Archive for the ‘Plucked from Metal Past’ Category

Abrasive Audio 2020- Part Four

black metal gif

As the year blossoms as too does the onslaught of extreme audio. At this point I’ve given up trying to keep track of it all, it’s a worthless endeavor (well it’s not worthless) lest all else; responsibilities, family and career, falls to the wayside. So rather than try I’ll merely report on that which I recently found to be entertaining and worthy of praise. Without further waffling on all manner of things which one doesn’t wish to be made aware of let’s just say we get started…

January Releases-

faidra

Faidra (Sweden) – Six Voices Inside

https://faidra-northernsilence.bandcamp.com/album/six-voices-inside

Release- January/26/2020

Northern Silence Productions.

ARTWORK- 83

A classic image which puts me in mind of Archaic Decapitator’s EP (I’m thinking a little research is in order here) wizened monks, Greek philosophers and bearded doomster peddlers. A bronzed effect only adds to its intrigue.

FIRST TRACK- 89

Atmosphere aplenty and an undeniable doom malevolence all topped by a hypnotic black metal majesty. I’m still a stranger to this realm but this is oddly comforting much like unexpectedly finding a blanket on a cold winters night when the heater has abruptly decided to go on strike.

INITIAL LISTEN- 92

Exquisitely crafted arrangements and hauntingly deep rhythms accompanied by atmospheric choruses, synth effects (in instances, and in part, described by “blips and bloops” which in fact isn’t that far off) and an undeniable (somewhat traditional) black metal aura. The description sounds somewhat odd, in fact as though all the ingredients shouldn’t interact, even in protest. But they do, and this is astoundingly impressive. Mesmeric is a good word but it doesn’t come close to what the all-encompassing experience here offers. An audio package complemented by commendable production values far from what fans of the mentioned influences (below) might expect, however this element only serves to heighten the experience resulting in an album which delivers each and every time its placed into the senses. More impressive still is that this is yet another example of what a single, solitary, mind can visualize, produce and bring to full realization. Do not miss out on this!

Favorite Tracks; Not a bad passage from start to finish, prepare to sink into atmospheric black depths which will result in the minutes passing and days woes dissipating.

FFO; Burzum, Hermodr, Mist of Misery.

proscrito

Proscrito (Spain) – Llagas Y Estigmas

https://proscritoyolvidado.bandcamp.com/album/llagas-y-estigmas

Release- January/27/2020

Momentous Mori

ARTWORK- 83

“Hey Mabel, would you look at this. Some silly bugga has flipped this cross over.”

– Yea, it was a bitch getting it to behave and stand up straight.

“…Mabel!!”

FIRST TRACK- 88

A melodic otherworldly doom introduction leads the listener into realms they might not expect. Throaty vocals, at times seeming to issue from more than a single orifice, somewhere between death and black metal (with an obvious similarity to a vocalist any fan of the roots of the genre will instantly be able to name), elevate this far and beyond traditional Doom territories and spiralling across what many perceive as the boundaries of death/doom. The music and vocals combined form a soundscape that’s both harrowing and nightmarish though is unique in that it strays from utilizing the more familiar vehicle in order to get there. An intriguing introduction to both the band and their ‘take’, their invocation, of a genre which has become stale as of late.

INITIAL LISTEN- 86

The cover might scream Black Sabbath (taken to the extreme) but this most definitely isn’t. Obviously, the influence is there. This is mammoth riddled riff Doom, though it’s what’s “added” that might not appeal to the traditional purists. Think plodding menace in a blender with Tardy throat issuances from Obituary. Add to that undeniable groove, a thick ominous nature occasionally traipsing into cinematic depths, nods to traditional heavy metal influences, distortion laden rhythms which touch upon sludge waters, atmosphere melodies to leave any old school fan of Paradise Lost in need of a new pair of pants and an overall infectious nature and you’ll be close. The vocals here aren’t for everyone; this is death /doom with an emphasis on vocals plucked from the cavernous death arena. Although for those with an appreciation for the slightly different, in effect audio which clings to familiar structures whilst adding/embellishing upon their dimensions, this will about hammer home all the nails! With that I’m mind stay tuned to the album’s final moments for the cherry on the proverbial cake. Huge thanks must be given to @gregorywjkelly on Twitter for reminding me of this (when I only remembered the covers image) He has an infinitely better memory than my own!

Favorite Tracks; Delivers throughout!

FFO; Obituary, Paradise Lost, Novembers Doom.

malignament

Malignament (Finland) -Demo I

https://malignament.bandcamp.com/releases

Re-release January/31/2020 (originally October/21/2019)

Purity Through Fire

ARTWORK- 80

Another image which panders to my weaknesses; the macabre and black and white inks. (Yea I know it’s not white but rather ‘open space’ and I also know the artist isn’t pandering to my whim, but this sounds good. I’m going with it!)

FIRST TRACK- 88

Majestic yet melodic with a splash of folk, discernable rhythms which are downright infectious all complete with surprising production values which showcase each instruments role. This is Black Metal I can subscribe to without even trying. A fantastic opener!

INITIAL LISTEN- 86

(Note; Originally released with the first two tracks, the third was added for the tape fornat and this unleashing). For a demo this shines with a wicked, undeniable, appeal. The production is surprisingly decent, it fits the genre perfectly, and the tracks highlighting the musician’s knowledge (of the scene) and stellar abilities both in the composition and talent department. Cold, somewhat traditional, riffs are complemented by atmosphere, groove (yes “groove”) to incite movement and lyrics which make one want to dive into the physical releases accompanying text/lyric sheet. All in all an outstanding offering which should leave fans eager, salivating for more. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the scene but this made an impression instantly.

Favorite Tracks; Call to Arms, Wolf and the Moon.

FFO; Arctos, Dissection.

February Releases –

plague album

Plague (Greece) – Portraits of Mind

https://plague-gr.bandcamp.com/album/portraits-of-mind

Release – February/14/2020

Redefining Darkness

ARTWORK- 91

A wicked collage of skulls, eyeballs, bones and rot with exquisite colors to boot. An amazing image. If the audio is half as good as this, we’re in for a treat!

FIRST TRACK- 91

A typical introduction including Doom laden riffs, a little piano tinkering and a few bass chords leads into what I’d like to term “utter old school bliss”. Familiar yet fresh this channels riffs, phrasing and arrangements those of us who have a rabid hankering for the roots of the scene will instantly be able to appreciate. Melody, pacing, even the vocal cadence and delivery evokes the golden era of the genre – I’m hooked! Suffice it to mention if the remainder of the album plays out like this my headphones will most probably have to be forcefully pried from my head come days end.

INITIAL LISTEN- 93

Trust those (talented) Greeks to take something good and add upon its appeal. This does just that! Manipulating the familiar, twisting it and tossing in composition genius this album serves up an experience which might divide the camp. I for one appreciate its ability to make me reminisce upon that which brought me into the arena of extreme audio while others might comment that it’s too much like celebrated releases I can see part of this argument though I’ll also add that its becoming increasingly more difficult to be 100% original and or unique without the fear of acceptance.

With this release Plague have somehow managed to insert old school values, sensibilities and stylings into the foundation of a framework which might at first appear all too (instantly) recognizable but upon further inspection is a new take on a vintage design, utilizing talent, ingenuity and obviously undeniable homage as the mortar of said structure. Expect to see this mentioned again, multiple times, as the year draws to a close.

Favorite Tracks; An (old school) eargazm from start to finish!

FFO; mid era Death, mid era Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, Pestilence, Immolation, early Gorguts.

invocation

(A last-minute entry)  Invocation (Chile) – Attunement to Death (EP)

 

https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com/album/invocation-attunement-to-death

Release – February/21/2020

Iron Bonehead Productions

ARTWORK – 80

An array of forms left to wither to dust. From this image one might wonder if the last vestiges of life are seeping away in the form of smoke. An interesting image which invokes bleakness and a dismay aura making great use of grays, black and white to highlight certain areas.

FIRST TRACK – 82

A bout of heavy breathing (a meditative concentration state deep in diabolical predicament I’m thinking) brings about the first riffs and the album begins offering a rolling suffocating dirge assault with a vocal accompaniment which seems distant thought equally as sinister as the musical style employed. There’s groove here too but it’s the aura which is impressive; cavernous and saturated in occult themes. An impressive start!

INITIAL LISTEN – 86

Hardly the typical chuggery many might think when the genre comes to mind this utilizes a constant pulverizing assault. Though not the type employed by either Origin or Nile but rather an aura which seethes with an underworld motif; a highly-effective cavernous saturation bringing about images of ancient locales forgotten by humanity at large, though still employed by robed denizens of the underworld for ritualistic purposes one would rather remain ignorant of. In short, an excellent representation of doom/death drenched in pitch darkness and slathered in an ominous nature that’s palpable. Hardly audio for the whole family but I’m over this like white on rice (does that sound right?)

Favorite Tracks; Impressive from first to last note!

FFO; Tomb Mold, Incantation, Krypts, Funebrarum.

theophagist

Theophagist (Luxembourg) – I Am Abyss

https://theophagist.bandcamp.com/album/i-am-abyss

Release – February/22/2020

Independent

ARTWORK- 87

A hand reaching for help. Look closer and you’ll soon discover this hand is much like a Siren bringing many to their doom. This image can be interpreted many ways to include several mental conditions and possibly the word “toxic” but seems as I don’t wish to write a dissertation, I’ll leave my thoughts brief.

FIRST TRACK- 82

A fantastic build leads into pummeling riff territory and an intriguing introduction to the bands style. Providing many layers, multiple twists and turns and a variety of tempo changes, far from one trick pony/genre chuggery ville, this bodes well for the remainder of the album and certainly tips the hat to a smorgasbord of influence plucked from a wide radius of genres. An execution bolstered by top notch musianship and production values.

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

When I think of Luxembourg honestly nothing comes to mind.  But in experiencing this, that will now be brought to a screeching halt. For my virgin foray into what the country offers by way of extreme audio I left with a sizable smirk upon my chops. “I Am Abyss” provides a myriad of mixed styles, primarily melodic death sporting a decipherable vocal style (occasionally a twin pronged attack much like what Trevor from Black Dahlia Murder provides) but also other elements, exquisitely interwoven, plucked from genres as wide afield as Deathcore, thrash, melodic black and even groove with pinches of Djent tossed in for good measure. The addition of cellos and bass as an instrumental is a great touch putting me in mind of the brilliance supplied by Apocalyptica. I was left wondering if Ville Valo might add his trademarked sultry voice at any moment. Overall, this provides more than one might assume, boasts great production, plentiful riffs and terrific rhythms to make even the most stubborn of head bob in appreciation. A damn good debut, even if it did take four years to come to fruition but I’m glad it finally did and it only leaves me eager for more.

Favorite Tracks; Cannibal Preacher, The Awakening, Terrors from the Deep, R.I.S.E, Apocalypse (redux).

FFO; Black Dahlia Murder, Abysmal Dawn, Amon Amarth, Gojira.

But let us not forgot that which we may have missed (Huh?)

Short Sharp Bursts of 19′

Kharma

Kharma (Venezuela) – Chronicas Deletereas I (of 2!) EP

https://kharmagrind.bandcamp.com/album/cr-nicas-delet-reas-l

Release-July/13/2019

Independent

ARTWORK- 92

Lady Liberty, tentacles and a bunch of skeletons writhing in eternal torment. What’s not to like? But seriously, the tone and colors here are quite amazing. If you’re reading this guys, where can I pick up the shirt?

INITIAL LISTEN- 88

Grinding death, groove and lyrics I can’t understand one word of. But it works and this near twelve-minute slab of brutality is one I’ll gladly recommend to fans of grindcore mixed with brutally melodic death… and did I mention groove? There’s plenty of it and plenty of excellently orchestrated rhythms to move to. These guys need more attention!!

subservience

Subservience (UK) -Ascending from the Abyss (EP)

https://ukemrecords.bandcamp.com/album/ascending-from-the-abyss

Release- May/25/2019

UKEM Records

ARTWORK- 75

Something is making itself known, slowly but undeniably, but will it ever make it way to the shores of mankind? And of it does will it be mistaken for z loofah and sold by the thousands? This remains to be seen, until then I’m hitting play…

INITIAL LISTEN- 87

Clocking in at under nineteen minutes these Brits show us that, although they don’t add much to that which has gone before, they can still deliver audio of a caliber which shouldn’t be ignored. This EP provides rhythms, riffs and passages which take instant hold of the listener proving that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, especially if your brand of the wheel is of such a high quality as this. Surprisingly there’s a slew of influence here at varying degrees which doesn’t in the slightest detract from the composition on offer, but rather adds to its appeal. Suffice it to say I’m eager for a full-length as too should fans of brutal melodic death which keeps the excitement of the genre alive.

infernal conjuration

Infernal Conjuration (Mexico)- Infernale Metallum Mortis

https://infernalconjuration.bandcamp.com/album/infernale-metallum-mortis

Release- June/6/2019

Iron Bonehead Productions

ARTWORK- 88

Grandiose and classical. I’m of the belief this is a depiction of the landscape of a birthday cake for a God, an entity for which the number of candles cannot equal the amount of years. It’s a losing battle, how about a gift card instead?

INITIAL LISTEN- 94

Like the most wicked mashup of vintage Morbid Angel, Pestilence, Death (and to a lesser degree a few others) sans the all too frequently utilized and all too obvious copycat vibe. Executed with precision, diabolical flair, savage fury and undeniable revenance resulting in a slab of audio whose appeal should be akin to the ravenous onslaught of a populace devastating virus (sans the boils, general listlessness, hemorrhaging, seepage from every orifice, loss of life and grieving loved ones) if there’s any justice! Old school dipped in diabolical menace draped in homage to the chaotic black. Call it what you wish, but it’s best not to disagree on semantics rather enjoy the brilliance and talent on offer here. I’ve had this lined up for some time (since early 19′) but up until now haven’t hit the play button, I can’t for the life of me fathom why. Don’t be like me, leap upon this, ears first, at the next given opportunity, you can thank me later! This is a top of the year list addition for sure. Is it too late to perform a “last minute edit”?

allagash

Allagash (Canada) – Cryptic Visions

https://allagash.bandcamp.com/album/cryptic-visions-2

Release – May/6/2019

Independent

ARTWORK- 84

A fantastic image depicting a cave in which Neanderthals encounter aliens. It’s like a mashup of Nell and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I only wonder who would stand victorious in a (best of three) game of Checkers.

INITIAL LISTEN- 91

The music on display here is fluid. Reminiscent of traditional heavy metal yet with more a speed metal approach putting me in mind of a slew of German acts under the Power/Speed genre umbrella. The vocals are a little harder to get into. Various online comments have likened them to those associated with Brocas Helm but not being a fan of their work, I can’t tell whether I fully agree with this. They do however take a little getting used to, but once ‘over the hurdle’ this develops into an album which puts the listener in an entrancing spell, whether it be through admiration of what’s on offer or the album’s nostalgic qualities, a slew of albums/acts/tracks, attached to names which might not quite reach the tip of the tongue, will pass through the memory banks as this plays out. Sound bites add to the albums intrigue (good old Ronny Reagan pulls in the listeners from the get go) and the theme interwoven throughout, (strangely Blood Incantation comes to mind during the albums more mystical passages) which the covers illustration covers sublimely. In conclusion this was a damn sight better than I expected, to be honest I was thinking black metal at first based on the bands moniker (explained much later in the album via a soundbite), it delivers throughout, supplies a great more than merely I can incoherently gush about and should not be missed especially for those of us with a soft spot for traditional Heavy Metal accompanied by pace (sans brutality) and atmosphere of remarkable scope. Do not let this pass you by undiscovered, I’m in awe even to the point of stating that the final track “Eagle Lake”, a fourteen-minute instrumental, is one of my fave tracks from 19′ (albeit belated).

warbound

Warbound (Brazil) -Behind the Unreal

https://thrashordeathrecords.bandcamp.com/album/behind-the-unreal

Release – September/21/2019

Thrash or Death Records

ARTWORK- 84

Raw black and white imagery depicting savagery and all manner of sin, suffice it to say I’m left curious as something that’s quite curious indeed!

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

Energetic old school thrash coupled with heavily accented vocals. If only it were that easy to summarize. Truth be told this has more to offer than just that as the riffs showcased here are both ferocious and melodic. The album’s atmosphere is surprising, a great addition, remember this is thrash and not death or black and the result; an album I’m surprised isn’t talked about more. This isn’t a ground-breaking feat but it does its job damn well and will spark interest in the vast majority of thrash fans where aggression reigns supreme in their listening habits! Add to this to your high energy playlist, alongside Whiplash, Destruction, Kreator and Sodom. But before hitting play put away all the breakables, this will make you move!

mix tape action

Keep it up Cult, at this pace you’ll drive yourself into an early grave!

And that brings another mammoth installment to its climax. I’ve barely managed to get this out in time. Hopefully I’ve succeeding in including diverse enough audio for most tastes, as always feel free to drop me a line with any comments, queries, suggestions or with any wishes to contribute. Seriously your grammar can’t get much worse than mine. And this is usually where I say “Don’t fear discovery” and there it is.

Your slave to audio (and celluloid) in many of its extreme guises,

Cult

Abrasive Audio 2020 – Special Edition; Part the Second

(Another collaborative effort with a few friends)

Abrasive Audio Special Ed 2020 Paty 3

This installment is the second in a Special Edition Series. And again, sees a collaborative effort with friends (whose opinions I respect) from as far afield as the releases featured within. But before we dive in first a few words from Drew

metal cactuses

A gathering of “Metal Cacti”, how about that?

Greetings from the deserts of Arizona.

When I was first approached about the idea of writing this intro, panic and fear consumed me. “What should I say?” “When do you need this by?” and “Please tell me you don’t need it by tomorrow” were several of the thoughts that crossed my mind. After my good friend Cult here was able to reassure me that he wouldn’t need it until “Monday or Tuesday,” a wave of relief washed over me.

“Thank God” I thought. “That gives me at least four more days to put this off until the last minute.” And here’s where my sloth bites me once again.

My house is sick. More specifically, my wife is sick. She has been on death’s door since Saturday. And while I’m never one to panic or overreact, I’m going to just go ahead and officially call this one as Corona virus (I can’t prove it is, but you can’t prove it’s not. And that’s how science works.)

Fast-forward to today and guess who woke up feeling like aged dog shit. By now you should have guessed that would be me. So, what does any of this happen to do with the latest trove of reviews? I have various fluids starting to seep from orifices above the neck. I have slight chills. I have some body aches. I’m also developing a fever blister radiating across my lip and into my face creating an almost offset cleft palate. Combine all those factors together and I’m slowly transforming into something of a Sam Raimi prop reject worthy of a Goregrind cover. Perhaps even for one of the multitude of bands you have read about and will read about here. And it really doesn’t get any more metal than that. So, without further ado…

Onwards to this installment’s selections dedicated, yet again, to a few which apparently…

Slipped Through the Cracks
(Releases of 19′ which I have somehow missed)

Obviously, this isn’t all or even close to those I’ve failed to cover before but rather a handful which have fallen under most radars though still deserve attention.

altarage

Altarage (Spain) – The Approaching Roar

https://altarage.bandcamp.com/album/the-approaching-roar

Release- January/27/19

Season of Mist Underground

ARTWORK- 73

Hardly typical of an image one might normally find within the genre, this nods at audio with the words post and complex in its description. Something sinister is afoot here, these aren’t forms frolicking in shallow depths those depicted here are done frolicking in any way shape or form. There’s a story behind this image and I am intrigued.

FIRST TRACK- 80

Suffocating, all- consuming and claustrophobic. This creates a diabolical atmosphere and embellishes upon it crushing the listener into absolute submission. From a tranquil start to an abrupt cataclysmic apocalypse the transformation is shuddering.

INITIAL LISTEN- 82

More a harrowing experience than a listen, this is what I’m imaging the onslaught of the apocalypse might sound like if one is floundering under water perilously close to drowning. Intricacies flow like blood through a frenzied pumping vein through the audio. Nuances adding to the aura of absolute annihilation and yet there’s also moments of nothing, an ominous silence, as if one has lost consciousness only to be plucked from the brink. But it’s not over. Much like Bolt Throwers “Realm of Chaos” this is also undeniably enveloping audio but here it isn’t a narration telling of unmerciful conquest and advancement by way of city sized industrial death machines but rather being a witness, a participant, in what feels like the very end. An Approaching Roar signifying the climax to all.

Favorite Tracks; Sighting, Urn,

FFO; Pa Vesh En, Blood Incantation, Tomb Mold, Portal.

Need a Second Opinion?

atomic heartbeep on twitter

Here’s a few words from Dan, a fellow Brit who added to the sites Best of lists with a handful of intriguing picks I’ve still yet to dive into. He can be found on Twitter displaying his love of Transformers masquerading as @Drachenstrum711

Altarage are a band who have somehow evaded my radar with their releases up until now, and I was only fortunate enough to hear of them through Cult.

“The Upcoming Roar” starts in a very deceptive fashion before exploding from the speakers in a barrage not unlike Incantation battling with Altarage‘s countrymen, Wormed. The overwhelming darkness of that opening salvo continues throughout, with the vocals being quite low in the mix adding to the air of desperation coming from the record. It grinds along with a dissonant fury until the velocity suddenly dissipates into unsettling droning sections, adding a whole new dimension to their already original sound. An extremely refreshing take on modern Death Metal, it picks up the gauntlet of Gateways-era Morbid Angel and pulls it through barren darkness until only a smoking skeleton of that sound remains. It certainly deserves a lot more recognition than it received last year and easily stands shoulder to shoulder with the best releases of 2019.

wilderun

Wilderun (USA) – Veil of Imagination

https://wilderun.bandcamp.com/

Release- November/1/19

Independent

ARTWORK- 74

Its rather hard to tell what this is, though a bouquet of flowers growing from a dead tree is rather close (I believe). The more I look however the more I’m of the understanding that this could be something else entirely; new intricacies and details pop each and every time I rediscover this. I’m intrigued and this is not at all what’s typical of the art which adorns the albums which normally caress my senses.

FIRST TRACK- 93

Spoken word poetry is the first thing to pass the eardrums, this might make many ponder on what’s to come. But have no fear the pace soon picks up but not first before offering perhaps some insight into what this might offer in its totality; an undeniable presence, a depth, a weight of sorts which is sure to make an impression (as weight often does!). With the pace comes at atmosphere as well a familiar aura. Spoiler alert this sounds like certain Opeth audio but with an added and considerable cinematic oomph behind it. But it doesn’t end there, the track meanders across many a landscape in its close to fifteen-minute length. Progressive and driving rock elements are front and center as the track nears its finale, as well a passion which cannot be ignored. All this in a package which screams excellence in both composition and creativity. I cannot believe this is the first I’m hearing of Wilderun, although I had been hearing whispers as the past year waned to its culmination. An exquisite way to start an album.

INITIAL LISTEN- 94

A stunning tapestry rich with depth, intricate melodies, plentiful detail and a perfect balance of ‘beauty and brawn’. Styles are as colors plentiful and blending together seamlessly whilst still standing proud and distinct. A powerful narrative invokes strong emotions, utilizing as it unfolds a myriad of differing rhythms and vocal styles, even what sounds to be a full chorus of voices for beyond cinematic effect. Progressive, progressive metal (for they are two different genres), power metal, symphonic, rock, folk, death/doom, melodic death and more. This album about runs the gamut (save for the darkest end of the extreme spectrum, although some instances do put me in mind of Cradle of Filth’s “Damnation and a Day” album, while others make me reflect upon the Opeth releases which I’ve enjoyed) and delivers throughout while offering an unpredictable nature and intricacies which only unfold following numerous listens. Simply stunning doesn’t even come close to what this offers! It need saying if only I had discovered this that much sooner there’s no doubt it would have featured in the Year End Review/List it took me so damn long to compile.

Favorite Tracks; Distracting from start to finish in the best possible way.

FFO; Opeth, Amorphis, Between the Buried and Me, Devon Townsend, Gates at the Morning, Rhapsody, Akercocke.

Need A Second Opinion?

rickmassive

Here’s a few words from a pal in Canada who will be releasing a single and an album very soon which we are both very excited about. He can be found on Twitter as @rickmassiemusic Visit his website; http://rickmassie.com/ and show support for someone who’s always happy chatting it up about all types of extreme audio. Here are his thoughts;

 Wilderun is a band whose name kept popping up in my Twitter feed, so often in fact, that I eventually decided it was time to take a quick listen. I find it hard to make time to discover new music these days, but something about the many conversations going on about the band gave me the indication that they might have something special going on. So, I checked them out, starting with their newest album, “Veil of Imagination”.

First off, the cover art is a thing of beauty. And discomfort. And strange, lovely grotesqueness. Which actually fits the music within quite well.

Dark, epic, melodic, and at times uplifting. From the very beginning, you feel as if you’re immersed in a fairytale – sometimes dark, sometimes bright – with a soundtrack by the finest folk moments you’ve heard from Amorphis. Before long, it veers off into vast soundscapes of ugly dissonant death metal riffs, that are somehow lovely, despite the ugliness. Think Opeth in their weird-but-heavy moments (“My Arms, Your Hearse” and “Still Life”). Or some of Edge of Sanity’s groovier DM sections. And then… black metal. Then folk. Then prog-laden synth sections.

This music is a bit more like a journey, or a wonderfully written film or book, except expressed in purely musical terms, as opposed to being expressed through words or visuals.  It doesn’t sit still – moving from one riff to the next seamlessly, changing time signatures, tempos, and never seeming like anything is disjointed (except for some moments when it completely intends to do just that, to make you feel uneasy) and never feels forced. There seems to be clean vocals for a little over half of the vocal sections (mid-range vocals, not high-pitched, and not super-low. Like a bard serenading trolls in the forest), and are often accompanied by mixed choir-like groups of low-pitched male voices. The death vocals are clear, mid-to-low-range, but easy to understand. Definitely reminiscent of Opeth and Dan Swano (who coincidentally mixed the album.)

The album never gets boring. I myself get bored with music quickly if it sounds like something I’ve heard before. “Veil of Imagination” sounds fresh and unique, almost as if it’s intentionally trying to catch you off guard. With some of the riffs and sections, you think you know what chord is coming next, but Wilderun proves you wrong each time. Those moments of surprise are one of the things that will keep me listening to this for a long time.

The music flows seamlessly into sections of very cinematic compositions, as if it’s meant to play behind some dark, fantasy film. Orchestras, violins, and flutes all make an appearance in the folky and fantasy-like sections. In the death and black metal moments, the band wouldn’t feel out of place on stage with Opeth. In the acoustic moments, there are visions of Jethro Tull and Amorphis uniting into a prog supergroup.

I particularly loved the way the 2nd-last track (“The Tyranny of Imagination”) threw me off. At the end of the track, I thought it must be the album ending, So, imagine my excitement when it turned out that there was still one more song, nearly 12 minutes long. It starts with a lone piano piece, and vocal accompaniment, eventually working its way into the most glorious and epic moments on the album, and the weirdest. It’s the kind of album ending that you keep coming back for, one that pulls you to re-listen to the full album just so you can relive that epic last track in the context of the full album.

Then, when it ends, you’ll feel uncomfortable, as the last melody and harmony makes you feel nearly sick. In a delightful way, of course.

And that’s my take on this album. Beautiful and ugly. Melodic and dissonant. A pleasant sickness, that you don’t want to go away.

brotthogg

Brotthogg (Norway) – Echoes from the Past

https://brotthogg-no.bandcamp.com/album/echoes-of-the-past-special-edition

Release- July/31/19

Independent

ARTWORK- 80

A wicked jumble of accoutrements and remains (bronzed skeletons, skulls and bones) and this is framed which makes the image all the more oddly intriguing. Strangely reminds me of the 18’ release from Ironflame (“Tales of Splendor and Sorrow”).

FIRST TRACK- 88

Wicked mischievous riffs, rhythms of a pace which could strip paint from the walls, an undeniable ‘presence’ and a style which incorporates elements from a slew of genres including black, death, traditional and pagan metal. This has my attention!

INITIAL LISTEN- 92

For some ungodly reason the band’s name puts me in mind of “Dukes of Hazzard” (anyone else?) The similarities thankfully end there. Imagine if Dissection (“Storm of the Lights Bane” era) was pissed off force of nature fast with a fine gossamer symphonic veil, exhibited flashes of power metal guitar brilliance and other instances which invoke Bathory, Satyricon, and Cradle of Filth. But that’s not all, this also shines with passages of a style eerily close to tech death in a manner befitting Inferi or Vale of Pnath. Either way you shake it this is an album I’m finding hard to remove from the space between my floppy audio catchers. In fact, I’m frustrated as this would’ve ranked especially high on my Year in Review/End of Year lists. Put this between the ears at the next earliest convenience.

Favorite Tracks; Amazing throughout!

FFO; Dissection, Inferi, Vale of Pnath, Inculter, Hellish.

Need A Second Opinion?

drew infared avi

Here’s a few words from the funniest, most loyal person, I believe I’ve ever had the fortune to come in contact with. In short, my BBF, Drew (ha, I sound like an eleven-year old girl) let’s read what he has to say (before I make the full transition) shall we…

The name: Yeah, it’s weird. My initial reaction with a band name like this is it’s going to be a humorous, tongue-in-cheek ode to metal a la GWAR or Crotchduster, but this turns out to be not the case. There’s serious metal to be had here.

According to the always faithful Encylcopaedia Metallum, Brotthogg is a 3-piece lineup out of Norway with only one musician setting the sound for two vocalists. Okay. This hardly seems fair to me and I’d love to know how they divvy up royalties, but whatever.

A very thrashy black sound and yet, at times melodic, permeates throughout. Blisteringly fast, heavy riffs can be overwhelming and I imagine physically tiring if you were to see them live.

What’s done here is nothing that hasn’t been done before, but that’s not to dismiss Brotthogg. It’s still done well and has certainly been done worse by others in the past.

Seven tracks (there’s also a bonus, ten-track, release available – Ed*) clock in at just over the half-hour mark, which is honestly all you really need. I can’t imagine keeping pace with this speed for much longer out of respect to my sanity and neck.

“Echoes of the Past” is worth checking out.

Get better minions gif

And these words bring “Guests Taking the Reins” Part the Second to its conclusion. Huge thanks again to all involved for their wisdom, patience, insight, honesty and their amazing ability to put up with my constant badgering, prods and asking “is it ready yet?” Part Three is ready to be put in the can, until then please support the artists included in this installment but most of all don’t fear discovering that which is normally foreign to the sense. But let us not forget some parting words which, in this instance, seem more than appropriate. Drew, get batter. Dammit!

Cult

Abrasive Audio (Special Edition) Re-release/Reissue Corner

diggin through vinyl.jpg

Howdy readers. For this installment I thought I’d tackle something other than my usual ponderings on new audio. Occasionally I receive promotional materials for albums which are already in my collection, naturally I think this is a little strange until I realize I’m no spring chicken and my collection dates back to the late 80’s/early 90’s. Obviously, a great deal of these albums have long since gone out of print, thus the picture of someone above digging through vinyl in hopes to find an out of print gem, but thanks to VicRecords ( http://www.vicrecords.com/ ) a great many are being brought back, to be introduced to a new generation who are yet to discover those which are considered classics/genre mile-stones, though remain largely undiscovered. Those featured below are either from acts who are still around and have been for a while (with a stunning discography to their credit) or from acts who have come and gone though have left a distinct mark upon the extreme genre and perhaps have members within acts which are still tearing up the ear holes.

Without further ado…

soulburn demo 96.jpg

Soulburn – Demo 1996
(Netherlands)
“Release” – November/22/2019
VicRecords
https://soulburn666.bandcamp.com/music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlqJP97K2Ew
Thoughts – 80

Asphyx meets “Return to the Eve” Celtic Frost this has more than a smidgen of that ‘tone’. Martin van Drunnen’s Asphyx replacement Wannes Gubbels (also Pentacle) handles vocal duties alongside menacing mid-pace rhythms with the occasional blackened riffs smothered in Celtic Frost worship. Oozing atmosphere this screams 90’s European death metal obviously Asphyx (how many times can I say that name in this, sheesh!) in tone with a slight splash of ominous nature. Four tracks, including an intro and an outro running close to seventeen minutes which all fans of Asphyx (circa “The Rack” and earlier) will want in their collection. Soulburn are active and currently have two EPs and three full lengths to their name.

R-619660-1310164529.jpeg.jpg

Comecon – Megatrends in Brutality
(Sweden)
“Release” – November/22/2019
VicRecords
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COhZZgiyiEs&list=PLDF49E92984E04418
Thoughts – 81

Released in 1991, this is Comecon‘s debut and showcases L.G Petrov’s vocals after his controversial departure from Entombed following the genre milestone “Left Hand Path”. Recorded at Sunlight Studios it also bears a HM2 Buzzsaw sound albeit at times with more a crust/grindcore edge, plenty of groove, old school sensibilities and extreme punk leanings. Often overlooked and underrated this is well worth setting the ears upon and is pleasingly different, somewhat diverse although still somewhat similar to the obvious release which cannot be ignored released a year earlier.

Comecon have three full lengths to their credit but have since disbanded due to label disinterest.

asphyx crush the cenpotaph

Asphyx – Crush the Cenotaph
(Netherlands)
“Release” – November/22/2019
VicRecords
https://www.facebook.com/officialasphyx/
https://open.spotify.com/album/45TD2jwDGkVmiqnXs3kiVA?autoplay=true&v=L
Thoughts – 78

Recorded a year after the death metal landmark “The Rack” and sporting the ‘classic’ lineup this includes five tracks in all; two new, one in studio recording and two live recordings. The quality and crispness of “The Krusher” (the live studio track) is worth the price of the CD. The two new tracks follow the traditional plodding mid-paced huge riff occasional foray into grooves-ville Asphyx shenanigans though don’t quite stand up to that heard on “The Rack”. The final two sound better than expected on location in Stockholm, are fans favorites and although a tad ‘tinny’ hit the spot. Admittedly, “Wasteland of Terror” had me bouncing around in the car on the highway like a chemical riddled primate.

A must for fans of one the best things to come out of the Netherlands, since, well, I give up. The obvious choice is too blatant, and tulips are just silly.

Active since 1987 Asphyx has gone through a number of line-up changes have released nine full lengths and are joined again by Martin Van Drunnen on vocals.

infernal majesty demon god

INFERNÄL MÄJESTY – Demon God
(Canada)
“Release” – November/22/2019
VicRecords
https://infernalmajesty.bandcamp.com/
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5d_44T5Oc1q8YwQkD6ii98k761Dg8Pk7
(please not there are six tracks here, this version is minus “Is There a God” and “Gone the Way of all Flesh”)
Thoughts – 82

Fashioned from a rare (band and management rotation only) two-track demo of sorts and a later six track EP this shows the maturity of the band (diabolical blackened thrash with maniacal, Gothic and epic themes) to their later output with a decidedly more polished/fluid thrash/death edge. Featuring a pair of special guests (Corpsegrinder from Cannibal Corpse and a guitarist/vocalist from Strapping Young Lad/Zimmers Hole) the later material is still diverse employing groove, dynamic rhythm shifts, more a South American old school aggressive thrash feel and a vocal style which is delightfully feral much like their earlier material, a trademark of sorts I suppose. In short, this is a fantastic introduction to an act whose name is no stranger to those familiar with Canadian thrash. It was a first experience of their audio for me and I will be diving into their discography as soon as I’m able, this was impressive audio indeed and I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to jump upon it when I’ve heard their name often enough.

Infernal Majesty have four full lengths to their name and have been a huge influence on more than merely talent from their homeland and active since 1986.

excited animal gif

Are these worth investing in? I believe Animal about says it all…Hell yea!

And that brings my first foray onto re-release territory to a close. Until out paths of audio interest cross again, don’t fear discovery of that which is normally foreign to the ears.

Please note the that the links provided are meant for ‘teaser purposes’ only, please support the artists and the scene to keep it thriving and healthy for the next generation to also enjoy.

Cult

Abrasive Audio – Part 32

headbangin gif

Tumbling uncontrollably downward into the abyss, I clutch to the comforting thought that I’ll be suffocated by that which I adore. Metal in all of its many forms and guises.

Diving face-first into an Inbox overflowing with promo material…

 

godless agenda

Godless Agenda -Death Awaits You All
(Norway)
Release -November/8/2019
Self-Released
Against PR
https://godlessagenda.bandcamp.com/album/death-awaits-you-all
ARTWORK – 76

*in a hushed tone*

Move those leaves.

Umm. Shit, it’s too late. They’ve seen us!  Prepare to have your insides served upon a bed of lettuce. And your head hallowed out to serve as a container for Kool-Aid.

FIRST TRACK – 84

Thrashy death with an unmistakable dirge tone and grinding aura influence (the first guess doesn’t count!) and a sprinkle of crust. Neat vocal diversity, the raw drum sound is a great addition. including a rasped narrative introduction and one’s gotta love the nod to a British comedy troupe (a skit within a film, hint; “Run Away, Run Away!”) who were way ahead of the curve.

INITIAL LISTEN – 83

Simple at times, formulaic in others, with obvious strong influences and moments where unsuspecting melody, blistering pace and groove leave an imprint. Really nothing new but this hits the spot and is designed to make the listener move. And it does just that! Another stellar example of a one- man outfit which proves it’s more than possible to get the job done w.o. an entourage. This is better than I expected and deserves respect!

I’m gonna ruin it…this even includes a track about the killer bunny from Monty Python’s “Holy Grail”; gotta appreciate the fan dedication and the gamble; it pays off and it’s a great start to an album which delivers throughout.

Favorite Tracks; Death Awaits You All, Fear Me (Inch Allah), Rising from the Pits, Devoured from Within.

FFO; Bolt Thrower, Jungle Rot, MOD, Slayer, Khazaddum.

blood incantation

Blood Incantation – The Hidden History of the Human Race
(USA)
Release – November/22/2019
Dark Descent Records
Clawhammer PR
https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hidden-history-of-the-human-race
ARTWORK – 90

Far from what one might expect. This is however, captivating, enigmatic and thought-provoking imagery bursting with fantastical sci-fi themes plucked from the 70’s which puts me in mind of Heinlein, Ildiss and others whose names escape me at this moment.

FIRST TRACK – 86

Putrid death, chaotic technicality, maniacal riffing and progressive themes (in moments channeling later Death sensibilities and in others honing in on a cavernous aura draped in vintage Morbid Angel frenetic fretboard devilry) combine for a track that’s multi layered, oozing with textures yet amazingly not overpowering.

INITIAL LISTEN – 90

A first glance at the track list might baffle some. An eighteen-minute track from an act of this ilk and in this genre? (Insert WTF emoji here). Somehow Blood Incantation manage to pull it off without dragging the listener into realms drenched in a tedious and boring nature.

Intoxicating passages are plentiful alongside melodies, which invoke wonderment and awe, they transport the listener to unfathomably vast cosmic landscapes. Cavorting with an amorphic, slithering, nature which is par for the scene (although nothing about the quality here screams anything but impressively far beyond par) the whole effect is one which is at the very least unpredictable and undeniably mesmerizing. Menacing, enveloping yet drenched in melancholia coupled with transcendental qualities (strangely wallowing in David Bowie and Devon Townsend pools in instances) which demand exploration this is an album which only blossoms the more it’s allowed the dominate the senses.

Highly recommended!

Favorite Tracks; The Giza Power Plant, Inner Paths (to Outer Space), Awakening from the Dream (Mirror of the Soul).

FFO; Morbid Angel, Ct’helist, Death, Nile, Drawn and Quartered.

vadiat

Vadiat – Darkness Proceeds (EP)
(USA)
Release – October/31/2019
Redefining Darkness Records
https://vadiat-us.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 77

An unearthed skull with a brand on the forehead surrounded by serpents amidst leaves and shrubbery. If this doesn’t scream ritualistic skullduggery (there’s a pun there someplace), a staple in the death metal realm, I don’t know what does. And again, in black and white ink. Did I mention that I’m a sucker for BnW imagery?

FIRST TRACK – 76

Hypnotic rhythm, mid-tempo death/doom with ominous vibes, distortion and groove aplenty. Slathered in diabolical qualities the intricacies within this unfold following several listens.

INITIAL LISTEN – 78

Old school qualities unbound and run riot throughout. And groove coupled by abrupt whipping pace transformations and a plodding bludgeoning approach are commonplace within tracks which display a surprising spectrum of emotion. Although some moments could be shortened for much the same effect and some instances are a tad repetitive this remains a solid effort leaving listeners, especially those of the old school guard, eager for a full length.

Favorite Tracks; The Entity, Darkness Proceeds.

FFO; Benediction, Vomitory, Grave, Bloodbath, Morgoth.

golgotha

Golgotha – Erasing the Past
(Spain)
Release -October/22/2010
Xtreem Music
https://golgotha.bandcamp.com/album/erasing-the-past
ARTWORK – 78

Crimson splatter, a myriad of frenetic scribbles and brilliant white comprise the outline of a face. Vivid and blunt, and a tad unconventional, this image conjures thoughts of order out of whack, a silhouette, the remains of a form worn down by the various forces forced upon it, the undoing of the mortal coil. I could turn this into a dissertation, perhaps I should hit play.

FIRST TRACK – 88

Grandiose riffs and sweeping melodies and dualistic vocal styles make for a sorrowful landscape the addition of cinematic atmosphere elevates the aura. An outstanding start.

INITIAL LISTEN – 85

A smorgasbord of styles is on display here. Primarily doom draped with growling vocals, but also traditional heavily accented vocals which often give this more a Gothic Rock edge, much like samples from the finest Paradise Lost albums (‘Shades’ and ‘Icon’) some might be put off by the familiarity and similarities. Folk elements are subtle, undeniable power, presence and a stunning composition mastery are factors which can’t be ignored. Rhythms are both soulful, passionate and melancholic coupled with keyboard atmosphere the effect is an album which, if you’re a virgin to this act like myself, will make one want to sift through past efforts and pronto.

Powerful audio with undeniable fluidity and allure which makes an immediate impression.

Favorite Tracks; The Way to Your Soul, Distorted Tears, Enveloped in Fog, New Hope.

FFO; Paradise Lost, Novembers Doom, Moonspell, Amorphis.

the bleeding morbid porophecy

The Bleeding – Morbid Prophecy
(United Kingdom)
Release – October/18/2019
World War Now Records
https://thebleeding.bandcamp.com/
Clawhammer PR
ARTWORK – 82

I’m of the belief that this sermon carried on past its original, intended, parameters. His/her audience have since turned to dust forgotten all they’ve learned and became fodder for worms and various other beasties who prefer their meat tainted by fanaticism.

FIRST TRACK – 89

Introduced by a Slayer– esque creepy riff aura which later transforming into a blistering pace this is an explosive way to open any album! Limber up peeps, this is gonna be an exercise in stamina and self-control. If the album is anything as good as this track one will be hard pressed to not want to push the stereo above and beyond speaker destroying limits.

INITIAL LISTEN – 90

I don’t know why it took me as long as it did to wrap my ears around this (moods often transport us to realms we’d not visit). But now that I’m giving it my full attention I can honestly state that what this offers is huge. Atmosphere, when required, coupled with flesh melting riffs, a thrashy death approach and vocals seemingly plucked from the early Destruction (“Mad Butcher”) era. All raspy and seething with menace. However, that’s not all. Infrequent nods to traditional heavy metal are a fantastic addition with the occasion galloping riff and familiar feeling riff passage which serve to break up a pace that’s sure to please even the most demanding amongst us. An acoustic interlude also checks all the boxes and might be all too familiar in tone for those of the above forty age group living in the British Isles on account of a news/information program using a similar tune in its credits which aired many moons ago. (bonus points if you can name it, I can’t).

In short, if your mood demands furious fluid riffing, evil (as the inclusion of guacamole on a beef burger) and vocals which only make one want to serve at the altar of a Dark God then this will serve to placate and although the tone has changed somewhat is still as exciting as the bands previous effort. Highly recommended and again accept my apologies for not getting to this sooner, for it warrants attention!!

Favorite Tracks; Yea, I started listing tracks here only to stop realizing I was listing the whole damn album! Suffice it to say, this delivers throughout.

FFO; Slayer, Vader, Massacre, Destruction.

Ossuaire

Ossuaire – Derniers Chants
(Canada)
Release – October/15/2019
Sepulchral Productions
https://ossuaire.bandcamp.com/album/derniers-chants
ARTWORK – 91

Spectacular black and grey rendition depicting a man of the cloth beseeched by various demons and apparitions as he prays to his deity.

FIRST TRACK – 87

Epic, majestic and melodic. This is the type of black metal I can subscribe to without reservation. Though I should also mention that it’s chock full of harrowing atmosphere and a passage of surprising groove. An outstanding opener!

INITIAL LISTEN – 90

Furious and unmerciful, yet hypnotic. I don’t get how that works, it’s puzzling to be sure. But somehow, this has the power to enthrall. Unrelenting though often soothing in a strange way embellishing upon melancholic moments and slight doom accompaniments (acoustic at times bringing to mind a medieval age), this transports the listener through a realm that bursts with presence, a landscape drenched in a treacherous and harrowing nature. Ancient and mysterious, majestic and grandiose, this seethes with archaic malevolence and undeniable passion. A stunning feat, one which I’ll visit again and again at the behest of my spouse who always wants to converse when I have audio of an epic nature in my earholes.

Spend some time with this and let loose your preconceptions about the genre. This isn’t raw and doesn’t hail from an act with that much of a history within the scene. However, it has the feel of an album which reeks of experience and an act who have significant knowledge of what ‘works’ and have the talent to pull their vision together in a manner which is a wonder to have traipse across the senses. Assured to leave a mark this is an album which cannot be ignored.

Highly recommended!

Favorite Tracks; Pestilence Rampante, Sous l’Autel des Immacul’es, L’Oeil-Sang, Derniers Chants.

FFO; Dissection, Stortregn, Wintercrown, Emperor.

hobostew

HoboStew – Legend of the Infected
(USA)
Release – August/2019
Grindhouse Ministries
https://open.spotify.com/artist/32XfKhtRwMi3rebT7Ws6Dg
ARTWORK – 84

Delightful black and white imagery depicting all manner of filth. Seriously who enjoys stew from a trashcan? I much prefer soup from the bowels of the sewer (wha-?)

FIRST TRACK – 78

Raunchy bass lines and groove complemented by a traditional gruff vocal approach. This is grindcore with a touch of crust, but it’s slightly different than merely that. It has my attention, and I’m impressed.

INITIAL LISTEN – 80

With fourteen tracks on offer and the length this runs (seventeen minutes) this is predictably grindcore or some other type of core which has its roots in angst or the gutter.

An undeniable sense of humor permeates this release coupled with the short, sharp delivery, tightness and groove it makes for a spot of extreme audio which stands out above the same old, same old. Chunks of infectious are scattered throughout and the vocals are (wait for it) somewhat decipherable. The bass is distinct, filthy in fact, and the tracks have identity. What more could you ask for? For a debut this makes an impression and I’m imagining theirs to be a name I hear a great deal of, in extreme core realms, in the future. Be it either on Splits, compilations or an upcoming full length.

Naturally these guys aren’t to be confused with the band with the same moniker hailing from Northwest Ohio who specialize in Alternative Rock with Psychedelic Folk Pop elements (whatever that may sound like).

Favorite Tracks; Micro-Aggression, I’m Hardcore, Needs Neglected, Total Loss, Radical Amputation, Hobocop.

FFO; MOD, SOD, VHS, Disrupt.

night goat

Night Goat – Milk
(USA)
Release – December/13/2019
Independent
Dewar PR
https://nightgoat13.bandcamp.com/album/milk
ARTWORK – 82

As if plucked from a cinematic event in which one is possessed by a myriad of slithering Lovecraftian entities/demons (is that a Kraken?) this exhibits vivid colors a dreamy, troubled, aura and undeniable menace (in this case hovering above the only person in the picture). One could also argue that this poor fellows’ thoughts/woes are overpowering his conscious sending him into a state of Flux or delirium. Whatever one chooses it’s certainly stark and demands closer inspection.

FIRST TRACK – 74

Loud, obnoxious and off-kilter. This is rock careening without a care into punk territories. Bursting with angst, distortion, energy and attitude this is far from the normal ear candy I gorge myself on but it is exciting, frenetic and enticing. I’m left dripping with intrigue.

INITIAL LISTEN – 82

Wholly unpredictable and miles from fitting comfortably into any one genre (especially not that which the words ‘Night’ and ‘Goat’ might conjure) this

incorporates huge riffs, distorted soundscapes and a vocalist whose ‘passionate’ abilities demand to be appreciated in a live setting. The overall effect is often dizzying, is never stale and flutters erratically (this isn’t a bad thing in the albums context) much like a Hummingbird who has dipped his beak (do they have beaks?) into ‘tainted nectar’, or “milk” way past its due date. Many words could be used to describe this; Gritty, Raunchy, Hypnotic, Experimental, Raw (and a slew of others) but not a single one, or even two, even comes close to giving it that which it deserves. Take your senses off the beaten track and give this a few spins. It’ll grow on ya!

Favorite Tracks; Chubby Leech, Jerusalem’s Lot, Gnarltooth Grim, Head Lice.

FFO; Freighter, Helmet, Brutal Juice, Wizard Rifle.

mortuary new release 19

Mortuary – The Autophagous Reign
(France)
Release – November/8/2019
Xenocorp Records
https://www.facebook.com/mortuarynancy
https://www.xenokorp.com/product-category/artist/mortuary/
https://mortuarynancy.bandcamp.com/music (this album isn’t represented as of this publication)
ARTWORK – 83

A rotting face with what I can imagine are various overriding influences from all sides, suffocating, driving one to follow blindly without thought or complaint.

FIRST TRACK – 91

Like an adrenaline shot of grindcore, with old school aggressive thrash sensibilities, this attacks like a horde of ravenous hyenas (thus the excitable gang vocals; thought that was a great tie-in) going straight for the throat; it knocks one back wide eyed. If you’re half asleep this is guaranteed to wake your arse up. A ‘rager’ of a start to an album and an amazing introduction to what the band offer.

INITIAL LISTEN – 91

After thirty years most have slowed, perhaps even changed styles completely to appeal to larger audience (I think we all know who I’m talking about). Mortuary however have shattered the ‘over the hill’ adage; if there ever was a hill, they’ve blasted their way through it! Incorporating a pulverizing, unrelenting, riff assault channeling a style that’s part grinding death/thrash (with just enough technicality thrown in) part South American aggressive thrash. complemented by a precise Misery Index esque drum barrage and all ungodly infectious. I’m left wondering how it is that I’ve not let this bands audio traipse between my ears before. Be it all-out or an acoustic introduction this boasts unquestionable prowess, oomph and is likely to be treated like a box of pringles; however, in this case it’ll be that you can’t just play it once. This is an album which’ll make you wish you were fit; a single track is likely to leave you sweaty and tired. Awesome audio with incredible allure.

Favorite Tracks; Delete, Replace, The Sapiens Order, Disposable, A Curse in Disguise, Eternal, Memorial in Vivo, Cheptel, Monuments.

FFO; Vader, The Haunted, Killswitch Engaged, The Crown, Dying Fetus, Benighted, Sodom.

chained to the dead

Chained to the Dead – Gruesome Encounter
(USA)
Release -November/29/2019
Horror Pain Gore Death Productions
https://chainedtothedead.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 94

This red headed temptress appears more than satisfied drenched in crimson and chunks. Perhaps she’ll fashion herself a jewelry ensemble from the remains of her companion or alternatively string a collective of tennis racquets. One thing’s assured; clean-up will be a bitch!

FIRST TRACK – 86

Drenched in vintage cult qualities and grinding death elements supported by attention yanking angst-fueled vocals and limb twitching rhythms this garners attention.

INITIAL LISTEN – 93

With an album cover as striking as this one has their fingers crossed that the audio is worthy. In this case, thankfully, it is. Obviously, many have tried the horror/cult/exploitative/gore/metal angle (it would easier at this point to mention bands who haven’t). A fair few in the same vein as this with soundbites aplenty abetted by a similar audio style. C.t.t.D (an obvious abr.) have managed somehow to combine the usual elements (grindcore, death, crust) and exquisitely I might add then included a certain something to elevate the final result from the pack. The vocals are top-notch. Dripping with venom they add an undeniable quality to an infectiously groove laden percussion with an emphasis on melody and rhythm rather than blistering O.T.T brutality which is often over used and doesn’t always work. Whipping, frenzied, riff salvos (injected throughout) assist in the albums allure as well slower, doom-laden atmospheric, passages drenched in palpable ominous qualities. Overall, crimson, guts, stabbings, slicing’s, creepy soundbites and all this is an album which decimates unsuspecting earholes without falling into repetitive realms, alights furious fanboy cinematic horror/cult research and demands attention. Top of the year list material in my opinion, for the record.

Favorite Tracks; Are you in the House Alone? The Shunting, Head not Found, Butcher, Be Still (and know that you’re dead), What Lies Beneath the Gate?

FFO; VHS, Cropsy Maniac, Necrophagia, Exhumed.

Plucked from Metal Past

mass infection

Mass Infection – Shadows Became Flesh
(Greece)
Release – December/7/2018
Comatose Music
https://massinfection.bandcamp.com/album/shadows-became-flesh

Note: this could technically fit in the ‘main body’ of the review section seems as it has yet to reach its first-year birthday, but I slipped and placed it here instead. Nevertheless, I’ll continue…

The art here has a decidedly classical feel, as if it could well adorn the walls of a Gothic castle draped in cobwebs and mystery. From what I can fathom A gent is invoking ‘something’ only to be harassed by (the same?) spirits. A wicked image indeed but what about the audio?

From the very first note it makes one sit up and take note. The style here is technical, though not crazily over the top, with riffs tumbling over themselves in an unrelenting, pummeling, assault. Think a style that’s part Nile, part Origin and you’ll be close, though there’s also unmistakable majesty which hints towards blackened influences. Atmosphere is an undeniable element and oozes from the album’s composition aiding its depth and the myriad of grandiose textures it offers. The drums are handled in a manner which is so stunningly precise and tight a duck’s arse would be jealous. And the instruments addition to the sound is a huge factor taking the combination to another level entirely. This is top notch driving death metal folks! Cavernous, yet epic, with an awe-inspiring production quality which allows every instrument to breathe and stand out in the overall mix.

Is it too late to add this to the upper echelon of albums from last year’s best of list? Perhaps an addition to this one under a heading of “I could slap myself for missing this”. Don’t be like me, although there’s so much released its hard, near impossible in fact, to keep track. This demands respect and a place in any collection boasting stand outs and milestones of the genre from years past.

Set the senses upon it!

druadan-forest-fin-the-loremasters-time-cd.jpg

Druadan Forest – The Loremasters Time
(Finland)
(Original) Release – September/2016
GS Productions/Hammerbund
https://gsproduction.bandcamp.com/album/the-loremasters-time

Note: I’m assuming the version I’m listening to is a re-release as there are varying covers available online.

Described as atmospheric black metal the art here is what grabbed my attention. Vivid hues, bright greens and blinding light making its way through a sea of tree. This doesn’t seem like the typical black and grey (atmospheric) black metal album cover. The album commences with a brilliant epic instrumental and it certainly gets one in the mood for things of a fantastical nature, most probably war gaming (or I can only imagine, as I’ve yet to fall for its allure). As the album progresses traditional black metal elements (rasped vocals in particular) come to the forefront, although muted somewhat they weave in/around and amongst a keyboard audioscape showcasing various sounds of nature, including storms, to create a melancholy which is oddly relaxing. In other moments a deliberate chaotic environment is at the fore with a more transformative nature on display. Folk (both Baroque and medieval) elements cavort with cinematic symphonic compositions to form a fantastical realm draped in majesty, intrigue and history which is easy to imagine losing oneself within. Obviously, this won’t appeal to most but those whose penchants run to audio where rasped vocals are accepted without complaint. It’s hardly traditional in regard to what most would deem black metal and it often runs to soothing audio lengths which Enya or Disney might incorporate if not for the “unconventional” vocal approach. However, there’s no denying that this is powerful, masterfully created, audio which would serve as an excellent palette cleanser for those whose senses are accustomed to brutality in a wide array of its many forms. If you’ve yet to lay your senses upon that which many deem atmospheric, or even Ambient, black metal this is a great place to jump on board. Following this I’m sure my fingers will dance as my retinas flicker from one artist to another, as my mind expands to accept yet another genre I should have previously explored. Forget your preconceptions, or assumptions and give this a chance.

And an old favorite…”Recc’d by”

In this case from an anonymous Twitter user (I only wish I could give someone credit)

Assassin’s Blade – Gather Darkness.jpg

Assassin’s Blade – Gather Darkness
(Canada/Sweden)
Release – October/18/2019
Pure Steel Records
https://puresteelrecords.bandcamp.com/album/gather-darkness
Thoughts –

Obviously, I’m not a huge fan of power or even traditional speed metal (if you’re a reader of my other review pieces you might note the absence of the genre) but this managed somehow to catch my eye. The art is by a familiar artist, Juha Vuorma, whose work graces many an album cover (recently Usurper and Kalmah) and can be seen here in a plethora of its many guises http://www.opticmatador.com/ In this case it appears a collective of acolytes are about to encounter something other than that they summoned. In regards to the audio on offer I was surprised to read that the vocalist is none other than Exciters front man (from 97’ to 04’), Jacques Bélanger not to be confused with the drummer from Sarkasm (Canada) who has the exact same name. Other than that, the familiarities are null. That is until the music starts, then it’s nostalgia ville. “Tempt Not (the Blade of the Assassin)” is an opener which leaves the jaw agape. The rhythms are infectious to the nth degree and the beat enough to drive one to involuntary spasms of movement (I’d put this up there with a personal favorite of mine by Dio-fronted Rainbow “Kill the King”) And the album progresses from there to leave one with a grin plastered across their chops as if to say I’ve done something insanely wrong, quite naughty in fact, and I’ve gotten away with it. In this case that is not the case this is just that damn impressive! “Gather Darkness” oozes with an aura and vocal approach which screams NWOBHM, power metal and traditional speed metal (have I mentioned that I’m not normally a fan?). In this case however the vocals are the side of falsetto I can stomach (perilously close to that which ‘metal god’ Rob Halford and Dickinson exhibit) and this guy can sing. The melodies and riffs are just short of mind blowing, excitingm frolicking, galloping this checks all the requisite boxes one could ask. Seriously, it’s been a while (Riot’s “Thundersteel” was the last instance) since I’ve fallen ‘arse over tit’ as hard as I am at this very moment. There is undeniable fluidity on display here, there are zero dull instances, “no filler, just killer” (as the popular webzines are likely to spout) and the collective of tracks lifts you from the dull drum daily activities to a place where you forget all your ills and woes, let your hair down and bang yer’ head like one possessed (if you’re anything like me however, the days of having hair are a thing of the past). Without going into diatribe lengths I’ll leave this here, click on the provided link and feel free to tell me your thoughts, or give suggestions of a similar nature. I wasn’t expecting this to be this good. But it is. And I’m sure I’ll be mentioning it again come years end.

Recommended for fans of Exciter, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Iced Earth and Nocturnal Rites.

exhausted animal

That’s it for another installment, it’s nap time!

Until our paths of audio interest cross again, don’t fear the discovery of that which wouldn’t normally grace the senses.

Cult

 

Abrasive Audio part the Eighth

bestof18Audio

Onwards onto undiscovered arenas. Now, where did I put my wellies?

Disclaimer; I usually won’t mention or review releases I don’t take a liking or can’t get into, alas that’s why the scores shown here are relatively high. As always beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder, and my opinions most probably vary from yours. Feel free to suggest, recommend or comment.

Leather Glove – Perpetual Animation
(USA)
Release – March/8/2019
Sentient Ruin

https://leatherglove.bandcamp.com/album/perpetual-animation

leather glove

Artwork – 8

It might take a few glances to realize what’s going down. My guess; picking up a corpse for removal in an area ridden by plague. The already partially loaded cart would suggest it’s from several centuries ago and that’s there’s definitely an epidemic or worse ravaging the local area.

First Track – 7.5

Doom meets synth meets old school dirge/death. Quite the combination, it has an experimental aura about it but also an air of familiarity. Dark, dense and heavy with unhurried growling vox, I’m liking this!

Initial Listen – 8

A myriad of styles on display here, though thankfully none which are wildly removed from their companions. Dense sludge runs hand in hand with elements teasing the grindcore arena with ill begotten groove side effects, whilst mid-tempo death cavorts with funeral doom pacing and atmosphere all encased in a package which, though somewhat out of the ordinary, is still oddly familiar. And all composed/created by a mixing engineer, Greg Wilkinson, who’s especially well known for his abilities behind the board representing EarHammer Studios.

Recommended for fans of earlier Carcass, Bolt Thrower, Nuerosis and a plethora of other acts who embrace multi-genre mingling, integration and whom strive to open the minds of fans of extreme audio.

Favorite Tracks; Perpetual Animation, Embrace those Grim Decisions, A Visceral Notion of Death, The Resurrectionist.

Wormwitch – Heaven that Dwells Within
(Canada)
Release – April/5/2019
Prosthetic Records

https://wormwitch.bandcamp.com/

wormwitch

Artwork – 8.5

Classical with a renaissance edge. A serene image, heavenly whites amidst a forest setting though there’s something amiss. A sense of malevolence lurks, an ominous nature that’s unmistakable, camouflaged but present. Perhaps our maiden is exhausted from ‘the kill’?

First Track – 9

Galloping melodies and ultra-catchy rhythms grab the attention immediately, an undeniable wickedness builds intrigue. Drum salvos are front and center giving the style somewhat of a unique quality which is difficult not to appreciate. An excellent introduction.

Initial Listen – 9

A crushing, inciteful, drum tempo is the back bone of this release balanced by delicate folk elements, symphonic accompaniments, exquisite atmosphere and cresting majestic black metal rhythms the overall effect is a wonder to have betwix the ears. Neither fully black in tone nor completely crust in vibe (the drum style often gives it this edge) this precariously traipses a slew of genre boundaries offering a myriad of stylistic temperaments to delight all whose senses this audio falls upon. Admittedly my first experience of the band, and I’m left wanting more!

Favorite Tracks; Disciple of the Serpent God, Vernal Tomb, Spirit Braid, Dancing in the Ashes, Lord of Chains.

Bloodphemy – In Cold Blood
(The Netherlands)
Release – April/12/2019
Black Lion Records
Qabar PR

https://bloodphemyblacklion.bandcamp.com/album/in-cold-blood

bloodphemy

Artwork – 8

Daddy, daddy…daddy? Oh, you’re a Mummy.

Nevermind.

First Track – 8

Mid-tempo bludgeoning groove ala Grave and Bloodbath. The intro hints at something denser, more cavernous in nature, but I’m still happy.

Initial Listen – 8.5

Oddly the feel of some of the riffs here remind me of Candlemass, Messiah Marcolin could so stomp around the stage to these jams. In other instances, the influences are unmistakable. A diabolical nature aka Morbid Angel appears as too rhythms which recall ‘Tomb of the Mutilated’ era Cannibal Corpse, in other instances yet a slight experimentalism adding a certain unique flavor to the album. Overall, a release which keeps the listener on their toes (sporting a myriad of rhythms which transform just when one feels they have a track and artist in mind) though reeks of unmistakable familiarity.

Favorite Tracks; Spree Killing, Mental Atrophy.

Teleport – The Expansion
(Slovenia)
Release – April/5/2019
Edged Circle Productions

https://teleport1.bandcamp.com/album/the-expansion

teleport

Artwork – 8

Enigmatic yet draped in a theme which scream cosmic-sized scope. Wait, is that chunk of floating rock a skull..?

First Track – 8.5

Complex and chaotic, steeped in cosmic, celestial, themes and a remarkable ominous nature.

Initial Listen – 9

An odd name for an extreme metal outfit but don’t let it fool you, this ‘album’ runs the gamut with grandiose themes, progressive, unpredictable rhythms and an often-disorienting aura. Technicality careens headlong into a death/doom shroud making for a release that’s highly pleasing with an appeal which spans a wide radius ranging from atmospheric chaotic black metal through death/doom and also brutal technical progressive death, often elements which are expertly weaved together in the space of a matter of moments. Each of these three tracks have their own identity sporting unique qualities showcasing talent which isn’t afraid to make itself known.

Highly recommended for those who have a penchant for audio spanning a wide radius in the extreme metal arena.

Favorite Tracks; This delivers from start to finish!

Haunt – Mosaic Vision (EP) Digital release
(USA)
Release -March/22/2019
Shadow Kingdom Records

https://hauntthenation.bandcamp.com/album/mosaic-vision

haunt mosaic vision

Artwork – 8

Is that a Phoenix rising from the ashes or an albatross emerging from a nest with a skull within it? I’m not entirely certain. This is miles from art I’m accustomed to, in an arena far from that which this band resides, though I still remain intrigued.

First Track – 9

Galloping rhythms, riff aplenty, decipherable lyrics and a vocal style which tosses one back decades to a time when Heavy Metal was a term still exotic, somewhat foreign, and relatively fresh on everyone’s lips. Needless to say, the grin plastered across my chops in monstrous and maniacal. Holds my calls!

Initial Listen – 9.5

Fluid rhythms, infectious melodies and an overall style which harkens back to the heyday of NWOBHM putting one in mind of early Iron Maiden, Diamond Head and White Spirit with exemplary solo and lead work evoking strong emotions and thoughts reminiscent of Randy Rhoads era Ozzy material.

Haunt continue to impress bearing the standard, leading the charge of the Heavy Metal revival this follows on in the grand tradition of the amazing ‘Burst into Flames’. Haunt’s future is blinding!

Four tracks of exquisite heavy metal.

Imprecation – Damnatio Ad Bestias
(USA)
Release – March/22/2019
Dark Descent Records
Clawhammer PR

https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/damnatio-ad-bestias

imprecation

Artwork – 9

Intricate, detailed, chaotic and ‘busy’. Vivid imagery which leaves little to the imagination in regards to the audio that’s about to assault the senses.

First Track – 8.5

Diabolical and steeped in a vibe that’s part black, part bestial, part death and draped in a vintage Morgoth (‘Cursed’ era) and Morbid Angel infernal wickedness. I’m hooked!

Initial Listen – 9

Primate, archaic and raw, yet refined. Fans of Gravehill, Morbid Angel and audio of the old school death camp with a blackened aura and chaotic passage infusions will lose their shit over this audio feast!

And there’s plenty of groove and rhythm to sate those with yearnings for such.

Don’t miss out on this, I nearly did!

Favorite Tracks; Temple of the Foul Spirit, Damnation Ad Betias, The Shepard and the Flock.

Entrapment – Imminent Violent Death
(The Netherlands)
Release – May/11/2019
Dawnbreed Records
Anubi Press

https://entrapment2.bandcamp.com/

entrapment

Artwork – 8.5

Intricate black and white imagery, the more one looks the more details become apparent. I’m a sucker for these, especially when they’re of the grotesque variety complete with tentacles. Seriously, who doesn’t like Lovecraftian themed art?

First Track – 8.5

Considerable ‘bounce’ to this track and a rhythm which will incite all kinds of movement.

Familiar sounding vocals add to its appeal.

A great start!

Initial Listen – 8.5

Death metal that’s both energetic and old school. With melody aplenty and nudges towards grindcore-esque boundaries. Vocals are akin to both Karl (Bolt Thrower) and Martin van Drunken (Comecon, Hail of Bullets, Pestilence).

Overall this is a solid release and will appeal to fans of Asphyx, Bolt Thrower, Pestilence and others who delicately balance brutality and melody in their extreme metal assault.

Favorite Tracks; Mortality Unleashed, Sacrilegious Congregation, Morbid Habitation, Process of Dehumanization.

Side note; This is the bands final album scheduled for release on the same day of their last show; Graveland open air fest on May/11th.

Blind Monarch – What is Imposed Must be Endured
(United Kingdom)
Release – April/5/2019
Black Bow Records
Dewar PR

https://blindmonarch.bandcamp.com/album/what-is-imposed-must-be-endured

blind monarch

Artwork – 7.5

A ghostly apparition traipsing across rocky gradients with an ancient temple of sorts in the back ground. This could only mean one thing its time for a ‘Pot Noodle’, headphones and an uninterrupted hour or so in which to submerge oneself in new audio.

First Track – 8

Shrieks and howls nestled in funeral doom values basted in dread and shrouded in sludge pacing and cinematic atmosphere. A great start with an intriguing ‘break’ and reincarnation, of sorts, to nudge at the curiosity.

Initial Listen – 8.5

An epic release showing definite promise. An excellent marriage of bleak audio landscapes, sludge pacing and funeral doom elements accompanied by a varied vocal range which effectively adds depth and palpable atmosphere. The last track is a fantastic finale with its rainy-day temperament and the addition of a female voice.

Favorite Tracks; Suffering Breathes my Name, Living Altar.

Bonehunter – Children of the Atom
(Finland)
Release – September/28/2018
Hell’s Headbangers Records

https://bonehuntermetal.bandcamp.com/album/children-of-the-atom

bonehunter

Artwork – 9

As if lifted from an 80’s fantastical movies VHS cover this makes an immediate impression and only warrants more attention based on the amount of insane details displayed within. Rabid animals, mutated creatures, a mushroom cloud and beast warriors wielding wicked looking weapons.

First Track – 9

Black metal rasped vocals against a speed metal/punk attitude with splashes of atmosphere and the occasional majestic riff passage, it doesn’t seem as it though it would work, but it does, and my ears are perked!

Initial Listen – 9

Hard to pinpoint exactly what this is but it incorporates a great deal from speed, heavy metal and black arenas. The overall concoction is filthy, boasting riffs which will stick for the listener for days. Think Venom, Witchery and early Bathory boiled in a South American pot stirred by a torso adorned with chains, denim and spikes. I can’t believe I missed this last year!

Recommended for fans of Hellripper, Whipstriker and speed infused black metal tainted by heavy metal values.

Favorite Tracks; Demonic Nuclear Armament, Children of the Atom, The Reek of Reapers Scythe, Devil Signal Burst.

Pissgrave – Posthumous Humiliation
(USA)
Release – March/1/2019
Profound Lore Records
(Cassette release by Night Shroud)

https://pissgrave.bandcamp.com/album/posthumous-humiliation

pissgrave

Artwork – n/a

Grisly stuff indeed, I feel that I can’t rate this as it’s a photo rather than artwork perse’.

Though I will comment that it certainly grabs the attention and depending on the constitution might demand that a bucket be at the ready. Poor chap should’ve read the label on the new taste sensation that’s sweeping the galaxy; ‘Extreme Pop Rocks’. Apparently, they aren’t for just anyone.

First Track – 7.5

Grinding unmerciful death that’s undeniably unrelenting and steeped in a vile nature that’s palpable. In a similar vein to early The Berserker sans soundbites. Suffice it to say this has my attention.

Initial Listen – 8.5

Influences here are varied and runneth over. The albums unrelenting assault puts me in mind of The Berserker, Immolation and Hate Eternal (and in part vintage Carcass) although draped in a dirgey grind shroud whilst infrequent diabolical and infernal elements recall vintage Morbid Angel. The vocal approach has an all-consuming effect, a blunt flesh-peeling harshness, a beckoning presence of sorts sounding as if filtered from another realm entirely.

Following the first two tracks the album picks up offering distinct riffs rather than, what many would consider, an attack that’s in the most part merely ‘noise’.

Definitely not for the faint for heart, though recommended for those whose passions slip into waters made murky by the enigmatic, the archaic and the primal. Much like a lovable (?) fungi this album’s appeal festers, growing on the listener over time.

Favorite Tracks; Funeral Inversion, Into the Deceased, Emaciated, Rusted Wind.

Frosthelm – Pyrrhic
(USA)
Release – March/23/2019
Revenger Records
Clawhammer PR

https://frosthelm.bandcamp.com/album/pyrrhic

frosthelm

Artwork – 8.5

Ominous, treacherous and foreboding. This guy is on a mission. An excellent image more traditionally befitting a death album which leaves me highly curious indeed!

First Track – 9

Inciteful rhythms, effective atmosphere and a change of pace and neck snappin’ riffs which could well spike blood pressure into dangerous territories. A fantastic blend of atmosphere, melody and evil.

Hold my calls, this is great stuff!

Initial Listen -9

Melodic and doom-laden black death which has depth, atmosphere and boasts significant and abrupt changes in pace which only adds to the albums overall allure. Clean, crisp production might mean that traditionalists and Kvlt fans steer clear, however this sports a great deal to be excited about. A solid effort from start to finish which delivers varied elements and overflows with infernal influence though not the raw aura some might come to expect from the genre.

Favorite Tracks; A Gift of Razors, Pisslord, The Sorceress, Pyrrhic pts. 1 and 2.

Hannes Grossmann – Apophenia
(Germany)
Release – March/11/2019
Independent
(a Recc’ via Fiend Gottes – former “Thydemonsbescribblin” site partner)

https://hannesgrossmann.bandcamp.com/album/apophenia

hannes grossmann

Artwork – 8

Unconventional art for a metal release, more befitting what one might assume a Duran, Duran album might sport or even a slice of deviant fan art for David Bowie’s Labyrinth. A feral spirit rests (readying to pounce?) on the edge of a table with technical illustrations as the backdrop. Does this image signify primal nature in juxtaposition to human nature, experientialism with hybrid DNA or am I just scribbling inanely? Nevertheless, based on the unfathomable talents of the author I am excitably curious.

First Track – 9

Classical, intricate, technical and exactly what I would expect from the mind of Mr. Grossmann, (based on his work in Necrophagist, Alkaloid, Obscura, Blotted Science among others) with that being said however I am still utterly impressed at the varied audio, incorporating a myriad of stylistic elements, which graces my ears.

Initial Thoughts – 9

There is a slew of words which aptly describe this release, though none of which come to mind at the moment. Unpredictable is one, Virtuoso (talent) is another, Jaw dropping, bloody brilliant (this is four!) is yet another. I think you catch my drift. Hannes and crew are setting the bar for this arena incredibly high incorporating progressive and brutal elements amidst constantly evolving rhythms, opassages which are unexpected to say the least, thought-provoking lyrics and drum salvos which are simply inhuman. The bass and guitar partnership are incredible and chuggery is, thankfully, at a minimal. Overall this audio package is intricate, expertly weaved and a testament to the fact that tech-death doesn’t have to go OTT or fall overboard in wizardry obscure realms.  This demands attention, and to think I had to be pushed into its direction.

Recommended for fans of Alkaloid, Opeth, Amorphis, Necrophagist and Alterbeast.

Favorite Tracks; Deep, Reeks Insidious, They, The Flying Pizza Conundrum.

Plucked from Metals Past

Aggravator – Sterile Existence
(USA)
Release – November/24/2016
Dead Center Productions

https://aggravator.bandcamp.com/album/sterile-existence

aggravator

Thoughts-

Rouge Trooper comes immediately to mind (a blue fellow plucked from the pages of 2000AD, any fellow readers here?) the artwork also bears comic book imagery similarities. Needless to say, I’m colored, not green or blue much like the person in the image, but curious.

Energetic and aggressive, bordering on death territories, this sporting vicious vocals dripping in spite. Plentiful nods to Slayer, Kreator, Exodus and Destruction makes for an album that’s exciting and dangerously infectious from the first track to the last. However, fear not for although Aggravator channel and borrow from the greats (within the same scene) they boast enough (of their own) identity to stray from ever being deemed copycats.

Highly recommended for those requiring fresh talent to add to their collection and their thrash roster playlist. ‘Sterile Existence’ is Aggravator’s third full length and shows a band at the top of their form offering the hungry metal asses fluid breakneck rhythms and seamless transitions from galloping pace to passages of a more technical nature, but better yet no ballads in sight!. This is an album which demands attention from newcomers to the thrash arena and aficionados alike.

Favorite Tracks; Decapiter’s Temple, Subconscious Blind, Future Rephased, Target Obliteration.

Keep an ear out for Aggravators newest slated for release around spring of 2019.

 

Cult

As always feel free to suggest, recommend or comment, or better yet share.

Your slave to audio extreme.

bestof18Audio
Usurper –
What the hell happened and where did they go?
Before we start, an introduction of sorts…

usurperlogo-e1551822178239.jpg

It was back in the early 2000’s that I first heard of Usurper, a recommendation from a friend that caused me to recognize their logo when I happened across the “Threshold of the Usurper” EP sitting in a bin at a used shop in Southern Ontario.  I picked it up and was immediately ensorcelled by their brand of old school blackened thrash; the heavy-as-balls guitar tone, the powerful drumming, the Celtic Frost-worshiping “hey-hey” vocals, the loving rendition of a Mercyful Fate classic, and even a killer hidden track at the end of the disc.  There was nothing to dislike.

 

The affair continued; I collected as much of their discography as I could (eventually getting all of it except “Diabolosis…,” that one continued to elude me for a few more years) and then awaited “Twilight Dominion” with bated breath.  I was dismayed when I heard that longtime vocalist General Diabolical Slaughter had taken his leave of the band, only to have my faith restored upon hearing that “Cryptobeast” didn’t miss a step and that Tyrantor was a perfect fit.  Of course, Usurper announced their dissolution shortly afterwards.  Knowing there was no new Usurper to come, I explored the members’ other projects.  I even tracked down the releases from the founding members’ preceding band, The Dead Youth, who released an impetuous pair of albums full of youthful, almost Beavis and Butthead-like energy.  It wasn’t quite Usurper, but it helped fill the musical void they left.

cryptobeast album

Cryptobeast

Fast forward to 2019, Usurper, who are still in constant rotation in my playlists, have reunited and are less than a month away from the release of their new album “Lords of the Permafrost.”  Cult, knowing my deep love for the band from our conversations about the new album, reaches out to me to assist him in drafting some interview questions for Rick Scythe and putting together this introduction.  How could I say no?

 

“Lords of the Permafrost” is out March 22 on Soulseller Records and is true fucking metal, kicking posers to the curb and setting them on fire, leaving the ashes of false metal in their wake.  Hop on that shit and wreck your neck.

–  Voidhanger

The Interview Bit

 Cult/Void – It’s been a while guys, what enticed you back into the composition and performance fold? Has it been a troublesome transition?

Rick Scythe (guitars /founding member): The time felt right. We’ve been talking about this since 2010. In 2013 we got our first serious offer to reform. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it work, but the seed was planted. Finally, in 2015, we did our first reunion show. Then in 2016-2017 we did some other high-profile gigs, including California Deathfest and Maryland Deathfest. Things went great, and then we got an offer from Soulseller Records to record a new album… so here we are.

 When Usurper ended in 2007, Warlord had no desire to continue with the band, Tyrantor was facing personal issues, and you ultimately chose to focus your energy on “Nightshade”.  What happened since then to allow the band to reconnect? 

RS: We needed some time to step away and recharge our batteries. I got to do some different things musically, but more importantly, I got time to get my personal life in order. I eventually recorded two albums with my solo band Scythe – which kind of filled the void caused by lack of Usurper in my life… just glad to have Usurper rolling again.

USURPER-sign to Soulseller

Rollin’ out the audio

Jon Necromancer played a considerable role in Usurper, having been involved in all studio albums from “Diabolosis…” to the last pre-breakup album, “Cryptobeast.”  Was there any discussion of him coming back to the fold?

RS: Actually, when the band formed in 1993, we were only a three piece. I played guitar and bass on our 1994 demo. I also played half the bass tracks on our 1995 debut album, “Diabolosis”. But yes, Jon was a long-time member of this band, and someone I always considered a good friend. We’ve been through so many albums and tours together, so many crazy times together… of course we wanted Jon to return.

In 2013, it was actually Jon and Joe (drummer) who approached me about reforming. When we met up at that point and began discussing things, I felt like the hatchet was buried and we would start kicking ass again. We began rehearsing as a 3 piece because Dan (vocals) was in Colorado and needed a liver transplant so he couldn’t do it. We rehearsed with both me and Jon handling the vocals and it was sounding good. We had a show lined up, but at the last-minute Jon decided he didn’t want to do it, so it never happened.

In 2014, Dan got his liver transplant, and in 2015 we were booked for a local metal fest. Jon called me once again and told me he wanted to return. All four of us rehearsed, things seemed good, but once again, Jon backed out. For the record, I would have loved for Jon to have been part of this – ultimately it was his decision not to return.

I’m still not sure if he has some ax to grind with me or Dan, or some personal vendetta, or if he now all of the sudden isn’t a fan of old Usurper or if he just felt like he wasn’t up for the task? All of us at one point were dedicated and passionate about Usurper. We all have the Usurper “U” tattooed on our arms. To me, this means Usurper is part of your blood.

usurper-classix-lineup.jpg

The lineup of old

But whatever the case is, it’s unfortunate for him. Life’s too short for some silly grudge. Usurper is bigger than any one member; the sum is greater than its individual parts. It has always been that way. So, if someone is hemming and hawing, at a certain point, the train leaves without you. I’m not begging anyone to do anything.

Lucky for us Scott Maelstrom was in a project with Joe. He was a die-hard Usurper fan since the 90’s. He had all our albums and was at every show we ever played in Chicago. Joe told me that Scott was up for the task. Scott came out to rehearsal one night and he already knew how to play a lot of songs. I can sincerely say that this has now turned out to be the strongest line-up we ever had.

 This is your first album in over ten years. Have your influences changed, or been added to in any way, since last you entered the studio?

RS: Not at all. I’m old and set in my ways. I saw so many trends come and go in just the Chicago scene alone since we’ve been hiatus – all of which I had no desire to try to conform to. I knew when we returned, we would just pick up where we left off.

Joe and I discussed things and decided if we were going to record a new Usurper album, it would have to sound 100% like old, 90’s Usurper. Zero modern influences, zero changing with the times. We didn’t want a modern version of Usurper, we wanted the old, set-in-our-ways Usurper. To me it seems like this album could have come out between “Skeletal Season” and “Necronemesis”.

necronemesis

Circa “Necronemesis”

The title of the new album feels somewhat familiar. Can you tell us more about it?

RS: We just liked the term, “permafrost”. Permafrost is deep underground. It is hard. It is relentless. It is set in time and doesn’t adapt to anything…. sort of the way someone might describe Usurper.

 Usurper has always been prone to lyrics and themes involving the supernatural and cryptozoology, which leads me to believe that there is more to “Lord of the Permafrost” than just being a title.  What’s the story here?

RS: The title track is based on the native American legend of the Wendigo, which are these strange hybrid beasts that stalk humans in the coldest, darkest days of Winter.

What does the gargoyle on the cover signify? One also appears on the cover of “Twilight Dominion,” are the albums in any way related?

RS: It is actually a hybrid creature. It sort of represents the strange human / animal hybrids from the song, “Mutants of the Iron Age”. It also resembles elements of the Wendigo as well as, like you said, a gargoyle – as sort of a nod to the song “Gargoyle”. It also represents sort of a marker or monument – to indicate the point of no return for those who dare to go “Beyond the Walls of Ice”. Basically, it represents a lot of lyrical topics on the album, without being too “on the nose” about any one song. We wanted it to look and feel so “typical Usurper” to our fans. Like when you look at a Manowar cover and say, “that looks so much like a Manowar cover”. We want the same impact when people look at our covers.

 Have your musical interests changed from your earlier years to now. Do you believe this may have transformed your creative process or style any?

RS: The only thing that has changed over the years is, instead of being influenced by specific old bands, we are now influenced by past Usurper albums. Our objective for “Lords of the Permafrost” was to have the listener drop the needle anywhere on the record and instantly say, “this sounds like Usurper“.

twilight dominion

“Twilight Dominion”

 Usurper was born from the notion of bringing back the spirit of the mid-eighties thrash metal scene, something I think was accomplished in Usurper’s original incarnation.  Does this remain Usurper’s goal, or have your goals for the band changed?

RS: In the early days we wanted to create a band that was rooted in the style of mid 80’s underground thrash/speed/black metal – we wanted to take approach and incorporate the anthemic qualities of traditional heavy metal, the head-banging-ness of 70’s hard rock and mix in a bit of dark melodic atmosphere.  Usurper has always been way more original than we have been given credit for. I hate when lazy journalists call us, “death metal”. We might have some of the heavy elements of death metal, but we never considered Usurper to be a death metal band.

How has the reaction been for Usurper’s return to the live setting, and then to the studio?

RS: It has been great! We’ve seen and met a lot of older fans that followed us since the 90’s at our shows. They seem genuinely grateful for our return. We’ve also had a lot of people in their 20’s and early 30’s at our shows, who may have discovered Usurper much more recently. So far people really seem to like the new songs. I’m glad we stuck to our convictions and didn’t decide to modernize Usurper.

lords of the permafrost

Due out March 22

With the release of ‘Lords of the Permafrost’ how do ideally envision the band’s future? Is there anything especially exciting on the horizon you might be able to hint at?

RS: We are just now planning our some (summer? Ed*) concert dates and festivals. So far, we are headlining shows in Chicago, Milwaukee and New York, with other dates in the works. We will also be playing a festival in Finland… more shows to be announced soon. Check our Facebag page for more info.

Thanks for the time guys, welcome back to the metal fold and all the best for the future.

Void and Cult

A huge thanks to Void (a person whose knowledge on metal never ceases to amaze me) for taking the lead on this project.

“Lords of the Permafrost” is available on Soulseller Records (Soulsellerrecords.com) at the following address

https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/lords-of-the-permafrost

 

Abrasive Audio… to Soothe the Senses #666

(…because the Devil, Damien and a bowl of Frosted Flakes told me to)

bestof18Audio

Inculter – Fatal Visions
(Norway)
Release – April/12/2019
Edged Circle Productions

inculter

https://edgedcircleproductions.bandcamp.com/album/fatal-visions

Artwork – 7

The image seems familiar, a mash-up of sorts from a variety of other albums drawn by the same artist? Perhaps I need my eyes checked?

First Track – 9

Blistering pace, tight composition and thrashy vocals with an old school vibe. This is positively distracting audio which only means one thing…it’s frkn’ great!

Initial Listen – 9.5

So goddamn fast this’ll make your head spin, but in a good way. Exquisite pace variations (yes, this isn’t flesh-meltingly fast all the time!) and atmosphere combine to form an album that leaves a huge impact. An album that reeks of raw South American influence yet undeniably shines with a style all its own, bathed occasionally in intriguing ‘crossover’ values.

This refuses to leave my stereo, but that’s perfectly ok, the only thing I’m worried about is the state of my spine, I’m headbanging like a maniac! Reccd’ for fan of Hellish, Sepulchre and blackened speed in all its unholy, wicked, glorious forms.

Favorite Tracks; All of them! This delivers from start to finish!

Necropanther -Eyes of Blue Light
(USA)
Release – February/23/2018
Independent

Necropanther-Eyes-of-Blue-Light-01-500x500

https://necropanther.bandcamp.com/album/eyes-of-blue-light

Artwork – 7.5

A mysterious, desolate, sand strewn landscape watched over by two moons. …”We’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy”.

First Track – 8.5

This isn’t honestly what I expected from a band with a Necropanther moniker though it is a pleasant surprise indeed. Excellent melodies, a sublime mixture of styles and an utterly recognizable vocal style make this instantly captivating. A great start!

Initial Listen – 9

It doesn’t take long to appreciate the delicate tapestry, rich mix and delicate balance of thrash, speed, heavy, epic and power metal. Sweeping guitar melodies alongside, and arm in arm with, breakneck rhythms and a pace that’s deliciously varied. But enough with the teasing, the vocalist sounds eerily similar to SkeletonWitch’s Chance Garnette and in instances the music sparks the same familiarities. All in all, an excellent way to get oneself acquainted with an act who is sure to become a name in everyone’s ears soon enough. Did I mention this is a Dune concept (?) album? Well, you wouldn’t know as it’s stunning and has little to do with the clichés that most of the same nature exhibit.

Excellent audio that would’ve been sure to feature on last year’s best of list if I’d have experienced it sooner.

For fans of speed metal, thrash metal, early SkeletonWitch and 3 Inches of Blood.

Favorite Tracks; Imperium Overture, Kiss of Darkness, Shai-Hulud, Water of Life, Feyd Rautha, Strange Gods.

Witchkiss – The Austere Curtains of our Eyes
(USA)
Release – July/13/2018
Independent
Dewar PR

witchkiss

https://witchkiss.bandcamp.com/album/the-austere-curtains-of-our-eyes

Artwork – 7

An unmistakable ethereal quality bursts from this albums art. A cloudiness, an aura, that breathes unfathomable archaic elements and mystery.

First Track – 7

Booming vocals and grandiose riffs a soundscape that seethes with atmosphere and a tribal-esque aura. An intriguing start that’s miles from traditional doom.

Initial Listen – 8.5

Haunting, eerie, chilling and all-encompassing.

Overflowing with atmosphere and raw emotion this album delivers that which many can only hope to. A slow start, however, as the album progresses it transfixes with its epic, acoustic, and often minimalistic approach. Dual vocals sporting tremendous range (traditional to feral) add depth to an album which drenches its audience in melancholic tones, themes of loss and grief.

Plenty of influence on display here to sate the yearnings of heavy, rather than brutal, ranging from Neurosis and YOB through a slew of more traditional Doom merchants.

Favorite Tracks; Death Knell, Spirits of the Dirt, A Harrowing Solace.

West of Hell – Blood of the Infidel
(Canada)
Release – April/1/2019
Self-Released
Clawhammer PR

west of hell

Artwork – 8

Awash in a flame motif there’s obviously something afoot here. Seething with undeniable ominous nature this is a vivid image indeed.

First Track – 9

Those melodies, those vocals (honestly, the guy is from Zimmers Hole who are one of my favorites based both on the music and his excellent voice). The whole package is a wonder to behold and I’m only one-track in. Instant attention grabber!

Hold my calls, metal has me in a choke hold!!

Initial Listen – 9

Power, epic, heavy, speed, melodic death metal? Take your pick. This has it all, mixed to perfection and vocals of a caliber akin to a force of nature. Awesome range doesn’t even begin to cover it! Reminiscent of acts in a similar vein to Nevermore this release checks off all the elements which a long time, open-minded, fan of the metal spectrum could hope for, it’s

Melodic, aggressive, emotional, energetic and dripping with depth. I’m finding it hard to find the words – this is outstanding audio!!

Toss this atop the pile for early additions to the next best of year list.

Favorite Tracks; Hammer and Hand, Infidels, The Machine, The Dark Turn, Mankind Commands.

Public Grave – Cadaverous Resurrection
(Germany)
Release – January/7/2019
RTM Productions
Against PR

public grave

https://rebirththemetalproductions.bandcamp.com/album/public-grave-cadaverous-resurrection

Artwork – 7.5

Readying for global domination, I present Steve and his army of shambling, undead fiends. Go Steve, go!

First Track – 7

As predicted, this is slam, deathcore-ridden death metal with an emphasis on groove.

And… against my thoughts on the slam genre this is actually not that bad.

Initial Listen – 7.5

Weaving brutal death rhythms, Slam riffs and breakneck passages Public Graves have somehow managed to construct an album which should please fans from across the board. The balance is delicate though more pronounced in a number of tracks. However the infectious nature remains, and there’s even the occasional “bree-bree-bree” to perk the interest of the grindcore crowd. This is a collective of tunage I’ll gladly spin again although it in no way reinvents the wheel.

Favorite Tracks; Realm of the Rotten, Undead Army Rising, Disciples of Defilement.

The Glorious Rebellion – The Scholars of War
(USA)
Release – March/29/2019
Sludgelord Records
Dewar PR

the glorious rebellion

https://thesludgelord.bandcamp.com/album/scholars-of-war

Artwork – 7.5

A heart, a brain and a skull. All interchangeable apparently, which is kinda’ odd. But I’m intrigued.

First Track – 7.5

This is riot music! Which, admittedly, only on paper is a good thing. The riffs are monstrous and assault unmercifully with the worst of intentions.

The vocalist, front and foremost, has a lead lined throat and spews vocals with volcanic intensity. Other than this is undefinable, infectious and criminally energy charged, but I’m diggin’ the shit out of it!

Initial Listen – 8.5

How to describe something which is a number of different things and hardly ever one in particular? Perhaps list the ingredients? The intensity in which this leaves the listener with wide eyes, the impression the vocalist leaves with his blitzkrieg approach or the overall effect? I’m at a loss. But what I do know is that this is too damn short. Three tracks at seventeen minutes leaves me eager for more.

Punk, Noise, Aggro. Think Acid Bath, Brutal Juice and perhaps Helmet. This is a lot of things but mostly… bloody brilliant!

Favorite Tracks; This is Fine, Burn it Down Lemon.

Witchgoat – Egregors of the Black Faith
(El Salvador)
Release – February/13/2019
Morbid Skull Records/Hell Productions
Qabar PR

witchgoat Egreg

https://morbidskull.bandcamp.com/album/egregors-of-the-black-faith

Artwork – 8

Raw, black and white imagery drenched in chaos and menace.

First Track – 8

Diabolical, chaotic yet oozing with melodic values dripping in underground tones. Primal blackened speed that offers so much more.

Initial Listen – 9

A fantastic bestial, blackened speed concoction with enough atmosphere to sate both the black and speed hordes. Dripping in evil, bursting with ill- intent and saturated in a downright surprising infectious groove albeit one that seethes on a raw, unfiltered nature. Influence is plentiful but this album will appease all those with a yearning for audio that’s swift, infernal and archaic. Believe the hype cus’ this album rips!

Favorite Tracks; Proliferation of the Dark Souls, Emanations from the Underworld, Eyes of the Profane, Umbra Regit,

Tides of Sulfur – Paralysis of Reason
(Wales)
Release – March/29/2019
Sludgelord Records/APF Records/Astral Noise
Dewar PR

tides of sulfur

https://thesludgelord.bandcamp.com/album/paralysis-of-reason

Artwork – 7.5

Definite nods to the punk/grindcore releases from yesteryear (most especially ‘World Downfall’ by Terrorizer). A newspaper clipping montage splattered in blood which displays definite themes of angst and unrest.

First Track – 8.5

Short, to the point and wickedly infectious. A grove-laden accompanied by venomous vox. A great start which is spurring involuntary limb movements.

Initial Listen – 8

Any band with audio lifted from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (or Snatch, I’m not entirely sure which) gets extra points from me.

To be honest however, this release doesn’t need them. It hits the spot with its excellent mash-up of styles; grindcore, sludge, doom and black metal and insistent use of the word ‘Cunt’ (which is criminally under-utilized IMO).

Favorite Tracks; Worms, Humorless Cunt, Paralysis of Reason.

AD Patres – A Brief Introduction to Human Experiments
(France)
Release – February/8/2019
Xenocorp Records

adpatres

https://xenokorp.bandcamp.com/album/a-brief-introduction-to-human-experiments

Artwork – 8

Stunning hues and tones form a classic image basted in enigmatic qualities. Is that fella dragging around a human spine?

First Track – 9

Technical, brutal, tight and bears the similar instant attention-grabbing effect of an abrupt boot to the throat. An outstanding start!

Initial Listen – 9

I can’t for the life of me believe this is my first experience of Ad Patres audio. Seriously, right from the get-go this had all the hallmarks of an album you want to tell your closest friends about, and as soon as possible. The hyper-swift intertwined riffs, the inhumanely tight, frenetic, and intricate drum salvos, the varied rhythms and the vocals. Everything fits to form an exquisite package which leaves me with an embarrassingly huge smirk on my face. Help, the wife thinks I’m up to no good!

There’s not a boring moment to be found here!

Recommended for fans of Death, Misery Index and Gorguts. This is an album you won’t soon forget, and an early contender for inclusion in a best of the year list.

Favorite Tracks; Mechanical Enlightenment, Led by Flesh, Symbiosick, Enclosing Terror, The Floating Point.

The Black Sorcery – Wolves Degrade
(Canada)
Release – March/28/2019
Krucyator Productions

blacksorcery

https://krucyator.bandcamp.com/album/wolven-degrade

Artwork – 8

A raw image which leaves little to the imagination. Sick, vile, depraved and immoral but I’m loving it!

First Track – 7

Sounds like what one might expect from the albums art. This is dark, twisted, chaotic, pulverizing and unforgiving bestial blackened death (or something insanely close).

Initial Listen – 7

Raw, primal and definitely not for those new to the scene, this is the type of audio you need to become accustomed to rather than be tossed headfirst into. However, this does boast a certain something which gives an indescribable allure. Is it the gutter-esque growling, the rhythms, the archaic production values or the overall package? It’s hard to say but I’m finding I’m liking it more as it reaches its shuddering, gore soaked, climax.

Recommended for those who desire their tunage on the darker, dingier, most primitive, bestial side of the metal spectrum.

Who, after all, can’t appreciate a track entitled ‘Angry Spit of the Witches Piss’ (what-!?)

Favorite Tracks; Wolves Degrade, Putrescent Infected, Worse Still the Fog of Man Settles.

Ceremony of Silence – Outis
(Slovakia)
Release – April/5/2019
Willowtip Records
Clawhammer PR

ceremony of silnece

https://ceremonyofsilence.bandcamp.com/album/o-tis

Artwork – 7.5

A tidal frenzy against a sky shot through with thick clouds and lightning.

Not a traditional metal cover by any means this is a little enigmatic, am I about to encounter audio of an avant garde nature? Hitting Play.

First Track – 8.5

Chaotic, assaulting, unrelenting and cavernous though in no means traditional. Extreme tunage which effectively touches upon black, death and doom bases with fantastic results leaving the listener eager for more.

Initial Listen – 8.5

Unrelenting, frenetic and majestic are only a few words to describe the melodies and drum salvoes showcased here. The combined effect invokes an underworld arcane intensity that envelopes the listener. A chaotic fury, far from the more traditional structure, which transports it’s audience to alien realms drenched in mysticism and the occult.

Hardly avant garde though miles from what one might expect Outis offers a presence rarely experienced, an audio landscape dotted with a variety of influence and style which is sure to please those willing to submerge an open mind.

Favorite Tracks; Invocation of the Silent Eye, Ceremony of a Thousand Stars, Upon the Shores of Death, Arising of no Man.

Hecate Enthroned – Embrace of the Godless Aeon
(United Kingdom)
Release – January/25/2019
M Theory Audio
Grand Sounds PR

hecate-enthroned-box-contents

https://hecateenthroned.bandcamp.com/album/embrace-of-the-godless-aeon

Artwork – 8

An archaic ceremonial rite has been entered into, but at what cost, and for whom?

I’m intrigued, time to hit play.

First Track – 8

Enveloping symphonic atmosphere, grandiose arrangements and ominous rhythms. Obvious similarities to Cradle of Filth are undeniable which only makes me wonder how it is this is the first I’ve heard of this band. I’m both curious and excited as to how the remainder of this release plays out.

Initial Listen – 8.5

Intriguing from start to finish and effectively utilizing an exquisite balance of both symphonic and riff driven melodies delivering majestic and triumphant heights Hecate Enthroned have managed to capture the attention and hold it throughout this album’s length. Progressive elements flirt with track structures and the addition of traditional female vocals adds depth and emotion making for an album that’s diverse while still boasting sufficient Gothic, black and extreme values to sate most yearnings which any curious fan may have.

Favorite Tracks; Revelations in Autumns Flame, The Shuddering Giant, Whispers of the Mountain Ossuary, Erebus and Terror.

The Elysian Fields – New World Misanthropia
(Greece)
Release – February/11/2019
Hammer of Damnation Records

theelysianfields

https://hammerofdamnation.bandcamp.com/album/new-world-misanthropia

Artwork – 8.5

From the catacombs something appears, it’s been waiting a milenia to make its presence known. A brilliant image bathed in an ominous, enigmatic, old world, atmosphere.

First Track – 9

There must be something in the water in the Greek isles. Is the Ouzo (sp.) laced? The similarity to another, more recently active and celebrated, Greek metal beast is unmistakable but these gents have been dormat for forteen years. Time enough to hone their skills and this track proves it. An outstanding marriage of symphonic elements and death/black rhythms with the emphasis on presence rather than brutality.

Initial Listen – 9

Words escape me! The audio package on offer here is grandiose, part Septic Flesh, part Rotting Christ, part Behemoth, part Dimmu Borgir (older) but altogether top-notch showcasing a symphonic audio scape, envoking a medieval/arcane kingdom Gothic backdrop, accompanied by rhythms which bring to mind both the undeniable power of black metal’s presence and occasional tech death melodies, more specifically drum mastery salvos and intricacy ala Dying Fetus, Misery Index.

Admittedly this bands history and output speaks for itself, in no way copycatting those acts mentioned previously, and this is a commendable addition to the discography boasting more than enough ear-shattering excellence to make anyone want to delve into the bands back catalog.

If the more recent releases of Septic Flesh sound a little too “polished”, give this a shot. ‘New World Misanthropia’ is a supreme symphonic death/black audio concoction which is sure to carve a plethora of split visages across the extreme metal spectrum.

Highly recommended!!

Favorite Tracks; All of them, this delivers from start to finish. Remarkable in every way!

Interrupting A Regular Scheduled Broadcast for a Guest Spot

 

Miscarriage – Imminent Horror
(USA)
Release – February/22/2019
Sentient Ruin

miscarraige

https://sentientruin.bandcamp.com/album/imminent-horror

My Ponderings

Artwork – A montage of sickness and gruesome images (eyeballs, dead babies and scattered limbs) akin to early Carcass album art. One wouldn’t be too surprised at the audio within I could only assume.

My Thoughts – Obvious similarities to early Carcass material need to be mentioned as this belongs in much the same folder in regard to its extreme nature and overall, undeniable, suffocating effect. I’m only one track in but already I’m starting to believe this could well be the soundtrack to a roller-coaster excursion into the bowels of one’s worst nightmares.

Final Verdict – Ever wondered what it would sound like if grindcore collaborated with doom, atmospheric black metal and noise? This could well be the resulting effect. But one would also have to exchange epic track lengths with the traditional firework short lengths attributed to grindcore and tone down these same contribution/elements considerably. Howling, screeches and rumbles combine to form the accompanying vocals whereas the rhythms drench the listener in unmerciful tones giving the desired effect of being dragged through thick, cloying, mud (perhaps the liquefied remains of a mass murderers killing spree) only to be let go to be allowed to momentarily breathe then plummet down a craggy incline, rock encrusted steep gradient. Battered, bruised and a broken one might arise only to have it happen again as the antagonist prepares for yet another assault.

This is an audio experience only the brave need consider! Most others will tap out early, for good reason, this is a harrowing, all-consuming audio journey far from typical genre expectations.

 Introducing this Weeks guest – Void (and his thoughts on the same release)
radioactiveVoidsquirrelHere’s Void!

 

Donning the aesthetic of early Carcass but with the musical stylings of Coffins mixed with Obskure Torture and maybe even a little demo-era Abruptum, Miscarriage is bound to be an acquired taste for even the most ardent death/doom fan. Crashing cymbals lead the crawling slow-motion avalanche, splitting open a path for garbled roars and screams that project absolute terror. Riffs are written in water and swirl around murkily without ever taking any real form and mostly serve as a caustic backdrop to the drumming and vocals. Without having the shape and organization of funeral doom but having more structure (barely) than pure noise, Miscarriage are far more likely to be memorable from the level of discomfort they cause rather than any actual musical passages. It’s ignorant to think that wasn’t their goal to begin with, and in that sense, mission fucking accomplished. Probably not an every-day listen, but impressive.

                                                Releases From Metal’s Past
Vredehammer – Violator
(Norway)
Release – March/18/2016
Indie Recordings

Vredehammer-Violator-2016-300x300

https://vredehammer.bandcamp.com/album/violator

Brimming with intensity, rhythm and plenty of groove Vredehammer somehow channel both Vader, Unleashed and Amon Amarth to forge an audio concoction that’s familiar yet distinct, rousing and rather hard to place comfortably in any one genre, thrash, death, Viking metal, which isn’t at all a bad thing.

Galloping riffs frolic with doom tinged melodies and driving drum tattoos, backed by a vocal prowess any Viking would be proud to have issue from their throat.

Admittedly this is my first experience of the band, but I’ll be returning often, and I won’t spoil the chance to praise then whenever an opportune moment arises.

Set your ears on this you won’t be disappointed!

Brutal Juice – Welcome to the Panopticon
(USA)
Release – October/29/2016
Homus Boyus

brutal juice

I honestly had no idea that Brutal Juice had released anything recently, so this was a nice surprise. The artwork is somewhat strange, par for the course seriously, an odd mix of both a Rasputin and Rick Grimes (The Walking Dead) mask photoshopped onto someone else.

I’ve seen Brutal Juice twice (without prior experience of either their name or style) and they blew me away with their stage appearance, energy and enthusiasm. Admittedly, their style can’t be classed as either metal or rock (though it does display elements of acts like Soundgarden, The Melvins, Polkadot Cadaver, Jesus Lizard and Acid Bath to name but a few) but more punk fused with alternate rock, though even this is up for debate as apparently even the front man has problems describing the style which he loosely terms as LSD fueled rock/punk. Regardless of where the description leads, one thing is concrete. Brutal Juice deliver audio that’s deliciously different, odd, often surreal, unpredictable though always a pleasure to lay the ears upon.

May I suggest first experiencing ‘Mutilation Makes Identification Difficult’, especially two tracks within its undeniable uniqueness; ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ and ‘The Whorehouse of Screams’.

Favorite Tracks; Reptoid Vs Stonehenge!, Black Sunrise, Welcome to the Panopticon, Numbskull.

 

Hexecutor – Poison, Lust and Damnation
(France)
Release – November/2/2016
Armee de la Mort Records

hexecutor

http://hexecutor.bandcamp.com

This came to me via Recc from Emil (@uniquehifi on twitter)

With a cover like the one this album boasts (a swamp, a myriad of hanging corpses and a mysterious figure in the foreground who has apparently already locked eyes with mine) it’s safe to say my interests are peaked even before I’ve heard a single note. Hitting play it took all of three seconds for me to forget my purpose as I started to bounce excitably from one wall to the next. Why? You might ask. To which I’d answer this is criminally inciteful audio and my limbs have apparently lost all reason.

I’ll ruin this upfront by stating that if hyper-speed mixed with traditional heavy metal is your thing then this album is a must listen. It’s that simple really!!

Hexecutor tear it up vintage Kreator style, think ‘Under the Guillotine’, imagine a whole album that fast, then add rhythmic intricacies, and a vocal style with often overboard energy (sometimes attaining vintage Raven heights). But that’s not all. There isn’t a dull moment found here. As the audio plays out the mind reels with similar acts (for it’s easier to recommend something if you have something familiar you can relate it to) and I believe I’ve came up with a few. Let’s just say if Whiplash, Witchery, Hellish and blackened speed is the type of audio you can’t live without, Hexecutor is the next logical progression. Prepare to hand over that CC #’s!

And there I was thinking France had little to offer the spectrum of metal. As it turns out this release has the impact to flip that statement, and me, on its ass.

You can thank me (cof* Emil) later.

Keep those cold compresses and heating packs at the ready this audio will make a plethora of muscles, you never knew you had, sore.

Hellripper – Complete and Total Fucking Mayhem (EP’s and Splits 15′-18′)
(Scotland)
Reaper Metal Productions
Release- February/13/2019

hellripper complete and

https://reapermetalproductions.bandcamp.com/album/complete-and-total-fucking-mayhem

This is blackened thrash the way Granma used to make. Wha-! Let me rephrase that – This is blackened thrash the way it should be! Zero filler, evil as a goat with global conquest dreams, faster than something that’s blisteringly quick and with just the right amount of traditional old school values (NWOBHM anyone) tossed in to make the listeners reminisce upon the golden era of speed metal, now decades past, as they try their hardest not to dislocate their head from its spinal anchor. Think Venom, Exciter and even in instances audio decidedly Bathory in tone.

What makes this even more outstanding is the unfathomable fact that it’s all conceived, created and laid down by, only, one hugely talented fellow. Seriously take a bow James. This is ungodly addictive and infectious to the point where this could dominate the stereo.

Just try to remain static as this obliterates the space between the ears.

This collection demands respect (it’s one of the finer split/EP collections I’ve had the pleasure to lay my ears upon) ‘Coagulation Darkness’ (2017) was a best of year pick and the Dark Lord only knows what impact Hellrippers newest will mark. I’m eager. April can’t come fast enough!

.

.

.

Ummm…

Someone turned out the lights.

Is there anyone here?

No matter. It’s not like I’m an invited guest anyhows. I’m merely returning to the location whence I was summoned. I can still make out the crayon and the multitude of colorful scribbles (my eyesight is a damn sight better than it looks, there’s a pun if ever I heard one) on the baths surface, even though Cult tried his damndest to scrub them away. Ah, his daughter and her imagination, what a naughty lil’ bundle of unpredictable cuteness.

Oh, what’s this? The newest single from Bewitcher. My fingers have happened upon an image which brings the memories flooding back. Of course, it’s wicked of me to go looking through Cult’s phone (but it’s just laid up here on the side, unguarded, asking for attention. Shit, it’s even blinking as if to say look at me, hold me, play with me). Although none of my memories are quite as vivid or delicious as the image which has now so captured my attention.

If only those consumed by fire, so many centuries ago, were that delectable (excuse me, I’m drooling). Peasants the lot of em’, admittedly some had fantastic ways of removing unwanted skin growths and imagined they could foretell the future. There was this one…I’ll leave that tale for another day. But, oh that smell and the look on the magistrate’s face. Ha!

Ahh- the audio.

Tearing me away from my sordid recollections towards those of a more audio nature. This is frustratingly short, only two songs but I could play them both till my ears bleed (which happens more than one might think). The second is a track that’s familiar, A W.A.S.P song, if I’m not mistaken (slightly off topic, but worthy of note, Blackie’s exploits are legendary even where I spend most of my time and their moniker is more infinitely vicious than even the rumors hint at).

Intriguing is the fact that it goes by the title of a Slayer album moniker, who hasn’t heard of those thrashin’ maniacs? Old school, raunchy, rock n roll I can see myself losing control of my extremities to.

Now, the opener, ‘Faster Than the Flames’ has Venom worship written all over it (whatever happened to those guys anyway? Rumor has it, Mantas toured with Dokken and that Bass licking fellow, Cronos I believe his name is, joined a Jehovah cult. In regards, to Abaddon. Last I heard he was coaching a junior collegiate hockey league. Odd how things unfold). Even down to the vocal inflections, ‘Bloodlust’ anyone? I’m not complaining in the slightest, however. I’m familiar with their last, although it’s now a few years old, and it’s known to be the soundtrack to many an unholy shindig.

This is too damn short, this is my major concern here. I have no problems with the music whatsoever, it’s just that I now have to wait until Spring, fkn’ flowers, prettiness and all that jazz, until the album comes out via Shadow Kingdom Records (great name that!) I’m impatient, dammit!

Shit, I hear something. The passage of time has apparently taken me by surprise yet again, it happens when I place tunage of this caliber between my ears. Just wait till Cult sees what kind of a mess I left his headphones in. I’m not even sure what half that drainage comes from. Yuck!

I’ll leave this here.

Bewitcher – Too Fast for the Flames 7” EP
https://shadowkingdomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/too-fast-for-the-flames
March/8/2019
Shadow Kingdom Records
bewitcher Too fast

Vinyl options

Perhaps we’ll meet again?

Until then…