Posts Tagged ‘death metal’

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 – 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

Abrasive Audio – Special Edition

kmans champions

Challenging Kman’s “Champions” 

This has been a busy year for metal, an outstanding one, again. And with so many releases to keep track of the prospect of doing so is daunting. I’ve attempted to scribble a few words upon that which has caught my ear from time to time, but the spectrum of metal is quite the unrelenting mistress. There is an individual however who weathers the storm and reports like no other, whose tireless dedication is a wonder to behold (I believe in order to do this he must be ‘besties’ with Doc Brown or alternatively, that he drives a DeLorean on a regular basis).

kman riffs

As the year reaches its climax this same individual took it upon himself to tackle a myriad of genres (some which I’m honestly quite unfamiliar with if truth be told) to stand triumphant with a short list plucked from each. A list featuring his choice for the years champion and runners up, or the” champion’s entourage”, if you will. Naturally tastes vary, and my list is most probably going to be different from his, yours, hers and the guy who runs the off license down the street on the corner. With that in mind I thought it prudent to take it upon myself to do a spot of exploration. The task is daunting. But it didn’t take me but a few seconds to consider an approach to start upon such a quest. Then it struck me, I need a companion who’s willing to also take the same plunge, a glutton for audio punishment if you will. Enter Paul PMZ, (@paul_pmz on Twitter) a chirpy like-minded fellow whom I shoot the shit with from time to time. Paul is the editor of a new tabletop gaming and music zine SIX IN THE HEAD (the first edition dropped recently. I even have a few words featured in it). https://sixintheheadzine.com/

Reluctantly he agreed to my demands, though I did promise to send him a few pictures of the wife’s Yorkshire Pudding to sweeten the deal.

holiday drumming animal

Yorkshire Pudddinnnnggg-!

Without further preamble, Paul imparts a few words on the task at hand and his surroundings;

Where I am right now the weather isn’t just frightful – it’s brutal. “Man overboard!” levels of rain and wind lash and howl outside (Ed* And there I was thinking …” the rain in Spain fell mostly on the plane…”). Lives will be lost in this today, mark my words. So, I’ve stayed inside with the dogs and listened to all the following albums in their entirety (pretty much).

These are my thoughts –

Insomnium-heart-like-a-grave_

Melo- Death
Insomnium – Heart Like A Grave 
https://open.spotify.com/album/5pIG0iF4OvplbceJAx73ys?autoplay=true&v=L

Paul – Not for me. I can totally see why somebody would totally love this but I don’t. Too anthemic. Too melodic. I imagine this is what it would sound like if Europe never wrote The Final Countdown and became a death metal band instead. Would make great theme music for an anime series about freezing to death.

CultWith rhythms which are criminally infectious, an aura which feels part Amon Amarth, part Arch Enemy, part Swallow the Sun, soaring leads and melodies which make one want to close their eyes and drift away (to where I do not know) an effective atmosphere to match and arrangements which scream expertise there’s no doubting that this will continue to delight as its audience grows reaching near bubonic proportions. Probably not for every mood but for when the mood fits, this delivers! Prepare to be swept away.

dimhav.jpg

Power Metal
Dimhav – The Boreal Flame 
https://dimhav.bandcamp.com/album/the-boreal-flame

Paul Great cover art and the intro to this is wild. Sounds like three separate albums all playing at once on fast-forward. The rest of it though, you can keep. The vocals alternate between over earnest and over shrieking. Also, it’s far too musical. Keep your musicianship to yourself I don’t want to hear it.

CultPower Metal is a realm I rarely frequent, if truth be told. However, the art here has me intrigued; I’ll give this a once over. In short; The introduction is fantastic, the musicianship superb, there’s enough pace variation to please most anybody and the album burns bright with an epic flame. But it’s all a little too much for me. Hardly horrid, this is a release I would really have to be in the mood for to be able to sit through in its entirety.

Demiurgon

Tech – Death
Demiurgon – The Oblivious Lure 
https://everlastingspewrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-oblivious-lure

Paul OK now we’re talking – fast, hard-hitting and guttural. No idea what any of this album is about but, based on its title alone, maybe it’s about fishing. A pummeling 39 minutes of music. Nothing negative to say about this apart from the band’s logo, which should by rights be a lot more unreadable. Beautiful stuff.

Cult Upon discovery of the album’s art one is immediately hit with an image which brings to mind a “World Eater” type creature. Which is either a scene from a StarWars film or the title of a legendary Bolt Thrower track all depending on one’s tastes. The album hits hard immediately and continues to deliver all one could wish in a tech-death release; Brutish Orc vocals, a ferocious twin pronged assault, tight riffs, a pace which is diverse, head spinning and unpredictable and pummeling precise drum salvos. All without offering too many layers (one would require a scalpel to dissect) or going overboard like a few other acts in the same genre I’ll refrain from mentioning. I honestly can’t see a single reason why a fan of the genre won’t fall ass over tits for this. Top notch from start to finish, this will leave one feeling exhilarated and sweaty!

zig zags.jpg

Hardcore/Punk/Crust
Zig Zags – They’ll Never Take Us Alive 
https://zigzags.bandcamp.com/album/theyll-never-take-us-alive

PaulI hear echoes of Metallica, The Stooges and Saxon in this but the Zig Zags play it punk and fast. This is music for drinking cheap beer, skating makeshift ramps in backyards and travelling about LA with scabs on your shins in the back of a stinking van. If that’s the feeling the band were hoping to conjure up with this record then they’ve achieved it perfectly.

CultHemorrhaging nostalgia this pummels the listener with influences plucked from when the scene itself was in its adolescence. Metallica, Misfits, Blitzkrieg and even a slew of nods to landmark tracks (from around the time), surf rock and plenty of punk attitude. Sheesh! The vocal style even brings to mind Mike Muir (Suicidal Tendencies) in some tracks. Get out the skateboards (forget the pads and helmets. We’re rebels, what a little blood harm anyone!) and the Walkmans. Let’s ride! Do not miss this!!

finterforst.jpg

Pagan/Folk/Viking Metal
Finsterforst – Zerfall 
https://finsterforst.bandcamp.com/album/zerfall

Paul Pagan metal intertwined with orchestral “soundscapes” that thankfully are used to great effect and don’t disappear up their own arse into Jean-Michel Jarre/prog-opera territory. I’m not a huge fan of choirs in metal but everything else on this is just so good that I can live with it. Warhammer music and I say that as a huge compliment. Tonight, gentlemen, we ride into battle. Epic.

Cult Admittedly, this is a genre I visit rarely but I’ll state without reservation that I was left stunned by the first tracks impact. One might think this to be akin to atmospheric black with the cover art in mind. It has elements but there’s so much else on display and arranged in such a way that any newcomer to this will instantly sprout a smile upon experiencing what caresses the senses. Doom, melodic death, black and folk elements (showcasing traditional instruments) with no value over crowding the other, everything co-exists in grandiose, exquisite, harmony. And the fact that the lyrics are in German only makes it infinitely more intriguing. I’d usually balk at seeing a thirty-seven-minute track listed, but not here. It crosses off every box and obliterates all expectations. I foresee this featuring heavily in my play history in the coming months. Don’t be the last to jump on this!

ruadh

Atmospheric Black Metal
Ruadh – Sovereign
https://ruadh.bandcamp.com/album/sovereign

Paul I’m not saying this isn’t very good indeed because it is. For some reason though it left me feeling a little underwhelmed. As atmospheric black metal it does exactly what you want it to do. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s very good but then so are mashed potatoes and I don’t want to eat them on a daily basis.

CultWrapped in an effective storm atmospheric motif, dramatic and epic qualities this album provides a rich tapestry bursting with depth, emotion and majestic rhythms. Even a few in a style one might not expect (based on genre assumptions) and a few passages one might. A symphonic accompaniment, including vast nature-scapes fits perfectly, executed in such a manner that one can close their eyes and imagine actually being a part of the scene. An aura the listener can easily melt within. In short, an experience which showcases just how diverse the genre can be, is, and the surprising heights an excellently crafted album within its ranks can attain if handled with care such as this. A fantastic jumping on point for those even slightly interested in a genre which has yet to garner the attention it deserves.

First Hellripper, now this. Glasgow is getting quite the moniker for its high-quality metal output.

Evergrey

Progressive Metal
Evergrey – The Atlantic 
https://open.spotify.com/album/7IBDcZQla4fTMEmjzcHneu?autoplay=true&v=L

Paul If I were to draw you a Venn diagram for this, I would put Soundgarden, Korn and Whitesnake on it and stick these guys in the overlap. I don’t really have anything else to say about this. It’s not really for me. “All I Have” has a good intro. Sorry that’s all I have.

CultAudio which brings to mind both the 70’s, 80’s and more recent audio with hints of thrash, djent, melody and riffs for days. Top notch vocals and an eye-opening level of musicianship certainly aid the intrigue. And all in a manner far from what many might perceive as traditional extreme audio. Doom shrouds the whole affair although this is at times rather upbeat there’s still an underlying melancholy. And a surprising diversity which spans Gojira, Devon Townsend, Nevermore and Dream Theatre qualities. Hardly what I listen to on a regular basis but with quality such as this on offer it’s not going to be hard to persuade me to dip my ears into the genre on a more regular basis. This may well be the type of audio which is served as a stepping stone towards the spectrum of metal for this is extremely difficult not to like.

necropanther the doomed city.jpg

Black/Thtrash/Speed Metal
Necropanther – The Doomed City 
https://necropanther.bandcamp.com/album/the-doomed-city

Paul Thrash, black, death, who cares what it’s called? Is it any good? Yes, it is! It’s very good. The guitars are thrash, the vocals are a combination of black and death and the drumming is totally berserk. This one got my head bobbing and my legs bouncing vigorously. Which, bearing in mind this is the eighth album I’ve listened to in a row and this chair is hurting my arse, is no mean feat.

Cult A melting face, body bits floating around in a crimson stew storm, with a “Darkman” type character front and center. I am intrigued. The vocals grab the attention immediately, a dual assault. A growling approach and another which is a doppelganger for Chance Garnett. This isn’t a bad thing in the slightest, as who doesn’t love SkeletonWitch in their prime? The audio is a likely result of drunken night slippery (?) shenanigans including the minds behind 3 Inches of Blood, Arch Enemy and SkeletonWitch with liberal sprinkles of darkness and wicked flourishes of criminally infectious power metal flair tossed into the pot. Thrash, speed, death, blackened death, call it what you will, it certainly doesn’t feel like a “concept” album, but be sure to set a timer as listening to this will make the hours fly. This, much like their last, is (in short) beyond top-notch. With another release such in their future I’ll predict Necropanther to resident in a league of their own. Damn good doesn’t even come close to how I would describe this! Pick this up at your earliest convenience.

thelordweirdsloughfeg

Heavy Metal
Lord Weird Slough Feg – New Organon 
https://thelordweirdsloughfeg.bandcamp.com/

Paul After listening to all of the above, this album of classic heavy metal jams welcomed me like a pure and loving embrace. This is what it’s all about. Forget all that other nonsense. Death? Thrash? Black? You kids think you bloody invented music you do. Get a dose of this down you son. This is all you need. Now go on get out of here.

CultTwin harmonies, galloping riffs, lyrics saturated in intriguing historical themes, playful folk rhythms, an aura which tosses one back, grinning, several decades and a style which is a timeless often imitated but rarely achieved in a quality and tone such as this (did I mention the production is crystal clear but also finagled in such way as to make one think this could well have been plucked from assorted vinyl racks in a store circa 1979). There’s little not to like here. A somewhat unique vocal style, one could easily place among the likes of Dickenson, Dio and Kilminster (it’s ‘Lemmy’ for those not in the know) adds to the overall fun. I’ll admit this grows on me the more I allow it entry into my system.

haze maze.jpg

Stoner/Doom/Fuzz/Psych Riffs
Hazemaze – Hymns of The Damned 
https://hazemazeband.bandcamp.com/album/hymns-of-the-damned

Paul Imagine smoking a shitload of strong weed, dropping acid and listening through the wall to Sabbath playing next door. That’s what this album is – the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Not that I’ve ever done acid. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. This is chunky, groovy masterpiece. A great listen and an addictive vibe. Man.

Cult If the Psychedelic sacrificial, goat head wearing cultist, art doesn’t pull you then the audio certainly will. Sabbath-esque in tone sporting plodding riffs, surprising agility (for an album of this ilk) and a production which only heightens the intensity of the heavens are gonna fall riff assault. If you only buy one doom album this year this is where the money should be spent. I’m not a fan of the more traditional end of the genre. This however, is captivating and its rhythms downright trance-inducing. Now, where are my Bell bottoms, Denim jacket and that large bucket of Kool-Aid?

Basilysk – Emergence

Death Metal
Basilysk – Emergence 
https://basilysk.bandcamp.com/album/emergence

Paul A bit like the Ruadh album this one is what it is. If you like death metal, which I do, there’s nothing not to like about it. It’s very good indeed but so what.

CultBoasting a collection with no track sounding the same as another is a mean feat. But Basilysk pull it off! Channeling a myriad of influence, a technicality which brings to mind Pestilence, progressive elements veering heavily towards Schneider worship and passages which scream OSDM, whilst others growl grindcore with undeniable groove this is an album which doesn’t disappoint. It might not possess your senses on the first listen, but its hooks are in. After another its grip is tighter, deeper and there’s absolutely no denying this is far and beyond the typical “death” release. There’s something here for everyone and this becomes clear as the album plays out. Doom weaves its way alongside the tendrils of an occasional cavernous aura which frolics with South American aggressive thrash, melody appears as if out of nowhere to levitate the intrigue and a diabolical essence seeps from out of the ether adding to the enjoyment. Let’s not forget, however, the epic closer; a maniacal arrangement with a second act. An exquisite Arabian themed tribal drum affair which hints at much more than merely a little (Black) Sabbath here and there in the bands past listening habits. Seek this out if you haven’t already!

Overkill – The Wings of War.jpg

Thrash
Overkill – The Wings of War
https://open.spotify.com/album/2IUZN5c0AVdrnQKfxdMaPK?autoplay=true&v=L

Paul On the other hand, I’m never really sure if I like thrash. I don’t dislike it so that’s something. But you know what? This album fucking kills. I don’t think I’ve ever used that phrase before but I’m pretty sure I want to listen to this album over and over again and cover my wall in this band’s posters and buy everything they’ve ever done.

CultA few moments in and I’m hit with as perplexing question. Why did I ever stop listening to Overkill? I wore out the Horrorscope cassette If any band is deserved of a place in the ‘Big 4’ now Metallica have ‘defected’ it’s this band and this album proves it. Trademarked “Blitz” vocals accompany incendiary rhythms which scream we’ve been doing this for years and we aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Add a Ramones -esque tribute to the bands home state (New Jersey), a touch of crossover, a handful of riffs which will have the mind reeling as to whom it reminds you of, a diverse lineup of tracks and you have an album that’s repeatable without complaint and sure to get the listener twitching with delight every time. For the record, this isn’t my favorite of the year, it’s close and damn enjoyable!

Arctic Sleep – Kindred Spirits.jpg

Doom
Arctic Sleep – Kindred Spirits 
https://arcticsleep.bandcamp.com/album/kindred-spirits

Paul I appreciate what they’re trying to do here and it’s an enjoyable enough listen but it’s not for me. It’s too emotional. I like to keep my emotions tightly wrapped up and locked away where I don’t have to think about them thanks very much.

CultAt times dreamy, often mesmerizing but always captivating, this runs into epic lengths and boasts a fluid nature which is outstanding. Occasionally it might put one in mind of a “light” November’s Doom. The vocals however are miles from what one might expect, with this in mind, not in the slightest “growly” they’re more on a par with tranquil Pink Floyd output, an aura this album also boasts in equal measure. Ideal for those nights when a blazing hearth is the only light in the room and one is bathing in the comfort of a self- induced haze (I’m not going to spell it out). This is an album you can lose yourself within, surprisingly it’s also radio-friendly. Shit, the wife (or significant other of choice) might even like this. Truth be told. It’s extremely difficult not to appreciate even if, like me, ‘extreme’ is your preferred audio arena of choice.

Novembers Doom – Nephilim Grove.jpg

Death/Doom
Novembers Doom – Nephilim Grove 
https://novembersdoom1989.bandcamp.com/album/nephilim-grove

Paul First of all, can somebody please explain to me why this band doesn’t have an apostrophe in its name? That aside, this doesn’t do much for me sorry. If you come around my house you can stick it on if you want. I won’t complain. I’ll enjoy it. But I won’t ask to borrow it.

CultAdmittedly It’s been a while since I’ve laid ear upon a release by these guys. However, I’m glad to report that trend has come to an end, and how. Shattering my preconceived notions Novembers Doom have utilized all the death/doom genre is known for them 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. Seriously, who can look upon the covers art and not be curious? Expect to find this upon many a year end list. It’s more than deserved!

Borknagar – True North

Black Metal
Borknagar – True North 
https://open.spotify.com/album/6rgxoXvmfe33dbnm8CdVlU

Paul You head true north and I’ll head true south and let’s keep it that way (*Ed – I’m guessing he didn’t like this one!)

Cult Hardly what I expected, though if truth be told I’ve little experience with the band, this is epic themed, melodic, emotional and irrefutably stylistically diverse. Boasting symphonic elements, intricate arrangements, a wide vocal range/approach and unmistakable progressive heavy metal leanings this is probably not for the casual black fan, or one who demands instant, primal raw, gratification but rather for one whose tastes run to audio which demands exploration through several immersive experiences. To be honest this might take several listens to fully appreciate. With that in mind this is far from horrid, just unexpected, one might even go say far as to state; “different”, at times bordering on Avant Garde. If Amorphis were a smidgen “blacker” in tone this might be close to the result.

werewolves in Siberia avatar

And, as a bonus a few words on a release featuring dominantly in Werewolves in Siberia’s ‘Best of 19’ List’
Voyag3r – War Mask
https://voyag3r.bandcamp.com/album/war-mask

Voyag3r - War Mask

Paul

CultAlthough the albums art, a bold image surrounded in what first appears to be flames, suggests the audio might belong to the metal arena, it surprisingly doesn’t. This is synth. Far from the usual/traditional this showcases both a drum and guitar accompaniment. The result; added depth and an epic audio narrative overflowing with intrigue, adventure (and all manner of audio which would typically accompany the type of on-screen action one would expect of an over the top dramatic cinematic affair) which successfully evokes a myriad of emotion and nostalgia. Effectively conjuring images from a slew of celebrated (usually for the wrong reason) features more often than not boasting a Goblin-esque score, and various television fodder from the 80’s, this gets the imagination reeling as the arrangements flow seamlessly. Rhythms are dynamic, smooth, smoky, suspenseful and occasionally drip in palpable sinister values. Transforming they slip over each other much like dialogue but more often akin to a montage scenario telling a story which doesn’t need words. Befitting a wide array of cinema ranging from Tarantino, Guy Richie, Bava and Fulci (seriously if this doesn’t make you think of Zombie Flesh Eaters at least once there could be something seriously amiss with your viewing habits) this boasts the potential to appeal to a huge audience, as it should. Honestly, if more soundtracks were of this quality my collection would be full of them. Forget your presumptions about the genre and dive into this with a mind willing to appreciate something other than the usual. I’ve played this more than a few times today, and I’m sure I will tomorrow.

 

Well, that was exhausting. Here’s raising a glass to another year with more of the same.

Cult

Abrasive Audio…to Soothe the Senses – Part Thirty – Eight

heavy metal santa

It’s that time of the year, again. The Year-End lists are in and it’s about the time that one realizes there’s so much (quality and otherwise) audio out there that the sheer prospect of getting to it all is damn near impossible. With that in mind this installment (the last of the year) will cover both the usual suspects and a few items plucked from a number of lists which especially intrigued me. This is a shorter than normal entry (praise the Gods!) on account of last-minute Holiday wot-not which begs for my attention (I’m expecting my bank to call me at some point today). Without further ado.

Bednja.jpg

Bednja – Doline Su Ostile Iza Nas
(Croatia)
Release – November/29/2019
Transcending Obscurity Records
https://bednjacroatia.bandcamp.com/album/doline-su-ostale-iza-nas-black-metal-hardcore
ARTWORK – 78

This image of a rotting bird carcass reminds me of a vintage Katatonia release (the name of which I forget, but not the impact) although grislier and without the purple filter.

FIRST TRACK – 78

Storm atmospherics dissolve in a dense wall of audio transpiring into a machine gun riff assault, a chaotic approach and angst by the truckload a package channeling sludge values and something more sinister still. An interesting concoction indeed!

INITIAL LISTEN – 79

A dense blanket of black metal sensibilities weighs down upon angst delivered with a hardcore vocal approach. Excellent drum salvos, synth supplied torn atmosphere elements, crows doing their thing adding to the overall atmosphere, heritage and traditional music introductions and passages which dip into trance and a style akin to that found within Somali Yacht Club territories add flavor and heighten the intrigue. But, it’s the audio itself and the mix of styles which one would think wouldn’t meld which oddly leaves the impression. And it’s one that lasts. This is a keeper which might not grab ahold instantly but will after time and begs to be replayed. Did I mention the lyrics are in the bands native tongue? It doesn’t matter it only makes this more curious audio still. A mix of crust, black metal and hardcore which demands discovery.

Favorite Tracks; Iz Magle, Posljednji Krik, Tisnia Je Smrt.

FFO; I’m at a loss of who to mention here, just lay ears upon this already!

deathswarm

And as Promised, An End of Year List Recc
Deathswarm – Shadowlands of Darkness
(Sweden)
Release – February/25/2019
Chaos Records/Phychocontrol Records
https://deathswarm-chaos-records.bandcamp.com/album/shadowlands-of-darkness
ARTWORK – 76

At first this looks raw and primitive, an old school near indecipherable chaotic black and white mass. But upon closer inspection figures appear and faces, skulls and horses. This could well be the secret entrance to the cave of the four horsemen or perhaps just an ancient cliff with a hole blown in the side of it which No one has managed to traverse the heights of, that is, until these intrepid fellows.

FIRST TRACK – 84

One would need to be deaf, or supremely ignorant, to not hear the influences on display here. The hooks and rhythms are criminally familiar yet the track has enough movement to make one think of a slew of acts (who admittedly aren’t too different from one another) rather than a single one and imagine how an acts more famous output might sound if some of the members had migrated from different bands around at the same time.

INITIAL LISTEN – 88

Drenched in old school values and a tone which is both HM2 worship and British dirge, ala Bolt Thrower, and the slightest mist of black metal this offers a great to like, and instantly! Bouncing from criminally addictive mid-tempo D-beat/industrial/grindcore groove to slower doomier tracks riddled with undeniable presence, palpable sinister nature and soul-crushing melodies this ironically boasts that which many albums of similar ilk are without. In essence, a wicked amalgamation of that which permeated, in heavy rotation, the senses of wickedly smirking extreme audiophiles a few decades ago but with an added fierceness in just the right amount. Homage if you will but with added flair, style and sound fans will be able to instantly appreciate without regret. I’ll be spinnin’ this a great deal in the foreseeable future!

Favorite Tracks; Honestly, this doesn’t disappoint from start to finish!

FFO; Carnage, (vintage) Dismember, (vintage) Grave, Bolt Thrower, Gatecreeper.

nox irae

NOX IRAE – Here the Dead Live (EP)
(France)
Release – November/15/2019
Transcending Obscurity Records
https://noxiraedeath.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 79

A Gothic staircase and like surroundings complete with a person in a sheet (climbing its gradient). Or, is it? Could this be a ghost in a sheet with a sense of humor. Is he/she clocking in or out? I appreciate the irony on display.

FIRST TRACK – 80

Commencing with a vomited like a hell-bent projectile pace this grabs the attention quick and holds it with a mixture of old school sensibilities, a touch of grindcore, dense atmosphere and surprising rhythms. A good start.

INITIAL LISTEN – 76

Thrashy melodic death with a dark dense aura and an old school European vocal approach. Infectious rhythms and a hint of black metal and hardcore influence amidst mid-tempo breakdowns make for an intriguing album, with maniacal moments that make one think upon old Slayer and others instances where one will think upon bands which perpetrate the dirge laden steamroller approach. This offers more on a second listen basis, but remains formulaic in instances.

Favorite Tracks; Phantom Parasite Trauma, Cold Wind, Supposed Dead.

FFO; Benediction, Bolt Thrower, (vintage) Slayer.

Superstition

Another End of Year List Recc
Superstition – The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation
(USA)
Release – June/21/2019
20 Buck Spin
https://listen.20buckspin.com/album/the-anatomy-of-unholy-transformation
ARTWORK – 93

I’m a sucker for black and white imagery and this has to be some of the year’s most impressive. Detailed yet seething with a raw nature this sports a Grim Reaper figure illuminated from on high going about his duties of turning unfortunates into shadows of their former selves. (Why is there no shirt available? I feel silly as I recently dropped a huge hint to the wife.)

FIRST TRACK – 94

Combining Synth, a score seemingly plucked from a European cult gem (circa the early eighties), palpable diabolical nature and various grunts, growls and unholy issuances this has my intrigue wrapped up bordering on unhealthy smothering/suffocation. Then the maelstrom of riffs commences and my face is torn asunder by a mischievous grin. The vocals add to the cavernous depth and I’m eager for more.

INITIAL LISTEN – 93

And to think this nearly passed me by. Admittedly it was the black and white imagery (and a mention on a social media post comparing this to the heights of Tomb Mold and Blood Incantation, neither of which I liked, apparently as much as I was supposed to) which pulled me in. However, it’s the arrangements, the aura, the supreme coalescing of maniacal, diabolical, old school and cavernous elements which makes the (“no time to slow down, this is gonna hurt”) impact. Riffs are furious, fierce and tumble over each other with rhythms leaning more towards a constant barrage than that heard within the albums from the two acts mentioned previously. The aura and atmosphere between tracks remind me in part, albeit minuscule, of Entombed “Left Hand Path” with undeniable and unmistakable homage to celluloid boasting invocative synth accompaniment from decades previous. Relentless, often harrowing and part nostalgic (this fondly tosses me back to the first time I laid ears upon “Altars of Madness” and the foreign emotions which coursed through my largely unsuspecting form). This crosses all the right boxes without veering too far into over the top realms, in short, a delicious combination of filthy tone, unholy rhythms, sinister riffs which combined superimpose Underworld menace over that which is everyday familiar. Consider this a last minute, just made it, years best entry. The appeal of this is downright sinful.

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

FFO; Tomb Mold, Morbid Angel, Incantation.

gatecreeper deserted

Another End of Year List Recc
Gatecreeper – Deserted
(USA)
Release – October/4/2019
Relapse Records
https://gatecreeper.bandcamp.com/album/deserted
ARTWORK – 90

Intricate, detailed and fascinating. A veritable pallet of colors which seem like they shouldn’t go together but do. The more you concentrate the more thoughts, and the idea that either the artist is brilliant or mad, run rampant through the head in regards to what this might represent. I’d buy the shirt but I’d fear that my washing machine and dryer would inevitably consume the image that or the dry cleaners bill would cripple me.

FIRST TRACK – 85

A slow build to a mid-tempo huge riff rhythm. But the filthiness of the tone is delicious, the old school aura unmistakable and the groove enough to have the neck contract a mild case of carpal tunnel.

INITIAL LISTEN – 88

The Stockholm sound but from the States? That’s my fairest assessment, as sadly my lexicon is rather lackluster this morning, but add a handful of other influences (Celtic Frost comes across occasionally like a chunk of mortar to the forehead) and the album offers both nostalgic qualities and enough groove to set any dance floor on fire (what?) The transformation in pace is spot on and although rhythms put one (most?) in mind of either Entombed or Dismember, perhaps even Gorguts in instances Gatecreeper wrangle arrangements away from plagiarist realms to homage territories adding their own creative fingerprint to delight the eager senses. An excellent combination of death/doom/old school and HM2 worship this rightfully is dividing the audience. Personally, I’m in the can’t get enough collective as it reminds me of both vintage British death (vocal cadence wise) as well the European sound with the obvious dirge/’buzzsaw’ elements. This is hitting the spot! Highly recommended!

Favorite Tracks; Deserted, Puncture Wounds, Sweltering Madness,

FFO; Entombed, Carnage, Celtic Frost, Bolt Thrower, Fleshcrawl, Revel in Flesh.

holiday drumming animal.gif

PRRRESSEEEEENNNNTTTSSS!!

And that concludes this years Abrasive Audio offerings. I hope you’ve all had fun (all two of you) and I hope I’ve at least mentioned a few acts which have left an impression. A huge thanks for letting my atrocious grammar swim before the startled retinas. All that remains are Holiday greetings and salutations for the New Year (insert wickedly devilish meme or gif here) Be safe, cherish those who are close and don’t forget to preach the word of metal to all who wish to care. Until next our paths of audio interest meet, don’t fear that which is normally foreign to the ears.

Your slave to audio extreme,

Cult

Abrasive Audio…to Soothe the Senses Part 37

headbangin metalhead

As the year draws to a close, I must come to the realization that there’s a whole bunch of tunage warranting discovery that’ll I won’t get to. Perhaps next year when the cycle begins anew? But for now, in this installment, I’ll concentrate on releases which have been unleashed within these past twelve months.

intoxicate

Intoxicate – Cross Contamination
(Sweden)
Release – November/15/2019
Downfall Records
Against PR
https://downfallrecords.bandcamp.com/album/cross-contamination
ARTWORK – 66

At first glance I thought this image depicted a glowing sword plunged into the planet. I don’t believe it is, but rather a vial of some kind dispensing a dastardly vile concoction to pollute the planets air (am I close? I’m not sure but it sounds better than “a sword in the planet”) This is utterly 90’s in its overall vibe, nevertheless I remain intrigued.

Mattias (Intoxicate’s vocalist) commented, adding;

I just wanted to comment on your take on the “Cross Contamination” cover. You are close :). It actually is “a sword in a planet”, sort of. First, the album title should, of course, be interpreted as “the cross contaminates”, which then points to the green contaminant leaking into the planet. Second, Christianity, as a religion, has a history of war and violence to gather influence and power, hence the sword. Third, the “sword in a planet” should be interpreted as a globus cruciger, which is a part of many christian countries’ royal regalia and a general christian symbol of power. Last, I’m happy that the 90’s vibe shines through. That’s thrash for me, a bit obvious in it’s cultural expression and incorporating social commentary.

Now I feel silly, not in the slightest offended, but truly honored that the band actually took the time to read this, comment and appreciate my thoughts.

FIRST TRACK – 84

Not knowing what to expect though reading that Intoxicate were one of, if not, the first thrash bands in Sweden I’ll admit I had expectations. But I’m pleased to say they were met. This is old school energetic thrash which attains face melting pace in instances though gets there at a controlled rate rather than all-out speed instantly for gratification and speeds sake. A great opener that’ll perk the interest of the thrash aficionado and newcomer alike.

INITIAL LISTEN – 83

Sporting dynamic rhythms, clever, exciting, arrangements and a fluidity resulting from experience and a myriad of influence, originating from the roots of the scene, there’s no denying that these guys know exactly what they’re doing, although I find it puzzling that this is their first full-length in so many years. Stylistically this covers a wide swath of the thrash arena from earlier Anthrax output to mosh pit-inducing Exodus pace to the gruff, heavily accented, vocal approach and melody of Amon Amarth and a fair few in-between. This has the potential to appeal to a wide audience. A quality album which offers a great deal to grin about, an album I will revisit.

Favorite Tracks; Caravan of Hate, Cross Contamination, Eyes Unwilling, Posthumous Posthuman,

FFO; Exodus, Amon Amarth.

cattle decapitation.jpg

Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas
(USA)
Release – November/29/2019
Metal Blade Records
https://cattledecapitation.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 92

Time is running out and Atlas, brandishing a scythe like our good ole friend the Grim Reaper, is about done. This screams a message which is more than clear to all and should come as no surprise to those accustomed to the message the band perpetrates, and have for years.

FIRST TRACK – 93

Like a scene plucked from Blade Runner or an alternate future reality scribbled upon in many a dystopian novel, the introduction encapsulates a myriad of (audio) news clippings portent the planets demise. Once it climaxes one is hit with unmitigated intensity courtesy of blast beats, hyper speed fretwork and Travis Ryan’s vicious throat issuances. This is quite unlike that which I have experienced before from under the bands stable, I’m left open-mouthed and in shock. To be Frank this is quite the opener and I’m dripping (yes, that kind of excited) with anticipation for the remainder of the album.

INITIAL LISTEN – 93

Prog/tech/grind/brutal death you can call this what you will but there’s no argument that this is inhumanely crafted with both precision and intelligence. A part of me believes the style has changed somewhat (although my experience with the bands output is inadequate to state such a thing) accommodating that which sounds more like Strapping Young Lad in the “City” album albeit with a speed which puts rocket powered devices (does Granma’s “Man toy” drill attachment count?) to shame. Regardless, the audio herein is akin to an injection of adrenaline to the system, this makes the listener want to move with the same excited intensity of a monkey who’s just learned he is about to inherit a banana plantation. Like an amorphous entity the music shifts from one stylistic element to another with an effortless fluidity which is stunning to behold. Progressive passages meld with technical prowess and a pace which varies dramatically throughout both the album and every track making for a listening experience to please those with discernible tastes and those with open minds. I’ll admit the band was rather hit and miss for me before now but with this between the ears my opinion upon them has flipped ass over tit and my appreciation for them has blossomed. No matter one’s opinion of what the band preaches, though it getting easier and easier to see their point of view, there’s no argument that this is a release which will carve a great many grins across the vast extreme audio landscape.

Favorite Tracks; stunning from start to finish, my digits refuse to mention one from an album which has left such an impact from the very first listen.

FFO: Strapping Young Lad, Dying Fetus, Aborted, Benighted, Strapping Young Lad.

chamber of torture.jpg

Chamber of Torture – Necrodomain
(Russia)
Release – November/ 15/2019
Eclectic Productions
Grand Sounds PR
https://chamberoftorture.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 64

I’m not even sure what I’m looking at to be honest, is this a dead body sprayed over with graffiti? Props however must be given to the band for taking the gamble to go against the traditional flow of posting a grotesque image be it comic imagery or realism upon their cover.

FIRST TRACK – 83

With zero introduction, other than vocals and a slow pace rather than a piano, classical silliness or synth created atmosphere, this track makes an impression. It picks up pace around the mid-way point and earns the key to the city of Groovesville.  Rhythms are dangerously addictive and accompanied by the Barnes (early Cannibal Corpse) esque vocal approach the combination is one which’ll make the limbs twitch without consent. A great start from an act I haven’t been introduced to until now.

INITIAL LISTEN – 83

Sludgy, mid-paced old school madness complete with occasional atmosphere and a slight injection of diabolical presence. Far from technical this is more akin to ‘meat and potatoes’ style, old school death, but it makes an impression, keeps the attention until the last note based on its blunt waste little time approach and makes the listener want to move with the undeniable groove it showcases throughout.

Favorite Tracks; Shriveled Stump, Necrocarnage Spree, Degenerated, Consecrated Ground, Human Fertilizer.

FFO; Cannibal Corpse, Jungle Rot.

Revel in Flesh

Revel in Flesh – The Hour of the Avenger
(Germany)
Release – December/6/2019
War Anthem Records
https://war-anthem-records.bandcamp.com/album/the-hour-of-the-avenger
ARTWORK – 85

There’s truly archaic about this image. Drenched in a crimson filter it depicts a cloaked skeleton of sorts overseeing a domain about to feel his wrath. He comes complete with a wicked looking scythe am I therefore to assume he is the Reaper?

FIRST TRACK – 92

There’s Swedish death and then there’s this (although they are from Germany). A wicked cross of MK2, the old trusted influences, and an undeniable injection of “Storm of the Lights Bane” Dissection and… something else which is quite undefinable yet blistering in its (instant jaw hitting the dirt) impact.

INITIAL LISTEN – 94

Boasting a collection of tracks with a slew of stylistic ambiance this album offers a great deal to enjoy. Comforting in its nostalgic familiarity yet seething with an air of superiority. One thinks fondly upon Swedish metal of decades past and this is that but reimagined, polished and slathered with playful menace, melancholy with a production which slays. It doesn’t get better than this folks. 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!

Favorite Tracks; From start to finish this is orgasmic ear candy, nuff said!

FFO; Dissection, Sortregn, Dismember, Unleashed, Entombed, Nocturnal Hollow, Grave, LIK, Swallow the Sun, Be’lakor.

abeyance

Abeyance – Portraits of Mankind (EP)
(Italy)
Release – November/27/2019
Sliptrick Records
Grand Sounds PR
https://abeyance.bandcamp.com/releases
ARTWORK – 67

A serene landscape boasting a trio of alabaster faces in the foreground and a bird (?) drinking from a puddle. This is admittedly kind of strange, an image which begs for dissection. A dissertation which I’m thinking would include the use of the word ‘emotion’ ad nauseum.  And this really doesn’t give much away in relation to the audio within. Here goes nothing; hitting play.

FIRST TRACK – 81

Dynamic riffage and fluid arrangements which are constantly evolving. Part thrash, part melodic death and part progressive with a somewhat harsh vocal accompaniment. This is a fantastic start from an act with something to prove, and they’re going about it the right way based on the caliber of this track alone, on this their first recorded outing.

INITIAL LISTEN – 82

This is not what I was expecting from the cover’s art. It is however a collection of tunes which keeps the listener interested, a certain familiarity becomes apparent as the album unfolds although it isn’t glaring and doesn’t put one in mind of the act taking from another in order to garner attention. The rhythms are unpredictable and energetic. Ranging from dreamy progressive interludes and classical introductions to faster paced all-out melodic thrash/death passages the album bears a certain diversity which isn’t at all overwhelming but rather fluid and easily acceptable on account of how well the music is pieced together. This is quite the feat admittedly from an act with little history behind them. A youthful vibrancy shines throughout, a pleasing, smirk inducing, ambience, a freshness with an aura which tips the hat to genre standouts of the past, which bodes well for the act’s future. And, if this is any indication of what’s on the horizon expect to hear a great deal more of their name in the near future.

Favorite Tracks; Portrait of Mankind, In Falsehood Dominion, Innerscape,

FFO; Dark Tranquility, Soilwork, In Flames, Paladin.

putrid coffin.jpg

Putrid Coffin -Desecrated Tombs (EP)
(Chile)
Release – March/14/2019
La Cripta Metal Shop
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKMtkRjyuAk
ARTWORK – 79

Something is afoot in the graveyard. Candles, romantic music and a fella with a hankering for sexy times with a beauty with no pulse.

FIRST TRACK – 89

A storm in the background, a shovel (in the foreground) a coyote howls to signal a spot of open grave mischief. Then an exquisite old school tone ala early Barney Napalm Death, more groove than one can count on both hands (no matter how big) and a rhythm which is ungodly infectious part grindcore, part brutal mid-tempo death madness. A stunning start to get those into vintage extreme audio schnanigans in the mood.

INITIAL LISTEN – 88

Part infernal menace, part grindcore, part blackened death with the entire mixture blanketed in rhythms which are unfathomably inciteful. Chaotic rumbling riffs, drum salvos which are hard to ignore and a vocal style which is instantly acceptable. It’s safe to say this crawled from the very depths (under cover of night) to bring me to my knees in appreciation (get that mind outta the gutter!) Here’s hoping others noticed this release’s ‘might’ also. This isn’t melodic in the traditional sense, it isn’t pretty, but it hits hard and leaves a mark!

Favorite Tracks; Hypnotic from start to finish.

FFO; Terrorizer, early Morbid Angel.

extinction.jpg

Extinction – The Apocalypse Mark
(Italy)
Release – October/18/2019
Revalue Records
https://extinction2.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 75

“Alright. Has everyone got the new iPhone? Let’s sync”… “Did I mention your soul is now owned by a huge conglomerate and…me?”

A darkly humorous take on the “Number of the Beast” from a Biblical “End of Times” standpoint.

FIRST TRACK – 81

The albums newsreel introduction is the gist of the album. An intriguing and scary insight into where technology is taking us and the similarities to that foretold in the Bible. The first track is crunchy, no fills thrash with a somewhat simplistic mid-tempo rhythm which is hard to ignore. Accompanied by growled vocals the product is one on the thrash/death fence and makes for a fantastic attention grabber to prime one for the audio to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN – 78

Energetic thrash rhythms and fantastic leads. A familiar sound but these guys make it their own with enough movement and excitement to keep the intrigue level elevated. Fans of thrash/death will want to lay ears upon this and those missing an act of similar ilk, Dethklok, will want to add this to their collection.

Favorite Tracks; The Apocalypse Mark, No Crime in Paradise, Staged Terror Attacks.

FFO; Malevolent Creation, Jungle Rot, Sodom, Six Feet Under, Dethklok.

crest of darkness.jpg

Crest of Darkness – The God of Flesh
(Norway)
Release – December/6/2019
My Kingdom Music
https://crestofdarkness.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 84

A corpse painted individual sacrificing a damsel against an alien skull backdrop and a crimson cloth which boasts apparently near endless dimensions. Gothic elements collide head on with blackened metal qualities, I am curious indeed!

FIRST TRACK – 91

Speed encrusted Blackened metal with ‘force of nature’ vocals and a delightful touch of crust. A damn impressive audio concoction to be sure! Be prepared for this will yank you from what you’re currently doing and toss you into a maelstrom of viciousness. An excellent start!

INITIAL LISTEN – 81

Following the initial couple of tracks the album takes a dive into diverse territories to showcase a variety of styles one probably wouldn’t expect, especially based on the first two tracks on offer. A fan of their previous work might have an idea of where the band might take the listener but as a virgin to their audio I’m rather taken aback. Doom sensibilities collide with speed metal, heavy metal and a touch of Avant Garde and sometimes all in a single track. Injected synth passages (in the track “Forgotten” which display cult celluloid influences and Fulci esque touches) elevate this into realms unquestionably unclassifiable. The mixture might put a few traditionalists off but for those willing to give this a few listens with an open mind it blossoms into an exciting, unpredictable, menacing audio experience enveloped in an undeniable Gothic presence which might often make you reminisce on vintage metal albeit with a sinister accompaniment. Keep an open mind, leave your assumptions at the door and this will be a listen you’ll want to discover again and again.

Favorite Tracks; The God of Flesh, The Child With no Head, Salvation in Hell.

FFO; Rebel Wizard, Emperor, Ancient.

abigail williams.jpg

Abigail Williams – Walk Beyond the Dark
(Finland/USA)
Release – November/15/2019
Blood Music
https://blood-music.bandcamp.com/album/walk-beyond-the-dark
ARTWORK – 92

Although I feel like I’ve seen this image before, many a time, this still fascinates me and serves as an outstanding doom-laden accompaniment to any album with atmospheric tendencies in the extreme audio spectrum.

FIRST TRACK – 91

Epic and somewhat experimental within what many perceive as the black metal style. But don’t let that put you off, this overflows with atmosphere and majesty with plenty of nods to that which is termed ‘traditional’, even though the genre is fractured into as many shards as a vintage vase falling from an unsteady grasp. A brilliant introduction to the album and the band itself (for me). This leaves me unfathomably eager for what’s to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN – 91

Hypnotizing from beginning to end this utilizes both traditional and non-traditional means to attain the heights which it transports its gob-stricken listeners. Violins as well numerous other classical instruments accompany guitars and a somewhat black/death vocal approach accompaniment as the album whisks its audience away to realms which one might expect under the guise and camouflage of “black metal”. Beauty cavorts with viciousness and black metal sensibilities frolic with folk, doom, progressive and even the occasional traditional heavy metal element to form an ocean of atmosphere which like the nature of water itself is harrowing, melancholic and ferocious. The whole is utterly palpable in its effectiveness. Prepare to have your pre conceived notions of the genre shattered. I honestly had no idea this is what the band offered in terms of audio lest I would have subscribed to their output many moons ago. Expect to see this upon many a #YearEndList.

Favorite Tracks; mesmerizing from start to finish, it would be unfair to mention merely a handful of tracks when the album plays at such an elevated level such as this.

FFO; Uada, Wayfarer, (newer) Dark Throne, Opeth, Amorphis, Swallow the Sun.

condemned to dream

Condemned to Dream – Black Emerald Cold
(USA)
Release – November/22/2019
Ancient Mythos Entertainment
https://condemnedtodream.bandcamp.com/releases
https://open.spotify.com/album/7N2t0jQluDzxKUW1phHvBk?autoplay=true&v=L
ARTWORK – 78

Something is in the water. Although what, exactly, is unclear. Something ancient.

FIRST TRACK – 73

Crashing death core riffs atop a bed of pummeling drums and a cavalcade of hooks sure to grab the attention. Sweeping melodic breaks are a great touch accompanied by vocals with considerable angst. A good start that’s not what I was expecting, this is a tad closer to death core than death based on the first track. However, it’s utterly listenable.

INITIAL LISTEN – 76

I’m pleased to see that these guys are from my old stomping ground; Tucson, Az. With that being said I’ll try to remain unbiased. These guys have been busy; this is their second full-length this year. With a style which includes forays into melodic waters, vocals with angst and passages akin to what most assume death core offers this sounds like another run of the mill, every day, release. I’m glad to state this isn’t. There’s a quality here which is undeniable, a flow and professionalism which sets this apart from the herd. It’s surprisingly infectious and sports rhythms which traverse both melodic and death core territories, and even on occasion touch upon a style akin to Slam. Although aggressive in overall feel the feel is that which many discovering the genre can easily appreciate and those already deep within its grasp will have no problems appreciating.

Keep an ear out for these folks, with a dedication and quality such as theirs I expect great things on the horizon.

Favorite Tracks; The Yawning Depths Inside, The World Offered, Lost, Before the Altar of Victims and Fools.

FFO; Black Dahlia Murder, Arsis, At the Gates.

fleshcrawl.jpg

Fleshcrawl – Into the Catacombs of Flesh
(Germany)
Release – November/29/2019
Apostasy Records
https://fleshcrawl.bandcamp.com/album/into-the-catacombs-of-flesh
ARTWORK – 72

Yea, I think I took a wrong turn. I was looking for the bathroom, which this definitely isn’t.

There’s no confusion as to what manner if audio is encapsulated here. Unless of course you were brought here by mistake. Then there’s little hope. Prepare to enter the catacombs of extreme audio.

FIRST TRACK – 84

Undeniably (Gothenburg) Swedish in tone and executed with passion with enough bounce to have one pinging from one side of the room to the other in absolute glee. The production thus far allows each instrument to breathe, there’s definite menace and presence here. The drums are at the forefront of the mix, like a sinister wizard with diabolical intent to enthrall the audience. I’m hooked already.

INITIAL LISTEN – 85

Fleshcrawl are back! Their last full length, “Structures of Death”, was released in 2007. Channeling “Massive Killing Capacity” era Dismember and a dirge which brings to mind the best of Bolt Thrower while boasting more pronounced D-beat, crust elements and less ‘clean’ melodies the band have carved an album sporting stellar production (heavy on the drums giving it that desired oomph) which is instantly welcomed with eager ears. Hardly classed as homage since they’ve been around since 87′ though under different monikers (which both had to be changed as they were both monikers of acts “Morgoth” and “Suffocation”, with renowned reputations) this is a reinvigorated upgrade. A Fleshcrawl for the coming decade offering up the classic Swedish MK2 sound with a freshness for the next generation to cherish as their parents did before them.

If you’ve yet to take the plunge into the Swedish side of death this is a great place to get the feet wet.

Favorite Tracks; Delivers throughout, it’s extremely hard to pick only a few to praise.

FFO; Dismember, Vomitory, Entombed, Nocturnal Hollow, LIK.

memoriam a requiem

Memoriam – Requiem for Mankind
(United Kingdom)
Release – June/21/2019
Nuclear Blast Records
https://willettsio.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 91

Dan Seagraves up to his old archaic mastery eye-widening antics. Nuff said!

FIRST TRACK – 88

Instantly recognizable as Karl Willetts and the sound he’s come to be associated with; an industrial steamroller devastation dirge which has influenced eager musicians the world over. My heads a noddin’ and I’m unceremoniously tossed back many a year to when I originally laid ears upon an album which changed my listening habits dramatically from that moment forth. I don’t honestly know why it’s taken this long to lay ears upon this!

INITIAL LISTEN – 92

The logical progression from “Those Once Loyal” for fans of the legendary Bolt Thrower. This shows Memoriam taking the style to another level, leaps and bounds from their last effort. Injecting the whole shebang with undeniable presence, interwoven veins of ominous melody and passages of groove that which will make the torso move of its own accord. But that’s not all, not by miles. The style itself has been upgraded (taken to a secret facility for a full body upgrade ‘comic book style’ bonus points if you can name the two characters which I’m thinking of) not merely (if it ever was merely just that!) a genius creation of dirge/crust/grindcore now, this is a beast of many facets, a creation to influence a whole new breed of musicians. The album only gets better as it progresses. With an album of a quality such as this the metal community is left stunned and probably pondering where do Karl and crew take us next? Bravo.

#BestofBritish I’m thankful to see my fellow countrymen leading the charge yet again (pun intended).

Favorite Tracks; Shell Shock, Never the Victim, Refuse to be Led, Requiem for Mankind,

FFO; Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Death Kommando, Origin.

Animal - music is meant for sharing

And you shouldn’t… great music is meant to be shared!

This concludes another entry in the ongoing Abrasive Audio series and I already have my sights set on a slew of releases which came out this year to be included in the next installment. But there’s still so many to explore, obviously I won’t get to them all but that’s what #BestofYear lists are for. And I’ve already started to post a few of those, in preparation for my own (if the “event” ever happens).

Until next our paths of audio interest meet, fear not discovery of that which would normally be foreign to the senses.

Cult

Abrasive Audio…to Soothe the Senses – Year End List #2

heavy metal santa
Courtesy of He11fir3

It’s still that time of year, the trees are whispers of their former selves, white stuff is everywhere frustrating even the most seasoned of driver and the pets are indoors reminiscing upon simpler times when it was a damn sight easier to leave a steaming present on the neighbor’s lawn. Hats with bobbles on top are all the rage and yoga pants are packed away, at least until spring.  However, the climax of the year also means End of Year lists, a time when a large number of audiophiles stun their compadres with mention of releases which remain largely unheard though deserve praise from on high. Without further ado, a few words and a myriad of suggestions from an old pal.

The year’s top ten from the mind of He11fir3
(starting with the #1 then working down to #10)

Mirror - Pyramid of Terror

Mirror – Pyramid of Terror

The fact that my AOTY is Heavy Metal and not Black Metal should be enough to let you know that this must be an amazing album. It became an all-time fav, and I know I will be listening to it for the rest of my life.

http://stareatthemirrorandweep.bandcamp.com/album/pyramid-of-terror

Infernal Conjuration – Infernale Metallum Mortis

Everything we don’t have enough of. Evil Death Metal. Knew it was special from the first listen and it has not once caught me “not in the mood”

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

Elegiac – Thirst for Vengeance

Pagan Vicious Black Metal. I found this band this year and it became one of my all-time favorite projects. Bought almost everything he has put out.

http://elegiac.bandcamp.com/album/thirst-for-vengeance

Forgjord - Ilmestykset
Forgjord – Ilmestykset

Hauntingly beautiful and FuckUgly Grim Black Metal. Does everything right to build perfect atmospheres.

http://werewolfrecords.bandcamp.com/album/ilmestykset

Is – Another Side of Existence

Cold Frostbitten Winter Wandering Black Metal. I always hear something new to appreciate and love this album even more with each listen.

http://kareliannokken.bandcamp.com/album/another-side-of-existence

Devil Master – Satan Spits in Children of Light

Punk Attitude, Heavy Metal Influences Great Energy and Black Metal Spirit. I wish it was higher on the list but goddamn this year was like a piano landing on you over and over again.

http://devilmaster.bandcamp.com/album/satan-spits-on-children-of-light

Zeit - Drungsal
Zeit – Drungsal

Black Sludge. Evil Metal Covered in mud. Atmospheric, Dark, Clumpy, Heavy, Pretty, Earthly, Scratchy, Ugly, and very natural sounding.

http://rumsdiezeit.bandcamp.com/album/drangsal

Tanith – In Another Time

70s/80s inspired rock/prog with fantasy themes, like having a whole new world born just for your ears. Russ Tippins is the great Satan.

http://tanithnyc.bandcamp.com/album/in-another-time

Denial of God – The Hallow Mass

Melodic Horror themed black metal. Haunting and Spooky but Tragic and mystical too. Makes me want a fog machine.

http://denial-of-god.bandcamp.com/album/the-hallow-mass

Arnaut Pavle - Arnaut Pavle
Arnaut Pavle – Arnaut Pavle

Chaotic but focused black thrash. Does everything right. Every song has its own power, but the whole thing speeds through with unstoppable fury.

http://arnautpavle.bandcamp.com/album/arnaut-pavle-2

 

Editor’s Note; I believe I’ve heard only of a few of these, this just shows how unfathomably huge the world of extreme audio is and how little I actually get to even though my days are packed to overflowing with tunage.

foehammer metal podcast

Whoops -nearly forgot… He11fir3 is half of the Foehammer Metal Podcast found here

https://www.tumblr.com/search/foehammer

https://www.facebook.com/foehammerpodcast/

and on Instagram.