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

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.

Mitochondrion - Parasignosis

Mitochondrion - Parasignosis
Year of Release - 2011
Label - Profound Lore

Canada's Mitochondrion first came to my attention a couple of years ago with their debut Archaeaeon which was an impressive slab of dirty black death metal with the band managing to mix a dark evil atmosphere with some heavy as fuck guitar playing.

Onwards to 2011 and the band has released their second full length in Parasignosis and business has never been this filthy. The album opens with the lengthy three part Pestilentiam Intus Vocamus, Voluntatem Absolvimus. Part I which starts on an atmospheric note before moving on to bludgeon the listener with an attack that was slightly similar to Averse Sefira but with more death metal in the tone as the rhythm section pounds out a heavy as fuck beat while the guitars play in the background before bursting forth on Part II and truly unleashing hell with the chaos and raw fury of Part III, the 10+ minutes of Tetravirulence where the band creates a song that is dense and claustrophobic with enough tricks and turns and sheer ass kicking riffs to completely capture the attention of the listener while being ridiculously heavy. This is atmospheric death metal like few bands can play. Trials sounds like Portal channeled through classic Morbid Angel while the title song reminds me of a sicker, filthier Averse Sefira. Banishment is another lengthy song that is face ripping in its heaviness and once again displays the bands penchant for writing songs that are an exercise in controlled chaos. The album also comes with a couple of short ambient interludes and another lengthy outro that would somehow seem redundant in most other albums but here, its a much needed slowing down and tapering out of the music. Almost like the war is over at the end of the incredible Kathenotheism but the band was thoughtful enough to let the survivors pick themselves up over the next 10 minutes of cold dark atmosphere. Superb.

While the guitars are front and centre on this album often creating riffs that are suffocating in their intensity, it's the drumming that holds the songs together. Karl Goddard almost plays a rock solid straight martial beat and allows the guitarists to create dark and intricate songs that are always dancing on the edge of chaos. What the band is really good at is creating atmosphere without ever reducing the levels of intensity. The music is always abrasive and in your face often creating an impenetrable wall of sound that is quite disturbing by itself but also creating an atmosphere that is suffocating in its claustrophobic intensity.

Parasignosis is an album that is frightening in its level of intesity. Claustrophobia is a word I've used repeatedly here and its with good reason. In terms of comparison, Mitochondrion is like Portal and Averse Sefira in a boxing ring. This is scary extreme metal, on par with anything Portal has done. Not for the faint of heart but essential for fans of extreme metal.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dead Flesh Fashion - Thorns

Dead Flesh Fashion – Thorns

Year of Release – 2011

Label - Midsummer Records

This band released a very impressive debut a couple of years ago called Anchors. The band played noisy, dissonant hardcore and sounded like they were on the edge of chaos. The band specialised in off time grooves and a sludgy sound that was somewhat similar to Gaza.

Thorns, the band's follow up to Anchors is more of the same but with the added advantage of better songwriting and a greater sense of dynamics. Right from the album opener Flies, it's apparent that this band has evolved from 2008. The dissonant Jesus Lizard like guitars that open the song are backed up by an amazing rhythm section that plays counterpoint in a lurching lumbering manner before the band gets on the same page and pummels the listener with its dissonant heavy as fuck grooves. It's also quite apparent that the band has a much better grasp of dynamics this time around. The transitions from loud to soft and fast to slow are seamless and Thorns isn't just a one trick pony. Kissing the Neck of Inertia is another great song with an awesome dissonant groove and enough technicality to make most modern death metal bands pee themselves. (III) sounds like a bastard child of Coalesce and Today is the Day while Where the Night Goes for Orchid is vaguely melodic but maintains the band's trademark dissonant groove and penchant for being just heavy as fuck.

I suppose you already know if you'll like this. The band is heavy and manage to build an impenetrable wall of noise while making sure that each song retains its individual flavour. I suppose the roots of this band lie in hardcore but at the same time Dead Flesh Fashion are a lot more than just that. The musicianship is of a very high standard through out and while Botch and Today is the Day probably played a part in their formative years, today the music sounds like a heavier The Ocean with emphasis on the groove and excellent songwriting chops.

Thorns is an album worth checking out particularly if you like bands like Gaza and Today is the Day or even like The Ocean and want something a little less progressive and a lot more heavy. Dead Flesh Fashion is a name worth remembering.

Necros Christos - Doom of the Occult

Necros Christos - Doom of the Occult
Year of Release - 2011
Label - Ajna Offensive

Germany's Necros Christos has been around for ten years now and Doom of the Occult is the band's second full length album and follow up to Triune Impurity Rites from 2007. This album though was my encounter with the band and i have to say right at the start, this is some really impressive extreme metal.

If I was forced to classify the band's sound, then death-doom would probably be a fair term. However, what makes this band special is the sheer depth in their songwriting and the ability to invoke an atmosphere of doom and darkness while still retaining an element of catchy songwriting where importance is given to hooks and grooves and making each song memorable.

The band write these heavy but slow riffs that have a tendency to get stuck in your head with hypnotic effect and while the songs can get oppressively heavy they're broken up by these short instrumental pieces that vary between Eastern folk and eerie choral pieces. The result is an album that never gets monotonous and manages to retain interest right through its 73 odd minutes of playing time. Case in point is the 20 odd minutes right in the middle of the album starting with Invoked from Carrion Slumber which is a mid paced classic death metal song that sounds like a doomy Morbid Angel followed by Gate 2 which is a delicate acoustic piece that's very Egyptian sounding followed by Temple tx.99 which retains the Egyptian flavour but with an eerie synth before the massive and ominous opening riff of album highlight Doom of Kali Ma - Pyramid of Shakti Love - Flame of Master Shiva kicks off and the band are back to sounding completely heavy and powerful.

Imagine a slow Morbid Angel with pronounced Celtic Frost influences or a far superior version of Dead Congregation and you'll be close to what Necros Christos does on Doom of the Occult. This is massive, heavy music but at the same time it's also very well thought out and superbly written while managing to sound completely original.

Death metal album of the year? Probably too soon to tell but it's going to take an absolute classic to topple Doom of the Occult from it's current pedestal.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Trap Them - Darker Handcraft

Trap Them – Darker Handcraft
Year of Release – 2011
Label – Prosthetic Records

I suppose Trap Them are at heart a hardcore band. The songs are fast and occasionally threaten to leave the listener with bleeding ears. 2008s Seizures in Barren Praise was a demolition derby set to music and Trap Them became a regular on my playlist.

Now, 3 years later Darker Handcraft sees the band hit its absolute musical peak. The songs are furious and razor sharp but at the same time this is also the most diverse album the band has put together yet. The tempos are all mostly fast but the band veer from hardcore, thrash, death metal and moments of Converge inspired lunacy to craft an album that is exhilarating from start to finish. Guitarist Brian Izzi is the real star on this album as he seamlessly creates songs that are ferocious in their energy and dissonance while also being catchy enough to make me want to jump around and break stuff. The rhythm section with new drummer Chris Maggio from Coliseum and Steve Lacour on bass is tight and locked down into grooves that are perfect counter points to the raging riffs and grooves of Izzi. Vocalist Brian Izzi once again turns in an utterly deranged vocal performance that just makes these songs even heavier.

However, its not all speed riffing and tinnitus inducing noise. What makes Trap Them so fucking awesome is knowing just when to drop the hammer and slow things down. They can rip it up with the best of them but at the same time have enough dynamics in the songs to make it stick in your heads. In fact it's as the album progresses that the songs get better and better. There's a lot of depth in this album and for 12 songs in 30 minutes, the band never gets repetitive, monotonous or boring.

This is the band's best album by a long way and if you've been a fan of their previous work then you know that's saying a lot and if you've never heard them before then Darker Handcraft is the perfect place to start. Slot somewhere between Coalesce, Integrity and Converge for the uninitiated and a few steps above Seizures for Barren Praise. Darker Handcraft is essential.

Parasytic - Poison Minds

Parasytic – Poison Minds
Year of Release – 2011
Label – Relapse

Parasytic's debut Hymn from 2008 was a stand out debut with its crusty thrash attack and the god like Erik Larson behind the drum kit. Still it somehow managed to slip beneath the notice of most people.

Poison Minds is the bands follow up album and business is still raging.
Right from the pummeling opener Ire of War it's clear that the band are hell bent on stringing together furious riffage with Larson's awesome drumming and some supremely angry vocals. The songs are crusty in the vein of Discharge but also have the kind of thrash riffs that are reminiscent of Ride the Lightening era Metallica. Feast of Fools has an awesome hardcore riff that lays the foundation for some angry crossover. Uprise with its slow build sounds like classic Amebix and Larson again pulls of a stunning performance on this song while album highlight Traitor is groovy and catchy while still sounding furious thanks to vocalist Ethan Zell.

Where the band really succeeds is in putting together songs that take the best from thrash, crust and hardcore and backing it with solid songwriting. Larson's drumming right through the 25 odd minutes of this album is solid and adds to the songs but its the guitar playing of Nick Poulos from Cannabis Corpse that really helps make each song stand out. The riffs on this album will rip your face off.

Parasytic seem relatively unknown and with Poison Minds getting a vinyl release and then a digital download only from Relapse, chances are that this album too will slip under the radar of most fans of this type of music. However, this is some high quality metal and fans of thrash, hardcore, crust and extreme metal in general owe it to themselves to hunt down this little gem.

Assassin - Breaking the Silence

Assassin – Breaking the Silence
Year of Release – 2011

Label – SPV

Assassin originally started life in 1983 and their debut Upcoming Terror from 1986 is a solid album in the vein of early Destruction but with a clear bent towards classic heavy metal. The band couldn't quite follow up that debut with a quality release and after some terrible luck split up. The band's back now though, following up on the similarly titled demo from 2008 and riding on the resurgent interest in thrash metal.

The album starts with the kickass title song. Breaking the Silence as a song is better than anything the band has done before. Sounding completely possessed and somewhere between Destruction and Razor, this song should make any thrash fan very happy. Raise in the Dark continues the pounding with some more light-speed riffing and great vintage thrash vocals from Robert Gonnella.

The band sounds tight and focused and the riffs are top class. Judas and Turf War continue the thrashing before Destroy the State introduces a more mid paced dynamic and alternates between fast riffs and some mid paced chug.
The band sound pretty great on Breaking the Silence. The songs are of a consistently high quality, this is probably Robert Gonnella's best vocal performance yet and the riffs are pretty fucking great. It also helps that the band has a young and hungry sounding rhythm section. The drumming especially adds a fair bit to the songs. The only misstep the band make is the album closer I Love Cola with a punk sound and Tankard like silliness.

Where the band really succeeds is in crafting an album that is unabashedly old school in its songwriting and production but still retain enough modern touches and variety in riffs and structure to keep things interesting. Breaking the Silence will not redefine the thrash genre and there's nothing new on this album but it's still a kickass return to form and Assassin sound fresh and hungry. Well worth checking out for fans of the genre.

Agnostic Front - My Life, My Way

Agnostic Front – My Life My Way

Year of Release – 2011
Label – Nuclear Blast

Seminal is a word that's thrown around quite frequently to describe Agnostic Front and it's a word that defines this band. Pretty much the founders of the New York hardcore scene, AF started as a punk hardcore band that slowly morphed into a crossover band mixing thrash with their punk hardcore roots. I could go on about the classic albums the band has released in their 30 odd years of existence but the fact is, the band is still current and they've never been ones for resting on their laurels.

My Life, My Way the band's 10th full length album and third for Nuclear Blast continues along the way set by Warriors in 2007 except that the songs are a lot better here. Right from album opener City Streets, you know AF mean business with their metalized hardcore. The guitars are razor sharp, Roger Miret's back to his trademark pissed off angry singing and the gang vocals are spot on. Its the riffs and the choruses that make memorable hardcore and in the case of My Life, My Way the band is spot on. Heavy, razor sharp riffing, the occasional punk groove, superbly timed breakdowns and just about the catchiest choruses the band has written in a long while.

Stand out tracks include Us Against the World which hearkens back to the band's crossover days, the title song with its melodic punk riff and superb gang vocals, A Mi Manera which is vintage hardcore with Miret once again being spot on with his vocals and the awesome Until the Day I Die which is just classic chest thumping hardcore. It's a bit redundant talking about high points on this album though cause every song works and most importantly each song has enough about it to remain distinct. By the time the album's done, 3-4 choruses will be stuck in your head and the album it self will be on repeat for a while.

Agnostic Front are back to being pretty fucking awesome and showing the pretenders how it's done. Their best album for Nuclear Blast by a long long way and a definite highlight in the band's impressive discography.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Weapon - From the Devil's Tomb

Weapon - From the Devil's Tomb
Year - 2010

Label - The Ajna Offensive

Canada's Weapon was my discovery of last year and a band that I've become a little obsessed with. After a long time, a relatively young band with just their second album made me want to dig into their back catalogue and own everything they've released so far.

From the Devil's Tomb is a stunning work of extreme metal. The band mix and match black, death, thrash and classic heavy metal influences with Eastern melodies and some superbly thought out solos. Right from the opening few notes of the title song I knew I was in for something a bit special. Starting with a vaguely Eastern sounding melody, the band excels at slowly building momentum as the opening melody gives way to a mid paced black metal sound before the band comes at you all guns blazing with hyper blasting black metal while always keeping the emphasis on melody and clarity before going into a mid paced The Chasm like section and then effortlessly shifting between tempos and styles. The dynamics of the bands songwriting is what makes this album special. Take something like Bested in Surplice and Violet Stole with its opening death metal riffing giving way to a quieter section before the song comes together to rip your head off. It's a bit pointless to talk about every song here because the quality of music on offer is consistently high. Still, Lefthandpathyoga is a superb and mellow instrumental placed bang in the middle of the album that gives the listener some sense of relief from the blasting. Furor Divinus has an opening riff that most thrash bands would kill for and a supremely rabid vocal performance from Vetis Monarch. Vorter -11724 is a grinding mid tempo beast. The Inner Wolf has a slow build up before mutating into probably the most aggressive song on this album and Trishul is just a fantastic song that mixes death, black, thrash and a superb classic heavy metal solo to jaw dropping effect.

It's quite apparent after having listened to this album for the better part of last year that Weapon are above everything else, fantastic song writers. Every single riff on this album is there for a reason. The songwriting is incredibly well thought out whether in building grooves, melodies or simply blasting through for maximum effect. Weapon understand the need for changing things up. Monarch and Apostle VIII's guitar playing is of a very high standard but they're also backed up by a rhythm section that is very inventive. You won't find the usual black-death song writing cliches here or a drummer and bass player who are content to follow the guitars and stay in the background. The one band that constantly comes to mind when listening to Weapon is The Chasm, particularly around the time of Deathcult for Eternity. There really isn't a lot that's musically similar between the two bands but Weapon are on the same path of completely original extreme metal that The Chasm were on in the late 90s. Music that gets your chest pounding, fists flailing and head bobbing up and down like you've lost all motor control of your neck. Also, at the risk of sounding like a stuck record, Weapon and The Chasm are both masters of the riff.

From the Devil's Tomb is essential listening for anyone even remotely interested in the extreme metal side of things and the band deserves all the support it can get.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Scythe - Season of the Tall Pines

Scythe - Season of the Tall Pines
Year - 2010
Label - Witches Brew

Season of the Tall Pines is this German band's fourth album and it sees the band continue to progress along the path set by their debut, On My Way Home a decade ago. The band still ply their quite unique brand of doom metal and continue to evolve with every new album.

Season of the Tall Pines is at its most basic level, doom metal but its also a lot more. The band has done a terrific job evolving but one listen to album opener Vast Lands of Mist and you know this is the same band that released On My Way Home. The riffs are still huge, the melodic guitar parts still beautiful, Norman's voice is as distinctive as ever and the songs are wrapped in melancholy. It's as the album moves forward with the title song, Reconsidering and Distress that Scythe really turn it up a notch. The songs have these great heavy riffs and a mid paced tempo but the band write catchy off kilter songs that stick in your head with some complex musicianship and at times remind me of what Norway's Atrox might sound like if they decided to go all doom particularly on Distress with its keyboard touches and chuggy riffing. Abandoned Places closes out the album in style with a super opening riff, a long spaced out quiet section in the middle and some excellent growling from Sven as the song goes from soft to heavy and back and forth superbly.

Scythe isn't for everybody. They've been a bit of an acquired taste since Poetry of Illusions and this album is no different. The band pushes the boundaries of doom metal with their often complex but also melodic extreme metal and at various times on this album they reminded me of atrox, tangerine dream, killing joke and paradise lost but while always sounding like Scythe. If you're up for some inventive doom metal and are not looking for instant gratification then Scythe must be on your radar. Season of the Tall Pines might just be the band's best album yet.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Decrepitaph - Profane Doctrines Unburied

Decrepitaph – Profane Doctrines Unburied

Year of Release – 2011
Label – Razorback Records

Decrepitaph has been around for a while now. Formed in 2005, this is the band's third full length not to mention a host of splits and eps and on the evidence of Profane Doctrines Unburied, seems to be reaching maximum velocity. Having said that, Decrepitaph are not your standard 100 miles per hour death metal band with a hundred riffs per song. What these guys are is an unabashedly old school duo with a thick guitar tone and song writing sensibilities straight out of 90s death metal.

The album starts with a short intro and then proceeds to first song proper, Convulse in Eternal Agony. Just that song title should tell you everything you need to know and if you're thinking Autopsy, you're not far off the mark. The band specialise in slow heavy as fuck riffing which at any time could mutate into classic death metal riffing and something that most modern death metal bands have forgotten, the groove. Mortified Spirits is probably the most catchy song here and that slow eerie doom riff will get stuck in your head for days. Domain of the Occult is another mid paced monster and reminds me a fair bit of Acts of the Unspeakable. Desecrate Sacred Flesh is another monster with guitarist Sinworm again playing some very cool riffs and channeling the spirit of Incantation. This is an album that gets better as it progresses through its 50 minute playing time. Evangelical Evisceration is another raging death metal beast but its the instrumental Ghost of the Gallows which really stands out in the second half of this album.

While the slower parts are reminiscent of Autopsy, the faster death metal riffing is vaguely similar to classic Entombed and Dismember with maybe a bit of Incantation on the side. Calling the band a perfect mix of Autopsy and Entombed might sound simplistic but its also pretty accurate and that guitar sound is just perfect for this kind of death metal. Dirty, heavy as fuck and completely old school with no hint of the Gothenburg sound or anything remotely modern.

Sinworm and Elektrokutioner have crafted a fine death metal album here. Maybe it's one song too long but i cant find much to complain about. A definite step up from Beyond the Cursed Tombs which in itself was a killer album. Overall, if your tastes run to the extreme side of things then Profane Doctrines Unburied should be on your shopping list.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Evil did not take part in this recording

Band - Abruptum
Album - Ve Sonus Veris Nigrae Malitiaes
Year - 1996
Label - Full Moon Productions

Abruptum was started in 1989 by IT(Tony Sarrka from Opthalamia) with a couple of other dudes. Along the way, IT met EVIL (Morgan Hakkanson from Marduk) and things began to fall in to place. Ve Sonus...., released in 1997 is the band's 4th release and also the most polarising of their work. The album is basically one long piece of dark ambient vaguely black metal music that lasts for a little over an hour. The music is like black metal deconstructed to the point where all that really remains is atmosphere. Ernymous, to whose label the band was initially signed called them "the aural essence of evil" and Ve Sonus... is just that.

Also, while EVIL had technically joined the band at this point, this album is all IT and EVIL did not actually take part in the recording. IT left the band and the black metl scene soon after thanks to his connections to the inner circle and threats to his life and family and EVIL resurrected the band 3 years later. However, it is Ve Sonus Veris Nigrae Malitiaes that is the one essential Abruptum album and something that was way ahead of it's time. Today, the album's influence can be heard in black metal, drone, dark ambient and funeral doom.

You will either love it or hate it.

Check it out here