Archive for April, 2015

‘Irkalla Transcendence’ by Agos is a stonking blackened death record. Now the brief summary is out the way here is a little more detail why.

As with all music it was having the time and place to absorb the creativity and listening to Agos was no different. I had real life stuff to attend (read driving my girlfriend and her friend to a hen party which meant enduring an hour of prosecco fuelled chatting and chart music) before I could stick in Agos on the way home. Needless to say I was impressed with what I heard. Due to the main need of “get this on my phone” my moments of free time were spent on the downloading and not reading the promo material so it came as a pleasant surprise to see that thought of “this reminds me of Rotting Christ and Septicflesh” part way into the crushing “Akkadian Cenotaph”  was geographically spot on.

Im not sure if its something in the water or the turbulent times the Greeks find themselves in but Van Gimot and Astrous have tapped into something grand. The blend of Sumerian inspired lyrics (and anyone who then doesn’t think of Conan the Cimmerian is lying!) and blend of relentless black metal riffing, blast beats and Bolt Thrower like death metal chugging mean we have a savage beast that makes you think its approachable before it shreds your face right off, just like a Nic Cage movie, with a tremendous solo.

With all that said is it the best blackened death ever? No. But will I have no issue jamming it in my playlist alongside the big dogs of the genre. It made the journey home all the easier and cleansed my ears after a hour which makes waterboarding appealing. It is very much worth the time and I look forward to more.


So, after our mammoth five hour anniversary show on Live Funeral Radio this Sunday night, I got to thinking about my show for Tuesday. Now, we all work hard on our shows for Live Funeral, and we appreciate everyone who listens in. I don’t even know if Kalde wants me telling folk this but we’ve even had positive feedback from guys at Relapse recently about what we’re doing. Fucking Relapse are aware of Live Funeral Radio? Fuck that blows my mind.
So it got me to thinking, this year marks 25 years of Relapse Records as an essential entity in not only the promotion of extreme music but in my own particular evolution. I’ve picked out my playlist this week of tracks from my favourite Relapse artists past and present. May they ever protect the riff…

1. High on Fire – Devilution
2. Cephalic Carnage – Endless Cycle of Violence
3. Red Fang – Prehistoric Dog
4. Baroness – Rays on Pinion
5. Nile – Smashing the Antiu
6. Burst – Where the Wave Broke
7. Incantation – Devour Death
8. Mastodon – March of the Fire Ants
9. Nasum – The Masked Face
10. Windhand – Woodbine
11. Tombs – Beneath the Toxic Jungle
12. Dying Fetus – Insidious Repression
13. Amorphis – Black Winter Day
14. Primate – March of the Curmudgeon
15. Mumakil – I
16. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants

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‘Occult Propaganda’ is the debut EP from Swiss black metallers Malphas. Malphas, in demonology, is a Great Prince of Hell commanding legions of demons, so I think you can guess what kind of nasty, Satanic black metal violence you can expect from ‘Occult Propaganda’.

Opener ‘Malphas’ begins with a brooding, whispering intro that slowly swells into a dense, creaking black metal riff and a ragged rasp. There’s copious amounts of raw rage here, with smatterings of atmospheric darkness and rattling blastbeats. Haunting melodies lurk in the gloom, coated with an otherworldly filth. ‘Occult Propaganda’ sounds like it was recorded in a cavern; a rough murky mix has added a layer of blackness to it.

The cavernous howl of the title track is the best example of how the rough mix has aided the music. The atmosphere definitely adds to the overall theme of darkness and evil. It’s like the fog that hides the serial killer, or the cloud of dust that chokes the victims of a disaster. ‘Awaking Exelsi Luciferi’ boils with fury, a buzzing tremolo bringing to mind classic Darkthrone. The Norwegian legends are probably the most obvious influence on Malphas, but there is hints of Watain’s regal darkness about this too. Malphas aren’t as razor sharp, their assault is the blunt rusty razor in the night. ‘Occult Propaganda’ is a raw twenty minutes of black metal horror.

Occult black metal from the frozen, icy north of Finland sounds like just the ticket to me. Funerary Bell are in the midst of writing their second record, four years on since their debut ‘The Coven’. In order to whet the appetite for blood, this two track EP has come out on Saturnal Records as a taster of what is to come.

‘Afterlife on Earth’ is a hypnotic menacing slice of black metal, with a slower deliberate pace, and lacking a general straight to the jugular assault. This works well, as it helps Funerary Bell stand out amongst every sub standard Darkthrone/Mayhem clone out there. The atmosphere is choking, cloying, with dashes of Eastern melodies in there too. There’s a definite feel of the ritualistic here, the summoning of ancient demons and darkness untold. There’s maybe even a bit of Mercyful Fate hiding in there too.

‘Eleanor’s Garden’ growls forth from a cold void, a place of emptiness. It’s harrowingly bleak, but still retains that hummability that is strangely innate to their music. Funerary Bell make memorable dark music, and their EP is definitely making me look forward to the full length. Hail darkness!

Ladies and gentlemen, the scientific discovery of the century has been made, and it has been made in the UK of all places. Apparently time machines have been invented by four blokes in a metal band. Who would’ve thunk it? I mean, that’s got to be why this record sounds like every awesome Swedish death metal riff you’ve ever and never heard. Clearly the band has gone back and raided the notebooks of Dismember, Grave, Entombed, Edge of Sanity and any other you can name.

I reviewed Austerymn’s demo last September, and the love was falling out of me. Since that time, they’ve managed to get Memento Mori to take them on to release this, ‘Sepulcrum Viventium’, their debut record. For a band that’s been together in various forms since 1990, you would expect the music to be well written, but that doesn’t quite prepare you for the wonderful nostalgia trip that ‘Sepulcrum Viventium’ takes you on. After the short intro, ‘Feeding the Grotesque’ drops you straight into a nest of chainsaw riffs and gurgling rasping howls. This is classic old school death metal, lacking both frills and fancy bits. This is the straightforward nasty shit that got you into death metal in the first place.

There’s nothing shiny, there’s none of this uber technical wankery that abounds in modern death metal bands. There is, instead, tons of reeking filthy atmosphere, flesh shredding riffing and a murky production that enhances the music. ‘In Death…We Speak’ still stands up to the newer material as probably my favourite Austerymn song, although the rampant ‘Written in the Scars’ and the melodic ‘Darkness Burns Forever’ push it close. ‘Excarnation’ still flays flesh from bone, and the short, sharp vomitation of ‘Necrolation’ is enough to rattle the dead.

Austerymn’s debut is probably one of my favourite death metal records of the past few years. I knew when I heard their demo last year that they were capable of something like this, but hearing it is something else. Comfortably destroyed expectations, the UK’s next big hope in death metal is here, and ‘Sepulcrum Viventium’ is only for starters…


Latvian pagan folk metal heroes Skyforger return with their newest record, ‘Senprusija’, meaning ‘Old Prussia’, and is almost an hour of dark pagan metal dedicated to the tales of the Baltic peoples of old Prussia. It’s been five years since their last, ‘Kurbads’, and its been worth the wait. Side note, and I know its totally unintentional but the cover to ‘Senprusija’ totally reminds me of the cover of Fozzy’s ‘All That Remains’. I know that ‘Senprusija’s artwork is designed to show how there is nothing but bones left of Old Prussia, its just the first thing that jumped into my head.

After a melancholic, folky intro, the title track explodes into life with an icy cold, almost black metal feel. There’s plenty of galloping NWOBHM style leads, and even some pan pipes, creating a fist pumping pagan anthem. ‘Sudavu jatnieki’ is another rampaging folk metal anthem, with some darker heavier moments. ‘Tagad vai nekad’ is one of the best headbangers you’ll hear this year. Skyforger have their pagan and folk roots, blended with some cold black metal in parts, but at the core of their music is an innate sense of heavy metal.

Skyforger have crafted a fine record here, melding together traditional folk elements (see the ethnic chanting on the chugging doom laden ‘Ramava’) with some some great song writing and some great riffs. Holding high the banner of their country’s heritage, Skyforger bring the melody, the heaviness and the passion to ‘Senprusija’. Someone will have to go pretty far to beat this as one of the highlights of any metal genre this year, but particularly folk metal. Cīnīties par godu!!


North Carolina, USA, has brought us Viajando,a power trio that brings to the fore some colossal riffing and some rocking stoner doom tunes on their first proper release, ‘Counting Days’. A soulful croon, some bluesy power riffs and a dusty, deserty feel gives ‘Counting Days’ a good start.

The title track gets us off to a fair galloping start, with vocalist Taylor showcasing his pipes. It’s uber melodic, but with a heavy low end. The rumble intensifies with the brooding ‘Nothing is Sacred’, where dashes of Kylesa appear. Viajando share common ground with some of their more Southern brethren, with some shimmering psychedelic parts and an intense groove in ‘Hell’s Pit’.

I burnt myself out on the whole stoner rock/doom scene a few months ago by hearing too many bands that sounded the same. Yeah, maybe expecting the genre to show some type of forward motion is naive but at least challenge me. Viajando are drawing me back in. They’ve got a good sense of the groove required, the ‘feel’ of writing honest stoner rock songs that don’t overstay their welcome, that don’t just riff without substance. ‘Rogue’ is one of my most played songs of the past few days. I love the melody, I love the vocals and I love the riffs. Maybe this is my way back in…

Viajando aren’t rewriting the rule book, but they’re playing music with a bit of heart, a bit of soul and a whole lot of heavy. They’ll never win awards, but fuck me if ‘Counting Days’ isn’t just a good fucking record. Sometimes its all you need.