Eden Wakes – Darkest Before The Dawn

The strong and positive word about UK metal/rock band Eden Wakes inspired some eager anticipation for their debut album but it did not prevent total surprise at the unexpected sound that flew from the tracks that make up Darkest Before The Dawn. The first ‘meeting’ with any band is a surprise to some extent and with the Manchester quartet it was certainly wrong footing, the album taking a while to immerse into before the awareness of what a distinct and darkly engaging release it truly was sunk in. As a fan of music and artists that use discordancy as a tool and weapon it was a little strange that it did take a while to get the ear attuned to the creativity the band produce but once hooked there was no escape. With a sound that is hard to fully pin down in description and influences there is a down turned vibrancy to Eden Wakes that is as hypnotic as it is challenging.

Formed in late 2008 by twin sisters Jane Hebenton (lead guitar) and Helen Hebenton (bass) with close friends Mark Holden (vocals & guitar) and Tom Buxton (drums & vocals), Eden Wakes have created a sound that is best described as Deftones meets The Fall with early Misfits filtered through the punk of The Damned and Hagfish. With added diversions only the likes of Pixies and Swell Maps could come up with this mix gives you an idea of the vicinity the music the four piece produce hangs in. For many the album may need a practice run first just to get a feel of its different flavours before then sitting down to properly focus on and ultimately appreciate its impressive elements. Primarily it is the vocal/music ‘conflict’ that throws the ear and thoughts at first an intriguing as at times it is almost as if Holden is going down a different road to the music within songs but once the ear warms up to this it is a very hypnotic and unique aspect that becomes one of the biggest positives. Over the years many bands have tried this approach but not many take it this far or as successfully. If it is a natural occurrence or planned only the band knows but it works a treat giving something new and exciting to the sounds. For some it may not ever sound right but for those it does it is a thrill alongside the well thought out and delivered rock, metal and punk sounds the band grace each song with. 

Darkest Before The Dawn starts off strongly but as it progresses it gets immensely better and better.  The opening duo of tracks in ‘Fortune Favours The Brave’ and ‘Hide & Seek’ open up the ears and senses firmly with a great mix of rock and metal sounds fused with punk energy, the guitars of Holden and Jane Hebenton at ease in melodic sensitive parts as they are thrashing out riffs whilst the rhythms from Buxton and pulsating bass tones of Helen Hebenton reach deep and forcibly. As the album moves through its songs it is as if the band‘s confidence and belief increases and by the time the excellent ‘Faust Macabre’ and the brilliant ’Fall Before Vermillion’ unveil their glory near the albums end, the band is on a different plateau. The first of these two is marked by scorching scything guitar riffs that brand the soul, their discordant strikes intrusive in contrast to the melodic play surrounding them, whilst the latter ripples with 70’s gothic punk sounds to stoke up the pulse.

Released via Rising Records Darkest Before The Dawn is a true gem, yes it needs a little bit of focus at first but once it reveals it’s wonderfully disjointed but mesmeric charms there is no going back to plain formula sounds again. Upon the album Eden Wakes, despite its impressive and great satisfaction giving sounds, still give the impression that they are a release or two away from finding their truly distinctive and glorious sound which makes the anticipation of what is ahead, listening to this stunning release, very exciting indeed.
RingMaster 24/11/2011

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Entrench – Inevitable Decay

Recently old school Swedish thrash metal has been ‘resurrected’ by a growing number of bands with the strongest spark of energy coming with the release of Inevitable Decay from Entrench. Steeped in the origins and influences of the genre the debut album from the Västerås, near Stockholm, quartet will excite and thrill all fans of thrash whichever flavour they prefer. With the sounds of the likes of Kreator and Slayer and even a touch of early Metallica , running through its veins the release via Abyss Records, is a proud and loud crushing riff and dynamic rhythms fest of sound.

Entrench already had juices flowing and anticipation for their first full release ripe with several demos that brought  forth their irrepressible thrash metal intrusions. With Inevitable Decay the appetite many gained from those releases will be fully appeased, though the dynamic sounds and dramatic intensity of the eight destructive stabs of metal will probably inspire more greed than they satisfy. 

Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Fredrik Pellbrink, fellow guitarist Hannes Lindkvist, and Joel Sundin and Joel Gustafsson  providing the pummelling rhythms on bass and drums respectively, Entrench have created an album that not only harks back to and re-animates the old school thrash mayhem, but actually sounds as if the tracks were recorded back then too. Whether it is a positive or negative is hard to tell, it certainly adds extra thrust and in a way more fury to the sound but production wise the music feels restricted, the full onslaught of the band held back. This is especially the case with the work of bassist Sundin, throughout it is a struggle to hear him distinctly and often one wonders if he upset the producer in some way. This leads to what feels like a less than rounded sound overall but despite this the album is still a striking and pleasing release. It carries no pretensions nor gives unnecessary thrills and spills, just straight from the heart thrash metal intent and energy.

The songs are nicely varied under the nonstop incessant bombardment of heavyweight riffs and ear splitting guitars, with the vocals of Pellbrink coarse and malicious matching the raw sounds and direct lyrical content, which itself is scathing and unrestricted. Consistency across the songs is impressive and it is hard to pick out particular songs but moments  like the unrelenting drive and collision on the ear from ‘Debt Of Sorrow’, the varied attack and pace changes within ‘Into Oblivion’, as well as the melodic almost acidic guitars leading in ‘Portrait of a Phobia’ are all memorable and pleasing excursions into the ear.

As mentioned the songs are varied but across the trio of consecutive songs ‘Doubt What’s Left’, ‘Blind Illusion’, and ‘Crossing The River’, there is a real similarity especially in the opening segments to the songs. The tracks do expand into their own directions but it does indicate there is still an area that has space to be developed in their songwriting. To be fair it is almost a case of looking for something to balance the positives and it will certainly not be an issue for thrash lovers.

Inevitable Decay is an honest chunk of old school thrash reproduced and given its own flavour from Entrench, and though it is unlikely to feature as an essential purchase recommendation it will easily find a large amount of eager hearts and ears to satisfy.

RingMaster 24/11/2011

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Lord Volture – Never Cry Wolf

Lord Volture and their second album Never Cry Wolf through no fault of their own started off with a big disadvantage for this review for the fact that classic rock/power metal vocals as employed by the band’s frontman and founder David Marcelis are like aural salt on this reviewer’s musical slug. The high pitched yells and squeals like fingernails down a chalk board on the ear especially with the even more distinct style of Marcelis with his often off key and fluctuating levels. So bear that in mind as the album which musically is very satisfying is examined here.

As mentioned the band started when Marcelis with strong influences from traditional heavy metal bands from the 70’s and 80’s started writing songs of his own after a decade of fronting bands like Methusalem and Conquestador. The subsequent recordings of these songs eventually became the Lord Volture debut album Beast Of Thunder. The album featured numerous guest guitarists including Jeff Waters from Annihilator and grabbed some firm acclaim. A live line-up was then pulled together using some of the best metal talent from the Netherlands to make Lord Volture a force on stage as well as in the studio. This group of musicians has forged a strong understanding and determination to deliver the best sound possible, the combined ability of Marcelis, his brother Paul (Up The Irons, Mercyful Fake) on guitar, fellow guitarist Leon Hermans (Burn, Up The Irons), bassist Simon Geurts (Mercyful Fake), and Frank Wintermans (Substance) on drums, creating in Never Cry Wolf a release that takes hold and rampages in the ear with rock essences to please and devour.

Containing eleven tracks to enflame the hearts of any power metal and classic rock fan the album uses and exploits all the welcome if obvious elements from metal/thrash bands of the likes of Judas Priest, Iced Earth through to Jag Panzer and Cage. This makes Never Cry Wolf not particularly hot on invention or innovation but ablaze with pulse racing and eager familiarity brought forth with a powerful intent and skill that cannot be denied or criticised. The ear may not be caught by surprise or stunned with unexpected shocks but it is fed some striking and deeply pleasing sounds and well written songs. 

The first big notable thing straight from the opening and title track is the impressive and pulsating bass and mesmeric rhythms of Geurts. Each and every song is veined with his deep and hypnotic creative riffs to always grab attention and often snatch the glory from everyone else. In songs like ‘Celestrial Bodies Fall’, the intense and rampaging thrash of ‘Korgon’s Descent’, and the hard rock powered ‘Into The Lair Of A Lion’ he especially grabs the focus and it is no surprise these are the album’s best songs. This is in no way a one man band though with the guitars of Paul Marcelis and Hermans creating memorable riffs and melodic solos to warm all traditional metal hearts. Creative and unafraid to take tracks into harder metal areas alongside their classic rock influences the duo brings intrigue and infectious play to all the songs. With the instinctive and driving power of Winterman’s drums, musically the band gives everything a rock fan desires in a song and more.

The final track on the album ‘The Wolf At Your Door’ though not the best song is possibly the most creative. Starting with a predatory bassline and slow stalking riffs from guitars circling the ear sizing up their prey, the song quickly shifts into a chase as racing riffs gallop into and through the senses, once ‘caught’ the track explodes into a predictably layered song but those opening couple of minutes are glorious.

Musically Never Cry Wolf is impressive and deeply satisfying but let down by the vocal delivery and style, again note that this is a personal issue and I am sure far more will welcome Marcelis’ style with warm and open arms. The album is great and Lord Volture a band that deserves attention and for the music alone all who ignore or pass over Never Cry Wolf should be ashamed.

RingMaster 24/11/2011

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