Saturday, 13 September 2014

Album Review; Korpse - Korpse

Track listing;

1. By All Means Necessary
2. Persuasion
3. School's Out Shootout
4. Devil's Breath
5. Valuable Skills
6. Fireworks
7. More Funerals To Come
8. Complications

This is the self-titled debut album by Korpse; a four-piece Slamming Brutal Death Metal band from the Netherlands, and it's really exactly what you expect; Devourment influenced, heavy as Andre The Giant carrying a boulder and very D.I.Y. sounding in terms of production. Everything in the mix has the rough edges untouched by studio wizardry, making the overall sound of the album relatively grizzly and uncomfortable if not difficult to listen to, but since it's a Slam band, that's not necessarily a complaint.

The most obvious problem with this album is that each song sounds, well...the same! It's all big, crunching riffs, tinny drums and guttural vocals that leave any and all lyrical content completely unintelligible. The titles of some of the songs are clearly standard Death Metal fare, particularly the likes of 'School's Out Shootout' and 'More Funerals To Come'.

It's very clear that the four Dutchmen responsible for this torrent of aural abuse are skilled enough on their instruments, but there's a lack of imagination present in the material. Obviously, there is only so much you can do with such a brutal genre as this, and most of the best ideas have already been delivered by Dying Fetus, Devourment, Benighted and their likes. There are some good moments of speed here, some typically smothering Slam breakdowns, all delivered with an organic feel only made possible by honest musicianship rather than Pro-Tools.

Basically; if sheer brutality is your thing, this album will give you some kicks. The rest of us will probably grow bored rather quickly. There's not much present to warrant repeat listens very often. A decent, but too often generic lesson in modern Death Metal sickness.

Rating: 5/10

Album Review; Judas Priest - Redeemer Of Souls

Track Listing:

1. Dragonaut
2. Redeemer Of Souls
3. Halls Of Valhalla
4. Sword Of Damocles
5. March Of The Damned.
6. Down In Flames
7. Hell & Back
8. Cold Blooded
9. Metalizer
10. Crossfire
11. Secrets Of The Dead
12. Battle Cry
13. Beginning Of The End

Judas Priest have a new album out. That sentence alone should fill you with anticipation, but there may be people out there who approach this album cautiously due to the divisive nature of the 2008 concept album 'Nostradamus'. We should all be glad to discover that 'Redeemer Of Souls' sees Priest return to the sound of such albums as 'Screaming For Vengeance', 'Killing Machine' and 'Sad Wings Of Destiny'.

'Dragonaut' opens this thirteen song record with panache and the sheer balls to begin with the lyric "Welcome to my world of steel". Instantly, with the combination of Rob Halford's inimitable voice and iron-clad riffs, the Metal Gods are back in style. Mike Exeter's production job on this album is instantly powerful and everything that a band as legendary as this deserves. The title track of the album carries things forward in an equally satisfying manner, but it's 'Halls Of Valhalla' that takes things to the high points and gets heads banging, not least due to it being the first song to feature the frontman's now-iconic and still impressive screams.

Ritchie Faulkner, new guitarist replacing K.K. Downing fits into the band well, trading great solos with Glenn Tipton and keeping the sound of the band authentic. The album is not full of instant-hits though; 'March Of The Damned' is a Sabbath-like slow burner, but when it grows on you, you're hooked for life. 'Down In Flames' features some great guitar work, with dual harmonies galore, reminiscent of 'Screaming For Vengeance' era material. 'Hell & Back' is a soulful yet rocking ballad that seems to tell of the ups-and-downs of the band's career, and do so with a fantastic riff that could be a classic in the Priest canon.

'Cold Blooded' is another slow number that is rather introspective, much like 'Prisoner Of Your Eyes' from the aforementioned 'Screaming For Vengeance'. 'Metalizer' on the other hand, harks back to the time of 'Painkiller' with a constant stampede of palm-muted guitars and thunderous percussion.

Another curveball is 'Crossfire', which has a swinging rhythm to it and some vocal dynamics as the song progresses, steadily speeding up. Perhaps the most gripping and euphoric song on this record is 'Battle Cry', which is every bit a Judas Priest classic from its heroic lyrical content, to it's staccato-edged riff and soaring chorus, bringing back memories of the song 'One Shot Of Glory' from 'Painkiller', with its epic feel.

'Beginning Of The End' has a finality to it, with Rob Halford singing a heartfelt eulogy that could bring a tear to any dedicated Metalhead. If this should turn out to be Judas Priest's final curtain call before they ascend further into Metal legend, then this song is a fitting close to a triumphant and long career for the first bona-fide Metal band. However, if recent interviews and the sheer exuberance of this record are anything to go by, then I reckon there's a lot of life in the Metal Gods yet. Is 'Redeemer Of Souls' their best work ever? No, of course not. It can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of their great albums though, and for a band seventeen albums into their career, that's more than most could expect.

Rating: 8/10