Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Desolate Shrine are nothing but productive. ‘Deliverance from the Godless Void’ is their third album for Dark Descent Records in six years, and their fourth overall. It is another exercise in pure, devastating aural darkness and hatred. If you like black metal, doom or death, this is within your wheelhouse. A miasmic fabrication of extremity awaits.

‘The Primordial One’ comes pouring from the speakers like a molten river of blackened death metal lava. Blastbeats smash down upon devastating riffs, while brutal roars echo from caverns of darkness. Desolate Shrine are immediately dense, pushing waves of sound at you in an unstoppable force. But they cannot stay one dimensional, with eerie melodies seeping from the gloom in the dissonant, doom laden ‘Unmask the Face of False’. ‘Deliverance from the Godless Void’ has no regard for the boundaries of black, death or doom metal. Desolate Shrine take these genres and combine them into a set of songs that crush not only your ears but your soul, your mind and your hope. For me, the centrepiece and masterpiece is the massive storm of ‘The Graeae’, building from desolate clean guitars into a galaxial riff that envelops everything in its path. Metaphors run short when trying to describe the titanic weight and power of such a song.

‘Deliverance from the Godless Void’ is disgustingly heavy, weighing you down mercilessly until you crumble into nothingness. These songs may be lengthy but never overstay their welcome, and the almost hour running time feels like no time at all. It does feel like your delivery from the Godless void is nothing but a trip to hell. Not a hell that burns, but a hell that suffocates and tears at your weak flesh. This is stunning.

https://www.facebook.com/desolateshrine/

https://desolateshrine.bandcamp.com/

https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/deliverance-from-the-godless-void

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Uk doom upstarts King Goat have been touted as the next big thing in riff world, with their last record ‘Conduit’ getting rave reviews all across the board. Taking the sturdy Sabbathian blueprint and moving into progressive and psychedelic territories is just the beginning of where King Goat will take you. Italian label Aural Music is rereleasing this with some bonus tracks from their previous EP in time for their new record, due next year.

‘Flight of the Deviants’ is instantly grandiose, theatric and yet grounded in the simplest of heavy music. Smoky occultisms play across potent, Grand Magus riffs while powerful vocals provide gravitas and depth. ‘Feral King’ has a little more Candlemass about it, while the title track builds superbly with some almost eastern melodies. Even so early in the record, there’s a majestic roughness about the band. The cold heart of ‘Revenants’ swells with a brooding menace, and this is the track where vocalist Trim really stands out. The grasp of melodic and powerful dynamics really takes a hold here, and never lets you go.

‘Conduit’ is a real listening pleasure. In a world where albums feel too long if it is more than 40 minutes, King Goat stride beyond an hour easily without losing any part of their magic. This is doom incarnate; with Sabbathian groove, Candlemass scale epics and even a hazy Electric Wizard darkness about them, King Goat take one proud step toward reclaiming doom for their homeland.

https://www.facebook.com/kinggoatbri/

https://kinggoat.bandcamp.com/

http://www.auralmusic.com/

Portuguese death metal titans are unleashing upon this doomed world their new record, ‘The Undivided Wholeness of All Things’, and it is set to be an exercise in pure carnage and destruction. It is due out in a mere couple of days (28th November) from Nice to Eat You Records, and looks to establish Portugal as a underground hotbed.

You can guess exactly what you’re going to be up against with an album cover of such lurid threat; chugging riffs built with the densest guitar tones echoed immediately in the opening ‘M.A.S.S.’, leading into the churning thunder of ‘Universal Dismal Collapse’, which plows the deepest furrows of heaviness. Like a titan beast risen from the depths of the oceanic abyss, Annihilation belch forth brutal death metal that doesn’t quite slam, or widdle, it just crushes. Imagine latter Suffocation with that otherworldly feeling that prime Morbid Angel gave you and you’re almost there.

Brutality is second nature for death metal bands these days, but Annihilation seem a little off centre, which helps their riffing and songwriting remain interesting. The modern classic that is ‘The Illusion of Time and Space’ acts as a tectonic centrepiece to an album that shifts, changes, evolves from mere one dimensional brutality to fourth dimensional destruction. The menacing crawl of ‘Omniverse’ personifies this record perfectly; Annihilation sneak up on you slavering and ready to devour.

https://annihilationband.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/annihilationpt/

http://www.ntey.wz.cz/ntey.html

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Normally when you hear ‘France’ and ‘death metal’, your mind is instantly drawn to heavweights Gojira. Well, Derealized are here to make you realise that there is more to French death metal than that. ‘Isolation Poetry’ is the debut full length from a band that are prepared to dazzle you with technicality as well as razor edged savagery. It dropped last year through Finisterian Dead End Records, but I have been remiss in giving it the proper kudos until now.

The creaky, rumbling opening to ‘Devil’s Got Green Eyes’ soon dissolves into a whirling dervish of blasting, growling and spiralling riffs. This is a devilishly technical record, coating all the maddening death metal riffing with a blackened, poisoned edge. The demonic ‘Opium Den’ is a personal highlight; where you can sense real Aborted or Cryptopsy influences burrowing through. Vocalist Myriam Fischer is particularly fearsome; her throaty roar accompanies you upon this winding journing through the crevasses of darkness.

‘Cover Your Eyes’ comes as a welcome respite in between titans of extremity. The constant barrage can be a little much at times but you can’t really fault the band on their desire to display what they can do. In fact, the quieter sections do what they did in early Opeth records, providing islands of calm within the oceans of stormy death metal. And this is death metal as base, with chugging deathcore moments battling the howling black metal influences to create something varied and engrossing.

My only real issue with ‘Isolation Poetry’ is some of the songs seem like they are longer than they need to be. Don’t get me wrong, this kind of progressive technical death metal is great, but sometimes it feels like a little reigning in of the songwriting would help. But if you’re looking for an example of wonderful technical abilities, meshed with genuine atmospheres of dread and blackness, then ‘Isolation Poetry’ ticks those boxes. If you can’t get enough of the likes of Anata, Cryptopsy or Psycroptic then Derealized should be next on your list.

https://www.facebook.com/derealizedband/

http://finisteriandeadend.com/en/

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Indian death metallers Fragarak have outdone themselves here. ‘A Spectral Oblivion’ is a mammoth opus, coming in at 84 minutes of progressive death metal that would give the best a run for their money. Coming out on, of course, the great Transcending Obscurity at the end of October this year, Fragarak look to become your new favourite Indian band. Of course, if you have the staying power…

One of the most ambitious records you’ll hear from the sub continent, ‘In Rumination I: The Void’ opens the gates on our journey with graceful acoustic guitar and choral voices before a serpentine death metal riff takes hold. There is clearly some influence coming from Indian legends Demonic Resurrection and Demonstealer, with crisp death metal riffing wrapped in some nasty black metal coating. The sense of adventure is palpable, with odes to the likes of Amorphis on the gloomy but melodic epic ‘In Rumination II: Reflections’. Each song builds with glorious style, where you are reminded of Behemoth and Opeth and Demonstealer all at the same time.

Double disc records always run the risk of being bloated, but ‘A Spectral Oblivion’ is varied enough in both riffing and songwriting that it rarely becomes an issue. Masterful changes between acoustic passages and punishing death metal, Fragarak have created something that is to be admired and respected. Few bands would go this far on their second record, and ‘A Spectral Oblivion’ is a progressive tour de force.

https://fragarak.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/fragarak/

https://tometal.com/

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Australian black metallers Greytomb have completed work on their masterful new record, ‘Monumental Microcosm’, where they have begun to add new and more dissonant layers upon the already healthy and fire breathing Australian black metal scene. Sharing a drummer with label mates Somnium Nox and Norse certainly adds a sense of comradeship with those bands, who approach black metal a little differently from most. It is out on Transcending Obscurity in December.

Opener ‘Null’ is a mindbending journey through clanging dissonant notes, blizzarding blastbeats and snarling, groaning vocal emanations that bring to mind Atilla Csihar’s performance on ‘Ordo ad Chao’. Intense, twisted and eerie are probably the most apt descriptors to a record that seems to peer from beyond space time from a place of insanity incarnate. Like the dying scream of distant planets, Greytomb feel both terrifying fragile and yet mighty in their wrath.

‘Antimeta’ strides forth from these dark plains of existence wielding riffs of fire and a tortured howl; pausing briefly for toxic air before the storm of blasting returns. ‘Monumental Microcosm’ is an album of dizzying highs and terrifying lows, where unholy melody plays with unchecked brutality in a maddening theatre of cosmic destruction. As ‘Force Majeure’ brings us to a cloying, suffocating end we should be thankful for everything Greytomb showed us before our universe collapses around us.

https://www.facebook.com/Tombofthegrey/

https://tometal.com/

https://greytomb.bandcamp.com/album/monumental-microcosm-atmospheric-black-metal

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Haunt is the solo work of Beastmaker vocalist/guitarist Trevor William Church, and his day job’s two albums on Rise Above Records have received critical acclaim, but Haunt are more of a classic, early 80s NWOBHM act. Your nearest reference points are early Maiden and Angel Witch, so you know you’re in for a grand trip!

The opening title track has some great riffs; absorbing some cool hard rock stylings with a darker edge. The fuzzy guitar tone betrays the doomy influences but the melodic passages are pure heavy metal. Infectious, vibrant and instantly memorable, Church’s smoky, haunting vocals play off the bluesy guitar tones perfectly. ‘As Fire Burns’ is just as good, with a choral hook that’ll have you coming back repeatedly. There’s an honesty about Haunt, where bewitching gloomy riffs can draw you in so entirely that you feel you already know this record, and you’ve known it for a long time. Closer ‘Fallen Star’ is a contender for my favourite track this year, so good is its melody and riffing.

‘Luminous Eyes’ is a record that instantly makes you comfortable;  drawing on the rich history of heavy metal leaves you hearing nothing original but everything good. Haunt is full of that good, from the massive melodies to the fuzzy riffing and the cool as fuck vocal styling. A tremendous introduction to a project that will hopefully keep producing material.

https://www.facebook.com/hauntthenation/

https://shadowkingdomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/luminous-eyes

https://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/