Archive for October, 2014

I’ve just discovered Adabroc but wish I had known about this band the second it released music! An atmospheric black metal band from one of the farthest flung corners of the British Isles, the Isle of Lewis, Adabroc are named for a village on the northern tip of the island. I’m going to review all three of their releases so far released, starting with their debut ‘Tursa‘, released in 2011.

As to be expected with three tracks totalling just shy of thirty minutes of music, ‘Tursa’ is vast, rolling black metal greatness. Opener ‘The Frost of a Thousand Winters’ sounds huge, spreading like a plague over your speakers. As expected with a piece this long, we need ebbs and flows, troughs and peaks otherwise it can get tiresome. Fortunately, Adabroc’s music flows beautifully, combining a harsh bleakness with soaring atmosphere. ‘They Will Never Be Forgotten’ is the same, although it does contain a little more of the galloping, blastbeat powered black metal than it’s predecessor.

‘Tursa’ is a record that pulls together the best in atmospheric black metal. The songs are epic in length but in no way boring or samey. The melodies are vast, the atmosphere intoxicating and the music is great. You can imagine standing on a wind battered shore, looking out from a remote island to the sea to this music. Spell binding!

Medieval black metallers Wreodan Healh were mentioned on my previous ‘The Roundup‘ post, and I got a free download of their three track release, ‘Laecig’ from their bandcamp. The band are from Cornwall, and play black metal with a look to the past. The intro track, ‘Shadowreathed’, is a haunting synth piece that hypnotises and soothes you into a false pretense. When ‘Kingdom of Ancient Sorrow’ kicks in, we’re thrown into mid paced black metal with a raw vocal rasp and a rumbling menace. It is reasonably melodic, with a memorable riff pattern and it doesn’t fall into the trap of ‘raw black metal = hail of blastbeats’. This is raw with feeling rather than sound. It is also not afraid to inject the song with a glorious solo, that finishes the song on a high note.

The last track, ‘Towers Over Desolate Realms’ opens a bit more subdued before the black metal arrives. It is more blast heavy, but they’re layered deep under the murk so they’re aren’t overpowering. Wreodan Healh have a primitive ambience to their music; an atmosphere that brings to mind the past without sounding too folky or pagan. Their music just FEELS old, like ancient trees or weathered mountains. Definitely recommended!

*Editor’s note: The band contacted me and asked me to correct the fact that only their drummer is from Cornwall, and the others are in fact from Rednal, Birmingham, which is where the name comes from. Apologies guys!

The debut EP from Newcastle’s filthiest sons has arrived! I reviewed their 2013 demo here and found it to be one of the nastiest slices of primeval death metal I’d had the pleasure of torturing my ears with for a long time. So when I heard their new EP had just been released, I jumped upon the opportunity to hear more. The demo has been spun repeatedly on my iTunes recently, and their potent mix of Autopsy/Coffins style crawl with the buzzing, chainsaw riffing of early Stockholm is simply great.

‘Live Burial’ starts with ‘Cast Back into the Fire’, which starts with an ominous, slow moving riff that could be straight from the gutters of Stockholm in the early 90s. It is steeped in a layer of dirt and grime, and when it takes off into a frenzied gallop, I feel like I’m listening to prime Grave. This is simply a killer old school death metal song, replete with great riffing and a howling roar of a vocal performance. It slows to a funereal crawl in the middle, bringing back the sludgy, Autopsy influence to the front.

The high quality opener is match by the other three tracks here. The title track we heard previously on the demo, same with ‘Separation Through Evisceration’, but the quality of production enhances what were already good songs. ‘Live Burial’ is thicker, clearer but yet denser. Shorter than it’s previous incarnation, but much improved with production quality, it is the monster crawling out of the swamp, looking for something to feast on. ‘Separation Through Evisceration’ is channeling prime Entombed, clattering into some prime Autopsy death/doom riffing.

Final track ‘Begging for Cremation’ is another new one for me, and is another ripping old school death track. Live Burial has put together here a very strong case to be considered one of the UK’s brightest hopes for the next big thing in death metal. Their debut EP is four great tracks of cavernous, raw death metal goodness. They have the riffs, the atmosphere, the songs down already, all they need is the chance. Download here and if you’re lucky enough to see them with Acatalepsy, maybe you’ll snag a physical copy. Hopefully I can get a hold of one before they disappear!

Another day, another session of finding top quality underground bands for me to enjoy, and for me to promote. Yet another collection from the UK, which astounds me every time. Britain is the home of metal, and it is the home of metal’s future. We have a burgeoning underground just waiting for someone to discover the next gem, and you never know, you may hear it here first! Expect full reviews of some of these in the coming days.

First on my list, Wreodan Healh from the deep south of Cornwall. Atmospheric black metal, murky and dark. It’s very depressive, with raw vocals over wat at times feels quite pagan and medieval riffing. . Their EP ‘Læcig’ is available on their Bandcamp and is mesmerisingly dark.

Next up is brutal death/thrashers Severe Lacerations. Now, they only have one song available that I can find, entitled ‘Shadows of the Morgue Pit‘ on their Facebook page, but its a brutal if unpolished slab of death/thrash tastiness. They bring to mind early Entombed with a bit of a Celtic Frost vibe too. Looking forward to seeing more from them.

Another quality band from the deathier sound of things are progressive death metal destroyers Blood Thread from Glasgow. Their 3 track EP ‘The Tolerance is Over’ is available on their Bandcamp, and is a chunky riffathon full of massive groove and blastbeats. It is very professional recorded and has a song entitled ‘Bawbag’, which always wins the day for a man like myself.

White Hunter, a viciously raw black metal band from Cumbria, is next. Now they haven’t produced any new music in a number of years but ARE still active according to a source of mine and are in the process of writing new music. They have material available to listen to on their Myspace (Yeah, that’s almost trve kvlt in this modern age, still using Myspace), including two tracks from their 2005 demo ‘Live Off Your Land’. It is savagely raw, tremolo heavy and blasting black metal, and I’d love to hear more. ‘Three Wanderers of the Estuary’ is particularly nasty.

Finally, the thrashing groove metal of Carlisle’s Triverse Massacre. A five piece with some seriously catchy riffing patterns, and enough groove to slam a head through a wall with the banging and the such. Oy. You can get their ‘In the Jaws of Deceit’ release on Bandcamp for a mere £1 donation. For four tracks of aural violence and air drum inducing blasts, Triverse Massacre are the band for you.

Now, I’ve just got a hold of Devin’s newest release, well, before Z2, ‘Casualties of Cool’. Now I’m a huge Devin Townsend mark, have been the biggest fan ever since I watched him destroy the QMU in Glasgow in 2005 with Strapping Young Lad supporting Arch Enemy. I think they were on their tour supporting ‘Alien’, which is probably his second best record with SYL after ‘City’, but it’s probably my favourite record of his. ‘Love?’ was the track that got my into SYL in the first place, and although I think his solo work has been truly the most essential parts of his music for me, I credit SYL as being what got me into his work in the first place. Hell, I have an SYL tattoo on my forearm. Difficult to explain why I’ve got Strapping Young Lad tattooed on me to people not in the know…

Devin’s greatest solo work, for me, has been the beautiful ‘Terria’. It has the soaring ‘Earth Day’, the soothing ‘Deep Peace’ and the catchy as hell ‘Stagnant’. Devin has written some of the most vicious music out there, yet is better than almost everyone in metal at making music that is truly beautiful. His insane sense of humour punctuates everything he does, skewering heavy metal cliches left right and centre (Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing anyone?). His masterpiece of ‘Ziltoid the Omniscient’ proved that he could literally write music about anything and his talent would make it good. I can’t think of a single song of his I’ve ever heard that I don’t like.

His live performance is perfect as well. Every show is a masterclass in stage banter, showmanship and crowd participation. I saw him on the ‘Epicloud’ tour and he got hundreds of people doing jazz hands during ‘Lucky Animals’. Jazz hands. At a metal gig. If that doesn’t say genius, I don’t know what does. His ‘Addicted’ record was the catchiest metal record there has been in years. ‘Deconstruction’ is so mind boggling that I’m STILL trying to understand it 3 years later. ‘Synchestra’, and particularly the single ‘Vampira’, was deliciously bonkers, but at the same time poignant and epic.

In short, Devin Townsend is the most important man in metal. Without him, we wouldn’t have so much essential music, music that touches the soul, raises the arms, bangs the head and shreds the throat. He is the master

The Spirit of the Underground

Posted: October 16, 2014 in General
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This is a little story of what happened to me this week and why it renewed my faith in the spirit of togetherness and helping a brother out in the world of underground metal. Now, you may have heard me spout the virtues of Italian black metallers Chiral, whose ‘Abisso’ EP I reviewed here. They’ve also just released a split with fellow countrymen HaatE entitled ‘Where Mountains Pierce the Nightsky’, which you can get here! Anyhoo, back to the tale.

I contacted Teo from Chiral, who I’ve spoken to a few times since we covered ‘Abisso’ and their first demo ‘Winter Eternal’ here at the Killchain. He’s a top bloke, full of good banter and is clearly passionate about what he does. Now, I’ve just returned from my holiday and found myself still with some leftover cash (turns out, other than a great 5 euro fake Cannibal Corpse shirt, there’s not much metal in Menorca). So, I contacted him with the purpose of buying ‘Winter Eternal’, ‘Abisso’ and his new split. Turns out ‘Abisso’ isn’t out on CD yet til early next year, but I managed to nail a copy of the split. Teo had sold the last ‘Winter Eternal’ demo just that day, so I missed out. Not to worry I told him, that’s my own fault and I can live with that.

What he did next was actually humbling. Turns out he still has his master copy and, despite his objections over the quality of Chiral’s old logo on it, he was willing to let me have it. Seriously, his MASTER copy of the first recording Chiral had released. I told him no way, that’s not necessary. But he insisted. So, winging its way to me in the post is a very special package. I’ve gained a whole new respect for him and his project now, even more than I already had due to the quality of his music. Just goes to show, in amongst the accusations of elitism that plague some sections of the underground, there is still that spirit of collaboration and brotherhood.

To you Teo I say this: grazie fratello

I can’t remember exactly how I came across Old Witch. I think it was recommended to me as some of my Facebook friends liked it. It’s amazing how many bands I’ve found because of that. Anyway, Old Witch are a one man, blackened doom band from the US. I’m not sure where exactly, but the depths of some cavern wouldn’t surprise me. Their 2013 ‘Come Mourning Come’ EP is available here on their Bandcamp, and it is a terrifyingly bleak piece of music.

Opening with the crackling, rumbling malevolence of ‘Funeral Rain’, Old Witch set out their modus operandi immediately. The atmosphere is choking, dark and murky. The metal here is blacker than night, but slow and dirge like doom is a key ingredient. Bone grinding riffs are haunted by shrieks of hatred and despair. This is a mood dampener to say the least. ‘This Land Has Been Cursed’ is equally dark, but has an ethereal keyboard melody behind it, like a glimpse of sun peeking through the mist. Each vocal incantation sounds like the last curse uttered from a Salem pyre. It is funereal and bleak, almost to extremes. ‘God ov Wolves’ is crushing, a dirge born of darkness and evil. ‘The Frost and the Tyrant’ is another example of the power Old Witch have at their disposal, to create the sounds of decay.

I listened to this record out walking the dog the other day, and it meshed perfectly with the leaves on the ground, the frost on the hedge tops and the frozen breath in the air. . ‘Leaves Fall in Autumn’ encapsulates this perfectly, along with huge closer, ‘Olde Spyrits Haunt The Thickets’. The former is full of ghostly chords, a quiet contemplative piece that builds slowly with grace. A moment of clarity amongst the dense, suffocating deep. The latter is a vast trail through a gnarled forest, the sound of haunting winds, the sounds of mist in the trees. It is foreboding. Menacing.

‘Come Mourning Come’ has become a record that I keep going back to. It isn’t catchy, it isn’t even all that pleasant on the ear. But the atmosphere is addictive, the feelings invoked are real and powerful. This is one of 2014’s most affecting finds for me, and I can’t recommend it enough.