In spite of the global situation, the Scottish scene has been cranking out some quality music across all the genres, metal included.
Bands such as Bleed From Within, King Witch and Dead By Monday could easily lay claim for the best album in their category, but a certain Edinburgh group by the name of Tiberius have thrown their hat in the ring with their own contribution – A Peaceful Annihilation.
A blaring Christopher Nolan-approved siren signals the start of The New Subjugation, which takes off to make for a dynamic opening driven by tremendous vocals, and a series of memorable spots such as the key line “march to the beat of their drums”.
The energy is turned up another notch in the blinding Mechanical Messiah, charging forth with a collective force fused by the slick riffs and the unrelenting progressive rhythm section. Skylark kicks off on an easy note, gradually returning to the standard form as they deliver these really cool, deep-pitched choir chants along the way. The sound is tip-top fresh, and the lyrics are very investing; your attention kept firmly cinched.
And as that track finishes, they ensure the vital pace is retained through the ballistic Fidelity Lost, where again the writing is superb and is kept at the forefront of the experience. Every song has a different story to tell, and up till now, they’ve had little issue keeping the content interesting.
Anchor is probably the most straight-forward of the bunch thus far, but is no less entertaining and successful in bringing the goods. On the other hand, Leviathan punches the energy back off-the-charts, absolutely flying away while broadening open the scope and shaking the senses with swift, exceptional drumming, and can’t go without mentioning what a cracker of a chorus that features here.
And I don’t know how they managed it, but they somehow rack the tempo even further in Dissipate. It’s so fast and furious that it just takes the breath away, and all members impressively hold their ground and sustain the chemistry without slipping off the rails. They finally reel it back for Republican, which is another of the simpler choices on this record, but hearty singing and great basslines make it a worthy addition.
Swansong has such a kinetic, rhythmic pulse rolling throughout, and one trickling sequence of bass chords later, they launch into the incredible awe-inspiring finale Kaituma, a perfect way to conclude the ride.
A Peaceful Annihilation feels like more than just an album. I like to think of it as an odyssey; a thrilling journey, with an epic size, made of various chapters with individual plotlines that are linked together by engaging, relatable themes.
If Tiberius’ debut full-length isn’t a masterpiece, then it is sure on the cusp of that distinction. One of the best metal releases of 2020 without a shadow of the doubt, cementing the band as major focal players in the Scottish scene.
I spoke about the current Scottish punk scene not too long ago on this website and mentioned how it seemed overly crowded with a tonne of acts all vying to break out as the top dogs standing above everybody else.
Glasgow quartet Voodoos are perhaps one of the prime candidates for that distinction. Their kinetic live shows prove it, their dedicated following proves it, and their music – in this case specifically, the recently released What Was That Supposed To Mean EP – proves it.
I think a lot of the acts in the genre fall into the trap of dishing out these mental, off the wall tracks, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I feel like they almost rely on that first and foremost without giving proper attention to depth. Voodoos are different in that regard.
Take the opener TV Set, for example. Instead of cranking it up to the nth degree right from the offset, they opt to ease in at a relaxed groove; Piero taking lead with genuinely engaging vocals, sucking us in with interesting lyrics while he and Scoobs work their magic on the guitars, eventually transitioning into a pulsing chorus, with snappy bass plucks and tight drum shots.
Now that they’ve got your attention, they treat you to something a little bit more traditional with Party’s Over, which gets you bouncing with excitement. Young Punks is by far the highlight, being characterised by incredibly magnetic writing, touching upon how the majority of people expect you to just get on with it in life, especially the generation above who immediately assume you will follow in their footsteps.
But the matter of the fact is that they only see what’s on the surface, and never think about your internal struggles, as well as the fact that you might want to take your own path, not wanting to be merely part of the crowd.
This is a winning track, the one that cements this as a credible, attested record, and they haven’t even finished yet, because they still have one tune left in the tank – Going South – which has a nice blend of infectious energy and expressive content.
Now I can’t speak for whoever happens to be reading this review at this very moment, but Voodoos in my mind aren’t just another statistic in the Glaswegian scene.
There’s a real effort and conviction into every little thing that they do, confirmed by this proper smashing EP, and they’re only going to continuing rising up the ranks as the years go on.
London, the biggest city of the UK – aye, stating the obvious is my specialty – so of course, that comes with a vast, brimming scene loaded with fine talents from wall to wall, and in the pop/R&B spectrum, Maya Delilah is one of the most promising of the lot, and she might have sealed the deal with the excellent Oh Boy EP.
She slides in softly with Pre Heat To 180, which almost has a gospel essence of sorts, mainly due to the pleasant hums in the background.
Then she really gets rolling with Tangerine Dream, where she shines with an entrancing voice that is tender and organic, and it blends in faultlessly with the equally hypnotic ambience formed from the utterly lush and dreamy electronics which are as polished as they come, plus there’s a few guitar chords chucked in towards the end as a neat extra.
Maya then flips the tone about for I’m Just Stupid, which has a little more going on, trotting along with a light bounce and generating some perky vibes with a catchy melody; the fantastic Gato following suit but further dialled up, and U R U is highlighted by a terrific, incredibly memorable chorus with top-notch lyrics.
And the best is saved for last, Breathe Easy, which is fittingly very chilled and wistful, and makes you feel relaxed and breezy inside, not only sonically but with the positively thoughtful writing that Maya serenades us with in an affectionate manner.
A dazzling outcome from one of the British capital’s hottest prospects that grabs you swiftly as you enter, and has you leaving satisfied, yet with a desire for seconds.
I might be a newcomer to the work of Arizona trio The Venomous Pinks, but their accomplishments and acclaim spoke major volumes as I stepped my foot in the door, and they were firmly justified by their latest EP – I Want You – and man, what a hell of a way to be introduced.
These women come forth with raw and raunchy tunes, and unashamedly so, headed by top-notch vocals that are not only technically potent, but ring with this perfect no-f*cks-given affirmation, which is for damn sure a positive.
A blistering energy is sustained at a delightfully roaring high over the brief yet fun and turbulent course that the record lasts for; the second half especially is nothing short of mind-blowing, and this is primarily owed to a mix of intense rugged riffs, rigid bass tones and slick, fluent drum beats.
The writing is, naturally, blunt and upfront, the best showing of this undoubtedly being I Really Don’t Care, which is not only a freaking fast and furious, off the wall belter, but it serves as the ultimate middle finger to those who don’t believe in someone else and are even willing to go and ensure their dreams are denied.
An awesome EP by an equally awesome group. If you’re a punk honcho yet are unwilling to commit some of your time to The Venomous Pinks, then please get your daft brain examined, because I find that highly questionable.
Edinburgh alt-rockers Ferric may be more or less brand new to me, but their self-titled debut album made quite the fair first impression.
There’s a professionally polished production standard on hand here that was immediately noticeable from the offset, and on offer are a selection of satisfying ballads defined by sleek harmonies, pleasing guitar-helmed melodies and pretty catchy rhythms.
Although a few tracks fall by the wayside lacking definable qualities, there are still more than enough highlights; case in point, the likes of Chasing Reflections, Elevators and Bloodshot evoke a marvellously roaring energy.
Guerrilla dons an engaging key hook, and Shadows stands on its own as an emotionally-infused piece, plus special credit goes to Janelle Snedden for her nice contribution to Darkest Skies.
There are evidently ways to go yet, but as a starting point, this record has proven that Ferric are worth the attention and could potentially grow into something special down the line if they are willing to develop upon what works.
Hailing from Michigan, Analog Kid claim to provide, and I quote from their Facebook page, “a seriously refreshing take on the modern pop music you’ve been listening to”. Now that is a very ballsy statement, because most acts I know of that claim this aren’t true to their word, as they end up sounding like a lot of others in the field.
But miraculously, as demonstrated in their debut album Sincerely Yours, they have managed to pull this off.
Off the bat, one aspect I’ll say is consistent through the entire span of the record are the very good harmonies, which are real pure and refined, and spurts of passion come bursting through at spots, and when they do, it’s marvellous stuff.
Selections such as Nightlight, Lovely and Time Bomb channel modern mainstream pop that you’d expect to see in the charts these days, especially given the sublime synths at work and unforgettable choruses that effortlessly get you enthralled; the latter of the batch also presenting bright pianos, although Between The Lines has this overly-autotuned section that I’m sadly not too keen on.
Supernova slowly but surely begins to steer in a more rock-focused direction with emphasis on neat riffs and solid rhythms; even more so with the bass-shuddering, lyrically elating Death Star.
Again, we see some evolution in both the title track and the appeasing What A Dance, which are slow and moving ballads, then a major shift in development is visible through Quarantine With Me, which goes in a clear-cut country course, and what a jolly good tune it is.
Coming to an end with the riveting A Short Visit, Analog Kid stayed true to their word and delivered one of the most diverse, multi-genre scoped releases of the year that is lovingly performed and tightly assembled, and I’m left hungry for even more.
In the latest case of an act that has me questioning “how are they not getting more attention?”, we have London artist Felixity, who not too long ago put out her debut album, Love Sick.
Instantly catching your attention is her unbelievable voice, which is so slick, robust, and brimming with depth, with a really fine essence that rings similar to the likes of Amy Winehouse and Duffy.
Serving as the ideal companion to her singing is the overall sound of the record, which is a sturdy, magical mixture of pop and R&B, vitalised by an absolutely gorgeous production that is silky smooth, often spouting goosebumps on your arms. The majority of the choruses are quite enjoyable, and the writing is so utterly fixating, and consistently so, as you’ll be hanging on to her ever word.
There are a number of selections that are so mild and soulful such as The Bad Guy, On My Knees and You&Me, and even a few that have a vast, almost epic scope to them including Vanilla, Crazii and Mr Brave.
Back to back, Love Sick is a sensational album, with so much to admire and bare minimum components to find flawed, and, despite still being a relative newcomer, it’s cemented Felixity as somebody who has the tools to go far, and if she can get the exposure that she deserves, it will not merely be a case of if, but when.
Hailing from my neck of the woods in jolly old East Kilbride, Paul Dickson has been involved with music in one way or another for the past couple of decades or so, but it wasn’t until recently that he gave songwriting a shot.
From this spawned an album by the name of Belle, and despite being new to the process, I feel he’s proven to be very accomplished in this field, among others.
Paul has such a pleasant, affectionate voice, his harmonies showcasing both happiness and sorrow effectively whenever either is required, but one thing for sure is that he’s always genuine in his singing regardless, and he has a natural chemistry with Tracy McAlesse whenever she supplies her own stunning vocals.
In that same vein, the lyrical content is great and quite engrossing. Despite being a rookie in this area, you would never guess it, for Paul shows that he has a knack for telling stories and getting you sucked into them, regardless of how simplistic some of the songs can get.
There’s slick, tender acoustics aplenty, a nice use of pianos from the man behind the production desk, Angus Lyon, and folk influences really showing face with the use of violin by Seonaid Aitken which are quite lush.
Paul Dickson has thoroughly impressed me here, and trust me, this is no hometown bias. Utilising his established experience and combining it with his newfound unlocked talent, he’s made the most of both to produce an utterly pleasing record that is so pure and heartfelt from wire to wire, and it merits much needed exposure; if anything, at least to provide a welcoming beacon light in these uncertain times.