Moloken - Unveilance of Dark Matter

Review by Geary of War

Sweden has produced some outstanding and interesting metal bands over the years and Moloken, hailing from the northern town of Umea are no exception. ‘Unveilance of Dark Matter’ is the fourth full length album which is out now on The Sign Records. The album cover weaves a weird and twisted tale that is backed up by the music found within.

Blending together elements of hardcore, death and black metal Moloken have created a uneasy, ear battering which draws the listener in. Moloken sound like a glorious blend of ‘Until Your Heart Stops’-era Cave In, the faster more aggressive parts of Old Man Gloom and a salt pinch of ‘It’s Me God’-era Breach. The opening three tracks crash into your ears with intent and swagger, ‘This Love is a Curse’ is a quality head nodding opener, building on the mechanical thump of the bass and drums the guitar’s pick and rattle all around this beat as the vocals arrive letting you know that the content will leave you raw. ‘Surcease’ and ‘Shadowcastle (Pt.1)’ follow this well made opening point with some excellent and tasteful interludes.

‘No Ease, No Rest’ is a brief and special track; it has this haunting background noise with some lovely and restrained piano playing over the top. A well placed breather and genuine delight and is the start of a pattern, violence and reprieve. ‘Repressed’ and ‘One Last Breath’ are both similar in that they form an eye in the storm of metal. ‘Hollow Caress’ is where that previously mentioned blend of bands comes together. The post metal build of Old Man Gloom with the aggressive bass and hooks from Cave In. So much so the bass riff at 2:15 sounds so much like that neck breaking riff from ‘The End of Our Rope is a Noose’ that you will second guess your memory but rest assured they are quite different and both excellent.

Needless to say the tracks following this continue that form of nerve racking guitar, thumping drums and some honestly filthy bass work. Closer ‘Unveilance of Dark Matter’ is about attack, it comes at you with over 4 mins of brutality before a heart beat whump and foreboding notes ring out the last moments of your life, I mean the record.

Moloken brings together a hardcore record that loves the crossover with post metal. The vocals have hints of death, hardcore and black metal about them and it leaves you wanting to stick it on again. I have played this a few times now and keep finding that extra jangle of guitar still lurking about. I intend to keep hunting for more.

Odious Mortem - Synesthesia

Review by Geary of War

Given the unrelenting pummelling on show here, you would never have guessed that the brutal and technical death metallers Odious Mortem hail from sunny California. Released on Willowtip Records during January 2020 (which feels 3 years ago these days) Synesthesia has a wonderful album cover. It is layered and showcasing a range of colours which are most certainly lost on this colour blind reviewer.

Album opener ‘Dormant Retribution’ smacks you in the ears with the kind of brutality you will be hearing much more of throughout the album. Drums played so hard you would think they owe the drummer money, bass and guitar playing so tight it could float a ship and vocals sounding like an incantation to raise the dead. For all the technical brutality there is also space for a good bit of head banging and air guitar; two cornerstones of any death metal album I am sure you would agree.

‘Ruins of the Timeworm’ which, aside from being a fantastic track name, shows the band have a bit more up their sleeve than the ability to melt your face off. The band barely take their foot off the gas and continue with thundering death metal slabs. ‘Synchronicity’ is a real tender gem in this audio assault of a release. Well I say tender, for the first two mins it is a stage for the gifted playing of the guitarists and bassist, then it’s a launch back into more familiar and brutal surroundings.

All in ‘Synesthesia’ is a balls to the wall death metal album. It ticks all the boxes you would expect for a technical death band. The playing is of a high calibre and the production is crisp and clear. If I have any issue with the album it is that it feels so proficient that it feels a bit more clinical than something organic and made in the moment.

Cytotoxin - Nuklearth

Review by Sandre the Giant

For fans of the likes of Hour of Penance or Beneath the Massacre, the 4th album from Germany’s Cytotoxin, ‘Nuklearth’, continues their obsession with potential nuclear holocaust, and the way the world is going right now that wouldn’t be the worst way to finish 2020… It is out now through Unique Leader Records.

The immediate downpour of double kicks and brutality that drowns opener ‘Atomb’ is a perfect encapsulation of the kind of crushing death metal that Cytotoxin will drop on us all. A vast mortar campaign of tech death riffing, inhuman growls and brutal low end will leave nothing untouched by its devastation. Cytotoxin concentrate on big thick riffs on tracks like ‘Soul Harvester’, which seemed designed specifically to wreck your neck. They blend the fret wizardry of tech death with the slamming heaviness of brutal death and yet cannot realy be classed as either. Skillfully dancing the line between the genres with hard hitters like ‘Coast of Lies’ and the fucking pit destroyer ‘Quarantine Fortress’, ‘Nuklearth’ is a record with a lot to enjoy.

When you feel like death metal is startng to disappear back in time to the ‘old school’ days a little too much, along comes someone like Cytotoxin to smash those thoughts away with a cutting edge death metal record that drops jaws and breaks faces with punishing modernity. ‘Nuklearth’ is yet another triumph for this remarkably consistent and totally underrated band. Long may they continue putting the fear of fatal irradiation into us all.

Gride - Hluboká temná modř

Review by Sandre the Giant

Legendary Czech powerviolence/grinders have been annihilating eardrums since 1996, and their new EP ‘Hluboká temná modř’ is no different. Translating to ‘Deep Dark Blue’, the ultra menacing album art captures the feel magnificently, and this release also continues material from their 2014 split with Sidetracked and their 2009 split with Thema Eleven. It is out now through L’inphantile Collective.

If you’ve come across Gride before, you know what to expect. If not, let me just let you know that this is 18 songs in 28 minutes, and is an incredibly intense experience. Opener ‘Věčná válka s hmyzem’ hits like a bomb, twisting bass lines propel chaotic guitar riffs and a rabid, punkish vocal performance just ramps up the carnage. The whole record is an absolute blast fest, with each song bouncing into another like bullets on a Middle Eastern oil field. Explosive tracks like ‘Nesem si v sobě smrt’ and the vitriolic ‘Přijdu hned’ are just a few examples of the kind of rampant violence exuding from everything. The new material is excellent, and tracks like ‘První Minuta Zbytku Tvýho Života’ and ‘Volání divočiny’ from the previous releases really give you a taste of how long Gride have been slaying this fucking genre.

‘Hluboká temná modř’ is an album for those who like their music chaotic, powerful and straight to the point. Gride leave little to chance, providing some much needed carnage in today’s world of fire, death and disease. ‘Hluboká temná modř’ is the injection of poison we all kinda need right now.

Bloodfeast Ritual - Altars of Sacrifice

Review by Sandre the Giant

If you like your death metal a little bit more of the shred-tastic sides of things, and are sick of all these ‘old school’ bands, then Bloodfeast Ritual’s debut EP ‘Altars of Sacrifice’ might just be for you. Coming hard on the Arsis/Black Dahlia Murder side of things, these Los Angeles dudes are tearing it up. This is out now self released.

Opener ‘Grave Fodder’ is full of spiralling guitar melodies whirling round a hurricane of death metal fury, complete with virtuoso soloing and a certain catchiness that is not easy to nail without sounding twee. ‘Eternally Molested by the One Most Foul’ is just a great song title, as well as having a lot of fiery leads under the bonnet too. Bloodfeast Ritual specialise in that kind of death metal designed to ignite pits and break necks. ‘No More Room in Hell’ drops into guttural breakdowns briefly before tearing your soul apart with a beautiful solo, while the thrashy ‘Chopped Up and Burned’ takes you back a bit towards prime Deicide or Hate Eternal.

The mix of shredding brutality and classical guitar work here is a reason that Bloodfeast Ritual have really go something going on on ‘Altars of Sacrifice’. It is a true love letter to the genre in its myriad forms, and Bloodfeast Ritual have the chops to pull off a variety of styles to really uphold the traditions without losing their modern edge. Check it out

Expunged - Expunged

Review by Sandre the Giant

If I had to take a wild guess from the cover, I think these guys probably like Entombed a bit. Canada’s Expunged have released their debut EP this year, self titled of course, through Hells Headbangers and it is a fine blast of death metal goodness.

Opener ‘Disposed in Chaos and War’ races from the starting blocks, rampant Swedish death riffs, belching growls and a powerhouse drumming performance helps bolster their credentials immediately. It turns into a big chuggy beast of a track which is brilliant, followed by the crushing ‘Melting Flesh’. Expunged have decided to forgo any attempts to be overly technical, or subtle for that matter, and have concentrated on writing some of the most straightforward death metal around. No bad thing in this world, especially when you have songs like ‘Putrefying Mind’ and the staggeringly brutal ‘Dark Age Crusade’ to compete with. Expunged just fucking get it, they know what they’re doing and they do it so well you’d be forgiven for wondering if these guys have been doing this for 30 years.

I’ve said repeatedly over the years that bands don’t have to reinvent the wheel, they just need to be good at what they do. You could argue that Expunged are a little derivative of their chosen influences. Or you could not be a cunt and just bang your fucking head to some seriously great death metal and enjoy life a little more. ‘Expunged’ is definitely worth your time.

Siege Column - Darkside Legions

Review by Sandre the Giant

I reviewed Siege Column’s debut full length ‘Inferno Deathpassion’ a few years ago here, and was wowed by the ferocity of their filthy, d-beat death metal assault, and so their new record ‘Darkside Legions’ is something I’m looking forward to. It has just come out right now on Nuclear War Now Records!

The crusty riffing of opener ‘Devils Nights of Hell’ is a perfect introduction to their sound; lo-fi and murky, they come from a time where genre definitions were a lot rougher, and the death metal was a lot thrashier. Inhuman growls roar over rampant violence, like the unstoppable ‘Echoes from the Underworld’ or the carpet bombing intensity of ‘Snakeskin Mask’. That isn’t to say that the whole album is just balls to the wall crushing speed and violence, there is the more measured menace of ‘Funeral Fiend’ that feels like some prime Autopsy. The unholy black vomit of ‘Gloves of Fire’ is probably my favourite track here, with a particularly grim vocal performance

If you like your death metal raw, crusty, thrashy and/or murky, this is the shit for you. Siege Column have no desire to impress you with flash or technicality. They are here to pummel your soul into the earth. Who can resist that?! Not me, although for the record I did not try, I just opened the door to Hell and through they came…

Pale Mare - Pale Mare (EP II)

Review by Sandre the Giant

Canada’s Pale Mare have been around for about five years now, and their newest EP ‘II’ is a continuation of the work they’ve been doing building some great modern sludge doom. They’ve supported a litany of icons on Canadian shores, including Satan’s Satyrs, Windhand and the mighty EyeHateGod, and you can feel their influences here. It is out now through Seeing Red Records worldwide and Ancient Temple Recordings in Canada.

Thr crushing rumble of opener ‘House of War’ is juxtaposed with some nice clean melodic notes, and the driving Kylesa-esque verses have a powerful thrust behind them. Pale Mare have that early sludge doom feel about them, you know ‘Red’-era Baroness or ‘Remission’-era Mastodon. Before more psychedelic and progressive natures took them away from the muddy core of the style. Pale Mare have that in droves, but with a penchant for melancholic melody too. There’s a lot of High on Fire chugging through the thunder of ‘Zealot’, and while Pale Mare stick rather solidly to the genre traditions, their commitment to the weighty riffing leaves you quite satisfied. Weighty riffing is also the perfect term for the stony brutality of ‘Voidgazer’, a hefty piece hewn in Neurosian rock.

Closing with the epic ‘Remains’, which is basically what post metal sounds like if it is filtered through a sludgey filter then injected with a copious groove, Pale Mare’s second EP is a triumphant exercise in barebones heaviness. ‘II’ is four tracks of massive riff worship, with just the right amounts of melody and atmosphere to elevate it.

Incantation - Sect of Vile Divinities

Review by Sandre the Giant

First published here:

As a good friend of mine once said, there’s death metal and then there’s Incantation. As a band who are responsible for eleven great albums and at least five stone cold genre classics, it isn’t always easy to find anything else to say about then other than it’s FUCKING Incantation and you need to prepare yourself for some dark and dense death metal greatness. Their newest, ‘Sect of Vile Divinities’ is out on the 21st of August through the venerable Relapse Records.

The straightforward and streamlined steamroller of ‘Ritual Impurity (Seven of the Sky is One)’ provides an instant reminder of how potent the songwriting has always been in Incantation. Sure, the smothering murk that often accompanies their greatest moments isn’t as immediate, but the pacing and soloing is impeccable, and when ‘Propitiation’ arises from the blackness, the uncomfortable miasmic crawl is back, ready to absorb everything beneath it. There’s a certain elegiac beauty to this track, before the devastating battery of ‘Entrails of the Hag Queen’ bulldozes its way forward with the kind of bassy rumble you want in life.

But there is definitely some of their almost iconic murk and filth missing on this album. It feels like the band decided “let’s see what all this songwriting sounds like when we haven’t drowned it in mud”. To their credit, it almost works on tracks like the crawling crush of ‘Unborn Ambrosia’ or the rabid snarling ‘Chant of Formless Dread’. I can’t lie and say I don’t miss it a little bit though. It’s great they tried something a little different, but Incantation should make you feel like that lad’s horse in The Neverending Story. No, not the bit when it turns out it’s really ok. The bit where the life is slowly drowned out of you by unconquerable slime.

But if I’m going to bemoan the fact that Incantation sounds a little too clean here, I must admit that ‘Sect of Vile Divinities’ is still stunning and a definitive death metal album of the year contender. There’s a new appreciation to be found for their swaying, sickening doom riffing style that doesn’t always shine through the muddier productions. The band feel as vital now as they ever have and cleaning up their act has, if anything, unleashed a new virulence. The bestial ‘Furys Manifesto’ and the funereal dirge of ‘Scribes of the Stygian’ are just examples of how the old guard can still put all young whippersnappers to shame when asked, and Incantation continue to prove themselves an essential cog in death metal’s history, and its future.

Draghkar - At the Crossroads of Infinity

Review by Sandre the Giant

I’ve reviewed a couple of Draghkar’s releases on the Killchain before, here and here, but ‘At the Crossroads of Infinity’ is actually their debut full album, and it has just come out on Unspeakable Axe Records. This is the kind of murky death metal fury that fans of Incantation or Autospy will lap up.

Opening with ‘The First Death’ was a good call, with its murky virulence feeling like the perfect encapsulation of today’s nightmarish hellscape. A smothering, rabid guitar tone thrusts and stabs at your mind while the cloying production adds a nice swampy feel. ‘Beyond Despair, the Dawn of Rebirth’ is thunderous, with those dark melodies you normally find reserved for Finland’s deathly hordes. Some of them disappear into a little atonal territory which adds tremendously to the unease you can expect here. ‘An Erosion of the Eternal Soul’ is the album’s monolithic centrepiece; a seismic tour de force through rumbling doom, rampant death metal classicism and even a little heavy metal soloing virtuosity.

Whilst savaging their way through death metal’s finer elements with a muddy, ravaging glee, Draghkar’s sharp songwriting is always at the fore. The galloping, cavernous roar of ‘Pursed by Black Forms’ is a triumph, as is the towering sweep of the epic closing title track. ‘At the Crossroads of Infinity’ is an album that is both excellent on first listen and is complex and subtle enough to warrant repeated plays to really appreciate some of the finer work at play. Highly recommended!