Dead Label – Sense Of Slaughter

Sense Of Slaughter from Irish metal band Dead Label is a release that flays the ear and twists the senses into taut and manipulated victims by the blistering sounds and songs on offer. The debut album from the trio is an impressive release and though it indicates the band has much more yet to come, for an introduction and start it is a strong, steady and satisfying release.

Part grindcore, part metal core and all metal, the album is full of contempt rather than venomous, fierce as opposed to being vicious and incessantly vindictive than brutal but still offers an intensity and uncompromising energy that is impossible to deny. From Celbridge in Ireland, the threesome of Dan O’ Grady (bass and vocals), Danny Hall (guitar), and Claire Percival (drums) made a mark almost from the off when forming in 2008. Within a year they won a nationwide battle of the bands event and followed up in 2010 with a debut EP, all placing them as a band to watch closely. Now with Sense Of Slaughter released via Rising Records February 13th, one can expect further enthused interest and a rapidly swelling fan base.

The band’s influences are cited as the likes of Machine Head, Lamb of God, and Pantera and many have compared them to bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Rise To Remain, all these spices can be found within the Dead Label sound. The one band that they also reminded of was UK metal band October File, scorched grooves and militant riffs to the fore both bands have the same relentless intent and drive. They also share the one thing that works against them to some extent, a forceful vocal that lacks diversity or variation. O’Grady is a fine vocalist and his delivery as caustic as the sounds rippling behind but the similarity to his attack and across the tracks for many will give a challenge to their focus and drop a veil over some of the striking and creative play the band dazzle with. It has to be said though that with the deeply agreeable riffs and grooves the band conjure up the album is at times irresistible and at worse thoroughly intriguing.

After the opening instrumental intro ‘Dead And Gone’ the album explodes with the impressive title track, the guitar of Hall flying around the ear like a malicious wasp and the rhythms of Percival battering with merciless disdain. O’Grady spews his coarse vocals to singe the ear as the grinding riffs wrap tightly around the senses. A strong start soon left in the shade by the stunning track ‘Reign’. Bass and drums drill constantly showing no wish to resist from their incessant tenderising of the ear. There is a Static-X feel to the track, the groove of the song harsh, metallic and permeating, to vein a song that is deeply enjoyable.

The album rattles along with a highly energetic and formidable intensity throughout, each song of a high consistency even if at times the mentioned similarity does distract from some of the variation within tracks. The flavoursome grove of the excellent ‘Dawn Of A New Age’, the ear splitting nastiness of ‘Self Immolation’, and ‘Assume Nothing’ along with ‘Reign’ are the stand out tracks though as mentioned all the songs offer nothing less than good wholesome and most of all enjoyable sounds. ‘Assume Nothing’ teases with belligerent riffs, machine gun like rhythms and a wanton groove that seduces and strips the senses equally. These songs give more than enough evidence to show Dead Label are a force in the making, already a very good and creative band, the future should see them really explore their sound to take it and them to higher and greater things.

For any limitations Sense Of Slaughter might have, and to be honest they are few, the album is nothing less than satisfying and impressively enjoyable, and the sure host of many and constant visits. Dead Label have taken another big step in their journey towards their own distinct heights. Watch this space as this trio is destined to be a band making deep and distinct marks on metal.

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XII Boar – Split Tongue, Cloven Hoof

When reviewing the debut EP XII from UK sludge/stoner metal band XII Boar last year, I ended the review with the lines ‘For their debut release XII Boar show great promise and I for one will be eager to hear more’ and ‘XII Boar will be around for a while and producing some memorable music in the future of that I have no doubts.’ The band’s brand new release Split Tongue, Cloven Hoof not only confirms those thoughts but makes them feel like great big underestimations. The new EP is immense, a true mighty giant of sound and stature. Show great promise? XII Boar have taken that promise and raised it to staggering heights and made music that reaches deeper than just the memory. Split Tongue, Cloven Hoof is an essential listen for all metal/rock fans, with crushing lively riffs and scorched eager melodies the release is a beast.

The trio from Aldershot have really taken their already impressive sound to expand and stretch it to the limits, creating an EP that is as near to a perfect blend of aggressive demanding riffs and razor sharp red hot melodies as one can get. All the muscle and heaviness of their debut is there but with even more incisive interplay with melodies and intensity. The production too is first rate, the muddiness that hindered the previous EP slightly removed without losing the mass of the band’s oppressive sound.

Smokin’ Bones’ starts the rampaging feast of sound, its thrusting riffs and irresistible swinging groove as eager and boisterous as a dog in heat. The song brings in smouldering melodies whilst subduing the pace from time to time, whilst the guitar solo from Tommy Hardrocks throws off sparks with its sonic heat, but underneath the rampant intensity is always there waiting to burst forth again. Hardrocks’ vocals are gruff and forceful, his great delivery coming through a thick sweat filled bar like atmosphere, smoke and alcohol dripping off every word. As the song evolves it turns to darker tones, menacing the senses with mischief that is wonderfully powerful and satisfying.

The venomous ‘Hellspeed Viper’ comes next, more intense and with a tighter squeeze on the ear then the opener the track is a brute of might and sonic intrusions. The bass of Bad-Dog Williams rumbles throughout like a bad tempered animal whilst the drums of Dave Wilbraham wake up primal instincts to ensure a deep connection. His always stirring rhythms are especially hypnotic in the other tracks on the EP, ‘Slamhound’ and ‘Triclops’.

Slamhound’ swaggers in with conceit and an unbridled lustful attitude, its riffs and heated guitar determined to manipulate and inflame the senses, which they do with ease. As with the opener the track swings its lead to mesmerise and enthral, XII Boar creating rock ‘n’ roll’ as it should be, dirty, heavy and ruthless. The band opens up last track ‘Triclops’ with further hypnotic beats from Wilbraham, his rhythms grabbing complete attention whilst the caustic guitar of Hardrocks nips at the ear. It is a call to arms, a start that riles up the heart whilst riffs and energy rage as the song expands. The song is predatory, pacing and intimidating it never explodes into the rampant aggression and charge of ‘Smokin’ Bones’ but lays its heavy bulk upon the senses to offer a darker intensity. The song is impressively created, its combination of pounding rhythms, marauding riffs, and sabre like blues spiced guitar is well crafted and evidence of the levels XII Boar have grown to.

Split Tongue, Cloven Hoof is stunning and puts the band at the fore of UK sludge and stoner metal, hell UK metal on the whole. XII Boar have reached the heights one anticipated previously very quickly and left them in their thick dust as they have evolved onto a far higher and impressive plateau. If you have an ear for a Motorhead, Down, Crowbar or Eyehategod, not forgetting Black Sabbath then XII Boar is an essential band for you.

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