Wrathage – Discipline


Seventeen years or so after their emergence, and three of those years in the making, the debut album from Finnish metallers Wrathage is a proposition which no matter how it initially takes you, leaves a compulsion to explore more and more of its ultimately enjoyable depths. Discipline is a striking and increasingly thrilling slab of dark extreme metal, a collusion of black and death metal predation and ferocity embracing an avant-garde and experimental nature. It is not always as successful with personal tastes as it is other times but when it hits the sweet spot, which are numerous, the album is one of the most intriguing and exciting propositions heard this year.

Wrathage began way back in 1997, formed by identical twins Scythe (bass, vocals, guitars) and D.V Grim (vocals, guitars). With only the intent of creating music which lit their own fires, the band has gone through numerous line-up changes, especially early on, whilst exploring and honing an ever evolving sound. A self-titled demo in 2000 was the first of three over the next five years whilst 2008 saw the release of the well-received Crawlspace Antipathy EP. The gap to its successor and first album has again been a long time waiting but now with Scythe and D.V Grim joined by guitarists H-beast and Viha, keyboardist Tero Nevala, and drummer Kuismahc, the Oulu band is poised to ignite highly anticipating appetites and a horde of newcomers with their enthralling offering.

Wrathage_2015_discipline_Cover     As soon as opener Dark matter engulfs ears, thoughts of Emperor and Morbid Angel come to the fore, yet equally a fresh individualism in presence and sound too. The song opens with epic sways of guitar around dramatic vocals, a mix soon immersed in a wash of equally theatrical keys and heavily jabbing beats. It is an attention grabbing start, a respectful one too as every element from guitar to keys, voice to rhythms create imposing but restrained proposals on the senses. Of course it is a thought too soon as within moments the factors collude to create a rapacious tempest of sound and intensity. The song proceeds to entwine classical and blackened enterprise with predatory ferocity, twisting and lurching through a fascinating and enticingly turbulent landscape of invention.

The following Born girt for war blends a ravaging hostility with a broader celestial atmosphere whilst also providing a more intimate stalking at times. Within its first half minute the song is already an unpredictable theatre of textures and sounds driven by the equally dramatic and enjoyable mix of vocals, which include a guest appearance by Catamenia frontman Olli “Oujee” Mustonen. The underlying persistent prowl of the song keeps everything on course before Of the great chief comes in on an opening blaze of guitar endeavour within a sinister climate. As the previous track, it does not make the same impact as the first song but every turn, every twist in its body brings further bait for ears and appetite to keenly devour, especially its rhythmic enticing.

The album truly comes to life from fourth song Walking to death; it is like Discipline has sized up personal tastes and then gone to work on instinctive wants and pleasures. The track marches in on a horde of synchronised boots, vocals swiftly leading the way with equally imposing intent. They are soon joined by a web of sonic ideation which alone ignites the imagination, whilst the broader melodic sweep of keys only enhances the addictiveness veining the song. It is a masterful enslavement which only tightens its grip with a slip into an almost carnal landscape of dark drama caged by an excellent bestial bassline. Riffs equally have an animalistic snarl to their touch, and a raw tang which reminds of Scottish band Skids. It is an inescapable anthem matched by the exceptional Unslaved, which also sees Mustonen guesting. Celestial keys caress ears first, their ethereal theatre tantalising but barely hinting at the temptation to come. A vocal lure bridges the start with the mouth-watering and grizzly bassline which follows; this the spark to an infection of hungry riffs, antagonistic rhythms, and bad blooded vocals. It is the magnetic swagger and blood thirsty character of the grooves which provide the fuse to the strongest ardour, their infection intertwined with the spiteful provocation elsewhere.

Distortion sees another guest in the shape of Khaos from Deathchain & Deathbound within its midst, and also sparks a new urge of greed for the release with its carnivorous presence and contagiously creative rancor. Once again expectations are given a cold shoulder as the track explores death and blackened scenery with thrash bred ferocity and a hellacious attitude of sound and invention. There is never time to catch a breath upon Discipline, but one is needed after the torrential hostility and intensity of the excellent encounter. A quick gulp those is all that is allowed as the insidious scavenger Reptilian crawls over the senses and into the psyche with primal and sonic animosity. It is great toxic incitement, its rhythmic and driving riffery an insatiable onslaught but above it guitars and keys are almost flirting with slow and devilish seduction.

After a vocal enticement, Sadicum is an erosive sonic tempest which alone would satisfy if lacking the spark of its predecessors, but the band is soon spearing it with shards of melodic spicing and a persistently evolving and enthralling weave of progressive fuelled keys to create another tasty assault. The song is still more of a smoulder on the passions than a roar like other tracks, but a lively simmering pot of adventure which over time brings thoughts and appetite to the boil very nicely and hankering for more.

The album concludes with firstly The crawlspace, a bordering on psychotic smog of sound and enterprise which is as suffocating as it is explosive on the senses. Some of the vocals are less successful on the ear but a mere blip in another pleasing track before the band brings it all to a close with a cover of the Morbid Angel track Dawn of the angry. It is a very decent and enjoyable offering but the meat and major joy of Discipline is in the band’s own slices of distinctive predation.

Discipline gets better and more revealing with every listen, even a handful plus of plays unveiling fresh elements and greater craft in the creative flow and sculpting of the release. As mentioned some moments create a bigger blaze in the emotions but from start to finish Wrathage has delivered one impressive encounter to revel in and to heartily recommend.

Discipline is available from March 30th via Maa Productions and at http://wrathage.bandcamp.com/album/discipline


RingMaster 30/03/2015

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Scar For Life: 3 Minute Silence

3 Minute Silence, the new album from Portuguese metalers Scar For Life, is not arguably an album to top your best of the year list but is one which is more likely to be revisited more often than many others this year. It is a vibrant and imaginative blend of melodic rock forged with heavier extremes to stretch and push the sound and invention of the band. It has a creative craft which captivates throughout and intelligence to its sound and composition which one can only be impressed and satisfied by.

Formed in 2008 by guitarist Alexandre Santos (Redstains), the band has built up a good and strong reputation over the past years as it evolved its sound and went through member changes. 3 Minute Silence is the third album from Scar For Life and the first with the new line-up of Leonel Silva (vocals), João Colaço (ex-More Than A Thousand) (drums), Nelson Raposo (piano) alongside Santos (rhythm and lead guitars/bass). The release also sees Sergio Faria offering the lead guitars on Before The Storm and Brave Enough as well as some featured guests. Released through Infektion Records the new album is called ‘their most ambitious work to date exploring a heavier and more melodic side of Scar For Life’. To be honest with the album being our introduction to the band we can only trust the words in relation to previous releases but 3 Minute Silence certainly is a collection of songs which are powerful, superbly crafted, and unlikely to make just light weight impressions on their listeners.

The album opens with easily its best track though all are decent rivals in their distinctive ways. Last Crow is a thumping introduction to the release, its towering combative rhythms and gnarly bass lines irresistible almost verging on brutal. As the guitars whip up a heated frenzy the vocals of Silva snarl and spit with aggression before exploding into an outstanding melodic rock delivery subsequently entwining both as the track progresses magnificently. The song is a riot of bruising riffs and sharp melodic invention fused with high octane energy and emotive sonic grandeur from the guitars and clean vocals. With its hungry near metalcore/death metal gait the song is outstanding, a thrilling and riveting explosion of raw intensity and inventive adventure. Unfortunately this is the only time the album really fuses the furthest reaches of the extremes involved and for personal tastes one cannot help thinking that if the whole release had been approached from the same direction this would surely be an album of the year contender here.

To be fair though the rest of the release is nothing less than impressive just in a different way, the songs eclectic and individual which one can never find a resistance to. The following Metabolic and White Shades for example both excite and please with their more conservative though no less inventive base. The first is an infectious storm of powerful riffs and rhythms speared by fine melodic craft and an excellent electronic caress upon the ear before the explosive climax. Its successor offers a slower emotive atmosphere to make its introduction, its expressive warmth and charm though still brought with an incendiary bruising breath and captivating melodic elegance.

As mentioned the album features some guests, the first coming on Burn It All with the additional vocals of Finnish vocalist Kari Vähäkuopus (Catamenia). It is another towering track of metal and melodic rock fused into an enterprising and impressive union. It does not venture near the depths and harsh assault of the first song but still offers a thumping mix of power and fine melodic skill. The other guest appearances come from violinist Anne Vitorino d’Almeida on the Celtic toned One More Day and the strongly emotive Old Man, whilst keyboardist Ged Ryland (ex-Ten) lights up the song Brave Enough. This song returns to the more harsh and aggressive presence which opened up the album and again elevates the band onto another plateau from their already heady heights. It is a brawling maelstrom of intensity and energy brought with sheer melodic dazzling beauty which only just falls short of the tasty assault which opened the album.

Scar For Life is a band one can only see getting better and better which ever direction their future explores. We hope it is one with even more attitude and bite though the melodic might they possess, as shown by 3 Minute Silence, must never be diminished. One of the strongest albums this year without doubt.


RingMaster 09/09/2012

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