HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Shadowkeep - A Chaos Theory

UK's Shadowkeep (now one word, it seems) follow-up the well received Corruption Within debut with another album of edgy, undergrounded power metal that recalls the murky world of mid-'80s post-Priest toilers like Helstar, Jag Panzer, Fates Warning, Culprit, even Nasty Savage. And therein lies their trump card, Shadowkeep providing hysterically brightly recorded power metal anthems (producer: Threshold's Karl Groom) that retain the grit and live mayhem of the old American stuff, eschewing the European tendency to sound like heavier versions of the lederhosened polka band imploring you to try the bratwurst. With a new rhythm section in tow, including a drummer who once worked the backline for Angel Witch, Shadowkeep are well-poised to keep their streak alive as top echelon newcomers of a genre that has been too much for too long inundated with precious ballerina metal poseurs. To locate A Chaos Theory in your local record shoppe, look for the band with the female guitarist, the not so gay song titles and the cool, cryptic cover art.
Rating 8

Rapture - Songs For The Withering
(Spikefarm/Century Media)

First off, this is the best production job I've heard in ages. Opening track Nameless positively splashes into the room like a big pail of mercury on hardwood flooring, Rapture matching the majesty with their gorgeous, navy blue brand of Finnish depressant rock somewhere between Sentenced, Amorphis, Katatonia and Daylight Dies. Then Gallows opens with unstoppable twin leads and there's now turning back: this will positively be one of a handful of albums I'll play a sick amount of obsessive times this year, tracks four and five, Transfixion and The Vast doing much the same thing to metal's mournful heartstrings, Tomi and Aleksi weaving frost rock magic with axes of ice. Twin clean and death vocals trade magnificently throughout, in somewhat increasingly clichˇ fashion. But then again, Rapture are in early on the second (third?) wave of this genre I dig thoroughly. It's the next 20 bands to come that I might not embrace so joyfully. Smooth, driving, immediate, groovy and clean Finnish churn metal delivered with the utmost hi-fidelity by Tuomo Valtonen from SundiCoop and Mika Jussila and Finnvox, Songs For The Withering is a more than fitting follow-up to Futile, the band's debut now three years old. Pointer for pointed ears: work your way (eventually and studiously) to the last track, where Rapture turn in a seven minute doom monster with spoken word lyrics, the band ringing out the record slow and repetitious like My Dying Bride as interpreted by Pink Floyd.
Rating 9

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