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Album Reviews Reviews Short Sharp Shock

Short Sharp Shock #24: Buckle Up!

This edition of Short Sharp Shock offers you a wealth of different metal EPs and mini-albums to get stuck into, so buckle up and get ready for five scorching new releases…

MorgalBand(s): Morgal

Title: Morgal

Style(s): Black Metal

Duration: 14 minutes

Release date: November 30, 2018

Let’s start with some underground Finnish black metal, shall we? This is both old-school and timeless, with swirling melodies, grim riffs, and harsh shrieking vocals. The songs are brief and get to the heart of the matter quickly. Fashioned from pure darkness and containing true grit, these are extremely enjoyable tracks. Each one of them is filled with the type of infectious blackened delivery that’s undeniably effective, and this band have severely impressed with these barbed anthems. [ed. note: check back on Nov. 28 for a full stream of the EP, along with an interview with the band]

Fractal CypherBand(s): Fractal Cypher

Title: Prelude to an Impending Outcome

Style(s): Progressive Metal

Duration: 35 minutes

Release date: November 8, 2018

The latest EP from this Canadian metal band is on the long side for an EP, but Hell, it’s a damn good listen so we’ll let them off, eh? I really enjoyed Fractal Cypher’s debut album The Human Paradox, and this new release is a great overview of what the band’s modern progressive metal is capable of. Apparently the band’s intention was to craft a very disparate set of tracks. To quote them direct – “Prelude to an Impending Outcome is a mini album of 4 songs that are completely different from one to another to create a maximum roller coaster effect and make it non linear and interesting to listen to.” So there. As they say, rather than having the band’s various influences spread out evenly over the whole release, they’re segregated into their own tracks. Of course, each of these songs is still the same band, so they don’t sound as completely alien to each other as the band’s above statement might suggest, but I like what they have done here nonetheless. Another strong release from this up-and-coming group.

PhoxjawBand(s): Phoxjaw

Title: Goodbye Dinosaur…

Style(s): Alternative/Grunge

Duration: 21 minutes

Release date: November 16, 2018

This UK alternative rock band have apparently been compared to At the Drive In and Cave In, and I can see why. Goodbye Dinosaur… contains the same kind of larger-than-life charisma, personality, and energy as those two bands. Thankfully this is achieved in such a way that sees Phoxjaw still proudly displaying their own colours and character rather than coming off as simply pale imitations. When listening to this EP it’s blatantly obvious that Phoxjaw have buckets of talent, and Goodbye Dinosaur… is a very strong debut release. More please.

TuskarBand(s): Tuskar

Title: The Tide, Beneath, The Wall

Style(s): Sludge/Doom Metal

Duration: 20 minutes

Release date: December 7, 2018

Now here’s a nasty slab of heaviness. Bursting out of the speakers like a lumbering colossus, this EP is a crushing example of filthy sludge metal done right. Bolstered with some downright vicious black metal enhancements, Tuskar clearly know a thing or two about grimy riffs. Whether they’re speeding things up with some caustic speed, rolling along at a destructive groovy pace, or slowing things down to a malignant crawl, this is a band that clearly just want to flatten you completely and then slice you up afterwards. Whether you want this to happen to you is another matter, of course, but it makes for damn good music.

State of EmberBand(s): State of Ember

Title: Broken Horizons

Style(s): Hard Rock

Duration: 19 minutes

Release date: January 11, 2019

This UK hard rock band deal in riffs, melodies, and plenty of hooks. It’s a modern rock style played with youthful vigour and vibrant energy. Well-written, with brief songs that are simple and effective, this is an updated version of the type of rock I used to listen to a lot in the 90s – bands like Kerbdog, Janus Stark, The Wildhearts, China Drum, and the like. It’s good stuff.

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