Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Convent Guilt - Convent Guilt DEMO (2012)

Convent Guilt is another new band trying its hand at the epic heavy metal of the now antique 80s, but several of the members have been playing for years in other Australian bands like Shackles and Trench Hell, who also took cues from classic speed and thrash acts and fused 'em with the more extreme metal of their upbringing. To be clear: this isn't attempting the modern polish and flair of Euro flower power, but rekindling the oldies like Maiden, Priest, Brocas Helm, Witchfinder General, Manilla Road, even a little Motörhead or Tank. Don't expect innovative chord progressions, complex song structures, or anything hinging on novelty, just a tried and true formula of expression built for boozing, brawling, denim, leather, and once in awhile, a little reflection.

That's not to say the sound is a shallow one, because surprisingly, Convent Guilt are able to evince mood from the somewhat familiar riffing patterns, especially in the mid paced drivers like "No Dawn in Lucifer's Light" or "Killer Virgins" which have a somber, lethargic quality to them. Vocalist/bassist Iron Belshaw has a limited range which he doesn't attempt to escape, so there is this workmanlike, blue collar feel to his timbre which doesn't always stay completely on key. No crazy shrieking, just a woozy, part-punk inflection with a bit of bark and bite, traveling in step with the simplistic, bluesy lead guitars that swoon over the steadiness of the dependable chords. Took a little getting used to the guy, but after 3-4 spins of the demo I appreciated the sincerity of it, even if it's nothing really new (a lot of the second and third tier NWOBHM bands took a comparable approach when their vocalists figured out they couldn't fly with the banshees).

Otherwise, I actually quite enjoyed the production of this demo, which is flat out honest but well balanced, something I might have placed on a full-length record from 1980-1983. The guitars, drums and bass are performed at an even keel, whether picking up to the thrust of thundering Maiden triplets in "Bailed Up" or "Convent Guilt" itself, the most consistently fast tune on the demo. There aren't any truly standout chorus sequences, and again the riffs are just nothing you haven't heard before, but if you're a diehard for the place and time Convent Guilt are conjuring, this isn't a bad way to pass 23 minutes. I wasn't in love with the songwriting, and I think a little more creativity and unexpected melody could go a long way in helping the band reach the next level, but the fundamentals are certainly in place here for a band that could rival others riding a similar, nostalgic current. Fans of Cauldron, Speedwolf, Midnight, and Superchrist should find this demo entertaining.

Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10]

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