A forceful metal release from the Cambridgeshire quartet

When thinking of the roots of British metal, one may tend to consider the likes of Birmingham and London. Cambridgeshire, however, is not as well known for its metal exports. Here to change that is the up-and-coming quartet ľAR- and their double A-side of 'Chaffinch' and 'The Trade'. The influences of bands like Pantera and Anthrax become apparent almost instantly, with the vocals of frontman John Issac bearing a substantial similarity to James Hetfield. However British metallers -AR- are no Metallica wannabe band.

Do not let the title of 'Chaffinch' lull you into a false sense of security. This is no delicately-coloured garden finch; this is an unyielding metal voyage. Although slightly rough around the edges, the intention is clear and it is this potential that makes ľAR- an exciting prospect for the future. Whilst Issac and fellow guitarist Richard Blakemore effortlessly release their raging riffs, bassist Simon Edwards and highly-skilled drummer Lox Magilton continue to keep the wheels of this rhythmic machine in motion.

Whilst not as brutal as 'Chaffinch,' accompanying A-side 'The Trade' benefits strongly from the alternating time signature and electric/acoustic stylistic variations, using these compositional methods to display dexterity and shake off any metal stereotypes that may have already begun to form.

The production values and rhythmic precision of the recordings may not quite meet the impressive standards set by high-flying metal bands such as Fear Factory, but the musical foundations that ľAR- are building on have promising strength. ľAR- may still be in their infancy, but if this four-piece continues to deliver their brand of fierce metal with a comparable degree of attitude and unruliness, Cambridgeshire is unlikely to be able to restrain them for much longer.