Archive for January, 2019

Skyclad wayward.jpg

After I don’t know how many years of not owning this record, I finally got a hold of a copy of the first (?) ever folk metal record from British heroes Skyclad. ‘The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth’ is a genre defining and iconic record, and may have never been bettered by the hundreds of bands it spawned. I picked up the 2017 deluxe release, and after 18 years, does it still give the same chills?

Simply, yes. ‘The Sky Beneath My Feet’ immediately buries itself deep into your memory, with the influences of their lineage from Sabbat and Satan coming through strongly. Ostensibly a British thrash record, what would germinate into folk metal begins to show face in the now famous ‘The Widdershins Jig’, but the galloping heavy metal of ‘Trance Dance (A Dreamtime Walkabout)’ burns with Martin Walkyier’s snarl. Even if it hadn’t birthed folk metal, Skyclad would have at minimum added another classic to the uneven lineage of British thrash. The killer ‘Our Dying Island’ is my favourite, but it is pushed very close by ‘Cradle Will Fall’. ‘The Widdershins Jig’ is the iconic folk metal seed, but as much credit can go to ‘Moongleam and Meadowsweet’ as well for its acoustic folk laden melodies.

On the face of it, the actual ‘folk metal’ credentials of ‘Wayward Sons of Mother Earth’ are mostly limited to the one or two songs, the cover and the legacy it began. The likes of ‘The Silent Whales of Lunar Sea’ and ‘Jonah’s Ark’ definitely embraced the folk more, but you would be a fool to discount what this record means. The source of an embryonic idea, but also one of the finest and quirkiest thrash records to escape from this isle.

https://www.facebook.com/officialskycladpage/

http://www.skyclad.band/

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Membrance - Morality's Colapse

I reviewed Membrance’s 2017 record ‘Abyss’ here, and it was a solid if a little by the numbers old school death metal. Their new record, ‘Morality’s Collapse’ comes barely a year later and looks to build on the work they made on their debut. It is out through Envenomed Music.

This album feels like an instant upgrade on Membrance’s last one, as the first song ‘Wander in Ghostown’ hits hard with a solid death metal riff rampaging through it, as well as featuring an awesome Jurassic Park sample too. The songs feel tighter, with a more focused assault now and a little more variety. The jarring ‘Poveglia’ is full of interesting moments, and in fact you’d struggle to find a moment throughout where you aren’t banging your head in appreciation. I really enjoy the atonal melodies seeping through the chunky ‘Exhumed Demon’.

‘Morality’s Collapse’ is a solid upgrade from their last record, and Membrance are definitely moving in the right direction with their brand of chugging death metal. The album art is still totally messed up, and the riffs are still brutal, so all is good here!

https://membrance.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/membranceband/

https://envenomedmusic.bandcamp.com/

Reabilitator - Global Degeneration

Ukrainian thrashers Reabilitator’s debut record ‘Global Degeneration’ is one of those records that just throbs with untamed teenage energy. It came out in 2012, but has seen a few rereleases through Metal Race Records in 2016. If you like old school thrash, this is for you.

Besides the Beavis and Butthead-esque album art, Reabilitator really hit the ground running here, with a rapid punky style of thrash that really kicks ass. Opener ‘Mechanical Devastation’ hits all the same points that Municipal Waste were going for, and even though we’re well past the neo-thrash revival, it shows that the style really isn’t over. The chugging start to ‘The End’ is seriously good, while the neck snapping speed of ‘New World Order’ is designed to get pits rocking. There’s rapid fire solos, headbanging gallops and vocalist Lololo has a great thrash yelp.

‘Global Degeneration’ is a strong if slightly raw debut record. Reabilitator have got the riffs and the songwriting skills, but they will definitely benefit from a thicker production. I look forward to checking out their newest record, ‘Social Programming’ too. If you like early Overkill, Sacred Reich and any of the newer old school thrashers like Municipal Waste or Gama Bomb, you’ll really like this.

https://www.facebook.com/reabilitator/

https://reabilitator.bandcamp.com/

Bandcamp-eremit.jpg

If there’s one thing that challenges you as a music reviewer, it is seriously long tracks. How do you explain why a thirty minute track is great, or it isn’t, without waffling on for literally half an hour. Well, German sludge doom lords Eremit have challenged me here, with ‘Carrier of Weight’, three tracks of massive atmospheric doom clocking in at over an hour. It is out through Transcending Obscurity in February.

The best way to approach this for me is to imagine it as a soundtrack to a film I can’t see. Opener ‘Dry Land’ is 22 minutes, building from quiet contemplative notes and whispered vocals into vast, groaning riffs of doom. Funereal in its atmosphere, an oppressive heft pushes down upon you, while abyssal growls summon you to the depths. When the riffs vanish, the quiet is almost as weighty. Whatever film I’m imagining is suffocatingly dark, miserable and nihilistic. The shortest track is the second, ‘Froth is Beckoning’, and it has a much more traditional chug to it; almost fast paced compared with the glacial crush of closer ‘Cocoon of Soul’.

That is the pièce de résistance; a vast world of rain, earth quaking riffs and foreboding dark atmospheres. The fact that this is a debut record is absolutely brain melting, and as for my complaint at the top of this review, well frankly I could write a thesis on the majesty of this track. From the creaking wood at the start and the gentle ominousness of the acoustics it takes a full eight minutes before the heaviness appears and then wow. The roiling riffs are mesmerising, crashing off you the way waves crash against cliffs. This is enhanced even further by a droning, humming background swell that increases the scope even further. By the time it fades away to nothing, there’s not much of you left to enjoy it.

Wrapped in a stunning piece of artwork from artist Mariusz Lewandowski, Eremit’s work is a staggering paean to gloom. Misery engulfs you like pitiless rain, leaving you sodden with sadness and doom. Bands that have been doing this years can’t come up with stuff this good, and Eremit are just debuting their primordial crush here. ‘Carrier of Weight’ is glorious.

https://eremitdoom.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/EremitDoom

https://tometal.com/

 

Propaganda - The Mask of Sanity

Brutal death metallers Propaganda have been around since 2009, but only have one full length to their name, 2015’s ‘The Mask of Sanity’. Originally released by Brute! Productions, this record is a lost gem in the world of brutal slam and crushing death metal.

Even the intro is brutal, enschewing the traditional screaming, murderous samples for some big slamming riffs. What follows is thirty minutes of heavy, head caving brutality with little variation or originality. But to be fair to Propaganda, this is a genre that thrives on sticking to the basics and delivering the most devastating music possible. It was pretty much perfected by Devourment  years ago, and we’ve been doing that ever since. The chugging magnificence of ‘Blasphemous Insanity Syndrome’ is something to behold, as is the hellish death growls of ‘Rejection Living Tortured’. ‘The Mask of Sanity’ is a record that doesn’t mess around, it goes for the jugular immediately and never lets go.

The Mask of Sanity’ is a fine example of how brutal death doesn’t have to do anything new. Massive slam, crushing vocals and an aura of carnage and savagery all play their part in creating a fun record to smash things to.

https://propagandabogor.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/propaganda.iddm/

https://bruteprods.bandcamp.com/music

Thulsa Doom - Realms of Hatred

As almost cliche as it has become by 2018, I love the idea that bands are still getting their sound out through cassette. Italy death metallers Thulsa Doom have released their debut EP, ‘Realms of Hatred’ on cassette through Invictus Productions, and it is out now.

Opener ‘The Final Scourge’ has a nice, grimy atmosphere to it; a rough production adds a bit of filth to the nasty riffs and snarling vocal bile. The guitar work is similar to early Celtic Frost, Hellhammer and the rough demos of the Florida scene. It lacks the labyrinthine fretwork of early Morbid Angel, but the tone and style are spot on. ‘The Gates of Niniveh’ has a killer gloomy intro that bursts into frantic thrashy death, drawing deep from the well of 80s death metal. The two interludes set the tone perfectly, providing a eerie base from which the old school metal of death can project. The riffs that course through the diseased veins of the title track is testament to the talent on show here.

Wrapped in awesome cover art, Thulsa Doom’s debut is a piece of old school joy. Nostalgic yet not derivative, ‘Realms of Hatred’ sucks from the mangled teat of the past, but conjures their own particular black magick upon it. This is the real deal.

https://www.facebook.com/ThulsaDoomDeath/

https://invictusproductions.net/

Heidra - The Blackening Tide

Heidra hail from Denmark, and ‘The Blackening Tide’ is their second album, coming four years after their debut ‘Awaiting Dawn’. Musically, the band bring us a majestic, sweeping form of pagan melodeath, and the album is out now through Time to Kill Records.

From the moment ‘Dawn’ rises from the pagan shore you’re immediately engulfed in a grandiose, multilayered epic story. The opener in particular is blessed with a seriously fist pumping chorus, and you can believe that this is merely the tip of the iceberg. The galloping twin guitars of ‘The Price in Blood’ are excellent, and the clean vocals are powerful without ever being grating. ‘The Blackening Tide’ is full of great solos, enhancing these striding battle anthems that capture a world of silver swords, ancient kings and corrupted realms. There’s also a liberal sprinkling of piano and other orchestral elements that speak to the influences of more power metal fayre like Hammerfall or Sonata Arctica as well. None is more epic than ‘Rain of Embers’, although the duelling guitars of ‘Corrupted Shores’ push it close.

If there was ever to be any doubt that Europe produces the best bands with the flair for classically influenced heavy metal, then Heidra’s latest should put that to bed. A great example of thunderous melodic power/death, where symphonics meet galloping In Flames-isms to create a record that the ancient guitar gods would smile about. Cool shit

http://www.timetokill-records.com/

https://heidra.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HeidraOfficial/