Archive for April, 2018

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With a name like Greystone Canyon, and an album cover like that, you’d be forgiven for expecting ‘While the Wheels Still Turn’ to be a country rock album. And while there is definitely a soulful southern twang throughout, there’s plenty of chunky slabs of classic heavy metal throughout. Released in March through Rockshot Records, it is a good change of pace from all the black/death I have been listening to recently.

‘Astral Plane’ is the kind of modern heavy metal/hard rock you can expect through. The theme is, obviously, the band’s love of the Old West, and so the additions of the kind of Western movies twangs makes them stand out immediately. The music is actually pretty solid, with a couple of soulful gems (‘Path We Stray’ and the smooth closer ‘The Sun Sets’ in particular) and the likes of ‘In These Shoes’ has a killer solo too. This isn’t just your radio friendly rock and roll; there’s enough of an edge for modern metal fans to get a kick out of it. ‘Take Us All’ is a pretty badass metal song, and despite the odd softer rock misstep (‘River of Fire’ just isn’t for me), ‘While the Wheel Still Turns’ is pretty good hard rock.

Sometimes us metalheads needs something a little softer, a little more ear friendly, and Greystone Canyon are just that. The Western theme gives them a unique hook, and their songs have enough of a heaviness to them that it isn’t simply the ‘new Nickelback’ kind of shit. ‘While the Wheels Still Turn’ has a soulful groove and some nice soloing to give it that heavy metal cred, and is worth a listen.

https://www.facebook.com/greystonecanyon

http://www.rockshots.eu/

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LA death/thrashers Transcendence are due to release their debut full length later this year through Blood Harvest, so the label has released their late 2017 digital release ‘Hour of the Summoning’ on cassette in preparation. Hopefully the grimness rearing its head here bodes well for their full length!

As the title track hits you square in the face, you get a very proto-death metal feel like Possessed or very early Death. The gurgling vocals and double kicks drive this deep into death metal territory, but the killer solos betray that thrashy influence. ‘The Nocturnal Dwelling’ is a clattering death rattle, where blastbeats reign as a triumphant backdrop to some truly superb guitar work. If you don’t find yourself immediately air guitaring to the awesome start to ‘Mutilating Accursed Souls’, before banging your head in appreciation of the crushing primal death that follows, then frankly you are probably dead inside.

Transcendence have found and worshipped at the old altars of early death metal, where thrash was the main ingredient. Their death metal credentials are enhanced by the sheer raw brutality of some of these tracks, and ‘Hour of the Summoning’ is a tasty appetiser for what is to come. I look forward to more from these guys, as this is great stuff.

https://transcendence69.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/transcendencedeathmetalofficial

http://www.bloodharvest.se/

https://bloodharvestrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hour-of-the-summoning

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Lurking deep in the Finnish underground, Black Mass Pervertor have a new record out at the moment through Blood Harvest Records called ‘Life Beyond the Walls of Flesh’, and it is another example of how vital and exhilarating digging into the obscure underground music scene can be. This is really old school black metal stuff!

‘Life Beyond the Walls of Flesh’ takes much influence from early Impaled Nazarene and Behexen, and opener ‘Imbibing the Seas of Darkness’ has a bestial, crawling rawness about it. The guitar tone is prime black metal, a buzzing drone coated in an oily atmosphere of dread that gets kicked up into high gear in the grinding ‘The Golden Spears’. Black Mass Pervertor don’t hang around; the seven songs here barely make up twenty minutes, but none of it is wasted movement. Their brand of black metal is fiery, bestial and ‘Unorthodox Methods of Magick’ summons a gloomy occultism too.

Ancient, traditional black metal magics rise from ‘Life Beyond the Walls of Flesh’, mixing Celtic Frost (complete with ‘uhhs’) and early Venom with a colder, more Finnish black metal attitude. Black Mass Pervertor are almost, well, fun, in a Satanic and evil sort of way. ‘Life Beyond the Walls of Flesh’ is grand, and you should make an effort to listen to this.

https://www.facebook.com/blackmassperv

https://bloodharvestrecords.bandcamp.com/album/life-beyond-the-walls-of-flesh

https://blackmasspervertor.bandcamp.com/

http://www.bloodharvest.se/

The reissue of seminal Cleveland metallers Black Death’s lone full length from 1984 is cause for much celebration. For one thing, Hells Headbangers has introduced me to this band, that I had never heard of, and their fascinating story about being the first ‘all-black’ metal band. Most importantly, it is to be celebrated that this record gets a new audience, because it is totally killer. You couldn’t ask for a better encapsulation of pre-thrash 1980s heavy metal than this.

I’m not going to reference the members’ skin colour again, because frankly it really doesn’t contribute anything to the review of their music, but if anything it shows that heavy metal can inject itself into the soul of any race, religion or person. ‘Black Death’ opens with the galloping ‘Night of the Living Death’, that breathes with a fiery ‘Killers’-era Iron Maiden vibe, and proceeds to travel through a whole range of styles. You want a soulful, bluesy ballad? Try ‘When Tears Runs Red’ on for size, as frontman Siki Spacek croons over a Sabbathian groove. You want doomy heavy metal thunder? Try the King Diamond-esque ‘Fear No Evil’. You want classic heavy metal turned up to ELEVEN? Try the whole goddamn album. ‘Scream of the Iron Messiah’ is probably the best track here, possessed by the spirits of Diamond Head, Iron Maiden and Angel Witch.

Black Death are still out there, as Black Death Resurrected, and Iron Fist Magazine did a great article on them in issue 20 if you want to learn more. All you need to know about this record is that it is an absolute old school heavy metal gem. I got myself one immediately after the first listen, and you all should too.

https://www.facebook.com/BlackDeathResurrected/

https://black-death.bandcamp.com/

http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/

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Thai death metallers Shambles first appeared on my radar at the end of 2016 with their terrifying ‘Realm of Darkness Shrine’ full length (reviewed here), and now they have vomited forth more aural devastation in the form of their new record, ‘Primitive Death Trance’. Released in February on Blood Harvest, it is four more tracks of cacophonous carnage.

Opener ‘Daemon’ crawls forth from the sewage with a lumbering, sludgey evilness before kicking it up a gear. Layering the devastation with absolutely morbid vocals, Shambles are unbearably heavy and disgusting. Their music is about as DEATH/DOOM as there can be, rumbling primitive riffs and inhuman growls. ‘Dismal Pantheons’ is a wind tunnel of shambling, Autopsy worshipping, churning misery. Just when you feel that the riffs are scraping the bottom of the abyssal depths, they go deeper. This is the kind of metal that is birthed in the deepest recesses of the earth, where frothing magma meets the inexorable pressure of the ocean.

‘Primitive Death Trance’ is the kind of music that can define a genre. You won’t hear much this year that is heavier, more crushingly doom nor something that is so virulently savage and violent. This is no illusion of the void, you are staring directly into the black abyss and you are hearing the voices on what lies beneath. Unbelievably great stuff here, cannot recommend it enough.

https://bloodharvestrecords.bandcamp.com/album/primitive-death-trance

https://www.facebook.com/Shambles-635468059850975/?ref=ts

http://www.bloodharvest.se/

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So, when the blurb for a record comes into my email proclaiming that this is not music, these are not songs, these are ‘expressions of the unconscious’, my interest is immediately piqued. ‘To the Great Monolith I’ is the debut of Death.Void.Terror, and Iron Bonehead Productions are releasing this at the start of May. Come with me now on a journey through darkness and the subliminal.

The first track is a mammoth 24 minutes, and opens with a menacing droning, complete with the odd scream from distant abyssal plains. A sort of dissonant, evil thrumming oozes from my speakers, and the intensity starts to build from there. Waves of dense, bleak feedback squalls over your ears as shrieks plummet through darkened clouds into this miasma laid out in front of me. You get flashes of black metal, blasting and screaming, but the main aim of this appears to be to drag your innermost demons out through your ears, in the medium of blackened drone/dark ambient.

The harrowing second track does just that; a cacophonous, clashing monster of sound that will probably haunt you for a long long time. Rasping screams howl from yawning chasms of sheer, abysmal torment. ‘To the Great Monolith I’ certainly explores parts of your psyche you didn’t know were there, and are now probably irreparably damged. Hugely challenging but the sheer nihilistic exhilaration is worth the experience.

http://www.ironbonehead.de/

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For a blackened thrash band to be reaching their 30th anniversary is impressive, and the 10th full length from Pennsylvanian legends Sathanas is cause for celebration. ‘Necrohymns’ is pretty much everything you have come to expect from these flagbearers, and it will be released in July on Transcending Obscurity Records, proving once again that label head honcho Kunal knows quality metal when he hears it.

After 30 years Sathanas don’t fuck around with pleasantries, diving straight in with the mid paced chug double whammy of ‘At the Left Hand of Satan’ and ‘Of Wrath and Hellfire’. The guitar tone is nasty, the vocals are savage, the streak of melody is epic. Sometimes blackened thrash can be all hundred-miles-an-hour battering with no substance underneath. Not ‘Necrohymns’. This is an album that appreciates the measured approach, where nuanced Immortal/mid-era Darkthrone meets the Bay area chug in a superb clash. The galloping ‘Harbinger of Death’ is magic, while the devastating ‘Sacramentum’ is a reminder that they might be older, but there’s no blunting of the edge.

‘Necrohymns’ is an old school extreme metal record, nothing fancy, nothing ‘trendy’, just a commitment to great songwriting, great riffs and a palpable authenticity that flows like lightning through each song. Sathanas are legends, but it is a truly justified tag. Time for some real recognition

https://www.facebook.com/sathanasmetal/

https://tometal.com/

https://sathanas.bandcamp.com/