Good Tiger – We Will All Be Gone

Release date: 9 February 2018. Label: Blacklight Media/Metal Blade.

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It’s not easy to pigeonhole GOOD TIGER, and that’s part of their appeal. While listening to second album We Will All Be Gone, one word does spring to mind – nostalgia. With its emotive melodies, lyrics and riffs, you just can’t help but be reminded of bands like CIRCA SURVIVE. GOOD TIGER no doubt would appeal to the teenagers of a decade ago, but they also have a progressive factor, thanks to featuring ex-members of TESSERACT, THE FACELESS and THE SAFETY FIRE amongst others. If SAOSIN had a love child with SKYHARBOR, then it would probably sound like GOOD TIGER. Dripping in blissful melodies and warm, fuzzy feels We Will All Be Gone is is a beautiful follow-up to 2015’s stunning debut A Head Full Of Moonlight.

Things blast off with an energetic start with The Devil Thinks I’m Sinking with Coleman expertly executing THOSE highs. Like the last album, there is a hint of HE IS LEGEND with those edgy grooves. One of the best tracks on We Will All Be Gone, this is an absolute killer of an opener. This is followed by the mesmerising Float On which is one of those songs that reminds you of simpler times. There is something about the chorus…something very warm and comfortable…that…sound. This sound shouldn’t work in 2018, but it does and it sounds as fresh as ever.

Such A Kind Stranger has a bit of an old school pop punk vibe, but with an intelligent approach in the same vein as THE AUDITION, or the slow tempo moments of EMANUEL. The twinkling guitars make GOOD TIGER sound so damn shiny, along with the organic feeling of the production completing their irresistible compositions. This shiny, organic goodness continues in Blueshift, an exciting track of slow burning verses with intense choruses (think PVRIS). It would be deceiving to say GOOD TIGER are upbeat, as there are a lot of brooding moments on the album, but there is a strong pulse of strength and positivity running throughout.

Halfway through We Will All Be Gone we are rewarded with two of the strongest tracks of the record; Salt Of The Earth and Grip Shoes. The former is already a contender for best chorus of 2018. You can see it now, everyone trying to sing along but either ending up shouting or going massively out of tune. Further proof Elliot Coleman needs to be recognised as one of rock’s most talented vocalists. Grip Shoes is an absolute shimmering stunner of a track. It’s what you would imagine a proggy TAKING BACK SUNDAY would sound like – bloody wonderful. The glorious and spine-tingling middle eight once again will remind you of the heart-wrenching melodies of CIRCA SURVIVE, but GOOD TIGER collapse into such a melodically heavy state, they’re well on their way to being the King’s of progressive-post-hardcore-rock-emo-metal-whateveryouwannacallit.

The prog shines through on Just Shy; the verses could easily fit on a CALIGULA’S HORSE track. Chilled vibes with vibrant bass charms the listener before another killer chorus storms in. This song is anything but shy. The same goes for Nineteen Grams, which is another delight for the ears. The pop-rock sound is strong with this song, giving an indication that GOOD TIGER could easily smash into the mainstream. The band calm down a bit in the short but sweet Cherry Lemon, a shoegazey wonder which the likes of MY VITRIOL would be proud of. With this track GOOD TIGER prove that it is not just Coleman who is the most talented member. Drummer Alex Rüdinger demonstrates his technical ability with his tight beats, and guitarists Derya Nagle and Joaquin Ardiles remind fans of when they first fell in love with them in THE SAFETY FIRE. The ending of the track fizzles out in an OPEN HAND-esque haze. Blissful and mesmerising.

This bliss sees us through until the end, with album closer I’ll Finish This Book Later. The hushed beginning sounds very JONAH MATRANGA; wonderful and mature like your favourite cave-aged cheese. The epic finale brings We Will All Be Gone to a soaring close. A suitable ending for a pretty spectacular album. GOOD TIGER might boast some of progressive metal’s brightest talents, but this second album should hopefully mark the beginning of recognising the band as an important influence on modern metal. 2018 could very well be the year of the tiger.

Mechromorph – Self-titled EP

Release date: 22 January 2018. Self-release.

When you hear the name Clacton-on-Sea you’ll probably think of old people, chavs and underage sex under the pier. With Clacton lads MECHROMORPH, it’s more sun, sea and SLAM. Raising the banner for extreme metal from the sunshine coast, they bring the darkness and sickness with their blistering infestation in the form of their self-titled debut EP.

The nightmare begins with Existential Echo, an unnerving introduction to the INGESTED-inspired terror beyond. MECHROMORPH get straight to business with Welcome To The Sprawl, a messy delight of disgusting riffs, ferocious drumming and the guttural prowess of vocalist Mac Mills. All the slam influences are here, but other influences can be heard such as similar beats to Sheffield bruisers MALEVOLENCE. Hints of deathcore also threaten to unleash themselves; they may be no SIGNS OF THE SWARM, but MECHROMORPH are definitely showing some symptoms of something promising.

The impressive beast that is the delightfully titled Vaginal Ventriloquist, is a truly brutal affair. Sounding a bit more bdm than the last track, it has an air of DISENTOMB about it, as well as some BERZERKER-esque flourishes. However, MECHROMORPH do throw all sorts of styles into the pot; a bit of MAGGOT COLONY here, a bit of CRYPTOPSY there.

High Hrothgar Slam Squad lures you into a false sense of security with its slower-paced beginning, but it soon erupts into blastbeat central with Mac Mills spitting venom at a hundred miles per hour. It slows down again but some standout moments ensue, such as the blackened rush towards the end, followed by the filthy solo and chugs into the fade.

When the first riff of Lord Of The Harvest is heard, you know it’s going to result in a hammering assault of the senses. Everything gels disgustingly well in this song; the guitars and terrific drumming of Louis Marson create a truly solid track of sickening triumph. An unforgiving slice of slam with the vocal assistance of Kurt Donahue (of GUTTERAL PAWNBROKEN RICKHARRISONECTOMY) you might think Lord Of The Harvest could be the best track of the EP.

This thought is obliterated when the EP’s finale Rupture Farms invades its way into your consciousness. Mac Mills is once again on fine form here, with his screams being just as impressive as his gutterals. The song feels bigger somehow, their talent oozes out and spills into your ears. The first breakdown surprisingly has an ANAAL NATHRAKH tinge to it, making Rupture Farms the evilest sound to come out of Clacton.

You can’t help but wonder what malice MECHROMORPH could achieve with a bigger budget and a bigger production. It would be interesting to see what elements they include in their next release; a bit of deathcore? More bdm? A blackened stance? One thing’s for sure, I haven’t been this excited about a band emerging from Essex in a long, long time.

Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs

Label: Century Media. Release date: Jan 26th 2018.

Metalmance has always admired Israel’s metal masters ORPHANED LAND, and it’s been a long five years since 2013’s All Is One. One of the most politically vocal bands around, there is a comforting sense of belonging and optimism when ORPHANED LAND is experienced. The combination of metal and oriental elements is utterly irresistible; but it is their message that we are all equal, no matter what religion, race or creed you are, which is the most poignant.

All Is One would always be a hard album to top, but my word ORPHANED LAND manage to surpass themselves with the very first track alone – The Cave. An absolutely stunning opener for Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, this song features everything you’d expect from ORPAHNED LAND and more; haunting vocals, a rapturous chorus with a theatrical touch, an impressive and heavy breakdown, a diverse array of instruments and of course, thought-provoking lyrics. The metal elements of the songs have really ramped up with this album; the riffs are crunchier, the solos are sharper, the breakdowns are heavier… However, ORAPHANED LAND combine everything so flawlessly, you shake your head in wonderment at how they actually pull it off.

This thought continues with the next track, the stomping We Do Not Resist. It kicks in with a thrashy bang and erupts into a storming chorus, accompanied by those irresistible Oriental strings. ORPHAND LAND’s material has always had a rich depth to it, and Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs also has that organic, wholesome sound from its instrumentation and production. Every part has its place and moment in the spotlight, it is a glorious feat of song writing and production. The use of the ‘beep’ in this song is also a powerful addition, a reference to censorship perhaps and the denial of information. One way to make sure your listeners are listening.

Third track In Propaganda has quite a nostalgic feel as a lot of the main ‘riff’ is reminiscent of the title track of All Is One; a possible indication that in those five years not much has changed or improved so their message needs to be reiterated. The verses are some of the most melodic on the album and this is when the prog shines through, reminding you of other contemporary melodic prog bands such as CALIGULA’S HORSE, because of the delicate and carefully considered approach to vocal delivery.

Yedidi is a relatively short, yet charming track entirely in Hebrew, with the songs either side, All Knowing Eye and Chains Fall To Gravity both being unashamedly dramatic and atmospheric. ORPHANED LAND always manage to capture the essence of the climax of a musical with aplomb.

Lead single Like Orpheus is a powerful and an extremely passionate song, featuring the magnificent vocals of BLIND GUARDIAN’s Hansi Kürsch. The track begins with an awesome riff that AVENGED SEVENFOLD would be proud of, but we’re soon greeted with that classic eastern ORPHANED LAND sound. The lyrics once again heighten the notion of equality and humanity with great effect. If you’ve already seen the video for Like Orpheus, you will know how incredibly moving this song is.

Things calm down a notch with the mellow Poets of Prophetic Messianism. With the instrumentation and moving vocal performances, it’s truly an amazing alternative-prog triumph. It merges delightfully into the storming Left Behind. If you’re a fan of fellow Israeli prog-metallers DISTORTED HARMONY, then this will be up your street. My Brother’s Keeper wouldn’t sound out of place on All Is One; there is something about the spoken words of vocalist Kobi Farhi that really stir the soul, but his growls also stir the sleeping beast within. It is his cleans though which resonate the most and it is no different on Take My Hand which is an absolute anthem. The riffs are very rock n roll but they meld seamlessly with all other aspects of the song.

I won’t spoil the penultimate track for you – Only The Dead Have Seen The End; but it is most certainly one of the standout tracks on Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, for numerous reasons. After this blistering track, you wonder how ORPHANED LAND could top it, let alone compose a fitting finale for this absolute masterpiece of an album. The band achieve this with the unexpectedly reserved The Manifest – Epilogue. For the first couple of minutes you are able to reflect on and process the album and its message. The sombre conclusion brings Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs to a sudden and chilling end. After the comfort and feeling of belonging felt during the course of the album, it makes the ending that much more unnerving – like the sudden snap back to reality.

I’ve always felt ORPHANED LAND have never had their chance to shine in the wider metal community, but with Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs hopefully this will all change and more people can be united under the banner of love and hope. In such troubled times full of war and hate, we need ORPAHNED LAND more than ever – a beacon of hope in the darkness. With Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs they have achieved an album of progressive excellence, a masterpiece in the age of disposable nonsense.

 

Garganjua – Through The Void

Blistering doom, for fans of Pallbearer, Warning and RIFFS

GARGANJUA just might be one of Britain’s brightest doom hopes (oxymoron much?). With Through The Void, the Leicestershire troupe are hoping to cement their place in the metal scene, but after a few listens it’s evident GARGANJUA don’t just play slow, riffy metal. No, no, the band use PALLBEARER-style prog and KYLESA-esque sludge in their hotpot of doom. 

The devastating, slow riff of Crushed Beneath The Tide launches the album into the brooding, dark mass it remains to be. A looming, yet triumphant break with the essence of PELICAN entices the listener before the crushing vocals demolish the mood. The clean vocals are strangely mesmerising, with the backdrop having a nostalgic doom tone. As expected, the song is a slow burner but unlike some repetitive instances of the genre, GARGANJUA keep it interesting with a tweak in dynamic every couple of minutes or so. The finale of Crushed Beneath The Tide comes full circle with the satisfying mirroring of the beginning of the track.   

A bold guitar tone introduces the next track Adrift, but it is the verse which I find the most interesting. The vocal melody and distorted guitars make my mind hark back to the melodic moments of DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL and HE IS LEGEND, although this is most likely not GARGANJUA’s intention to remind me of post-hardcore, this is what I mean when I said the band can’t be easily pigeon-holed as doom. What is exciting is everyone will hear different elements and make their own comparisons, enabling GARGANJUA to crossover a spectrum of genres. The doom does return in abundance though, with whispers adding to the darkly dulcet tones before the pace slows down a few notches. 

The album’s title track is arguably the standout song on Through The Void. The riffs, tone and melody create a spellbinding ambience. There is something about the heaviest parts of the songs which are reminiscent of the heavier end of progressive metal, such as CULT OF LUNA and Silhouettes-era TEXTURES, making Through The Void the progressive doom you’ve been dreaming of. The track is one epic, heartfelt journey, one you will have to listen to yourself to understand the colossal atmosphere GARGANJUA conjure. 

Only four tracks in 45 minutes, A Distant Shore signals the end of Through The Void. This song needed to be a fitting conclusion to an ambitious album, but for the first half of the track I wasn’t convinced it would be a suitable finale. But suddenly A Distant Shore shifts into an acoustic wonderland with strings and a sombre tranquility. This is all before it is whipped from under your feet in a climatic sense of closure. The distortion and riffs continue like a soothing pat on the back after a monstrous feat.

Through the Void is most certainly a grower. GARGANJUA are one of those bands with heaps of potential, a group you hope will mature into an unpredictable beast of metal. If you’ve been observing from a distance, it’s probably time to creep closer before GARGANJUA leap ahead of the pack.  

GARGANJUA are currently running a Pledge campaign to raise funds to release Through The Void on vinyl. If you would like to know more or would like to pledge then more information can be found at  https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/garganjuavinylpledge