Eigenstate Zero is a Swedish death metal studio project from Christian Ludvigsson, and his debut full length ‘Sensory Deprivation’ is a mammoth seventy five minutes of shapeshifting death metal that betrays many, varied influences. It is out now through the band’s Bandcamp.

Despite the length of the record, the opening track ‘Fringe’ doesn’t hang around or build a slow burning intro. Brutality is immediate, constant and propelled with some delicious double kicks. You wouldn’t necessarily go as far as describing Eigenstate Zero as progressive death metal, but the technicality on display is very impressive in places. There’s also a myriad of influences playing roles throughout, from the In Flames-esque melodies of ‘1984.2’ to the chugging, sprawling Gojira-isms of ‘The Nihilist’, and the traditional Swedeath attack of ‘Communion’. In fact, Eigenstate Zero’s ability to weave together a number of varied styles into an album that feels like a cohesive whole is highly impressive. The longer tracks are also epic and well constructed, and these are where you get closest to progressive death metal, like the jazzy interludes of ‘Strangelets’.

‘Sensory Deprivation’ is a record that, while occasionally feels a little like an endurance challenge, mostly hits the spot for great songwriting, brutality and will keep you engrossed for a while. The songs have a lot of individuality and the album as a whole feels very cohesive despite a number of stylistic changes. Maybe reel in a couple of the more meandering parts and the next record will be perfect!

https://www.facebook.com/eigenstatezero/

https://eigenstatezero.com/album/sensory-deception

Originally published on the Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-red-stone-chapel-omega-boombox/

German sludge rockers Red Stone Chapel release their debut record, ‘Omega Boombox‘, on the 25th of October through Argonauta Records and it is eight tracks of southern rock with all the stoner, progressive, sludge and blues influences you could need in your life. The Sleeping Shaman even managed to snag ourselves a premiere for it. But in a world of a thousand bands that claim to do this kind of music, can ‘Omega Boombox‘ stand out from the crowd?

The short answer is yes. ‘Omega Boombox’ may not reinvent the wheel but that wheel is beautifully looked after. Opener ‘Squid Limbo‘ hits you with a big ol’ riff that just hits that sweet spot with bluesy groove. The gruff vocals of frontman Dimi suit the whiskey-soaked attitude perfectly, and the swagger is retained throughout. Red Stone Chapel are a band that aren’t short on confidence, and the Orange Goblin-esque thrust of ‘Dead Man’s Chime‘ and ‘Praise the Fool‘ are things of beauty. The great, looming shadow of Clutch also is very noticeable, and the opening to ‘Panta Rhei’ would make Neil Fallon and crew proud! Red Stone Chapel are no tribute however. They’ve got a sound of their own.

I’m a metal fan that appreciates all the brutality, ethereal blackness or suffocating death that I can get, but we all must admit to a weakness for massive bluesy grooves. I mean, this is where all hard rock and metal grew from; a style that if nurtured properly can still electrify even after decades of being overdone. Red Stone Chapel add a nice, rough and gruff edge to their stuff, giving it a real authentic feel. Like some rough old mountain lads kicking back some Zeppelin and filtering it through a little early Mastodon. I’ve been listening to the psychedelic doom rock of ‘The Paper King‘ on repeat for days, and I’ll never get sick of it.

Omega Boombox‘ has most of everything you’re going to want in an album like this; hefty blues, swaggering RAWK grooves, gravelly vocals that aren’t missing an ounce of soul and some absolute killer riffs. Red Stone Chapel’s debut is packed full of potential hits, and enough subtle touches to make it all their own. This is a band to keep an eye on for the future, as if they can build on their foundation here and maybe go even a little weirder next time, it’ll be special indeed.

https://redstonechapel.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/redstonechapelband/

https://argonautarecords.bandcamp.com/

Dimæon - Void

I first came across Dutch progressive death metallers Dimaeon on their 2010 EP ‘Exit Reality’, which I enjoyed a lot but haven’t really kept up with them since. I saw a press release for their second full length, ‘Void’ coming out in November this year, and thought I would give them another go. I am not sorry I did…

‘Void’ is a magnificent artistic accomplishment. Eight songs spanning over an hour of complex, labyrinthine song structures begins with the slow burn build of ‘Het Lijk Van Ons Bestaan’ (The Corpse of Our Existence) with its glorious guitarwork and some almost jazz like songwriting. This is a theme that plays out numerous time throughout this record, and ‘Transcendence’ even features a guest spot by Shining’s Jorgen Munkeby on saxophone. Dimaeon also do some fantastic work mixing in some ambient portions with the more deathly moments, and there’s even a little early Devin Townsend about parts of ‘The Insurgent’. You can feel the influence of Ihsahn’s solo work and latter Emperor here as well.

‘Void’ is a record with life, with passion and talent oozing from every song. An intoxicating blend of heaviosity and melody, with just the right amount of ambient interludes and jazzy freakouts. Thrash yourself to the metallic roar of ‘Dissolve’ or soar on the wings of ‘Dystopian Monument’, Dimaeon have created something to enthrall and entrance. Superb stuff.

https://www.facebook.com/Dimaeon/

https://dimaeon.bandcamp.com/album/void

Exhumed - Horror

First published on the Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-exhumed-horror/

What more do you need to say about gory death metal icons and legends Exhumed? Well nothing really, as their musical legacy will always speak much louder, so simply put ‘Horror’ is their newest work and it fits into their discography as neatly as a mortician’s saw through bone. Continuing their 2010s comeback with stronger and more mature material, ‘Horror’ is their reminder that they can still shred with the best of them.

Opener ‘Unsound’ is an immediate knife thrust to the jugular, where you’re hit with instant brutality and savage vocals. Maddening solos puncture the assault, as a relentless drumming battery powers everything along at a breakneck speed. Anyone who thinks Exhumed would have mellowed with age have no idea what they are on, as this is as fresh and exhilirating as they have ever been. Beset by some killer thrash riffs, ‘Ravenous Cadavers’ follows suit and the more said about the grinding carnage of ‘Scream Out in Fright’ the better.

Exhumed have really re-embraced their grinding roots on ‘Horror’, with the longest song, ‘Slaughter Maniac’, clocking in at a mere 2:23. The band are going hell for leather with the shred and the grind here, tearing through prime cuts like ‘Ripping Death’ and the superlative grinding of ‘Rabid’ like there was no tomorrow. It always feels good when a band that has been on the go since 1990 can come back feeling vibrant and vicious, not just rehashing the same old songs. It has been a long time since Exhumed were this precisely savage, and it is welcome.

You get fifteen songs in twenty six minutes, which feels both too short and yet absolutely perfect. There is no messing about, just gory guitar work laced with some poisonous vocals and the confidence of veterans just hammering out great material. Not every album needs to be an epic, and in Exhumed’s case this makes you want to experience the whole thing again straight away. I mean, the best song here is called ‘Naked, Screaming and Covered in Blood’, if that doesn’t make you want to throw horns and go crazy then what will?! ‘Horror’ reminds everyone that all these new bands are great, but sometimes there is nothing quite as satisfying as the old school.

https://www.facebook.com/ExhumedOfficial/

https://exhumed.bigcartel.com/products

https://store.relapse.com/

Gatecreeper - Deserted

Originally published at the Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-gatecreeper-deserted/

Tucson, Arizona’s Gatecreeper are the latest band to find their way onto the mighty Relapse Records, and the three year wait from their debut ‘Sonoran Depravation’ is going to be worth it. ‘Deserted’ is out on the 4th of October, and is a tribute to the classic Florida and Swedish death metal scenes.

The riffs that open the title track, and open the record, immediately conjures up a feeling of nostalgia for the 90s. The guitar tone is a thing of ancient beauty, the simple chunky riffing, the guttural roar; it is all a certain kind of magic. Kurt Ballou’s production renders everything in a wonderful crispness, despite the guitars insistence on sound like a saw tearing through flesh. There is a certain majesty to the doomy riffing of ‘From the Ashes’, and you’ll find this regularly on ‘Deserted’, that the band do not just tear ahead at all times. Gatecreeper draw heavily from the Obituary school of Floridian death metal, and the ‘Slowly We Rot’-esque thunder of ‘Ruthless’ is a perfect example.

Why no one has really nailed a ‘Entombed playing Obituary songs’ like this before blows my mind. It seems so obvious in retrospect. I suppose because it isn’t just as simple as that. There are so many little elements playing their part here, from the sludgey trudge of the behemoth ‘Sweltering Madness’ with its maddening guitar solos to the early Paradise Lost-esque majesty of closer ‘Absence of Light’. The true greatness of ‘Deserted’s is to be found in the songwriting, where such an overwrought genre feels fresh and exciting again.

In a world where old school death metal bands are ten a penny, and the injection of lumbering doom into it is even more common, Gatecreeper have a sound that pays homage to an iconic past but yet creative enough to never feel boring or trite. ‘Deserted’ is as modern and cutting edge a take on this particular genre as you’ll find and it is a decadent experience.

https://www.facebook.com/gatecreeper/

https://gatecreeper.bandcamp.com/

http://relapse.com/gatecreeper-deserted/

The slow rise of UK death metallers Ashen Crown has come with support slots of some of death metal’s biggest legends (Obituary, Memoriam), and they are finally poised to release their debut full length ‘Obsolescence’. The record deals with the obsoletion of many things, but will it leave their hopes of breaking through the underground obsolete?

Fortunately, that is unlikely. The surgical precision of modern death metal is on show throughout opener ‘Unbroken Faith’; with huge amounts of Black Dahlia Murder riffing and a killer vocal performance, it’s clear that Ashen Crown are setting their sights on a bigger stage and a larger audience. The fretwork is frantic, riffs impatient to spill out and the brutality, oh the brutality is tremendous. The imperious march of ‘Right to Rise’ looms large with some nice melodic guitar work, and the moment when the operatic female vocal soars from the crushing ‘Blood Beneath Us’ is truly glorious.

‘Obsolescence’ is a triumph from start to finish. Ashen Crown have absorbed all the best nuances of modern death metal and avoided the pitfalls. Each song is distinguishable from its predecessor and whether moving at a fast pace or slowing it down with melodious passages, ‘Obsolescence’ never fails to hold your attention. By the time the brooding ‘Under the Leaves’ brings us to a close, you’ll be hooked. Great stuff!

https://www.facebook.com/ashencrown.uk/

https://ashencrown.bigcartel.com/

 

NoxIrae-Bandcamp.jpg

Members of the sadly lost Affliction Gate and the legendary Catacomb have joined together to create the latest monster raiding the French death metal underground, Nox Irae. Their newest release ‘Here the Dead Live’ is out in November through Transcending Obscurity and is pretty much everything you’d expect it to be.

The blistering ‘Phantom Parasite Trauma’ blows me away to start with, with a instant ‘big hit’ of killer riffing and snarling vocals. This is how you want to start a record; not with a moody intro or some kind of swelling orchestral nonsense. The initial hit is so refreshing and when it settles into an old school grinding death metal chug it just feels so right. You can tell immediately that this is a band of scene veterans, as they’re never afraid to slip in a little classic heavy metal influence too. The soloing in ‘All is Over’ is proof of that, as is the thrashy nature of ‘Knife Under Throat’. This is a record that is not afraid to remember how good Possessed, Death and Bolt Thrower used to be; when death metal had a little more thrash about it.

A thrillingly straightforward record that, in only 26 minutes, proves that old fashioned death metal will never die when it is this good. ‘Here the Dead Live’ is short but sweet, satisfied with conjuring that feeling of when you first came across death metal rather than trying to reinvent it. All hail!

https://noxiraedeath.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/noxiraefrance

https://tometal.com/store/