Tag Archives: periphery

Review: A Cunning Man’s Practical Applications of Theurgy

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A Cunning Man is the one-man metal project of Ged Cartwright who previously fronted Scumscene post hardcore favourites Teenage China. This new project is extremely high concept stuff; a progressive and symphonic metal project that simply shouldn’t be coming out of the mind of one man.

Practical Applications of Theurgy is such a dense EP that it inspired me to do some background reading on a lot of the references in the song titles. Each track contains a name that appears in The Grimoire of Pope Honorius, which is a 1760 text that was made to be read during mass. Whether or not this is actually the influence on Cartwright’s lyricism remains to be seen, but the fact that I was even intrigued enough to find some meaning in this monumentally enormous sounding EP is a true testament to how interesting A Cunning Man’s music really is.

From the first track Honorius & the Choral Forecast, the listener is assaulted with a symphonic metal attack that’s heavy on blast beats and ethereal strings. Think of a melding of Dimmu Borgir, Between the Buried and Me and Periphery and you’ve got a good idea as to how wild this all sounds. Cartwright’s virtuosic vocals are placed front and centre and rightly so; the man’s singing is nothing short of staggering with its beautiful, lilting melodies permeating every song. It’s a huge amount to take in for a first track and if there’s one criticism to be levelled at this track then it might be a case of over-egging the pudding.

The next two tracks actually reign in A Cunning Man’s tendency to throw every influence under their belt into the mix. A more considered introduction leads the listener along carefully before the instrumentation picks up and when it does it never gets overindulgent. Closer Juratus & the Sulfur Psalm also follow a similar structure and it allows the impact of A Cunning Man’s crescendos to really shine. There’s more of a post rock influence on these tracks that remind you of prog bands like TesseracT, as they show less outright visceral metal like on the first track.

Practical Applications of Theurgy is an extremely unique and almost overbearing symphonic metal release from one of the most gifted Scottish musicians I can think of. This is an extremely accomplished first offering from A Cunning Man and while it sometimes veers dangerously close to being a little too dense for its own good, the song-writing shines brighter and makes for a record that’s more than the sum of its parts. A Cunning Man have an awful lot to offer over these 3 tracks and I’m very excited to see where the project goes in the future.

8/10

A Cunning Man’s Practical Applications of Theurgy is out now and available to download direct from the band’s official Bandcamp page.

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Review: Press to Meco’s Good Intent

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We like Press to Meco. Their 2013 EP Affinity was our pick of the year and the tech-emo trio from Croydon really felt like they were destined for big things. Well, they were definitely destined for at least one big thing and it comes in the form of their absolutely anthemic debut album Good Intent.

Press to Meco have continued to get weirder and heavier and more tuneful for their debut album and it couldn’t be more welcome. The band are like a bizarre mash-up of Reuben and Periphery with all members of the band sharing vocal duties to create some wonderful, interweaving melodies that come together to force a massive hook right into your lugholes.

Musically, the band shift between chunky, groove-ridden tech metal and soaring post hardcore choruses with gleeful abandon. The band has inadvertently created some of the most approachable tech metal around and it’s thanks to their wonderful approach to song-writing. This means that even though a lot is happening in a single track, it ebbs and flows with a natural progression that is easy to follow without being bombarded with stylistic shifts and tempo changes.

The real jewel on Press to Meco’s crown is always their fantastic vocal melodies. Despite how heavy the music can get, the vocals hold everything together. The sugary vocal harmonies are fantastically dynamic and memorable and if you were given this record during your formative days with heavy music, songs like Family Ties, Means to an End and Manipulate would become defining songs of your youth. This is not to say that Press to Meco sound dated, just that if you were to introduce the younger generation to heavy music via this record then its approachable nature would start a new generation of heavy music fans for all the right reasons.

Another real draw on Good Intent is how it pops and fizzes with the sort of energy you’d get from a live recording. Unlike a lot of tech metal releases that favour hyper-defined, almost robot-like drum sounds, Good Intent is a thrashy, powerful record that lets the band’s performances shine. The guitar tones are full of grunt and the drums sound like they’re taking a monstrous beating. For a record loaded with uplifting emotion, it’s fantastic to hear a mix that doesn’t sound as sterile as some tech metal releases.

Press to Meco have delivered an album that showcases exactly what the trio are capable of. It’s a glorious, exciting monster of a record that is stuffed with technical wizardry and choruses so big that they deserve to be blasted across festival audiences all summer long.

9/10

Press to Meco’s Good Intent is released on the 16th of October through Best Before Records and can be pre-ordered via Pledge Music.


Review: Red Seas Fire’s Resolution

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Technical metalcore mob Red Seas Fire return with Resolution, a 4 track EP stuffed with the sort of tech metal that bands like Periphery and SikTh deal in. If constantly evolving prog metal stuffed with a thousand riffs, screamed vocals and soaring melodies sounds like something that’ll whet your appetite, then Red Seas Fire certainly deliver.

Red Seas Fire are actually a far more approachable prospect than a lot of tech metal bands as their heavier moments generally take on the sort of shape that metalcore often deals with. This means lot of double-bass drumming and the sort of single-chord beatdowns that I often don’t get on too well with. However, Red Seas Fire actually use these moments a lot more sparingly which means they never outstay their welcome before they segue into a beautiful melody like the one nearer the end of Blood Bank. There’s still no denying that this sort of heaviness is still a lazy excuse to have an obvious passage for people to mosh to, but at least Red Seas Fire understand how to temper these moments with some genuinely fantastic riffs and vocal melodies.

Sadly the band do get a bit bogged down in this territory for the 9 minute behemoth that is The Mistakes We Make; an apt song title for a song that spends too long worshipping down-tuned beatdowns and not doing enough to warrant it’s enormous length. This is a real shame because the band manage to prove elsewhere (and in the latter half of the song) that they’re genuinely talented songwriters who understand nuance and not just bludgeoning their listeners over the head with heaviness.

Resolution is a solid tech metal EP that’s at its best when the songs trade off their moshier moments with huge, anthemic melodies that will be stirring crowds into massive sing-a-longs. Red Seas Fire clearly have the ability to write great metal but their over-reliance on beatdowns means they undersell their abilities. Thankfully the better moments on Resolution shine brighter than the duller, chuggy, one-chord riffs that the band often deal in and the whole EP pops with a satisfying chunky mix that will get your head banging in no time.

7/10

Red Seas Fire’s Resolution is out now and available to download for free via the band’s website.


Review: Press to Meco’s Affinity

Where have Press to Meco been hiding all this time? These Londoners make a beautiful prog metal racket that’s fused with some brilliant pop rock melodies that makes them sound like The Safety Fire mixed with Tales Don’t Tell Themselves-era Funeral for a Friend. This is such an unusual blend of styles that it really has no place working so damn well.

Affinity is Press to Meco’s 2nd EP and it packs an awful lot of ideas into its’ 5 songs and somehow manages to make a coherent record out of it all. The vocals bring the most memorable melodies to the forefront with a sugary, upbeat quality that’s at polar opposites to the enormous, riff-lead, technical mayhem going on at the same time. The title track is musically on the same page as bands like Periphery and TesseracT which is impressive on its’ own, but partnered with the band’s hugely catchy vocals, Press to Meco manage to make prog accessible for the masses.

The record sounds absolutely massive as well. The production values are really high for such a succinct release. This helps it put the band on a level playing field with their peers which is no small feat for a band this early in their career. Enough cannot be said about how beautifully interesting and memorable Affinity is. This EP is just so impressive.

The only real negative comes from the fact that it’s all over in just under 19 minutes. When the final techy moments of Love and Reason jolt unnervingly to a close, you’ll be left begging for more. If Press to Meco made a full length album of this quality they’d easily become your favourite band in absolutely no time at all.

It’s becoming far too difficult to find the words to say how important Press to Meco’s Affinity is. The band manage to blend progressive metal and post hardcore with an unsettling ease and make one of the most amazing experiences to come out of the UK heavy music scene in a very long time. Affinity is a brilliant rock record that you’ll seriously regret not jumping at when this band launch stratospheric. Buy this EP.

9/10

Press to Meco’s Affinity EP is released independently on May 27th. Make sure you buy it.