Archive for October, 2019

Dimæon - Void

I first came across Dutch progressive death metallers Dimaeon on their 2010 EP ‘Exit Reality’, which I enjoyed a lot but haven’t really kept up with them since. I saw a press release for their second full length, ‘Void’ coming out in November this year, and thought I would give them another go. I am not sorry I did…

‘Void’ is a magnificent artistic accomplishment. Eight songs spanning over an hour of complex, labyrinthine song structures begins with the slow burn build of ‘Het Lijk Van Ons Bestaan’ (The Corpse of Our Existence) with its glorious guitarwork and some almost jazz like songwriting. This is a theme that plays out numerous time throughout this record, and ‘Transcendence’ even features a guest spot by Shining’s Jorgen Munkeby on saxophone. Dimaeon also do some fantastic work mixing in some ambient portions with the more deathly moments, and there’s even a little early Devin Townsend about parts of ‘The Insurgent’. You can feel the influence of Ihsahn’s solo work and latter Emperor here as well.

‘Void’ is a record with life, with passion and talent oozing from every song. An intoxicating blend of heaviosity and melody, with just the right amount of ambient interludes and jazzy freakouts. Thrash yourself to the metallic roar of ‘Dissolve’ or soar on the wings of ‘Dystopian Monument’, Dimaeon have created something to enthrall and entrance. Superb stuff.

https://www.facebook.com/Dimaeon/

https://dimaeon.bandcamp.com/album/void

Exhumed - Horror

First published on the Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-exhumed-horror/

What more do you need to say about gory death metal icons and legends Exhumed? Well nothing really, as their musical legacy will always speak much louder, so simply put ‘Horror’ is their newest work and it fits into their discography as neatly as a mortician’s saw through bone. Continuing their 2010s comeback with stronger and more mature material, ‘Horror’ is their reminder that they can still shred with the best of them.

Opener ‘Unsound’ is an immediate knife thrust to the jugular, where you’re hit with instant brutality and savage vocals. Maddening solos puncture the assault, as a relentless drumming battery powers everything along at a breakneck speed. Anyone who thinks Exhumed would have mellowed with age have no idea what they are on, as this is as fresh and exhilirating as they have ever been. Beset by some killer thrash riffs, ‘Ravenous Cadavers’ follows suit and the more said about the grinding carnage of ‘Scream Out in Fright’ the better.

Exhumed have really re-embraced their grinding roots on ‘Horror’, with the longest song, ‘Slaughter Maniac’, clocking in at a mere 2:23. The band are going hell for leather with the shred and the grind here, tearing through prime cuts like ‘Ripping Death’ and the superlative grinding of ‘Rabid’ like there was no tomorrow. It always feels good when a band that has been on the go since 1990 can come back feeling vibrant and vicious, not just rehashing the same old songs. It has been a long time since Exhumed were this precisely savage, and it is welcome.

You get fifteen songs in twenty six minutes, which feels both too short and yet absolutely perfect. There is no messing about, just gory guitar work laced with some poisonous vocals and the confidence of veterans just hammering out great material. Not every album needs to be an epic, and in Exhumed’s case this makes you want to experience the whole thing again straight away. I mean, the best song here is called ‘Naked, Screaming and Covered in Blood’, if that doesn’t make you want to throw horns and go crazy then what will?! ‘Horror’ reminds everyone that all these new bands are great, but sometimes there is nothing quite as satisfying as the old school.

https://www.facebook.com/ExhumedOfficial/

https://exhumed.bigcartel.com/products

https://store.relapse.com/

Gatecreeper - Deserted

Originally published at the Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-gatecreeper-deserted/

Tucson, Arizona’s Gatecreeper are the latest band to find their way onto the mighty Relapse Records, and the three year wait from their debut ‘Sonoran Depravation’ is going to be worth it. ‘Deserted’ is out on the 4th of October, and is a tribute to the classic Florida and Swedish death metal scenes.

The riffs that open the title track, and open the record, immediately conjures up a feeling of nostalgia for the 90s. The guitar tone is a thing of ancient beauty, the simple chunky riffing, the guttural roar; it is all a certain kind of magic. Kurt Ballou’s production renders everything in a wonderful crispness, despite the guitars insistence on sound like a saw tearing through flesh. There is a certain majesty to the doomy riffing of ‘From the Ashes’, and you’ll find this regularly on ‘Deserted’, that the band do not just tear ahead at all times. Gatecreeper draw heavily from the Obituary school of Floridian death metal, and the ‘Slowly We Rot’-esque thunder of ‘Ruthless’ is a perfect example.

Why no one has really nailed a ‘Entombed playing Obituary songs’ like this before blows my mind. It seems so obvious in retrospect. I suppose because it isn’t just as simple as that. There are so many little elements playing their part here, from the sludgey trudge of the behemoth ‘Sweltering Madness’ with its maddening guitar solos to the early Paradise Lost-esque majesty of closer ‘Absence of Light’. The true greatness of ‘Deserted’s is to be found in the songwriting, where such an overwrought genre feels fresh and exciting again.

In a world where old school death metal bands are ten a penny, and the injection of lumbering doom into it is even more common, Gatecreeper have a sound that pays homage to an iconic past but yet creative enough to never feel boring or trite. ‘Deserted’ is as modern and cutting edge a take on this particular genre as you’ll find and it is a decadent experience.

https://www.facebook.com/gatecreeper/

https://gatecreeper.bandcamp.com/

http://relapse.com/gatecreeper-deserted/

The slow rise of UK death metallers Ashen Crown has come with support slots of some of death metal’s biggest legends (Obituary, Memoriam), and they are finally poised to release their debut full length ‘Obsolescence’. The record deals with the obsoletion of many things, but will it leave their hopes of breaking through the underground obsolete?

Fortunately, that is unlikely. The surgical precision of modern death metal is on show throughout opener ‘Unbroken Faith’; with huge amounts of Black Dahlia Murder riffing and a killer vocal performance, it’s clear that Ashen Crown are setting their sights on a bigger stage and a larger audience. The fretwork is frantic, riffs impatient to spill out and the brutality, oh the brutality is tremendous. The imperious march of ‘Right to Rise’ looms large with some nice melodic guitar work, and the moment when the operatic female vocal soars from the crushing ‘Blood Beneath Us’ is truly glorious.

‘Obsolescence’ is a triumph from start to finish. Ashen Crown have absorbed all the best nuances of modern death metal and avoided the pitfalls. Each song is distinguishable from its predecessor and whether moving at a fast pace or slowing it down with melodious passages, ‘Obsolescence’ never fails to hold your attention. By the time the brooding ‘Under the Leaves’ brings us to a close, you’ll be hooked. Great stuff!

https://www.facebook.com/ashencrown.uk/

https://ashencrown.bigcartel.com/

 

NoxIrae-Bandcamp.jpg

Members of the sadly lost Affliction Gate and the legendary Catacomb have joined together to create the latest monster raiding the French death metal underground, Nox Irae. Their newest release ‘Here the Dead Live’ is out in November through Transcending Obscurity and is pretty much everything you’d expect it to be.

The blistering ‘Phantom Parasite Trauma’ blows me away to start with, with a instant ‘big hit’ of killer riffing and snarling vocals. This is how you want to start a record; not with a moody intro or some kind of swelling orchestral nonsense. The initial hit is so refreshing and when it settles into an old school grinding death metal chug it just feels so right. You can tell immediately that this is a band of scene veterans, as they’re never afraid to slip in a little classic heavy metal influence too. The soloing in ‘All is Over’ is proof of that, as is the thrashy nature of ‘Knife Under Throat’. This is a record that is not afraid to remember how good Possessed, Death and Bolt Thrower used to be; when death metal had a little more thrash about it.

A thrillingly straightforward record that, in only 26 minutes, proves that old fashioned death metal will never die when it is this good. ‘Here the Dead Live’ is short but sweet, satisfied with conjuring that feeling of when you first came across death metal rather than trying to reinvent it. All hail!

https://noxiraedeath.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/noxiraefrance

https://tometal.com/store/

Godhead Machinery - Aligned to the Grid

The unorthodox second album from Swedish blackened death metallers Godhead Machinery came out earlier in the year through Inverse Records, and ‘Aligned to the Grid’ is a record that takes a little while to unpack, but the music within is something really special.

The labyrinthine ‘Tithe II’ starts us off, with chunky death metal underpinning a nasty black metal vocal rasp. The songwriting is maddeningly complex, with elements of Behemoth sneaking in, as well as tech death and even some of the more esoteric black metal out there. The drumming is an intense backbone to everything here, clattering blastbeats keeps everything powering along, while the guitar work show off ethereal melodies and some absolutely brutal riffs. The haunting rage of ‘Alpha’ is a highlight, but there are so many little details that create the overall art. The piano in ‘The Existential Strive’, the spoken word story running through ‘Call of the Banner’, the relentless battery of ‘Impassive Atrocity’ or the imperial gloom of ‘Illusion’; Godhead Machinery weave complex tapestries for all of us to worship.

Godhead Machinery do not ply the furrow of blackened death metal as others do. The music is heavy, thick, brutal while the atmospheres and vocals are pure black metal. An unholy marriage of genres in the right way, where each play to their strengths without being swamped by the other. ‘Aligned to the Grid’ is certainly unorthodox in places but it doesn’t confound you completely.

https://www.facebook.com/GodheadMachinery

http://www.godheadmachinery.com/

Faustcoven - In the Shadow of Doom

Last year’s ‘In the Shadow of Doom’ saw Norway’s Faustcoven give us the followup to ‘Hellfire and Funeral Bells’ we’ve been waiting for for 6 long years. It is of course, out now through Nuclear War Now Productions and continues the band’s run of great records exploring the links between black metal and doom. It may be a year late, but the Killchain only works through the best releases!

The odd tones of ‘The Wicked Dead’ lead off with a growling rasp and a chunky, midpaced riff that has a nice buzzsaw feel about it. The fuzzy productions gives it a nice raw feeling to it, and the whole atmosphere just feels very old school black metal. There is also a pronounced doomy feel to much of the riffing pace, with the rumbling groove of ‘The Devil’s Share’ or the monolithic ‘Marching in the Shadow’. In fact, ‘In the Shadow of Doom’ is a great example of how you can wield two genres simultaneously without losing anything of either of them. Doom strides stronger here but there is something unmistakably visceral about the blackened croak of ‘Lair of Rats’.

‘In the Shadow of Doom’ does tend to lean more towards the doom than the black, but this is nothing to compain about. Every groaning riff is laced with a blackened edge, adding just the right about of malice. Faustcoven feel like Darkthrone covering some ancient 70s doom band, where the atmosphere reeks of cold forests but the riffing has a satisfying rumble, particularly the uber-memorable swagger of ‘As White As She Was Pale’. This is a fucking great record

https://faustcoven.bandcamp.com/

http://www.nwnprod.com/

https://nuclearwarnowproductions.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-shadow-of-doom