HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Cloven Blade - Cloven Blade
(October 32nd)

Most forms of ironic metal blow the balance between ridicule and reverence, simply because most of it is attempted by "new rock" bands in disguise, young, hip dressers (I see dainty locks of hair, wisps really) too frightened to show too much leg, and likely not talented enough, nor knowledgeable enough to pull it off. Sloan are the arseholes that started it all with that gay siren and crappy BTO rip-off song. Garbage, yet all sorts of alterna-waifs celebrated how metal they could be for a moment. In terms of bands worth talking about, there's been Strapping and more so Zimmershole. But this Cloven Blade thing bloody takes the blood-filled cake (with finger bones for candles). Cloven Blade is so sly, you can pretty much imagine them the coolest, strangest, most magnetizing power metal band on the planet - perhaps the resurrection of the NWOBHM's Cloven Hoof, because everything about the band's vibe is here. Or you can see the humour in Ash Lee Blade's early Shrapnel catalogue deliveries. Who is this masked man? Well, he's Eric Coucke, ex-of Tchort, a band which fragmented to an amazing '70s-style band called The Illuminati and the "Maiden with rising sun leg-warmers" quartet of rocker of which we hail. In terms of a few particulars, the M. Fate riffs and Gorham/Robertson twins of Jr. Blade are smooth and meticulous as silk, the perfect scintillating match to the rhythm section of Necrohippie and The Jim, probably the tightest and most inspiring I've heard in years. One mark off for the lampooning of hair metal, not the lampooning part, just wasting three songs o'er there. An Oz, Highway Chile or Torch cover would have sufficed. The talent involved seems limitless, but with a wink, it's used for evil rather than good. I mean goddamn, it's like Peter Mensch cloned four uber-menschs from the heavy metal trenches, stringing like Christmas lights, strands of the finest DNA culled from 30 years of the stuff (Gene Simmons and Helix included). Highlights: Pilgrimreaper, Deamon Saviour and White Lite, tracks where you can hear this mother of a four-way tag match, friggin' hell... this guy's gotta be the best metal drummer f**king ever. www.october32.com
Rating 9

Himsa - Courting Tragedy And Disaster

Upstart Prosthetic Records follow-up their unfathomably remarkable second Lamb Of God album with a band of quite a different stripe, Seattle's five years young Himsa combining the ubiquitous roar of hardcore with songs that rough up like Shadows Fall and God Forbid, but then rattle off more post-Maiden licks than In Flames. It's a strange combination, especially with production values this roughshod. What results is a frenzied, fast album that vibes out like well-regarded, cross-nation faux-Swedish thrashers Darkest Hour. We're about 18 months too late to call Himsa part of the first wave of U.S. bands attempting these chops-demanding hybrids, but that's not to say that Himsa isn't a welcome addition to the nasty camp of those attempting melodic thrash.
Rating 7.5

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