Archive for October, 2015

Grave Ritual - Morbid Throne

Alabama death squad Grave Ritual have returned after five years to unleash their second album, ‘Morbid Throne’, nine tracks of rumbling death metal heaviness. You’re looking at raw, early death metal dripping with deadly atmosphere, out on the 30th of October through Dark Descent Records.

‘Baleful Aversion’ brings a primitive, Autopsy-esque sludge to it, with a curshing low end and a thick, murky atmosphere. There’s a relentless, grimy fury to songs like ‘Autonomous Death’. Grave Ritual are dense, uncompromising and uninterested in being the fastest, most technical or the most original. What Grave Ritual do is bring the best in choking death riffs, and power it with a thick rhythm section to create maximum destruction. ‘Invoker of Heathen Gnosis’ steamrollers through the competition, an unstoppable juggernaut of heaviness.

The cruishing battering of ‘Tyrant’s Hammer’, which has a grinding Incantation-esque midsection, is a particular highlight in an album where it’s difficult to pick just one. Like the clawing hands of the undead, Grave Ritual write music that gets under your skin and infects you. ‘Morbid Throne’ is a draining record that demands repeated listens to ensure you fully appreciate each rotten riff and each demonic growl.

‘Morbid Throne’ is one of the better old school death metal records I’ve come across this year. The sheer brutality on offer here, coupled with an authentic execution of solid, early 90s style death metal, makes Grave Ritual a winner in my book. This is the kind of rotting fetid extremity that I love, and I think ‘Morbid Throne’ will be considered to be a lynchpin in years to come.

Silent Line - Shattered Shores

Silent Line bring their new album, ‘Shattered Shores’, to the public this week (30th October release date), and it marks a shift towards a concept album, based on the idea of a man trapped on an island that is constantly battered by the ocean. Musically this is for fans of Soilwork, Wintersun and Amon Amarth. But does it breathe new life into the sometimes overdone prog metal genre?

‘Frost of the Night’ opens with a bit of grandeur, with strings and drums building to a crescendo where an obviously Wintersun influenced maelstorm comes in. While lacking that band’s intricate song structures, Silent Line do have some great songs on this record, and while the conceptual end is take it or leave it depending on how you feel about concept albums, their music is top notch. There are some soaring vocal parts, particularly in the anthemic ‘Erosion’, which rips hard. There’s also dashes of Scar Symmetry in here, like in the potent ‘Shattered Shores I’

The musicianship is top notch, the songs are anthemic and melodic, but still with a strong sense of the heavy, and Silent Line know where and when to employ keyboards to enhance their music. They aren’t overdone, but are still featured prominently in some places. The raging gallop of ‘Black and White’ is pure Soilwork, but it is later in the record where the really impressive songs appear. The epic ‘Shattered Shores II’, the fury of ‘Into the Chasm’ and the closing, powerful melodies of ‘Embrace the End’ all showcases Silent Line to be a band of supreme talent and potential.


Steve at SixSixSix Music is a good guy. So good in fact, that he’s agreed to help me out with reviewing here at The Killchain. Which is nice because I’m so laden down with promos for awesome music I can barely keep up. You’ll know his contributions, as I’ve now tagged him as SixSixSteve. He’s been in this game for a long time, so he knows what he’s talking about. Thanks Steve, you’re a blog saver!

I’ve been very impressed by the releases that have come my way recently from Italian label Avantgarde. And the one thing they’ve all had in common, has been a superior level of musicianship. And Norway’s Dystopia Nå are very close to the top of the pile, in that respect.

Dweller on the Threshold is a beautiful album. Mixing gentle Doomy passages, with minimalistic ambience and the occasional foray into Shoegazing Black Metal territory, it’s all tied together with maddening screams, cries of despair and any other downbeat form of expression you care to think of. The beauty of the music and the anguish of the vocals are perfect bedfellows.

And it’s an album that relies heavily on moods. From uplifting, through anger to total despair, it’s an ever-changing journey, with a never-ending palette of textures. Basically, if Steven Wilson replaced Dave Gilmour in Pink Floyd and then took the whole of Syd Barrett’s drug stash in one sitting and decided to throw some Black Metal into the Progressive melting pot, then you’re just about there with this album.

Abysmal Grief has a name that just screams misery and crushing doom. Unsurprisingly, that’s exactly what you’re in for with their new full length, ‘Strange Rites of Evil’. A more traditional doom record that is drowning in gothic evil, Abysmal Grief bring terror from Italy’s darkest places.

Opener ‘Nomen omen’ is a stomping epic, churning doom riffs laden with organ and choral vocals. Abysmal Grief have really gone all out to envelop this record with a vintage horror soundtrack, as well as producing some of the best doom riffs this side of Electric Wizard. But while the Wizard bring their terror and crush through a haze of weed, Abysmal Grief engage with grandeur and gothic hijinks. The lumbering title track builds like an exorcism, vocals building with intensity and rasping growls accentuating the gloom.

‘Cemetary’ and ‘Radix Malorum’ rock like Reverend Bizarre, while ‘Child of Darkness’ writhes with black magic. But it is the vast closer, ‘Dressed in Black Cloaks’, that truly embodies the sweeping gothic doom that Abysmal Grief do so well. It begins with melancholic tones, guitar and keyboards mingling in a miserable melody. The song builds into this crawling doom masterpiece, each element highlighting the band’s strengths. Eerie organ, crushing guitar and howling roars create a dark but beautiful piece of music.

‘Strange Rites of Evil’ is a record that could have crawled straight out of a Hammer Horror movie, encompassing all of doom’s greatest tropes to become rather essential. Abysmal Grief take the gothic misery of My Dying Bride, inject some rumbling Electric Wizard riffs and layer on darkness. A perfect record for the coming dark, cold nights.

Abhorrent Deformity - Entity of Malevolence

Did you know there are twelve different bands with Abhorrent in the name on Encyclopedia Metallum? It would explain why I was sure I’d heard of this band before, and then turned out to be mistaken. I was thinking of Abhorrent Decimation, as it turned out… Anyway, Abhorrent Deformity’s new record, ‘Entity of Malevolence’, finds these North Carolinians on top, devastating form.

‘Entity of Malevolence’ offers sacrifices at the diseased altar of mighty brutal death gods like Devourment or Dying Fetus. While not going completely incomprehensibly brutal, Abhorrent Deformity’s brand of death metal is definitely brutal to the max. Blastbeats pepper the landscape of grinding riffs, while inhuman grunts and growls are uttered from a dark, dark place. ‘Skeleton Carver’ is a particularly good example of everything the band do right, as is the punishing ‘Buried Beneath Human Remains’.

But it’s the whole album experience that is most satisfying about Abhorrent Deformity’s debut. Each song is well written, with copious amounts of brutality and ace riffs. The songs don’t outstay their welcome, and most lead to almost constant headbanging. Whether or not the band get lost in the mix of bands that do this kind of music at the moment is anyone’s guess, but ‘Entity of Malevolence’ is a raging statement of crushing intent that Abhorrent Deformity need to be respected for the sheer heaviness of what they do. BROOTAL!








Gaijin are touted to be THE next big thing coming out of India. Their debut self titled EP is only three tracks, but being produced by Pierre Remillard, who has coaxed some of death metal’s more interesting albums from the likes of Gorguts and Cryptopsy, this has great potential.

Opener ‘Dead Planet’ is definitely a jarring, technical experience. Full of dizzying tempo changes, with atonal melodies shooting off in all directions, it’s hard to keep track of at times. New death metal bands that attempt something different on their debut always go over well with me. You can feel the influences of those Canadian bands previously mentioned, but there’s also dashes of Pestilence and Atheist in there too. ‘Meiosis’ is more of the same, high quality tech death instrumental that is more focused in its attack. ‘Anamnesis’ has a more overt Gorguts style, but the musicianship on display is frankly staggering for a new band.

Gaijin are going to be big. Their debut is self assured but not overly self indulgent. The material is strong, and it remains to be seen whether they’ll add more vocals into the mix or remain a bit more instrumental, but whatever they decide, it’ll be a hell of a ride.







Heathen Beast, who I’ve covered previously, are one of India’s finest purveyors of what I guess would be pagan black metal. A band not afraid to include local instrumentation and language into their scathing cauldron of raging riffs. ‘Trident’ features their three EPs combined, from ‘Ayodhya Burns’ through ‘Drowning of the Elephant God’ up to their latest, ‘The Carnage of Godhra’, which I reviewed here earlier this year. Side note, I actually fucking adore that elephant god imagery on their cover, it drips with ancient power and it’s so unique.

Opener ‘Blind Faith’ is vicious, straight to the point and potent with power. This isn’t tinny black metal, this is extremity with depth and thick riffage. The vocals are harsh and raw, which suits the band’s anti-religious and anti-fascist message. ‘Religious Genocide’ is a skull rattling assault on the senses, with an intense buzzing tremolo riff coupled with bloodcurdling roars. ‘Ayodhya Burns’ brings together the traditional instrumentation with strong black metal savagery.

It’s an interplay we see a lot in Heathen Beast’s work, but not so much from other bands in the region. Maybe it’s to avoid pigeonholing, but I feel that other bands miss out on the experience that Heathen Beast offer. Black metal is often part and parcel with pagan metal, and an exploration of roots and ethnicity is important for a lot of metallers. Heathen Beast allow the listeners to immerse themselves in a little taste of Indian culture, while not losing out on the pure vicious evil of black metal. Songs like the howling ‘Drowning of the Elephant God’ or rampant Dissection-esque moments in ‘Contamination of the Ganges’ mix the Eastern and Western influences to potent effect.

‘Trident’ is interesting as well because it shows how Heathen Beast have matured as a band. Tracks 1-3 have a more basic, thrashing rage about them. Tracks 4-6 take that and increase the complexity of songwriting and the ethnic elements, and tracks 7-9 build on that even more. ‘Trident’ improves with every song, and by the end you are left wanting more. Fantastic release from a fantastic band, well worth seeking out!