EXTENDED PLAY: Bite-Sized Chunks Of Musical Mayhem Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby   
Sunday, 26 February 2017 04:00

No time to mess about this time around, as we literally have had a shed load of EPs submitted for consideration, yet again covering a wide range of styles and sub-genres… So, let’s get struck into the latest pile of nine little shiny discs (oh, and a few sneaky wee MP3 submissions), shall we?


ArtworkAn Endless Cycle – ‘War Of Ethics’


Released today, this is a highly impressive slice of progressive metalcore from this new young London quintet. Placing themselves very much at the technical end of the genre - that inhabited by the likes of SikTh, Periphery and Architects – there is no doubt that these guys have both the skill and the passion to deliver the goods. The six tracks delivered here are all well-honed and, unlike many of their contemporaries (and a good few who have gone before them), the guys do not let the complex technicality of what they are doing get in way of delivering some sweet melodies. Each of the songs is strongly structured, and vocalist Jamie Turner gets the balance between clean and dirty vocals just about right.





Bloodyard EP Cover ArtBloodyard – ‘Darker Rage’


This debut four-tracker from Lancastrian death metallers Bloodyard initially slipped under UR’s radar when it came out at the end of last year, but sometimes it’s good to look back over your shoulder and catch up on things that you’ve missed… and I’m glad I did with this particular little dose of DM mayhem, as it is a highy impressive statement of intent. Donna Hurd’s acerbic vocals will inevitably lead to comparisons with Arch Enemy, especially in their Gossow era, but there is a lot more to this band than that pat despatch. The big downside of this release is the atrocious production, which is extremely muddy and disjointed, especially on the bottom end, which virtually disappears for most of the time. Nick Adamson’s stabbing riffs do push through the darkness, but Hurd’s vocals do sound somewhat disgruntled, inhibiting what is otherwise a very fine statement of intent, with closer ‘Dead Relics’ as vicious a beatdown as you’re likely to experience this side of Bloodstock.




CyclocosmiaCyclocosmia – ‘Immured’


Probably the strangest EP to come across our desk this month, ‘Immured’ is actually a four-track concept work which is designed to be heard as a single continuous 17-minute song. It’s a follow up to last year’s debut album ‘Deadwood’ – which apparently was anything but that – and tells the tale of “a Roman Vestal Virgin, condemned to live burial for breaking her vows of chastity, covering the solemnity of her predeath funeral, her defiance at the executioners and her descent into insanity and vows for supernatural revenge”. Newly recruited vocalist Aliki Katriou brings an ethereal quality to the lyricism of the story, which is delivered in huge swathing soundscapes which progress easily between atmospheric symbolism, progressive technicality and utter death metal brutality – the vocals on which are delivered with equally convincing aplomb by the Greek singer. It’s an interesting piece, complex yet accessible, which doesn’t outstay its welcome.




Dahlia artworkDahlia – ‘XII’


The otherwise rather incongruous Northern Ireland town of Downpatrick cemented its place in rock folklore about 20 odd years ago, when it spawned the subsequently world-conquering Ash, as well as one-time major league contenders Relish. It also has close connections with The Answer. In line with its relative anonymity, it hasn’t really got that much else going for it, if the truth be told (although I did once go a rather manic party at the aforementioned Papenfus brothers’ house with the late Eric Wrixon of Thin Lizzy fame). Looking to change that perception are these young alt-rock upstarts, founded by brothers Gareth and David Douglas just last year. And it could be argued that Dahlia are seeking to pick up where Mr Wheeler and co left off, as they bring as sound which defies genre-fication, combining as it does funk-fuelled bass lines (as on the Chili Peppers-ish ‘Love On Me’), stabby guitar riffs and massive pop-style singalong choruses. Not easy to classify, but very easy to enjoy and delivered with an assured maturity that bodes well for their future development.




Dead FrequencyDead Frequency – ‘Tough Tracks And Setbacks’


For a radio DJ (and that’s a cheap plug for the next edition of the Über Rock Sunday Brunch), there are two nightmares: a dead frequency, and the fear that nobody’s listening. Fortunately for these Midlands glunksters, they don’t live up to their name and, if fortune favours their bravery, the kick off track on this four-track sample of delight will ensure that the latter most definitely is not true either. Veering much more towards the pop punk end of the genre than the glam element of the rock ‘n’ roll periodic table, ‘Tough Tracks…’ is cheeky and exuberant in equal measure, with a level of assured cockiness which echoes the likes of the recently departed Teenage Casket Company as well as more obvious comparators such as Green Day (vocalist Matti Fantasi does have a certain Billy Joe quality to his delivery). And I just love the doo wop style background clappiness on the likes of opener ‘Nobody’s Listening’ (actually, we are boys) and the gloriously inane ‘Time For Saying Sorry’.





DerechoDerecho – ’15 Degrees From Reality’


The name of this Suffolk quartet means “a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms”, and, to be brutally honest, the feeling you get at the end of listening to this latest four track offering is one of having been tossed around inside a tornado which has picked up a mix of musical styles, chucked them around and then deposited both them and you in an ungodly heap in the arse end of rock ‘n’ roll oblivion. Because, the basic problem with Derecho is their mish mash of styles, encompassing a cross between commercialised punk and classic rock, which sees them trying to appeal to as many audiences as possible. Don’t get me wrong, Jo Ash has an amazing voice, veering between Siouxsie Sioux (as on opener ‘Autumn In Amber’), Kate Bush (the actually quite haunting ‘Nowhere Land’) and Amy Lee (closer ‘Summer Rain’), and the three backing musicians are extremely competent – there are some nice crunchy riffs, the rhythm work is tight and Mike Wheatley’s solos on ‘December 2nd’ and ‘Summer Rain’ are more than competent. But you would think that, after three full-length albums, they would have found a clear sonic direction. As it is, this is a decent listen but one which could have benefited more from a consistency of sound.




JB3Jet Black 3 – ‘Jet Black 3’


Hailing from Exeter, the JB3 – and, yep, they’re a trio – who deliver hard-hitting, crunching rock that encompasses both heavy blues and grunge as its two main primal elements, yet avoids many of the stoner rock plagiarism which many other bands treading this particular crossover of styles pitfall themselves into by producing three tracks of exciting, enervating – and, above all, original – rock ‘n’f’n’ roll. The two most noticeable elements of this self-titled debut is its heavy-ass bottom end – apparently guitarist Phil Borrett feeds through both guitar and bass amps, which is pretty obvious in the boom he gets – and Robert Papworth’s beautiful vocal, which smooths transits between a young Paul Rodgers, Chris Robinson style edginess and Chris Cornell alacrity. Opener ‘Remember My Name’ with its dark psychedelic groove underpinning its energetic grooviliciousness, immediately ensures that this is one band who definitely will stick in my memory cells when more music comes my way…




SertralineSertraline – ‘Guilty’


They say that music is drug. Sertraline certainly is: it’s an anti-depressant used to treat conditions such as OCD, panic attacks and so forth… Drugs can be extremely addictive, and that certainly could prove to be the case with the Stoke-based quartet, if this second EP is anything to go by. It’s punchy and vibrant, mixing deathcore with classic rock sensibility in a way which treads a fine line between Halestorm and Lacuna Coil. The rhythms are rock solid, although the mix on the snare drum in particular is a bit of a Metallica-style messiness, and the riffs stab and pierce with stunning accuracy. Lizzie’s vocals, however, are the standout performance, her soprano sweeping and soaring while her layered death growls add the necessary menace while simultaneously sounding effortless. Far from depressing, ‘Guilty’ is an uplifting slice of metallic mayhem which is satisfying with every listen.




Wolve - LazareWolve – ‘Lazare’


Our final offering this week is a weird beast, and another which defies being bounded by genre-specific classifications. ‘Lazare’ is four tracks which mesh down tuned bass rhythms with fuzzed out guitars, which in turn don’t really produce any riffs but meander back and forth across the soundscapes which this one-man project evolves and develops over the EP’s 17 minutes. Addressing themes such as resilience, duality, anger, ego, and recorded almost entirely live in the studio, it is an extremely personal and therefore understandably introspective offering. Having said that, there a few moments of unbridled fury, such as the extremely brief ‘Inferno’, which sounds like everything Rage Against The Machine have ever recorded squashed into 48 mayhemic seconds. If you’re looking for sonic references, the likes of The Screaming Trees jamming Syd Barrett-era Floyd tunes while high on some illicit substances might be a good initial starting point…




So, there you have.  Hope you found something that tickles your fancy.  We'll have more extended plays in March...


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