Archive for January, 2016

Sacrocurse - Destroying Chapels

Mexican/Turkish blackened death trio Sacrocurse follow up their debut full length ‘Unholier Master’ with a 7″ EP with three new tracks and a Bathory cover. It’s due out on Iron Bonehead Productions now!

Opening with ear piercing shrieks, and then a brutal relentless assault on the senses ‘Total Devastation’ is a razorblade whirlwind, with howling dark vocals and a raging black/death maelstorm of vicious guitars. It’s seriously intense, and even the slower sections have this malevolence about them, this barely chained rage struggling to be free. ‘Sacrocurse Temple’ is more of the same; bestial black metal atmosphere drowning a rabid, raw death metal riff. Sacrocurse have got some serious darkness flailing around under their cloak of murk. The savagery of the title track is the highlight here.

Closing with a suitably raw approach to the Bathory classic ‘Total Destruction’, Sacrocurse have made ‘Destroying Chapels’ into a great example of what can be done with with four songs, a shitload of hatred and some excellent riffs. If you can get this, get this!

https://www.facebook.com/Sacrocurse

http://www.ironbonehead.de/

https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com/album/sacrocurse-destroying-chapels

Abyssus - Once Entombed​.​.​.

I’ve reviewed Greek death metal lords Abyssus before, with their debut record ‘Into the Abyss’ being a favourite of last year. 2016 sees the band releasing a compilation of their split materials with bands like Morbider, Slaktgrav and Nocturnal Vomit, as well as their debut EP, on this release through Transcending Obscurity Classics.

If you’ve become a fan of Abyssus and their sludgy, Obituary influenced death metal, then ‘Once Entombed…’ is going to be right up your alley. Savage riffs meet a Tardy-esque bellow and a thunderous drumming performance. There’s a number of great covers on here as well, from acts like Slayer (‘Postmortem’), Asphyx (‘Deathhammer’) and best of all, Death (‘Sacred Serenity’). The Death cover matches the band best, and their take on a lesser known Death track is excellent. But their original material is, for me, the true highlight.

Tracks like the grinding rumble of ‘Morbid Inheritance’, the Swedeath ravage of ‘Summon the Dead’ and the Obituarian chug of ‘Remnants of War’ showcases the traditonal death metal worship that Abyssus brings to the table. Their particular brand of death metal pays tribute to all the legends, but yet still feels fresh and well written. Their Sodom cover also fucking kills hard, as does the brutal ‘Days of Wrath’. The Bolt Thrower power behind the tectonic ‘Unleash the Storm’ is so heavy you’ll feel it for days, while the machine gun battery of ‘Servants to Hypocrisy’ is another highlight.

I thought that this might feel a bit like a collector’s release, but actually, being such a new band, it feels almost like we have a second release from them early! I’ve had two albums worth of quality material from Abyssus in the past few months, and I must say, what they do kicks my ass every time. Playing pure, no frills death metal is somewhat of a rarity these days, and Abyssus bring us the brutality plain and simple. Now just sit back and enjoy that beating!

https://www.facebook.com/Abyssus-144338552349700

https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/album/once-entombed-death-metal

http://tometal.com/

‘Perpetual Blackness’ is the debut offering from Germany’s crushing death/doom merchants The Fog. A crawling, morbid slab of Teutonic terror, ‘Perpetual Blackness harkens back to the nasty trudge of Hellhammer, Winter  and early Morgoth, and it is out now through Memento Mori Records.

‘Inaneness’ opens with a brutal, relentless drag through the darker reaches of the riff. Primal murk obscures an obvious black metal influence, while each riff cascades down upon you like the inevitable fall of planets. ‘Crawling Doom’ is, ironically, anything but. It’s a violent mix of crushing Swedish death metal and an Autopsy like sludge. ‘Entropy Pillars’ drags us back into more familiar territory, with a raw rumble of doom.

The whole of ‘Perpetual Blackness’ is shrouded in a density, a groaning decay like that affecting the trees on the cover art. ‘Creeping Lunacy’ has a positively sickening guitar tone, and has a hypnotic chainsaw riff that runs through the middle of it, leaving a gaping wound of ragged growls. ‘Gloom Shoals’ is almost painfully heavy in parts, while the title track is ancient death metal art.

Closing with the monolithic destruction of ‘Grievous Scourge’, The Fog have got this primal death/doom sound nailed. ‘Perpetual Blackness’ is a record for those who enjoy a nihilistic crush in their life. As dark as the eternal void, and heavier than Hell itself.

https://www.facebook.com/thefogdoom/

http://www.memento-mori.es/

 

So, it turns out nailing me with three of my favourite artists as comparables to a band is the best way for me to get hooked into a new band straight away. The press blurb for the new record from progressive Seattle metallers Rhine namedrops Devin Townsend, Opeth and Enslaved as potential comaprisons, so colour me intrigued as to how this is going to turn out…

Formally a solo project, this second album from Rhine sees founder member Gabriel Tachell joined by a full band to complete ‘An Outsider’. Opening epic ‘Dreaming of Death’ builds slowly, with shades of Townsend in the harsh vocals, and the juddering riffing traces its lineage back to the ‘RUUN’ or ‘ISA’ Enslaved records. ‘An Outsider’ has that tendency, like a lot of progressive metal records, to feel slightly disjointed in places, full of ideas but not all executed quite right. Thankfully, these are few and far between here.

Rhine dash between delicate acoustics, sweeping grandeur and spiralling heavy metal. There’s bluesy organ appearing on the jagged ‘Spell of Dark Water’, the glacial Opeth leanings of the title track, bouncy synths on ‘Prey’ or the enigmatic ‘Paralyzed’. Each song has its share of heavier and quieter moments, and while they all have a similar approach, each is executed well enough to avoid feeling samey. ‘Dissolved in Fire’ has an intro that seems like it was taken from a computer game, but then it crumbles into a sleek riff heavy assault. The almost Mercyful Fate-esque ‘Into the Unknown’ is a late highlight, with the theatrical vocals being particularly impressive.

My only real issue is the length of the album, which stretches over a full 70 minutes. I’ve never really been one for really long records, and ‘An Outsider’ was a little too much all in one go. Take it in pieces, and its much more rewarding. If you’re in the mood for a dazzling spiral of prog metal, then this is it. If not, you might find it a bit of an endurance test.

Chthonic Cult - I Am the Scourge of Eternity

So, a four track, 47 minute record by a band called Chthonic Cult, on Iron Bonehead, with a cover that looks like that? I’m gonna guess its the musical encapsulation of every madness causing entity HP Lovecraft ever dreamt up. Guess what? I wasn’t that far away!

Opener ‘As the Void Beckons’ roars with barely contained rage; a scything death metal blade straight through your heart, vibrating your very soul. As twelve minute opening tracks go, this bucks the trend. No slow build, no overly long samples. Just bloodcurdling death metal, soaked in black metal atmospheres and a vocal that has something vaguely unsettling about it. It barely even slows in its assault, although a menacing chug that makes a few appearances, is pretty badass. When a spacious quiet rears its head after a full nine minutes, the looming dark doom appears.

What Chthonic Cult build within this album, however, is a vast space for this music to breathe. Yeah, there is a razor sharp savagery about each riff, but with the song lengths comes opportunities to grow each song. Take that earth shaking close to the opener where black and doom mesh into a maddening brutality, or the looming insanity of ‘The Abyss Triumphant’, Chthonic Cult build their black/death/doom hybrid with shades of grey, so each mammoth song feels like part of a journey.

The Triptykon like crunch of ‘Asunder!’ seems to portray what Chthonic Cult want to become; a perpetual entity of darkness and brutal existence. The further gestation of this project is going to be very interesting, because with such a definitive debut statement, one wonders where Chthonic Cult will take their next steps. They are defining extremity within dense ritualistic music, creation defined by madness incarnate. ‘I Am the Scourge of Eternity’ is one of the most impressive albums I have come across in recent times, and if you have the time to sink into its dark waters, you’ll find yourself drawn deeper into their crushing infinity.

https://www.facebook.com/chthonic.cult

http://www.ironbonehead.de/

https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com/album/chthonic-cult-i-am-the-scourge-of-eternity

Barbaric Horde - "Gasmask Perpetrators" cover art

Portuguese black metallers Barbaric Horde have unleashed their debut of blashpemic incantations on cassette through War Art Productions. A reassuringly raw and low fi assault on your ear holes, it shows that blackness and evil can come from even the sunniest climates.

Opener ‘Ritual of Sodomy’ clatters with a hypnotic riff and clattering drums, while demonic vocals growl in the most unholy manner. No members are listed on their Encyclopedia Metallum page, so I don’t know even how many people make this primitive racket, but kudos to them for the sheer barbarism of their music. ‘Aborticide Plague’ is dark, raw and utterly fetid.

If you like your Archgoats or Profanaticas, this is a release for you. Approaching almost South American levels of rawness, tracks like the relentless title track, or the slaughterous ‘Superior Baphomet Devotion’ will either thrill you or kill you. Personally, there’s only so much of this kind of primitiveness I can take, but it works well over a shorter release like this. Whether you have the stomach for a full length, we’ll wait and see. Meanwhile, if you like having the flesh seared from your bones by a racket of blasphemous black metal fury, Barbaric Horde is for you. Savage, dark and if it was any rawer you’d send it back!

https://www.facebook.com/War-Arts-Productions-429686763864481

https://war-arts-productions.bandcamp.com/album/barbaric-horde-gasmask-perpetrators

Australia’s Armoured Angel are something of a Southern Hemisphere legend. Australia’s first extreme metal band, and for a long time the only one, Armoured Angel’s four track third demo ‘Communion’ from 1990 is being rereleased by Hell’s Headbangers on vinyl, and it still stands as a true cult favourite.

Opener ‘Castration’ is an instant favourite, building with a chugging riff into a propulsive headbanging anthem. A cross between early death metal favourites like Bolt Thrower with the energy of thrash, the groove is righteous in its power. You can feel that early 90s style straight through the proto death/thrash mix, where early Death meets Exodus. ‘Tergiversator’ thrashes like the finest chunk of Bay Area material, while the roaring vocals hail to the molten death metal thunder of Asphyx.

The skull rattling title track oozes with Teutonic thrash power, and is probably my favourite track here. If you’ve never heard of Armoured Angel, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was some lost B-side from somebody like Kreator or Forbidden. The material is so well written, with battering thrash blending seamlessly into chugging death metal. Closing with the pounding ‘My Fist Your Face’, this release shows you that Armoured Angel seem to be a sadly forgotten band in the rest of the world. With material this strong, they should have been huge. Hopefully this release will garner them new fans and new interest. I’d hate for this release to be missed, because it is fucking superb!

https://hellsheadbangers.bandcamp.com/album/communion

https://www.facebook.com/Armoured-Angel-Official-172838676112407/?fref=ts

Indian thrashers Abaddon have put together this raging debut EP, and you can find it on the Transcending Obscurity distro page. It meshes excellent trad metal riffs with a Bay Area thrash sensibility, and has some fucking kick ass songs on it.

Opening track ‘Terror in the Eyes of God’ opens with a blasphemous sample, and then some nice building riffs. Using some classic 80s thrash licks, you’re hooked into a world where thrash didn’t die and need revived. This is vintage heavy metal, when thrash began to evolve from classics like Maiden and Priest. There’s an eerie Mercyful Fate-esque occult edge to it too, but this is a bit more ‘Killers’-era Maiden than Metallica or Slayer.

There’s some great guitar work at the start of ‘Rise of the Undead’, and ‘Son of Hell’ begins to feel like that missing 80s trad metal/thrash EP that linked everything together. Like Runemaster’s superb ‘Futhark Dawning’ last year, Abaddon are embracing that place where early metal begins to evolve. Where Runemaster went a bit more doom, Abbadon go a bit thrash, like the headbanging ‘Violent Sage’, or the propulsive riffing that opens the catchy ‘Destruction Completes Creation’.

By the time the early Bay Area thrash of ‘Bullet Eye’ rockets past you in a whirl of chugging Exodus worship, mixed with a little dash of doomy atmospheres, ‘Son of Hell’ is over. Thankfully, you can turn it straight back to the start and get right back to it. ‘Son of Hell’ may become my sleeper hit of the year. It combines early thrash with a little bit of Mercyful Fate and first two albums Maiden and creates something that is simply essential.

https://www.facebook.com/abaddonindia

http://tometal.com/store/cds/abaddon-india-son-of-hell-cd/

https://www.facebook.com/transcendingobscurity

I was prompted to write this by a great article on the Somber Lane Blog, written by my good friend Teo from Chiral. Along with his partner in riffs, Rizzo, they put out some great reviews and articles, and are clearly two guys who know their shit and are passionate about what they write about. They’ve put up a piece today about the receiving of physical promos, which I’ll put a link to at the end. I agree with a lot of what they have to say, and I feel like the Killchain should clarify its position on them too.

First off, if you want to send physical promos, they are more than welcome. We also understand that you can’t afford to send out physical promos to every person you want a review or article from. That’s why we have a policy never to request them unless offered. A physical one may jump up the review list due to the fact that a band or label has committed resources to getting our opinions, and we appreciate that in the humblest manner. But we would never expect you to put yourselves out of pocket just for a review. I have read a lot of negativity on social media about how people who want physical promos only are freeloading etc etc, and I wouldn’t want anyone to think that of us here. Trust me, the money I’ve sunk into my record collection, gig tickets and merch, I’m anything but!

The Killchain receives about 5-10 promos a day from various labels, bands and PR companies, and as much as we’d love to cover everything promptly, it is simply not possible. The fact is, I like to write about music that inspires me, and therefore if a record doesn’t, I don’t write about it. That’s also why most reviews at the Killchain are positive, because I don’t have time to write about music that sucks. Heavy metal has been my life for a long time, and writing about it is one of my life’s joys, so it is important to me to spread the word about music that kicks ass.

So, in closing, if you want to send me a physical promo, a stream or a download link, everything is listened to and appreciated, even if I don’t put fingers to keyboard about it. It is humbling to think that people who write the music I love are interested in what I think about it. That’s why the Killchain exists, and that’s why I love supporting the bands who contact me. It is why metal will never die

Read Teo’s article here: https://somberlanemusic.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/physical-promos-policy/

My good friends over at The Sleeping Shaman, where I contribute reviews of the finest doom, is streaming a new High Priest of Saturn song. It is, as you’d expect if you know the band, high quality shit, so get your arse over there and wallow in the dark waters of doom!

HIGH PRIEST OF SATURN Stream New Track ‘Aeolian Dunes’; Svart Records To Release Sophomore Album Next Month