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Review: Harrowed and Art of Burning Water’s Split 7″

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HARROWED

Harrowed’s take on dark, metallic hardcore is one of the best in the UK and their debut album Into Inferno is a vicious and dangerous sounding record that takes all the best bits from the genre and plays them really well. However, on the two tracks they offer on this split, the elements are all still there but Harrowed don’t sound as volatile. This is Harrowed doing what Harrowed do and that’s fine because Harrowed make great hardcore, but they’re missing the edge that made Into Inferno so utterly sumptuous.

This is mainly due to the production style which is a little rawer than the band’s debut. Into Inferno certainly wasn’t a bright, shiny album when it came to production, but the guitar sounded deadly. It had a real bite that’s sadly missing on these tracks and it just means that they’re missing a special something that would make them stand out better, especially now that dark hardcore is such an overpopulated genre.

Harrowed are still an exciting hardcore band and these tracks are by no means bad, they’re just not up to the band’s usual standard. Fingers crossed Harrowed have another belter of a long-player in the works because it’s about time we saw something more substantial from the band. It’s weird to think that Into Inferno is around 3 years old now.

7/10

ART OF BURNING WATER

Art of Burning Water are one of those bands that have been slogging their way through the toilet circuit for what feels like forever and never really been given their dues. Their music is very difficult to categorise as it draws in so many different influences from the heavy music spectrum, but it’s mainly a form hardcore punk that’s sprinkled with elements of black metal and grindcore. Vocals are always high-pitched and raspy giving their music that nasty, brooding vibe that black metal does so well and the loose, short bursts of almost free-form song-writing definitely lend themselves heavily to hardcore and grind.

Thankfully, despite all these elements coming into play, they manage to fuse in a way that makes Art of Burning Water’s music sound utterly ferocious. Let Me Let You Finish is the perfect example of all these musical styles coming together harmoniously and it’s a terrifying and scattershot explosion of disgusting metal that demands your attention. Please start paying attention to what Art of Burning Water are doing because a band like this shouldn’t be so criminally overlooked.

8/10

Harrowed and Art of Burning Water’s split 7″ is out now and available to buy from Secret Law Records.


Review: Iron Witch’s A Harrowed Dawn

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It feels like Iron Witch’s debut album has been a hell of a long time coming and the journey that the band has gone through has certainly been an interesting one, with quite a few line-up changes over the years. Thankfully, A Harrowed Dawn is still very much an Iron Witch record and it’s probably the most expansive they’ve ever sounded.

On past releases, Iron Witch have definitely straddled the sludgier end of the metal spectrum, but with A Harrowed Dawn, the band have moved into a larger, doomier playing field. This darker, more brooding sound has given Iron Witch a new lease of life and the music on A Harrowed Dawn sounds utterly monolithic when you compare it to the band’s back catalogue.

Songs like Salvation through Nothing get to boast a riff so monstrously gargantuan that it becomes a wonderfully stompy time for all involved. We even get a weirdo, psychedelic breakdown in Machinery of Violence before it unleashes another crushing, mosh-pit riffstrosity. Iron Witch have never sounded so electric and the whole record sounds enormous thanks to the brilliant production job that puts the band’s past releases to shame.

Iron Witch also manage to do that thing I love about the best low tempo music; they don’t compromise playing slow for writing uninteresting songs. A lot of doom bands really bludgeon their riffs to death for far too long, but that’s never a problem with A Harrowed Dawn. It isn’t even that slow of a doom record; songs twist and turn in a surprisingly progressive manner like on the furious Under the Pyre, but Iron Witch always know when to get your attention and beat you with another massive riff. This really is a masterclass in doom metal song writing.

Iron Witch have certainly spent a long time getting to this record and at only 6 tracks long it is a bit slight for a long-player, but those years of writing and touring have turned them into a well-oiled, doom-making machine and A Harrowed Dawn is the realisation of all their achievements so far. This is easily the best and biggest sounding Iron Witch release to date and an essential purchase for any doom fan.

8/10

Iron Witch’s A Harrowed Dawn is out now and available to purchase from Secret Law Records.


Review: Oblivionized’s Life is a Struggle, Give Up

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It’s been a long time coming, but tech-grind lunatics Oblivionized have finally delivered an album. Starting out as a 5-man progressive death metal act, the band have found powerful new legs as a trio and Life is a Struggle, Give Up showcases exactly how far the band have come since their 2011 debut EP.

Kicking things off, Lower Your Expectations manages to sum up exactly what Oblivionized are about in less than 2 minutes. The song deals in mind-melting polyrhythms, relentless blast-beats, bile-ridden screams and down-tuned guitar wizardry. This is extremely testing stuff but guitarist Sammy Urwin always chooses the perfect opportunities to lay off the technicality for a moment of groovy, neanderthal-esque head-banging like in the final moments of Cry Yourself to Ash. It’s the perfect combination of utter recklessness and it’s the sort of madness you’d probably get if members of SikTh and Suicide Silence formed a super-group.

The album’s title track is another great example of Oblivionized making technical death metal more palatable. Half way through the track the song changes from an unforgiving attack of guitar tapping and blast-beats to a slower-paced beatdown that wouldn’t feel out of place on an Oceano record. It’s not often we praise a band for using single-chord breakdowns but Oblivionized use them masterfully. Songs like Whore Dogs are all the better for their stylistic shift from angular craziness to riff-heavy sections.

We can’t continue without mentioning the stunning performance of drummer Will Merlin who absolutely decimates his kit throughout this record. A performance this furious deserves a great mix and thankfully this has also been accommodated. Most tech-metal records aim for robot-like precision in their mixes but thankfully every glorious, bass-heavy tom hit and cymbal crash has been captured with the savageness it deserves.

It’s also worth mentioning that Oblivionized’s lack of bassist is actually an element that helps this record. The addition of another guitar could’ve made this album a considerably difficult listening experience as the band’s sound is already breezeblock-thick. Urwin’s guitar-work cuts through the screaming and drumming and adds all the melody the band could ever need. Oblivionized manage to work a little too well considering their limitations.

Life is a Struggle, Give Up is Oblivionized firing on all cylinders. This is an unforgiving attack of tech-metal, grind and deathcore that is sculpted with finite detail and it’s not afraid to hit you over the head with a monolithic riff for good measure. This might be an exhausting ordeal on your first listen, but give it the time it deserves and it will slowly unveil a metal record for the ages.

9/10

Oblivionized’s Life is a Struggle, Give Up is released on Secret Law Records later this month. Pre-order it by clicking here.