Posts Tagged ‘Old School’

Abrasive Audio 2020 Part Seven

black metal gif

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

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

January Releases

vernon of persia

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

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

FIRST TRACK- 76

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 78

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

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

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

incinerator

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

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

FIRST TRACK- 85

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 84

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

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

Favorite Tracks; Intoxicating from start to finish.

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

February Releases

Karnivore

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

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

FIRST TRACK- 78

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 80

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

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

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

March Releases

pestifer

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

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

FIRST TRACK- 88

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

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

Favorite Tracks; Exciting from start to finish.

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

 

 

Wolf (Sweden) – Feeding the Machine

Release- March/13/2020
Century Media Records

wolf feeding the machine

ARTWORK- 94

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

FIRST TRACK- 88

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 77

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

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

FFO; Judas Priest, Primal Fear, Iced Earth.

Aronious

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

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

FIRST TRACK- 91

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 90

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

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

FFO; Inanimate Existence, Equipoise, Obscura.

neorhythm

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

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

– You bet

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

FIRST TRACK- 72

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 83

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

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

FFO; Soulfly, Sepultura, Gojira, Meshugga.

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

grim fate

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

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

FIRST TRACK- 79

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 76

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

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

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

 

khora

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

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

FIRST TRACK- 88

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

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

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

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

Something a little Different

Askvader

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

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

Cheshire Cat

Similar to the grin on my daughters face

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

mix tape action

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

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

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

Stay safe out there.

Cult

Abrasive Audio 2020- Part Four

black metal gif

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

January Releases-

faidra

Faidra (Sweden) – Six Voices Inside

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

Release- January/26/2020

Northern Silence Productions.

ARTWORK- 83

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

FIRST TRACK- 89

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 92

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

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

FFO; Burzum, Hermodr, Mist of Misery.

proscrito

Proscrito (Spain) – Llagas Y Estigmas

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

Release- January/27/2020

Momentous Mori

ARTWORK- 83

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

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

“…Mabel!!”

FIRST TRACK- 88

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 86

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

Favorite Tracks; Delivers throughout!

FFO; Obituary, Paradise Lost, Novembers Doom.

malignament

Malignament (Finland) -Demo I

https://malignament.bandcamp.com/releases

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

Purity Through Fire

ARTWORK- 80

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

FIRST TRACK- 88

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 86

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

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

FFO; Arctos, Dissection.

February Releases –

plague album

Plague (Greece) – Portraits of Mind

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

Release – February/14/2020

Redefining Darkness

ARTWORK- 91

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

FIRST TRACK- 91

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 93

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

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

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

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

invocation

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

 

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

Release – February/21/2020

Iron Bonehead Productions

ARTWORK – 80

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

FIRST TRACK – 82

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

INITIAL LISTEN – 86

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

Favorite Tracks; Impressive from first to last note!

FFO; Tomb Mold, Incantation, Krypts, Funebrarum.

theophagist

Theophagist (Luxembourg) – I Am Abyss

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

Release – February/22/2020

Independent

ARTWORK- 87

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

FIRST TRACK- 82

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

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

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

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

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

Short Sharp Bursts of 19′

Kharma

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

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

Release-July/13/2019

Independent

ARTWORK- 92

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 88

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

subservience

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

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

Release- May/25/2019

UKEM Records

ARTWORK- 75

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 87

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

infernal conjuration

Infernal Conjuration (Mexico)- Infernale Metallum Mortis

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

Release- June/6/2019

Iron Bonehead Productions

ARTWORK- 88

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 94

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

allagash

Allagash (Canada) – Cryptic Visions

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

Release – May/6/2019

Independent

ARTWORK- 84

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 91

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

warbound

Warbound (Brazil) -Behind the Unreal

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

Release – September/21/2019

Thrash or Death Records

ARTWORK- 84

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

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

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

mix tape action

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

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

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

Cult

Writing for a new Zine from the Ground up

For those who may not know me, I’m imagining this is probably pretty much everyone reading this, I’m proud to state I have scribbles in various places across the vast landscape of the internet. Obviously, they range from Kindergarten level to the quality of that which you’re laying eyes upon at this very moment (to be honest the caliber hasn’t changed that drastically in years).

sixintheheadzine

In recent years I’ve veered from horrific attempts at vile fiction (a few of which can be seen here in this site) towards a more review -based realm.  I’ve tackled movies of all kinds and a wide variety of music, though I’ve never attempted to ponder upon a tabletop game. That however recently changed when I was asked by Paul (creator of sixintheheadzine) to scribble a few words upon the newest creation from out of Games Workshop stable (is it best I add a copyright sign here, lest I get sued?)

Warhammer Warcry

Warcry is a game whose fundamentals (gameplay, etc) is familiar but whose characters are somewhat fresh originating from a realm that many know but under a different guise. In short, I had fun pondering upon that which I attempted when I was much younger but could never actually get into for one reason or another (I preferred the painting over the gaming). I wrote an initial introduction which was humorous to the point of making me giggle but I honestly don’t know if it fit. It was decided that it, in fact, didn’t. However, seems as I always giggle when I lay eyes upon it, I only thought it prudent to share. Here in its entirety The Warcry introduction (smirking is optional)

pots n pans armour

for the record; this is neither Paul nor this articles author.

“Alright guys. Thanks for coming. I didn’t honestly think anyone would show.”

“Didn’t Gerald say he was coming?”

“He might not, he’s “unconventional” at the best of times. What say we get started?”

*Clang

*Clang

“All fukin’ righty-then. Let’s get this shindig starte-!”

“WHAT. THE. HOLY. FUCK. GERALD!!”

“Are they pots and pans?”

“Fashioned into the finest coat of arms, as you can see. Now where are these beasties which beg for slaughter?”

“Dice. Gerald. Dice. We use goddamn dice! And what the fuck is that? You’re burning a hole in the carpet.”

“It’s my special weapon blessed with an eternal flame of vanquish.”

“NO. It goddamn isn’t! It’s a chair leg with nails through it, with a cloth wrapped around it which is on fire. Your mum is gonna kill you. And you need to get the F- out. Now. Before this whole place burns to the ground.”

“Umm. Ok. I guess I’ll see you all at work then?”

“Get out!”

The entire article along with a slew of other interesting stuff (and a picture of a chicken) can viewed at https://sixintheheadzine.com/

Thanks again to Paul who decided to capitalize upon miserable talent when he saw it.

Cult

Abrasive Audio…to Soothe the Senses Part 37

headbangin metalhead

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

intoxicate

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

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

Mattias (Intoxicate’s vocalist) commented, adding;

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

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

FIRST TRACK – 84

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

INITIAL LISTEN – 83

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

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

FFO; Exodus, Amon Amarth.

cattle decapitation.jpg

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

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

FIRST TRACK – 93

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

INITIAL LISTEN – 93

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

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

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

chamber of torture.jpg

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

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

FIRST TRACK – 83

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

INITIAL LISTEN – 83

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

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

FFO; Cannibal Corpse, Jungle Rot.

Revel in Flesh

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

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

FIRST TRACK – 92

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

INITIAL LISTEN – 94

Boasting a collection of tracks with a slew of stylistic ambiance this album offers a great deal to enjoy. Comforting in its nostalgic familiarity yet seething with an air of superiority. One thinks fondly upon Swedish metal of decades past and this is that but reimagined, polished and slathered with playful menace, melancholy with a production which slays. It doesn’t get better than this folks. I don’t know where Revel in Flesh have been between albums. I only wonder if there’s a location someplace in a remote mountainous region whereupon enigmatic Monks strip one of everything they know only then reeducate one (in the most mysterious ways imaginable) in the true path of Godly extreme audio. For this really is that good!

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

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

abeyance

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

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

FIRST TRACK – 81

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

INITIAL LISTEN – 82

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

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

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

putrid coffin.jpg

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

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

FIRST TRACK – 89

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

INITIAL LISTEN – 88

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

Favorite Tracks; Hypnotic from start to finish.

FFO; Terrorizer, early Morbid Angel.

extinction.jpg

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

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

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

FIRST TRACK – 81

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

INITIAL LISTEN – 78

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

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

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

crest of darkness.jpg

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

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

FIRST TRACK – 91

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

INITIAL LISTEN – 81

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

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

FFO; Rebel Wizard, Emperor, Ancient.

abigail williams.jpg

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

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

FIRST TRACK – 91

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

INITIAL LISTEN – 91

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

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

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

condemned to dream

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

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

FIRST TRACK – 73

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

INITIAL LISTEN – 76

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

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

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

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

fleshcrawl.jpg

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

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

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

FIRST TRACK – 84

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

INITIAL LISTEN – 85

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

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

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

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

memoriam a requiem

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

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

FIRST TRACK – 88

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

INITIAL LISTEN – 92

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

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

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

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

Animal - music is meant for sharing

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

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

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

Cult

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

diggin through vinyl.jpg

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

Without further ado…

soulburn demo 96.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

asphyx crush the cenpotaph

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

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

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

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

infernal majesty demon god

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

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

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

excited animal gif

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

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

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

Cult