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.