Archive for May, 2016

Caecus - Affliction

The creators of this tsunami of dark and evil music have excelled themselves. ‘Affliction’ sees Caecus make their recorded debut on 7″ through Blood Harvest, and it is a perfect band/label match. The dense, gloomy assault is infectious and invigorating, whilst in no small way totally and utterly visceral.

The furious blackened maelstorm of ‘I’ tears open this three track EP with venomous intent. A cacophonous assault on the senses, Caecus have a vicious, bloody black metal streak that rips at your flesh, while a guttural death metal bellow roars from the deep. The propulsive, relentless crush of ‘II’ has some underlying atmosphere that is just excellent. The first two songs are rapid fire, less that two and a half minute attacks of savage blackened death metal while ‘III’ is a little bit more.

‘III’ is my favourite track here because it possesses a little bit more dynamics, which allows the band to flex its creative muscle more. Sure, the shorter tracks showcase the relentless and savage side, but ‘III’ has this doomier feel; where the beating stops just long enough for you to ponder what is next when sweet death finally arrives. A gloomy, atmospheric piece of blackened doom interrupted by blastbeats is music to my ears. Go buy this now!

Solacide - The Finish Line

Finnish black metallers Solacide have been around since 2004, but their heritage stretches back as far as 1996 as Dim Moonlight. After a couple of EPs, ‘The Finish Line’ marks their official debut album, out now on Via Nocturna.

While following a propulsive, urgent black metal style, Solacide also jam in some excellent progressive moments that really add something to the band material. The emotive solo in opener ‘Of Wolf and Lamb’ is great, and the acoustic moments that pervade a number of the songs is another string in their bow. The black metal elements are harsh but not overly necro, and Solacide follow more of a Gothenburg direction sometimes. The gloomy soar of ‘The Maze’ is one of my personal highlights, as is the slow burning penultimate track ‘Grey’. There’s some rampant Dissection worship in some of these riffs, and a pervasive melancholy lurks in tracks like ‘The Maze’ and ‘The Finish Line’ itself is a potent piece of art.

The graceful title track brings to a close an album of soaring highs and savage lows. Where soaring progressive melody meets nasty black metal primitivism is where Solacide reside; gloomy majesty of the darkness. If you can fit great clean vocal parts into a powerful, black metal album then you’re alright by us.

Cadaveric Fumes - Dimensions Obscure

Sickening French death metal is the order of the day here from Cadaveric Fumes, whose new EP ‘Dimensions Obscure’ belches from your speakers like a Lovecraftian horror from the outer galaxies. It’s out now on Blood Harvest Records on 12″ vinyl and as a digital download.

Opener ‘Crepuscular Journey’ leads out with a hanting piano, before a crash of guitar and a churning death metal assault begins. Dark, dense and impenetrable in parts, Cadaveric Fumes create a swirling void of brutality that sucks you into madness. ‘Extatic Exirpation’ is a bit like if Bolt Thrower did a split with Atheist; strange spacey prog moments meet a devastating rumble of death. Cadaveric Fumes take your standard death metal ideas and approach them from a new angle, coming at them from those obscure dimensions and injecting their riffs with tones that are not of this world.

Cadaveric Fumes come from the place evoked in ‘Where Darkness Reigns Supreme’; the swirling void outside time and space, where death metal is pulled and twisted in all directions. The haunting piano returns, bookended by churning miasma. By the time closer ‘Swallowed into Eternity’ comes to a close, your mind will be muddled, thoughts turning to eldritch insanity and fingers reaching towards the play button, eager to delve into this madness once more. Excellent stuff!

Canadian death metal has always had something a bit odd about it. In fact, Canadian metal overall has always had something a bit strange about it, but the death metal of Gorguts, Cryptopsy et al has stretched that vibe out to other worlds. Progressive death metallers Solinaris are the next to attempt to break out of the death metal sphere with their new record ‘Deranged’, out now on Cimmerian Shade Recordings.

‘Deranged’ is a concept album based around the last thoughts of a serial killer before he dies. The intro follows news reports about said killer, and when the title track kicks in, there is a definite atonal vibe to it. Brutal death metal lurks underneath a jarring tone and a murky production, which judders and thrashes wildly. The music is technical but not overly which allows you to appreciate the bends in the road, between Cynic-esque bass work, saxophone interjections and fractious, guttural rage.

I love it when I get an album like this, a record that I have to spin a number of times to fully appreciate the material within. Each song has so many nuances that your brain needs to really focus on to really ‘get’. The frenzied chugging of ‘Blind’ is a more straightforward highlight, but even that descends into a hellish rabbit hole of prigressive weirdness. It’s difficult to pull out any particular high points because the album works so well as one long fucked up tale. It’s brutal, jazzy, progressive and heavy as fuck, all in one 50 minute release.

Solinaris have released a record that could sit proudly amongst your Pestilence, Cynic or Gorguts albums as an example of how thrillingly different death metal can be when placed in the hands of a band capable of doing it. From pastoral acoustics to jarring death metal chaos, Solinaris are always fascinating.

Hellsworn - Repulsive Existence

UK death metallers Hellsworn are finally getting their classic debut ‘Repulsive Existence’ rereleased on CD! Released on cassette and CD-R by Eldritch Lunar Miasma records in 2014, yours truly has a copy but now it is getting a rerelease  through Underground Movement, it’s definitely time to revisit this hidden gem!

‘Repulsive Existence’ is 20 minutes of filthy, sewage ridden death metal. You can tell immediately that there is a hefty Swedeath influence here, with the title track, and particularly ‘Sons of Serpents’ reeking of classic Grave riffs. It’s relentless, it has that vintage chainsaw buzzing riff style. A guitar tone that you could saw through bone with is always a bonus, and Hellsworn have that nailed absolutely. Mining riffs from the Entombed/Dismember back catalogue but infecting them with their own fetid touch, Hellsworn have created something that balances that fine line between tribute and outright theft.

That is not to say that Hellsworn are mere Entombed clones. No, more that they have a full understanding of what this style means, and how to execute it perfectly. The rusty switchblade of ‘Voices from Beyond the Grave’ goes for the jugular, while the scathing ‘Serial Misanthropy’ is beautiful in its ugly, ragged death metal glory. UK death metal is alive and kicking, and Hellsworn with take their place among new legends like Plague Rider or Live Burial as the new wave. ‘Repulsive Existence’ is everything you need in a death metal record these days; brutal, nasty and heavy as fuck.

Russian death lords Bestial Deform have returned after almost eleven years since their previous record, ‘Stop the Christianity’ in 2005. As with a lot of releases from the great motherland of the east, you find that Russian bands tend to have a more pissed off out look on life, and this appears to translate well into the thunderous chug of death metal. …ad Leones is out now on Satanath Records.

After a suitably moody intro, interspersed with screams and distorted growls, first track proper ‘In Maxillis Bestia’ is a rabid slab of guttural death metal rage. The vocals are particularly good, with a thick gargling growl backing up the chunky riffs. You can tell that the influences of Floridian death metal have definitely made it as far as Russia, with tracks like ‘Sever to Pieces’ and the arse tearing ‘Chariots’ worshipping at the mad altars of Morbid Angel and Deicide. The riffs are superb, and the pure tectonic rumble of ‘Spirit.Rage.Flash’ is a joy to behold.

Bestial Deform combine the blasting power of the likes of Hate Eternal with the uneasy riffing and violence incarnate of Immolation to create something pretty damn good. Their anti-Christianity rhetoric stirs up some genuinely savage parts, and the closing title track is a beauty. Yeah ok, some of the English song titles seem a bit confusing, but it’s a small complaint in a record that is perfectly happy to bludgeon you in the back of the head and drag your corpse off into the void. Blast this loud.

II: Birth & Slaughter cover art

I reviewed the debut tape EP from Necrocracy, cunningly titled ‘I’, recently and was so impressed I jumped straight out to get a copy of their second tape, entitled ‘II: Birth and Slaughter’. This is a band who are really growing on me as a unit, with their particular brand of savage black/death metal mixing the best parts of both genres.

Take opener ‘Ignorant’ for example. It has the propulsive low end of death metal, with a visceral black metal shriek gurgling over the top and a gloomy atmosphere that seeps into every decaying riff and icy passage. Hints of melodies peek through cracks in the murk, teasing respite from the cold, merciless assault. You’re battered relentlessly by the blackened fury of ‘The Broken Limbs of Hope’, until a righteous Bolt Thrower chug appears in the middle and crushes all in its wake.

There’s a more classic black metal influence on ‘II’ than on ‘I’, as if the guys have been spinning some Gorgoroth or Marduk while writing. This is mostly evident on ‘The Lie Within the Truth’, which has some excellent second wave riffs and a bleak, nasty atmosphere about it. The glacial thrash riffs of ‘Reject Them’ leads to the killer closer ‘The Fairground of Birth and Slaughter’, a malevolent tour de force that spins frosty riffs out into a spiralling web of raging Mayhem worship.

Necrocracy make more use of their black metal influences here, and ‘II: Birth and Slaughter’ matches their first demo for quality and surpasses it in songwriting. The last track is particularly good, and I cannot recommend getting a hold of these two releases enough. Necrocracy look to be a band that will be worth keeping a close eye on in the future, and you heard it here first!

Italy seems to have more and more quality metal bands coming out of the woodwork these days than ever before. Meet Abscendent, a potent deaththrash outfit with their debut album ‘Decaying Human Condition’ out now on Revalve Records.

The immediate thought that comes to your mind when opener ‘Penance’ hits your ears is how crisp and precise it seems. There’s a line of hefty, chunky thrash riffs laced with tinges of propulsive death metal, like a thrashier Lamb of God in spots. There’s a touch of modern Destruction in the riffing, and the songs are well written. They’re all pretty long, with ‘Doppelganger’ reaching almost 9 minutes, but they keep the attention which is key. There’s a little bit of sameyness that rears its head every so often, but generally the songs are good with plenty of fist raising moments.

As a modern deaththrash record, ‘Decaying Human Condition’ is a strong piece of work; the songs are all chock full of great riffing and headbanging inducing parts. I think if the band can inject a little bit more in the way of dynamics to the songs that would help improve the overall package, but as a debut ‘Decaying Human Condition’ is very impressive. I look forward to hearing more!

Voix cover art

French experimentalists Aluk Tolodo dropped their latest release, ‘Voix’, in February this year on Norma Evangelium Diaboli in Europe, and it is one of those albums that explores metal as a concept of sound. Fully instrumental, enigmatic song titles merely telling you their length: it comes across immediately that this isn’t going to be an instant fix.

The opener ‘8:18’ is an urgent piece of almost post rock, with a menacing undertone to it. It is building to something, something you can never quite reach, with insistent melodies reaching, grasping upward. The second part shimmers with a glacial, black metal tremolo riff  before descending into a rumbling, tribal place. ‘Voix’ (ironically French for voices) is a flowing piece, split into six tracks but essentially one long 43 minute track. This helps the music a lot because it feels like one long journey.

It is a trance inducing experience, each listen revealing new sounds, notes, tones behind the octopian drumming performance and malevolent drone. There are quieter moments (two minutes into ‘7:01’), moments of obtuse noise intervals, and no small amount of progressive, psychedelic influence. ‘Voix’ is a record that would be ruined with vocals, as the purely instrumental methods allows you to embrace every sound, every texture. Aluk Tolodo have created a piece of musical art here; difficult to process at first but infinitely rewarding with patience.