Review – Nømadus – Axis Primordial

Burning the midnight oil and squeezing in before the review deadline… Chris Cleo reviews the debut offering from Belfast M2TM runners up Nømadus

There is no moment in a band’s history that echoes louder than the first full-length album, where Belfast’s proggy-groovy-pseudo thrashy Nømadus come out swinging with ‘Axis Primordial’.  After a couple of rather mature singles in the form of ‘Apex Breath’ and ‘Dawn of Darkness/Silent Dusk’, Nømadus show that they’ve been cooking up a real hefty offering of a debut, with 9 songs clocking in at a healthy 50 minute run time.  Obviously ‘Axis Primordial’ is here to make a statement – and with so many bands coming out with really overlong, bloated albums – an average song length of around 5-6 minutes is usually the first red flag you’d see, coupled with this only being the bands third release, you might think they blew their load too early with the first LP.

Thankfully this isn’t the case.  Nømadus really manage to capture their mix of groovy heavy riffs and melody in the form of various structures of different lengths.  Admittedly when I hear the label ‘groove metal’ being thrown about I immediately think of what happened to 80’s thrash bands in the 90’s (Sepultura/Testament/Anthrax – you know what I’m talking about), but while I have to admit I’m a complete stranger to the world of groove metal, I’m glad this was the passage.  Opener Last Words of Wisdom bounces between vast open chords and chunky open string/bass drum synced riffs, taking all the elements of Nomadus’ sound and mashing it all into one piece.  The tempo picks up at the end to come full circle to a satisfying, melodic ending, where the following track ‘Apex Breath’ follows suit with the same burst of energy.  Whilst only a fraction of the total run time, these little higher tempo parts keep this album from falling into the same part of my brain that I’ve stuck older Machine Head in, which I’d admit I’d struggle to listen to for the whole album’s duration.

Other notable moments include the intro to ‘Paradox (Nerve Burn)’ – which is the most thrashy the record gets – and the epic tracks ‘Pounding Curse’ (shamelessly admit I love the pop-punk sounding intro) and ‘The passage’ with its brilliant melodic verses.  What ‘Axis Primordial’ does really well is taking the core elements of Nømadus’ heavy sound and presenting them in loads of different song structures.  I usually stay away from bands that label themselves as prog because the term is usually used to try and justify a pretentious wanky mess, but ‘Apex Primordial’ is mature and interesting whilst actually having some soul at the same time (rare huh…)  The guys are clearly competent enough instrumentalists and songwriters to pull off epic complex passages whilst having some empathy for a listener, bringing nice melodies or crushing heavy riffs and vocals.  Of particular note is the instrumental track Hadean; a beautiful piece that makes good use of sampled sounds and effects.  The track serves as a fluid transition into the following ‘The Ultimate Fuse’, but is a perfect example of Nømadus showing off their pallet of colours.

If you were to tell the me of a couple weeks ago that I’d be enjoying spinning a groove metal album I’d have probably laughed you out the room, but Nømadus really just seem to speak to the fraction of myself that needed to experience their album.  As much as I’d jump at the most rabid destructive death or thrash on the market, I can appreciate a good melody (and I know heaviness when I hear it) – and what Nømadus have offered is a really solid offering of their sheen of metal.  Whilst definitely the furthest thing from their Last Words, I know that ‘Axis Primordial’ is one of the more refined albums that has come out of the UK metal scene.

Nømadus – Axis Primordial is out tomorrow on all the normal streaming services as well as BANDCAMP

Review – Peruvian Necktie – Self Titled EP

This is only going to be a quick review, as this EP is already out….but, I have to admit I’ve been on a bit of a Hardcore trip recently, and shooting off down all sorts of rabbit holes of the genre, from crossover to beat down and everything in between, now as always I was looking into the UK underground to see what bands were about, and one of the bands that I came across is Bristol four piece, Peruvian Necktie, and their debut Self Titled EP…

The Peruvian necktie is a choke from the front headlock position. This position is important in wrestling, but it is not as utilized in Jiu Jitsu. The front headlock works when you are in front of an opponent who is bent down and you have their head and one arm trapped in a headlock.

Yeah, I had to google it, I thought that maybe it was a South American version of a ‘Glasgow Smile’… but apparently that’s a ‘Colombian Necktie’… which is way more violent that the MMA grapple move the Bristolians have named themselves on… not that I fancy being on the receiving end of any of them to be fair!!

Anyway, enough ramblings, now this Bristol 4 piece have come out swinging, and the 4 track EP has everything you want from underground UKHC, blistering riffs, bottom end that makes your teeth rattle and vocals that range from spit and flow of a rapper to the growls of 90’s death metal, always sounding angry and venomous and on the verge of being out of control, with the ideal balance of fast and heavy, mosh ready breakdowns with a bit of a funky bass slap to give it groove.

It’s pointless doing a blow by blow of the tracks as the EP is already out, so just go and take a listen wherever you get your music from, it’s well worth 15 minutes of anyones time… and if you don’t want to delve in from the start.. ‘Wild Trails’ is our favourite track… which is great because it the one with a lyric video…

Check out Peruvian Necktie via all the normal streaming sites.. or of course BANDCAMP

Blacklist – The Shape

Paul checks out the new single by our pals from Blackpool…

Let’s get the artwork for The Shape out of the way immediately because if you saw this in a record store back in the 1980s when you often bought an album based on the cover, this would be languishing in the bargain bins for time eternal. So, close your eyes and open the listening equipment to absorb possibly the most ambitious and dare I say, progressive piece of work that the Blackpool quartet have released. 

It retains all the aggression that the band have established as their own over the past few years, but this feels a more mature, expansive piece of work. The intro with audio clips adds to the overall eerie and sinister feel, which runs throughout the song. In parts its reliant on a more rudimentary thrash feel, but where the band move into more exploratory passages it really expands. There’s plenty to unpack and even on repeated listens, more and more different elements are appearing. I like music that keeps you guessing and whilst there are options for heads down frantic thrashing, Blacklist have produced something far outside the usual thrash fare that we are often served. 

Technically, there is much to enjoy. The drumming is relentless, the guitar work layered and intricate, whilst Tyler Larkin’s gruff vocals remain essential to the core sound of the band. It’s an interesting change of direction which I enjoyed. The thrash roots are firmly attached, but there is a little inkling of development which is vital for any band to progress and develop.

The Shape is out Friday, pre-save HERE

Review – Höwler – Descendants of Evil

Hutch heads to South America for the a blast of the new Höwler Album….

Album number four for Costa Rica’s Höwler, a band about who I’ve no prior knowledge. With their most recent release No More Circus! released in 2020, it’s evident that the band are keen to make up for lost time as they bring their latest release with a pace that at times crosses into speed metal. 

Coming at this blind, it’s an interesting style that Höwler present. There are ample heads down thrash opportunities, but there’s also ample variation. Supernova sees the band channel elements of Testament’s intro to Eerie Inhabitants, whilst the stomp of Anthems to Warfare slips towards power metal before clawing it back into a full-on rager. 

What’s most interesting about this album is that I expected a much more South American feel, and it doesn’t have that. There’s much more European and Germanic feel to the band’s style. Think elements of Destruction and Tankard rather than the dirty experience of Sodom. There are inevitably links to the Bay Area, such as Testament and Exodus. 

All this adds to an album that will be ideal for the thrash fan who wants something solid and established. There’s little new on this release, but they stick to the thrash blueprint, and they do it well. Cycle of Violence draws deep from Testament, but the quintet give it everything from start to finish. New drummer Leyner Mora is particularly impressive on his debut performance. 

So, plenty to get the teeth into with Panzer 666 and In Human Race particularly pleasing with ample thrash teeth. It’s a reliable thrash album that is certainly worth spending three quarters of an hour getting involved with.

Höwler – Descendants of Evil is out today in Europe via CDN records find out more HERE

Review – Mechanized – Out Of The Womb Into The Tomb (Single)

Neil Bolton checks out the new single from the South West Thrashers Mechanized, here’s what he thinks of it…

Winning Bloodstock’s ‘Metal To The Masses’ competition lead to a performance on the festival’s New Blood Stage in 2022. Wishing to capitalise on this momentum “Mechanized” have  released the single “Out of the Womb Into the Tomb”. 

You press play and immediately realise this band are not accustomed to hanging around. 

The gruff vocals launch within seconds of this tune beginning and the talents of Andy George bounce into view. There is a tinge of Randy Blythe in his delivery which fits well with this blend of thrash and death.

The Southwest five-piece have produced a track that is both violent and melodic. It also displays the fact than none of this band are strangers to the practice room. The guitar licks work very well and the fast solos exhibit talent and dedication to the cause. 

Dave Parsons on the drums never takes a moment to relax, and bass player Rohan James keeps up with style. This style is compounded with the aforementioned excellent guitar work from both Dom Forsyth and Andy Prowse.

“Out of the Womb Into the Tomb” contains pit creating sections folding well into sing along sections. Each component will make your head bang. 

There is the bands second release, a longer track named “United In Misery” is just as accomplished with it cleaner vocals mixed with the gruffer style in this number adding more strength to the tools in their kit. These two tracks are a magnificent glimpse at what is to come from this young U.K. talent.

The Single is out this Friday on all platforms via Mirror Break Records – Pre-save Now

Premiere – Death Of Iron Video

Our pals in Hellfekted top off the Death Of Iron release weekend with the official video releasing tonight. Featuring footage from the Morning Mosh at Bloodstock 2022 as well as some war footage for good measures..

Out tonight at 18:00, watch the premiere on Youtube below and see if you can see yourself in the crowd, circle pit or wall of death…..

Review – Apollolyptic – Through Mud 

Hutch checks out the debut EP by UK thrashers Apollolyptic..

The UK thrash scene continues to throw band after band at those of us in the reviewer’s chair. The standard of thrash metal is high, so much so that every release has to offer something different to stand out from the crowd.  

Sometimes that just isn’t the case, but that doesn’t make the music any less enjoyable to listen to, it just throws it into the mix with many other bands. Such is the situation with Yorkshire quartet Apollolyptic, whose debut EP Through Mud is due to drop at the end of the month.  

It’s not a challenge to listen to Apollolyptic, although I’ll pin my colours to the mast early and say I’m not a huge fan of the vocal performance on the three songs. They do little to enhance the tracks and at times are a little strained. Vocals in thrash can be a difficult one, for we don’t need Bruce Dickinson’s high pitch, but snarling aggression needs to be channelled with some guts. Whilst the effort is here, the quality is variable.   

The title track brings things up front and in your face. And in parts, it’s a bit of a beast, yet other sections are a bit mundane. The explosive mid-part with some killer lead work is the best part of the song by a mile.  

Liar is next, and again the opening riff is standard fare, drawing deep on the Bay Area for influences. This is where the vocals really grate, shouted rather than sung, they are flat and uninspiring. The song isn’t great either, being played at a reasonable pace but it’s not anything to over-excite. There’s genuinely little to stand it apart from hundreds of other average thrash songs, with a lumbering mid-section which is, well, bluntly, just a bit dull.  

Final track Gunslinger begins with a ball of riffs and a bass line that threatens to go off piste. The chugging rhythm soon kicks in and we are presented with a routine but perfectly reasonable track with a chorus that hooks. It’s solidly performed without being anything exceptional although I do like the attempts to mix it up a bit mid-song with changes of tempo. It’s all a bit thrash by numbers though, and this is the challenge – show me something a bit different. Some neat shredding is the main highlight.  

Now, I’m no musician so I tip my cap to anyone who can make music. You are better than me in that regard. I’m also reluctant to criticise anyone who can take the time and effort to make any recording. My main issue with this EP, like so many in the thrash movement (and you can apply that to most genres), is that it’s just like so many others. And when you are faced with a tsunami of similar fare, only the most original and fresh will stand out. Through Mud is a valiant first effort, with some solid elements, and hopefully gives the band a platform to build on.

Through Mud was released on the 31st October and available on Streaming Services and BANDCAMP

Review – Xentrix – Seven Words

Gareth reviews the upcoming new album by UK thrash legends Xentrix and tells us all about it in Seven Words…

There’s no need for an introduction to these UK legends, but for those of you that have either been sleeping for 30 years or living on a desert island, this is the bands 6th full length studio album, and their second since reforming, and follows on from the excellent ‘Bury the Pain’ from 2019. Stylistically, this follows on from said album and, you’ll be glad to hear, very much follows the sound that the first two albums had, that’s ‘Shattered Existence’ and ‘For Whose Advantage’ in case you need reminding.

“Behind the Walls of Treachery” starts with a melodic ‘false intro’ before the main event starts up, building with a twisting melody that shifts gears in a split second, and morphs into a veritable smorgasbord of riffs and pummelling rhythms, the middle section is an absolute tour de force, with some beautiful leads. The title track keeps things simple and is a real balls to the wall thrasher, the primary propulsion here are the drums and riffs, Dennis Gasser (drums) proving that he’s an absolute monster behind the kit with his pounding double bass drums and effortless but adroit fills. The lyrics are full of bile and anger and Jay Walsh (guitars/vocals) really spits them out with real aggression and feeling. Track number three is ‘Spit Coin’ and is one of my favourites, the band throttling back a little bit, and there’s a great throwback to the title-track of album number two. 

Seven Words Xentrix

‘Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead’ is another favourite, and is a bit different, lyrically it has some great self-deprecating humour, while musically it adds in some groove that fits the song’s atmosphere well. ‘Reckless with a Smile’ ups the tempo and utilizes some nice staccato rhythms and a chunky pre-chorus riff. The oddly titled ‘Ghost Tape Number 10’, tells the story of a psychological operations campaign, designed to intimidate and demoralize the North Vietnamese Army, created by the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, Ghost Tape #10 was one of many tapes engineered as part of “Operation: Wandering Soul” and is genuinely both fascinating and creepy in equal measure. ‘My War’ employs a cool guitar effect before heading off into thrash heaven, with some great basslines from Chris Shires. ‘Kill and Protect’ has this relentless beat and really punishes the listener, in a good way, with its persistent brutality. While last track proper ‘Anything but the Truth’ is a real min-epic with a beautiful acoustic guitar and strings intro, before a crushing build up to one of the best tracks of the album, Kristian (lead guitar) showing off his considerable skills to great effect, as he does over the whole album, and there’s some great riffs and a chorus begging to be chanted out at the live shows. There’s also a bonus track available on some formats, a fun and speedy run through of Alice Cooper’s ‘Million Dollar Babies’, with Jay doing a cracking Alice snarl

This a great addition to the Xentrix discography, the production is absolutely fantastic, it takes the sound of ‘Shattered’ and ‘Advantage’, and puts a modern spin on it and the mix from Andy Sneap is everything you’d expect. Is it up there with whose early albums, well like its predecessor, it probably falls just a bit short in overall consistency, although I for one certainly wouldn’t want to live off the difference, and certain tracks are undoubtedly on a par with the legacy material. The bottom line is this, it’s great to have them back and I’m really looking forward to hearing these new tracks side by side with the older material. There’s unquestionably ‘No Compromise’ here.

Okay so slightly more than Seven Words… Xentrix Seven Words is out on the 11th November from Listenable Records, go grab yourself a pre-order bundle

Are you ever playing Ghostbusters live again??

I wonder if these are the seven words…

Review – Hydra Vein – Unlamented

Firstly an apology, this review should of been out weeks ago… but hell we’ve had to wait 33 years for a new album, so a couple of weeks late for the review isn’t a big deal right !!

So for those not in the know, Hydra Vein had two albums released at the back end of the first thrash wave of UK thrash, with their Rather Death Than False Of Faith debut in 1988 and After The Dream the following year in 1989 before going their separate ways, based in and around Brighton the band had close ties with DeathWish as Bass Player Damon also played with his brother Nathan and Stuart Ranger (also Bass) is brother of original and current HV guitarist Dan Ranger.. anyway enough family fortunes!

A couple of members are no longer with us as Guitarist Jon Balfour passed away in 1992 and Vocalist Mike Keen departed in 2002 (he also tried out for a spot in Sabbat after Martin left), but needless to say the band made enough of an impression on the late 80’s thrash scene to be included in Ian Rankin’s fabulous UK thrash Bible ‘Contract In Blood’

Hydra Vein 2022

Anyway… I’m still rambling, the band reformed in 2019 with James Manley-Bird on vocals to play Newcastle Bro-Fest, and liked it so much that they have released this, their third album… Unlamented

Now, a comeback/reunion/reboot album, after a gap of over 30 years, with most importantly a new vocalist is always a big ask, especially in a market where there a literally bands younger than Dan’s guitar strings chomping at the bit to be heard, and have the youthful anger and exuberance to smash your teeth in with their tracks… that being said many of the old dogs still have a bite

And that’s exactly what HV give us a bite, a snarl and a sneer, the album is full of social commentary, is leaning towards its 80’s heritage without tripping over the memories and is raw in its recording and production… not raw as in bad it just sometime feels like the production needed to give a little more, but thats just a minor gripe, and something we only pick up on because they are such a ‘veteran’ band and I kind of expected something a little richer in texture, especially around Jame’s vocal sound.

But don’t get me wrong, with three guitarists blasting in the riffs, and Damons bass of plenty there’s some bangers on here that work really well – ‘Blood Eagle Dawn’ is a standout track for me and truly captures this incarnation of the band at its best. Single ‘Age Of Plague’ screams of anger, ‘Does The End Justify the Means’ is a chunky aggressive rager and ‘Twilight’ glistens with the smell of Hi-Tech Slammers and Bullet Belts straight out of the 80’s in the closing thrasher! All in all this is a good solid return from the band.

Whilst not pushing all the buttons on every track there’s enough here to prove that the wait was worthwhile, and hell, maybe not leave it so long next time boys!!

Released by Back On Black on the 14th October, grab the CD online from PlasticHead or listen via one of those new fangled streaming sites

Review/Interview – Tempered – Biowaste

Frank reviews the new offering by Glasgow thrashers TEMPERED and catches up with Steve Beck for a quick Q&A…

Glasgow based five piece TEMPERED return after a rough couple of years with a three track E.P. “Biowaste” that is soaked in the many influences the band obviously has. 

A couple of line up changes and a global pandemic soon after their first release, the “Greenwashed” E.P. put the band on the back foot, and as they quoted “the band nearly fell apart”

The opening track “Excess” is a minute and a half instrumental, albeit with a death metal growl thrown in for good measure from new recruit Craig Hewett putting his first vocal contribution to the recording process. This is a straight up Slayer worship track, if you are a thrash metal fan, you will love it, shame it’s not a longer track.

The title track “Biowaste” wastes no time in showcasing what the band is all about, the fast powerful technical rhythm guitar of Steven Beck stands out here. The lead work of Chris Rankin blends effortlessly into the mix. The bass work is expertly performed by a recent addition Sam Hart who plays like he has been part of the band for years. Long time sticks man David Bridges relentlessly beats the skins on his kit without missing a beat. Then we have the barking vocals, spitting out the lyrics in a style that has changed the dynamics of the band slightly, from their previous release. Previous singer Aaron Mcphail provides guest vocals during the second half of the track. The change of vocal style mid-song is something that works really well, a bit reminiscent of Chuck Billy and Zetro on their Dublin Death Patrol records.

The final tack on the E.P. the eloquently named  Scum Vortex  shows the versatility of the band by changing style slightly. There is definitely a punkish attitude on the track. Thrash metal isn’t one dimensional and TEMPERED are prepared to use as many of their influences as they can while putting their own stamp on it, this can be a difficult task, but from what I have heard so far they are making it look easy.

The overall production is excellent, each instrument has been allowed to have equal measure in the overall effect of the finished product. This is a very professional and polished release albeit a Three track E.P., I’m expecting and looking forward to a lot more from north of the border very soon.

Frank managed to have a catch up with Steven Beck to discuss the E.P. and some future plans.

Hi Steven, I have really enjoyed listening to the new E.P.” Biowaste” over the last few days, your recent facebook announcement describes the downs and even more downs the band have endured over the last couple of years, is the aggressive nature of the tracks a reflection of what life has thrown at you recently?

Hi Frank, Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

We put all our cards on the table on that post announcing our new tape. The past couple of years has been quite a trying time, and with the release of this set of songs we feel like it’s the end of that time and the start of a new one – definitely a better one!

The music has always been aggressive. We’re a pretty angry bunch, and there’s plenty to be angry at in this world. Our art will always reflect our feelings.

Is the reason there are only three tracks this time, as opposed to the six on your previous release “Greenwashed” due to wanting to save material for a full length release? If so have you got a time scale for future studio time?

We have new material ready to be recorded, and will hopefully get back in the recording studio in the first quarter of 2023. The reason behind releasing these 3 songs together is because they were almost finished at the time when lockdown came around, so they represent a different time for the band than the new music we’ve been writing since we were able to get back into rehearsals after the pandemic. We weren’t one of those bands who worked on stuff through lockdown, we just couldn’t be arsed TBH.

Craig sounds great on the new tracks, a move away from Aarons’s sound, was this planned? He definitely puts his own mark on the new material, but getting him on board full-time wasn’t as straightforward as you would have liked.

We didn’t want someone to come in and just copy what Aaron was doing. Craig had sent us some demos when he enquired about coming in to try out, and we liked them a lot. He definitely brings a more hardcore vibe, which is what we had figured would work best vocal-wise going forward anyway.

It wasn’t straightforward with Craig, no. He comes from Dublin, and there was a point where he thought he would have to move home again so he didn’t want to mess us around and left the band. Fortunately, everything worked out for him so he came back soon after. He had us sweating for a bit!

You also had to replace Andy on bass with Sam, was that a more straight forward recruitment?

Yeah that was an easy one. We were gutted when Andy left the band, but we got Sam in pretty much immediately due to a recommendation from our CST bros Disposable. Sam is cool, he’s part of the furniture now.

Were the songs written during the covid lockdown or were they put together after the forced hiatus? 

As mentioned previously, the bulk of the songs were written pre-covid, and we put some finishing touches to them when we got back to practice post-covid. Just playing them up to speed again took us a wee while. We had a good bit of rust to shake off.

Did you use the same studio and producer that you had on the Greenwashed release?

We recorded in the same place again, yes. Although The Audio Lounge has had a massive equipment overhaul since the first time and we also recorded in a different room, so it pretty much was a different studio. Yorgo doesn’t actually work there anymore, so one of the other guys Sean Devenny engineered this one for us. He’s a good lad and we are happy with the results he got. FULL YAS!

So you have been busy on the live circuit over the last few months, have you any plans to get around the UK in the near future?

It’s been great getting back to playing gigs, seeing mates and sharing the stage with other bands we like in the scene. We opened for Skeletal Remains, and also opened for Enforced which was pure quality. We’ll be aiming to get around a bit more next year. I believe we are planning to hit Newcastle very soon, and will probably make a weekend of it and play Leeds too. If anyone wants to book us, we’ll come and play – so book us! Shitebag if ye don’t.

“Biowaste” will be released on Friday November 4th (Bandcamp Friday), available on cassette through Macho Records.