Even Flow: Life Has Just Begun (Mjriam Inc)
Italy has a bit of a history with progressive rock and metal, one of their most popular acts are Labyrinth who’s singer Rob Tiranti took Even Flow as a support for his Wonder World tour. Musically though Even Flow have less in common musically with Labyrinth, they have no galloping power metal tendencies at all, no their music is more like that of fellow countrymen DGM or even Norwegians Circus Maximus, although Come To Life does sound like Pagan's Mind track. Their music is progressive, but with huge chorus hooks and AOR sounding synths, they add to this great vocal harmonies and a willingness to experiment with the formula sometimes getting heavier than you’d expect but also knowing when to ease off the gas and slow things down.
The band are four piece formed by brothers Pietro Paolo (guitar) and Giorgio Lunesu (drums) and have been releasing records since 2008, Life Has Just Begun is their fourth record and it’s probably the one that will break them, there was band on Frontiers called Seven Tears and Even Flow remind me a lot of them, with Dream Theater style instrumental sections on Azure Haze and bombastic riffs on Alternative State Of Mind, they also have the ability to stir those memories of heady days of 80’s radio rock on tracks such as Believe and Oblivion.
There is a lot of emotion in the vocals of Marco Pastorino who is counteracted by Pietro to give the band great double vocal harmony with Gavino Salaris basswork very audible and at times vital to drive the record letting Pietro play some extravagant solos and the keys do their work. I listened to this record a few times for this review and each time it got better and better, Even Flow are great progressive metal/rock band, they deserve all the kudos they get, for your own sake track down Life Has Just Begun as this is the ideal jumping off point for this Italian band. 8/10
Reverence: Foreverence (Razar Ice Records)
The new record from US power metal band Reverence's new EP is a tribute to their guitarist Pete Rossi, who passed away unexpectedly this past March. The EP is the follow-up to 2015’s Gods Of War and also features two bonus tracks from their up and coming live CD, due out next year. The music is conventional US power metal, solid heavy riffs, sturdy drumming and vocalist that can shout to the heavens. The title track instrumental opens the record, after this the first 'proper' track kicks in with flurry of guitars then eases into a mid-paced groovy metal track, the quicken up on Phoenix Rising, go a bit doom on New Order and channel their inner Van Halen on the guitar solo Final Flight before ending the studio tracks with Queensryche-esque ballad. A good 6 song metal album with two live bonus tracks for good measure, a good EP that reminds you that Reverence are still a going concern. 7/10
Deadwood Lake: Forest Of Whispers (Self Released)
Deadwood Lake is an atmospheric black metal project created by Bruce Powell, in memory of his late brother Gary who died in a car accident. All of their music is written about Gary and is in memory to him. Paul reviewed the band’s debut EP Remembrance bestowing it a mighty 9/10 so can their debut full length live up the lofty expectations? As I pressed play on the decks of doom the eerie wind and distant bell tolling started the record in a traditional black metal style, however then some acoustic guitars cut in to start Departure properly, then with scream the main riff kicks in, Tom Warren destroying his kit with furious blastbeats and little jazz inflections keeping the attention as Powell thumps his bass to bring the heavy riffs, taking control as the lead instrument throughout.
Flirting between melodic cleans and distorted rhythms Ryan Wills’ guitar playing is mightily impressive his classical Maiden runs are all over this record with the boiler room of Powell and Warren not only bringing the noise instrumentally but also vocally with a mix of black metal screams and guttural roars. With this being a D.I.Y style band you’d expect patchy production and mixing but you can hear a pin drop with the clarity of this record, it’s breathless, exhilarating black metal with a vision that is far beyond that of many bands with more experience would fail to capitalize on. The Golden Path starts with normal vocals and is one of the more melodic songs on the record with Warren showing how good his drumming is as it blooms into another black metal masterpiece.
In Forest Of Whispers you can hear the influences of British black metal leaders Winterfylleth but also the progression and failure to compromise of Emperor and Opeth (the title track reminds me so much of Akerfeldt). The record sits at 12 songs and they all are vital to the progression of the album, there is no filler, when you think the battery is getting too much they use Final Reflection to slow down with a melodic black metal ballad featuring breathy clean vocals and a huge key change finale. Deadwood Lake are at the precipice of becoming the next big thing in British black metal, they just need that one big show so they can reinforce just how good they are, sooner or later though this forest won’t be whispering anymore. 9/10
Crom: When Northmen Die (Pure Steel Records)
Make sure you have your axe sharpened and shield equipped when you press play on this third full length from Walter "Crom" Grosse. Epic Viking metal is the name of the game here odes to Odin and tributes to Thor make up all 13 of the tracks on this record with Crom taking up all the vocal, guitar and bass duties, delegating only the drums to Seraph. This German one man band does pretty much exactly what you want Viking metal to do, the songs let your sword be held aloft, more in the vein of classic metal than the death and black metal influenced Viking fodder it’s a very notable feat that one (two) man has made everything you hear.
Tracks such as Shields Of Gold has Crom duetting with the nastier vocals of Paymon but it sticks to the Viking sound clobbering you with big riffs at every turn. There is only so much one man can do on a record with one genre so yes there is some crossover to the songs and at 13 tracks it becomes more evident how much of this album is audibly similar but if you are the sort to drink all of your beverages from a drinking horn and wear a horned helmet constantly (as I’d like to think Walter Grosse is) you won’t care as Crom will fill the gap as you wait for the new record from Amon Amarth or Grand Magus. 7/10