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Reviews Written by
N. Calafato "Nick Calafato" (London, UK)

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Price: £16.29

1.0 out of 5 stars Within Chaos, 13 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Virulent (Audio CD)
Trying to work out how bands such as Within Chaos can ever succeed could take a fair while. To give an idea of how dull this record is, just take everything that has been done a million times in straight-forward-fists-in-the-air metal before, put it in a mixer, add a copious amount of emotionless vocals and annoyingly bland musicianship and out comes Virulent, one of the weakest heavy records in a long while.

It starts off well enough (sort of). Imaginatively titled first track `In The Beginning' politely shreds away with some interesting time signatures, but from then everything goes drastically downhill. Within Chaos have clearly never heard of the term `saturation' because everything here has been so many times by so many different bands a whole lot better. It could be compared to the new `Throwdown' record, in that it seems obvious the band have totally run out of any interesting ideas. Obvious influences can be seen in bands such as Pantera and Killswitch Engage, but that doesn't mean to say they sound anywhere near as good as them. The only saving grace of Virulent is the wonderful production, but even that becomes an annoyance because it sounds way too polished.

Some who like their metal simple and easy listening may like this, but to be brutally honest Virulent is so mind-numbingly dreary that it's almost offensive.

The Silence We Deserve
The Silence We Deserve

4.0 out of 5 stars Scarpoint, 13 Mar. 2008
This review is from: The Silence We Deserve (Audio CD)
The Scandinavians sure know how to export quality hard-hitting metal, and you needn't look much further than bands such as The Haunted and Children Of Bodom for an exercise in how to do metal with pure ferocity. However, there are other acts that are creeping from the dusty woodworks that do this stuff very well and Sweden-based Scarpoint are definitely one of those bands.

`Disorder', the first proper track after an eerie intro, pounds the ears with pure brutality with its blast beats and intricate guitar work, whilst tracks such as `Behind The Shadows' provoke some serious head-banging by numbers as it thrashes away almost relentlessly. The production is tight as hell and the crushing instrumentation benefits from this tremendously.

The bands influences are clear to see here. The vocals are particularly reminiscent of The Haunted and so are the melodic guitar lines so often heard in Children Of Bodom. Polyrhythms ala Meshuggah are aplenty and so are the crushing breakdowns that are done so well by bands such as All Shall Perish. Whilst this does result in Scarpoint not having a sound they could entirely call their own, there are enough hooks here to garner repeated listening. And whilst this band have been around since 2000, it must be noted that this is the bands first full length so there are huge amounts of potential here for this band to grow and grow.

Lets hope they can get out of the confines of the freezing Scandinavian islands and do some mainland Europe touring to really spread a sound that deserves to be heard by many.

The Ascension
The Ascension
Offered by Music-Shop
Price: £7.99

3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Otep, 13 Mar. 2008
This review is from: The Ascension (Audio CD)
It's a testament to bands like Otep that they are still going at all. They first came flying into the nu-metal scene around 2004 when the whole genre was starting to fizzle out. Korn members started to find Jesus, the novelty value of Slipknot gradually wore off and Fred Durst became, well, not very interesting anymore. Otep, whilst admittedly never reaching the dizzy heights that their contemporaries did, always had that something different with their strong front lady Otep (yes, the band is named after the vocalist) Shamaya

Fast-forward to 2007 and the band are back with `The Ascension'. They have adopted a much more experimental sound but the rap-influenced and Coal Chamber-esque whispered vocals, so often seen throughout nu-metal, remain prevalent. On the whole Shamaya's vocals are a treat to listen to, but sadly the same cannot always be said for the instrumentation. Many of the riffs are uninspired and at times the songs just don't go anywhere. For example, first track proper `Crooked Spoons' starts with an interesting enough riff but when it is repeated time after time throughout the track, it starts to become a tad stale.

To Otep's credit it's certainly not all doom and gloom. The aforementioned experimental side makes for some interesting listening and bodes well with Shamaya's various vocal styles. `Ghostflowers' for instance is a stormer of a track, switching between ambience, searing metal and some ridiculously funky bass lines rather eloquently.

`The Ascension' isn't a bad record and Otep do have a lot going for them, but with so much more interesting metal being released lately, this simply isn't good enough.

Storm The Gates Of Hell Se
Storm The Gates Of Hell Se

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Demon Hunter, 13 Mar. 2008
Looking at Demon Hunter's biography, with its boasting of mainstream acclaim (AOL Music, MTV) it wouldn't take much to guess what kind of release this was going to be. Putting the topic of this being a Christian band (and proud of it, as the promo pictures suggest) aside, this is a pretty ordinary run-of-the-mill metal affair.

It's beautifully produced, has riffs in abundance and has all the melodic hooks to ensure that the more mainstream-inclined is satisfied. Sadly, that latter remark is where the main problem with this record lies. To put it bluntly, Demon Hunter are a lot more interesting when they are at their heaviest. The melodic choruses are often bland and repetitive, slowing down the intensity of some otherwise fairly brutal metallic onslaughts. The instrumentation on a whole, it must be said, is solid as hell. It may have been done a trillion times before but Demon Hunter mix circle-pit inducing Hardcore and hair-swinging Metal rather well, taking obvious influences by bands such as Pantera and Hatebreed.

It must be noted that this band is extremely Christian influenced. There will always be a certain amount of trepidation towards a Christian release if you are a non-believer, as no one that way inclined would particularly want to be screamed at for 40-odd minutes about how we should have God in our lives. The album sleeve details what each song is about, and every song is, predictably, written about being a Christian.
This instantly (lyrically, anyway) alienates a large selection of their listeners, but if you can look past this, this is a pretty solid release that doesn't exactly re-define heavy music but instead sits in there quite nicely.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 29, 2009 4:25 PM BST

Absolute Design
Absolute Design
Offered by Books-and-Sounds
Price: £5.47

3.0 out of 5 stars Engel, 13 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Absolute Design (Audio CD)
I had the somewhat misfortune of reviewing this band when they supported Atreyu at the London Astoria a while back. Their cringe worthy Scandinavian-tinged Industrial Metal onslaught got lost on the big stage and their set thus proceeded to bore and pass without much note. To their saving grace, however, Engel positively soar on CD and the true qualities of their music can finally see the light of day.

The In Flames influence is obvious to hear (hell, they feature the ex-In Flames guitarist and are produced by the In Flames vocalist) but this shouldn't detract because Engel easily hold their own and establish their own sound on this full-length. `In Splendour' kicks proceedings off with a bang with its dischordant guitars and off-kilter time patterns which is then met by Mangan Klavborn impressive growling. The quiet-loud dynamics may have been done to death but Engel do it better than most here. Obvious single choice `Casket Closing' is an absolute stormer with its groove-laden guitar hooks and memorable chorus, as is `Next Closed Door', a melodic delight where Klavborn's beautiful singing voice is really given the chance to excel.

Despite the album ending on the fantastically eerie `Seven Ends', `Absolute Design' does let itself down towards the end with some clear album fillers (`Descend', for example, drones on and on without much really happening) that unfortunately stops a really good album becoming a great one. The press blurb that accompanies this CD promises that `Engel are set to take the world by storm'. That may be a slight over-exaggeration but this is promising stuff and you are sure to hear much more of Engel in times to come.

The Trouble With Crusades
The Trouble With Crusades
Offered by westworld-
Price: £3.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Former `December' front man returns with a mouthful of dirt and a truckload of riffs, 13 Mar. 2008
After the demise of previous band December, Mark Roots took to inking people with a needle. And when he wasn't inking he was writing. And boy did he write. Alongside Richard Wiley, Davey Velasquez and Nick Green, he has returned to the musical fray with `The Swamp Donkey'; a rock `n' roll piece of meat so dirty a starving homeless man would probably turn it away. With this mini 6-track album the band have churned out riff after riff of pure groove-laden brilliance that is given maximum justice by a superb production job that almost evokes the vibe of a live show. Combine this with Roots effortlessly powerful vocals and you get an immensely enjoyable listening experience that will have tattooed and bearded folk in grimey gig venues across the land swigging brewskies and chewing tobacco in debauchery-fuelled unison.

You Don't Know - Ninja Cuts
You Don't Know - Ninja Cuts
Price: £20.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Super heavyweight 3-disc compilation from the Ninja Tune imprint, 13 Mar. 2008
This review is from: You Don't Know - Ninja Cuts (CD-R)
The `something for everyone' idea has never been more applicable than with this, a mammoth compilation from Ninja Tune Records. Clocking in with 50 tracks, this is the fifth instalment in a series of compilations designed to provide listeners with the newest, the rarest and the oldest that the label has to offer in the form of hip-hop, dance, electronic beats, rap and all the various sub-genres that lovingly fall under this. Collaborations including familiar artists such as Roots Manuva and DJ Shadow are coupled alongside newer artists such as Cadence Weapon, all of which allows listeners to become increasingly familiar with an all-encompassing spectrum of urban music. Unreleased and forthcoming material is also on show as are various re-mixes for the compulsive completist in you. It is the expansive variety of genres that is the most appealing here, so if you are open to new music alongside more familiar listening then this is most definitely something to invest in.

Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil
Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil
Price: £16.51

0 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rock-a-billy tedium from Denmark, 13 Mar. 2008
"Metal that even your mum would like" proclaims their Myspace page. Not totally sure about that but if your dad was a bit of a rocker in his hey-day then maybe he would take a liking to Volbeat. One of Denmark's biggest musical exports (surely that can't be too hard?) Volbeat are here to rock and they are certainly here to roll. Whilst being clearly influenced by Metallica, Priest and Maiden, they unfortunately never get close to being anywhere near as good and often come across as mere copycats. Their sound lends a lot to southern rock, with blues licks appearing many times across the record, particularly on the barn-stomping `Sad Man's Tongue'. The instrumentation is as tight as could be and the vocals are always strong and in tune, but sadly there is simply nothing memorable that stands out. This could have been a fun record but unfortunately, for all of Volbeat's enthusiasm, there just isn't anything here that would garner any sort of repeated listening.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2013 8:02 PM BST

Darkness Prevails [Special Edition]
Darkness Prevails [Special Edition]
Offered by westworld-
Price: £4.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Re-issue of UK's very own epic noise merchants., 13 Mar. 2008
The UK seem to be getting pretty good at this stuff. Along with Bossk and Exit Ten, DSHS are certainly marking their territory with their own brand of glacial-like colossal slabs of progressive art-rock. If you got into the band through their 2007 debut full-length `A Fragile Hope' then you would do yourselves well to get hold of this. Although it may appear slightly pretentious for a band to release a re-issue so soon into their careers, this is no pathetic attempt at earning some extra cash. `Liyl' broods and sways with an ocean-like calming beauty whilst `Like It's Your Last' crashes and burns like the world is about to come to an abrupt end. The original songs are accompanied by demos and remixes that really show the extent of the bands instrumental and creative prowess whilst the bonus DVD provides studio footage, live footage and music videos to boot. Utterly worth it.

Red Harvest
Red Harvest
Offered by MirMedia
Price: £7.29

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fist-pumping foot-stomping second full-length from NY bruisers, 13 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Red Harvest (Audio CD)
"This song is called RED HARVEST!" Any band that can announce a songs name on record gets their respect in my book. Sticking to values of seriously old school metal, Bloodsimple are here to treat us to some no holds barred, intensely pissed off metal. It may have been done a trillion times before but that's no valid reason to slag a band off when they can do it as exciting and as infectious as this. Having been on the tour circuit with bands such as Disturbed, God Forbid and Trivium, Bloodsimple have certainly paid their dues and `Red Harvest' is a rewarding testament to their hard work. They thrash on `Dark Helmet' and they groove on `Dead Man Walking', giving you the feeling that this would be perfect as WWE music. It ain't clever and it ain't innovative, but it sure as hell is fun.

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