Archive for February, 2018


Australian funeral doom legends (yeah, I said it, LEGENDS!) Mournful Congregation are here to present their latest full length record, almost 6 years since the staggering ‘Book of Kings’. ‘The Incubus of Karma’ is yet another pillar on their majestic palace of misery and crushing depression, and reasserts them as the kings of funereal doom and sadness. It is out on the 23rd March through Osmose Productions.

I’ve never really been sure what pushes Mournful Congregation out in front when it comes to this genre. Yeah of course they have the massive riffs, dirging melodies and throat destroying growls. They also can handle acoustic sombreness, as the title track to their new record attests. But they have this intangible something that makes them so special. Shivers will run through you during the cyclopean ‘Whispering Spiritscapes’, which oozes with classic My Dying Bride-isms, while the ‘oncoming storm’ feeling of the titanic ‘Scripture of Exaltation and Punishment’ is both exhilarating and terrifying. Mournful Congregation have perfected the art of truly massive music; each riff is glacial in its icy vastness, each roar is voidspeak, each song is a journey.

At an hour and twenty minutes, this is not a record that flits past quickly. This is monstrous, addictive and utterly spellbinding. Mournful Congregation continue to build upon a legacy of essential albums; a gloomy shadow that covers all bands who seek to follow. They will forever remain atop this mountain, for they are the deathless kings of funeral doom.


The longest running death metal band in Italy, Horrid’s fifth full length ‘Beyond the Dark Border’ is another step out of the shadows of European underground death metal. Crushing the opposition since 1989, Horrid dropped this early last year on Dunkelheit Productions, but don’t let it pass you by. This is a dynamic, traditional death metal record that pulls no punches and builds upon a timeless sound.

Opener ‘The Black March’ is a thick, crunchy riff machine that rumbles with devastating power. You can sense the underlying Bolt Thrower influences, but there’s also a lot of subtle pieces of melody that really strike me, such as the eastern parts of ‘Cursed Dunes’ that evoke Nile’s more straightforward moments. Echoes of Celtic Frost resound throughout the full record, and other European death metal styles are equally present in places, such as the Demigod-esque ‘The Statement’. The songwriting is solid, the performance is flawless and the atmospheres are morbid without being overbearing in murk.

‘Beyond the Dark Border’ is a record that will help you fall in love with old fashioned death metal once more. A love letter to the finer, simpler days of early 90s death, when riffs were heavy, vocals were brutal and death was death. Awesome shit.

To put it out there that you are influenced by the likes of Mayhem, Joy Division, Pink Floyd and Morbid Angel is to invite a curious glance or two. But Morvigor are approaching their black/death metal a little differently obviously, and that should be applauded. Their new record, ‘Tyrant’ isn’t your average extreme metal record. Come with me on a journey through time and space…

First track proper ‘No Repentance’ kicks us off after a gloomy intro with building clean guitar then a crusty black metal riff kicks in hard. It is instantly catchy, and loses nothing of its necro charm in the process. Massive melody aches to burst through the blackened exterior, while ‘The Martyr’s Ascension’ builds to this crescendo where dashes of post metal appear too. Morvigor seem to be capturing extremity in its modern form, where the old fashioned ‘rawness’ of black metal competes with more progressive influences to create something invigorating.

Pushing through the doors opened by the likes of Enslaved, Morvigor take the traditions of black metal, beef it up with the power of death metal but then take it into uncharted territory, where the melody and the space is as important as the heaviness or the savagery. The delicate strums of ‘Interlude’ lead us to the magnificent, galaxial movements of ‘Blood of the Pelican’, which ascends beyond our comprehension through glacial melody, galloping black metal grandiosity and soaring atmospheric black metal space.

This record is huge. Vast swathes of black space are combed in search of that elusive quality that Morvigor possess in spades. By the time the Primordial worship of the title track comes to its piano laden end, you’ll have witnessed some of the finest music put to tape in the past year. ‘Tyrant’ is wondrous.

Sacrilegious Rite - Summoned from Beyond

Germany black/death metal group Sacrilegious Rite formed from the ashes of black metallers Capitis Damnare, and their debut full length ‘Summoned from Beyond’ comes on the heels of a couple of splits and an EP. Dunkelheit Productions handled this one, and it is a record that rekindles ancient black magicks within raw and heaving darkness.

‘Missa Nigra’ sets the scene with a crackling fire, ritualistic chants and segues sleekly into ‘Sacrilegious Rite’, a blazing torrent of fiery black metal coated in choking smoke and fog. There are ominous pealing church bells, haunting slow sections that ramp up the creepy aspects while not taking away from the faster sections. Like some maddening ritual to coax dark beasts into our world, Sacrilegious Rite command both fury and tempting, cold melody as their weapons. Sure, the foggy layer draped over each song allows a certain mystical quality but underneath beats a cold heart of icy black/death. The fire breathing ‘In Absence of Light’ is my highlight, as it builds to a grand dark offering to the gods of evil.

Sacrilegious Rite bring together the best parts of black and death metal, wreathe it in ritualistic smoke and fog then add incredible songwriting talents to create a record that will be lurking around the ‘best of records we missed last year’ lists. ‘Summoned from Beyond’ is a ravager, and a must hear.

Rotheads - Sewer Fiends

Romanian death metallers Rotheads have emerged from the dense, ugly underground to bring us their debut full length, ‘Sewer Fiends’. In a stunning turn of events, this is yet another high quality record released by Memento Mori Records, which is frankly becoming THE label for underground death metal to be heard and appreciated. ‘Sewer Fiends’ is out now.

As you could guess from the artwork, this is a record dragged from the depths of sludgey, slimy death metal filth. The opening title track has the kind of guitar tone that feels like it has been steeping in fetid waste for years, and the creeping melodies that lurk beneath are disturbing. This is chaotic, disgusting metal of death; the kind that you’d find dredging a swamp. ‘From the Glowing Goo Rise’ has that kind of crawling chaos vibe about it, a monstrous rumble echoes throughout while cavernous roars belch vile incantations. There’s a reek of ancient Finnish death, like Demigod or even a hint of the likes of Grave in there too.

It all comes to a writhing, miasmic head in the megalithic ‘The Mad Oracle of Seweropolis’, a near eleven minute opus of swampy, Autopsy worshipping death metal of the highest order, punctured only briefly in places by islands of eerie melody. ‘Sewer Fiends’ is a magnificent accomplishment, where Rotheads have immediately dropped a potentially future classic with their first full length. Murky, mouldy and morbid, this is truly special.


Image result for mastermind tyranny

‘Mastermind Tyranny’ is the third album from Italian gothic/symphonic metallers Eternal Silence. Now, I’ve not reviewed much of this style here over the years, as it is a genre I kind of fell out of love with about 10 years ago after sickening myself on it, but I thought I should dive back in here with this after hearing a couple of tracks online. ‘Mastermind Tyranny’ was released back in October through Sliptrick Records

Opener ‘Lucifer’s Lair’ is the kind of catchy, European power metal you’d expect, full of soaring choral melodies and dramatic symphonics. The vocal interplay is well done, and it doesn’t fall into the classic ‘growly male/operatic female’ cliche which is refreshing. In fact, the duelling vocals create some of the most epic moments, like in the soaring ‘Adagio’ or the grandiose ‘Foreign Land’. There are the odd misstep, (the somewhat bland ‘The First Winter Night’ comes to mind), and the record does feel a little long in places, but these are minor quibbles.

‘Mastermind Tyranny’ is a pretty good record, full of hooky modern gothic metal tunes. I suppose your enjoyment of this will depend a lot on your feelings about the ‘symphonic/female fronted/gothic’ metal tags. If you approach Eternal Silence with an open mind, you’ll find a good band with a lot of solid songwriting and some seriously catchy tunes. It’s time we laid those preconceptions to bed and enjoyed it for what it is; a fine, well written record.