She Must Burn – Grimoire

Label: Artery Recordings. Release date: 3rd March 2017.

After the success of their self-titled EP in 2015, SHE MUST BURN are now unleashing their new material in the form of album Grimoire. Thankfully the album is the EP 2.0, more of the same blackened symphonic metal, but with more confidence. Overall, the album has the feel of The Great Fire era BLEEDING THROUGH, which is not a terrible thing at all. With a good deal of CRADLE OF FILTH and MOTIONLESS IN WHITE influences thrown into the mix, Grimoire will no doubt catapult SHE MUST BURN into the blackened metal stratosphere.

No black metal influenced album would be complete without an atmospheric opening, and Grimoire does not fail to disappoint in the form of Ritual, an unsettling piece of audio which is probably the aural equivalent of paranoia and pyromania. The Wicked soon blasts in with the band’s signature sound of ferocious drumming and the hellish screams of frontman Joseph Sinclair. Female vocals soon haunt the chorus, hinting towards the gothic masterpiece this album could become. This track sounds more like a glorious finale, but instead it plays its part as a spellbinding opener.

Sean Harmanis from MAKE THEM SUFFER guests on next track Gloom, which erupts into a deliciously morbid composition. Gloom is blackened metal personified; fast riffs, fast screams, even faster drumming, with a shroud of chaotic gloom (‘scuse the pun). A perfect example of the manic darkness SHE MUST BURN offer to the unsuspecting masses. Victoria is almost blackened hardcore if that’s even a thing, but it works so well. The shouty vocals along with the keys compliment each other beautifully, it shouldn’t gel but somehow SHE MUST BURN achieve it. The song also includes clean male vocals which demonstrates the band’s willingness to display their talent and influences. So far with Grimoire, SHE MUST BURN do not disappoint.

The melancholic piano in A False Heaven provides a calm interlude in the middle of the album. Beautifully haunting yet classical, it would be the perfect soundtrack for a gothic period drama, think Pride and Prejudice if the Bennet sisters had a penchant for the dark arts. This illusion is shattered when the machine gun drums of From The Grave blast their way into your consciousness. The song takes a few unexpected turns; with a more melodic stance in parts, a mellow mood seeps in before a progressive ending brings the track to a thumping end.

Album closer After Death is a culmination of all the elements previously heard on the album. The most dramatic song on Grimoire, it is a fitting finale with soaring vocals and triumphant riffs. Just like the beginning of the album, the track closes with an atmospheric end, so that when the last note of the piano resonates you’ll already be willing to play Grimoire all over again.

 

Crystal Lake – True North

Label: Artery Recordings. Release Date: 2nd Dec 2016.

Punishing. That is the word to describe True North, the fourth album by this Japanese metal troupe from Tokyo. Now under MDDN management (Joel Madden of GOOD CHARLOTTE fame) this album is set to propel CRYSTAL LAKE  into the metal stratosphere. True North is an exciting and absolutely blistering record; full of surprises, this band definitely have a few tricks up their sleeve.

Their explosive brand of hardcore infused metalcore has made them pioneers of heavy music in their homeland, and now they are causing quite a stir in Europe and North America with their first single off the album, Omega. Crashing in with absolutely lethal vocals by Ryo coupled with the ferocious guitars and drumming, Omega is a blinding statement that CRYSTAL LAKE mean business. A truly crushing song, relief is found in melodic electronic effects which adds an interesting dynamic to the brutality of the composition.

Things then take an interesting turn with Hatred, an impressive example of metal with a hip hop flourish. CRYSTAL LAKE execute this mix of genres with aplomb, making this one of the most memorable songs from True North. The band then turn all of that on its head with Metro, a surprisingly catchy song with pop punk overtones, yet it maintains the band’s hardcore intensity. It is this intensity which CRYSTAL LAKE channel into the pummelling title track True North, a brutally honest anthem with lyrics such as “This is the way we are, this is the way we die.” It stands as a testament to how we are who we are, no matter the changes which occur around us.

It would ruin the surprise if the stylistic direction of every song on the album was described in this review, but one song you can become acquainted with before the release is the new track Six Feet Under. A violent 2 minute blast of pure hardcore which will most certainly feel like the aural equivalent of having your face ripped off. It kicks you in the throat then leaves you for dead before you’re washed up by the stunning album closer, Waves. This song perfectly juxtaposes melodic components with unforgivingly heavy elements, which results in a breath-taking finale to a truly spellbinding album. Believe the hype, CRYSTAL LAKE have arrived to claim the metal throne.