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domenica 19 ottobre 2014

Storm Breeder - The Knave

#FOR FANS OF: Progressive/Thrash Metal, Vektor, Abysmalia
When thinking of the term ‘One-Man Band,’ it is quite rarely used to describe Thrash acts so Australia’s Storm Breeder are in very rarified air on this debut. The most apparent factor on the album is Ben Petch’s obviously skilled guitar playing on here which is the main highlight to many of these songs as the skill-set featured here is quite varied and dynamic with just about all the main songs here ranging over seven minutes, one clocking in at nine and only one at five minutes so there’s a lot of material to get through here. The progressive influences come from the incredibly varied tempo changes and dynamics that occur throughout most of the tracks here given that their extended running time allows for such experimentation and variety to happen, while also utilizing the more renown part of Progressive Metal of incorporating the chugging guitar rhythms for its main weapon of attack here which is at times fitting to the music, while others are such radical departures that they cause the music, however well-written and composed they are to stick out quite readily throughout. Despite the length being a big factor here, the music does have a tendency to remain far-too low-key and down-tempo when it really should be a lot faster so the plodding energy can have a lowered effect on the music as a whole here when it really fails to muster any kind of energy for the music on hand. Still, the majority of the tracks here being quite good does make-up for those flaws. The title track immediately sets things in motion with a slew of proficiently arranged rhythms, challenging drum-beats and various tempo changes that showcase the talent on hand while giving off a clear view of what’s to come. A huge misstep after that fine opener, ‘Blood Stained Crown’ nearly eschews thrashing paces for simple riffs, melodic dirges and an energy level that rivals your average ballad for its extended running time, barely keeping the interest in there. The massive epic ‘Scarlet Shade of Death’ is little better with a slew of light, melodic guitars, female vocals and simple riffs throughout a near-ten minute romp that occasionally features a few harder segments but really keeps the lighter sections in play until the finale when it really thrashes away with abandon to save it, but it’s still barely eight minutes into this. Thankfully, ‘March of the Damage Men’ gets back into the energetic riffing with plenty of up-tempo patterns, technically-complex arrangements and plenty of melody while still keeping this going along nicely which makes for a more enjoyable track overall. ‘Mechanised Extermination’ opts for more industrial influences in terms of cyber-sounding keyboards and pounding drumming alongside tight, marching guitars for another rather enjoyable track here. Offering a bit of a further departure from the norm, ‘Demoniacal’ offers the kind of plodding pace, lush keyboard histrionics and melancholic vibe that recalls Gothic Metal at times, a strange choice on a straight-up Thrash record and does have a love/hate relationship to it: it’s a good song as it’s written but just seems like such a left-handed turn from the rest of the material it doesn’t mesh well with anything else. The instrumental ‘A Cold Day in Hell’ serves well as a fine break in the action with its lighter pace and plodding rhythms keeping this short and to the point. Starting off with a bang, ‘Revelation’ carries the better elements in here along with quite a few rather engaging segments that switches things up nicely and ends this on a positive note. Overall, this one isn’t that bad and has some rather decent moments to make for a rather engaging if flawed listen. (Don Anelli)

(Paragon Records - 2013)
Score: 70