Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lifeless - Godconstruct [2013]

Germans Lifeless are no strangers to the Swedish chainsaw. They're 2008 debut, ''Beyond The Threshold Of Death'' unavoidably formed its aesthetics by sapping the carnal chunk out of classic death metal scriptures like ''War Master'', ''Where No Life Dwells'' and ''Left Hand Path'', a fairly diverse, melodious and cavorting affair that was impervious to originality, and the year 2013 sees to the direct continuation of their ruinous debut, with ''Godconstruct'' strives to discover the exterior and interior boundaries of the genre in equal measure as the debut. In which case, out of 100, you'd probably end up wit a score of 15-10. Fortunately over considerable time, the Germans have earned some savvy techniques which they use to incorporate into their rehashed brand of death rather professionally, even if not completely engagingly; and as result, we're given this inimical, though not highly memorable yarn in the tradition of the early 90's, no doubt restrained into something much more compact than acts that started out in a very similar path to the Germans here, but eventually erupted into mavens that crafted magnificent masterpieces of opaque, resonant death metal bliss.

I'm  not implying that lack of originality degrades quality, because we've obviously been hinted that by simply pursuing derivative paths, bands can be become dangerously addictive (e.g. Tribulation and Repugnant), but even those groups eke out a certain quantity of variation and ambition into bland compositions, and like many pretentious Swedeath worshipers, I see very little ambition in Lifeless. Maybe they're name was actually based on that dogma. But anyways, the scarcity of defiance doesn't beat the Germans into submission, no sir. The atmosphere is here, and so are the riffs; a plummeting torrent of ridiculously heavy (not unlike their contemporaries) chainsaw accumulations, diving straight into blind ears, and I like that the Lifeless usually pummel their audience with a coherent string of melodiously malignant, broiling tremolo barrages, absolutely like the debut, and they'll occasionally brake free of their raucous, grinding abuse and move into more somnolent sequences, which have their own mournful appeal. ''Seething With Rage'' is perhaps the best example to this, even though its name suggests otherwise, and the Germans actually have an extensive reservoir of similar progressions, rendering them somewhat more melodic than their peers. I get that they were endeavoring to build something moodier, but they just couldn't hit all the right notes. (Piano outro - seriously?)

The vocals have a lower-register toning than the debut, with occasional ghastly rasps to reinforce the ambiance on tracks like ''The Truth Concealed'', but his voice hardly deviates from the traditional death metal gutturals. What I found to be interesting, though not half as pleasing here is the number of acoustic passages; there's only a couple, mind you, but they were certainly badly placed. For one, it showcased that the group needed restarts or reposes in between tracks to stabilize their momentum to its previous thrust, and their presence alone is enough to irritate the fervent death metalhead - I certainly didn't like them. Plunging into ''Godconstruct'' by no means reflects that the Germans are just another vacuous group, but they're far to conscientious to be splattering themselves in a bit of ambition, let alone diving into experimental territory. Lifeless are just a staunch quartet seeking to annihilate their avid crowd with storming double-bass poundings and bombastic guitar attacks, and they're hardly into some contemplation - I'm totally cool with that - only, if they ever wish to move out of the circle one day, some ought to remind them they'll need to try harder. Solid sophomore. 

The Truth Concealed
Towards Damnation

Rating: 72,5%

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vorum - Poisoned Void [2013]

Although Sweden, the States and Spain are the busiest centers of 21st century death metal, Finland, a country which undoubtedly has substantial experience with the beleaguered genre, is proving to a beast just as efficient in both quantity and quality. I am well aware that Finnish OSDM reserves highly resemble the embodiment of their American or Swedish counterparts in terms rehashing archaic elements and spicing them up with the sonic strength of modern production values, but I still find their way of manufacturing a smidgen more interesting and prehensile, at least in the overall view of the scenes, especially exhibited by the recent works of Desolate Shrines, Maveth and Gorephilia. The newest spore to blossom away from this ubiquitous plague is Vorum, abruptly exploding under a wealth of caverns with their debut ''Poisoned Void'', a craving, morbid serpentine entity that somehow slithers in the abyss in a way that exceeds many of rivals by, not quite reinventing the wheel but by constructing a formidable block of influences we've all been familiarized before, and meshing them up into something considerably durable and entertaining.

Yes, Vorum indeed achieves victory in where many, and I do say many, of its opponents floundered and shattered. The bulk of the goodness here is the overall sound: The Finns have literally enlarged that marginal line between cavernous swamp dwellers with their resonant quake of reverb, and the more crudely-faceted recruits in the field, wielding their rusty old chainsaws and continually battering, bruising bloodied ears. Indeed, ''Poisoned Void'' is a very blatant homage to Autopsy circa 1989-1992, but at the same time it has an underpinning crunch and a garrulous palette of pure old school riffs that are highly memorable, mobile and absolutely crushing in the delivery while doing so, again, in contrast to their fellow genre-mates. There's a vibrant usage of harmonies that plod along ominous, curving tremolo sequences, and sometimes dual harmonies kick in, which often remind me of the band's olden countrymen, Abhorrence, Convulse and Demigod for that partial flood of brutality. The Finns are also sufficiently content with the relatively clear, though still somewhat murky production, which I believe plays a huge role in assisting the frivolity and memorability of the woven riffs; in all a semi-complex take on unrefined death metal.

Pacing is varied enough, in fact sometimes more diverse than one might think. The drums have a surprising range of patterns that the drummer hurriedly applies to the guitar orchestration, and Vorum, even with a large intake of influences does not tend to forsake any of each influence's aspects; so you can expect short, 3-4 minute songs to be rather crammed with drudging emergence and churning morbid guitars swooshing in accordance to the torturous growls of the vocalist; a blitzkrieg of doomed echoes. This way Vorum channels into atmospheric death/doom installments in mere seconds while right amid a convoluted bark of harried, disoriented riffs. And while doing all these, Vorum seems to be apparently quite nonchalant, making the whole affair feel much more spontaneous than its more freakish, abysmal peers, who prefer to spill their entire set of entrails to the floor, desperately depending on their massively earth-shaking production quality, but the Finns here have established something just as opaque and moreover, much more vigorous. The way I see it, ''Poisoned Void'' is a pretty ''classic'' take on death metal; not wholly invigorating, but still meting out enough variation into each song in those 35 minutes of rancid foulness to deliver a horrid thrust that's truly pleasuring, particularly for fans of early Pestilence, the vast range of primordial Finnish bands, Autopsy, Incantation and Morbid Angel.

Impetious Fires
Poisoned Void
In Obscurity

Rating: 85%

Monday, January 28, 2013

Insinnerator - Hypothermia [2012]

Any avid thrasher who's just going to ignore Insinnerator because of the cheesy cover art is simply going feel pretty damn regretful about the mistake afterwards. A little information on the band; this is a trio from Dallas, Texas, who simply loves to play frivolous retro-thrash carnage, and has established a fairly large fan base after the release of their vicious debut, ''Stalagmite Of Ice'', and enter their frigid aura, and you'll find the band to be superior to the myriad of aping contestants in the modern thrash derby, in fact, they're arguably the best pure, no-frills act around, embodying a completely skull-splattering manifestation of everything Exodus, Slayer and Vio-lence. This is basically rowdy old underground thrash buzzing with energy, with the staple influences that apply for nearly the entire thrash metal spectrum, and overall a raucous performance that's treble the rawness that Warbringer or any other over-lauded act can conjure in entire discographies.

So needles to say that ''Hypothermia'' is a rewarding experience for any thrasher seeking denim, jeans, patches and cranial compression via hammering, thundering guitar clangor. Just as you might expect, Insinnerator are purely devoted to the riffs. Well, not exactly purely. I'd say 95% of the music is an angry, rambunctious manifest meaty Bay-Area styled riffing, meaning a storm of entirely volatile bullets, churning up as the raw production quality grants a hefty dose of noise, all rapidly fleeing through the album's resonant velocity, and the remaining 5% percent is a small but entertaining endeavor to enhance the ambiance. Originally, the trio bored no such feature as to adorn their frivolity with a somewhat ''evil'' aura, but here, they're more punctilious about injecting something extra in the mix, which becomes even more evident in certain brooding passages, like in the title track, nearly three minutes confided to the icy, atmospheric glimmer that, though two pale blue album covers has become the band's unique, gelid image, and they even tend to decorate those tranquil sequences with wonderful Spanish guitars.

But otherwise, Insinnerator stay at the highest tempo, at all times. So fast, in fact, that I sometimes mistake the violent attribution of speed for something more crossover-related, particularly the speed devils Wehrmacht, but far more consistent, pummeling and punishing through the immensely jagged bulk of a tone of the guitar. There's also some technical prowess to be noted, which, unlike some other aspects stayed stable, but nonetheless bring an even more gritty edge to the riffs, as if bits an pieces were extracted from ''Energetic Disassembly'' era Watchtower or German tech-thrash crudities Toxin and Toxic Shock, or early Megadeth if you want a more accurate comparison. Finally, ''Brutal'' Ben's vocal delivery has stepped up a notch since I heard them on the debut, fitting much better into the vibrant crunch of the coarse riffing. Granted, you won't be astounded by what you hear on ''Hypothermia'', that much is clear, but through a ton of swerve, nerve and battering bombast, it succeeds where many of its counterparts failed; an utterly blissful paradise of riffs for the fervent thrasher.

Curse (Horror Of Dracula)
Elemental Ice Dragon

Rating: 80%

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hemotoxin - Between Forever... And The End [2013]

When Hemotoxin's 2012 demo, ''Divinity In Torture'' first reached my ears, it was hardly a huge appeal to me, nothing more of a technical showdown of various thrash and death metal influences crammed into one versatile package with the energy of youth exploding all over the demo. Enter 2013, though, you get the chance to be acquainted with the California death/thrashers' debut full-length, and what's truly intriguing is that by barely tweaking the main colors of previous formula, the band has managed to capture a far more diverse spectrum of riffs, a consistent assembly, thus raising the overall quality by heaps, where you'd imagine they would continue the same way. Hemotoxin have plunged right into complete tech-death/thrash territory here, and they've opened themselves a wider range of musical preferences by doing so, and they've no doubt started to harness sustenance from different sources in contrast to their previous ''Human'' era Death worship, embodying a brazen, even forlorn tinge into their technical rehash, even though the album is quite devoid of anchor.

This is still essentially a homage to ''Human'', that much is overly blatant when glimpse at their cover of ''Suicide Machine'', and you could still call this old school, spraying the listener with a bevy of churning, palm-muted tech-thrash fluctuations that should hold some appeal even to fans of purer, straightforward Bay-Area acts like Vio-lence, Metallica and Blind Illusion, but as much as ''Between Forever...'' strains to rekindle the underground love for Atheist, Death circa 1991-1993, early Pestilence or Dutch obscures Thanatos, they're inevitably malcontent with the overall technical proficiency those aforementioned bands have intact, so about a quarter of this disc belongs to a marginally more modern effulgence, say, Cynic or late  Gorguts perhaps. They're not shy in hiding their obvious influences, the Chuck Shuldiner-like inflection, polished production, and frothing, gradually culminating riff-fests that just overtly display a mesh of ubiquitous tech-death chomps and raging death/thrash affairs. The songs are fairly variant, but each manifest through an equal measure of raw excitement and less frivolous dual guitar harmonies. Hemotoxin are truly busy with everything they do, and that's what I love about this album. The absolute best song here is ''Autophagy'', which was originally released in last year's ''Divinity In Torture'' demo; a hungry, immensely prehensile palette of convoluted riffing played an grindcore-speed, so angry and stocked with intricacy that I felt I was witnessing Sinister, Vendetta, Death, Vio-lence, early Pestilence and Atheist simultaneously.

''Between Forever...'' deserves much praise, and particularly because it had no gigantic flaw. Alright, I'll confide that despite the avidity I hold for these tech-y riffs they weren't deviating from their sources, and hell, I even heard similar riffing from recent acts like Skeletal Remains, but that aside, my biggest complaint was the production values. Even though it was solid, I couldn't quite hear the drums rolling and thundering under the excessively audible wail of the guitars, as if nearly the entire meat of the album was bestowed on the chugging ferocity of the guitars, and I would have preferred some spidery hooks rather than the polished font of the record: you see, the quality of the production is more fit for something worshiping, say, Cryptopsy or Necrophagist, and the riffs aren't mature enough to bear that sort of complexity, which means a rougher, crooked crack in the production would have been a better choice, even when Hemotoxin seldom dive into utopian territory with their simultaneously epitomizing guitar harmonies.

In general, though, the Californians' product is utterly convincing, vigorous and fierce, something I'd easily choose over some of the worse efforts of the aforementioned mavens. ''Between Forever...'' sustains mobility, has an extensive range of riffs that they interpret into their own multi-dimensional contours, and despite the relatively lengthy leap it took towards more technical borders, still remains fresh with primordial, bristling anger. It's quite palpable that they quartet are still playing it somewhat safe, and they'll do wonders if they could incorporate such primal competence as they exhibited here into an even busier ebullition of tech-death avidity. Easily recommended for fervent tech-death/thrashers of any sort - if you enjoy any of the labels above then you'll have no problem liking this.

Divinity In  Torture
Confined To Desolation

Rating: 85%

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ruins - Place Of No Pity [2013]

As much as rustic, olden atmospheric black metal seems to be treated as an antique delicacy today, with the upsurge of bands such as Moon, Crowned, Erebus Enthroned, etc, they are more modernized pundits of aural evil that tend to drive these archaic influences into a more airy monument, where they enhance their atmospheric aspects with booming amplification, a fairly polished production quality, and additional elements from Celtic Frost and the like, as if the giants' impact on the metal world did not suffice. Ruins is an Aussie group born from the desire to play such oblique music; black metal that constantly fluctuates between influences of old and new. Only, Ruins have plenty of history behind them, with a belt laden with three album which were sporadically released through the 2000's, and you'll be even more surprised to hear that drummer Dave Haley has been ripping snares with the almighty Pestilence since 2012, and with the tech-death entrepreneurs Psycroptic since the dawn of their time, not to mention guitarist/vocalist/bassist Alex Pope's previous work with a number of Australian hostilities.

That said, ''Place Of No Pity'' certainly has an abundant professionalism that boasts its overall quality. I like to think of the whole affair as a mechanized brand of atmospheric black metal, with the chords and breakdowns taken into far tauter swerves rather than the rustic miasma you'd expect to spawn from the album. However, despite the general spaciousness of the record, the duo manages to cover up chock loads of variation, jumping from expunging black/thrash belligerence to straight-up verse riffs to grim drudges that sink down and start to slowly stir the listener up in momentous discordance. Yes, Ruins doesn't sink as low enough to uncover a cthtonic, dystopian underworld, but they'll use weapons of sublime dissonance often enough to perturb the listener; a wealthy section of downtrodden, neglected and distorted arpeggios which often remind of Deathspell Omega when the Frenchman were completely giving into disharmonious mourn. The Australians are brazen and adventurous here, no doubt, and while much of the material doesn't particularly stick to ear, you can't deny that the they pace themselves excellently, and there's simply prehensile music to be captivated by aplenty.

Tunes like ''Let Them Parish'' somewhat enlighten the band's punk-like manifestations, especially when Pope's Tom G. Warrior timbre reaches its climax in belligerence, but overall, ''Place Of No Pity'' is a tight focus on mid 90's black metal from various Scandinavian acts, principally Satyricon and Gorgoroth at more modern heights, and I even felt the presence of Belgium Emptiness - even though it's not such a huge influence to cite - partly due to the usage of dissonance in aggressive sequences. I'll need to dive into the band's backlog in order to make some comparisons, but on its own, ''Place Of No Pity'' is an entertaining blast, not wholly original a piece perhaps, but robust dissemination of the aforementioned influences, making it one of the better albums to come out of Australia. There's little redundancy, long minutes of bristling semi-modern black metal - what else could you ask for?

Inhabit The Twilight
Place Of No Pity

Rating: 80%

Friday, January 25, 2013

Witchburner - Bloodthirsty Eyes [2013]

Witchburner are one of the longest living black/thrash groups from Germany out there, riveting quite a bit of attention with their album ''Blood Of The Witches'', and otherwise bearing much experience from the six albums they had prior to their latest offering, ''Bloodthirsty Eyes'' which is harbored by High Roller Records, which have, over time, developed a slight aptitude for hiring savage, uncircumcised black/thrash hybrids such as Hellbringer and Bunker 66, in swiveling contrast to their standard signings of more modern heavy and power. Given the band's rigid and abiding consistence throughout their carrier, expect no more of ''Bloodthirsty Eyes'' than a vicious, competent barrage of blackened Teutonic thrash, undeniably snatching its elements from such giants as Kreator, Sodom or Holy Moses - in all a derivative feast for any thrasher truly hunger for a wild, speed-embraced kick that doesn't require much attention to comprehend.

So derivative, in fact, that this record could be an instant follow up to any of the band's previous discs. Instead of a more brazen outtake that I see certain groups (Ketzer, Denouncement Pyre) slowly morph into, Witchburner is producing a completely one-dimensional, free-for-all excursion with a palette of raw, spurious black/thrash chord flails, gushing about frenetically, and as much as the main vigor comes from the taut Teutonic thrash inclinations, there's also a somewhat evil undercurrent that reminds me of darker acts; Aura Noir, Nocturnal Breed and Destroyer 666 to name a few. The band's all-out fashioned exhibition of aggression is menacing enough, with crunchy, gut-ripping guitar dominating nearly the entire space left to clash and bash, but hell, even when you know this is one of those records whose worth is hardly more than a couple of spins, the absolutely unending wash of clamorous guitars and generic speed/thrash riffing just bores you; and I'd actually go as far to say that from the hundred grapples this record spurted upon me, no more than ten ending up being actually clinging to my ear.

This is not to say that ''Bloodthirsty Eyes'' is a bad record, only, I've certainly beheld a myriad of voluptuous incursions akin to it. And if truth be told, who hasn't? I'd like to consider this as a continuation of the band's long-running career, as another product from the oldfactory that goes by the book - the Witchburner book - but for the entire time, not only here but in their whole discography, the Germans are merely putting their own consistent endeavors into the music; they're just borrowing what's already been produced prolifically. Thankfully, the vocals here, as much as they're clear-cut like the arsenal of riffs, have a horrendously compelling feel to them, as if somehow, by excluding the underpinning of axing I could delve into wholly dark ambiance that falls into a quagmire of a position between the recent Antichrist (Swe), Hellbringer and Exumer. ''Bloodthirsty Eyes'' is still strictly pure enough to pummel and crack your bones within seconds, raw, intimate and plentiful in vile aggression, but as I've gone through numerous times before, it needs that marginal displacement in cursor in order to attain some variation, which this album is in desperate need for.

Path Of The Sinner
Sermon Of Profanity
Never Surrender

Rating:  68%

Overtorture - At The End The Dead Await [2013]

Overtorture is another entree of the overly prodigious aping contest that is old school Swedish death metal that spawned more minions into the world in five years than any other sub-genre. Overtorture's debut ''At The End The Dead Await'' is, of course, nothing of a novel, but instead a steady, chainsaw-borne contraction of the fundamentals that were originally based by Grave, Entombed, Unleashed, etc, made robust by the experience behind the veteran band members, who had previously earned their spurs while dwelling in other, similar projects of death. With the heaving heft of the band members' seasoned acumen in place, Overtorture, fortunately brings about more swerving, cadaverous pleasure with the single impact of the album's meaty hammer than man of its peers, and through an undoubtedly luring, pendulous feast of generic riffs and huge bombards of fixated melody, they certainly deliver what they ought to deliver.

Another thing that makes this album the derivative source of entertainment it is, is wider spectrum of influences that help garnish the momentum. Sure, there isn't really a heap of interpretations you can pensively opt from, but they've still got a more extensive catalog than most other acts in this field; some Autopsy for the unforgiving, ghastly reek that the riffs let out as they're ushered into slower tempos, a dose of combustive Floridian death, giving the meaty slab of he guitar an even more corpulent, tremolo-faceted impulse, and some Bolt Thrower that acts pretty much the same way the Autopsy influences do. The group is also fairly agile, keeping things fluent with busier riffs that are highly reminiscent of Floridian tech death/thrash assaults or Dutch madness, all strewn upon a graveyard of corpses and ominous undertones, glittering morbidly as the band unleashes undercurrents of bombastic chainsaw action.

The melody department may not be the most invigorating of elements, but when thrown into a vortex of cavernous bludgeons, it certainly stands out with quivering, tremulous contrast. Even the vocals, in their chubby resonance, sound genuinely horrendous enough to keep up with the blasting of riffs, with a thick growl and presence that's strong enough to wake the dead. As I explained, Overtorture's musical eminence comes not from their matrix of ripping crunches, but their versatility in constructing relatively busier entanglements, which all sink down into a morbidly edgy murk, quite compelling when we take into account that the band's real goal is only to tear things (particularly necks) down here. So in all, it was a brazen contrast that made ''At The End The Dead Await'' that made this good, and yes, it was hardly a work of shrewd excellence, but still probably more pummeling and radioactive than many others who venture the same path as these Swedes.  A competent enmeshing of belligerence and melody - a far more pleasant surprise than the cheesy cover art.

Suffer As One
Black Clouds Of Dementia
The Strain

Rating: 78%

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Spektr - Cypher [2013]

As much as I love groups like Bastard Sapling, who can instantly rumble into nostalgic, atmospheric haze, groups that seem as if they were bred from acts such as Blut Aus Nord, or Deathspell Omega have a special, assorted appeal to me. France's Spektr is no outsider to the aesthetics of Reverence, CCSABA and the like; in fact, they have over a decade of professionalism behind them along with two more albums at their belts, making them one of the more preferable acts in the recent surge of industrialized ambient black metal manifestations, and certainly one of the more inventive ones too, forming a strident, dissonant balance between your standard drowning black metal tremolo waves and Godflesh, all the while bringing forth a wealth of ambient sound tracks that literally form about half the album. You can already guess what sort of disturbances you're to encounter on your 45 minute journey, a nightmarish apocalypse of discordance pulsing against your ears, lost in a pitch-black gorge.

Alright, I'll admit, despite incorporating such a mass of influences from acknowledged connoisseurs of discordant mourn and turbulence, Spektr are hardly at their tumultuous paramount. The ambient passages and samples that excessively adorn the record are certainly amazing exhibitions of modern macabre, but the riffs themselves are mostly bathed in chock loads of reverb, chorus flange, tape echo and phaser, which lead down to the same dissonant pathway, and they don't particularly feel inaccessible, and actually quite entertaining considering their basis is a simple Norwegian inflection from the mid 90's. The lack of vocals also provide with a mysterious, ominous overtone here, and to be fair all the instruments are an equally important part of the gear-system, and the record itself should be regarded as a gestalt, too, not simultaneous clash of subterranean clangor. While I enjoyed the majority of the ebbing tremolo barrages, the haunting feel of the guitars which sometime took trudging, droning heights in pace and the band's tendency of spontaneity, inserting samples and riffs completely at random and thus creating an aerial complex of capriciousness, I can't deny that the band did an excellent job in building up a dozen of blood-curdling ambient samples.

Only, the number of samples butting into the actual material actually cut off a lot of the real action taking place. Sure, going by their book, moments of such harrowing drudge is only common, but I felt the Frenchman were spending too much time building up for climaxes for the riffs when they should have spent some more time engrossing the substance and not the decoration. The title track, despite being the longest remains my favorite, so filled with captivation that the band at some point gave into straightforward, semi-industrial black/thrash attacks, and there were even  moments when samples and riffs coexisted, leading to the ultimate, obfuscated assembly that I believe that band tried so hard to achieve throughout. I think I might have heard a few gaseous gnarls along the way, though they could have been just pieces of the samples, but still, the band could have accomplished even more if they stuffed in a few dreary growls here and there. ''Cypher'' still remains a prehensile album, a homage to modern Blut Aus Nord, CCSABA and Godflesh, and certainly a very strong album in its own rights. You won't be entirely engrossed, I can assure you that, but more than a couple of spins won't prove to be very healthy for your sanity, either.


Rating: 84%

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Coldsteel - America Idol [2013]

Coldsteel is one of those bands that, despite forming back in 1986, couldn't manage to gain a sufficient fan base, as their sole album, ''Freakboy'', was released in 1992. That aside, even after the internet's benefits in uprooting obscurities were discovered, I hardly think ''Freakboy'' became a cult classic. Coldsteel didn't even aesthetically belong in the ''old school'' category, but instead a power-induced channeling of groove/thrash which, although quite terrible even for today's measurements, was strangely popular back then, and I would honestly have appreciated it more if the band's new material, ''America Idol'', belonged somewhat more in the group of old school thrash; perhaps something of a Bay Area kick, judging by the path the band's taking, or more voracious speed/thrash effulgence. Yet, the band's preferences haven't changed, at least not in the core tenets, but Coldsteel seek to both diversify and modernize their brand using numerous implements, making the four-track EP we have here a relatively more interesting listen than their any other release in their backlog.

In fact, I daresay this EP's genuinely good, and certain track bear a textured, concussive rhythmic department that I found to be far more memorable than anticipated. I suppose they're a bit more punctilious about the subtleties of their riffs, but the real good news comes from a rather excellent stringing of influences, bludgeoning songwriting and well-penned blazing leads for a cut above the rest. You'll certainly hear a strong groove/thrash influence, which can be nettling, I admit, but most of the time these modernized grooves are jointed with melodious power/thrash rushes, and you get these drum-pumped grooves clashing with hybridized choruses - and they turn out to be riper than expected. I'm getting all sorts of vibes; from Sepultura circa 1991-1996 to Laaz Rockit, Helstar, Abattoir to some of the more picking-laden power metal acts out there, with a good measure of speed threaded into all these influences. The vocals bear queer resemblance to Hetfield circa 1988-1991, until they soar to higher power metal shrieks, and the drums are excellent, both well paced and capable of upbringing plenty of groove to the guitar work.

''America Idol'', with its superb gyrating chorus and ''Ashes To Ashes'' with its gestalt of tech-thrash riffing and onset of condensing solos remain as my favorite tracks, and in all honesty they're superior to many other thrash bands performing in their field. However, I won't deny that there were some things here that were a little too agitating for me. Firstly, ''Blink Of An Eye'' featured one of those terrible modern chorus sing-aloud's, and the intro to ''Blood Secrets'' was just fucking irrelevant and annoying (techno, really?). But besides some flaws ''America Idol'' remains an entertaining exercise in modernity, proto-power metal and groove/thrash. This exactly what you'd get if you fused on of the early-mid 90's groove metal obscurities with 21st century power/thrash inflections, so unless you're a purist, you need not suffer this; if you're searching for something of a booming frivolity to band your head to, then it's not a bad choice at all. And I can safely confide after some two dozen spins, it's pretty damn solid.

America Idol
Ashes To Ashes

Rating: 77%

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Evil Army - I, Commander [2013]

I'm actually quite surprised how Evil Army's self titled debut didn't blow off the roof for avid thrashers; it was certainly one of the first records that initiated the retro-thrash movement by being released in 2006, back when Warbringer was still desperately in search of a label, and besides, it was a relatively fun experience to be had, with its maelstrom of nailing speed/thrash confrontations swiping you off the ground with old school-drenched craze. Probably due to the little publicity they attained through their feral debut, the band stayed pretty stable though the next six years, but in an abrupt rush, the group sings with Hell's Headbangers, one of the best possible harbors for unadulterated grime-soaked punk thrashers such as themselves, and they give us this little EP, ''I, Commander'', a smidgen of taste extracted from a potential sophomore from the same label, and, well, Evil Army is exactly what Evil Army was years ago, so don't get your hopes too high for this one.

Perhaps ''I, Commander'' is one of the more purely biased thrash releases out there today, and it's probably a big ''fuck you'' in the face of the massing party thrasher hordes, but in all honesty it does not provide anything vital, not even for the most fervent of thrashers. I'd say the band's real bulk of influences are tied to their obsession with the mid-late 80's speed/thrash dominants of the East Coast, but they also possess a wild lewdness that should rivet the attention of early Kreator and Sodom fans, and thankfully, Evil Army, while still failing to circumvent redundancy, sustains a good amount of professionalism through the mastering hands of thrash maven Joel Grind of Toxic Holocaust, who has successfully blended a cavorting gush of unhinged speed/thrash riffs with a vile Teutonic truculence. One more appeal the EP should have is its demo authenticity. Lower the distortion to a more tinny and even more unforgiving volume and you've practically got yourself a lost gem from the States circa 1986-1988.

The band's progression is as you may expect; they converse each track with a mouthful of loathing, carnal ammunition, decrepit drum beats pulsing from behind, a fairly audible bass that only bobs along to the momentum, and the vocalist's throaty inflection that could only be ripped from usual German suspects, and they end each of the three tracks the same way the commence them. They've even put some swerving whammy-oriented leads here and there, but in all, their main focus remains unchanged. These are just a bunch of vandals who strip thrash from all of its adornments, leaving it only with the dry, residual sustenance that keeps it alive, and then play the riffs exactly by the book, which means chock loads grinding, frenetic riffing after riffing, leather, boots and bullet belts ahoy. There's nothing wrong about this, you can be sure of that, but unless you're desperately floundering for another kick of nostalgia, I think modern multi-faceted thrashers such as Vektor, Hexen or Immaculate are more likely to captivate you. Certainly a solid 8 minutes of run-time, but nothing too convincing if you're all too well acquainted with acts like Toxic Holocaust, Children Of Technology, Fueled By Fire, Speedwolf, etc.

I, Commander
I Must Destroy You

Rating: 70%

Friday, January 18, 2013

Terminate - Ascending To Red Heavens [2013]

It seems that the majority of current death metal cannibals have established a single, extensive portal into Sweden and the USA circa 1988-1992, and what's more is that only a fragment of these bands, captivated by their olden grotesques and incubators are able to shift into a slightly more modern, sensible form of death metal on which to both exorcise and enlarge the ideas who's footings were founded by giants such as Dismember, Autopsy, Entombed, Pestilence, and so forth. Truly, is there no way to diminish this portal? Closing it entirely would be preposterous, as even the most modern-headed death metal headbanger requires an certain proportion of archaic gore and filth, but perhaps re-sizing could indeed prove efficient, so that bands could harness from influences both old and new, therefore, revitalizing the genre's fundamentals and, at the same time stirring it with a dash from the origins. That seems like a wonderful idea, yet there is one tiny hindrance.

We don't possess the portal's key.

Thus, this leads us to yet another act who's motto is chainsaws and bloodied murk; Terminate. In all honesty, I'm one of the lesser scoffers of this OSDM revival. I've enjoyed a copious quantity of such acts as Chapel of Disease, Feral, Evocation, Hail Of Bullets, Banished From Inferno, Entrails, etc, to a certain frivolous extent, and I still do, as you can see. Terminate isn't actually a newcomer to my spacious array of acts, as I've been acquainted with the Illinois four-piece ever since the release of their EP ''Thirst For The Obscene'', which was a ravenous, competent mash of typically busy, atonal chainsaw guitars and now the group has an even larger stock pf ammunition in their hands; a debut through the death/grind entrepreneurs Selfmadegod Records. Terminate, despite the blatancy of their influences, put out a solid performance here, with uproarious guitars that have trebled in murkiness since their EP, flushing into standard tremolo-laced Swedish death metal riffing, but at the same time, the band likes to discover somewhat different paths every now and then, revisiting Autopsy, as made evident of the sheer depth of the vocals colliding with more spidery guitar lurches, Terrorizer, and even, to my surprise, some Finnish culprits such as Convulse or Abhorrence. Sure, it's rare, but I did like tinging brood of Finnish dourness, haunting the Dismember-esque tremolos.

The band is also fairly potent in infusing their squalid testament with a pinch of musical elegance. That's why I hear a little bit of early Pestilence buried in there, but naturally, the band's foremost ideology is to cultivate densely packed chainsaw apertures, which have an even grindcore-like momentum to them, pretty much like the recent Humanity Delete, only more sludgy. And I suppose John Porada's vocal presence is noteworthy enough, as he exhales a better low-register vocal spurt than many of his kin. ''Ascending To Red Heavens'' is just another bulk of regurgitating disgust that showers us with puke and ghastliness the millionth time, but still does not fail to generate a completely robust formula, one who's portal's function has been fixated long ago. I suppose Terminate are just another act who'd rather bend the knee and continue to shred bodies with crude chainsaws, rather than some of the most renowned OSDM death metal groups out there. Worth a good many runs if you're hungry for bones and flesh, and quite solid otherwise.

Answered In Lead
Rotten Dead Mass

Rating: 75%

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Black Table - Sentinel [2012]

No one could have guessed the sheer compelling enigma of Black Table's meticulously balanced EP ''Sentinel'', its genuine manic genius, and its ability to exhibit a remarkably well-anchored post-rock amalgamated with discordant black metal which bears resemblance to that of Deathspell Omega in its cajoling poignancy, ultimately forging an implement that can ship any band from the deep bowels of obscurity to a bright future of striving excellence. For a band who's ingeniously prehensile fabrication lies in the very heart of their ambitious youth rather than a decade or two of seasoned experience, ''Sentinel'' is an unforgiving, highly innovative concussion of core tenets that, after a dozen sessions of dichotomy, automatically burst into an entirely extensive, all-out combustion, simply a maniacal musical achievement that could be belabored for a long time.

As far as I can see, the reason why I'm gravitated so much towards ''Sentinel'' is because it takes the experimental metal niche to a different edge, imparting a melodious, kinetic poignancy to the already an already refine style and spending the entire twenty four minutes of run time bedecking that formula. It's almost as if the group is cultivating a heavier, richer soil for the post-rock formula to be placed in, and the same time, I get a strong technical sludge vibe striding from the band's penchant for strolling into staccatos and slumping extreme metal orchestrations, and like the gleaming grandeur of the sun-bright cover, they inject a heaping doze of eccentricity into the level of extremism, rendering it completely accessible and mature throughout. The riffs are manic, sporadic and totally dispersed around the EP, and the guitars are outstandingly prominent with their switches and convoluted twists snapping around in every direction; there's a tremendous amount of variation in here, more than most young talents can cram into twenty four minutes, and what's more is that they're their volatility does not turn the momentum into a hodgepodge of mass technical confusion for the listener.

The guitars were the main highlight yes, but the static wave of mournful female vocals was no doubt punctilious implement in conjuring the droning, sorrowful ambiance of the record. Mers Sumida's shrieks are of a an incredibly low-pitched atonement, and she applies them sporadically, adding an almost raw black metal appeal to the amalgamation at times, especially when the guitars switch to more carnal, rabid riffing, but somehow the overall pulchritude of the performance mars the band from plunging into a more aggressive effulgence, thus, ''Sentinel's'' excellence becomes evident. Judging by the density of sorrow on the whole EP I imagine the band was trying to depict rustic images and landscapes conjured by, say, Drudkh, Burzum, Blut Aus Nord without their industrialized tendencies, but then again there's an emergent surge for jumping from one riff to another, which proves that Black Table are endeavoring for something truly different than their peers. Hybridized, obfuscated, dour experimental excellence which my only gripe would be the brevity of the material, so I'll more than sure to check out any upcoming releases from these black metal lab rats.

To Tear Down

Rating: 87,5%

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Gruesome Stuff Relish - Sempiternal Death Grind [2013]

I had a nice run with Spain last year: Ataraxy, Necroven, Proclamation, Tsar Bomb, Mass Burial, and Banished From Inferno's excellent ''Minotaur'' the year before to top it off. So, naturally, the same kind of aping that was previous nearly exclusive to the States, Australia and Finland has swollen, and tumor-like, the Spanish death metal scene today has grown into a feral, rehashing mega-factory that commits its self to nothing what their masters Entombed, Dismember, Autopsy, Death and Bolt Thrower succeeded circa 1988-1993, and yet another protuberance in the ever widening arboretum of old school death and grind emerges; Gruesome Stuff Relish. Let me just make it clear that Gruesome Stuff Relish are hardly confronting the laws of physics as far as grinding chainsaw buzz goes, and this could have easily been the sophomore album for Rogga Johansson's newly born Humanity Delete if you exchanged the deep inflection for a sneering timbre of frivolous voracity, barking about.

Their sophomore was entirely dedicated to Terrorizer, Carcass and Repulsion, a bludgeon of Swedish chainsaw anchoring the barricade of riffs, but the Spaniards expend their retinue to a somewhat higher level here, enriching the chord patterns by letting a manifest of melody and crunchiness gush through the gory, bloody context as if the caveman's wooden bat earned itself a few sharpened nails along the way. Gruesome Stuff Relish have surprisingly prominent dominance over their dynamics, forging carnal tunes that could not only revive a band of decapitated zombies but also has a certain beat to it, which means they've stepped up their game by a margin, introducing even more accessible guitars that rip with a horrendously sodden chomp, catchy grooves, and the vocals, all gurgles and snares. One thing that I found rather queer was the band's aural preferences along the way. ''Sempiternal Death Grind'' is all bones and decomposed corpses from start to finish, but I found them to have growing sympathy for more spectral, doom-laden moments - well not exactly doom like, but rather a sludgier gait - wherein the band jumps right into a hollow, eager to deliver the murk with higher resonance. Something that we're experiencing way too frequently these days.

Like most death/grind acts, Gruesome Stuff Relish have their ambient passages of multiple subjects circulating through horror and zombies rising from their graves, a little addition to the music that should be able to draw some attention for fans of spurious horror. This record was certainly a point earned for the group, but it's still not as strong as some of the major usurpers of gore and horror, and the Spaniards definitely have a long way to get there. I was hoping that they could rend the atmospheric inclination they showed here even more discernible to something that I at least favor more than straightforward, pulsing grindcore, but hell, even if I don't get my wish we've still got a dozen of worthy headbanging material, with an equal amount of horror segments attached to it. ''Sempiternal Death Grind'' is embracing the 80's in both ways. Just grab some popcorn and plug the headphones in. You won't regret it, not for a couple of spins, anyway.

Deadlicious Feas
Sex Drugs and Grind

Rating:  73%

Avenger of Evil - Spawn Of Evil [2012]

Avenger of Blood has existed since 10 years, boosting the retro-thrash revival with two cadaverous full-lengths and bunch of demos that adorn their discography, but really, over the last 2-3 years, the rehashing of old school thrash has become highly redundant (not unlike the current old school death metal revival), and when I first glanced at the cover, and impish zombie unveiling the gruesome skeletal complex of another zombie, buried under a heaving slob of flesh, I had no doubts that the group, after a number of lineup changes, was only formulating a similar messy thrash outing, and like many of my predictions these days, the Las Vegas quartet's most recent EP ''Spawn Of Evil'' turned out to be what I fancied it would be. Even when  the band exchanges two old gears for two new ones their entire ideology of corpulence stays pretty much the same, a vicious paroxysm of primal death/thrash that despite embracing the whole ''old school or no school'' dogma, does no shy from benefiting from the booming amplification of the modern studio.

If I had to string some influences together I'd say they were enveloping themselves in more grime than their previous release, meaning that they take the brutal speed/thrash edge to a fairly new level, distorting it with even messier guitars, Venom, Possessed and some similar black/thrash tendencies biased into a more modern slew of boiling, vigorous Bay-Area fundamentals, but the band doesn't entirely jilt European influences; I still hear a heavy dose of the strong Kreator and Sodom worshiping which was prevalent on ''Death Brigade'' too. ''Spawn of Evil'' has a marginally different twist than the sophomore, though. The material here is definitely more pensive and the onslaught of riffs come in a surprising variety of textures, as there's a smashing, interacting maw of carnality punctuated inside typical speed/thrash progressions which makes for plenty of substance, and they tend the exorcise their speed/thrash cursor into a jagged chugging feast; undeniably induced by melodic death/thrash thrusts akin to Warbringer on the last two discs, Lazarus A.D., Invection, and maybe even Skeletonwitch when the frenzied, blood-soaked vocals are taken into account.

In spite of the generic approach we've witnessed a myriad of times before, Avenger of Blood are certainly one of the more prominent and efficient retro-thrash acts out there; their range of influences diving deeper into black and death metal at the same time than many of their kin and modernizing the cliche only by a margin so that purists are not only thrown into a rhythmic, violent vortex of nostalgia, but also behold the sheer intensity in more extensive levels. And that's the only thing the group wishes to achieve. To rekindle and already blazing memory and fill the mosh-room with pure, unadulterated thrash that was made to splinter necks. Not a novelty, but delicious prize of razing, antique ebullition for purists.

Centuries Of Hell
Spawn Of Evil
Aggressive Psychotic Behavior

Rating: 76%

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sonic Reign - Monument In Black [2013]

Though I've avoided and neglected much of the modernized black metal cliches for obvious reasons, Germans Sonic Reign have somehow found their way through all the acidic aspects of the genre's aesthetics and grappled me with everything they have. Unquestionably, there has been a good many bands over the last 10 years, who, in order to make black metal ''hip'' once more have severed and toyed with it using various implements of modernity, and the whole black & roll has enlarged, and gradually surfaced towards mediocrity, but I'm thankful that these Germans, even though they are employers of this inclination, have taken it to a much catchier level, attaining a good level of vile old school avidity whilst doing so. Through Apostasy Records, Sonic Reign release their first album in seven years, and oh boy this is fun, for connoisseurs and less-experienced black metal troop alike.

Sonic Reign's primary elements involve the aforementioned black & roll cliche, discernible from the murderous waves of groove and memorable accessibility inserted into the basis, and and a harsher undercurrent of surging, surgical black/thrash volatility, which is more prominent during savage sequences where guitar Benjamin Berucki thrusts his picking hand into the strings and starts thrumming frenetically, something that's rather less common in an orgy of discordant arpeggios blending into trudging razor impulses - all part of the band's scheme. What's great here is that Sonic Reign isn't exactly forming a composite of more groove-laden black metal and ramming Australian black/thrash; they're meshing that all up with plenty of intricacy, intricacy that can take on an almost prehensile, atmospheric hue when they start rocking back and forth and start plunging into the depths of the carnal skull on their album art. The tone is gritty up to an extent, not to mention crusty as if Satyricon somehow got hold of Warbringer's guitars, but the real treat is the sheer unhinged mayhem the riffs can create. I feel somehow that the Teutonic squad is holding their potential aback, because they're hardly breaking into more belligerent spurts, delving into their atmospheric complexities for the majority of the album, when they can clearly thread the two together to form the ultimate cranium-splatter weapon. More distinct, hostile chug fairs like ''Daily Nightmare Injected'' do have their appeal, but that's only a fraction of what the group can do if they let their imaginations flow.

For the vocals, imagine Destroyer 666, on ''Unchain The Wolves'', only roiled in pinch of miasma rather than the more punk-ish edge you'd expect black/thrash bands to have. The band's final addition to their music is the well done overall gait. Even when riffs evaporate into contrast and rupture at times, the pace of the album seems to be fixed; a steady mid-paced pattern which I found to be the key of their monotony. Not in a bad way of course, bu it's just that that the drudgery of fiery black metal tremolos is what makes the album so magnetically enthralling for me. As an album, ''Monument In Black'' is damnably solid, and as a stacked briefcase of collapsing tremolo pillars it's a one way ticket into some of the less cavernous sentient molasses out there right now, a fixated concussion that delivers its piled content slowly, eventually summing up to the sonic pressure of seven elephants stomping your ear drums at one time. Colossal, haunting simplicity that I just can't reject.

Abhorrence Vs. Scum
Whisperer In The Dark
Daily Nightmare Injected

Rating: 81%

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Convulse - Inner Evil [2013]

Though ''World Without God'' was easily one of my favorite old school death metal albums, I wasn't exactly longing for a comeback by the masters of the macabre. Yet there was a tempestuous rapping against my door, which was followed by a flood of various releases by Svart Records, and among them, I was actually quite astonished to see an EP by Convulse, and what's even more shocking is that the cover suggested they were actually aiming to pay a little revisit to their olden efforts, instead of tailing the modernized travesty they turned into with their sophomore and concluding album, and indeed, my predictions turned out to be correct, at least to an extent. I then shortly became aware of their reunion, but I'm not here to argue whether it was their burgeoning eminence in the Internet over recent years or just a sudden surge of fervor that made them come together after all these years; I'll only be dissecting this two-track EP, thank you very much.

Honestly, even though I've witnessed quite a bit of successful death metal resurgences and continuations of late (Autopsy, Vader, Deceased, etc), I, for some reason, I knew that Convulse could never exceed their masterful panoply of pretense macabre, and that prediction was correct as well. Quality was out of the question from the very start, but I was actually quite induced by their preferences aesthetic-wise, because Convulse, while still not exactly as gloomy and deprived, comes pretty close to their lauded full-length's appeal in terms of atmosphere and textures in general. They can still show their profound love for brutalized macabre tremolo patterns well, but I'd say ''Inner Evil'' is a less absorbing than the Convulse we all know; it has a cleaner tone and much of the dourness in missing, but there's an oblique amalgamation between corpulent bowel-ripping and more misanthropic, refined hooks that seem as though they were ripped from Demigod's ''Slumber Of Sullen Eyes'', but again, with more acute precision and clarity.

The group has also considered some of the fashioned trends going on; there are plenty of obvious Swedish death metal interpretations that, with a more stubborn, flattened tone, sound more like a plummet of bludgeoning hammers rather than viler chainsaw-action put into practice on a bunch of molested cadavers. While certainly not a novelty, I like it, and with the help of a robust slew of drum beats behind them the band is redolent of Vader, especially on their latest album, ''Welcome To The Morbid Reich'', but there's a tighter focus on somber yet simplistic melody patterns narrating the death/doom obelisks lumbering about, instead of  a brilliant assembly of blazing leads. The EP is ten minutes, so you might naturally think it's not crammed with variation, but Convulse have actually done a particularly good job, stacking together ominous chord progressions and with semi-atmospheric melodies, making ''Inner Evil'' a better affair than most probably imagined it would be. I'll admit, I'm not going to plead the Finns for a bigger serving of what they had in store for us here, but there's no denying that they've some sharp hooks on this release that a death metal revivalist or Finndeath fan would surely sink into. As solid as the viscera-made manifestation on its cover.

God Is Delusion
Inner Evil

Rating: 77%

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ulcer - Grant Us Death [2013]

Despite their morph into more trendy brutal death metal composites over the turn of the 20th century, the bands coming out of the Polish death metal scene (Behemoth excluded) remain some of my favorites even to this day, and they certainly dominate the current legions of brutality thanks to the upsurge of Decapitation, Vader and an abundance of fresher acts which do not refrain from complete and obsolete obliteration. Thus, Pulverized Records introduced me to one of the youngest acts to come out of the debris, Ulcer, yet the aim of the Polish is clearly not to represent their national pride musically, but to call for a homage to those of Sweden, unarguably drawing their sole influences from Entombed, Dismember, Grave, Carnage, etc. It's harrowing to be drowned in myriads of libations to the same chainsaw-wielding gods, and what's further frustrating that Ulcer don't intend of circumventing their own passing of sustenance for the megalithic heart that pulses for the aforementioned mavens, because ''Grant Us Death'' could have easily been one of Rogga Johansson's prolific explorations into the beleaguered sub-genre.

Yes, I was indeed disappointed by the overall results of this record, and if I had to put it simply; if you've already had your fair share of buzzsaw gnawing and Swedish butchery, then this will get you absolutely nowhere new, which means another terrific cover art has been used up, for nothing. And thus, we enter ''Grant Us Death''. This is standard procedure for any Swede, but I was at least somewhat content by the band's overall quality; Ulcer proceeds to play everything by the book, and by the utmost extents, at that. The Poles have no mercy here, everything is Swedish to the bone; there's a mangled, distorted slough of a tone that tumultuously swipes over a regurgitated landscape of rotten bones, grime and putrid blood with a massive slew of heavy-as-fuck riffs to bear it, and despite the genuine redundancy of the whole thing Ulcer can still manage to bind hefty death/thrash paroxysms with d-beat driven death/grind formations and the occasional oozing melody patterns slinking over the broiling carnage during chorus sections to surface the entire momentum of the record into a more spacious, almost atmospheric climax.

Angelfuck's vocals are thicker than most vocalists exhibiting similar inflections, and while nothing of a novelty, he can rise to more high-pitched notes on more atmospherically imbued affairs like ''The Pact'' and then once again submerge into a more cavernous, harsh growl that blends well with the vortex of of explosions caused by the guitars, all complements of LucaSS and Mścisław, two hazardously raged musicians who've had their share of bloodied axes in a number of entities including the black metallers Blaze Of Perdition. Nothing is more evident than the fact that ''Grant Us Death'' was made for the mosh pit, with its crudely arranged riffs, its ravenous attitude, but I couldn't help but notice the group was, perhaps, vaguely experimenting with more aural, cathartic expressions than most acts in this field, but unless they're bound to have an evolution of sound on their third phantom release, then you're just as likely to be revitalized with nostalgia by trying out groups like Graveyard, Undead Creep, Horrendous, Claws or Revolting. And I was scarcely impressed, even though headbanging was still aplenty.

Grant Us Death

Rating: 68%

Friday, January 4, 2013

Anthem - Burning Oath [2012]

What I absolutely love about the last months of every year is that it always seems to be stocked to the chunks with the best releases of the year, and an unmistakable front-runner for the 2012 lists is Anthem, with ''Burning Oath''. Going strong ever since 1981, the Japanese have consecutively released material that would finally pile up to form a meaty bodywork of albums, and while admittedly I've never tasted their radiant brand of heavy metal before, I was staggered by their underrated status, especially after fifteen records, but the past aside, ''Burning Oath'' reveals blazing excellence that could annually be only matched by Pharaoh's own impulsive concession, ''Bury The Light'' when the heavy/power genre is taken into consideration, and quartet certainly exhibit a glimmering sheen of talent on their fifteenth album, even if creativity is omitted.

I think the only thing worth fussing about here is that the group rarely surpasses certain boundaries, let alone exceed them. As far as I've read, the material here is not entirely different from the band's previous material, and I don't think it would take a mastermind to figure out the Japanese are far more fervent on boasting their modernized, amplified cave-crusher of a guitar tone and imbuing it with colorful Van Halen-esque leads, thus firing away into laser-like precision, rather than breaking the rules and processing the entire slew of spacious brilliance in a completely different format. Their sky-high echelon, though, enables them to effortlessly think through redundancy and produce simple, genuine power metal beauty that reflects the resonant, perky and highly jumpy aesthetics that fall somewhere between Priest, Maiden, Drangonforce, Primal Fear and Gamma Ray, all beaten into rainbow-like shimmer that feels dazzling no matter how many times you spin the whole thing.

Every tune they've composed is blazing, each and nuanced highlight that forms the rainbow. The core rhythm tone could have easily worked as a brand new butcher's cleave for the avaricious audience of brutal death metal extremes, all demanding a thousandth weapon to raze and exterminate, but with the vocals of Eizo Sakamoto upon the meat, there's a queer balance formed that anchors both the piercing melody orgy and vibrant pulses of Eizo's tone. The basis of brutality remains quite simple really, but still completely cavorting and critical to the band's mathematical precision, and guitarist Akio Shimizu piles up so many lead work on top of a single slab of bread that it almost seems though he's completely throwing all his solos out into the face of the listener, but at the same time the leads feel ridiculously spasmodic, almost surreal, and he never refrains from supporting a memorable complex while doing so. Strikingly, he seems as talented in crafting modern thrash chug fairs as he is in wallowing the listener in a paradox of quizzical, spurious solos that just make me swelter in excitement every time I hear them.

While the guitar is the undeniable superstar of the record, Eizo's vocals can deliver almost as many twinges of pleasure as the riffs, and in a far more foreboding way, at that. Not that his vocals have a sense of misery or anything, but they occasionally tend to take on melodious, almost mournful hues while delving into overly harmonious territory. But you see, that's all part of his genius. He has such a long-lasting voice that it readily oscillates while literally keeping the entire riff-work going on underneath in one piece. Additionally, I was quite induced by the foreign eccentricity of the Japanese lyrics, and Eizo also shines here; forming perfect transitions that stick the English lyrics to the Japanese, and what felt somewhat ironic is the abstract vividness of the album, and that they're actually more likely to fit the bill for a band like Drangonforce, but the band sings about much more down-to-earth subjects than dragons or unicorns.

It's quite possible for someone to be in a dilemma when choosing from eleven top-notch tunes, but I probably dug the dual violins of ''Get Away'', the airy, sinister edge of the opener ''Evil One'' and the swerving, bluesy rhythmic combustion of ''Double Helix'' the most, though every song is spectacular in its own rights. As stated, ''Burning Oath'' does not require 200 IQ to figure out; its quite simply plays by the rules but produces quality material that any fan of the aforementioned bands should have a hell of time listening. Even with a deep-seated heavy metal inclination swinging the album towards relatively distinct locations, ''Burning Oath'' principally remains a power metal record, and good fucking one, too.

On And On
Get Away
Double Helix
Evil One
Struggle Action

Rating: 90%

Deceptor - Chains Of Delusion [2013]

In an astonishing turn of events, what I anticipated as another potential tumor in the myriad of retro heavy/thrash metal groups turned out to be a compulsory magnet of innovative, old school excellence that exceeded any of my previous opinions on the matter. How could I have known, that amid a trampling stockpile of promos, it would be Shadow Kingdom's delivery, Deceptor's sophomore EP ''Chains Of Delusion'' that perfectly fit the maniacally inclined, wondrously imbued textures that I had been searching for so long, but never acquired, yet, what makes up this a work of sheer old-minded genius is its climatic, glimmering sheen of imagination; hardly has a band ever bestirred interpretations of both traditional, thrash, speed and a classical brand of death metal akin to the latest Deceased, and successfully concluded their industrious formula bu enhancing the basis with ingenious riffing, as if the entire thing was the product of pang in the mind of a mad scientist who wished to saturate the demands of die-hards of all the aforementioned genres within a single concession.

Deceptor's body work on ''Chains Of Delusion'' is hardly what you'd call an immensely lengthy epic, but with the two ambient sounds tracks excluded, we're left with four tracks, each arriving from their own biomes, spewing forth their own distinctive elements, almost as if they had nothing to with each other. But everywhere you go, you'll vibrantly feel the band's own engrossment of texture and semi-technical riffs, which is what makes the whole EP so magical. Simply said, ''Chains Of Delusion'' is an effigy for the 80's. The entire aura is earthen as the drums, the bass and the guitar work all have roughly equal spaces in the mix, and Sam Mackertich's vocals are as divergent as the riffs, shifting from harmonious power metal chants to harsher death/thrash growls, and then to Schmier-like shrieks that echo through the ears of a Destruction fan like delicious nostalgia. His vocal inflection is just as brilliant as the guitars, and simply bears some of the most combustive vocal electricity I've heard is some time.

The tone is perfectly crisp, as if you're tasting a perfectly well-cooked steak through your headphones; it's wonderfully authentic, something in between ''Peace Sells...'' and ''Rust In Peace'', but far more belligerent and ravenous, eager to sink its caustic raw of teeth into the skull of its crazed mentor. Like the vocals, you never know what the guitars are likely to switch into. One moment you're lost through a matrix of technicality, then a NWOBHM-styled gallop bounces into action, and just seconds later you're driven into cavorting speed/thrash convulsions that jive equally as well to the vocalist's Bruce Dickinson complexes as they do the much more psychotic growls of his schizoid side. There are just so many twists and turns on the EP that it's nearly impossible not to be befuddled by the musical tenacity of the trio. Take the bumping, melodious bass of ''To Know Infinity'', the assailing bullet-like chug storm of ''Heatseeker'', ''Sentient Shackles' '' technical momentum and the indulgent, foreboding onslaught of ''Oblivion's Call'', put in a few mechanized voices, and you practically have exemplary of modern sci-fi induced thrash metal.

''Chains Of Delusion'' is damn near phenomenal. I could only gape at the narrow-mindedness of thrasher who would rather get drunk over an orgy of Warbringer songs, and not give much of a fuck about the gyrating genius of this. I think it's about time somebody cracked these damnable chains and let the metal world know of their new master thrasher, because with ''Chains Of Delusion'', Deceptor have certainly earned that title, yet one must now forget that this is so much more than the polished, originality-free modernity everyone seems to be endlessly craving these days as a vague remembrance to the good old days, but those who really wish to be submerged in 80's retro energy - fear not - for your new captor has arrived. If you're one of those people, you have no excuse not to pre-order this right now, even if there's a procrastinated apocalypse just outside of your city.


Rating: 91%

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lacerated Metal Playlist V

I've decided to include old school releases in the mixes. Enjoy.

Cosmic Cortex, by Vektor, off the Outer Isolation album
2011, Progressive black/thrash, USA
Sounds like: Voivod, Obliveon, Coroner, Havok, Realm, Vendetta (Germany)

Sudden Death, by Wrath, off the Nothing To Fear album
1987, Power/thrash, USA
Sounds like: Laaz Rockit, Heathen, Meliah Rage, early Artillery, Agent Steel, Flotsam and Jetsam

War Machine, by Znowhite, off the Act of God album
1988, Thrash, USA
Sounds like: Demolition Hammer + Holy Terror

Heatseeker, by Deceptor, off the Chains of Delusion EP
2013, Thrash/power/speed/heavy, UK
Sounds like: The combination of USPM, Bay Area thrash and NWOBHM

Dearth, by Deathspell Omega, off the Paracletus album
2010, Avant-garde black metal, France
Sounds like: Blut Aus Nord, Ulcerate, Dedecahedron

Through The Eyes Of Greed, by Sadus, off the A Vision Of Misery album
1992, Technical thrash metal, USA
Sounds like: Early Atheist, Hellwitch, Morbid Saint, Death