Divine Element: Thaurachs Of Borsu (I, Voidhanger Records)
The second album from Greek/Hungarian melodic death/black metal act Divine Element is one that really taps into the best parts of the genre leaders such as Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth, it skillfully blends orchestral atmospheric backing tracks with razor-sharp riffs and demonic vocals. Flurries of blastbeats kick off the title track with supersonic shredding coming from Ayloss who handles all stringed and keyed instruments leaving the roars to Antonis, joining the duo on drums for this record is Hannes Grossmann who works his Bavarian ass off behind the kit.
This record has been seven years in the making and it's paid off, the tracks are multi-layered, brilliantly heavy but without the nonsensical vocals and poor production that affect the genre every lyric is audible as Antonis barks them and the production means that nothing outweighs anything else. Clocking in at just 40 minutes it doesn't outstay it's welcome but the tracks are made to hold the attention especially longer ones such as Onto The Trail Of Betrayal which has numerous changes and some killer soloing at it's end.
I'm unsure whether this album is a concept record as it does seem to have a defined beginning, middle and end identified by the three instrumentals that split the album, there is an epic tone to the album, with the sort of triumphant war-like themes found in battle/Viking metal, they can be heard best on the bombastic Beyond This Sea and the ravenous riffage of Call Of The Blade. Sailing towards the genres leaders at pace sword drawn high, Divine Element are ready to conquer and rule. 8/10
Time Collapse: Night To Day (Self Released)
Another band from Athens but unlike Divine Element, Time Collapse take a much more melodic sound, there is metal but it's used to augment the atmospheric progressive rock and make soundscapes that have their influence in the darker themes of Tool, King Crimson and Porcupine Tree, the complex drum patterns of Babis that drive Time Bound and Time Collapse are from the Danny Carey bag of tricks poly rhythmic and lead instrument in their own right, when paired with the low bass of Giannis it gives the record chunky riffs as the guitars of Nikos and Christos float over top with the melodic dexterity of Alex Lifeson and Robert Fripp.
It's one of those albums where the songs blend into one and other taking the listener on a audio journey through the band's 3 years of work. Stavros is like a glue holding the soundscapes in place with his synths and keys as Christos' deep vocals resonate like Jonas Renske or Maynard himself, especially on the monumental title track which also features some clarinet to give a more rounded sound. The album culminates in the 3 part Messiah Complex suite which ends the album with both the most progressive and heaviest material. Night To Day is well worth the three years it's taken to make, an ideal record if you, like me, enjoy Tool, Porcupine Tree et al and as an extra bonus it's available as a name your price album on the bands bandcamp. 8/10
Simplefast: Apocalypse (Amadea Music)
Apocalypse is the debut album of Greek modern metal mob Simplefast, their style of metal is post-millennial metal with harmonic guitars, the groove-laden rhythm section and clean/harsh vocals employed throughout. Pain is a heavy opening number with furious riffage and starts the record well with an aggressive tone, unfortunately The Escape is terrible an overly emo piece that sounds like a budget BMTH. Then they channel the slow Metallica sounds on Not Coming Home and take some Trivium,and Killswitch Engage but pair it with vocals that are a bit too weak especially the clean ones. The music is OK but it's all a bit too generic for my liking, it's just the vocals mainly they really aren't that interesting at all and it makes the album poor because of it. 4/10