I often feel for upcoming metal bands dealing with the constant wrangling of genre tagging and the inevitable pigeon holing that that stigma attaches to a band whether in a positive or negative light. For some that negativity can stain a band for years, if undeserved, and for that reason I am loathe using genre tags for this German act whose debut album came out in the autumn of last year. However those of us that like genre descriptions, like myself, find them a useful comparison tool with which to get an idea of what a band is like and it is fair to say that Praying Angel edge their brand of modern metal towards the metalcore side of the palate.

Now that the intolerant metal fans have just skipped the review and dubbed this album as shit because it has metalcore within my review I will continue. It is patently clear that the opener “War Of Gods” is bludgeoning in density and I don’t mean death metal heaviness, I mean the way they propel each of their songs with driving momentum, underpinned by a monstrous rhythm section. With the opener pivoting around numerous tempo shifts the song produces a few bass bombs to good effect within the break down riffs that precede the lead break work. “Spawnkill” begins with a familiar like riff magnetised with double kick patterns and fret bending feedback that leads into a savage riff break that comes across as thrash based that Machine Head fans will appreciate, but it is the bands unerring ability to inject thundering breakdown riffs in the right place that make this album an exceptional listen as “Remember Me” so ably demonstrates. That thrash like vigour energises the song initially with deluging double kick being used intermittently and as this song evolves the band smashes the listener with an unmitigated blast beat that was totally unexpected but worked brilliantly to empower the song with unresolved savagery.

A tongue in cheek sample starts “Kirkebrann” (Norwegian for Church Fire I believe) that spouts about black metal church burning as the song ramps up the fury with a wrathful vocal tirade, something this album does well, with varying tones used throughout. “To The Judge” acts as an interlude to the title track with its tranquil musicality that leads into a stomping riff on the said title track. Parts of this album are similar to Bleed From Within due to the varying sonic textures and as the title track delves into a far more tuneful and atmospheric posture, a moody aura is felt that leads into a slow dense riff section that yields for a barraging double bass to funnel in.

I always believe that an albums closing tune is deliberately placed to leave you with something to think about and here Praying Angel give us their longest song, “Worthless Existence”, beginning with a mournful, slow and desolate phase that seems etched with misery as the vocals take a slightly different tone, cleaner to a degree. As the song unfurls it quickly returns to what the band does extremely well and brandish an armoury of punching riffs set against the juggernaut drumming. I am sure that this album will be wholly tagged as metalcore which it does exceptionally well, with trademark breakdown thuggery and riffing battery but it offers a wealth of other ideas that take in thrash for high velocity guitar work, especially the lead work but also in adding layers of mood to the song writing making the album an exceptionally engaging listen throughout its duration.

(8/10 Martin Harris)