Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

One man Ukrainian outfit Haissem’s new record ‘Demonotone’ is coming out soon, and it follows this year’s ‘Panacea for an Cursed Race’. The Ukrainian and Russian scenes seem to provide some of the best black metal out there today, so it is always a pleasure to get into that part of the underground where possible.

This is a much more brutal black metal album than I was expected, with chugging death metal riffing slathered in a horribly dark atmosphere. The production is suitably raw as well, never losing the weight of the riffing but definitely adding a nasty edge to the likes of ‘Internal Void’ and the primal hatred of ‘The Shadowhunt’. Manic rasps clash with the guttural growling, while the injection of some nice soloing is another string to this bloodied bow. Haissem seem to draw more from the South American scene, (where basically everything is black/death and primitive) than their local one but it makes a nice change.

Defying my expectations of just another Drudkh clone, Haissem keep it deathly in a record that often sounds almost as death metal as it does black. A healthy dose of brutality helps to keep things interesting and fresh, and some of the songwriting is really good. Definitely worth looking out for.


Crawling for Carrion - Rake and Roads Artwork.jpg

Crawling for Carrion are a UK based sludge project, and their debut release is a two track EP made of covers. ‘Rake and Roads’ reintreprets ‘Rake’ by Townes Van Zandt and ‘Roads’ by Portishead, attempting to draw out the innate heaviness of them both. It is out now through Giganto Records, owned by the brainchild behind this project, multi-instrumentalist Chris West.

Now, these are two songs I have never heard, so I’m interested in what Crawling for Carrion do here. ‘Rake’ is a rumbling, soulful beast with a gravelly, crooning vocal performance from guest Jake Harding of Grave Lines. While not as heavy as I had anticipated, there is something really magical and uplifting about these poetic lyrics winding its way. The sinister layer of murk surrounding ‘Roads however feels much more in line with what you’d expect Portishead to sound like, slid through sludgy filters. Grinding riffs murmur under a ghostly performance by Vodun vocalist Chantal Brown, making this a very ethereal moment.

I like how Crawling for Carrion have done these tracks, and how they’ve worked hard in not only reimagining the originals but adding enough to create something new and interesting. ‘Roads’ is the better of the two, but this is a fine little release that is worth looking out for.

Technical Damage Artwork.jpg

Canadian progressive death metallers Technical Damage have just recently released their debut full length, ‘The Introspect’, and with it they look to stake a claim in the crowded but normally pretty good genre. It is out now through their Bandcamp.

Travelling along well trodden paths, Technical Damage’s music is full of the kind of spiralling, glacial clean moments that you find in the likes of Tesseract but it also has a good bite to it when the chugging heaviness begins. Juddering riffs crash upon you in the sleek ‘Reshape’, while you’ll take well needed breathers in the more tranquil parts of ‘II: Awakenings’. The snaking solo of ‘Crystal Angels’ is a highlight, as is the thunderous death rampaging through the same song. Closing with the labyrinthine ‘The Introspect’, this is a record that doesn’t really do a huge amount new (although I’ve never heard anything quite like parts of ‘Eviscerate’) but what it does is excellent.

‘The Introspect’ is a promising debut that leans a little too heavily on the tried and tested styles of the genre, and I’d like to see Technical Damage branch out a little further. The musical talent is exemplary, so they have the chops to do it. I’ll be following these guys closer in the future, because if they can build on what they have here, it should be pretty damn good.

Gutted Souls - The Illusion of Freedom

Brazilian technical/brutal death metallers Gutted Souls have released their debut full length, ‘The Illusion of Freedom’, the follow up to 2012’s devastating ‘Unconscious Automaton’ EP. It came out last year, but I’ve just got my hands on a copy and man, is it a whirlwind of tech death brutality like you’ve never seen!

Opener ‘Being Human’ is dense as fuck, rampaging through some sickeningly heavy riffing but not shirking from some nice melodic work too. Gutted Souls have got a cool, Vader vibe in places, like the chugging ‘Snakes in Suits’ or the snarling, slavering ‘The Undying Stars’. Powering through a tight, technically impressive and guttural yet crisp collection of songs, Gutted Souls are full of good songwriting and rumbling intensity. There’s no sections that feel set up to impress guitar nerds, but the riffs are serpentine and everchanging in order to capture that perfect moment of destruction. ‘Psychopathic Ruler’ has one of the coolest solos in death metal today, and winding it round an absolute beast of a track helps it to stand out.

‘The Illusion of Freedom’ is a tight, solid and perfectly executed slab of brutal death that avoids the slam-and-squeal approach of many of their contemporaries in order to concentrate on a sense of weight and heft, despite being capable of fretboard fireworks at times. Gutted Souls are a band that deserve your time if you’re a fan of Vader, Cannibal Corpse or basically good death metal!

Hierophant - Spawned Abortions

Now I’m not always one for reviewing such short releases, because it can be difficult to tell if a band are truly great over the course of two songs. But, since one of them is a Bolt Thrower cover, I feel like it falls into my mandate! ‘Spawned Abortions’ is the newest release from Italians Hierophant, whose ‘Great Mother: Holy Monster’ record from 2013 I really enjoyed. ‘Spawned Abortions’ is out now!

The title track is a nasty slab of old school brutal death metal, with superb guitar riffs and guttural roars covering all the bases you need. What I really like though is that it has a grindcore edge, which adds that little extra piece of savagery to it. The Bolt Thrower cover is ‘Realm of Chaos’, and Hierophant do this all time classic justice, delivering the material in a respectful and energised form. ‘Spawed Abortions’ is very short but definitely worth a listen, as the band continue their destruction of the underground.

Utburd - The Horrors Untold

Man, Russia must be a dark, grim and depressing place to live, if the high quality of miserable black metal that snakes its way out of the country is anything to go by. Utburd, a one man bleak atmospheric black metal project, has released ‘The Horrors Untold’ earlier this year through Satanath Records, and it is a mesmerising plunge into the darkest parts of the great, grim north.

Opener ‘Rise of Dagon’ begins with glacial guitar that steadily bleeds into a weeping ooze of traditional black metal. ‘The Horrors Untold’ has a lot more narrative running through it than a lot of depressive/atmospheric black metal, like the creepy ‘Mystery of Joseph Karven’ or the coldness of ‘Death from Mount Tempest’. It isn’t just waves of riffing without structure, it manouevres deftly between scowling second wave and a grasp of the atonal, the off kilter. The title track is a looming beast of gloom and bleak darkness, swamped in ethereal atmospherics but with a satisfying heft to it.

Utburd’s black metal is definitely depressive and atmospheric but it doesn’t fall into the tedious, monotonous traps that many of this genre can. There is plenty of variety, cool riffing and a plethora of melancholic melody lines to get lost in. ‘He, Who Paints in Red’ is the best example from a record that shimmers with glacial fury.

Membrance - Abyss

Membrance are an old school death metal outfit from Italy, and their debut full length ‘Abyss’ came out late last year through Envenomed Music. Their new record, ‘Morality’s Collapse’, is due to drop early 2019, so I thought I would visit this one in anticipation.

Opening intro ‘Chasm of Blood’ is a weird, almost 80s horror movie sample that first real track ‘Shreds of Flesh’ bludgeons into submission. You know the score here; old school Swedish death metal riffs in the style of Dismember or Grave, coupled with guttural growls and solid drumming. Old school death metal albums feel very predictable these days, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a bad one. ‘Abyss’ ticks all the right boxes, and fulfills the promise with enthusiasm and a wellspring of gory samples. The undeniably memorable ‘Rotten Broken Bones’ is a highlight, the chainsawing glory of ‘Groovy’ and the chugging menace of ‘Goat’s Guts’ balance perfectly, leaving Membrance a comfortable legacy to build upon next year.

Old school death metal doesn’t always need to be pedestrian, and ‘Abyss’ shows how even the most over wrought of genres can still be injected with fresh life and a little bit of macabre humour. Membrance’s debut is solid and entertaining, and hopefully their follow up can build on all the things they did right here.