As Paradise Falls – Digital Ritual

Label: Eclipse Records. Release Date: 21 July 2017.

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Australia is gaining quite the reputation for quality metal acts; KARNIVOOL, VOYAGER, NORTHLANE, AVERSIONS CROWN…get the idea? Now you can add Brisbane’s AS PARADISE FALLS to that list too. The band who are proving to be an unstoppable force, faced a few setbacks while the recording of Digital Ritual, mostly the sudden passing of guitarist Glen Barrie in late 2015. Not only did the band have to regroup and support each other after his death, but the band were also more conscious about creating an album worthy of preserving Glen’s legacy. Produced by Shane Edwards (NORTHLANE, TROPHY EYES, HELLIONS) the band have achieved a solid album; a heavy tech record full of interesting nuggets here and there, with more grooves, beats, riffs and curious titbits than you can shake a stick at. Influenced by bands such as EMMURE and fellow Aussies THY ART IS MURDER and PARKWAY DRIVE, it’s no surprise Digital Ritual is an album which packs a punch.

The title track kicks off proceedings with a tense introduction, erupting into an instrumental banger with a smattering of electronic tinkles. Balance then completely blows the senses with its massive drums, ferocious riffs and the raw vocals from frontman Shaun Coar. One of the heaviest tracks on the album, Balance threatens the listener with what AS PARADISE FALLS are capable of.

The chuggy, EMMURE-ish riffs soon break way for the start of Star Blind. The lead single entices with its calming intro of blissful clean vocals but we’re soon back in business with a punishing riff to make sure you continue your way to the killer chorus reminiscent of AMORPHIS or even ORPHANED LAND. Once again, nothing prepares you for the switch in style for next track, The Ultimate Consumer. With a riff not too dissimilar to DECAPITATED’s Spheres of Madness, the song switches between mesmerising vocals and downright punishing metal.

Automated Sacrifice is a mish-mash of all sorts making it one of the more rewarding tracks on Digital Ritual. With the album’s best guitar solo and breakdown , this song also features more of Coar’s versatile vocals as well as more atmospheric flourishes which enriches the dynamic. A relentless groove greets listeners for Glory To The Server, but frequently breaks into djent moments with a SIKTH-esque edge.

A melodic opening to Reborn soon evolves into something reminiscent of a MALEVOLENCE groove but with an extra metallic crunch. This intensifies for Dead Message, an absolute stomper of a track. It’s becoming evident AS PARADISE FALLS pull off every style they play, but this also means they are lacking a sound which is distinctly theirs. Having said this, the material is strong enough and exciting enough to kick up anticipation to see how the band will progress. A very promising full-length, AS PARADISE FALLS should be on your radar.

 

 

Eighteen Visions – XVIII

Label: Rise Records. Release Date: 2 June 2017.

XVIII might just take the crown for most unexpected 2017 release. Last year Metalmance raved about EIGHTEEN VISIONS’ back catalogue in Weekly Roundup #6, and stated it would be very unlikely there would be a reunion in the near future. Well, 10 years on from their breakup, EIGHTEEN VISIONS sneakily reformed and recorded a new album with the help of ANAAL NATHRAKH’s Mick Kenney (who also produces ex-EIGHTEEN VISIONS and BLEEDING THROUGH member Brandan Schieppatti’s solo project THE IRON SON.) and it’s fair to say it’s a return to their roots. Everything, from their logo to shots of bees and mannequins in their promotional materials, all hark back to their first major release Until The Ink Runs Out in 2000. XVIII feels like a homage to their past selves and their late bassist Mick Morris, as it meanders through familiar territory (i.e the use of film samples which has not been practised since Vanity in 2002), but in true EIGHTEEN VISIONS fashion, it sounds nothing like anything they have written before. Each album shifts massively from style to style and this new release is no different.

Blasting in with Crucified, EIGHTEEN VISIONS are shaking off any false impressions from their last self-titled album, an album which saw the band being branded as sell-outs. This storming intro, with its ferocious drumming and blackened riffs, immediately makes the point that EIGHTEEN VISIONS are heavier than ever and are back to show the scene how it’s done. The lyrics themselves could be interpreted in many ways; “Still crucified. I’ve never been consumed. Never conformed like you.” Could this be the band’s response to comments about their last album? How they’ve always done what the hell they’ve wanted despite what fans and the scene say?

The Disease, The Decline, and Wasted Time is quite a groovy fair, with James Hart’s distinct screams tearing through the track. The chorus is not too dissimilar to something you would hear on their self-titled, infectiously catchy yet backed up with heavy accompaniment. They always had killer breakdowns (Tower of Snakes anyone?) but the breakdown in this track is something else. Guitarist Keith Barney has seriously concocted a batch of tasty riffs for this album and has plunged the band into another level of heaviness. This formula continues for the third track Underneath The Gun, with the vocal melody in the middle eight and the end sounding reminiscent of the self-titled track off Vanity. Heavy. There’s that word again, heavy…

A tribute to Mick Morris comes in the form of the intense track Live Again. An unapologetically heavy single, it features more top notch riffs but also some of the album’s most carefully considered lyrics; “Stay inside me. We’ll never forget the days. We made the most of our memories.” The song descends into a powerful rock chorus but never strays far from the brutal foundations of the composition. A fitting, and heartfelt tribute to Morris’ legacy indeed.

Hart’s rock vocals raise their head again in Laid to Waste in the Shit of Man but erupt back into their raw state for the punishing Oath. Many have interpreted this song to be the band’s loyalty to the straight edge, but it could represent many things. A likely interpretation is staying true to music and family, it follows the same attitude as You Don’t Have to be Blood to be Family-era THROWDOWN. The gritty instrumentation is a mish-mash of all their previous albums, it sounds like Until the Ink Runs Out, Vanity and Obsession all rolled into one. Ladies and gentlemen, this is EIGHTEEN VISIONS.

Spit and Picture Perfect are further examples of filthy tunes with oodles of groove and distortion. If their self-titled album was geared towards an 80’s vibe then XVIII definitely veers towards a 90’s ALICE IN CHAINS edge in places. Fake Leather Jacket could easily fit on 2004’s Obsession, with its groovy riff reminiscent to Crushed and its crushing chorus. The lyrics are also quite curious; “Said youʼd make me famous. The year of the “v.” But youʼre just so epic full of shit.” Could this be directed to Epic Records who let them down with promoting their self-titled? This track is full suggestive comments but once again in true 18V fashion it could be interpreted in many different ways.

Each EIGHTEEN VISIONS’ album has an absolutely spellbinding track and XVIII is no different. A solid album and one which has exceeded all expectations, this record needed a statement finale. With For This I Sacrifice they have achieved this, a track dripping with passion and feeling, it is one of the heaviest love songs you’ll hear all year. It also demonstrates just how far Hart’s vocals have come since the introduction of cleans on Vanity. A spine tingling ending for one of their best albums to date, there’s no doubt about it, EIGHTEEN VISIONS are back and ready to rejuvenate the metalcore scene again. Welcome back chaps.