A place for me to spew out my opinion on music mostly of the heavy kind.

Monday, January 9, 2012

2011 - Top 40

It was a pretty great year for metal. Particularly death metal. I didn't really listen to a lot of black metal that I liked and the same goes for stoner rock although there were a few. I guess the new Morbid Angel and Weedeater albums were my biggest disappointments but overall the great stuff more than made up for the few bad albums I heard this year. This is my Top 40 for 2011, listed in order of preferance and after running these albums through a complex algorithm to determine their position. First though are my 10 favourite EPs and demos.

EPs, Demos and Splits

1. Dephosphorus - Axiom
This is a fantastic band from Greece. Mix of grind and black metal and I've never heard anything like this before. Short album and the band is giving it away as a free download. Must listen.

2. Archgoat - Heavenly Vulva (Christ's Last Rites)
Ultra satanic death metal from Finland. Completely over the top and very extreme but also very good and one of my favourite satanic bands.

3. Apocryphon – Apocryphon
Terrific debut EP from this American band. Mixes death, black and thrash metal and sounds killer.

4. Vastum - Carnal Law
Very good doom-death from this American band. Sound and recording quality is not great but the songs are very good.

5. Venenum - Venenum
New band from former members of Excoriate. Ultra heavy and distortion laden debut EP. Worth checking out.

6. Krypts - Krypts
Bunch of teenagers from Finland and just 2 songs on this EP but its fantastic. This band is going to be huge provided they don't break up for whatever reason.

7. Corpsessed - The dagger and the chalice
Another Finnish band and excellent heavy death metal.

8. Grime - Grime

American sludge band. Dark and oppressive stuff and quite heavy.

9. Stresscase - Cut Me Off
Ridiclously loud hardcore band. Really short and catchy songs.

10. Bell Witch - Bell Witch
Traditional doom metal. 2 song EP/ demo and worth checking out.

Top 40 Albums of 2011

40. Young and in the way - I Am Not What I Am

Who would have thought few years ago that hardcore and black metal would be combined into one cohesive and relatively new sound? Young and in the Way does just that to frightening effect. This is dark hardcore with face ripping intensity and the band's ability to write catchy riffs is matched by their ability to slow things down just a little and make sure the album has variety. A young band to keep an eye out for.

39. Across tundras - Sage

With 7 albums, 3 EPs and a collection in just 7 years, Across Tundras has been a remarkably prolific band but Sage is the first time the band has been pretty fucking great. Its still the same psychedelic rock meets American folk sound of previous albums but the songs are great on this one. Might take a few listens to get into but well worth the effort.

38. Trap Them - Darker Handcraft

Mixing hardcore with grind, death and thrash elements and knowing just when to drop the hammer and slow things down is what makes Trap Them such a fantastic band. Darker Handcraft is the bands best yet and would have rated a lot higher in an another year.

37. Miasmal – Miasmal

The leaders of the new wave of old school Swedish death metal or NWOOSSDM. The songs are classic Entombed and Nihilist worship with some modern d-beat drumming for that crusty edge. Great sound, an old school production and memorable songs. Sweden really showed the way this year. Just like most years.

36. Morbus Chron - Sleepers in the Rift

Another in the fast swelling ranks of the NWOOSSDM bands but Morbus Chron are a bit different from the pack. Sure Nihilist is still an influence but Autopsy and early Death make an appearance too and the band seems quite Lovecraft obsessed. More excellent old school death metal.

35. Septic flesh - The Great Mass

On my initial listen I was disappointed. The Great Mass doesn't have the massive death metal attack of Communion. What it has is a full orchestra backing the band and some of the catchiest songs the band has ever written. Took me a while to get into and while not even close to the bands best work, this is still a very good album.

34. A Storm of Light - As the Valley of Death Becomes Us, Our Silver Memories Fade

This band has shown some major progression from the last album and its straight up post metal sound. Here, the band add a grungey, almost Soundgarden type feel to their post metal along with a melancholic atmosphere and some doom metal. The result is almost like a more melodic Neurosis, Kim Thayil lays down lead guitar on a couple of songs and overall this sparse but heavy music is very impressive.

33. Creeping - Order of Snakes

New Zealand's Creeping mix and match doom, black, crust and death metal into a slow burning but highly enjoyable potion. The band's use of dissonance to heighten atmosphere and their ability to write long songs that vary in tempo makes this quite an impressive debut. A bit like Agonia's Host of the Winged from last year in a conceptual sense.

32. Isole - Born from Shadows

This band gets better with every release. Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus are still the bands most visited reference points but greater attention to dynamics, killer guitar playing and probably the best trad doom song of the year in The Lake kept this album in constant rotation.

31. Disma - Towards the Megalith

Of all the bands giving praise and worshiping at the altar of Incantation, Disma are the most unapologetic and closest to their idols. Having Craig Pillard on vocals and a member of Funebrarum on guitar surely helps but it doesn't seem to matter. Towards the Megalith is very derivative and almost an homage to Incantation but it's still very very good.

30. Antediluvian - Through the Cervix of Hawaah

Almost like Portal and Incantation fucked and the resulting offspring was this ugly twisted death metal beast. Great atmospheric death metal where some intense riffing is hidden beneath layers of distortion. The dual vocals (one deep and gurgly and other harsh and raspy) are buried in the mix and just add to the unsettling atmosphere.

29. Necros Christos - Doom of the Occult

Necros Christos came back with their sophomore album this year and it's a step up from their debut in every way. The songs are more powerful, the musicianship more confident and the thick occult atmosphere has been notched up by a few degrees. Excellent death metal with hints of doom and black.

28. Will Haven – Voir Dire

Kickass groovy noise rock. Very technical but also very catchy. Reminds me of the last Cable album. Has some great songs.

27. 40 Watt Sun - The Inside Room

Remember The United Kingdom's Warning? This is basically Patrick Walker and Christian Leitch with a new drummer but sound pretty much like Warning. The Inside Room is the logical follow up to Watching from a Distance. Maybe a bit better too. Morose and depressing doom held up by Walkers distinctive vocals and a dark atmosphere.

26. Ravencult - Morbid Blood

Morbid Blood was the most enjoyable black thrash release I heard all year. Bewitched, Venom, Desaster, Darkthrone, old Marduk all get name checked by these Greeks but in the end, this is an album filled with killer songs and while black metal and thrash might help in defining the sound, this is proper heavy fucking metal the way it should be.

25. Pulling Teeth – Funerary

It's like Pulling Teeth spent all of 2010 getting their heads around the last albums from Integrity and Starkweather and then decided to do a mash up of The Blackest Curse and This Sheltering Night. Heavy metal and hardcore hasn't collided with this much force since Integrity's last album and Funerary is a superb example of what metalcore ought to sound like. Brutal, heavy as fuck and those mid album doomy dirges are just the icing on a very hateful cake. Pity they broke up but after this but there really wasn't much else they could do.

24. The Project Hate - Bleeding the New Apocalypse

Modern death metal with a heavy electronic influence and guest spots from a host of Sweden's finest. This is some complex extreme metal with kick ass riffs, great grooves, a thick and heavy bass sound and a strong female vocalist often dueling with Jorgen Sandstrom's powerful growls. Also has one of my favourite songs of the year in Summoning Majestic War.

23. Autopsy - Macabre Eternal

The return of Chris Reifert and gang. This is Autopsy as they always were but with a few new tricks. Sick and brutal death metal with hints of punk on a few songs and a kickass production. The chaotic leads of old are a lot more subdued and the last couple of Abscess albums might have played a part in the songwriting direction but overall great stuff. Welcome back.

22. Mortal Sin - Psychology of Death

Veteran Australian thrash band and they've finally made an album that stands up to their first two albums from back in the day. Psychology of Death is catchy, groovy and vintage thrash metal with absolutely no fat. Great fun.

21. Blut Aus Nord - 777 (Sects)

First part of the trilogy and as good as anything the band has released. Dissonant, atmospheric and almost hypnotic while being immensely powerful music. BAN can do no wrong in my book and (Sects) is further proof (if it was needed) of their greatness.

22. KEN Mode – Venerable

Canadian noise core veterans KEN Mode released their 4th album this year and Venerable is the perfect blend of the jagged dissonance of noise rock and post hardcore. Like Jesus Lizard met Cave In at Converge's jam room. Excellent musicianship, terrific songs an yet another band that just seems to get better and better.

19. Lento - Icon

Italian post metal band. Instrumental songs that are short but have a heavy progressive vibe to them. I don't normally like instrumental bands but this is some special stuff. The songs vary from heavy sludge and intricate post metal to calm ambient passages. Worth checking out.

18. Dead Flesh Fashion – Thorns

With thick, lumbering, dissonant grooves and dynamic songs Dead Flesh Fashion showed remarkable growth between their debut and second album Thorns. At times the band comes across like a heavier The Ocean. Superb musicianship, great songs and fucking heavy.

17. Encoffination - O' Hell, Shine in Thy Whited Sepulchres

When Elektrokutioner and Ghoat get it right, the duo are absolutely unstoppable. This is a step up from the debut in every way and being a concept album about Ghoat's time spent working in a mortuary, its dark, insanely heavy and oppressive. Like Incantation gone funeral doom. Scary shit and not for the weak of heart.

16. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - Blood Lust

Retro psychedelic doom rock and recorded in analog with vintage 70s recording equipment. This had all the hallmarks of being a hipster outing but Uncle Acid has fantastic songs. Easily the most enjoyable of all the retro hard rock/ metal outfits that put out albums this year. Uncle Acid and his pair of Deadbeats can eat the likes of Graveyard and The Devil's Blood for breakfast and shit them out in time for lunch. Awesome stuff.

15. Shub Niggurath - A Deadly Call from the Stars

Julio Vitterbo brought this band back to life this year and it's a fantastic return. A slight black metal feel to the music probably due to the vocals than the actual musicianship but it's basically staying true to Viterbo's roots in Cenotaph and The Chasm. Atmospheric, melodic metal of death that captures the mid 90s Mexican death metal feel perfectly while being completely updated at the same time.

14. Sub Rosa – No Help from the Mighty One

13. Sigiriya - Return to Earth

The fellows from Acrimony return after more than a decade with an album of some suprememly confident and groovy stoner metal. People looking for Acrimony ver. 2.0 will be disappointed but the album shows the growth in the band as they effortlessly pull of groove after groove of memorable stoner metal with fluid leads a terrific rhythm section and great vocal hooks. Addictive.

12. Primordial – Redemption at the Puritan's Hand

Epic. From the heavy, melodic riffing, the ebb and flow of songs, the melodies that are Celtic folk but never descend to ridiculous polka levels and most importantly, the bellowing of Nemtheanga. His vocals give Primordial a completely unique touch and here he's backed up by some of the finest songs of the band's career. This is up there with A Gathering Wilderness and better than To the Nameless Dead. Enough said.

11. GodOx - Abyssal Gigantism

Strange new sludge band. A vocalist who sounds like a drunk Keith Caputo, music that mixes and matches Sleep, Sabbath and Soundgarden and a concept about an Ox God and a whole new religion. This is some special music and a band to watch out for.

10. Zygoatsis – S.K.U.D. (Satanik Kultus – Unholy Desecration)

This band from Thailand may not be for everyone. Its like they channeled the best bits of Sadistik Exekution, Blasphemy, Angel Corpse and Impiety while managing to retain their own identity. This is ferocious and chaotic black death with Satan worshiping being high on the agenda and absolutely unstoppable songs.

9. Bloodiest – Descent

Bruce Lamont of Yakuza has been a busy man this year and Bloodiest is the best thing he's been a part of. Unlike the highly over rated Yakuza, Bloodiest sounds like the bastard child of a gang bang between Godflesh, Neurosis, Swans and Oxbow without any of the industrial noise. Huge riffs, distinct vocals and great songs.

8. Mitochondrion – Parasignosis

Mitochondrion are like Portal's deformed twin who's been locked up in the basement all his life. A dark and murky atmosphere and technical riffs buried beneath waves of distortion. This is some intense death metal. An easy comparison would be Averse Sefira jamming with Portal but that doesn't really do Mitochondrion enough justice.

7. Today is the Day - Pain is a Warning

The return of Steve Austin. He's dropped most of the grinding heaviness of the last few albums and gone back to the math meets hardcore of old. Still insanely heavy and intense and very technical but these are some of the best songs he's written.

6. Indian – Guiltless

The best sludge album released this year. Guiltless is some ridiculously heavy stuff and makes up for a slightly inconsistent past. The songs are intensely heavy but memorable at the same time and new guitarist Will Lindsay gives the songs a slight dissonant black metal feel that just adds to the atmosphere of bleak, oppressive claustrophobia.

5. Saturnalia Temple - Aion of Drakon

These Swedes have dropped most of the Electric Wizard worship of UR and instead gone into a slight progressive bent on their first proper full length. Wizard is still an influence but Aion of Drakon with its occult vibe, terrific musicianship and atmosphere is better than anything Electric Wizard has done in years.

4. Deceased - Surreal Overdose

King Fowley returns with the bands strongest album in years. I rate this along side Fearless, Undead Machines as a definite highpoint in the bands career so far. Each song is filled with kickass riffs, grooves and just a hint of melody. It can feel like too much is crammed into the songs on initial listens but the songs grow on you. Proper headbanging stuff.

3. Orthodox – Baal

These Spaniards have been on the experimental fringe of doom metal for a while now and Baal is where it all comes together. Mixing some crushing doom metal with Ennio Moriconne influenced orchestral music, free jazz and a true avante garde spirit. Orthodox has delivered their best album yet. Superb stuff.

2. Ulcerate - Destroyers of All

Almost like Immolation decided to slow down but forgot to tell their drummer. The result is an album that's strangely captivating and immensely heavy. The band mix a heavy Immolation influence with post metal and dissonant French black metal to craft a truly memorable album.

1.Mournful Congregation – The Book of Kings

This Australian funeral doom band has been releasing quality stuff for years but The Book of Kings surpasses all expectations. Magnificent doom metal that manages to be crushingly heavy, melancholic, delicate and absolutely beautiful. This is a landmark relase for the band and for the genre.

My Global Domination reviews

Argus - Boldly stride the doomed

Bloodiest - Descent

Brainoil - Death of this dry season

Creeping - Order of snakes

Deceased - Surreal Overdose

Denial Fiend - Horror Holocaust

Disma - Towards the megalith

Elder - Dead roots stirring

Encoffination - O hell, shine in thy whited sepulchres

Funerus - Reduced to sludge

In Solitude - The World, The Flesh, The Devil

Indian - Guiltless

Isole - Born from shadows

Kartikeya - Mahayuga

Krux - III

Landmine Marathon - Gallows

Mortal Sin - Psychology of death

Mournful Congregation - The book of kings

Oranssi Pazuzu - Kosmonument

Orthodox - Baal

Pentagram - Last Rites

Ravencult - Morbid Blood

Rudra - Brahmavidya Immortal I

Sarke - Oldarhian

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Israeli death doom

Sonne Adam – Transformation
Year of Release – 2011
Label – Century Media

How do you know that the new wave of old school is set to be the next big trend in extreme metal? Well, Century Media signs on Israeli old school death metal band Sonne Adam and release their debut album Transformation. There are a few surprises here, the first being that Sonne Adam are pretty fucking good. The other being that Transformations is almost like a companion piece to Necros Christos's Doom of the Occult although not quite as good.

Right from album opener, We Who Worship the Black, it's apparent that Necros Christos are a big influence on the band. The song crawls along with a monstrous slowed down Morbid Angel feel and gurgling cavernous vocals that fit in perfectly with the music. The band uses the mid paced to slow nature of their song writing to their benefit and ensure that the songs are always heavy and dark. I Sing His Words is more occult devil worshiping music where the vocals are a little too loud in the mix and the guitars aren't loud enough but it's still a pretty good song. Other stand out tracks include Solitude in Death, an instrumental bang in the middle of the album which is eerie and darkly atmospheric, Take Me Back to Where I Belong which is somehow engaging in its sloppiness, I Claim My Birth in Blood which is a mid paced black death song and title song Transformation which is again helped by some strong and powerful vocals.

Sonne Adam are not yet at the level of Necros Christos but it feels like that's where they want to be. The band lack experience in the song writing department and this results in an album that gets a bit monotonous occasionally and there's a distinct lack of dynamics with the band being content to peddle a slowed down Morbid Angel/ Necros Christos sound through the entire album. Still, if you're in the mood for this sort of thing then Sonne Adam will probably do the job for you.

Not an essential release by any means but Transformation is a promising debut that's worth checking out for the curious.

3 from Sweden

Miasmal – Miasmal
Year of Release – 2011
Label –
Detest Records

Sweden's Miasmal first came to my attention through their 2010 self titled ep and this year sees the band release its full length debut. Among the hundreds of new bands springing up around the world playing this brand of old school death metal, Miasmal is one of the few that has definite promise and also the talent to do something just a bit different.

As the album opens with Mesmerized, it's immediately apparent that Miasmal hold the old school close to their hearts. This is raw and heavy old school death metal with nothing remotely modern about the sound. Mesmerized comes crashing out of the speakers like its 1991 and Clandestine all over again. Equinox 432 is a rampaging death metal song that literally starts at maximum velocity and doesn't let up for a minute managing to combine classic Entombed with the reckless urgency of d-beat. Other stand out tracks include Blissful Cannonades which combines a driving crusty rhythm with some solid Unleashed like groove, We Will Live Forever is more chuggy fast death metal with a memorable grinding main riff that is interspersed with an equally memorable breakdown and some very powerful vocals, Mists starts off haunting and acoustic before going off into a mid paced and vaguely Shadows of the Deep era Unleashed sound.

There really isn't a bad song here. In fact the material is amazing for a band that is making its full length debut. The band has complete control over tempo and change up as and when they feel like it while sounding completely natural in their transitions. The songwriting is what really helps Miasmal stand out from the pack. This band wears its influences on its sleeve very proudly but at the same time, they're not content to simply ape the seminal 90s Swedish death metal scene.

The other element that helps Miasmal stand out from the countless bands trying to go for the classic old school Swedish death metal sound is the bands ability to meld d-beat with their death metal. Imagine Skitsystem and Entombed in a brutal no hold barred contest and you'll come close to understanding Miasmal's sound.

Essential for fans of the genre and one of the most impressive new bands out there.

Feral – Dragged to the Altar
Year of Release – 2011

Label – Ibex Moon


Sweden's Feral came to my attention simply because they were labeled death n roll and I needed a death n roll band to fill the void left by the dissolution of Phazm.

As album opener Once inside the Tomb opens with the familiar Swedish death metal sound heard a million times before and the principal influence on the band seems to be Grave and a bit of Dismember. Still, its a rock solid opening to the album and a song that made me want to listen to more. Altar of Necromancy has a bit of a rock n roll swagger to it as it alternates between a chunky hard rock groove and classic Entombed style death metal with a ripping heavy metal solo to spice things up. The mid paced and catchy Judas continues to elevate the album as the band sounds like it's hitting its stride. Welcome to the Graveyard is the centerpiece of this album being heavy and very catchy. A rare death metal sing a long with maybe an over reliance on pinch harmonics but overall a memorable song and this is where the album is at its strongest with Howling showing off plenty of mid period Entombed worship, The Deathbog including vaguely Asian melodies and a main groove that is quite memorable and Graverobber and The Curse of the Casket following and maintaining a consistently high quality of death metal songwriting and some very cool drumming that enhances the dynamics of these songs.

The album is also helped immeasurably by the production which gives a thick chunky sound to the guitars, the bass is just loud enough to be heard while not being particularly in your face and the drum sound is solid and natural sounding. Its the sound the band has got which is somewhere between vintage early 90s Swedish death metal and a modern extreme metal sound that really helps these songs stand out.

There isn't really anything particularly original here and there isn't a lot of rock n roll in this death n roll band but Feral are pretty damn good all the same. All of the genre luminaries from Sweden are name checked on Dragged to the Altar but the band manage to resist outright plagiarism and instead come across as a fun if slightly derivative band. Not particularly essential and didn't really live up to what I was expecting but a decent debut all the same.

Demonical – Death Infernal
Year of Release – 2011
Label – Cyclone Empire

Remember Centinex? For those of you that don't, Centinex was a Swedish death metal band from the 90s that released a string of solid albums through the their career before splitting up in 2006. A few of the members went on to form Demonical who over the course of a couple of albums have established themselves as firm followers of the Swedish death metal sound and continue to carry on the Centinex sound with a few embellishments along the way.

Death Infernal is the bands third and latest release and as the album opens with the one-two punch of The Arrival of Armageddon and Return in Flesh it looks like business as usual with the band sounding like a cross between early Entombed and Unleashed while maintaining that Centinex sound. This format is appealing enough and continues on the next couple of songs till March for Victory which completely jettisons the band's sound for an epic Amon Amarth like melodic and catchy extreme metal feel. In fact this song would have very comfortably sat on the new Amon Amarth album and pretty much breaks the flow of the album. All Shall Perish manages to do something different with its mid paced death metal feel but the chorus is again more Amon Amarth worship with the vocalist even sounding like Hegg. Slain Warriors is supremely catchy in a strange Unleashed meets Amon Amarth way and is a pretty kickass song. There's more Amon Amarth worship with From Northern Shores doing the full on fist pumping melodic epic extreme metal that Amon Amarth specialise in and the album closes with a cover of Emperor's Night of the Graveless Souls which is alright for bringing a classic Unleashed like death metal sound to a classic black metal song but isn't anything particularly great.

All told, Death Infernal is a strange album. The song writing is consistent and the songs are good even if a bit derivative but where the band manage to really confuse me is in their sound on this album which is classic Swedish death metal for the first four songs followed by mostly Amon Amarth worship for the rest of the album. In spite of the divergence in sound on Death Infernal there's still enough to like and while some of the songs tend to get a bit too close to other more famous bands of the scene, overall this is yet another enjoyable Swedish death metal album.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Young and In the Way - I Am Not What I Am

Young and In The Way – I Am Not What I Am
Label – Independent

Year of Release – 2011

This young American band started life in 2009 and I Am Not What I Am is the bands second full length after a couple of eps and a debut full length which was also released independently. This is one of those albums that pretty much came out of nowhere. Young and In the Way play a mix of hardcore, crust and black metal that is somehow abrasive and at the same time, furiously catchy.

The album starts with a moody instrumental that borrows its title from Lovecraft and sounds a bit in the post metal scene but with The Chaotic and Bloody World Around Us, the band come all guns blazing in a hardcore meets black metal way and completely destroy. Other highlights include the awesome Ascending the White Mountain with its Trap Them meets Deathspell Omega vibe and effortless changes in tempo, Leaving Nothing but the Absence of Everything which sounds like The Exploited on speed, the unbridled chaotic noisecore of If Only That So Many Dead Lie Around and title song I Am Not What I Am which alternates hardcore fury with black metal's dissonant best.

Where the band really succeed is in their ability to change tempos and and avoid the pitfalls of this type of extreme music. The songs have character and don't merge into one faceless noisy entity particularly with the use of subtle melodies and mellow passages that alternate brilliantly with the often chaotic hardcore and black metal elements.

I haven't been able to find a lot of info on this band but Young and In the Way deserve all the support they can get. If your tastes run towards the noisier side of hardcore like Trap Them or even the crusty black metal of bands like Dishammer then you'll probably like this one a fair bit. Worth checking out.

Repuked - Pervertopia

Repuked – Pervertopia
Label – Soulseller
Year of Release – 2011

Sweden's Repuked are a sick, twisted and fun bunch. Their take on old school death metal sounds like a mix and match session of Autopsy, Abscess, old Unleashed and Sweden's own d-beat crust punk scene.

Right from album opener Chemically Wasted its quite apparent that the band want to have fun. The intro to the song is reminiscent of Swedish death metal while the blasting and guttural vocals could easily make Chris Reifert proud. Gag! sounds like a furious cross between something like Skitsystem and autopsy while the slowed down section with the deep gurgling vocal effects remind me of Impetigo and Ultimo Mondo Cannibale. All good places to be and these varied influences help in making an album that's always interesting. Title song Pervertopia is probably the highlight of the album coming across as fun and catchy with a chorus that you cant help but growl along to and a superb catchy main riff. Brainboiler is more solid death metal while Fucking Something Dead is the closest the band get to some serious Autopsy worship and Morgue of Whores is awesome in its simplicity and changes of tempo. The album closes out with the epic Toxic Constipation which is one hell of a slow and ominous dirge.

Repuked are not too bothered about technicality or bringing anything new to the table. The band sounds like they're having fun with these songs and that translates into songwriting that throws more than a few nods in the direction of Autopsy but also makes these songs memorable and great fun to hear. This is a very promising debut and while there is absolutely nothing new here, Pervertopia is an album well worth tracking down for fans of the genre.

Ulcerate - The Destroyers of All

Ulcerate - The Destroyers of All
Year of Release - 2011
Label - Willowtip

New Zealand's Ulcerate have been at it now since 2000 and Destroyers of All is the band's third full length album released earlier this year. Ulcerate are a bit of a unique proposition. Being on Willowtip means that a prefix of technical is almost certain to be added to the band's death metal but Ulcerate prove over and over on Destroyers of All that they are a lot more than just technical death metal.

Right from album opener Burning Skies, it's apparent that the band are on to something a little bit different here. Michael Hoggard's riffs are mid paced, dissonant and heavy as fuck with more in common with the likes of Blut Aus Nord than your regular tech death bands. Jamie Saint Merat plays the drums like he's the bastard child of Pete Sandoval and Brann Dailor, almost intent on filling up every bit of space left by the often lumbering guitars while bass player and vocalist Paul Kelland sits in between the guitars and drums and creates his own space, often accentuating the rhythm and sometimes following the guitars to give it more beef.

Its almost like the band use dissonance as a weapon right through this album. While the pace of the guitars is close to doom and post metal territory, its the angular dissonance that reminds of a slowed down Immolation and occasionally Gorguts. Case in point is The Hollow Idols which is probably the closest the band come to death metal on this album. The dense riffage weaves through a song that is brutal, technical, dissonant and melodic all at the same time before ending in slowed down post metal fashion with the bass acting as counterpoint to the guitars and the drummer slowly fading out.

This is not an easy album to get into. While hardened death metal enthusiasts will straight away see the similarities to Immolation, that is just on the surface. What we have here is a band that is unafraid to mix things up as death metal, dissonant black metal of the French persuasion and post metal ala Isis meet headlong and battle for supremacy. The winner as it turns out is Ulcerate who manage to hold these disparate influences together and come up with an album that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.