HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Loch Vostok - Destruction Time Again

Like Nirvana, this band's drummer started a new band, switching to guitars and vocals. The old band was a proggy sort called Mayadome, and three principals are in this curious pastiche act. Combining rock generalist graphics with snappy, highly interesting lyrics, Loch Vostok then move to the aural realm and continue to confound. Opener 'Humanitix' reminds one of Children Of Bodom (the opening minute is a weak intro to a strong album), but then black metal, death and thrash spit then recoil, all the while Loch Vostok (named for a subterranean Antarctic lake), more so creating a bastion of hard, jackhammering prog metal along the lines of Eidolon, Evergrey and Symphony X. And hard to believe, but vocals go to all those places as well, again, with the ornate keys and the barking, Children Of Bodom stickin' in the head. The most amazing thing happens though with 'Symbiosis', the band turning in a gorgeous pop progster that... man, only thing to remind me of Blue Oyster Cult in a long time. And that opens the floodgates, this thing becoming a grower, addictive, always pert and shiny, energetic and precise, hooky in all directions. You want a descriptor-defier that's also more than art for art's sake, pony up right here.
Rating 7.5

Cataract - Kingdom
(Metal Blade)

What is one to say? Like the criminally under-rated God Dethroned and Carnal Forge, Switzerland's Cataract are out there in Europe making metal of a superb quality, using modern toolings, only a smidge of modern styles, anchoring their imposing sound in a complex miasma of death metal movements. Slayer is the obvious platform (with the intro to 'On This Graveyard' being quite nearly a direct quote), even if this eight year old, four record band is caffeinated by the impatient high-concept riffing of metalcore and the attendant screaming bloody hair-pulled vocals. Tue Madsen's production cooks the drums to a hard, dried-out crisp, perfectly tempered for the band's quick-thrashing sensibilities and their doom-laden King and Hanneman circle-around riffs. Frustrating - one could call Kingdom an 8 or even a 9, but should, responsibly, hold back due to the band's inability (unwillingness) to break any sort of new ground, or indeed push forth persona, despite... an unarguable sort of thrash perfection.
Rating 7.5

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