Friday, 28 June 2013

Sacred Mother Tongue - Out of the Darkness

Released: 15th April 2013
Genre: Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Melodic Metal, Progressive Metal
Label: EMI - Transcend Music
Number of tracks: 10

Overall Rating: 9/10

Blasting out of the UK is British metal band Sacred Mother Tongue (SMT) who have come a long way since their 2009 debut album 'The Ruin of Man' with several appearances at Download Festival, Sonisphere and touring with some big name bands.  Metal Hammer Magazine called them 'The most convincing young British Metal band to emerge in a long time' Their new album 'Out of The Darkness'  is guaranteed to get your blood pumping and your head banging. If you are a lover of metal or rock then don't let this album slip under the radar because one listen to their blistering riffs and it will become one of your favorite albums of 2013. 

The big difference between SMT and other generic melodic metalcore bands out there is the 6 string monster coming all the way from hell and ready to rule Earth, incarnated under the human name of Andy James. Andy James is a diabolic asset and is a virtuosic hyper-skilled guitarist that help to lift the band to another level. Andy James also breathes out some straight ultra-efficient and sharp riffs , like on track 3, 'Seven'  and his lava like riffs on 'Demons', 'Just a Ride' and 'Bleeding Out' are ready to erupt. Some would consider Mr James to be in the same league as Keith Merrow, Jeff Loomis, Chris Broderick or Paul Wardingham and that group of contemporary super shredders will be lucky to be amongst Andy James. All i can say is listen for yourself, you will soon agree.

This album is an onslaught of metal riffage backed up by the improved vocal melodies of Darrin South. There is a serious shortage of truly phenomenal rock singers and he proves they still exist. His vocals are an exceptional cap on the already dynamic music. Track 6 'A Light Will Shine' is clear evidence that his vocals are some of the best in Britain. 

Lyrically, the tracks are excellent and whilst being interviewed by Noisecreep about the single 'Pawn', Darrin South warned, 'The aggressive parts are a direct attack on the ignorant among us, who look for no answers, and swallow whatever is fed to them. These people will always be played as pawns. The song later expands into a far more euphoric chorus, it speaks of the longing, desperate cries of the 'little man' who is trying to be a better person, trying not to be caught up in the propaganda and fear mongering, trying to find his own peace in the world'

With such a solid second record, the future for SMT is bright. There are so many mediocre British metal bands out there, i hope they can listen to SMT and be inspired to what British metal is all about. This really is a phenomenal album, and should be a springboard for other British metal. If you like metal or rock and you haven't got this album, then go out and buy it. 

Be sure to check out Andy James' solo albums, In particular Andy James - 2011. For any Guitarist you must check out Andy James metal shred on Lick Library for tutorials.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Megadeth - Super Collider

Released: June 4th, 2013
Genre: Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Hard Rock
Record Label: Tradecraft
Number of Tracks: 11 (13 on Limited Edition)

Overall Rating: 6/10

Considered as one of Thrash Metal's big 4 since their debut album 'Killing is My Business...and Business is Good'  released 30 years ago, Megadeth continue to prove they are not done yet with their latest album 'Super Collider', their fourteenth studio album. 

'Super Collider' is a bit of a throwback, but not to classic Megadeth albums such as 'Peace Sells...But Who's Buying' or 'Rust in Peace'. It has more in common with 1999's 'Risk' and 2001's 'The World Needs a Hero', which were not as well received. Their latest effort is more hard rock, than their influential, name making Thrash Metal. Mustaine and Chris Broderick are two great guitar players and as we have heard on other albums, have the ability to make top draw riffs as often as a builder makes a brew, and there are some top notch riffs on the track 'Don't Turn Your Back...' , 'Burn!' and 'Dance in the Rain'. Shawn Drover is an under-rated drummer and holds down the rhythmic fort with style. 

Even though it is not their heaviest album, there are definitely some elements of thrash in the album. However the album definitely has a mixed feel. The album opens with the track 'Kingmaker', which seems to give a false representation of what is to come in the rest of the album. The track is possibly the song most in line with what we expect from Megadeth, and is a decent high tempo thrash metal song and one of few songs on the album which appears to have balls, another being the brilliant album finale 'Cold Sweat' - a Thin Lizzy cover (too bad those balls belong to Phil Lynott). Title track 'Super Collider' was first released as a single on April 23rd 2013, and has to be the weakest track on the album. It sounds like a reject from a Bon-Jovi B side album and Mustaine's vocals - which for a long time have been considered Megadeth's weak point, are evidently a lot weaker than they were back in the day. But you have to remember, he has been doing vocals in a thrash metal band for 30 years. Third track titled 'Burn!' starts off sounding like an older Megadeth track, but quickly dwindles into another lazy effort and is lyrically cliched 'Burn, baby burn... 'cause it feels so good / Burn, baby burn... like i knew it would / Fire, I've got the fire / Fire, burning desire... my desire to burn'.

The next 4 tracks are largely average and aren't very interesting, and it is only until the final minute of 6th track 'Dance In The Rain' that we hear a rare glimpse of a high tempo and pounding rhythm worthy of being on a Megadeth album. Although you get the feeling it is like being starved and then being given a tin of spam, you're going to lap up as much as you can get. An odd inclusion to a Megadeth album is banjo led track 8 'The Blackened Crow'. The song transcends into heavier guitar work mixed with Banjo and it never really gets going. It is a typical 'Super Collider' song, not good, but not bad either. Willie Nelson and/or Miranda Lambert were initially going to sing this one, but for unknown reasons this collapsed. 'Forget to Remember' sounds like a dull boring soft punk rock band have tried to construct, and is a thrash barren wasteland. For me, the highlight of the album is track 10, entitled 'Don't Turn Your Back...'. Starts off bluesy and soon quickens up with double bass and fast guitar riffs, crazy solos and the whole song seems to carry the album. 

As with any other Megadeth album, the lyrics reflect social and political issues. Some lyrics are cliched and unimpressive ('Burn!, 'Built for War' and 'Off the Edge' to name a few). 'Dance in the Rain', 'The Blackest Crow' and 'Forget to Remember' stand out lyrically, talking about alzheimer's and seeing someone you love fade away 'And you just walk away - I have no idea who you are! / I curse the day that you smile fades away, till then i pray' . The rest of the lyrics fit well with the songs but are unimpressive. 

If you pick up 'Super Collider' expecting the classic thrashy Megadeth, then you will be disappointed. It is there, but it is rare and only glimpses. This is predominantly a hard rock album, with a hint of the old Megadeth. Knowing that may help shift your expectation. 'Endgame' seems a long, long time ago doesn't it?

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Coming up over the next few days: Megadeth's Super Collider, Amon Amarth's Deceiver of the Gods and Sacred Mother Tongue's Out of the Darkness!! Watch this space guys, this is going to be hot!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Black Sabbath - 13

: Jun 10, 2013

Genre: Heavy Metal, Doom Metal, Thrash Metal, Stoner Metal
Label: Vertigo Universal
Number of Tracks: 8 (11 on the deluxe edition)

Overall Rating: 7/10

Black Sabbath have already cemented a place as metal gods as a band that have created Doom/Sludge metal. This was ultimately the result of an engineering accident where lead guitarist Tony Iommi's fingers were injured, and he began to tone down his guitar and adjust to playing with prosthetic fingers. This gave Black Sabbath (who originated as a classic blues band) a deep, darker tone and they focused on darker lyrical subjects evident in hits such as 'Iron Man', 'Paranoid' and 'Sweet Leaf', selling over 50 million albums world wide. As listeners we all have our own opinion, but no matter what people think of the new album '13', they have nothing to prove, and will go down as one of the most successful metal bands ever.

'Rewinds the future to the past' sings Ozzy Osbourne on his first vocals to appear on a Black Sabbath record for 36 years. This couldn't be a better summation of what any reformed band who has entered the studio have attempted to do. Producer Rick Rubin suggested that this latest release would be 'not retro' and said 'If this had come out in 1972, i think people would have loved it'. Rubin persuaded the band to 'Unlearn everything over the past 43 years. Pretend this is your second album'.

Most of the tracks on the record range from 4 1/2 minutes to over 8 minutes long, with the bonus track 'Piece of Mind' the only track under 4 minutes. The first single from the album 'God is Dead?' was released mid-April amongst mixed reactions from fans, the second single 'End of the Beginning' was released on crime drama 'CSI' in early June. All lyrics were written by Ozzy and Geezer and all music was written by Tony Iommi.

The album opens up with the track 'End of the Beginning'. It comes across as mediocre as the only musical highlight would be a head banging riff leading up to the solo. Its slow tempo up until this point but Tony did not disappoint with the solo. The second track, 'God is Dead?' starts of tranquil, and does a very good job of creating that Black Sabbath vibe they are famous for. However the lyrics are ambiguous and aren't very original. 'Zeitgeist', the fourth track caught my attention, with a weird slow acoustic, and percussion which is predominantly carried by the bass continuing with the dark spiritual feel to the album. Over the next 4 tracks, Tony Iommi deals out bone crushing scything riffs, laced with a dose of heavy blues, also known as the usual Black Sabbath Doom metal and finished strongly with 'Dear Father'. The next 3 tracks are only available on the deluxe edition, and it is definately worth getting. Arguably the best tracks of the lot are 'Methademic' and 'Piece of Mind' and a spine tingling riff in 'Pariah'.

The album is strong vocally, and there is little sign of age in Ozzy's voice. His age and his antics have phenominally hardly had an impact on his vocals. The lyrics sound hit and miss, some lyrics being pretty solid in songs like 'Age of Reason' where Ozzy sings 'Do you hear the thunder, raging in the sky? / Premonition of a shattered world that's gonna die / In the age of reason, how do we survive / The protocols of evil ravage through so many lives'. Other songs can be cheesy and cliche, for example in the song 'God is Dead?' Ozzy proclaims: 'The blood runs free/ The rain turns red/ Give me the wine/ You keep the bread.' Overall a pleasing vocal performance, and the lyrics in most part have stuck to their demonic roots.

I'm flooded with mixed emotions, as i want to love it but i was dramatically under-whelemed by songs such as 'God is Dead?' and 'Zeitgeist', however pleasing songs such as 'Pariah', 'Piece of Mind' and 'Age of Reason' made it thorughly enjoyable. I did not hate any song, and i particularly love the riffs which Iommi has written on the album. This is by no means a modern metal album, but more of an attempt to pick up where Black Sabbath left off, and Sabbath fans will love it. 

Ozzy has previously talked about aiming to end his career 'The right way' as opposed to how he ended it after the 1978 album 'Never Say Die' where he was too incapacitated to finish. For all its flaws, '13' has a sense of finality to it, and it would be difficult to say they havn't succeeded with that aim.