Archive for March, 2020

Beggar - Compelled to Repeat

First published here:

The debut full length from London’s Beggar has been a long time coming, and those of us who have barely sated their lust on their numerous EPs are ready for ‘Compelled to Repeat’ to destroy us. It is out in April through APF Records, whose back catalogue contains a number of lesser known gems of the UK underground.

The thunderous, knuckle dragging opener ‘Blood Moon’ possesses the kind of torturous groove that any self respecting sludge band is born with. Savage vocals compliment this expertly, and it is all going just as you’d expect before a quieter and almost soulful solo glides in. It is this juxtaposition of violence and stylistic shifts that characterises this often startling debut. ‘Anasthete’ feels like some orthodox black metal, dragged through tar heavy riffs. Those same riffs cascade through the dead valleys of ‘The Cadaver Speaks’, curling like black smoke within your lungs, suffocating, choking, miasmic in their intent.

‘Compelled to Repeat’ has so many different genre moments piled into the brew it is a miracle that this is even coherent, let alone the churning greatness that it is. Post metal, sludge, death metal, hardcore, black metal; Beggar flirt with them all and filter them all through some huge groove. For a glorious second you think ‘Trepanned Head Stares at the Sun’ is going to build into a vast soundscape and your dreams are shattered by visceral, death laden violence. I love the unpredictability that Beggar employ throughout. The only constant is an intense atmosphere of anger and rage.

From the sickening crunch of ‘Tenantless the Graves’ to the Louisianian groan of ‘Matryoshka Brain’, ‘Compelled to Repeat’ is an album of multiple levels where the idea of genre is pushed to its limits, and Beggar are a band whose hatred and bile for the universe is only just beginning to crystalise. A triumphant full length, and if this record doesn’t push Beggar towards a legacy of greatness then it’ll be a big surprise.

Euclidean - Quod Erat Faciendum

The debut full length from Swiss black metallers Euclidean is a couple of years old now, but I’ve been doing a lot of catching up on old music in my collection recently and ‘Quod Erat Faciendum’ caught my ear. Translating to ‘which was to be done’ in reference to geometrical constructs, you can tell that this is going to be a bit of a thinker.

The creeping, almost industrial ‘Increatus’ feels more like an introduction to this album, even at almost seven minutes long, and ‘Numbers Hold Sovereignty’ maintains the eerie vibe. The whole album has a cold, almost calculating feeling to it, clean guitar melodies skipping atonally over snarling vocals while other parts soak you in distortion drenched waves of riffing. More than half of this record is taken up by three tracks, but the ebb and flow is fascinating, and the hour and fifteen minutes flies in. You’ll be enthralled by the more melodic, haunting moments that lurk beneath the roar of more ferocious black metal traditionalism. Where Anaal Nathrakh weld black metal to grindcore and create chaos, Euclidean create cold, soulless beauty through elements of post metal and dark ambience.

By the time the clattering, furious majesty of ‘Numbers Held Soverignty’ comes to an end, you’ll have experienced a journey through music quite unlike any other. If you could imagine the soundtrack to Blade Runner was black metal, that’ll give you an idea as to what ‘Quod Erat Faciendum’ sounds like. Grimly futuristic and mesmerisingly dark, Euclidean have captured a sound that feels just different from everyone else. I’m so glad that I found this hiding away in my files, because it is fantastic.

The Night Eternal - The Night Eternal

Germany’s The Night Eternal debuted their take on the classic heavy metal sound last year with their four track, self titled EP. As you can tell from the cover, it has all the classic cliches working for it immediately, but is it more than the sum of its influences? It is out now through Dying Victims Productions.

‘Eternal Night’ opens with a classic lead melody and a melancholic vocal before kicking it into a trad metal gallop, sprinkling 80s magic all over the place. This feels like a missing cut from a classic Angel Witch album, and there’s a certain gloom about each of the tracks. This isn’t your joyous celebration of everything great about 80s metal, but more of an ode to how good it used to be, back in the glory days. ‘Mark of Kain’ is a thing of grey beauty, while the infectious ‘Vindicta’ is absolutely an iconic track in the making. We even get an out-of-left-field pick Juda Priest cover, ‘Take These Chains’, which works very well with The Night Eternal’s gloomy aesthetic.

An almost perfect four track blast of heavy metal goodness, shot through with a sense of the melancholic and a little darkness too. The Night Eternal are ready to grasp heavy metal’s sceptre and take charge of its future. This is glorious.

Temptress - The Orb

Given the current horror pandemic sweeping the globe, and especially Italy, I thought I’d have a look through my enormous music pile and find some good news coming from our Italian metal brothers. And boy did I find heavy metal newcomers Temptress! Their debut 7″ is out now through Dying Victims Productions.

It’d be insane to contemplate arguing with an intro like ‘The Orb’, where spiralling solos give way to a killer 80s heavy metal riff. The production has a nice bit of classic fuzz to it, lending a bit of King Diamond moodiness to everything. This trio have draped both of these tracks in the cloaks of night, and somehow ‘Woman’ feels even more authentic. A galloping guitar seals the deal, while the vocals of M. Dee bring to mind Angel Witch or even the King himself (without the iconic shriek of course). If you are a fan of the likes of Night Demon, you’ll be drooling over the possibilities of a full length from these guys.

Despite only being two tracks, Temptress really caught my attention and I live for these bands who are keeping the spirit of classic heavy metal alive. ‘The Orb’ is definitely worth seeking out, and I’m looking forward to more of this.


Verthebral - Abysmal Decay

Think of the awesome power that death metal, full on full force death metal possesses. Who are you thinking of, Deicide, Krisiun, Hate Eternal? Well, get ready to add Paraguayans Verthebral to that list, as their second record ‘Abysmal Decay’ is an exercise in the purest and most violent forms of riff based destruction. It is out now through Transcending Obscurity.

‘Ancient Legion’ is an eruption of chug; powered by a propulsive low end of double kicks there is a satisfying crunch to the guitars, while the vocals are suitably harsh but not indecipherable. This is a common thread throughout ‘Abysmal Decay’; a Morbid Angel-esque guitar tone dropping chunky riff after stabbing solo and each song overflows with a sense of savage melody. The title track is infested with a morbid gloom, while the churning low end of ‘Absence of a God’ brings to mind prime Bolt Thrower. A reference that is greatly appreciated by this site, as is the Obituary-esque thunder of ‘My Dark Existence’.

‘Abysmal Decay’ is a record that gives tribute to all the greats of death metal, but doesn’t feel derivative. Most of all, it plays with a true sense of power as you feel every riff coursing with barely restrained strength. With a guitar tone ready to snap necks and brutality seething from every pore, Verthebral feel like a band straining at the sinews to explode. Hopefully this beast of a record will make that a reality.

Aethyrick - Gnosis

I reviewed the debut of Finnish black metallers Aethyrick, ‘Praxis’, here last year, and found it to be a gloriously atmospheric piece of black metal. Their followup, ‘Gnosis’, looks to build on that strong foundation and skip that ‘difficult second album’ fear. It is out now through The Sinister Flame.

Opening track ‘Will Embodied’ starts strongly enough, with rampant riffing opening up onto a bleak and cold vista. Modern black metal tends to either soar above the blizzards or delve deep into the primordial murk. ‘Gnosis’ chooses the former and is all the better for it. The songwriting is ambitious without pretention, uplifting yet miserable, and the execution is flawless. Fiery riffing sparks across ‘Stellar Flesh’, while the glowing coals of ‘Golden Suffering’ keep us all warm in these cold winter nights. Fearsome and uncompromising, and yet equally fragile and ethereal, tracks like ‘Your Mysteries’ encapsulate an almost iconic Finnish melancholy seeping through every tortured riff and snarling growl.

There’s always been a suggestion that Finnish black metal has a little something extra to its other Scandinavian counterparts. Whatever it is, this intangible, ‘Gnosis’ has it in spades. ‘Gnosis’ may just top its predecessor as Aethyrick’s best work, but this is a band that are slowly becoming an essential part of my musical collection whatever the album. This is evocative, Finnish black metal at its best.

Wormhole - The Weakest Among Us

The sprawling tech death of Wormhole’ latest opus, ‘The Weakest Among Us’ is at times mindbogglingly complex. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing, even in the guitarwanking competition that tech death has somewhat become. Do Wormhole avoid the pitfalls? ‘The Weakest Among Us’ is out now through Lacerated Enemy Records.

The opening title track sates most of those fears straight away, by establishing that Wormhole are capable of layering plenty of atmosphere into their pummelling approach. I mean, you still have brutality for days, but it is all coated in a morbid slime that makes everything seem thicker, murkier. Blastbeats struggle for air, while gurgling vocals and pig squealing choke through guitar riffs that chug relentlessly. The songs begin to merge together in one savage beating, but imagine this more in a Meshuggah ‘Catch 33’ way, rather than a ‘this all sounds the same way’. ‘D-S3’ plays with your expectations of slam, but ‘Wave Quake Generator Plasma Artillery Cannon’ brings you straight back down with a bloody reality-juddering thud.

After a 28 minute blast of inventive, entertaining and dare I say, almost unique sounding slam death, I’m exhausted. But ‘The Weakest Among Us’ is an invigorating listen, and stands tall above the usual ‘slam-chug-pigsqueal-repeat’ boredom that the genre often falls victim too. This slays.