Tag Archives: groove metal

Live Review: earthtone9 and Dorje at The Camden Underworld 9/9/16

DORJE
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It becomes instantly apparent why Dorje have been chosen as main support for this earthtone9 show. The band deal in the same sort of groovy proginess that earthtone9 do, but there’s more of a focus on melodic rock rather than punishing heaviness. Dorje have a really robust and well-rehearsed sound that often reminds us of Coheed and Cambria and they play an extremely tight set that warms up the audience well. The only real negative I noticed is that the band are a little static in their performance, but thankfully they make up for this by being extremely accomplished song-writers. That Rob Chapman also has a powerful set of lungs on him.

EARTHTONE9
earthtone9

Playing a career-spanning set that includes songs from every single earthtone9 release to date, this is an incredibly special performance from the underappreciated alt metal giants. It’s really quite rare to see earthtone9 on the stage again, but here they are 20 years since they first started. What’s really quite impressive is how varied earthtone9’s music is. We move from the weirdo progressive metal leanings of their first two albums to the more streamlined, almost Deftones-esque alt metal of arc’tan’gent and then we also get the more melodic rock stylings of Amnesia from the omega EP and then we’re right up to date with the groovy, Mastodon-esque sound of For Cause and Consequence and IV. What’s really striking is just how monstrous earthtone9’s early material sounds thanks to the wonderfully robust sound at the Underworld. I couldn’t help but think how good a modern remaster of lo-def(inition) discord would sound like if it had this sort of power. earthtone9 put on a legendary performance that does their amazing back catalogue justice and I really hope we continue to see more music from them because they really are one of the UK heavy music scene’s most precious treasures.

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Review: Temple of Lies’ From Sand

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Leicester groove metallers Temple of Lies return with their sophomore effort, From Sand. Anyone who’s caught Temple of Lies’ live show will understand how utterly electric this band are and their bluesy riffs command some serious attention. But how well does Temple of Lies’ live sound transfer the mighty to long-player?

Sadly, From Sand is a little underwhelming. While it’s often obvious that Temple of Lies’ song-writing carries their music much better than their producer does, From Sand is a bit undercooked when you consider how devastatingly weighty the band’s live show is.

Album highlights like Bats and Fire in the Hole shine bright on an album that is extremely lacking in power. These tracks in particular are loaded with riffs to bang your head to and the bare-bones job done on the mix (that’s also thoroughly lacking in bass) can’t spoil these perfectly constructed slabs of rock. Unfortunately, you’ll still wonder how massive these songs could have sounded with the right person at the mixing desk.

That becomes the recurring thought while listening to From Sand. Songs like Rope and MoM are perfectly serviceable bursts of riff-laden blues rock that showcase Jon Scranney’s amazing guitar work, but they sound so flat that it’s difficult to get excited.

The other disappointment comes with Si Shaw’s lyricism. This is a real shame when you consider how much of a character Shaw is. When the man performs live his face is always plastered with a crazed grin and wide eyes and his barked vocal style is extremely commanding. However, when he sings stuff like, “you won’t even swallow” without a hint of irony and throws in references to crystal meth simply because he’s been singing about crystal balls, you realise that Shaw is a bit of a lazy lyricist. He writes lyrics that he thinks sound cool but they’re so overloaded with metal clichés that they become somewhat laughable.

Despite all of this, there’s a decent groove metal record hidden amongst the bad decisions. In the right hands, Temple of Lies’ From Sand could have sounded like the lovechild of Panic Cell and Clutch, and while the band’s song-writing often comes close to those lofty goals, the flat and lifeless audio mix drags this album into the dirt. Hopefully Temple of Lies can produce a follow-up that lives up to the potential created by their amazing live show.

6/10

Temple of Lies’ From Sand is out now and available to buy from all good digital music outlets.


Review: The King is Blind’s Our Father

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East Anglian groove metal five piece The King is Blind have seen fit to drop their debut album Our Father and it’s probably one of the most diverse metal debuts I’ve heard in some time. Taking groove metal to its extremes, The King is Blind mix in elements of doom and black metal to create an album that’s bursting with ideas.

What’s instantly striking about The King is Blind is their unrelenting guitar work which is consistently exciting and unpredictable. Guitarists Lee Appleton and Paul Ryan-Reader are always prominent in the mix and often deal in a groovy, thrashy playing style that will remind you of bands like Sepultura and DevilDriver. This means Our Father is often punishing yet strangely catchy as the two guitarists manage to conjure up riffs like it’s no problem.

When The King is Blind are going hell for leather, they are one of the most exciting bands in underground metal. Tracks like Bloodlet Ascension, Amen and All the Daemons Are Here are savage, relentless metal songs that are loaded with piss and vinegar. These songs often deal in black metal-style tremolo picking which also adds to the sheer intensity of this aural assault. Enough can’t be said about how visceral and exciting The King is Blind are when they decide to be the heaviest band in the UK.

Where Our Father unfortunately falls down is in its experimentation with doom metal. The one-two punch of opening tracks Genesis Refracted and Fragility Becomes Wrath is unfortunately stopped short by the lurching doom track Mors Somnis. While not necessarily a bad song, slowing the pace this early into the record is strangely jarring. When doom tracks keep showing themselves throughout the record you often wonder whether The King is Blind are dealing with too many metal styles as their sound becomes inconsistent.

Sometimes the addition of doom actually works quite well and it’s during tracks that meld it with the band’s groove metal sound. Venin and Devoured in particular like to change between doom and the faster, thrashier style and it works infinitely better as the impact of the band’s break-neck speed is more striking when it follows a big, foreboding, doom groove.

The King is Blind have made a great debut album with Our Father and it’s clear that a lot of diverse metal bands influence their sound. Unfortunately for the band it means that they have a hard time finding a sound that’s truly theirs and this creates some inconsistency. Regardless, this is a strong start to the band’s career and I’m confident they’ll only get better from here.

7/10

The King is Blind’s Our Father is out now through Cacophonous Records.


Review: Karybdis’ Samsara

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London metalcore outfit Karybdis return for their sophomore album Samsara. Despite having a sound heavily rooted in metalcore with its heavy use of single-chord rhythms, Karybdis layer their music with soaring leads and occasional flourishes of symphonic metal and melodeath. This means Karybdis sound less like Killswitch Engage and more like Machine Head or Sylosis.

So Karybdis have a very accomplished and diverse sound that sits closer to groove and thrash metal. If we ignore subgenres for a second, Karybdis offer up a powerful metal record that draws from a wide range of influences that when put together sound exclusively like Karybdis.

The guitar work on Samsara carries most of the music’s melody. The title track is a great example of this, with its melodeath riffs punching you in the gut during its verses, but then breaking out into some seriously epic leads during the chorus. It makes a very angry song sound almost euphoric and it’s glorious to behold. We’re also treated to an amazing guitar solo that displays a masterful level of musicianship.

As previously mentioned, Karybdis’ music is built on a very noticeable metalcore rhythm with its heavy use of driving, single-chord riffs paired with double-bass drumming. This gives the band a very contemporary sound that they’ve seen fit to garnish with elements of other subgenres. For example Forsaken begins with a high-paced thrash riff, Summon the Tides is interspersed with that lovely, bombastic, symphonic sound that bands like Dimmu Borgir or Blind Guardian deal in and songs like the title track definitely display shades of that wonderful Gothenburg, melodic death metal sound.

Vocally the record even manages to be pretty varied despite the almost exclusive use of screamed vocals. The vocals often switch between low-pitched, death metal growls for verses, and high-pitched, raspy screams for choruses. Occasionally the band even breaks out into a massive, soaring melody like during the chorus of Rorschach or even the delicate, operatic melodies that accompany the rhythms of Summon the Tides. It’s incredibly striking vocal work that once again keeps the album varied.

Karybdis have put together a smorgasbord of metal subgenres and masterfully fused them into a sound that is exclusive to the band. Samsara is a metal album that heavy music fans will be championing for years to come and it establishes Karybdis as one of the UK’s best metal acts.

9/10

Karybdis’ Samsara is out now and available to buy direct from the band.


Review: Allfather’s No Gods. No Masters.

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Allfather describe themselves as a sludge, doom and hardcore crossover act and while there’s elements of these genres in their sound I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they deal in the sort of groove metal and hardcore genre hybrid that the mighty Raging Speedhorn and Cancer Bats deal in.

Their debut EP No Gods. No Masters. is a thunderous display of chunky riffs and gruff, bellowed vocals. Opener The Great Destroyer lays down the foundations with a massive groove that will ignite some dangerous mosh pits. The riff is also accompanied with a meaty rhythm courtesy of drummer Kieron and it’s this satisfying combination that makes Allfather’s music so instantly enjoyable. Stick this on in a rock club and the high-kickers will go on a rampage.

No Gods. No Masters. continues to be a wonderfully no nonsense EP that’s big on fun. While the start of the EP leans more on mid-paced sludge metal stylings, the latter half is considerably punkier as a result. Post Austerity Blues and The Worms Won’t Have Us are short, sharp bursts of aggression that once again put forward a huge riff and some pounding drums to devastating effect. Allfather have managed to boil down their sound to its core elements and focus on beating you around the head with them and it’s nothing less than fantastic.

The only thing that really disappoints is how quick it’s all over with. With only 4 songs clocking in at just under 11 minutes, Allfather manage to whet our appetites for more chunky grooves and hardcore punk drumming but the EP ends rather abruptly. This is a real shame because by the end of the last song it feels like the EP should have a lot more to offer.

However this is a minor grievance in what is a seriously intense and satisfying combination of hardcore and groove metal. Allfather have stumbled onto a hugely entertaining sound that will satisfy both fans of metal and punk and I cannot personally wait to see where the band goes from here. No Gods. No Masters. is a debut that any band would be proud of.

8/10

Allfather’s No Gods. No Masters. is out now and available to download direct from the band.


Review: Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters’ Earth Hog

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I don’t usually like to refer to music as “stoner” because I think it’s quite a disparaging term that implies the music has no artistic merit, but when your band is called Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters I think it’s safe to say that you’re pretty happy with having your music referred to as “stoner”.

So this is the first mini album by Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters (referred to as Chubby from hereon), it’s called Earth Hog and it’s a beautiful blend of groovy stoner rock and Sabbath-esque heavy metal. The first thing you’ll notice about Earth Hog is that it rocks harder than a ten ton boulder crashing down an active volcano.

Riffs come thick and fast on Earth Hog and they’re drenched in snarling overdrive. The guitar is also bolstered by some superb, low-end basslines which might lead to some unfortunate trouser accidents. The record manages to rumble along at a fair old pace which is at odds with your usual stoner rock experience and it’s absolutely invigorating to hear.

What Chubby manage to do with each of the five songs on Earth Hog is staggering. They all kick off with a groove so massive it could shake a house to pieces and then they build into a more psychedelic and progressive affair but without meandering around with no purpose. Despite the songs averaging around five minutes a piece, each is a rollicking beast of a tune that is full of great melodies and they never outstay their welcome.

Earth Hog is such a wonderfully fat, chunky beast of a record. The grooves sway effortlessly throughout the entire album and the production job by Sam Thredder of Slabdragger fame is the sweet, little cherry on the top (albeit a massive, overripe one). There’s so much weight to this record and it suits the wonderful, riff-laden nature of Chubby’s music perfectly.

Earth Hog is an easy recommendation to make. If you’ve ever enjoyed a riff that might result in whiplash then Chubby have delivered an absolute haven of guitar wizardry. Earth Hog is loaded with some of the best grooves stoner rock has to offer and it’s one of the most satisfying debuts of any band.

9/10

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters’ Earth Hog is out now. You can download it direct from the band by clicking here. A CD and cassette release is scheduled for March.


Year End: The Top 10 Best Albums of 2014

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10) Trudger – Dormiveglia

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What we said:

“Trudger’s Dormiveglia is a thick, multi-layered experience that gets better every time you listen to it. The band has grown tremendously since their debut EP and the song writing on Dormiveglia is absolutely top tier. This might be a challenging listen for heavy music fans and the band’s raucous fusion of sludge, doom, death and black metal might make for a bleak experience, but it’s one of the best bleak experiences you’re going to have for a while. Buy this record, light some candles and get moody.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

9) Goodtime Boys – Rain

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What we said:

“Goodtime Boys have really hit their stride on Rain and it’s an album every post hardcore fan should consider owning. The music is still aggressive but it now flourishes into gorgeous melodies drenched in haunting atmosphere. 2014 has been a stunning year for post hardcore records with Vales delivering an equally excellent album and it’s about time we recognise Goodtime Boys in a similar light. Rain is an astonishing debut album that deserves your attention.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

8) All the Best Tapes – All the Best Tapes

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What we said:

“All the Best Tapes have put together an extremely diverse and challenging record that cleverly drenches all the music’s elements in a huge helping of melody. Albums like this are proper once-in-a-lifetime experiences and nothing can prepare you for how utterly bonkers it all sounds while still sounding like a cohesive record. Well done All the Best Tapes and thanks for being so mind-bogglingly weird.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

7) Corrupt Moral Altar – Mechanical Tides

Corrupt Moral Altar - Mechanical Tides Front Cover HIRES

What we said:

“Corrupt Moral Altar have delivered one of the most amazing debut albums any metal band could hope to make. Mechanical Tides is a raucous, nasty bastard of a record that manages to take influences from as many areas of the metal spectrum it can and it fuses them into the band’s already brilliant sound with ease. It’s not often we get to experience an album that’s so magnificently loud yet diverse at the same time and Corrupt Moral Altar have made us wish this experience occurred more often.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

6) Mongol Horde – Mongol Horde

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What we said:

“Regardless, this is an explosive debut by one of the weirdest bands in heavy music right now. Mongol Horde’s self-titled debut album is equal parts punk and groove and it’s presented as a series of surrealist stories told by Turner that give the band an identity of their own. Welcome back Frank; we’ve missed your unhinged side.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

5) Bad For Lazarus – Life’s a Carnival, Bang! Bang! Bang!

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What we said:

“Regardless, this is a minor complaint on a near flawless album. Bad for Lazarus’ debut album may have been a long time coming but the five years the band have spent writing, recording and touring has changed them into a well-oiled yet raucous, blues rock machine. Life’s a Carnival, Bang! Bang! Bang! is loaded with infectious songs and there isn’t a minute of it that’s not worthy of your attention. Buy this album and tell your friends; Bad For Lazarus are coming to town.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

4) Alpha Male Tea Party – Droids

Alpha Male Tea Party - Droids - cover

What we said:

“This is an easy recommendation to make; you need Alpha Male Tea Party’s Droids in your life. This a wonderfully unique and riff-laden record that is loaded with catchy melodies. Despite the progressive nature of the band’s music, they manage to make it incredibly palatable and Droids is a considerable more enjoyable experience for it.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

3) Sunwølf – Beholden to Nothing and No One

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What we said:

“Sunwølf’s Beholden to Nothing and No One is a gargantuan epic that traverses many genres but always feels focussed. A double album clocking in at an hour and 23 minutes might strike you as an impenetrable time investment but Beholden… never outstays its welcome. There’s a reason why this album is so long and it’s because it’s stuffed to the brim with interesting, thought-provoking music that’s always changing and always engaging. Sunwølf have written their masterpiece and it’s one of the most essential listening experiences of the year.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

2) Grand Collapse – Far From the Callous Crowd

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What we said:

“Grand Collapse have put together a début album that I simply cannot listen to without the words ‘FUTURE CLASSIC’ coming into view. Far From The Callous Crowd is a no-nonsense shot of adrenaline and there isn’t a single moment that doesn’t sound like a cacophony of punk’s best riffs. I want more and I need it now.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

1) Marmozets – The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets

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What we said:

“Marmozets have made an album that I would regard a classic had it been released in my youth. The fact that it’s being released now hopefully means that a whole new generation of kids will be introduced to post hardcore through what I regard an essential purchase for any fan of the genre. The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets is one of the best rock albums this year and if you’ve ever enjoyed a catchy rock number then you’ve just found your new favourite band.”

Read the full review by clicking here.


Review: Corrupt Moral Altar’s Mechanical Tides

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Corrupt Moral Altar have come a very long way in such a short amount of time. The groove-ridden grindcore sound of the band’s previous EPs has now sprouted shoots that extend into genres like black metal, noise and doom to create the band’s debut album Mechanical Tides.

The black metal influences are instantly apparent in the opening track Father Tongue which is full of bleak and moody atmospherics. The band also deliver blast-beats by the bucket load. Then the first instance of electronic noise seeps into the band’s sound for Blood Harmony and the slower pace will put doom fans in a horrible yet comfortable spot. Then we’re back to the classic Corrupt Mortal Altar combo of groove and grindcore for Die Glocke and Line Check but even then we’re getting touches of thrash and death metal in those riffs courtesy of John Cooke.

The ride doesn’t let up here. Vocalist Chris Reese takes a step away from screaming for the hauntingly stripped down Admit Defeat. This level of diversity puts Mechanical Tides on a completely different level than Corrupt Moral Altar’s previous material and it’s a beautifully accomplished cacophony of noise.

What’s all the more impressive is just how well it all works together. Corrupt Moral Altar have always had a knack for writing a smashing riff or twelve but this time they managed to being that proficiency into areas that it hadn’t previously visited. The frequent divergences into slower tempos and dark atmospherics are fantastic additions that make listening to Mechanical Tides feel like a journey into the unknown instead of a simple collection of songs.

Special mention also has to be brought to the guitar because the filthy, Entombed-esque guitar tone smears the whole record in a wonderfully disgusting veneer that is complimented by the raw aggression of Tom Dring’s drum work. Every nasty, distorted imperfection is captured perfectly and the crash-heavy drumming just makes the whole experience even more chaotic. I can’t imagine listening to Mechanical Tides through the bright and almost robotic production that gets applied to things like tech metal. This album is a much better experience for all it’s harsh, wretched volatility.

Corrupt Moral Altar have delivered one of the most amazing debut albums any metal band could hope to make. Mechanical Tides is a raucous, nasty bastard of a record that manages to take influences from as many areas of the metal spectrum it can and it fuses them into the band’s already brilliant sound with ease. It’s not often we get to experience an album that’s so magnificently loud yet diverse at the same time and Corrupt Moral Altar have made us wish this experience occurred more often.

9/10

Corrupt Moral Altar’s Mechanical Tides is out now via Season of Mist.


Review: Mongol Horde’s Mongol Horde

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Frank Turner returning to heavy music is a dream come true for a lot of us who were raised on Million Dead, the post hardcore band Turner fronted before he decided to go solo and make folk pop. Turner has been messing around under the Mongol Horde name with fellow Million Dead stalwart Ben Dawson and Sleeping Souls member Matt Nasir for 2 years now and while a few songs have been drip-fed to the public nobody was expecting an album materialise out of thin air. For the unsuspecting public it really felt the way when their debut self-titled album was announced a week before release and the no bullshit approach to announcing the record really suits the music it contains.

Despite being a heavy record, this is a very different beast to Million Dead. Mongol Horde make hardcore punk infused with groove metal and each song is built around a massive down-tuned riff, frantic punk drumming from Dawson and an absolutely furious roar from Turner. This is the sort of album Refused and earthtone9 might make if they ran really fast into each other.

What’s really interesting about the band’s formula is that no real effort has been made to beef up their rather bare-bones sound. Nasir makes up for the lack of bass guitar by tuning his guitar low and running it through the dirtiest fuzzbox he has available. This gives the band a satisfying quiet/loud dynamic that means the verses generally lack bass before it drops into the mix for a massive chorus. It’s simple but amazingly powerful stuff.

Turner has also approached the vocals in a very different fashion. The man almost exclusively uses screams and spoken vocals and there’s more than a touch of humour to Turner’s lyrics. Tapeworm Uprising chronicles the journey of Natalie Portman’s tapeworm as it escapes her body to found a new republic for tapeworms. Blistering Blue Barnacles discusses the career advice Turner was given that lead him to captain his own ship just to satisfy his inferiority. Winkyface: The Mark of a Moron discusses the modern phenomena known as using emoticons instead of actual words to express yourself. It’s beautifully bizarre stuff and despite the almost constant screaming, Turner is incredibly clear and expressive which really engages you in the bonkers scenarios he creates.

The album is superbly consistent with every track being built around a traditional verse/chorus/verse/chorus structure that puts emphasis on Nasir’s enormous riffs and Turner’s aggressive choruses. It’s all tied together by an absolutely relentless display of drumming from Dawson who sounds like he probably got through about ten pairs of sticks per song.

The only real let-down comes in the lack of bass. On occasion the songs feel somewhat lacking without a dedicated bass-line and the furious openings to Casual Threats from Weekend Hardmen and Your Problem are great examples. It’s only a minor complaint as the bass often strikes at the most opportune moments, but you can’t help but imagine how utterly devastating the band would sound if the riffs were bolstered by that extra bit of bass.

Regardless, this is an explosive debut by one of the weirdest bands in heavy music right now. Mongol Horde’s self-titled debut album is equal parts punk and groove and it’s presented as a series of surrealist stories told by Turner that give the band an identity of their own. Welcome back Frank; we’ve missed your unhinged side.

8/10

Mongol Horde’s debut self-titled album is out now and available to buy direct from Xtra Mile Recordings.


Review: In Search of Sun’s The World is Yours

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In Search of Sun is a 5 piece heavy metal band from London making the sort of music that would make Panic Cell, Five Finger Death Punch and Avenged Sevenfold proud. Previously known as Driven, the band have gone through a stylistic change that sees them moving away from their earlier metalcore roots (hence the change in band name) and The World is Yours mark’s the band’s debut album.
The World is Yours is an album built around big vocal melodies and bass-heavy grooves. The songs are structured in a pretty traditional manner that favours verses and choruses so don’t expect anything too progressive from the band.

What really makes the music on The World is Yours shine is the wonderful vocal work by frontman Adam Leader (surely the most appropriate name for a lead singer ever). Leader has a beautifully flexible voice that moves between abrasive yell and soaring croon with ease and you can really visualise the vocalist commanding a massive crowd. It helps that Leader’s melodies and superbly strong and the choruses on the album will stick with you long after the album has finished.

The band are also pretty comfortable dropping in some thrash influences into their music with the lovely galloping shred at the start of 51 56 being a great highlight as well as the opening riff to Idle Crown. These moments of guitar prowess put In Search of Sun in a league of their own and its riffs like these that the band need to focus on bringing to the forefront more often.

Bizarrely the instrumentation often feels quite sparse. Despite having two guitarists in their midst, In Search of Sun often let the lead guitars jangle gently over a thunderous bass-line like at the beginning of In Search of Sun (yes, there’s a song confusingly named after the band). This wouldn’t be such an issue if the song was actually doing something a little more gripping. In Search of Sun are very keen to fix their tempos into a rather unimaginative mid-pace that never really allows the music the freedom to grab you by the balls and let loose with a really rocking riff. This really damages songs like In Search of Sun because the track is drawn out for over 6 minutes and despite an impressive guitar solo it rarely moves away from its quite traditional structure.

The major problem with In Search of Sun is just how similar they sound to many other modern metal bands bothering the charts right now. This is a real shame because it’s clear the band have a knack for writing a decent riff and a great chorus but they need to be more daring to drop into different tempos and get more adventurous with their guitar work because bassist Faz Couri often has to carry the songs. In fact, Couri is so prominent in the mix that I wouldn’t be surprised if he was one of the band’s main songwriters.

The World is Yours is a strong modern metal offering from a promising new band. It often succeeds thanks to the massive choruses courtesy of vocalist Adam Leader but the music is too unimaginative to hold your attention for the full 48 minutes. In Search of Sun could really do with stepping up the pace a bit because as To the Axe manages to prove in its fifth minute, the band is vastly more exciting to listen to when they get nice and thrashy. It’s moments like this that justify the band having 5 members because it’s too often the case that the music is very minimalist like in the album’s ballad Skin. In Search of Sun have all the potential to be an incredibly exciting band but at the moment they haven’t quite figured out how to do this.

6/10

In Search of Sun’s The World is Yours is released through Raging Demon Entertainment and Plastic Head Distribution on September 1st.