Fresh Hell Vol. 2
Here at Manchester Rocks we get sent tonnes of new music everyday, from local band’s EPs to big name, stadium filling acts and everything in between. In this first edition of Fresh Hell we’ve put together some of the highlights we’ve recently discovered that we think are worth shouting about into bite size reviews.
Exxxekutioner – Fear The Priest EP
Described as Salford’s most evil thrash band, this is a band frequently deafening folk at our cities finest dives. Exxxekutioner – three Xs because of just how hardcore they are, probably – are, quite simply devastating heavy. This is kind of what Anthrax would sound like if they were collectively possessed by the Devil. The punk undercurrent is strong, but it’s bastardised with loose and scratchy harmonic guitar work and a vocal delivery more akin to black or death metal. As a result, Fear The Priest is an excellent debut offering.
B.I.B for instance shows exactly why this band is on the line-up for Riff Fest in August, having recently provoked a dosage of blunt force trauma when supporting Skeletonwitch and Goatwhore at Sound Control. It’s fast and rabid, the snare drum whip-crack tight.
It’s not music for the faint hearted, naturally, but if the hellish revelry of the likes of Bathory and Sodom arouse your senses in a sick and twisted way then this is a record you need to be pummelled by.
The six-track EP is out now via Liverpool’s Ulthar Records - http://www.ultharrecords.com/
Stand out tracks: B.I.B, Fear The Priest https://www.facebook.com/pages/Exxxekutioner/1413994888820085?fref=ts
Designs of Chaos – The Darkest Storm
Formed in 2007, the press release for this thrash channelling metal outfit, who call our capital their home, reads like every other. They’ve been ‘refining their sound’ over the years and this ‘fearsome live act’ have now captured their much talked about ‘savage’ on-stage energy on record. But embedded in the middle of all that, the real story that characterises this impressive release hides.
During the recording of this three track EP in June of last year, sticksman Chris Crammond tragically lost his life in an accident at work. Time and one another’s brotherhood helped tend to their wounds, with friend of the band Andy Bramley later stepping up to the drum throne to lay Crammond’s legacy to tape.
What The Darkest Storm is then, is a concise aural metallic attack reminiscent of early, raw Lamb of God with hints of the likes of Darkest Hour helping to colour the template. Full of riffs, aggression and power it merges technicality with an ear for melody – no matter how feral that melody is – this is a thrash EP packed to the rafters with both freshness and familiarity.
Stand out tracks: Darkest Storm, Social Phantom www.facebook.com/DesignsofChaos
AION - Verses of Perdition
Ah the Swiss, famous for cheese, fuck all taxes and Rodger Federer. While it would be foolish to wax lyrical about how AION’s sounds will put the country on the map for good – I mean, nothing this disgracefully dark and heavy ever could really – this is at least an EP penned with a towering ambition and an affluently creative idea at its core.
“AION was founded as a means to give sonic shape to mental and physical limit experiences,” the press release reads. “This first opus, Verses of Perdition, contains five tracks which represent five phases of a journey to the spiritual desert – a pathway to perdition, to the fathomless chasm, the radiant night of inexistence. The music shall stand as a symbol for its grey shores, the realm of one’s own dying – illimitable and infinite.”
Yes, it reads a little over dramatically, like a superlative-laced H.P Lovecraft quote, but the quality of the output does at least stand up to its synopsis. Where the opening track I is serene and spacious, the chilling breeze that flows through it explodes into a cacophony of demonised vocals, discordant guitars and pounding, unrelenting blast beats on II. It’s oppressive but alluring. That oppressiveness never lets up so it will be for many an album to dip in and out of, but for others one to take you away to a much more evil, colder place. When you emerge on the other side, things will seem weird. Of that I assure you.
Stand out tracks: II, IV https://www.facebook.com/aion.verses
Goblin Rebirth – Goblin Rebirth
Somewhat of a cult act, Goblin merged a trinity of progressive rock a la Genesis and King Crimson with their love for horror films and their creepy, blood-curdled scores. Across their decade long existence which ended in 1982, they worked closely with director and producer Dario Argento, most notably scoring Profondo Rosso (1975) and Suspiria (1977). Opeth’s namesake track off their latest album Pale Communion is indeed a visage to this highly coveted band.
Having flirted with comebacks in the past, in 2010 they finally committed long term. With a name change to Goblin Rebirth – a similar situation to Vista Chino and Black Star Riders –only bassist Fabio Pignatelli and drummer Agostino Marangolo remain from the original line-up, but this self-titled return is an inspired one.
Imagine that classic 70s prog sound - expansive and daydreaming soundscapes stockpiled with gyrating synths and wrung out guitar lines - taking on a John Carpenter soundtrack. From Book of Skulls’ jittering rhythms and endless peaks and troughs to Forest’s sheer lucidity, with spiritual, chanting vocals backed by a supple, bubbling instrumentation, it remains cinematic, moving and unpredictable throughout, just as every good album should be.
Listening to this record is like uncovering the roots of some of modern prog’s biggest names, Opeth and Steven Wilson namely drawing from their tonalities. It sounds cliché but it really is as if this band never went away and that is credence to the quality of this record.
Stand out tracks: Book of Skulls, Forest https://www.facebook.com/Goblin.Rebirth
Words: Phil Weller