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Monday, May 01, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: A sense of epic surrounding Baleful Creed's second full-length release Seismic Shifter

FROM the first time listening to Baleful Creed, live or recorded there is a clear sense that they know their roots. Steeped in Sabbath, the mists of NOLA rolling around their collective ankles and the understanding that hard rock and metal runs through their veins.

For this, their second full length release they face a challenge to live up to a growing reputation, and what is apparent from the first listen is that the Creed sound remains intact, but with a little smidgeon of maturity and a whole lot more adept song writing and arrangements.

True there are tracks here that are familiar from the live shows, such as 'Forgiven' and 'Memento Mori' but they are given more of a spit and polish on the album.

Since they last entered the Manor Park Studios under Neal Calderwood's production supervision Davy Greer (bass) and Dave Jeffers (drums) have been added to the front line of Fin and John leading the attack. With almost three years playing, rehearsing and recording makes the Baleful Creed sound all the more compelling this time around.

Take for example 'God's Fear' that has a stoner-style riff, but with the right amount of flourishes added to a melody line that snakes into the consciousness, insidiously and wonderfully.

It would have been easy to simply rely on what they have done before but there is a sonic dynamism throughout from Baleful Creed. The atmospheric opener 'Devil's Side' has the right mixture of aural challenge, and the closer 'The Wolf' is perhaps the most accomplished track the band has ever composed or performed.

There are songs here that take the Sabbath trope such as 'Grind', but it is not a slavish attempt to play on audience memories, but rather homage to the band's influences, adding enough local identity to make sure that it is a Baleful Creed song first and foremost.

Equally 'Walking Wounded' has its roots in the swamps of Louisiana, but its melancholic menace comes from the mists around the mean streets of Northern Ireland when the pace picks up.

One song worthy of note is 'Lose Religion' which sees Fin step back from the mic to let Davy take over singing duties (even sticks man Dave puts in a shift away from the  kit to put in a shift on harmonica).

Asides from the confidence to allow a different voice to front a song, this is a track that lyrically hits out at organised religion, and while it is probably one of the more straightforward set of words on the album it does show that Baleful Creed are taking the structure of the songs and the lyrics with more consideration.

What John, Fin, Dave and Davy have done on this release is solidify their sound, allow that sound more breath without compromising the depth, heft and weight  of the songs, lose some of the grunge elements and develop it into a proper stoner/metal sound.

It is as if they have taken a mighty slab of basalt, melded it with steel to produce the substantial musical weight of hard rock and heavy metal. A mass that is a true 'Seismic Shifter'

Review by Jonathan Traynor

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