Posts Tagged ‘Metal’

Abrasive Audio – Attack of the Compilation

Attack of the Compilation – Extreme Metal Attack XVII

exterem metal fest #2

Well, here I am again. It’s been a while. Admittedly I’ve been busy spreading chaos, strife and depravity across that which many call “The Heartlands”. But seriously, I’m having a grand ole time there’s no shortage of four-legged furry things to curb my appetite and the attitudes and people in this area put most Wal-mart parody websites to shame. My adventures have not been without strife however. The weather can put a damper on many things though from what I’ve heard this winter has been comparatively mild compared to ones before. But it doesn’t matter, there’s snow and I’m not used to the stuff. Seriously what the fuck is it anyway? And why does it have to impede upon all my fun? On the bright side there’s plenty to see following its aftermath. Comical scenes including sportscars and spinning wheels. Multi vehicle Pileups on that which most drive across at insane speeds. Highways, Interstates I’m confused. I’ll avoid traversing them at all costs. Though they do provide quite the entertainment.

syncronized headbangin

Not quite what my former duties entailed but I wish they would in the future

Now, where was I? Cult’s house, yes, I’m here! And surprise, surprise, his email is delivering quite the feast for the eyes and ears. Tons of promos to sift through. I’d say this fellow is drowning in promotional materials, but what do I know I’m merely a former denizen of the Underworld enjoying a prolonged vacation until the ether opens up and I’m yanked back to my former duties.

 

Now this, this is interesting indeed, and brings back a few memories of when my mishapen digits alighted upon Cults keyboard for the first time (actually the first time was when I pondered upon a single by Bewitcher. But who’s being counting?) What say we take another audio foray into a compilation which promotes yet another Extreme Metal Fest taking part in Portugal? This isn’t a question, and I don’t wish for your opinion. For I’m taking the plunge…

Extreme Metal Attack XVII

https://helldprod.bandcamp.com/album/extreme-metal-attack-xvii-2020

HelldProd Records

March/20/2020

etreme metalfest die hard pack

(The event itself is scheduled for March 20/21 (2020) in Metalpoint Porto and promises a grand time for all those wishing to bathe themselves in a festival atmosphere with like-minded individuals driven by the glory of underground metal)

And for those wishing to know the bands involved in both the fest and this compilation I’m happy to oblige (and they’re actually in order of appearance on the tape, for nothing screams Kvlt like a cassette, for those interested)

Ungod – Down to Tartaros

Alcoholocaut – Speed Metal Tornado

Supremative – Omnipresent Morbid Excitement

Rapture – Thriving on Atrocity

Fabulous Desaster – Faster Than Light

Deathwomb – Moonless Night Sacraments

Aggressive Perfector – Turbo-Evil

Vectis – No Mercy for the Weak

Necro Chaos – Infernal Flood

Now if this promises to be anything like the last ‘Extreme Fest’ outing the fleshy audio catchers are in for an old school party drenched in darkness, speed and evil.

Naturally I’ve devised a ratings system, which has a tad more flavor than that which Cult employs, for this very purpose (why do I sound like the bloke from Taken?) and here it is in all of its depraved glory;

confued Orc

Wait. I’m still confused

Abysmal.

Not in the good way. Toss this in the ocean and punch the nearest passerby to let out the frustration of spending money on schiite such as this. Jesus might like this. But I still believe it has the potential to do naught but line the birds cage. Jesus loves everything, which in my opinion is rather silly. Jesus you’re a prat!

Hrrrrrhhhhh-!

Better, this shows potential. Much like, I’d imagine, your mother on a first date. But it still leaves me wanting. And she needs more training; those French fries weren’t free dammit!

The Goblin are going crazy!

Admittedly the annoying green bastid’ like most things and get excited at the drop of a turd but occasionally they have a suggestion which turns heads. And if the whole collective, much like an obnoxious stench-ridden green tide, agrees there must be something worth giving, at least, a cursory glance towards.

Time for a Crimson Splattered Moshpit!

Now this is worth sharing, break out the goblets, the fiery liquid, the unwilling, let’s break some limbs and party till the Dark Lord yells at us to get back to work!

All Mine!

I’m a selfish bastid’. And this is too fkn’ good to share, it’s all mine. Just try to take it!!

Well there it is and I still have the compilation playing betwix my mishappen ears as I’m typing this (correcting a varied assortment of typos as I go) so it seriously can’t be all that bad. Unlike last year’s compilation this provides more a smorgasbord (I like this word I’ll have to use it more often!) of styles. Ranging from old school bleak cavernous drenched in evil black metal to more a heavy metal approach with “singy” vocals (as if plucked from the eighties) and a plethora of speed laden head bangin’ tracks between. There’s honesty plenty here to delight. However, I have my favorites and I’d like to bore whoever is still reading this with the tracks which left an impression. But before that and to sate those who are ravenous, eagerly yearning, salivating in fact for my conclusion, for my rating… I’ll gladly stamp this with a “Time for a Crimson Splattered Moshpit”. Onward, in no particular order) to that which left my earholes dripping in excitable liquids (just me?)

necro chaos

Necro Chaos – Infernal Flood

First off, great name. This track recalls old school melody-laden death (older Obituary and a slew of others Cult is probably more familiar with than I). Peppered with twin styled vocals, head bobbin’ evil rhythms and a strange sounding bass (?) it is certainly familiar, but different and serves as a fantastic finale to this compilation (see, I said this wasn’t in order).

Rapture – Thriving on Atrocity

Speaking of familiarity this is another track which puts me in mind of an artist whose name frustratingly escapes me. Driving thrash/death riffs and a vocal style/cadence which garners instant appreciation with added sinister elements. Admittedly it’s difficult not to ponder upon other artists in the collection when listening to this, with that in mind however this seethes with an aura of freshness, a touch of homage (think I’ve said that before now) and a style which will leave the listener wanting more.

deathwomb demo

Deathwomb – Moonless Night Sacrament

Bleak, raw and dripping in atmosphere this is black metal with a touch of melody. And there’s also backwards messages in its finale to leave fans of vintage Judas Priest salivating (that was a joke for all those taking notes). Bleak production values and throaty vocals add to this tracks appeal, but it probably isn’t for everyone, a fact I couldn’t care less about as I quite like it!

Aggressive Perfector – Turbo-Evil

I believe Cult has covered an album by these guys in the past but I’ve yet to lay ears upon their output, until now. Think heavy metal with speed metal tendencies ad to the concoction dramatic vocals and an aura which screams vintage cult horror and you might be close. But I could be continents off, best just to discover the band for yourself and make your own conclusions. This is a tad different. It grows on you much like a Goblin baby its damn ugly at first but somehow perks your mothering instinct (wait what!?) That’s not at all what I meant. Moving on…

Now, onto a few tracks which left me in exhausted disarray and Cults house in a sorry state indeed.

vectis

Vectis – No Mercy for the Weak

I must be getting old! This bears only slight smidgens of a black nature but boy does it make me wanna’ move. The rhythms here are dangerously infectious it might in fact make your torso move of its own accord (hide the fragile things lest they multiply into worthless shards). A wicked mix of thrash and black with awesome (did I just say that word? what am I a surfer now?) riffs which cannot be ignored, a tad repetitive in its lyrics but who cares this leaves a dent, and it has I’m hurting, the contact with that wall was hard!

Fabulous Desaster – Faster Than Light

To be Frank (why do I have to be ‘Frank’? Can’t I be ‘Steve’?) I’m not an Exodus fan. Sure there’s a few tracks which grab my attention but I can’t say that any full album of theirs have ever warranted purchase or even pilfering. With that in mind however their newer material is more to my liking. Strangely this sees me recalling their older output, and it’s hard not to as both the rhythms and vocals match perfectly that which most long-time Exodus fans have come to adore about the band (shit, their moniker is the same as one of the bands albums). Odd then that I’m liking this as much as I am. Its “Toxic Waltz” but different and I’m all over it! Just try not to move to this!

alcoholocaust

Alcoholocaust – Speed Metal Tornado

Yet another act Cult has covered, and there’s little argument as to why that might have been the case. This is blistering fast and the vocals wicked in tone although I believe all but a few words are in Brazilian/Portuguese it matters not. This “rips” and my neck hurts! This could well be an anthem for both the act and the Portuguese metal scene, it has that kind of undeniable vibe about it.

And that brings this to its conclusion. Weird that I’ve been drawn more towards the speed rather than the darkness within this release but there you have it. It’s been fun folks, but I’m hungry and there’s a sassy looking feline sneaking its way across the neighbor’s fence line with a smirk on her face (yes, I can tell such things even from this distance) as if to say “You can’t catch me”. Can I say that I am salivating? I’m certainly up for the challenge. Now where’s my fur removing tool?

B  

helldprod logo

Whoops – nearly forgot. Tickets can be purchased for this event at https://helldprod.com/shop/index.php?id_category=23&controller=category and range from a single day ticket to a packages including a shirt and the tape I have just spat a few words upon.

 

 

 

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 – Attack of the Compilation the first of 20’

Metal Assault welcoming in the new decade with a Bang!

metal assault header

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

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

speed kills compilation

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

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

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

the devils rain gif

Ah… this nonsense is doing my head in!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

metal assault mixtape #2

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

 

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

The (All-Important) Tracklist;

Void Vator – Nitrus

Monolith – Man Without a Soul

Hydera – Witch King

Living Darkness – Destructible

Motor Gun Hotel – Leave It All Behind

Aparant – Home

Drift – From Within

Hell Kross – Howl of the Wolf Brigade

Circle of Sighs – Burden of the Flesh

Grim Earth – Ruins

The Blue Prison – Vengeance

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

holiday drumming animal

Bring on the tunage!!!

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

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

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

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

living darkness
Living Darkness – Destructible

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

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

Motor Gun Hotel – Leave it All Behind

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

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

the blue prison
The Blue Prison – Vengeance

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

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

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

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

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

Monolith – Man Without a Soul

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

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

circle of sighs
Circle of Sighs – Burden of the Flesh

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

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

Hell Kross – Howl of the Wolf Brigade

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

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

grim earth
Grim Earth – Ruins

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

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

 

Cult

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

Abrasive Audio – 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 – End of Year Lists (#1)

heavy metal santa

 It’s that time of the year again. The trees are skeletons of their former selves, the malls are packed and wouldn’t you know it ever damn commercial on the television is advertising a product which your child doesn’t need but naturally, wants anyway. It’s Christmas. Fat blokes the world over have a sudden hankering for wriggling adolescent flesh upon their knees and all depending upon one’s penchant for the ludicrous some even attempt to clamber down a chimney. “Dad, why does it smell when I turn the fire on?” And then there’s Hallmark, for this is the ideal time to fill the wife’s head of ideas about how married bliss is supposed to be. But enough about my life, there’s more important things at hand. The best of the year according to whomever scribbled this (obviously). Obviously tastes vary, opinions are vastly varied but fantastic extreme tunage is meant to be shared. So, with that in mind I’ve enlisted the help of a few like-minded friends (fear not, for we aren’t that similar in tastes) to help spread the word.

atomic heartbeep on twitter

To start things off; this list heading from ten towards the years absolute mind-melting finest is courtesy of Atomic Heartbeep 🖤🤖 (@Drachensturm711 on Twitter)

Elephant Watchtower-The Church Is at Fault

(Independent)

Elephant Watchtower

https://elephantwatchtower.bandcamp.com/album/the-church-is-at-fault

Hypnotic Progressive Death Metal that often branches into long, almost ambient passages.

Iapetus-The Body Cosmic

(Independent)

https://iapetus1.bandcamp.com/album/the-body-cosmic

Truly epic Progressive Death, patience is a must, as several songs are over 12 minutes in length. Absolutely worth the effort.

Rage of Light-Imploder

(Napalm Records)

https://rageoflight.bandcamp.com/album/imploder

Trance metallers from Switzerland, featuring the incredibly talented vocals of Melissa Bonny. “Mechanicals” is one of the greatest anthems you’ll never hear in a stadium

Cognizance-Malignant Dominion

(Prosthetic Records)

Cognizance

https://cognizance.bandcamp.com/album/malignant-dominion

Clinical, merciless Tech-Death. After several excellent singles and EPs, they finally deliver a full length and it does not disappoint. A fantastic sound lets the brutality shine through

Godeater-All Flesh Is Grass

(Independent)

https://godeateruk.bandcamp.com/album/all-flesh-is-grass

The finest album to come out of Scotland since Korpse’s “Pull the Flood”, a dizzying display of Technical Death Metal

Freedom of Fear-Nocturnal Gates

(EVP Recordings)

freedom of fear

https://evp-recordings.bandcamp.com/album/nocturnal-gates-2

The spirit of Schuldiner lives on in the riffs and solos of these Aussie Prog Death Metallers

Warforged-I: Voice

(The Artisan Era)

https://warforged.bandcamp.com/album/i-voice

Wonderfully varied and composed unpredictable Prog Death. Can be as peaceful as it is utterly demolishing

Hath of rot n ruin

Hath-Of Rot and Ruin

(Willowtip Records)

https://hathnj.bandcamp.com/album/of-rot-and-ruin

Progressive Death Metal that takes the Opeth template and twists it into something much darker and more violent

Equipoise-Demiurgus

https://equipoiseofficial.bandcamp.com/album/demiurgus

An extraordinary gathering of musicians combined to put out an extraordinary album of Progressive/Technical Death Metal. Solos to die for and plenty of them!

And..drum roll please…

plaguebringer

Plaguebringer-Diabolos

(Independent)

https://plaguebringercanada.bandcamp.com/album/diabolos

A genuine force to be reckoned with, exemplary performances from all involved to make the most exhilarating display of Tech Death I’ve heard in a very long time. Phenomenal musicianship, flamboyant songwriting and a creepy atmosphere make this the one I held aloft in an incredibly strong year.

 

Editor’s Note; Huge thanks go out to Atomic for putting this list together. I believe I’ve heard only about a third of this list. It appears I have a little catching-up to do and a slew of audio which is deserved of discovering. But it’s going to have to it until the New Year I have a mountain of audio I need to sift through if I want to formulate a list of my own.