Archive for July, 2015

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India’s Inner Sanctum are another bright spark coming out of the subcontinent. Their new record, ‘Legions Awake’ is a ripping collection of hard riffing and insanely catchy songs. Fresh from their appearance at Norway’s Inferno festival in April, the band sound energised and ready to slay those who stand in their way.

Starting with the hellish grandeur of ‘Incipens’, Inner Sanctum sure know how to make an impression. It sounds more like a Cradle of Filth intro than a death metal one, but Inner Sanctum kick off the album proper with the killer chug of ‘Wake of Destruction’. There’s more than a dash of Lamb of God influence in there, but Inner Sanctum seem to take most influence from latter Destruction and Kreator. The production is thick and warm, enhancing the heaviness of the riffing which is showcased in the heavy as fuck ‘Reflections of the Past’.

If you’re a fan of big chunky riffs, Inner Sanctum have them by the metric fuck ton. Check out the pit fodder that is the rampant title track, or the monstrous groove of ‘March of the Wounded’. It’s yet more proof that India is the place to be at the moment for solid, heavy metal in all genres. Inner Sanctum are a flagbearer for Indian metal, and when they’re making music of this quality, its only a matter of time before they and other bands like them blow up the same as Demonic Resurrection did.

Inner Sanctum prove yet again that you don’t need to dig very far in India to find some brilliant metal. ‘Legions Awake’ is a snarling, riff laden beast of an album that should go down well in every pit across the world. Thrash on!

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Korpiklaani - Noita

Korpiklaani are one of those bands who you can always rely on to write a good, FUN metal album usually based around skipping around forests blazing drunk. Or so the stereotype goes. They are what people who hate ‘folk metal’ point at as an example of what is wrong with the genre, but for me Korpiklaani have always been a riot. Sure, their record output has suffered somewhat in parts due to their prolific nature, but their last three records have been hits for me and I’m a big fan. So it is with anticipation I welcome ‘Noita’ onto my stereo.

‘Noita’ is, on first impressions, a little more sombre and a bit more sober for want of a better term. The album art, for a start, is a bit more moody and darker than previous records, and while there are still plenty of upbeat, happy singalongs, the overall feeling is one of introspection in parts. Opener ‘Viinamäen Mies’ is traditional Korpiklaani fare, with a bouncy rhythm and Jonne’s rasping, hoiky vocals. All the band’s trademarks are there, the accordion, the Finnish lyrics, the fiddles. The galloping ‘Pilli On Pajusta Tehty’ is next, followed by the grander and more melancholic ‘Lempo’. ‘Lempo’ is a fine example of how Korpiklaani mix up their sound, rather than sticking straight to their ‘formulaic’ folk metal anthems and it’s a highlight of the record for me.

‘Sahti’ will be an instant live favourite, with its pogo inducing main melody and shoutalong moments. It’s the closest you’ll come to a ‘single’ track here, although the barreling ‘Luontoni’ pushes it with its heavy metal heart beating hard. ‘Minä Näin Vedessä Neidon’ is a folk ballad to be proud of, led by mournful violin and a softening of Jonne’s rasp. The bonkers ‘Jouni Jouni’ shakes it up again, being a Finnish language cover of Tommy James and the Shondells’ ‘Mony Mony’. Which I don’t know at all, but it’s a total party tune.

I like to think of a Korpiklaani album as like a night round a campfire drinking. The faster party tunes like ‘Sahti’ or ‘Viinamaen Mies’ are for earlier on, whereas the more moody ‘Ämmänhauta’ is for later on, when the fire dies to embers and everyone has hit that sleepy drunk stage. As for ‘Noita’, it stands up against the best work Korpiklaani has done in the past and surpasses it, with a more mature songwriting style while not losing that FUN that made us all fall in love the first time.

As album titles and album art goes, Finnish death metallers Coffincraft have got something special. The stark black and white ethereality of it is startlingly. Their new record, ‘In Eerie Slumber’, is out on Memento Mori, who have a reputation for putting out great death metal records, and this is no exception.

Take the imperious ‘Impious Spawn’ as a perfect example. Forged from the rawest of Swedeath chainsaw riffing and Entombed/Dismember worship, it is however brilliantly written and avoids being just another copycat buzzsaw death metal song. It is said that a lot of Finnish metal has something a bit strange, a bit different about it. You don’t get that same feeling here, but what you do get is a sense of melody and catchiness that helps the songs stay rooted in your mind.

There’s a satisfying crunch to the guitarwork that helsp accentuate the fine riff mining that is going on. ‘In Eerie Slumber’ does little you’ve not heard before, but it executes songs like ‘Ill Verdict’ and ‘Necrostation’ with a vitality and a reckless abandon that we don’t see much anymore. The chugging ‘Exaltation of Fornication’ is another highlight, along with the thudding swagger of ‘The Claimant’. There’s a particularly swampy vocal on ‘Ego Pt II’ that I like, where the pace drops to a deadly crawl and there are incantations from the depths.

‘In Eerie Slumber’ is up there with Austerymn’s debut as two of my favourite Swedeath style death metal records this year. There’s something to be said for keeping the old school alive, while not just rehashing old glories. ‘In Eerie Slumber’ will never be as good as ‘Left Hand Path’ or ‘Into the Grave’, but Coffincraft have razor sharp songwriting, coupled with some heavy as fuck riffing and a furious delivery that makes them utterly essential stuff.

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Enthring - The Art of Chaos

Finnish melodeathsters Enthring have released a new three track EP, following up from their 2011 opus, ‘The Grim Tales of the Elder’. Scandinavian melodeath you say? Predictable and boring you say? Fear not, because Enthring are pretty good.

‘We Thrive on Chaos’ sounds like the mighty Wintersun, if Jari decided to focus on ripping metal rather than his epic compositions. It’s catchy, rampant and laden with suitable keyboard additions that enhance the melodies pouring from it. ‘And We Dream of Our Desire’ starts with sombre violin, before another round of intricate riffing and spiralling guitars spills from the speakers, worming its way into your memory and reminding you that metal can be very much full of melody when bands make the effort.

Closing with ‘The Second Vengeance Orchestra’ (no word as to what happened to the first one), Enthring’s three tracks held my attention a lot longer than a lot of melodeath these days. It’s all so samey, so that when bands like Enthring or Necrocosm come along and play with heart and talent, that it becomes readily apparent why I became a fan of metal in the first place. I’m looking forward to the next release, because Enthring have totally nailed that wonderful European metal sound. It’s thrilling, with great harmonies and great songs.

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Polish black metal has a bit of a reputation for being fiery in its rhetoric and particularly nasty and vicious in musical execution. Outre follow this example in a much more subtle and eerie way on ‘Ghost Chants’.

Take ‘Chant 1: Departure’ for example. It opens with a mantric, droning evilness, complete with creepy hypnotic chanting, before exploding into stellar Behemoth worship in ‘Chant 2: Shadow’. There’s an uneasy dissonance to it, which intersects with the more firebrand black metal elements that gives us that Deathspell Omega-esque tone to it. It’s disturbing to the core, and that makes it instantly special. There’s a dense malevolence to it brought by the vocal acrobatics of Stawrogin. He shrieks, rasps and chants his way through, hooking you instantly into the album.

‘Ghost Chants’ is a stunning debut from a band whose name reminds me of the harrowing nightmare of Australia’s Portal. Outre do that justice, with the raging ‘Chant 3: Fall’, and the dark torrent of ‘Lament’. I especially like the ethereal groove of ‘Equlibrium’, and the magnificent closer ‘Arrival’. Outre have captured that dark, dissonance of your Deathspell Omegas or your Blut Aus Nords, and then turned up the fire on them. ‘Ghost Chants’ is a real contender for one of the most disturbingly visceral albums you will hear all year. Listen to the end of the gurgling ‘Vengeance’ and tell me I’m wrong!

http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/reviews/album-reviews/c/coffins-craving-to-eternal-slumber-cd-lp-dd-2015/

Coffins are Japan’s premier dealers of death metal in its most primal, sludge ridded form. Their discography reads as almost a hall of fame when it comes to quality, brutal death metal that has this unnervingly heavy quality. ‘Craving to Eternal Slumber’ is the latest, filth ridden addition to this formidable band’s legacy. A mini album that clocks in at just under half an hour, ‘Craving to Eternal Slumber’ keeps to their tried and tested formula of none more death.

‘Hatred Storm’ is an almighty belch from the underworld; a collection of swampy thick riffs with a guttural vocal vomiting unholy blasphemies. Coffins do death metal riffs filtered through quicksand, each one crushingly heavy and intent on dragging us all down to their level. ‘Tyrant’ echoes the legendary Celtic Frost with its proto thrash rhythm and obligatory death grunts. It is refreshing to hear a death metal band that is not content with either being uber technical and shiny, or OLD SKOOL DEATH with no sense of song writing. Coffins write solid death metal songs, and then back them up with a sickeningly dense guitar tone.

Everything they do is designed to provoke an atmosphere. Even the solos sound like voices wailing from the void. The doom infected title track sounds like Nile if you stripped out all the extras and left it at its rotten core. It is slow, menacing and unutterably dark, barely inching above a dragging pace. The helpless screaming is a perfect touch.

The quality rarely dips below excellent, through the rumbling ‘Stairway To Torment’, with its Autopsy worship showing, via the tectonic ‘An Obscure Pain’ and the queasiness sway of ‘Decapitated Crawl’. Coffins manage to create a record where every song is definitely different, yet all the same. It’s a rare talent.

Music journalists and fans will always talk about the evolution of music, and how each genre can move forward into new territory. Coffins are the exact reason why stagnation should not always conjure up negativity. ‘Craving To Eternal Slumber’ is primitive, Neanderthal death metal with copious lashings of crushing doom and savage sludge. Coffins are masters of death, and ‘Craving To Eternal Slumber’ is their gospel.

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https://hammerheart.bandcamp.com/album/craving-to-eternal-slumber

Cradle of Filth are a band who provoke reactions, both good and bad, in every metalhead you’ll ever meet. For me, they’ve been a band I’ve been quite into for the past few years, but some of their newer stuff hasn’t always hit the spot for me. ‘The Manticore and Other Horrors’ was a step in the right direction, and ‘Hammer of the Witches’ is reported to be a futher return to form.

After the obligatory moody intro (‘Walpurgis Eve’), we are launched straight into classic Cradle fare, with some rampant guitarwork and Dani’s trademark rasp/shriek combo. ‘Yours Immortally’ has some almost Maiden esque galloping leads, and isn’t quite as melodramatically gothic as we’ve come to expect. Yes, there’s a bit of that later in the song, but overall it’s a step back toward vintage early Cradle. ‘Enshrined in Crematoria’ continues this more straightforward trend, accompanying the metal with dashes of symphonic. So far, Cradle seem to have reeled their gothic drama in to a fair extent.

‘Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasing the Goddess’ is one of those Cradle song titles that goes on and on, but its a totally ripping song, with excellent orchestral elements and a refreshingly direct assault. I think this album will turn a few heads in the anti-Cradle camp, as the material is the most black metal the band has been in years. There’s a massive melodic streak that goes through every guitar line on the album, with fluid soloing being a personal highlight, but each song is infectious in its delivery. Cradle haven’t sounded this vibrant and essential since ‘Nymphetamine’.

The ghostly piano of ‘The Monstrous Sabbat’ leads us perfectly into the title track, that looks certain to transfer brilliantly into the live set. As I’ve said before, there’s a refreshing lack of fucking about here. Cradle are focused and by restraining their gothic melodrama and adding a twin guitar attack, they sound revitalised. Fans of classic Cradle will love the vintage dramatics of ‘Right Wing of the Garden Triptych’, while the rich violence of ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ just pips the title track as my favourite.

Cradle are back, and making music that befits their triumphant and controversial legacy. They sound creatively reborn, and ‘Hammer of the Witches’ sits up there with ‘Dusk…And Her Embrace’, ‘Cruelty and the Beast’ and ‘The Principle of Evil Made Flesh’ as one of Cradle of Filth’s finest hours.

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