Sunday, February 17, 2013

Krypts - Unending Degradation [2013]

The first time I was introduced to Krypts, which was some time ago, when their 2009 demo ''Open The Crypt'' unexpectedly triggered the massing of a gigantic Finnish underground reserve for pungent, cave-dwelling old school death metal with blatantly gargantuan doom metal interpretations, and four years after the beginning of their chasm exploration, the Finns return with a hulking, and quite literally ''degraded'' debut full-length, which, from the eyes of current heavy metal enthusiasts, can only be regarded as an unashamed aping of an over-saturated cliche that  modern pundits such Disma, Funebrarum, Cruciamentum and Ignivomous have already amply exposed us to. Despite whatever gripe one would hold against this seemingly endless flood of hollow death metal, and yet another icon to represent its sheer trendiness, I personally did not find the redundancy of ''Unending Degradation'' to be a deteriorating aspect, and with some experience behind their monstrous, cavernous regime these Finns have certainly put together a record that channels both nostalgia and a somber, though not modern, emphasis on death metal that was popularized by the aforementioned groups.

''Unending Degradation'' commences as any other cavernous death metal band could, starting off with doomy motifs and then unfolding with all of the tenuous, tremulous riffs it bears inside its numbing 40 minute burden. Like their fellow label-mates Anhedonist, they can keep the listener intrigued throughout most of the deliverance time, through a sway of basic, yet monolithic chords by simply applying a chock load of reverb and further amplifying effects, though I believe their true nuance lies in their usage of melodious that entwine with the lumbering guitar patterns, all to create a perturbing atmosphere. And surprisingly, they accomplish most of their core aims. Perhaps their goal in using such melodiously resonant lines to flourish their simple patterns was to completely peeve the listener and pummel him/her into quieted submission, and if so, then they've failed for the most part, as even rookie ears would able to overcome the bludgeoning heft and atmospheric tendencies of this record, but again, they were probably just busy resuscitating the remnants of Funebrarum and Incantation on this one. Krypts seem almost completely devoted to death/doom, rather than the more occasional aggressive death metal motif, which could be a pro or con depending on your stance. They're just bashing the cavernous interiors of dismal caves and crevices with blunted clubs and hammers with the momentum of a drunken caveman, so don't expect to be fluctuated in between moments of complexity and intensity; but then again, you probably know what you're up against, right?

Bludgeon and resonance are the keys to Krypts. But even though they're entangled in this murky aesthetic that has reached its peek in popularity, Krypts don't send a banal wave of repeating, massive guitars to the listener, unlike many of their peers. Yes, I'm sure you're not going to find this the most fun experience you've had in years, a pendulous flood of megalithic guitars led by fiendish, low-register gutturals that like to dwell in the utmost depths of you local cave, and yes, I know they're somewhat taking a risk here now that the sub-genre has taken a route towards the redundant, but I think you'll still find yourself in  fairly good hands while listening to Krypts; they reek heavily of nostalgia, they're heavy as fuck, have a discordant appeal to them, and they'd sure as hell attract doom metal fans of the olden sort, so don't be a cunt, give this a try, you won't suffocate, I swear (that last notion may not be fully correct). Monstrous hymns galore.

Blessed Entwinement 
Dormacy Of The Ancients
The Black Smoke

Rating: 79%

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Enforcer - Death By Fire [2013]

Not only is Enforcer one of the top acts to emerge from the new wave of Swedish heavy metal revival, but they're also the perfect dose of awesome to take in every time you find yourself frustrated in a fit of rage or anytime you feel all the intricacies of modern metal seem like too much of a drivel. I suppose there's no need to state the redundancy of Enforcer's aesthetics; this is not to say I dislike their eager and undoubtedly frivolous confrontation of speed/heavy metal, but I think by now we all know that you need not put too much ambition in songwriting to muster something in Enforcer's kin. As an incessant, suitable continuation of their past efforts, Enforcer at their spurious best; keeping the over cluster of speedy-as-fuck riffs at the ready, and the Swedes obviously have their roots inclined towards Maiden, Priest, Attacker, Saxon, Diamond Head, etc, and their latest endeavor, ''Death By Fire'', which provides with the perfect, unmitigated title for its spasmodic, kinetic energy, another practice if lightweight levity and one-dimensional, but nonetheless crisp 80's heavy/speed/power.

Enforcer are hardly perverse in their attitude - no matter how zealous they are about exhibiting their blatantly lined influences. It's nice to get acquainted with a few bands - including the Swedish RAM, Steelwing, Cauldron, and of course the matter of this subject - that are not directly and unashamedly ripping off their masters but are actually putting some compassion into their mixes, and the Swedes have done more than enough to show their avidity to fully batter the listener into a delightful 80's craze; the clothing fit for a maniacal mosh-dance, the erupting, eager leads that sprout out of nowhere, the unhinged bevy of riffs, and the harmonies vocal outings that help bring a power metal splash upon things, something redolent of, say, Blind Guardian, Running Wild or Riot, even though it's taken to a lesser degree than the hugely pummeling, pulsing speed/heavy influence. Enforcer's sole route of flashing energy and meting out melodies in throughout that congealment of thrashed-up speed metal riffing and they more melodic, more focused moments that brusquely interrupt the combo in a suitable way, much like the fairly complex structural patterns we see in ''Sacrificed''.

Indeed, and unfortunately, Enforcer's focus on the shell is far more prominent than that of the innards which contain the actual substance, so we're left with little more than a cherry to contemplate while through just a smidgen more of work they could achieved a much greater finesse of both infrastructure and actuality. But I was quite grateful that Enforcer could stick to their typical gyrating parameters and were able to deliver what was expected of them, and I felt that they were still above the subpar in terms of ambition. The vocals weren't strained, and in fact quite natural in their blazing ruptures, and riffs were marginally more than solely frivolous, condensing in a froth of both vividness and semi-complexity, sharp enough to successfully find its way through more than a couple of spins, the overall quality of the output is still high considering the sea of aping mosh-maniacs, and the guitar tone here deserves an extra accolade from me; for its beautiful, crystal-clear sound. I can't see how purists won't be worshiping this.

Mesmerized By Fire
Silent Hour/The Conjugation

Rating: 75%

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sorcery - Arrival At Six [2013]

One might hold a million gripes against the newest storming debut by the Swedes Sorcery, another practice in clamorous chainsaw processions and grinding flesh and bone, no doubt something quite less meticulously plotted when compared to the band's more technical forerunners, but one should also bear in mind that Sorcery were a strong, if not mandatory addition to the death metal movement of the late 80's-early 90's which took place is Sweden, having released their cult classic and a personal favorite favorite of mine, ''Bloodchilling Tales'' back in 1991. It's undeniable that with their long-awaited debut, ''Arrival At Six'', which has a strange horror-themed flamboyance to it - not unlike the debut - the Swedes are more keen on actually flushing the residual anger and corpulence that was left unreleased, because of their brusque separation, with the booming standards of higher, more vivid production, rather than actually applying some ambition and dexterity into the mix, like those of Horrendous, Necrovation or Putrevore.

Though I thank the heavens the Swedes haven't lost their touch, as their compositions suggest, and in fact have gotten a smidgen sharper. ''Arrival At Six'' is still at the core of that antique, blunted Swedish sound that so many seem to ape these days, but the production is so massive the excursions are so continual with their bombardment of raucous carnality, that the record feels as if it took a step up in modernity, fleeing from the cave that sheltered their unrelenting, haunting sound, but in fact the Swedes' approach to death metal has only differed marginally. They still seem to relish bombastic breakdowns and prolonging equations formed with the crude edge of the blunted chainsaw; a murderous barrage of monstrous tremolos that quiver as they burst, and I also enjoyed the subtle avidity for creating somber ambiances - resuscitating nostalgia in an instant. One more thing that's probably noteworthy is the actual durability the record has. Normally, you'd have to fluctuate wildly for a draining 42 minutes, but without fidgeting a mere morsel from the same meaty formula, these veterans are able to suck you in over 5 minute compositions effortlessly, all thanks to the accentuated punch of the forefront guitar lines.

As Sorcery's oldest and sole vocal power, Ola Malmstrom also has a good deal of experience under his fluttering vocal chords. Instead of getting lost in the crashing haze of the guitars; a huge, wallowing timbre of chords and tremolos, his vocal delivery seethes through the bludgeon with a withered contrast that leaves a stronger mark in the ear than many in the same guttural field. Taking into account their entire discography of demos, compilations and another full-length, Sorcery are their paramount in ''Arrival At Six''. The Swedes have vaguely exhibited another way of presenting the same megalithic butchery tone; by simply encompassing the listener in a wealth of titular spikes, thus sucking in the listener in a vortex of craze and blood. Especially such tracks as ''Beyond The Wall'' bear some of the most battering Swedeath contents I've heard to date, a finesse that can only be surpassed by the masterful engineers of the sub-genre. There is already an endless stockpile of Swedes churning up the same kind of grime and bone, but even so, if you ever feel like 1989-1993, Sorcery's sophomore is more likely to entertain you than many of its kin.

 Beyond The Wall
United Satanic Alliance

Rating: 81%

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Solothus - Ritual of the Horned Skull [Demo] [2013]

Last year I had the pleasure to carry the burden of Finnish death/doom monstrosities Solothus' ''Ritual Of The Horned Skull'' EP, and endeavor I felt was one of the better death/doom interpretations of the last 4-5 years with bustling, semi-cavernous index and busy, climatic riffs that were placed in sort of the milieu of primitive death/doom circa 1989-1994 and a more established, polished offering of the same sub-genre that was substantially upgraded and polished by late to mid 90's connoisseurs Runemagick, Paradise Lost, etc, and even more modern projects of melodious, cavern-dwelling disembowelment projects like Hooded Menace or Coffins - a certainly copious range of macabre influences that all have their places secured in a gnostic burial ground near the local cemetery. Yet, there will undoubtedly be a handful of scoffers, demanding to know what the Finns have to top their already prodigious predecessors which have spawned in the last 5 years or so. Yes, Solothus are nothing quite out of the ordinary, bearing minor contrast only thanks to their larger intake of Runemagick influences, but there's much more to this hillock of bones than the eye meets.

As I stated, Solothus' entire bevy of groove-laden riffs fall somewhere between the more ''epic'' and edgy facet of death/doom and the more grotesque, and veritable churning of melodic exhibitions delivered through a manifest of horrendous old school depictions. Solothus are simply fantastically authentic, equating the masterful measure of doom, gloom and harmony into one versatile, bone-laced package, with an unrelenting undercurrent of vulgarity seething underneath it all. There's an elephantine slurry; a punching, ghastly monster of a tone that splashes around wildly in accordance to the medium tempo of the bruising drums, and like on ''A Call To War'', the band injects minor dozes of clamorous, distorted chords which instantly render the orchestration a morbidly defiant serpentine, belching bile and vomit as it stampedes. The songs are all shrewdly arranged; they're not stretched into drudging funeral doom epics of over 7 minutes; they're kept at the optimum length of about 4-5 minutes, and Solothus are obviously more keen in conversing at mid-tempo gait than turtle-slowness. They also tend to stick to a lesser flock of riffs than many of their peers incline to do, supposedly to turn the whole experience into a more absorbing one, but Solothus exceed many of their counterparts in both quality and distribution, each song a successful homage to sweltering death and doom.

Simply put, the Finns are more enthralling than the majority of their cavern-dwelling peers, deeply punging into the macabre without weaving superfluous quantities of complexities while doing so, and simply keeping the listener at bay throughout 20 minutes by continuously craving similar but very enjoyable, grooving riffs. Undeniably, there could have been a tidbit of more variation to embody an even more gruesome manifest of horror, but I'm still hardly malcontent with my current reservoir. The first two songs, ''A Call To War'' and ''Throne Of Bones'' mostly represented what the band's savager ideas clustered around, but ''Embrace Of Cold'', and even more so, ''Darkness Gathers Here At Night'', were fully turning on the more melodious inflection on, and barely Gothic interpretations made tangible with the use of vibrant, fibrous collections of melody, so they're definitely heading for a more solemn and harmonious approach; something quite akin to Hooded Menace and what they achieved with their latest full-length. Well, these Finns have captured the true grooving essence of old school death/doom, a horrific congealment of bones and mourn, so a full-length will definitely be welcome.

Darkness Gathers Here At Night
Embrace The Cold
A Call To War

Rating: 83%

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Beyond - Frostbitepanzerfuck [2013]

The Beyond has to be one of the less intriguing, but more frivolous bands a genuine metal audience would expect to come across with, one of the lesser groups out there with an ambition to unite the dynamic, cavorting boast of crust punk with a more speculative perspective on standardized black metal. Needless to say the Pennsylvanians are not bringing a whole pile of fresh meat to the table, but are rather resonating the nostalgic images of fans who both enjoy inundations of piercing, frigid Scandinavian black metal in its purest form; and others who just want to gyrate amid the sweaty mass of people in the mosh pit, to a severe onslaught of jumpy hardcore riffs, something quite delicious but could still be considered a throwback taking into account the number of punk/black hybrids you've listened over the course of time. But your acquaintance with this matters not, for within its restricted parameters The Beyond can still deliver what the cover art promises; a free ride on a frost-encrusted German Tiger through a wall of snow, and zombies.

Rather than fabricating a single formula and then pervading that into the entire set of songs, The Beyond divides every single track, or better yet smaller sequences into specific genres; this lessens their chance of breaking the mould, but the quartet, I'm guessing were never aiming to crush the boundaries anyway. ''Frostbitepanzerfuck'', although tending to stay inside the safe-zone,  is full-speed voracity and blasphemous anger, something that could have well fitted the roster of Hell's Headbangers due to the emergence of velocity and excess of carnal inundations that reek of both the 80's and the 90's, and the band's variations are mostly clean-cut; they manifest the bulk of their riffs through a downtrodden ambiance of crust punk with strong heavy metal inclinations and traditional raucous vocals barking, or a much heavier variety of bulldozing  black metal tremolo floods, and they have an awesome celerity that enables them to shift instantly from hymnal tremolo barrages to more spurious punk and d-beat implications, or vice-versa. It's almost as if they're indulging themselves in a staccato-like procession of style, and they pull the trigger for avid Midnight and Immortal fans alike.

Songs like ''Attack of the Zombie Brigade'' and ''Roto-Cunt'' are stronger homages to the band's older crust punk roots even though it's obvious the overall output sounds a heap heavier and crunchier than what it was meant to be, and ''The Splatterhouse Maniacs'' or the title track, despite the sheer cheese ridden all over their names, are more committed to the early to mid 90's Scandinavian scene; they're pretty accessible considering all the intricacies were formed over the beleaguered genres core tenets, and they're more effulgent than obfuscated in cold and frost really, but hell, they're still pungent enough to evoke a sense of insecurity in the listener, already taken by the velocity of the assault. And out of them all, ''Exterminate Humanity'' probably stands out the most. It's as though a smoldering wall of decompression takes over the atmosphere after such a speed-fest, and as a fervent doom fan myself I honestly loved the track. You'll hear a third timbre of the vocalist as you enter its near 5 minute ballast, a hoarser wave of growls that differ from the previous high-pitched shriek fair, and the vandals set a excellent mid to slow pace to travel at; the guitar exhibits the fundamentals of death/doom, extracting partly from Asphyx and other early Dutch doom extremists, and there's an irresistible slab of wobbly but precisely-hinted groove patterns that isntantly take over. The Beyond have certainly impressed me here, I honestly had much less expectations of them, and they shrewdly surpassed them. Omitting the final track, a devoted offering to our death/doom ancestors of circa 1988-1994, ''Frostbitepanzerfuck'', which has a clever click to it, is guaranteed pleasure for fans of Midnight, Evil Army, Children Of Technology, or such Scandinavian masters as early Enslaved, Immortal and Arckanum. Proof that industriousness on ambition is  not the only way to produce good, fresh music.

Necro Overload
Exterminate Humanity
Cunt-Sucking Cannibal

Rating: 77,5%

Friday, February 8, 2013

Yurei - Night Vision [2012]

Norwegians Yurei captivated me the moment the first resonating guitar quarrels of their ‘’Night Vision’’ convulsed around my ear drums. Indeed ‘’Night Vision’’ has to be one of the most original offerings of the year 2012, and they are able to put this bulk of originality perfectly into practice, encapsulating the sombre attributions of psychedelic prog-rock in a vortex of wondrously confusing technical manifest. Perhaps most prominently bearing resemblance to Virus’ 2011 album, ‘’The Agent That Shaped The Desert’’ that was equally convoluted, and much more inclined towards the post-metal orientation of things, but even with the closeness Yurei has to its fellow countrymen, this group manages to produce a far more jiving, jazzy buzz by delivering bliss through crystal-clear guitar lines that swerve to irresistible dissonance.

As mentioned, Yurei’s work here may not be as perplexing in discordance as the post-metal arrangement of Virus, but that’s mostly because the Norseman are obviously and intently heading towards a far more bobbing equation; one that’s bluesy, nearly hysterical when contrasted to one of the more technically strained moments of the record, and in fact feels as if it was recorded in an echoing, forsaken desert wasteland with acoustic guitars plugged into distortion amps. They have a tangible enthusiasm for droning prog/doom moments, as seen on the heavenly drudging ‘’Diminished Disciple’’, as an alternative to their jumpier preferences, and I hear a particularly pungent stream of desert/space rock pioneers Yawning Man. Perhaps you don’t need battle-hardened ears to adjust to the fairly intricate passages here, but the undeniable love for experimentation shines brightly on every moment. One thing that only boosts this is the band’s deviation from the aforementioned masters Virus, whose bassist is actually the thumping, serving maniac here, which clearly implies that the Norwegians are endeavouring to surpass the genius of ‘’The Agent That Shaped The Desert’’, trying to do carry this out in a fairly different font.

Besides the guitar tone, and the bevy of sporadic riffs which go from capering diminished chord dispersions, as seen on the well-titled ‘’Diminished Disciple’’, to dowry desert/fusion rock trudges to cavorting singular, lead-based compositions that have an almost technical touch to them (Machinery), Yurei exerts large though not colossal effort into churning the music into an accessible convolution of experimental taste. They certainly keep the music fresh, building it up with countless nuances and more importantly, alien sound samples or instruments diving into the riff foray, effects such as reverb, and the vocalist’s somewhat queer take on the traditional, darkened atoning, which occur at seldom. ‘’Sleepwalkers in Love’’ is an unaccustomed piano tunnel that absorbs the listener in its hymnal melancholy, and ‘’Dali By Night’’, perhaps my favourite, is an almost avant-garde glance at the momentously prehensile fundamentals of Yurei’s brand of progressive rock, a complete slab of sorrowful complexity and experimental touches, clutching the listener from all sides.

As you may well understand, Yurei are out of the generic league for sure and are heading undoubtedly for their own engaging column in the metal/rock universe. What makes the experience twice as fun is that that the Norwegians have worked to render their music accessible as much as they’ve strived to craft the riffs themselves. It’s one record that effortlessly snaps free of the manacles that binds it down, and works in its own criterion; not necessarily ear candy for those who enjoy a more straightforward constraint of proggy rock/rock, but a dwindling plunge into the mysterious and compelling, a source of further agitation if you’re feeling tired of the same tunes.

Diminished Disciple
The Cognitive Crack
Dali By Night

Rating: 86%