Album Review – Strangle Wire / Shaped By Human Frailty (2022)

A gargantuan collision between the heaviest of Death Metal and the darkest of emotions, submerged in an unsettling atmosphere of grief and isolation, masterfully crafted by a ruthless Belfast-based quartet.

A gargantuan collision between the heaviest of Death Metal and the darkest of emotions, submerged in an unsettling atmosphere of grief and isolation, Shaped By Human Frailty, the first full-length album by Belfast, Northern Ireland-based horde Strangle Wire, is a demonstration of Death Metal at its most effective and affecting, with sheer power being shaped by superb song writing following up on their 2018 EP The Dark Triad. Branding themselves as “Psychological Death Metal”, the band currently formed of Pete on vocals, Ross on the guitar, Daff on bass and John on drums delivers fast, groove laden and devastatingly heavy Death Metal throughout the entire album with the assistance of Chris Fielding (Electric Wizard, Primordial, Napalm Death) at Foel Studios, being therefore tailored for fans of Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, Grave and Benediction.

Arising from the pits of the underworld, the band kicks things off with a demented Death Metal attack entitled Heavily Medicated, where the vocals by Pete sound inhumane, also showcasing an amazing stringed work by Ross and Daff while John decimates our souls with his crushing drums. Pete roars deeply in the also pulverizing Learned Wretchedness, bringing forward old school Death Metal for lovers of the genre while again inviting us all to slam into the circle pit like demented metalmaniacs, with Ross extracting sheer obscurity from his riffs and solos. Are you tired already? Because there’s more of the band’s demolishing Death Metal in Judas Switch, an ass-kicking, infernal creation bringing to our avid ears more of the putrid guttural by Pete and the hammering drums by John, and get ready to be smashed by Strangle Wire in the demonic The Human Tensile Experiment, where the sensational blast beats by John offer Pete exactly what he needs to bark like a rabid beast, not to mention how heavy and visceral the guitars and bass by Ross and Daff sound.

Take a deep breath to the sound of the melancholic instrumental interlude An Abhorrent Intervention before all hell breaks loose in the title-track Shaped by Human Frailty, offering us all old school, in-your-face Death Metal with no shenanigans, being vile and aggressive from start to finish spearheaded by the intricate and demonic beats by John. Dead Before the Still brings forward less than three minutes of pulverizing groove and heaviness by the quartet, with the bass by Daff making our heads tremble in an ode to classic Death Metal; whereas their second to last blast of insanity and darkness, titled Psychology of the Sick, is a lesson in violence inspiring us all to headbang like there’s no tomorrow. And there’s nothing better than ending an album of crushing Death Metal with another crushing song, named Horrors Beneath, where Pete roars in great fashion supported by the stunning instrumental by his bandmates.

If you would like to explore the vicious, psychological world of Strangle Wire, you can do so by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by streaming their music on Spotify, and by purchasing Shaped By Human Frailty from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music sooner than you can say “Death Metal”, or simply click HERE for all things Strangle Wire. Absolutely dark and sinister, Shaped By Human Frailty provides us with the exact message that the band wanted to send when they started working on the album, with its cruel atmosphere proving that once you’re captured by the Death Metal brought into being by Strangle Wire, there’s no escape.

Best moments of the album: Heavily Medicated, The Human Tensile Experiment and Horrors Beneath.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Grindscene Records

Track listing
1. Heavily Medicated 3:25
2. Learned Wretchedness 3:58
3. Judas Switch 4:08
4. The Human Tensile Experiment 4:24
5. An Abhorrent Intervention 1:03
6. Shaped by Human Frailty 5:26
7. Dead Before the Still 2:39
8. Psychology of the Sick 3:33
9. Horrors Beneath 5:38

Band members
Pete – vocals
Ross – guitar
Daff – bass
John – drums

Album Review – Alunah / Strange Machine (2022)

Welcome to the “Strange Machine” driven by this unstoppable Hard Rock and Doom Metal entity, showcasing the band in their most diverse yet focused light.

Hailing from Sabbath City, the unstoppable Hard Rock/Doom Metal entity Alunah continues to tread their own path in 2022 with a fantastic new album, titled Strange Machine, following up on their critically acclaimed 2019 opus Violet Hour. Written and rehearsed during the pandemic whilst overcoming numerous personal struggles, recorded at the famous Foel Studio, and displaying a stylish artwork by Mariano Peccinetti, the album shows frontwoman Siân Greenaway, guitarist Matt Noble, bassist Daniel Burchmore and drummer Jake Mason in their most diverse yet focused light, overflowing with groove, blues, psychedelia and ferocity, therefore welcoming us all to the “Strange Machine” driven by such distinguished band.

And you better get ready for a wicked voyage to the sound of the title-track Strange Machine, with Jake taking the lead with his Doom Metal beats while Siân is absolutely mesmerizing on vocals, all spiced up by the razor-edged riffs by Matt. Let’s keep banging our heads to the rumbling bass by Daniel in Over The Hills, another lesson in Hard Rock and Doom Metal by the quartet that sounds and feels dense and captivating from start to finish; whereas it’s time for over six minutes of somber, melancholic passages and sounds in the form of Fade Into Fantasy, with Siân once again taking our hearts by storm with her deep, stunning vocals, followed by Broken Stone, another enfolding tune that starts in a tribal manner to the beats by Jake and the low-tuned, metallic bass by Daniel, while Matt delivers fiery Black Sabbath-inspired riffs from his axe. And in Psychedelic Expressway the name of the song says it all, bringing forward a romantic, thrilling fusion of Doom Metal with Psychedelic Rock for our vulgar delectation where all band members are on fire until the very end.

Featuring guest guitars from Shane Wesley of Crowbar, Alunah present the heavy and dirty The Earth Spins, a good composition that keeps the album at a high level of energy, while putting the pedal to the metal Siân and the boys are going to kick your ass mercilessly in Silver, showcasing those electrifying riffs we all love so much in Doom and Stoner Metal. Put differently, there’s not a single second of boredom throughout the entire song; it’s thunderous heavy music at its finest. And we face more of the raw bass lines by Daniel in Teaching Carnal Sins, who makes a fantastic duo with Matt and his old school riffage, flowing smoothly and darkly until the last second and consequently keeping us hypnotized by the band’s flawless performance. Lastly, the closing tune Dead Woman Walking is just as groovy and enfolding as the rest of the album, with Matt offering Siân all she needs to shine on vocals once again, generating a sensational conclusion to the album.

As usual, you can get to know Siân and the boys better by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, and by streaming more of their intense, somber and melodic creations on Spotify. In addition, in order to show your true support and admiration for Alunah, you should grab a copy of Strange Machine from the Heavy Psych Sounds Records’ BandCamp page or webstore really soon, adding another fantastic item to your devilish collection. Alunah are taking a huge step forward in their career with Strange Machine, solidifying their sound, shaping up their own style, and as a consequence cementing their name in the history of British Doom Metal. Welcome to the Strange Machine, and let’s keep raising our horns to Alunah in the name of doom.

Best moments of the album: Broken Stone, Silver and Dead Woman Walking.

Worst moments of the album: The Earth Spins.

Released in 2022 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. Strange Machine 5:00
2. Over The Hills 3:55
3. Fade Into Fantasy 6:15
4. Broken Stone 5:16
5. Psychedelic Expressway 4:14
6. The Earth Spins 5:09
7. Silver 3:37
8. Teaching Carnal Sins 5:02
9. Dead Woman Walking 3:56

Band members
Siân Greenaway – vocals
Matt Noble – guitar
Daniel Burchmore – bass
Jake Mason – drums

Guest musician
Shane Wesley – guitars on “The Earth Spins”

Album Review – Alunah / Violet Hour (2019)

The Stygian clouds of doom are coming to darken the skies to the sound of the newborn spawn by a fantastic UK-based Hard Rock and Doom Metal unity.

Brace yourselves, my dear metalheads, as the Stygian clouds of doom are coming to darken the skies to the sound of Violet Hour, the brand new album by UK-based Hard Rock/Doom Metal frontrunners Alunah, one of the best albums of 2019 from the underground and independent scene without a shadow of a doubt. Founded in 2006 in “Sabbath City”, usually referred to as Birmingham, the band comprised of the enchantress Siân Greenaway on vocals, the talented Dean Ashton (bassist for UK’s Hard Rock institution Diamond Head) on the guitar, the unstoppable Daniel Burchmore on bass and founding member Jake Mason on drums is ready to strike once again harder than ever, bringing more riffs, more swagger and more groove to our avid ears with their newborn opus.

Recorded at Wales’ historic Foel Studio, produced by Chris Fielding (Skyhammer Studio), and featuring a beyond obscure and captivating artwork by Brazilian artist Felipe Froeder (Arcano XV), Violent Hour offers the listener a searing combination of intoxicating melodies and riffs on top of a high-class songwriting. “Alunah are very happy and excited to release Violet Hour to the world. It has been so enjoyable to write and record this album during an energetic and focused period for the band. Having it released on Heavy Psych Sounds is a great feeling and we cannot wait for people to hear it. The time to fear is now!”, commented the band about the album, inviting all of us to join them in their quest for old school doom.

Siân and the boys don’t give us a single second to breathe in the amazing opening track Trapped & Bound, spearheaded by Dean’s heavy-as-hell riffs and Jake’s pounding drums. I dare you to not bang your head to the song’s hypnotizing rhythm, a perfect fusion of the doomed music by Black Sabbath with the badass Sludge Metal played by Crowbar, and to show you how awesome this song is, it’s also featured on the 2019 compilation Doomed & Stoned in England, just like another crushing song by their countrymen Warcrab. And the somber, deep and addictive vocals by Siân add an extra touch of evil to the dark and sluggish Dance of Deceit, where Dean and Daniel are merciless with their stringed weapons, not to mention Dean’s amazing solo as the icing on the cake.

Then we’re treated to Hunt, a lesson in Doom Metal by Alunah sounding slow and enthralling form start to finish, with Jake’s beats bringing nuances of melancholy to the music while Siân beautifully declaims the song’s devilish lyrics. Put differently, it reminds me of some of the best tracks from Heaven & Hell’s classic The Devil You Know, and if you like that album you know what I’m talking about. In Hypnotised the name of the song says it all, with Dean being on fire with his demonic riffage and solos while Daniel couldn’t sound more thunderous on bass. Hence, it keeps the album at a high level of heaviness and darkness, being therefore recommended for all your beer-drinking, headbanging moments in life, whereas the title-track Violet Hour is just as mesmerizing and delicious as its predecessors, with Siân’s vocals sounding so powerful it’s hard to describe them in just a few words, and with Dean slashing our ears and minds with his grim guitar lines.

Jake smashes his drums fiercely in the also obscure and sexy Unholy Disease, one of those Doom Metal songs that will put you in a trance, or in other words, your soul belongs solely to Siân during the song’s five minutes of razor-edged riffs, low-tuned bass punches and an endless amount of electricity. Velvet sounds as delicate but at the same time as hot and striking as velvet itself, being the perfect soundtrack for a movie scene at an obscure pub somewhere in the middle of England, while Jake keeps hammering his drums slowly and steady just the way we like it, nicely boosted by Daniel’s metallic, rumbling bass. And crisp guitar lines and an enfolding atmosphere are the main ingredients in Lake of Fire, a dark and serene composition showcasing another flawless vocal performance by Siân supported by the thunderous sounds blasted by her bandmates, making you want to walk into a real lake of fire with her until the song’s ethereal finale.

This precious gem of classic Doom Metal made in the UK is already on pre-sale on the Heavy Psych Sounds Records’ BandCamp and webstore, as well as on several other locations such as the All That Is Heavy webstore, the Season of Mist webstore, the Shiny Beast music mailorder, and Amazon. Having said that, simply let your mind be enfolded by the spellbinding Doom Metal delivered by Alunah in Violet Hour, and may your damned soul forever be comfortable in darkness, exactly how we expect it to be in first-class Doom Metal from the always somber and charming United Kingdom.

Best moments of the album: Trapped & Bound, Hunt and Unholy Disease.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. Trapped & Bound 4:58
2. Dance of Deceit 3:54
3. Hunt 5:38
4. Hypnotised 6:11
5. Violet Hour 4:24
6. Unholy Disease 4:55
7. Velvet 6:22
8. Lake of Fire 6:33

Band members
Siân Greenaway – vocals
Dean Ashton – guitar
Daniel Burchmore – bass
Jake Mason – drums