Saturday, June 30, 2012

Royal Arch Blaspheme - II

In many a way, black/death war goats Royal Arch Blaspheme can be defined as a slower, sludgier version of Gospel of The Horns, Destroyer 666 or any other savage purveyor of bestial black/thrash, or a corrupted, blackened side of Autopsy, displaying massive doom metal influences whilst blaspheming with utterly disgusting black/death. With the band consisting of John Gelso of Profanatica and N. Imperial from nay other barbaric blasphemers, the second offering of Royal Arch Blaspheme is a viscous spray of pure disgust and spastic incursion of black-laden delirium, cunning with the sheer lack of speed of some of its moments, summing up for an ultimately spiteful cluster of eerie primitivism. Not only was I baffled by their cunning usage of decrepit old school death metal riffs, but I was also quite content that they found themselves a suitable label which no doubt support their cause.

Pretty much like the comparison above, Royal Arch Blaspheme lean towards the more death oriented side of black/death, and they never exclude certain doom elements from their music, resulting in a primal record, with absolutely ill-tempered gloom n' doom splattered sparse. The riffs are loaded with repulsive disgust and hate, but there also a negative side of this tenebrous combination of black and death, which is the monotony, and the lack of creativity, even though I must admit that blackened death/doom is done very right on this record. The aural stalls are sometimes drowning and even agitating, but usually the eerie embrace of the atmosphere makes up for it, especially when songs like ''Resurrection Of Depravity'' kick in, cutting into the semi drowsy slithers of the previous riffs and offering a crusty slab of old school black metal, wholly overwhelming the listener with a primal, cavernous aura. ''II'', gathers disdainful putrefaction and ear sickening blasphemy and adds a hint of ponderous melancholy on top, mixes the new formed formula, and divides it into ten well built psalms, and that, is pretty much the whole of its basis.

Even though its barbaric spurts continue to drench ears for the entire continuation of the record, I fear Royal Arch haven't inserted a sufficient amount spunk and accent into their archaic riffs, and with no major impulse to give out, the record wasn't able to give out the exact measure of corpulent scorn that it intended to give, and that's probably the biggest gap in ''II's'' all around structure. I've certainly enjoyed its ample riffs with their strident, semi harmonic cuts and twists, and what's more is that they've formed an ultimate combination of death and black, relatively different from all the other bands out there, producing totally vicious and rapid material. Royal Arch Blaspheme had their formula set from their debut album, though, and this record is a minor step back in terms of energy unfortunately as it focused more on the melancholic and numbing overtones of black metal, but fear not, I still have hope that they'll build their next record around all the things they missed in the last two, and then, we can hopefully have peace. ''II'' is incredibly robust, but a wall always needs soldiers and towers guarding it in order to maintain efficiency.

Resurrection Of Depravity
Psalm 39
When The Cruel Nails Pierced Thy Tender Hand And Feet

Rating: 83,5%

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Witchrist - The Grand Tormentor

I am, truly, a sucker for the bizarre and contempt-driven aesthetics of old school blackened death metal, such vociferously tainted music, inundating and as oppressive and devastating as a gigantic warhammer, relentlessly hammering the back of a traumatized victim, who seeks escape from the massive aura of deadly oppression. Such music has been offered to me not once, but numerous times, by acts like Pseudogod, Portal, Muknal, Mitochondrion or Antediluvian, and gives me great pleasure to add yet another bestial shroud of sulfuric blasphemy and absolutely crushing piece of black/death to this list, a beast hailing all the way from New Zealand. Not only was I completely battered and shoved away with the crippling force of ''The Grand Tormentor'', but I found its usage of subtle, captivating riffs and engulfing heft to be exceedingly efficient. Although Witchrist are at their second blasphemous offering, and I'll admit that I hadn't been familiarized with their presence until I got to know their sophomore album, which is an event that occurred totally by luck, but nonetheless, these blasphemers have firmly settled somewhere between the bestiality of Pseudogod and the cunning disturbance of Portal, or Mitochondrion, so war metal geeks have nothing to be tedious about while picking this up.

As stated, Wittchrist sound like a heftier, and more tiring version of Pseudogod or Teitanblood even as their brand of war metal has a sublime queerness and ponderousness to it, expanding its boundaries of accessiblity for relative death/doom fans. The overtone that it attains is extremely ominous and almost inhuman at times, the bulky elephantine structure that forms it sends oppressive tides of blackened death like a barrage of drowsy, yet smashing tides crashing at a puny little house, and the balance of three crucial materials that form it are preserved with great care, keeping the webs in between the ponderous chompers and furious flurries constant and robust. Yes, its structure is decidedly complex and very compelling, and that's only the beginning of its swallowing interactions. The first track (after the intro), is a song that I thought would bare a more atmospheric touch, but ''Into The Arms Of Yama'' actually sets the mood right for the next gritting cluster of songs, crushing with a walloping nine minute feast of ridiculously ponderous blackened death/doom, before breaking into an outburst of virulent hostility. ''The Grand Tormentor'' does not favor speed, that is a certainty, but that does not mean it always travels with the pace of turtle, and when it decides to spurt out its monolithic reservoir of riffs and accelerates, it shows no remorse.

The tone and production are crucial to the overall sound of the record, one can only enjoy such distorted and murky production quality, and besides, the can hear everything that's going on in there, no matter how chaotic it is, so you have to excuse for disliking the production. I found many of the album's traits similar to Pseudogod's ''Deathwomb Catachesis'', and that is a pretty accurate comparison in my humble opinion, but the vocals here are not exactly as boisterous or voluminously cavernous as the vocal work on ''Deathwomb'' as they often hide among the dense array of riffs, seldom being provoked and seldom bursting out vigorously. As much as I love the doom laden sequences of this album I can't really go wrong with the fast moments either, because the wroth of ''The Grand Tormentor'' is undeniable, and the record gets as barbaric as any primitive death metal album out there, especially noticeable in tracks like ''Exile'', ''Tandava'' or ''Wasteland Of Thakata'', which end their judgement in a way that's short, effective, though not so sweet. With barbaric groups relentlessly releasing new material, not being saturated will not be on your menu when these savages come banging at your door, and you had better give this doom inserted slab of filthy, blasphemous war metal a listen, because Witchrist will be leading the pack--you can be sure of that.

Funeral Lotus
Into The Arms Of Yama
Meditation For Sacrifice

Rating: 90%

Corrosive Carcass - Composition Flesh

Flesh, flesh, flesh. What a wonderful thing it is. Flesh, gore, and blood are things that have been manipulated countless times in the metal universe, and little surprise there; it's one element that simply wants to be grasped by scores of bands. Especially when the matter is Swedish death metal, and when bands can't find anything to talk about other than ghouls and zombies, vivisection, dissection and butchering seem like very appealing lyrical subjects, and whether you're bored of the same gore laden lyrics or not, let's admit it, the plasma creature with numerous flesh webs sticking out of its bodice is a pretty cool armament for Swedish slaughterers to use to boast their mighty heavy churning of old school Swedeath. It's another Swedish band, another list of blood-dripping caustic songs, so I ask you, what the hell is special about Corrosive Carcass and their brand of infinitely duplicated Swedish styled death metal? Nothing, if truth be told, but besides a few bands, this is the best imitation  I've heard all year, and I'm aplomb that you'll find the scathing turbulence of the music pleasuring, if not wholly convincing.

This seriously is a complete composition of Dismember/Entombed worshiping, but then again, what band that engrossed the similar chainsaw textures didn't gimmick? Sure, there's been bands that added a twist of melody there and a hint of black here to prove to be more efficient and more original, but once you have such a cunning barrage of corpse-mangling, buzz laden violence, one can only care. Something that restores the energy here is definitely the length of the songs. Almost each song is as fast as a grindcore piece and as rambunctious as spiking thrash attack, and the intensity serves as a viable instrument to behold and set loose the immense plethora of fury driven riffs that reek of old school, and of course, flesh. Even the track titles seem as if they were written by some mad butcher, or some serial killer, as the album bears titles like ''Chainsaw Dissection'', ''Twist Of  Knife'', ''Butchershop'' or ''The Flesh Is Not Enough'' which are so obsessed with murder and flesh that they seem more laughable rather than taken seriously. Over the thirteen songs on the album, only a couple of tracks show slight variation with different pacing of a few elements to garnish to the aura of the record, but as a whole, you'll find nothing but pure crushing insanity and horror obsessed death metal monstrosity.

''Collector'' has to be one of the more efficient tracks on the record, dealing twice as much pain as any with its near five minute length and sheer force that comes untouched, and some distinct aspects hidden in the brief clean guitar medley near the end. ''Composition Of Flesh'' is vulgar and abrupt in every matter, but that doesn't stop it from attaining a decent level of musicianship throughout, as I find the mass explosion of crunchy riffs to be as stamina draining as they are shattering, and the subtle melodies to be well composed and well placed among the other riffs. Yes, the path of the flesh is set, and set well I would say, but now, it's totally up to the tissues that form it to either thrive it further, or drown and distort it with their rancorous vibrations. And this album remains as one of the numerous pieces that are linked together in the formation of the flesh, and a robust piece at that.


Rating: 84%

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Witch In her Tomb - Witch In her Tomb DEMO

Emerging from an obscure covenant in Illinois, Witch In Her Tomb, a collection of barren aesthetics, exposed by the blighted hollowness of its own muffled surrounding, come to blast me away with a furious stream of teeth-gritting punk oriented black metal. Many, and I mean many, are probably not aware of the existence of the shadowed US black metal act, and few is known about them, as this demo stands as their sole release, and a murky piece of abrasive black metal, ranging at no more than fifteen minutes, unfortunately. Maybe if you're well acquainted with Burzum, Mayhem or the likes, you might not be offered anything new here, and that's pretty much the point since ''Witch In Her Tomb'' does not focus on the originality sector of the music, but this bleak expression of caustic atmosphere and the numerous strata that make up the cantankerous anatomy and structure of this demo will surely allure many a black metal fan.

My short description above gives you a vague image of what you're to hear, but I'm still going to try and extend my definition with some more detail. The strident strength and heft of the music is quite unusual for any black metal aspect, but that's what you have here in this demo. A thumping, crunchy tone with corrosive acid sprayed all over it, and I can't even describe how shattering the riffs feel at times, jolting with a gritty punk attitude, and at the same time, the rattling crashes of the simple are only bonuses for this experience. I actually felt that Witch weren't highlighting the atmospheric aspects of their music, which is a bit of an odd situation since that's what presented to you generally as an imperative of the music in black metal, but here's aggression is maintained throughout and the attained tone is enough to erode all the flesh you have, like frantic chainsaw, slowly gnawing against your skin. The band's capabilities in producing and writing explosive, yet complex material is evident by every element it possesses, but I think the real feeling of satisfaction comes when you notice that blurred tone doesn't outshine the artistic proficiency.

I really can't explain how much I enjoyed this, even though it's still not going to effect established thought of the ''Witch In Her Tomb'' demo. It's not anything only a virtuoso could pull, I'll guarantee you that, but that scarce seems to matter once you've found the perfect overtone that sets itself simple, and brain teasingly intriguing, and the arrival of this demo gets my hopes up for many, many other black metal releases that I've shunned and shadowed in the past. No, every aspect is not perfect, but every aspect is as solid and sturdy as the other once you're lost in this gritty vortex, there's really no getting out easily. It's copious guitar tone is still shredding my body and dicing away my intestines as we speak, and the sheer accessibility of ''Witch In her Tomb'' enables itself to surpass a great number of other is quality. Fleshy, fleshy black. A grinding treat indeed.


Rating: 85,5

Monday, June 25, 2012

Exordium Mors - Sacrifice, Perish And Demise

If you're intending on getting ''Sacrifice, Perish and Demise'', the new Ep by New Zealand's blasphemous five-piece, then you're in for quite a bit of a treat. Exordium Mors are relatively new and fresh warhorses in the diverse war of bestial black/death/thrashers, and the offer you black, thrash and death metal with riffs aplenty and chaos raging over the music like a malevolent storm. These vandals have been all Eps and demos throughout their good eight years, but with the arrival of their carnivorous Ep, they're bound to get a full-length album out soon, and that is something that I'm definitely desirous and eager about for obvious reasons.

One notable thing about Exordium's music is that they don't completely emit material from the likes of Bestial Warlust or Blasphemy, mainly because the diverse copiousness of their music is more spacious and sparse rather than crude and filthy like the the aformentioned acts, but they is they share something with Watain, Absu or Impiety, then that's the relentless speed, and accelerating black metal lashes that strike and batter as hard a spiked mace smashing your back, and as quick as whip, lashing out in a furious impulse. The riffs have a wide range of variety, and although their maneuvers are incredibly rapid and stamina-draining, the guitarists seem to be effortlessly shifting between chaotic black metal chord slashes and outrageous tremolo spikes, with a sprinkling of thrash crust.

Their speed almost reminds me of speed metal, though with a much more sordid edge, I would say. Despite the inexorable power of their riffs and sheer length of the songs, the music is kept fresh throughout, maintained with with spastic solos and intense black metal cravings. The most queer thing is that the production isn't as kilter as you'd expect it to be, and the music focuses on the black side of black/death(not unlike Blasphemy, Archgoat or Proclamation),  but in a way that cleanses the music of its filth and bloodiness, and keeps the bestiality and speed, then stirs with atmospheric black metal elements that you don't often see in bestial black metal bands. The opening track ''Sign Of Judas Liege'' opens the Ep with a battering riff of blackened ferocity, while transforming into a melodious break during its last minute, and pretty much all the tracks favor the same style, but boredom seldom strikes.

Even the last song, a Venom cover has bits and pieces of Exordium's relentless bestiality in it, but the album finishes after twenty one minutes, which is a bit of a disappointment because I felt the fun was only starting to begin, but for now, let's just keep our hopes high for quality material to arrive with the full-length debut. I wouldn't really call ''Sacrifice, Perish and Demise'' astonishing, but its adamant blast will leave people traumatized for a some seconds at the least, and falses will be especially driven out of their cosy place after being assaulted by this. This is a lesson in speed, aggression and hate.

Exordium Mors
Sign Of Judas Liege
Ancestors Call

Rating: 86%

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Zombiefication - Reaper's Consecration

I remember vividly that once, before I was aware of this big Swedeath comeback, I searched relentlessly and tirelessly through the internet and through whatever useful sources I could find in order to exhume obscure Swedish death metal bands back to life, repeatedly listening to demos, EPs and numerous compilations with no real intention but to build myself up an abundant library of these Swedish doppelgangers that followed the same path as Dismember, Grave, Entombed, etc. Those were before I was acquainted with the gigantic Swedish death metal revival scene that started to dominate, and then plague the world ove rthe last three-four years. Don't get me wrong now, I still enjoy the buzz-laden guitar tone with copious chord hacks splintering the necks of many, but unlike my previous experiences, bands are now finding me, instead of me digging them out from the dust. And now, there so many bands that they almost seem impervious to kind of improvement, enhancement or distinction as the classic Swedish death metal overtone has settled deep in their hearts, solidified.

Mexico is definitely not the first place you think of when I say death metal, but bands like Toxodeth, Cenotaph and Mortuary were bands that I always had high regards for, and the current scene is also starting exploit better and better material, and yet, I still think Zombiefication is one of the most propitious bands I heard in the scene, not because they carve out utterly original distinct material but because they create some most accessible, heavy and well-balanced Swedish death metal. Zombiefication have been buttering their death metal for only three years, yet their quickness and productivity will affect their global success easily, it would seem. All the traits you'd want in your Swedeath ins pretty much, big, copious guitars with chunky, hefty tones overwhelming them, momentous chugs are eerie melodies bulging into the music at times, catchy chord progressions, and very slightly decrepit production quality, grasping a bit of that cavernous touch you'd always want in your sinister music. It's authentic in pretty much every way, but nuances still tend to be exploited every now and then, like the queer mid paced crunches and craving tremolo spams cutting through the dense, boxy production, as seen on the title track.

Besides its assorted offerings of subtle melodies, ''Reaper's Consecration'' is really not much a different listen than all the other Swedeath albums out there, but the good part is that it can at least keep the music fresh and spiky, vigorous and dynamic, yet the dark aura never leaves the metallic sphere that engulfs the EP. There are some brief moments where the album presents you some melancholic clean interludes, like the brusque breakdown on ''We Stand Alone'', which then alters right back into the aggressive form that it had taken two seconds ago. The drummer lays down some very intense and powerful beats as well, and the vocals have that monolithic, hollow edge to them, but again, this is stuff that I've heard many many times before. I can't really chide or doubt the formula of this EP, because everything is right there for you to see, yet, even though this is just another familiar ring in the ear, its blatancy is formidably enjoyable and the music crushing, so I think I'll just keep urging Zombiefication forward to produce some more for my pleasure.

Death Today, Dust Tomorrow
I Am The Reaper

Rating: 83%

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Corrupt - Slavestate Serenades

There's not much that could be said about Sweden's Corrupt. They started in 2002 as Corrupted and then with a sudden change, they altered their name to Corrupt in 2004, and after a good ten years, they've finally conjured up the material to strap together and form a debut full-length. Corrupt's style can be easily characterized as a simple gimmick of mid/early 80's bitter thrash style, drawing influences from mainly Kreator, Sodom and Celtic Frost maybe, with some occasional bay area violence snatched from Vio-lence, Slayer and Exodus. With it's basics channeling through territory everyone is acquainted with, you'll have no trouble comprehending ''Slavestate Serenades'', so much as you'll find it technical or sophisticated, but either way, it can still grant you a fun listen.

Oh, I've heard the similar intense drumming and generic chugging for a long time, as long as I've been familiar with metal, so there was really nothing new offered. Corrupt do tend to excel at fast, vicious thrash attacks of the most standard kind, I appreciate how the energy is raw and and not canned, with speedy riffs flying everywhere, but even the tone is bleak and relatively weak, so you won't be able to fully pleasure yourslef with the metallic chugs and all. ''Perjury'' and ''To What End'' are prime examples of the album's vicious, rapturous barrage of slashing riffs that attack like barbaric hounds without chains to bind them, and a ''Pleasure To Kill''/''Endless Pain'' influence has a strong dominion over the riffs during their assault. Even when the length of the tracks stretch, the vivacity is maintained and the music doesn't sound half as bad as the better ones, but all in all, I was scarce interested by the musicianship.

''Slavestate Serenades'' is not a tiring listen, though, and you'll be surprised how pleasing you'll find its one-dimensional look upon thrash. The riffs are as I stated, brawny and gormandizing in a muscular attitude at all times, but I've actually enjoyed the semi-cavernous, hoarse rasps of the vocalist, consisting of traits belonging to typical black/thrash suspects. In order to boast my theory of this being related to black/thrash, I'll also bring some of the sharper riffs and tremolo pickings found ''Era Of Terror'', or the completely propulsive exploitation savage riffs on ''Dwell In Disgust'', all simple attributes, but they resemble black/thrash all the same. Even though the compositions and song writing capabilities of Corrupt are clearly futile, their debut record will still hit you like a storming whip on the back, and while it's not wholly hefty, it's as piercingly cunning as an assassin dicing away flesh in the middle of the night.

Era Of Terror
Possessed By Evil

Rating: 74%

Necrovation - Necrovation

Necrovation's humble beginnings showed no differentiation from all the other Swedish death metal bands that consumed the scene as they played a generic brand of old school Swedish death metal, complete with all the typical traits; buzzsaw guitars, chubby tones and hardcore-tinged crust attacks. But their self titled tide is no meager gimmick, and it almost seems as very few of the traits on the previous recorded have been bequeathed, and left me in confusion. ''Swedish Death Metal'' is an understatement for the eponymous Necrovation release, a dark, looming apparition born of the shadowy tides shown at the cover art, proving to be a magnificent churning of technicality, surpassing efficiency, crushing all the rules that were laid down by masters like Entombed, Unleashed or Grave, thus renewing the spirit of death metal as we know it, creating a fresh area for the genre to spawn and rejuvenate. Yes, it has only been four years in between two releases, yet the changes are dramatic, and it feels as if the band has aged near ten years.

Necrovation's self titled album is a major departure from their previous sound, so it's basically departing from the generic ''Swedeath'' territory as well. This album is eclectic, and you can notice that from its every move and from all the elements used to create its formula. I can name a vast array of influences that I found effective during the construction of the album; a strong feeling for the old sound is still present borrowing some attributes from Tormented and Tribulation especially, but besides those, there's a keen focus on some more technical details that many tend to omit such as ''Deception Ignored'' era Deathrow, hinted in the usage of queer notes and semi-technical melodies, showing a rather perverse attitude while compared to other Swwdish death acts, some Revenant slithering through the general flow of the record (especially in the vocals), and maybe even some Death circa ''Human'' as the flux of melodic thrums and solos often remind me of Chuck Shuldiner's blazing leads. These are some influences I could think of, but it's obvious that Necrovation have conjured their own sound besides those.

Atmosphere is not the right word to describe the spectral feeling that dominates you while the guitars and drums rage and collide in the background.  It's more of a feeling, a dark, gloomy feeling, but to make a long story short, it's beautiful, and sinister in the right way, without mutilating the function of the record. The guitar tone is something else on its own, thin, metallic, chilling, yet still maintaining density throughout; it cuts deeper than an executioner's blade, but it's lighter and swifter than needle while it plunges into the flesh of the listener.  It's no easy job to avoid the eerie rasps of the vocals, dispersing in a bleak, dark aura not over but in the back of the riffs, muffled and distorted yet still very vivacious and savage, no different than any sort of classic Swedeath vocal work. All in all, the technical prowess and togetherness of the music is perfectly balanced as each piece of the puzzle fits right in, and it is not feasible to construct such a dark monolith.

The level of queerness is parallel to the level of innovation and eccentricity, and whether it be the sudden changes of tempos, varied chugs, bizarre melodies engulfing the record or the most interesting piece of acoustic interludes and symphonic instrumentals found on ''The Transition'', these record is incredibly original and proficient, and in my eye, it's a collection of odd compositions embracing the bleak, dark aura of death metal, with lots of derivation, and it's near perfect. Such assorted diversity hasn't been offered to me by any band this year, and I'm extremely content with the brilliance of this album. A mixture of anxiety, confusion and wonder surrounds me while I listen to this. You will no doubt awe as I did, even if you won't like it.

Necrovorous Insurrection
Dark Lead Dead
Ill Mouth Madness (The Many)

Rating: 93%

Friday, June 22, 2012

Backyard Mortuary - Lure Of The Occult

''Occult'', may just be the term I need to describe this unsigned Australian five-piece, and this kind of dark, brooding death metal is something refreshing after getting slammed and devoured by dozens of Swedish death metallers.Backyard Mortuary do their best to avoid simple cliches, which is good news because  they're bringing some much needed contrast to the scene, and it's still entertaining to see a band bring up different old school aesthetics than the ones that are already reaching the point of over-saturation because Backyard Mortuary mash up more than a few bands together while forming their old school drenched formula. They're evil, sordid and primitive, heavily influenced by thrash metal savages like Kreator, Sepultura, Morbid Saint, much like the early 90's - late 80's extreme metal sound.

Backyard Mortuary are primitive and subdued, but they're not crude or wholly apart from technical issues. They're not entirely embracing atmosphere or anything like that, but they keeps their riffs rock solid and the guitar tone corpulent and boxy, and the thrash primitivism gets a few bonus chugs and stomps in there for additional crust and power, and once combined, the mixture sounds perfect. I'm feeling a little bit of Autopsy here with some Cannibal Corpse circa ''Eaten Back To Life'' and plenty of old school USDM elements are fashioned as well, but the most important aspect is that the record's drooling with evil, occult-laden filth, and that alone can make a very big difference. I see the much adored Swedish death metal sound is not snatched this time, not one bit as it's been replaced by other influences many will be very enthusiastic about, but at the same time, Backyard Mortuary inserts much of their own brand of old school death metal oddity into the mix, and that's the main reason I can't quite put my finger on influences and directly name a band.

Like most who spread a similar overtone of evil, ''Lure Of The Occult's'' anatomy is a riff laden barricade of cavernous savagery, meaning that the entire focus of the riffs is the same, crushing, desecrating and relentlessly pursuing with either rich thrash chomps of Incantation like tremolo merges, but with a hint of that Autopsy taste I mentioned earlier, a small outburst of sinister notes among the hefty crushers. All of the songs are longer than four minutes and majority can reach up to five or six minutes with two mega tracks; the seven minute punisher ''Mutation'' and the eight minute monolith of a song, ''Demon's Blood''. Groovy and semi-technical touches may adorn the most of the record, but doomy section a re prominent, usually reeking heavily of Asphyx with a similar chunky, full tone, doused with the occasional sprinkling of chaotic stench.

Backyard Mortuary proves to be catchier, faster and more entertaining than many other obelisks that stand and fight, while they could have, to my dismay, fought with a little bit more aggression and energy, fueling their blood. ''Macabre Butchery'' is a prime example of the formula I'm talking about. With a tiny bit of brutal death, sheer blasphemy and raw anger becomes a much more entertaining dish, and that's probably the main idea of the whole record. Ectovoid, Anhedonist, and now, Backyard Mortuary. The latest addition to my list of more ''inspired'' death metal bands of the year, and I'm adding these because their style is definitely engulfing and interesting, if not utterly innovative and surpassing in originality. Australia is gathering a mighty fine cluster of deathly old school death metal bands and they're growing each day--it won't be long before we're besieged by an army of these brain drilling monstrosities.

Macabre Butchery
Lure Of The Occult
Beyond The Grave

Rating: 86,5%

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Metal Minis #1 - Innsmouth/Mongrel's Cross - Uncanny

This is the first of the ''metal minis'' series wherein I will shortly review EPs or demos that I can't find much to say about. I will generally review two releases in each part of the series, though sometimes I may review more than two releases. It's really up to me.

The names up there in the title are not release names, but the names of the bands that have released the demo/Ep that I am to review. So now, I give you two fantastic bands:

Innsmouth/Mongrel's Cross - The Plutonian Drug/Starfire Communion [Split]

Here, we have a two way split done with two Australian bands; Innsmouth and Mongrel's Cross. Mongrel's Cross already impressed me beyond belief with the release of their debut full-length, ''The Sins Of Aquarius'', a filthy chunk of spiteful blackened death/thrash with tons of crust and cunning, but Innsmouth are a stranger to me, and if truth be told, the only reason I was drawn towards Innsmouth at first was because their name and content reeked of Lovecraft, and ''Shadow Over Innsmouth'' has to be one of my favorite Lovecraft stories. Books aside, Innsmouth play some seriously heavy, buzz-driven filthy Finnish death metal for the most part, and their brand of old school death metal is surprisingly catchy, melancholic and distorted. There's a heavy stench of Finnish death metal snatched from bands like early Sentenced, Purtenance, Convulse, Abhorrence and alike, flourished with a raw production tone,again, resembling the Finnish death metal bands. Mongrel's Cross also bend towards a more raw and blackened overtone, disposing of the heavy death metal influence that was present on the debut album and leaving dirty, crusty thrash with a chaotic black metal spice on top of it, just the way old schoolers like it. Innsmouth have enough material to make a full-length, and I'm already highly content with the Mongrel's Cross album, so we'll just have to wait while salivating over the thought of a new album.

Uncanny - Path Of The Flesh [EP]

Ah, yes. The Swedish death metal trend continues to spread across the circulatory system of the metal universe like an infectious disease, so common that many already show symptoms of the plague, but fortunately this time we have a band who's actually among giants like Entombed, Dismember and Grave as Uncanny had their debut album released way back, in 1994. So thankfully, they're not exactly imitating anyone, bu they're not exactly bringing fresh meat to the butcher either. Nonetheless, I have a substantial amount of respect of chainsaw oriented madness with the corpulent and copious guitar tone, and Uncanny are inserting a very good measure of groove into their music, sensationally pummeling the listener whilst driving neck towards the edge to destruction. It's frantic and it's still rotten, and even if you don't enjoy this sort of music that the current scene is plagued with, it's good to know that some purveyors of death are coming back from the graveyard dust to smack metalheads with a heavy current of old school Swedish filth. The Ep has only two songs, and it can still be counted as a departure from their former sound, but fans will enjoy it nonetheless.

Innsmouth/Mongrel's Cross: 8.50/10
Uncanny: 7.75/10

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Altar Of Oblivion - Salvation

Doom metal is not something I often encounter, but when there's some good doom around, you can bet I'll be up for chunks of it. The last doom record that I found absolutely pummeling and earth shaking was Anguish's ''Through The Archdemon's Head'', a tantalizing brutalizer of a stomping monolith of an album, and it was dark, intense, intricate and massive, bestirred masterfully, and although these Danish doomers make their doom quite hefty and powerful, it still tends to differ with the huge traditional heavy metal influence lingering about. I'm mentioning Anguish because I found them incredibly effective but these two releases aren't necessarily parallel to each other. Anguish is dark and cryptic while Altar is much more epic and melancholic for that sense, and Altar manages to perfect the ponderous chugs while keeping the speed at a moving mid paced level, but Anguish inserts tons of cuts into their music, sounding sludgy rather than moving.

With five songs (in which one of them is a two minute somber interlude) ranging at thirty minutes, the ''Salvation'' Ep is more of an album than an Ep. I suppose they didn't bother searching for a more original album cover though I'm quite content with the huge cross amid the dark grey sky, seething bitter despair and sorrow as it stands there. As stated, Altar Of Oblivion explores the epic portion of doom metal, roots deeply  planted in the heart of the likes of Candlemass, Saint Vitus, etc. I just loved the combination of traditional heavy metal and epic doom metal, but I'm bot certain if it was the boxy, oppressing production quality that rendered the music so gravitating, or Altar's stellar execution, but either way, I can't seem to find anything in this to scoff at as subdued, mournful doom metal has always been something that I adored. Like most bands to enhance their music with that whole ''epic'' touch, the atmosphere becomes boundlessly cloudy and epic during the chorus sections, adorned with sparse and rich melodies coming from under. ''Salvation'' also has a crucial implement to support the music; a thick guitar tone much like the production quality, only even more crushing.

The great thing is, the moods and tempos are linked together so there's no sudden change of speed like other  [metal genre]-doom hybrids. This allows the album to move cautiously and sequentially, and the pace of the music is always kept low, channeling between mid paced chugs or completely drowning doom metal riffs. Well, at least for the majority songs. The title track gets a little bit more spunk at the back and keeps things fresher and faster than before even though it's still bound to the classic formula of the Ep with iron shackes and chains. The main idea here is obvious; Altar Of Oblivion implant tons of traditional heavy metal aesthetics into their enjoyable brand of epic doom metal, and while at basis their music is simply crafted and plainly garnished, it shows that both punishing crushers and melodies of sorrowful pulchritude can coexist at the same time. This doom, is true beauty and true traditional doom, a hefty slab of epic metal you won't forget so easily. It's impact is still palpable on me.

The Believers In The Mist
The Narrow Gates Of Emptiness

Rating: 86,5%

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Axevyper - Metal Crossfire

Most of the products that come from Italy may be stale and inorganic, but I'll admit, over the last few years, they've been housing scores of traditional heavy and thrash bands, and they just can't seem to stop. Seriously, it seems that most of the prime thrash/heavy countries are mostly out of material, it looks like Italy's starting to suck more and more fans towards their cheesy thrash/heavy masses. Axevyper isn't a completely new story, but they've incorporated chunks of happy power metal elements and USPM cheesiness into their Maiden-esque brand of heavy metal, no an exceedingly rare sight I must say. And even though brawny hippies alongside with armored lizard mutant fighting space vanguards with machine guns isn't the compelling cover that can exist, I still felt sublime relaxation flow through my body as the swayed and swaggered, and the groovy beats always made by head bob rhythmically.

I suppose it would be false to say that Axevyper make their formula up completely out of old school touches because a modern sound is dominant, blatant from the crystal clear production and subtle melodies urging into the music frequently, but ''Metal Crossfire'' does tend to surface the prime aesthetics of old school power and heavy metal. That being said, Axevyper experiments the cheesy face of power/heavy unlike many other who like to engage the listener with shadowy riffs, and the chorus sections usually overflow with ridiculous positive might, with sequential chords and melodies adding up to the previous in a chronological matter, following a build-up process for the most part of choruses. The good news is, the verse, break and pre-chorus sections (basically anything that's not the chorus) are vigorous and totally neck snapping, crunchy riffs exploding energetically. The epic side of things are explored quite often, leading to lots of harmonious semi-technical riffs and melodies, but in every moment you'll notice that intricacy was disregarded and the songwriting process wasn't at all that sweaty, all though I still have some admiration for the slightly messed up song structures.

Axevyper may stall you with arrays of harmony laden melodies and such, or they may keep the beat going and their wheels hot; it's really not up to us. All I can say that the offering was mighty fine and the delivery was robust, the melodies subtle and triumphant like some previously encountered bands such as Hyborian Steel and Wishdoom, and all in all it sums for a solid release, but I couldn't help but notice that it was still generic in a way and wasn't properly distinguished or clothed decoratively, and I felt the album's heart accent at seldom. It's far from climactic I'll give you that, but at the same time, let's not forget that simplicity can kick heaps of asses when it's properly composed, and I guess it's say to safe to say Axevyper's sophomore album is enough to make a small buzz in the metal underground community without completely being able to avoid plaguing cliches so many are infected with these days. It still made my bowels gurgle for more epic heavy/power metal.

March Of Metal Rockers
Heroes For One Night

Rating: 77%

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vattnet Viskar - Vattnet Viskar

I found Vattnet Viskar (meaning water whispers in Swedish) to be a very appropriate name for this atmospheric black metal act, and there are many reasons why I enjoyed it. I'm no resident black metal fan boy, and when I listen to it, I usually like it decorating my savage black metal, or my crusty thrash, or even on top of some doom for that matter, but this rapid increase of black metal acts all around the globe sort of forced me to give at least a few a listen, and Vattnet Viskar is one of my first bands in this experiment. In a way, this Ep omits everything I enjoy about black metal; the savagery, the chaotic outburst of evil, the blasphemous approach, but only leaves me with atmosphere, and shit loads of atmosphere at that. Vattnet Viskar is monotonous and drowning all the way, so maybe a relation with doom metal is considerable, and it's perpetual and miserable, in other words boundless and spiritual. It takes you through time and space and you feel as if you're on the edge of a cliff, slowly, somberly, falling.

Yes, it's that mystical and mesmerizing. Of course, it's blatant that even though the music is very passionate and convincing, it's not necessarily something new for atmospheric black metal fans. Surely, there's been scores of bands who have excelled in a producing a similar reservoir of chaotically enchanting riffs, and even if not, you've still got traditional black metal elements firmly attached to the music. It's deep, dense and you don't whether it's spacious or not, and it's numbing. The one thing that I really like about this sort of black metal is that with the atmosphere channeling into epic moods, the music naturally obtains a bleak and melancholic stance, which is thrived even further with the passionate complexity of the music underneath blankets of ambiance. The music is may actually seem simple because the band tends to often stay in one form for along time, with tremolos lingering about for a substantial amount of time, but the music is abstruse and complex. The doom influence, as I stated above, might be hidden amid the music, drowning and sinking them as they linger, though I'm not certain that this influence completely accurate. In addition, the raw production quality has a shaking impact upon the Ep itself, proving to be very powerful and influential upon the music. The guitars are muffled yes, but the drums are even more distorted and resonant, and the cymbals almost broken and delayed.

''Intention/Oblivion'' has to be my favorite track among three, mainly because its melodies are relatively more harmonious and somber than the other tracks. It also bestows a breath of fresh air onto the album, with its distinct, comprehensible features catching the spotlight immediately. ''Weakness'' descends to the lower sections of the fret board whilst carving out some melodious tremolo pickings, and it has an atmosphere boaster during the middle; synthesizers. The Ep is also adorned with some cavernous clean guitar interludes and breaks here and there.Vattnet Viskar's self titled Ep will pleasure black metallers much more than it pleasured me, but I still learned to like it, and it certainly is an artistic and flamboyant effort, and it shows that these black metal-less halcyon days will shortly be over as I start my blistering search for more.

Barren Earth

Rating: 78,5%

Muknal/The Haunting Presence - The Haunting Presence/Muknal

What we have here, is a two way split by Muknal, a newly born blackened death metal band who create a fantastic aura and menacing atmosphere for their music, and another obscure act, The Haunting Presence, which are new to me. Both bands have their distinguished styles and own abominable attitude, but all in all, they both drive you towards the same gate, offering a rather experimental brand of cosmic, befouling black metal with supreme death metal tendencies and such. Both explore the depths of unknown miasma and evil, of blasphemous horror, and you'll be impressed by how complex the music is (Muknal for the most part) underneath that thick cloth we dub as atmosphere, and the music is so seriously evil and drowning that you might actually mistake the riffs for foolish antics, so without further due, I present to you this split.

The split consists of four songs in total, two for each band. That might not suffice, but twenty minutes of compressing black/death should keep you satisfied for some time. Most of the riffage focuses on deep, dense tremolos and sporadic black metal incursions, deviating from the norm with their slightly distinct touches, and both bands can provoke and insert tastiness and spice into the experimental array of riffs, rather than subliminal black metal impulses. When I compare the Muknal here to the Muknal in the previous Ep, I can see little change, which is good, although there are some elements that have been either enhanced or... cleansed, let's say. The drums now have a bigger role in the mix, as they're much sharper and less nullified, riffs a queer amusement to them with the direction more apparent, the vocals have been sharpened and the irrelevant bits and pieces have been trimmed, causing them to sound more ear-piercing and acute than ever, and the production has also been cleaned, improving the two tracks in terms of comprehensibility while still keeping the chaotic side of things fresh and well... chaotic.

Muknal was definitely a quality experience, and the two songs ''Hecatombs'' and ''A Winged Emblem Of Evil'' are well suited for their style. The Haunting Presence was something that I thought would have been a little more cantankerous, like Muknal, but it turned out to be more nostalgic than innovative, henceforth bringing act like Blasphemy, Archgoat, Grave Miasma and Teitanblood to mind. The band plays a heavy, darkened sort of black/death, though unfortunately not so consuming as Muknal even though I certainly enjoyed its bestial approach. My quest was initially for Muknal, but I came with yet another treasure at hand,  so the journey was well worth it. With both bands having a goof number of songs ready on their belts, I can see that a debut full-length for both is not remote; at least that's what I hope. Muknal belongs to the more experimental aggregation alongside Portal, Mitochondrion and Antediluvian while The Haunting Presence is a reminiscent of Proclamation, Revenge, Bestial Warlust, etc, but chaotic black metal geeks will find both enjoyable nonetheless.

Hideous Faces Of Unknown
Winged Emblem Of Evil

Rating: 86%

Monday, June 18, 2012

Decomposed - Decomposed

I'd been following Sweden's newest death metal massacre Decomposed ever since the release of their 2011 demo, ''Stench Of Death'', another fine slab of punk soaked chainsaw driven Swedish death metal which unfortunately didn't get enough attention as it should have gotten. With the release of their eponymous debut full-length, I can see that they've grown even more mature, and although their style isn't extremely distinguished, few old schoolers will dislike the festering crunch and crust of this maniacal chainsaw assault. Decomposed present surprisingly heavy, cadaverous Swedeath that draw influences heavily from Dismember, Entombed, God Macabre etc, and with a few merits of its own, the music becomes rich in sparse innovations and some twisted melodies, surpassing the boundaries of boredom and repetitivity, forming a rather lasting current of rotten goodness.

I do see some maturity compared to the demo, with a more professional sounding production quality and sturdier riffs, but besides those, it's obvious that they're not changing the basis of their sound, sticking to the classic Swedeath formula for the entire duration of the album. The great thing about ''Decomposed'' is that even though the riffs are nothing new, they're ridiculously catchy and groovy, and besides typical grinding power chord incursions, atmosphere is also a favored aspect, as you can notice from the frequent usage of spectral tremolos and a cavernous, sonorous atmosphere inundating the riffs. That being said, I'll also have to add that there's a threshold of murky, doom laden riffs amongst the bloodier ones doused in subtle horror. To be completely honest, I've never found the crushing, hardcore-tinged bit of Swedish death metal too pleasuring as they sound rather dull and too copious at times, but I've certainly enjoyed creepy melodies and Autopsy-esque song writing aesthetics to the fullest, and ''Decomposed'' mostly excels in inserting a healthy dose of mid paced gloom horror, giving shape to the macabre figure on the album cover.

That's right. This album is a blood chilling experience throughout, simply not excluding the melodious moans for a single minute. Despite its terrifying approach, ''Decomposed'' still has to maintain its muscular balance, as it is, after all, an aggressive death metal album. Brawny chord progressions are dotted with thrash, and they sound especially menacing and crusty with the violent percussion occurring behind, but still channeling inside a resonant sphere. The drums sort of drown in the production and get smothered, but it's only natural in order for the album to preserve the ambiance, and the vocals are another great touch; muffled groans and growls with plenty of chunk and density to them, fitting right into the murky aura of the album. The album is resonant, but not as thrilling as say the debut of Horrendous, ''The Chills'', a slightly more engulfing experience. That pretty much covers all the aspects and elements of ''Decomposed'' as they are unfortunately not plenty in variety, but that doesn't stop them from being high quality. Heads will bob as tracks like ''Infernal Torment'', ''Stench Of Death'' or even ''Ceremonial Slaughter'' lay waste to the earth, but I also loved the ghastly horror melodies on ''Macabre Vision'' or the over six-minute grand finale, ''Ethereal Landscapes'', a sanguinary Swedeath/Autopsy magnum opus of doomy beauty.

Decomposed's self titled debut full-length impressed me beyond belief and now, it's firmly placed in the ''Hope Of Death'' rack of my collection, along with Horrendous, Tormented, Funebrarum and alike. Many complain that the scene is over-saturated with copious amounts of Entombed/Dismember worshipers, but I say nay, for this scene is yet to be befouled by many, many other blistering beasts that will come out of nowhere. Come, we await your presence.

Ethereal Landscapes
Stench Of Death
Ceremonial Slaughter

Rating: 87%

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Power Theory - An Axe To Grind

Power Theory are another classic heavy metal band who incorporate different influences into their music to spice it up, even though the elements they add are never sufficient to wholly improve or flourish their sound. Despite this, they manage to produce a fine brand of original power metal driven heavy metal with tons of catchy riffs and hooks spawning from both sides of the album, and most importantly, they bring a sort of classy, semi-abysmal edge to their metal. The intricacy of the music is definitely not the main attraction here as the riffs aren't technically driven,but I even here some classic speed/thrash a la Megadeth and alike, and so long as the dynamics are kept at an adequately satisfying level, anyone can enjoy this.

Most of the accents pass through the vast maelstrom of tremolo pickings, so you feel as if you're travelling on some speed train for the majority of the record. The riffs aren't really malleable as they don't hold an incredibly innovating sound, but at least they don't blunder and mess around, because they're decisive and well crafted, striking the listener with solid punches every time. Power Theory have clearly worked well on making robust passages and solid bridges to link the riffs together, so whilst focusing on the connectors they probably omitted quality and distinction from the riffs a little, or maybe they just wanted to stick with plain, jumpy riffs, and either way, I'm content with their work as a well balanced song always beats a collection of stellar riffs. Many of the riffs give harsh clouts on the listener's face as I said, so complaining about quality just won't do. One thing that I found queer is that most of the energy on ''An Axe To Grind'' isn't exposed normally, but that's probably me. With a slightly evil touch enhancing the riffs, I'd say Power Theory gets fed by the vivacity hidden under the cloudy veil of darkness.

The vocals are a different experience too as far as traditional heavy/power is speculated. They're semi-evil just like the riffs, and they certainly don't bring much of a high-pitched, epic heavy metal taste to the album, usually taking on a lower voice with some rasps here and there. Another notable mention, is the drum work. I wasn't actually very impressed by the beats that the drummer laid, but the drums have a nice ambiance to them and they're clean and groovy all the way; that's good enough for me.The title track and ''Colossus'' have the sensationally catchy and sharp sound that you're lucking for in your heavy metal,  ''A Fist In The Face Of God'' is vicious incursion of speedy riffs, and the near-eight minute mid paced mayhem that is ''Deceiver'' keeps the momentum at a steady level by displaying some ultimately thrash chomps and stomps. ''And Axe To Grind'' ins't a release that you could dispute for hours, so just shut up and enjoy the damn music.

An Axe To Grind

Rating: 82%

Friday, June 15, 2012

Binah - Hallucinating In Resurrecture

I usually see an important release coming, either from the band's earlier demos or by simply receiving news from the label, but the debut album by this morbid UK trio Binah took me by surprise. The band didn't even have a demo released and information about them was limited, so I just obtained their debut album ''Hallucinating Resurreecture'', a doomy collision of Incantation, Autopsy and even heavily churned Swedish guitars. Even though the collection of influences is sparse and versatile, all in all, they're nothing new for a resident old school death metal fan, but then again, doesn't corrosive, atmospheric Swedish death/doom sound like a fun toy to play with? In fact, Binah's sound sounds refreshing as it's morbid and depressing, so it wouldn't be false to admit that Dark Descent has gotten hold of one of the better roosters in the hen.

There are three aspects that play an imperative role in the albums structure and efficiency. The three sections that I like divide the album to are the obvious influences stated above; the heavy, boxy Swedish metal guitar tone providing with heaps of fiery energy and supporting the crushing, rhythmic groove and with additional crutch, the haunting Autopsy overtone, bending the stiffened riffs with a bit of doom n' gloom and viscous Incantation sound, responsible for creating a malleable atmosphere for the album to be drenched with. These influences mainly form the basis of ''Hallucinating In Resurrecture'', but the album does have an extensive array for intricate riffs, so there is really more than just three pieces that make it up. All the elements churn very well alongside the low grunts of the vocalist and atmospheric synthesizers that seldom appear. the riffs are crushing as they chomp everything under them with great heft, but adrenaline fueled incursions of monstrous aggression are scarce, so this isn't really the best headbang friendly record out there.

The repertoire of riffs never cease to deliver quality old school metal, and their thrived with dismal melodies hanging, dangling on their hooks. There's definitely a ''hallucinating'' touch on the album, and that's made clear with thickness of the atmosphere engulfing the music, or the drowsiness of the elements. The vocals are nothing to be worked over for; they're low growls but they go along well with music. One thing that was really queer (especially seen on the title track) was the usage of chaotic melodies and colliding chords that heavily resemble black metal--another influence. The dispersion of the music is what drew me towards Binah's debut, and fans of atmospheric death metal should definitely give this a try. It's dark, brooding and dismal, and it reeks of depressing old school death ghastliness.

Morbid Obumbration
Hallucinating In Resurrecture

Rating: 86%

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dawnbringer - Into The Lair Of The Sun God

Lately, a new trend in traditional heavy metal has been occurring. Traditional heavy metal bands started to feed themselves with different influences from bands and styles you wouldn't even expect, and now, scores of bands have tried incorporating queer twists into their simplistic approach to music. Also, Profound Lore Records, one of my favorite metal labels of the now has been signing particularly bizarre and original bands. What do you get when you fuse Profound Lore with heavy metal oddity? You get Dawnbringer. Although I have not been able to investigate their album ''Nucleus'' closely enough, I do high hopes for the band as their fifth effort ''Into The Lair Of The Sun God'' proves to be an unanticipated blow, an inviting, innovative mixture of traditional heavy metal, thrash, early power metal aesthetics along with an atmospheric black metal touch, in order to exude memorability, and much needed adoption of warm, cleansed heavy metal overtones.

''Into The Lair Of The Sun God'' has a penchant of using queer chords and less common scales, which makes it quite a bit of an oddball in the traditional heavy metal universe. It has a relatively vast and comprehensively mournful collection of tinging melodies and such, with slower, mellow clean guitar and bass sequences usually dominating breaks. Listening to this is enjoyable because the album shows little signs of predictability, so you don't really know what's about to come when, and with such a nice, alluring selection of classic heavy metal riffs and melodious arrays of soft solos, it's hard to reject each riffs when they come knocking at your doorstep. Each track has its hands tightly around the other ones' tail, so the whole album goes on like a train as the songs follow each other, and with such obvious song titles like ''V'' (Roman numbers), you may b a little rattled and confused when you need to distinguish the songs at first. Fortunately, none of the tracks are lacklusters, and each one proves to be vital to the rest of the album.

The Archives dubbed Dawnbringer as heavy metal with heavy metal influences. Now, this is the sort of moment where you expect something chaotic, but at the same time dynamic, but ''Into The Layer'' swings its arm for another slab into the face, and you're left baffled when you can't seem to even find the vaguest of clues. You'll really need to inspect the aura and aspects of the music thoroughly if you want to find something palpable, but fear not, for your search will reveal a few dim results. The so called black metal influences are speckled across and around diverse tremolo pickings or even in sequences much more blatant like the sorrowful chord strums on ''V''. For such a misery laden album I found the delivery to be especially and the production to be warm and inviting, just like the yellow sunburst on its cover.

Ranging at forty four minutes, from outside ''Into The Layer'' would seem like a rather exhausting ride, but its spiking, vigorous riffs and well adjusted dynamics are always in play (or at least for a requited amount), so you'll be refreshed with a new breath of air and a cooling splash in the face with each track. The vocals tend to give out lots of monotony due to to their low delivery (unlike other heavy metal aspects), and that's a really interesting feature of the record. As I said, tracks vary, with ''IV'' and ''II'' being some of my favorites, but there are some truly queer twists the band can pull at times. ''VI'', for example. Its intro riff sounded catchy enough, with much treble given into it, but the real surprise came when that riff escalated into drum-guitar chomp with a synthesizer melody narrating it. So overall, ''Into The Layer Of The Sun God'' ought to be awarded with an accolade for keeping itself fresh and accessible throughout, and for the near-perfect execution of classy, soft, delicate music. It's not a grotesquery of metal, but it's a fun oddity for certain.


Rating: 88%

Wishdoom - Helepolis

Epic war has always been a favored theme in metal, though with recent bands focusing on blasphemy or gore and death, it has been undoubtedly thrown to the background, and although I see little or no bands pushing it towards its once mighty glory, Greece's Wishdoom appear to actually enjoy this epic, most glorious brand of traditional heavy metal more than others, and they've even turned their musical direction towards the lyrical themes. Wishdoom are entitled as heavy/doom, and I can't really agree on that when subtle, heavy riffs are played in a viscous, energetic manner, but it's blatant that their formula is much more than just a combination of doom and heavy metal. It's quite normal if you feel as if you're being towered by the almighty siege tower Helepolis as the music flows, and you feel as if you're encircled by Greek soldiers, spears and arrows flying everywhere while catapults fling rocks and rams batter against the wooden gates of Rhodes.

That being said, I fear most of Wishdoom's concept and adoration for fantasy and ancient warcraft in another product to keep listeners engaged and baffled, but as the album progresses this distraction loses its efficiency and listener is left face to face with the not-so-intricate riffing. The riffs are not necessarily boring, but besides w few tracks that truly stand out, they can't seem to catch a good amount of attention for the entire momentum of the album, but thankfully, they do tend to bear sublime heft and a crystal clear cloak containing them, and with the additional boast of the thumping drum beats, the simple textures emblazon themselves with a somewhat rich, compact sound. There are myriads of riffs, each similar to the one before, but I can't seem to dislike their robust execution. Glimmering melodies crawl surreptitiously while chunky mid paced stomps smash in the background, and Wishdoom keen on embracing the triumphant and epic edge of metal, pushing it towards the limits, thus, they've proved that with the substantial usage of atmospheric choris and synthesizers. All of these riffs don an armor of glory and glorious victory, shining, gleaming on the golden shields of the warriors.

The vocalist has a strong voice perhaps not exceedingly high-pitched but strong and forceful all the same, and he does play huge role whilst churning elements of doom and epic heavy metal together. The drums have acquired a plentiful amount of space in the mix as their presence is always felt, and their battering effect is persistent just like the momentous riffs; and with the war drums place, the siege is guaranteed to be a victory. Even though their features are poorly distinguished the tracks often vary among themselves; the title track is favorite of mine, its gloriously crafted structure adorned with additional elements with a chorus that reeks of victory, while ''Zeus The Thunderer'' is is a much more moving affair, giving out a classy combo of melodic riffs and jumpy solos, and ''Up The Hammers'' is the ultimate sound track of an army pushing against the walls of a besieged city. ''Helepolis'' is an original release even though it's not wholly innovative, and it's enjoyable, and the whole album is the sound track to victory. Next time you're besieging a city, be sure to take a copy of ''Helepolis'' to boast the morale of your men.

Crystal World
Up The Hammers

Rating: 84,5%

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Proclamation - Nether Tombs Of Abaddon

Right next to Revenge, another one of my top war metal acts of today are the Spaniards Proclamation. In fact, it would be safe to say that I enjoy them slightly more than the vile Canadian act, as releases like ''Messiah Of Darkness And Impurity'' are easily my favorite bestial black metal albums. ''Nether Tombs Of Abaddon'', though, feels like a much more standard affair due to its sublime predictability and and its canned brand of chaos, simply engaging the listener brutally and pasting the same sound found on the previous releases on top of a muffled, distorted texture. I'm not going to say it was boring all the time, because it surely wasn't, but variation and liveliness was not at its climax, so if Proclamation plan on staying installed to their throne, they had better think of something much more moving, and diverse.

There are many ambient choirs and short sound tracks dispersed around several tracks as a need to buy some time I suppose. Just like many albums who fail to deliver some spiking, vivacious crust, the first few tracks of this album sound as deadly and as lively as the previous albums, but no fire blazes forever, and the flames of ''Nether Tombs'' are rather futile and within a short period of time, they extinguish. The downright simplicity and half-living outbursts of chaos are nothing new to me, and within a few deathly incursions, they fade away and crumble into dust. Well, almost dust. Even that rich, saturated tone of fullness doesn't tend to affect the ability of the riffs positively, but after the mark of futility has been set, the album pretty much travels in that same sense for its entire duration.I suppose I can grant a few points for the desecrating attacks of chaotic chords and scattered notes, flying, diving and crawling onto each other, but I can't get too avid even when the violent, churning chord strums are pungent with pious evil.

The vocals are not as dissonant as I anticipated, and their well done in a blasphemously raspy matter. The drumming is just as fine, flourished with some additional cymbal abuses and plenty of blast beats, which is by no means something new. I would have enjoyed the music more if the riffs were more cantankerous and challenging, to fit the music better, but at least they're morose and downright evil, so the album still reaches for a level above average, but never too high. On this album, Proclamation were far from their best. If they had concentrated more on the passionate evil and had worked more on the details instead of spurting out simplistic chaos and plain anger, then I would have enjoyed ''Nether Tombs Of Abaddon'' more. Nonetheless, still a solid effort with decent consistency and a crushing array of black metal dozed death metal riffs, even if it's not for everyone.

Psalms Of Mortification
Regurgitated Bibles

Rating: 73%

Monday, June 11, 2012

Revenge - Scum. Collapse. Eradication

On first listen (especially if you're ears aren't hardened for this sort of bestial music), ''Scum. Collapse. Eradication.'' sounds like noise. No surprise there, though, as I'll gladly welcome another slab of disgusting, noisy and utterly chaotic blackened death metal with open hands. Surely, the number of bands who try the same abhorrent formula of pulverizing complexity and brain-harassing chaos has increased rapidly over the years, resulting in a conflict between bands who all try to achieve relentless brutality, adamant evil, and with so many poor bands colliding, the scene has been re-shaped thus many have forgotten the true leaders of the pack. Revenge come with a grindcore soaked lump of chopping blackened death metal that should make a few bend the knee.

First impressions can be abusing, and faulting, and if you're going to omit the entire catalogue with your verdict for just one riff, then you get the hell out and try something softer for your ears. Revenge bring sublime ferocity and darkened complexity to their heavily blanketed textures of gritty, cantankerous black metal, with even some old school grindcore flurry added, and with other grinding instruments involved, I doubt anyone would come out of this with at least some pain in their ears. And that's for the tougher ones, I'm afraid. So lots of melody freaks and going to suffer from sore and bleeding ears.

I'm you're a little more patient though, you're guaranteed to be rewarded handsomely for your waiting. Revenge stick to the same formula that they've always went along with, so I don't think many will be bewildered by the music here, though I especially like the execution, making the album even more crazed and crushing than it ought to be, which is great. The riffs come out of nowhere and the tempo tends to twist and churn a lot, so there you have it; a menacing black/death formula that eagerly follows and consumes, butchers and distorts and brings intricate vehemency upon the battlefield. As you ears get more used to the raw mix, you'll find that the album bares a crunchy thrash crust, and the grind drenched riffs will begin to sound more appealing with that destructive blackened punk attitude sprayed all over it. Revenge fashion the frantic face of death metal more than the chaotic arrow fire of black metal, so they do have some diversity compared to other war metal bands.

Another alluring fact; the instruments don't drown each other. They don't shun or outshine each other either, so we've got guitars, drums and vocals anchoring to balance each other throughout the whole album, and the balance is truly maintained well even though the stubborn rigidity of the music feels as if the album was trimmed with tiny break segments dividing it.  The vocals are another frantic addition to the already merciless orchestra, just like sporadic leads fragmented across the album, often switching into dog like barks and rather unpleasant exhalations instead of raspier, throaty gutturals. Put all of these together, and BAM; you have furious chainsaw guitar forays with dogs barking over it. Revenge once again show that war metal is not for softies and it's a genre that's furious, relentless, raw and crusty, so poseurs should keep out of Revenge's territory. Seriously, this beast is hostile.

Banner Degradation (Exile In Death)
Pride Ruination (Division Collapse)
Retaliation (Fallout Prayer)

Rating: 84%

Tormented - Graveyard Lust

Emerging from the depths of the graveyard dust, slithering among fiends and skeletons, the modern masters of Swedish horror return with yet another stomach-churning release of putrid, irresistible chainsaw driven groove and archaic flesh that fill not fail to achieve what Tormented achieved in the near past. Tormented are one of the most successful bands to create top-tier Swedish death metal, the way it was made in the 90's. Tormented are no strangers to this style. Their debut album ''Rotten Death'' was a prime example of old school Swedeath, and they succeeded in churning the ghastly sound of chainsaw oriented punk madness with some of their own twists, bringing contrast and quality to their music. Their latest EP, ''Graveyard Lust'' is the exact continuation of the previous release, and many fans will be pleased to hear that their sound has stayed fresh (although still very rotten), so this is simply another slab of horror laden graveyard metal, decorated with all the fine elements of elegantly composed brutality.

Another thing that you should be content about is that the EP rages for a good twenty-five minutes packed in six songs (only eight minutes less from the album), so many will gladly feast upon this bloodied piece of thrusting carnage. As I said, this basically starts where ''Rotten Death'' left, so don't expect to find too much variation compared to the debut. Tormented's classic brand of tinging, brooding melodies flow just like they flowed previously, bringing an even more eerie overtone to the hefty riffs. The riffs still preserve their putrid stench, channeling through a combination of mid-paced chord progressions, standard tremolo picking that get slightly muffled in the mix and rabid gushes of punk inspired chainsaw mayhem--all, the traditional traits of Swedish death metal. I can't really dub the material here as original, because Tormented have mostly borrowed styles rather than creating their own, but every track is a burden of groove and a sensational onslaught, crushing and hostile in every way, and still, Tormented manage to get some liveliness into those raw riffs, with hint of looming melodies, a dash of distorted production and that fantastic buzz saw guitar tone to top it all.

It's fun yes, but I just couldn't help but feel that Tormented wasn't dwelling upon whilst writing their songs as some tracks had little to separate themselves from the others. The title track and ''Slowly Twisted In Death'' are superb compositions of necroptic Swedeath, but some other pieces like ''Revel In Blood'' or ''Horror Of The Faceless Man'' just stick to the very basics of the formula, sounding a little bit repetitive at times, even though they're still farm from dull or boring. The production here has a tiny bit of more spark and light on it then before, so the riffs don't entirely drown and die, and the drums sound much more efficient and clear this time, sounding like more of a beast than a monotonous metronome. Each track is nasty and cryptic of course, and we have the fantastic vocal delivery of singer/guitarist Andreas Axelsson. HE sounds as if he didn't age a bit even though there's been a good gap of three years between this EP and the debut album, and his sick voice is muffled and obviously manipulated, adding a hollow dissonance to the harsh, throaty snarls and growls. He  growls well, but I'd say his voice is also suitable for a vicious, fast thrash metal band in the vein of Sodom, Kreator, Morbid Saint, etc. This EP brings good news to fans, because with six tracks already recorded and released, a second full-length shouldn't be very distant. Until that comes out, enjoy this piece of grisly Swedeath excellence.

Sick In The Dead
Slowly Twisted In Death
Graveyard Lust

Rating: 85%

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sanguis Imperem - In Glory We March Towards Our Doom

Sanguis Imperem have been donning their armor and sharpening their blades for a good six years now, and this is their album ''In Glory We March Towards Our Doom'',their debut which came out last year on the fantastic old school metal label Hells Headbangers. It's actually been some time since I was last exposed to death metal like this; strong, filthy, dark and militant, taking influences from acts like early Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower, Immolation, and maybe even some Deicide and Incantation, flowing through the veins of the bestial death metal assault. It's an assault, though in many a way it differs from other bands who fashion the typical Swedeath or Incantation trends these days, making something relatively different, though still not achieving discombobulating complexity. Even so, this is dark, serious music and it's not a merry frolic around the park. Despite being so bestial and stubborn, Sanguis Imperem manage to keep things memorable and constant and all times.

Almost the entire of the anatomy of the album features bludgeoning, dense tremolo picking sections with some power chord hostility thrown here and there. The song writing here is more impressive than I would have thought, because they're definitely not scrawling here, and although the riffs come from the same root, they're somehow highlighted in their own unique way, giving simplicity and harsh shove along the way. The riffs are all spiraled, frantic, twisting chops and brutal chugs, and they all follow each other, like a train with all its wagons at the back, loaded with heavy material. I wouldn't really call it ''a train of brutality'' because there's more to the riffs than just blatant brutality, but the sublime heft is an important factor for making the riffs work precisely, plus, since the album seldom tends to give a break the riffs carry a sort of monotonous tone, numbing yet enjoyable. As I stated above, the traditional art of contemplating cadavers and pulling out graveyard fiends is missing, only to be replaced by a furious mid paced bestiality.

Although this can be classified as death metal directly, there seems to be a few small elements in the combination that reek of bestial black metal or black/death. These scents are scarce, but as you go over the album a few times you'll find the the vague black metal influence to be a little more clear and the drudging riffs will become more of a treat. I love how dual guitars create abysmal harmonies just before the appearance of ponderous chord slam, throwing itself into the music as if drunk and drowsy. The vocals are another garnish fro the album; they're generally hostile and take on lower tones, but sometimes a second voice joins in the choir or horrors and a much more eerie sound is obtained, seething with evil. All of its elements sum up to a top notch old school death metal album, filthy, cruel and belligerent, and if you findfrom the rotting flesh many exploit today too rotten, than take something fresher, something a little more arduous, then the glorious Roman incursion that is Sanguis Imperem is for you.

The Crucifilth
Praeternatural Order
The Scourge Of Men
Inherit Decay

Rating: 86%

Satanic Bloodspraying - At The Mercy Of Satan

Bolivian black/thrash group Satanic Bloodspraying have been signed to Hells Headbangers Records to offer invidious ferocity and demented aggression packed in a brief case of twenty five minutes, spurting out venomous black/thrash mayhem with little hesitation. This primitive incursion will surely gather some eager black/thrash fan boys, but when it comes to judging the music itself, unfortunately, ''At The Mercy Of Satan'' leaves a tiny mark of the listener's ear and it's wholly futile in originality, making it derivative and less abundant in surprises. It's obvious that these vandals have omitted the presence of intricacy from their raw compositions and one-dimensional style of song writing, but for what it's worth, ''At The Mercy Of Satan'' makes an irresistible headbang feast for all those who enjoy fast, vicious and plain music that's driven towards the edge of extremity.

Although it's relatively short in length, not all of the songs and riffs manage to capture the frantic vivacity of typical black/thrash bands. The album has moments where mid-paced, almost doomy black metal sequences flow bleakly, so I'm afraid even the whole formula of blind savagery isn't perfected, leaving out a good number of flaws in the album. For some reason, Satanic Bloodspraying have been related to Impaled Nazarene, and I can see that's no false accusation, though several other influences are undoubtedly present, most likely early black metal aspects and even some classic black/thrashing a la Destroyer 666, Usurper and Nifelheim. Sure, influences are aplenty, but when the richness of the music is considered, you'll easily notice how bluntly sophisticated this album is, and many good elements are excluded from the mixture, leaving what we have here. I like the grinding edge of the volatile guitars, colliding and mingling with each other often and even more the raw rasps which come alongside the frantic riffs to increase the energy.

Despite it's lack of prowess and arduous riffs, ''At The Mercy Of Satan'' has some variation left in it, all fractured fragments of typical black and thrash metal traits spread sporadically across the crashing riffs. The first track ''Draining Blood'' should sink its hooks into any black/thrash fan just as it captivated me, an almost blackened grindcore type of song, repeatedly crashing and battering for a minute and fifty seconds. With a first impression like that, I found it hard to admit that the other tracks (expect a few) were relatively much less efficient and alluring, so be warned, the first spurt might fool you. ''Satanic Skullfuck'' starts pretty much where the previous one left, with similar propulsive, gritty riffs and simplistic textures, and the current doesn't deviate until ''March Of The Dead'', a more atmospheric affair, garnishing itself with second wave black metal elements, and giving a break to the whole aggressive formula. I didn't find ''At The Mercy Of Satan'' irritating, though boredom will come, even though it may not come very frequently. A good effort for a debut, and I hope the next strike will sink lower than before.

At The Mercy Of Satan
Satanic Skullfuck
Draining Blood

Rating: 75%

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Abyssal - Denouement

Fertility in death metal may not ring much of a bell when you think of Britain, but besides archaic giants like Benediction, Bolt Thrower and Desecrator, the current scene is growing more prominent and more strong each day, with such brilliant black/death bands like Grave Miasma, Spearhead, or the Incantation worshipers Cruciamentum collectively inspiring the scene around them. Although Abyssal is dubbed as black/death metal, their foggy, dispersed array of strident black metal chaos does not quite fall into the same bill as the bands I mentioned, assimilating and snatching influences from different bands. Now the cover art may not be very ''metal'', but first impressions can be faulting, and Abyssal's debut album is as professionally written and played as it can be, which is another baffling fact because these guys aren't even signed to a label, much like their black/death partners Morgirion.

I found ''Denouement'' to far more accessible than I expected and much more technical too, because Abyssal sure know how to fuse semi-technical, even brutal death metal elements with dark, cavernous and even atmospheric aesthetics that are used rather often in black metal. I would call this blackened brutal death metal, if there could be such a description since most of the death metal riffing falls behind the classic old school taste, and even though I'm not the biggest fan of the fast, aggressive, most pummeling genre of death metal, lots of the instant passages and darkened tremolo bursts catch my attention right away, and those fantastic shifts which completely flip the whole battlefield into another terrain stand as rather complex and converging pieces of music, no doubt arduous and stamina-draining. The important fact about about ''Denouement'' is that there are two strictly divided sections, black and death metal. Groovy convulsions and sudden outbreaks of melody and temper control these bridges that turn death metal into black or vice-versa, and with such an atmospheric, yet acrobatic maneuvers, the album immediately begins to pull minions with its grappling hooks.

As I said, I'm not the biggest fan of brutal death metal, but as each riff is ominously fashioned and laced with rich, chaotic texture, I find it hard to think of these riffs as boring or even repetitive for that matter. Breakdowns are obviously highly present and highly reactive, but there are also more mellow shifts that are less sudden and eccentric, like the occasional channels of minor arpeggios and slightly faster, but still melody and desolation oriented black metal tremolo sequences found on ''Celestial Dictatorship''. I might complain a little about the dragging, less flashy moments of the album though, parts where the aggression dwindles while melody and feeling take the front row. Abyssal plant a few brutal death metal chugs and stomps into the mixture, but even though, there are a few moments where I didn't really feel the energy too much. Even so, despite a few little flaws, ''Denouement'' manages to break free of the chains and ivy binding it down with a vicious upthrust of vivacity and aura laden black metal, and for an unsigned band, they really make their music tangling though still entertaining.

Deus Vult
The Moss Upon Our Ruins

Rating: 79%

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