Archive for the ‘2020 Metal releases – February’ Category

Abrasive Audio 2020 – Part Eighteen

fire guitar

And, it’s happened again. I have successfully managed to squirrel away enough time to compose my thoughts on a slew of releases within the extreme audio universe. This installment sees me placing ear upon a fair few “Reccs” and also (shock horror!) combining a pair of sub headings (will the world ever be the same following such a travesty?) But that’s not all, a few friends from Twitter have helped me to decide upon which act to fill the remaining review slot. Hopefully this segment picks up some in the future, although that’s not to say that I like my future to be controlled by others in the slightest (insert knowing winky face here).

Without further ado may I’d like to present the newest Abrasive Audio…

vassafor

Vassafor (New Zealand) – To the Death

https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com/album/vassafor-to-the-death

Release – August 2020

Artwork- 72

I got time, I got a dark cloak with God knows what underneath and I have “naughty” pictures. What are you in the market for?

Thoughts-

Dark, dank, murky, and filthy with a production to match. Vassafor offer up a pitch audio vista which is both suffocating and full of nuance. Rhythms are full of menace, varied in pace and evocative accompanied by an atmosphere which seethes in a palpable malevolent quality. This certainly isn’t audio for those who merely dip their ears in the scene on occasion, this is for the brave and those whose penchants run to the foul, bleak and archaic.

Genre- Black Metal/Blackened Speed

Final Score- 73

recorruptor

Recorruptor (USA) – The Funeral Corridor

https://recorruptor.bandcamp.com/merch/the-funeral-corridor

Release – August 2020

Artwork – 77

I’m of the mind these aren’t the people one would want to ask for directions (to anywhere but for the nearest robe depot). But perhaps they might be knowledgeable enough to know where all the odd socks disappear to?

Thoughts-

Where do I start? Perhaps the fact that I had to pick my jaw from the floor several times as this started its conquest of my senses. Or that the vocal array is dangerously close to the finest I’ve heard in months. I could mention that the mixture of styles on offer is blinding though far from experimental, over the top arenas. This is neither straight Brutal/Tech or Deathcore but a rabid hodge-podge of them all, and then some. Slam elements are present too. I’m honestly not a fan of that scene but Recorruptor manage somehow to slip it in without a complaint parting my lips. Naturally, I must also mention that the percussion on offer is silly tight and the rhythms? Well, let’s just say my body hurts (and it’s not just because I’m an old fart). Seriously though, this showcases musical talents of dizzying quality and arrangements which, to put it bluntly, pulverize. Melody reigns over brutality however the partnership is a wonder to behold and the flow…it’s exquisite.

Put ear to this, you can thank me later. And may I be struck down if I forget to mention this again come years conclusion.

Genre – Brutal/Tech Death/Grindcore/Deathcore/Slam

Final Score – 90

thurisaz

Thurisaz (Belgium) – Re-Incentive

https://thurisazmusic.bandcamp.com/album/re-incentive

Release- July/September 2020

Artwork- 64

I honestly can’t decipher whether that’s an antenna, lightning pole or the withered remains of a tree. Whichever it is it’s shrouded in mood. The bands logo is front and center though so there’s little which album (and by whom) you’re looking upon.

Thoughts –

For an act who’s been around for close to two decades I’m surprised this is the first I’ve heard of them, although word is that their past is spotted with numerous ups and downs. To be expected, it’s rare for an act with such a history to be consistent throughout.  So, what then of this? Accompanying promotional materials suggest fans of Swallow the Sun, Borknagar and Ne Obliviscaris will gleefully consume the audio on offer. And… I’ll state that I agree I would add mid era Tiamat, Devon Townsend and In Mourning to the mix. The musicianship here is spot on. A darkness encapsulates the whole affair even clinging on as it twists, turns and transforms from a palpable denseness to more a melancholic, cloudy, brooding brew. A wide slew of emotions are conjured and blossom as the release plays out and the arrangements, a myriad of rhythms balancing meticulously meshed styles blankets, effectively captivating the listeners senses. For an album which evokes swatches of influence from a wide radius of the metal spectrum (and in instances even from without) this is surprisingly seamless and fluid commanding the ability to appeal to a larger than expected spectrum of listeners. My only qualm is that, in rare instances, a few passages forget the epic turnoff and sail on past into exasperating depths. Otherwise, this is a fantastic introduction to an act who may well surprise the listener. A second listen is mandatory for full appreciation.

Genre- DeathDoom/Progressive/Atmospheric Black Metal

Final Score- 88

resin tomb

Resin Tomb (Australia) – s/t EP

https://brilliantemperor.bandcamp.com/album/resin-tomb-2

Release- July 2020

Artwork- 76

Bleak, claustrophobic and dense is this an indication of the audio on offer? One could only hope so.

Thoughts –

Unrelenting and formidable the audio on offer here envelopes only then to suffocate with its mixture of Sludge and Blackened tendencies. Strangely this also showcases melodies one might not assume and atmosphere occasionally bringing a brief respite from the assault. The vocal approach adds to the dirge nature for an overall package which exhibits a cloying thickness which the word resin describes perfectly. If the sixteen minutes here don’t perk the interest, I’m honestly not sure what to say.

Genre- Sludge/Black Metal

Final Score- 82

wake devouring ruin

Wake (Canada) – Devouring Ruin

https://wakegrind.bandcamp.com/

Release- March 2020

Artwork- 89

In a swirl of pastels, a demonic entity (of sorts) placates a witness. A spectator to what is uncertain; a moment of weakness, or a snapshot of judgment? The mind reels.

Thoughts-

It’s strange how some acts can combine brutality and beauty and have the concocted arrangements flow, yet deliver each element in such a pristine fashion. Wake do just that! Dissonant rhythms cavort with grindcore passages and frolicking melodies which occasionally bring to mind Paradise Lost’s finer moments as well Opeth outings. The vocal accompaniment is unhurried, varied, but in no gymnastically over the top, and somehow fits the amorphous percussion adding another layer to a style which is already oddly soothing and undeniably hypnotic. I can’t fathom why this is the first I’ve heard of Wake. It won’t be the last. I’m hitting repeat, as I’m sure most listeners will too.

Genre- DeathDoom/Atmospheric Black Metal/Progressive/Grindcore

Final Score- 92

this is endless

Recc by @CoreyMirisola on Twitter
This is Endless (UK) – Formations of a World Below

https://thisisendless.bandcamp.com/

Release – August 2020

Artwork- 74

Following the outbreak, the water wasn’t the only thing tainted. Apparently, tailors took it upon themselves to stitch more than holy socks and pants sporting frayed knees.

Take Mildred, for example, she’s finding it rather hard to find a dress that fits. Perhaps the same tailor can assist her (?) in some way?

Thoughts-

Damn. Just…damn-!

These gents came outta nowhere to incite movement in my unsuspecting torso the likes of which my doctor has previously warned me against.

Seriously, it’s difficult not to want to move when this evades the senses. Audio of a wicked mix, often tipping the Djent scales, brings about a familiarity of sorts and will have one unsure where to search for possible inspiration. Rhythms tease a multitude of genres categories whereas a vocal approach channeling Grindcore sensibility meets Hardcore adds a little flavor into the mix. The adoption of gang-vocals is a surprising addition which strangely works perking the interest of even one who’s not normally a fan of such (me). One might think Benighted meets Hatebreed when this clamps upon the senses. It certainly bears the frenetic and whiplash melodic qualities, even the vocal dexterity with an edge which might occasionally put one in mind of the Hardcore/Death mix a few acts have previously sculpted. Regardless of how one looks upon it, this is a stunning feat which deserves ears upon it and praise aplenty.

Genre- Tech Death/Brutal Death/Grindcore/Hardcore/Djent

Final Score- 91

Slaughter Messiah - Cursed to the Pyre 

Recc’d by @UniqueHifi on Twitter
Slaughter Messiah (Belgium) – Cursed to the Pyre

https://open.spotify.com/album/5IvQC6WxyDP9CVJOVolJIk?autoplay=true

https://open.spotify.com/album/5IvQC6WxyDP9CVJOVolJIk?autoplay=true

Release – February 2020

Artwork- 77

“There can be only one”. Wait. I think I’m stuck. It’s hot. Shit. I’m on fire!! Won’t someone piss on me? A hand, here. Anyone?

Thoughts –

Channeling vintage Kreator, Sodom also a slew of other acts from around the same time although to a lesser degree (than the two already mentioned) and an aura plucked screaming from the late eighties Slaughter Messiah have also, somehow, managed to carve an album which sounds both familiar yet fresh Archaic, pits of hell, atmosphere complements the package as too does an unpolished raunchy production feel which only bolsters the album’s nostalgic qualities and enjoyment. Vocals are of the decidedly evil variety, with lyrics revolving around the same general underworld theme, with an occasional King Diamond “scream” tossed in for good measure. Pacing is undeniably more varied than one might initially think yet rhythms are wont to break the sound barrier from time to time. The drum accompaniment is pronounced, adds a nice wallop, causing groove to become part of my description and the body to twitch of its own volition. To keep this short, this album has a great deal to offer those with audio penchants which err on the side of the unholy sans the epic grandeur many bands have recently adopted. Bonus points if you can tell me to which band the covers art pays homage to.

Genre- Blackened Thrash/DeathThrash/Black Metal

Final Score- 84

Voodoo Gods - The Divinity of Blood

Recc’d by @LFCMFighter on Twitter
Voodoo Gods (USA) – The Divinity of Blood

https://open.spotify.com/track/3V3SsYHWxGDKTXlDcHdr00?autoplay=true

Release – May 2020

Artwork- 73

For some reason this art reminds me of the film “Snakes on a (MuthaFkn’) Plane”. Perhaps it also includes other snippets of Samuel R Jackson ‘magic’? Only a digit on the play button will tell for sure.

Thoughts-

When an established artist, in this case George “Corpsegrinder” Fischer, chooses to release an album under a different moniker than that which they’re known for one’s mind might start to spin. Questions and/or concerns fill the void where familiar music might otherwise reside. In regards to Voodoo Gods gone is the Brutal Technical Death (metal) approach Cannibal Corpse are renowned, replaced by more a varied stance. With that in mind the word “Brutal” still ‘belongs’ here (Corpsegrinder has the moniker for a reason). However, this element is nestled here amongst percussion boasting “smoother” rhythms, riffs that which a traditional Speed, Thrash or Traditional metal (with Progressive tendencies) release would comfortably sport. And it gets better; there’s another vocalist in the mix. Seth van de Loo isn’t merely a vocalist, he also plays drums and boasts quite the resume for both attributes within the (extreme audio) scene. The pair complement each other and the combination works well. Within no time whatsoever the album is through. Sure, it’s not what’s totally expected, it contains flourishes of fretboard pizzazz, passages of beauty (slower moments) amongst the Brutal (rifftastic parts which will incite grins aplenty) but it works, warranting a second spin if only for the fact that the listener become more comfortable with the realization that Corpsegrinder can step away from his normal stable (nope, I’m not hinting that he’s a barnyard animal) and still nail it. Suffice it to say this has grown on me over its duration. Leave your preconceived notions at the door, go into this with an open mind. It’s different but not so much to be wildly out of left field.

Genre- Death Metal/Blackened Death/Traditional Metal/Progressive/Tech Death

Final Score- 88

question reflections of the void

Reccd’ by Void
Question (Mexico) – Reflections of the Void

https://question-chaos-records.bandcamp.com/album/reflections-of-the-void

Release – July 2020

Artwork – 91

Mind blown. Literally. This is a fantastic, vivid and all-consuming image.

When dedicating one’s life searching for the absolute truth, the absolute truth consumes then eagerly accepts the life it’s offered. (Whoa. Check it out. I’m a poet!)

Thoughts-

Usually when Void suggests an album it’s a blind purchase, even though his audio preferences are drenched in the pitch, raw and undoubtedly archaic. Let’s explore what he now offers up for the senses.

Seconds in, and one knows they’re in for a treat. (That’s it! Review complete. Ha!) But seriously, this seethes with an air of excellence. Winding tapestry rhythms, a tightness a nun’s areshole would be jealous of and a captivating presence which oftentimes puts one in mind of Atheist (Nun and Atheist in the same sentence, I’m a genius.) However, it also manages to squeeze diabolical and groove into the same mix, this is quite the achievement. Influences is plucked from far and wide and will give one smirking like an absolute loon as this caresses both the pleasure and nostalgia sensors. And I haven’t even mentioned the classical elements/interludes. These fellas know their stuff and Void has, yet again, delivered. Expect to see this album mentioned again come year end in the lists from those who reside on the more extreme side of the metal universe.

Genre – OSDM/Brutal/Tech Death/Thrash/Progressive

Final Score – 92

grimgotts

Grimgotts (UK) – Saga

https://grimgotts.bandcamp.com/album/sagas

Release- August 2020

Artwork- 71

The seas appear rough. The ships gone under and someone’s lost their chest.

The classic line “What’s in the box?” Seems to fit nicely here.

Thoughts-

There’s quite the mixture of styles on offer here. The first track features a vocal approach and rhythms which hint at Blackguard (Power Metal of the darker variety with driving rhythms and growls) influence. However, this soon changes trajectory to take on more the traditional Symphonic Power Metal style with quite the familiar vocal cadence. Yet another change transpires in the third track. Humor is added to the mix and an approach Alestorm and Swashbuckle are known for. An unfortunate addition, this track does little for me, in my opinion which takes away from an otherwise decent introduction to an act who display surprising talent, arrangement chops and a take on the Power/Traditional Metal genre even I can appreciate.

Genre – Symphonic Power/Viking/Speed/Heavy Metal/Humor

Final Score – 71

Temple Nightside - Pillars of Damnation

Temple Nightside (Australia)- Pillars of Damnation

https://templenightside.bandcamp.com/album/pillars-of-damnation

Release- August 2020

Artwork – 73

This looks like it must have taken someone aeons to whittle. And look, it appears as though we’ve caught him (?) taking a rare break.

Thoughts-

Churning, rumbling, enshrouding dirge crawling unhurriedly across a diabolical foundation. This is Cavernous audio with archaic tribal tendencies (courtesy of the unrelenting drum assault) from out of Australia which delivers the punishment much like an avalanche of anvils dipped in the blood of innocents. This is the first I’ve heard their name but it won’t be the last I utter it.

Genre – OSDM/Blackened Sludge/DeathDoom

Final Score- 87

Seer of the Void - Revenant

Seer of the Void (Greece) – Revenant

https://seerofthevoid.bandcamp.com/album/revenant-2

Release- August 2020

Artwork – 89

Mysterious hooded types traipsing on a landscape littered with human remains. Color me intrigued. Those familiar with the scene might notice the arts similarities to that sported by Beast Maker.

Thoughts-

Not knowing what to expect and not having anything to base their style on (this is a debut) I went into this blind. But boy, did my eyes open quick! This seethes and thrums with know-how (nods to pioneers of the scene aplenty), bears a fluidity fans of traditional Doom will be able to easily appreciate and a vocal approach (think a more relaxed Speckmann if he were to ever tackle Traditional Doom) those with a disposition for the “heavier stuff” will have no qualms accepting. Top it off with an attitude which bellows ‘This ain’t your parents Doom, kid’ and there’s little doubt this is deserved of its appeal, an allure which spans further than one might at first suspect (before subjecting the senses to that which is on offer). In short, this has rhythm, riffs for days (and then some), groove to prompt even the most stubborn of limb into movement and that certain, indefinable, something which has me more excited about the genre than I’ve been in a long while. Where’s my wallet?

Genre – Doom/Stoner Rock/Heavy Metal

Final Score- 92

Angel Morgue - In the Morgue of Angels

Angel Morgue (USA) – In the Morgue of Angels

https://angelmorgue-us.bandcamp.com/

Release – August 2020

Artwork – 89

This image is exactly as the title suggests. The art depicts several winged entities. Most in mangled heaps on the floor, one is falling from a mortician’s tray whilst the other enjoys an expert-level yoga position, against the wall, aided by an array of knives and wicked sharp looking utensils. If the audio is anything as impressive as this the listener is in for a grand time indeed.

Thoughts-

The opening track sets the bar extremely high boasting presence, grandeur and a wickedly delicious tempo change. OSDM meets Death/Doom styling to fantastic effect. An eight-plus minute track is a gamble as an opener. However, these guys run with it, at full speed never looking back, crossing the finish line to an ecstatic standing ovation. The album continues sporting cavernous qualities, a pleasing pace and arrangements which transform from a plodding menace, a Messiah Marcin- esque (obviously a Candlemass reference) stomp, to a sweaty gallop at a rate to ensure even the most rabid of fan (of mid-paced, old school, madness) is sated. Add enough diabolical nature to scare a handful of grannies and small fluffy animals into scattering and you have an album which warrants several spins in appreciation. Recommended for fans of Incantation, Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower and a slew of acts in between.

Genre- DeathDoom/OSDM/Blackened Death

Final Score – 88

Fermentor - Continuance

Fermentor (USA) – Continuance

https://fermentor.bandcamp.com/album/continuance

Release- August 2020

Artwork- 74

This gent seems to have gouged his own eyes out and I believe is attempting to silence his views. Is this a political stance, a statement on current affairs, or a nod to not being able to change things no matter how much one voices their frustrations? Probably, perhaps all of the above. But I’m here to talk music, so I’ll leave that discussion for others to mull over.

Thoughts-

For a composition comprising of two fellas (one smacking the skins the other deftly manipulating the dimensions of a fretboard, there’s no vocals or a vocalist here) this exhibits frighteningly addictive qualities. The style wavers dramatically, as too the pace. Dipping on occasion into the murk of Sludge territories and blistering over frenetic Death arenas as well “I-wish-I-would-have-stretched-before-giving-this-a-listen” Thrash realms this bounces around at quite the clip avoids stagnation while making one marvel at both musician’s talents. More often than not ferocious, feral and pulverizing this also displays rare instances of (somewhat) calm, a step away from the chaos into more a traditional Metal landscape, inserting a breather for those demanding such.

In effect, this is a vehicle which whips the listener around like a ragdoll while tossing shrouded hints at a wide variety of influence. I’m left pondering if the addition of a vocal accompaniment would help or hinder its appeal. Regardless, this is a stunning debut which should perk up the attention of those with a fetish in particular for drum fueled/frenetic audio. And tickle the curiosity of those who prefer their audio of the slightly experimental/non-conforming variety.

This certainly left an impression on me.

Genre – Brutal/Tech Death/Thrash/Doom/Sludge

Final Score – 78

Hideous Depleted - Enforced Slaughter EP

Hideous Depleted (Japan) – Enforced Slaughter EP

https://hideousdepleted.bandcamp.com/album/enforced-slaughter

Release-May 2020

Artwork- 86

A Cronenberg-esque (whole) body explosion but in slow-mo. I’m intrigued. Tell me more.

Thoughts-

An eight-minute EP which isn’t Grindcore.  Hmm. There are three tracks on offer here, it’s the band’s first release it’s enough to whet the appetite. Pummeling, rumbling, rhythms aided by maniacal flourishes and a no-nonsense zero-introduction approach. This may be meat and potatoes styled Death but it bodes well for the act’s future. Keep an eye on these guys.

Genre- Death/Thrash/Brutal Death

Final Score- 77

Darkened - Kingdoms of Decay

Darkened (International) – Kingdoms of Decay

https://edgedcircleproductions.bandcamp.com/album/kingdom-of-decay

Release- September 2020

Artwork- 77

Meet Uthur, Grand Champion of the Great lands of Plenty Staring League. He hasn’t blinked in over 3000 years. Perhaps someone should tell him that the league disbanded 2995 years ago? And the place in which he silently sits (glaring into nothingness) is now a fish market.

Thoughts-

A likely mash up of Amon Amarth, Bolt Thrower, Hypocrisy and Necrophobic, incorporating both strong and fleeting influence (which often shuffles prominent positions) this showcases mid-tempo rhythms seeped in atmosphere, a fair share of groove as well delightful menace and movement. Archaic themes run rampant as well elements which nod to the variety of expertise, talent, involved and the many acts each is otherwise involved with. What is most exciting, other than the fact that the quality on offer here is sure to propel Mr. Ingram back into the limelight, is that this album is damn impressive. It bears a remarkable flow and an exquisite presence. The overall effect a stunning treat especially for those who prefer their audio delivered intimately (via headphones).

If this doesn’t carve a crimson slash across the chops, I honestly don’t know what to say.

Genre- Death/Blackened Death/DeathDoom

Final Score – 87

doomslut

Doomslut (Panama) – Dissonant Evil

https://jaibanarecords.bandcamp.com/album/dissonant-evil-2020

Release – August 2020

Artwork- 81

Cosmic and psychedelic vibes radiate from this release. A screaming skull (a Banshee perhaps?) somehow creates a physical maelstrom of audio activity. Color me intrigued.

Thoughts-

Two long tracks make up this EP (?) These are more than enough to transport the listener to an alternate reality. A dimension in which one free-falls through the cosmos. Assaulted by howling winds and careening undefinable objects the listener is subject to an unfathomable landscape fraught with innumerable dangers, menace and an ominous nature of the epic cinematic variety. Far from the traditional, or the assumed, this exists more in harrowing Atmospheric/Drone territories. An arena I’m admittedly unfamiliar with; this serves as a fantastic introduction.

Genre- Doom/Drone/Funeral Doom/Dungeon Synth

Final Score – 83

The Last Sigh of the Wind – We Are Trees

(it’s about time I combined two sub-headings)
Plucked from Metals Past and Something a little Different
The Last Sigh of the Wind (Belarus) – We Are Trees

https://tlsotw.bandcamp.com/album/we-are-trees

Release – June 2017

Artwork – 77

A form dissolves into nature? For some reason this caught my attention, perhaps I thought this was going to be Atmospheric Black Metal?

Thoughts-

Straight up, this isn’t what I usually listen to in the slightest. I hit Play and honestly couldn’t find it in myself to hit Stop. This has remarkable relaxing qualities, a definite flow and an appeal for those times when one doesn’t wish brutality to pounce at their senses like an unfed rabid animal. There aren’t any vocals here but rather an audio scape which ebbs and flows much like a river as it makes its way through natures various obstacles on its way to a larger body of water. This has emotion, rhythms to complement lazy evenings and an overall mesmerizing quality much akin to Somali Yacht Club minus the ‘jam nature’. It also boasts surprising similarities in part to Funeral Doom and Atmospheric Black Metal but only in part and only in certain instances. Recommended for those quiet evening to complement a glass of wine, great company and a small fire as one watches the sun dip from view.

Genre- Post Metal/Rock/Progressive

Final Score- 78

Crust - a Dirge Becomes an Anthem

Crust (Russia) – …and a Dirge Becomes an Anthem

https://crustband.bandcamp.com/album/and-a-dirge-becomes-an-anthem

Release- August 2020

Artwork- 80

Now I’m done cutting the grass with my trusty sword (damn, it appears I missed a bit. And to be honest it’s rather uneven overall. Fug it. Ill fix it tomorrow. Maybe?) it’s about time for a refreshing brew.

Thoughts –

Bam! This opens with a track which will open the eyes and get the digits busy on the inter-webs. Black cresting triumphant riffs upon a bed of molasses, it might sound odd, even strange, but it comes off as remarkable, Crust do a fantastic job of pulling the listener in. Immediately. The album continues to blend the two elements into a formidable shape packaged deftly in swift rhythms, grizzled and gnarly throaty emissions and the murkiest of Sludge textures. Add to this an instrumental which serves to break up the album like the sharpest of knives through an advancing mutant horde and a closer which is nothing like the remainder of the album and the ingredients are all in attendance for a release which cannot, and should not be ignored. I honestly don’t believe I know of another act with a more deserving moniker. Mark my words, with quality like this on offer, these guys are going places. Show them your appreciation and support.

Genre – Doom/Sludge/Black Metal/Post/Stoner Rock

Final Score- 90

Drainbow - Tower of Flints

Drainbow (USA) – Tower of Flints

https://drainbow1.bandcamp.com/album/the-tower-of-flints

Release- August 2020

Artwork- 73

“Swan! Stop looking at me, swan!” This out of context Adam Sandler quote was brought to you by the jumbled, erratic, often incoherent thoughts of yours truly.

Thoughts-

How to tackle an album like this. It would be rather easy to mention that this audio is as if Polka dot Cadaver, Faith no More and Akercocke were coerced into the same recording studio under the watchful, stern, tutelage of Voivod. But, it’s not quite that simple. There’s little humor, plenty of stylistic diversity and a helping of frenetic chaos. The fact that this was created and conceived by a single mind is astounding, to put it simply. The arrangements on offer are complex, undeniably unpredictable and showcase varied influence plucked from a dizzying array of destinations. Each track boasts its own identity and there’s enough movement to keep the mind from wandering. One might even find themselves digging around for a dictionary. (Just what is “Tautology” anyway?) One thing’s for certain; this has charm and presence in spades. However, this isn’t for everyone. It isn’t as simple to appreciate as the majority of more ‘traditional’, and easily pigeonholed, albums (churned out by the thousands) this has a uniqueness to it which may turn most, but the more open-minded, away. With that in mind, if this clicks, it connects and leaves an impression. An experience which begs to be discovered again and again and shared. Following each listen it strangely blossomed exhibiting details not noticed previously. Honestly, I’m surprised I like this. It’s different but strangely hypnotic. Don’t allow the smorgasbord of genres to distract you from giving this a chance, take the plunge!

Genre- Avant Garde/Black Metal/Experimental/Progressive/Ambient/Folk/Post/Technical Thrash/Proto-Metal/Doom

Final Score- 80

Beyond Fallen - As the Spires Fall

Plucked from Metal Past
Beyond Fallen (USA) – As the Spires Fall

https://beyondfallen.bandcamp.com/album/as-the-spires-fall

Release- April 2017

Artwork- 65

Alright guys. Calm down. I was joking when I mentioned that it appears as though your creator has a hard-on for Iron Maiden’s “Eddie”. And what’s up with those horns?

Thoughts –

It doesn’t take but a few seconds for this to put one in mind of two very important acts in the Metal universe. In fact, the first song appears to be quite the mash up of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest (circa “Painkiller”). It’s obvious but forgivable. Why? Well, because the music and Joe Karavis’s vocals are just so darn impressive. Thankfully, the album remains on fantastic footing. As it progresses other influence comes to the fore. Most obvious is the albums style and similarity to Bruce Dickinson’s solo works, the rhythms here are slightly more Thrash oriented than Bruce’s output with Maiden. Another act which comes to mind, in certain instances, is Britain’s Toranaga; another act who successfully married Heavy to Thrash Metal (check out “God’s Gift” if you haven’t already). Admittedly, this isn’t my typical ‘wheelhouse’ and honestly, I was quite determined to write a few words even if this didn’t fully grab my attentions. Imagine my surprise when it did and then some. The next sentence will probably garner a few comments (but I’ll scribble it anyway)…honestly with the impression this left, the way it flawlessly flows and the ease of which it brings the ears to climax, I’ll state without regret that this is up there with some of my classic favorites, the timeless releases every fan has in their collection. In my opinion this js that good. Lay ears upon it and feel free tell me your thoughts. I understand the similarities to the above -mentioned acts for some might be too pronounced, but for my tastes the balance was spot on!

Genre – Heavy/Power/Epic/Thrash Metal

Final Score- 96

In a concerted effort to keep these articles fresh (haha – as if) I’ve decided to add a new segment. A segment in which the reader chooses the last “spot”. In this, the first, instance I’m utilizing three albums I really should have covered already.

Honestly it would be easy for me to whittle it down to two as I have s soft spot for both BDM (I’ve seen them twice and they always deliver!) and Sepultura (who were my first concert along with Paradise Lost). Admittedly, I’ve laid words on the last full-length effort from Ingested and was suitably impressed. However, because there is only one spot left and this article is dragging into diatribe lengths (this isn’t helping any) only one will do.

Ingested – Where Only God’s may Tread

Sepultura – Quadra

Black Dahlia Murder – Venomous

Drumroll please…

The final result after a neck and neck battle (with a whopping twenty-three votes cast)

Sepultura- Quadra

Sepultura (Brazil/USA) – Quadra

https://open.spotify.com/album/0tcLKzf5Rudm66ApoNKpGm?autoplay=true

Release- February 2020

Artwork- 79

A coin, a coin? A sodding chunk of metal, not a tank, a scene of carnage or any other image plucked from a multitude which might better convey the audio beneath. I am befuddled. Give me a moment…

On seconds thoughts this is rather clever. A coin nods to the past and usually showcases a ruler of sorts upon one of its sides. This one has a skull perhaps to signify a successful rebellion, a toppled dictator? The word “Quadra” may be in reference to the bands ‘fourth season’, reincarnation or transformation. Most probably, there’s been another shuffle within the ranks (?) My thoughts have changed, I’m actually quite liking the image now. Onward.

sepultura albums pic

Thoughts-

I’m going in excited with this release. Truthfully, I haven’t heard much, if anything, since Derrick Green stepped in. And “Roots” really didn’t grab me, but there’s quite the rumble concerning this, so perhaps it’s time to reinvest the attention? Without further ado.

Somehow, someway, they’ve gone and done it. Some might say the improbable, the impossible. But they’ve done it. The album kicks a significant amount of ass, leaving me prancing around like an absolute loon, and combines styles found through the acts discography most notably “Beneath the Remains”, “Chaos AD” and “Arise” with just the right amount of heritage fueled “Roots” to break the thrashin madness up. “Quadra” also comes complete with atmosphere; a fantastic well – executed accompaniment to heighten the enjoyment of the album. And I’m pleased to mention that Derrick blows the vocal department out of the water, a fantastic job. The instruments are great, the production top-notch and the arrangements and rhythms stellar. In fact, this offers everything a returning fan could hope for with  surprises tossed in to garner fresh fans. This is an album I will add to my playlists. Sepultura are back to form and this is sure to ignite the passion of the long-time fanbase whose interest might have waned as of late.

Genre- Thrash/Atmospheric/Progressive

Final Score – 95

exhausted animal

And that brings me to the conclusion of yet another mammoth installment. I’m glad you’ve stuck around to read my parting words which as customary are as follows; Don’t fear discovery of that which is usually foreign to the senses.

Fell free to share, comment and or suggest.

Your slave to extreme audio in many of its various forms,

Cult

Abrasive Audio – An Interview with Scepter & Crown

(Courtesy of a guest contributor)

scepter and Crown logo

Scepter & Crown are, for my money, the most exciting new Black Metal project of recent years. Just in case you missed it, Scepter & Crown released their debut EP ‘Baltimore’ absolutely free in February of this year. Get to Bandcamp and check that shit out! https://scepterandcrown.bandcamp.com/releases

Baltimore EP

They hail from the city after which the EP is named. It is a fascinating ride through the darkness of harsh crusty Black Metal and the extravagance and décor of Hip Hop. I caught up with S. from Scepter & Crown…

The thunder roared across the mountains punctuating the pelting rain. The lightning illuminated the skyline. The combatants circled one another. They charged forward, steel collided with steel, a clashing of swords. S. from Scepter & Crown used his brute strength to push Peter backwards and with a flick of the blade disarmed his opponent as he crashed to the floor. S. put his sword to Peter’s chest.

‘Any last words?’ He spoke devoid of emotion. This would be a routine kill.

‘Actually, I’d like to ask you a few questions…’

Fake fucking news… We exchanged a few polite Facebook messages and got down to business, like grown-ups. This isn’t your stereotypical Black Metal outfit. This isn’t Lord of the Rings fanboy nonsense. Just don’t call it Trap Metal…

– How did Scepter & Crown come about?

Scepter & Crown was in some ways a response to the current black metal scene in the US being a largely uninspiring morass of PC posturing and witch-hunts, mostly made by bedroom bureaucrats and teenage tyrants.

This nonsense is all done while pretending there’s something dangerous about wearing spikes and capes and pretending to be wizards while beating the dead horse of a religion that’s already in its death throes.

“Misanthropy” preached by people who believe in nonsense notions of equality and social justice, “outlaws” who protest American presidents and fall in line with every other basic bitch left wing political opinion you can easily see espoused by celebrities, mainstream media and so on.

There’s nothing genuine about it.

Second, it came about as a thought experiment:

What if Death Row Records had maintained its aesthetic of rampant aggression, greed, and gangster capitalism – but it had been a black metal label?

Scepter and Crown pic #1

– What are your musical influences?

The standard black metal stuff, but also of course Peste Noire, Vouivre, BMH, MGLA and so on – bands who are doing something similar in Europe and melding elements of the vulgar, the gutter, etc. into their black metal.

– For the uninitiated, what is ‘Trap’ metal?

I don’t know what “trap” metal is, we’ve never used the term. Trap music and heavy metal are two different kinds of music, and it isn’t our intention to create some kind of “blend.”

Scepter & Crown is a black metal band. We used elements of other styles on our first release, and will likely continue pushing into other areas, but we are not a blend of two unique types of music into some bastard format.

It’s important to try new things without worrying about how they’ll be received – the urban hells that S&C wants to evoke need to feel authentic. Strip clubs, drive by shootings, blowjobs in alleys for heroin – combined with towering glass and concrete structures, $5,000 a night hotel rooms and Crystal mimosas… These are the blend of the “high/low” mindset that Scepter & Crown is interested in.

Scepter and Crown pic #3

-Was the blending of street wear culture deliberate? For example; Adidas, Crooks & Castles… Gun/spray paint/balaclava.

Yes.

Images of power and poverty, decadence and dominion. With no middle ground in between, just like the real American class system.

-On the back of that, what are the highs (decadence) and lows (squalor – spelt correctly this time S.!) for Scepter & Crown to date?

The high and low points have been often and extreme.

Anyone who has experienced the intense feelings of loathing and disgust that come after a long-term binge/addiction with stimulants and the gutter-level depravity and characters that this often involves will understand the low.

The highs come from feelings of accomplishment- the satisfaction of breaking boundaries and benchmarks, whether seeing six figures in the account for the first time, or a freshly pressed LP with your hard work presented correctly on it, these are the moments that momentarily put the existential despair to rest.

But only for a moment.

-Do you have plans to take Scepter & Crown on the road?

One of the worst things about music is being in a band and dealing with all the bullshit that comes along with that.

A long time ago, I realized that the heavy metal/black metal world is riddled through with people I had no interest in associating with, and most live performances are a discredit to any band with integrity.

Shitty bars with terrible sound and a smattering of dysgenic poor people drinking terrible beer listening to the same old bands year after year.

A depressing prospect.

Festivals, specific shows and live performance for filmed projects might be worthwhile, but time will tell.

-If you could collaborate with one artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Generally, I don’t enjoy collaborations, as it means spending time having your own ideas muddied up with someone else’s but sometimes a special alchemy can be created from the gross mixing of fluids.

The high/low philosophy of the project would dictate choice A being someone like Carl McCoy and choice B being GG Allin.

Scepter and Crown pic #2

-Are there any friends of Scepter & Crown whose projects we should be aware of? Who is inspiring you?

I don’t pay a lot of attention to what’s out there, honestly.

Listening to a lot of electronic music, old goth records, and French black metal these days.

-Are independent record labels dead in 2020?

The question is always: what can a small label do for you that you cannot do for yourself?

Not against the idea, but not actively looking.

(If these gents ain’t signed by the end of 2020 some A+R guys need the sack – Peter)

-When can we expect new Scepter & Crown material to land?

There are a few finished tracks at the moment, but I tend to work like an orgasm – in spurts.

More material will be finished and released whenever I get inspired- the coronavirus scare has kept travel to a minimum, and I do most of my writing in the cities that inspire me.

I’d say another EP is likely by the end of the year.

scepter and crown logo #2

And what was that. Thanks to S. for taking the time to answer my questions (and not gut me like a fish…). Black Metal was never meant to be for everyone and Scepter & Crown pull no punches when it comes to who this music is for. This no-nonsense approach has hardened my resolve that these guys will be a contender as we progress through the twenties. Maybe it is time to drop the Medieval helmet and foam sword and style up – Scepter and Crown have done that for you in your music collection – time to fix that wardrobe. Happy listening fuckers! Until next time…

(A guest contribution by Peter James Beswick)

Editor’s note: This band is not to be confused with Sceptre and Crown from the UK

Abrasive Audio part 16

(Another Turbo Edition)

fire guitar

Here we find ourselves again. The world continues to spin and music is still going churned out an amazing rate but there’s still no end in sight for this damnable Covid virus. We can only hope that a scientist discovers that sound waves might kill it, then United as a community we can crank our tunes and proclaim Fkn’ Slayer as it claims its last, shriveling into nothingness. Stranger things have happened.

Onward (where are my headphones?)

Decrepid

Decrepid (UK) – Endless Sea of Graves

https://xtreemmusic.bandcamp.com/album/endless-sea-of-graves

Release – July 2020

Genre – Brutal Death/OSDM/Tech Death/Death Doom

Rumbling rhythms, riffs aplenty and a style which nods to both European and American standouts in the scene, most esp. Suffocation. Maniacal and diabolical leads add to the fun and the vocal style will instantly bring forth a crescent on the chops of any fan of vintage death audio. Don’t sleep on this one. It’ll get you in the mood for some serious Pit action.

Final Score – 83

Dominion of Suffering

Dominion of Suffering (Slovakia/Switzerland) – The Birth of Hateful Existence

https://dominionofsuffering-sma.bandcamp.com/album/the-birth-of-hateful-existence

Release- March 2020

Pummeling and all-enveloping the audio here is all too familiar to those with a knowledge of the Black scene. However, it stays from the annoying over-saturated arena with its inclusion of well-timed diabolical passages, an effective atmospheric accompaniment and a vocal approach akin, in part, to (a younger) Master’s Paul Speckmann. It even sports its share of groove, cavernous qualities nodding toward OSDM realms as well the more traditional majestic cresting riff assault. In short, although it veers toward monotonous arenas in instances this is surprisingly listenable and far from what I was expecting based on the description it came with. Another listen is in order.

(Is that a depiction of Covid on the cover? Void asks. I’m not sure I reply but it could well be)

Genre – Black Metal/Death

Final Score – 78

Paul Wardingham - Day Zero; Rise of the Horde

Reccd by @Adracom (Twitter)
Paul Wardingham (Australia) – Day Zero; Rise of the Horde

https://paulwardingham1.bandcamp.com/album/day-zero-rise-of-the-horde

Release- July 2020

Genre – Progressive/Instrumental/Thrash/Metalcore/Djent/Melodic Death/Heavy Metal/Epic Metal

I went into this one blind with only the art (which reminds me of Chromeskull from the Laid to Rest films) to guide me. Two tracks in I’m still waiting for a vocal accompaniment, I soon realize this is sans that. But it doesn’t matter, this entertains. Much like Vai and Satriani this invokes imagery; a story plays out in the mind as this takes conquest of the senses. Unlike the aforementioned Paul manages to keep this from OTT/wankery/showoff waters whilst still keeping the attention rapt. Each track is different, exhilarating and the narrative flows in a cinematic grandeur scope without the utilization of lyrics in large thanks to the symphonic backdrop (what a stunning feat!) Honestly, I’m not one to gush about instrumentals but this is damn good, scratch that, it’s DAMN good! Expect to see this mentioned again, to the point of annoyance come years end.

Final Score – 94

Sickening Horror

Sickening Horror (Greece) – Chaos Revamped

https://pathologicallyexplicit.bandcamp.com/album/sickening-horror-chaos-revamped

Release – July 2020

Genre – Death/OSDM/Tech Death/Thrash/Progressive/DeathDoom

Channeling mid-era Death and a slew of European Death (metal) influences this release is far from easily pigeonholed. The Tech element certainly makes an appearance as too Progressive elements, though neither to an overburdening level. In short, this has depth over chuggery and rhythms to lift the spirits of both Thrash fans and Death fans alike. Unpredictable yet familiar this is acceptable and criminally easy to appreciate on a first listen basis. One of the highlights of the year from an act who constantly deliver.

Final Score – 90

Dethlehem

Dethlehem (USA) – Maelstrom of the Emerald Dragon

https://dethlehem.bandcamp.com/album/maelstrom-of-the-emerald-dragon-story-mode

(link is for the ‘story mode’ version)

Release – July 2020

Taking a slightly different stance than the traditional Dethlehem have chosen to issue two versions of this album; one strictly music, the other with a wrap-around story based (loosely?) on their DnD questing antics. Obviously, I’ve chosen to tackle the story-based release.

For an album based in as much humor as this has (think Alestorm, GWAR and Crotch Duster) the music, arrangements and talent on display are surprisingly good. Boasting a style which is part Annihilator, (early) Dark Tranquility and Soilwork with Tech Death, Progressive and epic Speed passages tossed in to mix things up. Dethlehem have managed to keep things lively, exhilarating, smirk- inducing and somewhat unpredictable all while appearing to have a blast themselves. The question remains, are they the first to tackle the DnD/Metal arena? (Didn’t Three Inches of Blood go there?) I’m not entirely sure. Tolkein has been covered by a fair few, Warhammer has been given the Bt Thrower dirge treatmement, Dethlehem do it well to the point where I’m sure many will also take up the reins. Not just for those into Fantasy Role-playing, quests and campaigns this sports sufficient quality to perk the interest of those with an open mind and appreciation for both humor and well-crafted metal.

No need to roll the dice, give this a listen.

Genre – Thrash/Melodic Death/Heavy Metal/Epic Metal/Progressive

Final Score – 87

Disavowed

Disavowed (The Netherlands) – Revocation of the Fallen

https://brutalmind.bandcamp.com/album/revocation-of-the-fallen

Release – July 2020

Springy bass, vocals barely this side of the bree-bree-bree fence and rhythms bordering on Technical with plenty of brutal melody to spare. Great production, riffs aplenty and a heavy drum mix lifts this above the pack. Fans of Benighted and the like are sure to salivate over what this provides in aces. In short, this is top tier Brutal Death which shouldn’t be ignored.

Genre- Brutal Death Metal/Tech Death

Final Score – 88

Merlock

Merlock (USA) – That Which Speaks… (EP)

https://merlock.bandcamp.com/album/that-which-speaks

Release- July 2020

One only need to lay eyes upon the mesmeric artwork associated with this release to fathom there’s a little something different going on here. In instances the audio here is quick sand thick with bellowing vocals, in others this takes on more a frolicking gallop in others still it boasts distortion to transform the tiniest parts of the eardrum to pulp. Suffice it to state this is not an album one can assume/predict the nature of. It has movement, it evolves, it churns, it rumbles, it sports intricacies and a wide array of vocal approaches to suit the percussions mood. Probably not for the common-garden genre fan this is for the brave; more recommended for those with an open mind and an appreciation of audio without regard for boundaries. For fans of the theatrical and experimental bordering on bizarre. This’ll take a few listens for me to fully digest if I’m to be honest, but I’m strangely hooked.

Genre – Sludge/StonerRock/Doom/Psychedelia/Punk

Final Score – 78

dead carnage

Dead Carnage (Czechia) – From Hell for Hate

https://deadcarnage-isp.bandcamp.com/album/from-hell-for-hate

Release- June 2020

If you’re looking for originality and technicality you might want to look elsewhere. However, if groove and riffs which grab you by the short n’ curlies are your thing you’ve arrived at your destination. Chuggery and an aura which would shake corpses from their eternal rest. Oftentimes this sounds as if Bolt Thrower were to collaborate with Master. This will make you twitch like one possessed. Although Dead Carnage bear a generic moniker, they know their shit and this hits with an impact you’ll want to experience again and again.

Genre – Grindcore/Brutal Death/Crust

Final Score – 86

ergodic

Ergodic (USA) – s/t (EP)

https://ergodic.bandcamp.com/album/ergodic-ep

Release- March 2020

How it is that these guys are still unsigned is beyond me. This hits the pleasure senses instantly. Ferocious, intense and intricate these guys know how to wield their rhythms. The arrangements are sublime; bathed in neoclassical passages and whirling dervish instances there’s little not to enjoy here with each track bearing its own identity. Don’t be fooled by the cover, this isn’t a release of the Doom variety, this is frenetically charged Tech Death to preach the brilliance of aloud. I’m eagerly awaiting the bands next chapter for this is merely a prelude to the retina searing brilliance upon the band’s horizon. Did I mention I liked this? Need I?

Genre – Tech Death

Final Score – 95

ice war

Ice War (Canada) – Defender, Destroyer

https://icewar.bandcamp.com/album/defender-destroyer

Release- July 2020

Another one-man outfit far from Blackened Thrash/Speed and/or BM realms where many others choose to ply their trade. The audio here plunges the listener unapologetically into nostalgia ville. Distinctive bass lines and vocals with gravelly Punk attitude aid and abet Speed Metal rhythms with a decidedly NWOBHM production tone and an oddly European 80’s aura making for a release that’s sure to get the limbs twitching as the mind races as to the location of the box of vintage tapes and vinyl which begs to be rediscovered. Although the album tends to dip into repetitive waters it still manages to offer that which many fans of vintage metal crave. Sure, the cover is a little cheesy (think early Meliah Rage) but the album serves as a fantastic way to reminisce.

Genre – Heavy Metal/Speed Metal/Punk/NWOBHM/Crossover/DBeat

Final Score – 79

eremit

Eremit (Germany) – Desert of Ghouls

https://eremitdoom.bandcamp.com/album/desert-of-ghouls-atmospheric-sludge-doom-metal

Release – July 2020

The art accompanying this release is to die for. The audio on offer (two tracks over twenty-minutes) is varied and undeniably huge in scope; the second track bears an introduction which is trance-inducing. Overall, the two tracks here are insanely catchy (once they get going), drenched in atmosphere and a fantastic introduction to a stellar German Doom entity whose past works beg exploration.

Genre – Blackened Sludge/Atmospheric/Doom/DeathDoom

Final Score – 81

Symbolik

Symbolik (USA) – Emergence

https://symbolik.bandcamp.com/

Release – April 2020

Admittedly, I’ve been sitting on this release for a while. Noticing the Artisan Era (label) in its description I decided to stop ignoring its presence and finally take the plunge.

Blistering speeds, fretboard diabolicalism, hyper-technically precise drumming and vocals of Cruelty and the Beast era Cradle of Filth collide here. Much like Inferi an otherworldly grandiose atmosphere saturates the style. An aura which is dense, intricate, often classical but thankfully this side of Rings of Saturn Tech overboard silliness. Familiarity may come ala the inclusion of Inanimate Existence’s string wizard Allen Burton. Familiar this may be but it also seethes with a vibe of its own, a viciousness in the vocal department and an audioscape which is somehow pleasing different than the majority of Tech Death acts. Just when one might have thought the landscape awash in numbing similarities along comes The Artisan Era promoting an act and album which might well top the best of 20′ lists. Fans of Vale of Pnath, Inferi, Black Dahlia Murder and Alterbest now have a new place to rest their ears.

Genre – Blackened Tech Death/Symphonic Death/Brutal Death

Final Score – 94

doldrey

Plucked From Metal past
Doldrey (Singapore) – Invocation of Doom

https://ironlungpv.bandcamp.com/album/invocation-of-doom-mlp-lungs-151

Release – November 2019

Admittedly, it was the raw BnW album art which pulled me in but it it was the mixture of styles which kept me glued to my seat. Infrequent breakdowns ensure the heart doesn’t explode as this rages its way through the senses and the listener loses all bodily control. A fifteen-minute workout at the altar of the Swedish metal gods albeit in a landscape splattered with a myriad of other influence. Be prepared to spin this until you lose track of time!

Genre – Dbeat/HM2/Death Metal/Hardcore

Final Score – 94

Havukruunu

Recc from JayKeeley @DoomedParade (on Twitter)
Havukruunu (Finland) – Uinuos Syömein Sota

https://naturmachtproductions.bandcamp.com/album/uinuos-sy-mein-sota

Release- August 2020

First off, I can’t understand a bloody word of this (I had to copy and paste the album and artists name) but it doesn’t matter. The quality on offer here is enough to surpass language barriers (and any other barrier for that matter) to leave me reconsidering my thoughts on a scene I’m truly ignorant of. Melody and Atmosphere to the Nth degree doesn’t take away in the slightest from the aura but rather adds to the experience. Arrangements are sublime, rhythms leave one with their eyes closed in a trance like state and influences come and go when one least expects them from across the BM spectrum (sans any semblance of copycat vibe) top this with the ferocity one expects from the genre and a production which isn’t standard (typically in the same genre) and you have an undisputed contender for the throne in the year end lists everyone appears to salivate over.

Don’t sleep on this.

Genre – Symphonic BM/Folk/BM/Pagan BM/Atmospheric BM/Melodic BM

Final Score – 95

Chaos over Cosmos

Occasionally I get asked by bands to take a listen and write a few words on their creations.
This is one such instance;
Chaos over Cosmos (Australia/Poland) – The Ultimate Multiverse

https://chaosovercosmos.bandcamp.com/album/the-ultimate-multiverse

Release – June 2020

Draped in Synth and Electronic elements (which effectively invoke interstellar and unfathomably vast cosmos imagery/surroundings) this is hardly a run of the mill/typical Death/Prog opus. The inclusion of the usual ingredients, intricate shredding showcasing a myriad of pace and style, as well that which sets it apart from the herd (including a varied vocal ensemble approach which complements and helps shape the mood) makes for an interesting, exhilarating and multi – layered unpredictable listening experience with an appeal which reaches far and beyond the traditional genre offerings fanbase. Complete with cinematic depth (this is a tad more Progressive, with an emphasis on Atmosphere, than Technical admittedly) this is an album which captures the attention immediately though warrants several spins and undivided attention to fully appreciate.

Genre – Progressive Death/Tech Death/Melo Death/Synth

Final Score – 82

hydraform

Hydraform (USA) – s/t (3 track EP)

https://hydraform.bandcamp.com/album/hydraform

Release – June 2020

Genre – Thrash/Groove/Alternative/Punk

Like a curious amalgamation of Faith No More, System of a Down, Therapy and Twelve Foot Ninja and much like the moniker suggests this is a many headed stylistic beast (Ha! – I’m sure no one has used that similarity before now?) whose aura is hard to pin down to any specific genre. Powerful, passionate vocals, spastic rhythms and technical drums are what drive this. Exhilarating, energetic and unpredictable these three tracks serve as a fantastic introduction. I’m eager to hear more.

Final Score – 79

vectis

Vectis (Portugal) – No Mercy for the Weak

https://vectis.bandcamp.com/releases

Release – March 2020

With an opening introduction (the initial twenty or so seconds) which makes this sound more like a Folk/Viking Metal affair Vectis soon change gears into catchy-as-all-fuck ville. Dbeat rhythms coupled with hooks in the ears pulling the listener in riffs make for a style that appears simplistic, but is highly effective. Just try to stay still as the title track pummels the inner ear! Tracks are short n sweet, familiar and leave an infectious impression which lasts warranting digits to hit replay.

If Hellripper were to ever play Portugal these guys would make up an amazing part of the same bill.

Genre – Blacked Speed Metal/Dbeat/Crust

Final Score – 84

soul_grinder

Soul Grinder (Germany)- Chronicles of Decay

https://open.spotify.com/album/4iCGKLWbzNCew1blH0mfFH?autoplay=true

Release – July 2020

Genre – Death Metal/Thrash/Blackened Death

Much like Bloodbath, Vomitory, Master, Unleashed and Hypocrisy, Soul Grinder offer a (similar) style which altogether isn’t altogether ground-breaking, though is thoroughly enjoyable. For a debut this offers a surprising quality which proves the collective members understand both the scene (all are in a varied collective of other acts) and what works. Rhythms are varied, intoxicating, boisterous and the arrangements far from stagnant. Lyrical themes are familiar combined with clear production allowing each instrument to breath and a percussion, part Thrash and the more melodic rather than Brutal corners of the Death arena, this makes for a release which smothers the pleasure receptors instantly. This isn’t an album one needs to slowly submerge into, there’s little to zero coaxing needed here. Break out the headphones and enjoy. Soul Grinder have produced an album which harkens to varied influence within the genre though still manages to give off an aura which separates them from the clamoring hordes. Bravo!

Final Score – 87

king gorm

King Gorm (USA) – s/t

https://kinggorm.bandcamp.com/album/king-gorm

Release- July 2020

I had to take a double take here, especially when I saw that among the members was a member from Old Man Wizard. I love those guys! Needless to say, I’m intrigued and have to give this a listen.

Guitar melodies and keyboards (of vintage Rainbow and Deep Purple fame) are front and center here. Alongside vocal harmonization and varied other influences, including but no way limited to Led Zeppelin, this release gleefully tosses its audience back a few decades to a time when Vinyl was king, denim was standard in every closet (pants, shirt and jacket) and it was extremely difficult to tell a person’s gender from behind (take that as you will). Add fantastical lyrical content, ambient atmosphere audioscapes and a style which is criminally hypnotic and you have an album which can hardly be deemed metal but can be heralded as a must listen for all those whose penchants include early Doom, some Psychedelia and reminiscing upon the calmer roots of the hard rock/metal movement. Seriously, this could well have been released decades previously to be preached aloud as a classic. As it is it exists as a genius creation and a must listen!

Genre – Vintage Rock, Epic Metal, NWOBHM/Progressive

Final Score – 95

bulletbelt

Bulletbelt (New Zealand) – Warlords

https://bulletbeltnz.bandcamp.com/album/warlords

Release – July 2020

Straight for the jugular audio here; this starts out with a face-shredder and rarely lets up! Vicious vocals, gang choruses, plenty of angst and rhythms (Thrash dipped in Black, Crossover and Punk values) to pull even the most stubborn onto their feet and into movement. A little experimentation, great production, surprising intricacies and plenty of movement keeps this far from stagnant and boring realms. The typical Thrash/Death release this certainly ain’t (skippa’. Wha-!).

As an introduction to Bulletbelt this only makes me want to dive deep in that which I’ve, apparently, been missing. (Fun fact; Jolene Tempest, the band’s vocalist from 13′ to 17″, went on to form Dark Divinity)

Genre – Blackened Thrash/Death/Aggressive Thrash/Deathcore/Crust

Final Score – 92

come to grief

Come to Grief (USA) – Pray for the End (EP)

https://cometogrief.bandcamp.com/album/pray-for-the-end

Release- February 2020

Vicious vocals, dense riffs, formidable plodding melancholy and palpable atmosphere. Admittedly, this isn’t quite what I was expecting with the Cannibal Corpse-esque track titles in mind. With only three tracks on offer however it’s enough to get one in the mood for more!

Genre – Crust/Sludge/Doom

Final Score – 76

exhausted gif

And this brings me to the end of the newest Abrasive Audio installment, another entry sporting over twenty albums to caress the yearning senses. You might have noticed there was quite the variety in this installment and this was focused mainly on newer releases. It wasn’t intentional, it merely worked out that way. As is customary; don’t fear discovery of that which is normally foreign to the senses.

Cult

Abrasive Audio 2020 – Part Ten

fuk covid

…or listening to Metal!

At present these entries have transformed to a few and far between affair. And for that I apologize. It’s frustrating I’ll admit; not being able to scribble upon that which interests me and brings a spot of shining brilliance to an otherwise humdrum existence. But it’s become the norm as of late and I’m having to ‘steal’ time in order to correlate, compose and post anything. However, I’m dedicated and determined to keep this thing going, to get the word out to praise audio which, I believe, demands discovery.

Without further ado…

Plucked from Metal Past
Drontheim (Germany) Down Below

drontheim

https://wraithproductions.bandcamp.com/album/down-below

Release – February/22/2019

Wraith Productions

ARTWORK – 70

Shadows, more shadows and what could possibly be either water or an outcropping of rock. I’m not even sure. However, if the music is as dark as the image, we’re in for some gloomy, doomy audio.

FIRST TRACK – 90

This could well be the resulting mash up of Paradise Lost and Katatonia if only David Bowie were to take the vocal duties. Then add some 90’s Goth Pop, Abstract lyrics and you’re even closer to what this provides. This is miles from my usual wheelhouse of interests but I’m finding myself strangely drawn to its Alternative, Post, Progressive, Doom allure.

INITIAL LISTEN – 90

With no two Tracks here alike this (album) offers a great deal to discover and get excited about. Industrial tones, progressive arrangements and melancholy all filtered through a veil of a palpable ominous, cinematic, atmosphere. Far from harsh this provides quite the distraction from the norm and offers rhythms to sink within accompanied by a certain nostalgia whose origins only seems to escape from the tip of the tongue as the audio evolves from one track to the next. Simply put if you enjoy the unpredictable diversity of Faith No More and are open to the occasional dip into Industrial Goth and murky Doom waters this is a release you need between the ears. Keep the assumptions at bay and the mind open and this will serve excellently to break up the day’s woes adding a spark to the normalcy of the day’s playlist.

Favorite Tracks; Varied, exciting and hypnotic throughout.

FFO; Rammstein, The Prodigy, Seigmen, Zeromancer, Ljungblut, NIN, My Dying Bride, Ulver, Red Harvest, DHG, Faith No More, Peeping Tom, Anathema, Katatonia, Kent, Ved Buens Ende, 3rd & the Mortal, The Soundbyte, Calmcorder, KkoagulaA, Manes, Atrox. (This is cut and pasted from promotional materials as I fear I couldn’t quite nail its wide influence radius and promote it to the audience it deserves).

Degenerate

Degenerate (The Netherlands) Devastation Ahead

https://band-degenerate.bandcamp.com/

Release – November/15/2019

Independent

ARTWORK- 76

Simple, vivid and to the point. I like it!

FIRST TRACK- 91

It takes a few seconds to realize this is neither Grindcore, nor Tech Death, though it displays elements of both it soon finds its rhythm. This is Thrash, aggressive have no doubt of that, bordering on Melodic Death it has bite, a rabid intensity and a flow which will have the listener up and on their feet in no time. An awesome start!

INITIAL LISTEN- 86

I’m not normally a fan of thrash, unless it makes an instant impact. And this does just that! Razor wire vocals, searing riffs, amazing solos, heritage flavor and vertebrae snapping rhythms, this is just the start of the list which makes this album stand out. I cannot for the life of me wonder why this didn’t feature on a plethora of year end lists, it’s that impressive (and my neck hurts so good).

Favorite Tracks; Adrenaline spiking from start to finish!

FFO; Sepultura, (newer) Exodus, Machine Head.

Interrupting the Normally Scheduled Broadcast for Something Completely Different.

folian

Folian (USA) -Blue Mirror

https://folian.bandcamp.com/album/blue-mirror

Release- January/31/2020

Anima Recordings

ARTWORK – 72

A little artsy, but I get the point; someone has perished, possibly at sea. But is the kelp or seaweed (or is that hair?) to blame or something entirely more sinister still?

FIRST TRACK – 86

“Post Metal”, “Shoegaze”, “Doomgaze”, “Noise Rock”, “Drone”. I’m honestly not sure what either of these terms means but this has an undeniable appeal, a curious start if truth be told, and has somehow managed to capture me in its allure even though at first the track appears rather relaxed and unassuming it slowly builds into a magnificent cinematic arrangement seething with a grandiose nature.

INITIAL LISTEN – 89

Far from what I would normally place in my ear this still has an undeniable charm, a familiarity if you will which is distorted, slightly jaded, taken into Ambient and Drone realms then delivered, repackaged, slathered in each of the aforementioned elements to envelope the listener in (“spacey”) tones which effectively cover a wide radius of the emotional spectrum. There’s an aura here, a strangely relaxed one that wavers, which surpasses atmosphere, an all-encompassing vibe which transcends the typical listening experience transporting the albums audience across transcendental landscapes dotted with passion, intrigue, daunting lows and exhilarating heights. Admittedly, this is a release I had second thoughts about discovering (especially after reading the genres listed as descriptions) however after doing so I’m glad I took the plunge. This is quite simply brilliant, but keep those assumptions at bay, go into this blind without prejudices and make time for a complete listen without distraction. Guaranteed to make more of an impression the more it’s experienced.

Favorite Tracks; Enchanting throughout, this collection is downright hypnotic even though it’s far from “the usual”.

FFO; Somali Yacht Club, NIN, Oasis, Stone Roses, Nuerosis.

March Releases
Reccd by @LFCMFighter

raider

Raider (Canada) Guardian of the Fire

https://raiderofficial.bandcamp.com/album/guardian-of-the-fire

Release- March/20/2020

Independent

ARTWORK- 74

Am I about to plunge my ears into Power Metal, or audio with an Epic feel with a possible fantastical edge? Hitting play…

FIRST TRACK- 83

Well, this is hardly Power, or even Epic, metal. It’s definitely Thrash. The bang yer head wicked variety complete with breakdowns, solos and venom dripping vokills. Suffice it to say I’m diggin the shit outta this thus far.

INITIAL LISTEN – 85

Who says one can’t have a kick ass Thrash album sporting cover art which might hint at more melodic arenas, perhaps audio of a more Epic nature? But that’s not to say that this isn’t. It is most definitely guilty of having riffs (for days) and rhythms you can most certainly without any doubt lose the last vestiges of your sanity too. Also, surprisingly, leads and solos which inspire air guitar aplenty, the air of old school Heavy Metal influence is distinct yet never an element which is utilized too often. I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t let the cover steer you astray. Sure, this bears fantastical elements, lyrics hinting at conflict, menacing forces and the like. If truth be uttered this precariously teases jumping the boundary of the Death fence, though manages somehow to remain firmly rooted upon the Thrash side. This is inarguably audio which incites frenetic movement, sweat and exhaustion, for this makes one move and doesn’t let up till the digit moves against all restraint to hit the play button again.

Favorite Tracks; Blistering throughout!

FFO; Sodom, Annihilator, Crusadist.

Aodon

 Reccd by @uniquehifi
Aodon (France) – 11069

https://aodon.bandcamp.com/album/1-1-0-6-9

Release – March/27/2020

Willowtip Records

ARTWORK- 70

The onset of decay or time, I’m not sure which. This gives little away as to the audio within.

FIRST TRACK- 93

A dissonant nightmarish backbone complemented by evolving rhythms and ferocious vocals. A little different than most in the same arena but it certainly makes an impact.  This is rather hard to describe easier to enjoy. An unfathomable impressive commencement.

INITIAL LISTEN- 92

This is my first experience of these guys and just… wow! Honestly, I’m always a little put off by an album which might not make sense to me on first glance, seriously what’s up the title? But after a little proddin’ (thanks to @uniquehifi on Twitter) I allowed this entry into the ears. Fuck me (I never swear, just ask the Fn’ wife) this produced an instant reaction. It’s hardly traditional, actually rather hard to describe without making people shake their heads in confusion, but it works. The style is as equally as ferocious as one is lily to hear but the accompanying rhythms which set this apart from the pack, the feel, the atmosphere, the aura. This is different, you can be sure of that but it’s not so wildly obscure as to be totally out of left field (what, a baseball reference?) Give it a chance and feel free to thank @uniquehifi too.

Favorite Tracks; Astounding throughout!

FFO; Atmospheric Black Metal with a slight Avant Garde aura and a Post/Progressive edge.

Temple of Void

Temple of Void (USA) -The World that Was

https://templeofvoiddoom.bandcamp.com/album/the-world-that-was

Release- March/27/2020

Shadow Kingdom Records

ARTWORK- 94

Exquisite inks, oozing with detail and life, displaying an arcane location, a landscape painting which seethes with ominous atmosphere. I’m left to wonder is this the bands rehearsal space?

FIRST TRACK- 92

Slow, crushing, ritualistic with an atmosphere which is palpable. Albums don’t start any better than this. Death Doom of the highest order which makes me wonder why I haven’t laid ears on this band before now.

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

At times the audio sounds as if Grotesquery and Paradise Lost got together and decided to combine their most notable talents. The vocal approach is a brilliant narrative (ala Grotequery) whilst the melancholic aura and arrangements of Paradise Lost (“Shades of God”/”Icon” era) is undeniable. This combination works superbly for the first few tracks offering a depth and aura which is quite simply astounding, but the album somewhat peters out, trudging into Groove Death depths, losing some of the magic the first half exhibited (although to be fair the bar was set extremely high from the get go). Climaxing with the near ten-minute title track the album reaches near the brilliance it started with to leave the listener hungry for another listen. Overall, this is a stunning effort sure to widen the eyes of anyone unfamiliar with how the band tackle the genre they choose to manipulate. Fans of Death/Doom take note this traipses into territories, both rhythmic and arrangement, one might not predict whilst still managing to return to familiar realms without alienating the audience, only one of many reasons why this deserves a slot in the collection amidst other greats. Make room!

Favorite Tracks; The Beast Among Us, Self Schizm, The World that Was.

FFO; Paradise Lost, Grotesquery, Novembers Doom.

Razgate

Another Reccd by @LFCMFighter
Razgate (Italy) – After the Storm…the Fire

https://razgatethrash.bandcamp.com/album/after-the-storm-the-fire

Release – March/27/2020

Punishment 18 Records

ARTWORK – 89

I’m all about Fantasy. Fantasy and Horror. Combine the two, in this case a questing Barbarian confronting an enigmatic entity perched upon a mountain of skulks, and I’m a salivating fool. Such is the case here!

FIRST TRACK – 91

A classical, Baroque, introduction sets the scene for pummeling, domicile obliterating, rhythms and a vocal style which is…wait for it…eerily similar to a certain Tom Arayas. This is my introduction to the band admittedly; Consider me sold!

INITIAL LISTEN – 94

This might ruffle a few feathers (keep in mind it’s my opinion) but experiencing this for the first time is akin to my virgin experience with Slayer audio. Daaammmmnnnn-! About covers it! This checks all the boxes I require checked to be able to enjoy a Thrash album (not all Thrash is the same, no matter what your parents tell ya). And then it rips the list from my hands and sets it on fire! This seethes with Ill-intent, with no consideration for the listeners well-being, seriously else why would those responsible make this so GD infectious. There’s even slivers of traditional metal and Speed influence in here and sufficient tempo changes to make one think for a brief moment that the punishment is through (but no-!) To make matters worse (just take my wallet!). Bastids the lot of em’, here I am spinnin’ this like one possessed and the day is just slipping away. You know, I’m sure I had things to do today. Ah, well. I can see my digits reaching for the Play button, again, I have zero control. Don’t get caught in the same trap. Save yourself!

Favorite Tracks; I’m going to burn this album before I lose my sanity, my job, my marriage and did I mention control of my appendages? I probably should have started with that, have a spotter when you listen to this and ear plugs for them so they might be about to hit Stop, every once in a while, but not too often.

FFO; Slayer, Nuclear Assault, Havok, Annihilator, Sodom, Three Inches of Blood.

April Releases

Carnal Savagery

Carnal Savagery (Sweden) – Grotesque Macabre

https://carnalsavagery-chaos-records.bandcamp.com/album/grotesque-macabre

Release- April/1/2020

Chaos Records

ARTWORK – 72

It’s as though someone ripped a page out of Seagraves book, blew up the image and added a Zombie, with a few scavenging companions, with his insides falling out. There’s little doubt as to what’s on offer here.

FIRST TRACK – 82

Filthy, mid paced madness with flourishes of abruptly inciteful rhythm (to send one into a moshtastic orgasmic salivating state) oozing with the trademarked genre’s HM2 menace, enough atmosphere to sate and unhurried commanding growls. All in all, a great combination with excellent delivery. A fantastic start to get one in the old school mood.

INITIAL LISTEN – 84

As the title of the album suggests the feel of the album is one of blood, bone, carnage and obliteration. Obviously, this concept isn’t fresh, new, or even ground-breaking but is delivered here in such a way as to make the listener sit up and take note (shit, it even comes complete with atmosphere). Carnal Savagery aren’t another dime a dozen copycat act, these guys have been around (since the scenes inception). Add to that the fact that a certain Dan Swano decided to ‘help out’ and it means be prepared, as he most definitely knows his stuff and the myriad depths of the genre itself. The album itself benefits from a fantastic tone, a dirge, an electric charged distortion which recalls the heyday of the scene and the audio itself? Well, it could well have been recorded in the same era as it reeks of professionalism, wisdom and a quality which will be instantly accepted. Hardly a parody of, and miles from plagiarist material but rather an addition to that which has already left its mark. Jump on this as I can only imagine if these guys stick around, they will stand alongside Entrails, LIK and Nocturnal Hollow to hold the standard for the scene into the new decade.

Favorite Tracks; Not a single one but the whole damn thing.

FFO; Bloodbath, Vomitory, Ribspreader, Dismember, LIK, Entrails.

 Grieve

 Grieve (Finland) – s/t (12″ MLP)

https://werewolfrecords.bandcamp.com/album/grieve

Release – April/3/2020

Werewolf

ARTWORK- 86

Black and white ink mastery. A form, a ghost, a wraith looks toward the storm laden distance for meaning, as He/She does so it parts welcoming his arrival. This is my take. I could be miles away but it’s impressive nevertheless.

FIRST TRACK- 92

Malicious blizzard riffs complementing a somewhat Folksy/Viking aura with slightly Cosmic undertones. Howls and snarls makeup up the vocal accompaniment. Blanketed in atmosphere the track makes for an amazing introduction to the band and their style.

INITIAL LISTEN- 91

Only two tracks on offer here, barely ten minutes but it’s more than enough to whet the appetite for more of the same. Blistering frigid riffs, snarled venom, epic narrative lyrics and melodic majesty. This is Black metal with bite, emotion, rhythm and a smidgen of D-beat combined to leave an undeniable mark.

Favorite Tracks; Both tracks are unfathomable impressive.

FFO; The Abyss, Dissection, Emperor.

Graveir

Graveir (Australia) – King of the Silent World

https://graveircult.bandcamp.com/album/king-of-the-silent-world

Release – April/17/2020

Impure Sounds/Brilliaint Emperor Records

ARTWORK – 78

I’m honestly not sure what to think of this. An excellent shadow heavy image with hidden meaning. Guessing I need to break out my thinking cap. A skull is front and center draped in a shroud of sorts with a plethora of crosses hanging from his/her(?) neck. Perhaps she skull is surveying its domain; “The silent kingdom”. And everyone is also of the not breathing variety, thus incapable of making a sound.

FIRST TRACK – 72

Grandiose Post meets Atmospheric Black metal with wailing vocals and a rumbling dirge nature. Not entirely what I was expecting but I remain intrigued.

INITIAL LISTEN – 76

Hardly tradition Black or even Death or the “assumed” combination of the two this relies more on ritualistic dirge and borders on an industrial tone. Rhythms are often an undercurrent rather than a driving factor and cavort playfully within the arrangements. Post and Progressive properties are dominant as too an undeniable ominous nature though overall this isn’t too far from the ‘norm’ as to alienate fans of either Black or Death, although as it stands  it should appeal to those more with Cavernous penchants perhaps even Grindcore and Crust tastes as this shows slight elements from each realm also, rather than that of the straightforward chuggery variety. This has grown on me over several listens, and has blossomed to show a wide swath of influences, so I don’t expect an instant downright appreciation.

Favorite Tracks; The Fetch of Crooked, Immacolata,

FFO; Akercocke, Aodon.

Kurnugia

Kurnugia (US) – Forlorn and Forsaken

www.reverbnation.com/kurnugia

Release -April/27/2020

Momento Mori

ARTWORK- 78

I can’t get over the fact that the face reminds me of the ‘witch’ creature from the “The Dark Crystal”. Otherwise a nice image with excellent colors and details.

FIRST TRACK- 82

With an intro with sounds like a soundtrack which accompanies the money shot scene to a later day Gothic shocker questions arise as to what might be on offer. But fear not, the first real track on offer displays melodies of a remarkable nature any fan will be able to instantly appreciate. Classic Death metal ripped from the 90’s playbook strangely somewhat both American and European in tone. Chuggery and atmosphere and a vocal approach akin to that of “Corpsegrinder”. I’m all ears; this is quite the opener!

INITIAL LISTEN- 86

Grinding, rumbling Death with enough movement in its arrangements to stray from the realm of boredom. A classic of all that works merging the old school ala Bolt Thrower with a dynamic approach, barely this side of technical bordering on at times Grindcore sensibilities, and plenty of groove to carve a grin on any fans chops and keep it there. This is quite the find for any bored with the plethora of acts sounding the same ole and bringing little to the scene. These fellas know how to play, compose and deliver an album which delights.

Favorite Tracks; Top notch Death metal throughout.

FFO; Angerot, Grave, Unleashed, Benediction, Vomitory, Bloodbath, Gorguts, Morgoth.

And a new segment, because I’m literally drowning in Metal (not time) I wish to promote. Introducing; The “WTF Lightning Review”.

TUUNBAQ

TUUNBAQ (Russia) – Graves of Ice

https://tuunbaq.bandcamp.com/album/graves-of-ice

Release – September/13/2019

Artwork – 74

Ferocity – 88

Groove – 87

Infectiousness – 88

Originality – 76

Genre – Grindcore/Crust

Will I Revisit? YES

Final Score/Remarks – 87

Atmosphere, Grind, Sludge and Groove…Hell to the yes!!

Legendry

Legendry (USA) – The Wizard and the Tower Keep

https://legendry.bandcamp.com/album/the-wizard-and-the-tower-keep

Release – November/1/2019

Artwork – 74

Ferocity – 24

Groove – 72

Infectiousness – 83

Originality – 76

Genre – Heavy Metal/NWOBHM/Folk/Prog/Doom/Epic Metal/

Will I Revisit? YES

Final Score/Remarks – 84

Exquisite fantastical themed Traditional Metal bursting with nostalgia, diverse styles and an undeniably fluid nature.

Embodiment

Embodiment (UK) – Palingenesis

https://embodimentofficial.bandcamp.com/album/palingenesis

Release – April/24/2020

Artwork – 86

Ferocity – 89

Groove – 83

Infectiousness – 92

Originality – 65

Genre – Tech/Prog Death

Will I Revisit? YES

Final Score/Remarks – 91

Ungodly impressive tech/prog death w. classical elements and a hypnotic allure which is unfathomable.

Divine Chaos

Divine Chaos (UK) – The Way to Oblivion

https://divinechaos.bandcamp.com/album/the-way-to-oblivion

Release – April/24/2020

Artwork – 84

Ferocity – 75

Groove – 78

Infectiousness – 84

Originality – 60

Genre – Aggressive Thrash/Melodeath

Will I Revisit? YES

Final Score/Remarks – 83

Insanely catchy, dynamic arrangements with wicked vocals topped off by impressive production.

Destroyed in Seconds

Destroyed in Seconds (USA) – Divide and Devour

https://destroyedinseconds.bandcamp.com/album/divide-and-devour

Release – April/24/2020

Artwork – 89

Ferocity – 86

Groove – 89

Infectiousness – 92

Originality – 70

Genre – D-beat/Crust/Hardcore/Thrash/Dirge-laden Death metal.

Will I Revisit? YES

Final Score/Remarks – 91

Top of the heap D-beat with varied influence which demands ears upon it!

It is impossible to sit still while listening to this!

exhausted animal Well shit, this turned into a Thrash lovefest, I didn’t intend for it to be the case but I just so happened upon a few Releases in the genre worthy of praise. I’m still hurting from Razgate (damn you @LFCMFighter!) And I suspect it might be the case for a great many others whom stumble upon its charm unsuspectingly. Again, this has taken a while, I only wish I could do more but alas thing while Covid thing has me working and babysitting (Can I call it that if it’s my child…?) rather than working and scribbling. Although I have inserted another segment in order that I might be able to promote more albums in a timely manner.

Until next time, don’t fear discovery of that which is normally foreign to the senses.

Cult

Abrasive Audio 2020 Part Eight

black metal gif

Tis perilous and uncertain times in which we live. Most things have become uncertain, we are reminded to wash our hands on a constant basis (seriously who doesn’t do this anyway?) and give a six-foot berth to those we are unsure of. Isn’t this behavior dictated by manners alone. Regardless with all that’s transpiring we still have distractions. Thankfully metal is still one of them and artists are still busy composing, creating and carving that which makes out senses tingle in excitement. I’d like to dedicate this installment to them and their tireless, ceaseless dedication. Thank you! I cannot seriously cannot write those words in a large enough font. It goes without saying therefore to support your local artists and those who continue to brighten your day with the eventual realization and maturation of their endeavors.

Without further ado may I drop you abruptly into grammar atrocious as IO attempt to put into words my appreciation of that which has delighted my senses in the last week.

February Releases

Angellore

Angellore (France) – Rein ne Devait Mourir
https://thevinyldivision.bandcamp.com/album/rien-ne-devait-mourir-2
Release- February/14/2020
Finisterian Dead End/The Vinyl Division

ARTWORK- 91

A touch of Gothic, a touch of SM and a flourish of Avant Garde. Just what is it I’m letting myself in for? Regardless this is a stunning image with makes the mind wander.

FIRST TRACK- 94

A twenty-minute opener. Yes, you read that right. And this isn’t Doom. Well it is, but there’s infinitely so much more on offer that it can’t be classed as merely that. Atmosphere aplenty, Gregorian chants, a smorgasbord of vocal approaches, strings and the occasional dip into Black waters make this an audio landscape one can truly get lost within. Think early Theatre of Tragedy but amp up the emotion and classical elements, only then will you be somewhat close. Outstanding doesn’t even come close.

INITIAL LISTEN- 94

Whoa. This collection of Tracks runs quite the extensive gamut. In one instance symphonic majesty in another an uptempo Gothic rock outing of sufficient godliness to place a smile on Pete Steel’s face, in others yet a folk vibe is unmistakable. Often landscapes are drenched in melancholy and the emotion produced takes the listeners to depths rarely attained, no matter the genre. Although this is hard to truly categorize the quality on offer is far superior to that I would ever think possible in a release which exhibits as much varied influence as this. The composition is sublime, the flow exquisite and the arrangements breath-taking. This is quite the achievement, one which I can only image will be celebrated for years to come setting the bar for others to strive for. The minutes will fly when this envelops the senses, bathe in the glory of Angellore.

Favorite Tracks; Hypnotic throughout.

FFO; Moonspell, Theater of Tragedy, HIM.

March Releases

Shadowkillers

Shadowkiller (USA)- Dark Awakenings
https://shadowkiller.bandcamp.com/album/dark-awakening
Release- March/3/2020
Stormspell Records

ARTWORK- 88

Flinging open the doors a Dark Elf sees carnage and readies him(her)self for conflict. Awesomeness. An epic fantasy image hinting at audio of the same nature. Is it too early to say I’m sold?

FIRST TRACK- 90

A fantastical introduction and an Epic/Power metal style minus the falsetto vocals I was expecting. Top notch arrangements and a lyrical narrative I’m wholly intrigued by. I believe I’ve found a rarity here, but only time will tell…

INITIAL LISTEN- 91

Admittedly, this is the first I’ve heard of the band. The genre really isn’t my go to audio arena of choice. However, with that being said this offers a great deal to pique my interest. A stunning blend of Epic/Power/Speed and traditional Heavy Metal and lyrics basted in a fantasy vibe which only makes me wish I’d have tried harder at penning fiction of the same ilk. Shit, it even contains keyboard passages reminiscent of vintage Dio fronted Rainbow (my weakness). The vocals are thankfully more gravelly than falsetto though still firmly rooted in the traditional and are easily decipherable to the point of drawing the listener into the story which unfolds as the album progresses. The arrangements here are superb, complete with cinematic atmosphere which only adds depth to the albums lyrical concept. Rhythms and riffs are fluid and convey a wide variety of emotions effectively. I never thought I’d say this but I believe I’ve found an album in this arena I can preach about, honestly the first since Riot’s “Thundersteel”. If the genres mentioned above are to your liking you cannot allow yourself to miss out on this! As a non-genre fan, I’m loving it. I can’t imagine how much of an impact it’ll make on one whose penchants run to more the melodic and epic than extreme.

Favorite Tracks; Hypnotic and enchanting from the first to the last

FFO; Magnum, Iron Maiden, Rhapsody, Ancient Empire, Primal Fear, Savatage, Blind Guardian.

dopelord

Dopelord (Poland)- Sign of the Devil
https://dopelord.bandcamp.com/album/sign-of-the-devil
Release March/10/2020
Independent

ARTWORK- 85

A gloriously archaic/medieval styled image depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse but dressed in their everyday garb sans disguise.

FIRST TRACK- 88

Dangerously infectious Doom with Cathedral, Trouble and obviously Sabbath undertones. Drenched wickedly in classical horror themes this gives off a delicious vintage aura. I’m hooked where’s my Lazeboy at?

INITIAL LISTEN- 87

Pulsating, throbbing riffs with seemingly a life of their own, fuzz dripping, spesker shaking distortion and a smidgen of psychedelia. Sounds like most Doom releases, right? It does, but this is surprisingly varied in its approach whilst still hanging onto traditional parameters. Ranging from melodic, to synth laden to a track with a somewhat industrial motif and saturated in occult themes this has a great deal to offer both the Doom aficionado, newcomer and casual listener alike. I’m not typically a fan of the doom genre this however is heavy in my playlist rotation.

Favorite Tracks; infectious and varied throughout.

FFO; CoC, Cathedral, Black Sabbath.

Venator

Venator (Austria) – Paradiser EP
https://venatorsteelcity.bandcamp.com/releases
Release-March/19/2020
Independent

ARTWORK- 76

Just me or does the cover have a slight Quiet Riot struck by lightning vibe? Or Iron Giant (inhuman form) going slightly bonkers? This screams late 70’s early 80’s without any doubts whatsoever

FIRST TRACK- 89

Hard rock meets NWOBHM meets mid- era Judas Priest. This is addictively melodic with some wicked twitch the limbs riffs. But let’s not forget the delicious production which lends this a nostalgic edge.

INITIAL LISTEN- 89

This checks all the boxes I would hope for in a release slathered in vintage values. The rhythms on offer are ungodly infectious, the instruments clear, the leads and solos passionate but not overly so and the vocal style has just a hint of falsetto (in the right places, to mynliking anyhow) without going into overly dramatic realms and without losing any of its manly bravado. The tracks are offer we a fantastic taster for what’s to come, hinting at both fantastical lyric narratives and other themes which are more easily identifiable to those of us without a unicorn parked in the shed or a tattered DnD rulebook close at hand.

Favorite Tracks; Paradiser, Blind Ambition.

FFO; Judas Priest, Blitzkrieg, Tank, Dokken.

Virocracy

Virocracy (Germany) – Irradiation
https://virocracy.bandcamp.com/album/irradiation
Release- March/20/2020
Black Sunset/MDD

ARTWORK- 84

Strange that the sky and landscape are the same color. Chem trails, Pesticides, is that a mushroom cloud, or slightly perturbed smiley faces ? Insert your theory here but there’s definitely something afoot in this vivid apocalyptic themed image.

FIRST TRACK- 77

A typical of the genre ominous intro opens this album then it’s into familiar waters. Atmosphere and melody collide along with a progressive aura and rhythms ala Arch Enemy (this also sports impressive feral female vocals). Moving with dynamic twists and turns sans repetitive chuggery this track bodes for an impressive collection of Tracks in store. an impressive start.

INITIAL LISTEN- 77

The intro to “Rane” is an album highlight, sounds as if lifted from a ‘moneyshot’ scene in a Sci-Fi film and is, in part, eerily topical. The remainder of the album cannot truly be comfortably pigeonholed. It runs with a Progressive nature, arrangements which transform constantly to aid a concept narrative. The style also dips into Thrash realms and occasionally into Tech and Djent arenas based on its not relying on typical chuggery but rather melodies which are dynamic, exciting and rarely stagnant. Give this a shot, it’s a fantastic debut and bodes well for an act starting to find their niche.

Favorite Tracks; Rane, Solitude, Void of Heart.

FFO; Angela era Arch Enemy, mid era Death.

black phantom

Black Phantom (Italy) -The End is Near
https://blackphantom.bigcartel.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgaySL5pP9M
Release- March/20/2020
Punishment 18 Records

ARTWORK- 78

A fantastical sludge-like monstrosity is depicted against a background drenched in an ominous nature (yellows and greens of a hue which brings to mind imminent doom). A vintage hourglass in the foreground, in the creature’s grasp, adds weight to the album’s title. Is he the Grim Reaper or merely a “Stranger in a Strange Land” without a battery-operated torch? Perhaps the music will help to answer these questions? Perhaps not. But I’m hitting play regardless.

FIRST TRACK- 81

Galloping rhythms, a traditional NWOBHM aura and a style which brings to mind both vintage Maiden and Wolfsbane. Add to that a vocal style akin to that which Bruce Dickinson boasts and you you have the start of a release which is promising indeed. Though might turn some off based on its approach.

INITIAL LISTEN- 84

Distinct bass, a familiar vocal style pulled off with significant ant range and an aura which screams Iron Maiden worship, but also that of others making waves around the same time. Dynamic rhythms, soaring leads, solos and undeniable fluidity throughout. At times Maiden esque, in others more akin to Dickinson’s solo material in feel, in others yet more a hard rock rather than a traditional metal approach. Whatever the case; this delivers. It shows creativity in its composition (this is familiar yet not to point of riff for riff plagiarism), sports intelligence in its lyrics and is sure to make an impression for those yearning for audio of undeniable quality with a distinct Maiden ‘edge’ (did I say Maiden enough here?)

In closing, I find it somewhat strange that an Italian act would make a German version of a track featured in the album but this seriously only adds to the intrigue this album sports. Did I mention I’ve listened to thus six times already? Nope? Well, it’s good. Discover it for yourself and tell me your thoughts.

Favorite Tracks; Redemption, Hordes of Destruction, The Road, Either You or Me, Hands of Time.

FFO; Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson (solo material), Iced Earth.

Graceless

Graceless (The Netherlands) – Where Vultures Know Your Name
https://rawskullrecordz.bandcamp.com/album/where-vultures-know-your-name
Release- March/27/2020
Raw Skull Recordz

ARTWORK- 78

This has an archaic apocalyptic vibe, Pompeii perhaps? And brings to mind Immolation (for one reason or another) complete with a smoldering lava aura the image invokes both despair, destruction and desolation. I’m left intrigued… hitting play.

FIRST TRACK- 86

The introduction seethes with a tribal and readying for war tone which soon transforms into a pulsing dirge. However, veins of melody and effective atmosphere add considerable depth to make this different than most. An intriguing start which although in tone is familiar is also oddly a mixture of influences making it quite unique.

INITIAL LISTEN- 93

It would be simple to merely label this as Bolt Thrower-esque material and be done with it; the unmistakable aura is there, the tone, the war motif. But this is slightly different and that’s what separates it from the herd (who apparently all seem to be riding the same coat tails). There’s undeniable presence (love that word!) here, a depth which only a rare few have managed to effectively capture. An epic nature only occasionally experienced in audio of this nature. And it’s the ease of execution which captures the senses, this doesn’t seem forced. Familiar, strangely so in some instances, yet flowing with a life of its own. And there’s even a spot of diversity, passages of groove, amidst a track designed to shake things up, to send the limbs a twitching. Prefer mid-tempo to face searing speed? Like a little sludge with your growling? It honestly doesn’t get much better than what’s on offer here. Sink in, allow this time and you might find it difficult to eject it from the playlist. You have been warned!

Favorite Tracks; Much like spending a distracted moment in quicksand this will eventually swallow your being. Nope. I can’t pick one, two or even, three tracks as favorites; this whole album rips!

FFO; Bolt Thrower, Vital Remains, Deicide, Memoriam, Hail of Bullets, Vallenfyre, mid era Slayer.

perdition temple

Perdition Temple – Sacraments of Descension
https://perditiontemple.bandcamp.com/
Release- March/27/2020
Hell’s Headbangers Records

ARTWORK- 89

I don’t think this is a meeting of the minds so much as a weekly event. A tabletop RPG convention of sorts perhaps or the Underworld Book Club? I’m only left wondering who’s left looking after the wee cherubs.

FIRST TRACK- 93

This track goes straight for the jugular, no glitter intros no atmospheric submergence into cinematic realms this hits hard, aims for the nearest major artery and grabs the attention instantly. Writhing rhythms complemented by bestial vocals and evolving galloping passages topped off by abrupt dousings of diabolical essence but my words don’t come anywhere near to doing this justice. Strap yourself in folks this is gonna be a bumpy ride!

INITIAL LISTEN- 96

Churning riffs and a mischievous diabolical nature sees one initially think vintage Morbid Angel worship slathered in an Incantation aura yet it isn’t just that and it isn’t quite that simple. Vicious intent rhythms put one in mind of Vader whereas maniacal solos and leads bring to mind early Slayer, vintage Witchery, as well the undeniable influence mentioned above, a prancing impish maniacal nature is injected throughout to the point that when playing this you can literally smell Sulphur and hear the tippy tap of cloven hoofs on hard packed dirt. An air of cloying menace blankets the experience and its one the listener will only want to punish their senses with again and again. This is top notch archaic elevator music (naturally it’s nothing like the drone elevator tunage most of us are accustomed to) wicked, unrelenting, maniacal and instantly appreciable this could well be the soundtrack to the decent into the office of the ‘Horned One’ himself. Honestly, this is hands down my favorite release of the year so far, each time this plays my torso is sent into spastic movements, which isn’t a pretty sight in the slightest.

Favorite Tracks; Blistering throughout this will not disappoint!

FFO; Incantation, Hate Eternal, Morbid Angel, Immolation, Goatwhore, Gravehill, Vader.

Left over from 19’

Remission

Remission (Australia)– The Tether’s End
https://remissionband.bandcamp.com/
Release – November/15/2019
Self-Released

ARTWORK – 68

I’m honestly not sure if that’s the Earth (I’m not sure how it could be) or the Moon in the Hangman’s noose, regardless it tells a great deal of what the band wish to convey. A primitive image which makes one think though doesn’t necessarily give much away in relation to the type of audio within.

FIRST TRACK – 81

Zero introduction here, this commences with rocket fuel propulsion straight from the gate. Wicked infectious rhythms coupled with melodic breakdowns and vocals typical of the ‘thrash drenched in death sensibilities’ genre. On its description alone this sounds similar to what the remainder of the genre offers though it has a certain something, a blistering and well-executed riff meets technicality element, which elevates it from the masses. A great start!

INITIAL LISTEN- 84

Think Thrash meets Death balanced precariously on the Deathcore border and you’ll be close to what this offers. Aggressive blistering rhythms, technical phrasing within dynamic arrangements which any fan of the genre is likely to fall ‘ass over tit’ for in appreciation. Complex and tight are key elements here although this is only partly Technical it hints at a style which could well transform that way completely at any given moment (in the future perhaps?) Flourishes of other styles are evident throughout this album also; Djent rears its head, Crossover influence pops up via gang vocals choruses as well Post (whatever that in fact is). Another element is the albums atmosphere, which is plentiful, alongside the other mentioned factors as well the fitting though strangely discernable vocal style it makes a fantastic companion to the albums (Thrash) foundation. Overall, and although this style isn’t really anything new the band have obviously done their homework for this delivers what fans of the genre demand; it has excitement, unpredictability, expertly-placed breakdowns and passages of abrupt whirlwind ferocity one can lose their shit too. This does more than entertain, it makes a bold statement (especially based on the fact it’s the band’s first full-length outing) Remission aren’t fukin’ around. Sit up and take note as if they progress in this fashion these guys might well be the next big thing.

Favorite Tracks; Mother War, Temples, Black Scorched Earth, The Tether’s End, Transcending Chaos, Forced Entropy,

FFO; Sylosis, Black Dahlia Murder, Trivium, Psycroptic.

And Now for Something Slightly Different

Rodrigo Y Gabriella

I’m not usually into acoustic music. However, after experiencing the first track listed here, I was of the mind that I should write a few words in appreciation.

Rodrigo Y Gabriella – Mettal (Ep)
https://rodrigoygabriela.bandcamp.com/album/the-mettal-ep
Track listing;
Battery (Metallica)

Undistorted acoustic guitars can indeed be heavy and this proves it. Add a little Latin flavor, plucking, picking, fretboard manipulation godliness and a little creativity and this classic now has the presence to appeal to a new audience, one that possibly would’ve never heard this track otherwise. The perfect timing, phrasing and arrangement is what holds the attention here but it’s the talent and ingenuity (which more than make up for the absence of vocals) which makes this mesmerizing. An outstanding homage to the original though strangely with added oomph.

megadeth holy wars

Holy Wars (Megadeth)

Intricate, passionate and overflowing with energy whilst still remaining faithful to the original. I’m not sure how the pairing did it but this seems infinitely more grandiose than the original, this shines with an added sheen, a depth, a western aura but also a frenetic nature adding to the Tracks narrative (for those familiar, for those not do much it’s easy to figure out as the caliber showcased here invokes vivid tableaus) which is altogether hypnotic. Words fail me. Much like the ‘source material’ this demands discovery and showers of praise.

slayer seasons in the abyss

Seasons in the Abyss (Slayer)

It appears that I’m mentioning this more than I thought I would, however this is again an amazing example of the presence, power, depth and emotion one can bring to an already established track with only using acoustic instruments. In this case the air of sinister and ominous is palpable. As well as using traditional means the musicians here implement hands on the body of the guitar for added weight and boy does it work invoking images of dimly lit subterranean passages, flickering candles and archaic ceremonies (obviously “South of Heaven” in tone but I’ve always thought this track reminded me of that album). Again, there’s a certain Latin flavor here but it adds flair and bite making for another track which is undeniably astounding.

This three track EP showcases the brilliance and awe-inspiring adaptability of two seasoned musicians. In somewhat adapting (minutely to be fair) the three Tracks on offer they’ve undoubtedly introduced a whole new generation to acts they might never have heard otherwise and reminded long-time fans why the tracks chosen are so important to the genre. I honestly can’t say good things about the audio on offer here, I’m enthralled and can’t help but sing along. Admittedly it’s the first I’ve heard of the dueling guitar duo but it won’t be the last. Apparently, there’s more to discover, and I’m up for the challenge.

Animal - music is meant for sharing

Becus’ great music is meant to be shared!!

And that concludes another foray into the extreme audio realm. Stay safe out there folks. As always feel free to comment, share and/or suggest anything you think I might be interested in covering.

Yours, virus free (for now)

Cult

Abrasive Audio 2020 Part Seven

black metal gif

As the world nears total lockdown and a possible zombie apocalypse looms, we can all rejoice in the fact that we still have audio to lift the spirits and transport us to a better place. However, before I continue, I’d like to mention that artists are some of the folks hit hardest during these times of uncertainty, obviously close behind those who work in a serving capacity in restaurants, bars and similar establishments. Be  good neighbor, support others in these times of need and help out whenever you can. As a nation, as a people we will make it through this and only be stronger because of the adversities and instances of silliness we are currently enduring. Without further ado and preamble may I present a handful of audio treats which delighted my senses. I have hopes they might do the same for the listener.

Note; As much as I’ve tried to keep this brief it’s somehow worked its way into diatribe lengths and for that I apologize. However, for all those willing to dip their retinas in my atrocious grammatical (lack of) skills may I present this week’s findings.

January Releases

vernon of persia

Vernon of Persia (USA) – Ascend
https://vernonofpersia.bandcamp.com/
Release- January/10/2020
Self-Released
ARTWORK- 82

Who I can only assume is an astronaut stares longingly at a planet in the distance? I can also only assume the planet he/she’s on is Mars as it’s red whereas the other planet is blue. Is it Earth? Why would he/she want to go back? Questions, questions and more questions all leading up to the all-important one…what about the quality of the album itself?

FIRST TRACK- 76

Djent and Technical Death leanings with sparse Progressive breakdowns aided by vocals (hardly traditional grunts, growls or shrieks) dipped in angst. This is hardly Brutal Death but rather Deathcore, an intriguing start with significant ‘bounce’ and I’m curious.

INITIAL LISTEN- 78

Surprisingly diverse this release encompasses elements from a variety of genres (namely Djent, Progressive. Tech and Melodic Death) whilst adding a twin-pronged vocal approach to add depth. The tracks on offer are pleasingly different and showcases the bands willingness to inject a little experimentation into the mix. However, with that being said this most probably won’t appeal to those whose penchants run to Brutal Death and traditional Tech or even Prog Death but rather to those who prefer their breakdowns just short of Slam territories and audio which is just barely too extreme for traditional/terrestrial radio airplay. Honestly, I’m liking this more than I thought I would (admittedly it has its moments) it’s growing on me. But then again, I have a soft spot for other audio in much the same vein; ie, vintage Beartooth which most don’t understand. My recommendation is; if you’re adventurous, give this a listen & decide for yourself. It might surprise you?

Favorite Tracks; Weightless, Ascend, Inner Sleep, Sea of Trees,

FFO; (vintage) Beartooth, Killswitch Engaged, Between the Buried and Me.

incinerator

Incinerator (Norway) – Awakened by Evil
https://incinerator-norway.bandcamp.com/releases
Release (digital) – January/17/2020
Self-release
ARTWORK- 82

The art here is dominated by a large logo, obviously the band’s name, and with what it includes there should be no doubts as to what to expect in regards to the audio within. There’s an inverted cross and an ancient torch with a blazing pentagram at its center. But that’s not all. There’s also a skull held aloft by a hand and wrist encased in a studded wristband. The skull looks none too happy being engulfed in flame but it all makes for an intriguing image.

FIRST TRACK- 85

An intriguing introduction (taken from “Awaken” by NORDVARGR) leads the listener into exquisite black speed/thrash territories (draped in nostalgic qualities) to snap the spine. Heavy accented vocals top the unholy concoction off leaving me rabidly eager for the remaining three tracks to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN- 84

Only four tracks here. Surprisingly each boasts more than enough to keep the listener sated. Atmosphere is plentiful thankfully invoked through percussion rather than keyboards. Swifter than-something-quite-fast rhythms alongside an impressive drum salvo and wicked vocals make for a hypnotic audio experience. But that’s not all this offers, this isn’t merely thrash nor speed (with at times a decidedly South American flavor) for within the four tracks here is a distinct homage to the blackened spectrum though it’s not until the final track, “In the Dead of Winter”, that this becomes neon sign bright. Crisp production with a raw edge elevates this into stellar realms.

If you’re a fan of the acts mentioned below do not let this pass you by unheard.

Favorite Tracks; Intoxicating from start to finish.

FFO; (vintage) Slayer, Hellripper, Wraith, Bastardizer, (vintage) Bathory, Venom, Bewitcher.

February Releases

Karnivore

Karnivore (Sweden) – Dodsriket
https://southcoast-productionssweden.bandcamp.com/album/d-dsriket
Release- February/13/2020
South Coast Productions
ARTWORK- 77

Classic bronzed and somewhat archaic statue-esque art. Puts me in mind of blackened death audio, but I could be mistaken (it’s happened before).

FIRST TRACK- 78

An over two-minute instrumental, I’d say this would normally be a risk but this is surprisingly upbeat audio complete with rhythms and a somewhat epic melodic vibe which hints at perhaps that which is to follow. Color me curious.

INITIAL LISTEN- 80

It isn’t often that a release touted as ‘Death Metal’ from Sweden surprises me as much as this. And it didn’t take long for it to do so either! One might expect the olde tried-and-true HM2 approach, but it isn’t here. This boasts melodies (not rare in and of itself in the genre) and a certain infectious nature but it’s how it gets there which is the kicker. Think a Viking touch ala Amon Amarth mixed with the rhythms usually associated with ‘Storm’ era Dissection and you wouldn’t be far off. Add to that certain traditional Heavy Metal passages, a spot of Sodom worship amidst the albums thrashier moments, rough accented vocals and the hypnotic effect is complete. Barring a few hiccups, the album is a great find and introduction to both the band and their style.

Favorite Tracks; Empire of Filth, Slice n’ Dice, No Freak, Black Flames, Disfigured Man.

FFO; Amon Amarth, Dissection, (vintage) Arch Enemy.

March Releases

pestifer

Pestifier (Belgium) – Expanding Oblivion
https://pestifer-band.bandcamp.com/
Release- March/13/2020
Xenokorp
ARTWORK- 72

Blues, greens and a most unmistakable aura, that of seething menace amidst towering spires. I’d swear this was a black metal release if I didn’t know better.

FIRST TRACK- 88

Complex rhythms, multi-layered riffs and amidst it all a purpose, a story to tell, woven intricately throughout. Fantastical passion invoked by undeniable hypnotic qualities and captivating melodies. A stunning mix of chaos and precision.

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

Impressive, unpredictable and bursting with a mischievous sense of boisterous adventure, a spiraling narrative (which puts one in mind of Atheist as well, in instances, Voivod but also Testimony era Pestilence) and a varied progressive approach thankfully miles from the brutal assault many others offer. However, this still offers a technical pace and sublime precision, which most will be able to instantly appreciate, to keep the listener on their toes while offering nostalgia for those who have been around the extreme audio block. Give this a couple of spins, its grown on me and continues to do so.

Favorite Tracks; Exciting from start to finish.

FFO; (mid) Pestilence, Necrophagist, Atheist, Obscura.

 

 

Wolf (Sweden) – Feeding the Machine

Release- March/13/2020
Century Media Records

wolf feeding the machine

ARTWORK- 94

A little girl nonplussed at having to walk upon a landscape of shattered bodies (if that’s what this depicts) There’s something going on here. Is this a deleted scene from “Soilent Green”? Is she the harbinger of doom in sheep’s clothing? Regardless this is probably my fave album art of the year thus far.

FIRST TRACK- 88

Melodic Heavy Metal bordering on Speed metal with Halford-esque vocals. With solos and leads also of the Priest ilk, though this is a tad darker I’m liking it.

INITIAL LISTEN- 77

An impressive vocal range, rhythms and melodies which are highly infectious and a style which is perilously close to Thrash. The leads and solos are what separates this from the crowd but for me there’s still something missing as it didn’t live up to the initial excitement the first track provided and only a few tracks grabbed me. Perhaps a few more listens are in order?

Favorite Tracks; Shoot to Kill, Midnight Hour, Mass Confusion, Feeding the Machine.

FFO; Judas Priest, Primal Fear, Iced Earth.

Aronious

Aronious (USA) – Perspicacity
https://aronious.bandcamp.com/
Release- March/13/2020
The Artisan Era
ARTWORK- 84

A burst of color. Reds, pinks, grey and darkness and even a splatter of green. I believe I see a tree, there’s definitely a moon in there, apart from that I’m not sure what I see, apart from the bands logo. A little confusing, but I like it. Perhaps the image is a nod to the style of audio within; the melding of one color into the next, the ominous approach of night and the transforming glory of nature (?) Hitting play…

FIRST TRACK- 91

From its slight Middle Eastern/Sci-Fi themed instrumental opening one instinctively knows this will soon twist, transform and lead the listener into unpredictable waters, and it does. Cut to octopus-esque drumming abilities (an obviously well-trained creature) intricately carved guitar rhythms (I can only imagine a smoking fretboard) and a constantly evolving arrangement; flourishes of an intricate nature, frenetic galloping movements, melodious breakdowns and the scene is set. Add brutal death vocals and every Prog/Tech Death fans interest is piqued, as well it should be! A fantastic opener setting the stage fur what’s about to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN- 90

Tech/Prog Death is a fantastic genre, however it’s a little tricky to write upon if truth be told. One can only say “intricate”, “tight”, “fluid”, “precise” and “inhuman instrument manipulation” only so many times and I’m pleased to say those phrases all fit perfectly within the parameters of this review. I’ll state that The Artisan Era are certainly expert in choosing talent for inclusion within their stable, and they’ve done so again with Aronious. I only find it strange that they aren’t from Californian soil (as most appear to be). In regards to this album, and without trying to sound repetitive, it entertains from its opening note to its last. Perspicacity stays far removed from predictable, remains exciting and careens through a myriad of genres as it transports its listener into dizzying heights, brutal arenas and landscapes both serene and surreal. And often all within a few seconds of each other. This is in short, an excellent example of what the finest of the genre has to offer. And yet another winner for The Artisan Era stable. Need I say make room for this in the collection? Probably not. But I just did!

Favorite Tracks; Within an album of this quality, forget it!

FFO; Inanimate Existence, Equipoise, Obscura.

neorhythm

Neorhythm (Russia)- Terrastory
https://neorhythm.bandcamp.com/
Release- March/20/2020
Self-Released
ARTWORK- 88

Can you depict the history of mankind in an image, a diorama, perhaps trapped in a bubble?

– You bet

Schweet. Great job. But where’s the Queen mum and the cast of the Jersey Shore?

FIRST TRACK- 72

A wide ranged vocal approach, crunchy guitars, varied pace, riffs for days and an aura overflowing with passion. This boasts a rainbow of elements and promises that the remainder of the album is going to be quite different.

INITIAL LISTEN- 83

I wasn’t honestly sure what to think when presented with an album, concept of sorts admittedly, on the history of mankind. I sure as hell wasn’t expecting it to be as impressive as this. Promo materials state “Dark Groove” and it’s close, for wont of a better term. As the album rolls out certain passages bear a distinct Moonspell Gothic Rock vibe, others a Rotting Christ grandiose feel, while others yet a bouncy mix of styles I’d associate with Gojira. In short, this is quite unique, Avant Garde could well be used in its description (hopefully it wouldn’t scare potential listeners away) as well a slew of other genre monikers though not a single umbrella to cover that which is on offer. It becomes more consumable as it matures though that might be based on the fact that the listener is merely becoming more familiar with the style on offer? One thing is undeniable; this has a great deal to offer those with patience and an open mind. With that in mind I’m rather surprised I like this as much as I do.

Favorite Tracks; Fight for Fire, Zeus Rules, Empire Glory, Sapere Aude, Information Age.

FFO; Soulfly, Sepultura, Gojira, Meshugga.

April Releases (Why? Because I just couldn’t wait)

grim fate

Grim Fate (The Netherlands) – Perished in Torment
https://xtreemmusic.bandcamp.com/album/perished-in-torment
Release – April/7/2020
Xtreme Music
ARTWORK- 75

A Bull, twisting human souls, a Jason looking fellow, an Eagle, even a few tombstones, there’s probably a few more details in there if you peer hard enough. Intriguing art with a bronzed effect and a myriad of intricate details leaves me curious as to the audio on offer.

FIRST TRACK- 79

Mid-paced infectious dirge with carefully injected Doom elements and a certain familiarity which nods to old school sensibilities. This leaves me eager for what’s to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN- 76

Death Doom driven by unmistakable dirge qualities. Old school influences are front and center with plenty of bludgeoning groove, galloping passages and tempo changes to spare. Not much that’s genre defining or ground-breaking here but this is guaranteed to make one move and will please the ominous mid-paced chuggery crowd. Is it just me or does the ten-plus minute closer bring to mind “Shades of God” and “Icon” era Paradise Lost?

Favorite Tracks; Pile of Corpses, You Will Rot, Perpetual Anguish.

FFO; Grave, Benediction, Asphyx, Bolt Thrower, Gorefest.

 

khora

KHÔRA (International) – Timaeus
https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/timaeus
Release- April/17/2020
Soulseller Records
ARTWORK- 91

Undeniable boner material for those into Lovecraft themed chaos and otherworldly cosmic Sci-Fi themed shenanigans.

FIRST TRACK- 88

Dropped unceremoniously into a cosmic landscape via cinematic synth mastery the listener is soon pummeled with a style akin to Death meets Black with Symphonic elements to spare. A dizzying introduction if truth be told which overflows with intricate details and nuance hinting at an album with a great deal to offer those who have the willingness/patience to allow it to do so.

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

It becomes clear within the first couple of tracks that this isn’t a traditional, run of the mill, extreme audio affair. It’s neither comfortably Black, Death or even Progressive though it does utilize elements of each, with a more than liberal helping of atmosphere, within its epic, sprawling arrangements. As one listens the description Avant Garde might come to mind for this is slightly ‘different’ in its composition and approach. Unmistakable however, is the underlying dark/ominous nature aura throughout (even in the tracks with a remarkable Progressive Devon Townsend feel) though highly polished in its production. Balanced is a term which I believe fits in describing this album. Progressive themes are evident as well the majesty, coldness and harrowing nature often associated with Black metal. This isn’t all that’s evident but amongst the styles here these are the most prevalent and effective in making this a listening experience which leaves an impression, fits the cosmic narrative and warrants further exploration to fully digest. In conclusion I’m of the mind that this is an album which demands repeated listens to fully appreciate. Much like consuming a Pringle; one just isn’t enough.

Favorite Tracks; Noceo, l’Annihilateur, Existence, The Occultation of Time.

FFO; Septic Flesh, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir,

Something a little Different

Askvader

Askvader (Sweden) – s/t
https://askvader.bandcamp.com/album/s-t
Release-March/13/2020
The Sign Records

The artwork for this release depicts various instruments piled upon a minuscule island (of sorts) with a storm raging, lightning pierces the sky, in the background. Miles from the imagery which would normally appeal to my refined (ha-ha) tastes this album boasts what I can only imagine is more a rock and roll/traditional heavy metal vibe. However, after playing it for the first time with my daughter in attendance and having witnessed the look of sheer joy spread across her features, and her little legs and digits twitching in time with the music I came to the rapid conclusion that it deserved a few words.

Cheshire Cat

Similar to the grin on my daughters face

Undeniable is the fact that this isn’t what I would normally have pounce between the ears. The lyrics aren’t based upon anything dark, morbid, the apocalypse, shenanigans in the Underworld or any other manner of perversion humans or other biped abominations are capable of. The lyrics here are based on happier, more relatable everyday things. In fact, this is radio friendly audio if only the majority of stations would ever give it a chance. The music has rhythm but again is oceans removed from that which I would normally allow entry into the senses. This isn’t Thrash, it isn’t Death it certainly isn’t black nor Grindcore or any variation or mixture of those already mentioned. It’s obviously classed as a pallet cleanser but for those who let their ears frequently wander into such realms, I would venture to say this is very good. It overflows with melodies, both acoustic and otherwise, all of the instruments are clear, the vocals are instantly likable, in a fresh, youthful, kind of way. The style however, is varied, ranging from Doom, Brutal Death and Dirge. Ha, I jest! In actuality this is Blues laden Rock and Roll with an emphasis on passion and emotion. A retro vibe is prevalent throughout and it’s here that I should really mention a plethora of acts (from the era in question) which this style sounds like. But, I’m at a loss. Suffice to mention this has an air far removed from modern rock and more an aura which The Black Crowes and Old Man Wizard have more recently captured and probably a slew of other acts I’ve yet to discover (perhaps even a smidgen of vintage Wolfsbane). This shines with leads, solos and riffs one can’t help but appreciate be it through spastic limb movement or the smirk which continues to spread across the chops as this plays out. I’ll admit I’ve listened to this more than I thought I ever would and I delight in playing this whenever my youngest joins me in the car as I much prefer to either of the “Frozen” soundtracks, surprisingly I’m actually coming around to it but more importantly it makes my daughter ‘light up’. And that seriously is all that matters (it’s the little things in life) and the reason why I’ve just spent more than a few minutes scribbling these words.

mix tape action

Keep it up old man. Hopefully you’ll make at least one persons day slightly better.

In closing, give this a chance. It isn’t “extreme” in any way, I believe I’ve mentioned that before, but it is well- crafted, infectious and addictive.

And, that’s about it for this week’s extreme audio exploration.

Stay safe out there.

Cult