Friday, 30 January 2015

Album Review: Napalm Death-Apex Predator-Easy Meat

We at Musical Chairs would almost be commiting a crime if we didn't allow our very own man of metal, Gary Lee, to get his hands on this album. Napalm Death are back and Gary has been waiting all year for this, so I guess we should hand over to him!

Sheesh! What to say about Napalm Death? Pioneers and torch bearers of grindcore and one of the cornerstones of British metal, Napalm Death are back and have come back hard with Apex Predator-Easy Meat. This album is quite the mature release, mixing visceral and in your face metal, with moody atmospheric moments giving it an experimental vibe. The opener and title track, Apex Predator-Easy Meat, starts with a low pitched echoing spoken word which has an evil, almost demonic timbre. From here, a metallic sounding snare clatters before the spoken word becomes distorted and sounds almost like a Dalek. The overall effect is a tense and unsettling intro track that draws you in before Smash a Single Digit tears you apart with some classic grindcore stylings.

The heavy stylings continue through Metaphorically Screw You and into How The Years Condemn, which was the second single to be released from this album. The track starts off in a somewhat unassuming manner, a drum roll and a very punky beat carries the listener through the intro, in a head nodding fashion. But, once the vocals and guitar work crashes in, this song quickly becomes one of the heaviest on the album. The riffing has a thrash quality and certainly puts the big four to shame-not that I have much love for them anyway-but while they insist on being the poster bands, I'll insist on tearing them down. The emotion in the vocals is raw and edgy and rightly so! Lyrically, this song comes from a very personal place and discusses how the years of touring, or hedonistic "rockstar" abuse can condemn your body or friendships. It is about recognising that, the frustration and making a choice to combat it.

The face rending tornado continues with Stubborn Stains and Timeless Flogging. However, Dear Slum Landlord.... brings the album back to an experimental plane. It is a more down tempo track, at least when placed next to the breakneck offerings that bookend it. The demonic/chant timbre is back, giving this track an otherwordly quality that compliments the doom-esque groove and overly distorted drums fantastically; this track drips with an ominous threat. Cesspits, which comes after it (and was the first single) takes all that built up threat and turns it into a monster. The spoken word timbre makes brief entrances into the song and makes it sound as if vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway is coming apart from the sheer effort of spitting out those lines. The rest of the song is just as shattering, a relentless whirl of noise and aggression that Napalm Death have become known for.

The band then shred through Bloodless Coup, Beyond the Pale and Stunt Your Growth, which sounds like it may be a floor filler. Eventually though we hit Heirarchies, with big chunky groove laden riffs and a continued use of chants, this feels like Napalm pushing into the now popular doom/sludge genre once again. It even contains a small whirling solo. Of course that is not to say that all of this is delivered in a way that does not feel "true" to the band. It is still as aggressive as Napalm usually are, it is still grimy and with many balls placed on various walls, this song will tear through many speakers with improper usage!

A small jaunt through One-Eyed, takes us to the final and longest song on the album. Adversarial/Copulating Snakes glues the two sides of this album together; with a blistering fast grindcore track gets slowed down half way through and once again becomes a big riff track, with an errie spoken word accompaniment and the song grooves away to a white noise fade out, leaving in just as much of an unsettling way as it came in.

Ok, so to summarise, I like this album. It is one I do not regret purchasing and I feel I will grow into it well. Sure, as usual, this comes with the cavet that this is not metal for everyone but Napalm Death never have been and never will be. However, no one can dispute the enormity of this album, it is a huge statement that can be heard loud and clear. This may go down as one of my favourite Napalm Death releases.

Article by: Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

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Thursday, 29 January 2015

REWIND REVIEW!: Primus: Sailing the Seas of Cheese

Time for our head alternative writer to turn back the clocks and take a look back at one of his favorite albums: Primus's Sailing the Seas of Cheese. We see why he likes it and why he feels that it still holds up today.

What can I say about Primus? What can I say about this album?  They're two huge questions! Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love Primus. They're one of the most inventive, innovative, exciting and interesting acts that the '90's produced. They just seemed to have all the things I loved about all the '90's; styled funk/groove rock, sprinklings of metal, the progressive rock need to constantly evolve and push boundaries and most importantly, I think, originality. I mean, I can't think of another band who has somehow managed to influence so many people whilst still remaining completely unable to be categorized. It's just unbelievable. Not only do I feel it a great shame that not many folk these days are familiar with the band, but I think as well that it's almost a disservice to Primus themselves, who are probably one of the few bands from that era whose body of work is consistent across the board.

On this album Primus consisted of front-man, mastermind and bass genius Les Claypool (who some of you may remember from his appearance in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.) Guitar/Banjo duties were performed by Larry LaLonde and the trio was completed by drummer Tim Alexander (who also provided the water jug parts throughout.) You'll be hard pressed to find another group of musicians whose individual styles just seem meld seamlessly. You have these funk and hip-hop inspired rhythms produced by Alexander, grooving majestically underneath LaLonde's dreamy and atmospheric riffing. It really drags you inside the world that that the band seems to be trying to create within their music.

Of course, no discussion on the music of Primus would be complete without talking about the brains and the driving force of the band, Les Claypool. Claypool's bass playing on this LP is just absolutely mind-blowing! I mean, I've heard John Entwistle, I've heard Flea and I've heard Fieldy; this is a cut above all of those. I don't think I've heard anything quite as creative, interesting or fun played on a bass before. The slap and pop technique is played masterfully throughout the album and it takes the album to a whole new place rhythmically. The way Claypool grooves with Alexander is infectious, you cannot help but nod your head to everything being played. I think it's one of my favorite examples of bass and drums working in perfect conjunction and I believe more artists should take a leaf out of this book. Don't think Claypool is just a bass machine either, his vocal work is as interesting as the music surrounding it. He changes from track to track, sometimes opting for a low nasal tone and other times opting for almost musical theater-esque held notes. It is certainly one of the most unique voices of the 1990's.

This is one of those albums I feel will stand the test of time, great music does not have a sell by date and this is a great example of this. The album was first released in '91 and it still sounds as fresh and vital as it always did. I would honestly say that compared with albums like Korn and Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik, this is one I'd say has aged the best. Looking back, the others seem so rooted in the '90's and haven't really held up well outside it. This album on the other hand, is so kooky and fun and unique that I feel it could still hold its own in 30 or maybe 40 years time. I cannot recommend this album enough for fans of fun and interesting music. It's certainly a treat to listen to, even after all these years and it's great to see the band still making waves and creating equally great music to this day.

I tip my hat to Mr. Claypool and the band for their work and I wish them all the best for the future because I believe that in this they created more than music; they created a piece of art and for that reason Sailing the Seas of Cheese is my rewind album.

  • American Life
  • Jerry Was a Racecar Driver
  • Is it Luck? 
  • Tommy the Cat
R.Sweeney (@TheCautiousCrip)

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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Rewind: My Dying Bride-Turn Loose The Swans

Today is Musical Chairs first month anniversary, so to celebrate we are offering our writers the chance to reflect on some classic albums. Gary Lee eagerly takes a look at Turn Loose The Swans by Bradford's own, My Dying Bride.

The critically acclaimed Turn Loose The Swans, an album that now forms the foundation of the death/doom genre pairing, turns 22 this October and still remains a proud entry in the chronicles of British metal. Rolling Stone called it "Bram Stokers Dracula, for the ears," and the album was, and perhaps still is, everything a doom album should be.

The album opens with Sear Me MCMXCIII (1993). This would be the second of what (at the time of writing) was a trilogy of songs sharing the title Sear Me. The first came in '92 and was a full house doom laden affair, comprising all members of the band, led by a weeping guitar riff and the down tempo drums and a crushing mood. Also notable in this version was Aaron Stainthrope's death metal growling. However, Sear Me MCMXCIII was a much more stripped back, atmospheric piece potentially because the song featured fewer band members. Aaron is on vocal duty again, although, instead of '92's death metal growls, his delivery is a much more thoughtful and forlorn spoken word. The only other featuring band member was Martin Powell, who featured on both keyboards and violin.

On the commentary that came with the 20th anniversary reissue of Turn Loose The Swans, the band remark on how some people may have found it a brave move having this slower and certainly less metal track opening a sophmore metal album, especially when the first one was considered a success. They state that whilst it was not the obvious way to do things, "it's better and more interesting to do things almost the opposite of what people expect, it raises eyebrows." I can happily confirm that, for me, I love this intro track, I love this track whether it's the opener or even deeper in the album. But as far as album structure is concerned, this works perfectly as an intro. Firstly, it offers something new, something that the rest of the genre was not doing in '93 and for better or worse, new and interesting things hook people in, once the listener had heard this track they would be more inclined to hear one or two more. Secondly, it has an open, almost minimalistic structure that drifts off to nowhere and allows the listener to do the same, sinking into a fantastical, almost romantic world buoyed by the moods and music that the rest of the album would convey. However, the thing that really sets this song apart from most death metal songs, including others released in the modern age and not just from its '93 contemporaries, are the lyrics. Unlike many death metal lyrics, this is not a song about war or slaughter or blood or virgin sacrifice or Satan. This is a song with a much more wistful, almost romantic content which at times, according to the band, verges on poetry. I believe the closing lyrics say it best: "Romantic in our tastes/We are without excuses/We burn in our lust/We die in our eyes and drown in our arms." As I mentioned at the top of this, this version of Sear Me is the 2nd of a trilogy. Although, the 3rd instalment of this trilogy more follows the vein of the 1st.

The following song, Your River, echoes the melancholy and indeed the musical sparseness of the opener. The intro, which was written and preformed by Calvin Robertshaw, is around a minute long and is as wonderfully spacious as it is melodic. This is then (perhaps mercifully for the die hard heavy metal fans) followed up by some spectacular riffing, which in some places echos the "Iron Maiden" galloping style (around the 3:17 mark) before once again hitting melodic heights to bring in the first vocals of the song. Yet, to everyone's surprise, Aaron is singing in a clean vocal style (although growling would eventually happen). This would be the first time he had ever done this on a My Dying Bride recording. Again, I feel it works perfectly and his sombre tone matches both the music, mood, and apocalyptic lyrics. To reference the commentary again, "there are a lot of people out there doing fairly mundane things, and to do something a little different is worth it." At the time, Aaron's clean singing was very different, both for the band and for the genre. However, just like the previous track, the experiment paid off. Not only did this help Aaron find his comfort zone with his clean singing vocals, which became something he would explore in the future, but this track has also stood the test of time, being one that is still adored by fans and played live by the band. Overall, I feel this track had a lot to do with the shape of the band moving forward.

The Songless Bird that follows next is a more recognisable doom track. The intro riff, which follows and echoes a lovely symphonic motif played by Martin on the violin (which was bespoke built in Dewsbury) is crushing and melodious, thick with distortion and oscillates around your head. It is a style that has since been picked up by other doom bands and indeed you can hear the similarities here between My Dying Bride and Electric Wizard, who would release their first album in '95, 2 years after Turn Loose The Swans.Vocally, the song changes from growls to clean singing as Aaron continues to explore his range. The drumming by Rick Miah (RIP) is incredible, at times it feels more like he is drumming with the riffs rather than over it, which is difficult to do but gives the song an irreplaceable groove. If you have read enough of my writing by now, you will know I love grooves in my metal music and The Songless Bird is full of them!

Next comes the song that probably best describes My Dying Bride. It is heavy, morose, oppressive, dark, sombre and yet it also manages to be poetic, melodious, thoughtful and beautiful. The Snow in my Hand opens with a riff that I would just love to have playing if ever I am sent to the gallows. This then transforms into a rich down tempo eulogy which is sung over by Aaron in a very pained cleaned style "I've seen them. So dark. Black. And yet fine/The flower they carry had once been mine." From here the song builds into a relentless wall of heavy metal fury. Double bass drums and crunchy riffs preside over Aaron's death metal growls and Martin's soul scraping violin playing. Eventually this falls back down to the mourning, down tempo section from the beginning of the track as Aaron sorrowfully sings the closing lyrics. "I had watched the snow all day falling/it never lets up/all day falling/I lifted my voice and wept out loud..."

Despite the trouble the band had recording the middle section of the song due to the limits of electronic software (and the bands knowledge of such things), The Crown of Sympathy, remains a classic My Dying Bride song that still has a lot of legs in a live setting. In general, this is a very doom laden track with a beautiful, almost fantastical middle section that sets a really dark atmospheric tone. This is then capped off by a haunting section of 2 voices singing, in unison, another rich song that keeps you alive in its melodious, violin filled waters with the flotsam of chunky riffs and perhaps the most wrenched, and sombre vocal performance from Aaron on the album. At a little over 12 minutes long, this song is a doom epic, well it's a metal music epic, regardless of genres.

Finally, we hit the title track which is obviously, Turn Loose The Swans. Lyrically, this is probably the most beautiful and interesting concept. Essentially, it is about the dissolution of life. It is about a man who wished that life could be as grand as he desired it to be, perhaps hedonistic and fantastical. But realises that it cannot be that and that life is actually a harsh, grim grind. Especially when compared to what he yearned for it to be. Hence the sheer amount of frustration at the scream of "turn loose the swans" wherein the swans encapsulate the beauty and grace of his desire, but having no need for them any more, turns them loose. Musically, the song captures the mood of someone who has had all they love taken from them and the mask of their reality wrenched away. It is crushing, desolate, dark and oppressive. Mood and music, lyrics and riff marry perfectly here.

The album is finished and book-ended with Black God, which echoes the openers style and sound, rich and melodious, yet simplistic and minimal. It is a great way to end an album such as this. You drift out, the same way you drifted in, after experiencing some deeply emotional, oppressive and crushing heavy metal. Boldly, My Dying Bride took the decision to enlist a female singer, giving this song new depth. The singer in question was Zena, who was/is a My Dying Bride fan and musician, who was at a show in '92. After handing the band a single, she was asked to join and record the vocals for this haunting, dour song that plays while the listener tries to stitch together the desolation of the the songs that preceded it.

All in all this was a very mature album from a band, who at the time of recording, were all in their 20's. A band who were still finding their feet and their identity in the metal world. However, this album was not only mature, but also brave. As death metal sped up and became more aggressive, My Dying Bride, slowed down and became more oppressive, some may even say filled with repose. The album is rich and steeped in darkness and while the 90's maybe remembered for the Seattle grunge movement, or the angst filled alt rock/metal stylings of Nine Inch Nails, or Smashing Pumpkins, My Dying Bride offered one of the best and most interesting heavy metal experiences of the time with Turn Loose The Swans. Indeed it was an experience that would and still does, inspire many musicians old and new.

My Dying Bride are currently touring the European festivals, with apperences scheduled at Wacken, Inferno, Graspop and Dokk'em Open Air. They also have plans to release their new album in the Spring of 2015, which sees the return of guitarist Calvin Robertshaw.

Article by Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Marilyn Manson- The Pale Emperor

Alternative head honcho, Ryan Sweeney, was given the task to review the latest record to drop from industrial icon Marilyn Manson, The Pale Emperor. Will the album prove that the Anti-Christ Superstar is as relevant as he ever was? Or will it be another in a long line of disappointing and mediocre albums?

What can I say about Marilyn Manson? Probably one of the most inventive and iconic faces of the '90s, releasing a string of great albums such as Portrait of an American Family and Anti-Christ Superstar. These are some of the most celebrated and acclaimed albums in the history of alternative music, indeed they are even some of my personal favorites. The L.A. rocker has developed almost a cult like following over the years, built upon tremendous live performances and lyrics that just spoke to so many disenfranchised teens at the time.

His larger than life persona and his grotesque imagery made him the perfect target for attacks from the far-right. As these attacks became more vicious and frequent, and his relationship with producer and mentor Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) began to crumble, we began to notice a shift in the overall quality of Manson's work. During the 2000's, Manson began putting out albums that myself and many of my peers believed to be sub standard and disappointing - albums such as High End of Low and Born Villain (I shudder just recalling that last one.) These albums were just big let downs and blemish what is otherwise a great track record. Enough about the man's legacy and missteps, you all have undoubtedly stumbled across his work at some point or another. Or at the very least know him by reputation. The question you want answering is whether or not The Pale Emperor is a return to form and if this new album could be a launchpad for a second win in an already star-studded career.

I'm sorry guys, I really am, but in short; I do not like this album.

This album just feels like it is lacking everything! Everything I loved about Manson's early work seems to be missing; there's no wall of pumping, over driven, distorted noise. There is no anthem that makes you want to wave your fist in the air and scream. This is Manson's voice and Manson's lyrics but this is not Marilyn Manson, or at the very least, not the Manson I loved growing up. Something happened when I was listening to this album I never thought would happen to me while listening to Marilyn Manson; I got bored. I actually got bored.

The fuzzy bass playing underneath the tracks is so thin and dull it's jarring to listen to. When I first heard it I thought my speakers were broken, I thought to myself, "wait, aren't Manson bass riffs supposed to blow my speakers? I should be able to feel a Manson bass line in my bones." The riffs are these weird mix of alt-rock and blues patterns that I'm sure sound great, but the guitars are just really varied in the mix that they seem to have no effect. They pop up every now and then, apart from tracks like, Warship My Wreck and Slave Only Dreams to be King. But then again, they're just really dull and uninteresting, they seem to serve no purpose.

Lets just skip over drums while we're at it too, they're lifeless and bland and I cried a little listening to them. Those two mentioned above are the only tracks I can point out as being any sort of stand outs. As a huge Manson fan it pains me to say this but I cannot, in good conscience,  recommend The Pale Emperor. Maybe one day, he will return to former glory. Or maybe we should just grow up and get over this 90's hero turned has-been.

Only time will tell but in this writers opinion, The Pale Emperor is not a foot in the right direction.

R.Sweeney (@TheCautiousCrip)

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Album Review: Marduk-Frontschwein

Prolific and blasphemous Swedish black metallers offer their 13th studio album Frontschwein. Musical Chairs asks our very own Iron Man, the master of metal himself, Gary Lee, to take a look and give his opinion.

Marduk became one of the marquee names in black metal, both within, and outside of Sweden thanks to a relentless touring schedule and a release list that is longer than most within the scene. They deliver low-fi blasts of black metal extremity with a typical anti-Christian message, or a knack for "warfare metal." This current album sticks to the well formed and well established formula which yields a solid, yet unremarkable, black metal album.

The album starts off well meaning enough with the title track Frontschwein. The intro is a interesting rolling high end riff that is played over a military-esc drum roll. However, this gives way to blast beats and low-fi black metal mayhem, which I understand might do it for some, but the faults of this song quickly become the faults of the album; the fuzz begins to melt together. The following track The Blond Beast has a much better groove and some well polished, searing guitar work. But man I hope you like hats, because they are so high in the mix here, it is almost overpowering.

Rope of Regret opens with a sample of a machine gun, which is then translated into a staccato drum pattern that echos the rhythm from the sample. However, once again, from there it becomes "standard fare" without a hook or anything to make it a memorable track. Although, the aggression is a paramount feature.

The down tempo intro to Nebelwerfer and the pained delivery of the vocals are probably my favourite moment of this album, and one of the few instances the album allows itself to stand out from an otherwise formulaic approach to the music and the genre. The track is full of doom motifs and is dripping with mood. Even the snare, which sits probably a little high in the mix for my tastes, does not put me off this track. The following track Falaise: Cauldron of Blood is a track that echoes The Blond Beast, another track with a solid groove to break up the standard black metal formula.

The Doomsday Elite may have served the album better as the opener. The tracks intro is moody and oppressive, the blast beat drums being filtered and dampened down in furiousity and power. I believe this would have served as a great hook to get people to sink into the album. Eventually, and perhaps somewhat predictably, the song comes away from its restraints and follows the same path as the rest of the songs on the album, which I feel is a shame considering it opened with such a promising tone.

All in all, I found this album to be rather uninspiring! If you are looking for old school black metal, with a heavy dose of low-fi goodness, then it might be for you. But even then I think you would be better served spending your money elsewhere. For me, the main problem of the album was that it offered no "feeling", none of the songs seemed to have any emotion or mood, in fact there was almost no human presence here at all. I find this surprising, at least on a personal level, because for me black metal is one of the more "emotion/mood rich" genres there is. Sadly, this album is almost devoid of any.

Article by Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Sposa In Alto Mare-Nevergrind

Crusty punk from the bowels of Italy? Who better to take a look at this latest offering than Gary Lee himself? So here is something to scuzz up your evening!

If you like your distortion served with extra distortion, plus a serving of fuzz on the side and you like it all served to you by a waiter whose screams can make your balls shrivel and your ovaries cease, then Sposa In Alto Mare may just be the band for you! Hailing from Padova Italy, they are a crust-punk/grindcore act. Their most recent release, Nevergrind, came almost a whole year ago (late January 2014) and it did with visceral abandon. From end to end this album is blast beats, fuzz and growls. These guys can thrash, these guys can make noise and these guys give absolutely no shits who can hear them.

I feel it is also safe to say that the "give no shits" attitude comes through in the music, with song titles such as the opener (sticking to English translations) Would You Really Spend Money For This Shit? The song answers its own question with the abrupt and, of course, scream lyrics "Hmmm? No." Wonderful, setting the brutal yet jovial tone of the album from the get go. At only 23 seconds long, it is a quick grindcore punch to the face before moving on to the next track. This sort of style continues throughout; a veritable  flurry of face fucking blast beats and comedic song titles, such as Never Put Toothpaste On The Cock! Which lyrically backs its advice up with the reason "Ahhhh it burns!"

However, as always, a couple of songs stand out here. Nuclear (Kurt Cobain Version) features that riff from Smells Like Teen Spirit, released on this albums namesake. Of course, this being a crusty in your face punk band, it is a slightly looser interpretation. Batman's Revenge on Ozzy Osbourne is a track that breaks from the furious sea of noise to lay down an almost blues type groove. The thick distortion giving a sludgy feel to the track as it trudges through the scale before ripping off a classic stoner shredding session in the closing minute. Finally, there is I Need to Stoner which is another dark sludgy affair, deep crunchy riffs and hypnotically slow down tempo rhythm which all builds up to the sound of someone forcing out a rather large and rather wet turd.....
Come on, you didn't think this was going to stay serious for too long!?

All in all, if you like any of what you read here: distortion, fuzz, growls, crusty themes, punk, grindcore or even immature lyrical content and fart jokes, then this is worth your time. Personally, I am not always in the mood for less serious music, but I found enough to love here so it is worth a shot for sure. However, if you came here expecting avant garde symphonic black metal or the soul crushing chill of a doomy winter then you're definitely in the wrong place.

Article by Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

NEWS! New Death Cab For Cutie album Kintsugi

Indie rock megastars Death Cab For Cutie have announced their 8th studio LP, Kintsugi, will be released on March 31st of this year. Who better to discuss this new development than our Head Alternative writer, Ryan Sweeney - a man whose fangirl scream could be heard across the world earlier today...

Holy new Death Cab album Batman! Where do I start with this? Washington's very own indie rock darlings have announced that they will be releasing a follow up to their last full length LP; 2011's Codes and Keys.

The album, entitled Kintsugi, will be released to the masses on March 31st. I for one am very excited for this album. I love Death Cab, I think they have produced some of the best and most influential alternative rock albums this side of the 90's.

I remember my first foray into Death Cab when a friend of mine let me borrow a copy of Transatlanticism and just having my mind blown. It was so unlike anything I'd heard coming out at that time and from then on I was hooked. They just kept dropping fantastic albums and EP's since then such as Plans and 2008's Narrow Stairs.

Unfortunately and ultimately disappointingly, much like many other listeners and critics, I found Codes and Keys to just be forgettable. It wasn't too bad but it just seemed phoned in and lacked a certain spark that I'd always found in Death Cab's previous work. So I will be a little hesitant going into Kintsugi, especially now the band has parted ways with founding member and producer Chris Waller. Only time will tell of the effect this has had on the band; will it bring the air of freshness the band needs or will it be a stumble at the starting blocks? I don't know but rest assured my dear readers, you will be the first to hear my take on the album when it drops on March 31st.

R.Sweeney (@TheCautiousCrip)

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Album Review: Sylosis-Dormant Heart

English metal outfit Sylosis have released their 4th album. Musical Chairs once again got their metal musical magistrate on the case, to see what the boys from Reading had on offer.

So it is here; the new Sylosis album. I have been undecided about this release ever since the singles Mercy and Leech. But I have been reserving judgement 'til the album was released.

This album is the 4th studio album from metal band Sylosis. Sylosis, who are from Reading in the UK, have released all 4 of their albums on the Nuclear Blast label. Their debut album, Conclusion of an Age (2008), is in my opinion the strongest of their releases. This was followed by Edge of Earth (2011), Monolith (2012) and now Dormant Heart. 

Stylistically, the band is driven by riffs that evoke early thrash metal guitarists such as Kirk Hammet of Metallica and the dual vocal styles of Josh Middleton, who deals in both clean and screamed vocals, which on occasion seems to point towards an influence from more modern thrash bands such as Trivium. However, Sylosis have also shown that on occasion, they are capable of stretching their wings on the deeper cuts and pushing more towards a progressive metal style, as shown by The Last Remaining Light from their 2008 release Conclusion of an Age.

So where does that leave us with this album? Well, I had accused the band of being "safe" on the singles. Although I will concede that there were snatches of interest within those songs, they sat on a very formulaic framework and in short, I wanted more from these guys. There are certainly more songs of that ilk on this album, Victims as Pawns is a pretty big offender here, not least because the track that precedes it as the album opener, Where Wolves Come to Die, does a great job of hooking you in.

Where Wolves Come to Die is a moody, brooding atmospheric opener that creates an oppressive tension. The slow funeral tempo building to a blood freezing scream by Josh; who told Metal Hammer  "it's a very gloomy and atmospheric album, we've been through a lot as a band and individuals and made our darkest album to date." Nowhere else in the album is it more clear than here. Sadly the tracks that follow fail to grab me which, considering they are the opening quarter of the album and that should be their function, feels like an error. Once again, it's not that they are "bad" tracks, they just aren't the type of track I would go to when showcasing the band to others and nor are they memorable.

Overthrown is another solid track on this release. It makes good use of tempo and rhythm to create a nice groove. The moaning guitar harmonics does wonders to echo the "darkness" of this album before bursting into a high speed shredding affair. Once again the vocal performance is incendiary. I wish there was more of this on the album as a whole. This track has more hooks and feeling than many of the tracks that come before it and it's mostly down to the groove that pulls you through it and makes it fun to listen to. I particularly like the outro, that fades out with a floor-filling chant.

The following song, Leech, has already been covered. However, after Leech, come two songs that are worth mentioning. Servitude is a fine return to the Metallica-esc riffing form and the way the melodic intro riff gives way to a chunky motif that is played throughout the track echos some of the early work of the veteran thrash metallers. I am once again a fan of the down tempo drums that keep your head nodding before building to a macho, trash bridge. Indoctrinated works on a similar level. However, the intro is another moody piece that builds the tension, before breaking into what might be the most aggressive and full throttle track on the album. Once again complete with some early thrash-type shredding.

As the album hits it's closing section we come to their lead single Mercy, and the song I was perhaps hoping for the most; Quiescent, the 9:03 progressive "epic". It is usually these kind of tracks where Sylosis are able to prove themselves a little more and they do exactly that here. A well constructed ballad that is as melodic as it is methodical. The clean vocals work well and show Josh's range before the song rips into his fiery screams around the 5 minute mark. This song is another song that shows the darker edge to this album and is a very good album closer.

Depending on the edition of the album you bought, it may offer two bonus tracks. Pillars Erode is another track in the vein of Indoctrinated, a slow plodding gloomy track with hints of aggression. It is a fine addition to the album. However the last bonus track Zero, was probably an erroneous inclusion. It is a cover of the Smashing Pumpkins classic and I feel will end up being a very divisive track. Some fans will love their version and perhaps prefer it. However, many I feel, will not. I know just reading about this cover will probably send Ryan Sweeney (our "alternative" writer) into fits of rage, just as it may many other Pumpkins fans. Personally, I am not a fan of this cover.

In conclusion, Sylosis haven't blown me away with this release. But I do think it is probably better than I was expecting and it has the potential to get better the more I listen to it. However, I feel it still suffers from having a few tracks on it that really should have been left on the cutting room floor.

Dormant Heart is available now, released on Nuclear Blast records.

Article by: Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

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Album Review: Black Sheep Wall-I'm Going to Kill Myself

Black Sheep Wall are back! We asked our metal writer to take a look at their latest offering. Being a noted fan of doom/sludge, Gary Lee was eager to get to grips with this one! 

California's doom/sludge quartet are back with their misery laden third album; the jarringly titled I'm Going to Kill Myself. The title alone does enough to grab my attention. However, lets take into account that this is only 4 track album, which still stands at over an hour long! The band will have to work hard to justify the listeners attention.

The opening track, The Wailing and the Gnashing and the Teeth, is a miserable and uncomfortable listen....and I mean that completely as a compliment! A down tempo sorrowful song that is screeched over with the corrosive screaming style that has accompanied Black Sheep Wall's previous works. In some ways, the vocal stylings reminds me of Eyehategod. The songs main motif is a meandering, almost wistful guitar that does a great deal to add to the melancholy. What stands out about this track the most is the use of empty space. Normally within the doom genre the "crushing" sound comes from absolutely killer riffs. But for the most part it is the dead air, the space between each scream or note, that I "feel" the most here; the crushing, nihilist absence of sound. The song reaches its obvious noisy crescendo, yet by the time it does, the neurosis that drips from this opener has already left you numb. So instead of the release it may have provided, it just becomes something else to nod to, but is no less satisfying.

The following track, Tetsuo:The Dead Man, combines big brash sludgey riffs with piercing, skin crawlingly high noise, one of those noises you feel in your teeth. The riffs though are great, large and swirling and once again the screeching vocals are in full effect, splitting the air with emotion with every lungful. White Pig continues the theme of big crunching sludge riffs and crushing weighty rhythms with a modern edge. I love the chanting that comes in for the last half of the song, it adds an eerie dissonant ambiance to an otherwise crushing atmosphere.

However it is the final track, Metallica, that is the obvious show stealer. At over thirty minutes long, the song goes through so much that it is impossible for me to cover comprehensively here, just know that it is no less heavy, no less emotional than the other tracks. It is full of down trodden, down tempo grooves and discord. The closing screams of "I think I'm going to kill myself" are particularly wrenching. I personally find the song to be well structured and without challenge, though obviously I speak as a fan of the genre. The 33:05 length does not feel like a chore at all, which is quite the achievement.

Overall, I find this to be a great album, whilst being somewhat anxious and unsettling. In fact, I think the album art explains this album well. Bold, brash, a little off kilter, but not without a creepy unsettled undertone. A fantastic third offering and like most off kilter/creepy art works, there is no doubt this is one I will come back to with a particular relish!

I'm Going to Kill Myself is out now, released on Seasons of Mist.

Article by Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

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Sunday, 11 January 2015

Album Review: 6:33-The Deadly Scenes

Musical Chairs are back, and so is Gary Lee. This time we ask our metal maniac to cast his omnipresent eye over the release by 6:33-The Deadly Scenes, released on Kaotoxin Records.

(picture taken from 6:33 official Facebook)

How to describe 6:33? They are favourite much a groove based band, able to fuse many styles and sounds into a cacophony of pure pleasure. Hailing from Paris, France they remind me of a lot of bands that have circulated for some time; Dillinger Escape Plan, System of a Down, Devin Townsend, and pretty much anything Mike Patton has touched, although a much clearer nod should be given to Mr Bungle. However you describe them, it is clear that there is a certain metal flavour to their work, it is also very clear that fun should always be in the list of words and superlatives

I first got into 6:33 through their 2013 album The Stench from the Swelling (A True Story) which had a definite underpinning of big band and swing, delivered with a confident crafting of the metal style. I highly recommend you check that album out. However, we are not here to discuss that, we are here to discuss the 3rd studio album by the Parisian grouping Deadly Scenes.

Deadly Scenes should probably not be considered a metal album, I mean it has metal styling’s, and it is a studio released, “long play”. However, this is very much a concept album, and in fact feels more like it was supposed to be a “rock/metal opera” that explores morality, the human condition and the deadly sins ( I am a fan of the scenes/sins word play) pretty deep stuff, and some may even consider brave considering the churlish way concept albums are sometimes met. But, what exactly does this album hold?

The first song on the album, Hellalujah begins the musical. It starts out with a choir and gospel vocal that sings to “Lord Jesus” before vocalist Rorschach sings over the building musical swing “I’ll tell you what you need/trust me I am used to it.” Then, with his voice now at full range, he belts out “smash your bollocks/just go down on your knees” and I must stress that you can almost hear the glee that is wrapped around the word “bollocks.” I would bet that this is a shot at the futility of religion, or at least living your life by its code, and it’s supposed “deadly sins” without question. The song then comes a battle between those that do not believe, and those who do-or at least that’s how it seems in the “story” of the song. This continues, becoming prominent in the refrain “Don’t wanna hear you cryin’/trust me there’s no deadly/don’t wanna hear you yellin’/trust me there’s no deadly sins.”

Musically this song as already stated is built mostly around groove. It begins, and ends in piano led fashion, although a stabbing guitar riff pushes it forward from the opening. From here, it becomes a fusion of sound, double kicks, heavy metal/death metal drum grooves, and some bass swing. The chorus has the big band vibe again, that I came to love from the 2013 release, and around the 2:42 mark there is a nice heavy metal guitar riff. I feel this song was perfect to open the album, it’s a little of every zany facet of 6:33 while maintaining cohesion, and is enough of a hook to lead you into the album, plus it’s almost story style of song craft leaves you wanting to find out more, turning the page if you will.

The second track, both on the album, and that I would like to point for is Ego Fandango. This track caught my eye when I was looking through the tracklistings before even playing a single song from the album. Why? Its track length is 6:33, and that gives me nerdy tingles.  Ok what does this song offer to a listener? Well this seems to be the “pride” track, from the “deadly sins” ethos. This becomes very clear from the opening “Your tits and ass ain’t good enough for me/covert my handsome body/yes I believe I am better than anyone/I deserve my golden crown.” I’m we’re all in agreement on the arrogance here. Musically once again the concept of God is thrown up straight away, with a sampling of a preaching, ranting over a church organ. Again, it is swing, revelry and fun abound all filtered through a metal guise, I am a fan of the blast beats that come in around 2:25 and again at 2:35. But the track just really expands on the musical elements explored in Hellalujah.

Although I don’t want to dwell on the track for too long I love the pulsating tribal drum rhythms in The Walking Fed (and the pun with popular AMC TV show “The Walking Dead.”) This gives the song an organic and vibrant energy, and serves to help it stand out from the first two tracks which shared the “big band” style.

I’m A Nerd is probably the most aggressive track on the release, which would be pretty fitting with what I consider to be the “wrath” track. The intro (after the repeated choir motif) would fit in a death metal album with all the double kicks that come pounding through your speakers. It is all accompanied by the usual groove that 6:33 offer. The bouncy guitar riffs make me want to pogo to this, and mix with the vocal delivery to give it an energy reminiscent of early System of a Down. Track 6, and what I would consider to be the “envy” track, Black Widow also fits this mould, especially in the intro with the erratic vocals and yet more stabbing guitars, and the almost polka breakdown.

Overall this album is a rich experience that I have enjoyed listening to, several times already. I love that 6:33 continue to have fun and do not take this at all seriously. Of course it does help that they are able to meld styles well and create an interesting concept, that rewards the listener the deeper they delve into the album, I feel other songs deserve a mention, such as Last Bullet for a Gold Rattle which channels a country music vibe, or the title track Deadly Scenes that plays out entirely like a mini play, with the lyric book including notes for 3 voices.  However, it is clear that this album will never be one for everyone, but I feel you would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not at least dip your toes into what was on offer here


1 Hellalujah
2 Ego Fandango
3 The Walking Fed
4 I am Nerd
5 Modus Operandi
6 Black Widow
7 Last Bullet for a Gold Rattle
8 Lazy Boy
9 Deadly Scenes

The Deadly Scenes is released January 12th 

Article by Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

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Friday, 9 January 2015

Album Review: Wu-Tang Clan, A Better Tomorrow.

Musical Chairs would like to officially welcome its third member! Offering his brand of style and class and hoping to teach us all at Musical Chairs how to be cool, we have Chris Brown. He takes us on a guided tour around the new release from hip-hop legends Wu-Tang Clan! Take it away Chris! 

Legendary. Innovative. Iconic. Influential. These are just a few words to describe the one, the only, Wu-Tang Clan. I'm sure most of you, even if you ain't an avid lover of the early 90's hip hop music scene, have heard of Wu-Tang.
Wu-Tang, as you may know, have been around for some time now, just over 21 years in fact. It was '93 when they dropped their first and not to mention ground breaking album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Wu-Tang defined an era with this album, they shaped the genre, influencing artists for years to come and they still continue to do so. Both this and the second album, Wu Tang Forever, are personal favourites. Sadly, and many may agree, the three albums that followed just didn't quite have the same impact. There was The W (2000), Iron Flag (2001) and 8 Diagram's (2007). Since then the group have been on hiatus, neglecting to release a studio album. Until A Better Tomorrow, their 6th studio album that went on sale a year after it's intended release date (2013), a date which was supposed to mark the Rap collective's 20th anniversary but it didn't drop until 2nd December 2014!

Why the gaps between the last two albums?
The remaining nine members; (RIP Ol' Dirty Bastard) RZA, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, Method Man, U-God, Cappadonna, Ghostface Killah, GZA and Masta Killa, all still have their own solo carers away from the Wu-Tang clan. Therefore, you can imagine keeping everyone together is a difficulty in itself. Include that and any differences they had between each other and it makes for quite the headache! All things said an’ done, their differences were cast aside and all nine were back together as one with album number six. (Not including the one copy album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin)

I've droned on quite enough! So, A Better Tomorrow, has it been worth the wait? Of course it has, it's the fucking Wu-Tang!

The album kicks off with my favourite Ruckus in B Minor: which gets the album off the ground in that true "Wu-Tang" style we anticipated. The whole is track is brilliantly pieced together and keeps you interested, constantly changing in both intricate and simple ways. The breakdown of the beat and the tempo on GZA's verse for instance, the way it builds back up then cutting out to a minuscule acapella as the original beat takes hold of you again. Not to mention the sampling of ODB (RIP) in the interludes and again during the third hook "Still number one!” A delivery of real conviction by Method Man before the beat drops out for the last time and the track hits reverse. This interesting change of events continues for the two remaining verses and into the outro, leaving me with an approving grin, I loved it! Without a doubt there's some awesomely well-greased production here. Lyrically, they all just roll off each other verse after verse. Hold the Heater has a rough, darker demeanour to it then the tracks leading up to it.

Keep Watch: for lack of a better way to describe it sounds real crisp on the intro and throughout in fact, a blend of classic piano and the perfect amount of sampling (featuring The Sweet Inspirations - You Roam When You Don't Get It At Home). Bring in the beat, which is an immense single rolling punch followed by a clap, it hits instantly and caresses your ears. Lyrically the track is none stop and just keeps flowing.

Miracle:  personally I loved it, but there's a lot of mixed feelings toward this track. It's gentle on production for the most part. Has a slight R&B feel to it up until Ghostface Killah's verse, bringing in distortion and reverb into the mix. The vocal work for the hook is beautiful (provided by Tyler Diggs & Tatum Miranda). Lyrically it's certainly got a harsh, raw vibe to it. Pioneer The Frontier:  is slow on tempo and moody like some sort of deadly assassin. Followed by a similar Necklace: a grimy track laced with horror movie like samples, eerie sounds and venom in the lyrical content

Ron O'Neal:  I'm not sold on the hook, it’s the rhythm and the power in the verses that sell it for me. The title track A Better Tomorrow: has a feel good vibe to it, (featuring samples Wake up Everybody by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.) It's a nice touch to the album. Finally the last favourite track of mine on the album Never Let Go: starts with a sample of a famous speech by Martin Luther King. The track is filled with clever word play and some of my favourite lyrical content, some of which I found Inspired me. That doesn't happen all too often with modern music and not just Hip Hop.

This isn't the best album Wu-Tang have given us. Although that takes nothing away from this release, I seriously doubt anything they release could ever top 36 Chambers. But, to be perfectly honest, I don't see why you'd want it to. I do not feel this release needs, or could have found improvement-that said I still have love for them. A Better Tomorrow proves they still got that “Wu” flare. The whole album is filled with stylistic points, both old and new, plus the old Kung-Fu movie trademark which Never gets old! Yes it's a damn good album, it's an experience, give it a listen. The Wu-Tang clan ain't nuthin' to fuck wiv!

Article by Chris Brown

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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Looking Forward: Sylosis-Leech

Mr Metal himself Gary Lee is once again back for us here at Musical Chairs, this time he gives us the second offering by Sylosis, as he continues to look towards their oncoming album release. 

Leech is the second single taken from the upcoming Dormant Heart set to be released by Reading's Sylosis, this album will be the band's 4th studio album, and their 4th released on the Nuclear Blast label. Leech was released 21st November and is naturally available now.

Leech is a track that I was hoping could lift Sylosis out of the “safe” category that their previous offering Mercy placed them in. At times, it feels like it might do just that. The off-kilter Arabian sounding melody that beckons us in from the intro is a great starting point. But, sadly this gives way to a “death metal by numbers” section, driven by an unimaginative and repetitive rhythm duo, which leads me to question how much this band will miss former drummer Rob Callard, who stepped down in 2014. Mercifully the intro riff comes back prominently before it is snatched away by “obligatory clean sung chorus” which to me feels little “pop music” as though the chorus was crafted specifically to be sung along too.

As the song moves on, attempting to build up, it moves to the bridge. Here we hit probably my prolonged favourite section of the track that shows good musicianship, the solo is at least a nice morsel of ear-candy. I am also particularly fond of the moment where the music drops out and slowly builds back up towards the outro. However, once again I feel like all these “bits” of ingenuity, or musical flash are held together by musical average. 

That is not to say the guys in Sylosis have made a bad record, far from it. It is solid, but they are little too formulated for my tastes. Of course, there is always a time and a place for this type of music, even in metal. I can think of many times when I might see the value in listening to something that is good, but not necessarily complex or challenging. Sylosis, at least personally, fall into that bed. Once again I feel it would be harsh to suggest money should be spent elsewhere, as I stated in the Mercy review previous releases have shown that Sylosis can make good of deeper cuts. So once again I stress that while so far this album hasn't really offered me a spine tingling moment, there is no reason to believe there will not be a hidden gem somewhere in the deeper cuts. One way or another, we shall find out when I review the album Dormant Heart due 12th January.

Listen to Leech here 

Dormant Heart is available to pre order now.

Article by Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

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Monday, 5 January 2015

EP Review: Sathamel-Self Titled.

Showing that the UK may be the place to watch for blackened metal. Sathamel release their debut EP. We at Musical Chairs, have once again driven our resident beast from his cave, and asked him to pass his judgement upon this offering. Gary Lee takes a look at the EP from the Leeds based outfit. 

Don’t you just love finding gems in your own backyard? Sathamel are a blackened death metal band, from Leeds/Bradford, England who have released their first EP, which is also a self-titled release. I’ll be honest, having never heard this band before I was not sure what to expect, but being from the surrounding area, I was looking forward to hearing what they had in them. I am happy to say I was not disappointed.

The EP is an incredibly tight offering which is a credit to both the musicians and the producer, Samuel Turbitt. Focusing on the overall production for a moment, I like how all the elements of the song are given enough room in the mix, they have their individual spaces and compliment, rather than compete. This is something I feel a lot of black/blackened metal release struggle with. The result for Sathamel is that the EP becomes a powerful and dramatic force, it is a release that even at low volume conveys presence and fills the room, this is a welcome change from the muddy, fuzzed up mess some blackened metal can be. Sticking with the production, I feel like I should mention Rise, the obligatory blackened metal intro track that was arranged by Samuel. The track does exactly what it needs to. The big chord hit that opens wakes the listener up, and sucks them right into the ensuing music as long atmospheric chords draw you in further before it fades out and is answered by Wingless.

Wingless answers the call set by Rise with a growl by vocalist Kruk that has a commanding presence and thus begins Sathamel’s domination of the next 24 minutes. Guitarists Baal and KVN offer scaling riffs that perhaps fittingly evoke images of spiralling like a now wingless being falling from the sky. Deimos, on bass, and Valdr on drums lock together well, providing a groove that paces the song and pushes the listener through it in suitably head knocking fashion. I have said a few times already, but I cannot get over how tight these guys are, especially for a debut release.

Scorch Blind Faith kicks off with a very doomy riff with a nice “call and answer” interplay between the two guitars and drums before a harmonic wailing shifts the song into gear. The doom motif is continued throughout and played around, layered with guttural vocals and blast beats. This is a beast of a track that shows off what Sathamel can do, offering some complex song writing, changes of pace and emotion, meandering, sorrowful harmonics and finishing on the excellent dirge like hook of Kruk grunting out the title of the track. The following track Venus, Morning Star is another track of that ilk. However, it could be argued that the upfrontness of the blast beats in this offering makes it feel more aggressive than Scorch Blind Faith. Venus, Morning Star is also the longest track on the EP, and contains a great solo that you should listen out for. However listening to these two tracks in unison makes me yearn for Sathamel to stretch their limbs beyond the 7 minute mark and show off even more, Venus, Morning Star shows they certainly have it in them.

I don’t want to accuse the next track Abaddon of being a thrash track. But, while it is missing the speed and balls out aggression of thrash. It does start with albeit a slowed down, thrash-esc riff. It is almost a “money riff” the heavy, groove laden riffs that epitomised the style of bands like Pantera. Abaddon as a whole is another doomy blackened metal offering that feels a bit more stripped than the other songs on this EP, but that is no bad thing. Sathamel are showing the scope of their song craft, and creating a stripped down offering can be just as hard as a musical masterpiece, especially writing one that keeps listeners listening. I feel Abaddon does that perfectly, mostly due to the groove that underpins it all.

Speaking of aggression Eternal Hunters hits hard with the opening drum pattern and does not relent. The last offering on the Hors d'oeuvres plate that is this EP. Eternal Hunters shows that Sathamel are more than doomy, groove laden, blackened death metalers. Blast beats and shredding is everywhere in this track, that promises to be a pit favourite and answers the question I asked myself when this EP, with an absolute finality. Sathamel, are worth watching. 

Sathamel was released 5th January and is available for digital download here, with a physical release coming later

Article by Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

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EP Review: Crack House-The Hits Just Keep on Coming.

Stumbling out of their run-down, broken crack den. Philly Grindcore junkies Crack House offer us their EP "The Hits Just Keep On Coming." We ask our master of metal mayhem, Gary Lee to guide us through it.

“Smoke some crack with me bro/I wanna smoke crack/smoke some fucking crack with me bro.” The opening words of the The Hits Just Keep On Coming, an EP released by Philly Grindcore outfit and juckie fuckers CRACK HOUSE.

There doesn’t seem to be that much information out there about this band, but they are currently releasing music through the Philadelphia based “Useless Drunk Records.” Yet what there is to say is "holy shit these guys are fun." This EP is just no nonsense balls to the wall thrash-riffs, seriously “the big 4” wish they could still shred like this and have fun. The punk spirit that grindcore encapsulates storms through like a raging bull, presumably on crack. There is a definite air of CRACK HOUSE doing what they want, when they want, as guttural growls, uncompromising riffs and devastating drum hits mug you through your sound system for the whole fifteen minute length. This EP is just sheer debauchery.

The EP kicks off with the lyrics mentioned at the top, and the song CRACK HOUSE. There is nothing to be said he, that hasn’t already been said, but these guys are not shy. This is a hard hitting way to set off the EP. I love the shredding solo and the little drum fills that are hidden in the chorus. This song kicks off the EP in perfect crusty fashion, welcoming you to the crack house, and letting you know that for the next 4 tracks you are just going to be pummelled.

THIS EMERGANCY ROOM, IS GONNA NEED A FUCKING EMERGANCY ROOM, is probably my favourite track on the EP and has one hell of an intro. A low fi, punk, feedback wail heralds the track before a chugging riff kicks in, adding to this chaoscomes a building drum roll which adds tension before guttural vocals shatter it.The song breaks off its chains and begins to stomp around like an irresponsible Japanese monster and just wrecks shit.

The EP continues in the same vein with THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING which takes the word “hits” and throws it in the context of, unsurprisingly, crack. Once again, this track puts its balls upon the wall of metal, and just thrashes the fuck out. The following,  JUNKIE FUCKER fits more aggression in a 1:39 time frame than I ever thought possible, even finding time to break for another one of those string snapping solos.

Finally, the EP offers its final track in MARCH OF THE CRACKHEAD, another drug fuelled lesson in speed. The almost oscillating riff would be hypnotic if it wasn’t so aggressive, instead it becomes almost a berserker anthem. This may cause  you to flail around with elbows high snapping your neck in ways a car accident only dreams of while Crack House rams the song deep into your ear canals with unbridled depravity.

In summation, this band, go into my list of “party metal” along with guys like “Iron Reagan,” “Municipal Waste,” and “Napalm Death” a band who you know could just set a boring house party off, and perhaps set the hosting house on fire. I’d advise not to expect crazy musicianship from these guys, but to expect crazy pits, as they arrive, tear shit up, raise hell and leave, and I have to ask. What could be more metal than that?

Released January 4th on Useless Drunk Records, "The Hits Just Keep On Coming" is available now 

Article by Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

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Thursday, 1 January 2015

Looking Forward: Sylosis-Dormant Heart, Mercy.

2014 is now behind us and with that in mind, we at Musical Chairs, asked our resident metal magister to cast his scrying eyes forward. Fresh from his top 20 albums of the year, Gary Lee takes a look at Mercy, the single by Sylosis, in anticipation of the new album Dormant Heart, to be released January 12th in the UK, January 16th worldwide. 

Hailing from Reading England and residing on Nuclear Blast Sylosis are getting ready to kick off their 2015 with a new album. The album in question Dormant Heart is 4th full length studio album for the band who have spent their career with Nuclear Blast. However, while I will be reviewing the album when it drops we are not here for that yet, we are here for the single. 

Mercy is the first single release from this album, and was released in October 2014, with Leech following in November, which I will also cover at a later date. I find that there is one word that springs to mind whenever I listen to Mercy, simply "safe." However, I should stress that this is not a bad thing. Front man Josh Middleton who has become known for his Kirk Hammet like riffs continues to deliver in that vein with riffs that really roll and chug along. The chorus contains clean vocal singing that has become a strength of Sylosis, which has a touch of Trivium's Matt Heafy about them. The bass and drums combine to create a strong rhythmic section that really underpins this track, giving it a head-nod inducing groove carrying the listen through the track that clocks in at just under 5 minutes.

Although, this single as I said is safe-it offers nothing new or exciting and almost feels like a track that could have been put out "pre decade." It could be argued that, that was the point, take no risks on the single create something that ticks boxes, without dividing fans of the band or genre and hope to generate sales for the album where the deeper cuts will do the talking. Indeed Sylosis have shown before that they are capable of more with tracks like Last Remaining Light and Oath of Silence from the Conclusion of an Age. (2008) 

To sum up, this single gives me no cause for concern, from this track I can see no reason why Dormant Heart will not be a good offering. Therefore, it stands to reason that with nothing to cause woe, I have all the reason to hope for a stunning outing and a great start to 2015's metal releases. 

Dormant Heart is available for pre-order now

G. Lee (@thewheelbear)

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