Album Review – Uncured / Epidemic (2019)

Witness the evolution of the music crafted by the Cox Brothers with their pulverizing new album of Progressive Death and Groove Metal.

Founded in New York City by brothers Rex Cox and Zak Cox, who share the band’s vocal and guitar duties, American Progressive Death/Groove Metal unity Uncured has been making a name for themselves since their inception in 2016 when they released their debut EP Spontaneous Generation, followed by their first full-length opus Medusa, released in 2017, which attracted international attention for its combination of technical musicianship, brutal riffs and melodic interludes. After witnessing Uncured opening for renowned acts like Soulfly and the almighty Cradle of Filth last year while promoting their 2017 album Medusa, I’m happy to say those guys stepped up their game considerably with their brand new album, the powerful Epidemic, proving that although they might still be young faces in the scene, they already play and sound like veterans.

Recorded, mixed and mastered by their father Mitch Cox at Conclave Studios, in New York, Epidemic has everything a fan of modern and technical extreme music can ask for, with its crystal clear production enhancing the impact of each song thoroughly played by the aforementioned Zak and Rex on vocals, guitars and bass (as their current bassist Spencer Metela only joined the band after the recording of the album) and Liam Manley on drums.​ The only thing I don’t understand is why they left the excellent 2018 single Terminal out of the album, but that’s just me. And besides, who said Epidemic needed that song to be brutal? I’m pretty sure the boys know what they’re doing, and based on the feedback provided by their fans so far they’re undoubtedly on the right path to stardom with Epidemic.

The opening track Desecration is fast, furious and heavy from the very first second, with the Cox Brothers showcasing all their refined skills with their sick riffs and solos while Liam smashes his drums beautifully in a powerful display of modern Progressive Death Metal, sounding at the same time very technical and visceral. If that was not crazy enough for you, in Choke they take their progressiveness to the next level, and let me say both Zak and Rex are growling and screaming a lot better than in their previous releases, adding tons of rage and insanity to the song’s lyrics (“Tear your throat out / Reject everything from within / This is imperative, all will go black / The problem lies in the silence / There will be nothing that remains, only desolation / As our civilization reverts to dust / This will surely desecrate honor”), whereas in Conquistador the band drinks from the same fountain as modern-day bands like Trivium, delivering flammable riffs and intricate beats and also exploring new grounds by adding acoustic passages and distinct nuances from other metal and even non-metal genres to their music.

Eradicate is another feast of incendiary riffs and solos by Uncured highly recommended for slamming into the pit during their live performances, blending Melodic Death Metal with Groove Metal and an endless amount of progressiveness; followed by Death Valley, where after a serene intro the band comes crushing once again with their groovy and heavy-as-hell sounds, sounding perfect for cracking your neck headbanging and remaining as complex and vibrant as it can be until the very end. And in Resist The Infection all instruments sound absolutely pulverizing and metallic, with Zak and Rex screaming and roaring together like maniacs while Liam keeps the rhythm flowing smoothly with his beats. Put differently, although it might be the shortest of all songs, it still brings tons of stamina, feeling and rage to our avid ears.

The last batch of songs from Epidemic will crush you mercilessly, starting with Sacrifice, a classic Groove Metal tune infused with Death Metal nuances where its guitars and bass penetrate deep inside our minds, making our heads tremble. Furthermore, it feels like a hybrid of the music by Meshuggah, Tool, Dream Theater and other iconic bands, showing once again how talented those guys are. Albeit not as exciting as its predecessors, Stone Fortress is still a very good song, overflowing progressiveness, heaviness and groove, not to mention the usual crisp and piercing guitar lines by the band’s frontmen, while in Blinded By Demise the level of aggressiveness goes through the roof in another metal feast full of breaks and variations where all three band members display their refined skills in great fashion. And last but not least, after a somber, almost tribal intro Uncured attack us all one last time with more of their Progressive Death Metal in Nothing But Disease, with the music alternating between dark passages and extreme rage like the soundtrack to a psychological horror movie, ending in a creepy and captivating way.

There’s no excuse to not listen to Epidemic, as the album is available in full on YouTube, on Spotify and on the band’s official website, and after taking a good listen at it you can purchase your copy from their own BandCamp page or from their webstore in CD or vinyl format, as well as from iTunes or from Amazon. In summary, the Cox Brothers, together with Liam and Spencer, are definitely going places based on the high quality of the music found in Epidemic, presenting a huge step forward in terms of creativity, feeling and overall production after the also good Medusa. Having said that, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, as we might be in front of the next big name from the modern extreme music scene with a long (and prosperous) way to go yet in their promising career.

Best moments of the album: Desecration, Eradicate and Resist The Infection.

Worst moments of the album: Stone Fortress.

Released in 2019 Seek & Strike

Track listing
1. Desecration 4:12
2. Choke 4:19
3. Conquistador 4:45
4. Eradicate 5:07
5. Death Valley 4:47
6. Resist The Infection 2:51
7. Sacrifice 4:04
8. Stone Fortress 4:07
9. Blinded By Demise 4:45
10. Nothing But Disease 4:26

Band members
Zak Cox – vocals, guitars, bass
Rex Cox – vocals, guitars, bass
Liam Manley – drums

Guest musician
Spencer Metala – bass (live)

Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 04/11/2018)

Four American boys, four Ukrainian metallers, a multi-cultural Extreme Metal institution and endless mosh pits. That’s what Toronto got in another memorable night of heavy music.

OPENING ACTS: Uncured and Jinjer

My neck and back still hurt today, and I don’t think it’s (just) because of my age, but because the three bands that hit the stage at the small but flammable The Opera House this Wednesday night in Toronto kicked some serious ass from start to finish, igniting nonstop circle pits during the whole night and, as a consequence, making every single fan at the venue more than happy to have spent a few good bucks on their concert tickets. It might be taking a while for the weather in Toronto to warm up in this beginning of spring, but the temperature inside The Opera House on Wednesday was definitely as hot as the fires from the depths of hell for another night of the CRYPTORIANA WORLD TOUR NORTH AMERICA 2018 with the bands Uncured, Jinjer and, above all, the majestic Cradle of Filth.

Photos by Laura Springall – https://www.instagram.com/lspringallphoto/

After having two slices of pizza in order to properly face the hurricane of metal music that was about to come, I headed to The Opera House (which by the way seemed to be sold out) to enjoy the first band of the night, the technical and heavy American Progressive Death/Groove Metal UNCURED. Formed in 2014 in New York City, the quartet comprised of brothers Rex and Zak Cox sharing the vocals and guitar duties (and before you ask, they’re not twins), Jon Kita on bass, and Liam Manley on drums delivered a very solid performance on stage, still promoting their latest album Medusa, released in 2017 (which you can listen in its entirety HERE). Those boys didn’t stop headbanging and shredding not even for a single second, receiving a very positive feedback from the crowd already jammed in the floor section. This is the second time I saw Uncured live and they’re just getting better and better, pointing to a bright future ahead of them. From their setlist I highly recommend the songs Stygian Valley and Myopic (both from Medusa), and their brand new song Terminal, the best of their concert in my opinion. And lastly, I just want to send a quick message to the guy from the crowd that called them “Backstreet Boys”: they might be boys, but they’re talented metalheads, so shut up and try doing something useful for society like what Uncured are doing with their first-class metal music, right?

Setlist
Stygian Valley
Petrified
Myopic
Dilate
Persia (Spontaneous Regeneration alternative version)
Terminal

Band members
Rex Cox – vocals, guitars
Zak Cox – vocals, guitars
Jon Kita – bass
Liam Manley – drums 

Photos by Laura Springall – https://www.instagram.com/lspringallphoto/

After a short break it was time for an explosion of Metalcore made in Ukraine, courtesy of the sexy frontwoman Tatiana Shmaylyuk and her interesting band JINJER. If you’ve never heard of Jinjer, the band was brought into being in 2009 in the city of Horlivka, having already released a few interesting studio albums, like their 2014 opus Cloud Factory (reissued now in 2018, only a couple of years after its original release for reasons beyond my comprehension). Their concert was energetic and straight to the point, with Tatiana leading her henchmen and having a very good interaction with the fans. The only issue for me was the quality of the sound coming from the drums, which sounded during most of their set like the annoying “frying pan beating” sound from Lars’ drums in Metallica’s hideous St. Anger, but nothing that could stop the band and their fans from having a very good time. As I enjoy Tatiana’s deep, enraged growls a lot more than her clean vocals, my top moments of their concert were for sure Who Is Gonna Be the One (from their 2014 album Cloud Factory) and Captain Clock (from their 2016 album King Of Everything), not only warming up the fans at the venue for the main attraction of the night, but also urging everyone to jump up and down and break their necks just like what we always expect from a good Metalcore band.

Setlist
Prologue
Who Is Gonna Be the One
Words of Wisdom
Sit Stay Roll Over
I Speak Astronomy
Just Another
Pisces
Captain Clock
Outlander
No Hoard of Value
Bad Water
Beggars’ Dance

Band members
Tatiana Shmaylyuk – vocals
Roman Ibramhalilov – guitar
Eugene Kostyuk – bass
Vlad Ulasevich – drums 

CRADLE OF FILTH

Photos by Laura Springall – https://www.instagram.com/lspringallphoto/

One thing that always impresses me at The Opera House is the insane speed and very little amount of time the bands and their crew take to switch the whole equipment from one band to another, which is why we didn’t have to wait for too long for another superb, violent and blackened performance by British Extreme Metal institution CRADLE OF FILTH. Spearheaded by the iconic Dani Filth and promoting their latest opus, the excellent Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay, released in 2017, the band didn’t show any mercy on our souls, blasting some of their most visceral, complex and beautiful compositions from their unparalleled career that already lasts for impressive 27 years (and please don’t ask me how Dani can still growl and scream flawlessly like a demon after almost three decades). Well, when you open the show with songs like the aggressive Gilded Cunt and one of my favorite songs of all time, the masterpiece Beneath the Howling Stars, you know the whole concert will be brutal.

The rest of the band was also on fire, providing the perfect instrumental for Dani to thrive on vocals, in special the bestial drummer Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka behind his glass cage (not sure if that cage is for sound or security purposes), and Oshawa-own beauty Lindsay Schoolcraft, who once again could not hide her happiness for playing with Cradle of Filth in front of her very own people. She was fantastic throughout the entire concert, and didn’t even know how to thank the fans for such warm reception. Actually, it’s us fans who have to thank her for such awesome performance, embellishing classic tunes like The Death of Love, Nymphetamine and Her Ghost in the Fog with her powerful voice.

One of the highlights of the night was undoubtedly the execution of the 11-minute extravaganza Bathory Aria, a marvelous and intricate song I honestly never thought I would be able to witness them playing live. Dani explained they’re playing it as the start of the celebrations of 20 years of what’s in my opinion the best Cradle of Filth album of all time, their 1998 concept opus Cruelty And The Beast (and get ready, because Dani mentioned already they’re planning to release a very special 20th anniversary edition of the album). The brand new songs from Cryptoriana also worked really well, with Heartbreak and Séance sounding simply astounding live, proving once again that Cradle of Filth are a band that don’t just defy time, they kick it in the ass and keep delivering awesomeness album after album, year after year, for our total delectation.

Photos by Laura Springall – https://www.instagram.com/lspringallphoto/

One thing I really enjoy about Dani is how fun and somehow cryptic he always sounds when interacting with the crowd (and he knows we love that). When he’s in town, he always makes sure he praises his Canadian fans, he shows his respect for his supporting acts (demanding a huge ovation for Uncured and Jinjer for their excellent performances), and always finds time to make a peculiar joke about something very Canadian. I remember a few years ago when he said he loved getting to Canada during winter, as our Canadian winter is truly unique, and this time he mentioned a lot of times his admiration for Canadian professional tennis player Eugenie Bouchard. I have absolutely no idea why he mentioned “Genie” Bouchard and dedicated so many songs to her, as she has pretty much no connection to heavy music as far as I know. Apart from being a bombshell and for having lots of serious issues in her tennis career, I don’t see why Dani loves her so much. Well, maybe those are the two reasons why, right?

Anyway, after the classic From the Cradle to Enslave, and after almost two hours of nonstop, electrifying mosh pits (even during a dark ballad like Nymphetamine there were people crushing their skulls inside the pit like wild beats), the concert was over and fans could head home, have another beer, take pictures with the guys from Uncured and Jinjer, and start thinking how they would be able to work the following day after a true avalanche of high-quality extreme music, courtesy of four American boys, four Ukrainian metallers, and a multi-cultural outfit that knows better than anyone else in the world how to perfectly blend Extreme Metal with a theatrical performance, fantastic lyrics and endless energy and pleasure for being able to be on stage for all of us fans.

Setlist
ACT I
Ave Satani (Intro)
Gilded Cunt
Beneath the Howling Stars
Blackest Magick in Practice
Heartbreak and Séance
Bathory Aria: Benighted Like Usher / A Murder of Ravens in Fugue / Eyes That
Witnessed Madness
Dusk and Her Embrace
The Death of Love
You Will Know the Lion by His Claw
Creatures That Kissed in Cold Mirrors (Interlude)

ACT II
A Bruise Upon the Silent Moon (Intro)
The Promise of Fever
Nymphetamine (Fix)
Her Ghost in the Fog
Born in a Burial Gown
From the Cradle to Enslave
Blooding the Hounds of Hell (Outro)

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

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