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Campus - 'Empathy' (Small Town Records) 4.5/5

With two full length albums under their belt already Belgium based hardcore / screamo outfit Campus have recently undergone a bit of a line up change and are now a five piece and have just issued this their latest four track ep.

Kicking off with a rather vicious and angst fueled little rage rocker of a title track this ep is a nice short an sweet exercise in all that good about hardcore punk. Snarling and aggressive barked and growled vocals and mercilessly pound and pummel beats are inter-cut with soaring and uplifting clean vocals and some perfectly sweet melodic lead guitar lines. If your familiar with the work of the likes of Converge, While She Sleeps, Terakai, Red Enemy etc then you'll know exactly where these guys are coming from, and  if the like of the aforementioned bands are your thing then check this one out, it will be right up your street. This ep is raw to the bone, dripping bleeding heart emotion and delivered with an attitude and approach that marks them out as being up there with the very best in their field.

Of the four impressive cuts on offer, in my humble opinion the best of the crop is the closer Young Bastard, a song that just bleeds sorrow, rage, anger and rebellion from a slashed musical artery of raw emotion, then stitches the wounds with a solid wall of hard driven determination. Very Very good stuff indeed.

I know hardcore isn't everyones cup of tea, but if you like your music on the bleeding edge of empathetic emotion then you really should add this one to your collection.

Bloody Great.

For fans of.. Converge, Terakai, Red Enemy, Gay For Johnny Depp, The Hotel Ambush....

Titans Eve - 'Life Apocalypse' (self released) 4.5/5

This is the second full length offering from Vancouver metal merchants Titans Eve, a band who seam to love doing it old school and touring their butts off across their fairly vast native land in a beat up old van and to be honest its quite a good one.

There are eleven cuts on offer here (if you include the obligatory short intro and a short linking instrumental number). Mixing old school power metal in the Anvil, Exciter, Armored Saint mode with good healthy dollops of Onslaught, Megadeth, Exumer type late 80's trash, the band have in this release served up a damn fine platter of good old fashioned, no bull shit heavy metal, that sets the head banging, the pulse racing and makes even this old headbanger want to start a circle pit right here in his own office.

Just to pick a couple of highlights, there's the headlong slam dance of Life Apocalypse with its blast beat drumming and distinctive signature riffing. Then there's the high speed thrash out of Destined To Die - a cut that reminds me of Onslaughts classic 'Power From Hell' debut album; a gloriously chilled and melancholy out instrumental entitled A Wound That Never Heals - complete with a rather groovy bongo drum line!! and the divinely majestic Frozen In Time - an true mini epic if ever there was that goes from slow and acoustic to Priest-U-like twin guitar harmonies to heavy as fuck grind and pound and back again. All damn good stuff.

Got single out a couple of people here for special praise. First up the vocals of Brian Gamblin, a guy whose delivery is gruff and aggressive, yet never falls into the trap of the old cliched pig grunt all of which means you can hear what the guy has to say. And I always say if you have something to say, make sure people can hear it. Add in the fact that both Brian and his brother(?) Kyle Gamblin play a mean and impressive guitar that can balance on the line between melodic delivery and brain melting shred and the rhythm section of Jesse Hord and Casey Ory are as tight as a Scotsmans wallet and you really do have a line up that can deliver the metal in fine style. On top of that the production here is first rate, its smooth enough to give Titans Eve a huge and ear shreddingly vast and aggressive sound, yet is rough enough around the edges to keep the whole kit and caboodle bouncing along with the hungry urgency this kind of metal demands.

All in all a pretty impressive album that will win them a lot of friends. At the time of writing Titans Eve are about to hit the road in support of the legendary Anvil, so if your in Canada and get chance to see em, do so, and where ever you are in the world, buy this album. You will not regret it.

Very Impressive

For fans of... Anvil, Armored Saint, Onslaught, Six Feet Under, Portrait, Raven.....

The Effect - 'Lioness' (self released) 5/5

I first encountered young Swansea band The Effect a year or so back when they supported my outfit Alien Stash Tin over in Wales and blew us off stage, they had just released their debut ep (reviewed here) and that release proved a big hit with the people of radioland and got a lot of airplay on the BCFM show. Now they are back with this, their second ep release.

Now Lioness kicks off where the bands previous effort 'Everything has Gone' left off. There are seven tracks on off (well five main songs, an intro and a bonus track) and just like the band debut its another fine package of expertly played and produced, catchy as hell, commercial hard rock that shows these guys have a musical maturity well beyond their tender years. Batting firmly off the modern commercial hard edged rock wicket of the likes of Kids In Glass Houses, Lost Prophets, Muse, Funeral For A Friend, Shinedown etc, these lads lay down a fine edgy and angsty sound-scape for the new generation, all huge hooks, massive guitar sounds, pounding rhythms and some truly sublime breakdowns.

Now my only real criticism of the bands previous ep was the fact they lacked a little in the light and shade department, and seamed to hold back in places and never really let themselves rock out. However I'm glad to say that on this one that issue has been addressed. OK they never quite let rip into Funeral For A Friend style post hardcore aggression, but on tracks like Vulture and As The World Came Down they do step the RAWK dial up a few notches, just enough to give the band a bit of quality light and shade, and believe me they are all the better for it.

Highlights? well the whole ep is damn good and highly entertaining, but to select just two fave cuts on mine, we have to single out the title track, which is a glorious angry anthem to teen rebellion that builds from from something fairly quiet and introspective into a huge air punching anthem to die for; and the bonus track True Colours which is a superb slice of modern moshpit friendly commercial hard rock to die for.

At the moment The Effect are local heroes in parts of South Wales and almost unknown elsewhere, but if they can carry on releasing stuff like this I can only see far bigger and better things for these guys in the future. I'll watch their development with interest

Get hold of this ep NOW!!

For fans of.. Muse, Kids In Glass Houses, Shinedown, I Divide, Lost Prophets etc...