Archive for September, 2019

Gorebringer - A Craving for Flesh

British melodeath up-and-comers Gorebringer have just released their debut full length ‘A Craving for Flesh’ through Gate of the Silver Key Records, and it looks to add them to the pantheon of excellent bands to come shredding from these shores in recent years. Are you ready for riffs? ARE YOU?!

The galloping fury of ‘The Fog’ hits immediately after a creepy intro, with floods of blastbeats powering a score of awesome melodic leads. They are brutal and gory, but cannot help themselves injecting every song with a selection of absolutely killer melodies. It is probably the best album In Flames haven’t released since ‘Reroute to Remain’. There’s an overwhelming Black Dahlia Murder influence, as well as the more obvious At the Gates ones, and the writhing frenzy of ‘Bloodsoaked Chapel’ is superb. At a meaty 41 minutes too, nothing overstays its welcome or doesn’t have time to properly develop.

If there isn’t anything for you in ‘A Craving fro Flesh’, then you just don’t like metal. Gorebringer fall over themselves to hit you with every riff in the book, the musicianship is tight and excellent, the brutality is front and centre, and you don’t get any of those ‘clean vocals’ sections. Fuck, this rules. Pay them money immediately.

Mercy's Dirge - Live, Raw & Relentless

Mercy’s Dirge are regarded as one of the first, if not THE first Romanian black metal band, starting all the way back in 1991, but ‘Live, Raw and Relentless’ is their debut full length, released a full 18 years later. It is out now through Loud Rage Music.

‘Live, Raw and Relentless’ is a pretty apt name, for Mercy’s Dirge are all three. Despite their lack of activity over the past number of years, they are most certainly live and kicking. The rabid snarl of ‘Foreseeing the Past’, the foreboding savage chug of ‘Devilish Wish’; you are immediately hit with a primal range out of the gate. But there is a lot more going on here, with atonal melodies playing out underneath the raw exteriror. The weird, almost Atheist-like bass work in the superlative ‘The Bewitched’ is really great, while the catchy ‘Groovin’ Terror’ lets you know that some Celtic Frost tapes definitely made it into Romania. ‘Meherat’ sounds like nothing else on this record; feels almost spoken word at the start, before the black metal kicked in harshly.

My only gripe with ‘Live, Raw and Relentless’ is that it is a little long at times. They probably could’ve trimmed a little bit and made the album feel a little tighter. But the music speaks for itself, invigorating and writhing black metal that isn’t scared of trying things a little different at times. Mercy’s Dirge can continue this ‘comeback’ for as long as they want, because this is great.

Signs of the Swarm - Vital Deprivation

The follow up to their devastating second record, ‘The Disfigurement of Existence’, Pittsburgh’s Signs of the Swarm are releasing ‘Vital Deprivation’ this October through Unique Leader Records. Are you ready for some SLAMZ?! Because this record is full of them. Oh, so much brutality.

This is so brutal even the ‘intro’ track is fucking crushing. You probably know what to expect here, just over half an hour of the slammiest breakdowns you’ll hear this year, with that interplay of growl/scream/pig squeal vocals and a relentless hammering of your senses. But Signs of the Swarm do occasionally slip in the odd respite, maybe even the odd melody in there which does help the variety. Most of the time you’ll find the songs beating you down, harder, into the ground like a concrete jackboot.

The slower pace of ‘Celestial Ascendence’ allows a melodic guitar solo time to breathe, whereas the Meshuggah-like chug of ‘Lost Within Reflection’ is absolutely fucking great. Deathcore is normally designed to destroy pits, and with some of the mammoth breakdowns on show here, that will not be a problem. I suppose, if you aren’t totally sold on the merits of deathcore you may find this a little samey by the end, but for me it hits all the right notes.

‘Vital Deprivation’ is crisp, almost unbearably brutal at points but add enough interesting wrinkles to keep them placed above the more boring, one dimensional deathcore bands. Signs of the Swarm have got all the bloody tools to carve out a good career bludgeoning people with this style, but they’ve got to avoid the pitfalls of the genre. So far, they’re steering a brilliant course.

scumripper - all veins cover.jpg

A band called Scumripper. On Hells Headbangers. With an album entitled ‘All Veins Blazing’. A happy romp through a land of wizards and unicorns is unlikely. This nasty, deathpunkcrust blast of violence is out now, and promises to be 20 minutes of nothing but hate.

Opener ‘Colonel Gator’ is just that, crusty black/death metal that sounds like a rabid animal chewing through your flesh. There’s an innate catchiness to it all, a rawkish call to arms to invade your local sewer and batter out some rancid tunes. Every song sounds like there’s been a hefty dose of venom secreted into the riffs, and the insertion of random samples adds to the menace. The grinding bass that opens ‘Eight Rapes a Week’ is fantastic, and it then spirals out into pure Discharge worship. My only gripe is that the songs do all sound very similar, and a little experimentation wouldn’t go amiss. Not too much though, because they don’t want to lose that tone.

‘All Veins Blazing’ doesn’t stick around for long, which means you need to slap that repeat button a few times to really scratch that itch, but the nasty punkish attack gives you plenty to think about. Scumripper need to work on their range a little bit, but they’ve totally nailed the sound.

The re-release of atmospheric death metallers Jade’s debut demo through Pulverised Records is a reason to be joyful. Why? Because the wider world gets to hear the burgeoning talent lurking within last year’s digital and cassette only release. ‘Smoking Mirror’ is out in October, and promises to be something special.

Immediately, ‘Jade Emperor’ feels different from the rest of 2019’s death metal. Is it the soaring, almost black metal esque space behind it? The crush of modern death/doom powers along but there’s something very different about the atmospherics here. It is grandiose without resorting to orchestration; spacious without losing the intensity. ‘Dead Stone Mask’ has some almost post metal moments, with the lonely voice crying out in the background, while the ethereal tones lurking in the title track really create something fresh and new. A superbly unique take on death metal.

An excellent and absorbing debut release, and probably my favourite EP of the year. I could listen to this constantly, picking out each subtlety on repeated listens. Jade are a band that are going to become essential within a few more releases, and I’m glad I got in on the ground floor.

Vordr - Vordr

Vordr (‘warden’ in Old Norse) are a band difficult to pin down. This is one of many, many releases to be self titled, so keeping a track is a little tough. This ‘Vordr’ is the full length just released this August by Terratur Possessions, and is a collection of riff heavy, minimalist Finnish black metal!

‘Erianoisiv’ opens us up with a meaty, tremolo riff that has a good gallop to it, and that is actually an apt descriptor for most of this record. It is a collection of great, black metal songs that feels like latter day Darkthrone but retaining a more traditional black metal atmosphere. The crusty rasp of ‘Goretusk’, the howling ‘Driftwood’ or the savage ‘Enchanting Fires of Pain’ all blend together into a wonderful, rampant whole of first wave darkness. Vordr have one gear, and that gear is fully engaged throughout.

The minimalist approach to black metal certainly works when executed like this, and while ‘Vordr’ isn’t overflowing with original ideas, it is a record of appealing simplicity; here is how Bathory made early black metal, now go and practice it until you can do it every time flawlessly. Nailed it.

0N0 - Cloaked Climax Concealed

This strange, hybrid of noisy industrial and crushing death/doom comes to us from the enigmatically named 0N0, and ‘Cloaked Climax Concealed’ is yet another release from Transcending Obscurity that looks to challenge your perceptions of ‘heavy’. It is out now.

Opener ‘The Crown Unknown’ builds to a clattering Godfleshian nightmare, where groaning guitars thunder into uncomfortable noise atmospherics beyond. There’s deep growls and also a haunting female vocal hidden in here too, and it becomes this mesmerising wall of sound. ‘Hidden in the Trees (Sail This Wrecked Ship)’ is possessed with a ravaging dissonance, and really the two tracks run together into one, gloriously hypnotic whole. The subtle moments of soaring melody behind the layers of sound also really adds a nice wrinkle to what seems like a brutal experience.

‘Cloaked Climax Concealed’ is a short release, but these two tracks will give you an idea of what 0N0 are all about, and what that is appears to be the slow inexorable slide into industrial armageddon. An essential listen.


Chiral - The Twilight Songs - part I

Chiral were a band I followed very closely for a number of years, until I fell off a little a few years ago. Their glorious, almost spiritual brand of atmospheric black metal was one of my favourite sounds for a long time, and I just discovered ‘The Twilight Songs (Part 1)’ lurking in my emails from a long time ago. It came out through Heathen Tribes around a year ago, and is one mammoth track.

‘Monumetal’ is thirty minutes of almost everything Chiral do well. The ghostly, haunting acoustics of prime Opeth, the epic sweep of Godspeed You Black Emperor, but lacking the thrilling Cascadian black metal of Wolves in the Throne Room, . We build with acoustic guitar, a touching and soulful rendition that really highlights what Chiral is becoming; a fragile emotional project that hits all the key points to make it genuinely affecting. Sure, there is a distinct lack of the epic, sweeping black metal that drew me in at first, but this is a beautiful, stirring release.

‘The Twilight Songs (Part 1)’ has yet to receive a ‘Part 2’, which I hope comes one day as I yearn to see where Chiral is taking this. A glorious showcase of acoustic emotion and songwriting, this is a project that never fails to impress or affect.