Tag Archives: EP

Christopher Sampson – The Blood Of The Lamb II

Chris Sampson

Christopher Sampson is a talented young musician I discovered when I met him at a musicans meeting in Peterborough. I also saw him perform live as a bassist with fantastic local NWOBHM band Untamed, and I could see he was quite talented from the offset. His new EP The Blood Of The Lamb II is a progressive metal journey that although 4 tracks long is in fact about an hour of music in an EP!

Opening up with Welcome… Beast, straight away there’s a bit of a Queen influence before heading into classic prog synths with a vocal slightly reminiscent of Geddy Lee but with a bit more edge. This song is all over the place in a good way, with so many different twists and turns it would take a very long review to describe it all. The fact there is songwriting this strong right from the bat is a massive strength in Chris’ advantage! With heavy riffs meeting tight rhythm sections and well performed synth passages, this is definitely masterpiece, and the risky move of opening with an incredibly long number certainly pays off! There’s some great dynamics on display, from heavy sections to more calm breakdowns that build atmosphere with spoken word too. The vocal range for such a young singer is also very impressive, and the instrumental work on display is also equally impressive.

Follow The Spiders is next up, opening with a creepy atmosphere, before slamming into some awesome riffage with some screamed vocals by Emilio Alucard, contrasting with Chris’ lighter vocal. This song although shorter than that the preceding track is equally full of changes in dynamics, and has some great melodies throughout too. This one feels a little more like Coheed And Cambria and more modern progressive rock and metal, but still has some really cool old school sounding synths and some Dream Theater style riffage too.

A Kiss From The Lips Of Deceit/Climbing The Blue Mountain has a really nice chilled out vibe to begin with, with nice clean guitar chords, some great percussion building up an atmosphere and some vocals from Charlie Cassells providing a really well performed duet from her and Chris here. This is a really nice track, and offers something a little different from the two that came before. There’s some great guitar soloing later on, and yet again great use of dynamics here!

The EP closes with Dancing To The Melody Of Madness (and Drinking The Blood That Remains) and this is another epic at 28 minutes long. Opening up with delicate piano before ripping into a massive guitar riff with some great synth melodies layered on top. This is another track with a hell of a lot going on, even with some saxophone moments and even some stuff that borders on jazz in places! There are plenty of awesome riffs here, with really heavy sounding guitars in places meeting lighter sections later on. Tension is built and released really well throughout the track’s long runtime too! This song has lots of different parts in a very classic but highly appreciated prog rock methodology, telling an epic tale throughout.

I am told there are a lot of references to the genre of progressive rock itself. I must admit personally couldn’t them out on the whole, but at the same time wouldn’t really want to spoil it for prog rock fanatics, so for that reason as well as the music itself I certainly recommend checking this out!

The production is really quite good, with great studio quality and well recorded instruments throughout. Clearly a hell of a lot of thought and effort has gone into this release.

This is a fantastic release from Christopher Sampson, with the advent of him travelling to uni to study the art of music, I am definitely interested in seeing what happens next with this young man!

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Fire Red Empress – Paint Me The Devil

Paint Me The Devil Cover

Birmingham rockers Fire Red Empress have just hit the scene with their debut EP, Paint Me The Devil. Though a fairly short one in length, this is a powerful and had hitting statement by the band with plenty of energising riffs and a style you really ought not to ignore in an upcoming band.

Opening up with “Left Unspoken” and its awesome introduction riff that feels a little doomey in places, that when it meets with the great layered vocal approach feels like Queens Of The Stone Age meets The Sword. The overall offering on this track is really heavy, with a tense overall sound, with a great sense of groove too. “Paint Me The Devil” has another really great start, with some nice layered guitars painting (no referential humour intended) a really cool atmosphere. The vocals again are really cool here, and the song is nice and dynamic, with softer moments meeting the heavier moments to make something really cool. The chorus is another belter here, with nice vocal harmonies and a nice aggressive approach.

“Behind The Veil” closes the EP in style, with a longer track at just over 6 minutes. This is performed really well and keeps it interesting throughout, showing that the band can handle the longer stuff just as well. The first verse has a nice drumbeat and some more atmospheric sounding guitars rather than straight up riffage, before exploding into the heavier stuff, making it quite impactful. This is a cool song with a lot going on; plenty of different riffs to keep it sounding fresh, and some great songwriting brings it all together.

The EP was produced by Volbeat’s Jacob Hansen, and it’s a nice tight and modern sounding effort, the drums are nice and thumping, and the guitars are very chunky. The vocals shine more than anything, with lots of layering and the like done to make them sound really powerful. The bass is a little low at time for my personal liking but it is all a solid mix nonetheless.

Paint Me The Devil is a great introduction to Fire Red Empress, and says more in three tracks that some can say in a whole album! There is plenty of emotion on show from the band here, with great songwriting combined with skilful musicianship to make something definitely worth checking out!

Check out Fire Red Empress at https://www.facebook.com/fireredempress

The new lyric video for “Left Unspoken” from the EP:

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Gods Of War – Tales From The Dark Lands

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Liverpool’s God’s Of War have an interesting sound with plenty of different things going on, that definitely places on the more extreme end of the spectrum but with an element of musicianship that also gives them a bit of an edge. Their new EP “Tales From The Dark Lands” encapsulates their current sound and style really nicely.

Opening with “Fornost” which has an almost black metal meets NWOBHM vibe to it, with some nice bass guitar playing and stabbing drums meeting the twisting guitar riffs. The vocals sound nice and furious on this one, with some melodic chanting style vocals adding a very different dimension to the proceedings here. With some furious drumming and cool solo adding to proceedings, this is a good start to the EP.

“Gods Of Old” has a nice introduction which reminds me of more old school black metal but again with the style of this band it takes on a new feeling, with some cool bass lines and drum grooves lending themselves to that on this track. A mighty verse riff adds a bit more heaviness to the mix, and there’s a nice clean guitar section in the mid-section that breaks up the action and feels quite chilled out, with some nice thoughtful basslines giving it an almost jazz style. This is then built upon with heavier and heavier riffs and this works really well, feeling quite bleak and heavy overall.

“Operation Engage” has very cool intro that I can see working really well live, with a really energetic vibe to it. Plenty of riffage to this one, with some maddeningly fast drum beats later on and a really angry vocal delivery that works really well here, keeping the tension high throughout, with some shouting gang vocals later on and some overall nice technical playing.

“Angmar” starts off with some nice clean guitar and bass, building a more soothing kind of atmosphere, before we are pummelled with some awesome riffage. This one feels a bit more on the NWOBHM spectrum of metal in terms of musicality at first, but maintaining the heavier style of the band with the harsher vocals and some heavy guitar work too. This is also the longest song at nearly 7 minutes, and it’s pulled off well with lots of different moments throughout the song.

The production is what you’d expect from the genre, and is fine for an EP. You can hear everything that’s going on and the parts are all nice and tight. The gang vocals sound pretty cool as well!

This is a good EP from Gods Of War, worth checking out for fans of extreme metal with something a little different to offer. It would be nice to see these guys head into the studio for a full album at some point!

Check Out Gods Of War at https://www.facebook.com/godsofwaruk/

“Tales From The Dark Lands” Is available now at https://godsofwar.bandcamp.com/

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Disaster Area – Let It Burn

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Glasgow’s Disaster Area are whipping up a storm in Scotland, with lots of shows supporting legends like Savage and the like. I actually ran into these guys whilst on tour with Monument and Kaine, and they opened the show with a glam rock style that I felt was tinged with a little of the band Nazareth’s style, especially in the vocals and classic rock meets metal approach to guitar. They peaked my curiosity and were kind enough to send in their debut EP for review!

The EP opens up with a subtle intro riff of “Dancin’ On The Edge” that then gets harmonised before busting out into a very old school style riff with some great vocals full of attitude, with lots of high notes too. The lyrics are equally rebellious sounding and it works really well, the song is full of youthful energy and is a good start to the EP, with a cool midsection that keeps things interesting!

“Queen Of The Web” opens up with another very 70s/80s sounding riff full of grit, with plenty of speedy riffs later on and a nice performance from the rhythm section overall on this one. “Getting Pretty Sick Of This” follows this up with a bit more of a midtempo rocker that has a little bit of an Alice Cooper vibe to it, with some cool lyrics and riffage that would have fitted in perfectly in that era, and a nice guitar solo tops this one off well before a bass break that works really well to build tension too.

The EP finishes up with “Let It Burn.” An old school drumbeat a little bit like something Queen might have done meets a heavier riff with a nice meaty groove to it that is helped along by the bass guitar here. The chorus here is really cool, another really old school vibe to it. Some cool stabbing guitar sections later on are met with a cool solo over the top and the main groove of the track keeps it rocking on to finish the EP with a good sense of style.

The production is really quite good, especially for an EP. It sounds very much like it has come from the era it is quite clearly influenced by, especially in the vocals and guitars. The drums sound nice and tight and the bass is nice audible, keeping down the groove nicely too.

This is a great little EP from a band that is clearly determined to keep at it; here’s hoping for an album of similar stuff soon!

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UnKured – As Reality Melts

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Death Metal and Thrash metal have often gone hand in hand over the years, often with mixed results, and Ohio’s UnKured nails the style really well with their 2013 EP “As Reality Melts” as a precursor to their album “Mutated Earth”

Opening up with “Before Us Heaven Trembles”, I was instantly reminded of the band Death, especially in the vocals, but with a bit more focus on the songwriting, and more thrash leanings too. The song has lots of sinister sounding guitars, and some nice chaotic sounding solos later on too, a little similar to 80s Slayer but more Hanneman than King.

“Dark Dominion” follows that up with a bit more of a midtempo track in places but one that is no less heavy sounding. There’s lots going on in this one, plenty of riffs and some very angry sounding vocals. There’s a really old school progressive thrash sounding riff midway through the song before the solo that I really quite liked, and some mad basslines later on too! “Taking The Abyss” carries on with the super heavy style the band has gone for, with lots of bludgeoning guitar riffs and some jazzy sounding sections later on too.

The EP closes with title track ‘As Reality Melts’ presents a kind of apocalyptic atmosphere, with lots of dissonant riffs and a really furiously delivered vocal, with plenty of different moments ending the EP on a very heavy note.

The production overall is fine for an EP, it’s quite raw sounding yet tight at the same time, the drums sound quite good overall and the bass is nice and audible which is always a plus for me as a bass player myself. The guitars gel well with the mix and don’t sound too muddy really. The vocals are really produced quite well, sounding very old school which benefits the bands overall sound really.

UnKured surprised me with their technical skills and a great sense of style that you don’t normally get right off the bat with a debut EP. This is definitely one to check out if you like Death and Thrash, their album will be one to look forward to!

Check Out UnKured at https://www.facebook.com/pages/UnKured-Band/127769993918598 and http://unkured2.bandcamp.com/

“As Reality Melts” is out now!

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Silent Jack – Snakebite

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It’s always nice to hear a bit of proper hard rock, and Birmingham’s Silent Jack delivers just that with their EP snakebite. With plenty of work ahead of them, this is an EP that should see them through it on their way to recording a full studio album and playing plenty of awesome shows.

Opening up with “Brand New Start” we’re introduced to an awesome riff full of bite. The drums crash in and bring us into the feel of the main riff, with an awesome lead guitar line too. The vocals are awesome, with an old school feel to them and a nice sense of melody; a little like Axl Rose with a bit more focus. Some awesome solos top it all off to start the EP off in style.

“King Cobra” starts off with a nice kick drum setting the tempo before the main riff kicks in. There are lots of nice riffs involved here, some more cool vocals too, all contributing to a great grooving sound overall. “Going Down” follows this up by slamming straight into a nice sounding guitar riff, before the band crashes in lending the riff plenty of strength for the upcoming introductory guitar solo. This is yet another really cool song, nice riffage and a nice upbeat feel.

“Love Factory” Is easily the longest song on the album but for good reason, there’s plenty of awesome soloing and jamming to enjoy here, with an awesome bass groove midway through too. A nice chorus and in general good songwriting keep this one nice and interesting. “Angels Cry” is an acoustic ballad kind of track, with a nice vibe to it, and the song picks up and gets a bit more rocking later, with some nice guitar solos and a great chorus.

“Made In Heaven” is an awesome track that borders on some old school heavy metal riffs, with some more awesome vocals and a nice pounding rhythm section throughout, making this a great solid track, with another cool chorus involved too!

The EP closes with “Hot Luvin’” which is a nice rocking track that brings the EP to a close in style; plenty of style, heavy riffs and a catchy chorus with a lot of 80s influence.

The production is pretty cool, especially for an EP, a nice shiny drum sound and the vocals have been produced really nicely too. The guitars gel really well with the bass and drums to make a nice overall sound too.

Overall this is a pretty awesome hard rock EP full of great riffs and some cool musicianship. Snakebite is a band that will go somewhere if they stick at it! Hearing a full album would be the ieal next step!

Check Out Silent Jack at https://www.facebook.com/silentjackband

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Thunderwar – The Birth Of Thunder

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Polish death metal band Thunderwar’s debut EP is one full of heavy riffs and a pounding modern sound.

The first track “Vimana (The Chariots In Heaven)” kicks things into motion with a non stop flurry of death metal and a rather different death metal vocal that may well set them apart from a crowd where it often gets very “samey.” This is a good start, with cool lead guitar harmonies and some nice chunky riffs later on.

“Shadows Of Lindisfarne” moves the EP forward with stabbing riffs and heavy blastbeats from the drums. This is fairly similar to the first track and helps establish the band’s sound as an EP should – plenty of heavy moments in this one.

“The Birth Of Thunder” is an awesome and atmospheric track with lots of synths and acoustic guitars, and some great drumming too. The song has a real groove to it but at the same time feels really laid back. This is certainly one of the tracks that’s sets them apart, and as for my own personal taste, this was a highlight.

Bonus Track “Eagle Of Glory” brings things back to the band’s more standard fare with a lot more heavy stuff again, which the band is pretty good at and probably comes across great live.

The production is very good, well mixed and quite clear. Everything can be heard nice and easily and it’s plenty heavy for what it needs to be.

Overall, a solid debut EP; here’s hoping we see how the band evolves in the future.

Check out Thunderwar at https://www.facebook.com/thunderwarofficial

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