (track 12), a gentle ballad that moves around a steady arpeggio—maybe it’s the season: it sounds like it should be a Christmas song!

Conclusion

This is a good album but for me it’s not a great album. The songs I found quite disposable: listen once then throw away. Other than “Move right in” none of them really moved me, no pun(k) intended.

I’ll keep it though as it was fun to see my boys dancing around to it!

Review score: 70%

Decayor—Re-occurring times of grief EP (2009)

Decayor—Re-occurring times of grief (2009)

Decayor—Re-occurring times of grief (2009)

Details

All music composed and performed by Decayor. Engineered, mixed and mastered in Firetech Studios, Donegal by Kevin McCloskey and Decayor. CD kayout and photography by Grace Kennedy.

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Band

  • Pauric Gallagher—Voice, guitars, keyboards
  • Kevin McCloskey—Bass guitar
  • Gary Byrne—Drums and percussion

Tracks

  1. Stir of echoes
  2. Veil of despair
  3. The sacred heart is bleeding
  4. Weeping willows

Review

Last week was a rather busy one for me so I managed only to listen to the first two tracks of this EP all week. The last 24 hours has been a bit of a Decayor-fest.

My excuse? Well, I went back to work for a couple of full days on my phased return to work, and then I looked after our three boys (5, 5 and 3) from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon while my wife was in Northern Ireland. Which, rather conveniently, is where Decayor hail from. The album, which appears to be self-financed and released, reveals that it was recorded in Donegal in the west of Northern Ireland—south west of Derry, due west of Belfast.

The only other Northern Irish metal band that I have in my collection, that I can think of straight away, is Therapy? So it’s good to hear something else from there.

First up, the CD artwork is fabulous, which is really surprising given its homemade nature. It looks far more professional than many a release. There’s a mournful atmosphere to the cover artwork, alongside the almost obligatory illegible band title. All that lets it down is the off-the-shelf font for the album title.

This album is a curious mixture of death and doom metal influences. There are the slow, ponderously heavy riffs fused with gruff, shouty vocals. There are moments that hold a funereal soberness next door to thrashing riffs of fury.

There may only be four tracks on this EP, but boy! do they know how to craft long songs. The atmospheric piano and keyboards opening track “Stir or echoes” lasts only 1′ 20″ but that’s then the only sung under nine minutes long!

“Stir of echoes” ends with a peal of thunder than rolls into track two “Veil of despair” that reminds me in equal part of early Paradise Lost and early Candlemass. It clocks in at an epic 12′ 06″.

There is definitely a prog element of these songs. “Veil of despair” for example moves into a steady, clean arpeggio that then builds through to a heavier and darker riff and death metal growls. I’m not entirely convinced of the transition but it gets the job done. And to complete the bell curve, around nine minutes in the band returns to the original riff again. It’s quite a journey and while I did wonder on my first listen whether they had tried to cram in too many ideas, on subsequent listens I’ve quite enjoyed it.

Track three, “The sacred heart is bleeding”, has a rather pleasant riff. Definite echoes of early Paradise Lost again, right down to the growling vocals. This song has dynamics, crushing guitars and melody. There is a moment around halfway through the song where as part of the riff it sounds like Gallagher strums his guitar strings the other side of the nut. I’ve never heard that before in a metal song: good work!

The EP closes with “Weeping willows”, which in many ways is a more straight-forward, lamentful doom metal song… until it picks up some pace around halfway through but even then it doesn’t lose its doom-esque timbre. Again, references to Gothic (1991)-era Paradise Lost are easy to make.

Conclusion

When I started listening to this EP I was a little hesitant, uncertain about what I might hear. But I was very pleasantly surprised. This is a keeper for me.

Sure, there were a few moments that didn’t excite me but overall I can see beyond those to the larger picture and all in all this is a pretty decent collection of death/doom metal from the UK.

Review score: 80%