Musical Digest: Ironstorm, Accursed Spawn and Rage Nucléaire

Ironstorm - Wrathwind

Ironstorm is a new female-fronted power-thrash band from Edmonton. This five-piece band (two guitars, one bass, one drum and one singer) includes members of pagan-folk metal band Mongol, death metal band Eye of Horus, and heavy-doom band Gatekeeper. With these different horizons blended together, we can expect one hell of a heavy ride.

Wrathwind is the band’s first EP and includes five songs plus a live track, for a total of 32 minutes. From the very beginning of the album, as “Take the Wheel” litterally explodes and creates a power metal hype, we find Ironstorm making a stand for pure heavy metal. The pace is quick, the picking is fast, and the vocals sound incredible. The band knows exactly what metal is about, and they walk the talk. Listen for example to the excellent “Revenant”, a song that displays a catchy and aggressive guitar attack that would make any Anvil and Judas Priest’ imitator jealous.

On the other side of the coin, Wrathwind is like a supper quickly thrown together, where the good ingredients don’t necessarily mix well. The guitar work is like Iron Maiden without the galloping bass. On “Dreamons”, for example, we only find a few melodic rock bass notes, under a thick layer of speed metal guitar. Also, while we can hear everything in the mix, it has the effect of scattering the instruments: the razor-sharp guitars are on the ground floor, the loose bass is a few levels underneath, and the vocals are perched high above. Don’t get me wrong, the execution is fine, but the recording misses something. As a result, Wrathwind sounds like a demo mastered by professional hands (Andy Larocque), rather than a solid first offering.

To sum it up, this EP is the perfect format to show that Ironstorm has good musicianship and potential as a new entity. Should the band work with a professional producer from the very beginning of the pre-production stages, I’m sure it would live up to its name, thus creating a very powerful storm of metal.

Check it out: http://ironstorm.bandcamp.com/

Accursed Spawn - Putrid mmic

Moving to Ottawa, where technical and death metal bands are kings, we find the new Acccursed Spawn EP which was quietly released as the band opened up for Thy Art is Murder a few weeks ago (a proper album launch is planned for this Fall). Putrid is the name and brutal is its claim.

The EP starts with a short classical guitar intro, a nod at classic 90′s death metal albums. Drums kick in soon after, and we get the full Accursed Spawn assault. ”Sedate to Mutilate” is a brutal first song, displaying speed, technique, juicy guitar squeals, and a healthy dose of headbanging (especially at the 1:17 mark). Like a tank rolling through a village, structures are never dull nor repetitive with Accursed Spawn. On “Clotheshanger Abortion”, we find a few cocained Cannibal Corpse riffs, but while they resonate like a series of chorus, these riffs’ real purpose is to bind the different parts of the song together. The execution is finger-licking: guitar solos can be over the top, whether pledging allegiance to Slayer (“Clotheshanger Abortion”) or Carcass (“My Fist”), and drums on “Burned into Sterility” make me believe Jay Cross is a contender for the fastest blastbeat of 2014. Putrid’s production is carnal yet monstrous at the same time, like farm-grown corpses designed to conquer the underworlds. Drums are as leathery as blackened dead skin, guitars are as swarming as a two-day bullet hole, and vocals are just as horrifying as the indelible memories of a murder scene; the whole thing being a little muffled, giving it this beautiful underground stench. My favourite song on the EP remains “Burned into Sterility”, with its bicephalous structure and its more atmospheric Gojira-esque ending.

Putrid is without a doubt Accursed Spawn’s biggest achievement to date, and it brings all the assets of a good death metal album: brutality in sound, a balance between headbanging riffs and technique, and a rich dose of creative surprises to keep it fresh. I can only hope Accursed Spawn doesn’t surf on that EP for too long and records more of this good stuff.

Check it out: http://accursedspawn.bandcamp.com/

Rage Nucleaire - Black Storm of Violence

One of the darkest hidden gems on the Montreal scene, Rage Nucléaire is probably best known for its members, including none other than Lord Worm of Cryptopsy fame on vocals, and Fredrik Widigs of Marduk on drums. On July 22nd, the band released their second album, Black Storm of Violence, a very appropriate title. Mixing black and death metal into a Swedish black metal type of production, Rage Nucléaire’s music is cold and disincarnated, fast and mechanical. The perfectly executed drums, playing blast beats and ultra fast double bass drums on the vast majority of the album, runs the show. Guitars are as constant as the devil: they shred fast and unrelentingly, sticking to the drums in an almost industrial pace. Lord Worm’s vocals are as eerie and unhuman as ever, creating the perfect demonic atmosphere to crown this type of music.

Crafted with very few variations of tempos, Rage Nucléaire’s music is made to create an immediate impact on the listener and sustain it ’til the end of the album. The devastative blow can be soon tiring for the ear, but this is exactly what this genre of black metal is about: an extreme, uncompromised approach to music. The only ray of hope is in the chosen chords and the balance between savage and melodic riffage, which justifies listening the album ’til the end. If Dark Funeral, N.K.V.D., and Anaal Nathrakh is your thing, check out these pals here:

http://ragenucleaire.bandcamp.com/album/black-storm-of-violence .

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