Unbowed – Dogma

Unbowed_RingMaster Review

Two years ago Canadian metallers Unbowed grabbed thick attention and praise with debut album Collapse The World. It was a raw and ravenous slab of black metal atmospherics fused with death metal corrosion; blackened death metal with melodic tendencies that was unafraid to push it and its creator’s boundaries. It was also rich in open potential which has now been nurtured to striking effect for new EP Dogma. Offering four atmospherically primal and raw yet creatively elegant tracks, the release sees the Ontario duo breach a new plateau of songwriting and sound whilst opening fresh potential suggesting even bigger triumphs to come.

Formed in 2011 as a studio project by multi-instrumentalist Alex Snape and vocalist Ioan Tetlow, Unbowed proceeded to release a self-titled demo EP, the aforementioned Collapse The World, and bring together a live line-up which has played a host of shows and shared stages with the likes of Battlecross, Einherjer, The Contortionist, and Erimha throughout Ontario. Their bracingly invasive and imaginatively provocative sound has seen the band’s reputation grow within the underground spreading outwards and you suspect things are set to erupt with greater strength again as Dogma infests ears.

Unbowed Dogma - Final Cover Art_RingMaster ReviewThe EP opens with The Bleeding Throne; an enveloping of the senses and imagination from its first breath marked with a herald of melodies and atmospheric keys. It is a welcoming if portentous prelude to a rampant cascade of rabid riffs and matching rhythms within a wave of intensity as catchy as the thrash like canter that emerges from it. The craft and sound of Snape quickly impresses and works away on appreciative ears whilst the raw throated vocal squalls of Tetlow add a just as effective drama and predatory temper to the tapestry of provocative sounds around him. Thoughts of warriors, deceptions, and bloody turbulence are easy casting for the imagination as the song expands its sonic narrative, but equally there is an exotic beauty and expressive majesty to the song which grips the listener. It all further enhanced by the tendrils of varied metal and livelier variety in the vocals with blossom throughout.

It is a gripping and fascinating start which continues in the even more confrontational Besieged; though it too spins a web of guitar enterprise and rhythmic tenacity as infectiously alluring as it is barbarously intimidating. With sweeping melodies and expressive keys, you can visual the setting for the song’s drama and narrative. Broad and expansive, harsh yet beauteous landscapes are visualised, providing the canvas for the resourceful and enthralling imagination of the two musicians. As the first, the song bewitches as its trespasses, leaving a hunger for more which the closing pair of The Fall and Echoes of Cernunnos heftily satisfy. The first merges consuming textures and destructive virulence with flowing ambiences around epically poetic melodies whilst its successor provides an animus of ill-intent and immersive sufferance brewed with sonic rabidity. Both take unexpected and dramatically contrasting turns, the first especially enthralling with its melancholic and tainted reflections. The final song is more concentrated in its core attack but around its invasive spine, Snape creates a realm of celestial grandeur and earthbound intimacy coloured by the great vocal abrasion of Tetlow.

Dogma is superb, a release which only reveals more depths and corners with every listen. It leaves the band’s potent last album pale in comparison and equally many a black and death metal emprise heard in recent times.

Dogma is available from February 12th @ http://unbowedofficial.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/UnbowedOfficial   https://twitter.com/UnbowedOfficial

Pete RingMaster 12/02/2016

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Dark Century – Murder Motel

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A release which can just as easily raise a wide grin as it can an urge to go violate something, Murder Motel is an exhaustive and exhilarating corruption from a band clad in imposing and compelling devilry. Dark Century comes with a potent buzz behind them and their new album easily reveals why as it ignites ears, imagination, and a greedy appetite for their fusion of death, thrash, grind with a viciously healthy course of hardcore. It is a release which has plenty in it to feed expectations but also comes with a just as rich soak of originality to thrust The Canadian quintet into a spotlight of its own.

Formed in 2001 by guitarist Martin Gendreau, Dark Century has built an impressive reputation and presence over the years around Montreal and beyond. It is a time sign-posted by their excellent and well-received debut album Days of the Mosh as well as a live presence which has seen them alongside the likes of Aborted, Misery Index, Quo Vadis, Rose Funeral, Exhumed, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Goatwhore, Origin, The Faceless, Battlecross, Fuck the Facts and many more as well as light up numerous festivals. With a new line-up Dark Century return with their monstrously towering new incitement, an album which puts the band on a new plateau. Produced by Chris Donaldson (Cryptopsy, Mythosis, Erimha, The Agonist, Derelict, Neuraxis) with Gendreau, Murder Motel is a storming onslaught from start to finish, a ravenous bestial proposition veined by incessantly riveting imagination and unpredictable twists.

     In Our Veins starts things off and is soon careering through the same network of the listener with riffs grazing every surface they can find and rhythms voraciously pummelling the senses. It is a ferocious start which aided by the raw thrust of the vocals and that rhythmic tsunami, only intensifies its assault the further into its destructive arms you sink. Drummer Steve Burns is exceptional from the off but also is the stringed ravishment from Gendreau whilst the slightly varied and excellent caustic tones of vocalist Leather King and the predatory bass incitement of Francis Lafrenière equally steal their share of attention and acclaim.

The fine start hits another gear with the following title track where again a mere breath is taken before a disorientating rhythmic assault and bass grilling consumes the senses. Little time passes neither before a swagger and violent swing to the track wraps its irresistible temptation around a by now rampant appetite, the track lurching over and provoking the emotions with mischievous designs and violent intent. Here as with a few songs there is something familiar to the proposal offered but it only eases the accessibility of the track for the eagerly offered passions. The solo from Erik Fernet-Evans is a plume of intrigue and drama to colour further the potent canvas of the song as it drifts away at its end for Torticolis to seize its portion of attention. Rabid and intensively imposing, the track grips with carnal intent and flesh savaging sounds, its breath toxic and riffery a torrential assault driven harder by the severity of the Burns’ rhythmic spite.

Knees might already be buckling at this point and senses cowering in fear but hunger for more is insatiable and fed healthily by the brief but intensive predation of Ice Breaker and the fearsome rage of new single Kill The Crowd. The latter’s touch is as violent and scarring as anything heard before on the album but is aligned to a masterful persuasion of heavy metal coaxing and hardcore ravaging. Add the irresistible swinish grind twists and vocals plus the teasing cowbell, as well as the horde chants and you have another irrepressible capture of thoughts and emotions, but one exceeded even more by the brilliant Dead Birds. It is one of those addictions impossible to shrug off with the track from its anthemic rhythmic entrance stamping its authority over ears and excitement, crowding and preying on the senses with primal riffs and vocal voracity. It is just one of the structures ready to subjugate the passions, a heavy intensity laden consumption taking its sizeable portion of the adventure under its control just as firmly as the underlying but easily detectable excitable grooves have their appealing say.

   The four second Trio du Bûcheron comes next and there really is little to say about it. Neither working as an intro nor making any impact being so short, it is just there before both Cholestérol and Chloroforme cast their severity over ears. The first is another merciless gorging of the senses with piggish vocals, hellish rhythms, and a sonic weave of skilled enterprise igniting the otherwise pleasing if underwhelming song, in comparison to previous maelstroms. Its successor is similar in its presence, formidable and undeniably impressively crafted but failing to spark the same rapture. Nevertheless both keep band and album in solid control before the closing pair of firstly Mosh Test Dummies and the closing Gore On My Snare ensnare ears to inflame responses all over again. The first of the final two initially stalks and stares venomously at its recipient, its approach reserved but only for a deceptive moment as the song soon uncages its sinews and rigorous ingenuity to smother and savage all before its predatory strides. Its companion is pure blistering barbarity, everything from riffs to rhythms and vocals to creativity a masterclass of bloodlusting malevolence. It is demanding physically and emotionally making a scintillating conclusion to a tremendous provocation.

The album comes with recommendations that fans of bands such as Dying Fetus, Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under, Hatebreed, and Annihilator will get a hot flush from Murder Motel, but we suggest anyone with a lust for inventive and revelling extreme metal will find Dark Century a new best friend.

The self–released Murder Motel is available now @ http://darkcentury.bandcamp.com/album/murder-motel

www.DarkCentury.ca

9/10

RingMaster 19/04/2014

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