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Cypher 16 - 'The Metaphorical Apocalypse' (self released) 4/5

London outfit Cypher 16 are an outfit that has been making a bit of name for themselves of late having toured places as diverse as the states and India as well as playing shows opening for the likes of Lacuna Coil and Mudvayne. To date they have put out a string of eps of which this is the latest.

 Now imagine if you can a mad mix of Tangerine Dream and Megadeth, and you'll get where these guys are coming from. You get walls of brain smashing metal of the first degree - all razor riffs, blast beats and relentless bludgeon, all over laid with a glorious almost ambient keyboard wash. Tracks like The Metaphorical Apocalypse, I Am Scientist and Lonely Road and all killers that stand up to repeated listening and I'm impressed with the quality of Jack Doolan's vocals. He's got the power, the control and the melody without having to resort to the cliched pig grunt or screaming.

If I have a compliant about this ep, then its a small one, a lot of the songs are very vocal heavy, and whilst Mr Doolan is a great singer with something to say, I get the feeling that on most of the tracks the rest of the band seam to be crowded out and don't get chance to shine. It's only on the track Stone that they really come into their own, and its a shame for all of them really do have something to show, especially guitarist Stuart Deards. A guy I would have loved to have heard more lead work from.

That gripe aside I really do like this five tracker and I would recommend it to everyone who likes their metal intense and intelligent.

For fans of... Awake, Spires, Fates Warning, Megadeth etc...

Get this ep FREE from here -

Van Susans - 'We Could Be Scenery' (Beatnik Geek) 3/5

Van Susans come from Bromley in Kent and play fairly mainstream indie rock in the same vein as outfits like The Pigeon Detectives. Now normally this sort of stuff isn't my bag and I would really bother writing a review, but there is something about this debut five tracker that made me take note.

The lead track, Cha Cha Bang starts with a nice rocky riff before carrying on reverting to standard indie fare, big hooks, fuzzy guitar washes and the like. Then we have Get Up, Get Out - with it's indie by numbers choppy delayed and chorus heavy guitar riff and 'hay hay' sing-a-long hook, the angsty Plans with its 'I'm not pissed off cos my girlfriend has dumped me - honest' type lyrics that students and indie kids love so much and the closer Glow, a wrist slittingly depressive little ditty 'We used to make love by starlight, but all she can do now is watch me burn..' yeah real uplifting stuff.

However the track that stands out, not only above the rest of this ep, but above a lot of indie rock in general is the second cut Bones. Again its a down beat track with some standard lost love lyrics, but it's played with a drive and fire that counter points the dower vocals perfectly. I normally have little truck with this kind of music, but this is one track I can't stop playing, it really is that good.

So over all I would give this ep a miss, unless your into down beat student indie - but I would also recommend you seek out Bones as a single track download as it's a song that is truly genre defining.

In short - a bog standard indie ep with one true killer track

for fans of... The Soup Dragons, The Pigeon Detectives, Manic Street Preachers, MGMT etc...

Steve Hackett - 'Beyond The Shrouded Horizon' (Inside Out / EMI) 4.5/5

I find Steve Hackett albums are a bit of a glorious lucky dip, you never know what your gonna get until you give them a first spin, will it be the traditional prog Steve? Steve the blueser? classical Steve? World music Steve? or a combination of some some or all the above...

Now this is the 22nd solo studio release from the former Genesis six stringer and all around guitar legend, and I'm glad to say it falls into the all of the above category. It's not that Steve is any less a blues player or classical player than he is in any other style, it's that Mr Hackett is such a diverse and inventive player that you really do want to hear him cover all bases.

So whats the new album like? Well if your familiar with his solo work you will know what to expect. If not, well then your in for a treat. This album is a cracking listen from the atmospheric and uplifting opener of Loch Lomand (NOT the cheesy Scottish folk tune) to the twelve minute closing epic of Turn This Island Earth with its 300 track orchestration - there is not a weak moment on show. And you get all sides of Steve to marvel at as well. The old school proggers will love the prog Steve on tracks like The Phoenix Flown and A Place Called Freedom; fans of classical 'Bay Of Kings' style Steve will dig tracks like Wanderlust and Summers Breath; whilst fans of Steve the blueser are in for a real treat on Catwalk when his joined by Yes bassman Chris Squire and ex AC/DC and Judas Priest drummer Simon Phillips for one of the dirtiest low down slow blues sleaze outs you'll hear in a long time.

I could go on for hours praising the pants of this album, but I have a stack of other albums to process and review - but take it from me Mr Hackett is a man who never fails to deliver goods, be it as a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter or producer and Beyond The Shrouded Horizon is another winner that should in everyone's record collection.

For fans of .. great guitar work and great music in general.

Captain Horizon - 'El Nibre - ep' (self released) 4/5

Birmingham alt-proggers Captain Horizon are completely new to me. I stumbled on a link to this free download ep on Facebook and decided to give them a go, sight unseen so to speak.

Now I'm glad I bothered cos this four tracker is a bit of a find, Kicking off with Turn Away, a track that reminds me of Bristol's Jebo, this is a tight and well delivered package. Vocalist Steven “Whitty” Whittington has an honest no nonsense voice that has a touch of the Toby Jebsons (Little Angles / Gun) about it and g-man Josh Watson is a real talent whose style ranges from the epic Dave Gilmour type solos to Johnny Marr-u-like sweet chiming rhythm lines.

El Nibre is a bit of a rocker that the ducks buttocks tight rhythm section of James “Mez” Merrix and Alex Thomson drives along in fine style, while Climbing The Waterfall is a fine slab of intelligent commercial rock that wouldn't sound out of place on an album by Young The Giant. However the real gem is the closer Strong Enough a chilled out mini epic that has the ghost of Hawkwind on the intro before floating dreamily away into Porcupine Tree / Darwins Radio territory.

Over all this is a damn good listen from a band who with a bit of luck could go places far beyond their native West Midlands.

for fans of... Porcupine Tree, Jebo, Young The Giant, Sleeping With Giants... etc

'El Nibre' can be down loaded from