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6.4.12

Heart Of A Coward - 'Hope and Hindrance' (self released) 3.5/5

It seams that Milton Keynes has got a bit of a metalcore scene going at the moment, and the latest offering from the city of the concrete cow is this debut release from Heart Of A Coward.

Now I have a bit of love hate relationship with metalcore over all, especially the recent UK metalcore acts of the past few years. While some of it has been real cutting edge stuff, so much of it tends to fall back into the same old same old metal core cliches of by the number song construction and very formulaic and tiresome clean & dirty vocal interplay. So how does this one match up?

To be honest its a mixed bag. Some tracks such as We Stand As One, Light, Nightmare and the epic closing cut of Break These Chains they do have a shed load to offer as brutal blast and smash riffage is intercut with some nice AFI style acoustic moments and sound samples to keep a good flow going and maintain interest. However in a few places such as the track All Eyes To The Sky and especially on Shade, they fall back into the pit of metalcore cliche and seam to wander aimless down the path where a thousand others have gone before. A couple of years ago this sort of stuff was cool and cutting edge, now its just dull predictable.

Still this one does have more to recommend it than not and one metalcore fans should at least check out at some point.

Worth a look

For fans of... Terakai, AFI, Screaming Eyes, We Die Tonight, The Ottawa Hoax...

Elysian - 'Wires Of Creation' (self released) 3.5/5

Australian progressive death metallers Eylsain (not to be confused with the Greek power metal band of a similar name) are a fairly new edition to the worlds metal scene. They have only been together a couple of years and this is their debut release.

Now as far as debut releases goes this one isn't too bad. Blending elements of old school Pink Floyd style prog rock, with OSI / Dream Theater type prog metal and huge slices of growly voiced death metal stylings the band forge an interesting range of sonic soundscapes and moshable metal workouts.

Now to be brutally honest I'm finding this one a bit of a double edged sword. I'm loving some parts but others are leaving me a bit cold. It all comes down to the vocals of Ben Garner. Don't get me wrong as a deep gruff and growly death metal vocalist he is excellent, and on tracks like Sense Offender and Play The Hand, when Elysian are in full on metal mode he sounds great. But sadly when the rest of the band go off on their proggy trips and Mr Garner is still in growl and snarl mode the vocals don't seam to sit quite right with the music.
This is a shame cos Elysian are a band with a helluva lot of potential, but they need a bit more light and shade in vocal department to bring the best out of them. Maybe they should check out Fornost Arnors amazing 'Death of a Rose' album to see how a more subtle and considered approach to the vocals could really bring out the best of them.

Still this is a new band, still finding their feet, and this album still has a lot to recommend it over all and I'm sure that given time to develop they could mature into an act that could rank up there with the very best of them.

Worth checking out

For fans of... Fornost Arnor, Fates Warning, OSI, Opeth etc....

Job For A Cowboy - 'Demonocracy' (metalblade) 4.5/5

With three full length albums and three eps under their belt Arizona death thrashers Job For A Cowboy have been building a growing reputation as one of the underground metal scenes most likely to succeed, and now we have their latest album to remind us exactly what these guys have to offer.

Now I will confess that I've come late to the JFAC party, It wasn't until last years Gloom ep that I started to really pay them attention; and I'm seriously wondering what I've been missing, cos that aforementioned ep and this album here are a we bit good to say the least. There's a good load of of old school death metal in the bands sound, but also in there are some goodly slices of of Megadeth style thrashings and even hints of Bathory type black metalisms just to broaden the sound and lift the band above the same old same old death metal sensibilities.

There are nine cuts on offer here, each a finely crafted exercise in brutal metal excess.Vocalist John Davy grunts and snarls like a good un and the twin six stringers of Al Glassman and new boy Tony Sannicandro are to die for as they blend relentless steam hammer riffage and speed blur thrash outs with some some really rather beautiful melodic lead sections and Priest-U-like twin harmony lines.

It's hard to select any highlights as I'm liking the whole album lots but if I had to pick just one track for individual praise it would have to be the epic closer Tarnished Gluttony with its slow and doom laden opening, post sabbath riffs, glorious middle breakdown and relentless build up into a truly earth shattering, yet downbeat climax.

Very very good indeed

for fans of.. Not Above Evil, Exumer, Goatwhore, Megadeth....

Violet - 'The Brightside EP' (small town records) 4.5/5

Derby outfit Violet first got together a few years back they have issued their debut full length album back in 2010 and now have followed it up with this their current ep.

Now I like a band who likes to mix their genres and influences, and mixing it up is something that Violet do to the extreme. Take a track like Seven For A Secret, it kicks off with a guitar riff thats all Journey style stadium AOR, transmutes it into a nice commercial and melodic You and Me At Six type mainstream radio rocker and then... WHAM, from out of left field comes a wall of snarling and aggressive hardcore style vocals and razor blade riffing, then it spends the rest of the four minute play time bouncing the styles off each other like some huge game of musical bumper cars.

There are eight tracks on offer here, five on the main ep and three bonus cuts, and they all show the same glorious intermix and reciprocity of styles. You really do get a bit of everything, commercial mainstream rock vocal lines, old school hardcore growls and snarls, indie boy jangly guitars, massive stadium rock progressions, touches of metal riffage, dollops of post punk attitude... this ep is really one nice big bowl of musical chuckit served up as hot as it comes. Highlights? Well I'm loving all but the closing bonus track Away From Everything is to me this ones true stand out cut.

Now I know the mix of styles my alienate some of the less broadminded out there, but but believe me anyone who like s to experiment with their listening will find much here to reward them

Highly recommended.

for fans of... Converge, AFI, You And Me At Six, Dear Superstar, Funeral For A Friend....