Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

The longest running death metal band in Italy, Horrid’s fifth full length ‘Beyond the Dark Border’ is another step out of the shadows of European underground death metal. Crushing the opposition since 1989, Horrid dropped this early last year on Dunkelheit Productions, but don’t let it pass you by. This is a dynamic, traditional death metal record that pulls no punches and builds upon a timeless sound.

Opener ‘The Black March’ is a thick, crunchy riff machine that rumbles with devastating power. You can sense the underlying Bolt Thrower influences, but there’s also a lot of subtle pieces of melody that really strike me, such as the eastern parts of ‘Cursed Dunes’ that evoke Nile’s more straightforward moments. Echoes of Celtic Frost resound throughout the full record, and other European death metal styles are equally present in places, such as the Demigod-esque ‘The Statement’. The songwriting is solid, the performance is flawless and the atmospheres are morbid without being overbearing in murk.

‘Beyond the Dark Border’ is a record that will help you fall in love with old fashioned death metal once more. A love letter to the finer, simpler days of early 90s death, when riffs were heavy, vocals were brutal and death was death. Awesome shit.


Image result for mastermind tyranny

‘Mastermind Tyranny’ is the third album from Italian gothic/symphonic metallers Eternal Silence. Now, I’ve not reviewed much of this style here over the years, as it is a genre I kind of fell out of love with about 10 years ago after sickening myself on it, but I thought I should dive back in here with this after hearing a couple of tracks online. ‘Mastermind Tyranny’ was released back in October through Sliptrick Records

Opener ‘Lucifer’s Lair’ is the kind of catchy, European power metal you’d expect, full of soaring choral melodies and dramatic symphonics. The vocal interplay is well done, and it doesn’t fall into the classic ‘growly male/operatic female’ cliche which is refreshing. In fact, the duelling vocals create some of the most epic moments, like in the soaring ‘Adagio’ or the grandiose ‘Foreign Land’. There are the odd misstep, (the somewhat bland ‘The First Winter Night’ comes to mind), and the record does feel a little long in places, but these are minor quibbles.

‘Mastermind Tyranny’ is a pretty good record, full of hooky modern gothic metal tunes. I suppose your enjoyment of this will depend a lot on your feelings about the ‘symphonic/female fronted/gothic’ metal tags. If you approach Eternal Silence with an open mind, you’ll find a good band with a lot of solid songwriting and some seriously catchy tunes. It’s time we laid those preconceptions to bed and enjoyed it for what it is; a fine, well written record.

Italy seems to be a place where metal in all its myriad genres seems to thrive. But atmospheric, miserable black metal seems to be a particular strong point, and add Enisum to that list. ‘Seasons of Desolation is the follow up to their much praised ‘Arpitanian Lands’ from 2015, and it is out at the end of April on Avantgarde Music. Almost an hour of miserable black metal awaits.

Opener ‘Autumn of Melancholy’ is a monolith of gloomy despair, where raspy shrieks soar within icy riffs and a weeping atmosphere. A masterfully cold and misty forest of an album, ‘Seasons of Desolation’ keep going back to the well with dark, dense riffing and insidiously glorious melody underneath. Songs fight against the darkness, aching to break through the clouds of hopelessness but can’t ever quite make it. Infernal streams of molten black metal pour from ‘…of Desolation’, while a cloying rain soaks the depressing ‘Nameless Sadness’.

The crushingly brutal ‘Obscure Depths’ is my favourite track here, taking a slightly heavier approach. Enisum are perfect for that rainy spring day, when the odd crack of sunshine appears through torrential rain. Built and crafted for misery but plagued with moments of hope, ‘Seasons of Desolation’ is a tour de force of black metal excellence, steeped in depressive moods. Well worth finding.

This is the debut record of Italian death metallers Ekpyrosis, and ‘Asphyxiating Devotion’ is a resolutely old school death metal album, channelling the glorious blasphemy of the likes of Incantation or Immolation. It is due out tomorrow through Memento Mori so you know its pedigree is going to be good.

Opening behemoth ‘Profound Death’ speaks volumes for their craft. A rumbling, savage monster of a track, it drips with classic death metal influences. Not just the feel of death but the inevitable, creeping decay that comes to that which dies. Chained to that morbidity is a deep aversion to religion, as the titles ‘God Grotesque’ and ‘Morticians of God’ may give away. It is a mix that has always worked well in death metal, and the Deicide-esque, waspish ‘Depths of Tribulation’ is testament to that fact.

The crawling ‘Obsessive Christendom’ is a evil favourite of mine here, flailing and scrambling across broken corpses. To be honest though, you’d be pushed to find a bad song on a record that shows a remarkable maturity for a debut. I’m saying that a lot recently, but Ekpyrosis have nailed a classic death metal sound without sounding too derivative. ‘Asphyxiating Devotion’ is brutal brilliance.

Italians Barbarian have been peddling their ‘Manowar meets Venom’ esque brutality for a number of years now, but this is my first opportunity to come across them. Their new record, ‘Cult of the Empty Grave’, is out now on Hell’s Headbangers. There’s definite evidence of the first two bands mentioned, but you’ll also find some great Celtic Frostisms too,

Listening to Barbarian is kinda like if the original Conan (not the terrible remakes) had a purely metal soundtrack. The riffing is classic 80s metal with a harsh, blood spilling vocal, and the guitar tone is wonderfully NWOBHM. The righteous Angel Witch-esque thrust of the title track is a particular highlight for me, but you can point to the rampaging ‘Absolute Metal’ or the fist pumping glory of ‘Bone Knife’ as other great songs. ‘Cult of the Empty Grave’ is just a good old fashioned fucking metal album that claims nothing fancy, but delivers great songs in spades.

There’s a joyful simplicity about Barbarian. The galloping riffs, the infectious melodies and the killer solos lead you perfectly across unbroken plains, where blood is spilled and bones are cleaved by warriors old. ‘Cult of the Empty Grave’ is an album worth picking up for that alone!

Noise Trail Immersion are a five piece Italian band that collaborate on a chaotic blend of progressive/death/math metal that defies logic and categorisation at points as ‘Womb’ spills like fire from your speakers. If you appreciate challenging brutality, then this stuff is definitely for you.

After the howling, ethereal rage of opener ‘Border’, scattergun riffing sprays carnage in the atonal riff-plosion of ‘Somnis’. Imagine if the Dillinger Escape Plan met Ulcerate head on with dashes of Psyopus in there, you’d have a good idea of where we are going with this. ‘Womb’ is a record that is full of moments of glorious melody and jarring jazzy breakdowns. Notes pile on top of each other, while rabid roars grasp for help. ‘Light Eaters’ is almost straightforward in parts, with some glacial post metal melodies gleaming through.

‘Placenta’ spirals almost grind like madness into mathcore chaos, while the ominous gloom of the title track provides a sinister change of pace from the more frenetic moments. ‘Organism’ is a instant favourite, providing the carpet bombing while still keeping moments of melody at the forefront. The jarring ‘Ipnagogic’ makes for an uneasy listening experience, while bug-eyed madness infests the furious ‘Tongueless’. There’s a variety and an enthusiasm here that is positively brimming, and the slow burning build of closer ‘Birth’ encapsulates everything good about the previous half hour.

Noise Trail Immersion are refreshing change from identkit extremity that can become apparent to music reviewers. Their adventurous spirit is infectious, and their music is both a challenge and a reward for those dedicated enough to unlock its true greatness.

Chiral - Gazing Light Eternity

I’m a big mark for Chiral’s work. This one man Italian emotion machine has been churning out heart wrenching atmospheric black metal for a few years now, from the rudimentary beginnings of ‘Abisso’, through the glorious realisation of the genre in ‘Nightsky’. His new release, ‘Gazing Light Eternity’, is going to out at the end of October, and is yet another evolution in Chiral’s sound.

Divided into four parts, ‘Gazing Light Eternity’ is a deft mixture of soothing dark ambient and soaring black metal. Opening with ‘The Gazer’, which builds a cold lonely riff into a murky, depressive rhythm which gradually becomes infested with gloomy melodies. Chiral always love to build that darkness, allowing the songs to breathe, expand and soar with aplomb. Everything is done with care and attention, so even the most rasping, savage moments seem positively beautiful. That’s only the first track as well, but it encapsulates everything that I love about the band.

The classic black metal guitar tone never gets lost either. Sure there’s many moments of tranquil calm, wth acoustic guitar or ambience taking over, but the vintage guitar buzz is mostly prevalent. That’s a highlight, because sometimes the ‘black metal’ part of atmospheric black metal can get lost. ‘The Haze’ is for the most part gloomy dark ambient, with melancholic samples and acoustic guitar throughout. ‘The Crown’ combines the mournful piano we’ve encountered before with harsh, slow black metal that hypnotises you with images of lost forests in fog, or drizzling skies. Ending it with a frenzied, fiery blasting session into soulful lead guitar is perfect.

Closing with the ethereal ‘The Hourglass’, Chiral have done it again, producing another piece of black metal not afraid to show its naked pain, emotion and will to be different. Expertly written and performed, this sits well in their discography and confirms their presence as my preferred choice of atmospheric black metal listening.