Paul Chain - Ash [Minotauro records - 2015]Here on Minotauro records we have another welcome reissue from the back catalogue of cult Italian musician Paul Chain. Ash is a just under thirty minute Ep that originally appeared back in 1988, and here it’s expanded to a full length with the addition of two extra tracks. Sound wise the material here moves away from the more doom & psychedelic rock feel of much of Mr Chains work, going for a more trash/ speed metal tinged feel- though it still has that distinctive & creatively unhinged Paul Chain flare about it, that helps it stand apart from common garden examples of the genre.
Following on with the other Paul Cross & related project reissues on Minotauro we get a nicely plush & classy looking CD reissue. The CD comes in a full colour mini gatefold, as well a full colour booklet taking in Italian & English text about the release, and a collection of band pictures from the time. With the whole thing been topped off with a colour obi strip following the albums red colouring.
Opening up the album we have the track “Eternal Flame”- this starts with rapid blend of bass guitar & hard hitting drums. Fairly soon the trashing though slightly metal punk tinged guitars are added into the mix & these are joined by Mr Chain’s vocal- these go from baying metal shouts, lower toned King diamond singing, and wailing yet ghoulish theatrical shrieks. All in all it’s a great fist pumping opener.
Next up we have "Image Down" this features a simply yet effective darkly trashing riff, which has this gloomy jaunting church organ element appearing ever so often in the mix. Here Chain’s vocals go from sounding quite Tom G. Warrior like, onto wailing theatrical, onto ghoulish bays.
Track three comes in the form of "Electro Shock", and this had quite a rapid & nastily punchy yet prime evil Slayer feel to it. Added to this we get Mr Chain’s vocals, and this time he sounds like a man possessed going screaming & baying wails, chattering laughter, and babbling speaking tongue vocalising. This is certainly is one of the most intense tracks I’ve heard from Mr Chain.
Next we have the track "Abyss", and this steps away from the trash/ speed metal side of things for some synth, church organ, and synthetic orchestration meets dark choir mood making. The instrumental track moves from creepy organ runs, onto dramatic simmers of orchestration & choir; through to sudden sustain church organ stabs.
Lastly of the original ep material we have “I remember A Black Mass”. And this track is more like Mr Chain normally musical setting- offering up a mix of mood & dark doom riffing & manically wailing vocals.
The two unreleased tracks come in the form of “Moment Of Rage” & “Undead”- each of these are examples speedy & scuzzy blends of lo-fi speeding metal & punk. There not as rewarding or fully formed as the other tracks, plus the sound is quite raw & rehearsal like, but they make a nice bonus/ extra to the original track.
So in summing up, this is another great chapter in Minotauro records Paul Chain reissue series, and I look forwarding to hearing what they’ve got lined up next!.Roger Batty