Archive for the ‘Reviews of the Metal Variety’ Category

Abrasive Audio 2020 – Special Edition; Part the Last (for now)

(Yet another collaborative effort with a few friends)

Abrasive Audio Special Ed 2020 part 2

This installment is the third 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 first a few words from a co-conspirator, the SixintheHeadZine editor and someone whom I bother with suggestions, recommendations and silliness on a more than frequent basis.

sixintheheadzine

The “Original”

I was honored to be asked to write the intro for this – the last installment in a truly epic collection of reviews – because ever since I discovered your man Cult and Abrasive Audio, I haven’t got my metal recommendations from anywhere else. I probably should read other metal blogs but I find so many good n brutal listens on this one that I barely have the time to listen to any of the other music I like, let alone more bloody metal.

In fact, I’ve been spending so much time recently investigating the releases on here that I’m completely out of touch with all the latest pop groups, jazz singers and contemporary composers. I normally pride myself on knowing what’s happening in all the main genres – pop, jazz, classical and blues. Metal as we know isn’t a genre. It’s a way of life, a religion. Very similar to vaporwave. (and what’s that, prey tell. – Ed*)

Anyway, I suppose if Cult wanted anything from this introduction it was for me to impart some of the valuable knowledge I have gained after a long and storied career in the music business. So, my advice to you is this – whatever you do, do it 110%. You can achieve your goals and dreams. You just have to believe in yourself.

I really hope that helps you on your way as we reach the end of this “Odyssean” Abrasive Audio feature together. If it doesn’t, oh well. Here’s the final three recommendations (one of which I happen to have written something on) to put into your headphones, turn up to max and drown the world out with. Keep it up Cult, your services to metal are very much appreciated.

Onward 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.

Tyrmfar

Tyrmfar (Switzerland) – Renewal Through Purification

https://tyrmfar.bandcamp.com/album/renewal-through-purification

Release- June/22/19

MTAF Records

ARTWORK- 84

A malevolent sky is the backdrop to a godlike figure comprised of many (forms) scrambling to become a part of ‘the whole’. An interesting image with a myriad of intricate details and a meaning which will likely spark discussion.

FIRST TRACK- 90

The album starts with an introduction that’s likely to accompany a cinematic scene in which those on screen are recuperating, thriving and finally overcoming insurmountable odds to stand triumphant. Par for the course in this genre to be blunt, though this is better than most. A blast beat rhythm takes up the charge when the introduction dies. Add industrial precise drumming, a dual pronged vocal approach and rhythms dipped in both black and melodic death qualities and to album is off to a highly satisfying start. A fantastic introduction to the band for any yet to lay senses upon them, like myself.

INITIAL LISTEN- 88

Melodic, yet far from what many might visualize with the term in mind. This bleeds with blackened majesty and an atmosphere which brings to mind a giant of, and still a huge influence within, the melodic black scene (and undeniably a variety of others) Dissection. Melodies and tone channel a myriad of top tier influence (Eucharist, Necrophobic and Amon Amarth, among others) add depth, unmistakable catchiness and fit amazing well nestled with the prowess of the percussion and stunning vocal accompaniment. Overall, this held my interest from its start through its final notes but leaves me pondering upon what could possibly be in the Swiss water supply. I’ve heard a few releases from the region in the past few weeks and this is as good as the impressive standard the others have set, if not better. Discovering this a few months prior would have resulted in its inclusion in my Best of Years list, it’s too late for that but it’s not too late to preach the good word. Make room in your collection for this. You won’t be disappointed!

Favorite Tracks; Crank this up, it delivers from start to finish!

FFO; Dissection, Amon Amarth, Necrophobic, At the Gates, Stortregn, Eucharist.

Need a Second Opinion?
six in the head zine iss 2

Issue the Second

 

Here are a “few words” from Six in the Head Zine creator Paul_PMZ (on Twitter) and if you haven’t already please check out the mag here; https://sixintheheadzine.com/ for general gaming silliness, recommendations and tips and tricks on painting, gaming and where’s the best location to hold the ‘event’ itself.  Currently on its second issue this publication is heading to heights scary for even the most rambunctious toddler to contemplate. Without further ado…

The Cult Himself has asked me to review an album for him. No doubt that will be a relentless, hellish racket. Just what I don’t need right now… Why can’t he ask me to review some Tibetan bowl music or whale song for once? Still, being a man of my word (most of the time), I opened Bandcamp, stuck the kettle on and the headphones in and pressed play on the album he’d suggested. There was a long blurb about it underneath the tracks but I didn’t read that. I never read stuff like that before doing a review. I don’t want to cloud my judgement with unnecessary facts and useful background information. I liked the title and I liked the cover art. I thought this might be up my street as far as metal goes, even if I wasn’t feeling particularly in the mood for someone screaming at me.

The album began, like all metal albums do nowadays, with an instrumental opening that immediately struck me as sounding very, “Warhammer”. As a big tabletop gaming and hobby fan this is always a positive for me. For the first 30 seconds I imagined a vast, planet-sized spacecraft slowly moving into view as opposing forces of the 41st Millennium engaged in fierce battle underneath. Then, disappointingly, I heard some piano. Oh FFS (Fer Fuck’s Sake – Ed*). Don’t tell me this is “piano metal” … I can’t listen to a whole album of piano metal Cult.

Thank the Emperor (not the band I think – Ed) though, when track two kicked in I was delighted by a barbarous and pummeling auditory assault without any trace of Rick Wakeman-like activity. Chunky, choppy riffs and fast fretwork, machine gun drumming and an abominable, interplaying combo of both low and mid-register vocals that I hoped would set the tone for the rest of the album.

Much to my delight, it did. So, by track four my head was enthusiastically bobbing along to the determined and merciless drumming that I refuse to believe it’s possible for an actual human being to perform. If there truly is a man (or woman – I didn’t read the blurb) behind the kit on this then perhaps humanity isn’t quite so worthless after all.

Overall, this is a quality piece of work from top to bottom. It never gives up, slows down or dips in quality and the actual sound of it is top-notch. I think it’s a perfectly balanced death metal record and that the man (or woman – I didn’t read the blurb) who is responsible for mixing it is quite clearly a genius. Then again, what do I know? I’m not a sound engineer or musician.

What I do know for sure is that “Renewal Through Purification” is fucking great and when came to an end and I had to write this review I put it straight back on again without hesitation. Then I listened to it again for a third time. Totally brilliant!

hellknife

Hellknife (Germany) – Dusk of Doom

https://hellknife.bandcamp.com/album/dusk-of-doom

Release -December/13/19

Phobia Records, Ecocentric Records and Wooaaargh

ARTWORK- 86

Skulls, maggots, a pentagram looking thingy and a masked kultist (for the record a dead ringer of the lead vocalist from Ghost) with Lovecraftian creations sprouting from his spine. And the whole concoction is in black and white. Does it get any better than this? Probably, but not by much.

FIRST TRACK- 82

No introduction, no soundbites and certainly not even the slightest indication of “frilly bits”. This leaps straight for the throat! Crust coupled with D-beat and sprinkles of hardcore showcasing bludgeoning riffs complete with sub-woofer annihilating bass. Keep a digit on the volume button when this puppy starts else something goes POP and your further enjoyment of the extreme audio arena is held at bay until the meds start to work.

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

This is unapologetic Crust (with the punk vibe often more pronounced than other elements) slathered with D-beat complete with angst-ridden hardcore vocals (I feel like I’ve said that before, but it needs repeating!) The similarities to Motorhead and WolfBrigade are unmistakable as well the indelible imprints the sheer amount of groove here will leave on the senses when this is through. To keep this short and sweet if the pulverizing nature of this and the ‘catchier than catchy’ aura doesn’t make you wanna’ get up and break shit odds are you might be missing a pulse. Jump on this at your next given opportunity! But be prepared to apologize to everyone beforehand for this will leave a mess as your torso unceremoniously jerks you around like a marionette at the whim of an inebriated puppet master. Need I mention this grew on me the more I listened? (Probably not, but I did anyway.)

Favorite Tracks; Dusk of Doom, Violence, Burn it Down, The End.

FFO; Wolfpack, No/Mas, Martyrdöd, Napalm Death, Disrupt, Terrorizer.

Need a Second Opinion?

 

Here are a few words from synth maestro Werewolves in Siberia (who I can’t thank enough for putting up with my constant badgering and allowing me in this case to bent his ear). I highly recommend checking into his varied discography, especially if you have a soft spot for cult soundtracks with a Goblin or Carpenter-esque edge. His godly manipulation of electronic beats into an often suspense-laden soundscape can be found here; https://werewolvesinsiberia.bandcamp.com/

werewolves in Sioberia header

I hadn’t heard of Hellknife before this.  In all honesty, I’ve only recently started catching up with a bunch of metal bands I used to listen to.  I really haven’t paid much attention to the metal scene at all in the last 10 years or so; minus the few exceptions of those bands I absolutely have to listen to.

That said, my first thought was that if Hellknife is an American band, this is a terrible name.  If they’re from Europe or a Scandinavian country (anywhere English isn’t the primary language), somehow, it’s an awesome name, though.  Turns out they’re from Germany, so the name checks out and it sounds tough.

Werewolves In Siberia2

I’ll sum up the sound of the music to me; basically, they remind me of The Crown doing a d-beat record with a bunch of thrash meets Norwegian black metal influence in the guitar riffs.  I feel like there’s something missing from the songwriting to make it that standout it could be but this is still a killer record and I’m finding I like it more each time I listen.

Apparently, these guys even worked with a dude who has worked with Wolfbrigade for this album.  If you’re going to make d-beat music, working with people who have made some of the greats in the genre is always going to help you out.  They obviously had the same epiphany.

I’d be happy if the snare was louder in the mix but that might just be me nitpicking.  It’s kind of a crustcore staple to have that gritty guitar super loud in the mix and drowning out the drums, but I think that snare could cut through a little bit and really dive home how killer this band is.  Either way, I’m glad Cult sent this one along to me as I now have a new d-beat/crustcore band to listen to.  With how much it’s grown on me in just a couple listens, I’m sure I’ll be liking this one even more by next week.

novarupta

Novarupta (Sweden) – Disillusioned Fire

https://suiciderecordsswe.bandcamp.com/album/disillusioned-fire

Release- April/29/19

Suicide Records

ARTWORK- 76

Uh, oh, this image gives off a vibe as though the words “Post” (something or other) might appear in its description. It actually looks similar to an image on a couple of shirts I own when I went through a brief not wearing metal shirts all the time phase. Nevertheless, I’m intrigued.

FIRST TRACK- 83

Sludge sensibilities, mammoth riffs and angst fueled vocals. And something… else. Wicked pace transformations and a malevolent nature, a lurking, as if there’s something on the horizon which might soon pounce (but only when it’s good and ready to do so). A brilliant start seething with monstrous weight which leaves me eager for what’s to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

With a different vocalist highlighted in every track (with talents heard in bands such as Entombed, Dark Tranquility and The Moth Gatherer, to name but a few), the third track boasts three guest throats, this album boasts a smorgasbord of identities. Hard to describe without listing a diatribe-esque list of styles which often intertwine and or tumble over each other (in a surprisingly controlled manner), easier to enjoy, the styles herein are varied (feel like I’ve mentioned that before now) yet passages of a grandiose nature run rampant alongside riffs which could topple Godzilla and bring even the most wicked of dictator to his knees. The atmosphere here is undeniable, often overpowering, and adds a priceless quality to the album’s depth and aura. This truly is an album one can get lost in and to think that it’s not normally of a genre I often frequent makes me ponder upon that which I might be missing out on. Call this post, blackened sludge, atmospheric, doom, call it what you will but be sure to give it the time of day and I’m sure you’ll agree it far surpasses that which most might assume when faced with a description utilizing said genres. Place this between the ears post haste!

Favorite Tracks; Pyroclastic Flows, Mare Tranquillitatis, Only the Dirt Will Know Our Graves.

FFO; vintage Katatonia, October Tide, Tool, Nuerosis, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost.

mix tape action

Scribbling like one possessed, but it’s still not fast enough, dammit!

This concludes the sites first foray into having invited guests take the reins. A huge thanks go out to all involved. If you wish to become featured in a future endeavor of the same type feel free to drop me a line. Otherwise, feel free to comment, share and spread the word as eye-opening, ear carnage audio is meant to be shared – #SupporttheScene

As always keep those ears open for audio which might normally be foreign to the senses.

Your slave to audio in many of its extreme forms,

Cult

Abrasive Audio 2020 – February

black metal gif

Well, here we are again. My life is somewhat back on track following a three-week period of “ahh-fuck, my back!” However, during this time, I still put aside a few moments in which to discover fresh extreme audio and scribble upon its allure. Here’s hoping at least someone else, other than me, is actually reading this. This is a free service I’m offering here folks, all I ask is that you bathe your eyes in horrid grammar, my attempts at atrocious humor and that you support the scene. Metal is after all important to the mental well-being of millions, or am I just talking about myself again? As always feel free to comment, share and click whatever links provided so that you may listen as you investigate all the spelling errors I’ve also so lovingly provided. Onward to extreme audio as yet undiscovered (you’ll note I’m trying something new; a month by month theme in order, and hopes, that the releases covered herein are easier to lay ears upon in a timely manner and not forgotten).

Left over from January –

ceifador

Ceifador (Brazil) – All Hell Breaking Loose

https://ceifador.bandcamp.com/album/all-hell-breaking-loose-2020

Release – January/15/2020

Invincible Records

ARTWORK – 55

Honestly, I’m not even sure what this is. Is it an x-ray SNAFU? This gives little indication as to what to expect from the audio without, regardless I’m still curious.

FIRST TRACK – 86

Unlike that which I assumed this isn’t a play on the famous Venom track (it’s missing the “s”) however it is in the same vein; punk and speed with an underlying black metal vibe. And I’m please to say its raw nature has grabbed the attention.

INITIAL LISTEN – 79

Yet another one-person outfit, Clayton Maximinus other than in a live setting, bringing the blackened speed metal attack. I’m beginning to think there’s really no need for a full act to ‘create’. Do “many cooks spoilt the broth?” after all? This much like James McBain’s Hellripper incites uncontrollable limb movement and delivers the goods. Although this gets a little repetitive in instances, seems ‘recycled’ in others and the tracks could be shortened some with much the same result it still makes an impression and leaves a definite mark, demanding praise and an instant replay. If your penchants run to raw audio, punk and blistering blackened speed this requires attention! As an added bonus this guy creates like a possessed fiend so there’s plenty offered by way of a back catalogue to sift through until he chooses to release another. Dive in!

Favorite Tracks; All Hell Breaking Loose, Gods of Evil, Don’t Pray for the Dead.

FFO; Wraith, Hellripper, Bastardizer.

macabre demise

Macabre Demise (Germany) – Awakening

https://macabredemise.bandcamp.com/

Release – January/17/2020

Rebirth the Metal Productions

ARTWORK- 82

Hide the Paramedics, there’s a zombie invasion! Apparently, they’ve already eaten the kids in the short bus.

FIRST TRACK- 68

An atmospheric intro with synth horror undertones leads into short stabbing riffs, significant bass ‘bounce’, a slam edge and even a diabolical passage or two. I’m intrigued. I think I’ll stick with this till its through.

INITIAL LISTEN- 73

Brutal death, crust, slam, blunt riffs with abrupt pace transformations and occasional forays into djent ville is what’s to be find here. Coupled with an obsession with horror and carnage (as their moniker suggests) this makes for nothing that’s totally unexpected, or even new, in the genre. However, it’s the tight drumming and willingness to pull/pluck/yank/rip elements from a myriad of genres and the ability to pull it off which keeps this entertaining.

Favorite Tracks; Mirror, Darkness, Gore and Guts, Slush Brains,

FFO; Cannibal Corpse, Malevolent Creation, Vomitory.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia (Belgium) – Voices (EP)

https://www.facebook.com/Schizophrenia.Officialband/

Independent

Release – January/31/2020

ARTWORK – 88

Driven by shadowy forces out of his control a man is depicted with a knife to his throat by his own (manipulated) hand. Stunning art sporting fantastic light and dark play and vivid details make this image pop.

FIRST TRACK –88

Thrash bordering on death which boasts attention-grabbing pace transformations, a wicked vocal tone with plenty of dynamic movement and an aggression which is hard to ignore.

INITIAL LISTEN – 88

Displaying a style which is a delicate balance of Bay Area, European, old school and new school Schizophrenia have somehow managed to create five tracks which seethe with undeniable dynamic and exuberant presence. Lead and solo fretboard manipulations drip in diabolical qualities coupled with rhythms doused in adrenaline keep the eyes wide and the mouth agape while the body flails of its own accord. The intriguing vocal range in moments brings to mind a trademarked Tardy style and tone but this is hardly a complaint, rather another example of what makes this so damn listenable. Set your ears on this and rekindle your adoration of brutal aggressive thrash, but be warned you’ll want to play this again and again. Here’s eagerly awaiting the band’s first full-length.

Favorite Tracks; Structure of Death, Perpetual Perdition, Beyond Reality.

FFO; Exhorder, (vintage) Sepultura, Kreator, Slayer.

hazzerd

Hazzerd (Canada) – Delirium

https://hazzerdthrash.bandcamp.com/album/delirium

Release – January/24/2020

M Theory Audio

ARTWORK- 60

Not sure if that’s a crazy person or a zombie, or a crazy person in a zombie getup nowhere near the night when candy is handed out wilynily. Perhaps it’s the bands mascot and I’m looking at this all wrong? Regardless, something of interest is taking place in the background; riot gear, strait jackets and Billy clubs. Surprisingly, this still grabbed my attention enough to hit play.

FIRST TRACK- 88

Thrash with a huge dose of speed metal, traditional heavy metal leanings, crossover vocals sporting dazzling lead and solo work. A great start which puts me in mind of the thrash style dominant in the late 80’s/early 90’s.

INITIAL LISTEN- 90

This is a great example of “you can’t judge a book (in this case an album)” by its cover. Hardly aggressive the audio here is a stunning blend of speed metal traditional heavy metal, thrash crossover and old school thrash. Rhythms are criminally infectious; the lyrics are often drenched in humor (with an undeniable Destruction edge to the vocals) and the guitar work is a stunning and passionate mix of Dragonforce and Steve Vai which thankfully stays this side of OTT fretboard maniacal wizardry realms. Layered with a playful nature and doused in a vibe which harkens back to the golden age of thrash this tips the hat to a variety of influences whilst still imbuing an essence of its own. A dynamic, energetic affair which bursts with talent and creative know how. I’m not normally a fan of the genre but this is remarkable and deserves all the praise it gets and I can give.

Favorite Tracks; A Tormented Reality, Call of the Void, Dead in the Shed, The Decline.

FFO; Forbidden, vintage Flotsam and Jetsam, Coroner, vintage Annihilator, Exodus, Destruction.

 February Releases

goblinsmoker

Goblinsmoker (United Kingdom) – A Throne in Haze, A World Ablaze

https://goblinsmoker.bandcamp.com/album/a-throne-in-haze-a-world-ablaze

SludgeLord Records

Release – February/7/2020

ARTWORK – 85

Fantastical themes, conflict and smoking paraphernalia all encompassed within a delicious comic type setting. A I the only one who wishes to see as well hear more?

FIRST TRACK – 84

Atmosphere aplenty layered upon by a mammoth menacing build (ala monolith fuzz laden Doom riffs) as if seeing an army slowly appear on the horizon blocking the sun’s rays, eradicating all hope, gradually filling the sky with dread. An infrequent EyeHateGod shrieking vocal approach adds to the overall menace and enveloping aura. A plodding dirge, in effect the perfect soundtrack for evoking scenes of conflict disrupting the normal run of things in the swamps (does this even take place in that location? This remains to be seen).

INITIAL LISTEN – 86

There’s already a sludge/tech death band (give me a few I’ll find out their name… SLUGDGE) fixated on slug warfare and perhaps even a handful of others with the same approach but on all other manner of creepy crawlies. And now, Goblinsmoker. Apparently, this is “Part two in the ‘Toad King’ trilogy” and sees a narrative unfold (this isn’t the first time I’ve “watched” the sequel without watching the original first if truth be told). Here’s the story track by track direct from the band’s Twitter feed;

“1. Smoked in Darkness

This track picks up the story where ‘Toad King’ ended. Following the shamans warning, the Toad King has marched his goblin army to the city of his own kind. He delivers a battle cry before leading his goblin hordes in a charge on his ancestral home, burning anything and anyone in sight. “Death everywhere, none for the smoke. Death everywhere, just for the throne.”

  1. Let Them Rot

Set immediately after the city has fallen. The Toad King sits on his new throne in the city, the throne he never should have been granted. Still full of rage, he sits as the bodies of his own kind, as well as his fallen goblin subjects, smolder around him and he cries out to “let them rot”.

  1. The Forest Mourns

This track deals with feeling that change has come and the anxiety of the new, dark future. The world is not what is was and the goblins have come out from the shadows. It also hints at the third and final part of the trilogy, proclaiming the shaman has one final move to make. “True darkness awaits.”

goblinsmoker toad king

Toad King

A king who happens to be a Toad and more loyal goblin subjects than you can shake a stick at. I am intrigued, and you should be too as this is far from what I initially expected. In shirt this is Doom (of that there’s no doubt) captured in its natural lazy state, draped in ground shaking reverb, often doused with groove, which frolics with a cavernous death presence, occasionally a funeral doom epic nature, aided by blackened shriek vocal accompaniment. But let us not forget the effective bludgeoning drum accompaniment. This combination might sound odd. But it works! And somehow only allows the fantastical narrative; crimson splashing about, slime trails (wait, is that toads too or am I still thinking of slugs?), a bug catching tongue and myriads of squabbling spindly green fellows to blossom in the mind’s eye. The question remains; why isn’t there a graphic novel and/or a slew of animation videos (or even a board game) to help showcase the story (perhaps there is and I’m needing to hunker down to a spot of research?) Regardless as it progresses this puts me more and more in mind of the scene from the Hobbit whereupon our trusty heroes are being chased deep underground by a horde of goblins and their slothenly leader. But I digress, suffice it to say this is epic, transfixing and often suffocating. An experience which the listener will want to immediately dive back into in order to fully appreciate what’s on offer. The first dip may well have been slightly overwhelming which is to be expected but none the less highly enjoyable and infectious. I’m off to listen to the first entry, which is where I seriously should have started, I suggest you do the same.

Favorite Tracks; Let Them Rot.

FFO: Black Sabbath, My Dying Bride, Bolt Thrower, Cathedral, CHTHE’ILIST.

total annihilation

 Total Annihilation (Switzerland) – …on Chains of Doom

https://total-annihilation.bandcamp.com/album/on-chains-of-doom

Release – February/7/2020

Czar of Crickets Production

ARTWORK – 80

There’s little doubt what the listener is in for with this image on hand. You got it.! This is ‘hair rock’ draped in ballads, glitter and unicorn sprinkles. I jest, for there should be little confusion as to what to expect here with the inclusion of flames, a death machine, varied forms getting squished under tank treads and guns glowing red-hot in activity. But the question remains is this audio anything like another act obsessed with warfare and tanks (bonus points if your guess is correct).

FIRST TRACK – 79

A vintage war coverage newsreel and various news clip sound bites add intrigue to the introduction, leaving little left tom ponder upon as to what this might be about. Bouncing, groove laden, thrash rhythms take the lead as the clip intro disappear introducing the bands style to those, like myself, who have yet to experience what they have to offer.

INITIAL LISTEN – 77

Although one might assume this is merely run of the mill thrash/death there’s a variety of pace on offer throughout; mid-tempo groove switches places, and often transforms, into tear your head from your spine in intensity thrashin’ instances and also surprisingly a little something in between. Build up is commendable and rhythms are such that fans will have no choice but to reminisce upon standout thrash artists whose influence here, a mix of vintage European and American, is unmistakable. The rough vocal style adds to the albums level of aggression as too a” Troops of Doom” drum approach which helps propel the finished product into realms fans of the aggressive arena of thrash are sure to pounce upon. Although this sports really nothing new to the scene, the musicianship is on point and the arrangements top-notch and it remains entertaining throughout.

Favorite Tracks; Falling Fast, Reborn in Flesh, Experience the Terror, Tunnelratten, Black Blood.

FFO: Sodom, Nuclear Assault, Destruction, Kreator.

ironflame blood red victory

Ironflame (USA) – Blood Red Victory

https://ironflame.bandcamp.com/

Release – February/7/2020

Divebomb Records

ARTWORK- 78

Stepping away from what’s been showcased on albums before Ironflame have chosen to depict a warrior (I’m assuming) standing proud with a sword in hand and torn cape billowing in the wind. And, if I’m not mistaken, the sword has a certain glow as if its energized, perhaps following slaughter. Does it have a life of its own? Perhaps, it certainly looks wicked enough. Here’s to bloodshed, carnage and the caress of flashing steel upon an enemy’s flesh. Hitting play…

FIRST TRACK- 92

Foot tapping melodies, soaring passionate leads and powerful vocals (sans a falsetto element). If this is any indication of how the album is to continue, I’m shutting the outside world off, turning the headphones up and bathing in the absolute undeniable allure of exquisite heavy metal!

INITIAL LISTEN- 92

Feudal medieval themes, rhythms to promote air guitar silliness and drum tattoos to provoke limbs to twitch of their own accord. This is damn good audio and an amazing example of what makes heavy metal (with splashes of speed metal) so GD enjoyable and why its attraction continues to build. Excellent production aids the overall enjoyment here. If they haven’t already fans of mid era Maiden and Haunt have a new hero to add to their audio collection. I’m sure I’ll play this up until and mention it copiously come years end.

Favorite Tracks; Not a dull moment to be found, bathe in its glory.

FFO; Iron Maiden, Haunt, 3 Inches of Blood, Halloween, Dio, Saxon.

the spirit cosmic terror

The Spirit (Germany)- Cosmic Terror

https://thespiritmetal.bandcamp.com/album/cosmic-terror

Release – February/7/2020

AOP Records

ARTWORK- 73

A classic image offering an optical illusion/visual trickery of sorts (wrapped around a globe sporting either an eye or an explosion on one side) which is certainly up for discussion as it could mean many things ranging from inner struggles through glorified global turmoil.  Or, I could be miles off, it’s happened before now.

FIRST TRACK- 92

This is like “Storm” era Dissection but with a vintage Eucharist vibe. Melodies are wicked yet playful and the lyrics bear a fascinating narrative nature, which can be understood completely. But there’s something else…a tip of the hat to the traditional metal arena by way of galloping riffs and melodious leads which aren’t too brutal, but rather fluid. A fantastic start leaving me salivating for more.

INITIAL LISTEN- 91

Fluid rhythms, a definite, familiar, black metal (melody rather than raw primal power) vibe and distinct majesty and coldness within the riffs though this offers so much more. Influences from traditional metal arenas, melodic death and even a splash of symphonic accompaniment to dd depth to the album’s undeniable presence. Fans of both (‘Storm’ era) Dissection and classic Eucharist rejoice for this combines the two and then some. Enthralling from start to finish they is amazing but merely a stepping stone for the jaw dropping audio to follow for the act only appears to get better and better. Do not miss out on this, although if you do, I’m sure I’ll be there to remind you come years end! Did I mention two bands in particular enough during this review? Yes, I believe I did. I think you get the point!

Favorite Tracks; This is near hypnotic and delivers from start to finish!

FFO; Dissection, At the Gates, Necrophobic, Eucharist, Saramentum, Tribulation, Cloak.

skumstrike

Skumstrike (Canada)- Execution Void

https://caligarirecords.bandcamp.com/album/execution-void

Release – February/14/2020

Caligari Records

ARTWORK- 71

A raw image appearing to depict a face under extreme duress. This could well be a reflection from a witness’s eye or a look into a porthole upon one’s final moments.

FIRST TRACK- 89

Strap in tightly folks! A vintage Carcass– esque intro starts things off and leads into straight for the jugular audio. A primal seething raw beast draped in darkness exhibiting a ferocity which is typical of a terrified rabid critter backed into a corner. You will seriously have wished you lumbered up the neck muscles before you hit play.

INITIAL LISTEN- 92

I was not prepared for this!

Imagine, if you can, a crust outfit with black sensibilities and industrial leanings (especially in the vocal department) ala “The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste”/”Psalm 69” era Ministry. This hits hard, rarely leaves one enough time to breath before it assaults the senses again. This isn’t pretty. It’s raw if truth be told but it obliterates the yearning for hard, brutal fast and ornery.

This is a five track EP but it leaves me sweaty, exhausted, exhilarated and wanting more.

Favorite Tracks; The whole damn thing!

FFO; (Psalm 69 era) Ministry, No/Mas, Disrupt.

ithzmi

Izthmi (USA) – The Arrow of our Ways

https://izthmiseattle.bandcamp.com/album/the-arrows-of-our-ways

Release- February/14/2020

Within the Mind Records

ARTWORK- 80

Depicting a picturesque clearing this image also showcases a prone form in a small body of water. The beauty of nature scarred by the vicious nature of the creatures who roam upon it (how’s that for a spot of poetry?)

FIRST TRACK- 84

An apocalypse noise salvo paired with an “awakening” synth accompaniment. Little indication is given as to how the album will proceed from this point so when a mellow drum beat and majestic cresting riffs break the silence the ears immediately perk up. As the track progresses details become clear. This isn’t a typical black or even atmospheric black metal release, as this is oozing with a myriad of influence and styles. Acoustic guitar melodies weave in and around a malevolent mid pace, which doesn’t linger for too long in any one direction, supported by an often-frenetic drum salvo and a diverse vocal approach (encompassing shrieks, OSDM growls and grunts) making for a unique listening experience which makes an instant impression.

INITIAL LISTEN- 88

Both technical and intricate the melodies and arrangements here are varied, chaotic in instances. Touch upon folk sensibilities, yet still somehow flow in a cohesive, downright hypnotic, manner. Interludes serve to break up the album with bursts of cataclysmic intensity, in the case of (The Angels are Lost) bring about a contemplative nature but then it’s back to business. Multi-faceted, dynamic, busy and complex bearing cavernous qualities as well cosmic tones this release probably isn’t for everyone. But for those who relish in the process of dissecting audio like peeling back layers of an onion, rather than the instant gratification usually resulting from a release draped in a single genre blanket, this will provide hours of entertainment. A solitary listen will not suffice, this bears an odd familiarity about it and the intrigue is piqued, this requires several to get an understanding of the brilliance within. A striking debut sure to garner interest from far and wide across the metal spectrum.

Favorite Tracks; This is yet another example of an album which captivates from beginning to end.

FFO; vintage Katatonia, Opeth, Between the Buried and Me, Ne Oblivicaris, Swallow the Sun, Akercocke.

runescarred

Runescarred (USA) – The Distant Infinite

https://runescarred.bandcamp.com/

(album, or any of its tracks, isn’t “up” as of this publication)

Released – February/21/2020

Self-Released

ARTWORK- 86

The image here looks a little like one rendered by an artist Psycroptic has commissioned in the past (on their self-titled release). It really gives no indication as to the audio within but is vivid in detail and intricacy, which leave me quivering in anticipation.

FIRST TRACK- 84

The album commences as if it’s travelling along similar tracks as “South of Heaven” (do I really need mention the artist?) but then veers into Exodus adrenaline thrash realms. And boy does it ever deliver. Dramatic gruff vocals with a slightly unique edge add to the enjoyment. A great start!

INITIAL LISTEN- 88

Passionate and intricate not at all what I was expecting. Tons better in fact.  Overflowing with a smorgasbord of influence soaring leads are commonplace as too rhythms which will strike an instant chord. Surprising are progressive and folk instances although they don’t feel out of place but rather add significant depth to the album. To top the brilliance off (yes, I said ‘brilliance’) the vocal approach is striking often bringing to mind Dio, in other times Warren Dale and then again Bruce Dickinson but also the later ‘frontman’ for Exodus (whose name escapes me)

Favorite Tracks; The album doesn’t disappoint; delivering from start to finish.

FFO; Exodus, Nevermore, Hell, Iced Earth, Testament, Bruce Dickinson’s solo output.

kvaen

Kvaen (Sweden) – Funeral Pyre

https://kvaen.bandcamp.com/album/the-funeral-pyre

Release- February/28/2020

Black Lion Records

ARTWORK- 85

Black and white imagery. A robed hand holds a sword to consumed by licking flames. Ouch! This would make an amazing tattoo.

FIRST TRACK- 93

Containing quite possibly the most infectious black metal riff I’ve heard in some time this starts with a blistering jolt only to slide into epic and exquisite majestic realms though still boasting ungodly melodic qualities. A great fukn’ start, if I’m to be blunt!

INITIAL LISTEN- 92

Top notch melodic black metal with mischievous rhythms, surprising tempo transformations, blast beats aplenty (but thankfully not to the point of overkill), plenty of atmosphere and at times even an epic grandeur. Venomous vocals complete an intricately crafted package which is topped off with admirable production values. Part traditional yet bursting with an appeal which most new comers to the scene (me included) will instantly be able to appreciate. Do not be the last one on board the Kvaen train, these guys are gonna scorch the earth, mark my words!

Favorite Tracks; This doesn’t disappoint at any given moment.

FFO; Dissection, Arctos.

exhausted animal

And that concludes another installment of Abrasive Audio. Hopefully you’ve gotten this far down the ‘page’ and have found something to keep your senses occupied for at least a short while, I even attempted to keep this entry somewhat diverse. Here’s to discovering something which might normally be foreign to the senses.

Your exhausted slave to audio extreme, in a wide variety of its many 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 2020 – Special Edition; Part the First

(A collaborative effort with a few friends)

Abrasive Audio Special ed 2020 prt 1

January is crawling to its finale with the protest of a spoiled infant. The temperatures are frigid and the ground is dusted with what many call “fuck, not again!” February is nearly upon us which means a groundhog will search frantically for his own shadow in hopes for an early Spring and a chubby little winged fellow will soon spread his surely-too-small-for-his- weight feather ensemble to start bringing in the big bucks for the huge card and flower conglomerates. Screw flowers, if she/he loves you they’ll understand. Instead buy them a varied, collection of extreme audio.

This installment took a while (my apologies) but it I believe it’s worth it. This installment sees a collaborative effort with friends (whose opinions I respect) from as far afield as the releases featured within. As per usual, the grammar isn’t up to par and I may use the same few words more often than I perhaps should. But the Bandcamp links are there, so hopefully that takes away albeit slightly from the pain of submitting the retinas to the torture that is my prose. Enjoy.

Onward to this installment’s selections dedicated 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.

vofa st

Vofa (Iceland) – s/t

https://funere.bandcamp.com/album/vofa

Release – November/18/2019

Funere/Exhumed Records/Satanath Records

ARTWORK – 85

What I can only assume is a maiden (if sorts) stands defiant against the oncoming storm, her robes billow about her as the winds draw ever nearer. A fantastic image which depicts an amazing interaction between the forces of light and darkness and beauty and fury. I’m of the mind therefore that this encapsulates audio of the doom variety, but I’ve been wrong before now.

FIRST TRACK – 87

Huge riffs, growling vox and a varied pace (often surprisingly spry for a track of this ilk) which tells of both funeral doom and death/doom influences. Commencing with a somber acoustic melody which builds and gains atmosphere as it plays out this gradually attains a plateau fueled by distortion, relaxed/melancholic riffs and passionate growls. Both hypnotic and gloom laden this is powerful audio indeed which holds the attention the entirety of its epic length with varied twists, turns, rhythm and tempo shifts and only beguiles the more it’s allowed to invade the senses.

INITIAL LISTEN – 88

I believe I’ve only ever pondered upon one other release from Iceland, suffice to say my curiosity is burning like a well stoked fire. Made up of three tracks this album depicts an act who are both comfortable and proficient wielding a variety of styles say might deem traditional and others might call ‘mutt mixed’ within the doom genre. A variety of emotions come to the surface as this rolls towards its climax and they differ track by track. The second track bears more a haunting aura, effective and strange but spellbinding in its delivery, utilizing a unique vocal approach alongside a growl delivery which runs the albums length. The third is the most diverse of the bunch infrequently wallowing in psychedelic waters, stoner realms, progressive arenas as too traditional doom territories coupled with also the aforementioned styles and the growl typical of the albums vocal approach cavorting with yet another slight variation on the tone the track sports a vibe which is again unique, intricate, deep but no less addictive and impactful to the senses than the two which have gone before. A fitting end to an album which may not grab you from the first spin but given time will transform into something entirely ungodly addictive. You have been warned!

Favorite Tracks; As the cliché states and the radio stations like to say “no filler, all killer!”

FFO; My Dying Bride, Mourning Beloveth, Paradise Lost, October Tide, Katatonia, Novembers Doom.

Need a Second Opinion?

fistful pof doom logo

Here are a few words from the host of the Fistful of Doom show and a chap always up for discussing doom and extreme audio “Fistful of Doom” can be caught up with on Twitter as @flatulentfuzz

For more information and links to be able to listen to listen to his bi-weekly show click this link; https://www.facebook.com/fistfulofdoom66/

Artwork- 92

The two thoughts that come to mind when I look at the cover art are desolation and isolation.  The figure in this piece appears to have reached the zenith or perhaps what looks like the zenith is actually the edge of the abyss.  Ultimately, I don’t think it matters much.  I believe that an effective argument can be made for the fact that desolation and isolation go hand-in-hand with either destination.  The majesty in this is that the artist has rendered the perfect companion piece for this listening experience.

First Track- 93

The first track opens with some atmospheric sounds that begin to wrap the listener in a dark and haunting cocoon.  Just before you are consumed by the darkness lightly crashing cymbals bleed into the mix.  Followed closely by a shimmering guitar tone that combines with a plodding bass and drum to create a somber, hypnotic melancholy that reverberates throughout.  And that is only the first three or four minutes of the track.  What follows burns low and slow and spews forth with all the venom of a volcanic eruption.

Initial Listen- 94

Vofa’s self-titled debut is three tracks (clocking in at 37 minutes and 24 seconds) of death doom that follows a consistent, but insanely effective formula.  Caustic vocal growls that are punctuated by powerful drumming, sinister bass lines, searing guitar work and dark atmosphere.  The end result of which is a slow descent into an emotionally barren abyss.

Closing Thoughts

Crystal clear production and top-shelf musicianship is what elevates this release to another level.

(And, look-ie here, F.o.D has even chosen to somewhat utilize the same format as my scribbles – Ed*)

Imipolex

Imipolex (USA) – Order of the Epimethean Flame

https://imipolex.bandcamp.com/album/order-of-the-epimethean-flame

Release – October/26/19

Independent

ARTWORK- 65

“Uncle Frank! Did you take out the trash?”

“Yea, but it appears to have blown across the yard. And dammit! I forgot to put on pants!”

“Has “dinner” stopped screaming yet?”

“It would appear so. Put on the spuds, dear. I’m famished.”

FIRST TRACK- 68

This is likely how a mashup of black metal, grindcore, sludge and cavernous death metal would sound. Raw chaotic rhythms, with majestic leanings, drenched in dirge against an atmosphere which screams subterranean rituals lost to the passage of time. Coupled with a vocal delivery of one seeped in angst the overall combination is one which might not at first grab the attention, but soon digs its way into the curious part of the brain which often overpowers common sense. An intriguing opener which dares to steer its listeners away from predictable, familiar, well-worn territories but yet still incorporates all of these very same elements.

INITIAL LISTEN- 72

An epic nature is something which cannot be ignored, as too are frequent nods to masters of several genres which this traipses across as it makes it merry way towards its climax. Leaving an easy to read roadmap of the extreme spectrum Imipolex have covered most of that which makes up the bleakest corners of the extreme metal universe with only a few notable exceptions. A primitive tone aids in the enjoyment as a crystal-clear approach would obviously only sound silly given the music’s feel. Angst ridden vocals accompany rhythms of undeniable blackened origin, blast beats aplenty, which often transform to incorporate slight progressive leanings all of which drenched in a dirge nature. Brutality displaying a myriad of pace, chaotic rhythms, cavernous qualities and a touch a groove, this probably isn’t for one just touching base with extreme metal but for those with a yearning for audio which pays no heed to genre definition this is a great place to rest the ears for a while.

Favorite Tracks; Auspices, Battleslain, Epitapheum.

FFO; (vintage) Morbid Angel, Tomb Mold, Celtic Frost, Nuerosis.

Need a Second Opinion?

foehammer metal podcast

Here’s a few words from Derek C otherwise known as @He11fir3 on Twitter but best known for his knowledge droppin’, wicked tune wielding podcast Foehammer, which can be heard here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuP2tkAg3ABtFQUZFP5j3HQ

Hails all, He11fir3 here thankfully joining in on this collaborative Abrasive Audio installment to tell you my thoughts on Portland’s Blackened Death Sludge group IMIPOLEX!

First off, I am very glad that Cult considered me to write for this album because there is a good chance this never would have made it into my queue. mostly because the cover isn’t some over xeroxed copy of a dude with a sword clutching a fist of hatred to… nothing, there’s nothing else to see in the picture so he’s just angry for no reason, That and a generic shot of some lonely wooded area are how you make it onto my radar. Instead we have a whole mess of things going on that you are just going to have to see for yourself because I don’t think explaining it would do it justice.

“Sirens”, the first track of the album opens up similar to a traditional second wave back metal build but once you move past the intro itself you begin to pick up that this isn’t going to be just a black metal album. it’s something thicker. There is more meat to the tone in general than standard black metal that typically ranges in the sharper piercing tones.

The track takes off into the first break of the song and really picks up from its somber, dismal beginnings to something sporadic, thrashy, aggressive, and it doesn’t stop there. The whole track and safely said each track that follows has similar crafted switch-ups that make no song boring. The bass is also turned up loud enough to co-exist with the guitar instead of being buried behind a wall of distortion, which is good cause the bass plays a very important role in each song.

“Auspices” and “Battleslain” (tracks 2 and 3) waste no time. Both tracks open severely heavy and chaotic. This is where the album begins to move evolve from “Black Metal with Sludge influence” to a little bit of a genre mutt, which is fine by me cause I’m a bit of a genre slut. (AY, OH!) These tracks flex the riff skills by introducing a bit more a death metal feel, and the black metal elements become more obscure and experimental, and it even drops a little war metal d-beat into the mix. It has officially proved itself as a vagabond of extreme metal mastery. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and kegstand atop this bitch and indulge in its glory

Then we move to the final 2 tracks, both ranging over 10 minutes a piece, both starting like slow atmospheric doom tracks.

We know very well by now this is not the final form of these songs as they build and unfold into unrelenting epics. After some harsh crushing openings full of despair, you are rewarded with some melodic beautiful guitar work and engaging riff work. I don’t want to spoil these songs by going into too much detail, but the things these songs accomplish are the reason artist write them long. The end to the album even leaves you feeling a possible notion of what the cover may be suggesting. what does one do after bringing so much chaos into the world around them?

Give it a few jams before you decide how you feel about it. I did, again and again and now I have to get my hands on a copy. 7.5 out of 10 and growing with each listen. Now everybody, go bother CultMetalFlix until he asks me to do this again.

Infinitas

Infinitas (Switzerland) – Infernum

https://infinitasmetal.bandcamp.com/album/infernum

Release- December/6/19

Independent

ARTWORK- 71

This seethes with a somber fantastical edge, also with a rare perspective. It’s as if the listener is part of the journey also. An interesting image. But why have a castle that close to a volcano? Unless of course the residents are harnessing its fury for diabolical means.

FIRST TRACK- 71

An intriguing mixture; folk melodies intertwine with tradition heavy metal, progressive and thrash rhythms. Haunting melodies alongside galloping and passionate rhythms. The vocal approach is surprising, not at all expected, and isn’t for everyone. But it somehow works; supplying a story type narrative as it flows leaving me curious (and nodding my head, if truth be told) for what’s to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN- 69

As this album unfolds the concept element blossoms. Soundbites are plentiful, though in boasting a language (Norwegian, Swiss?) I can’t quite place they lose their meaning somewhat in the context. Varied styles coexist better than what many might think supplying depth, atmosphere and emotion and often an outright irresistible infectious nature. The vocal style is surprisingly diverse throughout. Ranging from tradition, feral, spoken and classical leaving the listener on their toes as the album unfolds. Probably not for those who demand a constant, unbroken, stream of extreme audio this would, I believe, appeal more to those whose audio interests are scattered. Rare is it that this moves above a galloping pace (though it boasts sufficient sinister and ominous passages to perk the doom crowds’ interest). However, it does display epic qualities with enough diversity to sate those who yearn for something to break up the same old, same old. Not for everyone, this might take a little time to ease into, after which it offers something new with every listen. Keep the mind open for this is undeniably mellower than audio I usually lay a few words upon, a ‘heads up’ if you will.

Favorite Tracks; Afranc, Lillith, Tiamat, Vadatajas.

FFO; Eluveitie, Skyclad, Apocalyptica, Epica.

exhausted animal

Rather than bog the listener down in words, for this endeavor went to greater lengths than I imagined, I’ve decided to cut it up into three pieces. This concludes the first. A huge thanks to all involved.

As always, feel free to share, comment and guffaw at my horrid grammar. But most of all support the contributors and artists included herein.

Cult

Abrasive Audio – Attack of the Compilation the first of 20’

Metal Assault welcoming in the new decade with a Bang!

metal assault header

Well, it’s been a ‘hot minute’ (I believe the cool kids are still using this ‘turn of phrase’?) since I’ve done one of these. Let’s hope I still know how to tackle the whole concept of reviewing a compilation release without making myself look like a total fool.

Where to start? Well, I could mention my love of the medium. Seriously there was a time before the internet when discovering ‘new’ music was a little tricky. Oftentimes one had to base their disposable spending on an album based on an anonymous person’s thoughts and feelings alone, unless one was lucky enough to be able to have friends who liked the same type of audio. Obviously, opinions and tastes vary wildly so hard-earned pennies were often spent on outings which really didn’t capture the attention (no matter how many times one listened or how hard one tried to ‘really’ like something. Most like it so it must be “good” … Right?) Compilations eased the trickiness of the situation somewhat. They served as a ‘porthole’ into an acts style, although it requires more than merely one song to get a feel for an act (I’ve come across a couple who present a few tracks from each act listed. I think is an outstanding way to go about this, more in the manner of a “split” but with more acts represented). Better yet they always showcased a variety of acts to widen the horizon. I’ll admit I spent hours with my finger poised on the stop, play, record button. I compiled a few tapes of my own (this was before CDs were in vogue) to trade with others, this was by far the cheapest way to do it but one still had to build their collection in order to get to this level.

speed kills compilation

Today my collection is bursting at the seams with At Deaths Door, Metal for the Masses, Speed Kills, various label and magazine samplers and a few residing under the themed homage umbrella. One day I’ll revisit and annihilate the dust bunny civilization which has no doubt taken up residence since last I visited, Moving on, for this is quite enough history and waffling on about the subject and myself. For the first entry of 2020 I’ve been lucky enough to procure the second volume in the Metal Assault ‘Mixtape Series’ considerately entitled (surprisingly) Metal Assault Mixtape – Volume 2 which finds its release on January/31 available on cassette tape (limited to 150 copies only), as well as digital download via Bandcamp

https://metalassault.bandcamp.com/album/metal-assault-mixtape-vol-2

Without plowing wildly into my thoughts I’ll include a rating system I’ve designed especially for this purpose. However, seems as this is a brand-spanking New Year I’ve mixed it up with a few changes.

the devils rain gif

Ah… this nonsense is doing my head in!

I don’t believe I listened to a single song here, in its entirety – to be quite honest I’d rather hear a recording of my significant other grunting in time with sloppy flesh-laden percussion provided by the neighbor’s thrusts.

I Skipped most of this, but found it comical but not in a humorous way – Seriously, was this compiled in a kindergarten class?

Didn’t skip any tracks, but my digits were poised, ready to strike – I may or may not revisit again. If I give it more time will it grow on me?

I believe I can actually remember a few of the band’s names here – This shows promise!

This leaves me with a smirk on my face and has me bobbing my head on a frequent basis –Be prepared to search for a reliable internet connection, in order to do some invaluable research on where to distribute the pennies.

Dammit, I can’t concentrate! – Break out the lube. Does this come in a format I can insert myself into? I’ll preach about this when I’ve cleaned up the resulting puddle.

(These rating are somewhat crude but self-explanatory.)

metal assault mixtape #2

So how does this fare? Showcasing eleven acts from around the Los Angeles area (…”and beyond”) With only a single act whom I’ve heard anything about, Void Vator (based solely on their stunning recent release), I feel like an eager, extreme audio, thirsting, teenager all over again. What say we all dive in blindly but not before at least giving a cursory glance to that which is about to invade the senses.

 

The cover artwork for this is based on Metal Assault’s “Face Melter” t-shirt from 2017, designed by Dan Lerner.

The (All-Important) Tracklist;

Void Vator – Nitrus

Monolith – Man Without a Soul

Hydera – Witch King

Living Darkness – Destructible

Motor Gun Hotel – Leave It All Behind

Aparant – Home

Drift – From Within

Hell Kross – Howl of the Wolf Brigade

Circle of Sighs – Burden of the Flesh

Grim Earth – Ruins

The Blue Prison – Vengeance

Sporting a wide variety of styles, the release delivers a little for everybody (although if truth be told the more extreme shadow ridden corners of the metal spectrum aren’t represented as much as one might think given the albums cover art). Starting with Void Vator and a splash of Latin flavor this collection of tracks progresses to offer NWOBHM flavor, Southern-fried alternate rock, speed metal, thrash metal, traditional doom, groove to spare and plenty of atmosphere, even a few tracks bearing a style which is moderately unexpected, given the surroundings.

holiday drumming animal

Bring on the tunage!!!

Naturally, I have a few favorites and a few others which instantly perked my interest and held the interest even after repeated listens. In all honesty I didn’t skip a single track, several tracks grew on me to far surpass my initial reaction. Without reservation I’ll gladly award this with a “This leaves me with a smirk on my face and has me bobbing my head on a frequent basis” rating, precariously teetering on the precipice of “Dammit, I can’t concentrate!” for although the styles differ, drastically in some instances, each track held my interest and piqued my curiosity to varying degrees.

In order of appearance these made an instant impression;
Hydera – Witch King

Traditional rock stylings with power metal sensibilities and brilliant head swaying guitar solos. Complete with thankfully close to zero falsetto vocal antics. This reminds me, for some reason, of Rhapsody in part early Riot, perhaps it’s time to revisit “Thundersteel”?

Check out what the band have to offer; https://hyderaofficial.bandcamp.com/releases

living darkness
Living Darkness – Destructible

Fluid speed/thrash with infectious rhythms and (wait for it) falsetto vocals but with great range. Strange I like this but I do.

Check out what else the band has to offer; https://livingdarknessmetal.bandcamp.com/

Motor Gun Hotel – Leave it All Behind

Seething with an alternative aura and an Alice in Chains vibe both in percussion and in the vocal department there’s little wonder this piqued my interest.

Set the ears upon the bands BC page; https://motorgunhotel.bandcamp.com/releases

the blue prison
The Blue Prison – Vengeance

I do believe this would perk the ears of my pal Werewolves in Siberia. Reminiscent of a style similar to that which The Berserker fine-tuned (minus the grindcore accompaniment) this marries synth, an industrial nature and guitar riff-driven metal (a ménage a trois if you will. Why is it that French people have capitalized upon all the coolest phrases?) and drags the listener on a wild narrative until its conclusion. A strange inclusion and finale to this compilation but a track which will have one exploring unchartered audio avenues.

Explore the bands discography here; https://theblueprison.bandcamp.com/

In order of appearance these had me nodding and twitching like one possessed;
void vator
Void Vator – Nitrus

Oozing with both Western and Latin flavors this incites uncontrollable appendage movement. Don’t believe me. Put it on and experience this for yourself. Even more outstanding is that this is sans vocals. This could easily find inclusion in a Tarantino film it has that sort of a vibe!

The BC page; https://voidvator.bandcamp.com/

Monolith – Man Without a Soul

This track picked me up and threw me back several decades. Much like Dio fronted Rainbow meets vintage Iron Maiden, White Spirit with a splash of Blitzkrieg this has undeniable flow bordering on criminal catchiness. Speed metal but not quite the melodies here are exquisite coupled with passionate vocals this is an undeniable standout!

More of Monolith can be explored here; https://www.facebook.com/MonolithSD/

circle of sighs
Circle of Sighs – Burden of the Flesh

Atmosphere aplenty accompanied by a vast cosmic ethereal nature. Huge riffs and an undeniable ‘presence’ you could well lose yourself within if given the appropriate accouterments. In short, doom, but doused in Bowie-esque progressive elements and dark synth. An outstanding combination whih needs to be heard to be appreciated.

And look, I have a link to explore; https://circleofsighs.bandcamp.com/releases

Hell Kross – Howl of the Wolf Brigade

Speed themed doom with heavy metal tendencies drenched in dramatic flair and hilarious lyrics (“it was the peanut butter which stopped the wolves, cus they’re just like dogs!”). Need I say more? Probably not, but I will. This is the type of audio the metal community needs more of. I believe The Joker said it best “Why so serious?” If you enjoy Tenacious D and Zimmers Hole You’ll enjoy this.

Their limited discography can be explored here; https://hellkross.bandcamp.com/releases

grim earth
Grim Earth – Ruins

Because every compilation deserves some angst ridden, sludge laden, heaviness. Prepare to be floored! Fuzz encapsulated mammoth riffs and (wait for it) … groove. What’s not to love? Even more surprising is that these cats are from Washington, not California. But who cares, this track rocks the compilation kicks ass and I’m done! I’m going to spin this again.

Grim Earth’s output badass cover artwork, and all, can be found here; https://grimearth.bandcamp.com/

 

Cult

Again, for those not paying attention, this compilation goes live on January/31. I highly recommend it and it can be found at this location; https://metalassault.bandcamp.com/album/metal-assault-mixtape-vol-2

Abrasive Audio 2020 – The First Entry

black metal gif

It’s been a while folks. And although I promised myself that I won’t get caught up in the typical End of List Bullshit, I invariably did. And it was all-consuming (my thanks again to all involved) taking up a huge chunk of the first month of the year. Now I’m behind. But not to worry, a few sleepiness nights will and have rectified that. May I present the very first entry of the year. You may notice I’m starting off by commenting on a few releases I somehow missed. (Be warned this might last till well into the year.) I’m also trying something a little different, I’m intrigued to see if anyone notices.

Without further dragging one into “donkey nodding” depths…

Slipping Through the Cracks
Releases from 19′ I’m only now laying ears upon (but deem worthy of scribbling upon).

Crafting the Conspiracy

Crafting the Conspiracy (USA) – The Cosmic Key (Part One)

https://chugcore.bandcamp.com/album/the-cosmic-key-pt-1-2

Release- March/9/19

Chugcore Records

ARTWORK- 77

This guy looks pissed as if he’s about to perform some Dragon Ball Z type shit upon me. What did I do seriously? Where can I hide?

FIRST TRACK- 85

No fkn’ around with intros here this drops one straight into intricate hyper speed drumming and riffs. The unmerciful vocal barrage is reminiscent of both Goatwhore, Soilent Green and Black Dahlia Murder. An impressive start to quench the hunger of those demanding top quality deathcore/tech death.

INITIAL LISTEN- 86

Whirling dervish arrangements, intricate rhythms, tight musicianship and an unrelenting vocal narrative approach. Oftentimes this can be messy and uncomfortable to listen to, especially if it’s not created in a cohesive manner. But not in this instance. This yanks the listener around from the very start, uncontrollable, involuntary movements are going to be par for the course when this invades the senses, and doesn’t let up until the final track (let it ‘play out’, trust me here) comes to its eventual climax. Irritating and irrational is that Crafting the Conspiracy haven’t been detected on my radar before now. But thankfully that has changed now and I’m here to suggest you do the same.

Favorite Tracks – The whole EP ripz, no ‘filler’ found here!

FFO; Black Dahlia Murder, Origin, Obscura.

Agnosy

Agnosy (UK) – When Daylight Reveals the Torture

https://agnosy.bandcamp.com/album/when-daylight-reveals-the-torture

Release – May/9/19

Profane Existence

ARTWORK – 78

Gritty, dark, foreboding, grimy. Pick a word. This is fantastic black and white imagery telling of dusk and the atrocities about to be discovered therein. In a pinch I would say this is suggestive of cavernous audio. But that remains to be heard and I’ve been led astray before.

FIRST TRACK – 81

Crust, D-beat with more an emphasis on punk then the run of the mill Crust release. This delivers groove by the truckload and grime, a fantastic combination. Hints of influence make themselves known but remain to be fully realized. An impressive start!

INITIAL LISTEN – 83

A far cry from the usual Crust fodder this incorporates tracks with individual identities, a spot of stepping outside of what’s expected (a traipse into sludge and Nuerosis depths) and more than enough groove and dirty rhythms to send one crawling, battered, in the direction of the muscle relaxers. A fantastic way for fans of Crust and D-beat to start the New Year, this does not disappoint and is hardly predictable!

Toss this in the “pit” for incendiary action!

Favorite Tracks; Spit out the Lies, When Daylight Reveals the Torture, No Friends but the Mountains, War, Death, Famine, Plague.

FFO; Bolt Thrower, Wolf Brigade, Disrupt.

And… The New Year Brings Us

Diabology

Diabology – Nobody Believes Me

https://diabology.bandcamp.com/album/nobody-believes-me

Independent

Release- January/1/20

ARTWORK – 76

I’m of the mind that the book in this image holds more than merely recipes for Brownies which will blow the mind. ‘Cosmic Brownies’ perhaps. Strangely it also puts me in mind of “The Devils Rain” (film) and that accursed tome from “The Evil Dead”. A fantastic vivid color palette here is sure to grab the initial attention.

FIRST TRACK – 71

This seethes with definite punk influence and something altogether darker. Spittle flying vocals accompany background whispering and a percussion that’s both familiar and somewhat sinister. An intriguing opener that’s undeniably thrash, punk with lesser black and melodic death elements.

INITIAL LISTEN- 68

This album offers an intriguing mix of thrash, punk and death influences. A dip into nu-metal/alternate waters, even submergence into crust/grindcore murkiness. A vocal style which sounds part South American aggression accompanied by punk attitude couples with rhythms which are catchy yet all too familiar. A good starting point for a dynamic, talented, young act this shows promise (a few tracks are deliciously ‘different’ against the rest of the albums grain) yet lacks the sense of fluidity and identity which more seasoned acts exhibit. Give this a listen and keep an eye out for the bands progress.

Favorite Tracks; Nobody Believes me (the Voices), Seas of Eternity, Lost Viking, Lazarus Falling.

FFO; Vintage Megadeth, early Voivod.

War Dogs

War Dogs (Spain)- Die by my Sword

https://fighter-records.bandcamp.com/album/die-by-my-sword

Fighter Records

Release- January/9/20

ARTWORK- 76

Some unfortunate fellow is being utilized as a skishkabob against a landscape sporting a myriad of crimson, groans, bludgeoning and an ominous feral four-legged presence who appears slightly amused.

FIRST TRACK- 83

Screaming NWOBHM injected with playful speed sensibilities this jumps from the proverbial starting blocks. Boasting fluid rhythms, hooks and a vocal approach thankfully sans falsetto elements this makes an instant impression leaving me eager for what’s to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN- 87

With a silly looking smirk plastered across my face I’m willingly allowing War Dogs to transport me back a few decades to a time when melody was king, singing rather than guttural prowess was in vogue, rhythms bordered on head-bobbingly hypnotic and rock was criminally infectious. This checks all the boxes, and then some! I honestly can’t see a reason why this doesn’t propel the act to showcasing venue heights. Impressive doesn’t even come close, and this is a debut (full length too) which makes it that much more stunning. Jump on this at your earliest convenience!

Favorite Tracks; Die by my Sword, Wings of Fire, Kill the Past, Ready to Strike, Gorgon Eyes.

FFO; Vintage Iron Maiden, vintage Rainbow, Riot, Visigoth, Manilla Road.

Blood and Brutality

Blood and Brutality (USA) – Fatal

https://bloodandbrutality.bandcamp.com/album/fatal

Release- January/17/20

Blood and Brutality Records

ARTWORK- 83

Quite the chamber of horrors on display here. And I might be mistaken but it looks as though Seagrave might have had a hand in the image. It bears the same tone, aura and intricacy in detail.

FIRST TRACK- 82

Grinding death which has me nodding my head like a maniac. How is it this is the first I’m hearing of these guys?

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

Wicked limb twitching rhythms, variety in pace which doesn’t appear out of place, excellent atmosphere and a vocal style which is part hardcore, part crust. I’m finding it very difficult to write anything negative about this. Honestly, this isn’t anything ground- breaking (does every album need to be?) but it hits the spot via thrashy and grinding death avenues and demands discovery. Wrap yer ears around this pronto!

Favorite Tracks; Witness to Slaughter, Torturous, Black Horizon, Bloodshed of Man.

FFO; Vomitory, Master, Bolt Thrower, Memoriam, The Haunted, early Gorguts.

Cult of Horror

Cult of Horror (Brazil) – Hermetik Heretik

https://cultofhorror.bandcamp.com/

Release- January/13/20

Bestial Invasion Records

ARTWORK- 81

An interesting image with obvious nods to Egyptian mythology. Fantastic color-play depicts a frustrated individual who only wants to be loved by the suns warm caress.

FIRST TRACK – 76

Short and inciteful this bears undeniably wicked blackened speed tendencies and an unmistakable raw air one might expect from the region. A great start to get one in the mood.

INITIAL LISTEN – 73

With a varied style which kicks in after an initial impression (based on the first two tracks) one can tell this is neither 100% this or that this, but an amalgamation of a few styles, offering a variety of pace and rhythms within a collection of tracks which explores and channels several corners of the metal universe. Ranging from psych doom, speed metal, blackened speed, death n roll, through traditional heavy metal in not quite so equal measure with a plethora of nods to South American aggression (ala raw thrash) this has a great deal to offer. Although this is hard to categorize there’s no doubt it delivers a catchy nature by the barrelful showcasing an undeniably beefy drum foundation and a vocal style which will please the majority of traditional black fans.

Favorite Tracks; Heretik, Philosophy of the Knife, Murder by Witchcraft, Hellfire Convent.

FFO; Witchery, Celtic Frost, Pungent Stench.

Blessed Black

Blessed Black (USA) – Beyond the Crimson Throne

https://blessedblack.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-the-crimson-throne-2

Release- January/17/20

Independent

ARTWORK- 77

Heavy in a fantastical cosmic vibe this makes me ponder upon what the Grim Resper might do for fun. Does he cosplay? Does he reside in a cloud and own a big-fuck-off-I’ll-cleave-you-in-two blade? A bunch of unanswered questions to stew upon here. Best to just relax and give this a listen before I burst something.

FIRST TRACK- 78

Instrumental and hypnotic, undeniably a tad cosmic with a middle Eastern vibe this leaves me curious indeed!

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

Doom, stoner rock and Southern rock collide with a vocal accompaniment which is very difficult not to instantly appreciate (Fun fact; the vocalist is also in the thrash band WarCurse and works with a few better-known acts). Huge riffs cavort with dangerously infectious hooks, a smidgen of fuzz and groove sensibilities which would make the manufacturers of toilet paper envious (huh, what?). In all seriousness though this seethes with an air of brilliance from start to finish. It flows seamlessly and tips the hat to a variety of genre troupes whilst still displaying an identity and a remarkable passion all its own. It isn’t without rollicking (some might call them galloping) rhythms either for those taking notes. Fans of doom mixed with stoner rock and heavy metal values take note this is a fantastic way to start the New Year and is sure to feature in my playlist for months to come.

Favorite Tracks; Heavy is the Crown, Ariochs Bargain, Stormbringer.

FFO; The Sword, High on Fire, Baroness.

Odious Mortem

Odious Mortem (USA) – Synesthesia

https://odiousmortem.bandcamp.com/album/synesthesia

Release – January/17/20

Willowtip Records

ARTWORK- 72

With the description of the music in mind this image fits perfectly. Though I’m not honestly sure what the image depicts. Guess it’s time to break out the microscope and scalpel.

FIRST TRACK- 83

This wastes no time whatsoever in getting to the crux of the issue. This is technical brutal death metal (with splashes of a progressive nature) and shines immediately. Chaotic, intricate but insanely precise, this is just what the doctor ordered (if the doctor were to prescribe this type of thing).

INITIAL LISTEN- 91

I can’t fathom how it is that I haven’t heard of these guys before now with a quality on offer such as exhibited here. And although this is new it bears an eerie familiar tone and style. A brutality based in rapidly transforming controlled chaos, a myriad of amorphic shifting rhythms as opposed to chuggery or anything which brings to mind diabolical underworld shenanigans and a vocal approach which might well include burps, squeals, grunts. An intricacy and exactness paired with mischievous varied pacing and a wicked drum salvo in short which is difficult not to appreciate instantly.  After a spot of research, I can see the reasoning; most of the members constitute Decrepit Birth.

Favorite Tracks; Stunningly jaw-dropping from start to finish, it’s extremely difficult to pick out any clear winners at a quality such as this.

FFO; (later) Death, Atheist, Decrepit Birth, Severed Savior, Spawn of Possession.

Butcher 666 goats

BÜTCHER (Belgium) – 666 Goats Carry my Chariot

https://osmoseproductions.bandcamp.com/album/666-goats-carry-my-chariot

Release – January/31/20

Osmose Productions

ARTWORK- 83

Goats instead of horses. This is an interesting spin and to say I’m curious is an understatement indeed. Though I would imagine that the amount in question would surely be calamitous overkill. Seriously, have you ever tried to train a goat to do anything but run at a pal like a battering ram? Try it, you won’t be friends when those hospital bill’s start rolling in.

FIRST TRACK- 85

A synth seething with 80’s influence intro with narration opens the album. But, I’m still curious. And then…blown away! An initial impression is that Venom, Judas Priest and Van Halen are jamming following a night of heavy drinking. Sounds unappealing but this is wickedly good and overflows with attitude, riffs…and did I say attitude?

INITIAL LISTEN- 93

Some albums are good, some are better, some even leave a lasting impression and then there’s this. This album virtually writes its own review! It grabs ahold, sinks its talons in then proceeds to unapologetically molest the pleasure sensors from start to finish (huh-?) yanking at reminiscence along the way whilst pulling strings to puppeteer the listener into uncontrollable spasms of movement. Utilizing face-melting speed, a blackened style which has become fashionable as of late (no complaints here), something akin to what many call Pagan metal, as well instances dripping in atmosphere Bütcher have somehow created a style which nods to a plethora of arenas and even early pioneers (King Diamond among them) though remains undeniably unique and wholly consumable by ravenous fans eager for audio veering slightly off the beaten path. In essence this is traditional yet not and familiar yet fresh. Hopefully my scribbles have given this justice for it is deserved of such! Suffice it to say this will have many scrambling for a map to locate a place they’ve probably never heard of; mark my words this will place Belgium on the extreme audio map. Don’t be the last to let this (and “666 goats”) invade your senses!

Favorite Tracks; Rips, tears, shreds from start to finish. I can’t pick any clear sinners!

FFO; Whipstriker, Whiplash, Exciter, vintage Venom, Wraith, Inculter, Hellripper, Mercyful Fate.

pyre

Pyre (USA) – Come Home

https://pyregvl.bandcamp.com/

Release- January/10/20

Independent

ARTWORK- 83

This boasts Tolkien-esque and mythical qualities. A boy, his dog and an ominous looking skull in the background. What say we proceed and dive right into a fantastical landscape?

FIRST TRACK- 78

An energetic sludge drenched; fuzz-laden stoner rock/doom instrumental opens the proceedings. And dissolves into a cosmic type ooze. Thrash, slightly crossover, rhythms take up the slack complemented by a sprinkle of psychedelia. The mood shifts and leaves a lasting impression; this is not going to be the typical run of the mill type release. Color me curious.

INITIAL LISTEN- 93

It doesn’t take long to realize this album is something that’s unmistakably diverse and… special. Although each of the tracks are relatively short, they each leave a little something to ‘chew’ upon, much like a taste in the mouth which lingers but one doesn’t want to leave. Unpredictable, exciting, dynamic and infectiously catchy this release sports an allure that’s hard to argue and an amorphous style that’s hard to accurately describe. Terms like post-black metal, punk and thrash are tossed around but this doesn’t fit any of those or even a number of other parameters comfortably. Fear not however, for it does, and will, slide unassumingly into a playlist that’s sure to be burned into the cortex as the year rolls on. For those with an open mind, a soft spot for catchy rhythms and carefully constructed stylistic chaos this demands attention. And to be honest it came out of nowhere to send me reelin’. I am beyond impressed. I can see myself preaching the brilliance of this well into the year. Do not let this pass you by unnoticed!!

Favorite Tracks; Head noddingly fantastic from start to finish.

FFO; The Sword, (early) Faith no More, Mastodon, Baroness, Old Man Wizard, Devon Townsend, Wizard Rifle.

mix tape action

Spread the Word of metal Old Man. Keep it up!

And that concludes the first entry of the New Year. My apologies for the wait. As always feel free to comment, share, suggest, laugh or cry.  Your slave to Audio extreme in all of its many guises,

Cult

Abrasive Audio – The Year in Review

Part the Fourth (the second, and final, installment; so much metal one part just isn’t enough!)

thank you end of year lkit 19

This is it. The final installment. Before I continue I’d like to say a huge thanks to all concerned, the PR companies, the people I’ve interacted with, those I’ve reconnected with, those I’ve started new friendships with, those who continue to support my scribbles (you the reader) but most of all the bands who continue to strive to entertain even though the road is fraught with difficulty and the fact that it isn’t paved with gold as many might think. Here’s to another year overflowing with audio brilliance.

Without further waffling, I present my final picks;

nocturnalia

Nocturnalia – III Winter

https://nocturnaliamusic.bandcamp.com/album/nocturnalia-iii-winter

This offers a collective of radio friendly tracks with mesmerizing qualities running the gauntlet of traditional rock, folk and a style perilously close to speed metal. Never boring, this delights throughout and serves as a stunning palette cleanser for those evening when one just wishes to unwind. Fluid from the first until the last note with its fluid though varied composition, unique nature and thoroughly stunning delivery and execution.

Novembers Doom – Nephilim Grove

Novembers Doom – Nephilim Grove

 https://novembersdoom1989.bandcamp.com/album/nephilim-grove

Shattering my preconceived notions Novembers Doom have utilized all the death/doom genre is known for then added their trademark thunderous rhythm approach, passionate vocal diversity and stupendous epic arrangements (which tug at even the most hardened of emotions) and have fashioned an album which delivers from start to finish. This is perhaps their finest work to date.

sentient horror

Sentient Horror -Morbid Realms*

https://sentienthorror.bandcamp.com/album/morbid-realms

Somehow Sentient Horror have utilized a familiar style and have added their own flair making it fresh and exciting again. All the ingredients a fan of the HM2 genre have come to expect. However, this band have imbued the formula with a certain something; be it maniacal solos, fluid lead moments or instances of ominous atmosphere which combine to levitate this to another level entirely. Lay your ears upon this and rekindle your love of the ‘Stockholm sound’.

Schammasch hearts-of-no-light
Schammasch – Hearts of No Light

https://schammasch.bandcamp.com/album/hearts-of-no-light

Atmospheric black metal with arrangements of astounding caliber the likes of which one will be surprised to discover here, this is so more than merely ‘black’ in any sense of the imagination. This takes the listener to realms which are quite unexpected though strangely don’t seem at all out of place. A release with both depth and cinematic opus qualities one needs to experience to fully appreciate, for my words cannot even come close. A fantastic introduction to the band and a style which is easily consumed for those like myself who are relative newcomers to this genre.

swampbeast void terror split

Swamp Beast/Void Terror SPLIT – Holocaust of Terrestrial Empires

 https://mesacounojo.bandcamp.com/album/holocaust-of-terrestrial-empires

Swamp Beast – Unrelenting death grind complemented by suffocating catacomb-esque atmosphere. A mesmerizing soundscape combining Napalm Death touches, passages of groove and a brutal whirlwind chaotic attack.
Void Terror – What Bolt Thrower “Realm of Chaos” might have sounded like if it had decidedly black metal undertones. Dirge laden and wickedly dark, yet chaotic and shot through with diabolical essence. A swirling maelstrom of audio madness one doesn’t wish to escape.

An excellent split with plenty on offer from two acts ripe for discovery. Keep an ear out for these guys they are both poised for greatness.

the deathtrip

The Deathtrip – Demon Solar Totem

https://the-deathtrip.bandcamp.com/album/demon-solar-totem

The Deathtrip have created an album which has the potential to garner appeal from across the BM landscape. Varied in both scope and approach raw audio (with an intensity to appeal to traditionalists and those acclimatizing themselves to the variety the scene offers; aka me) cavorts alongside melancholic atmosphere hypnotic, trance inducing, rhythms and surprisingly melody drenched under occult skies an effect which holds the attention from first to last. And the more one sinks into the experience the greater detail and intricacies it provides. This boasts an appeal which cannot be argued, begs to be repeated and often.

unfathomable ruinantion

Unfathomable Ruination – Enraged and Unbound

https://unfathomableruination.bandcamp.com/album/enraged-unbound

Track structures, although longer than most in the same genre, are infectiously contagious showcasing abrupt pace transformations, frenzied and maniacal moments and technicality the likes of which precariously straddles the fence between technical death and grindcore arenas. In short, this audio depicts an act who have no desire to fuck around. It’s straight down to business and these guys are bringing all the requisite ingredients to make a lasting impression, albeit one which will leave a mark whose after effects will require meds and most probably a trip to the ER.

Vampyromorpha - Herzog

Vampyromorpha – Herzog

https://vampyromorpha.bandcamp.com/

Although this occasionally dips into ultra-melodic realms it remains intriguing throughout and is most likely to fit nicely in the ‘guilty pleasures’ folder of those whose daily audio is drenched in nature extreme. A Gothic nature, Southern groove and passion alongside hard rock sensibilities (including soaring solos), and rough vocal approach (which oddly fits) and a willingness to experiment makes this stand out but it’s the caliber which makes it stick, and instantly!

warsenal

Warsenal – Feast Your Eyes

 https://open.spotify.com/album/58SvjDQbXqTG2Ng5qHohme?autoplay=true&v=L

In moments one could well imagine this is what Destruction (Germany) might have sounded like if they’d have spent more time listening to NWOBHM. The music is often face-melting fast though imbued with undeniable traditional heavy metal elements and even on occasion a tone likened to crossover thrash. As a whole the album is neither “this” nor “that” but rather a stunning smorgasbord of styles combined with expert cohesion plucked with reverence from a myriad of genres. This only gets infinitely better after the initial listen.

wolfbrigade

WolfBrigade – The Enemy: Reality*

https://wolfbrigadesl.bandcamp.com/

This is unapologetically formulaic at times, even a tad simplistic, but it hits home and has an effect that borders on hypnotic. Ungodly infectious and especially potent following a workout or participation in an activity with similar “results”, short and to the point this is to be played loud, but probably not in rush hour traffic as it tends to incite uncontrollable movements and a shit eating grin hardly anyone is likely to understand. Suffice it to say Wolfbrigade strike again and much like their last this destroys most everything in its path.

December

bethledeign

Bethledeign – Iconography of Suffering

https://edgewoodarsenal.bandcamp.com/album/iconography-of-suffering

Maniacal leads, slower paced passages and breakdowns for sorts with familiarity aplenty, riffs to leave one salivating and a varied style to please a great many bar those who yearn for silly, overburdening, technicality and heaps of progressive nature within their extreme audio. For fans of Cannibal Corpse, this will leave an impression.

death wolf

Death Wolf (formerly Devils’ Whorehouse) – IV: Come the Dark

https://helterskelterproductions.bandcamp.com/album/iv-come-the-dark

This is slightly different, familiar but not for the reasons one might think and a little experimental. At times the times the album has a ‘if Ministry played black metal this is how it might sound’ vibe while in others epic triumphant qualities take center stage and rhythms take on more a simplistic groove approach ala more recent Satyricon. However, you slice it this is unexpected but cannot be written off. Be prepared though for it has the potential to grow to criminally infectious levels.

Hvile I Kaos

Hvile I Kaos – Black Morning, Winter Green

https://rednebula.bandcamp.com/album/black-morning-winter-green

Intricate melodies writhe and duel for dominance, a narrative is carefully constructed utilizing an assortment of details and depth forming a rich tapestry to enrapt the listener. This is an experience sans a vocal accompaniment, for it doesn’t need such. It speaks volumes and stands testament to the talent, passion and composition brilliance of Kakophonix; the single soul behind the manipulation of the strings involved. A rich texture of melodies invoking darkness and beauty and the many grey areas in between. More classical than anything remotely extreme metal in nature.

oath of cruelty

Oath of Cruelty – Summary Execution at Dawn

https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/summary-execution-at-dawn

Chaotic, tumbling melodies shot through with veins of maniacal madness and capillaries of diabolical finesse. This could well be Morbid Angel under the Kreator banner of old imbued with South American aggression. Unrelenting blackened thrash draped in a generous helping of sinister recommended for fans of the old school.

Revel in Flesh

Revel in Flesh – The Hour of the Avenger*

https://open.spotify.com/album/1vXNFib8ODt2uuRMIkzYbt?autoplay=true&v=L

Boasting a collection of tracks with a slew of stylistic ambiance this album offers a great deal to enjoy. Comforting in its nostalgic familiarity this seethes with an undeniable air of superiority.

I don’t know where Revel in Flesh have been between albums. I only wonder if there’s a location someplace in a remote mountainous region whereupon enigmatic Monks strip one of everything they know only then reeducate one (in the most mysterious ways imaginable) in the true path of Godly extreme audio. For this really is that good! Fans of Entombed, Nocturnal Hollow, LIK, Dismember and Entrails cannot afford to miss out on this!

exhausted animal

And that’s it. A whooping 153 releases spanning January through December 2019, only the tip of the proverbial iceberg if truth be told (there’s a whole ton of releases I didn’t have time to get to) Showcasing a total of 36 (absolute favorites) which looking back I could probably have shortened this list down to. A tip of the hat to those who have made it this far, hurdling the obvious obstacles which my horrid grammar produces. As always free to share and comment. I’m always up for suggestions, perhaps even a few people who wish to aid me in my quest to entertain (I’m talking unpaid contributors, I’ve yet to make a cent, I require someone else with the equal dedication). The comment link is at the bottom of this article. It’s been a pleasure, and even though I’m exhausted it’s been worth every keyboard stroke if only to preach the word of metal and support acts who bring me a modicum of pleasure in an otherwise dull, tedious existence.

Cult