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Friday, October 28, 2011

Album Review: Uneven Structure - Februus

The remnants of dreamt images dissolve slowly, echoing gently as they depart. My eyes flick open as I “Awaken” to blinding bursts of fractured light. Blinking rapidly to clear my distorted vision I hear the muted tinkling of glass that woke me, before I see the shards falling to the ground. He is near, approaching fast. Bursting into the doorframe, he launches his attack.

This is the place where ’s debut, Februus, opens; the beginning of an emotive journey into sound. Everything from the sublimely cosmic album artwork (a bridge of distinctly alien design before a night’s sky spitting stars at an aurora borealis) to the cascading string-work and exploding snare shots screams its heart and soul at you. Another band to be pigeon-holed as “djent” and filed next to its brethren, or one with an individual voice? Just as this French sextet have tried hard not to become the former, it seems only fair that this review should not ape its kind. Please join me in thinking outside the box, back where I started, eyes closed, lost inside a stream of consciousness.

The rising panic I once felt is dying as the urging roars invigorate before they dissipate into a choir of harmonics beckoning me within. Startled, I realise the shattered pane of glass is whole once more. Heavy footsteps fall. The temperature drops; exhalations form clouds. “Frost” appears, growing like cracks across the mirrored surface of the glass and I stare into the reflection of an avalanche of snow, rhythmically tumbling and turning. The collapsing mountain swallows me whole and darkness falls as my ears fill, leaving behind a deep, syncopated boom; felt only as a numbing vibration.

Shapes form, thunder rumbles and I find myself cast adrift in space; rotating slowly; oblivious to either time passing or the presence of natural reflexive respiratory breathing. I gape open-mouthed as diamond-white galaxies and shape-shifting, intensely-coloured nebulae are revealed in all their luxuriant glory. This is “Exmersion” where space ripples from the pulsating heart of a red-hot sun. Solar flares fling themselves outwards, rebounding back as coronal loops; ejections that bring strong solar winds thrusting me backwards kicking and screaming. “Awe” hits and, with an explosive burst, I fall into a boiling ocean.

Sinking fast, I make out murky configurations in the deep. Vast, bellowing beasts are challenged by soothing siren song; a chiming, clanging wall of ethereal sound; a loose ambient wash that whirls to create vortices. The aural conflict creates rips in the current, pressures increase, water floods inside and the motion tears my body apart until there is nothing but a pointless and agonising “Limbo”. Vaguely perceptible, arrhythmic pops are all that remain to help me realise life goes on.

“Plenitude” kick-starts my heart with the beat of tribal drums and I see fire. Figures dance before me, snaking into impossible shapes, casting shadows. The cave walls flicker back in time causing the reflected phantoms to pulsate as the rhythm shrinks and swells. A smile splits my visage and I throw myself sharply into motion – what a “Finale”.

Okay. Open your eyes, you’re back in the room. My Spidey sense tells me you’d like an accompanying straight-up summary of my findings.

Well, many of you are going to be thrilled to hear that inhabit the same ambient world that and belong to but, instead of creating precise structures by filtering out any background thrum, they build upon it, wallowing deep in the extra dimension of spatial awareness that it offers, which brings them within jetpacking distance of both ’s mile-wide layering and ’s polyrhythmic heft. However, above all, the recklessly progressive scars they carve across their music helps define them as fearless, forward-thinking individuals. This is why you could do a lot worse than get lost in their music like I have.

Also online (with samples) @ The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/uneven-structure-februus

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Album Review: Junius - Reports From The Threshold Of Death

You know how it is. You buy your paint, you roll it on your wall and, lo and behold, the pot runs out just before you finish. There’s a break in the colour; a hole. A small, but nagging hole. Your beautiful blood-red wall is left with a square millimetre of drab gray undercoat still showing. There’s no chance in hell you’re going back for a second pot so you cover it up with that poster you like; the one with the blonde, leggy tennis player scratching her bare backside. Still, you know the gap is there and it bugs the hell out of you.

Without me realising it, the same thing has happened to my music collection. I knew the gap was there but, frustratingly, I just didn’t know what the right colour to fill it was. Until now. Having missed out first time on their debut full-length, The Martydom Of A Catastrophist, I’m fresh to but have quickly discovered their sombre, decadently expansive slow-pieces are satisfying that very hole.

Sophomore album Reports From The Threshold Of Death conceptually follows the journey of the soul after death and the echoing, gothic hallways, along which tracks like “Betray The Grave” and “Haunts For Love” sweep, evoke both the tortured spirit of darkwave and the malingering presence that inhabits doom metal. You could, for instance, namecheck both and , yet you’d struggle to properly qualify either due to this album’s pungent prog and post-rock overtones. Instead, it seems far more appropriate to think of as a becalmed incarnation of either or , or a more decadent version of either or .

And yet, the tracks on offer here rather flatter to deceive. The music swarms around your ears, but never quite manages to dig its heels in far enough. I kept expecting to have these glorious moments of introspection but the cyclical patterns never quite managed to drag me down deep into myself enough of the time. “Transcend The Ghost”, for instance, spins itself dizzy trying to go for something light and airy, but with vocalist/guitarist Joseph E. Martinez getting stuck on repeat, the track fires off its one trump card early and runs out of gas before it even gets going. The cadence and tone of each track quickly finds a rhythm and sticks all too rigidly too it and, as we all know, familiarity can breed contempt. Try spinning “All Shall Float” or “Dance In Blood” a few times and when you spot the simplistic design, you’ll begin to forget the initial tug of the chorus hook and crave greater variety.

May I recommend you close your eyes, ramp up the volume and lay waste to your sub-woofer, because the more you shut out the world, the more likely you are to realise just how spiritually effecting and deeply cathartic the music could potentially be when ’ songwriting finally matches their ambition. Follow these instructions and share a rare moment with me in the all-encompassing, hammering bottom-end and dying chords of “A Universe Without Stars” or the elegantly languid vocal and warbling synth which craftily conceal the sudden, yet glorious bass thrust of “Eidolon & Perispirit”. Boom, there goes my cochlea.

So may not be exactly the correct band to fill my hole (just yet), but I’ve had such fun discovering what musical characteristics I need to be looking out for now that I look forward to discovering many more holes in the future.

Also online (with samples) at The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/junius-reports-from-the-threshold-of-death

Friday, October 21, 2011

EP Review: Enormicon - Storm Of Swords

Any band sporting a moniker like Enormicon, will always lead you to expect a pretty heavy sound to emerge when you hit play. Similar expectations will abound when the title of the first track of any album has such a devil-horning linguistic concoction like "Slaghammer". So when they feature in unison your hopes are for something pretty earth-shattering to emerge from your cans. So it is that I am disappointedly reporting the news that this isn't your day for wish fulfilment... yet. That "yet" is all important because behind the undoubtedly weak recording lies the potential for something monstrous to follow.

Tracks like the aforementioned "Slaghammer" and "Dark Forces" burn and boil, dragging forth insane lyrics, like only a band who smoke the strongest stuff can. The rhythmic qualities recall The Sword and the meaty tones and psycho lyrics are High On Fire-esque. "Pray For Death" and "The Gargantuan" reach down into a whole other dimension until the echoing stop-gaps enlarge and the psychedelia becomes more intense. There are elements of Mastodon and Hawkwind down here amongst the whispering fools, bending riffs and twisting, panic-stricken harmonies. The absurdly-titled "Fury Shall Know The Warmth Of Your Blood (Summoning The Enormicon)" with its dizzy-headed bludgeoning is, by comparison, absolutely ludicrous but it does prove just how far down the rabbit-hole Enormicon are willing to venture.

Now, I've tried but there's just no getting away from this. This EP contains the kind of snare sound that ruins a record. There you are listening to this rich, complex, driving and mind-expanding music and feeling it invade your every pore. Now imagine having your blissful, semi-lucid state exploded by the sounds of your beloved three-year old banging the shit out of the plastic toy kit you got him for Christmas. You'd throttle him, right? No, you'd buy him a full-on, ear-splitting tub-thumper because if he's anything like the kid on this EP, he's one talented son of a bitch ("Merciless Overlord Of Rhythm", indeed). The problem almost definitely lies with those weak-assed recording mics, that potting shed of a studio they've recorded in or, most likely, the individual twiddling the knobs whose idea of a hard-hitting drum tone is on a whole other planet to mine.

These thunderous Texans are just setting out, so it's hugely unfair to criticise too heavily. What they bring to the table is innovation, an instant grasp of complex song construction and a crafty knack for making their loony tunes accessible. This half-hour EP is a well-place stepping stone to, potentially, something really special.

Also online @ Metal Team UK = http://www.metalteamuk.net/oct11reviews/cdreviews-enormicon.htm

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Album Review: Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster - IV

are down with universal karma. The quintet have, after all, allied themselves to the identities of each of Ma Baker’s five sons; not to rain musical hell down upon us, but to set right some of the wrongs committed by those individuals; to re-align the karmic equilibrium by sending out good messages and vibes. Their third album, the imaginatively titled III, was a real trailblazer and they toured the backside off it. It was forceful enough to see them performing alongside such snarling collectives as , and . I know this because it’s etched across my mind as one of the best gigs I’ll ever witness, and most notable because The Sons didn’t just hold their own that night, they went and jaw-droppingly blew the rest away.

Having now heard the surprisingly limp output of the predictably monikered IV, I doubt very much if they’ll continue to tour with similarly noisome company. Gone is the fantastically unhinged, disembodied element of Dallas Taylor’s howl and gone are the wild, rabble-rousing guitar leads. Also gone are the fun touches hidden within both II and III, leaving behind a joylessly bland, rock-by-numbers imprint. It’s fair to say the rigours of the aforementioned kinds of tours has meant that, since III, they have had a bit of a personnel transplant so maybe it’s not so surprising after all. So radical are the changes that only lead vocalist Taylor and guitarist Chad Huff (who only joined, himself, right before they recorded 2009′s III) remain in position.

The songs still swing with that indicatively Southern, swampy, blues rock swing that so marks the band out. However, they are now top-loaded with pop hooks, emotionless repetition, harmonies and unsettlingly weak melodies. Tracks like “Faith Healer (Bring Me Down)” and “Open Your Eyes” drift past on the air like wet farts; instead of being punchy, addictive pop, this is the kind of ineffectual mainstream twaddle that invites a quick switch of stations. I’m all for a good, well-written, hook-laden pop song so, by all means, bring your music to the masses if it has something new to say but please don’t water it down until so-little flavor remains.

There are moments of hope amongst all this doom and gloom. Opener “In Dead We Dream” reminds us what the band are capable of when they ramp it back up, “Cat’s Walk” pares down the mix to inject an unexpectedly punkish kick, “Drought Of ’85″, though dreadfully repetitious, allows you a moment to revel in the track’s change to acoustic and steel guitars, and “Killing Me Slow” has a crafty, black-key riff, pre-chorus, that duck-walks effectively into a fat-ass groove. Of course the bass is still reassuringly deep and strong and the album pacing is still pretty much spot on. Past that, it’s hard to find anything of merit. Slow-numbers “Come For You” and “Taking On Water” speak, unforgivably, from somewhere other than the heart and “Fate Games” and “Never Enough”, at under four minutes, offer nothing but filler. Considering the fresh personnel, I just don’t see how this can be. Listening closely, I get this strong feeling about IV that suggests, for whatever reason, this is now just a band going through the motions.

Poppier than ever and, despite their protestations to the opposite, preachier than ever (the less said about “Faith Healer” and “Off To The Laughing Place” the better), IV is the sound of Ma Bakers’ boys attempting to grow up. Sadly, they also appear to be growing out. Following the path most-trodden may lead to a pot of gold but on this evidence, as karma dictates, there will be no fans there to greet them when they claim their prize.

Also online @ The NewReview (with samples) = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/maylene-and-the-sons-of-disaster-iv

Saturday, October 15, 2011

EP Review: Clayhed - Wasted

No, just kidding. I can't really review my own EP can I? Just wanted to stick this up here to remind myself just how awesome my old band really were. Good times, good times.

Find more artists like Clayhed at Myspace Music

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Album Review: Loch Vostok - Dystopium

Having never come across Loch Vostok before, I was quite surprised to hear, upon listening to this, their fourth album, just about everything but the kitchen sink blazing back out of the speakers at me. You name it, from the abrasive hectoring of Lamb Of God to the 80's commercial rock polish of Whitesnake (see 'Navigator') and on to the sweeping pomp of Turisas, you'll find it in 'Dystopium'. So just who are these adventurous Swedes?

History tells us that they formed back in 2001 when three members of prog-metal act Mayadome decided to split and look for something a little more destructive to play with. You really only have to know that former drummer Teddy Möller has switched instruments, to perform both lead vocal duties and lead guitar for Loch Vostok, to realise the talent that lurks within their ranks. With 'Dystopium' they clearly have their sights set on ruffling a few feathers with potentially provocative song titles like 'A Mission Undivine' and 'World Trade Dissenter' - no, it's not quite what you think.

'Dystopium' starts big. Real big. Fiercely thrashy, shredded guitars release to give the spasming bass, pounding kick-drum and emotive, wildly adaptive Dickinson-esque vocal some space to spread themselves out. The black chords, djent dynamics and death motif quickly step in to wrench away any prospect of the music getting too emotive and instead manage to bestow an almost seedy vibe on proceedings. 'Repeat Offender' changes tack once more and bristles with expansive melodics, mimicking the same big choruses and stop-go patterns that makes Viking metal such a force.

There's also the aforementioned 'World Trade Dissenter' to chew on and this turns out to be an attack on multinational corporations playing games with our earnings rather than a few choice words about the War On Terror. It gallops along with a strong, clear vocal taking the lead - imagine the kind of sound Iron Maiden might make if they channelled Therion and you won't be a million miles away.

Shamefully, the band seem to run out of steam half-way in and try too hard to mix up their bag of tricks. There's the crazily overplayed mish-mash of prog and power that is 'In The Wake Of Humanity', whilst the insidious 'Viral Strain' comes off sounding like the deformed bastard son of O.S.I. and Betraying The Martyrs as they try and weld electro-industrial metal, with added vocoder, to the side of the rumbling tank that is pig-grunting deathcore. There are also far too many occasions where they disappointingly fade out just as they are getting going. Now that's unforgivable. They really need to tighten this ship up. Having said that, there are moments like 'Absence', which you'll be stunned to hear sounds an awful lot like they've stumbled upon Devin Townsend's marbles, and 'Sacred Structure', which is the undoubted star of the show. It integrates more progressive elements, like its kitsch, warbling guitar riff into the verse and a classy harmony to an insanely catchy chorus.

Being as chaotic as it is, 'Dystopium' is by no means a perfect album (for one thing, Teddy Möller definitely needs to tighten up his shaky, nail-gargling growls), but it's definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of inventive melodeath or, ironically, modern progressive metal. You do have to take the rough with the smooth but that's what happens when a band tries to cram every one of their influences into one album - Loch, Vostock and two smoking barrels. Sweden has been hiding a bit of a potential gem here.

Also online @ Metal Team UK = http://www.metalteamuk.net/oct11reviews/cdreviews-loch.htm

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gig Review: Feed The Rhino - Cambridge, 26/9/11

The last time I saw , a few months back on the UK leg of the Sonisphere Festival, they were, there’s no easy way to say this, putting such major acts as and to shame by proving that standing, posing and strolling are no comparison to clambering, hustling and stage-diving. I’m trying to picture just how their usual display of maniacal fervor will go down in this tiny club (that’s a capacity of 80, folks) and it’s causing me, and most of the mortals present, to drool at the prospect.

There’s three decent warm-up acts on first tonight so there’s plenty of food for thought while we wait. Local act (3.5 out of 5) are battling the half-empty gig room by staging their own mini dance-floor invasion. The songs are chaotic, but effective and so my only real criticism is that frontman Remi Marcel Jermy is blasting his malevolence down at his feet rather than out into our faces. Hopefully, they’ll nail down a bit more confidence as they progress and then songs like the excellent “Jack” will really leave a mark.

The odd one out here was always going to be Cambridge’s (3 out of 5) who, you could argue, are the only band not to dabble in hardcore. Instead they play hammering, blues-led swamp rock and sound, in turns, like Down, and . Although “Dirty Sanchez” loses power in the chorus due to a spot of quirky offbeat drumming, “Tear It Down” goes a long way to making amends, drawing a fine reaction from the rapidly expanding, clearly open-minded crowd.

Main tour support comes from (4 out of 5) who fire out a remorseless combo of slow, methodical beats and overlay it with barbed anthems which are gang-chanted in waves. “Forget”, in particularly, stands out with each word screamed out with hostile menace – “The sun will rise / And the time will pass / And I’ll forget you / I will forget you”. By the end, frontman Thomas Debaeres is getting mobbed so often he opts to retreat to a point of safety whilst the lead guitarist mounts the flimsy folding merch table, trampling CDs as he goes, in an attempt to bait the crowd further. The one image I’ll take away from it all, burnt onto the inside of my retinas, is of the bassist, all staring bug-eyes and bleeding gums, impotently mouthing the words to every goddamn song.

(4 out of 5) are in our faces from the start. Bearded frontman Lee Tobin leads the charge, but the Colley brothers and bassist Oz Craggs aren’t far behind, bonding with their disciples by means of raised guitars and mouthed lyrics; often just the odd nod is enough to get a reaction. New track “Knives” gets an early airing and pours fuel on simmering flames with all eyes now on Tobin as he falls to his knees to try and wring every last drop of energy out of his body. Thankfully, he’s up quickly to proffer the gift of an, as yet, unreleased song, and the bulldozing “Transistor Down”. The latter comes with an extra long, bassy build allowing for Tobin to mount the dangerously rickety, double-stacked PA to his left so he can really prime the crowd to full effect. No-one riles an audience like him and all his cajoling allows for a frothing collective to form; almost enough to catch him as he crazily leaps. The combination of height and weight was always going to take them down, but those who are left sprawling are quickly hauled back to their feet grinning like idiots.

From here on they lose a little of their intensity, almost as if they’ve misjudged just how hot the venue gets. Still, with the band constantly conferring to gauge each other’s impression of the show and thumbs going up, our bearded hero is soon chiming in to reward the audience with what they want to hear – the cheesy, yet clearly heartfelt “Tonight’s show has blown our minds and we’ll be coming back to Cambridge real soon.” He proceeds by teasing us with what he calls a “last song” but acquiesces to a couple extra when cries to the tune of “It’s only half-ten!” ring out. The band’s response is for one last big push and Tobin sets about organising the night’s first decent circle pit, two walls of death and a stage invasion for a crushing rendition of “Caller Of The Town”.

Despite everything, it still feels like there’s something missing from their performance – perhaps it’s the proximity of the four walls which has restricted their efforts. The band still predictably, yet exultantly, launch themselves into the crowd and manage to leave us with that delightfully disarming sense of loss and confusion that follows such mania when the banality of normality all too quickly resumes.

Also online (with more photos) @ The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/show-reviews/feed-the-rhino-cambridge-uk

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Album Review: The Subways - Money And Celebrity

The Subways are a band that has always unapologetically walked the tightrope of being gloriously addictive and mind-numbingly repetitive. They’ve always tended to stick close to the steady, predictable path of verse, chorus, verse and, rather than stray into composing complex structures, focused all their efforts on ramming home just how energetically they can perform each note or shout each lyric. In the past, it’s a tactic that has got them noticed and their hard-work ethic has resulted in them nailing down some serious festival and tour slots. The big push forward, of course, never quite came due to the recorded material never selling in decent numbers. Now, with the release of this, their third album, just when you feel they needed to go for the jugular and try a different approach, maybe put themselves out on a bit of a limb, it’s a a surprise to find them still banging out those same songs, simply tweaked and repackaged.

Tracks like ‘It’s A Party’ and ‘We Don’t Need Money To Have A Good Time’ utilises that same recognisably dynamic, guitar-driven pop-punk that boots in the teeth of the listener, whilst all the time flinging cloyingly predictable lines at you about just how simple things can be if you don’t engage your brain. On a certain level, the usual boy/girl vocal works as well as it ever did with Billy Lunn effectively sticking two fingers up at everything whilst Charlotte Cooper waves her arms manically in the air, egging him on. When the two vocals come together, it’s a riot of carefree singing. The trouble is many of us will have stopped listening by the second chorus. Maybe it’s me that’s grown up or them that haven’t (they really should have by now), but what previously might have passed for youthful enthusiasm, now is all too easily translated as mere immaturity.

‘I Wanna Dance With You’ takes the pace down a notch, with producer Stephen Street softening up the pretty flabby mix even further. Sadly, it all ends up sounding like a cross between The Lightning Seeds and Hard-Fi rather than something new and exciting. With the drab ‘Celebrity’ miserably poking fun at the vacuous – “She doesn’t care about the TV shows / Unless of course it’s about Eastenders / Hollywood is where she wants to go”, ‘Down Our Street’ doo-dooing and skipping along like some clueless Ocean Colour Scene pop fodder and ‘Money’ showing off a duff snare sound that has been muffled into a dull thud, there’s much to find fault with. Thankfully, ‘Popdeath’ wraps itself around you with the vocals intertwined and harmonising nicely, ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ kicks up a neat riff and some effortlessly addictive angeldust, and ‘Rumour’ plucks away at a dark series of chords and unravels some true vitriol.

I find myself disappointedly reporting that Money And Celebrity has no spectacular surprises or dangerously emotional forays. Nope, this is the same happy-go-lucky bunch of silly sods you fell in love with six years ago. They remain steadfastly within the limitations of their respective abilities, playing to their strengths, bypassing their obvious weaknesses. In a sense, they are magicians – song after song emerge from their hats, each one instantly recognisable and unsettlingly reminiscent of something you just can’t put your finger on. Ironically, The Subways are still doing what it says on the tin, a fact that will probably be their downfall.

Also online @ TLOBF = http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/2011/10/the-subways-money-and-celebrity/

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Album Review: Black Tusk - Set The Dial

So often when it comes round to reviewing the latest addition to the stoner rock genre it seems to offer an opportunity to name-check the city of Savannah, GA. I don’t know what they’ve been putting in the water down there (probably the same stuff that flows through Oakland, CA and feeds bands like and ), but are just one of a bunch of crazy-assed, heavy-lidded rockers from that particular neck of the woods. Whilst you may spot similarities to the drum-loaded cavalcade that neighbors offer, you’re less likely to hear the more cerebral layering of the other blissed-out locals that spring to mind, . Nope, only that particular band’s lead singer gets a look in here with another piece of his much-admired and sought-after artwork adorning ’s latest album.

Though the band have been active since 2005, they only came to most folk’s attention with their first major release, Taste The Sin, yet they have another two albums, put out on a local label, on top of that for you to explore. Yes, here is a band that has delivered, to all intents and purposes, an album a year since their debut long-player, The Fallen Kingdom. For Set The Dial they’ve hauled in the legendary Jack Endino (, , ) to produce and he’s made certain that the whole thing feels weighty and yet, at the same time, comes stripped of all but the bare essentials. The upshot of it all is that the album ebbs and flows nicely giving the impression that the band just plugged in and played it through in one take. Conversely, slinging on that slick sheen has propagated this familial, thick sludge that has coated everything, sparking too many similarities track-to-track and, more importantly, diminished the element of surprise – a valuable commodity.

Set The Dial is, without doubt, a much more foreboding affair than their previous efforts. “Brewing The Storm” grants you two minutes to adjust yourself to the colossal skin and bollock-janglingly deep bass action, before they gang-chant “6-6-6″ in your face and present you with the -esque world of pain that is “Bring Me Darkness”. The track’s neck-jarring, side-to-side swagger lines itself up as a decent taster for the kind of dark lyrics you’ll be faced with. None of course can come close to the ludicrously-titled “Set The Dial To Your Doom” which sets about summoning up the hue and cry of , before blending it with the kind of lyrics might conjure up – “Technology seals our demise / Machines of war are on the rise / The fall of man is coming soon / Set the dial to your doom”.

Some tracks here are more meaty than others. “Ender Of All”, for instance, marches you into an echoing cave, cuts the power, then rebuilds the pace again and again with jagged guitar and steady-as-you-like drums, and “This Time Is Divine” where the vocal is segmented into a series of hawked yelps and where the music pauses to allow a buzzing chord to expand and distort. Others, like “Carved In Stone” or “Crossroads And Thunder” are much more straight forward, heads-down rockers, and as such could be viewed as over-simplified filler material. Whilst these may let the side down somewhat, there are a few welcome changes of pace that do exactly the opposite. “Mass Devotion”, for instance, provides a huge, warped, ambling riff that swallows everything around it until the vocal eventually dives in and jams it’s foot hard on the accelerator. Then, of course, there is the instrumental “Resistor” which allows for to properly stretch out their arms and go exploring to great effect.

The band do like to keep their influences close to their chest but at points littered throughout Set The Dial you’ll hear the spiteful gallop of Killers-era (particularly on “Growing Horns”), the spiked thrashy influence of Into Abaddon (most notably on the spiteful “This Time Is Divine”), the black swarthiness of ’s Under Black Skies and the masterful psych-tweaked rock of ’s Gods Of The Earth. And yet at no time does the album come anywhere close to matching any of these great records. It feels all too much like are simply trying to cement the position they currently hold – standing shoulder to shoulder with their Savannah brethren – rather than slotting on their thinking caps and going at this with all guns blazing. Consequently, whilst this is still a solid effort, it struggles to bring much new to the table and, as such, should be approached with caution.

Also online @ The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/black-tusk-set-the-dial