Posts Tagged ‘Portugal’

Oak - Lone

Reviewed by Geary of War

Portugeuese duo Oak have delivered something truly mighty in their debut “Lone” They class themselves as funeral doom/death and my oh my did they deliver this. It came out late last year through Transcending Obscurity.

I decided that ‘Lone’ was going to be my soundtrack for a long walk with my dog and it turned out to be the absolute best soundtrack for the location and weather. Album opener ‘Sculptures’ builds slowly but with real menace. The drums sound and feel like that are being hit with real violence even as the pace is slow, really emphasising the funeral here. At about 3:30, once the heavy musical tempo begins the vocals hit. Low, with rasping coming through you get a sense of the torture which someone might be feeling as they struggle to be alone. We hit 5:55 and suddenly there is a change in tempo in the double kicks, you feel the urgency yet so much else remains the same that you feel that going any faster is too much. And as soon as it hits we are back to truly beautiful guitar work which is tender and works hand in hand with drums which are still being hit as though they offended their player.

All this as I walk through a local wood which is drenched in history as it is the location to some of the Antonine Wall, the furthest north the Roman Empire managed. The atmosphere is fitting. The track, clocking in at 16:34 really takes you on a journey and gets better with repeated listens. “Sculptures” closes as delicately as it opened and drifts seamlessly into the second and longest track ‘Mirror’. ‘Mirror’ really came to life as the rains fell today, and boy did they fall, right as I entered a local woodland walk I had never been down and was delighted to discover how apt it all was, it was a medieval oak woodland. Add to all this the image of the fantastic art work for this album finding its way vividly to my train of thought and we were set up to truly be in the right place. At 19:13 you would be forgiven for thinking that ‘Mirror’ would feel a slog yet nothing could be further from the truth. Oak’s real strength lies in their ability to bring you along, let the song breathe and reel you back in for more crushing funeral death doom performed at a high level.

Oak have a fantastic touch and allow moments of calm to have their space and let you take in everything you are hearing. Much like when you go out on a walk and pause to admire your surroundings, that is what you get through ‘Mirror’. There I was, in the middle of built up suburbia, in a medieval wood, walking my dog in the pouring rain, rain which was only getting heavier and right as I think the rest of the walk home will be rubbish the aggression kicks back in and I decided to rally against the “woe is me” rain soaked thought and power on. Moaning about it will not make me any drier and there are miles to be walked and music to be enjoyed. ‘Mirror’ continues in a similar yet never monotonous manner of giving you space to relax with the calmer moments before shaking you back into action with the hell roar and the sound of instruments being played for all they are worth.

We launch into the latter half of ‘Lone’ with the aggressive and visceral ‘Abomination’. This is the most continually menacing and evil feeling song on the album. Perhaps being surrounded and covered by trees, rain battering my hood added to this, who knows. It is only when you hear old school chugging riffing that you realise how heavy they guys have been without going to classic methods. It is truly astonishing. There is genuine weight here. When there is but a second between this and the next track I swear you will feel it. Like that eye of the storm, only the eye is a blink. We close out this wonderful album with a splash of black metal for good measure. if ‘Abomination’ was the most menacing track then ‘Maze’ is the most aggressive. Blasting, roaring and a chopping guitar. But, just when you think you know what you are in for, Oak changes the pace. It was when ‘Maze’ had slowed down to a more classic funeral pace that I myself had a choice about when to turn home, I had reached the end of a path which I knew connected to roads not leading where I needed to go. As the resonating notes from the guitar rang out and the tempo picked back up I knew what to do, I headed back to a turning I passed which should bring me back to the location of a Roman fort, connecting the start and ending of my journey with that famous lost empire. Sure enough, as the trees began to part and a field opened before me i knew I had chosen wisely. As I made my way up the hill the blasting returned as though to give me a little bit of extra energy as Thor threatened to beat his mighty hammer upon the heavens. Then, right before the top. Silence. It was done. The album had reached its sudden, yet inevitable, conclusion. Here I once again thanked the gents from Oak as I turned around and took in the rain soaked landscape of Glasgow and her surrounding hills.

I then did the only sensible thing I knew to do. started the album again and headed home. In ‘Lone’, Oak has created some excellent funeral death doom which I feel separates them from the pack. They know song craft but understand the timing and need for aggression. For myself it formed part of a glorious day of exploration and as of writing I have finished playing it for the third time today. I normally like to pick a standout track but here I feel I would be doing a disservice to the rest. Start at the start, enjoy the journey and go a long walk while you do.

Summon - Helios

The new EP from Portugal’s Summon is called ‘Helios’ and it is a three track odyssey through a journey of morbid black and death metal released through Godz ov War Productions.

Split into three parts, ‘Helios I’ is a clattering, yawning chasm of utter filth and raging depravity. The production is murky, screams echo from untold places of horror and the changes in pace from rampant ferocity to dismal, sludgy crawls is foul genius. ‘Helios II’ rises from fiery blasphemy into a bigger, more powerful adversary to the light. Waves of doom build from below, on which tortured roars rise towards a blackened sky. Powering all of this is a triumphant battery of drumming, a solid foundation for such a dark quest. ‘Helios III’ takes the black/death blueprint with which we’ve been working and slowly warps it into a maelstorm, before closing it with one of the most sinister sections of a song you’ll ever hear. Silence apart from eldritch moans, dissonant whispers and rumbling ambience really confirms that there is no souls left unsold in this band.

‘Helios’ is a record that is an epitome of darkness, of terror and subconscious fear. Summon have achieved here in twenty minutes that whcih many bands try for decades to do. This is superb.


Colosso - Apocalypse

This four track EP from Portugal’s Colosso has an end of the world type feel about it. Entitled ‘Apocalypse’, the four tracks are named for the Four Horsemen and it comes on the heels of 2018’s glorious ‘Rebirth’ album. I reviewed their ‘Obnoxious’ album 4 years ago, and was a big fan so this has me salivating. It is out now through Transcending Obscurity.

Each track is performed by a different member of Portugal’s fertile underground scene, including members of Oak, Analepsy and Bleeding Display, and this allows a certain variety to shine through. Opener ‘Pestilence’ feels like the gaping maw of infinity; an otherworldly titan grasping for a foothold in our universe. The guitarwork is asphyxiatingly dense, with more than a little Gorguts about the sickening sway lurking beneath. Guilherme Henrique of Oak does a stellar job here, providing a vast roar that sounds like the howl of the stars. ‘War’ sounds like just that, with the kind of doublekicks that sound like carpet bombing. The discordant, almost post metal riffs pour out like fire under eerie clean vocals in ‘Death’, while the atonal brutal death of ‘Famine’ provides a fitting finale to an EP that truly lives up to its name.

One of these days I’m going to find a TO release that I don’t like. Honestly, this label CANNOT keep putting out stunning releases forever. But today is not that day, as ‘Apocalypse’ takes its place amongst the pantheon of great releases this year. It is nice to hear a band take the route less travelled in death metal in modern times, and Colosso are devastatingly heavy at times. Brutal.

Ashes of Life - Seasons Within

‘Seasons Within’ is the new album from Portuguese band Ashes of Life, who have been around since 2010 but this is their debut full length. They create ghostly gothic doom, with many influences ranging from Alcest and Opeth to Anathema and Paradise Lost. The album is out now through their Bandcamp page.

Mournful guitar and the sound of rushing waves open ‘Shores’, and you can tell this is going to be an album that weighs heavy with emotional heft. The riffing and melancholic clean vocals bring to mind Paradise Lost instantly, and these are accompanied by deep growls that add a Swallow the Sun feel as well. This is a well trodden path but Ashes of Life do it with sweeping grandeur, connecting each piece so it flows naturally. Another natural element is the obvious influence of fellow countrymen Moonspell, whose gothic roots lurk beneath the likes of ‘Burn’ and the haunting tones of ‘Autumn Days’. ‘Tried to Leave’ is led by a spoken word piece that returns throughout, and then much crushing doom follows, all infused with a wistful melancholy. The style of brutal growls with gloomy melody behind has always been a favourite of mine, and Ashes of Life pull it together really well.

‘Seasons Within’ is a great new addition to a vast sea of European doom that pulls at the emotional strings of the listener, while never forgetting the crushing tide of riffs to build upon. Like an ancient castle facing the Atlantic, this record is sombre but steadfast, ancient but forever. Ashes of Life are a hot new prospect, and I can’t wait to see what else is to come.

Innards - Back from the Grave, Straight in Your Face!!

The debut EP from Portuguese deathgrinders Innards is only a mere three tracks, but that’s probably as much as the world was ready for right now. This relentless, grinding slab of death metal feels more at home in the grim north than sunnier climes but hey, what do I know. It is out now through Transcending Obscurity.

The start of ‘Intro – The Night of the Anthropophagus’ is basically the story of the album cover, which is totally cool. After which, a brutal chainsaw riff gallops through its victims, and a nasty growl spits bile over a solid d-beat/crust assault. This is death metal in its rawest form, all speed and fury with little to no subtlety. It’s fucking great too, and if to boost their credentials even more they get a solo from Sodom’s Frank Blackfire and guest vocals from Kam Fucking Lee on the lightning fast brutality of ‘Enlightment Through Hate’. Close with the slightly slower crush of ‘The Fog’, steamrolling everything in front of it and you’ve got yourself a hell of a debut.

If you dig Repulsion, Grave or early Carcass then Innards is for you. An almst untouchable EP, these guys are going to be incredible on a full length and I cannot wait for it. Hopefully it won’t take too long. Death metal is eternal, and Innards prove it.

Raw Decimating Brutality - Era Matarruana

Portuguese grinders Raw Decimating Brutality’s new record, ‘Era Matarruara’ is fifteen tracks of unhinged brutality designed purely to smash your face in. It is out now through Vomit Your Shirt Records and is a fine 28 minute exercise in extremity.

Possessed of the same spirit as the likes of Wormrot or Rotten Sound, ‘Era Matarruana’ attacks with a maddening fury, each track burning with blastbeats, ravaged by deathly riffs and beset by vicious growls and screams. Basically like every good quality grindcore record you can think of. ‘Roda em Chamas’ is catchy, in the same way a tropical disease is, while ‘Sob a Égide do Deus Cornudo’ has a killer, Dismember-like guitar tone to it. In fact, Raw Decimating Brutality are clearly influenced by death metal strongly, considering the amount of chunky riffing and admittedly catchy melodies seeping through all the brutal blasting.

‘Era Matarruana’ zips past with razorblade aplomb, kicking ass and slitting throats as it goes. Like all great grindcore records, it minimises the fucking about and maximises the savagery. Incorporating a chunky death metal riff sound helps immensely, and there is no track that lets you down. Raw Decimating Brutality live up to their name indeed.


The sixth full length album from stalwarts of the Portuguese black metal scene Black Howling, ‘Return of Primordial Stillness’ takes the core elements of the band’s depressive suicidal black metal and plays around with it a little, creating a 40 minute epic of only four tracks. It is out at the end of July on the excellent Signal Rex Records.

The shimmering instrumental opener, ‘Iberia’, has a delicious, single-minded driving urge to it; dense sludgey riffs crawl beneath a thick darkness, before ‘Celestial Syntropy’ takes us on a winding, serpentine odyssey of twisting black metal that ripples with electricity. Helpless shrieks echo around the cavernous sections, while the space created here is vast and bleak. Crushing hopelessness seeps through this black curtain of night, waiting for an end. The sweeping notes raising ‘Celestial Entropy’ from the mist into the sky is something different; soaring majestically with an predatory eye, awaiting the savagery of the kill.

As ‘Cosmic Oblivion’ fades away into the stillness of the night, Black Howling transcend into becoming more than just another black metal release this year. Their evocative, roiling black metal is both bleak and yet fragile in places. ‘Return to Primordial Stillness’ is glorious, mesmerising darkness.

Ruach Raah - Under the Insignia of Baphomet

Unapologetically raw black metallers Ruach Raah have released their second full length, ‘Under the Insignia of Baphomet’ through War Art Productions, and it is a welcome dose of primal rage in a genre that has tended to spread towards the vast and more introspective of late. Ruach Raah have no such pretensions.

‘Hang Humanity Upside Down’ is probably the quintessential track in an album full of raw as fuck, black metal nastiness. The riffs are poisonous, venom is spat in throat shredding rasps, and the downright filthy production coats each track in a miasmic, toxic embrace. These Portuguese monsters tear your throat out on the savage ‘Funeral Fumes’, and refuse to stop this cacophonic battering until the last, maiming note of the awesome ‘Bodysnatchers’. An album that is really set all at one pace, and that pace is bloodthirsty and manic.

‘Under the Insignia of Baphomet’ is an album of uncompromising, nasty black metal that will appeal to the Darkthrone/Blasphemy fans in all of us. There does not need to be another dimension to it, only more hatred, more bile vomited at the state of the world, and more sickness at humanity’s wretched spirit. Ruach Raah are here to remind you of the blackness running through metal’s veins.


‘Unsettling Whispers’ is the full length debut from Portuguese black metallers Gaerea, following their self titled debut EP. Transcending Obscurity is handling this, and it isn’t just your average black metal album. Gaerea aren’t afraid to mix in some more sludgy/hardcore elements as well to create something uniquely abrasive.

Opener ‘Svn’ builds with ominous intent, harsh screams and whispers crescendoing behind cold guitar and glacial tones with serious intensity. Black metal has always been at its best when it plays with your comfort level, and ‘Svn’ definitely does that, as a fiery torrent of blasting follows up. There is a lot to like about Gaerea; their sense of melody and space when their black metal soars, like the glacial ‘Lifeless Immortality’ or their ferocious grandiosity in the raging but regal ‘Cycle of Decay’. The closing ‘Catharsis’ is much more toward the sludgy side, but with definite layers of blackened menace.

Gaerea are a band that can capture the imagination with their brutality, abrasive screams and their blackened majesty. ‘Unsettling Whispers’ is epic enough to appeal to windswept black metallers and raw and bleak enough to draw in the less corpsepainted legions. An album that shows how genre splicing can have superb results, Gaerea are awesome.

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.