Archive for September, 2016

Winterlore’s new, self titled, album is the second for these American black metallers, who have developed and pursued an unhealthy obsession with second wave, Nowegian black metal stylings. This is no way a bad thing, but it pretty much sums up what you can expect. The album artwork is very cool though. It’s out now on Slaughterhouse Records.

Opener ‘In the Frozen Forest’ has swirling winds, scathing frostbitten riffs and a dry as dust production, coupled with primal rasping shrieks. But within a couple of minutes, you realise ‘who the fuck needs originality’ when bands are capable of enhancing the blueprints with this kind of quality. Sure it feels derivative on the surface, but with repeated listens the icy bleakness becomes a home, a shell in which to huddle from the darkness. Cut the veins of ‘Spires of Ascension’ and Darkthrone and old Satyricon will bleed out, while the expansive moments in ‘Lands of Boreal Suspension’ are pure Burzum-esque.

Whether burning at fiery speed, or sprawling majestically over snowy forests, Winterlore’s take on classic black metal is both enjoyable and evocative. Whilst not taking us anywhere new, Winterlore’s frozen landscapes are old friends that were due a visit. Cold, savage and thrillingly old school, ‘Winterlore’ is a record that will keep long time black metallers warm at night.

http://winterlore.bandcamp.com/

http://slaughterhouserex.storenvy.com/

https://www.facebook.com/winterlore

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Mark Riddick’s work is synonymous with underground death metal, and his latest venture with Fetid Zombie is no different. Decidedly old school, this is a death metal record that encapsulates everything you could want in something that praises the darkest beasts of death and decay. It is out in November on Transcending Obscurity.

It becomes difficult for me, after a while, when I review all these high quality death metal records, to find new and interesting ways of describing my thoughts on this music. But ‘Lowered Beneath’ opens a record that gives me few such qualms, with its sharp melody line leading straight into a bass-led deathly rumble. Instantly recognisable vocals belch from ancient caverns, while the guitar lines are complex and entwine with obvious bass guitar work. I always enjoy it when the bass guitar is front and centre in places, it reminds me of Death, Atheist and the like. The solo work is stellar as well, but it takes nothing away from the morbid crawl.

‘Devour the Virtuous’ and ‘Devour the Innocent’ are both cut from the same, diseased cloth. The guitar tone is thick, the edges are rusty and pestilence-ridden and the rabid, raw growls drag you to hell. There is however gloomy melody hidden in there somewhere, bringing to mind the gloom of early Paradise Lost or Amorphis. This isn’t a defiantly one dimensional record; there’s moments of an occult haze that creep in, particularly in the centre of ‘Devour the Innocent’.

In order to write music that stretches to almost ten minutes a track, you need to keep people focused. Fetid Zombie sound as if they’d be a simple smash and grab death metal band, but their music is complex, dark and terribly varied. Another example of why 2016 is turning out to be a banner year for the most heavy of music. This is awesome.

https://www.facebook.com/fetidzombie/

http://fetidzombiedm.bandcamp.com/

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The debut full length from Greek Power/speed/thrash/heavy metal types Saboter, the ominously titled ‘Mankind is Damned’, is painted in lurid colours on its Repka-esque cover art. From that, you would certainly assert that the human race is indeed under threat, but mainly in this case from the razor sharp hooks of this record!

Opener ‘Purifier’ could be a lost cut from ‘Painkiller’, and the rather obvious Judas Priest influence continues throughout, but the guitar melodies are excellent and each song is catchy as hell. Saboter is clearly set on vintage heavy metal as its biggest influence, but there’s definitely some American style power metal theatrics in there too. The grandiose ‘Marching Death’ has it all, acoustics build into a progressive, almost Maiden-like piece with style, as is the galloping ‘Impaler’. There’s rife NWOBHM notes, from Jaguar to Angel Witch, but there’s something intangibly brilliant about ‘Ghost in the Machine’, and I’m feeling some Iced Earth from it too.

That’s the joy of Saboter. They bring pleasures of classic heavy metal into the modern world, while adding little bits of more contemporary power metal and thrash elements. ‘Sacred Catalyst’ could’ve dropped off the edge of Iced Earth’s first few records, but Saboter’s personal stamp is all over this record. The music is excellent, the songs are catchy as hell, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every heavy metal second of it!

http://witchesbrewthrashes.bandcamp.com/

http://www.witchesbrewthrashes.eu/

https://www.facebook.com/saboterGR

Witch's Oath cover art

Virginian fuzzed out doomsters Mindkult’s debut EP ‘Witch’s Oath’ is out now on Caligari Records and is four tracks of superb, ethereal doom tracks that rumbles along with laid out groove and simply lush vocals. When you hear the maturity of songwriitng here, you’ll be amazed it is a one man project.

Opener ‘King and Priest’ has this awesome swaying groove and a ghostly croon that is immediately infectious, bringing to mind a lighter Electric Wizard. A soulful bluesy solo punctures the fuzz in a stand out moment, as is the gloriously stoner riff that propulses the stomping title track. The Kyuss influence runs deep within Mindkult, but this no mere stoner copycat. The riff melodies are superb, and the creepy groove in ‘Serpent’s Nest’ is something I keep going back to.

Mindkult look to traverse that hazy, desert land armed with riffs of steel and a set of vocals that’ll soothe the fiercest of dust devils. This is music to lay back and appreciate the cosmos to. Closer ‘Chief of Devils’ has the finest riff here, and closes out what will surely rank as one of the best doom releases I’ll review this year.

https://mindkult.bandcamp.com/

https://caligarirecords.bandcamp.com/album/witchs-oath

Into Coffin - Into a Pyramid of Doom

Terror from Hell Records have unearthed this underground gem from Germany, the mysterious Into Coffin and their debut full length ‘Into a Pyramid of Doom’. A traditional and almost ‘old school’ death/doom album, this deathly trio have created something unearthly and funereal here.

Opener ‘The Entrance’ is a spacey, eerie instrumental that builds this feeling of something outside our space, our awareness. Feedback hums into focus, with a density not far behind it. Building into the galactic crushing force of ‘Stargate Path’, a powerful rumbling slab of death metal that slows into a monolithic wall of riff. Speaking of monoliths, the vast title track is almost a perfect blueprint of how to create a death/doom song. First you take some crushing sloooooow riffs, then inject a bit of death metal brutality, then mix carefully with quality songwriting and unholy growls. Extend for 17 minutes, and repeat.

‘Into a Pyramid of Doom’ is a big, powerful piece of musical art. Death/doom by nature is repetitive, slow and inexorably heavy, but Into Coffin keep things moving with a sense of scale, dexterity and self awareness. Despite the likes of ‘The Deep Passage for the Infinity of the Cosmos’ stretching well over 17 minutes, at no point does the music lose its potency, its drive or its focus. It is focused on hammering you into the ground, crushing you under gravitational forces too big to comprehend and leaving you for dead. The other dimensional creatures featured on the album art are waiting out there for your death, and this album is the sound of their laughter, their madness, their thirst.

https://www.facebook.com/IntoCoffin

http://www.tfhrecords.com/terrorfromhell/intro/

Reborn In Blasphemy cover art

The most famous ‘scenes’ in metal mainly come from Scandinavia, Germany, the US and the UK. But metal is a worldwide commodity, and more and more there have been excellent bands in all genres coming from Italy. Home of the Roman Empire, cultural influence that has spread across the globe, great food, great people and some of the most exciting metal in years. Gargoyle are set to be the next name chiselled onto the Italian scene’s grand marble wall of achievements.

Despite taking their name from classic Dismember, Gargoyle are decidedlyy doom in their offerings, and their self released ‘Reborn in Blasphemy’ debut is being rereleased by Shadow Kingdom Records in October with a bonus track on cassette. Opener ‘The Lord of the Tentaculars’ has that familiar Italian doom feel; ancient, moss covered riffs hiding something most sinister and dark. Odd vocals convey both the madness and horrors of the music within, where blasphemous creatures lie waiting for their deaths. It is instantly unsettling.

The pervasive gloom of ‘The Highlander’ has more than a touch of early Sabbath and Pentagram about it, while strange incantations loom over the rumbling riffs. It’s like the soundtrack to some 70s horror movie, where you don’t really understand what is causing the fear, but it is tangibly there. The tolling bell of ‘Lady Dead’ leads in with an excellent, seasick riff, coupled with shapeshifting vocals that switch between a rasping growl and a melancholic moan. This is doom in its purest form, creating dark and unsettling fear and misery.

Gargoyle’s debut is an excellent example of not only Italian doom, but the genre’s most primal inspirations. Dark, dense and fear inducing, ‘Reborn in Blasphemy’ is a birth indeed, of something eldritch and mysterious.

https://www.facebook.com/gargoylehorror/?fref=ts

https://gargoylehorror.bandcamp.com/releases

http://gargoylehorror.bigcartel.com/

http://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/

http://shadowkingdomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/reborn-in-blasphemy

Night Demon - Night Demon

Holy shit, Night Demon are superb. Sorry, I’ve jumped straight to the end of the review here. An upstart Californian trio playing classic NWOBHM with energy and aplomb, their self titled debut will be rereleased by Shadow Kingdom Records on cassette at the end of October, and it looks great!

Opener ‘Night Demon’ is one of the most infectious pieces of heavy metal you’ll hear all year, inspiring fists in the air instantly. All the way through this, you’ll feel out of place without your patch vest, your hands cramping instinctively into the horns, and within two or threew listens, you’ll be singing along. The more reserved ‘The Chalice’ is pure Angel Witch worship, but dashes of classic Maiden, Diamond Head (whose ‘Lightning to the Nations’ is covered here, along with a superb Jaguar cover too), and others leads to a record of energy, of purest spirit.

‘Ancient Evil’ gallops with killer hooks, while ‘Ritual’ instantly feels like a live classic, before you even hear the live version later on in this tape. Night Demon channel the ghosts of the most raw, most primal moments of heavy metal, combining those vintage melodies with a youthful vigour that is excellent. This tape is going to get worn out when I get a copy, and you should definitely invest. A tribute to the days when metal was simpler, and better!

http://shadowkingdomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/night-demon

http://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/

https://www.facebook.com/nightdemonband/?fref=ts

http://www.nightdemon.net/