We review and rate albums by Sourvein (pictured), Suicide Silence, Decapitated, The Living Fields, Top Buzzer and prog metal legends Queensryche.
Scarily it’s six years since Californians Suicide Silence gave metal a much needed shot in the arm with the advent of what has become known to many at deathcore. Still staying true to those genre-defying roots, the quintet have, nevertheless, morphed into something far more intriguing – there’s that trademark heaviness but a new found subtlety suggests this is a band with a plan.
Human Violence strengthens the belief that there’s much more to SS than meets the eyes in 2011. In many respects it’s the tune most like their bludgeoning back catalogue and yet the riffage, in particular, is more reminiscent of early Slipknot and heavier-end Korn than the bulk of their banal deathcore brethren.
Elsewhere the change is even more evident. Opener Slaves To Substance sets out SS’s stall with some aplomb – a song which manages to poke fun at the quest to break free from deathcore’s image as a one-dimensional aural slugfest and a tune which reveals a number of nightmarish new layers to the band’s traditional sound.
Punch drunk piss-take Fuck Everything is a foul-mouthed filler which would look out of place on the B-side of a the most insignificant single in metal but it’s the one dud on a record which reeks of powerful intent and burning ambition. Visceral vocals and guitar work par excellence, underpinned by an unforgiving rhythm section, make The Black Crown a must-buy for any lover of boundary-pushing modern metal. SR
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Silence Is Golden
As the scuzz and reverb gives way to a Sabbath-esque riff and vocals buried deep in the mix of a mighty tune it’s obvious that Black Fangs opener Fangs is a furious and frankly chilling snapshot of the deep doom metal to come.
Albums like this belong on heavyweight vinyl channelled through wall-to-celing speakers during the dead of night. It might disturb the neighbours but they’ll be too fucking frightened to do anything about it – this is mysterious, meaty, mind-numbing metal at it’s thought-provoking and chest-beating best.
Sourvein successfully manage to marry the cerebral with the bestial. And while this might be a band that doesn’t necessarily believe in the old adage that variety is the spice of life – just about every song follows the same brutal formula of ramped-up reverb cutting across shouts and growls – the quality’s so good it just doesn’t matter.
At six minutes long the surreal Night Eyes steals the show simply due to its relentless, sprawling attack on the senses. The frenzied vocal is genuinely disturbing but it’s that constant battle to make himself heard above the scuzz-heavy cacophony that makes frontman T-Roy Medlin’s performance so intoxicating. SR
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Fangs-tastic
And so to this week’s tantalising taste of epic progressive doom metal. Right from the off The Living Fields appear to be on an utterly mad mission to toss in as many rock and metal conventions as possible into one album.
Opener Remnant is a recipe for instant success (or confusion) – ingredients include folk metal, strings, trad metal, chanting, progressive tendencies and classic rock. Sounds crazy? It is.
The battle metal intro to Perseverance wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Turisas record but no sooner have you been lulled into a false sense of Viking-tinted security than The Living Fields pay homage to prog with a metal nod to Yes. Giving themselves more than eight minutes to craft another wacky genre-mash of music, you can almost sense the mischievous smirks on the faces of the Chicago crew – confounding the pigeon-holers and taste makers seems to be the primary purpose of this ‘mad as a box of frogs’ album.
If you ever wondered what epic progressive doom metal really is then Running Out Of Daylight offers few answers. In fact this abstract record simply throws up a myriad of questions relating to what constitutes a metal album in 2011. The Living Fields have successfully produced a template for sheer audacity but whether this ambitious and, at times, outrageous release will secure longevity or simply inspire notoriety remains to be seen.
Any band that calls itself metal only to roll out the three-minute folk-friendly acoustica of When The Walls Go Up – imagine Clannad-era Robin Hood – deserves a pat on the back. But is this brilliance bordering on the foolhardy? Only time will tell. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Fields Work
Queensryche – Dedicated To Chaos (Roadrunner/Loud & Proud)
According to Queensryche frontman Geoff Tate the band’s latest album was designed ‘so that it was interesting to listen to through headphones’. Perhaps that’s the singer’s way of admitting that this really isn’t fit for public consumption. Not only is Dedicated To Chaos a poor reflection of 21st century rock, it does nothing to enhance the reputation of one of the finest progressive metals acts on the planet.
Somewhere along the line Queensryche have lost sight of what made them so vibrant and so vital. Nobody expects regular re-runs of the epic Operation: Mindcrime (although that’s exactly what we got a few years back) or the glorious Empire but surely there’s something left in the locker in 2011?
American Soldier hinted at some kind of revival without touching the best of the band’s revered back catalogue. It was an average Queensryche record that, placed alongside Dedicated To Chaos, appears pretty incredible.
Hot Spot Junkie is so contrived it makes you cringe and Around The World is little better. Woe betide Tate and co. if they attempt to roll out any of the new material on this month’s Judas Priest tour – if bottles were allowed inside the UK’s finest arenas then flak jackets would be a must for Queensryche.
Fans the world over will have been willing the one-time US trailblazers to deliver a record worthy of their name after a period in the creative wilderness. That Queensryche have so patently failed to meet those expectations is one of the biggest disappointments of the year. SR
rushonrock rated: 4/10 Chaos Theory
There’s something of a buzz about Top Buzzer right now but does this sprightly debut justify the hype? That all depends on your musical tastes.
Those harking back to an era when the Undertones were still cool, indie rock was on a roll and waves of post-punk optimism were washing over the world’s fickle music-loving fraternity will find much to enjoy here.
There are some crackling riffs, wry lyrics and a plethora of bouncealong choruses perfect for the summer festival scene. The production is spot-on with Kennan Keeting working alongside the band to conjure a unique and endearing sound.
Given the breaks this lot could be just as big as YouMeAtSix – perhaps even bigger – and pluggers should be pushing this product hard in America. With hints of Green Day and that 80s UK influence evident every step of the way this might well be every pop punkster’s favourite new album.
Jersey is renowned for its potatoes, cows and spectacular coastline but rock bands have never been synonymous with the sleepy Channel Isle. That is about to change. SR
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Top Marks
Decapitated – Carnival Is Forever (Nuclear Blast)
The very fact that Decapitated release this record is a shocking feat in itself. In 2007 mainman Waclaw ‘Vogg’ Kieltyka lost his brother and then-drummer of the band Vitek Kieltyka in a tragic bus crash off the border of Russia, suggesting that the Polish metallers would halt operations. Whilst the band are back on their collective feet with fifth studio record Carnival Is Forever, the line-up changes have been monumental – Kieltyka the only original member left in the now-three-piece act.
And it’s not just the line-up that has changed. With the adjustments, Decapitated have morphed somewhat from the technical death metal that defined them, dabbling into new subgenre ‘djent’ for part of their inspiration while also fusing old-school death metal into their complex motherboard of brutality.
The tendency to chug out tons of thick vomiting riffs can become a tad monotonous and if the record was any longer than the 42-minutes it already is, then there would be a serious problem in remaining interested. Carnival Is Forever can maintain this level of commitment in its first spin, especially when there’s some rare but welcome breaks of toned-down ambience – Silence providing the soothing, Vaseline outro as post-black ‘n’ blue treatment.
But on the whole, it does struggle in justifying a third or fourth listen. Title track Carnival Is Forever is the first track to initiate any remote interest in the record, and it’s the two tracks that follow it that appear strongest on the album. Although slightly repetitive from the outset, Homo Sum’s introductory riffage is solid and 404 is a particular highlight for the grand guitar picking involved and all-round bouncing bass lines.
If you’re a dealer in tech-death, we suggest Origin’s Entity as another face-peeling alternative to this record. Nevertheless, we’re pleased Decapitated are back and we salute Kieltyka’s spirit in such tough circumstances. CR
rushonrock rated: 6/10
This week’s reviewers: Simon Rushworth, Calum Robson