AWOOGA – Alpha EP

awoogaSheffield’s Awooga play music with a dark soul, but it could never be tagged gothic. Their music has a doomy heart, but it’s not straight up doom metal. It’s progressive and can be heavy, but never in the half-arsed way that three thousand Dream Theater wannabes think is acceptable. If you were to try and pigeonhole them, the closest comparison would be to liken them to a hybrid of Amplifier and early Deftones. The Amplifier-ish elements within their heavy and wandering arrangements probably went some way to scoring the band support slots with Amplifier themselves even before they’d released any studio material. How they got to support the Soft Machine obsessed Knifeworld, on the other hand, is anyone’s guess…

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RED CAIN – Red Cain EP

red-cain-epThere are too many bands within the progressive metal sphere that desperately want to be Dream Theater. Why, in the name of sanity, would musicians think that ten minute fretboard masturbatory noises and rhythmic histrionics would represent the apex of such talents? It’s bewildering to say the least, especially considering Dream Theater’s abominably boring live “shows”. With this in mind – and so much progressive metal leaning towards the unlistenable because of it – it’s refreshing when a band comes along that appreciates the necessity of a reasonable chorus and knows that shorter track lengths are necessary if a wider audience is to be reached. Calgary’s Red Cain are one such band. The spectrum affected purists might dismiss some of this debut EP as just metal, or alt-metal, but these four songs take in a variety of moods – and the forays into instrumental complexity, albeit without self-indulgence, still places them within the progressive bracket.

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GÉVAUDAN – Litost

gevaudan-litostWith bands like Kurokuma and Allfather making some very heavy waves, the underground doom scene in the UK found itself in a very healthy state moving into the close of 2016, perhaps more properous than it had been in a long while. There seemed to be new doom and sludge bands oozing through the woodwork on a weekly basis, but since the fashion for slow and heavy never gets old, the ever expanding scene had more than enough room to accommodate…and, this, obviously could only be a good thing.

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SUN OF GAIA – Corrode

sun of gaia epA progressive metal quartet from Adelaide, Sun of Gaia are a talented bunch. Rather than take the predictable prog-metal route of trying to recreate an hour’s worth of Dream Theater inspired anally retentive dullness pomposity, the tracks on their 2016 EP look farther afield for inspiration. The riffs are heavier than many prog metal bands for starters – more of a melodic death metal punch informs their sound, along with some hardcore – but that’s not all that sets them apart. In terms of taking such riffs and fusing them with the unexpected, this release is a real winner.

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