Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Gatecreeper - Deserted

Originally published at the Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-gatecreeper-deserted/

Tucson, Arizona’s Gatecreeper are the latest band to find their way onto the mighty Relapse Records, and the three year wait from their debut ‘Sonoran Depravation’ is going to be worth it. ‘Deserted’ is out on the 4th of October, and is a tribute to the classic Florida and Swedish death metal scenes.

The riffs that open the title track, and open the record, immediately conjures up a feeling of nostalgia for the 90s. The guitar tone is a thing of ancient beauty, the simple chunky riffing, the guttural roar; it is all a certain kind of magic. Kurt Ballou’s production renders everything in a wonderful crispness, despite the guitars insistence on sound like a saw tearing through flesh. There is a certain majesty to the doomy riffing of ‘From the Ashes’, and you’ll find this regularly on ‘Deserted’, that the band do not just tear ahead at all times. Gatecreeper draw heavily from the Obituary school of Floridian death metal, and the ‘Slowly We Rot’-esque thunder of ‘Ruthless’ is a perfect example.

Why no one has really nailed a ‘Entombed playing Obituary songs’ like this before blows my mind. It seems so obvious in retrospect. I suppose because it isn’t just as simple as that. There are so many little elements playing their part here, from the sludgey trudge of the behemoth ‘Sweltering Madness’ with its maddening guitar solos to the early Paradise Lost-esque majesty of closer ‘Absence of Light’. The true greatness of ‘Deserted’s is to be found in the songwriting, where such an overwrought genre feels fresh and exciting again.

In a world where old school death metal bands are ten a penny, and the injection of lumbering doom into it is even more common, Gatecreeper have a sound that pays homage to an iconic past but yet creative enough to never feel boring or trite. ‘Deserted’ is as modern and cutting edge a take on this particular genre as you’ll find and it is a decadent experience.

https://www.facebook.com/gatecreeper/

https://gatecreeper.bandcamp.com/

http://relapse.com/gatecreeper-deserted/

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Members of the sadly lost Affliction Gate and the legendary Catacomb have joined together to create the latest monster raiding the French death metal underground, Nox Irae. Their newest release ‘Here the Dead Live’ is out in November through Transcending Obscurity and is pretty much everything you’d expect it to be.

The blistering ‘Phantom Parasite Trauma’ blows me away to start with, with a instant ‘big hit’ of killer riffing and snarling vocals. This is how you want to start a record; not with a moody intro or some kind of swelling orchestral nonsense. The initial hit is so refreshing and when it settles into an old school grinding death metal chug it just feels so right. You can tell immediately that this is a band of scene veterans, as they’re never afraid to slip in a little classic heavy metal influence too. The soloing in ‘All is Over’ is proof of that, as is the thrashy nature of ‘Knife Under Throat’. This is a record that is not afraid to remember how good Possessed, Death and Bolt Thrower used to be; when death metal had a little more thrash about it.

A thrillingly straightforward record that, in only 26 minutes, proves that old fashioned death metal will never die when it is this good. ‘Here the Dead Live’ is short but sweet, satisfied with conjuring that feeling of when you first came across death metal rather than trying to reinvent it. All hail!

https://noxiraedeath.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/noxiraefrance

https://tometal.com/store/

Godhead Machinery - Aligned to the Grid

The unorthodox second album from Swedish blackened death metallers Godhead Machinery came out earlier in the year through Inverse Records, and ‘Aligned to the Grid’ is a record that takes a little while to unpack, but the music within is something really special.

The labyrinthine ‘Tithe II’ starts us off, with chunky death metal underpinning a nasty black metal vocal rasp. The songwriting is maddeningly complex, with elements of Behemoth sneaking in, as well as tech death and even some of the more esoteric black metal out there. The drumming is an intense backbone to everything here, clattering blastbeats keeps everything powering along, while the guitar work show off ethereal melodies and some absolutely brutal riffs. The haunting rage of ‘Alpha’ is a highlight, but there are so many little details that create the overall art. The piano in ‘The Existential Strive’, the spoken word story running through ‘Call of the Banner’, the relentless battery of ‘Impassive Atrocity’ or the imperial gloom of ‘Illusion’; Godhead Machinery weave complex tapestries for all of us to worship.

Godhead Machinery do not ply the furrow of blackened death metal as others do. The music is heavy, thick, brutal while the atmospheres and vocals are pure black metal. An unholy marriage of genres in the right way, where each play to their strengths without being swamped by the other. ‘Aligned to the Grid’ is certainly unorthodox in places but it doesn’t confound you completely.

https://www.facebook.com/GodheadMachinery

http://www.godheadmachinery.com/

Faustcoven - In the Shadow of Doom

Last year’s ‘In the Shadow of Doom’ saw Norway’s Faustcoven give us the followup to ‘Hellfire and Funeral Bells’ we’ve been waiting for for 6 long years. It is of course, out now through Nuclear War Now Productions and continues the band’s run of great records exploring the links between black metal and doom. It may be a year late, but the Killchain only works through the best releases!

The odd tones of ‘The Wicked Dead’ lead off with a growling rasp and a chunky, midpaced riff that has a nice buzzsaw feel about it. The fuzzy productions gives it a nice raw feeling to it, and the whole atmosphere just feels very old school black metal. There is also a pronounced doomy feel to much of the riffing pace, with the rumbling groove of ‘The Devil’s Share’ or the monolithic ‘Marching in the Shadow’. In fact, ‘In the Shadow of Doom’ is a great example of how you can wield two genres simultaneously without losing anything of either of them. Doom strides stronger here but there is something unmistakably visceral about the blackened croak of ‘Lair of Rats’.

‘In the Shadow of Doom’ does tend to lean more towards the doom than the black, but this is nothing to compain about. Every groaning riff is laced with a blackened edge, adding just the right about of malice. Faustcoven feel like Darkthrone covering some ancient 70s doom band, where the atmosphere reeks of cold forests but the riffing has a satisfying rumble, particularly the uber-memorable swagger of ‘As White As She Was Pale’. This is a fucking great record

https://faustcoven.bandcamp.com/

http://www.nwnprod.com/

https://nuclearwarnowproductions.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-shadow-of-doom

Forever Autumn - Howls In the Forest at Dusk

American neofolk/ambient doom group Forever Autumn released their third full length record ‘Howls in the Forest at Dusk’ (how black metal is that name?) earlier this year, and it is the work of artist Autumn Ni Dubhghail, who mixes doom aesthetics with traditional folk instrumentation to absorb the listener in the ancient sounds of the world. It is out now through Bandcamp.

Opener ‘All My Relations’ is haunting, with driving acoustic guitar working with tribal drumming to create an eerie backdrop for the cracking, shapeshifting vocals. There is a certain wistful gloom that works into every strum of the guitar, as if the strings themselves had the stories to tell. The totally unique vocal style adds a lot to this record; when it almost cracks apart in the ghostly ‘Owl Bones and River Stones’ there is an aching fragility to it. The harsher tones really ramp up the atmosphere too, giving a rasping autheticity to the darkness within. The bleak, whispered horrors of ‘The Forest I Know So Well’ is the peak of this record’s gloom.

‘Howls in the Forest at Dusk’ is an album like no other I’ve heard this year. Neofolk is not a genre I delve into often but the ancient traditionalism seeping through every pore of this record is a thing of beauty. Poignant and dark, Forever Autumn have produced one of 2019’s most haunting records.

https://www.facebook.com/HailWoodlandSorcery/

https://foreverautumn.bandcamp.com/album/howls-in-the-forest-at-dusk

Ordinul Negru - Nostalgia of the Fullmoon Nights

The remastered version of Ordinul Negru’s 2011 record, ‘Nostalgia of the Fullmoon Nights’, is out now through Loud Rage Music and this allows this raw, atmospheric and miserable slab of prime Romanian black metal to reach a bigger audience than the limited release back then.

As nasty and as raw as you’d expect, the opening track ‘Into the Fullmoon Nights’ is a clattering, raging ball of fury. The primal atmosphere reminds me a lot of early Behemoth and Darkthrone, and the bleakly intense riffing is so oppressive. Is it cliche to say that it sounds like winter in the Carpathians? Because this actually does. A blizzarding assault on the senses, wrought with an Eastern European black magic, invades every riff in the icy ‘Degeneration’, while the haunting ‘Crepuscul si blestem’ serves to remind you that black metal, at its core, is all about darkness.

‘Nostalgia of the Fullmoon Nights’ is a record carved from dark Romanian mountains, where ancient magic invades the stone and the air. Ordinul Negru have captured the feel of prime second wave black metal, and this is as ideal a tribute to that style as you can hope for.

https://www.facebook.com/ordinulnegru/

https://loudragemusic.bandcamp.com/music

http://shop.loudragemusic.com/

Coffins - Beyond the Circular Demise

Originally published on the Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/coffins-beyond-the-circular-demise/

Legendarily prolific Japanese death/doom lords Coffins have returned with their first full length record since 2013’s ‘The Fleshland’, but they haven’t been quiet. Lots of splits and EPs have filled the gap, but there’s nothing quite like a full length Coffins record. ‘Beyond the Circular Demise’ releases on the 20th of September through Relapse Records and looks to be another record of superlative quality.

I’ve followed these guys since their superlative 2008 record ‘Buried Death’ and they’ve rarely disappointed. Immediately grinding out a nasty, Swedeath riff in the opener ‘Terminate By Own Prophecy’, the guttural death growls belching untold blasphemies. The doom is strong in the crush of ‘The Tranquil End’, but it neither overshadows nor gets lost in the crunchy death metal. Coffins balance the two genres perfectly, making the transitions from savagery to imperious, monstrous riff feel so natural. And the doom comes with churning intensity, with the monolithic opening riffs to ‘Impuritious Minds’ being an immediate standout but not the only one.

What I’ve always enjoyed about Coffins is that their brand of death/doom has never been the vast, clean doom riffs layered with brutal growls. They have always felt like a true amalgamation of nasty, raw death metal and the crushing nihilism of someone like Winter or Burning Witch. Their music has never seemed majestic or imperious; it feels like a true musical representation of death and decay. The gut wrenching weight of ‘Gateways to Dystopia’ possessing aching riffs, while the savage growl of ‘Hour of Execution’ maintains that nasty edge.

Coffins have created an art form out of this style of music. ‘Beyond the Circular Demise’ is yet another exhibit in their gallery of gore, death and rumbling decay. Lots of bands claim to make music that feels like the end of the world. Coffins actually do it, and while their tectonic riffs help our dying planet on its way we can all bathe in the glory of it. All hail visceral, toxic, TRUE death/doom.

https://www.facebook.com/intothecoffin/

https://store.relapse.com/

https://coffins.bandcamp.com/