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Arkham’s Razor – ‘Carnival Of Lost Souls’

posted 25 Jul 2016, 07:39 by Paul Woodward


Review By Woody

Arhkham’s Razor is the new band from guitarist Neil Hibbs who many will know and have been impressed by with his live work recently with SHY and Tainted Nation. Hibbs is joined by Lee Small on vocals and amongst the other musicians involved is Keyboardist Geoff Nicholls who has worked with Black Sabbath.

It’s really hard to pigeonhole Arkham’s Razor’s style and sound as there is a very eclectic taste to all the songs on offer on Carnival of Lost Souls. You’ve got some Metal songs, some Hard Rock songs and even some splashes of Prog with some really ethereal moments but the one thing that bind’s the whole album together regardless of the flavour of each song is a really strong and potent Melodic rock edge. I can see this album appealing to a wide range of people because of the diverse mixture of songs, there’s lots of commercial songs and memorable choruses to keep AOR fans interested, lots of ethereal and technical musicianship to appease Proggers, Driven swaggering hard rock guitar riffs to keep no nonsense rockers involved and plenty of metallic riffs and thunderous drums and bass on other songs to keep fans of heavier music happy.

The diversity of music throughout gives the album as a whole a real fresh and exciting feel and I found myself listening to the album repeatedly with a continually growing appreciation. So because of this diversity I can see myself returning to it time and again in the future and getting hooked on a different song every time. There is some really impressive and technical musicianship throughout the album which means on repeated listens new things pop out and hit you which personally deepens my appreciation and adds to the longevity of the music. Sometimes been overly technical can be detrimental to the commercial appeal of music but Hibbs manages to balance the hooks while showcasing his impressive guitar skills at the same time.

I’m a massive fan of vocalist Lee Small and many of the bands and projects he has worked on so I was excited to see him working and writing with Hibbs on this album. I think he really shines on Carnival Of Souls not just vocally but as a lyricist too as I get a strong sense of freedom and unrestricted creativity in his performances and song writing contributions. The eclectic nature of the music has allowed for Small to become really creative and expressive in a very varied musical landscape and he seems to revel in it. This album definitely includes some of Small’s finest vocal moments I’ve ever heard. Small is one of the most versatile vocalist’s I know singing everything from AOR to the Blues to Metal and is perfect for this band’s eclectic nature and his versatility is showcased throughout just this one album!

Guitarist Neil Hibbs has really thrown everything at this album and is flexing his guitar skills to the max with some hook filled guitar riffs and stunning technical solo’s which really hit the mark. He spice’s up his guitar work frequently with varying styles of riffs, Swaggering chunky hard rock riffs, thrash like sharp metallic riffs and some really cool intricate guitar licks. I’m really impressed with what Hibbs has created and is also capable of performing – now I’m not normally one for solo’s but I was in awe of the solo’s Hibb’s has provided for these songs and found myself rewinding songs to specifically listen to the solo part again which is totally unlike me and testament to Hibbs skills to create an entertaining solo.

Hibbs’ ace in the hole is definitely the inclusion of Keyboardist Geoff Nicholls! This album isn’t keyboard heavy, but the key’s play very important roles on many of the songs providing atmospherics especially in the ethereal moments but also giving the band a full sound and adding a polished texture. There are a few occasions where the Key’s take a more frontal assault like on ‘Neon – Haunted By Your Love’, ‘Gangland Wonderland’ and ‘TV on the Radio’ and these songs allow Nicholls to be more flamboyant and showcase his abilities. I love what Nicholls has provided especially on the aforementioned songs with some extremely memorable Keyboard licks which not only get hooked in your head but accentuate the power of the songs overall!

Opener ‘Carnival Of Souls’ is a melodic metal track with a massive melodic chorus and a thrashing metallic guitars. ‘Vaudeville Lille’ features atmospheric keyboards and a progressive sweeping chorus alongside a galloping metal guitar riff. ‘Skeleton Swing’ has a hard rock flavour accentuated by a swaggering guitar riff and is a groove laden hard rocker with an ethereal chorus.

The radio friendly ‘Neon – Haunted by your Love’ is very melodic, commercial and immediately hits you, Nicholl’s sweeping Keyboard’s had me dribbling! Trippy hard rocker ‘The Asphyx’ has some excellent guitar work from Hibbs and a particularly impressive vocal performance from Small. The guitar riff on ‘Gangland Wonderland’ screams ‘80’s Melodic Hard rock and loud atmospheric keyboards it’s no surprise with those elements it is one of the more commercial songs. Small’s vocal’s on this song really put me in mind of Mark Rankin of Gun and highlight again just how versatile he is as a vocalist.

‘TV On The Radio’ features prominent Keyboards and I love how the band blend the smooth keyboards with Hibbs sharp guitar riff and how the song is very fire and ice – mixing a smoother melodic vibe with a more aggressive metallic stance and it really works well. It’s Prog tinged in its style but still very commercial. The Metallic galloping thrash style riff on ‘Afterlife’ builds to a massive melodic chorus. It has some unforgettable atmospheric keyboards from Nicholls which accentuate the smooth chorus. Another radio friendly song is ‘Sin’Orita’ which is a smooth hook filled hard rocker, alongside another killer guitar solo from Hibbs this is another song Small excels on.

Driven hard rocker ‘Visitors from the Grave’ has a killer guitar riff hook that got stuck in my head instantly and couple this with its impressive and memorable chorus and it is without doubt one of the strongest songs on the album. Taking it down a notch slightly is mid-tempo rocker ‘Positive – Negative Man’ to close the album. A track with a strong ethereal feel and a strong Progressive touch.

I’m hoping Carnival of Lost Souls is just the beginning for Hibbs and Co, a stunning debut and an album to get genuinely excited about! A fantastic Melodic Hard Rock record full of diversity, do yourself a favour and check it out right now!

Track Listing: Carnival Of Lost Souls / Vaudeville Lille / Skeleton Swing / Neon – Haunted By Your Heart / The Asphyx / Gangland Wonderland / TV on the Radio / Afterlife / Sin’Orita / Visitor From The Grave / Positive – Negative Man

Album Rating: 9/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Neon – Haunted By Your Love