Monday, December 31, 2012

Chapel Of Disease - Summoning Black Gods [2012]

As much as I was impressed by the vital, fleshy energy that the Germans Chapel Of Disease conjured with their cryptic demo that came out earlier this year, make no mistake, these vile retros are not putting anything new on the table, even though it undeniably sounds refreshing for die-hards and connoisseurs alike. That being said, the debut by the Teutonic quartet took me by surprise as they unleashed their debut via the overly frenetic oldfactory producers FDA Recotz, and to be fair, despite the limitation of imagination generated from the band's lack of variety in accumulating influences, ''Summoning Black Gods'' does not suspend the hungry listener in iron manacles of banality and delivers quite a heaving, archaic punch with a nice stretch of classic old school death metal influences a la Pestilence, Autopsy, Death, and, as we didn't have enough Swedish death metal to deal with, a splurging context of primal chainsaw ruptures.

The intake of Swedeath is fortunately in less copious amounts than you might expect, and churned up with a classy, foreboding edge, it really turns the album into a panoply of memorable compositions and semi-thrashy textures, all sewed to each other by a raw, highly nostalgic raw overtone. At times,  the band channels the harsher formulas that marginally deviate from the tremolo-laced riffing by having simpler vitality, reeking of 1988, yet what I especially love about the band is that they effortlessly eke out sepulchral hymns and they can perfectly exhibit their love for pestilential antiquities whilst carving out subtexts of these grave-ish moods, perhaps most vivid on ''Evocation of the Father'', a melodious collision of trudging grooves that has an almost Gothic appeal to it. Even though it seems the band is staking their entire momentum by replacing nearly a half of their performance with mid-paced grooving, the subtle balance in between thrash and death is measured adequately and the band is nearly always on-time in lashing just after gloomy transitions and erupt into headbang-friendly death/thrash tumult before you even realize what's going on.

Thankfully, ''Summoning Black Gods'' is infected, though not overarching in a way that could completely asphyxiate the listener. Here, cavern walls don't gradually enclose around you and decompression doesn't overwhelm; instead, as you may understand, these Germans are just staunch freaks that pursue their nostalgic masters Pestilence, Asphyx, Autopsy, Death, Morbid Angel, Vital Remains and the like, and the album is really based on letting out frivolous, encrypted and manic burden that stayed hinged inside the cranial contents of the Germans for far too long. To me, they seem like an unlikely crossover of their archaic countrymen Immortalis and their label mates Skeletal Remains, which have chosen a thicker, if not more technical approach to deviate from the same vein. While not imaginative by any means, this is probably one of the better altars built to worship the aforementioned masters over the last five years; even the vocals have condensed on the Van Drunnen timbre, and this also marks, or helps establish, a new scene for spawn new abominations to spawn and rock their way out the graveyard. A crashing rhythmic fair with a frightening edge. Definitely a nice treat.

Exili's Heritage
The Nameless City
Summoning Black Gods

Rating: 83%

Friday, December 21, 2012

Children Of Technology - Mayhemic Speed Anarchy [2012]

Italian speed freaks Children Of Technology have already buried themselves into the consciousnesses of voluptuous crossover enthusiasts with their 2010 debut which was highly, highly redolent of punk, thrash, grime, denim, and though relatively new to scene, they deserve some applause for the considerate punk, hardcore and thrash choices, exclusively injecting old school energy into their overt amalgamations. It's own simple sphere of influence, ''It's Time To Face The Doomsday'' was a vigorous assault of near-clamorous motorcycle frenzy and explosive outings of punk and hardcore fundamentals, and now they've decided to once again cope with their mass provider of motorcycles, Hell's Headbangers, a two-track EP being their latest penning. Despite the excitement fervent listeners will have over this, there's no need to exaggerate the fact that the motorized punks are going for standard procedure here; chaos, annihilation, and of course, motorbikes aplenty.

I say aplenty, but in truth, there's not much material here, nor would you expect anyone to cram layers and layers of buttering crossover/punk/thrash into a spurious little CD of six minutes. Children Of Technology are, as I stated, applying basic, robotized pressure on their fans with gushing frivolous and downtrodden punk dives and pumping hardcore beats, keeping the fuel burning throughout the almost ludicrous six minutes of run time. The Italians, however dominant over their moshing minions, are not really letting the eclectic listener get anything else than distorted nostalgia: they've got a rumbling bass line line sometimes crashes into the spotlight right before its fellow proponents arrive and take control of the whole stage with unhinged aggression, the drums have take much less space in the mix than the guitars, occasionally going for some perky cymbal abuse after exhausting sessions of one-dimensional blast beats, and the guitars are caked with dirt, the same way it was on the debut, conjuring crunchy and eager crossover pursuits that fit the drum rhythms perfectly in their own simpleminded sense.

You've got to accept that no matter how long these Italians are going to stay in the music business they're always going to be tied to the same aesthetic with crude leather belts, and even though their love for everything old school and everything vigorous and punk makes goosebumps perk on my skin, they're not going to be able deliver anything truly special for fans who like things nuanced now and then. Perhaps my favorite performance was the vocals, reeking of ''Sheepdog'' Mclaren of early Razor, Cro-Mags and perhaps even DRI, lashing out contemptuously shrill high-pitched shrieks to boast their crazed, anarchic cause. Anyone in desperate need of straightforward-as-fuck, broiling old school crossover should throw himself/herself right at this, but then again the debut would serve the same purpose with better overall efficiency, and that's what renders ''Mayhemic Speed Anarchy'' so simple - the only thing that won't be expunged from the listener's memory fifteen minutes after discourse is the cover art, barely memorable itself.

Computer World
Mayhemic Speed Anarchy

Rating: 72%

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Desolate Shrine - Sanctum Of Human Darkness [2012]

Desolate Shrine is one of those bands who will appeal to fans of both hammering necrotic Swedish death metal revivalists and far more atmospherically driven occult death metal acts, but, beneath the flesh, it's once again all bones and joints; nothing out of the expected. Desolate Shrine's debut ''Tenebrous Towers'' was an album that I was quite appeased with, and for one it certainly lived up for its name; a crushing monument of Cylopean pillars collapsing upon the listener in an utterly climatic, immense cavernous mess, anchored by the suppressing heft of gigantic, skull-buttering Swedish chainsaws rippling in a rampaging orgy - it was certainly a big fucking record. Intent on smothering more cranial content, the Finns arrive with a sophomore, ''Sanctum Of Human Darkness'' that not only fancies the same crushing outing of the previous effort but also presents the listener with a panoply of spectral galore.

What I absolutely love about this is the pace. ''Sanctum...'' lumbers in a mid paced Bolt Thrower groove, particularly akin to ''Realm Of Chaos'', but, also keep in mind that despite sounding a lot like a concoction of Entombed/Dismember and Muknal, Innumerable Forms, Witchrist and Antediluvian, the band fabricates a formula that doesn't necessarily classify as both. The frothing, uproarious curvatures and blast of the Swedish tone is unlike anything I've heard before, even the harshest of Swedish chainsaw serial killers can't conjure up a tone that delivers such burdened sonic intensity. The band rarely eschews monotony from the pressurizing bombast, and when all the songs are no shorter than six minutes you naturally want more drudgery to take place then straight up aggression, but on some occasions (''Chalice Of Flesh & Bone'', ''Funeral Chamber''), gloomy subtleties transcend into furious impulses and the band immediately surfaces from their subterranean indulgence and take onto rougher, headbang-friendly discourses, though one should be informed that even in energy-abundant tracks, there's a heavy trace of the trio's impregnable doom influence.

Overall, even though I previously stated that Swedeath fans might enjoy this, death metal occultists are still more likely to feel the album's compressing enigma as pleasure. Just like some of the dominant Incantation worships or blackened death metal acts, ''Sanctum...'' displays more efficiency in submersing the listener in dense intricacy than raging in a frivolous surge, and especially after you've been through fifty-five minutes of hammering caused from a drumming giant pummeling your skull, you end up more oppressed than revitalized.  Thus, Desolate Shrine exceeds their previous effort, and more importantly, sticks to the old school formula. There's plenty of mournful caveman out there, but while this may not broaden your horizons by any means, it's still a better mining site than many of its peers and Dark Descent Records certainly made a hell of descent with this one. Don't you dare forget to bring provisions; this journey will take you deep. And I do mean deep. 

Demon Heart
Pillars Of Salvation
Funeral Chamber

Rating: 86%

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Enshadowed - Magic Chaos Psychedelia [2013]

My first encounter with Enshadowed (which was hardly an encounter at all) suggested they built they entire combustive formula on an accumulation of classical 90's black metal, bearing both Norse and Swedish finesse. However, months later, when I actually got to listen to their prized third entry ''Magic Chaos Psychedelia'', and when I saw their name under the Pulverized Records roster; that's when the ambiguity was unveiled. I've never listened to the the band's previous efforts, which were released some 9-10 years ago, but judging from the vociferous chaos they can conjure here, I have no doubt the Greeks have some potential. Like some of their thriving countrymen, Acherontas, Ravencult, or Thy Blackened Shade, the Greeks can easily exploit tremendous raw energy, but then again, Enshadowed has a lesser intake of pure old school black metal convulsions - that is a part of their deal here, but their priorities are homages to more woven, complex acts of modern ferocity.

It's really a mixture of thrash, death and black dispersed disproportionately along the band's hybridized form of chaos, chaos being principally the thing that they excel at. As soon as the album commences, Enshadowed whirls in an all-out razor tornado, a series of deathly, weltering semi-atmospheric impulses spewing from the cadaverous arteries of the album anchoring the foray, and the band rapidly releases carnage after carnage, with no remorse. Incredibly, the energy is more akin to a much modernized version of bestial black metal acts such as Blasphemy, Conqueror, Adversarial or black/thrash legends Destroyer 666 and Gospel Of The Horns rather than the aforementioned comparison of Norwegian and Swedish prowess. As much as there's  a lot of foreboding chaos and torrential, abysmal destruction, there's a fine layer of atonal motifs as well; usually mid paced thrash progressions coupled with enigmatic chord dispersion, followed by the typical meal of the day - lengthy portions of tremolo mayhem.

The maniacal intensity and workforce of the dynamics is immensely compelling especially when razor-sharp depictions of thrash and near proto brutal death metal aesthetics are put to place, and the listener is awash with blackened gore less than halfway through the album, and surprisingly, repeated riff splurging comes with some vague benefits; the band, in truth, offers a little more than just razing, uncircumcised black/death, something which, based on some reviews I've read about the previous albums, was the only thing the Greeks had in store before. I doubt that they picked up incredible pace in order to solely bestow intricacies on their distorted anger, but I'd say they certainly have an enlarged spectrum of ideas as far as the whole modern black/death cliche goes. Firstly, Serpent's vocals are torturous even though somewhat polished like the guitars, and secondly, during the sudden outburst of riffs, the band always enriches their woven hatred with profound drudgery, and plenty of the motion depends on the navigating force of the guitars, not the drums.

In all, I can hardly say I found this to be bad. Yes, ''Magic Chaos Psychedelia'' is just a textbook example of modernized black metal in its way of collapsing megalithic burden and balusters in single ruptures, probably the closest thing you've got to modern Behemoth or Impiety, but the channeling vividness and competence shines bright-red as Enshowed do their thing. It wouldn't have killed if stronger subtleties were added, but as solid as this is, it will certainly do without them.

The Dual Hypostasis Of Nihil
Black Holes, Death Planets

Rating: 80%

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hic Iacet - Prophecy Of Doom [2012]

Glancing at the cover, one might easily be persuaded by Hic Iacet's 2 track EP ''Prophecy Of Doom''. A grotesquely engraved image of two ritual necromancers merging as their freakish tentacles coil and reveal a nebulous vortex, all the while an inverted illuminati with a masochist serpent encircling it, stares at the owner of this brief recall to blasphemy, power flushing out. Hic Iacet's 2011 demo ''Hedonist Of The Death'' was a highly potent excursion which successfully put raw black metal and murkier black/death tendencies into practice withing one wholesome package. I was naturally delighted by the demo, perhaps another offspring of the overly prolific occult black metal genre but still high in quality, and the Spaniards's retinue expands as they sign to Hell's Headbangers to harvest and later on, expose more hellish, churning material, yet the EP is not all terrific news for keen followers, because ''Prophecy Of Doom'' introduces aspects that fervent listeners may not like after the prior release.

As on ''Hedonist Of The Death'' the Spaniards heavily incline towards the process of gloom, whether it be scrutinizing the element or spicing it up with different ingredients, yet here, there's a relatively different sustain on completely ferocious, raw aggression. The band's propensity for being able to effortlessly induce loom and cavernous ambiances with the singular use of distortion guitars cranked up sky-high and additional elements of resonance is still the highlight of the EP but the riffs have a more lurching, serpentine taste to them rather than straightforward, gnawing hostility and by simply blotting out the main crispness of the guitars with the vocalist's cavernous growling timbre, Hic Iacet can keep the listener semi-indulged at all times, even if there's hardly any subtext of immense evil. The guitars plod along with pure early 90's death metal ferocity, pretty much what you'd hear from early Death, Incantation, Autopsy or Winter and old Fleshcrawl, venturing into a near-doom metal spectrum, which, admittedly, while still implying strong somnolence onto the listener, still kills much of the primal energy to be found on the demo.

The compositions aren't really funereal, after some point they're simply abridged for obvious risks of boredom, and albeit an eleven minute EP may not cause a listener to doze off, the expenditure of the EP may cause some unwanted banality, one that, amid hundreds of other cavern-dwellers, the occasional death metal revival fan would not want to put up with. The band may truly be up to something promising here: If they scatter the two puzzles they've made and join the pieces to form one queer amalgamation, they can actually turn on the metal community more than you'd care to imagine; drowsy, black-ish death/doom patterns rumbling along the cavernous echoes of the vocalist's great reverb while ruptures of shattering raw strength sway back and forth, a mire of miasma. That said, there will still be a few who will dig this for its massive nature and crude display of death and black metal or its mutual resemblance to Hic Iacet's countrymen and acknowledged blasphemers Teitanblood and Proclamation. Definitely worth a spin or three.

Elevation of Sun
Prophecy of Doom

Rating: 76,5%

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Vomitor - The Escalation [2013]

Australia, from the first time it started spawning devilish, preposterous minions who sought and still seek to acclaim Satan's throne of fire and blasphemy, has been a supercharged oldfactory of ominous productivity, and to this day, no other metal scene can outmatch them when it comes to exposing the crude, hostile contents of their lascivious intents. One of the known demon-kings of the last decade is Vomitor, and partnering with Hell's Headbangers, they've got barbaric profanity aplenty for ravenous listeners. Of course, although I was certainly excited when I received a promo of the Australian augurs's newest record, ''the Escalation'', but I also need to imply that the same rules that go for all the other clone bands from the scene are directed towards the legends themselves, and banal simplicity and repetitive foray won't get you very far, even if you're Batman.

Now, I'm not directly associating Vomitor with these negative features that the majority of their countrymen possess (and possess substantially, at that), but let me just start of by saying that the pundits of savagery disappointed me somewhat on their third full-length. I always enjoy a measurable dose of primal outings, semi-subterranean atmosphere anchoring the ambiance to a tumultuous, opaque extent, and the uncircumcised pretense of caveman blackened death/thrash, only, these elements are the only elements are the principally the only aesthetics Vomitor has, which can just suck the excitement out of some audiences after some time. Vomitor boasts of absolute fucking carnage and tense, unbridled craze, and despite the obvious flaws, still deliver the goods the way an old schooler would want; jammed into just thirty minutes, ''The Escalation'' has nice, gritty tone that reeks of yet more carnality, and the cycle of oblivion keeps circulating as the drums plod along with blast beats, grime is spewed forth, blackened speed/thrash ruptures shoot out like psychopathic devils, and the with another bestial inauguration, the cycle renews itself, chaos everywhere.

Vomitor's guitar work is fairly intriguing as far the typical black/thrash psyche goes; it's basically a fluctuating from hellish black/thrash outbursts and straightforward death metal tremolos craving listener's eardrums, and Vomitor also likes mesh that up with occasional whammy wails, which somehow remind me of Gammacide, only as intent about blaspheming as eradicating. As I stated, even with Death Dealer's vocals joining the malicious cacophony for that sinister, blackened edge you're all too familiar with, the progressions and patterns are very direct, without any underpinnings boosting the infrastructure during incursions, yet, thanks to the thinny impulse of the guitars and the band's drunken panoply of deliberate riffing, the music isn't half as banal as that of their counterparts. Conclusion? ''The Escalation'' is a damnably solid album. All the praise that it didn't receive in this review was caused by the compulsions of a disappointed fan, so, if you really know you're going to have a hell of a ride with this, (and I'm sure you will) then get it. This is music for those who enjoy their metal short and to-the-point, archaic as it was over twenty years ago. Hail Satan.

The Escalation
Metal Or Die
Salem Witches Grave

Rating: 80%

Lacerated Metal Playlist IV

As you've probably noticed, I've removed the ''weekly'' tag off Lacerated Metal Weekly Playlist. Anyway, here's the crap I've been hooked on last week.

On And On, by Anthem, off the Burning Oath album
2012, Heavy/power metal, Japan
Sounds like: Hammerfall, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Primal Fear

Syrpas Ulfar, by Arckanum, off the ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ album
2009, Black metal, Sweden
Sounds like: Arckanum, Immortal, Marduk, Carpathian Forest, Ragnarok

No Quarter At The Somme, by I Shalt Become, off the Poison album
2010, Neoclassical black metal, USA
Sounds like: Xasthur, Moloch, Darkthrone (circa 1992-1996), Emperor, [Classical + USBM]

Epitome III, by Blut Aus Nord, off the 777 Sect(s) album
2011, Industrial/experimental black metal/ambient, France
Sounds like: Leviathan, Deathspell Omega, Nightbringer, Dodecahedron, Godflesh

Perpetual Oyster, by Yawning Man, off the Rock Formations album
2005, Space/desert rock (no-metal, let's hear the insults comin'), USA
Sounds like: Space-y desert rock

My Ascension Into The Celestial Spheres, by Spectral Lore, off the Sentinel album
2012, Black metal/ambient, Greece
Sounds like: Immortal, Mayhem, Enslaved, Deathspell Omega

When Humanity Is Cancer, by Anaal Nathrakh, off the The Codex Necro album
2001, Black metal/grindcore, UK
Sounds like: Mind-fucking stuff, Fukpig, Grind n' black

Saturday, December 8, 2012

White Medal/Slaegt - Split [2012]

In recent months, I had the opportunity to be familiarized with Denmark's very own one-man northern howl, Slaegt, whom delivered a personal mini-favorite of mine with their demo. The demo was a concise emblem of the rustling beauty and grandeur of the frigid northern winds in all its atmospheric triumvirate, and depicting the gelid ambiance and spectral gloom of winter in a near-perfect convocation with raw black metal splendor, thus, I was left hungry and desirous by my brief stay in the northern asylum that Asrok conjured, and I was also promised a split offering more primal pulchritude. Now, the prophecy has been fulfilled. Teaming up with yet another fresh face from the somewhat emergent pack black metal devotees, White Medal, winter itself is evocatively released.

Unfortunately, the brevity of the split forms a blockade that prevents me from adorning the two tracks with utter praise and accolades from the start. However, ignoring that, the split is quite enlightening. Slaegt somehow refined their sound by tidying up the hazy, dissonant splashes of messiness into a more precise whole, and there's admittedly more vivacity encompassing their style. Woven complexities are, for the most part, put aside and are replaced more vivid progressions and there's a great, pacy consistency to the riffs that I can't deny, in spite of their simplicity. Though, while certain structural differences appear to be prominent, the entire formula hasn't really deviated from Asrok's previous motifs: there's a piercing surge of consistent, straightforward black metal excursions, and imagery emboldened upon the listener's consciousness maintains a somnolent balance between the horrendous glacial appeal of mountainous entanglement and a surrealistic approach that which provokes a frosty glory in the listener's fiery heart.

I won't be able to judge White Medal's styling as I judged Slaegt as I had no previous acquaintance with the group, though peering into the anatomy of the music, George Proctor's aesthetic considerations are pretty similar to their countrymen in releasing storming, uproarious maelstroms of winter cold, but there's a sense of multiple possibilities here. For one, White Medal has a lot more surprises crammed into their seven minutes than Slaegt has in roughly the same measure. There's quite a bit of raw black metal coiling going on as subtext of the more massive, explosive rancor of the vocals and the much messier ooze of the production, so the instruments all work as entirely different components; the vocals are completely nasty and haunting in their crazed howling succession, the riffs flip from formation to formation during the incursion, and the drums are absolutely thunderous in anchoring the deep onset of discordance. The two have their differences as well as their stylistic similarities; both are going to to tow different masses of audience onto their chilling anger, so if you're an old school black metal enthusiast, you're more than welcome into this chilling abyss. Choose you path; shall it be a languorous blade of icy affection, or a frenzied assault from the deepest, coldest, most cavernous corners of the Moria mines?

Lysets Dod
Them That Fear t'Wolf 

Rating: 81%  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dire Omen - Severing Soul From Flesh [2012]

Canada's repugnant, esoteric atmospheric blackened death metal worship has reached such prodigious heights in quantity that acts gradually diversifying their range of atonal OSDM bowel deconstruction and are conveying somewhat simpler ideas instead of directly corresponding to their ritualistic countrymen Antediluvian and Mitochondrion. One of my most recent excavations in this rotten pile of archaic disturbance is Dire Omen, which, compared to the aforementioned behemoths, have slightly nuanced taste in displaying their corpulent hybrid of black and death metal. I'm assuming your protesting to this nebulous tenor; ''What, another Canadian death metal band?'', and I will be replying with the inevitable answer; ''Yes'', however, don't get your hopes down yet, because in all their simplicity, Dire Omen is not at all bad news.

Honestly, the EP is brief, to-the-point, and as you probably noticed, nothing new for the occasional OSDM freak, yet it does have some strong features that are instant hindrances that negate me from degrading the band's performance. Firstly, ''Severing Soul From Flesh'' lives up for its name in every way. The band's continual reservoir of bulky death metal chugs and chops have a nice earthen grasp to them that's reminiscent of early Pestilence and early Death, rather than more massive incursions because of the great, ghastly, fleshy tone the guitar acquires, and there's quite a bit of muscular dependency here; certainly more riffs are strewn on husky complexes than Antediluvian, or, say, Impetuous Ritual. The rippling clasp of the tone has a radiant effect on the overall patterns, and what's more is that the void-like atmospheric haziness that they've supposedly borrowed from their countrymen adorn the gruesome, lacerating ferocity of the guitars, driving the listener into a delicious, aurally enhanced death metal foray.

In such tracks as ''Decaying Moral Scripture'' or the title track, the band perfectly encrypts semi-atmospheric arpeggio sequences atop vivacious tremolo ruptures that reek of Deicide circa 1990-1992. You'll also get, throughout the brief experience, lugubrious, uncircumcised tremolo patterns which actually have sstrong overtone of nightmarish imagery printed on them. To top it all, ''Deserving Of Ash'' culminates the band's prior compositions by jutting into the airy visceral rampage with immensely atmospheric black metal convulsions, and even if for a split second, you get that eerie splash of epic beauty. My only complaint was that the EP sounded like the band hadn't firmly established a stable formula yet. There's definitely a sense of imperfection in the basis of the formula when you hear odd couplings of death and black, thus, the experience was crudely frightening, even if not as horrific as Antediluvian, the combined reiterated output is something to be feared - I'll definitely be looking forward to further bloodied ceremonies by this trio.

Dire Omen
Severing Soul From Flesh
Deserving Of Ash

Rating: 80%

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ævangelist - De Masticatione Mortuorum In Tumulis [2012]

It has now become inevitable for any fervent old school death/black metal listener to encounter at least half a dozen acts that have enough blasphemous energy enough to fuck you up and toss you from side to side as if being churned inside a bartender's cup, along with the gruesome contents of the drink; viscera and subterranean effigies of obscurity. Ævangelist, however, although obviously up to an extent, fits the category of archaic Incantation worships, does not quite rock the listener as its counterparts do. Teaming up with the obscure I, Voidhanger Records they round up some of the most dissonant and abysmal content that one can imagine of; a shrewd yet completely hostile entity rearing in the depths of your subconscious and gushing out in carnal, experimental death metal oblivion; a terrifying experience that will need to dwell in your nightmares for utmost apprehension.

The debut by this mortuary ascension is wholly consuming. Matron Thorn, the delusional brains behind the entire darkened orchestra leads his pack to a tremendous, utterly compelling atmospheric triumph. As a man who has played in such acts as Leviathan and Benighted In Sodom, his transitions of experimental, immensely aural conflagrations seem almost as a natural tendency after years of experience from acts prior to this. The guitars follow well-structured textures through grating, submerged deliverance and they sprout from each other like minions spawning from their primordial cocoons and tearing, smothering each other into sensational, discomfiting oblivion, while the experimental quadrant of the album lies in one very simple but continuous surge of engrossing synthesizers, probably the band's biggest and most crucial implement in forming up the ambiance. The drums stampede amid the reverb-bathed carnage around them, and their crushing prominence add a certain muscular pattern to this nightmarish assembly.

Over the Internet, I've seen numerous comparisons, relating ''De Masticatione...'', or better yet Ævangelist, to Portal, an association I can only find inaccurate due to certain facts. Portal had  gritty and overly cantankerous textures that boasted of nothing but downright miserable noise, whereas Ævangelist definitely has a more accessible output. Additionally, part of Ævangelist's refined sound comes from their excessive usage of proto-brutal death metal aesthetics fitting over an outing of Incantation-like miasma and ambiance as I have noted above, and Portal always sounds ear-scratching; the guitars here are built for smoldering; not nettling. The only exception here is the nine-minute experimental monolith ''Hierophant Disposal Facility'', which, by lurching upon blotted ears, unites Ævangelist's own experimental speculation with nefarious industrial elements; an instrumental affair that brings the band's discordant evil to perfection.

Thus, settling upon my subconscious like some spectral ghoul from the weirdest corner of the netherworld, Ævangelist has convinced me beyond belief. Obviously, my love for ''De Masticatione Mortuorum In Tumulis'' is not strengthened by the somewhat mainstream catchiness it possesses, but by the psychotic trance it bestows on me whilst these convulsions are processed. I shall herald this as one of my favorites in not just similar atmospheric/experimental death metal groups moving about but also as one of the greatest metal releases the year has to offer us. If you too are a sucker for such immensities, then let the spectral bombast circulate through your nervous system and witness the meaning of dreary terror as it provokes innumerable nightmares. Good night.

Hierophant Disposal Facility

Blood & Darkness
Death Illumination

Rating: 92,5%

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sathanas/The Spawn Of Satan - Spawn Of Satan/Sathanas

Ouch. Christianity just got pounded. And it's all thanks to the newest duo the devilish heavy metal capital Hell's Headbangers offers Satan as sacrifice. Up to a certain extent these two impious US blackened death/thrash fugitives offer a fairly exciting, competent and even fierce release, and I'm also considering the amount of experience behind each band, since both have their beginnings dated back to the late 80's and also considering Sathanas has a total of eight albums at the ready to unleash upon mankind like some hungry mega-pack of hellhounds, but to be sure, we've tasted the same razing death/thrash frivolity a good number of times, whether it be from modern tyrants Crucified Mortals, Destroyer 666, Vomitor, Hellbringer, Mongrel's Cross or olden pundits such as Possessed, Venom, Slayer early Death and so on. So I now welcome you to yet another of of the Devil's unbridled minions.

It seems though each band only had the counterparts sufficient to compose one song, which is, in a way, better for my cause, because I won't bored to submission by continual hellish extirpation. The irony is that the entire veteran prowess that Sathanas has comes from their single-minded dedication to their own work, while their split-mate consists of members from more major acts, including the infamous Nunslaughter and Derketa even. Nonetheless, let's not divide the two because of their personal differences, after all, both don't seem far too apart from Nunslaughter's aesthetics, and both, as given on this split can hardly be considered mavens of their own distinct uniqueness. TSOS prefers a more meaty crust on their addition to the split, ''Ritual Murder'', deliberately channeling typical early 90's/late 80's death/thrash worship with chunky guitars bashing all the way through the ritualistic, devil-worshiping colostomy. I'll admit, it's hard to break the good old habit of subterranean tremolo patterns laced with a bit of blackened ambiance, but come on, this is something we've heard one too many times - even other side of the split, Sathanas does a better job at keeping the listener constantly awake.

Sathanas basically pushes the whole blackened death/thrash niche a little further, but still hardly enough for it to deviate from the previous effort. It's more of a concoction of classic German and Australian savagery, flesh-stripping and blasting and there's a nice little twist of Norwegian black metal, at least a pinch of what the Scandinavian grande had in store back in the early 90's, early Darkthrone and perhaps early Mayhem; the atmospheric glory of things unfortunately expunged from the simplistic textures. I can safely say, this isn't novelty of any kind. Structural preference is unequivocal, memorability almost non-existent and the energy is only enough to inject a dose of headbanging pleasure that should last no more than fifteen minutes. Nonetheless, this is still a decent collection piece for vinyl freaks, die-hards or goat worshiping thrashers, so they might as well attain this, at their own expense.

Unholy Eternal

Rating: 69%

Wintersun - Time I

After 8 long years, Wintersun has finally returned with part one of their new material, “Time”. I don’t want to dwell on the fact that has been a while since the last album, but I definitely want to talk about the decision to release this as two separate records. Whether or not Jari Mäenpää or Nuclear Blast made the decision, it was the correct one. Simply put, this album is an epic, bombastic affair of keyboards and symphonic atmospheres that is almost too much to handle. 80 minutes of this style of music would be physically draining on the listener, and I say that because even 40 minutes can be quite difficult to fully absorb what is going on. There may be only three full songs on “Time I”, but they are more than enough material to satisfy the listener.

The instrumental opener, “When Time Fades Away”, introduces some new oriental influences toWintersun’s brand of folky melodic death metal. By the time this song is over, you start to understand the transition in sound from the debut to this record. On “Time I” Wintersun uses more clean vocals, keyboards, and melodies. That isn’t to say that every song here is a rehash of “Death and the Healing” from the debut, but there is certainly less speed and intensity on this record. The band definitely embraced the “melodic” part of melodic death metal. “Sons of Winter and Stars” is the first epic and is actually the track that is most similar to the debut album. There are blastbeats and riffs aplenty, and the intensity is kept up throughout the song; however, you will notice the increased use of choirs and clean vocals. The other two lengthy songs are employ similar methods, but are not quite as fast. In fact, one of the most interesting aspects of this album is the huge range of dynamics. There are perfect transitions from huge, heavy death metal moments into quieter acoustic and keyboard driven sections with Jari's clean vocals over top.

My only real complaint on this record is the lack of guitar solos. They do show up (there is some serious shredding going on in the title track), but are generally less frequent and shorter than on the first record. Considering how talented both of these guitarists are, it’s too bad. The musicianship is great, but they don't show off like they did on “Wintersun”. The only major improvement instrument-wise is the great clean vocals by Jari. His singing sounds more confident and powerful than ever before. A second caution with this record is how over-the-top it is. There are numerous layers of instruments, and the band changes tempos and moods quite often. Don’t dismiss this as lacking substance; it definitely takes more than a few listens to enjoy the album, and I’m not even sure it’s fair to review it so quickly after it was released. Don’t overthink this record, just put it in and listen to it often. If you put the time in to appreciate this masterpiece, you will definitely get more out of it than your average album.

Sons Of Winter And Stars

Rating: 90%

Written by Scott Dorfman

Originally written for Skull Fracturing Metal Zine.

Asilo - Geografias/Wardance [Single]

Chugging out queer processions somewhere amid doom, drone, sludge and crust, I did not see Argentina's Asilo coming at me at all. Seriously, the moment I was contacted by the band and was not disappointed with what I heard from this two track single was the moment when hope and expectancy rose to a considerable level once again, and believe me, finding unknown modern gems underneath a bedrock of geniality is something worth being ecstatic about. Motions aside though, let's get on with the real deal here. Asilo, with whatever dwindled, grotesque murk they could muster present us with a third release, after two singles, and obviously the first release I've heard by them. This Argentinian quartet put the pedal to the drone to present with a lugubrious, almost nightmarish upheaval of dissonant bliss, something that fans of Hell, a rather recent blackened drone abomination will rather like.

The single has two songs, a total of nine minutes if you want to measure how long the lumbering inquisition will last. There's a weird twist though, the band has omitted the usage of electric guitars, and in the stead of the gushing voracity of the guitars, you have two bobbing, discomfiting bass lines, channeled and adorned with numerous effects and pedals to ravish the glory of the horrible atmosphere. They've distorted the basses in such a way that their excursions sound almost like clean, reverb-ridden electric guitar trudges, only a deal heavier by nature. Except the brevity, I really couldn't find anything wrong with the release. The opener ''Geografias'' introduces an introspective channel of hazy sludge and stoner/doom, while surpassing typical boundaries with a witty compulsion of monotonous drudgery, the terrific bass line always constant, and discordant, completely ear-gashing flutters of raw production pushing in and out of the aura; the second half of the song encloses the first chapter almost abruptly and indulges the listener in a completely new array of space-y sludge lumbers.

Wardance embraces the crust-like tendencies of the band to a far more diverse extent. The bass lines crawl along a punky passage while primordial ooze spews from their wretched rumbles, and the band completely switches to all-out-attack mode - screams radiating amid screams. The cathartic damage that the two tracks deal are so compulsive that the listener doesn't even mind the turbulence and aural disturbance, making the fluctuation seem completely viscous. And besides the terrific sludge/drone patrols that stalk you constantly throughout nine minutes, Manuel Platino arranges the analog devices and mechanical portions of the music expertly; not to mention his hellish, transient vocal deliveries. Asilo deserves praise for sure. Through the resonant, cave-riddled abyss they drive the listener through, despite the shortness of the experience, torture and pleasure at the same time is granted, guaranteed. In all, one daunting release may not suffice for such contemptuous, ravenous entities as I, but Asilo has built the essentials of a certain miserable grasp that helps it branch away from its fellow counterparts of drone and crust, and I'm overly excited about what torturous hymns they can churn out on their major craving, a planned full-length for 2013; an unavoidable opportunity for them to not only enrich their engrossed, barren content, but also to work out for an even more experimental expenditure on their disheveled aesthetics.


Rating: 82%

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Autolatry - Of The Land

Although I was aware of the presence of Autolatry's EP ''Of The Land'' for some 6-7 months, my acquaintance with immense progressive black metal output only occurred in much more latter days, wherein, I found myself deeply immersed in the almost cavernous fabrications of this woven, compulsive and fibrous complex that immediately brought vivid imagery of winter gloom and stranded desolation in the colorful, semi-mountainous forests of New England whom the band tries so hard to depict. Despite their independent status and the lack of natural pulchritude, Autolatry create a wonderfully entertaining concoction of numerous influences, deploying big portions of each into the mixture, and utilizing the depressive aura of the frigid winter cold, they really release all their potential had in store for us in a single twenty-minute discharge.

While still borrowing some depressive moods to insert into the diverse spectrum of riffs, ''Of The Land'' is particularly dynamic and does not quite give in to simplicity while carrying out these organic, bludgeoning black metal incursions, and it certainly does not rehash previously used techniques while churning the four, fairly lengthy tracks together. Of The Land's most absorbing feature is its successful blend of grainy, deepened atmospheric black metal aesthetics which may clearly scream Immortal, early Emperor and Dissection due the usage of beleaguering onsets of progressive melody, and less prominent progressive black metal elements that seethe through the fibrous dissemination almost perfectly, creating a unique, dazzling, atmospheric, and slightly depressive procession. The guitar tone is enormous but at the same time it's radiant and precise; the band professionally besets listeners with intricate guitar riffing surfing over a gigantic wall of sonic, claustrophobic Norwegian sound waves.

Originality and creativity is not encouraged and is not amiss. On ''Oak'', the group, after about two thirds of the track is complete, breaks into a gorgeous, transient acoustic medley while a dazzling lead dances over the northern lights, depicting the band's desolate journey through the winter woods. Then, further on, ''Stag'' plummets a cluster  of technical intricacies as an immense chugging brute wanders mildly in the subtext. As you may simply understand, Autolatry have created a very nice little black metal album that we can all enjoy thanks to its relative accessibility and dynamic nature, and as if their efforts did not offer enough, the whole is EP is free at the band's bandcamp, so go there now and throw in a few bucks for the unrealized glory of these progressive black metal practitioners and show your support.


Rating: 84%

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Burning Shadows - Gather, Darkness!

It's always to come across new power metal gems whilst reluctantly weeding through heaps of death metal groups, and one of my latest findings is the Maryland heavy/power quartet Burning Shadows, and their sophomore ''Gather, Darkness!''. To be sure, many who first encountered the group might have actually tossed them far off due to multiple reasons: fear of a generic output, dissatisfaction from the debut records, or simply the fact that the band is not tied together with a label might put off the more spoiled of listeners, yet I, from the very start had a burning desire to contemplate the semi-shadowy aesthetics of this war-arousing bulk of a record. There are many reasons why one might have been drawn to this album while still under the encapsulating tenor of agitation, but I'll only be focusing on the content now; so fear not, we have some damnably solid material here.

Musically, the riffs proceed with simple progressions during verse sequences and there's always a strong war-ensemble worship going on; traits that have been obviously snatched from  European power metal legends, Manowar, Hammerfall, Blind Guardian, Helloween and lesser dose of US power metal influences, like Griffin, Fates Warning and Jag Panzer, and the band's biggest talent aesthetically is forming thick layers of multi-riff bombardments and adjoining with those of of a more atmospheric, epic tangent, tightly composed structures balancing the who place. Simplistic melodies are used often enough, adorned with a pummeling percussive rhythm system to keep the swing at full momentum, and furthermore, compositions are near-drowning because the album is basically divided three burdened tracks ranging at over ten minutes each, separated into briefer segments, so there's always the risk of the instrumental parts immersing you into boredom, but surprisingly, culminating with a blast of fresh, dark aura, sturdy performance and solid riffs, banality is hardly the case.

Tom Davy has an incredibly accessible and clear vocal performance the whole way through. His voice supports clarity and no matter how the guitars shift from thrashy plummets to atmospheric, mood-laden melody explosions, his tone implies a certain strictness, very neutral, and thanks to him the band is never driven into a cadaverous stupor, or suffers from the entry of any sort of derision. In spite of the general lack of power metal surreal overdose, Burning Shadows still has a handful of tricks; on ''Man From Myth'', for instance, you have a very epic rupture of darkness pervaded by the lyrics and a very catchy range of riffs to support it, and upon further inspection, you'll find yourself deeply immersed in a saturating, straightforward black metal dispersion, which, when enforced by the dazzling enigma of wah-wah pedal, sounds absolutely captivating.

There are still tons of bands in today's scene which deserve attention, and this four-piece is on of them. Whether you had frivolous fun on the debut or not, if you're into carnal thrash excavations and the beautiful clash of melody against ambiguity, you need to grab a banner from the local medieval items stores, rally your bannerman and lead the battle against whatever evil dwells in your neighborhood, ''Gather, Darkness!'' blasting out of the steroids behind you. Colorful and solemn.

Night, with the darkness falling
Hand of Sathanas reigning down
Upon this coven
Bred in secrecy
To the wrath of God we pledge
Suffering and agony
Blessed by the will to end this tyranny

To Ruin & Divide: Kingdoms Fall
To Ruin & Divide: Man From Myth
A Thousand Lies: A New Dark Age
Braking The Sanctuary: The Infamous Down

Rating: 85%

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Humanity Delete - Never Ending Nightmares

The promise of grinding, corpulent Swedish death metal is still quite the appetite for many seeking only bare-bones aggression and simplistic glance at this nefarious sub-genre of death metal, and those who truly enjoy these redundant aesthetics should look no further then 'Rogga' Johansson's countless projects which have now literally thrown the world in  a state of heavy metal imbalance. Rogga's probably served more fuzzy, bulky Dismember-esque death metal more than any other individual artist over the last decade, yet, shamefully, only few of his projects really had an impact on the metal universe; the long-lasting horror-themed Revolting, Paganizer, the almighty Putrevore and a couple more. Amid procession of riffs, Rogga is still able to find time to come up with yet another act, something that people who are not so fervent about the idea of crushing repetition will only condone.

Humanity Delete, like all of Rogga's previous projects (except Putrevore) merely alters the grinding, thrashy kick of Swedish death metal, and ultimately consists of twelve brief grind/death ghouls that rend their way through the basics. Rogga is handling all the instruments on this record, and if I had to comment of his musicianship I would call him a strong, seasoned and potent musician, with probably the largest riff artillery among his fellow Swedish musicians, but in truth, his style is not providing thousands of headbanging fans with anything entirely refreshing, he's only, as mentioned, rehashing these obscene ruptures and presenting them in different colored ribbons, the content same. ''Never Ending Nightmares'' has a slightly stronger grindcore impulse than Rogga's other abominations: the songs are always abridged into 2-3 minute convulsions, the tone is grand and vile, the drums keep the listener bobbing his head wildly no matter the simplicity, Rogga's vocals are his classic type, harsh, bulbous gutturals imbued with a tinge of darkness, and he'll also throw in a few classy leads here and there to make a little bit of change.

''Never Ending Nightmares'' is not a bad album. But we've been spoiled so exclusively to the tenets of similar groups over the decade that it's only natural that we seek for a good deal of contrast, and a relatively good record in the least from Rogga, especially after his nightmarish assembly of riffs on ''Macabre Kingdom'', and sadly, this doesn't offer that huge measure of differentiation. But even so, if ''Clandestine'', ''Like An Everflowing Stream'' or ''Dark Recollections'' are among your top old school death metal releases and you have a frantic kick for modernized, primal brute force, and if you've already encountered half a dozen of Rogga's albums, then I can't see why this won't add up to your repugnant collection. Solid stuff.

The Eight Fire Narakas
Necromantic Sorcery
Dismal Corridors

Rating: 77%

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Paroxsihzem - Paroxsihzem

As if Canada's bountiful burden of blackened death metal monoliths did not deliver sufficient clangor and cavernous colostomy with their two front running giants Mitochondrion and Antediluvian (not to mention bands with deeper roots like Revenge and Conqueror) was not enough, the nihilistic fog that emerges out of the country-sized tundra continues to epitomize the immensely atmospheric darkness of death metal and diminish whatever futile light remained to kindle the ambiguity by producing megalith after megalith, my latest encounter of this never ending fabrication being Paroxsihzem and their heavyweight bulk of occult blackened death metal. Now signed to Dark Descent Records, the perfect, impious place for them to harbor their bludgeoning strength, the group, like their fellow countrymen loves to produce hollow, reverb-bathed vortexes that flutter through the air we breathe like some suffocating tornado, and with the additional advantages they gain with the chaotic emphasis of murky death/doom immensity, they truly create a force that would puzzle any man in disgust and oblivion.

Comparisons have associated this with the almighty Australian Portal, probably due to the same chaotic textures used in engrossing the cavernous dissonance of the album, but in truth, I tend to find them much more on par with Antediluvian then Portal, because really, the band prefers to exclude technically driven riffs and more competent, convoluted elements, preferring to simply crush in huge resonant waves, and traumatizing death/doom progressions. Incantation would also probably come to mind whenever the brain-tangling mess rises to take a fresh breath of air and morph into much more straightforward lurches, usually thick tremolo passages lead by the commodious cave growls that no doubt reek of Craig Pillard to many. But even with death metal being the essential ingredient here, there is a noticeable black metal mark on certain sections that I cannot help but love. While brief intervals may have a stronger focus on black rather than death from time to time, ''Tsirhcitna'' has a completely overwhelming forlorn infrastructure purely built around the idea condemning the listener with both punishing and pungent atmospheric black metal tremolos and indulgent orgies of chaos that I can only relate, once again, to Antediluvian.

A quick listen may easily mislead a unconcerned listener. ''Paroxsihzem'' had a one-dimensional effect on me when I first have it a spin, but only on further contemplation did its cantankerous start to shine through the simplicity. A few listen to such subjugating experiments like the finalizing ''Aokigahara'' prove that the band still has still plenty of potential that they haven't poured into their cravings on this release, and considering the brilliance of their balance between surgical occult death metal assaults and cthtonic paeans they have a scrofulous formula formulated and their propensity for excelling at discomfiting psychological torment nearly as good as their countrymen and Portal does makes them a shining, or rather shadowing gem. And along with their label-mates Anhedonist, who were outstanding on their early-year debut, Paroxsihzem is easily Dark Descent's most potent weapons. Darkness will never be eschewed.


Rating: 86,5%

Bonehunter - Turn Up The Evil

Bonehunter are probably one of the more frivolous acts to emerge out of Finland considering the enveloping horde of excellent black metal groups shadowing the country for the last couple of years, so receiving a brief EP from this unknown lascivious trio was admittedly something that I accepted with reluctance. Needless to say that in spite off the cheesy lyrical themes, the primal grooving simplicity of the thrash/crossover punch and the grinning, pedophile shrieks of the vocalist, there was a certain modified beat and hooking simplicity that I could not just discard.

The Finns are hungry, urging for vicious sex and completely frantic; and the only thing ''Turn Up The Evil'' displays a pernicious one-dimensional appetite and a rapid succession of punk-driven black/thrash riffs modernized and augmented with a chunky guitar build, made repugnant with the vocalists evocative bark-like screams that echo pain and ravenous desire throughout. Don't think the simple-minded exposure as a sort of hindrance, because really, it's more of a libation to the likes of Abigail, Barbatos, Possessed, Destroyer 666. The entire thirteen minute span of the EP is an orgy of ruinous levity, and the group only likes to speed up - no abrupt tempo changes, no doom laden gloom, and absolutely no love for melody; just outrageous d-beat precision and percussion rushing into cadaverous ebullition and evil, licentious vulgar at its utmost potential You've simple nihilistic heavy/black barrages like ''War 666'', which is pretty akin to Midnight, or carnage that borders more to cruder black/thrash mayhem, a la Destroyer 666 or perhaps Abigail, the ''street'' face of the music always pervading.

As much as I enjoyed the the raging lust these Finns have, I think there's no need to say that ''Turn Up The Evil'' is not a release you can inspect and contemplate with complete focus on its engrossing features, because this as straightforward as you can get. No modern inclinations and non-human instruments or whatsoever, no reverence for technical/progressive elements, no flashy, ribbons and strips of pulsing enigma to adorn the ghoulish demon-goat on the cover, nothing fancy, basically, just a pack of street-thrashing mongrels hungry for grime and sex, bashing against your ears. Definitely a nice addition to your collection of enlivening punk cannibals.

War 666
Sweet Metal Fuck
Turn Up The Evil

Rating: 75%

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Skeletal Remains - Beyond The Flesh

Ever since the release of their debut demo ''Desolate Isolation'', Skeletal Remains has been a band that I've pursued eagerly, awaiting for a fresh, vivid new carnage to leap out of the bush and pummel me into gory, sublime submission, and shortly after the demo, the German old school fervent FDA Recotz bring us the band's debut album, ''Beyond The Flesh'', which is a record I can firmly label as fleshy and vivacious, beefy fucking death metal with a jumpy, crushing groove do it that simply outsmarts the more casual tenets of all the Incantation/Dismember gimmicks emerging amid cavernous brute force. These Californians have specifically appealed to me (and probably other metalheads who find the current death metal trends redundant) due to the influences they pick while churning out their cajoling compositions of flesh. 

Instead of massing riffs akin to ''Onward To Golgotha'' or ''Left Hand Path'', there's a tremendous amount of Pestilence worshiping here, much more prevalent and meticulously formulated than you might think; and entire arsenal of heavyweight chunks and grooves with plummeting drum pattern stretched over it, and moreover, while a the band securely unleashes punishing ''Consuming Impulse''-esque riffs, the anatomy also incorporates plenty of early Death for that gnarly, feverishly vile ebullition of rot and bile, traditional Floridian brutality a la Brutality or Malevolent Creation, hints of Nocturnus circa 1990, and I even tend to hear that gritty technical output of death metal I always hear of Atrocity's brilliant debut, ''Hallucinations''. Surgical technical death/thrash exhumations will usually work as the main progression implement while the wretched Van Drunnen gutturals spurt vitriol all over the place, and to imbue their morbid excavations with a little bit of melody, you'll occasionally be taken with dazzling, blazing lead tides, sweeping with intense, profound melody.

Although this will drive the classic headbanging death metal freak absolutely frantic, one, admittedly can't get too pensive about the characteristics of these frivolous tracks. The monotony is relatively less compared to many of its contemporaries thanks to the clinical attitude and the adventurous ruptures leading the charge with spurious energy, but repetition may still be a semi-hindrance for those who are more considerate about music. True, such expunging angry discharges like ''Extirpated Vitality'' have the potential to obliterate and arouse plenty of attention to use as a sustenance, but the overall quality still needs a little more variation throughout in order to keep the flesh rotten all the time. Ignoring this, ''Beyond The Flesh'' is a better and much less appalling experience than the music critic could ever hope for, and as for critic/die-hard fan hybrids like me, it simply kicks copious amounts of ass. 

Sub-Zero Termination
Reconstructive Surgery
Extirpated Vitality

Rating: 84%

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ysengrin - To Endotaton

To me, the number of French bands that I have relative reverence for is very, very few. Even considering all the bands from the dawn of time as far as metal is concerned, there were only a couple of acts which were able to capture my attention, including the death/thrash massacre Massacra, and few more similar OSDM groups which proved somewhat emergent only during the early 90's, and other than that handful of crude extremes, there's only the current blossoming post/ambient black metal chorus that I eschew from listening, but had a sort of alarming impact on me. With members from the fascinating atmospheric black metal cogitation Darkenhold, Ysengrin, one of my more latter discoveries, completely varying from the fellow countrymen, have injected an addicting hermetic drug into my veins which I can't seem to cleanse myself of; the group formulates a mercurial enigma of death, black and doom, and even more surprising is that they don't deliberately eschew whatever archaic tendencies these three genres have, and throw them into their own, enigmatic concoction which boasts of some of the most refreshing, somber metal I've heard in a long while.

From the very start, ''To Endotaton'' constantly fabricates, intense, almost delusional majestic blackened death/doom, if you want to classify that simply. The entire album is a single, cavernous forty-minute journey into mysterious and occult harmony, the album's innumerable characteristics showing with color and epitomized pulchritude, and this constantly flowing tree of veins always keeps ample provisions of atmospheric deepness, adding a mesmerizing undertone to its eloquent furnace, burning with a calm but fervent fire. Eventually, due to the album's many faces, there will be many who will dub it something else, since, the listener is inflected by whatever attribute has an impact on him/her the most, but as a whole, ''To Endotaton'' incorporates so many different influences of distinct color and variation, that its spectrum eventually bursts and comes out a new, fresh monolith formed of the beautifully charred remains of its predecessors.

I'm glad the album eschews any sort of industrial/technical element that might come to mind, because such an experiment would have surely ruined the organic trance bestowed upon you that I drool so much about. The primary riffs are stationary black/doom progressions, advancing, sometimes, with a great atmospheric splendor, while sometimes simply punishing with  a more swerving complex: dirtier chugs and crispy patterns.  While a surge of mournful, misanthropic riffage struggles through a dense plume of lethargy and desolation, Ysengrin add plenty of revitalizing objects in between mourns to keep the pace active, and somehow fluent. I'm talking about crunchy thrash chugs and Bolt Thrower-esque mid-paced crushers coming in an eerie stampede, and on even rarer occasions you'll hear deliberate tremolo bashing, churning into the semi-epic aura with ease.

While the cavern-riddled utters of the vocalist will often be excluded from significance during the more rapid incursions, the tinging despair of the vocalists light gutturals will probably ignite fires of gripping tension and isolation in clean guitar- dominated sequences, where the Frenchman will present themselves as virtuoso of the dark Spanish lead guitar or simply haunting interludes. No matter how long the entire song is, through the band members' experience and savvy techniques, the tremendous hermetic strength the album holds, and delicately penned compositions, the entrancing archaic mystery that is ''To Endotaton'' exceeds. A highly, highly recommended aperture into morbid darkness. Good job I, Voidhanger, good job.

To Endotaton 

Rating: 90%

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

War Possession - Through The Ages

Bands have been making so much death metal in their putrid cavern walls and hellish kilns that it's literally impossible to escape from one's clutches, and as it has happened innumerable times, I've once again found myself writing about and unknown retro death metal act the cadaverous contortions their release projects. Once again Hellthrasher Productions bring desolate obscurities to the surface and expose their bitter display of vile bowel-butchery in the possible goriest way. War Possession, like their label mates Resurgence, are a band from Greece that really don't pen material that's gonna spoil the contents of your brain in one ludicrous, ruinous rampage. I'm not gonna go for an in-depth description of the band's obtuse delivery, even though I can safely say it packs one ugly, macabre punch, but if you know what Demigod, Convulse, Bolt Thrower and USDM sounds like, you won't have much trouble imagining the skull-chaffing index of this brief EP.

''Through The Ages'', ranging at some twenty-one minutes, takes relatively different subjects, usually warlike topics, into the music, as you'll see in the cover, which is probably the biggest connection it has to any Bolt Thrower album. The lyrical content aside, War Possession have frothing formula at their hands which they use most efficiently; a putrid, sodden guitar tone with chunky gallops flowing like a torrential stream of gore and blood, brusque tempo changes, and wretched, bile-covered death/doom arsenal, as if some posthumous being starts to gobble up your legs whilst crude utters escape its mouth - it's a horrendous experience while it lasts, but even so, you'll fail to be really revitalized by this emission of mangled flesh. There are moments like the immediate mid-paced groove on ''The Shadow Of The Ancient Gods'' or semi-technical bombast on ''World War Domination'' that got me thinking, and I sank further down with the ghastly, torrid growls the vocalist can manifest, but as far as great sequences goes, those are the only few you'll be able to think, even when baffled by the primitive brute force this hulk can conjure.

Even the poignant melodies evoke some misery in me, but the overall punishment ''Through The Ages'' serves is only gonna do damage. Yes, some pretty immense, rib-splitting collateral damage, yes, but there're definitely much more intelligent death metal acts out there who absolutely make you shed bitter tears as pain swerves and stirs up in your ear than comes out in liquid sustenance for the creator of torture to feed on; and War Possession are not one of those bands. Like I said, I'm still content with what I heard, but if they're not gonna morph into a sensation of chaotic mesmerizing darkness, like violent reflection of their spine-chilling outro ''Deathmarch'', they might as well become experts in their own art, manifesting what has already been manifested with putrid bile and gore. They're definitely gonna need some more arms if they're going to expand their retinue in short notice.

Medieval Bloodlust
World War Domination

Rating: 78%

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Black Jesus - Black Jesus Saves

Earlier this year, I was acquainted with Black Jesus, whom produced this killer EP conducted by Australia's very own mini-arsenal, The Coffins Slave, and I was surprised, even though it's made evident by all the OSDM madness going around us, of the quality of such a young act, and now, the grim blasphemers have found the perfect spot to continue to hon their artillery and ruthlessly rivet disgusted attention on themselves as they find the terrific execution spot for modern repugnant bruisers like them to feast; the terrific Hell's Headbangers Records. ''Black Jesus Saves'' is, despite all of simple features, an oblique death metal observation, belonging to both the primordial grindcore finesses of Repulsion and Terrorizer, and the more straightforward death metal footings of the bands from the same era, some Bolt Thrower circa 1988-1989, Benediction, Cancer and ''Altars Of Madness'' era Morbid Angel, all contained with frothing rage that exposes them maliciously.

Much like the grotesque demon-pope arousing gruesome energy to its befouled minions, emerging from a rotten stockpile of viscera and blasphemy, the music is disgusting. Black Jesus obtains the perfect balance between mid-paced lurches, pure grindcore fueled aggression and stockier tremolo barrages, and despite the brevity of each track and the entire EP, the band dishes out multiple variants of pain and repugnance, and provides a crude consistence and platform to plow upon for the duration. And the vocals too are horrific, almost vampiric growls that only aggravate the sickened condition of the riffs, bile erupting as the tremolos race through your ears. ''Black Jesus Saves'' may still remain somewhat generic compared to its annual components who have festered and befouled many deaf ears, but it has a great, frivolous deadliness to it which I can't easily free myself from, especially after hearing the nebulae-caked dirty thrash chugs they can conjure on ''Atrocity Generator''.

For now, the band remains victorious with only a small compendium of riffs at their hand, but with further endeavors they may be able to join ranks with modern cadaver grinders including Tormented, Revolting and their newly formed label mates Gouge, who also have great fervor for a very similar style. Releases like this come very often (and I think that's made obvious by now) but most revivalists tend to drag us on and on with sleep-injecting drudgery, and I certainly do love it when bands like Black Jesus can fabricate through simple brute accuracy; fresh and deadly splashes of rocking, rank old school death metal. An easily recommended experience for fans of semi-submersed, spurious death/grind, and +1 for Australia and The Coffins Slave.

Atrocity Generator
Black Jesus Saves
The Devouring

Rating: 81%

Friday, November 2, 2012

Engulfed - Through The Eternal Damnation

I really don't feel very zealous talking about bands which imitate the infinitely favored fashion of semi-subterranean subconscious adorning cavern-entranced hollows of desolation, simply described as Incantation worship, but I definitely get a flashing tinge of excitement when I dig out a band I dig which actually comes from my home country, Turkey, and please, throughout this review, excuse my exaggeration and fervor for one of the newer bestial burden-carriers of the futile scene; Engulfed. As you may understand, Turkey is one of those countries which absolutely cannot muster bands that can race with their global contemporaries, and given that harsh fact, the clamorous nebulae that Engulfed ruptures is actually quite professional and, being frank, well done. An inimical surge of beloved rancid death metal fitting over the hallow holes of cavernous gore-scribbled thrashy discharge is all that can be craved from the band's four song EP, but hell, it's hard not getting pleasure out of it.

Despite taking Incantation as the main aural focus, Engulfed do not deliberately eschew any other aesthetics that could riddle the dark clangor in a vacuous semi-enigma. The same crushing, tremolo-laced patterns remain as the signature element, but furthermore, the band does not bring fourth a jaded experience upon the table. The riffs are thrown out in a vigorous succession at the listener, which emanates a dynamic texture to all of the faster riffing, and even the doomy sections have subtle vigor to them, and the primary reason to the  formula is that the guitars haven't been over-enhanced and bulked up like some stuffed animal or any of the other acts in the same area for that matter, ultimately projecting a nicely executed blast of energetic dense tremolos shuffled and stirred with a tasty hint of USDM sordidness.

This formula is, in  a way what I'd like to call a cheat, because the riffs deliver outstanding punishment while sticking to the brute chugging techniques of USDM and the tremolo ruptures of ''Onward To Golgotha'', a rather beguiling experience for fervent fans of both sub-genres. And, I almost forgot about the doom department. While half of the EP gets gets banging to a dexterous groove, the other half lives off the continues drudgery it produces, a trudging line of misanthropic death/doom paralleling the more voluptuous quadrant. The doom, of course did not have a massive effect on me the way bands which directly focus on the scrofulous art intrigue me, but there's still a good deal of emphasis on the matter, meaning the tempos won't always be channeling the speed factor relentlessly. These are some solid, fortifications churned out with melody, one guitar working on the dispersing chords while the other exhales, slowly. And thus, Engulfed's fervor has bought them a deal with the old school death metal maniacs Hellthrasher Productions, and future releases, hopefully, will have a positive effect on me. For this EP, don't expect much, but you'll still have a morbid-as-fuck time dealing with its sparse and crushing tentacles.

Supreme Lord Of Blasphemy
Triumph Of The Impious

Rating: 80%

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cauldron - Tomorrow's Lost

A new traditional heavy metal resurgence is blooming and erupting voluptuously, and it's great. In a short deal of time, we got tons of fresh acts, mostly good and augmenting, and plague is on a wild surge. Sweden, Canada and the States are easily the flag-bearers in the rampage, each deliberately exposing bands in immense quality and quantity, and though Canada has been more notorious for its surgical bulk of blackened bombastic caveman and vociferous gurgle-deliverers, its still has a solid traditional heavy metal scene, and Cauldron has got to be one of the leaders of national pack of wolves. The band unleashed two consecutive full-length albums that embrace that same semi-melancholic, ball-out assault fashion of heavy metal, and on the third release, signing to modern heavy metal fodder Earache Records, they've once again succeeded in delivering the blatant and the vivacious; good news for the band's drooling fans.

Cauldron really doesn't dive much deep when it comes to penning the compositions. I mean, even though I quite enjoyed the album in general, there's always that brooding simplicity just sitting there, not sure if it should enter the derby or not, and that kind of lack of intricacy makes me feels uncertain at times, as if waiting for an explosion that's never gonna actually come. Otherwise, the whole album is in the works. They've practically mechanized their formula, projecting it the most robust way possible, and they've even started to snatch the sprinkles out from the old cookie box and start decorating the mixture. For people who are not acquainted with Cauldron's sound, let me explain briefly: the band stitches up numerous NWOBHM influences with a few segments of Mercyful Fate to boast the melancholia, and then some Maiden to keep things fresh and juicy. I actually kind of liked the limitations of extreme ecstatic energy, because the band has a ponderous base structure provided by a massive, bulbous hunk of a guitar tone, so the riffs almost sound oppressive, something like you average heavy/doom album...

There are, of course, given that the album has its fair share of dynamics, some faster hooks like ''Burning Fortune'' which shimmer with the dreary output of the chords and brisker take on the vocals. The solos are fairly impressive too; casual and crisp and they don't really break the law by exploding amid the tightly mashed doom-paced chords, more points for the band. John Decay has an interesting vocal touch, something that hovers around epic and doomy, resembling Helloween or even John Arch of Fates Warning at best. ''Tomorrow's Lost'', in total, may not be what the fans are quite expecting perhaps, thanks to the deep channeling of doom n' gloom, but with it's traditional cunning it certainly makes for a sweet treat - don't you skip this.

Tomorrow's Lost
Summoned To Succumb
Born To Struggle 
Burning Fortune

Rating: 85%

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lich King - Born Of The Bomb

So exposed to the crestfallen miasma of countless darkened grotesqueries and so spoiled to fervor-riddled old school death metal and retro-thrash throwbacks boasting the boisterous concoctions of modernity and archaic demonstrations of the olden acts that we've been utterly blinded by a stockpile of dirt and irrelevancy, which has blotted our sight for far too long. Given so many contenders impetuously entering the all-out assault, I've found weeding through the plentiful quantities and acquiring distinct quality to be one of the most arduous tasks of all, and yet sometimes, you get an abrupt, unexpected blast of fresh air in your face, arousing hope for today's metal trends. I'm well acquainted with Tom Martin's fellowship of thrash, Lich King, mainly because the continuous applause they're earning throughout the modern battlefield of thrash, relentlessly releasing new material, thrash after thrash, and yet, amid the ingenious tactics used to construct the band's latest effort, ''Born Of The Bomb'', I have to confide that I never had any kind of adoration for the band.

Before the release of this record, I had no reverence for the act, even less love for their cheesy zombie/nuclear devastation themes, and even if they excluded the lyrical antics from their compositions, the music was simply not diverse enough to appease me. What possible difference did the band have among tens and thousands of fresh act joining the resurgence orgy? None. And yet, ironically, ''Born Of The Bomb'' doe not really expand the band's parallel focus on thrash metal either. So why is it much more satisfying? I honestly have no idea. What was, to hundreds of Lich King fans worldwide, a simple, positive improvement and an advancement with nuances towards a robuster formula, to me, feels as if the pace has increased dramatically, stepping up from night, to day. I can't find a logical explanation for this brusque change of mind, but I believe this is mainly because the band has evolved into a more mature act, more serious, more professional, while still letting a bit of that beer-riddled guitar craze flow out of the band's harsh, street-bound  veins. In my obstinate persistence, I also believe that now, the band has truly found the sound they had been seeking for long years.

The entire record reeks of Vio-lence, Morbid Saint, Demolition Hammer, Exodus, and any other Bay Are oriented acts you can imagine. What the band aims with their developed formula, is something a little deeper than their previous efforts, as the band gives equal weight to various elements throughout to support the color of the album. Pure destruction and thrash driven wreckage is not the only target the vandals have hung on to, it seems, though surprisingly, it's one aspect that has improved. Immediately after the opener, ''All Hail'', ''We Came To Conquer'' literally collapses on the listener like rain of serrated sharp boulders, plummeting out of the sky, and unto the perplexed mass of people. The band's structural prose does not depend on the same, verse-chorus pattern anymore, as well; instead, some of the more harmonious blends like ''Agnoticism'' have a crude melodious captivity to them, which can instantly hook the listener. Tom Martin, whose vocal style I have scoffed at many times, is fucking mad, and the guy could have easily led men to battle while tearing down hunks of flesh with a wicked two-sided battleaxe.

I'm much more pleased with this record that I though I would be, and given that it's clearly one of the best pure thrash records the year has offered us up to this point, I think it deserves a good many accolades. Really, I would prefer the olden masters over the countless gimmicks anytime, but they are a few acts, or albums that I sometimes find myself liking more than several old school releases. This is definitely a nice addition to that list. May them never decline.

Combat Mosh
We Came To Conquer

Rating: 85,5%

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Striker - Armed To The Teeth

The amount of new bands who are channeling the Gods that bestowed heavy metal upon us don't seem to be stopping anytime soon, and I am absolutely fine with that. For every handful of newer acts that tread along the same mediocre path, there is another band taking the high road and releasing quality music. Bands like White Wizzard, Cauldron, In Solitude, Trial and Enforcer have all ushered in a new era of the '80s heavy metal sound with their brilliant releases, and now Striker is looking to join the upper ranks of today's scene after releasing their second full-length "Armed to the Teeth," ten songs full of soaring vocals, heavy riffs, stellar melodies and solos, and a large dose of fuck you, old-school rock n' roll attitude that has been missing from a lot of today's acts who focus on sounding occult or epic.

Much like most of today's newer traditional metal bands, the majority of riffs and other rhythm instruments just aren't too significant as far as the memorability of each track goes when standing on their own. Most of the riffs gravitate towards typical midpaced riffs and the occasional thrashy, speed metal type riff, but I don't recall many of the riffs themselves, but that's not really a problem given the rest of the band's efforts. Dan Cleary's vocals are one of the major highlights on this record, and a major reason why "Armed to the Teeth" possesses any sort of memorability. Not only are his vocals soothing and pleasant to listen to, but they mesh with the riffs and everything else effortlessly and they make the rest of the music better. Cleary's performance and delivery also allows for the music to resonate in the listener's skull, as he can wail away and hit high notes, sing beautifully with the melodies or put on a total rocker front which gives the music an awesome Scorpions or Judas Priest kind of feel, while Striker forges on with their own sound simultaneously.

Unlike a lot of the riffs, the melodies and solos found throughout this record are entirely amazing. "Fight For Your Life" and "Feed My Fire" both retain such a high amount of replay ability because the guitar duo's use of melodies serve as the ideal backdrop for Cleary's vocals to come in and ingrain the music in the listener's brain. "It Could Be Worse" is an infectious track that is sure to be a live favorite with its catchy rock n' roll influenced riffs and very air-guitar-worthy solos. After a few listens to "Armed to the Teeth" it's no surprise as to why Striker is gaining a lot of momentum in today's scene, as this album is exactly the kind of game-changer that can propel these Canadians to a higher level. If you're a fan of any of today's better newer traditional metal acts (Cauldron and White Wizzard in particular) then there should be zero hesitation in checking these guys out, and even if you don't, it still won't be enough to stop the rush...

"It Could Be Worse"
"Fight For Your Life"
"Feed My Fire"

Rating: 86%

Originally written for Skull Fracturing Metal Zine.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Insepulto - Morbid Spawn Of Resurrection

Insepulto is band of certain peculiarities. Firstly, the trio hail from Costa Rica, which, although is closely on tact with some of the ruling countries which present the most bombastic brutality and cavernous void-filled obliteration of the last ten years, still doesn't have an extraordinarily spacious array of bands to keep up with their fellow South Americans. Second, peeking at the gloriously fashioned craftsmanship imbuing the archaic font of the logo, I honestly anticipated a far more esoteric, cathartic performance from these brutes, and thus, the occult themes retain plenty of mesmerizing subconscious elements into the forlorn heart of the music, a traditional paroxysm leveling at the main tendencies of the classic early 90's US death metal sound. The group is stellar in the execution in the riffs however, and the sense of boredom so scarcely passes by that you might feel as if you're being battered by a ugly horde of brute demons, a twisted, daunting seminar of pain.

''Morbid Spawn Of Resurrection'' has roots generally hovering over typical US death metal inclinations, but it's more of a patchwork than a strident, predictable path, really. Amid its rich texture, I hear numerous hints of late 80's/early 90's brutality; British influences for one, seem to be as dominant as the US influence, a composite of Cancer, Benediction and Bolt Thrower forms the frontier line of base punches and dexterous blasts, especially when the tremolos, deep and suffocating, flash into a flurried death/thrash engorgement, along with inimical South American elements to represent a bit of traditional fervor, for example, Sepultura or Executer, and even even tidbits of a frothing Sarcofago surge, for listeners who seek that sordid sauce in their dish. The rhythms are, as stated, ostentatious when rupturing with the pernicious spite of the hellish gutturals, and the band has an almost amazing sense of producing grooves and spectral moods to infuse with them, and furthermore, the brevity of the tracks is what holds the bridge between them efficient; whether you'll feel the pulverizing emissions of ''Epitome'' being hurled at your stomach, the semi-epic melodic black metal output of ''Misfortune'' or the rhythmic rumbles of the metalpunk insanity ''Orthodox'', you'll always get a sense of the album's well-constructed delivery and the band's potency in creating such dangerously shattering riffs.

Insepulto manages to create a notably strong, and very enjoyable effort, despite not quite sauntering through spurious territory. It's always good to get some fresh air out of good 'ol death metal brutality out of any utensil lying around, and the item these South Americans have picked is the dark, brooding murk of Incantation, which is, to me, a brilliant fit. What else can be said about the album? They've clearly nailed the formula even with  a bit of their own flaunting succession hinted here and there, they're old fucking school, they've perfectly executed their compositions, so the only remaining gap to fill is penning even better material - not that this isn't great, it's just not outstanding. I'm not quarreling to ask for some death metal convolution, I just want even better written brick-wall riffs, I want deeper moods; I want more. Let's just hope that these devils turn all miscreant against their ancestors like the others and disappoint us on the sequel. I don't think they will, either.


Rating: 86%