Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Metal Minis - Vilifier - Okkulta

Vilifier - Rehearsal MMXI [Demo]

Vilifier are a rather intriguing black/death act to appear from Australia. Their material is does not defy the Australian traditional of gore soaked raw bestiality, but their three track rehearsal demo provides a little more than standard, compulsory black/thrashing onslaughts or fluent, dissecting raw black metal inclinations that seem to be getting popular every day, simply by exposing the music with almost sophisticated touches. Think of a slower Teitanblood or a more chug laden Antediluvian, fuse it with glimpses of unbridled ruptures, and you have Vilifier. The band excels at constructed well-maintained bridges to fluctuate between monotonous death/doom trudges and voluptuous moments of festering precision, blasting out rancid, piercing tremolos here and there. While it is short, the fifteen minute demo introduces and introspective channel that finds its way through darkness and chaos, and therefore there’s plenty of variation here, with the cherry on top of the cake being the abrasive, ear-shattering growls of the vocalist, a cavernous experience. Even amongst the more seasoned and professional acts to emerge from Aussie, Vilifier somehow stands out, and any resident war metal fan should have no problem welcoming this demo.

Okkulta - Witch [Demo]

Okkulta hail from Sweden and they’re yet another traditional heavy metal act to embrace the old school fervour they possess. However, their inclinations lean towards a somewhat eviler brand of traditional heavy, as stated on the title of the demo. The occult, evil, blasphemy and sorcery all seem to be themes that interest the young outfit, but queerly, they don’t fail at projecting that fervour onto their music, and all of a sudden you have two concise tracks, darker than any usual aspect to emerge from Sweden, and the slight deviation serves as the fulcrum of the demo. ‘’Devil’s Truth’’ leads the listener viscously with a visceral guitar tone and a couple of catchy tremolo passages, ultimately finalizing too quick for the listener to properly appease /himself/herself. Almost black metal-esque chords disseminate as they melt into a hooking verse and the vocals sing along truculently, a little immature but still decent. The following piece ‘’Witch’’ keeps a slightly more intricate persona, and scatters the demo into a more ritualistic hymn. Perhaps not all the aspects of the demo were well done, but I still enjoyed it. This may augment into something more promising in the future.

Vilifier: 8.50/10
Okkulta: 8/10

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Natur - Head Of Death

Natur rehash a somewhat less preferred side of traditional heavy metal, simply projecting the dry, semi-rambunctious aesthetics of the olden gods Maiden, Priest, Raven, Tygers of Pan-Tang, and so on. I suppose compared to the retro, almost modern sounding streams of traditional heavy metal bands this is a trend that strikes less often, though personally, I’ve never thought of the NWOBHM as genre that should be rehashed directly infatuating with its traits, but rather a strong sauce to decorate other gimmicks of influences with. Natur know the basics of the formula, and their fervour for old school metal is also a notable aspect, but eschewing anything innovative or not being able to opt from many choices will not get them much far. I like this, but it simply cannot surpass the boundaries of originality.

The main problem about Natur is that the music they produce is somewhat empty and dry. Somehow, they’ve perfected the classic chug-laden gallops, and the strict manner of riffs, with nice bluesy solos flying here and there, but the in-depth segments of the formula are amiss. Natur likes makes use of the improved amplification, swelling the tone of the guitar to a notch chunkier than usual, which is good, because now the riffs can characterize themselves by punctuating each not exuberantly, and other than that, semi-melodious intervals also tend to take the listener of sojourns of nostalgia, and thus, the drums play genuinely simple beats, but they have an earthen feel to them which makes the nostalgic trip even more evocative. These are all plus points for the band’s performance, but after a single spin, the blandness of it will become almost palpable and perhaps the blandest performance here are the vocals; the vocalist is obstinate to remain at the same tone for almost the entire duration of the album, singing very casually in a strict, almost stiff manner, and after some time their outshined delivery begins to cause umbrage.

‘’Goblin Shark’’ and ‘’Decion’’ are my favourite tracks here; they flaunt the classic image the entire album projects just as well as any other song on the album, but they’ve got a reasonable and almost quality essence, especially on the chorus section of ‘’Decion’’, where the album arguably reaches its climax with a semi-epic, sing-along structure. The band is probably much more potent than they show on this album, but for some reason they’ve released merely a tidbit of what they can pen, leaving the inmost essence of the album mostly empty, simple and predictable. It’s an enjoyable album for only when you’re at a rigorous state, and while it still had its ephemeral moments of glimmering quality, it didn’t make my blood run rapidly through my veins and I seldom felt excitement. It’s 1980 all over again, sadly, though, the majority of metal bands have thirty years on Natur, and the band will need to step up their game by a huge pace if they ever want to catch up after their efforts on ‘’Head Of Death’’.

Goblin Shark
The Messenger

Rating: 77%

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ashencult - Black Flame Gnosis

Though this may seem somewhat ignorant to many, it’s a fact I never take minor, unsigned bands too seriously, and especially if they complete newcomers to the scene; much like Philadelphia’s Ashencult.  Honestly, Dissection worshipping isn’t a thing as popular as the other trends plaguing the scene today, and for one, I’ve never quite found myself immersing in these bands, and therefore I can wholeheartedly admit that what Ashencult gouges is not just simple gimmicking, but an embellished and creative display of their love the monumental black metal act, and it’s one paean that withstands the rape of many irrelevant obstacles and clichés that generally restrict many acts from gaining and culminating their nature with full force. To sum up, Ashencult delivers a most classic edge of black metal in a robust way, pursuing near-perfection.

Watain, Sacramentum, Dissection. All are undoubtedly important pieces in the construction of Ashencult’s formula on their debut full-length ‘’Black Flame Gnosis’’, but each brick used in the architecture is doused with the band’s entertaining twists and turns, and with captivating distinction readied from the start, Ashencult sounds like an impressive congealment of multiple inflections and often it opts from its extensive set of aspects, elements and tricks, and pours a little bit of each in inadequate portions to build up the songs, and once mixed with aural effects the album sounds truly well-constructed and professional sounding. The convocation of numerous styles is what enables Ashencult’s music rich, flavoured and deliberately consuming, wallowing. However, besides the elements that the band snatches from certain sources, there is a crucial aspect that renders the largest portion of the album eloquent and embracing; atmosphere.

The melodic black metal inclinations that ‘’Black Flame Gnosis’’ possesses are incredible. Each melody pattern is executed with astute precision and suffuses over the pervasive dissemination of chords, melodies and other violent discharges, and they dive through the thick, enclosing fragments of ambiance to make their way to the listener’s ear first, ultimately serving as a swerving arrow narrating the entire movements of the riffs. When the mournful melodies are not there to guide the riffs into triumph, the band unleashes a rupture of bulky patterns and savage black/thrash riffs, aiming to make amends for the lack of melody with carnal, sinister brute force, which they undeniably exceed in. With such a perverse gait set for the riffs to perform and travel in, the album effortlessly bounces from a barbaric black/thrash incursion to dispersing black metal attack to a Dissection-esque melodious tremolo progression, enthralling whilst smothering in infernal black metal.

Ashencult puts the final brick in place for the ultimate experience; the vocals. The cavernous, subterranean rasps are nothing new to me just as they are nothing new to the majority of black metal fans, but such harsh, shrill and encompassing rasps cannot be skipped without praise. The vocals boundlessly shift through the tremolos and as if you don’t  have enough to behold and immerse yourself in, they make the album a whole lot bleak, and a whole lot cold, as much of the band’s desolate, sombre approach comes from the remote rasps the vocalist lets out. I’ve seen bands emerge from the underground abruptly and produce mighty fine efforts, but even the better bands in the field leave a couple of demos behind, which is proof that they have some experience. I’m not sure whether Ashencult’s members are veterans of the genre’s bleak, fuzzy aesthetics, but all the blatant proof is before us, the proof that leads to the verdict that Ashencult produced the most unpredicted and impressive debut release of the year. I cannot recommend this enough for fans of grandiose atmospheres and melodious, solemn black metal. Indulge yourself, now. 

And as if the band didn't do enough, they're offering their WHOLE album for free. Go get it now and give away a few bucks to support their cause. 

Race Of The Blood Insane
A Glorious Elegy
Dark Law/Black Fires Of Chaos

Rating: 88,5%

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Morbus Chron - A Saunter Through The Shroud

With last year’s ‘’Sleeper In The Rift’’ Morbus Chron firmly established themselves as one of the effective and cunning death metal bands of the last five years. It was their sheer eloquence, their fleshy brand of Swedish death metal that set them apart from the hordes that engulfed the death metal scene, and with their impressive manoeuvres, the found the spotlight and won numerous accolades for their lasting, fluent effort. Now, it seems the band has got a tighter grip on large audiences, signing with Century Media Records, an undoubtedly advantageous move for both. Century Media has long been signing crappy modern metal acts, therefore this release may put off some strict underground fans, but of late, the label has been picking up some of brighter bulbs in the batch, and these fellow Swedes are one of the label’s front runners without a doubt.

Their debut showed substantial promise for the young act, and their Ep ‘’A Saunter Through The Shroud’’ continues to pursue that goal, but rather than having a huge impact on the scene, it forms the basis for an upcoming sophomore, and it serves as a joint that binds itself to the upcoming record. Morbus Chron has already escaped from the clutches of the generic Swedish death metal cliché with the debut album, but this Ep enlarges their innovative sight a deal further, and with a little more technique and experience, the band has now simply surpassed all the obstinate hindrances of the genre, and is vigorously charging towards an even more intriguing future. The main two influences I can put together are ‘’Human’’ era Death and ‘’Deception Ignored’’ era Deathrow, hints of carnage-riddled Voivod, even nuances in between arduous passages that resemble certain Finnish death metal acts, particularly Demilich and Convulse, and there’s tidbits of Autopsy as well, hidden in certain bowel-disintegrating lurches. All of these influences congeal into a brazen fusion, and once you insert a hostile, ferocious cross of Chuck Shuldiner and John Tardy, an organic and somewhat unpredictable array of drum beats, you have a gulping, menacing combination that reeks of originality even though all of its pieces are snatched from other sources, and it sounds as if Morbus Chron is inaugurating the flowering of something new.

The coming of a completely new advent does seem like delusional idea from a distance, but the band has just started to churn its fruitful compositions, and I can only hope there still much to hear from them. That said, Morbus Chron’s excursions are very alien too. On the Ep, the band almost never dementedly charge of pummelling, crushing bombardments of heavily-bestirred Swedish grinding, but instead keeps tangling the listener with fluctuating chains of gore-riddled technicality, and such incursions are nearly unpredictable and seem alien even after numerous spins. The vocals are the main powerhouse of the band here; the growl out ferociously and their serving is far more primal, however well used. I can’t help but listen vigorously with diligence to the band’s hostile work, their astute approach to classic death metal, and albeit this Ep will not appease the most voracious of listeners, it will most certainly keep the drooling constant. 

Channeling The Numinous
The Place Of The Four Hundred Volcanoes 

Rating: 84%

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dead River Runs Dry - Winter 2012 [Demo]

Dead River Runs Dry is a freshly forged, and burgeoning new black metal project by Dan Nahum, the man behind many other Australian black metal projects, including the newly flowered Azoth and Bleakwood, all of them successful churnings of reliable, consistent and somewhat aggressive qualities of accessible black metal of high calibre, despite the lack of attention they are all receiving. Although all of Dan’s projects are relatively new to the scene even though the mastermind himself remains a veteran of the genre’s aesthetics, and with his talents he is able to construct yet another demo for his newest project Dead River Runs Dry, four tracks of constant black metal, each overflowing with vigorous catharsis, erupting into brusque, disseminating rupture and keeping the trail they flow along pure and unmarred, avoiding many of the genre’s deterrent clichés.

The name of the demo suits the brevity of its musical traits, being simply entitled, ‘’Winter 2012’’, which obviously calls upon the frigid windstorms and environing bleakness that it projects. The demo is not exceedingly concise, and thus within that short time it captures a good amount of attention. The most entertaining thing about this demo is that it simply reflects bleak, desolate landscapes and blasts out garrulous black metal franticness at the time, leading to a diverse anatomy, one that neither too arduous to comprehend nor too simple. The demo serves swerving, overt black metal without hesitation, and the production supports the angular changes in the atmosphere, having a somewhat dry, yet loud consistency, and in order to tighten the grasp on the vivacious, frenetic authenticity of the aura, the demo will often switch abruptly into a hooking chug, or perhaps a less intense chord attack.

Dead River Runs Dry embraces its gelid, solemn expanse but exploring through deep, grandiose feelings where the level of emotion reaches its climax. Although such patterns are rare amongst the blazing barrage of brazen tremolos and harried outbursts, the band does give a fair measure of room for such sections, and the most emotionally tainted track is probably ‘’Dying Gleam Of The Sun Eternal’’, sombre and entrancing while delivering a mournful array of lurching, ponderous tremolos, dispersing the atmosphere into a fragile landscape, all of a sudden. All in all, Dead River Runs Dry is a very worthy release and a considerable alternative to the waves of black metal bands, and thus, the power of the Australian metal scene has once again been proved, crushing all the competition with an iron fist. Along with this demo, Dan Nahum’s other projects are also highly recommended, each of the same nature, but surprisingly variant. 

Way Of The Plunderer
Dying Gleam Of The Sun Eternal

Rating: 80%

Friday, August 24, 2012

Devil Ancestry - At the Seat Of Evil Ecstasy [Demo]

It’s nice to see so many bands embracing the sluggish characteristics of old school death metal, but let’s be honest; too many bands trying to re-activate the genre’s apathetic, droning and ponderous elements by simply rehashing the instrumental aspects of Asphyx, Rottrevore, Autopsy and the like, which is admittedly nothing more than simply a monotonous version of the brutal emphasis of crunches and chugs of death metal; a poorly innovated brand to excel in. And as although I’m not scoffing at these death/doom trends, there is simply no room for the evil, bleak aura to consume and desolation to utterly aggravate the listener’s emotions, so frankly the focus of the true evil, monotonous atmosphere captured by the mighty ‘’d’’ and Winter is something we death/doom fans are devoid of. Australian act Devil Ancestry fabricate four compositions of lugubrious queerness ranging at only eight minutes in order to capture that sound which is redolent an utterly alien din of bizarre ghastliness, reeking of befouled and molested cadavers.

The main reason this act seemed so appealing to me is that their compositions are not pungent or fleshy, and such a perfect, brief demo that emphasises on nothing but the drudging ooze of the rotten, dismal sludge that it belches is certainly not something you often hear in today’s scene. In fact even the scene in the 90’s did not support such dissonant and grotesque calamities, and the closest thing I can relate this is the black/doom outfit, Mordor, a short lived group, yet incredibly disturbing and evil, calling fourth a monstrous aura upon the field. Devil Ancestry does not take on all the traits of Mordor, because some of its attributes incline towards Demilich, as the Finnish legends also had a penchant for delivering swerving pageantry, completely alien, and yet our Australian newborn does not entirely resemble Demilich either, taking on simpler chugs and queer chord progressions, dispersed and underpinned by the hefty bumps of the base.

‘’The Rib Of Adam Created Shit’’ is the demo’s starter. Once it commences the listener is indulged in a lethargic orgy of bowel transitions and all sorts of awkward quivers, and yet although it’s an alien experience from start to beginning, it’s obvious that the band does not try to pen compositions that are arduous or convoluted. The diverse spectrum of the music is actually maintained with interesting tactics. The band does not travel underneath cavernous and subterranean monoliths the whole time, but rises to the surface every now and then during its concise lifespan, and simply utters out almost indecipherable low growls whilst keeping the field dissonant and deceptive by continuously harassing the listener with discordant beats and volatile guitar thrills, simply enchanting as they rot. The final track ‘’Curious Potion’’ goes on for two and a half minutes, serving some spikier death/doom chords, all occasionally backed up by synthesizers. The guitar tone is not spiking, nor is it crunchy, but it does not fail to crush the listener while swaggering ponderously. In all its dismal, brooding and bowel-shaking sense, ‘’At The Seat Of Evil Ecstasy’’ is an intriguing listen, albeit the band doesn’t reinvent the wheel here. The demo was shamefully short, and it leaves waiting for the release of and Ep or full-length. A recommended experience for those who enjoy the dissonance of blackened death/doom.

The Rib Of Adam Created Shit

Rating: 82,5%

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Deserted Fear - My Empire

Germany’s Deserted fear are yet another act ready to frenetically embrace the aesthetics of the classic death metal sound of 1993, without endeavouring too much in the process, dexterously committing themselves to the momentous swing of the old school death metal flux going on these few years, without, unfortunately making any major deviations in the momentum of that swing. Bands like Deserted Fear have passed by ears nearly countless times, and they each deliver a fervour-driven blast of exuberant USDM, but unfortunately few seem to be actually potent at  rehashing the genre’s boundless accessories and traits and expand it further, or even inaugurate a pinch of musical astuteness. The Poles are arguably the most dominant race over the overt, brutal and double bass-ridden tendencies of acts like Malevolent Creation, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Massacre, Master, and albeit I only partly enjoy the brutal old school death metal that they bountifully gouge out, I’ll have to admit that Sphere, Centurion, Embrional and other related bands do their job well.

On the other hand, the debut release by these Germans, ‘’My Empire’’ eschews innovative tactics and embellishments to its simplified base texture, and for the most part remains as a dry, yet scornful and ear-bashing rupture of blatant muscular power.  It has a burden of husky spasms that it sends forth right away in each song, though the riffs are mainly bulky and apparent to the listener, with no way of engrossing the music or even making it a little more eclectic, and whether it be a chunky strident of tremolos, an energetic mute feast or a frenzied barge of chords, the album cannot provoke a salivating demon inside, ready to be tempted. That being said, at least Deserted Fear do not fail to add a certain groove to their rhythmic incursions, hurriedly sending a spasm of bulking neck snappers to do some justice. Had Deserted Fear inserted a brief pageantry in each song – just a brief one, then the record could have become a much more entertaining listen, but this is imply far too stable and far too plain, and drudging and monotonous at that, no matter the speed.

Destroying with muscular attacks and feverish excursions is the only thing this album’s good at, and even that is not something they excel at, apparently, and you don’t have to spin the album too many times to notice that. The first three songs actually showed more promise than their following counterparts, reflecting the ominous undertone of the album more prominently. The band is actually relatively savvy at guiding the listener through darkness-inflected tunnels, bearing a wicked evil death metal stench, but queerly, the majority of the album is a lethargic progression of bulks and  punchy chops. I certainly did not hate the effort conjured up by the young Germans on this record, but there are far better bands that excel in this brand of 90’s death metal, rendering this only a fun, frivolous listen for those who like to contemplate numerous acts dwelling, sweltering around the same field. And frankly it’s not much more than that. 

The Battalion Of Insanities
Nocturnal Frags

Rating: 70%

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Razorwyre - Another Dimension

New Zealand’s Razorwyre are yet another group retro of traditional heavy metal musicians, an exuberant quintet who are not afraid to demonstrate the classic clichés of the genre, often exposing their fiery fervour for old school metal with vivacious channels, choppy, percussive rhythms, soulful vocal delivery and speedy speed/thrash tremolo slashes, proving to be a band that devote themselves to the old school term entirely. Much like today’s modern power metal acts, the band likes to magnify the presence of the meat of the guitar with loud, bashing amplifications, and by penning semi-complex compositions, genuinely short and efficient. The number of retro heavy metal outfits are growing prodigious, and while scoffing may seem like a reasonable action to many who’ve suffered the fashioned trends numerous times, it’s best that you stop complaining about it, and just enjoy the music, as Razorwyre are thriving the swing of genre even further.

‘’Another Dimension’’ is the debut album and sole release by the band, but the band’s humbler version, Gaywyre (what a pleasant moniker) had a nice little power/thrash output named ‘’Coming Out’’. The band has not been around for a substantial amount of time, but their efficiency, their punchy grooves and rhythms are far superior to the primal releases of the band’s contemporaries, and although the material the band gouges out is not entirely sufficient to curve towards a more innovative nature, blatant influences such as Maiden, Priest, Dio, Helloween, interact with other speed/thrash clichés, and the influences are dispersed sparsely, and you’re left with eleven tracks that are redolent of something else each. Old school dominates the whole atmosphere, but it’s clear that the band gets a lot of help from the benefits of technology of the modern era.

While still being generally aggressive, Razorwyre gives plenty of room to more soulful, sombre manifestations of emotion, and they veil it in the deepness of the vocals, and such an overtone is occasionally spewed forth, showing prominence on track s like ‘’Hangman’s Noose’’. Of course, the album obviously embraces velocity and hooking riffs over depressive mourns. A surprisingly wide spectrum of variation awaits you in the album, some of the most sordid, raw manifestations being jumpy speed/thrash catharsises like ‘’Knight Of Fire’’ or ‘’Desert Inferno’’, while ‘’Nightblade’’ or Wind Caller’’ principally espouse a lighter sound, soaring vocals underpinning the catchy plate of heavy/power hooks, but all in all, all the songs take you towards the same crater, only dragging you through different paths. Razorwyre’s material is easily one of the classier speed/thrash/power/heavy gimmicks around, and albeit it’s all stuff I’ve heard before, I can’t help but vigorously bob my head to its frivolous and predictable excursions. 

Knights Of Fire
Desert Inferno 
The Fort

Rating: 85%

Monday, August 20, 2012

Deiphago - Satan Alpha Omega

You’ll hear praises about how violent and brutal a band is, and I’m sure a good score of metalheads have pondered the question; ‘’Are they really that brutal?’’, which leads to obvious answer of ‘’no’’, as in today’s scene it’s merely impossible to figure out a band that can truly ravage and annihilate with muscular strength, and most of that comes from the lack of advents, and thus, we’re stuck with a stockpile of impetuous brutal/technical muscle flaunters, a burden of bands so prodigious that never seem to cease in number. However, there is a positive side of this tenuous plague, depending on your way of defining ‘’violent’’. Blazing and furious on the wheels of their sophomore ‘’Filipino Antichrist’’, Deiphago blast out an utterly relentless matrix of storming riffs and unbridled, raw black metal, nothing more. Not only is ‘’Satan Alpha Omega’’ violent but it’s also a contaminating clangor of hellishly repressed abhorrence, a deathstorm of sporadic and blasphemous excursions, clawing their way through rippling shadows.

The band’s hostility is their most apparent aspect, or else they wound sound like utterly useless and bleak noise. I’m sure that the compositions under the festering shaggy blanket of rawness are fairly intricate, boasting some prowess in the least, but the true victor of this battle is the band’s inclination of exhaling a diverse plethora of riffs individually, and menacing atmosphere produced as a result of this traumatic clamour. Deiphago don’t sound like their having a hard time shredding their instruments in the record, and they even sound somewhat zealous whilst spurting out such blasphemous carnage. They’ve taken on an even messier sound than their previous album, espousing sounds widely used by carnal black/death outfits Conqueror, Blasphemy, Bestial Warlust, Revenge, some Portal and even tidbits of raw black metal to go along with the scratchy gnaw of the album’s callow, crooked set of teeth, grinding as it sweeps over your flesh.

Deiphago feverish pursuit is a harrowing experience from start to end, scarcely giving space for the listener to breathe, but this cathartic clamour is admittedly sometimes deterrent. I am a sucker for such monstrously hoarse ruptures and disseminating, chaos-riddled excursions, but the truth is that the album becomes a little too tiresome after sometime, and the frenetic barrages of hate sound, well… repetitive would be the wrong word so I’ll have to say suffocating. The tracks bear their fair share of variation, since each one sounds as concise as grindcore track, but deliberate harries are simply too much. I’m sure resident war metal geeks will drool over this, and I’m not denying my love for war metal, but someone with a hint of sense would keep away from this records contemptuous cymbal abuse and flesh-ripping tendencies, to avoid being teased by its barbaric primitivism. After you pass ‘’Atrocities Absurdities’’ I can guarantee you that you won’t feel half as comfortable as you were before you gave this a listen, because its angular lashes become so numbing that you begin to quiver and shake tremulously, your nerves jutting brusquely about. I, for one have the endurance to withstand its incursion for a good ten hours straight or so as long as I am supplied with the sufficient nutrition, but anyone who’s ears have only heard soft, polished music should keep away from this at all times in order to avoid possible ear fragmentation. You’ve been warned.

Tracks are only variant beneath their complexity, but certain tracks still carry some palpable differences. ‘’Human Race Absolute End’’, ‘’Heretic Oath’’ and ‘’Atrocities Absurdities’’ are songs that will abuse with the same spectrum of elements that go along with the album throughout, but ‘’Crucifixation’’ is a psalm of mournful chaos, while the finalizing title track feeds the listener a tremulous wave of cathartic compulsions, right before breaking into yet another heinous rupture. Despite a large flaw carving a deep gap in its stomach ‘’Satan Alpha Omega’’ does not displease. You have all the makings of a furious, hate-driven barge of impious flames and chaos, with not the slightest bit of monotony. Its hoarse shrieks shall shatter your ear drums, its drumming shall batter down your bones until they’re bloody and fragmentized, and the ripping pursuit of cadaverous black/death tremolos shall slash through your flesh and rip it to shreds, like a hellhound rasping inside your very bones. Deiphago prove their ability for those who are eternally loyal to the underground’s evil-infested auras, but anyone who has no place in the very depths of hell should stay away for their own good.

Satan Alpha Omega
Demonic Munitions
Atrocities Absurdities
Human Race Absolute End

Rating: 83%

Tantara - Based On Evil

As I am quite busy, my queue of un-reviewed albums is growing longer, and I can't quite find sufficient time to review them all. That's why from now on I'll be swapping a few reviews from my buddy at the amazing Skull Fracturing Metal, both to gain some time and to promote each side. Such exchanges will occur at seldom, meaning once or twice a month at most, so don't get high expectations. So without further due, here's a great Tantara review by Lister. Enjoy, and give Skull Fracturing Metal Zine some love here

Had you told me that Norway would be unleashing a wave of great thrash records in 2012 I probably would have laughed at you and thrown on some Mayhem, however Norway is starting to become what Sweden is to death metal for the thrash scene. Add Tantara to the list of bands to release some great thrash this year, though the sound on their debut record "Based On Evil" is pretty different compared to their countrymen in Nekromantheon, Deathhammer and Aura Noir. The aforementioned bands all have a darker edge to their sound, whereas Tantara is straight up Bay Area thrash worship done right. It would be like comparing the other bands to Slayer or Sepultura while describingTantara as Metallica, Exodus or Vio-Lence.

One thing that might turn metalheads away from this album is the length. Every track is longer than five minutes and some are eight to nine minutes long and fans who have short attention spans may completely write Tantara off once they take a look at the length of each song. Luckily the band knows how to write their songs so the listener doesn't get bored and there are plenty of shifting dynamics in the songs to keep one's headbanging. The album starts off with the title track and it's pretty much a typical thrashing song that reminds one of Metallica on "Master of Puppets" or Vio-Lence on "Eternal Nightmare." The next song "Mass Murder" is the first of a few to incorporate a clean intro before morphing into another thrash-riddled mosher with its catchy midpaced riffs, awesome vocals that sound like the bastard child of Zetro and Hetfield, and incredible guitar solos. While on the subject of guitar solos, the lead guitarist Per Semb is one hell of a shredder and the solos on "Trapped in Bodies" in particular are phenomenal. His melodies that are interwoven throughout are also nothing short of stellar and the acoustic guitar solo on the album closer "The Killing of Mother Earth" is impeccable.

The best part of Tantara's music is definitely their ability to create riffs that are not only memorable (which is actually difficult for newer thrash bands) but ridiculously catchy. The first set of riffs on the track "Human Mutation" is probably the best example of this as I find it near impossible to not headbang along. Now I'm sure a lot of people won't dig these guys because they sound a lot like Metallica (musically), even using the same producer in Flemming Rasmussen, but if someone took a listen to just one track off of "Based On Evil" I'm sure the band will have a new fan. This record is going to be a difficult one to top in the future, but I'm sure the band could do it. Any fan of 80's Bay Area thrash done right needs to invest some time in listening to Tantara and "Based On Evil" because it's a fun journey full of twists and turns that will leave the listener foaming at the mouth for more.

"Negligible Souls"
"Human Mutation"
"Trapped in Bodies"

Rating: 85%

Originally written for Skull Fracturing Metal Zine

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Visigoth - Final Spell

Naturally, I would expect bands from a certain country to reflect their traditional traits on whatever genre they’re playing, but as the years pass, urged into a parallel void where these things occur quite differently. We’ve got bands from all around the world fabricating classic 90’s Swedish death metal, while the Sweden lately has scrutinized the aesthetics of other genres such as epic doom and traditional heavy, the Brazilians and Italians have all of a sudden morphed to an army of Bay-Area thrashers, and now we have Salt Lake City’s Visigoth, playing some melodic power/heavy metal that would easily beckon and draw more fans of Blind Guardian, Pharaoh, Hammerfall, or other bands which excel in the more thickly constructed trend of power metal which is Euro power metal. The band generally espouses such a traditional, Euro-oriented sound, but the glamour exceeds with a little bit of Priest, Maiden, Accept, Griffin, with a hint of rocking groove.

Visigoth’s ‘’Final Spell’’ Ep is simple, spread out over generally predictable patterns and textures, but for what it’s worth, it’s quite fun, exuberant in the way it’s flashy sturdiness sheds light to the aura, and it definitely calls forth a more modern sound. I honestly did NOT expect such an output of harried ruptures and absolutely frenetic charges and compulsive blasts. Visigoth doesn’t deliver anything spurious, and simply lets the audience know what they want to offer and offers it well, even though it’s quite blatant that they send forth their vigorous ways in an apparent way, giving no room to any sort of engrossing aspect.  Its real hook, however, is the massive bulk of a guitar tone. Such a tone wields no secrets and not much cunning either, the immense, shattering meatiness of the tone simply goes under and over anything the album displays, from its wide range of semi-melodious chugs to epic moments with dual vocal harmonies.

Every track is a coherent follow up the one before it, with no major deviation in between, though with such memorable consistency you’re likely to entirely swallow up each song, and thus murmur them one by one. The chunks and chugs on crushing guitar tone add the major punctuation the Ep is asking for, but the seasoned vocal delivery is also a beckoning aspect, and they sound magnified even over the spaciousness and spark of the chug laden barrage of the guitars, and what’s more is that the vocalist achieves that sort of static prominence without raising the pitch of the tone, uniquely strengthening the delivery. There’s not really many tracks you can opt, but my personal favourite is the intro track, ‘’Creature Of Desire’’ a feverishly driven impulse of lethal energy and semi-epic steam rising at the same time, and simple it is, I must admit that I gave it more spins than my regular listens. ‘’Final Spell’’ is not engrossing by a great mile, but it still gathers and sews together all the great things you’d want in your power metal.  

Final Spell
Creature Of Desire

Rating: 84%

Friday, August 17, 2012

Drawn And Quartered - Feeding Hell's Furnace

Over the last few years, I’ve found myself growing fonder and fonder of Nuclear Winter records, and they once again sharpen their blades for the release of a crushing excursion. Firstly I must say that Drawn And Quartered are new to me, despite bearing such a fragmenting and aural brand of death metal that I love, and before I actually heard the album I had my fair share of apprehension building up inside of me, of fear that the band would prove to be yet another retro, modern death metal group. And I really couldn’t be bothered reading a few reviews before I got my hands on the album to get some information of what they sounded like. In the end, it was not the anxiety, but the miasmal fear contemplating my every breath that overwhelmed me took me deep into the corpulent abyss, without refining the death metal’s boundaries by even a stretch.

For people who are always ardent about new Incantation gimmicks popping up, ‘’Feeding Hell’s Furnace’’ is a coherent and malevolently driven, dark and shadowing incursion of monotonous bestiality. Bands that imitate infamous acts of the 90’s like Immolation, Incantation or early Morbid Angel eschew new, innovative tactics, even it comes in minor packages, and they remain obstinate, keeping eternally loyal to the primitive aesthetics that were created alongside the genre’s birth, left raw and unmolested. I’m not going to deny that Drawn And Quartered fabricate riffs built upon the same texture that’s been used over and over again, with maybe a hint deviation, but I’ll have to admit that they worship Incantation well, and we’ve already came across scores gimmicks, so there’s no point in scoffing at the trend.

Remember that slight deviation I referred to? Well, that’s actually a handier implement than many think. ‘’Feeding Hell’s Furnace’’ principally harries with its ghastly, immolating cluster of tremolos bestial incursions at a rather speedy gait, even though the tension of the velocity ceases abruptly at times to fluctuate into an enthralling monstrous death/doom gulp, but the band’s melodious tendencies also kick in often as not, scathing twisted melodies that reach deep inside your subconscious. It’s a tremulous journey, there’s no denying that, but queerly the band raises the dynamics to a vigorous pace and sometimes even cleanses the impure, dissonant gobs of filth to retain a cleaner atmosphere to boast the energy of the dexterous jumps and kicks, lashing in and forth dynamically. The vocals always remain true to the dispersed and ill-natured blasphemy produced by the dissonant clouds moving about, a wallowing shadow of megalithic inner-fire.

The production is twisted and glorified with profane impiety, like thick barge or fog clothing, slowly suffocating, but I still found it to be a tinge cleaner than most acts which excel in the same areas of death, particularly Father Befouled as they’re a very laud-deserving act for their latter victories, but the subtle melodiousness of its nature does not leave the album devoid of its harrowing waves of blasphemy, but in fact aggravates the tense, asphyxiating atmosphere and narrows it nearer. I can gladly add Drawn And Quartered the stockpile of crushing exhausters, and you may as well have some appreciation of the hooking horror of the impiety filled atmosphere the band can cohere so easily. Feel its shrewd exhalation of evil. 

(Oh, and I'll grant some extra points for the deftly chosen band name. ''Hung, Drawn And Quartered'' is an OSDM classic.)

Feeding Hell's Furnace
Mutilated Offerings
No Absolution

Rating: 87%

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Altar Of Oblivion - Grand Gesture Of Defiance

Brooding over the latest Ep of the Danish doom bringers, ‘’Salvation’’, I never actually saw this, an album coming. Me and Altar Of Oblivion don’t really go back long, but I was quite well acquainted with their Ep which was out earlier this year, and as I was entirely pleased by the results, I rushed to obtain their latest material. I was baffled when I saw the lengthy bulk of thirty four minutes four minutes filled with completely fresh material, proving that the band is much more productive than they seem. Personal emotions aside, Altar Of Oblivion present a true magnum opus with ‘’Grand Gesture Of Defiance’’.  While the album doesn’t deviate even marginally from its predecessor, it culminates the band’s soulful, mournful aura of epic doom metal, and delivers it in a nearly flawless manner, not exceedingly sophisticated but not entirely dull or repetitive either.

Although there are many doom masters who inflict hefty exercises of crushing ponds and stomps upon the listener in a melancholic edge, there aren’t quite many bands which excel at the same extent as Altar Of Oblivion. ‘’Grand Gesture Of Defiance’’ is definitely a mournful monolith of epic pulchritude, and the majority of the record does indeed flow in a ponderous way (although still very fluent whilst doing so), but part of the melancholy comes from the subtle passages that adorn and augment its epic touch, and never is it drudgy or drowning. Lots of people compare Altar Of Oblivion to King Diamond, which is a very relevant comparison in any way. The band espouses such a melodious embellishment and disperses it throughout the album, and a heavy/doom sound is also more considerable compared to the dry doom metal tag, as the band channels into swifter, catchy excursions more often than many doom metal obelisks, leaving a sweet, forlorn and almost lamenting traditional heavy metal taste in your mouth.

Eventually, the sombre attitude of the album pervades, and another surprising aspect leaves it mark. Despite being relatively more intricate in compositions and structure than most traditional heavy metal bands, Altar Of Oblivion’s music is memorable, and you’ll find yourself murmuring the melody driven chorus more often than you’d think. The guitar tone was a disappointment at first, I must admit. While expected something just as bulky and rich as the tone on the ‘’Salvation’’ Ep, I got something that’s only half as muscular, or dense, and although the guitar flickers with lower notes just as often as it foes with higher, shriller notes, certain moments where the only thing that ruled the music was a groovy beat and choppy chug felt empty. I eventually got used to it, though, but I still think Altar Of Oblivion could have done better in the tone department, especially when it came to releasing some tasty chops.

All in all, though, ‘’Grand Gesture Of Defiance’’ proves to be a marginally better performance the fantastic Ep released before it. A beautiful churning of soulful vocals, culminating choruses and memorable patters linked together soothingly is what it is. The Danish will probably expose their poignant climax, but even they can’t reach higher heights, this stands as a beautiful monolith of sombre and epic doom metal – one that’s a guaranteed win for fans of traditional heavy, doom, and all sorts of epic metal for that matter. It’s rather a grand gesture of megalithic beauty, really, but it could also be defiant, we can never know. 

Where Darkness Is Light
Sentenced In Absentia
The Graveyard Of Broken Dreams

Rating: 88,5%

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Malichor - Lurkers In The Crypt

Australia’s black/thrash tendencies are unarguably at their peak. The country is almost like a frothing, eruptive volcano when it comes to unleashing relentless, unbridled music upon the place. I was content enough to see that Malichor was yet another act interested in the bestial aesthetics of the ancient and raw blackened thrash metal sound, but I was even happier when I heard that the band’s four track Ep ‘’Lurkers In The Crypt’’ offered tidbits of more cunning music, fitted nicely in the gaunt black metal textures. Although both the cover art and album title suggests that the band’s ideology on black/thrash is no different from the cumulative armies forming vigorously around the Australian scene, the music actually proves to be fresher splash in the face than anticipated.

Malichor still doesn’t bring anything utterly inventive on the table, though their slight distinction is an element that can enlarge into a sound more sophisticated in the future. Well, future plans are for another day, so let’s just scrutinize the meal in front of us. Like I said, although Malichor doesn’t entirely deviate from traditional elements, ‘’Lurkers In The Crypt’’ escapes the entirely overwhelming effect of gimmicking giving birth to something relatively fresher. Malichor focuses on creating a more atmospheric and perhaps even bleaker landscape for the music to breathe and breed on. A raw twist is noticeable in the tone and production, but even though the riffs are generally roughly bedecked and shaped, they sound more enthrallingly misanthropic than furiously tempered and frenetic. Perverse fluctuations occur, of course, but I like how the main focus is on the murkier elements shadowed in the music.

You’ll seldom hear brusque transitions on the Ep as the tempo usually channels around mid-paced tempos. Thrashy chugs, drum-beaten tremolos, and sinister descents are present, which makes for a nice combination of tricks although each one hardly deviates from how it’s played in the books, but it was the atmosphere I enjoyed most, if truth be told, the semi-epic, and culminating aura that enhances the haunting feel of the riffs. ‘’Jackal’s Spell’’ has to be my favourite, therefore, as the track offers an almost Viking metal-like vibe, with a catchy chorus driven by tremolos most probably snatched from the classic Norwegian aesthetics. Even as the music grows aggressive or epic at times, you’ll always be engulfed by the cavernous mysticism captured by the band’s love for Lovecraftian horror. Malichor is more proficient at forming dark atmospheres than training vicious hellhounds for battle, and that’s the path they should stick to. The grasp for reality is still very prevalent, but it will grow tenuous in time, I hope. 

Jackal's Spell
Cerebral Debauchery 

Rating: 82,5%

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hooded Menace - Effigies Of Evil

The excitement that contained me was almost overwhelming, for when I heard that the Finnish death/doom duo Hooded Menace were releasing yet a third obelisk of melancholic doom metal upon the universe I gaped in amazement for several minutes, heart pumping. Hooded Menace actually released their second monolith in 2010, only two years ago, but they’ve proven to be much fruitful for a band that maximizes the importance of technicality and melody in dense, ominous doom. Not only does the duo spew forth yet another cluster of songs, but they also fill up the missing bits and pieces in between years by doing numerous splits with famous acts, Asphyx and Horse Latitudes being some that immediately come to mind. For fans that enjoyed the sublimes darkness of richly embroidered textures of ‘’Never Cross The Dead’’, ‘’Effigies Of Evil’’ is an even more graceful colossus, with notable changes in the sound.

There are many weapons in Hooded Menace’s prolific artillery that draw the line between them and the other plague of old school death/doom bands, the most important one being their dexterousness and fearlessness of fabricating imaginative death/doom suppressing the boundaries of the classic basis that has already been played with countless times, and binding them with cumulative and beckoning melodious splendour, instrumental grace and a perfectly ominous overtone that’s reminiscent of both evil and melancholy. ‘’Never Cross The Dead’’ was a entrancing affair as it restored the decrepit sequences of melody that were almost nonexistent on the debut album, but ‘’Effigies Of Evil’’ simply thrives the band’s spectral performance even more, now bringing an epic sense into the music.

The subtle melodies are now quite tangible as their serve as a crucial fulcrum in the Finns’ third effort, backed up by crushing visceral smacks and chomps, thick and fulsome in tone. The band now fuses an even more complex array of melodies, an entwining stream of impeccable melodies diving and spreading coarsely, and yet the melodies are constructed with two individual pieces, slithering against each other. They’re two separate fragments, joining into one vein as they gradually descend along the misanthropic path the album leaves us to plod on. The riffs are so groovy and swaggering that the band occasionally lets the melodies spur with a massive momentum, and ‘’In The Dead We Dwell’’ (which also by personal favourite) is such a song, allowing the melodies to distinguish themselves in numerous and capricious emotions, effortlessly switching into one ponderous sludge groove into another.

Hooded Menace’s artillery becomes fully prepared for assault with the arrival of the vocals, implacable and churning into the swampy mixture with ease. The vocal delivery on ‘’Effigies Of Evil’’ is probably the most death-like trait that the album possesses. They’re deep growls, damp, cavernous and remote from any sort of liveliness even though the riffs may take on a more vigorous hue at times. The occasional use of reverb and other guitar tones and effects enforce the gradually building momentum of mournful evil, like in ‘’Crumbling Insanity’’ a semi-conscious output of drowning swamp-like voids sucking at the listener’s ear, and it comes with a main spectral melody that, oddly resembles the Godfather melody. ‘’Effigies Of Evil’’ is Hooded Menace’s masterpiece, in my humble opinion. It’s a dark venture into a saturating aura of evil, and it procrastinates nothing. There are two ways you may listen to it; either by contemplating its deep, congregating atmosphere as a whole, envying its corrupted splendour, or by feeling the briskness of each individual piece individually, letting the album swallow you slowly with meagre bites.

Effigies Of Evil
In The Dead We Dwell
Curses Scribed In Gore
Crumbling Insanity

Rating: 89%

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Strong Intention - Razorblade Express [2012]

Maryland bad asses Strong Intention have a new album out, entitled “Razorblade Express” and yes, it is full of bad-assery. Combining classic Grind and Hardcore punk elements, Strong Intention delivers a hard hitting barrage of chaos on this new album.

 The only gripe about this album is that it's extremely short. In fact, it is under 20 minutes with only six songs. It's a little hard to even call it an album and would make more sense to be considered an EP, but someone decided this would be the album.

At least there's no filler.

 Having said the above, the music speaks for itself as it kicks your ass quick and good. The two openers being the title track and “Messiah Whore” slam you against the pavement and keeps crushing you with amazing riffs and killer breakdowns while “Holes in the Wall” is a mosh happy gem that would've worked great as a Cro Mags song. It reeks of old school New York Hardcore. “3rd Space Gorilla Generator,” “Rat Factory” and “Slaughter Intelligence” takes you on a roller coaster through your intestines. There is nothing but rapid fire awesome going on here.

Strong Intention proves that even in this age where everything seems to have been done to death, bands can still pop out gems. The band is all over the place venting their frustrations and refuses to let go. This is a must have for lovers of old school hardcore and classic grindcore. “Razorblade Express” is one of those albums you listen to over and over again.

Rating:  70%

Written by Chris Butera 

Rampart - A Tale To Cold

I’m pleased to see band which take the 80’s power metal aesthetics and incorporate it into their music, and one of my most latter encounters is the Bulgarian four piece Rampart, yet another bringer of classic heavy/power. Rampart did not really catch my unawares, and their brand of traditional power metal is fairly complex as you may expect, but let’s just that that the sound deviates marginally from the purest roots of old school power metal, seasoned with a bit of modern brickwall construction and rigorousness. With such a blatant path set for the riffs to flow, the band has clearly exposed many of its tricks and upcoming strategies, making their Ep ‘’A Tale To Cold’’ an apparent, predictable release, but somehow it’s still fun.

Rampart omitted the traditional cheesy antics of the classic power metal sound, charming the listener with a stricter force of beckoning simplistic melodies and thrashy chops, made heftier with the beefy guitar tone. ‘’A Tale To Cold’’ also likes to channel between somewhat desolate, chaotic chord dispersions and more vigorous compulsions. I liked the riffs, catchy and even epic at times, but I just felt that they were drudgy and dry in general, generally failing to exploit the required amount of energy outside to illuminate the atmosphere. After going through three semi-modern barrages of epic old school power metal, the fourth crust, a Helloween cover makes all the difference, offering a uniquely substantial amount of even more epic, flashy riffs, and you can hear the obvious changes in the music. ‘’A Tale To Cold’’ isn’t necessarily repetitive, nor does it bare anything redundant, but it’s dry riffs coming at you occasionally, and worst of all, the band doesn’t carry a massive aplomb, forcing the leashes to pull the aback.

Still, this EP wasn’t at all a bad experience – just one that didn’t leave its mark on my ear. Every band should excel at a certain element of metal, or a certain art of metal, and ‘’A Tale To Cold’’ simply gathers lots of various elements together and releases them in a violent surge, without actually being savvy in any of the elements used in the mixture. I’ll be glad to hear new material from these Bulgarians, but only if they can conjure a more dynamic, dexterous sound.

Metal Spell
A take To Cold

Rating: 77%

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Metal Minis #3 - Horrid - Slaegt

Horrid - Kingdom Of Decay [Demo]

Horrid’s demo ‘’Kingdom Of Decay’’ actually got me by surprise. I hadn’t anticipated it, because I didn’t even know the band was carving out new material. Horrid impressed me beyond belief with their malicious self titled album last year, a reeking slab of desolate, carnal blackened death/thrash, and the thing that I love even more about Horrid is that they don’t stick to the cheesy retro thrash antics, and instead display some top notch blackened death/thrash, reeling away from all modern senses the thrash genre has fabricated along the way. ‘’Horrid’’ was notably well-bestirred, ill-natured and fatal, embracing certain queer tactics that the death and black metal genres forged alongside their union, and the demo follows the same path that the album left, but there still seems to be a few changes in the sound. I was glad to hear the bizarrely dissonant solos that really left their mark from the previous record, but besides that, ‘’Kingdom Of Decay’’ supports a rawer production and an even dispersed, chubby tone. Horrid don’t redefine their sound with this two track demo, but they set the basics of an upcoming full-length which can be relatively capricious due to certain changes that will grow in time.

Slaegt - Demo [Demo]

Coming from the frigid lands of Denmark come Slaegt, a completely fresh new act out of Copenhagen present a concise demo of four tracks of bleak and mournful raw black metal of high quality. The one man army establishes a turbulent atmosphere and launches and assault of thinny, piercing black metal tremolos, fluent and dynamic melodies writhing and slicing the listener as they ascend and descend, channelling vigorously through the freezing cold atmosphere he creates. Slaegt’s direction is quite unequivocal, as the piercing riffs are always heading towards a certain direction, but the demo also shows some defiance in the raw and savaged sound, and a hope of the riffs to sprint away from their current position is always there, even though the event never actually occurs. The demo has its hooks, and it likes to pull the listener slowly with an interesting array of groovy patterns, seasoned with the extreme shrillness of the ear-piercing cries of the tortured rasps. Though it is short, Slaegt’s demo eventually proves to be efficient as the cold and entrancing fibrous waves that it spews fourth eventually suffuses over the listener, engulfing him/her in a ghastly aura of spectral and frozen splendour. One of the finer raw black metal demos I heard this year, I must say, and I’m anticipating a second release impatiently.

Horrid: 8/10
Slaegt: 8.25/10

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Axis Of Light - By The Hands Of The Consuming Fire

For me, the fulsome black metal fodder is slowly starting to unleash some of its better products. Gaunt, Forgjord and Witch In Her Tomb were all grim affairs, culminating impeccable atmosphere and sonorous power, but Axis Of Light is an even grimmer group of composers, embracing all that is shrill and sonorously ear-piercing upon mankind with their Ep, ‘By the Hands Of The Consuming Fire’’. It’s amazing how such noisy black metal ferocity doesn’t sound dissonant or fibrously detached, but Axis Of Light thrive their already attained advantage even further, elevating towards a stark atmosphere that’s by far the shrillest I’ve heard all year. This disturbing excursion is far from its uttermost peek, but it still appeals to me much better than many other hazy interruptions I’ve been through this year so far.

‘’By The Hands Of The Consuming Fire’’ is completely buzzy, statically chaotic, encompassing and deliberately intruding.  It’s no major departure from any sound that its relevantly similar to, and the most satisfying way to describe their formula would be calling them a more sombre and gelid version of Burzum. Of course, there’s more than just grimly complemented Burzum here, obviously. First off, the production is rawer than any Burzum record (if not, equally as raw as Burzum’s most primal offerings) and as much as it espouses a darkened, spectral tide, it does tend to frequently blast out raw barrages of hazy and piercing savagery. It beholds a mournful splendour that one can only hope to have, beautiful, entrancing but frigid as cold winter night. Each riff is just as pleasuring as it is ear scratching and gnawing, with a noise-y, gritty tone adding substantial bleakness and electric to the charged cluster of tremolos.

The gnawing lament does not end there, however, as the vocals on ‘’By The Hands of The Consuming Fire’’ are shrill, shattering weeps and highly raspy shrieks that travel through luminous crudity, alongside a cavernous brand of underlying reverb, and finally scratching its way to your ear drums. The vocals are even sharper than the riffs and it’s probably the bleak, vague rasps that stayed on my mind the most. Despite the fuzzed nature of the implements, the atmosphere actually adopts a far more earthly sound, far more luminous than its contemporaries, lightly engulfing the listener in an aura that is kilter and organic. The benign sound of the atmosphere is magnificent and is soft even under the rough bloodshed that occurs above.

I honestly can’t praise this enough. Axis Of Light managed to create something that’s harmonious in a hazy way and accessible, despite the fact that it will still not grab the attention of many atmosphere-enemies.  It’s not flawless, I’ll warn you about that, but it has frigid beauty and atmosphere written all over it and for fans who are into such sharp and gritting raw atmospheric black metak should get on this as fast as they can, and I’m not sure whether the band’s future moves are positive or not, but for now this will suffice and be cherished, no matter how short it is. 


Rating: 87%

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Convent Guilt - Demo 2012

Australia’s great and growing metal scene has no doubt left its mark on many metalheads, and especially in the last five years, it housed scores and scores of bands ranging from bestial black metal to occult death to blackened thrash. So the bands excel at fabricating extremities, but what of some traditional heavy metal? During the last five years I’ve found myself continuously searching for traditional heavy bands in Sweden or the US, meandering and losing myself in their vast hosts of heavy metal bands, but if truth be told, Australia has never been the hotbed for traditional heavy metal acts, as it was far too plagued with demented extremists for the genre to breed. Convent Guilt, though, quite surprised me with their demo, released on the Australian Abysmal Sounds Records, a catchy slab of old school heavy metal goodness.

As the band does not have any history behind it, I can’t really make a robust comparison about its roots and whether it’s an anomalous release or not, but I can say that I was definitely impressed to hear such classy material from such a young act. Convent Guilt’s brand of heavy is bluesy, classy, and even hardcore-driven at times. Most of the riffs are simplistic but dynamic chord progressions with a few strands of harmonic melodies scattered here and there, and they mainly support massive amplifications, augmenting and enlarging the spaciousness of the heavyweight guitar ton even further. That being said, the clarity of tone can’t be questioned because it has such a straightforward edge to it. Despite being genuinely clean and kilter and even melancholic at times, the demo does not follow the same trail as Priest or Maiden, but injects a far more drowsing feel to listener, with certain moments being strong reminiscent of western music even. Maybe that’s just the way I recognize the music, but with interesting variations spread out in four tracks at twenty two minutes, there can never be a strict repute about the band’s approach.

The self titled track starts the album off with a pretty vigorous start. With the song being the shortest and most brisk on the whole demo, you experience a handful of what the whole demo has in store for you with the song’s catchy, hardcore-tinged plodding chord elevations and the frantic shouting of the vocalist. The vocals are also an oddball of an aspect of the album, gathering influences from Motorhead just like the riffs. They could have been done better, because I feel he suffered detonations at certain moments, but such tiny flaws are not really crucial to the balance of the demo. ‘’Bailed Up’’ serves an even larger portion of the bluesy heavy metal riff fodder, with some beautifully melodious sections jumping in brusquely at the riffs. ‘’Killer Virgins’’ also delivers a catchy blast, similar to the previous songs, but the most passionate track is ‘’No Dawn In Lucifer’s Light’’ – whose chorus has been stuck in my head for a good while now.  Convent Guilt serves utterly great heavy metal on this demo, and it is my dearest hope that they continue on this path incessantly. 

No Dawn In Lucifer's Light
Bailed Up

Rating: 84,5%

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hell United - Aura Damage

The Polish metal scene today is somewhat of an oddball of a scene compared to its peers, and especially when we have a look at its death metal scene, we can see that they keep their riffs sharp and crushing, and their percussion machine gun- like. Behemoth, Embrional and Decapitated can all be considered close to Hell United sound wise, but when I was exposed to the bands sophomore monolith ‘’Aura Damage’’, I knew the band had more than just that. Hell United actually have some history behind them, their beginnings dating back to 1997. Even though the band has been going on for a nice fifteen years, their discography says they have not quite been productive over these years, releasing only two full-lengths during their entire lifespan. Hell United create a evil aura of damage for their second album, and with all of the creative atrocities it beholds, ‘’Aura Damage’’ becomes an intriguing experience and an explosion of heavily stirred blackened death metal.

The interesting thing about Hell United is that they don’t strictly belong to a category of death or black metal, but instead they thread different influences together to fabricate a sound that gathers the strengths of all the influences involved in the mixture, forming a rather queer formula, established around the basis structures of old school death metal and thin wisps of black metal webbing the riffs together. I can compare the sound to the classic Florida death metal sound, consisting generally of ‘’Altars Of Madness’’ era Morbid Angel, and some intensified musicianship borrowed from similar acts. However, despite its relentless fury and unbridled energy, ‘’Aura Damage’’ is a much more evil rupture, and it possesses a very depressing, drowning overtone as well, augmented only with hints of technical prowess and arduous complexity, hidden under the shaggy blanket of riffs. ‘’Aura Damage’’ is furious, brutal and absolutely crushing, and most of its traits belong to the old school category, but there’s still some fairly large sharing of space between black and death.

With a wide spectrum of riffs decorating the thirty five minutes of chaotic black/death, you’ll find a good amount of variation here. Like I said, ‘’Aura Damage’’ is grim and even atmospheric at times, and the portions of atmosphere and ponderousness divides unequally through the songs, giving each affair its own sense of melancholy, grimness and destruction. So you end up getting different bits of this and that in each song – a fresh start. ‘’Apostle Of Plague’’ is a brutal invocation of sledgehammer riffs and mauling vitriol, crushing and shattering joints and bones as the massive black metal laced tremolos flutter by, while ‘’Deathlike Cold’’ is a much more stark and atmospheric affair than its predecessor, with rhythmic ponderousness and forlorn hopes gathering in one box. Amongst all the songs, ‘’Totality Of I’’ is the lengthiest and the drudgiest, a slowly enveloping engulfment of obscured bowels. ‘’Aura Damage’’ offers much more variation and complexity than I had anticipated, and even though it has a few minor flaws here and there (which are of little importance), but other than that, it’s downright evil and absorbing. 

Red Limitations
Aura Damage
Maelstrom's Gravity

Rating: 85,5%

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Vacant Throne - Fall Of The Feathered King

Unfortunately, the scene of today does not offer lavishly abundant power metal, in contrast to the prolific death metal groups emerging in copious numbers, but the problem is not because there aren’t many bands, but because there aren’t enough bands which carry an old school attitude. Instead of bands which keep their distance close to the likes of Jag Panzer, Griffin, Chastain, Fates Warning and like, the majority of the scene gravitates towards the busier stance of death metal, obviously more compelling and more exploitive with simultaneous melody intersections, vivacious ruptures and crushing dynamics, and I do in fact enjoy these bands, but I have greater adoration for the ones that keep the old school alive. Colorado’s Vacant Throne proves to one of those rare-found gems, and their debut album ‘’Fall Of The Feathered King’’ is an epic slab of kilter yet also dynamic old school power metal, melodious but never deviating from its chord laden stance.

The fact that ‘’Fall Of The Feathered King’’ manages to fit itself somewhere between the modern sound and the old school sound makes it an even more intriguing album. And to top it off, the band has decorated their semi-elaborate compositions with lyrics about the Conquistadors and Aztec kings, which can take you to a whole new viewpoint to glimpse at the classic war imagery power metal is always laden with. When I first heard the album, I was put slightly aback even though I wasn’t wholly baffled, but the album gave me a small intro-shock when it first began because I didn’t have the slightest bit of trepidation. Nonetheless, as the album progressed, its malleable nature reshaped itself in a way that I could easily welcome its vast and extensive hemisphere.

‘’Fall Of The Feathered King’’ is cavernous the whole way through, made even more atmospheric with the occasionally wandering synthesizers. The riffs are sorrowful or drowning when the epic sense of the music culminates, but let’s just say that the riffs and atmosphere embrace and explore the more sombre side spectrum. You have occasional gallops and chord progressions underneath the melodies to serve as a viable crutch and you also have harmonious melodies meandering alongside the soulful cries of the vocals. The riffing is nearly excellent because the band does not overuse the already overused terms and spikes, keeping it fresh at all times, and the structures are far more complex than you would think. There are vigorous tracks of eclectic gallop driven riffs like ‘’Burning Skies’’ and more sombre, oppressive pieces like ‘’Sacrificial Prisoner’’, and you’ll have no trouble welcoming the jumpy catchiness of ‘’The Jaguar Knight’’ and the simply terrific all-arrounder ‘’The Return Of Quetzalcoatl’.

Each track has its unique traits, but the atmosphere fastens them together, forming a nearly inseparable merging of epic power metal songs. Taking elements from both spectrums of power metal, ‘’Fall Of The Feathered King’’ makes for a breath of fresh air, and proves that there are still power metal bands out there with something to say. I devoutly hope their prowess enlarges with the release of a sophomore. 

Burning Skies
The Jaguar Knight
The Return Of Quetzalcoatl

Rating: 86%