Showing posts from August, 2011

The Crevices Below 'Below The Crevices' review

THE CREVICES BELOW 'Below The Crevices' (Nordvis Produktion)
Please, take a seat, pack a lunch, get comfortable, and don’t plan on going anywhere, because when you pick up Below the Crevice’s 'The Crevices Below', you’re gonna want to stay with it for a long time, like a great novel. What we have here is an all-out masterpiece of avantgarde black metal, and even that compliment hardly does it justice. The opening track (also the title track) begins on a soft note, weaving ghostly keyboard melodies with haunting undertones. Even when the song kicks into black metal mode, the atmosphere is incredibly bleak and cold. Vocals echo tremendously, and along with the guitars and keyboards creating melancholy moods and melodies, this song is really more like being in a dream than listening to a song. A dream that’s cloudy and hazy, where everything cold and dark and so far away, yet so close. It’s surreal, and hauntingly magical. The whole album continues with this mood, creating …

Cruachan 'Blood On The Black Robe' review

CRUACHAN 'Blood On The Black Robe' (Candlelight)
Question. If I were to ask you how many Irish metal bands you could think of off the top of your head, how many would that be? Other than Gama Bomb, and maybe Waylander, not too many bands from Ireland really stick out (The lack of, at least, Primordial and Mourning Beloveth in your short list is shocking for me, Andrew! Trust me, you need to hear those two...and then investigate further into the bogs of good old Eire! - ED). Well here is one that has been around since the 90s, and has somehow eluded my grasp until now.  I’m talking, of course, about the Celtic black metal band, Cruachan, from Dublin, Ireland. They’re known as one of the main founders of folk metal, and with the release of 'Blood on the Black Robe', they show they have as much strength as they ever had. The album begins with a short intro, composed of marching war drums and howling wolves, before shifting gears into “I Am Warrior,” which immediately begin…

Stinger 'Manic Depressor' review

STINGER 'Manic Depressor' (Self-release)
Here’s a recipe for you: take a heavy dose of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, mix it with the vocals of Chuck Billy during 'Practice What You Preach', inject it with a heavy 90s atmosphere, throw in a bit of thrash, and shove some classic solos up its ass. And what you get is Stinger’s debut masterpiece, 'Manic Depressor'. The album starts off promising, to say the least, with the opening track, “Time to Die,” an amalgamation of thundering riffs, driving force, and sonic melodies. The music in this song, particularly the vocal melodies, have a vibe similar to 90s grunge music a-la Alice in Chains, especially in the chorus. This is a theme that continues throughout the album’s duration. The first thing to grab my attention with this release, other than initial awesomeness of the song itself, was the influence. While most metal bands that play throwback styles reach to the 80s for their sound, Stinger is preoccupied catering t…

Kill With Hate 'Evolution Of The Beast' review

KILL WITH HATE 'Evolution Of The Beast' (Self-release)
Hungarian death metal band Kill With Hate seem to have something to prove with their debut album, 'Evolution of the Beast', and hey, most new bands do have something to prove, and while I’m sure most try to follow the thin line between proving their chops and over compensating, 'Evolution of the Beast' goes above and beyond any proof you’ll ever need. The album begins with an intro of chaotic native Australian instruments sounding acrimoniously. An intriguing intro to such a brutal album. The second track, “Birth of the Impiety, wastes no time kicking into high gear, barraging you with vicious blastbeats and chaotic riffing before slowing down and getting real heavy, real fast. Add some keyboard for atmosphere, and finish it off with an awesome solo. All in the course of one minute and forty two seconds.  I could tell right from the beginning that this was going to be a fun album to listen to, and I was right…

Arctic Flame 'Guardian At The Gate' review

ARCTIC FLAME 'Guardian At The Gate' (Pure Steel Records)
This, the third album of the US-Based band Arctic Flame, hardly is a surprising musical affair, consisting mostly of mid-tempo songs, along with random few speedier ones. Musically the main influences appear to be Iron Maiden and early Jag Panzer, that's to say the band has manage to cross the British and US school in their sound. This stuff isn't over the top heavy by any stretch of the imagination, which has been also reflected by the rather 'hard rock' production job, that's far removed from the usual bombastic one most power metal sports. What sets Arctic Flame apart from their peers is the somewhat epic feeling oozing from the tunes, as well as the progressive elements interwoven in some of the songs ('The Eternal', for instance), the latter resulting in fairly sophisticated song structures with various tempo changes and elegant combinations of aggressive and milder, lyrical themes. The v…

Battle Dagorath 'Ancient Wraith' review

BATTLE DAGORATH 'Ancient Wraith' (Grau)
Battle Dagorath hail from sunny and funny California, but in no way you should expect lame glam metal here. What we have instead is high class, cold and atmospheric, black metal. 'Ancient Wraith' is the band's second album and its six lengthy songs bear some similarities with the early works of both Emperor and Enslaved. You should know the drill – maniacal tempos abound that come down to ambient passages in the more atmospheric parts of the songs. The opening ambient track, 'Spirit Of Winter Darkness', gives way to the blood-freezing mayhem of 'Empire Of Imperial Shadows','Where Darkness And Frost Prevails' and 'Spellbound Requiem Of The Winter Night' – for those are the musical equivalent of the cruel morbidity brought along by the genuine northern frost. The closing composition, 'Ancient Spectre Of Oblivion' is yet another ambient feature, but tends to drag along with its length of ne…

Heavy Lord 'Balls To All' review

HEAVY LORD 'Balls To All' (Solitude Productions)
First off, let me just point out how awesome the name of this album is. Just take a moment to appreciate this title. Now then, cool title aside, what we have here on 'Balls to All' is filthy, dirty sludge metal with strained vocals, some screams and growls thrown in, and a very heavy doom influence.  The first track is a nice little intro, but that’s not what we’re here for. The second track on the album, also the title track, introduces the heaviness. Thundering drums and bass pound underneath discordant, tremolo picked riffs and solos. This track also has a lot of interesting time and tempo changes. This is the most a sludge metal song has ever kept me guessing.  Heavy Lord has done a good job combining different influences on this album. Whether it be the blatantly heavy traditional doom-influenced moments (“Kick Teeth,” and “Mare Tranquillatis”), or the more subtle 70s rock influences, found in “Fear the Beard,” the band…

Dementia 'Beyond The Pale' review

DEMENTIA 'Beyond The Pale' (MDD Records)
Well, here we go. Another new thrash album for review. I had no doubt that it was going to be an amalgam of rehashed Slayer riffs, tired old tricks, and overall, a blatant rip-offery of the classics. Going into this album, I had low expectations, but after the first listen, I was, thankfully, proven very wrong. Dementia’s 'Beyond the Pale'kicks off with a very cool thrash intro, an epic opener that sets a tremendous tone for the whole album. The intro ends, and “Reveries of Abhorrence” begins to play. And so we find that Dementia is not a stereotypical thrash band at all, but actually dabbles quite masterfully in a very thrash-influenced death metal hybrid.  The riffs here are extremely memorable, and often quite dynamic. Solos are very impressive, and unlike most new thrash solos today, leave a lasting impression on the listener. There are even some excellent clean vocals, which showcase a more traditional thrash sound than one mor…

Byfrost 'Of Death' review

BYFROST 'Of Death' (AFM Records)
Well, there’s not much to say about'Of Death'that hasn’t already been said of many thrash albums before it, so I’ll stick to the key points and not waste your time or mine with unnecessary extraneous details. Byfrost air on the heavier, more extreme, technical side of thrash metal; much like Artillery. This album mainly serves as a vessel for lots of cool, fast riffs, boundless energy, crazy screaming vocals, and very impressive musicianship. 'Of Death' is mostly high-velocity thrash metal with some mid-paced chugging thrown in for added heaviness. This is really not too original at all, but it’s not such a rip off that it can’t be enjoyed. It’s a quick, fun thrash album (8 tracks in under 40 minutes) and I suggest you check it out if you aren’t looking for anything groundbreaking or revolutionary. [6.5] (Andrew Oliver) Byfrost MySpace

Bleeding Fist 'Devil Ferox' review

BLEEDING FIST 'Devil's Ferox' (Moribund Records) Hailing from Slovenia, Bleeding Fist has been a fairly busy band in the new black metal scene. Since 2007, when they formed, Bleeding Fist has released two demos, one split, one full length, and three EPs. Not an immeasurable amount, but not bad. 'Devil’s Ferox'is Bleeding Fist’s third EP, and when I saw that it was released on the Moribund Cult label, I couldn’t help but get a little excited.  Now, what we’re dealing with here is very obvious black/thrash. Not quite as blatant as Perversor, but they definitely wear their influences on their sleeves. The first thing I noticed was how average the vocals were. Not too bad, but definitely far from interesting. The drums, while you have the occasional, brief fill, were repetitive, and pretty uninspiring, even for black metal standards.  The next thing I noticed was a little more positive, and pleasing to listen to. On this EP, Bleeding Fist is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of b…

Counterignition 'Spit Or Swallow' review

COUNTERIGNITION 'Spit Or Swallow' (Self-release)
'Spit or Swallow' is a simple album. Thrash/groove metal that’s either played at break-neck speeds or with back-breaking, heavy grooves, all played with extreme aggression. We have lots of breakdowns, lots of shredding solos, and an abundance of angry growls and violent screams, that are quite similar to Phil Anselmos’s later work in Pantera. There’s lots of brilliant heaviness and raw aggression here, and it put on a pretty spectacular first impression, but after the first full listen through the album, you realize how familiar it all sounds. Where could I have heard this before? Oh yeah! It’s called 'Vulgar Display of Power', and it came first. Tracks like “Sell Your Soul” have some really heavy, crushing riffs to flaunt, and so do most of the tracks on this album. They’re very effective in getting you pumped and angry, ready to throw a chair through a window, but really, as cool as these songs may be for the first…

Delta Cepheid 'Entity' review

DELTA CEPHEID 'Entity' (MDD Records)
Ever feel like listening to something that just blows your mind with its technicality, as well as its extremity? Well, Delta C’s 'Entity'does all that and more! On this release, the band shows off that really crazy technical death metal with wildly sporadic time changes, intense vocals, lots of minor guitar harmonies, and plenty of complex drumming. Now, as I’m sure you know, this sub-genre of death metal has become very common nowadays. It seems like more and more bands are becoming interested in showing off how much better they can play their instruments than anyone else. What makes Delta Cepheid different from these bands? Well, for starters, there’s a heavy dose of prog influence here. Take for example, “Singularity”, the intro to “Evolution Part 1,” and the title track, for starters, and you’ll see that these and many more tracks on this album have some very interesting and thought provoking melodic sections, and while it’s true th…

Amnis Nihili 'Christological Escalation' review

AMNIS NIHILI 'Christological Escalation' (Avantgarde Music)
Imagine being in an open, looking down at yourself, and watching your sanity slowly slip away before your eyes. Imagine observing, with a sane, conscious mind, your sanity leaving you, and being replaced with madness, paranoia, anger, and fear. This is the mood that the Greek black metallers, Amnis Nihili, create so brilliantly on their four-track EP, 'Christological Escalation'. Hypnotizing riffs intertwine with moments of extreme aggression a chaotic, spiralling descent into madness. The music displayed here is spellbinding, showcasing swirling, atmospheric riffs swirl around in empty space, always leaving room for something else to fill it. This EP is a brilliant display of grim despair, agonizing hatred, and hostile fury. A perfect balance, and as a result, we’re given a near-perfect black metal album that is always sure to hypnotize and entrance you for as long as this short recording lasts. [9] (Andrew Oli…

Abrasive 'The Birth...Born In Sodom' review

ABRASIVE 'The Birth...Born In Sodom' (MDD records)
Germany’s Abrasive has really done something here. 'The Birth…Born In Sodom' is full of that extremely violent, brutal death metal you can’t help but enjoy. Filled with relentless chugging riffs with that drop-your-guts-to-the-floor kind of heaviness, and, as shown in tracks like 'Stimmulate' and 'Hungry', some of the most gruesome breakdowns you’ll ever hear. Every song begins like a blunt weapon that bludgeons you to the ground before slicing you open with razorblade riffs and hanging you from a lamp post by your entrails. This is the kind of devastatingly heavy and brutal death metal that just pummels you without mercy. Every musician handles their instrument very well on this album. Drums are savage and wild, riffs are played with bone-breaking force, the bass throbs chaotically (And audibly!), and the vocals are just the vile, low-growling, hell-vomit you’d want in a brutal death metal band. There ar…

Impaler (Japan) 'Nightmare Attack' review

IMPALER (Japan)  'Nightmare Attack' (MDD Records)
It seems that Japan has become a prime location for cultivating bands in this new thrash resurgence. With great new Thrash bands like Fastkill and Grief of War popping up and making excellent albums, my curiosity was piqued when this album was brought to me for review.
Impaler is Japanese thrash metal band that formed in 2006, and have released only this one debut album, 'Nightmare Attack'. And that’s about all the information I could find about the band from their MySpace page, due to the band’s broken English and my inability to read Japanese. But none of that really matters anyway. What it boils down to is the music itself. So let’s expound on that, shall we? 'Nightmare Attack' is an 11 track album (including intro) with only two tracks exceeding the five minute mark, meaning that this was going to be a wild ride of a thrash album, most likely fitting as many riffs and notes into a 3 minute song as possible. But I…

Stillborn 'Los Asesinos del Sur' review

STILLBORN 'Los Asesinos del Sur' (Ataman Productions / Pagan Records)
Despite the odd pattern of giving Spanish titles to their albums, this being their fourth since the band's inception in 1997, Stillborn do carry quite few elements in their music common to their native Polish peers. Technical prowess, massive production, blast-beats galore and blazing guitar work are all to be found here, resulting in an album that's definitely a grower. Given some time, what on first glance might seem to be hyper-intensity for its own sake, turns out into something more than just this, with quality, Morbid Angel-inspired guitar licks, old school thrash resemblances and some quite commanding,and hateful, vocal attacks. Stillborn have been wise enough to keep their songs concentrated outburst of aggression and death metal menace that doesn't tire easily, and one is convinced to believe those should go rather well in a live setting. Now, when Angel Corpse had gone dormant once again …