Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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A one man swampy black metal project from the dark recesses of Floridian marshland, Worm’s debut record ‘Evocation of the Black Marsh’ is due out at the end of the month on Iron Bonehead, and is a particularly nasty slab of raw, sludgey black metal with more subtlety and nuance than you might expect…

‘Altar of Black Sludge’ couldn’t really be better named, as a morbid crawling riff oozes from underneath occult atmospheres of dread before the ‘Winged Beast of the Phantom Crypt’ envelopes a harsh riff in a suffocating miasma and unholy screams vomit forth from dark places. All the best parts of early Bathory combining with the latter swaying doom of Celtic Frost make ‘Gravemouth’ a modern, mutating classic. Sure, black metal plays the major influencing role here but there’s an undeniably sludge and doom undercurrent here too. The title track sounds like Xasthur covering EyeHateGod, which is inevitably awe inspiring.

Monstrous, fetid crushers like ‘Evil in the Mire’ and ‘Swamp Ghoul’ raise foul spectres of southern sludge and when layered with a malevolent black metal spirit allows ‘Evocation of the Black Marsh’ to become as good an embodiment of a title as any album you’ve heard in ages. Poisonous, asphyxiating bands like Worm aren’t ten a penny, and therefore you need to find this.

http://www.ironbonehead.de/

https://www.facebook.com/IronBoneheadProductions/

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Ashen Epitaph - The Formed Filth Enigma

Serbian death metallers Ashen Epitaph have taken their name from a Benediction song, so you can expect some similarly brutal death metal coming from within ‘The Formed Filth Enigma’. This is their third full length, and is just out on Grom Records now. Think Amon Amarth without the Vikings and adding more death metal, and you’ve got a good idea of where Ashen Epitaph are coming from.

A gloomy intro leads into the snarling ‘Fog, Mud, Loneliness’, a galloping riff laden beast with a ragged, poisonous guitar tone and a firm grasp of memorable riffs. There’s plenty of moments that remind you of Sweden’s greatest melodeath bands, from Amon Amarth to Arch Enemy to further back early Dark Tranquility or In Flames. ‘The Mirrorgallery’ has this feeling in spades, where thrashing death metal crunches through open melodic territory, dragging bloodied corpses behind.

For me though, the overriding joy of this record is how, despite the obvious melodic tendencies, the purity of brutal death metal riffing, growling and blasting drums is never lost. The devastating ‘The Wounds’, the chugging ‘Destroy All False Faiths’ or the brutal smash of ‘One More Nail’ keeps this record fully grounded in filthy, rampaging death metal. Ashen Epitaph have created a record to be proud of here; visceral, relentless and thoroughly enjoyable.

https://www.facebook.com/ashenepitaph/

http://www.gromrecords.net/

Prostitution - Egyptian Blue

By looking at the cover, you’d expect Prostitution’s ‘Egyptian Blue’ to be a prog rock opus of epic proportions. But no, these New Yorkers are some vicious black metallers and this is their latest EP, coming on the heels of 2013’s ‘Listless’. Their sound spreads from Darkthrone to Pink Floyd, and their psychedelic aesthetic jars with standard black metal themes, but damn it if it doesn’t work out pretty well.

Opening track ‘Hypergiant’ is a sprawling, raging monster of a track; all shrieking tremolo and bloodcurdling screams at the start before it begins to evolve, slowly and deliberately into something grander. While always retaining their metal heart (blastbeats reign supreme over much of this EP), the expansive nature of their riffing brings to mind latter period Enslaved, particularly ‘Ruun’, and the soaring ‘The Boat’ melds spiralling fretwork into spacious waves of black metal fury.

Closing with the tour de force of ‘Elevated Droves’, where blastbeats disappear into dense voids of chugging riffing, and atonal melodies haunt plains of progressive metal, ‘Egyptian Blue’ is a thrilling and adventurous piece of extreme metal. Black metal is the core, but like bands like Ihsahn or Ved Buens Ende it isn’t the cage. Prostitution are a stunning proposition.

https://www.facebook.com/Prostitution666/

https://prostitution.bandcamp.com/

Normally I don’t review splits very often, as their juxtaposition of bands can sometimes be a bit jarring for someone that mostly listens to complete records, but I’ve come to enjoy the Chilean contribution to South America’s metal scene recently, and ‘Wrath of Darkness’ is a split between two forces in this underground mecca, Wrathprayer and Force of Darkness. Both draw from a black metal wellspring, but in different yet collaborative ways. This split is coming out on Nuclear War Now! Productions in a mere 2 weeks!

This split is an entirely collaborative effort, from artwork to musical direction and so has a lot more cohesion than a lot of splits do. Wrathprayer take first stab with the creepy intro and the suffocating, oppressive ‘Tria Serpentis’. Howling roars from deepest abyssal plains, belching horrors untold as chasms are torn asunder by dense, rippling riffs of the darkest, deathly black metal. ‘De Profundis’ is even bleaker, led in by tortured screaming and howling winds of blackened death. They leave a huge challenge for Force of Darkness to meet on their part.

Fortunately ‘Wall of Fire’ proves to be more than up to the challenge, with fire breathing ferocity powering us along at breakneck speed. A surprisingly melodic solo punctuates a song that is more waspish, traditional black metal than Wrathprayer’s contributions. ‘Nunc Scio Tenebris Lux’ is another scorcher that, despite its fuzzy guitar tone and screaming vocal, does nothing to stop being the most memorable song here. The powerful ‘The Order’ finishes their contribution as Force of Darkness sail off on black waters through their outro.

‘Wrath of Darkness’ is an excellent release that really showcases two starring lights in the Chilean extreme metal scene. Wrathprayer keeps everything dense and dark, while Force of Darkness has a bit more melody and some furiously catchy songs. Make a note of its release folks!

https://nuclearwarnowproductions.bandcamp.com/album/wrath-of-darkness

http://www.nwnprod.com/

https://www.facebook.com/WRATHPRAYER-184968604887127/

With a name like High Reeper (God that spelling is going to annoy me through this review) and an album cover like their self titled debut, it’s pretty obvious that within this disc is going to be some stoner related music. But their press blurb says they’re going the Saint Vitus, Orchid and Sabbath way, rather than the Kyuss clones I’m getting tired of. That already is a good thing. ‘High Reeper’ is out on the 3rd of November.

‘Die Slow’ opens this record with a simply jamming groove that, when coupled with the lonesome, Ozzy like vocals, makes this an instant hit. High Reeper tread that line between blatant Sabbath worship and healthy doses of modern rock and roll, and the results are infectious and soulful. The energetic Clutchisms of ‘Chrome Hammer’, the soulful blues of ‘Soul Taker’ and the grinding title track provide a three track salvo of pure doom blues for anyone to get into. At this point, I’m sold. it’d have to go well downhill from here to suck overall.

But it doesn’t! The heavy rumbling open of ‘Reeper Deadly Reeper’ is a lost howl from doom’s murky past, and the second half of the record builds more into classic doom territory, with the sprawling ‘Weed and Speed’ and the insistent ‘Double Down and Let It Ride’ drawing from Wino’s playbook. Nothing however is finer than the monstrous doom rock of closer ‘Friend of Death’, which somehow combines everything good they’ve done all record and cranks it to 11.

If you’re looking for an album that’ll give you that warm feeling the old Sabbath records did, but still cuts a massive modern groove, then ‘High Reeper’ is for you. The hooks are massive, the groove is brilliant and the atmosphere is pure chill. Light up, spread out and get ready to meet the Reeper…

https://www.facebook.com/HIGHREEPER/

This striking French black metal debut from Infernal Blast isĀ  a torrent of violent, dark war metal. ‘Wolves Elitism Speech’ has no agenda other than to tear you apart from the ears down, and is another example of how far one man bands have come from badly produced bedroom acts. The cassette is out on 17th November through War Arts Productions.

Opener ‘Destruction Process’ is a vicious, barrelling nightmare of a track, with an eruption of blastbeats peppering a murky and dense guitar attack. This style continues undaunted throughout, from the carnage of the short ‘No Redemption No Remorse’ to the unremitted barbarism of ‘Wolf Hunting’. There isn’t a lot of room for variation but in a seventeen minute release you don’t need it. The creepy samples provide respite enough between the kind of metal that personifies how life is going; bleak, barbaric and dehumanising. ‘Wolves Elitism Speech’ has no care for you, it merely provides a dirty window into our future.

Infernal Blast have a bright future. Well, bright like a nuclear holocaust bright, as their music is apocalyptic, visceral and comes from the primal instincts of man for violence and savagery. ‘Wolves Elitism Speech’ claws and slavers at you, and it is ready to be unleashed on the wider world.

http://war-arts-productions.com/

https://war-arts-productions.bandcamp.com/album/infernal-blast-wolves-elitism-speech

https://www.facebook.com/Infernal-Blast-1719640488330494/

Polish black metallers Ohtar come from a world where black metal is a particularly fearsome beast, and genre standard bearers stride tall amongst the underground of the world. ‘Euthanasia of Existence’ is the fourth record from these guys, and it was released early last year on Deathrune Records. I’ve only recently come across it, and like a lot of these kind of records, I’m sad that I missed it first time round!

Opener ‘Cyanosis of Senility’ is a harrowing, monstrous creature, a gaping wound in reality where darkness is spilling through. Cold and bleak, Ohtar’s dense atmospheres seep through every track, dousing everything in a grey miasma. The misery of ‘Portrayal of Damage’ is enticing, while the gleaming ‘The End is Not Coming, Not Yet’ is a soaring black metal classic, icy and vast. Delicate keyboard moments in th ebackground create a ghostly echo, on which scowling vocals croak their deathly intonations.

Ohtar’s black metal is cold, heartless and full of the infinite darkness you’d hope to find in Polish black metal. ‘Euthanasia of Existence’ holds no hope for us, but once we are become dust and ash it will live on, an icy monument to what is left behind. A hidden gem from las year, and one worth seeking out.

https://deathrunerecords.bandcamp.com/album/ohtar-euthanasia-of-existence