Archive for August, 2015


Italian death metallers Gravesite have released their latest horror influenced slab of thrashing death metal, ‘Horrifying Nightmares…’ on Xtreem Music, and its a delicious mix of savage European death metal and rampant thrash riffs.

After a instrumental intro, first track proper ‘Submerged in Vomit’ (great title) explodes with a chainsaw riff and a clear but brutal growl. An obvious Entombed influence runs through the whole album, but this isn’t any old Swedeath tribute. Gravesite are clearly loving every minute of playing this record, and it shows. The songwriting is tight, and the album is packed full of memorable tunes that rarely drop below the full speed ahead pace.

Even though I tend to find that the slower, crawling chaos death metal bands are normally more my thing, its actually pretty refreshing to find a band that still feels old school but is ramped up to 11. This is the blood tribute to bands like Grave and Dismember; bands who kept it raw and heavy, and were never afraid of a little pace. Not that its all hell for leather, as the harsh ‘I Want to Rot’ is testament to.

‘Horrifying Nightmares…’ is a satisfyingly brutal death metal record with some great songs and acres of killer riffs. This is death metal that is not afraid to be varied, not afraid to blend thrashier sections with skull rattling death crawls and is a sign that Italian death metal isn’t all uber technicality or grandeur. Hail death in its primal form! Hail Gravesite!


I’ve been a fan of Krallice since I came across their magnum opus ‘Dimensional Bleedthrough’ in 2009. It was so fucking vast and blacker than night, and I fell in love that day. ‘Ygg Huur’ is a lot shorter than their previous releases, but still dazzles the mind with its complexity and sheer ferocity.

‘Idol’ is dense, foreboding and jarringly dissonant in parts, feeling vastly more technical than previous releases. It encapsulates the album within three minutes, and the equally complex ‘Wastes of Ocean’ continues the stop/start black metal fire that burns deep within ‘Ygg Huur’. A writhing cauldron of technical riff wizardry, captured within shorter songs, actually gives you a lot more appreciation for the skill of guitarists Mick Barr and Colin Marston. You normally don’t experience this kind of technical tour de force in black metal, so Krallice are refreshingly different.

‘Over Spirit’ feels almost like if The Dillinger Escape Plan listened to Gorgoroth, with spiralling guitar melodies and an adventurous rhythm section intent of exploring possibilities. ‘Ygg Huur’ is a very ambitious piece, squeezing into 35 minutes what many bands struggle to fit into a career. This kind of rampant experimentalism is brilliantly achieved by guitar alone, but the band’s whole is cohesive and essential for maintaining this spirit of adventure. You won’t hear many, if any black metal records this year that sound like ‘Ygg Huur’.

From the Mastodonian riffs that encircle the maelstorm of ‘Tyranny of Thought’ to the grinding tones of ‘Bitter Meditation’, closing with the menacing ‘Engram, Krallice have once again proved themselves serious contenders in the future of black metal. Taking the ‘do what we want’ attitude that pervades all classic black metal, ‘Ygg Huur’ is a progressive, daring and rampaging masterpiece that befits Krallice’s legacy.

Dalkhu - Descend... into Nothingness

Sometimes a record needs time to weigh upon you, repeated listens to get into and to enjoy. Others are like the new Dalkhu album; immediately, devastatingly great. These Slovenian blackened death metallers create a beautiful, crushing maelstorm of metal that hits like a neutron bomb and drains you instantly of any defence against its mighty riffs and unearthly growl.

‘Pitch Black Cave’ is that initial hit, that gargantuan riff plowing voids of despair while it sounds like the vocals were dredged from one of Hell’s most vile pits. The drumming thrashes back and forth, while a tremolo riff buzzes incessantly. ‘Descend into Nothingness’ is achingly heavy and leaves you breathless. ‘The Fireborn’ is a more jagged, stuttering Behemoth, with a bowel rattling bass and double kick combo. ‘In the Woods’ showcases the band’s ability to seamlessly move into beautifully melodic territory, taking influence from the more atmospheric black metal bands, while still engaging in dense, dark evil.

Dalkhu grasp the concept of brutality and melody together perfectly. ‘Descend Into Nothingness’ is one of the most violent pieces I’ve heard this year, but its instantly memorable and the musicianship is top notch. The riff patterns that spiral throughout ‘Soulkeepers’ are inspired. Closing with the crushing behemoth ‘E.N.N.F.’ , Dalkhu have crafted one of 2015’s finest slabs of metal. Fuck yes!


Brazilian heavy metallers Lothloryen have been going for thirteen years now, and their self released ‘Principles of a Past Tomorrow’ is their fifth full length album, following hot on the heels of last year’s ‘Some Ways Back Some More’. Their music is a vibrant mix of power metal, dashes of prog and folk metal too.

There is a grandeur about Lothloryen that is delightfully not cheesy. A lot of power metal bands that incorporate folk elements would come across as uber cheesy, but tracks like ‘Heretic Chant’ have this great vibrancy about them that is both catchy and yet suitably epic. They’ve got a great heavy metal spirit running through each track, and when the folky elements are added, they enhance with delicate violins (such as the anthemic ‘God is Many’) rather than overpower.

‘Principles of a Past Tomorrow’ is more or less a typical power metal album, made special by the band’s deft usage of folk metal elements and subtle progressive passages to enhance their songwriting skills. Be it the tribal balladry of ‘Time Will Tell’, the galloping ‘The Convict’ or the rousing folkiness of ‘The Quest is On’, Lothloryen keep you entangled in their music with variety and quality tunes. By the time we come to a close, Lothloryen will have won you over with their honesty and their charming take on an often maligned genre. Satisfyingly unique.

Antiquus Infestus - Order of the Star of Bethlehem

I found these guys after reading a review of their ‘Cult of Ra’ demo in a Transylvanian zine I bought a few years ago. Man that sounds troo kvlt… Anyway, I looked them up, and it turns out their last EP is available for buy it now on Bandcamp. Antiquus Infestus are a three man Italian black/death metal band, and this is their third release after two demos.

After an atmospheric and evil intro, first track proper ‘St. Mary of Bethlehem’ is a crawling, fire breather of a track, all menacing chugs and rasping growls. ‘Bishopsgate’ is more violent in its assault, exploding into a raging torrent of riffs and blasting. For so few releases under their belt, Antiquus Infestus have a maturity that belies their years. Each song is razor sharp in its execution, reeling off prime Dissection worship like the throat slitting power of ’55’, or the thunder of ‘Moorfields’.

It all comes to an end too soon with the melodic rampage of the title track and the final outro ‘The Signs of Future Threat’, which roars into oblivion with barely contained malice. I’m a big fan of this release, and band, after a few listens to this EP. I certainly hope they plan on getting something else out there soon, because ‘Order of the Star of Bethlehem’ is a high quality release by a band the extreme metal community should get to know.

Tombs of Blood cover art

The debut summonings from UK black metallers Bone Tomb is two original pieces and a Celtic Frost cover. The original cassette pressing has sold out of Goatprayer Records, but you can still grab a digital copy. Hopefully they’ll do a repress, because this shit is awesome!

Opening track ‘Tombs of Blood’ is a cold, blasting force of nature, writhing with dark energy and feeding a dense and dark invocation of rasped evil. Dissonant chords float across a buzzing backdrop, while cascading blastbeats pepper the icy landscape. Bone Tomb blend the classic scope of Immortal with the suffocating clatter of Gorgoroth. Second track ‘Macabre is Eternal’ has more of a blackened majesty, slower and more menacing at the start, then descending into a hellish maelstorm of second wave worship.

Bone Tomb are a many layered beast, and their cover of Celtic Frost’s ‘Sorrows of the Moon’ shows they aren’t just willing to raise tribute to the more obvious influences. They do the song justice with a haunting cover, and it caps off this debut perfectly. Bone Tomb look like they’re going to be something special if they continue down this path. Now lets see if we can get a repress so I can get a copy eh?!


When this young Icelandic band arrived on the classic doom rock scene last year with their high quality debut, ‘Voyage’, I had quiet hopes they’d do well. Signed to Nuclear Blast, and with their new record ‘Arrival’ out now, let’s see if the hype has been worth it.

First of all, that album art is great, if not quite as epic as ‘Voyage’. It truly fits the psychedelic rock trip that the Vintage Caravan take you on. Part rock and roll, part spiralling prog odyssey, all riffs. The groove of ‘Monolith’ or the explorative ‘Eclipsed’ showcase either side of the Caravan’s nature. You can’t help but feel their infectious, bluesy riffs right down to your core. The Kyuss-like melodies that are integral to the catchy ‘Shaken Beliefs’ are simply stunning, and help to show just how far The Vintage Caravan has come since last year.

That’s also not to say that they can’t lay down a heavy riff or two when they want, (feel the earth quake when ‘Crazy Horses’ kicks in) but The Vintage Caravan are not quite as doom as I remember, they’ve definitely moved toward more stoner, psychedelic rock with a deep, Clutch-esque influence to it. There’s a lot of bands doing this kind of music at the moment, but few manage to play with this purity of spirit, with this kind of enthusiasm and quality. The emotional balladry of ‘Innerverse’ and the almost nine minute masterpiece ‘Winter Queen’ serve the world notice that The Vintage Caravan do psychedelic stoner doom rock better than you or anyone else.


Ygodeh are an interesting beast. Born from the ashes of Latvian symphonic metallers Disease, this is their third album of ‘synthetic death metal’. Synthetic translating to a mix of industrial and electronic elements with a death metal base.

Opener ‘Morbid’ is a strange track, where a metal song is pervaded by strange electronic parts, and while the riffs are pretty good, the mix takes a little time to get used to. It is certainly a unique sound, but it definitely works better on some tracks than others. ‘Through the Fog into Misery’ for example is a more cohesive effort, relying more on a solid death metal foundation before the more esoteric elements appear.

‘Inside the Womb of Horizonless Dystopia’ is definitely a challenging listen, but if you stick with it there are rewarding moments, like the classy heaviness and soloing of ‘Rhythm of the Beast’, or the jagged experimentalism of ‘Take the Blue Pill’. Sometimes it doesn’t come across as well ( the disjointed ‘Morbid’ stands out in that field), but scratch the surface and get behind the strange parts, and there is a good metal band in there somewhere.

‘Dead Earth’ sees Los Angeles doom titans Ancient Altar return after last year’s eponymous debut, armed with more crushing riffs to steamroll those unlucky (or lucky) enough to be in their way. Creating a loose concept album about how humanity is slowly killing the Earth is perfect for these kind of riffs, and it is here where Ancient Altar come to life.

The riff powerhouse kicks in early with the massive ‘Leader, Liar’ which rolls in waves of vintage doom guitar heft. A vast, earth quaking riff underpins the whole song, while a primeval roar echoes across great cliffs of heavy as fuck guitar. A wailing solo appears and vanishes, leaving us breathless as the hypnotic dirge crushes on. ‘Leader, Liar’ is one of those tracks that should open every doom record, as it encapsulates the true feeling of desperation and hopeless that good doom tracks should, while not forgetting that it is also about worshipping that riff.

Sometimes it is easy to put your finger on what it is about a certain record that gets you right in the spot. Ancient Altar do all the things that I’ve heard plenty of this year in doom, yet they have something that sets them apart, sets them above the rest. Maybe it is parts like that wonderful sun scorched intro to ‘Albion’, which leads you out into that rust coloured, post-apocalyptic desert, in search of something. Ancient Altar seem like they are looking for that answer to why the world will die. ‘Albion’ seems almost hopeful, with a delicate, soaring keyboard lurking in the back ground behind crushing guitar, like an answer will be found. Simply beautiful work.

The title track kicks in with a riff that Josh Homme would’ve killed for in the early 90s, and then begins to descend into heavier territory without ever losing that unquantifiable groove that has permeated the whole record. Ramping up to a High On Fire-esque stomp, ‘Dead Earth’ brings back some memories of Remission-era Mastodon, before the ground gives out and you are sucked down into the depths.

Closing with the sludge doom majesty of ‘Void’, Dead Earth is a worthy successor to the Self-Titled debut. Ancient Altar have crafted a fine piece of crushing doom here, especially considering they’ve been a band for only a year. As the riffs pile up, and the infectious, desert rock melodies make appearances, it only makes the album more alive, more vital. For those who worship doom, we have found you an Ancient Altar.

Aeveron - VVD: Destination Annihilation

German melodeath band Aeveron have really cranked up the riffs on this, their fourth album. ‘VVD: Destination Annihilation’ is a heady mix of razor sharp melodeath riffs injected with a ghostly, almost black metal atmosphere in places.

Take second track ‘Delusions’ for example. At first seeming like pure Swdeath worships, the band find some cool melodies to intersperse into the riffs, and then there are some haunting keyboard parts accompanying rasping vocals. ‘VVD…’ is a rollicking record of fantastic riffing and galloping brutality. The breakneck clatter of ‘Mitternacht’ is another highlight, with some cool melodic mid section riffs, while augmented keyboards add the atmosphere. Even the clean vocals that crop up every so often fit well with the music.

Be it the chugging monster of ‘Insanity’, or the rich, clean vocal stylings of ‘The Plague’, Aeveron are more than capable of mixing it up to keep the record sounding and feeling fresh. The acoustic strains of ‘Shedding No Tears’ builds nicely to a crescendo, with the white hot ‘Cave Hominem’ spewing riffs from its molten heart.

Aeveron are definitely very melodic, and write songs that are catchy and full of lighter moments. Don’t take this as a feeling that they are radio friendly in any way; they’re not but this record could definitely have some crossover appeal to the more mainstream metal kids. The level of musicianship is high, and each element works well to create a cohesive album that thrashes hard for forty eight minutes of quality metal.