Archive for June, 2017

Downcast Twilight - Under the Wings of the Aquila

British metallers Downcast Twilight draw their cover aesthetic from classic black metal yet ply a death/folk blend with a distinct Roman theme on ‘Under the Wings of the Aquila’, their 2016 full length on Stygian Crypt Productions. Their debut record takes us back to the greatest civilisation of all, and is a potent mix of folk instrumentation and death metal heaviness.

An almost infectious melodicism pervades each song on ‘…the Aquila’, inserting a healthy dose of catchiness into tracks like the vibrant ‘Soldier of Pompeii’ or the gloomy ‘The Tyrant and the Sage’. A chunky selection of riffs bring to mind some early Lamb of God, as does the vocals in parts, but the folky elements of ‘The Witches of Anglesey’ are more subtle and hidden beneath layers of crunchy, galloping riffs. Ghostly flute lingers behind the superlative ”The Ides of March’, which has more than a dash of Amon Amarth about it. In fact, the pagan fury of the Swedish giants looms large over Downcast Twilight throughout their debut.

‘Death in Alexandria’ might be my favourite track here, or maybe the brutal kick of ‘The Ironclad Legion’, a little bit harsher than some of the others and that really works for me. ‘Under the Wings of the Aquila’ is a record that shows much promise, and Downcast Twilight have got something a little unique and special about them. Symphonic but not overly so, blending folk and death metals together gently into a solid start that builds with each listen. Awesome.

https://www.facebook.com/downcasttwilight/

http://www.stygiancrypt.com/rel_en.php

A world of misery and gloom awaits you inside the new Ever Circling Wolves record, ‘Of Woe’. Shades of black metal scattered over a dense and foreboding death/doom template. I first discovered them on their stunning 2009 record ‘The Silence from Your Room’, but their new record takes them to even greater plains. It is out now on Cimmerian Shade Recordings.

The haunting ‘Coeur’ is an immediate standout, where crushing doom riffs meet death metal ferocity, but it is layered with a lot of haunting melodies, as is the gloomy power of ‘Haunted’. This is a record that plays between its main strengths of massive riffs that feel like cliffs are falling on you, and a more post metal sensibility where melodies, clean vocals and a deft grasp of how space can create excellent music. With a runtime that exceeds an hour, these nuances are very important to ensure that you don’t lose interest.

But it would be difficult to lose interest in an album that is constantly shifting your expectations. At no point are you wondering when it’ll finish, more ‘how much more of this can I get!?’. The glacial opening riffs to ‘Challenger Deep’,  the quirky savagery of ‘Lenore’, the drawn out exhaustion of epic closer ‘These Are Ashes, These are Roots’; all lead you to an inexorable collapse where you gasp for air and beg for more. ‘Of Woe’ is an album that towers above most, enschewing the obvious for a path less travelled, and getting it totally right on the journey.

https://cimmerianshaderecordings.bandcamp.com/album/of-woe-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-gloom

https://www.facebook.com/ecwdoom/

Gnarly doom trio Tood are one of those bands that, when you first hear them, you wonder how they haven’t exploded already. Their debut self titled EP has all the fuzzed out rumbling groove that any self respecting Sabbath worshipper could want. If you are lucky enough to grab one of the cassette copies that Carvetii Productions have got, it adds to the gloriously old school vibe oozing from your speakers.

Opener ‘Gaffer Tape’ is like the soundtrack to some ancient, murky horror movie. The fuzzed guitar tone takes you into dark occult territories while a touch of early Cathedral in the vocals and psychedelic vibes loom throughout. ‘Discordant Method’ drives us onward towards the endtimes, aching riffs soak you in darkness and a mysterious bloodlust rises. The twisting, enchanting ‘The Bastard’ provides the most graceful of psychedelic freakouts before the churning ‘Schweinhacker’ brings us to a close.

If Tood were around when the first evolutionary steps of heavy metal were taken, they would be revered as legends by now. Their sound is vintage, enthralling and insistent. ‘Tood’ is a new favourite of mine; a deceptively heavy, simple journey to the dark mystical heart of heavy metal. Lead us to our doom, for doom this is

http://carvetiiproductions.bigcartel.com/product/carvetii-productions-cassette-releases

https://www.facebook.com/toodmusic/

Hailing from sunny Portugal’s renowned raw black metal scene, Cripta Oculta have unleashed their fourth dose of ravenous, blackened medicine for us to gorge ourselves upon. Out now on Signal Rex, prepare yourselves for ‘Lost Memories’, and the evil which is to come!

The haunting organ that leads ‘Mistérios do Sangue’ out from its blackened altar gives it a more authentic feeling of eldritch occultness than anything else could’ve. It builds the anticipation for what is to come, which is a blazing flow of fearsome rawness and lo-fi hatred. ‘Uma Noite de Trevas’ is harsh, abrasive but bleak and mournful in parts. It isn’t just raw musically; like an emotional wound reopening, ‘Lost Memories’ drags you into an oppressive mire of depression and heartlessness. The hopeless shriek of ‘A Dança do Fado Negro’ personifies everything you can take from this ode to darkness, cold and endless death.

Drawing deep from pagan wells of raw pain and suffering, Cripta Oculta’s black metal is a lonely, feral beast that snarls from abysses unknown. Signal Rex have brought Cripta Oculta to the surface of the shifting, murky underground and allowed their particular sound to be heard. Cold, harsh and utterly enthralling.

https://signalrex.bandcamp.com/album/s-t

http://www.signalrex.com/

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Greek death metallers Gravewards have dropped their debut EP ‘Subconscious Lobotomy’ on cassette tape, and it is four tracks of brutality conjuring the spirits of Morbid Angel, Obituary and even little dashes of Scandinavian nastiness too. If rabid darkness is your thing, then you’ll find a lot to enjoy here.

‘Casket Entrapment’ opens with a gloriously old school riff before a pained roar shattered the air guitaring calm. The chugging riffs are particularly good, but the real highlights are the mounrful melodies tucked behind the ferocity. There’s something a little dark, a little sad looming behind the towering ‘Crawling Chaos’, while the scathing title track draws inspiration from the void of Floridian death strongly. Vocally there’s a lot going on, with more standard growls interchanging with gurgling belches in places.

By the time the frantic ‘Deathwomb Incubation’ brings us to a juddering halt, it is clear that Gravewards are going to be a fun prospect for the future. Their brand of death metal has all kinds of nuances to look for but most importantly it is heavy as fuck, and will leave you broken but demanding more!

https://www.facebook.com/Gravewards/

 

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This is the second full length from Catalonian crushers Morbid Flesh, and you could be forgiven for suggesting that their lack of subtlety in band name, cover art or style means a lack of originality too. Not so, for ‘Rites of the Mangled’ is a hard hitting death metal album that doesn’t need to hide behind a facade of ‘OLD SKOOL’ nonsense. Their death metal is pure, brutal and straight to the point.

Opener ‘The Circle Cursed’ is a steamroller of a song, with massive riffs flattening everyone in reach. Like Bolt Thrower, but wider! Waves of brutal death metal cascade over you on ‘Rites of the Mangled’; aiming directly at your temple with a deadly accuracy. ‘Heretic’s Hammer’ slides some good Entombed moments in, with a swaying groove highlighted by howling leads. Vocally it is relatively straightforward, but the deep growls match the music perfectly. As the cold melodies about 4 minutes into ‘Feeding Mallows’ strikes you, it’ll send shivers through you.

Unholy Prophecies has a burgeoning reputation for finding excellent bands to release, and Morbid Flesh are proving to be another. A band not be held back by notions of ‘progression’, or ‘experimentation’, ‘Rites of the Mangled’ is a gauntlet thrown down to others as if to say ‘Let’s see what you can do’. Most will crumbleunder the pressure. Buy this now!

https://www.facebook.com/MorbidFlesh/

https://unholyprophecies.bandcamp.com/track/circle-cursed

http://www.unholyprophecies.com/

Edinburgh based death/doom newcomers Wolf Sermon have got their 2016 demo out on cassette now through the always reliable Carvetii Productions. This is four slabs of dense, savage and dark metal for those of us drawn to the Asphyx/Autopsy axis of death metal. Be prepared for a couple of surprises though.

‘Pagan Skin’ rides out with a vicious, chugging Swedish death buzz to its riffing, while a strong Asphyx vibe laces its way through. Dark melodies are woven into each monolithic riff, bringing it above your standard Autopsy clone fare. It’s that sense of melody that lifts the superb ‘Violent Art’ into the realms of greatness; where mournful lead guitar meets crushing bass riffs and howling growls. When a band makes sure on their DEMO to do things a little differently to stand out, that’s a potential marker for future greatness.

Anyone who enjoys great, heavy music can appreciate the shifting sands of ‘Pillars of Vengeance’, but Wolf Sermon plant little nuances within each track that only enhances your joy at the pure spirit of their demo. Wrap that up in a tasteful cassette package from Carvetii and I’m frankly embarassed I’ve only just come across this now, because I love this shit. Grab a copy as soon as possible!

https://wolfsermonmetal.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/wolfsermon/

http://carvetiiproductions.bigcartel.com/store