Reviews roundup – Wyrmwoods ~Odd Times ~ Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar ~ The Casanovas ~ Stråle
To Finlandia for some experimental black metal courtesy of one man band Wyrmwoods.
Right, that opening sentence should have scared off a fair few folk which is a shame because this is really good. Nuurag-Vaarn is the fella behind this and the previous two album and an EP releases. His name should give people of a certain ilk as to what takes his fancy as I’m informed by someone who knows about this sort of thing that he is is one of the most dangerous magic users in something called Ancient Domain of Mystery. If, like me, the only role playing games you’re interested are ones that involve young ladies losing their clothes then it turns out that Ancient Domains of Mystery has players trying to stop the forces of Chaos.
So the death ray wielder that is Wyrmwoods really likes his off kilter rhythms, distortion and early Insahn like screeches. In case you’re wondering that’s a very good thing especially when he takes the time to stretch out in prog directions as on ‘Subterrane’ and ‘Solanus’. Some of the music is atmospheric interludes that lull you into a false sense of security before your innards get ripped out all over again. Vocally there is also a fair amount of creepshow whispering which is actually a helluva of lot scarier than the banshee wails. I really don’t want to know what’s behind that locked doors. Especially as I’ve recently moved into a 200 year old house that actually has doors with locks. And I still haven’t opened the tiny cupboard in the lobby.
The combination of atmpsphere and black metal really works well here and it is, without doubt, one of the finest genre releases I’ve heard this year.
A Journey In The Desert
To the Canadian colonies and a debut album from prog rock trio Odd Times. So Rush then!
Actually, not really. Maxime Bidegare (bass), Vincent Perreault (drums) and Etienne Fournier (guitars/vocals) have a much harder edge to their sound, sometimes bordering on prog metal. Which is nice. They got together back in 2014 when they were all still at school. Which is cruel. Fast forward to 2020 and this is their debut album.
And for a debut it’s ridiculously good. It’s also, wait for it progsters, a concept album! Yes. Apparently it follows the journey of a man as he tries to navigate his way through the Desert of Death to find his way home. Or Mablethorpe as we call it (in joke for Lincolnshire readers). On his way he encounters storms, oasis’s (oases, oasises?) and a mysterious woman. Naturally. There’s always a mysterious woman in a death desert. Musically, you’ll toil to find fault with anything they do. There are plenty of the obligatory time signatures, some chunky riffs and even the odd delicate arrangement. Prog. There’s is more towards the Symphony X side of things than anything else but they do a damn good job of it.
The title track kicks things off in fine, three part fashion, and is definitely one of the highlights here. Any prog metal fan who listens to it will take them straight to heart. It’s quite stunning. If you like things leaning on the prog rather than the metal then you might want to dip into ‘Oasis’ which is one of the more straight ahead songs on offer. But if you’re here for the sound of a kitchen sink being thrown into a maelstrom then you really want the seven part(!) ‘Find My Way’. Oof. One of the best prog into metal adventures you’ll encounter this year.
It’s hard to believe this is their first outing as they demonstrate that they have what it takes to mix with the big boys.
SAMANTHA MARTIN & DELTA SUGAR
The Reckless One
Well Ms Martin can certainly sing. As befits someone who was nominated for a Juno for her last release, “Run To Me”.
It’s primarily soul tinged classic rock with a few blues and funk licks thrown in for good measure. And who can argue with that. She’s had a fair bit of practice with this being her sixth album since her debut “Back Home” in 2008 and it really shows on a quality set of songs. Eleven of the twelve are originals with a sole Bob Dylan cover sneaking in to spoil things.
Most of the songs are about love, life, loss and hope and her strong voice really brings things to life. She’s particularly good at the old school sounds of ‘I’ve Got a Feeling’ and ‘Better to Have Never’ but even when the heat intensifies on the likes of ‘Don’t Have To Be’ she is more than capable of pinning you to the wall.
She’s got a great band in Delta Sugar and they’re more than capable of ranging across all the sounds thrown at them with a special mention to whoever is playing the Hammond. I’d namecheck but the PR bumph and website is shy of naming the musicians. Regardless, it’s tasteful and forceful, as required. There’s a lot to enjoy here so do yourself a favour and check it out.
They’re not even trying to hide it now. If you’ve been following Zeitgeist over the last few decades you’ll know my Australasian lizard prison ship theory. And now here comes so-called Australians The Casanovas singing about reptilian overlords. The bastards.
This is obviously all fiction but let’s play along anyway. Apparently they formed back in 1999 and are a wee bit album shy as this is only their fourth release. They claim that the big gap between “All Night Long” in 2006 and “Terra Casanova” in 2015 was due to mainman Tommy Boyce being ill. But we all know what means. Brain rinsing.
As you would expect from an Australian power trio they like to rock hard. But they’re less AC/DC more The Angels meet Koritni (apart from ‘Red Hot’). Which is a fine sound by the way. The record also sounds great but when you’ve got Mark Opitz twiddling the knobs then you’re in safe hands. After all, that’s The Angels, Cold Chisel, Noiseworks, Rose Tattoo and even the Mighty Kiss on his resume. There are some cracking songs here as well with some mighty fine riffs and some stompalong drums for good measure.
The best of the bunch are ‘Stand Back’, the title track (bastards) and ‘Cold Day In Hell’ The less said about their song detailing the reptilian depopulation of St Kilda the better. I never believed the official story but now we know who actually contaminated the soil. Gits.
The Casanovas are the sound of a fight looking for a bar and if you were to encounter them on a rowdy Friday night then you’d be in for a guaranteed time. However, it’s 2020 and the reptilians are winning so you’ll need to party hearty while confined to barracks. But make no mistake. The resistance will win.
Well they took their time. Ten years to record a debut album. It had better be good.
And it is. A Finnish sextet who’re going for the modern, melodic metal thing. They being V. Ålarik – Vocals, Åndi – Guitars, Rasse – Keyboards, Zapata – Drums, Jahnny – Bass and Rantti – Guitars. Some of which may not be their real names. They’ve got a way with a melody, something that runs through all the songs. Add in some rough vocals and metallic riffs and they’ve got the melodic metal thing sussed.
There is a dark edge to a lot of the material which really works but also manage to be a wee bit radio friendly in a couple of places, ‘Parasite’ is the best of the latter along with ‘Control’ whereas ‘Wasted’ and ‘Control’ are the best of the former. If anything they’ve maybe tried to cover too many bases with some alt-rock and even some eighties alternative influences creeping in on the keyboards of Rasse which have common ground with the sound Janne Puurtinen was purveying fifteen years back. A sound I like. But at least they’re trying out different things, which is a good thing.
In fact it’s the keyboards that really sold it for me. That and the emotional weight behind the vocals. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take another 10 years as I’m sure I won’t be around to hear it. Either the whisky or the Great Reset should take care of that.