Review catchup Darkthrone, Odessa, Sons of Aeon, Hanging Garden, The Omega Experiment, Hatchet, Wolvespirit

You’ve heard all the excuses. All my kids got sick – one at a time – then I caught the lurgy. A few weeks of sinusitis where I was practically deaf, followed then by a week of (real) flu, then a holiday in Wales – has led to something of a backlog (and a convoluted sentence). I’m back now though and raring to go.

Time to face the backlog, some of which I’d heard before all the drama above, some I’ve just had a chance of listening to. But finally I get to tell you what I think of these records that have been piling up here. So without further ado, let’s have at it.

Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance
The duo of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto return for another batch of crusty old metal and punk, though the focus is much more on metal for this Darkthrone outing. There’s plenty of variety – from the pure cheese of power metal to much harder deathly offerings. While not the band’s best work there are plenty of moments to enjoy – particularly if you take the view that the Norwegian duo are actually taking the piss, of which there is plenty of evidence on the record.

Odessa – Carry the Weight
It’s metalcore, so obviously not really going to win many friends around these parts. But as metalcore goes it’s competent stuff. Some of Odessa’s riffing is pretty good, though the the bits where the poppy clean vocals come in make me want to hit the band over the head with a breeze-block with the word “cliche” painted on it. Probably a great record if you’re 13.

Sons of Aeon – Sons of Aeon
I should really like this album. After all Sons of Aeon guitarist Wille Naukkarinen name-checks bands such as Entombed, Cathedral, At the Gates and Carcass as influences. But this slab of death metal doesn’t quite work for me. I’m not sure why. There are great riffs aplenty, crunching vocals and drums that sound like they were played by a human. Yet I wasn’t gripped. I enjoyed every minute of listening to this album, but then never felt the need to listen to it again. Sadly. Fabulous album cover though – I’m a sucker for good photos of lighthouses. Anyway, I’ll probably give it another go, so perhaps you should too.

Hanging Garden – At Every Door
Now here we have a great record. Gothic doom merchants Hanging Garden return with a new album that evokes the eighties in a way that Sirenia used to (before they became complete toss). The Mission, Fields of the Nephilim and Sisters of Mercy fans can ditch those smiles and return to evocative, miserable gothic rock that makes you want to paint your bedroom black and kick a Bros fan. All joking aside this is a great album and one for fans of bleaker (though not necessarily heavier) metal, even Paradise Lost fans will find plenty to enjoy here too. One of the better releases I’ve heard recently, go buy it.

The Omega Experiment – The Omega Experiment
And now some progressive rock. Which version? Well the version that means the music is all twiddly. not the version that means this is music that progresses the genre. Clear? Well it’s okay I suppose. Some of the best bits evoke Kevin Moore-era Dream Theater, though it’s a much more ethereal album than those progressive metallers ever put out. The Omega Experiment is competent enough but it has too much of a wiff of a bedroom project about it. And for an album that is so heavily focussed on vocals, the vocals aren’t actually that great. But then you could say the same about Dream Theater. Perhaps this is a record for DT fans missing the band’s early sound, but then you could just listen to Images & Words again. The Omega Experiment is okay, er and that’s it.

Hatchet – Dawn of the End
I’m not sure if Hatchet are sincere or taking the piss, but whatever the case this is a fabulously indulgent homage to eighties Bay Area thrash. Actually that’s too broad. Let’s be clear, this is Hatchet pretending to be 1985 Metallica. There’s nothing subtle about the impersonation, though there are a couple of mistakes – the lead guitarist is actually too good to be Kirk Hammett, and the vocalist is trying way too hard to sound like a drunk James Hetfield. That aside I enjoyed the hell out of this record thanks to some fabulous riffing. If you’re a lover of chunky rhythmic guitar playing then buy this album right now. There is a really horrible misstep at one point when Hatchet think they can get away with ripping off Creeping Death – this really doesn’t work at all well – but otherwise this is a solid, fun, rocking album for fat old metal fans who miss the Metallica that wrote good songs (or lets be honest, had any Dave Mustaine material left to pilfer).

Wolvespirit – Dreamcatcher
Have you ever wondered what a decidedly average Deep Purple covers band would sound like if they had a female Biff Byford impersonator on vocals? Well wait no longer, Germany’s Wolvespirit are here to make your dreams come true. Shite.