Pick Your Rock and Metal

Friday, March 29, 2013

Rocking out for redemption with Audrey Horne

SMALL towns - much the staple of American fiction; so much so that the introverted, eccentric nature of small towns was immortalised in the surrealistic drama Twin Peaks. And it is from a small town in Norway that a band named after a Twin Peaks character are preparing to descend on the UK and Ireland - including a stop in Belfast.

Audrey Horne come from Bergen - a name etched into the metal roll of honour whose hard pedigree isn't too shabby either!

As the Audrey Horne prepare for the April 29th date in Belfast's Limelight2 -together with Ancient Wisdom and SAHG - we caught up with Ice Dale and wanted to know first off was the hard work they'd put into the band since 2002 finally paying off with this tour and new album Youngblood being critically acclaimed.

"Yes - absolutely!" he said. "We have gotten fantastic press and reviews on our latest album and our new label, Napalm Records are doing a great job, so things look very good at the moment.

"The band has never been stronger and more dedicated so we look forward to this tour and playing some festivals too/

"We promise to kick ass and deliver energetic and mind-blowing shows at every concert, so hopefully this album will take us a big step up and get more people aware of the band!"

As mentioned previously Bergen has long been known as a haven for black metal acts, yet Audrey Horne plies raucous hard rock, while at the same time members are no strangers to the darker metal arts.

"Bergen is pretty small, so pretty much everyone who plays in a band knows each other and go to the same bars etc," explained Dale. "There is not much competition between bands and genres. We get more inspired from each other and if a band has success, it's good for the others too.

"Since I play in Enslaved and have worked with a lot of extreme metal bands we have a very close relationship with the metal scene in Bergen. Musically we don't work much together even though Abbath [Editor's note: guitarist/vocalist etc with Immortal] often calls me and says he has some ideas for song names and riffs we could use in Audrey Horne!"

All of which speaks to the closeness of the band to the Norwegian music scene in general with current and past members playing in SAHG, Enslaved (as mentioned above) and Gorgoroth. Has this meant a cross-fertilisation of influences.

"I would say none," said Dale emphatically. "We all do our own thing and even though we have a lot of the same inspirational sources we approach the music very differently.

"On the new albums at least Audrey Horne, SAHG and Enslaved have recorded in the same studio with the same producers and engineers, so some of the basic sounds may be similar but I don't think you could tell if you didn't know cause they all sound very different in the end.

One thing Audrey Horne put a lot of effort into are their music videos - with Redemption Blues being a good example. For new and existing acts we wanted to know is there a need for bands to put as much effort into videos as well as albums.

"That's a difficult and interesting question," mused Dale. "Music videos used to be a very good and important way of promoting bands. TV stations all over the world showed music videos and it was a great way to discover new bands.

"Now all of that is gone and the only place to look at music videos is on Youtube. I still think it is important for bands to have a music video but the problem is that all record labels don't want to put as much money into them.

"The videos don't have a direct promotional value like they used to so only the big acts have a million dollar budgets and the rest of bands have to be more creative to make the videos look good; and these days you can also make a decent video with pretty cheap equipment so it's more about having a good idea!"

And Redemption Blues is a video for a top song that ticks all the boxes.

Dale continued: "Redemption Blues -  even though it was a low budget and we made it pretty fast - works as a feelgood video and captures some of the energy and atmosphere in the song."

And energy and atmosphere are key points for Audrey Horne's Youngblood, which to our cynical ears is a real step up from the more mediocre, formulaic hard rock - an important factor one would think for any band.

"Actually we didn't think too much when we made this album," said Dale. "We just jammed and had a lot of fun. There are a lot of influences from all the bands we listened to when we grew up and we just mixed it with our own sound and our own way of approaching it

"Maybe that's one of the reasons it stands out from a lot of the albums in the hard rock genre. We made this album for ourselves and didn't care what people would think about it.

"That should be the main thing for every band. You can't make music you think people will like or think will sell well - then you'll have a short career. We had rehearsed the songs and the band sounded so good in the end we decided to record the whole album live."

Two weeks of recording and mastering that emphasises the dynamic rather than a push to be too loud is a combination that makes Audrey Horne's Young Blood stand out and rock harder than many.

Finally - The Twin Peaks connection...

"We just wanted a 'different';  name for the band and not the typical hard rock/metal name," said Dale. Which was to have unintended consequences on the release of the band's first album. The band know of one unsuspecting lady who thought she was buying an album reflecting the Twin Peaks style of music ...

"She put the album on and turned it up really loud and was totally shocked when the opening track 'Dead' blasted out of her speakers! We heard that ended up sitting in the corner of her room, scared and shaking! Mission accomplished!"

And should you choose to check out Audery Horne on April 29th we can assure you that you'll be rockin' to such an extent that for all concerned - on and off stage - it will be mission accomplished.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Operatives deliver a brutal obscenity

GRINDSCENE Records like to release soft, safe, melodic stadium rock....like fuck they do! Brutality, challenging, face-melting metal is what the label has unleashed so far; and latest release: The Obscene Machine - The Obscenity Within is no different.

Delivered by the enigmatic Operative's 1-4 this is an unrelenting 15  minutes of intense death metal; shouted vocals, call-backs, moments of superlative guitar soloing and on the money aggression. It is not for the faint hearted.

Quibbles are that the production seems to have lost the bottom end on some tracks, and that at times the influence of their obvious heroes Cephalic Carnage and Cyrptopsy are a little too close to the surface.

Asides from the obvious death metal core to The Obscene Machine there is also a definite punk-ish feel that more than resonates with the likes of mid-period Crass.

Opening with the in-yer-face Descent, that ninety second assault is a mere warm-up before the blast of Napalm Orchid, which has a massive variety packed into a 1:21 of groove and ferocity.

Stand-out tracks are the (slightly longer) Obscenity Within and Unrelenting, which reveal the ability of the Operatives to take on board styles such as thrash within their full-on death attack.

There really is little to criticise here, apart from the quibbles mentioned previously. The Obscene Machine offer plenty of promise and unremitting commitment to never let the intensity slacken. Their monochromatic vision of 21st Century society is an unrelenting vision of a dysfunctional, dystopian culture where killers are celebrated (closing track 'In the Company of Reformed Cruelty') and where the innocent are victims in a Darwinian world.

Which means we look forward to the next time they are unleashed in the studio.

The Obscenity Within is now available from GrindScene Records

Challenging preconceptions...

HEAVY metal, by its very nature, is a challenging form of music. There is such a wide range of styles that fall within its ambit, and by the same token the lyrical topics vary from the plain silly to the downright serious.

However, the very term of heavy metal also conjures up images of the diabolic to the anti-theist. And where a band believes in one of the major Abrahamic religions they tend to keep that to themselves.

Such is not the case with Northern Ireland band For Christ's Sake - they openly declare their faith amid the blaze of ferocious death metal.

Yet, they enjoy more success away from these shores than in Northern Ireland.

We caught up with bassist Mark as the band prepare for the May release of their latest album - Apocalyptic Visions of Divine Terror. And with a title like that it immediately conjures up St John's doom-laden book of Revelations, one which already has been a subject of fascination for scholars and more than a few metal acts.

"Yes, the album title was influences by the events revealed in the Book of Revelations in the Bible," confirmed Mark. "We draw inspiration from this book for our forthcoming album and it has prompted the album's title.

"The majority of the lyrics are derived from the Book of Revelations, but we are not trying to force anything down anyone's throat whether they are a believer of an atheist. We give our viewpoint and like everyone on this earth you have the 'free will' to accept or reject."

Which of course begs the question, if one chooses to reject the New Testament believers think you are destined to an eternity in hell...which some can interpret as For Christ's Sake being a contradiction, playing brutal metal while believing many fans of metal are doomed.

"We feel first and foremost that we do this as an expression of our faith and belief in Christ," said Mark. "We feel empowered by this and feel that it speaks into the brutality of the music."

"Much of the scene is atheist, which is depressing as there are so many great Christian metal bands, although we are the only extreme metal band in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland."

That in itself is an issue for the band.

Mark explained: "People need to hear these bands! We feel we are pioneers in some respects even if we are pushed back in the local scene - if that is the case, so be it.

"We do not suffer because we get offers outside of Northern Ireland. We are just back from playing a major festival in Switzerland called Elements of Rock and we are due to play Meltdown Festival in the UK in May.

"We would like to be included in the local scene, but we seem to be judged by our beliefs more so than the brutality of our music, which we feel stands up to our peers."

Speaking of our peers, we wondered how members of their churches react to the look and sound of For Christ's Sake.

"It's a good question! We don't usually get asked to play at our churches mainly because of it being a tad too heavy for church, although most people are supportive of why we do it and the reasoning behind the music," said Mark. "They understand we have to help youngsters and teenagers hear our message and our music is accessible to that cohort of people; that branch of people who may think who may thing Christian music is stuffy, preachy and boring."

That is something that For Christ's Sake's full on assault could never be accused of! Indeed, asides from the brutality of the music they look at real world events through their faith. We wanted to know did that mean that the band has an evangelistic role in tackling those events.

"We look around us and see a broken world, with suicide, murder, war and drugs dragging us all down," said Mark. "Whether it be corporate corruption or the other wrongs facing the world we tackle these subjects from the point of view of someone who does not know God and what happens if you go down that path.

"For example our song 'Leech' tackles government and corporate corruption and greed and how we suffer because of this."

Despite this the band are open about their influences - which range from the likes of Nile, Gojira, and death metal. We do hope them listing Jessie J among their influences is a tongue in cheek name check!

"Most of our influences are some heavy Christian and non-Christian metal bands - and Belfastmetalheadsreunited readers should really check out Horde, Impending Doom, Becoming the Archetype, Inner Siege and Inexhoirdium to name but a few," said Mark.

At the minute in Northern Ireland there seems to be a live debate between secular influences and wider world challenges from other Abrahamic religions such as Islam. The 'fundamentalist' Christian traditions are being challenged within our legislature with debates on abortion and same sex marriages. What, if any role, does a Christian metal band have in these real world controversies.

"We have to take a strong stance against things which are an attack on our beliefs," said Mark. "We do not sugar coat thorny subjects such as abortion or the same sex marriage debates.

"We don't judge. Our view is love the sinner not the sin. We base our beliefs on the Bible and if it's in the Bible that is what we believe."

As they prepare for the next stage in their development in musical terms For Christ's Sake want people to take an  open-minded attitude to their music.

"Please get a copy of our EP and or new album, which is available for pre-ordfer on Roxx Productions. Sit down with a good set of headphones and blast our music and listen to what we are talking about. Listen to the music and we hope that you will not be disappointed!"

Monday, March 25, 2013

To come...

To come this week are album reviews, interviews with Audrey Horne's Ice Dale and Mark from For Christ's Sake, who gives us a Christian take on Death Metal.

To keep you going here's an action packed (and extremely violent - not for the squeamish) music video from Russian Punk band Biting Elbows for their track Bad Motherf**ker.

The music is somewhat like Prodigy at their height, but the video is astounding!

Friday, March 22, 2013

From the mystical lands of Fife emerges Glory

Northern Ireland exclusive interview with the man behind Gloryhammwer

SOMETHING has been brewing in the dark forests round the mystical kingdom of Fife as a certain pirate returned from sailing the seven seas for plunder and other such amusements…

Chris Bowes, the mastermind behind those jolly pirate jesters in Alestorm, has decided that he just needed another project to keep the creative juices flowing; and for this no main brace is being spliced; the Jolly Roger is being stowed in a treasure chest buried deep beneath Cowdenbeath…

Yes Bowes is back with a tale based in the mythical kingdom of Fife, which until now didn’t perhaps know it had an entire past filled with goblins, trolls, dragons and…well with unicorns too.
Gloryhammer is the new band, and the new album is ‘Tales from the Kingdom of Fife’ [read the review here], and what promises to be the first of 21 albums from Gloryhammer…

Surely Bowes must be an inveterate workaholic.

“Hah I guess so! I seem to start a new band every week; most of them never get very far, but there was something special about Gloryhammer which made me want to take it to this level,” he told Belfastmetalheads. “It's not too hard being in two big bands at once; I've got plenty of time to bring both to full potential.”

Plenty of time or not, putting together a band as ambitious in its scope as Gloryhammer – even with the slight phnarr, phnarr of the band name – requires more than just a few good ideas. Bowes vision is one firmly rooted in that much maligned genre – fantasy power metal. It’s a genre that conjures up more than a snigger, even amongst devotees, but it speaks firmly to the interests of the keyboardist.

“I've always had an interest in fantasy power metal, so it was only a matter of time before I started a band of my own,” he said. “Most of the members are friends of mine in local bands, apart from our amazing singer Thomas who we found through his online audition to join Dragonforce; thankfully we managed to snatch him up before he joined that band!”

But as anyone with any familiarity with Bowes and his crew aboard the good ship Alestorm will know he is a man firmly committed to the concept of playing the joke with a straight face.

“A few years back I was trying to think of the most ridiculous concept for a song ever, and ‘The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee’ just came to me.

“So I came up with this ludicrous story in which the traditional fantasy memes were transplanted to a sleepy part of Eastern Scotland. So there are unicorns in Dundee, eagle-riding knights in Crail, and goblin tunnels beneath Cowdenbeath.

“All very standard stuff,” he explained. Well standard stuff if Tolkien had dropped an acid tab and chewed some mushies while strolling around Dundee.

Musical prowess is on display throughout ‘Tales from the Kingdom of Fife’ with singer Thimas Winkler being stretched throughout, not least on ‘Silent Tears of Frozen Princess’.

“Like all legendary power metal albums, our one needed a soulful piano ballad with female vocals,” said Bowes. “Most of the credit for this one must go to our drummer Ben Turk (aka Ralathor, the Mysterious Hermit of Cowdenbeath).

“He has a very keen ear for classically ‘perfect’ compositions, and I think it really hit the spot. I'm sure a lot of metal fans won't enjoy the song, but it really helps tie the album together.”
Bowes also isn’t afraid to name check the bands who he pays homage to on ‘Tales from the Kingdom of Fife’ and where he draws his inspiration for Gloryhammer.

“I've long been a fan of the "classic" symphonic power metal bands who were in their prime in the late 1990's and early 2000's; Rhapsody, Hammerfall, Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica, Edguy etc,” he said “I feel a lot of these bands have lost their way in recent years with over-elaborate compositions, so we want to bring back the innocence these bands had in their early days. Short catchy singalong songs!”

Gloryhammer have proved on this début that there is an enduring legacy within power metal, and as long as it is played with a straight face, and a wink to the audience to ensure they are in on the joke, then we can all join in and pretend to wield out own broadsword, cast spells to banish evil sorcerers and generally have a great time along the way. Sure it is  

With so many so-called super groups out there committing their names to albums, and musicians guest appearing on dozens of others of albums, can we expect Gloryhammer to tour?
“Very much so! We have just signed a booking deal with the renowned ‘Dragon Productions’, who shall be doing their best to stick us on as many tours and festivals as possible. We are all very eager to bring our show to the live stage.”

But the story doesn’t end with a tour…

We are planning 3 cycles of 7 albums each, for a total of 21 albums. We will call the whole thing ‘The Septological Triumvirate’,” explained Bowes – and we’re not sure how far his tongue is in his cheek, but he went on. “This is of course, the very long term plan.

“We are already working on album number 2, which shall continue the story of Angus McFife and Zargothrax into the far future, with a tale that spans the entire galaxy! Watch this space(ship).”

So, who would have known while mystical battles were being waged around Fife and the mighty warrior McFife was preparing yet again to do battle across the span of history.

All hail Gloryhammer! Now where did we put that broadsword and who has stolen our natty new armour?

And...here is the tale of the birth of Gloryhammer...

Absurdly brilliant, absurdly wonderful: glorying in the hammer

IT used to be fantasy power metal bands were a dime a dozen across the wastelands of Europe and the northern reaches of Scandanavia, but with attempts to move into symphonic prog directions the purity dissipated and nary could a power metal snappy tune be found.

Then the noble peopl of Bonny Scotland rose up in the shape of one Christopher Barnes – a man last seen boarding Buckfast bearing ships in his Pirate Metal guide of leader of Alestorm.
So far, so ridiculous – fantasy power metal originated from the singer/keyboardist in a pirate band. But you have yet to learn of the sheer glory that is Gloryhammer.
Photo by Steve Brown
In the ancient forests around the Kingdom of Fife and the territory of Dundee lurked a mighty hero, Angus McFife, engaged in a mighty battle with the evil sorcerer Zargothrax.
The tales of mighty conflicts, magic drgaons, goblins and trolls and repelling the unicorn invasion of Dundee are recounted in Gloryhammer’s début: ‘Tales from the Kingdom of Dundee’.
Stop laughing in the back…unless you get the joke your guffaws are not necessary. Bowes has produced one of the finest power metal albums in many a long trolls lifetime, paying homage to predecessors while at the same showcasing how metal of this unique sub-genre should be played.
Single Angus McFife, with its over-the-top costumed video and catchy chorus, is the perfect example of how to deliver this level of parody with a straight face. And we should remember that parody is only possible if you acknowledge and love the subject matter.
Thomas Winkler was recruited to Gloryhammer after seeing his online audition for Dragonforce (more of which in an interview with Bowes to come shortly) and Winkler delivers a stunning performance of range and depth. Behind him a tight rhythm section, soaring solos, riffage a plenty and Bowes sweeping keyboards underpin the symphonic sweep and dabble with medieval melodies.
Sure you can find a pinch of Manowar, a dash of Dragonforce, a smattering of …Dragon-era Dio and a smidgeon of Hammerfall here and there, but that’s not the point. How many new-thrash acts borrow the chord changes from ‘Tallica and Anthrax?
Gloryhammer provide a simply glorious power metal outie; even if you were to set aside the lyrics the music encapsulates the days when we all could listen to our metal and look over the fact that Iron Maiden were rattling on about dinosaurs…The music is as strong as the silliness of the songs.
The Unicorns of Dundee sets the tone for the album with bombast, only let down by the use of an occasional voice synthesised narrative to produce that deep throated accompaniment that so bedevils too many later Manowar songs: the narrative of the lyric and the ‘real threat’ to Fife from Zargothraz is told well enough through the songs without the type of growl that Turisas .
Binding the middle of the album together is the obligatory power metal ballad Silent Tears of Frozen Princess, in which Winkler shows off his voice’s range as much as in other tracks.
From there is a headlong charge to don the Amulet of Justice, shout out our Hail to Crail, delve Beneath Cowdenbeath before wrapping up with the powerhouse that is the 10-minute plus Epic Rage of Furious Thunder.
Those who gaze on at this type of metal saying it shows how metal has disappeared up its own arse. Those of us inside know that the jokes on them. They will never know that we’re laughing with Gloryhammer. As the witty pop-punksters Bowling for Soup say “Rock ‘n’ Roll is really funny when it’s serious”.
Shoe gazing introspective, foppy fringed wankers need apply here. We raise our fists, and shout out for Gloryhammer. All hail Lord McFife!
Yes it is absurd - but perhaps that’s why we love it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Odyssey date for Stereophonics

WELSH pop rockers Stereophonics have penned a Belfast date in for their autumn 'Graffiti on the Train' tour.

Kelly Jones and co will bring their back catalogue and a host of tracks from the critically acclaimed (although not by us....they didn't send us a copy...) album to the Odyssey Arena on  November 11th.

Already the album has chalked up a top 40 hit - their 26th - with the track Indian Summer, and we do confess that amongst the few other Stereophics songs we like the track In A Moment is rather good in its darkness.


Monday, March 18, 2013

(Cancer) Batty times in Belfast

WELL when it comes down to bats, they're a protected species in Northern Ireland - which we suspect is why Cancer Bats keep coming back here for their share of good old fashioned rock 'n' feckin' roll.

May in Belfast seems to have a bit of bat theme going - what with the Cancer Bats appearing in the Stiff Kitten on May 31st, and that old vaudevillian rock icon, Meat Loaf drawing his battiness to a close with his May 14th show in the Odyssey as part of his Last At Bat tour (more of which later).

Cancer Bats are currently touring in support of their monstrously grooveladen, feel good in a nasty way album 'Dead Set on Living' and their Black Sabbath tribute ep 'Bat Sabbath - Bastards of Reality'.

One thing can be assured of a Cancer Bats show is intensity. This is high octane performance, with a DIY punk ethos, hardcore style and a metal heart, even if they don't always want to let you see that beating you down.

Cancer Bats have produced some memorable shows in Belfast, but one moment sticks in our mind - when supporting Funeral for a Friend in the old Spring and Airbrake, vocalist Liam Cromier arrived on stage at the opening of the set and stagedived off the old boards, straight into a crowd of scenesters who didn't know what to do when this Canuck pile of punk angst landed squarely on top of them.

That moment summed up the Cancer Bats ethos - here we are, and if you don't like us deal with it because we are gonna beat you down until you love every bit of our vibe.

With four albums behind them, and a splatter of eps and bootlegs, this is perhaps the perfect time to see Cancer Bats. Tickets for the Stiff Kitten gig on May 31st are £12 (Ex booking fee) and available from Ticketmaster, shine.net etc etc.

On to weightier matters... We're not sure why we linked Meat Loaf with the Cancer Bats; it just seemed right and wrong at the same time. They are at opposite ends of the rock and metal spectrum, with Meat Loaf but there's a bat theme here...

We've seen several Cancer Bats shows and our principal editor admits to have seen Meat Loaf one night and a death metal set the next - well we do have diverse tastes here at our metal mansions!

Having said that Mr Loaf always delivers a show as well as the music. Memorably at Knebworth, when on the bill with Deep Purple and a host of others Meat maintained dignity and humour when initially pelted with a storm of plastic bottles - by the end of the set he had the entire crowd behind him despite fans ranging from ageing hippies, through to metalheads and southern boogie devotees (Blackfoot were on the bill too).

Meat Loaf plays the Odyssey Arena on May 14th in a 'Concert in Two Acts', the first being a selection of hits, the second being performing the entire 45 millions selling Bat Out of Hell album in full.

Tickets available from the Odyssey booking office and Ticketmaster.

Hurtful truths and damn good alternatives

TEETERING somewhere between rock, metal, alternative and punk can be a difficult place to reside. Few bands manage the balancing act - and those that do rarely capture the energy of live performances.

Northern Ireland act Stillpoint have recently come on to the radar of our Belfastmetalheadsreunited editorial team with their five track release 'Some Lessons Hurt Like the Truths They Contain'. Admittedly it is a style that many of readers here on Belfastmetalheadsreunited and our syndicated readers on rockradioni may not always take to easily, but we cannot deny the energy and delivery of this release.
From energetic opener 'Blind Drunk in Sastas' to the contemplative 'I Know What A Monster Looks Like' Stillpoint deliver a compelling listen.

That balancing act between hard riffing, alternative arrangements and punkish attitude (especially on Blind Drunk...) is achieved with aplomb, and metal tendencies creep in on bridges in 'A Plea for Action' and 'Start Fires'.

The one weakness is there is a tendency to pay too much homage to their influences. Vocalist Dave at times sounds too much like Simon Neil of Biffy, and their is a definite tendency to use Biffy and Funeral for a Friend styles.

But, in that mélange is an emergent voice of Stillpoint themselves and a Northern Irish identity. As they progress further they can perhaps draw more on that and attract that elusive fanbase that crosses the metal, rock and alternative listeners.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Bullet for Belsonic...good week of announcements

NOT only did this week see the tremendous news that Slayer will be making a long overdue return to Belfast to play the Limelight on June 12th, but among the Belsonic 2013 August headliners will be Bullet for My Valentine, with support from, Bring Me The Horizon.

Whatever next we ponder...Metallica for the Diamond Rock Club? Machine Head for The Empire? Oh well, with so many announcements you'll just have to keep your eyes peeled here and on the Limelight, MCD, Distortion Project and Diamond Rock Club pages!

Friday, March 01, 2013

Cursed black hole sun premonitions of doom

WE'VE been toying about this album for a wee while here at Belfastmetalheadresunited, gradually finding more and more to commend in Cursed Sun's Premonitions.

Truth be told we have had a copy for several weeks now, but we've played it in the car, played it while walking the dog (who gave it a four paw review...) and listened in the serenity of a darkened room while sipping the Devil's Buttermilk.

Our first impression was of competency, our next - and final judgement - is that Cursed Sun have produced a début platter that stands up as an opening for what could be a promising future - how far that future can extend when operating from Northern Ireland remains to be seen.

Yes, there are parts of this album that sound derivative at times, but you inevitably have parts of the
'genre' when you are in the 'genre'. More of that later....

But, notwithstanding that point Premonitions stands up as a rounded album. After the opener, 'The Necrotic Gift' it kicks into a higher gear with 'White Horse'.

From there it is a helter-skelter ride through frenetic riffs and impassioned lyrics.

Cursed Sun have laid down a tight CD, with guitarist McCleery showing off a variety of solo styles, with nods to Nile, Arch Enemy, Dimebag and Adrian Smith.  But they are 'nods to' not copies of.

Singer, Andew Cassidy can pound out the songs as well as many a chanter, and in time he will find more firmly his own voice amidst the crowd. There is evidence here that it is coming through with a mix of intonations on 'The Vultures' emerging.

And it is on that track that Cursed Sun put forward a more choppy approach with the timing of the riff and rhythm just varying enough to keep it interesting.

Also standing out are 'Between These Walls' and closer 'Descension' both of which have an oppressive vibe suitable for this dystopian landscape we occupy in 2013.

Cursed Sun are unfortunate in that Premonitions is coming out at a time when labels and UK promoters are not really sure what is the 'next thing' in metal. Is it old school thrash? Is it progressive black metal?

We have always despised the labelling of bands into genres and sub-genres, and when it comes down to it, it is either good 'metal' or not good 'metal'. Cursed Sun's Premonitions falls into the former category.

That is not to say the album is not without flaws - no band has ever produced the perfect album (well Metallica have, but we're biased!).

At times Premonitions does suffer from a sameness between one track and another, but given a lot of metal suffers from that, it is a flaw easily rectified as they grow as recording artists. Also, at times the tempos seem locked in rather than loose in the groove - again something that can be translated from the live environment into the studio with more experience.

But these are just the reviewer being a nit-picker - listen to 'Cruelty Concept' about four minutes in and Cursed Sun show they have the ability to shift the tone before ennui can settle in; equally 'In Sufferance' showcases guitar and bass in a melodic mélange before the heads get banging again.

Overall Cursed Sun have delivered on Premonitions and if you have any doubts live with it a while and love the black hole of delicious metal that they can suck you down into!